This article is a guest post by Melanie Deardorff
Building a strong digital presence is all in a day’s work
For a health and wellness professional wanting to stand out online, a great website is a must. One of the stand-out sites I’ve seen lately is from blogger and health coach Lou Ann Donovan, who I met last year when we were both enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s holistic health coach program. Our friendship’s grown over the last year because we both love social media marketing and because we’ve been able to connect offline several times. (We both live in the Kansas City area – she on one side of the Kansas/Missouri state line and me on the other.)
Another way we bonded is that Lou Ann and I spent the last year contributing to countless Facebook conversations with thousands of health coaches, personal trainers, healthy-living bloggers and others from our IIN class. We helped our fellow wellness pros by answering questions about how best to use social media marketing. We learned new tips, tricks and tools to use in our own social media efforts. And we continue to be inspired by what coaches are doing on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, et al.
Because I knew Lou Ann rolled out a great, new website earlier this year, I asked if I could profile her on the blog. While Lou Ann and I both had the option of using the IIN-provided website, we opted to create our own. Here’s what Lou Ann had to say about going her own way with WordPress and how her updated site fits her needs to a “t.”
Melanie: You recently went through a significant update to your site, live-young.com. What were your primary goals for doing this?
Lou Ann: I was ready to switch to a new WordPress theme that would be clean, vivid and responsive – that is, easy-to-read across multiple devices. As a recent IIN health coach graduate, I also wanted to add my coaching services.
How did you find a web developer and what was the process like?
I found my developer through a good friend who recently had him develop her site. I knew how I wanted my site to look, but I’m not a website designer. So I pulled all the details together which helped speed up the design process. We have been through two theme changes since I launched my blog in October 2011, and I plan on keeping my current theme!
I know you use WordPress. Did you buy a theme and have your developer tweak it, or was the entire thing a custom build?
Yes, I purchased a new theme called Minimum Pro Theme by StudioPress on the Genesis Framework. My developer/blog guy, Mike, tweaked it some. He created custom buttons on the right sidebar for my eNews sign up, Free Consultation, My Approach – plus a couple more. He purchased a plug-in to build the scheduling forms for online entry. I receive an email when the form is submitted, so there’s no need to email PDF’s back and forth!
What new content did you add to your site that you didn’t have before?
There are two new tabs for my health coaching business: What’s New (health coaching content and scheduling forms) and Free Stuff (health resource websites, recipe sites and books).
What content did you use that IIN provides?
I took advantage of duplicating the forms from INN on my own site using the Formidable plug-in. I had to create each one from scratch, but the outcome was well worth it! You could use the Gravity plug-in or any other form-building software to accomplish the same thing.
Your “voice” really comes through on your site, Lou Ann – not just your Healthy Posts (blog) section, but in Meet Lou Ann and other sections. Does that style come naturally because you’ve been a blogger for so many years? And is the conversational style you use much of a departure from the copy on your old site?
I believe my voice is natural and reflects my passion for living young. I decided to combine my Meet Lou Ann and Community pages and then add in my love for social media. So, yes I did a complete overhaul! The previous Meet Lou Ann page focused on my tagline Live Young, Look Young, BE Young. So now you can read about all three of my passions on one page: healthy living, community and social media.
Are you a fan of any particular WordPress plug-ins?
Now that your new site’s launched, do you have any immediate-term additions to make besides your blog updates on Healthy Posts?
I plan to develop a 21-day program to help people reset their body. Stay tuned for the launch of my new program!
What words of advice do you have for health coaches and wellness pros who either want to start a WordPress blog right from the get-go – or want to take an old site (like the IIN one) and give it a makeover?
I’m a huge WordPress fan, so I say go for it! For IIN grads who are not ready to start blogging, the IIN site will work. I did try to modify the IIN site and found that, for me, it was not that user-friendly to modify. My preference was to only have one site, so I decided to find a new WordPress theme to modify my site.
I know you love social media so if I forced you into picking just one social channel that you had to use for the rest of the year – what would you choose and why?
Boy, that’s a tough one. I love both Twitter and Pinterest, but since you’re making me choose I’ll say Pinterest. I love beautiful photos – love looking at them and taking them, too. Whenever I’m out and about eating at a restaurant, driving my car in the country or watching a beautiful sunset, I usual grab my phone to take a picture. You can see some of my personal photos and the photos I admire from others on my Pinterest page.
Thanks for sharing the scoop about your great website makeover, Lou Ann – and let’s do lunch again soon!
Melanie Deardorff is a veteran marketer whose focus has been digital and social media marketing since 2009. Based in the U.S. Midwest but transitioning to more of a digital nomad (work from wherever) lifestyle, Melanie partners with companies of all sizes and industries, including nonprofits. A special passion of hers is helping small companies, including health and wellness-focused businesses, stand out and be authentic online.