Thinking of launching your first website for your ‘brick and mortar’ business?
Fine. But before you jump in heed these warnings about the three most common web hosting and design dangers almost everyone falls for the first time they seek to build a website for their offline business.
How to avoid getting conned into paying for services you do not need…or worse do not actually receive
There’s something about this industry I really hate.
I see it happening again and again. Many small business owners have paid anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 or more per year to get and keep simple local websites online. Plus they may be coughing up anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars a month for so-called ‘ongoing’ marketing services. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about continuity when there is fair exchange in value. That’s not what is going on here. I’m talking about scams that are nothing more than than smoke and mirrors. Highway robbery.
As a marketer getting away with charging small business owners $5,000 to $20,000 or more per year for ‘web hosting and design’ is easy to pull off.
A design firm simply needs to position these ridiculously high local marketing fees against fees major corporations are spending for online marketing. Probably all of us have at some time heard of major corporations paying hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to buy or build a global website. So paying $400-$500 a month ($5000+ over the course of a year) doesn’t sound like much by comparison.
But here’s the thing…small businesses do not have the same marketing or maintenance needs of larger businesses. So comparing fees between the two is like comparing apples to ostriches. Two different creatures entirely.
Lets get dirty…
Why does this matter? It’s because an industry dirty secret is to crank up web design service fees (and profits) by charging for ongoing monthly services that are never delivered. Services that are available ‘if’ something should happen. Presented as a safety net.
Once everything is setup instead of paying ongoing for ‘safety nets’ you should handle managing your site yourself. You save money and gain greater control of your site. But if you decided not to go that route then at least consider paying for services only when services are needed. Avoid paying for services that are unlikely ever rendered.
This is no little thing. There are a several fast growing independent agencies that make millions charging for services that are never rendered. They have a schedule of services they deliver if you jump through their pre-planned hoops. They understand you are too busy running your company to follow through.
Get that monkey off your back…
They put the burden of accountability on you. Those unscrupulous design and marketing companies get paid month after month after month ‘through no fault on their part’. This is a carefully orchestrated scam. Heck, I’ve been told if I charge the same way I could also earn $200,000 or more per month for work that’s not actually delivered. No thank you. I like being able to sleep at night with both eyes closed.
There is a clue to look for when trying to find if a company plans on charging for services they do not intend to deliver. The biggest red flag is they give you a checklist of monthly, quarterly, or annual steps you must take after you come onboard. These steps usually include meeting with one of their agents either in-person or remotely to review your consistency in following through on the checklist items they assigned to you. Who is working for who?!? When you see this run!
Well. Maybe not run. That may be harsh. Be on guard. Not all agencies who require ongoing meetings with you are scammers. Some are sincere and authentic. But quite a few are anything but.
Ok. Let me get off that soapbox…
So what does it really cost to
get a website online?
If you believe in self-sufficiency–as I routinely preach–you can have a professional looking website up and running in an hour or less. And your hard costs for going online are minimal. Less than $30 to get started. This is your own site. A site you own and control. Not one of those sites that claim to be ‘free’ but they control your site and its contents.
Don’t let anyone control you…
Stay away from free hosting sites.
Free hosting appeals to many small business owners. After all, if you can get a site up and running without cost why wouldn’t you? Because sometimes free really isn’t free.
If a host provides a site to you in a format such as www.yourname.theircompany.com or www.theircompany.com/yourname you are not the site owner. And as such the site will not get much attention from search engines.
From an online marketing perspective trying to market a local business through ‘vanity sites’ such as these is nearly as bad as not having a site online at all. That’s because if your name is followed by or preceded by a domain name that someone else owns then Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others know you are not investing in a ‘real’ website. Vanity sites are not considered ‘real’ businesses.
As proof there is a site that claims they host 11 million free websites. And claim those sites are ‘optimized’ for the search engines. Me being me I went to Google.com and typed ‘site:theirsite.com‘ to see if 11 million sites would appear. Nope. Very few of those so-called 11 million sites are indexed by Google. If my math is correct only around 0.0037 of the sites are listed at all. That’s only three out of every 1,000 attempts. That is nowhere near even 1%. Not even 1/10th of 1%. What a waste of time.
The majority of the sites claimed to be listed on the ‘free’ web hosting domain are ignored entirely. When you own your own site usually 100% of your content is ‘spidered’ and indexed by the search engines–unless your site is a scam.
Maybe though you don’t care. You are desperate ‘just to be online’ even if it means not showing up in search results.
Well, if you are lured by the word ‘free’ realize not only are you unlikely to have a web presence but you also risk at some point being charged by the host to keep your so-called ‘free’ site online. This is a common practice.
And also, you do not control whether your site stays online or not. At any time the host can determine your site is a conflict of interest to themselves or someone else. So, at anytime they can delete your site. They have full control over what is permitted on their site. After all they own the site you do not.
What happens if/when you disagree with their policy changes or TOS? Your ‘free’ site gets deleted. Everything you spent weeks, months, or years building on their platform gets deleted. And once they delete your content what happens to your site? It vanishes. Gone. And invariably such sites prohibit making backups of your site because the graphics and layouts are owned by those sites. Not you. Bye bye freebie.
Avoid those headaches. Do things right from the get go. Setup a real site in the format of www.yourname.com instead of paying for a vanity site. Build a site you truly own and control. A site that gives you the freedom to run your business your way.
Done-for-you web marketing and management
If you want to put your small or medium sized business online but would rather have everything done for you perhaps I can create your site for you–for free. Why free? Because owning a website is NOT where the money is at. The value comes from intelligently marketing your company online and offline. What’s the catch? I only build websites for established companies in conjunction with my Total Marketing Package approach to marketing. I earn my money from your increased success.
My new Total Marketing Package approach is arguably the most comprehensive and holistic way of integrating both online and offline marketing in a way that attracts business to you, helps you sell more to your existing clients and customers, and reactivates business that has drifted away. This is accomplished in ways that are not possible solely through one or two methods alone. We integrate both online and offline marketing methods. Obviously since my income is tied to my client’s success I must be selective in who I work with. Not everyone qualifies.