Few things in life are more rewarding than starting your own small business. It’s a chance to break free from the shackles of working for somebody else, set your own rules and head off in pursuit of something you’re truly passionate about.
Yet that’s not to say it doesn’t come with an awful lot of hard work.
There’s a business plan to write, all the legal and tax issues to deal with, and of course, setting up a website.
These days, with so many people going online to find the services they products they need -and in many cases order them over the web- your business can’t afford not to have its own dedicated web presence.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s just a few top tips we think you’ll find helpful when creating your first small business website.
Make a solid plan
You’ve spent a lot of time planning just how you’re going to run your business, what you’re going to sell and which group of customers you’re going to target.
If your new website is going to a true reflection of what you’re doing, it pays to spend just as much time planning out as much detail as you can.
Think about the design, sure.
The colour scheme, the branding, the images you’ll use all play an important role in your new website, but be sure to go beyond that.
You should give some thought to what kind of site you’re going to create:
A basic site with just words, images and maybe a contact form?
One that you’ll be adding lots of fresh content to on a regular basis?
Perhaps an eCommerce store to sell and ship your goods directly to your customers.
Think about the content. Who’s going to create it? What should it say?
The more you plan out in advance, the easier it will be to create exactly the kind of site you and your customers need.
Choose a good domain name
Having a good domain name in place is essential if you want visitors to find you with minimal effort.
Your best two options here are to either go with the name of your company (for example myawesomebusiness.com) or, ideally, something a little more descriptive like cheapmenstrousers.com to give just one example.
The former may be ideal if the name of your business is short, memorable and perhaps even already established, whilst the latter can greatly assist with your Search Engine Optimisation efforts.
Shop around for web hosting
A crucial factor in launching any new website is choosing the right web hosting package. Most of the top providers offer discount plans packed with a wealth of features and free tools to help you upload, update and maintain your website.
Though you can get a pretty comprehensive package for just a few dollars per month, it’s worth shopping around before you sign up.
Check out user reviews to see what existing customers of your potential new hosting provider have to say about them, compare what you’ll get in individual plans and choose one that best suits both your requirements and your budget.
Optimise your site for search engines
Used well, search engines can be a huge source of website traffic for your new website.
By optimising your website for the keywords and phrases that your target audience are likely to search for when looking for your product or service, you stand a greater chance of ranking highly in search results.
Today, Search Engine Optimisation means big business, with an entire industry springing up to help small businesses reach the top of search results. Yet there’s no reason you have to spend a lot of money online.
A quick search of the web will reveal a mass of useful advice and information on how to Search Engine Optimise your site.
What are the biggest challenges you face in building your small business website? Join in the conversation on the Web Design DIY Facebook page, or send your burning questions to our experts on Twitter @WebDesignDIY and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming post.