Should You Have A Website?

There are a lot of people who have websites (or webpages) in this world. There are a lot more, however, who don’t have websites. When it comes to business, a general question that has to be asked is whether it’s viable for the owners of that business to have a website or not.

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Christa via Compfight

As a former internet marketing consultant, the overall answer is easily yes. The reality, however, isn’t so cut and dry. Let’s explore the positives first.

A website can be a great extension of your advertising, if done properly. If you have products, it’s a great place to not only share information about them, but, if applicable, you could set your site up to sell your product at all times of the day. A website can highlight your expertise, tell everyone what you do, tell something about you, and allow you to share your expressiveness with a whole new audience of people. If marketed properly, your website can see a whole lot more people than you’d ever meet.

One great thing about having a website is that, even if you don’t really do business online, it offers you many ways to accept credit card payments if your business doesn’t presently accept them. For instance, for my businesses, I accept credit card payments by sending people online links that will direct them through Paypal so they can use their credit cards. Paypal takes 2.89%, but that’s a small price to pay for having my money quickly, as it allows me to transfer funds to my bank account immediately and have them in my bank account within 3 days, sometimes sooner. There are other services out there that offer similar services.

Of course there’s the other side.

A website can make you look bad if the site doesn’t look good, or isn’t uniform. If you write the copy yourself and you’re a terrible writer, it can highlight shortcomings that you may not want others to see. If your product doesn’t photograph well, or can’t be easily explained, it could make marketing difficult. There’s a dicey balance between trying to show yourself as an individual that people can trust as well as a professional who’s open and inviting to strangers.

Then there’s this thing about keeping your website fresh and interesting, not only to the people who visit but to the search engines. The best optimization in the world won’t help your site out if, once it’s completed, you let it go and never do anything else with it.

Search engines such as Google will send out what they call spiders, that will go through your site and rank its validity. If nothing changes after a long time, they stop coming by on a regular basis. When that happens, you could drop off the face of the search engine universe, which means that the only people who will find your product are the ones who know to look for you. If that’s what you want, fine, but if you want more, that’s not going to work.

Websites take one of two things; time or money. Either the owner has to learn at least a little bit of HTML to consistently make changes and alterations, as well as, hopefully, add content, or the owner has to have the money to pay someone to do that for them on a regular basis.

Also, a new owner has to make a decision how they want to spend their money, and what a website is worth to them. For instance, there are many hosts that offer the opportunity to create a free site, usually a one page site. If you’re a business, it doesn’t look good for you because your business name isn’t highlighted as much as the host, such as Freewebs, Homestead, etc. You also can’t optimize much because it’s not really your site.

SandS002

You could decide to use one of many programs to create your own site to upload, and I’ve seen a few people who have done a nice job with it, but formatting pages so they look uniform can take time, and also some knowledge, and if you’re not the type for that then you probably shouldn’t go there. These days there’s a lot of people using WordPress software to create their own website; it is and isn’t easy, depending on your skill level.

Depending on what you want, creating websites can take a lot of time, and might cost you some significant dollars. There are some companies that have templates you can use and then work on customizing, but they pretty much look like other sites.

Before you pay any money, talk with the person you’re thinking of using to try to decide just what you might want. For instance, I had one client who, when we first talked, said she only wanted five pages, which wouldn’t have cost that much or taken long to complete. By the time we were finished, we were over 15 pages, with research on top of the creation of the site, and the cost ended up in the thousands. This client was ready to pay it; are you ready to pay it?

Also, please have a vision for what you want your website to look like? I manage the website for one of the organizations I’m a part of and, while I was out of town, they decided they wanted to freshen up the website. The problem is what they put out there for proposals was generic and didn’t say anything, and when I finally saw it I told them that. I asked why they wanted a website change and they said they wanted something new; that was it. If you’re going to accept whatever the person who creates your website, no matter what it looks like then fine, but if you want something more specific you’d better mention that up front.

The same thinking has to come into play if you think you want to add a blog. I hate cruising blogs, only to see that many of them haven’t had an entry in over six months, sometimes years. Blogs aren’t for the uninspired; it takes some kind of discipline to continually write entries, and, if you’re writing a business blog, the worst thing to have is a blog that has no recent activity. Some people try to write on a niche that’s too tight, and they find that it’s hard being confined to that one thing, so they just stop writing. If you don’t really believe that you have enough in you to consistently keep updating it, then it’s best not to start.

So, should you have a website? Time and money; if you have either, then yes. If not, then no… possibly. After all, if your competition has a website you’re immediately at a disadvantage.

At least make an informed decision either way. For a quick, down and dirty list, click on this website outline of pros and cons (this was taken from a website I shut down so it looks odd; just look at the information in the middle), check out my webinar titled Social Media, SEO & Your Business (upper left corner), or just ask someone, even me. However, I’ve pretty much given you everything you should need. 🙂

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Basic Ways People Make Money With Their Websites

Whether you have a business website or are trying to make money off the web, invariably just being online offers you the opportunity to make money in some fashion. Many people have an idea of what making money online means to them, but it’s often a limited view, which you’ll see if you visit “make money” websites or blogs. I’m going to give you some of the basic ways that people make money, whether directly or indirectly, and a general idea of how it’s done; I’m betting most of you know these ways already.

Pretty Penny
Creative Commons License JD Hancock via Compfight

One, you can make money by selling products. This is the easy one that most people think of, as you can sell products you make or products someone else makes. Affiliate marketing works well for some people who have niche blogs or websites.

Two, you can make money by selling services. You find this more often with people that offer coaching, counseling or consulting services.

When you think of this model, you have to think both short term and long term marketing. For instance, if I have a link up it means I’m trying to sell short term services; not necessarily that I’m hoping you’ll only use me once and go away, but these are immediate services that I want to be paid up front for.

When you have a business website and you provide services, most probably you’re working on long term services, which doesn’t mean you only offer services that last a lifetime, but are looking to build your authority and presence over time so that you can become known as an expert and thus charge more for your services.

Three, you can make money by accepting advertising. Within this model you can include things like Google Adsense and other pay-per-click (PPC) or pay per subscriber/buyer models. If you have a business website you should think long and hard as to whether you want any type of advertising on your site because there’s the potential of you sending people away. However, if you have other sites like blogs that don’t talk about business specifically, accepting advertising is a great way to build income, but you have to be cautious in how you do it.

Advertising can also take other forms. If you write a blog on a certain subject you’ll often have someone ask if they can pay for a link on an article that pertains to what they do. That’s one of the powers of being a prolific writer; there’s always someone willing to pay for some authority to link back to their site. Being known as a publisher or content curator of original information can pay well.

You need to evaluate your business to determine what your websites goals are. If you’re highlighting your business, then stay away from many forms of advertising. If you’re somewhat flexible, there are lots of options you can explore.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Why Your Business Needs A Blog

I’ve always said that I created my first blog to help highlight my business. Before I go any further, if you’re interested in learning more about blogging in general I’m going to recommend you check out this post on Better Blogging, the second half of that post, then check out my blogging tips. If you’re not a better blogger after all of that then you’ll never learn the game. 🙂

Oklahoma Blogger
Wesley Fryer via Compfight

Plain and simple, for almost every business a blog will help enhance visibility and show people what you know. Sure, there are some services like snow plowing where having a blog might be a waste of time, but even landscape businesses could benefit greatly from having a blog.

Here are some facts about business blogging.

Statistics have shown that businesses with blogs get anywhere from 85% to 100% more leads than businesses without blogs. Those same statistics show that they’ll get nearly 50% more leads from other businesses than sites without blogs.

You have two stats. Now let’s look at the reasons.

One, the more new content the more opportunities you have to increase your website’s presence, hence the higher you’ll rank on search engines.

Two, when people can learn what you do from you, they’re more likely to work with you.

Three, when people like what you have to say and how you say it, they’re more comfortable with you and people like working with someone they’re comfortable with.

Four, you can branch out into many areas which gives you a lot to talk about. For instance, I know someone who wrote for a website that installed artificial grass. What she did was highlight famous places around the world that used artificial grass, and every once in awhile threw in something about the different types.

Five, as I mentioned above, you can hire someone else to write for you if you’re not a great writer. Of course this isn’t preferable for most of us but since I write for a couple other blogs it’s fair to point it out.

Six, it keeps you visible with your clientele.

I think that’s enough, though there are other reasons. At least consider it, but also consider this. Don’t start a blog that you don’t think you can maintain for at least a few years. Nothing looks worse than a blog that’s never updated, and that could hurt you as much as having the blog could have helped you.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Businesses Without Websites

Many of you know that I write blogs for others. One of the sites I write for is a massive real estate blog. It concentrates on home communities and home builders, though I also get to write some commentary here and there.


World Wide Web
by Anthony Mattox

What surprises me is just how many home builders and contractors there are that still don’t have a website. Sure, they’re listed in some fashion via Yahoo maps and Google maps and Manta and other phone number tracking sites, but beyond that there’s no further information on these companies.

It’s frustrating for me because I try to find out more information about either a community or a home builder, and there’s nothing there. In many areas around the country they don’t have home communities, just neighborhoods, and sometimes it’s hard trying to figure out who built those homes. And when you can find them, there’s nothing about them, just a phone number. You don’t know if they build single family, multiple family, condominiums, townhomes… nothing.

Of course it’s not just home builders, but many brick and mortar businesses in general. My wife and I were trying to research snow removal companies that were in our area, but there were only two online, and neither one specifically near our home. Sure, there are plenty of numbers on the search engine, but it would be nice to know which specific neighborhoods these snow removal people like to work in because my wife leaves the house by 5:30 in the morning and it doesn’t do us much good if the builder is on the other side of our town most of the time.

I wrote an article on my SEO website titled Should You Have A Website, and of course I come out on the side that says “yes”. However, I also mentioned some reasons why a business might want a website, and though I could see why someone might, my bet is that most of these companies that don’t have websites do so because they just never thought about it.

In this day and age, when so many more people are internet savvy and would rather look information up on the search engines as opposed to grabbing the Yellow Pages and looking at an ad, it would behoove any legitimate agency to have a website, put up some examples of what they do, and let their online marketing serve their business in ways they’ve never imagined before. It’s the wave of the future; heck, it’s the wave now!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

RSS For Your Business Websites

Oddly enough, I guess I owe this post to much of the spam I’ve been receiving lately. Much of it asks, stupidly of course, how they can subscribe to my RSS feed for this blog, which is pretty much all over the place, especially if you use Firefox.

However, it got me thinking about RSS feeds in general, especially as they apply to business websites. I have enough websites, I figure, but in reality I have 3 business websites. And I don’t have RSS feeds on any of them.

I’ve started wondering if I should have feeds on them. After all, I don’t do a lot of updating to those sites. One of them I have my business blog attached, and it obviously has a RSS feed, so I’ve just assumed that site didn’t need one. For my other two sites, though, I do add something here and there, and those are mainly articles, and maybe I need a RSS feed for those. After all, who doesn’t want more RSS subscribers?

The question of course is why anyone would subscribe to the RSS feed for a business site. It’s not news, and since most of us assume that most sites are fairly static, what would compel us to subscribe? Or is this a case of “if you build it they will come”?

I’m not the only one who thinks about this sort of thing. A woman named Sarah wrote an article titled Why RSS Is So Important For Your Business That You’re Probably Already Using It (whew, long title!), and she talks about the importance of having RSS feeds if you’re constantly updating your information. That’s easy to agree with, but what about if you’re not constantly updating your content?

Actually, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? As a consultant, I often advise potential clients that they need to have constantly updated content in some fashion. Of course I usually recommend blogs first, and most blogging software comes with the ability to easily add RSS feeds so you’re covered there. But what about the website itself? Other than news sources and sales pages, are there any other reasons for a business to syndicate their site?

Something more to think about, I guess. Meanwhile, the palm trees are for my friend Sue. 🙂

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