How many times have you stopped doing what you were doing and thought, “Ah, if only I had a website…”
Perhaps you created a Facebook page for your business, that you maintain regularly. Or a LinkedIn profile that lists all your achievements in your industry. Maybe add a LinkedIn page for Business to the mix and you have built quite a platform.
So why do I keep reading questions on business forums such as—
“Do I need a website?”
“Where can I get started with a website?”
“I’m on a low budget! Where do I find inexpensive hosting to start with?”
You see, the website matter is a hot one after all. Many freelancers or business owners like you feel that having a website is a great asset to make business online. Perhaps you are one of them, since you are here.
I’ll tell you– getting started with a Business website is really, really easy after all.
Here is a quick recipe to make a great website for your business:
- 1. Take some time to study websites in your industry. What do they offer? What kind of business image do they portray? Is there immediate value for the prospect, way before they request a quote?
- 2. Write down your mission statement and the structure you want your website you have. This is a very important step, don’t overlook it! It all begins with your mission statement, because you have to have a purpose for your website in order to lay out its structure. For example, my mission for LuanaSpinetti.com is to show prospects not only what work I’ve done and what I can offer, but even HOW I do it and WHY, and the person behind all of that. So, my business website is a virtual reflection of my persona and the way I would interact with my prospect if we were in a face to face situation. If I can’t speak with my mouth, I will speak with my website.
- 3. Structure your content. After you have your general structure ready, it’s time to work on your content. Don’t worry about producing full pages for now, just plan your content in a way that helps your prospect find what they’re looking for in an easy, almost conversational fashion (it’s easy to move between topics when you chat, isn’t it?)— and then leave some room for a good CTA (call to action).
- 4. Hire a good designer or design a simple web template yourself. If you have the skills, you can easily produce a simple, uncluttered web template in HTML 5 and CSS 3. Or you can hire a web designer to do the job for you. Either way, get the thing done and create your homepage and navigation links for now.
- 5. Write your homepage text. Unless your prospects are coming from a search engine or a link from a blog post or an article, they’re more likely to land on your homepage the first time, that means your homepage can be your gateway to a great lead, or the failure of it. That’s why your homepage text is the first piece of content you should write! If you’re not a writer or feel unsure about your writing skills, you can hire a copywriter to write your homepage text for you.
- 7. Register your business domain name. You can pick an affordable registrar such as NameCheap or Name.com for your business domain name. These registrars generally charge $10-$12 per year for your domain, so they are quite inexpensive. Another option is to register your domain name with your web hosting provider — sometimes for free. See #8 below.
- 8. Signup for a hosting package at an affordable, but safe, hosting provider. This is easier said than done, because there are hundreds of web hosting providers online, not all affordable, not all reliable. But this step can open your eyes on what you really need for your website: if you opted for a static website, a simple, inexpensive web hosting solution can do the job for you. But starting small will help even if you have a big, dynamic website in your plan. Start small, then upgrade.
- 9. Upload your website. Easy step: just upload your template and website pages on your hosting account and see your site go online. If your website is static (HTML files), all you need is an FTP client such as FileZilla to upload your files. If your website is dynamic (e.g. WordPress-based), you will work from within your software administration panel.
- 10. Add analytics to your website. You can use Google Analytics or open source solutions like OWA or Piwik. What’s important is that you have a way to monitor traffic to and from your site.
- 11. Add a blog. You can write blog posts yourself or hire a freelance blogger for your blog, but my suggestion is that you don’t miss out on the opportunities that only a blog can bring to your table: a close relationship with your visitors, readers and prospects, a way to leverage your offers and send out “in-house” press releases, and a way to keep your content fresh and your ideas flowing to your audience.
Got questions? Ask in the comments below! 🙂
I also recommend you read the sweet Top 10 of things your website needs by Entrepreneur.com as it’s specific to small businesses.
Do you have a business website? If you do, how often does it bring in leads and sales?
Email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Image credit: Chasing Daisy (Creative Commons)