So, you’ve decided to make the leap and become an entrepreneur? Maybe you’ve been in business for a while, or maybe you’ve recently decided to strike out on your own. Either way, congratulations!
While the uncertainty of business (and your paycheck) can be nerve racking at first, the long-term benefits and freedom are worth every bit of sacrifice that you make. I love working for myself, and I never want to go back!
While basic business principles remain relatively constant, a lot has changed over the last few years. It’s no longer enough just to hang a shingle outside your storefront and expect new customers to start rolling in. In fact, you might not even need a storefront at all.
This digital age has given rise to more and more home-based businesses, which means you (or your competition) may be able to cut costs and do business from the comfort of your own living room.
If you own a home-based business, or even if you don’t, having a website is crucial to your success. If the thought of computers makes your stomach churn, don’t worry. You don’t need to be a programmer or spend thousands of dollars to create a website. If you know how to use your computer’s mouse, you can build it yourself with help from companies such as GoDaddy and have your new website generating new business in no time.
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Why Start a Website?
The internet has changed the way we shop, the way we sell, and the way that potential customers may find (or never find) your business. It’s estimated that a staggering 201.7 million Americans shopped online in 2015. That number will continue to grow as technology improves and consumers become more comfortable with online shopping.
The fact is that your website is often the first impression that many potential customers will have of your business. This is especially true if you run your business from your home. But, that’s only one reason that having a great looking website is so important.
In addition to making a first impression, having a website builds credibility, enlarges your potential customer base, and creates a forum over which you have complete control to present and showcase your best work. Furthermore, it’s a great way to build relationships with your customers and keep them informed of current promotional information or company changes. Plus, it’s always “open” so they can check out your business at a time that is convenient for them. Simply put, you can’t afford not to have a website!
How to Start a Website
While the thought of creating your own website might seem intimidating, it really isn’t all that difficult. In fact, places like GoDaddy.com make it super easy for business owners to create websites of their own. Here’s how!
Step 1) Define Your Website’s Purpose
Before you can begin to build your website, you need to focus on what you want your website to do for your business. What’s your goal?
Depending on the type of business you have, that could mean many things. Many successful websites aim to accomplish a number of different goals while some serve just one purpose. Do you want your website to be an informative ad about your products/services or are you hoping to use it as an actual storefront to complete sales? Do you want to reach customers located outside your geographical area, or are you looking to build your brand and strengthen relationships with existing customers within your own community? What do you want your website to do for you and what do you hope to gain from it?
These types of questions are going to help you decide what type of content should be included on your new website and will ultimately help to make your website (and your business) more successful.
Step 2) Purchase a Domain Name
Now that you know what you want your website to do for your business, the next step is to purchase and register a domain. Similar to a street address for a physical location, a domain is the digital address at which customers can find your website.
Typically, you’ll want to purchase a domain with a name that is very similar to your company’s name. This makes it much easier for current and potential customers to find you while searching online. For instance, if your home-based company is called Jackson Consulting, a natural place to start would be “jacksonconsulting.com.”
I’ve always found GoDaddy.com to be the easiest place to buy domains. Provided that you purchase the domain for multiple years, you’ll find domains at rock bottom prices – including $0.99 .com domains. Generally, most domains will cost you around $10-15 a year, which is still extremely cheap to reserve and protect your online property.
Once you’ve navigated to GoDaddy, just type your preferred domain name in the fillable box. Then click “Search Domain” (see below), and their system will let you know if the domain is available. If it is, you can purchase it immediately. Pretty simple, right?
Step 3) Find a Host
Now that you have an domain name, you need to find a “host” for your website. So, if you consider your domain name to be like a street address, your host is the lot that you’re going to build your website on. There are dozens of hosting companies available, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
However, if you want to keep things simple, GoDaddy again makes it easy for home-based businesses to find quality hosting. They offer their own hosting plans – with pricing usually starting at about $5.99 per month. You can even add it as an option when completing the purchase of your domain. Simple as pie.
Step 4) Connect Your Domain and Host
If you decide to use GoDaddy to purchase both your domain name and as your host, you can skip this step. If not, you’ll need to make sure that your domain name (your domain registrar) and your website host are talking to each other.
To do this, you need to know your host’s “nameservers.” You’ll need to change the nameservers that are currently connected to your domain at your domain registrar’s location and match them to the nameservers provided by your host. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, but it does take a couple of steps. Unfortunately, each company’s setup is slightly different, but a simple Google search should help you find the exact steps to make the switch.
Step 5) Build and Design Your Website
Now, comes the fun part – designing your website. It’s time to make your website look pretty and create the content that the world is actually going to see. While the actual content is up to you, don’t let designing your website freak you out. Again, GoDaddy makes it simple with their “Website Builder” option.
With hundreds of different design templates to choose from, you are sure to find a design that will help you create a website suited to meet your goals (you remember creating those, right?). You can easily customize these designs to get the look and feel you want for your website. You’ll probably need to play around a little bit to get it just right, but Website Builder can save you tons of time and thousands of dollars compared to hiring it out.
Pro Tip: Save Money with Website Builder – As a small business owner myself, I know how important saving money can be. I also know the importance of saving time. As an “all-inclusive” package, GoDaddy’s Website Builder does both.
There are three different Website Builder packages, so you can choose the plan with the options you need that also fits your budget. All of the plans come with the website builder, a free year of business email from Office 365, and a free domain. With prices starting at just $1 per month for 12 months, these packages are hard to beat!
Again, that’s pennies compared to what you would pay to hire it out. Just make the tweaks you like, and you’ll have a professional looking website in no time at a fraction of the cost.
Step 6) Promote Your Website
Once you have your website looking the way you want, it’s time to let people know its there. Promote your website whenever and wherever you can. Put it on your business cards, your letterhead, your social media accounts – anywhere you think potential customers might see it. The more you promote it, the more traffic you’ll drive to the site – which ultimately means more success for your business!
Regardless of whether you’re running a traditional or home-based business, having a business website is more important than ever. But you don’t have to be a computer programmer or spend a fortune to build one. By using tools like GoDaddy, you can build a great website that will meet your needs without breaking the bank. Get started today!