Websites are your business’ virtual office, the place where potential and current clients, media, and–let’s face it–your competition stop by to evaluate what you do and how well you do it. Your site is likely the first impression you make, especially if visitors come to you via Personal Chef Search or a search engine. And yet I’m constantly surprised at how little attention many people pay to theirs. You may spend a small fortune on design or almost nothing at all, but some of the most critical mistakes I find have nothing to do with budget. They have to do common sense and basic marketing principles. In other words, you’re not paying attention.

Because we want you to succeed and use all the tools available to you to do this, well, I’m going to be blunt about the top 10 website mistakes you’re making. And, if you’re rolling your eyes because you don’t think this applies to you, check your website to be sure. Congrats if you’ve escaped this cudgel, but in all likelihood you have at least one or two issues you need to resolve–and, most are so simple you’re going to be embarrassed. The good news is that they’re easy fixes. (I’m not going to get into complex navigation issues here, but ask your friends and family to test your site to identify if getting around your site is also an issue.)

1. You don’t identify yourself by name. You’re asking people to invite you into your home but nowhere on your site do you do more than call yourself Chef John or Chef Kim. That just won’t fly. Tell people who you are.

2. You don’t identify the geographic area you serve. Are you based in Seattle? Philadelphia? Dallas? Who is going to get in touch with you if they don’t know where you are? And don’t rely on your phone number’s area code to give it away. You may have moved but kept your old number on your cell phone. Or your region’s phone numbers have been repeatedly divided into new area codes that people aren’t necessarily familiar with.

3. Your “Contact Me” page only contains a form for potential clients to complete, not actual contact information. Don’t make people work to get in touch with you. Be as accessible as possible.

4. You don’t include enough photos of your food. If you are offering sample menus or recipes, you must have photos to accompany them. Food is a visual medium and potential clients want to see what your food looks like.

Vietnamese Beef Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles and Cucumber Relish

Beautifully styled and lit photo of Vietnamese Beef Lettuce Wraps by Carol Borchardt, who has developed a passion for food photography

5. Your photos are lousy. If you’re creating a virtual billboard that represents your talent, show it at its best. Photos that are poorly lit or out of focus are the worst culprits. Photos that are too small are also problematic. Either learn how to take quality photos or hire someone who can style and shoot you and your food to their advantage.


Compelling photo of Elizabeth Prewitt and her dishes

6. You have included a blog on your website, but haven’t updated it in months, perhaps years. You may have had the best of intentions but are too busy to keep up with writing a blog. If that’s the case, the call is easy. Remove that page from your website. Don’t give the impression that you don’t follow through.

7. You don’t identify yourself as an APPCA member. Potential clients and media are looking for evidence that you provide a legitimate service and that you are trained and expert in what you do. Using the APPCA logo and noting your affiliation in your “About Me” (or the equivalent) page goes a long way in proving that.


8. You have clickable logos on your website for various social media platforms, but they aren’t actually linked to  social media accounts. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or other social media platforms (and you should be), insert the links to make the most of those logos to get people to where you can interact with them. If you’re not engaged in social media, remove those logos.



Twitter logo

9. You haven’t updated your website after making changes in your life or your business. I recently wrote about a member and, based on what she wrote on her website, noted where she was based. She sent me a note saying she no longer lived there. I had to change what I wrote to reflect her actual home base. She had to go back to her website and update the old information. I wonder how many people might have contacted her if the information had been current.

10. You don’t brag about your accomplishments. Have you won an award? Been featured in a newspaper article? Been a guest on a local radio show? Asked to cater a major event? Add a “News” page that allows you to tell website visitors what you’ve been up to. And be sure to keep it up to date.

These 10 mistakes don’t just apply to your website. Pull out your business card. What information have you included? Remember, you can use both sides of the card. It should contain your full name, the name of your business, the communities you serve, any specialization you have, and the services you offer. And, of course, it should have your contact information (phone, email), your website URL, and your social media platforms (including your personalized Facebook business page URL).

Your email signature should be just as robust. Include your full name, your business name, your phone numbers, your web URL, your social media account names/URLs. Have a business logo? Include that, too.

The takeaway is that with every point of contact you need to be memorable (in a good way), be easy to find, be irresistible. Your website is a reflection of you and what you can provide. If you create a situation in which people leave your site scratching their heads because they can’t figure out what exactly you do, who you are, or how to reach you–well, why even have a website? You can do better.

What mistakes do you find on websites that you wish people would address?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.


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