Well-meaning folks will tell you exactly how to create your Web site. The problem is that it is extremely difficult and extremely expensive. And that is exactly what stops you from doing it—if you knew your Web site would pay off, you’d have created one years ago, right? So how can you create a Web site for your business that costs nothing and is so easy that you actually go ahead and do it now?
You do it the skinflint marketing way.
First, let’s look at the steps that helpful Web experts suggest so you can create a Web site:
- Buy a domain name. You need to know enough to pick a name, to search to see if it is already used, and to buy it. If all the good names are already taken you might need to spend a lot of money to buy one of them from the current owner.
- Hire a Web hosting company. You need to find a company to put up your Web server and store your Web pages—you can’t use the computer under your desk. You might find it painful to understand what features they offer and how they work—it helps to have a strong technical background for this. And hosting costs $10 or more every month. You don’t even know why the expensive ones are better or whether the cheaper ones are enough for what you need.
- Choose software to make pages. DreamWeaver. FrontPage. Something else? You see big differences in pricing and you’re not sure you would know how to use any of them. As you start to add up the costs, it sounds like a lot to lay out up front when you don’t know how well this will work.
- You need to actually build your pages. When it comes down to it, you’re not confident that you have the skills to design a Web page. Do you have to hire an expert to do it for you? That sounds even more expensive.
Fortunately, someone without much technical skill can create a successful Web site for free. That’s the skinflint way.
To create your free Web site, first you need to think about what kind of Web site your business needs. Let’s look at some examples:
- Blogs. Maybe you don’t need a traditional Web site at all. Are you a consultant or other expert that makes a living based on your opinions? If so, a free blog may be the perfect way to start your Web presence. You have a choice of many free blog services, but Blogger and WordPress are the most popular. If you are picky about how your blog should look or work, there are over 40 free blog services available for you to choose from.
- Wikis. Do you have other folks that will help you create your content? Might your customers help you? The best choice for you might be a wiki—a kind of group word processor that your readers change your pages whenever they think of something better to say. If that seems like the way you’d like to start, compare free wikis to see which one might be best for you. American Express used Wetpaint to create a travel wiki on Australia where travelers add their own tips.
- Lenses. A quirky Web site named Squidoo allows you to create a lens to show off your expertise on a certain subject. You can also create a lens that is all about your business. It’s free, it’s easy, and it may be all you need to attract attention and get prospective customers to call.
- Web site. You knew I would get around to telling you how to get a regular Web site for free, didn’t you? To get it for free, you sometimes have to accept ads on your site and restrictions on how your site looks and operates, but that is OK when you are trying to get started. Some popular free Web site providers include FreeWebs and Yahoo!’s GeoCities.
None of these options are traditional Web sites that businesses usually have. Some customers may be turned off by them, because they contain advertising, but you can always go back and create a traditional Web presence when you are convinced that the Web is working for you. By then, it will make sense to pick a domain name and purchase Web hosting—it may even make sense to hire an expert to do it all for you. But most businesses should start cheap to test the waters and see how it works. Only when you are succeeding should you bite off the complexity and expense of doing it the “right” way. If you want an example of how a free Web site can work, check out this case study for a “Do It Wrong Quickly” Web site.
Want more tips to raise your Internet marketing success? Check out Search Engine Marketing, Inc., which contains a complete step-by-step program for successful search marketing for your business. For more ways to improve your overall Internet marketing, take a look at Do It Wrong Quickly, an indispensable guide to the new ways of marketing on the cheap.