Getting Your Website Up and Running
When it comes to building a website, you generally have two choices: Build it yourself using a site builder, or hire someone to build it for you.
Building it yourself:
There are plenty of sites that make the creation of a website quick and easy. Three popular ones are Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace.
Weebly features a drag-and-drop interface and beautiful themes; mobile apps for posting to the site; blogs, site analytics, and search engine optimization. There's no e-commerce however. It's free, $4 per month to remove their branding and add your own branding, or $8 per month for even more features.
Wix has amazing site templates, and there's also a drag-and-drop interface, and all elements of the site are customizable with lots of help and support. Wix has its own app market to add functions to your site. It's free to start, but you'll want to go premium starting at $5.95 a month to get a domain, $10.95 to get rid of ads, or $15.95 a month for the pros. Ecommerce options come in at $19.90 a month. There are discounts if you choose annual billing over monthly billing.
Squarespace also has beautiful templates that work well, especially for visual content like slideshows. They also scale well for mobile devices, formatting images to multiple sizes.Squarespace sites are free for 14 days, after which you start at $10 a month ($8 if billed annually), then go to $20/$16 for unlimited bandwidth and traffic and pages, or $30/$24 to integrate an e-commerce storefront.
**Note: If you decide to use one of the website builders above, I highly recommend purchasing your domain through another provider and then connecting it to your website builder (these sites include easy-to-follow instructions on how to do this). Because if you ever decide to switch providers for your website, the fees relating to releasing the domain name to you can be costly! Most domain name providers sell domains for $10-15/year. I use 1and1 as my domain name provider (for my hosting), and they usually have domains on sale for as low as $0.99 for the first year!
Hiring a Web Designer:
I used a website builder when I first started, but then as my business grew, I needed more features and I wanted a look for my site that a website builder just couldn't do. And even though a website builder can make the web design process a little easier, let's face it - I'm in the healing business, not the design business, and I would rather spend my time and energy on other things and focusing on what I'm good at!
If you decide to hire someone to build your website, you will need to obtain website hosting and a domain name, then give you designer access to those things. Hosting can cost anywhere from $4-10/month, and domains can cost anywhere from $10-15/year - although a good hosting company will include at least one domain name in your hosting package. Below are a few hosting companies that I recommend:
- 1and1: This is the company that I use for my website. As I mentioned before, that usually run specials on their domain names, and the also usually run specials on their hosting, for as low as $0.99/month for the first year - that's $11.88 for a year of hosting, including a domain name!
- A Small Orange: This is an amazing & affordable hosting company. They even include one Weebly website builder site with the purchase of any any their shared hosting packages, which are as low as $35/year(Tiny Plan) and $5/month(Small Plan).
- InMotion Hosting: Includes one free domain registration. If you ever have a problem, InMotion's support team is amazing - they have created an awesome company culture that produces friendly, helpful tech support agents.
- Another popular hosting company worth mentioning is GoDaddy. They have great reliability and support as well, but they tend to "nickel-and-dime" you for things that other hosting companies include in their packages at no extra cost. Like 1and1, they also tend to have great sales on their products for the first year, which at least makes it pretty affordable to get started.
Next, you'll need to find a web designer. Costs for a website designer vary greatly from designer to designer. Here's a blog post with 13 useful questions to ask a web designer before hiring them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-a-beachy/13-essential-questions-to_b_5453856.html
FYI, my web developer, Robin Watkins, is currently running Project 397, a program that can allow you to receive website design and business cards for only $397! Robin is an all around digital media guru, and she's VERY affordable the quality of work that she produces. Feel free to visit her website at whatevermedia.net and contact her; she is very friendly and can help you any questions you might have about the web design process.
A final note about website content:
However you decide to create your website, you'll want to make sure your website is structured properly and has great content. I recommend taking Diane Boerstler's course MBUS 501: Creating the Foundation for Your Irresistibly Authentic Metaphysical or Holistic Healing Consultancy, where, among other things, Diane teaches you how to create awesome copy for your website and other marketing materials, and you'll learn best practices for structuring your website content.
Good luck with creating your website!