Saturday, April 28, 2012

Low cost web presence for small and micro businesses

I am often amazed at how much people pay just to have a web site. In fact I remember one company paying $500 dollars to have a domain registered. I asked the business owner what was his site address thinking this was quite a sum of money and would like to check out his site. He said he didn’t have a site, this was just the registration of the domain name.

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get your business started on the internet. With a small amount of knowledge it needn’t cost your anything, but I suggest spending an appropriate amount where the business has a single page site and the domain name reflects their business name or service. A one page site will enable the business to have an internet presence they are in control of, will enable their customers to find them on the internet and provide important contact and product or service information.

My approach is different to most web designers. As a computer consultant I charge for my time so my approach is to assist clients with my knowledge and empower them by setting them up so they are in control. Most web designers will set clients up using their facilities (most likely reselling larger companies services) and the designer retains control. I set clients up so they are the owner of the domain and in control of the hosting. Since most people don’t know how to create a web page I create the page for them, but they are free to use anyone, even a family member to create the page, or modify the page I create for them. The small business owner is not tied to me in any way.

The latest site I set up is Herding Dog Training ( The cost or registering the domain was $12 for two years (discounted from $9 per year). I assisted the client to set up their hosting service which is where they’ll host their web page so the page can be found by others on the internet. I have a hosting company I suggest for reasons which provide future opportunities for the client, but the client is free to use their own preferred hosting company if they know one. The cost for hosting is around $10 a month which they pay directly to the company each month.

What I do is act as a facilitator. The time involved to register the domain and set up the hosting is around an hour.

Most people can’t create their own web page, so I’m happy to create the web page for their site. Once created however they are free to change it and update it if they wish to learn the skills, or know someone who already has the skills. The cost of creating the page can vary from one to two hours, but the approach I use is to have the client create a web page using a product they know such as Microsoft Word. There can be a lot of time involved in designing even a simple page, so if people design the layout themselves, that is a lot of time and thus money that can be saved. I then take the design they’ve created in Word and recreate the document as a web page. The software I use is reasonably priced commercial software and can be purchased by the client to maintain their own page if they want. Converting a page usually takes around an hour to an hour and a half.

An additional benefit to the client is the time from when they provide the material to the time the site goes live, which can be a matter of only days. One client provided their material on Tuesday morning, the web page was provided for review on Wednesday and changes were made. We organised a meeting for the Friday to set up the hosting (they already owned a domain), I then did the rest and they were live Friday afternoon. Their site appeared in Google in the first position when searching on their business name on Saturday night. I use some techniques which enables Google to quickly find sites and with some luck, usually provides the client with a very good position in Google. I say luck, but whilst the technique consistently works, I cannot control what Google may or may not do. As part of creating the page I also perform basic search engine optimisation (SEO) as part of the service, something others may charge hundreds of dollars for.

So in summary, if you’re thinking about a site to start your presence on the internet keep in mind it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can purchase an Australian domain for around $24 for two years and hosting for around $10 a month or less. If you don’t have the skills to set things up and don’t want to take the time to learn what you’d need to learn from the information provided on sites, a consultant like myself can assist you. I suggest to allow around an hour for registering the domain and setting up the hosting. If you need a page created and can create a document (most people are able to use Word to create a printed document they’d be happy to hand out to advertise their business) then you can have a web page created in one to two hours. You also don’t have to wait weeks or months as a site can be live within a matter of days. Keep in mind it also isn’t just about having a site. My approach often provides a strong presence on the internet, so make sure whoever you use can also give you a strong presence for your site to get you started without additional SEO costs.

Kelvin Eldridge
Helping small and micro businesses get started on the internet.

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