This is a question we get asked all the time and, to a large extent, the answer will differ depending where you are in your business. We know clients who have wasted tens of thousands of dollars on getting a website built for them. In one case the problem was that although the website looked great, the business owner couldn’t make updates because the website designer had used a Joomla/Drupal based proprietary system that no-one other than the website designer had the knowledge on how to access or use. So then you are stuck paying a lot of money to the web designer for ongoing updates – sometimes which can take a long time to make happen – it is just annoying.
The other case was a client who had a concept that he hoped to sell to investment partners and wanted a fancy website that would help him sell it. The problem was that the concept was hatched pre-2008-crash and, post crash, concepts now had to be proven before investors would look at them. The fancy website was all style and no substance. What he should have done was spend the time and effort on his customer’s needs and put up a free website to test the demand, and only spent money on the website once he had proved the concept through real customer sign ups.
Certainly, when you are first launching a business – unless the website functionality is the business, like Canva, for example – if you are just selling a product or service, as a coach, an artist, a maker of a product etc, there is absolutely no need to spend a lot of money on a website until such time as it becomes necessary – if it ever does.
We get into specific platforms in another post, but there are several options open to a small business or solopreneurs to create a professional looking website themselves, or via a virtual assistant, something they can easily make updates to themselves, but that will give them all the functionality they need to run their business efficiently and effectively.
However, there will be some cost involved, but it need not amount to more than a couple of hundred dollars. Here are some of the costs to expect –
Hosting – Hosting varies, but only by small amounts. Someone like Bluehost, for example, will charge approximately $4 a month (paid annually, so about $50 for the year), but will include a free domain name.
Domain names – can be provided free with hosting, as above, but if you want something specific to your business, or specifically a .com domain that there is competition for, then you may need to spend some money. Some domains sell for thousands of dollars. If you are just starting out then I wouldn’t even think about spending that sort of money. However, you may need to spend up to $40 for something specific, like one of the new suffix domain names like .marketing or .club etc.
Website platform – you really don’t need to spend money on the website platform itself. There are a ton of free options for both hosted or self-hosted websites – eg. WordPress.
Wordpress is great because as an open source platform you have a ton of people contributing themes and plugins, etc, all the time and it is relatively easy to use, and has a all the functionality you could need through the addition of plugins (some free, some paid).
Themes – there are lot of free themes available, but even premium themes will only cost you in the range of $35 – $135. If you are looking for something that is professional and great looking, that’s money worth spending. And if you live with it awhile and decide you like something else better – no problem – it is cheap and easy to change themes and your page content and blog posts will adapt to the new style automatically.
Autoresponder – the only other piece of software you will need is an autoresponder, both to capture those email addresses of interested parties, often in exchange for a free offer, and to which you can email market to that list. Again, prices vary but are usually on a sliding scale based on the number of contacts on your list – starting at about $10 per month for 250 – 500 contacts and going up to $70+ per month for 10,000 contacts, and so on. If you are just starting out, MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 500 contacts, and when you are first starting out, free is always good.
Shopping Cart – if you have a lot of products to sell, then investing in a Online Shopping site such as Shopify is probably well worth the investment. For around $50 per month, again based on a sliding scale, you can have a highly functional great looking online storefront for your products and never have to worry about it breaking down on you. There are also plugins such as WooCommerce that will convert your WordPress pages for selling products similar to the look of an eCommerce site. The trade-off for not having a monthly fee to pay is that you have to set up all the products, images, pricing etc yourself.
Once you are successful and raking in the $$$$ – and you find that you need something a bit better as a website, then you can think about getting a designer to provide you with a more customized WordPress site – maybe. But for most of us spending time, effort and money on the content of the website is far more important than the design of the website itself.
And, if you are testing out a new concept to see whether there is a market for it – set up a simple low-cost website first – if your concept is strong then people will sign up anyway. With thousands of followers or email signups you can take a proven concept to potential funders. If they fund your project – then you can look at upgrading your website – not before.
If you are looking to create a website for your business, or have a website and want to make sure it is a lead magnet for your business, not a lead loser, you might be interested in our upcoming Time Traders Club LAB Workshop on Thursday Sept 21 – check out the details here – http://timetradersclub.com/website-lead-magnet-or-lead-loser/