This article reprinted from the Debra Condren Weblog. The original article can be found online:
© 2009, Debra Condren
Dear Debra: Do I need a website? I only launched my small business three months ago. How do I set up a website? I’m not a techie! –29-year-old with Dog Walking Biz
Not having a website is like saying, “I don’t have a business card yet.”
When you meet people and talk about your business, they undoubtedly ask, “Do you have a website?” If you answer, “Not yet,” you’re communicating that you don’t take yourself and your work seriously, so why should they trust your expertise enough to hire you?
Here’s how to quickly and efficiently get your website—and blog—up by sundown tonight.
Name It: Brainstorm
URL’s/names for your website.
A URL is the address of your website; it tells people where to find you. It is also the name of your website. It begins with www. and should end with either .com (“dot com”), .net (“dot net”), .org (“dot org”). Example: www.CentralParkDogWalker.com.
Notice the .com ("dot com") extension in the above example.
Stay away from .tv or .ca or other non-conventional dot-somethings (extensions). Why? People won’t remember an atypical extension; instead of remembering the URL you've sent them to (i.e., www.YourURL.tv), they will go to a competitor's site who has the same URL name with a more common extension (i.e., www.YourURL.com).
Matchy Matchy: Ideally, your
URL should match your business name.
For example, my website and blog URL is the same as my book’s title: www.AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord.com. Additionally, the name of my coaching business matches the URL for my coaching website: www.ManhattanBusinessCoaching.com.
Use URL availability to settle on your brand/business name.
If you haven’t yet named your business, product, or service, check to see if the URL name(s) you’re thinking of using are available (meaning someone else hasn’t already taken them).
Reserve your own
(given) name, in addition to your brand/business name.
I also own www.DebraCondren.com. Even if your business name isn't the same as your name, snag the URL, just in case you want to use your name as your URL some day—and so that someone else can't own/exploit your name.
How to find out if a URL is available.
Go to www.GoDaddy.com to buy a URL for $9.99/year. Type in the name/brand you hope to use and you’ll get an immediate answer of “Congratulations!” or “Sorry. Try another name.” Note: Snag your name if it’s available; don’t wait. There are URL predators who troll, check to see which names have been researched but not purchased, then buy and “squat” on that URL name hoping someone like you (or a corporate giant) will want the name badly enough to pay big bucks.
Website-to-Blog in one easy step:
You've scored your website URL. Next, sign up for a Blog account with www.Typepad.com. There are other blog hosting sites, but I recommend Typepad.com You can start with a 14-day free Typepad trial, followed by fees starting at around $15 per month, depending on the bells and whistles you choose.
Name your blog the same name as your business and URL.
For example, say you nab www.CentralParkDogWalker.com. Now, name your Typepad blog “Central Park Dog Walker”. Next, pick a basic background, color, and layout in under ten minutes. Then, hire someone like John T. Unger at www.TypePadHacks.org to point your website URL to your Typepad blog for around a one-time fee of $150. (Or, if you have the patience to plod through some tech stuff, contact GoDaddy tech support and ask them to walk you through how to do it for free.)
No Matter What, Do This:
Make sure—no excuses; no procrastinating—that you religiously record the e-mail addresses of your website and blog visitors/fans. Why? People who visit your site or who e-mail you are potential clients, word-of-mouth fan club members, and folks who want to track, study, and buy what you have to say and to offer. Once they find you, it's up to you to e-mail them, send them newsletters, and keep your business offerings on their radar. If you fail to do this, they may never come back. You may only get one shot to invite them to give you their e-mail. Don't blow it.
How do you keep track of visitors' e-mail addresses?
Example: Add a “Sign up for my Central Park Dog Walker Newsletter Updates” link to your blog. Use this link to collect your e-mail visitors’ names for free with an account at www.VerticalResponse.com. Send out 1000 e-mail newsletters to your list, offering advice and information about your services and products. Do this in under an hour for under $10 a newsletter; plus Vertical Support has excellent free tech support.
Why a blog
versus a traditional, static website?
You can quickly and easily post articles, advice, and photos for free—without understanding HTML and without having to hire and wait for an expensive programmer to get your stuff up. Plus, a blog gives you excellent online visibility. Artist and Typepad expert John T. Unger observes: “I had a beautiful state of the art website for ten years and got two sales in that entire time. When I converted the exact same content over to Typepad.com, I showed up better in search engines and within three years was making a six-figure income selling art online.”
Follow these steps right now (don't procrastinate!) and have your better-than-basic website—plus your Blog—up by sundown.
Questions? E-mail me at: debra@AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord.com