This is a guest contribution from Kelly Exeter.
Imagine this: you’ve written a killer blog post and it’s being shared all over the place. Woo hoo! Your traffic is going through the roof and it’s great fun watching those numbers climb. There’s just one problem; all those new readers are reading that one viral post and then leaving your site, never to be seen again.
Or this: you’ve been blogging for seven years. There’s a LOT of content on your site. And new readers are finding you via Google every single day. But your site’s bounce rate is high. Those new readers are sticking around long enough to read the one post Google sent them to and then they’re gone.
How do we stop this happening? How do we capture these readers and turn them into repeat visitors?
The answer is: with a killer Start Here page. One that brings all the important stuff buried deep in your site up to the surface, and offers it up to the reader in a logical way.
What does a killer Start Here page have on it? Glad you asked!
Here are the five most important things it needs in the order in which they should appear:
- A very clear statement about who your site is for
If someone’s landed on your site and they’re not your ideal reader, don’t waste their time or yours. Make it clear this is not the place for them.
If they ARE your ideal reader? Then this first part of the page should make them feel at home; like you ‘get them’. This bit need not be more than a paragraph or two.
Here’s what Pat Flynn has at the top of his Start Here page:
“I’m Pat Flynn, creator of Smart Passive Income. If you’re new to the world of online business, blogging, and passive income, this page is for you! It contains the information you need to get up to speed quickly and start your own venture confidently!”
This is what kicks off Michael Hyatt’s:
“If you’re like most of my readers, you’re a successful, high-achiever. You are committed to winning at work, and—equally important—succeeding at life. You strive to grow, get better, and reach your potential. You want to leave a lasting impact on your world.”
While Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids states:
“Planning With Kids is about productivity for families. Getting organised at home so you can spend more time on the good and fun bits of family life.”
- Now tell them a little bit about you
Just a little bit. Like a paragraph. If they’ve read past the first paragraph they’re thinking your blog is going to be useful to them in some way. So use this bit to quickly and easily establish some rapport – show them why you ‘get them’.
Here’s Michael Hyatt again:
“I know what it feels like to be in over your head—to have your success outpace your ability to manage it, while still attending to the things that matter most—family, health, faith, and community.
For years, I, too, struggled to get off the treadmill. Too often, my success came at the expense of my health and my most valuable relationships.”
- Give them the opportunity to buy something from you
Now I know some people are going to vehemently disagree with me here, but I’ll stand strong on this. Some people will be so sold on you at this stage they want to throw money at you. Let them!
Do you have a book? Offer an online course in something? Link it up!
At best, they will buy. At worst, you’re signalling to the reader right from the word ‘go’ that you’ve created something valuable enough it’s worth paying actual money for (which gives you instant credibility).
Immediately after introducing himself on his First visit? Click here! page, Chris Ducker establishes himself as an authority on the topic of Virtual Staff and Outsourcing … and then says “I wrote a book about this!” I bet a lot of people don’t get much past this bit of the page because they’ve hurried over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy.
- Give them something for free (+ bonus social proof)
Ok, they’re not ready to buy from you just yet, but they’re still here. Now’s the time to offer them something great for free to get them on your list. If you don’t … what a wasted opportunity!
Here’s what Pat Flynn offers:
If you can offer some social proof in with your free offer like Pat does (‘this book has been downloaded 15,000 times’), all the better. Us humans like to belong so if we see that lots of other people are doing something, we feel both compelled to and comfortable in doing that thing too.
Here’s another form of social proof from Chris Ducker (when he talks about his free 7-day New Business Bootcamp):
I get approximately 150-200 emails a day from entrepreneurs that want to start growing their business the right way for today’s economy.
And here’s James Clear offering two kinds of social proof: the rather large number of email subscribers he has, along with the logos of the big online publications he’s written for.
- Links to your favourite blog posts/things that tell your story
The final element on your Start Here page is arguably the most important. If someone’s got to this point, they want to know more of your story. They want to know more about YOU. So this is where you both showcase your best content and offer up blog posts that tell your story/share your journey in a logical fashion.
Michael Hyatt lists his favourite blog posts under specific categories and offers subtle social proof by noting they’re his most popular posts.
Pat Flynn shares three podcasts and also adds in social proof along with a guarantee!
“SPI fans tell me all the time how much these episodes helped them understand the types of passive income opportunities. I guarantee they’ll help you too.”
The Minimalists link and link and link (in a useful fashion).
So does Leo Babauta on the Zen habits site.
And, although it’s not a specific Start Here page, Bron from Maxabella Loves does a magic job telling her story/sharing her base philosophies through the links on her About page.
Diving deep into your archives and categorising key older posts in this way will take some work. But it will be completely worth it for the way it will allow someone to lose themselves in your site for an hour or two. If you managed to captivate them, you’ve got yourself a brand new super-fan!