Learn the basics of putting your business on the internet and building a digital following.
In the digital age, one of the largest assets to a company — whether it be a corporation or the shop around the corner — is having a findable and appealing online presence.
According to Forbes Magazine, a business's website solidifies a customer’s first impression and allows for reaching a much broader customer base. Think of the internet is a walkway in a mall; your website needs to be those shiny, attractive mannequins in the windows, catching customers' eyes.
Here's how to get started with a website for any business you may be running or just starting up.
1. Creating Your Site
The beauty of this internet era is that there are already websites for almost everything. Some of these even help create other websites. Your first step to building your own might simply be typing any one of these popular resources into your search bar: Wix, Squarespace, SiteBuilder, GoDaddy or Weebly.
Most offer basic services for free with possible costs added for such options as specializing your URL, employing more features or promoting your website via search engines. The most important part of this step is to try the different platforms out and make sure yours suits your business.
For example, a photography business might favor Squarespace over Wix because of its easier-to-use gallery options. A freelance journalist wanting to advertise his writing might choose Blogger because it's designed to share words. Create your free accounts and test them all out until you find the one that matches your business.
2. Your Website, Your Design
All the website builders will be equipped with plenty of tools, templates and features to design your site. When designing, craft a visual theme that suits your product and make your business accessible and appealing in the customer's eyes. If you’re a rustic pizza joint, someone may be confused to see a site covered in cartoon daisies. A customer might even think a site is fake if it’s filled in top to bottom with Times New Roman text.
No one is going to know, for example, that you sell an award-winning cupcake if you put a picture of a bagel on your home page. Organize the products or ideas you want to showcase and spend time curating high-quality and relevant photos. If you need to consult an expert in web design, reach out through your website builder or other online channels. As you create your site, have another person take glances and give feedback on whether they think it's understandable and good-looking.
3. Keeping it Going
Say your site is all built and published. Now, you have to get people on it! Websites are as easy to update as they are to create, so there’s no excuse to not keep your site up-to-date. Visitors want to know what's going on with your business right now and next week, not two months ago.
Keep the site fresh and advertise it wherever you go. This could mean paying for ad space on Google, plugging it on your business card or sending out links on social media. Advertising your website is the only way it will help you bring more people to your business.
Leinbach-Reyhle, Nicole. “3 Reasons Websites Are Vital for Small Businesses.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Mar. 2016.
A Northern Virginia native, Anna looks forward to studying communications at James Madison University. Her main interests are photography, journalism and supporting the Washington Nationals.