Access the complete Creating a Business Website series.
The biggest question I had when putting my business online was, “How am I going to do this?” I was fortunate enough to have worked with a local web design agency to create a basic website for the company I worked for at one point, but really had no clue as to the technical or marketing sides of having a successful online presence. So, when I started to put my own small business online, I went at it alone. And let me tell you, it is a never-ending process.
You have a few options when it comes to creating, recreating or improving your small business website online. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Do it Yourself?
If you plan on creating or recreating your online presence alone, then my heart goes out to you. It is a time consuming, frustrating and costly investment. And that investment is time, both to you and your family.
When you try to go at it alone, it will take up nearly all the time you spend doing the things you love, whether that’s time with your family, on the golf course, shopping, or time relaxing with friends. Yes, you will save dollars. That is, unless you consider your time worth something. Because when you add those hours up, you’re spending a lot of sweat equity going at it yourself.
I think it is possible to learn what you need to know in regard to web marketing (which is how to attract, persuade, and build business with your web presence) in a few months of heavy study. But, creating your website is a beast.
Taking the time to learn a web creation/editing tool is a nightmare. Believe me, you don’t want to try to build your own website. Unless you have a solid background in design, CSS, and HTML, you’ll never have a finished website that is professional enough to represent your business. That is, unless learning these tools will be a full-time job over many months.
There are services that claim you can build your own website without knowing the technical stuff. Avoid them. You will never be able to create a web presence with enough flexibility and professionalism without working with either a professional web designer (a freelancer) or a web design agency.
Web Design Freelancer?
Your second option is to utilize an independent web designer. If you can find a good one (references, references, references), you should be able to make it through the process of getting a solid website online for $1,000-$5,000.
If you go this route, what you’ll probably end up with is a professional looking, 3 to 8-page online business card. It will most certainly lack the elements that we stress are so important here at Website Blueprint: online marketing elements, SEO (search engine optimization), email marketing, blogging, social media, and utilizing your website as a “sales funnel.”
But, many small businesses have to take things in small steps, and getting a professional small business website online is step one. So, how do you find a freelancer? It could be a friend of a friend or you can find designers through services like elance.com.
If you don’t have the time to build a website yourself (who does?) and don’t have enough money for a web development agency to do most everything for you (see below), an independent freelancer may be your best first step.
Full Service Web Firm/Agency?
If you can go this route, congratulations. You’re business should end up with a great web presence, and you’re going to save yourself both time and frustration. But, can you afford it?
There are great design firms in most mid-sized and larger markets. I have no doubt if money weren’t an obstacle, you could set up an appointment with a full service web firm/agency and have them take care of (nearly) everything for you.
What’s it going to cost? Without knowing your specific requirements, my best guess would be in the range of $5,000-$15,000. Now, if you’ve got the cash, you’re good to go. But, there are still elements of web marketing that you’re going to want to understand yourself.
With a freelancer, you’re going to have to “know it all” when it comes to web marketing, so you can tell them what you want. But, with an agency, you only have to “understand” web marketing. There’s a big difference. A basic understanding of SEO, email marketing, blogging, social media, and online marketing is crucial no matter how you decide to move forward. You don’t need to know it all, but at least know enough to be able to communicate with the agency or firm that is developing your web presence.
There are specialists in web design/development and specialists in website marketing. It’s not often that your designers/developers are going to have the full range of understanding of how you’ll actually build business with your web presence (though, they should certainly know more than an independent web designer).
If you’re receiving our free business website tips, we’ll give you a solid web marketing education so that you can make sure the agency who’s creating your website includes everything you need to build more business online.
You may fall somewhere in between the options above. You may already have a website you like that represents your business well. Or, you may already have a website that you want to look a little better or be more effective building business for you. If this is the case, decide if you need a full service agency or an independent designer to do some work cleaning things up for you.
This is Part 2 of Creating a Business Website. View the rest of this series:
Part 1 | Keep it Simple
Part 2 | Don’t Go Alone
Access the complete Creating a Business Website series.