Most small businesses know how important it is to build an online presence these days. Studies have shown that most consumers are using search engines like Google to find service providers and local businesses online.
As far as these consumers are concerned, if you don’t have a website you might as well not exist. For a lot of businesses, this can be a real problem. After all, not all of us have thousands of dollars to spend building and maintaining a website.
Fortunately, getting online in 2020 and beyond doesn’t have to be all that expensive. By utilizing the tools and tips outlined in this guide, almost anyone can build a small business website without breaking the bank.
What Every Small Business Website Needs?
Building a small business website isn’t all that complicated, you just need a few key features. At a minimum, you’ll want a single page that introduces your brand and explains the services that you offer.
This is accomplished by the home page – it should serve as a basic overview of your entire business. Your homepage should contain your company’s name, slogan, core services, customer testimonials, contact information, and your location.
That’s the bare minimum, and for many, this is good enough. But for those of you who have the time and resources, it’s a great idea to add a few more pages. A services section should explain in detail all of the services or products that your company offers.
An “about us” section should give a quick history of your company, and allow you to introduce yourself to prospective clients.
Finally, a contact page should provide a simple form to fill out as well as telephone, email, and address information so visitors can find you more easily. Simple enough, right? To get started, you’ll need some combination of both time and money. Here are a few approaches you can take:
Low Budget Option: Self-Build for Under $100 Per Year
For those of us who are willing to learn how to use a few free tools, the cheapest possible way to get a website is to build it yourself using common software.
While it is possible to build a site completely free, we do recommend using a few paid services: namely a domain name and hosting. There are plenty of service providers for this, you can expect to pay around $10 per year for the domain and anywhere from $30 to $120 per year for web hosting.
WordPress.org recommends a few affordable options. WordPress is free, open-source software that has plenty of free themes, plugins, and tutorials available online.
For small business owners with a mid-range level of technical proficiency or better, this is absolutely the way to go if you don’t want to spend any money.
Novice Friendly Option: Self-Build for Under $250 / Year
So, you’ve checked out a few WordPress tutorials and you’re feeling like that might be a little bit beyond your skill level or interest.
No problem, there are other options! Services like Squarespace and Wix are well known for providing simple to use drag and drop website builders that virtually anybody can use. The advantage of these services is that they are extremely easy to learn and produce professional-looking websites.
Plus, they generally include everything like a domain and hosting that you would need to get started. Granted, you do pay a little more for these services, and you are slightly more limited in the designs you choose, but this is the next best budget-friendly option for business owners who want to self-build to save some cash but don’t have the technical skills or interests to learn more advanced tools.
Easy Option: Professional Build for Under $1000
A common misconception is that hiring a professional web development team will cost thousands of dollars just for a basic site.
And this may be true for some web development firms, but there are specific types of web developers you can look to save some money. Ideally, you are looking for a developer who works off templates instead of doing a completely custom build.
Local developers like Bottom Line Web Design can build professional looking sites for as little as $500, ranging up to $1000 for some custom work. And there are many similar companies out there, so chances are you can find one in your local area. The secret is that most small businesses do not need 100% custom designs.
It’s just like buying a car – you don’t need to engineer one from the ground up, you can just purchase something off the lot that fits your needs. Sure, there may be another website out there that looks similar to yours.
But when hiring a professional web developer you save yourself the time investment of doing it yourself, and you’re able to get professional guidance that will help your site stand out from your competition.
And in the long run, professional sites aren’t that much more expensive than our novice-friendly build. Unless you need maintenance, web development is a one time fee. The only ongoing payments will be for your hosting and domain.
Our novice-friendly build has a lower up-front cost, but over 4 years will cost more than some professional builds.
Time Vs. Money: How it Affects You?
Every small business owner has finances on their mind. After all, it’s very easy to quantify how much something costs when you look at the price tag. But don’t forget to consider the opportunity cost.
If you’re a new Startup or going through a slow period, investing your time into your business to save a few dollars can provide some amazing value.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a lot of work to do, spending a lot of time working on a website could take away from activities that could be generating revenue now.
For busier entrepreneurs going with a drag and drop builder or hiring a developer is likely the best time-saving option.
But for new startups, investing the time to manage your online presence can be a great learning experience with short term savings and long term payoffs.
Author: Rachel Gates