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Amy Demone: Welcome back to part two of my interview/wonderful chat with Erica Lerman. Welcome back.

Erica Lerman: Thank you. So glad to be back.

Amy Demone: Just like you probably imagined, listeners, we’re going to be getting to the nitty gritty about websites, again, because I know how important it is, and I know there’re so many questions that you have right now, especially if you’re in the very early stages of building your business, especially if you’re building an online business. Do you go with Wix? Do you go with Squarespace? Do you go with wordpress.com, wordpress.org? Do you go with Shopify? Literally, the opportunities are endless and incredibly overwhelming. Erica’s here to break down the platforms, give insight into which ones are better suited for what businesses, and maybe some insider deets on these wonderful platforms. I’m excited. Erica, tell me what are the major platforms that we are experience these days, the most popular?

Erica Lerman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, you definitely named, probably, a majority of the ones that people are familiar with, in the intro there. You have your really simple drag and job, what’s called a whizzy wig, what you see is what you get, editor style type ones, which is the Wix, the Weeblies of the world. You have your eCommerce based platforms. That’s going to be Shopify. There’s also Big Cartel, Big Commerce, those types of things. You have WordPress. People talk about WordPress, mostly referencing wordpress.org. Then, you have wordpress.com, and I can go into a bit of detail about what those difference are in a sec.

Erica Lerman: Then, you get into specific types of sites dependent on what your business model is. If you sell ecourses, you might be looking at Thinkific or Teachable. If you do membership sites, there’s a bunch of different ones that are related to hosting membership sites, those types of things. It really does depend on what style of business you have, what you’re selling, and a whole bunch of different other things, which we’re going to be getting into. Those are the big ones that people are familiar with.

Amy Demone: Awesome. Our listeners are mainly, they’re mainly in the online business in relation to coaching and business consulting services, virtual assistant, design, all that stuff. What do you suggest is the best platform for them?

Erica Lerman: Typically, people will be choosing between WordPress or Squarespace, if that’s the case. If it’s just informational based, so you’re not selling product, anything like that, you might have a couple of pages, maybe have a blog, the Squarespace platform and the wordpress.org are going to be your two most favorable for that type of business.

Amy Demone: Would you be open to giving the advantages and disadvantages of each platform? I know those are the two, especially in my experience when I’m dealing with client, because I work for a lot of new entrepreneurs, that they’re grappling between these two, and they can’t decide. I’m a WordPress gal. I like how it’s a developer friendly. Not that I’m a developer, but I just like it. It’s very robust. People are intimidated by that. I would love to hear from a wonderful website developer expertise, design, all that jazz, like yourself, what you view as the advantages and disadvantages of each platform.

Erica Lerman: I think, when comparing any platform outside of the eCommerce space, a lot of what is the make it or break it for people in their decision making is going to come down to their level of expertise and technical ability. What ends up happening is that, when you build on WordPress, it’s very robust. There are so many plugins that you could implement and things like that. That being said, there can be more complexity when it comes to, maybe, having to dive into a little bit of the code to make it look and function exactly the way it is.

Erica Lerman: Whereas, platforms like Squarespace really are targeting the type of business or person that wants something sleek looking with minimal technical knowledge, so really simple like they pick their pages. There’s, maybe, blocks that they fill in as far as, okay, put your image here, put your text here, and you’re done. The downside to that, because people listening might be like, “Wow, that’s exactly what I need,” is that, what ends up happening is that somebody get into this, and they start building their website, and either right away or 6 months, 12 months, down the line, they need functionality that can’t be implemented on Squarespace.

Erica Lerman: I typically develop on WordPress, so I will preface this next part with that, I’m a little bit knowledgeable with Squarespace, I can’t speak to it as an expert. I’ll just us a couple of very loose examples. If you use an email client, like MailChimp, and you need to implement it on your Squarespace site, because you’re using MailChimp, guaranteed that there’s going to be a plugin or some sort of connector with Squarespace. If you’re using a more obscure email provider, maybe something that really works for the type of business you have, you really love it, but it’s not one of the top 10 most common ones, you might run into having much more difficulty integrating that with Squarespace. Whereas, with WordPress, you might be more likely to find that integration tool.

Erica Lerman: The way WordPress works, just so people understand why it can be a little bit more technically complex, is because it’s what called open source. The main core files that make up WordPress are built by people who want to participate in this project for free. There’s thousands of developers out there who develop and make this tool all together, and it’s packaged as WordPress, which is fantastic, and it works really great. Then, all of the plugins can be made by third parties. That could be Joe sitting in his basement, or that could be a full fledged company with 10 developers. Because of this, they have to follow guidelines that WordPress, the organization, has put out for them. It doesn’t mean that they always do.

Erica Lerman: What ends up happening is that people will build their website, they install WordPress, and they’re like, “Okay, I’m going to add this plugin, and this plugin,” and the next thing you know, they’re website is made up of WordPress plus 20 plugins. When you start to update things, and if the plugins are properly built, and they’re updated on a regular basis, and all those things, that’s great. If they’re not, and there’s no 100% guarantee that they will be, but if they’re not updated properly or if things aren’t speaking together in a correct manner, things can break. That’s where people really find the frustration that they can experience with WordPress, especially if they’re not overly technically savvy.

Erica Lerman: Then, there’s the cost that goes into it too. WordPress is free. Plugins, sometimes, will have a cost associated with them, but the main core website SMS is free. Whereas, tools like Squarespace, and Wix, and all those types of things, are typically paid for on a monthly basis, anywhere from $20 up to, sometimes, even $60 or $70, depending on the needs of the package you chose.

Amy Demone: I’ve never actually used Squarespace that much. I believe, maybe, a client had it, maybe not. I have never really gotten in the juiciness that is Squarespace. A lot of people have said to me, they’re like, “It’s so easy. It’s so wonderful.” I’m a WordPress gal, as I said, and I’m starting to be like, “Oh, maybe I should’ve been over at Squarespace.” I also heard this, and I would love to know if you know this. I know you said you’re not an expert. I did hear, yesterday, that MailChimp is actually the only provider that integrates with Squarespace.

Erica Lerman: I don’t know for sure. Typically, the way integrations work with things like email clients is that the website provider can build this really nice interface where people just basically … It’s like a click and go type systems, where they’re like, “Okay. I’m on MailChimp,” start using this integration, you type in your API key and a couple of other things, and you’re good to go. When it comes to using other email clients, there’s potentially a way to integrate these things using web hooks and things like that. I’m not going to get into too many details, because I don’t want people’s eyes glazing over. If that’s the case, and you need to connect via a method that’s not as easy as turn on MailChimp, that’s where things get a little gray when it comes to using Squarespace and WordPress.

Erica Lerman: If you’re using WordPress, there’s a lot more options to connect those tools that don’t have a nice click and play functionality. Where, Squarespace, because you don’t have access to the main code, and that’s rightfully so, Squarespace has built it that way so they maintain it that people aren’t getting in there and messing things up, and all that kind of stuff, they only give you access to a very superficial layer, almost. People can think of it that way. It’s whether or not, in that layer, you have the ability to actually connect. That, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised, like I said, there’s going to be connectivity for the really popular things. It’s when you start getting into the more obscure or very specific use cases, so, “I want this to function this way under these situations, but not under these.” When we start having those kind of if/then statements, that’s when you can really run into a lot of headache when it comes to these really nice out of the box type systems, like Squarespace.

Amy Demone: Interesting. I’m learning so much. Yes, I can dabble in a few builders, but that’s pretty much my extent, my extent of my WordPress knowledge

Erica Lerman: A lot of people, what I find really interesting, and I’m not faulting anybody, if there’s listeners out there like, “Oh my god. That’s me,” and I totally understand why this is, but when people sit down and they think about their website needs and things like that, because they’re either new to business, or they’re new to having a website, or anything like that, they don’t tend to ask themselves the right question to tease out whether or not they need something at this moment, or whether or not they’ll need it in the immediate future. Having a conversation, whether or not it’s a free pro bono conversation, or something that you pay for, for an hour or two. I really advise people to sit down, if your business coach is really technical, technically savvy, really into web type stuff, or sitting down for an hour and having a discussion with a web developer, to suss out, “These are your needs, and have you thought about these questions related to your needs?”

Erica Lerman: If one of the things you need on your website is you need a blog and you need the ability to sell physical products, for example, and what kind of questions need to be asked and answered related to selling physical products? Where are you shipping to? Do you need to have many images showing up? Do you need a look book type feel on your website? Are these things that you can or cannot go without? Are they make it or break its for whatever platform you’re choosing to use? Sometimes, I find people don’t know the questions to ask themselves to get the right answers. Advise listeners, if you’re in that case, and you don’t know, I think it’s well worth having a conversation who does.

Amy Demone: Now, I won’t ask you to indulge the audience with all the questions, but what would be the main one? The main question that you would ask.

Erica Lerman: When deciding what platform to go on?

Amy Demone: Yes.

Erica Lerman: I guess, it boils down to, how are you making money? How are you bringing in revenue for your business? Are you a service provider and you need people to just fill out a form and contact you? Are you selling info products, so do you need the ability to, say, download an ebook or sell an ebook? Are you selling physical products? Whether or not that’s a digital download or you’re shipping out products, it could be anything. I think that question is going to set you on the road and really eliminate some of the platforms right away. Typically, if you’re in the eCommerce sphere, you can ask yourself that question, and already you’re probably going to be narrowing it down to the two biggest ones, which are WordPress with using WooCommerce, WooCommerce is the layer that you add on to give you all of that eCommerce functionality, or Shopify. Once you get down to those two, then you start narrowing it down and asking yourself more detailed questions.

Amy Demone: Thank you. I bet all our listeners have quite a lot contemplating right now, that they’re contemplating. Thank you so much for that great insight into the various platforms that are out there. You have another wonderful offering for the audience. I’m going to hand it over to you again, and why don’t you explain what you’re offering?

Erica Lerman: Sure. Not completely related to what style of website that you should have. Once you’ve decided on your website, and once you’ve started building it, and constructing the pages, and, maybe, sketching things out, there’s going to some key components that you need to have on your website that either people are looking for, or that help drive traffic, and things like that. I just have a little 25 website must haves, just a little guide that will help people in developing their website, really aimed at getting conversions. Conversions really is just web developer type word for getting people to either complete a form, or to purchase a product, whatever that kind of goal is of your website. Again, just a little guide, 25 things that I think your website has to have in order to be pretty killer.

Amy Demone: Awesome. You’ll be able to get that in the show notes. Take advantage of that. As always, I always ask this question, would you be willing to leave our audience with some wonderful words of wisdom?

Erica Lerman: Sure. I think something that I’ve attributed to the success of my business is consistency and persistency. I think, as small business owners, we feel down sometimes, just because of the amount of work that we have to do, and we see such little gains sometimes. The reality is, is that we just keep having to push forward, and push forward, and being consistent with your brand, your messaging, with, maybe, the content you’re putting out, the frequency, and just the persistency of just keeping at it and moving that needle forward little bit by little bit. Like a lot of things, it’s a snowball effect. When you start getting that momentum in the first weeks, months, years, whatever it may be, it grows, and grows, and grows, until it’s a pretty awesome business. I have confidence that the people out there can definitely do that. Awesome.

Amy Demone: Thanks so much.

Erica Lerman: You’re very welcome.