Online sales are gradually overtaking physical – or offline - sales, and are forecasted to rise by 12% by the end of 2018 in Europe. This proves that more and more people are turning to the Internet in search of retail and service providers, and an online presence is therefore essential for any business in the 21st century.
If you’re in the process of starting up your own business, a good website is really what you need to attract potential customers and succeed in your latest endeavour – even if you’re on a budget.
WordPress.com, which has consistently been named as a leading free blog/web hosting provider and accounts for over 23% of all websites on the World Wide Web, offers a variety of affordable solutions to help get you started in creating a professional-looking website. You can choose its free hosting plan to promote your services-based business (dog-walking, gardening, house cleaning), or go for the Business upgrade to create an online store for just €240 a year.
Choosing Your Domain Name
First thing’s first, you need a good domain name for your website.
If you choose WordPress’ free Beginner plan (Premium and Business plans include a custom domain name in the price), you might want to consider buying a domain name for your business from $18 a year to get rid of the wordpress.com extension in example.wordpress.com. For one, example.com is more professional-looking, and two, example.wordpress.com is – quite simply – boring.
Web-savvy experts advise people looking to buy their own domain name to choose something short, simple and catchy, like Amazon.com or eBay.com. Beyond their obvious success as retail giants, their domain names play a pivotal part in that success, as they are catchy and easy to remember. The same experts also advise website owners to avoid numbers and dashes in their domain names.
You may have come up with the best name for your business (ever!), but there’s no guarantee it will be available as a domain name. Start by making a list of alternative domain names if your chosen one has already been taken. Say your business is called Jenny’s Cupcakes and jennyscupcakes.com is taken, you can opt for jcupcakes.com or jennycupcakes.com. Or you can even try other TLDs like jennyscupcakes.net and jennyscupcakes.biz. If you need some advice on how to choose a great domain name, then check out this guide by First Site Guide.
Once you’ve created your account and WordPress website, go to Reading under Settings in your Dashboard and select the option to make your website private for the time being, to avoid visitors entering the “construction site”.
Customising Your Site
The good thing about WordPress.com is that you don’t necessarily need any HTML knowledge. Amateurs and professionals alike both use WordPress for its easy-to-use interface to create, edit or delete pages, posts, and media files. With over 300 free and purchasable beautiful themes at your disposal, upgrades are also available for custom fonts and colours to tailor and perfect the look of your website.
Writing Content for Your Site
This, along with your site’s visual appeal, is the most important part about creating any website. Depending on how good or bad, useful or useless your content is, it may attract a great deal of visitors and potential customers or scare them away into taking their business elsewhere. Your content needs to be compelling, engaging, and educational.
If you’re not one for writing, you can prepare a draft of your content and hire someone out to perfect it for you, or ask a friend to help you out (while you promise them a lovely little discount).
Interacting with Your Visitors
Maybe one of the reasons you’ve decided to sell your handmade products online is really because you’re not exactly a people person, but even so, interacting with your website’s visitors can only do you good. They may post a question in the comments section (answer it for them) or they may be singing your praises (thank them). Visitors or existing customers may even contact you by e-mail, and it is your job to provide excellent, prompt customer service, if you want them to become a new customer or provide you with repeat business.
Some themes allow Social Menus where you can link your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. pages, to interact with and reach a wider audience. Moreover, enabling the Publicize feature, new posts are directly shared on your social media pages.
Committing Yourself to the Cause
This is of upmost importance. Once you’ve created and publically launched your website (don’t forget to unclick the private option in Site Visibility!), you will need to keep it updated as regularly as possible. Aging content will not strike confidence in your potential customers, especially if your latest news article was posted six months ago, and they will inevitably abandon any desire they might have had to hire your services. Promote your website and business on social media, in newspaper ads, or simply by word-of-mouth.
WordPress offers a plethora of guides for you to look at, namely Making a Business Website and Using WordPress.com to Create a Website, that will assist you in creating and maintaining a successful website for your business – with a little patience and dedication on your part.
Main image source: iStock