Look, I’ll be honest: I have a hard time believing, in 2017, how many businesses don’t have a website, or don’t have one that’s doing them any good.
At the same time, I get it.
Setting up a website is not easy. It takes a lot of time. It’s one of those big overwhelming tasks that just sit and loom on your to-do list, and in the meantime, you’re doing all the things to actually run your business, whether it’s order and manage inventory or work with your clients or make the things you sell.
And yes, we’ve discussed that you don’t really “need” a website or a social media presence or anything like that if you’re that opposed to them, but you almost certainly are doing your business a disservice if you don’t have any online presence.
I am not saying you need a huge, fancy, professionally-designed and developed website or that it needs to be a central part of your marketing strategy. My dad’s an architect and he does perfectly fine with a simple portfolio site powered by Houzz. (He’s also been in business over 20 years and has spent that time building up fantastic relationships with clients and others in the industry, so he gets most clients by word of mouth. But imagine you want to add a second story to your home in the Bay Area, and someone tells you, oh, you should call John for that. Are you just going to call him—and him alone? Or are you going to at least Google his name and make sure he’s, you know, legit?)
Having your own website, with your own domain name, makes you look credible and “real.” I’ve mentioned that, in my regular business profile assignments, I often pass on businesses that look great on Yelp or are prominently listed in the directory of their local business association, but don’t have a website telling me when to visit or who to contact about setting up an interview. (In this case, I also need to verify that they’re locally-owned.)
From what I hear, business owners who don’t have websites generally fall into two camps:
They’re not terribly tech-savvy and just the idea of figuring out Wordpress is intimidating.
They think their website needs to be 100% complete, with full product listings and professional photos and fancy graphics and e-commerce capabilities from the start.
I have the same advice for both groups:
Stop overthinking it.
Stop overcomplicating it.
Scared of Wordpress? (Don’t even know what Wordpress is?) I don’t blame you. Start with Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly for a shorter learning curve. You might still need to block off an hour or two to play around with the site building tools—or, do you have a teenager or college student? Or a friend with one? Call in a favor. If a friend or family member came to me wanting something that simple, I’d put it together for a beer. Or a donut.
Part of the trick is putting blinders on to all the bells and whistles that you find in even the simplest website builders now. Just find a simple, one-page site template and keep repeating to yourself I’ll figure the rest out later.
Convinced you need to include ALL THE THINGS on your site? You don’t. Seriously, you just need:
What you do
Where you are
When you’re open/available
How I can contact you
(Price info is a good idea but not quite as necessary)
Guys, that is literally all you need to start. You can always add more later.
I’m a wedding and family photographer in North County San Diego. Contact me here if you’d like to schedule an info session.
Add a couple pictures of yourself and your work and that’s it.
Juan’s Taco Shop serves fresh, authentic Mexican fare in La Jolla. Open everyday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Here’s our phone number and address.
A photo of your storefront, a couple snaps of your tacos, maybe a scan of your menu and boom. Website done.
Obviously I’d advise you to go beyond that—I like words—but it’s far better to have something up, even if it’s very basic, than nothing at all. And once you get something started, you’ll find it’s easier to build on it later.
And later is when we’ll talk about how you can add on to and upgrade your website once you’ve got something going.