Online marketing requires a solid understanding of digital commerce, trends and activity. But if your small business wants to compete, the first step will always be establishing a website for users to come knocking. There are considerable costs involved in setting up a new website, so in order to get the most impact for the least expense consider these five tips:
$5 Domain Names
Your domain name is your web address, and although the www. is no longer necessary to publicize as the prefix, every website has a suffix such as .com, .info, .net, etc. You’ll find thousands of pages of forum debates on the subject, but the general preference is for a .com prefix over the others. You need to register your preferred domain name with your choice of hundreds of registrars. Prices for equivalent registrations vary widely from around $5 to over $30.
The hosting answer for virtually every startup site is to go with shared as opposed to dedicated hosting. You can graduate to the latter at any time but at your launch you certainly don’t need the extra features and costs that come with it. You can easily find a shared package from a respected host for under $5 a month (and they may even throw in the domain name registration for free), while dedicated hosting can cost $150 and up. Make sure that you check online to confirm the reputation of your host, and that your shared hosting allows for sufficient bandwidth as exceeding the stated limits for monthly downloads and uploads can result in a four or five figure invoice!
Most hosts provide a free website builder but most new internet entrepreneurs will find them far too limiting. DIY website software has a very steep learning curve and unless you know what you’re doing, you’ll end up with a very ugly and largely non-functional website. The best solution is to purchase your website from a template site. You’ll find tens of thousands of templates with every imaginable functionality built right in, and they require minimal if any knowledge to complete. No matter whether you need (or think you need) WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, osCommerce, ZenCart, or any other type of complex or e-commerce site, you’ll be able to choose among hundreds or thousands of variants. Some have Flash and other types of animations that you can customize just by typing into a form without requiring any specialized software whatsoever. There are even Facebook templates available! Most of these turnkey templates are available for between $50 and $100.
$1,000 Custom Programming (optional)
Should you be one of the very tiny minority of web entrepreneurs that has extremely convoluted or totally original requirements for your website that cannot be satisfied by the template sites, you will have to turn to a programmer. These website wizards will prove to be expensive as handcoding a site can take hundreds of man-hours. It is not unheard of for a complex website to require well over $100,000 in coding fees. Your best bet is to place a very detailed “programmer wanted” posting which usually costs just a few dollars onto a freelance developer site. You’ll receive a lot of bids in a short time and you’ll be able to interact with all of the bidding programmers to pick the best one for your needs. Check their past ratings and previous employer comments on the site to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable and capable individual. You’ll find that some of your best bids will be around a thousand dollars – but that varies enormously according to what you’re asking the programmer to do.
You can also find graphic artists through the same freelancer sites and they can develop logos and other customized images for you. You’ll generally pay around $150 for a decent logo and $50 for individual graphic elements. There are numerous image sites where you can buy the rights to use any of millions of professional, specialized photographs to suit your every need. Some offer unlimited downloads for a month for a one time payment of $250, so unless you only need a couple of images, that’s the best way to go.
Spend some time researching the various options available when you’re building your site and you can save thousands of dollars!