CREATING A WEBSITE – OMG IT’S ALL JUST TOO COMPLICATED!
Right, now we’ve got the two main things out of the way; what is our online business going to offer and what are we going to call it, it’s time to move on to the nuts and bolts of our operation.
The first big decision we have to make is how to set up our website. Do you actually need a website? There are certainly some people that would argue that you don’t actually need a website to run an online business. For example, if you are just trying to sell your books on Amazon, do you really need a website? Or, if you are reselling products from another marketplace, e.g. importing from China and reselling on EBay or Amazon, or wherever, do you really need a website? My answer to that is YES and there are three main reasons for this:
Firstly, you want your online business to look professional – this is your BRAND and in today’s marketplace brand is important. Customers generally expect you to have a website, where you display your wares. Secondly, if you have big dreams for your online business (and let’s face it – if you don’t have big dreams, then why not? “If you don’t have big dreams then big dreams can’t come true”) then you probably have long-term plans to sell your services and/or products, directly from your website and cut out any middlemen, who want to grab a share of your entrepreneurship. The final reason why you would want to have a website is that websites are a wonderful way of gaining information about your customers and your potential customers. Email is still the best way to keep in contact with your customers, to let them know about special offers, new products, what’s happening in your business etc. But, to do this, you need to collect email addresses and people are often reluctant to give these out. Web sites are brilliant for gathering this information and then using it to you and your client’s benefit. I’ll go deeper into how you can automate all this in a later blog, but suffice it to say, a website is a key to gathering these valuable email addresses.
So, we need a website, right? At this point many people throw up their hands in horror and exclaim; “but I can’t afford a website and anyway, I’m just not tech-savvy enough to make one”. Trust me, I’m 58-years-old and one of the least tech savvy people I know, but I was able to make a very useful, functional and I believe attractive website all on my lonesome (AND YOU CAN TOO!). There is plenty of help available out there for anyone unsure of how to do this, regardless of what platform you might use. To address the first issue – cost! I can categorically say, there are plenty of websites providers out there who will let you construct a website on their platform for ZERO cost, apart from your personal time. I’ll just give you a short list of the free websites that I’m aware of, but there are much more out there. You just need to do some very basic research to find them:
As I said, there is much more out there, so scout around and find one that offers you what you’re looking for. I chose Weebly, mainly because I’d already tried a couple of the others and found them not exactly what I was looking for. Either they were too flashy for my, conservative, liking or they were too complicated for my limited tech brain and I was too lazy to try to learn how to use them. I particularly like Weebly for two reasons: 1/ Their websites are clean, plain and their themes not overly colourful. I find it frustrating when I go to a website and the background is so colourful, or there are things flashing and distracting me so much that I can’t even read the writing on the website (to me they’ve failed dismally – they may have an attractive design, but if the customer cannot read about the product, what’s the point?) 2/ It uses “drag and drop” modular items to build the site and to an idiot like me, that makes sense. What you need to do is look around, experiment a bit and then make a choice and make the most fantastic website you can, that suits you, your personality and your product or service.
I’m proud of my two websites (one for Grant Leishman – Author and one for Author Resource Centre). I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and I’m forever fiddling around trying to improve them. Once you have your website, the possibilities are limitless, with respect to what you do with it.
As I said, Weebly and the other platforms will allow you to build your website for FREE which is great, but, of course, their functionality will be limited slightly, because the website provider would like you to purchase one of their packages to upgrade your website. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS! The basic, free, website package should be all you need initially. When you want more functionality, later on, such as e-commerce direct from your website, then that’s the time to look at upgrading your package.
I would recommend, however, that you do make one small investment in your business’ website and that is to purchase your URL that I talked about in the previous blog. It costs me around US$20 per annum, (2017) per website, to OWN grantleishman.com and authorresourcecentre.com and I consider that to be a very valuable investment on my part, for two reasons. If you don’t buy your URL, someone else can buy it and then you can’t buy it at a later date, if you want to. Secondly, if you don’t own your URL, your website address will need to include the name of your website provider. For example, if I didn’t own the URL authorresourcecentre.com then my website address would have to be www.authorresourcecentre.weebly.com, which I don’t like, because, in my opinion, it looks amateurish.
Before I go, I just have one final word to say on URLs. There are lots of possible suffixes available for URLs. eg. .com, .org, .co.(country e.g .co.uk), .firm, .web, .xxx and so on, ad infinitum. I would recommend .com, mainly because everyone knows the .com stands for commerce. Ultimately the choice, though, is yours.
Okay, so get to it – build that impressive website and if you have any questions or need some guidance from a non-technical idiot, then feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck and when you’ve got it all up and running let me know and I’ll come and have a gander and be suitably impressed!