This summer, I had the honor of speaking with Thom Singer for the Speakernomics podcast about how you can book more speaking engagements through a website.
We talk about why I used my decade of experience to work specifically with speakers and how I went from hiring speakers to helping speakers get hired.
Transcription of Episode
Websites That Work with Kristin Pearson – Speakernomics – Podcast on Spotify
Tom: Do you know what you have just done? You have just stumbled upon another episode of Speakernomics, the podcast about becoming a better speaker, and building a better business. I’m your host, Tom Singer, and today we are going to talk about speaker websites. To kick off this interview, we have Kristin Pearson. Hey, Kristin, welcome to the show.
Kristin: Hey, Tom, good to be hear.
Tom: So Kristin, what are two tips you have, so that speakers can have websites that work for them?
Kristin: That there’s no better place to let your audience know like and trust you, then your website, and that your website strategy and design need to work together?
Tom: Oh, my gosh, we are gonna have so much fun unpacking all of this, because I like so many speakers always think my website is one step behind where it needs to be. So I can’t wait to hear everything that you’re going to share with us today. For those of you who don’t know Kristin Pearson, she makes websites that make speakers look good and book more business. She is totally focused on helping speakers in the world of their website. She also is a die hard sports fan and she shared everything Chicago, which means Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. But she did tell me she doesn’t really care about the Bulls. So if you’re a basketball fan, sorry, but she’s all about the Blackhawks, the Cubs and the Bears. So Kristin, welcome to Speakernomics.
Kristin: Thank you. Thanks for that intro. I know a lot of people that will be proud of that.
Tom: You’re background was working for an association and you actually hired speakers and didn’t hire speakers. When you moved over into the world of website design, why did you decide to focus on the speaking industry?
Kristin: Yeah, so I used to work for an organization, we would need, like six or seven speakers a year, and I had trouble finding some. I found that there was a need in the marketplace for someone to make speakers look good. I mean, speakers have been some of the best people I’ve met in my professional career. I want to do everything I can to help them.
Tom: What were some of the things that you saw when you were hiring speakers, where you thought that this website sucks?
Kristin: Well, definitely I found a lot of websites look older than the internet itself. Unfortunately, I ran across a couple that looked more like obituaries than business websites.
Tom: Alright, so you made this transition how long ago into website design?
Kristin: I have been doing websites for about 10 years, starting with a degree but I went full time earlier this year in June, so four or five months ago.
Tom: Awesome. All right. In that 10 years, and especially in the last four or five months, you have probably seen a lot of things. If we were to go look at my website, it’s okay, I’m always looking at mine versus other people’s. But you know, listening to your tip about making sure that the website has both design and strategy that work together. Yeah, I don’t know that I have strategy or design when it comes to my website. And looking at your first tip of it’s the best place for people to get to know, like and trust you. I don’t think I’ve thought of my website that way. Let’s start with that first tip. What do you mean, when you say, hey, your website, there’s no better place for them to get to know, like, and trust you?
Kristin: To start, websites that the best place to have your business, right, we know that any social media could shut down or lose popularity at any time, and you don’t own that content. If Instagram went away tomorrow, you would lose all your pictures and all of your captions and all of your messages. A website is just the best place to bring that all together to send people, you know, it’s yours, you control what it looks like. That’s just why I wholeheartedly believe in the websites.
For the know, like and trust thing, let’s start with know. A person needs to come to your website and know exactly what you do, who you talk to, what you look like. They need to know who they’re even looking into. Then also how can you benefit them. A whole thing and this kind of goes into the second tip, but throughout this entire thing, make sure you’re looking at your website from the eyes of a meeting planner, or the person that’s going to sign the proposal. That’s the biggest thing. I found a lot of people focus a lot on the know part of the know, like and trust that their websites just look like their LinkedIn profile. Or, you know, they just put I love iced coffee. I live in a farmhouse and I love my dog. That’s not helping your business go any further when it comes to your speaking. When I think of the no factor, it’s you know, what are you offering? What is someone looking at your website? What are they going to know about you right away, right when they get there. For the like, it’s kind of your story.
For example, my story is I got a degree. I then started other skills in college like leadership, and sales and marketing. I got a job with all of those aspects. Then I worked there for seven and a half years. All of a sudden, I was like, I want something new. Why don’t I use all of my skills to help someone forward their business? Why not do speakers? Keeping that in mind, I’ve roped it all back into why I’m helping speakers and someone reading the website needs to know, why are they on your website. That’s why we have the know the like, and the trust is ultimately showing that you’re good at what you do.
Tom: Alright, so I want to unpack this. The know I think I understand if somebody comes to my website, they want to see my topic, they want to see maybe a video of sort of my style on the stage. I sort of get like that your website is there to let people get like that basic of who you are. But how does the website get them to like me? Let’s dive into like, what are we doing with a website so that people say, I like Tom?
Kristin: Well, the big thing, the first thing, and it’s the easiest one is a nice picture of you. We’re all personable people, especially now, because everyone’s just sitting at their home offices or whatever, we want to see other faces, we want to connect with someone. A bright, smiling picture, that’s really crystal clear. That’s why someone’s going to start liking you and going through their website, if you’re answering their questions that they have already in their head, they’re like, oh, this person is super helpful. And it kind of ropes into those benefits that you’re bringing in. Maybe you crack a couple jokes throughout your website, or it looks really good compared to their companies. You just start to like people that are similar to you, and maybe two steps ahead, or they’re just a fun personality, and I’m all about personality. That’s what I look for.
Tom: Alright, so I’m thinking of my site and some other people’s site where they do have those pictures,where they’re having fun, they’re blowing crap flower petals away with a big smile, and and all that stuff. But how does the Website other than not having a website that looks like an obituary, how does the website lead you to trust?
Kristin: Well, in order to trust someone, we have to know that they know what they’re doing. I think every meeting planner out there has hired a speaker kind of on a whim or trusted that they would be good and they weren’t. We want to make sure we’re showing we know what we’re doing through good testimonials. I think I read a testimonial on a speaker’s website the other day, and it was the best one I’ve ever read in my life. It was “10 years ago, I saw this speaker and I still use his strategies in this specific speech, the speech name, in my daily life.”
I just put that at the top of the page right there, like we’re good, someone’s going to trust that because 10 years later, someone’s still making an impact on someone’s day. That’s what we want to do as speakers. We have that, we have testimonials showing that video, like you mentioned is huge for speakers. I mean, if you don’t have a video yet on your website, that’s next step number one, if you’re writing a to do list. We need to make sure that you know how to speak and it can be a Zoom meeting, it can just turn it on and record your speech and get some highlights out of it. Something like that, or best case scenarios, the next time you’re in person, have someone just come out and set up a video camera, and iPhone if you have to. But something good to make you look great. And to prove that you know what you’re doing.
Tom: Alright, so we’ve got that know, like and trust factor down. But a lot of websites before we sort of jump into the second tip of strategy and design, a lot of websites just look like everybody else’s. I mean, so many times speakers are like, oh, well, Becky and Bob did a website like this. Make mine look like theirs. The only difference is they use a different font. Should there be something unique about a website?
Kristin: I think there’s definitely some underlying strategy that needs to happen in every single speaker’s website. There’s certainly a flow that works best. But your website should absolutely be your own. You should never have just, you know, look like you just stole Tom Singer’s website, you need to look like it’s your website. I mean, with your personal photos and everything that’s huge on making it look like your own. But I think the big thing is you can look at a website, but you don’t know what’s going on in the backend of that. There’s so much strategy, that’s what I work with is once we’re on a page, what’s their next step and all that.
You might not see that. You just see, oh, I like how they have it set up. I’m gonna copy that. You’re missing kind of steps one through five, and you’re just jumping to six. I think, definitely every website needs to look similar. But don’t throw away the actual tried and true methods of where a menu needs to be, where your logo needs to be. Those are kind of common things for a reason.
Tom: Well, one of the things that I hear from meeting planners all the time, is the huge number of speakers who don’t have a phone number, and or an email up on the very top of their website, and you have to click through to a form. Meeting planners tell me all the time, if the only way I can contact you is by a form, you’re not my speaker. Why are people not putting contact information on the very top of their websites?
Kristin: I honestly don’t know. Because it is definitely what you want to do. Because that was going to be one of my tips, as I was thinking is make it easy to book you. People are making it more difficult. If someone has to click three times to get to a contact form, send it and then maybe wait three days for you to respond, they’ve already hired somebody. Most event planners are going quick. Unfortunately, it’s a very busy industry. Sometimes decisions have to be made instantly. If you’re going to make someone think that they might not hire you, then they’re not gonna hire you.
Tom: Alright, so that’s transitioning us into tip number two, let’s talk strategy and design. This is an area I know nothing about. I don’t pretend to. If we were looking at my website, many people might agree. Tell me everything I need to know about strategy and design and why it matters for a great website for speakers?
Kristin: Well, I’m gonna disagree with something you just said. You said you knew nothing about it. But you just asked a great question about it. Why is someone not giving it easy access to your contact information, and that’s kind of one of the first ones and when it comes to strategy, we always hear in marketing, you might hear the term funnel a lot. All the funnel is is just someone’s a customer journey, right is how someone gets to know you to get to booking you and everything in between. Part of strategy of websites is if someone opens their browser goes to your website, they should immediately know what their next step is.
If it’s booking you, boom, make it easy for them to do that. If you have maybe some lead magnets or just some more information that you’d want someone to digest before hiring you, then let’s put that at the top. But then more strategy throughout the website is every single page needs to say, this is what you do next. Like, here, if you’ve read a blog post, what’s the next one I’m supposed to read? Or what did I make that I can offer to supplement this blog post that you should download? Anything like that it’s all strategy and all just following that customer journey. That’s what I do is just write it all out, map it all out and make sure it looks good in the process.
Tom: Alright, so part of a strategy of a website has to be search engine optimization. And so often, designers don’t even think about SEO. I’m sure just in the short time we’ve spent together, you’re not one of those designers. Let’s talk about SEO and what we should be doing in our strategy to make sure that our website is findable.
Kristin: Yeah, I even have a certificate in SEO. So very happy you asked that. So SEO, if anyone doesn’t know which search engine optimization, but in broken down simple terms is how well you rank on Google.
Tom: It’s getting the Google juice.
Kristin: It’s just ranking on Google is essentially all SEO is and there’s so many different ways to do it, whether it’s writing more content or your website, so Google is looking for words that show that you’re the expert. Generally more contents going to give you a better chance at ranking higher, but being strategic about it. I’ve worked with the speaker that we talked about what blog posts would be good for her to write, to put on her website that shows that she’s the expert in her specific field that she was moving into coaching and what she wanted to do. We talked about that, for more strategy for SEO, there’s different things like I’m not going to get too technical, but there’s something called alt tags.
That’s just basically putting a description of what an image is showing on your website in the back end. Because Google can’t read an image, but it can read your description, which is almost like a caption, it just doesn’t show on your website. Those are two big things.
Tom: Let me just clarify, because I do know what else alt tags are. And so for anyone who doesn’t know, anytime you post a photo, on your blog, or on your website, it gives you the opportunity to add a sentence or a paragraph about what’s going on in the photo. You can strategically add in keywords like keynote speaker, master of ceremony. You can put those words into the photo. If you have lots of them on your website that are using those words, Google sees it enough times, it’s gonna boost up where you are. People only see that if they hover over the photo. It doesn’t actually show up in the design of the website. Look at me knowing something about websites.
Kristin: The other one that you made me think of was when we share our links to our websites on Facebook or whatever. There’s always a little description and an image that goes with it. That’s part of SEO too. We want to make sure that description is telling somebody why you should visit that page on a website, and what’s a good picture that is going to show what they’re going to be looking at. Some people kind of forget that, and it’s a weirdly cropped picture that they just pasted into the website, or the meta description, which is what it’s called, just doesn’t make any sense. Those are the things that we want to make sure we look at when we’re looking at SEO and your website.
Tom: Kristin you were talking about having more content is a good thing. So blogs are really important thing for that website to get found on that SEO stuff. But a lot of speakers have gotten away from blogging. I mean, 10 years ago, we were all told we had to blog every single day. Now a lot of people have blog fadeaway, they just have dead blogs on their website, if they’re there at all. A a lot of people designing new sites aren’t adding a blog, how do you feel about having a blog, or a podcast that’s constantly populating new stuff? How do you feel about that?
Kristin: Yeah, I’ve met speakers that love to write and they love their blog. That’s perfect for them. But if you’re not somebody that likes to write, I personally am not a writer, I like to speak more than anything, communication is part of my values. Having a podcast is a perfect substitute for that, because you’re still putting out content. And we’re still going back to the know, like, and trust factors of the first tip, that all keeps building, it’s showing someone your personality, your expertise, all of that. In order to incorporate the SEO part, a little trick you can do is have your podcasts transcribed and put all the words down with the video of the podcast or an audio link to it, and someone could read it as they listen, and you’re pleasing those Google bots.
Tom: When you look at speaker websites, you don’t have to name any names. What makes you throw up inside your mouth just a little?
Kristin: There’s different things for sure. What’s funny is I used to hire what hire speakers which what we talked about, and we had one that I thought he was perfect, he checked all the boxes. I brought him to our team. I was like, you guys have to know this guy. The problem was, I had gotten to know him through LinkedIn, he had messaged me, we built some rapport. I was like, yes. I shared his name in a meeting with our board. Everybody obviously, typed in his name instantly. His website was one of those. It was pretty rough. It was just a lot of pictures and imagery just shoved together. You know, whitespace is so nice for reader, but it’s one of the hardest things to accomplish, because we want to throw so much there and show you I’m great, I’m wonderful. But then you know, I have a book, I have a podcast. But if it’s all right there, you’re gonna crowd a reader, and they’re just gonna get overwhelmed.
That’s one of the big things that makes me just kind of like oh, inside. Another one would just be walls of text, not breaking it up. Like, if we’re talking about building some trust throughout the website, and you’re saying I do this keynote speaker, blah, blah, having a bar of like images of you doing the speech, or even better, having logos of the companies you’ve done that speech for, breaks it up, gives your eyes a little bit of a break, and like just relaxation, and you’re like, wow, if this company hired him, he must be great at this. That’s one of the things that I remember when we were trying to hire this person, I still believe he’d be a great speaker, but he still hasn’t edited his website. It’s one of those things.
Just having like your personal story be 10,000 paragraphs long, but it never actually coming back to why it’s going to help your reader. Then blurry photos is my number one pet peeve when it comes to websites.
Tom: Alright, so blurry photos, bad, too many things going on at once, bad. But how often should a speaker update their website?
Kristin: Yeah. So the big thing about that is a website is never done. That’s what I want everybody to know is that there’s not a single website out there that is complete or doesn’t need updated ever. How often you want to update your website is up to you. I mean, some people do get really nervous around tech. If you’re one of those people don’t put maybe your tour dates or your event dates on there, because you’re going to have to keep jumping back in there. But I would say if you’re going to be uploading a blog or a podcast, at least a very minimum, jump into your website once a month and just scan through really quickly. Make sure it’s up to date. I personally go through all my websites that I manage weekly, just to make sure but that’s why I do what I do.
Tom: Alright, so we talked about what makes you barf in your mouth just a little bit. What about a website makes you say wow?
Kristin: I really like when people right at the top of their website, say see a video. I love when people have good videos that show off what they do right at the top, because it’s just building that credibility. I think that’s great. People that have really good testimonials, those logos of companies or organizations that they’ve served always makes me really happy. Then those that just I mean, I hate to keep going back to but clear pictures, I think just blurry pictures are my biggest pet peeve. Now you’ve gotten me into that mindset. A good picture of like crowd shots, a good smiling photo, so you can connect with them, good photos of you networking with people maybe like very specifically, like with your name tag on from a conference. All those things just make me be like this person knows what they’re doing. Then of course, it’s surrounded by whitespace so it looks good.
Tom: So if someone’s listening to this, and they’re crying in their beer just a little bit, because their website, it has all the things wrong that you just mentioned. But they’re not in a position, because there was this global pandemic that a lot of people went through and investing in a new website isn’t something that they can do. Aside from getting crystal clear pictures, what are a couple of tweaks that somebody who’s a little tech savvy, can make to their website, to give it a little bit of that strategy, a little bit of that design? And a little bit of that know, like and trust factor, what can people do themselves to up their game?
Kristin: I would start by reaching out to some audiences you’ve spoken with and get some new testimonials, get some nice ones and ask for specific ones. I’d mentioned, not just Tom’s awesome, you want the whole picture of a testimonial, that’s always great. I think one thing you could look at is maybe the colors of your website. So does everything just kind of look good, and does it make sense to your audience. I know we’re getting a little bit into brand strategy, but your colors on your website doesn’t have to be your favorite color. It just has to be a color that jives with your website.
Look at the companies or organizations that you work with the most, and does your website complement theirs. The thing is, with this, if you’re going to get into a website, your to do list is endless, truly, because it’s never done. But that’s a big step. The other big step I would say is to look at your website on a phone. Because the latest statistic is that over 50% of web searches are done on a phone instead of a computer. It would make more sense for your website to look great on a phone to function really well to flow than it would on an actual computer browser.
That’s something to look at. If you do need some help with that, just kind of think of you know, what are some different people that you look up to in the industry, and how are they doing it? Then just think, how can I incorporate that into mine? Not copying, but how can I incorporate that into my website, so that I’m giving off this where I feel that I want to.
Tom: Don’t actually cut and paste other people’s really good websites, but steal the themology and sort of put in that vibe. You brought something up about colors. I know there’s a lot of people who really believe in the science of how colors affect the brain, and therefore everyone’s website should be blue, and that if you use red, you will never get booked or whatever that is going to be. How realistic do you think like the shade you pick of green matters to the psychology of the website?
Kristin: Oh, I just had an image in my mind, as you were asking that question is I know of a speaker, and he likes to incorporate a lot of neon colors on his website, he is just a person that loves all of that. I don’t see him getting booked out by corporations. I don’t see him by big organizations. Luckily, his audiences a bit younger, he works with college kids, so it makes more sense. But I do believe in color theory, I don’t think the shade of green is going to make or break you. But also think about when someone has to print something out of yours. Or if you’re presenting and you want to incorporate those colors into your presentation. You want it all to look the same. If a printer can’t print it out, it also just doesn’t look like your content.
That was my tip for the guy with the neon colors is my printer can print out neon green. I don’t know about yours. High quality only can do that. I would just stay with kind of what you want the person to feel it doesn’t have to be blue. Yes, blue means trustworthy, right? But green is growth. Orange is excitement. Yellow is optimism. There’s all those things that artists and designers and all that do look into, and we like that and that’s how I help my clients choose colors. I say, what are some words that you’d like to have someone feel?
If you’re doing your own colors, maybe just think about that. You can just Google color brand theory and just go to images and you’ll see some really good ones and you’ll see that there are a lot of companies that use different colors to evoke different feelings.
Tom: Leads me to the other question, fonts. Let’s talk fonts. My kids cringe at half the fonts I pick for everything. Let’s talk about picking fonts.
Kristin: If I had a magic wand, I would delete Comic Sans from everybody’s computer right now. Unless you work in a kindergarten classroom, Comic Sans is not what you’re supposed to be using. But the big thing about fonts and the big trap that I find people fall into is cursive or hand lettering. Yes, it looks really fun and unique. And it looks kind of, you know, creative looking. But sometimes it’s hard to read. We’re then leaving out people that might have vision problems, they aren’t gonna be able to read what it says because it’s handwritten looking, and it’s small or whatever. For fonts, choose three and keep that many on your website, anything over three, then you need to reimagine one of them. Crystal clear fonts, you know, the usual there’s popular fonts in there popular for a reason. There’s a reason word tells you Calibri or Arial or Times New Roman, there’s a reason it’s because everything can read that. Google can read that everything is better when a font is more legible and readable.
Tom: Alright, so as we wrap up this interview, what do you wish that every speaker knew about websites that we haven’t yet covered?
Kristin: That done is better than perfect, because you can always improve your website. That’s why I don’t want anybody listening to this and thinking, I gotta delete the whole thing. It’s done. It’s over with. It’s nothing like that. It truly is just, if you take one small step every single week, you’ll get there.
Tom: Awesome. All right. Kristin, if people want to get in touch with you, how can they find you?
Kristin: Yeah, my website is kristinpearson.com. You can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, all those things. But yeah, kristinpearson.com is my website. I’m available to help anybody ask any questions. I love to do just strategy sessions, not even with, hiring me, I would love to jump on Zoom calls and just chat.
Tom: Kristin, thank you so much for what you do. We always appreciate anybody who focuses on the speaking industry. So thanks for helping speakers to be better at their websites. Thank you to everybody who tuned in and listen, be sure that you’re listening to Speakernomics regularly. Go leave one of those super duper reviews on Apple or on Spotify or wherever you get your podcast love, talking about why this is the podcast for anyone who wants to make more money and be a better speaker. Then join us every single week for more thoughts, ideas, and actionable information on how to make that money and be more successful as a professional speaker. Always remember the motto of this podcast, speak, get paid, repeat.
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