I'm a tightwad when it comes to marketing. I'm always trying to minimise costs and maximise results.
If you’re the same, you'll appreciate my latest research project on how to build a website. I set out to discover how cheaply I could create a small business website. My only condition was that the site had to include all the ingredients of a website that sells i.e. persuasive content, professional design and targeted traffic. Here's what I came up with:
Step 1: Create your content
This is the hardest and most important part of the process. Good content is the critical ingredient of a website that sells. And it's where most people blow it.
The simple fact is most business owners don't know how to write website content that's customer-focussed, informative and persuasive. If you can't afford to hire a copywriter to do it for you, you'll have to learn how to do it yourself.
Fortunately there are some fantastic online resources to help you. If, like me, you're one of the many soloists that sells professional services (e.g. designers, coaches, consultants, accountants, lawyers, financial planners, etc.) you're in luck.
Robert Middleton's Web Site Toolkit ($95) provides a complete blueprint for creating client-attracting website content. You also get heaps of useful real life examples for inspiration.
Step 2: Register your domain name
Fierce competition amongst domain name sellers has caused prices to tumble. Go Daddy offers ".com" domain names for $13. You also get a free personalised email account.
Optional extra: If you want a ".com.au" domain name you'll pay a bit more, and the next step will be a little more complicated.
Step 3: Design and build your website
There are now several high-quality free website creation services available. Weebly is one of the best and is used by two million people. It's been described by Time magazine as a "clever WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website building tool for non-techies." Hosting is thrown in free.
All you have to do is sign up, select one of the 65+ professionally designed templates, and add your content using the simple drag and drop website editor. You even have the option to set up an online store. Finally, follow the instructions to update the site settings to publish your website at your own domain name.
Optional extra: You might want to get a graphic designer to create a customised page header image with your logo and tag line.
Step 4: Get some traffic
The quickest and easiest way to drive qualified traffic to your new website is with Google AdWords. Google regularly promotes AdWords with free credit vouchers. Keep an eye out for them in business magazines and at business events.
Setting up an AdWords campaign isn't difficult. But there are a few tricks to maximising your results. Fortunately AdWords guru Perry Marshall offers a free five-day e-course that will put you ahead of the learning curve.
Disclaimer: Don't say I didn't warn you!
When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) Weebly's options are somewhat limited. Also, if Weebly's owners can't convert the free service into a profitable business model, the whole thing might disappear in the future. So if you go with it, make sure you archive your site to a zip file when you've finished it.
But hey, for a professional-quality website for between $13 and $108, these are minor quibbles.
Have you built a site on the cheap? Share your story on how to build a website below.
“ I'm a tightwad when it comes to marketing. I'm always trying to minimise costs and maximise results. ”