Business

Your business on the worldwide web

Creating a website for your business

As I said earlier, before you go any further and even attempt to build your site or commission, someone to do it for you makes sure that you have identified your objective in having your website. This is crucial to your future success. For example, my businesses include a gardening business, a cycle shop, and boat hire. The objectives for each of my sites differ considerably. My primary aim in having a gardening business is to promote my main gardening business, which is maintenance and landscaping work.

Build your website or employ someone?

When it comes to creating your website, you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to make your site or have someone build it for you. I prefer to build my websites for the simple reason that I can update them whenever I like without having to pay fees to a web designer.

Build your site using software

Suppose you have a basic knowledge of HTML or you already have web-building software, for example, Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage. In that case, you can either build your site or purchase a ready-made template and then adjust this to suit your needs. The disadvantage is that you will still need to pay a hosting company to host your site, and you will also need to register your name. My personal preference is to have it all with one company, and then if either you need help or there is a problem, you only have one company to contact.

Free website hosting and free template

Several companies will allow you to use their templates free of charge, including hosting your site on one of their servers, but in return, your site will either have to display their ads, or visitors will be bombarded with annoying pop-up ads. My advice is that you should avoid these at all costs. Regardless of how hard you try, you will not encourage visitors to take your site seriously if their viewing is constantly interrupted by pop-up ads. Neither will you inspire confidence and credibility.

Have a page on an online directory

This is where you buy a page on another website’s directory. I can see absolutely no advantage in doing this. The success of your site will depend on factors outside your direct control. You will have no control over the marketing of the parent directory site or influence the direction it goes.

Search engine friendly

Make it your number one priority to make your site as search engine friendly as you can. To do this, you will not only need to include keywords in the main text of your site, but you’ll also need to include keyword meta tags in your HTML coding. There’s nothing complicated about doing either of these things. If you’ve created your site, you can go to http://www.free-webmaster-tools.com/Meta-Tag-Generator.htm, where their online software will generate free meta-tags for your website.

Visitor friendly

It’s incredible how website owners think that visitors to their site want to be bombarded by music or other silly gimmicks like annoying things flying around the screen and getting in the way of seeing what the area has to offer. If you’re ever tempted to include music, remember this. Most workplaces in the country now have Internet access, and I know from previous experience working in a large office that employees often spend time surfing the net when they should be doing other things. But what happens if your music blares out of their speakers? Music and over-reliance on pop-up ads, elaborate color schemes, and poorly structured pages will drive visitors away from your site in seconds. Once they’re gone, that’s it.

Marketing your website

Creating your website is the easiest part of setting up your online business. But, as with all companies, the hardest part is to get visitors through your doors and, once in, buy from you. Working on the assumption that you will be using your website both as a marketing tool for your business and a place where customers can buy your goods, you’re going to have to work on a strategy if you are to succeed.

Offline marketing techniques

As well as promoting your site online, you should also consider some offline marketing, especially if your site has some local appeal. For example, our gardening business site has been set up primarily to promote our services in our immediate locality. There is a limit to how far we will travel, and even though our site is up for the whole world to see, we’re only interested in promoting it locally.

Summary

Every business should have an Internet presence. Create the best website you possibly can. Remember your website is your virtual shop window. You should put as much thought and effort into creating your online image as you would if you open a high street shop. Your site must be ‘sticky’ if it is to succeed. Not only will you need to encourage visitors to come to your site, but also to return regularly. eBay offers enormous potential for hobby businesses in sourcing products for your business and opening and selling online.

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