If you have a business, no matter how small, you are going to need a website of some kind. In a world where social networking is much the same as walking up to someone and shaking their hand, having a website is just the same as handing out a business card, so you don’t just need a website, you need one of the best websites for work at home business you can create.
Yet websites are one of the things that parents who are running or just starting a business will struggle with, if only because the perception is that creating one will cost you a lot of time and money. Sure, 5 or 10 years ago, there wasn’t the plethora of resources out there to create a website on your own. You would have to learn HTML, Dreamweaver, or even coding (for bigger websites) all on your own.
I started my first website in 1997, right after I bought my first computer. To think that computer cost me $2000 and it was the equivalent of a Commodore 64? It boggles the mind. My website was about Canadian Christmases, and it was full of icons and graphics, all steaming down one page. I do believe I even added a Christmas midi file, just for kicks. It took me a month of struggle and trying to figure it out by myself, but I prevailed. And then I forgot about it.
In 2003, I started another website. http://www.kidswap.ca (the site is no longer posting ads, but you can still see the Media I received here) was a buy and sell for new and used kid’s clothing, toys, etc. It was quite succesful. I put it up, taught myself how to code in PHP, and marketed it on my own. When I finally took it down in 2009, it had thousands of users and had posted over 50,000 ads.
Kidswap, ultimately, became a life lesson for me, and is the reason that I feel qualified to offer advice on building websites as well as what to avoid. I’ll assume you already own a domain name (if not, Domains at Cost is a great place for domains) and have your own hosting (Interxstream is a reliable hosting provider in the US that I’ve used for years).
If you have a website, are looking to get a website, or just want to know what to avoid when trying to change your website, here is my two cents in reply to some of the questions I’ve been asked.
Best websites for work at home business
Should I create a website using a company like Weebly or Wixx?
Average cost: $40 per year
This question really should be, Can I create a good website using a company like Weebly or Wixx, and my answer would be no. Here’s why: A template website from a company like Weebly looks like a template website. Yes, it’s easy for you because you drag and drop the elements around the page, it is easy to add photos and text, and it’s just….simple. But simple isn’t always a good thing.
I’m not suggesting you create a flash website (please don’t) or that you need a high-tech site just to look professional, but someone who has been around the Web for awhile can tell when a site comes from Weebly or Wixx. Also, if you opt in for one of their ‘professional’ plans, you will end up paying a minimum of $40 per year for that website (a professional plan will remove the Wixx and Weebly logos from your site, so that people don’t know that you created a free website).
Should I hire a web designer to create my website?
Average cost: $2000 and up
It’s up to you. How much money do you have and do you, for example, have a complicated website that needs a certain look? Then yes, hire a web designer.
A word of warning: Hiring a web designer is not the same as hiring a programmer. A web designer will design your website, a programmer will make your web site work.
Here is what you will get when you hire a web designer:
- A site template, tailored to your look or brand
- Possibly a logo, but it will cost you extra
- A template file, perhaps still in Adobe Photoshop format, that you will have to hire someone else to actually get it online
You could find a web designer that will actually put your site up for you. You might even find one that will give you the entire website with content and everything, but you might not. Make sure you ask these questions before hiring a web designer:
- What do I receive for my money?
- Will you put the site online so it’s ready for me to add content?
- Will you add content?
- If you do not deliver the website when you have stated you will, what is my refund policy? (Be very clear with this, it happens alllll the time)
Long story short, research your web designer, be clear as to what you are getting for your money, and get it all in writing.
Should I use a content management system for my website?
Content Management System: $0
I cannot overemphasize how simple it is to create a nice looking website with content management software, and in most cases, it’s free to use. WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems around, and although most people associate it with blogging, it can produce some beautiful, easy to manage websites.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with websites, installing WordPress and purchasing a professionally designed theme (Google WordPress themes and you come up with free or paid options) can have you up and running in under a day. Not only that, it will look professional, be easy to update and add content too, and be optimized for Google and other search engines almost instantly.
It’s a no-brainer that you if you want to do business these days, you need a website. These days, when you meet a possible client or someone wants to employ you, you better believe they will turn to Google and be searching for any and all references to you. Your website is often your first and last shot to make a good impression, and you want to be sure that what you put online is an accurate representation of how you want to be portrayed.