Oana's Blog on Human Nature
WHY PAY FOR A PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE?
“I want my author’s website done for free. I will find someone to do it for me.” The young lady told me. We were having a coffee after one of those heated writers’ meetings.
I smiled and pointed at the gentleman sitting at the neighboring table, “Would you mind asking that man to pay for our coffees?”
“I am not doing this!”The woman shook her head in disapproval.
“Then, why would you ask others for free services?”
I admit I was a little bit harsh on my fellow writer. But, as a web content writer who gets a lot of requests for free content, I needed to make a point.
Way too many people, especially authors flock to ‘’free” or just demand services for free. Some businesses and service providers don’t even think they should have their own website.
Small business owners are often told that a page on Facebook and a few twitters should do it. What they are not told is that these are social networks. Let me say it again, in case you missed it: social. These networks offer a space for socializing, not for doing business. This is why your posts are hit or miss; folks might or might not see them.
I know there are numerous cases of people who have made business connections on social sites.
While this is true -- and I strongly encourage you to post wherever you can -- always remember that whoever created that “free” space can take it down anytime. It is someone else’s property. Never rely on anyone to host or promote you. The websites in question are created with the purpose of promoting their owners’ interests.
The only free networks I personally recommend are the professional ones, such as LinkedIn. In case you haven’t noticed, making contacts there is not that easy as it is on “hang out” places. People who go there are focused on business, rather than on sharing their pet’s pictures.
Also, when you invite people over for a drink, do you invite them to someone else’s place? I don’t think so. Then why on earth would you send people to other websites than yours? Aside from the fact that having your own website adds credibility to your career, it also shows that you invest in yourself. Your clients fans or followers can share your information and send others to a stable place that is yours and yours only.
Oh, the confidence factor. Do you believe in yourself? You might wonder, what does this have to do with your business or services? Actually, it does. If you are not willing to invest in yourself, you just don’t believe that you and your work are worth the investment. So don’t expect anyone else to do.
I speak sometimes with clients who want a cheap website. No, they are not poor artists. Actually, most of them are business owners. Their excuse? “I just invested 60k in equipment and I cannot afford an expensive website right now. “
So let me get this straight. You invested 60K but you don’t have $5000 for a decent professional website that will bring you more business. Well… do you think a $200 website will present you as a successful enterprise? Why not wait, set some money aside and get a web presence that will reflect your hard work and investment?
Let me not forget the best of all: the do-it-yourself kits. As one who had attempted to do many things to “save” money -- from pathetic website design to leaky water pipe repairs -- I can testify that this can be very costly. Today I take the limping dog straight to the vet instead of trying to design my own homemade splints.
Yeah, it’s that simple. Would you go to a business meeting in sweatpants? No? Then why would you like to appear as unprofessional on the… World Wide Web?
There are many benefits of having a professional website. I just named a few.
In case you are ready to get yours, here are a few tips.
- Know what you want from your website. Do you own research and plan ahead of time. Look up similar websites in your industry, and find out what sets you apart from other businesses. You may want to emphasize that when you create your own site. Save all the information in a safe place, until you decide to hire a professional to help you.
- The beauty of paying for things is that you have rights. You have the right to get things done the way you want them. You have the right to a website tailored to your specific needs. When you talk to website designers find out if they offer all the assistance you need with logo design, photography, and web content writing. Will they research your competition and analyze the information you send them about your business? Will they offer suggestions as to the structure of the website? Also, make sure they are detail- oriented and that they will not just post any pictures you send before they analyze their quality and the impact they might have on your online image.
- Every word matters. If you hire a writer (whether recommended by your website designer or not), make sure that he is not the “shoot us an email with the literature/content” type of professional. Of course, any writer will be happy to receive your content, review it and make it SEO-friendly for you if you have it ready. This is a web content writer’s dream. Mine, too. However, a good writer will actually take his time and listen to you, gather information on the specific of your business and give suggestions as to the way your content should be phrased. Why? Because your website will stay on his portfolio. Your image impacts his as well. Never trust a content writer who is too “busy” to get to know you and your business.
- Your website is up and running. Now what? Well, this is something you should consider before you talk to a professional. Website creation does not include alterations made after the website has gone live. Most design companies offer maintenance and/or management plans. You may want to be in control of your website instead of having to contact the webmaster and pay for additional services. In this case, if you have content you want to manage (updates, blog entries, article creation, pictures), make sure your website will have a content management system and you know how to use it. Either way, you need to make sure you understand your long-term options.
- Last but not least, ask for at least two professional references. Call former or current clients and ask them if they are happy with the services your prospective website builders offer. Do yourself a favor, and avoid “impersonal” business relationships. While it is true that you can see their portfolios online, it pays off to make an extra effort and talk to those who actually have worked with them.
Remember, social networking is important. Establishing a good internet presence is important. Posting on free websites increases your visibility.
But if your trade requires a professional appearance, consider having a professional website. “Free” is always more expensive than it seems. It translates into lost sales, missed business connections, and more.
In the end, you want to have control over your time and investment.
© 2012 by Oana