Most websites don’t have visitors walk through the front door.
Instead of having a clear Start Here page, the site depends on search engines and social media links to bring visitors their way. This creates a lot of traffic because content is being consumed, but it isn’t meaningful content because there isn’t any organization.
Instead of inviting people through the front door, the invitation is to climb through an upstairs bedroom window. Or into the crawlspace under the house. Or to run around to the back door.
The good news is that you can stop this from happening by creating an effective Start Here page. Instead having undirected traffic appear anywhere on your site, you bring visitors to a central landing location where you can then direct everyone to the places they want to go. This reduces bounce rates, creates a clear and correct direction for each visitor, and stops people from trying to enter your bedroom window at all hours of the day.
Pat Flynn and Michael Hyatt both put a big emphasis on their Start Here page throughout their blogs, and the pages are some of the best examples out there. So, I am going to be referencing their pages frequently in each of the tactics that I cover.
Where Should My Start Here Entry Point Be?
How are people going to access your Start Here page? After all, you’ve got people crawling into the website home all over the place. The goal is to direct people to this first page in a simple, yet effective way.
There are four really good entry points that produce the best results.
In the Top Navigation Bar on the Left Side
A simple menu option that says “Start Here” is often good enough to get people onto this page. Make it a one-click process and have the menu propagate on every page for your site and you’ll see fast results. Since most languages read from left to right, the top left hand spot will get the most views and clicks.
In the Sidebar
You can also place a nice call-to-action in the sidebar. The best location is the bottom of the sidebar. When a new visitor is finished reading their first post, then they will see the call-to-action for your Start Here page in the sidebar.
Large Call-to-Action at the Top of Your Home Page
There is going to be a large portion of first time visitors that will go to your home page after they read a post that they like. Having a large call-to-action at the top of your page will insure that they get directed to your Start Here page.
The Welcome Email
The first email that new subscribers get after they sign up to your list needs to have a link to the Start Here page. This will allow you to have all of your top content bundled in one simple link within your welcome email.
It is important to remember that people are still going to try to enter through your site’s bedroom window. By putting up signs that will take them to your Start Here page, you’ll be able to encourage them to walk through the front door instead.
What Should I Include on My Start Here Page?
There are twelve items to include on a Start Here page that have been rather successful for a majority of sites. If you include something similar, then there is a greater chance that this page will bring your site some added success.
Here is what you’ll want to include on your new Start Here page.
#1. A Clear Statement About Who You Are and Who Benefits from Your Site
Not every visitor to your website is going to be an ideal visitor. If you waste their time pretending to be something for them that you’re not, then you’re wasting your time as well. Be clear and precise about who you are and the type of visitor which will benefit from the site.
This puts the ball in their court. It is then up to the visitor to determine if they will be able to find value in continuing on.
Here is Pat Flynn’s statement…
Pat quickly states who is going to benefit from his blog, by stating…
If you desire to start an online business of your own involving a blog, podcast, and passive income.
He then makes his statement about who he is be saying…
My belief in helping you learn is simple: Share the truth, be honest, work hard, and lead by example. That’s what I’m all about, and that’s what SPI is all about.
It is very clear and only takes 20 seconds to read.
#2. Include a Definition of an Important Term or Two so that Visitors get to Know Your Lingo
Every writer has a certain “lingo” that they use on a regular basis.
This isn’t company jargon or legalese – well, unless you’re a lawyer, that is. It is the words that are common to your subject matter and writer’s voice. By including a glossary on your Start Here page, you can make sure that everyone understands what you’re trying to say with your content.
You could say that a glossary helps make sure that everyone is on the same page.
So if you use niche terms that might be uncommon to everyday language, use the glossary on your Start Here page to help visitors decipher your true intend. If you use acronyms, then define them since a visitor probably doesn’t even know they should care about that information yet.
For example, Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income brand has been shortened to SPI of the years, and he dedicates a portion of his Start Here page to explaining what it means.
Pat does a great job of explaining what passive income is, and his words inspire visitors to keep reading.
#3. Include Links to Your Best Content
Having a Start Here page is also a great place to get visitors linked up to your best ever content. Whatever you consider your best resources to be should be included on this page.
You can overdo this. Don’t place hundreds of links on your Start Here page – it will overwhelm the visitor and cause them to feel confused and lost. You want to find a nice balance between value and information without creating those overwhelming feelings.
Pat Flynn promotes three of strategic podcast episodes that dive deeper into explaining the three types of passive income.
All three of these episodes stays in line with a consistent theme, and he promotes his podcast at the perfect time.
On Michael Hyatt’s Start Here page, he lists out his top three blog posts in each major category.
This is something that any blogger can easily execute.
#4. Mention Your Products and Services
A Start Here page is a great place to include a call-to-action that leads to your products and services.
There is a good chance that they’ve already researched who you are, what your brand represents, and what the value of your product means to them. They clicked on a link to reach your site because they are ready to become a customer.
So give them that opportunity without putting roadblocks in their way. Even the smallest delay in a transaction can prevent it from being completed.
Michael Hyatt does this perfectly in a short section with two simple sentences.
Pat Flynn creates a full call-to-action section for his smart podcast player in his Start Here page. It reads as follows…
#5. Ask them to Subscribe to Your Email List
While not everyone is going to be ready to buy your products and services, most of the people that visit your Start Here page will want to sign up to your email list.
Pat Flynn waits until the very end of his Start Here page to ask for the subscription to his email list. He does a great job of including social proof in the call-to-action, by asking his visitors to “Join 150,000+ active members in the SPI Community.”
After someone clicks on Pat’s “click here to subscribe” button, then they get a pop-up that asks for their name and email. Pat gets real creative by covering the three reason why someone should subscribe to the SPI email list.
If you just want to go old school with a simple text link, then Michael Hyatt’s subscription ask is a great template to use.
Michael also wraps up his Start Here page with the call-to-action for subscribing to his email list.
#6. Establish your Expertise
Since Pat Flynn and Michael Hyatt are big personal brands, they do not have to mention their expertise. For the vast majority of bloggers out there, it is important to let your new visitors know what you are good at.
It only has to be a short paragraph with a couple of sentences, and it can be included in your intro statement about who you are.
#7. Include a Nice Professional Image of Yourself
People like to engage with other people, and it is vital that you include a really nice image of yourself on your Start Here page.
Pat Flynn uses a great image of himself in front of his podcasting microphone.
Michael Hyatt’s picture has him sitting on his desk with a bookshelf in the background.
Find a really nice place in your house that you feel comfortable in and have your significant other take some pictures of you. Remember to make sure the lighting is great and take plenty of pictures. My wife knows that I am notorious for taking bad pictures, so she makes a point to take 100 pictures of me from different angles. A hundred pictures may sound like a lot, but it only takes five minutes with a digital camera.
#8. Add a Contact Form at the Bottom of the Page
The visitors that are reading through your Start Here page have read a couple of posts and like what you have to offer. Many of these visitors may be interested in your services and products, but they might need an answer to a question before pulling the trigger.
I recommend adding a “Ask Me a Question” section at the end of the page. This will show that you are easily accessible, and it will allow you to address that final question that leads to a sale.
#9. Place a Link to Your Favorite Product that Has an Affiliate Program
One of the top income sources for bloggers are affiliate programs. If you are like me, then you are very particular about the affiliate programs that you promote. We all want to make money, but it can be done by promoting products and services that you believe in.
For the start page, I recommend focusing in on an affiliate program that has proven to make you money and has a service that you love.
Pat Flynn’s name has been married to the Blue Host affiliate program for years. His income reports have consistently shared the obscene amount of money he makes from the Blue Host affiliate program. Here is how he presents it in his Start Here page…
When it comes to promoting affiliate links, the key is to try and blend the ad with the rest of the content. Pat does this with excellence, by sharing his experience with the company. That fits right in with the flow of everything else on his Start Here page.
#10. Add a Short Video to the Top of Your Start Here Page
If you want to take your page to the next level, then create a short 1 to 3 minute video explaining the purpose of your Start Here page.
Pat Flynn has a video that is only 53 seconds long, and that was all he really needed. He introduces himself and covers what is on his page.
A video of your talking to your visitors will create an intimate connection between you and your audience. It also creates trust, which can increase the conversion rate for your email list and the services that you present on your Start Here page.
#11. Use the Same Formatting Techniques that Make Your Posts Sparkle
The rules for creating readable content apply to the Start Here page also.
Create great headings and subheadings
Just like with a blog post, you are going to have a large percent of viewers scan the headings in your Start Here page. Take a look at the titles Pat Flynn uses on his page…
Welcome to Smart Passive Income
LET’S EXPLORE WHAT PASSIVE INCOME IS ALL ABOUT
What is Passive Income?
THE SPI DEFINITION
The Types of Passive Income
AND WHAT TO EXPECT FROM EACH
What Passive Income is Not
MYTHBUSTING, SPI STYLE
Passive Income Business Essential #1
A WEBSITE WITH BLOG
Passive Income Business Essential #2
A PODCAST AND SMART PODCAST PLAYER
Get Started the Smart Way
MY FREE, EXCLUSIVE EMAIL CONTENT
Each one of these headers could be a title for a stand alone blog posts, and that is the definition of a good header. It should essentially be a compelling title that drives the visitor into reading that section.
Use bullet points to highlight your key information.
Most visitors will gravitate toward bulleted sections of content first. Put your primary key points in this format for an instant review. Michael Hyatt uses bullets on multiple sections of his Start Here page. It really breaks up the content into nice bite sized chunks.
You want your Start Here content to be short and sweet from the top to the bottom.
#12. Thank Your Audience
Towards the end of your page, right before you ask them to sign up to your email list, take a moment to show your audience how much you appreciate them. When an audience feels your appreciation they will be motivated to help spread the word about everything you offer.
Pat Flynn does an exceptional job on this section. His thank you section reads as follows…
I really love how he includes his written signature at the bottom of the section. This shows how just going a little bit further than everyone else can take something from status quo to extraordinary.
In the grand scheme of all things blogging, a Start Here page does not take that long to create. You can always start with the basics and come back to the more complex additions, like the video. So make a point to put it on your to do list and get it knocked out next week.