The biggest question I had when putting my small 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 my own business, I went at it alone. And let me tell you, it is a process with no end. You have a few options when it comes to creating, recreating, or improving your small business website. 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 things you love, whether that’s time with your family, on the golf course, shopping, or time relaxing with friends. But, 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. You’ll have to trust 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 web design freelancer or web design agency.
Web Design Freelancer
Your second option is to utilize an independent web designer. If you can find a good one, you should be able to make it through the process of getting a solid website online for $1,000-$2,500. If you go this route, remember that what you’ll end up with is probably just a professional looking, 3-8 page online business card. It will most certainly lack the elements that we help businesses with here at Website Blueprint (building business online, SEO, email marketing, blogging, online advertising, social media, and creating a profitable sales funnel with your website). But, many small businesses have to take things in small steps, and getting a professional-looking website online is step one. So, how do you find a freelancer? Well, it could be a friend of a friend or you can find designers through services like elance.com or guru.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 going to be a happier person with a much better web presence than if you went at it alone or just hired a wed design freelancer. But, can you afford it? There are great design firms in most mid-sized and larger markets. I have no doubt that if money wasn’t an objective, you should set up an appointment with them and have them take care of (nearly) everything for you. What’s it going to cost? My best guess is $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 advertising is crucial no matter what direction you go. You don’t need to know it all, but at least 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 web marketing. It’s not often that your designers/developers are going to have the full range of understanding how you’ll actually build business with your web presence (though, they should certainly know more than your independent web designer). Now that you’re receiving emails from Website Blueprint, we’ll help give you a solid web marketing education so that you can make sure the agency that’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 independent designer to do some work cleaning things up for you. But, most importantly, keep reading and learning more from Website Blueprint. We’ll help you understand how to make your website do more to create business and interact with customers so your online presence is as profitable as it can be.
Build Your Business Online.
Website Blueprint Architect