Options For Building Your New Business Web Site
Building web sites is not something I am expert at. I do it, but I'm certainly not expert. I made my first attempt to build a web site in the mid 1990's, when lots of major companies in the UK did not even have web sites yet. I taught myself (badly), I used a free HTML editor (Netscape Communicator), and I even learnt a bit of HTML. The good thing was, at least I showed myself I could do it.
It was not a good web site, but people were kind about it at the time. Then, my life took a change in direction which meant I was away from the internet until 2003 (except for checking email in internet cafes in my new home country, the Philippines).
If you want to build a web site, there are many options open to you, and the ones I give here are the ones that come immediately to mind.
What you finally decide on in the way of building a web site will very much depend on your personal abilities, inclinations, budget and other circumstances, plus of course what you hope to get out of it and how it might evolve in the future. You may even use a combination of the options when you start your online business. So let us look at each of the options already mentioned:
- Find a free, simple web site builder based on templates, and try to build the web site yourself. There are some around, but I have not tried them so I do not know what they are like. One thing you need to ensure is that you have flexibility with the metatags. But, if it is free, don't expect too much.
- As option 1, but for "free" read "cheap". This is how I started again in 2003. However, I soon realised that for making the web site search engine friendly, it was far too restrictive.
I will take options 1. & 2. together. I first tried a very cheap template based web site builder just to get me started. It was simple to use, and in a few days the web site started to take shape.
In parallel, I had started to spend a lot of time researching internet marketing, and soon began to see the necessity for search engine optimisation, that is the practise of designing websites that search engines "like" (That's a gross simplification, but it will do for now!). So, having settled on a design and structure for the web site, I began to look at the metatags, an important part of search engine optimisation.
I quickly discovered that with the cheap software I had chosen, you could not change the metatags. So, all you could do was build a cheap looking website that search engines would probably totally ignore.
Maybe over 2 years on there are now better alternatives in the free and cheap category. I have not tested any, but if you have no choice but to go for either of these two options to create your website, then try to ensure there is at least some flexibility. If the templates generate pages for which you cannot edit the metatags, find a better one, otherwise you will soon be frustrated, as I was.
However, this cheap, under $20, software package I used for web creation, at least got me started again, and it was an improvement on Netscape Communicator from all those years before. With it, I at least planned a structure which I have kept to this day, and which users have found ideal for what they want.
This will only suit a few, and if it's something you really enjoy and have the temperament for, then that in itself becomes a business opportunity. Why not offer your services from home as a website designer? If you decide on this route, there are lots of free "lessons" out there, but again, you get what you "pay" for. A comprehensive course in a local college, or distance study, will cost you time and money. But if you follow through to the end, you have a valuable skill which you can hire out, or use in your own online business later on.
- Use an HTML editor that is not so "cheap", but is easy to use and does an excellent job more easily for you, and then build the web site yourself. In my case, I quickly switched from the cheap web site builder to Front Page.
This is basically what I did. My "cheap" software did not do a "serious" job. There's no point building a web site if nobody is going to find it, even if it was cheap to build. It was only a matter of weeks before I had to abandon the first software. Luckily I was able to switch to Microsoft Office Professional with Front Page.
I had doubts that I would get to grips with Front Page, but it was surprisingly easy and okay for a beginner like me, so probably for you too. You do not need to understand HTML with Front Page, though you will probably learn a bit as you go along. If you have doubts about your ability to use it, you may well surprise yourself. I'm sure I do not use it to the full. To me, it was web site creation made easy.
Recently, Macromedia brought out Dreamweaver 8, and I have now bought that and am in the process of switching my websites to Dreamweaver, using CSS (cascading style sheets). More of that a bit later on.
- Pay someone else to build the website for you.
Well, outsourcing your web site design and build is an option if you have the money. Please bear in mind though, that professional website designers may not be conscious of the marketing side of website design. They often want to display their design skills, rather than get you business. Also, as you want to make changes, you have to get your message across very accurately to the designer so he does what you want.
Another thing to think about here is if you plan to make money as an affiliate. Do you really want someone else adding your affiliate links to the website? How do you know they will do it right? Or maybe they will even put their own links in in?
Knowledge is power. It's really best to do it yourself, at least until you know how to check things for yourself should you outsource later. But really, once you've mastered Front Page or an alternative, it will take you longer to describe changes you want to another designer, then check them, than it would to do them yourself. At least, that is so with me.
This is your new business you are considering, so best to keep the essentials under your control, at least initially. All the time, you will be building up your own knowledge; your own personal asset value will be increasing all the time. As you grow, you can outsource and delegate, but from a positionof strength.
- Pick a business opportunity that has a website included, but which you cannot change.
There are endless choices out there. The first thing to remember, though, is that the website will not really be yours. You may, for example, have a mall with your name on, but as you have absolutely no control over it, it will never really be yours. Bear in mind the following:
1.You will never get a good search engine ranking for a website that is identical to maybe thousands of others.
2. If you get ideas to improve the website to get more sales and/or more traffic, there's nothing you can do about it.
3. You will probably have no way of establishing a customer relationship with your website visitors, getting their details and building a list.
4. There could be thousands of people selling the same products with an identical website, products that may be overpriced anyway.
I am not saying this may not be a good way to start. It could be if you find the right company. In fact, although I have my own websites, I did, last year, take up one such business opportunity. It was with a company that has been around on the internet many years, which is reassuring, and has given many people a start in having a business online. I joined because it was recommended by someone I respected, it has a very sound base, and I really wanted to be able to recommend a simple online business myself to people who were making tentative moves into the online business world.
There are many companies, which provide this service. Make sure, they have E-Mail support as well as call center support.
- Pick a business opportunity that has a web site included, but which you can change easily to make it unique to you.
This option is a bit more like creating your own website. If you start with a basic website, and can then make significant changes, the site becomes unique. You can even have a chance of getting search engine "approval" and some decent rankings on some keywords.
One I came across last year is ideal for those of you who are in a hurry, have no products, want to concentrate on affiliate programs, and do not want to start from scratch with creating your own website. What I like about Affiliate Showcase is you start with a proven website look, feel, and structure, one that has been successful in selling. You then choose which affiliate programs you want to feature and where; you can add material of your own; you can "optimise" for search engines as you wish. So, in the end, the website becomes very much yours and under your control. You can test it out with a free version, which does not have all the features you will get with a paid version. You can always create another website in parallel as you learn your website creation skills.
- Choose a web site development package that includes a good variety of templates, allows you to optimise for search engines, and really guides a novice along the right tracks.
If you really want to build your own website, but would prefer a bit of "hand holding", and finish with a website that not only looks good, but is built to get a high website ranking, I suggest you consider Site Build It (SBI). The company behind SBI have a reputation for over delivering, in other words, going way beyond what you would expect for the money you are paying. The package they offer includes many things that you would normally have to buy separately, such as hosting, tracker links, click tracking and analysis, database storage, autoresponders, search engine compatibility, search engine listing and ranking reports, keyword research tool, keyword brainstorming tool, ezine publishing tool, list building and management tools, plus a whole lot more. All for about a dollar a day.
Well, at this stage I hope you have set in your mind that you will have one or more websites of your own, whether it's a web site you build from scratch yourself, one that comes off the shelf, or one you have built just for you. Remember, your new online business is your business. Stamp your individuality on it as much as you can. Build an asset you can be proud of, and your finances will improve too.
Where Can I Go For Affordable Web Hosting?
One of the first things to consider when you have decided to start an online business, and have your own website, is affordable web hosting. You will need to have your web site hosted somewhere, and it needs to be within your budget.
I am assuming that you are serious about an online business, so first of all, let us consider the issue of free hosting. If you are serious about an online business, it is very important for your credibility to first of all have your own domain or domains, and secondly to have control over your web site host. People are not impressed by a business that uses a free service, and you will probably not be impressed by the customer service. Why skimp on a few dollars a month? It really is not worth trying to save that amount when it damages your business prospects to do so.
Website hosting, like the purchase of domain names, is not a major expense. There are a large number of international website hosting services available, many of which offer excellent value for small and large business users.
From my own experience, you need to ensure there is a guaranteed service up-time of 99.9%+, that the hosting company has live help, loads of disk space (500mb plus), loads of email addresses, and will host your domains and sub-domains. There is no need to pay more than $10 a month simply for hosting. The customer service of the web hosting company is critical, as if there is ever a problem, you need it dealt with promptly. So, make sure you test that side out in advance. Just think of a question or two to ask them, and see how well they respond.
I currently use three companies for web hosting and have had no problems with any of them. The other thing to consider is likely reliability and efficiency. Let's face it, the US has been at this business for longer than the rest of the world, and they know what customer service means. Or at least, the good companies do. So it's best to think internationally. Wherever you are in the world, there's a good chance you will get the best package in the US. The service is international. By the way, I am not American, so their is no patriotism here. I live on a remote tropical island, in the South China Sea, so practicality is something I have to consider. I have experienced no problems with Onsmart and Startlogic, but there are sure to be many other affordable web hosting companies out there.