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How To Create An Effective Website For Your Small Business

Sure, I hear ya.

Your small business is doing just fine without a website.

You’re probably making a splash offline, or your products have no problem selling over on Etsy, Amazon or eBay.

But, how much better could your business be doing if you had a website? How many more people could you reach simply by getting on the web?

There’s no question having a website for your small business will help market your product or service better with a larger reach.

In fact, a website creates a whole new sales tool.

Build your brand and become the expert leader in your niche while creating a huge following of loyal customers to spread the word around.

A website can help you do this and more.

It doesn’t matter if you run a home-based business, small business, or even just freelance, if you don’t have a website, now is the time to get one.

PART 1: Building Your Business Site

Step 1: Purchase a Domain Name & Web Host

To get your website up and running, the first thing you need to do is to register a domain name (example.com) and purchase a web host. Your domain name is your online identity and unique address on the Internet while your web host is a place where you will store your files and display them to your visitors.

How To Purchase a Domain Name + Hosting:

If you need help, here’s a quick step-by-step process of purchasing a domain and a web hosting with BlueHost:

  1. Head over to Bluehost.com (you get a free domain name) and select a plan.
  2. Fill the form with your domain name and hit “Next”. If you already have a domain registered, use the "I Have a Domain Name" part instead.
  3. Now complete the next forms with your payment details and select a package.

Your domain name can be a strong marketing tool for your small business. Taking the time to figure out the right domain name can set the overall tone for your blog and create brand awareness online to drive people to your site.

And who doesn’t want a boost in traffic and popularity like that?

Here are tips for choosing a domain name:

  • Must be short and easy to type – a catchy, short (1-2 words) domain name – without numbers or hyphens – is best.
  • Make it easy to remember – try not to be that company with a cool website and a domain name you can’t remember.
  • Use keywords – for example, if you’re in the financial industry, having keywords like ‘mortgage’ or ‘finance’ in your domain name will help get the right people looking for your business. It’s also good for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Use the right domain name extension – this is the .COM at the end of your domain name. Find the right extension for your business – if a .COM is already taken, consider something like: .NET, .CO, or your local country domain like .CO.UK or .CA.

Step 2: Install a Content Management System

Now that you’ve got your domain and hosting in order, you need a way to build your site and manage the content – publish, design or modify it – on the web. For that, we’ll use WordPress (the most popular) as your CMS. No worries, it's free!

How To Set Up WordPress with BlueHost:

  1. Login to your Bluehost account. Login to BlueHost
  2. Click "Hosting” > click "Wordpress" in the Website Builders part. Select Wordpress to Install
  3. Click "Install". Click Install Button
  4. Select your domain name from the drop down menu then click "Check Domain" button. Click Check Domain
  5. Read the terms and conditions and check "I have read the terms and conditions of the GPLv2" then click "Install Now" button. Start to Install
  6. Wait for the progress to finish. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes! Once it's installed, click on the "View Processes link then click the "View Credentials" link (it's located at the top of your screen). Bluehost will also email your login info.View processes View processes
  7. All done! You have your website up now. Easy, isn't it?

Here’s why having a WordPress site is an excellent choice:

  • Built-in support – millions of people and businesses use WordPress, so it won’t be hard to find support or help if you need it.
  • No coding experience required – with one click installation and drag and drop page builders available, WordPress makes it easy for even the non-techie person to create a website.
  • Content ownership – all the content you have on your site belongs to you.
  • Free and paid themes – change the look of your site with one of many WordPress themes available.
  • Plugins – add more functionality to your WordPress site by choosing from thousands of plugins at the WordPress Plugin Directory, or you can purchase premium plugins too.

Step 3: Install a Theme or Hire a Web Designer

Now the fun begins! Head on over to the WordPress Theme Directory to pick a free theme or, for premium themes, you can visit sites like ThemeForest, Elegant Themes or StudioPress.

To learn how to install your theme, click here. You may find you need a little help customizing a theme to suit your brand.

Should You Hire a Web Designer & Web Developer?

If you’re a total newbie, it’s highly recommended to hire a professional web, designer. Remember, first impressions count. If your site looks like it’s been created from a pre-made theme, you run the risk of looking like all the other sites using the same theme.

Some tips for hiring a web designer or developer:

  • Make sure they have a portfolio with examples of their work.
  • Do they have a process from start to finish? What is their time frame? How often will you get updates? How will you communicate?
  • Ensure they have the skills to create a custom WordPress themes and understand the functionality of WordPress.
  • How about training for your site? If they add additional features to your site, and you don’t know how to use them, will they show you?

We also offer web design services, click here to check out our packages.

Step 4: Create Your Initial Pages

With your design out of the way, it’s time to plan out the structure of your website. These are the pages on your site that show visitors what your small business is all about.

Who You Need to Help You:

  • A Copywriter – will create copy that persuades and converts visitors into loyal customers. Copywriters know that even changing one word of copy can have a dramatic effect on your conversions and they use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • Web Designer – will make your pages attractive with the right formatting and images. They also work with your colors and brand to create a cohesive visual identity.

Typically, for a small business, important pages to have on your site are:

  • Home Page – this is the default page visitors see when they visit your main URL.
  • Landing Page – can also be your home page. It’s the number one place you want your visitors to arrive at. This page should have a high conversion rate.
  • About You (Your Team) and Your Business – having an About page and a team About page adds a personal element to your business. With your business About page, make sure to describe what your business can do for the customer.
  • Shop – if you’re selling products, you can install a WordPress e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce or WP eCommerce. You can also integrate Gumroad or add Shopify products to your site.
  • Services Page – list your services and explain what your business has to offer.
  • Your Rates or Pricing Page – for service-based businesses list your package rates. If you sell a few products, list them. Otherwise you’ll likely use an e-commerce plugin.
  • Testimonials – establish credibility and a professional reputation by showcasing client testimonials.
  • Portfolio – visitors want proof of what you do. If you’re a photographer or designer, for example, show some examples to give potential clients a taste of what you do.
  • Contact – include an email, phone number, social media profiles and a contact form.
  • Terms & Conditions – to protect your business, lay out payment terms, display your privacy policy, copyright information, etc.
  • F.A.Q. – provide answers to visitors’ common questions about support, shipping, payment or the quality of your products.

There you have it – the tools you need to build your small business site! Once completed, take the time to look over your site and make sure it represents your brand and tells visitors how you can help them.

Whew, your website is up and running, but you can’t expect everyone to automatically know about it. So, let’s learn how you can market your website and start generating traffic and revenue.

pauline c
By Pauline Cabrera

A twenty-something savvy web designer / social media manager / SEO strategist based in Toronto, Ontario. Passionate about web design, HTML/CSS, beautifying things and internet marketing. Follow me on social media and say hello! Follow me on Facebook Follow me on Instagram Follow me on Pinterest Follow me on Twitter

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