First impressions matter, even on the web. In fact, according to KPMG, 47% of people check out a company's website before deciding to move forward, which includes reading up on past customers' reviews.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know that the idea of having a website can be overwhelming. The first thing I thought of when getting my business off the ground was, "Where am I going to get the money?" closely followed by "How am I going to make the time?"
Don't worry, I'm going to share with you what I've learned throughout the years when it comes to building an affordable website for your small business.
Take a deep breath and know that you likely have plenty of options.
A small business could end up paying a hefty fee for a website. On average, a business can typically expect to spend anywhere from $2,000-$10,000 building a website.
Usually, a variety of factors go into how much it costs to build a website, such as:
That's a lot to think about, and each of these items varies in price. And those prices can add up!
You have a lot of options when it comes to building an affordable website for your small business. Before I present those options, though, you first need to decide if you are going to hire someone to help you with everything or if you are going to do-it-yourself.
Hiring someone, like a web designer and/or a developer, can yield great results, but the chances are that if you're still getting established, there may not be a need to drop thousands of dollars (yes — it can be pricey) on the production of your site.
There are many DIY free or low-cost website builders out there that you can use to create your website — many that come with a lot of cool capabilities to try to make the experience for your potential clients a positive one.
Choosing a website builder can be quite the task if you don't have a plan. I'll walk you through the process, starting with what you can consider when you're looking at your options.
There are a lot of site builders to choose from out there (we'll get to those soon!), so we wanted to present the elements of a site builder that we suggest you consider when making your decision.
Just as if you were to buy a used car, you'd check the year of the model, the mileage, and so on, here are things you should know about a website builder:
Not all websites allow you to get your own domain and also host using the same tool. These things do exist, but be sure to check this before committing. If these two aren't included together, it may mean more work for you in the long run.
Check out reviews and recommendations online to see how easy the site is to use. Do people report having issues getting things done? Also, look at the web builder's “FAQ” and “Help” sections to see if there's a lot of documentation, in case you need to research something.
If you can figure out the problem on your own using the resources above, then that's great, but eventually, it's possible that you may have to write or call in for support.
Are there plans available that include customer support, should something happen and you need help with your website? Is there a charge for the support?
Some small business owners may not consider blogging when they're getting ready to build their first website, but written content can generate 3x as many leads as your outbound marketing efforts.
Regardless of whether or not you plan to be consistently creating content for your potential clients, or just once in a while, the option to have a place on your site for content could be important to your future business.
For some business owners, the website is simply a way to funnel clients to communicate with you via phone or email. Others may want to sell products or actual services via the website.
If that's the case, then see if your small business website builder has built-in eCommerce capabilities before you build your site.
The way your site looks on mobile is very important, and here's why: so many of your potential clients are searching for what they need on their phone. Finding your business is one part of the battle, but they may judge your business based on that mobile experience. Fifty-seven percent of users are less likely to recommend you if they have a negative mobile experience.
Let's not take that chance!
This is the big question!
There are free website builders, as well as affordable website builders with different tiered plans. Most site builders will have different costs, depending on the capabilities you need. In the end, a savvy small business owner is going to try to save money where they can, but be honest with yourself regarding the capabilities you may need.
Now that you know what to keep in mind when considering building your small business website, we've selected five site builders that may be great options for you, depending on your business needs, and have listed details about them, too!
* Note that WordPress.org is different from WordPress.com
Based on the above and your own research, you'll choose the option that's right for your business. If you're stuck between a couple of options, I suggest you begin with the option that has a free trial.
For example, I decided to build my website on Squarespace. I pay $216 annually for Squarespace's business plan site builder; I also renew my domain each year for $20. This lump sum of $236 is something I pay once a year, in exchange for my clients’ ability to learn about me and my services throughout.
The cost of my small business website could be earned in one project, with money left over to contribute to other parts of my business. This is when you can look back at those metrics I mentioned earlier and plug in the website builder you're considering and decide how your monthly or annual costs may or may not be justified, depending on your cost-per-client and your profit.
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It's easy to think of monetary cost when you're thinking of budgeting for your business's website, but don't forget to also consider the time you'll spend keeping things updated.
We suggest going with a website builder that you find easy to use, so when you do need to make updates (perhaps to the services you're offering, or maybe to adjust your hours during the holidays), it won't take too much time.
In the end, you can do your research and try different website builders, but this could be a scenario where you may not see the value in your website until after you spend the money building it.
When I built my website, I didn't have a project to cover the cost. But later on, when potential clients asked to see my work and if I had a website, I had a place to refer them to. Having a home base online for my business helped me land a lot of work, and that money gets funneled into upkeep of my domain and hosting each year.
Now that you've decided which website builder to go with, there's some basic information you want to make sure you consider including on your website.
Even if each project that you do is custom to a specific client, it's a great idea to have a list of the services you can provide on your website. That way, clients can easily see that you're capable of doing the job they are looking to hire for.
A little about yourself
Include a short paragraph about how you got started and what you love about your job. It's a great idea to include a photo of yourself and/or your team, so that clients can see — hey, you're a real person, too.
Clients love hearing someone else’s perspective on your work. If you can, post some reviews or testimonials to show that hiring you is likely a good investment.
Proof of Insurance and/or Certification
If you are certified in your state to do your job, it's good to note this on your homepage. It's also suggested to include that you are insured. Displaying proof of certification and insurance can help to establish authority and trust in you for potential clients.
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We're glad that you're thinking about how to work the cost of your small business website into your overall budget! That said, don't overthink things too much.
Many small business owners know that business ebbs and flows, changes occur, and the same is applicable to your website. You may decide you want to make edits after the first couple of months. Or you may even decide that the website builder you originally chose isn't the right one for you.
That's OK. You can usually transfer the content (and your newly found tech knowledge) onto another affordable website builder that will work better for you and your business.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.