When first starting out it can be completely overwhelming and not to mention expensive. Engaging the services of a web designer may not be in your reach, however the beauty of the tech industry it is constantly evolving and people are creating these amazing products that make it so easy to get started.
Here are my top go to hosted solutions for getting online fast when you’re on a budget.
You can get a very sexy looking website very quickly and as an added bonus you don’t have to mess around with dodgy hosting companies. There is a great selection of pre made templates and pricing is relative to your monthly hosting fees, starting from just $8 per month.
Shopify is great for starting your online store, the administration interface is super easy to use and it makes selling online a breeze. Similar to Squarespace in terms of a great selection of templates you can use and also you don’t have to deal with hosting companies. Pricing starts from around $29 per month (Note: they do take cuts of your sales).
I always refer to Big Cartel as Shopify’s baby brother and is targeted more towards the indie crowd. The benefit is it is a lot cheaper and doesn’t take a cut of your sales. The downside is it has way less functionality (stock control is a little clunky) and the templates are extremely limiting unless you know a little bit of code. There is a free plan, but if you want to use your own domain pricing starts from $9.99 per month.
Not many people realise that there is actually two different types of WordPress – WordPress.com & WordPress.org. On a very high level the difference is WordPress.com is where you sign up to an account online, similar to setting up a Facebook profile. WordPress.org is where you can download the core files and put them on your own server (self hosted), and then you can customise it to suit your needs.
There are limitations to WordPress.com in terms of how much you can customise, however it is a great starting point for bloggers. When you are ready to level up, moving to self hosted wordpress.org is pretty straight forward. There is a free version, but if you want your own domain pricing starts from $99 per year.
Where your ‘start up’ money is better spent
This is all relative to what type of business you have and where your initial focus will be, but in terms of your online marketing, I recommend speaking to your graphic designer to simply put together a handful of elements that you can easily use in some of the pre made templates and across your social media channels. Good design in a premade template will make a huge difference!
If you are bootstrapped it’s likely you’ll need to learn a few online marketing tips to get going (there is no such thing as build it and they will come!), so you might be best to invest in some online marketing courses that cover social media and also SEO (Kate Toon has some great courses on SEO).
When to hire a professional web designer…
There are always a few ‘buts’ when it comes to advice like this, and it really depends on where you want to focus and how much capital you have to start with..
If going DIY makes your head hurt
If you’re a total ‘technotard’ and struggle to turn your computer on, or just don’t want to put your focus in this area of your business, then this is when I’d recommend hiring a web designer when you first start out.
Just start small, have an idea of the grand plan, but don’t rush in. Find a web designer who you can develop a long term relationship with, one who will be around to help you evolve your website over time. Try to avoid the wham bam web designers who send you on your merry way and never want to speak to you ever again.
when you’re READY to level up
There will come a point in your business where levelling up will make a huge difference to the success of your business. Once you have total clarity on where your heading and what you’re offering this will be a great time to take the plunge.
If you’re stuck and just need help with how to get started I offer ‘pick my brains‘ sessions where we can chat about your options and work out the best solution for you.