Do It Yourself Website… or not
by Shauna Millar
Let’s get down to brass tacks here: You own a small business and you want to expand it by using a tool we call the internet. What are you waiting for? Go out and get started working on your website! Everyone needs one, right? Right? The real question is: Do YOU need a website for your small business? Depending on your market audience, the answer is most likely a resounding “yes”.
So… have you put it in your budget yet? Or are you planning on doing it yourself?
We now live in a world of “DIY” (do it yourself) options. You may have noticed. No matter what industry you are in, somewhere out there (probably on youtube), there is a “DIY” solution to whatever the problem may be. Like most small business owners, you may believe that this is your best option when it comes to having a website. I mean, after all, look at how many “free” website design options there are out there. They offer little to no cost? So, why not take advantage of one of these options? Free is good, right?
I would have to respond by saying, is “free” ever REALLY free? Remember, the old saying, “you get what you pay for”…
So what makes a “free” website?
#1 Your time. After all, your time isn’t worth much, you don’t need to be focusing more on getting new customers or meeting the needs of your current customers. You have the time to invest in researching what is the best “free” website builder/program out there. You have the time to invest in making sure you are going to be reaching your target audience. You have the time to invest in laying out and arranging the site the way you want it to be. You have the time to focus and learn how to build a site that will meet your particular needs for your specific business. Or maybe you just believe a website is more of a “one size fits all.” Now that you have decided to invest the time to build a site that meets your needs, and of course, you remembered to make sure that it was expandable and easy to change when you need it to be.
#2 – Hosting fees. The great thing about these “free” sites is that that only thing you have to do is pay to have it hosted. There are a lot of hosting sites out there that cost next to nothing. (This is the place where your domain lives; domain fees range in cost as well.) However, for these two small costs plus the use of your time – you now have your own “free” site. (And very often, ads are required at the bottom of your site which distracts from your business and can sometimes even be in direct competition with you.)
#3 – Now you are getting those messages asking about SEO (search engine optimization). Of course you have the time to go figure out the best method for your website to bring in the most traffic. (It will only cost a “little bit more” of your time.)
Meanwhile, how many of opportunities to expand your business did you miss when you were building and researching your website? More importantly, did you know that a lot of these “DIY” websites don’t allow for proper SEO? Or expand-ability? That they limit what you can/can’t do with the site?
You may think I am advocating for you to NOT build your own website. Don’t get me wrong; just because I do this for a living, I am not going to tell you not to do it. Some people are just talented that way. They can multi-task and they can do it very well. Making a site do what it needs to in order to be effective can be a challenge. The real question is how much of your time do you want to invest when you can be doing things directly related to your business?
I am going to remind you of one thing: I, too, have a small business. I, too, have invested time and energy to learn my skills. I, too, am affected by all the people who “DIY”. Admittedly, I profit from people who do it themselves for one simple reason; eventually, they come to me for help to fix problem because their site not doing what it needs to do. Often, our clients come to us for a redesign because the site they developed in the “DIY” method turned out to be ineffective in reaching the audience they wanted.
I am going to leave you with one last thought: Don’t rush to do something for “free” because you found a DIY builder. Think about what you want to accomplish in the long run. Budget before you build. Especially if you live in a small community, I encourage you to work with local people to help keep their business’ thriving. Not just website designers – no matter what the business – keep your community alive by doing business with each other.