Your website is the cornerstone of your entire online public image. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, your potential clients use Google to find your business, whether it’s off or online. Your website address is also on your business cards and in your email signature.
No matter how you slice it, your potential clients are all heading to your website to find out more about you.
It goes without saying, then, that it’s not enough to have any old website. Your website has to:
· Demonstrate how your products and services will help your potential clients
· Tell your potential clients who you are and what you do
· Show that other people are listening to what you have to say through testimonials, “as seen in” logos, or social media icons
· Be clean, professional, organized, and interesting
And if that wasn't daunting enough, there’s the even more basic matter of how much this fabulous website will cost.
Basic Website Costs
There are three basic costs to starting any website: hosting, a domain name, and a pre-built design. The great news is that you can buy all three of these for less than $200.
The downside to keeping yourself to a $200 budget is that you will have to do all of the installation and website creation work yourself. All of which is definitely possible, especially if you’re willing to Google for free resources or get on the phone with your hosting company.
Let’s delve deeper into each of these three necessary costs.
Cost of a Domain Name - $10/year
Your domain name is the name of your website (like www.google.com). It’s often the name of your company or a few key words that describe what your company does. If you’re not sure about your business name, use your own name as your domain name. That way, if your business name changes, you won’t need to change your domain name.
Your domain name should cost no more than $10 per year, and must be renewed every year. I recommend purchasing your domain name (and your website hosting) through Host Gator. Their prices are beginner-budget friendly, and their awesome customer service is available 24/7.
Cost of Website Hosting - $100/year
Website hosting is the fancy term for the place on the internet where you set up your website. Think of it in terms of building a house in the country: you’ve already bought your address (your domain name), and now you need some land to set up shop. Your website hosting is the site of your future home.
Your website hosting should cost no more than $100 a year. Some companies will discount this per-year price even lower if you purchase a two or three year package. I recommend purchasing your website hosting (and your domain name) through Host Gator. Not only do they have an excellent track record, but their prices are easy on a tight budget, and their customer service staff is available every day (and night).
Note that there are website hosting companies that will charge you $50 or more each month. Don’t be fooled – there’s no reason to spend more than $100 a year on website hosting when you’re first building your website.
Cost of Website Software – Free!
Thanks to the invention of Wordpress, website design has become a lot less expensive than it used to be. Sticking to the building a house example, Wordpress is a free website design software that will lay your foundation.
Aside from being free (always a plus!), Wordpress allows you to build and update your website with minimal technical skills. If you can type up a Word document and insert pictures, you can use Wordpress to build and update your site! And if you get stuck, there are a ton of free resources online to teach you how to use it!
Cost of Website Design - $75 or less
By far the best thing about Wordpress is the invention of themes. Think of a Wordpress theme as the blueprints for your house – it lays out the walls, the paint colors, and the roof!
There are many free Wordpress themes available on the internet. One or two will come pre-installed when you install Wordpress on your website.
However, if you’re looking for customer support, a help forum, and something a little more flexible than a free theme, I recommend purchasing a theme from a theme designer.
You will pay a one-time license fee for a theme, and that fee will also entitle you to email their customer support team when you get stuck or have a problem.
Here are a few of my favorite Wordpress theme design companies. Each of these companies has themes for under $75, and many are in the $35 - $50 range.
Picking your theme is the most challenging part of building your website. Be sure to spend some time finding the theme blueprint that best fits what you want your website to look like.
Remember - it’s easy to paint your walls a different color. It’s not as easy to knock down a wall or remodel your whole house.
What do you wish you’d done differently with your very first website? Let me know in the comments below!
Marketing coach Felicity Fields helps entrepreneurs build awesome businesses by rocking their online marketing. Grab her weekly short ‘n’ sweet online marketing tips or check out her awesome blog at www.felicityfields.com.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7658159678/
Tax Credits: http://photopin.com