Last summer I decided finally to create my own website, to broaden awareness of my advertising-slogan database and related search services (ADSlogans Unlimited).
Now it's up and running and I'm at last very pleased with it. It's bringing in business, just like it's supposed to. But it was a bumpy road. Let me share some learning with you.
Time required Creating your own website takes time - a month or two from 'go'. That's elapsed time, not 250 hours of labor. It's for reading manuals, learning new software, planning, making choices, not being able to move forward until someone returns a phone call, as well as building it. Keeping it going and updated takes at least another 5 hours a week.
Planning mandatory Scheme out as much of your site as you can before you start putting it together. Every hour of real planning time will save you at least one day undoing mistakes and rethinking things later.
Money needed Budget $500-$1000, assuming you already have an Internet-ready computer. This covers registration fees, reference books, software and rinky dinks like having to hire a programming maven to polish up an interactive component you just can't get to work on your own.
How do you want your site to look and feel? As you surf web, ask yourself: "Does this site really knock me out? Is there something I could emulate? Is this kind of look I want?" If yes, bookmark it and make a file of preferences. Then you'll have some benchmarks to work with. But before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
What is site's purpose? Mine was to: * Raise awareness of my work * Provide a reason to call/e-mail clients and prospects * Be a basis for publicity * Open door to new business * Be easily searched for and FOUND, using obvious key words, by all main search engines (AOL, Alta Vista, Hot-Bot, Excite, Lycos, etc) * Provide a mechanism for doing business and ordering my books * Identify and locate allies and competitors * Link to and from allies (adds to credibility) * Enable satisfied customers to show off their knowledge by introducing their colleagues to my services via website * Encourage feedback on my work * Encourage frequent return visits to build confidence in what I do