Which Squarespace Template To Use For Your Business

Squarespace offers a ton of templates to choose from. But for the most part, they all do roughly the same thing except for just a handful. 

Since designing over 400 websites with Squarespace for all kinds of businesses, I've used just about every Squarespace template they offer. 

Best Squarespace template for Blogging

My favorite template for blogging is the Five template. Five has a very classic, simple blogging layout, with the ability to have a side column on the left or right. Most other Squarespace templates do not offer a side column at all, so Five is really the only option if you want a traditional blog layout with a right-hand column. 

View the Five template here: https://five-demo.squarespace.com/

 

Best Squarespace template for Portfolios

My favorite non-ecommerce template is Pacific. It's one of their older templates, but it works great for full-width images, and yet is still flexible for other styles like full-width galleries, or simple text pages. It's versatile yet simple. 

View the Pacific template here: https://pacific-demo.squarespace.com

 

Best Squarespace templates for Ecommerce

For all other businesses, I recommend that you look at their Online Store templates. These tend to be the most up-to-date templates with the most features. The newer Squarespace templates have a Shopping Cart icon integration with customer Accounts, and search bars at the top right. They also allow for Quick Views for ecommerce product searching, and have a ton of design customization that can be easily customized with their Style Editor. In terms of choosing the design, I recommend you pick the layout that you like best, as they all roughly have the same features and can be more easily customized than any other template, so you shouldn't have to worry about picking the "right" one, since elements can easily be moved around with their Style Editor tool.

View all the Online Store ecommerce templates here: https://www.squarespace.com/templates/online-stores

How To KickStart Your First Start-Up Business

When I was 22 years old, I started pursuing my career and I was tired of waiting to start a business. I had been studying Architecture in southern California for 4 years, and was angry at myself for not just finally jumping into it and pursuing after my future. 

For some reason, early on, I knew I wanted to start a business from home. One day, I wanted to get married and have kids. And the thought having to spend time away from my family to work 40 or 50 hours per week just to see them on nights and weekends was a frightening thought. I knew that the only way I could really be at home with my family was to start my own business. 

In the summer of 2009, I had come back from a 3-month internship in Washington D.C. to work for a political group. That 3-months was a great experience to teach me that non-profits, and political causes, we really not as big of a passion of mine as I imagined.

When I got back home to California, I had my first crazy business-person idea, which was to start bartending for private events. I signed up for a $200 4-day bartending course (which was pretty much all the money I had at the time), and studied like crazy for the first two days. At the end of the second day, I though to myself, "I can do this already." So I built a website that evening, put an ad on Craigslist, and got my first cliente that very same evening. I was both stunned and nervous. I waited until the following morning to call them, because I was so nervous about what I might say. But as soon as they picked up the phone, they told me "Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!" Yet, to me, it felt like an eternity between when they emailed me through Craigslist and when I actually got back to them with a phone call the following day. 

The prospect ultimately turned into a really successful private bartending gig for a 50th Birthday Party in Laguna Beach. And both my friend, who helped out that evening, and I got a $100 tip, plus all the other tips and fees we charged the client. I think I walked away with around $300 total for about 8 hours of work. That's almost $40 an hour! For a 22-year-old starting his first business, this was more exciting than any internship on the other side of the country.

Those first few days of adrenaline and excitement were some of the most enjoyable times for me. And I knew I was built for starting businesses after that.

The idea of being able to do something that excites you, make money doing it, and build it around your interests and lifestyle, is one of the most energizing things I can think of.

But it's not always exciting times. I am so glad that I started my official business of website and graphic design when I was in 23 on January of 2010. Because in 2013, just 3 years later, I got married to my wife Melinda. And we got pregnant with Jayden in 2014, and Josiah in 2016 - who has severe disabilities due to Spina Bifida. 

If I didn't start my business almost 8 years ago with the goal of being home for my family, I don't think we would have been able to get through all the hard times as a family. For any family with a special needs child, it's hard enough even if you are doing well financially. But if you are struggling with money, also trying to take care of a fragile child, it can be completely devastating.

If you are still single, and want to start that first business, there is no better opportunity to do it than right now. And I mean literally today. Put a website together, build an Etsy Shop, get your business on Yelp, Google Business, post ads on Craigslist, do everything you can, and spend as little money as possible, and start building your career. And treat every moment of your business as a "Start-Up" phase. Always pushing to open a new door, a new idea, a new opportunity.

It's because your future family depends on you to take the risks you need to take in order to secure them. When times are tough, you'll be prepared to know how to take on the next challenge, because taking lots and lots of small risks through calculated action is the only way to care for the ones you love, and to build dreams.

Is Squarespace A Good Platform For Architects?

Here's the short answer: Absolutely. 

I've designed numerous of websites for Architects on Squarespace, and they have all been extremely successful. 

First, the aesthetic of Squarespace is perfect for architects. It's clean, minimalist, and has an architectural feel. 

Second, most architecture forms only need the ability to post images, text, and PDF documents for blueprints or printable catalogs of their work, all of which Squarespace does extremely well with.

Third, it is incredible easy to add new projects to. As a new project is complete, simply hire a decent photographer to document the final product, and upload the new project to the website. Squarespace is easier to manage than a Mircosoft Word document. 

Below, are select projects I have built for architects and home builders with Squarespace. These projects have been some of my most successful and enjoyable work to date. 

To help you get started, I offer Squarespace courses to help you or an employee build the site from scratch. Or, you can have a fully custom project built by myself personally. Simply get in touch with me here.

Sign up to take the first 5 courses free here.

Should you use Squarespace, Shopify or WordPress for your website?

I've been designing websites for clients professionally since 2010, and over 600 websites in my entire career. I have tried just about every platform their is.  In 2010, the big thing that all my Clients wanted to have was an "Adobe Flash" website - but just a few months later, Apple announced they were no longer going to support Flash. So I knew I needed to start looking for another way to build sites. 

WordPress has always been a platform known by people, even those who aren't tech-savvy have heard the term. I spent about 6 months trying to learn WordPress, but got burnt out by the endless amount of learning needed, so I outsourced to a WordPress developer.

WordPress is a nightmare for anyone that is not obsessed with coding. Personally, I like design. I like start businesses, and doing marketing and coming up with ideas. But learning WordPress sucks up all your time. 

After 2 years of doing WordPress for countless clients, I would get emails and phone calls from my Clients saying they were frustrated with trying to make small edits on their own, or that their site crashed, or was hacked, or some other major frustration. With such a low, long-term success rate with WordPress, I was reluctant to keep working with it.

In my opinion, Shopify isn't any better. It's still a do-it-yourself web developer kit that requires coding, a lot of focus, and a huge time investment. 

In 2013, I finally tried out Squarespace. Over the past 4 years, they've very slowly made improvements to the site to add more features. Squarespace claims that their tools are easy to use. And in terms of doing quality Website design work, I think they do have the easiest-to-use platform. But there is still so much to learn with Web Design, no one who doesn't do this full-time can learn it all, unless they get some serious help from a professional web designer.

But 5 years later, I have clients who have Squarespace websites that are still using it to this day. They can edit their blog on their own, change out text and images, and make other basic alterations without having to sit down and make it this huge all-day process. 

Every web developer has their opinions, and you'll get advertising and marketing advise from all sorts of people who will say WordPress is best for this, or Shopify is best for that. 

But, in short, if you have less than $100,000 to spend on your website, and you are a small business, and need to manage your website on your own, or have an employee manage it for you, and you don't have the time or money to hire a huge web coding firm to do it all for you, then I highly recommend Squarespace as your website platform. 

This is coming from years of experience, working with hundreds of small, medium and large businesses, and seeing websites and businesses crash and burn, or greatly succeed. 

In 95% of the cases, I recommend you go with Squarespace if you are Small Business with a limited budget. Don't waste your money and time on other platforms that have thousands of tools, but will burn through your capital and test your patience. 

I hope this information is helpful as a staring point, but feel free to write me or leave a comment for more information.

And don't forget to sign up for my weekly blog on starting your own online business. 

The best way to use SEO for your website

SEO (which is basically how Google places websites in their search results) is only useful if it drives people to your website where you can either capture email addresses, customer leads or product sales. If optimizing your search engine results doesn't lead to any actual activity on your website, it is useless.

An important part of SEO that most SEO companies will not do is actually implement the keywords, blog posts, and then set up a better way to drive conversions, to get people to contact you onto a Email list. 

So while most SEO companies will only research keywords and tell you what kinds of words to put on your website, a more comprehensive SEO strategy would go like this: 

  1. Research keywords to people actually type into Google in order to eventually purchase a product or service, not just figure out random or interesting information. Google Keyword Tools is a good tool to us for this. Google Webmaster Tools is also important to see how your website is currently performing.
  2. Write blog posts or other website contact that uses those keywords in a variety of ways, but also actually provides valuable content that people will actually want to read. 
  3. Once people visit your website, capture their email address through a pop-up, or newsletter subscription, or offer free content. Or, make it clear how people can contact you with questions, about your services, or how to clearly purchase your items. For most businesses, I like using Squarespace to achieve all of these tools for your website.
  4. Set up an email address campaign platform, like Mailchimp, where you would send emails once per week to your email list to keep them up to date with new blog posts, information, or to schedule a session with you. 
  5. Once you have the first version of this done, make sure to analyze the website to see how to better optimize the flow and capture of email addresses and leads. The best tool for this is Google Analytics.

Without doing all of these steps, doing SEO optimization on its own is only a small portion of what you actually need. So in order for all the pieces to come together, you must have these 5 main steps figured out at the minimum, then slowly build and improve them over time.

Choosing The Right Name For Your Business

My favorite stage of running a business is the start-up stage. It's the most exciting part of creating a business. But for many first-time business owners, it can be a bit frightening. But, to me, one of my favorite hobbies is starting a new business. 

Picking the right name for your business is easy. Start with just your own name.

You want something that people will remember. When I was in college, people always remembered my name Justin Page Wood, but only if I included my middle name "Page."  But if I only went by Justin Wood it was too generic, and no one ever remembered it.  So Justin Page Wood, as well as my initials 'JPW' were the right starting point for my business. Once I started using it in my emails or any documents, I suddenly found that strangers or people I hardly knew would easily remember my name, even calling me "JPW" or calling me "Justin Page Wood" as if my entire name was actually my first name. 

So when you are starting out, whatever you do, choosing your first name is the easiest way to go. If your name is unique, but not too hard to spell, then use that as a starting point. 

The other thing to think about is choosing a name that will allow you to do long term growth. For instance, a while back we chose the name "MW Textile Design" for my wife's business. The problem was that she started to move away from Textile Design altogether, so the name no longer made sense. You want your business name to be generic enough that it can work for all sorts of fields, and not corner yourself into a wall. At the same time, you want it to be easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to remember. 

Just think about if you were to tell people what your website address is. If you have to spell out each letter for them, or if it is confusing, or too easy to forget, especially if they were to type it into a browser, then you're going to get a lot of missed opportunities for new business. 

Overall, here are things to keep in mind:

  • Don't make your business name too long, especially your web address. For instance: www.justinpagewoodminimalsitdesign.com is way too long.
  • Try as much as possible to use simple, common words that are easy to say, spell and remember.
  • Starting with your own personal name is always a good start, unless you've found that people have a hard time saying, spelling or remembering it.
  • Don't be afraid to change your business name over the next few months. As you get established, you may find that your business name no longer works. If that is the case, feel free to change it quickly. 

Do I need a logo for my business?

There's nothing worse that delaying the start-up of your business just because you do not have a logo ready. In my opinion, there is no need for you to design a logo or hire someone to make a logo when you are just getting started with your business.

A professional logo design is going to run you somewhere around $200 to $2000 USD, depending on the logo designer. And if you are just getting your business started, there is literally no reason why you should take on that kind of expense. That money should be going towards other things that will actually bring you income later on. 

To get started, there are some really easy ways around getting a logo for your business:

  1. My favorite is just to pick a nice font, space out the letters a bit, and stick with that for the first few months. My favorite fonts are Futura Book for a minimalist aesthetic, which is what I use for my own businesses, or Garamond for a more classic look. Both fonts are free if you simply look it up in Google.
  2. Find a logo building tool online like Squarespace's Logo Maker. I believe it is only $10 to purchase once you build your own logo online, and tool is pretty simple to use. 
  3. Find a premade logo on a platform like Etsy. You simply find a design you like, and a designer will put together the logo files for you, like PNG, AI, and JPG files for your reference. Simply go to Etsy.com and search for a keyword like "premade logo" and you'll find thousands of options. 

Once you establish yourself as a business, making enough income per month to justify the cost, you can then hire a logo designer to make something custom for you. At that point, spending $200 or $500 or even $1000 might make financial sense. But when you are just getting started, avoid spending money on things that really won't convert towards getting new sales or new customers.