Craft Wine Guide To Using Your Website

In this tutorial we are going to explore how your website can help you grow your craft wine brand, drive traffic to your tasting room and convert online sales.  Most Craft Wineries are small businesses run by owners who have to wear multiple hats, farmer, sales, management, accountant, etc..and often there is not a huge revenue stream that justifies an expensive website.  So here are some ideas on how to have a great website on a budget!

Build It Yourself: WordPress Website design has gotten to the point that even people with minimal computer skills can build their own websites.  WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors and visual builders can be found in multiple themes and hosting environments.  The technological prerequisites are the ability to follow written instructions or video tutorials and have a working knowledge of digital files like jpeg, png, mp4, and the patience to learn as you go.  My favorite theme for this purpose is the DIVI theme by Elegant Designs but there is also Elementor and Beaver Builder.  Many of the visual builders have free options but it is always better to go for the paid version especially if you’re a beginner, paid options usually have great tech support and they can help you if you run into any issues.  If you would rather not use WordPress there are also options like SquareSpace and Wix but they are in the long run more expensive, you have less control over design and functionality and they do not have a lot of marketing options available.

Update An Existing Site  It can actually be more difficult to update an existing site than to build a new one depending on how old your site is and how it was built.  If your site has a custom code base or doesn’t have a user interface that you can understand, it would be easier to rebuild using a visual builder as described above.  However, if you have an older WordPress, Joomla or Drupal site it may be possible to update the look and functionality without a restart.  I personally do not design websites in Drupal or Joomla, so click the hyperlinks to find some basic tutorials on those platforms.  For WordPress, updating the look of your website can be as easy as changing your theme, or adding some new plugins.  The best place to start is to research websites you like or that have features that you like and create a vision board.  As you create your board, think about both design and functionality.  For example, do you want a dialogue box to pop up on your site to make announcements or collect emails?  Do you want a video on your home page?  Do you want a blog page?  (You can find a printable checklist for Common Website Features here)  Once you’ve decided on your design, start looking for themes that are close to what you have in mind or refer to the above visual editors.  You will have to decide based on your comfort level with the technology whether you want to choose a theme that is as close as you can get to what you want it to look like, so that you have fewer changes to make.  Or to go with a drag and drop theme like the visual builders, where you will have to make more changes through the editor.

Add Plugins  There are plenty of changes you can make to your WordPress site that do not require a rebuild or a theme change.  Say you want to add social icons or an email subscribe button, even a slider to your home page, all of that can be done with plug-ins.  The best way to find plug-ins is to do a google search for [what you’re looking for] + plug in, for example “social share plug in”, then look through the results to find the design and functionality that best suits your purpose.  Be sure to read the reviews and documentation for all plug ins before you purchase or install them.  All good plug ins should come with some level of customer support and documentation, even the free ones.  Read the reviews carefully to see what other people are saying, if a plug in doesn’t have a lot of reviews or has bad reviews, move on.  Uploading a bad plug in to your site can cause problems with functionality or even crash your website.

Change Your Content Frequently  Changing your content frequently is not just good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) it is a reason for your customers to visit your website more often.  If you have a blog that you update weekly and post on social media, you will get more visits to your site.  If you change the pictures on your home page seasonally your customers will have a real time resonance with your brand.  Content, in the form of text, photos and videos is the most fundamental way of communicating with your customers.  You miss a huge opportunity when you put up a website and never add anything to it, it’s like starting a phone conversation with “Hi, this is Jennifer, I build websites..” then hanging up the phone.

Use Built In Marketing Technologies  Almost every web design platform has built in marketing technology that allow for “tagging” and “categorizing” your content, meaning pages, posts, photos and video.  Additionally, make sure that the written content on your website specifically reflects what you are offering and uses keywords for SEO.  I have seen a lot of small production wineries use very philosophical descriptions of their wines and winemaking process and I believe that is a mistake.  You want the copy (or text) on your site to reflect your products, your location, and a brand statement that boils down what sets you apart briefly and succinctly.  The addition of marketing plug ins like the Yoast SEO plug are also helpful in driving traffic to your site by operating in the background to optimize your content.


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