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Small Business - Website & eMarketing?

zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
Hi all,

My wife is currently in a scholastic program that ends later this year. She will then be starting a sole proprietorship as a health/wellness/nutritional consultant - and will need a website designed, domain/hosting, and very possibly social media marketing components. Her biggest hurdle will simply be attracting/finding new clients in our area.

We're both web-design and social-marketing stupid, and for the life of us we don't even know where to begin.
Do we use some cookie-cutter big-ass online service like web.com?
Do we find a local professional that can handle all this for us? If so, who exactly are we looking for - marketing firm, advertising firm, other?

Neither of us have the time or desire to learn web design/maintenance, and neither of us are social-media savvy when it comes to business accounts.

Any advice would be appreciated!
Thank you very much in advance.

Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    zhen,

    Most of my family operates small businesses in similar fashions and the best thing I can suggest is to take the time and learn it. Anyone you pay to do this would need to be doing it full time in order to make any headway in getting your name out there, so unless you already are bringing the amount of capital to the table where paying someone a monthly paycheck before your own is plausible it's time to start learning.

    There are lots of great books on media saturation and search optimization that you can pick up for cheap, and many free websites like Wordpress can serve in the short term with very user friendly plug and play with all you need at startup being a domain redirect to your free site. Longer term you will want your own hosting and whatnot probably (especially if you want to do online orders). For that you will want a professional to set you up.

    But short term, start studying. It only takes a weekend to muddle through what you need and then it's just about constantly providing relevant, non-annoying content to be picked up in social media and search engines.

    mastman
  • mastmanmastman Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    You should definitely use something like wordpress. It's super cheap to buy a domain name ($5 a year), and any of those cookie cutter sites will let you own your own domain and serve a completely solid amount of traffic for the cheap. Also there's tons of click and edit tools to make a professional looking site. You will have to learn some html & css but you'll be fine. You definitely need a website because that's super important.

    As to the web site search optimization, that can be learned in very little time. Especially if you run a local business, it shouldn't be hard for you to curate the proper search results for your profession & area.

    mastman on
    ByalIX8.png
    B.net: Kusanku
    EncCreagan
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    I'd echo learning the web building yourself, at least to start with. You won't be doing anything super fancy mind you, but you don't need to be.
    Hiring someone to build a site can be dirt cheap... but the support that comes with it will be dirt cheap as well (or non existent). Whenever you get around to the point of needing a site that's more substantial you will absolutely want one ore more people that are going to be involved with it full time, or close, and that you have a decent working relation with.

    I used to do that kind of work ages ago, and trust me, it can be a miserable arrangement if both parties aren't able to be on the same page with what they want.

    Don't be afraid to check out the web sites of similar business models to what you hope to be and make note of how they look/operate.
    Do NOT just steal the code from their site, but absolutely do learn from it and get ideas to incorporate into your own.

    Enc
  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    My general website advice for a new business would be to keep it clean and simple.
    Few people will notice let alone care if you use a WordPress or Squarespace template.

    What is important is that you have your contact information, your services, your times and your prices very visible and easy to find.

    For me at least, that's the main reason I end up on a company website.

    An accessible contact form with email field can be very helpful because when you are engaging new customers any barrier lowers the odds, and if you can get them to contact you you're one step closer.

    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
    MichaelLCHollerRainfall
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    All the podcasts I listen to have Squarespace ads, and they seem OK. Not used then myself though.
    As SanderJK said, just having basic contact info out there is a still ahead of many small biz.

    Mugsley wrote:
    So now I need to get it trimmed and adjusted, and all in.

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Speaking as somebody who is also web-design stupid, here's what you want to do:

    First buy a domain name. You should not pay more than $10 for a domain. Normally the two places people go for these are Godaddy and Namecheap. I don't like Godaddy because the CEO hunts elephants, but you can make your own call on that.
    Then get hosting. Sometimes people recommend you get hosting from a source than your domain name, in case the hosting goes down. You're small right now, so you probably want shared hosting because it's cheaper. You can change to a private server later if you want. Right now just get whatever's cheapest.
    Build your website with wordpress. Wordpress offers a bunch of free themes, and you don't have to mess around with HTML too much to produce a website that looks decently unique. Expect to mess around with WordPress quite a bit before you're happy with it and/or feel like you have a handle on how to work with it. But the time spent futzing around with the Wordpress is worth it. After a few days you figure out what you're doing and then you'll be glad you didn't pay somebody to do it for you because you'll have way more control over the whole process.

    Creagan on
  • Spectral SwallowSpectral Swallow Registered User regular
    I do website design full time and most of the advice is spot on.
    Go cheap/free to start with and when/if you get bigger then hire someone.
    When you DO hire someone DON'T just get someone that is cheap. I've noticed a lot of the kids in the vo-tech webpage program around here know HTML/CSS... and that's it. If they don't know php and sql then find someone else.

    Also a principle I STRESS is keeping it simple! No fancy flash menus or anything like that. I actually beta test ALL of my stuff with people who have absolutely no webpage knowledge to see what they try to do/click on. See what they can and can't find that kind of thing.

  • BubbyBubby Registered User regular
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    All the podcasts I listen to have Squarespace ads, and they seem OK. Not used then myself though.
    As SanderJK said, just having basic contact info out there is a still ahead of many small biz.

    Squarespace is amazing and the best there is for anything in the creative field. I'd recommend Wix or Wordpress for more business/sales oriented stuff.

  • zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
    Great comments all, thanks so much for the ongoing advice.

    I can clear up one variable; we won't have any need for online sales/scheduling through the webpage at all.
    The site will be purely informational and contact info pages, with a few links to facebook, twitter, and possibly a blog. That's it.

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