The typical small business owner today puts in long hours every day in an attempt to make their business successful and profitable. In addition to sweat equity, and the normal expenses for daily operation of the business, attention has to be given to quality advertising and effective marketing. Both the advertising and marketing, while necessary, are expensive and often times hard to justify for the small business owner on a limited budget. This is where the website and establishing a strong web presence comes into play. A part of every budget for advertising and marketing should be dedicated to establishing a presence on the internet. This form of advertising and marketing is one of the most cost effective ways of getting the needed recognition for the small business owner. In general, the cost to setup an excellent website will be less than a single full page advertisement in many publications. One should expect to allocate between $600 and $1200 for a great site with five to eight pages and then a yearly domain name/hosting fees of approximately $75. These pages can be used to tell your audience who you are, what your specialties are and what makes you different from your competition. Once you have established your presence on the internet, you don’t have to stop there. Your website can be and should be a continuing work in progress. You need to keep it fresh and as your business grows, your website can be easily expanded to keep up with your growth. Any enhancements to your website can be done in small increments so that you are able to comfortably afford to make the upgrades to your site.
When looking into a website, do your homework before you contact a website designer. It will be much easier for both you and the designer if you have an idea of what you want and what websites you are competing against in your business area. Important design features and color palette are important as well as what information you want the individual web pages to cover. This will ensure that you get an accurate and timely proposal from your designer.
While we are on the topic of web designers, please make sure you spend your money on a web design company that has a good reputation, does high quality work and will produce your site in a timely manner. Your brother’s son or your next door neighbor who know something about making websites is almost never a good choice, no matter how cheap it is!
Once you have a working website, the next task is to get you recognized by the major search engines. This is by far the most important part of establishing your web presence. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO) and is a time intensive process for someone to do. This article will not get into the details of what needs to be done for effective SEO. What you need to realize is that you should budget approximately $1000 per year for this critical work. As a final word of caution, only contact this work with a reputable SEO provider. This is not an overnight process and you should expect that someone will work hard to get you results.