Control Your Small Business Website Before You Hire a Web Designer

small business website controlIf you are going to hire someone to build or update your small business website you need to control it.  There are a lot of issues you might get into down the road if you don’t follow the following tips.  Or learn to build your own WordPress Website:

  1. Control Your Domain: Don’t let anyone buy your domain.  Buy your own domain name.
  2. Control Your Webhosting: Don’t let anyone host your website.  Host your own website
  3. Control Your Infrastructure: Make sure they use Open Source solutions like WordPress or Drupal.
  4. Control Your Content:  Make sure it’s a website that YOU can update your content!

Now I am not talking about design here.  These tips will help you take control of your website.  Why?  Your website is your Store Front on the Internet.  It is also your small businesses voice on the Internet.  This means you are telling the world about what you do.  If someone else controls that too much, then it isn’t yours. You are the expert behind your small business and your industry.  Tell the world what you know.

1 & 2 Control your Domain & WebHosting

This is important!  Don’t work with anyone who hosts your website themselves.  If someone hosts your website then they control your website.  This means that you buy a house and give the reale state broker your keys. Pay the web hosting company directly not your web designer.  Many developers will do this so they have you locked in. It’s a scam.  Don’t fall for it.

What do you do? Buy your own webhost. I recommend Bluehost. They start at $3.95 a month (Billed yearly).   I have used them for years.

More importantly never let anyone buy your domain name.  If someone buys your domain name and puts it under there name, then you do not own that domain.  That would be like buying a house and paying your Real Estate broker.  They sign there name on all the papers.  Your broker owns the house, not you.  You can buy a domain name with Bluehost or GoDaddy.

3. Control Your Small Business Website Infrastructure

Many companies have custom website building tools.  You call up your web designer and tell them what you need.  If they build the site with there own software, then you may never be able to update the site without paying them more. This is another scam.  Never trust anyone to build your small business website who doesn’t use open source software.  The top ones are:

There are many more then these three.  You should ask them what FrameWork they use?  I have used all three of these.  I build most of my websites today with WordPress because it’s easier for my clients. I recommend WordPress.  If you use Bluehost as I recommended above, they have an easy one click install. Small business websites work great on WordPress because it’s easy to add content.

4. Control Your Content

Today your small business need content to gain a large following online.  Lots of content.  This takes time.  You have to take time and write or dictate your ideas.  Talk to your customers.  Trust me, they want to hear from you.  If you post a small piece of content weekly, in a year you will have 52 blog posts.  Over three years 150 posts.  Each of these posts would be about your expertise and what you know.  Do not make them all self promotional.  Most should be educational.  They will be in Google.  The posts will be equivalent to 150 entrances to your business.  150 ways for people to find you.  The more relevant content, the more customers.

You will need some structure to be successful. Building your own content creates you as an expert. Just follow these quick tips:

  • Choose four main topics to talk about.
  • Keep to your main topics.
  • Repeat topic keywords or subjects all the time Ex. if you have a bakery, use bakery, cookies, cake all the time
  • If you are location based keep talking about the town or area.
  • Link to other sites that will help your customers, ex. if you have a bakery link to your local flower shop.

Your Small Business Website Now!

In the end you, the small business owner, needs to be in control.  You know you need a small business website to spread the word. Make sure you know all the online tools you are singed up for.  If you don’t, read how you can organize your logins. It’s not easy to run a small business website that actually makes you money.  Most small business website’s just sit there and collect dust.  It’s time for yours to get clients and sell your services or products.  Good luck and let me know how your doing.

Back to Business Website Essentials section.

To your Tech Success.  Let me know what you think by commenting below!

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About Terry Culkin

Terry Culkin is an Internet Business Coach that works with small businesses who struggle with online marketing and Internet technology. Terry provides easy to use business website essential resources that save time and help make them more money online.

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  • http://www.bizsugar.com/ Heather Stone

    Hi Terry,
    Even if you’re not a Web designer, you should certainly understand the process, like everything else in your business. Take the time to educate yourself on the basics. Don’t let someone else take your Website out of your control. Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community.

    • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

      Heather,
      Thanks for the Comment. I think all business owners should have a website. They should also know a website is there best marketing engine. Websites like BizSugar are great ways for business owners to get self-educated. Thanks.

  • Emily Brackett

    Really good point. I can’t tell you how many clients I work with who have no idea who owns their domain or hosting accounts or how to access them when we start a redesign project. We end up spending a lot of time (and delay the project) as they hunt around.

    When we take over a site, or launch a new one, I always try to make a clear point of advising the client about all their logins, access points, ownership, etc.

    • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

      Emily,
      Thanks for your comment. I give my clients who have a website a worksheet with all the information they should have. For both old and new clients I set them up with a spreadsheet for there logins. I have a post on my site called ‘Organize logins’ – it’s linked on this post. It really helps the business owner. Keep up the good work and spread the word! -Terry

  • Enstine Muki

    Hey Terry, one thing people should quickly lay their hands on is
    their domain names. Once a dealer picks that up, they are surely going
    to spend a bunch to recover it ;)

    • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

      Enstine,
      Thanks for the comment. The domain is an business asset and should be treated like gold. I have heard of horror stories. Thankful my clients have listened to me and I have never experienced that issue.

  • http://www.bottomlinesconsulting.com/ Lynda Colter-Bergh

    Hi Terry,

    I have to respectfully disagree with the premise that you have more ownership over your website if you use WordPress versus other software. That depends on the software and that depends on the developer that updates or helps build the website should a business
    owner get over their head (which is often the case). I’ve seen crappy, expensive WordPress sites that were then revised by someone when the business owner realized they weren’t a professional, only to have that code unavailable after the developer stops answering calls. The business owner no longer has the passwords and has to hire yet another person to redo their website. It happens all the time.

    If you choose a product where YOU, the Business Owner, control the access,
    control the passwords, control the content, then you can hire/fire developers and your site isn’t lost. We recover websites all the time from the above scenario and business owners are amazed at the ease of editing their sites compared to dealing with plug-ins. The best part is they can hire professionals to market for them, to do piecework for graphics and design, or content management and get actual reports on their effectiveness and ROI for marketing campaigns.

    I will agree it is choosing the right software. I’m proud to work with AllProWebTools. The others just don’t match up for a small business owner.

    • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

      Hi Lynda,
      Welcome to the community. I did not say you have more ownership over your website with WordPress. You have more ownership on your website with ‘Open Source’ software like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Since these are non-commercial softwares that hundreds of thousands of people develop.
      I looked at your site and AllProWebTools. You seem to be marketing their commercial software. Which means that you make money selling this product.

      If you read my other posts on this site on ‘How to Start a Website, then you will see it is a process. Most of which doesn’t matter what platform you use.
      I have found that small businesses that use WordPress have a great amount of control on their websites. They also are able to easily add-on anything they want. And of course their is a ton of information and tutorials on WordPress. over 20% of websites use it!
      I have been developing websites for the past 15 years and have used many platforms. I have even created some like AllProWebTools. My experience has shown that open source is a better and less expensive platform in the long run.
      The issues you describe above happens no matter what platform you use. The great things about Open Source is a business owner can take his website to any host and any developer. Also if someone is locked out of their WordPress website and has the hosting, like I stated above, you can easily google how to reset the WordPress password. I feel to recover a website with open source and separating webhost and software is better way to go.
      This of course can be argued.
      In the end it’s about the business owner and what they need. And what most businesses need is an easy and quick way to tell the world about their business.
      Thank you for the comment and look forward continuing the conversation.

      • http://www.bottomlinesconsulting.com/ Lynda Colter-Bergh

        Thanks for taking the time to touch base. I apologize. My assumption about WordPress. If a business owner knows what to do, then yes, they can do things to protect themselves. I just see a lot of the other happening. We get maybe a referral a week from a scenario similar to what I described. Yes, I do work with AllProWebTools. I don’t get paid directly for sales. I connect Web Developers and Marketers with the tools to help them understand the advantages of adding it to their tool belt. They can get paid a portion of the fees when they choose to use the software.

        Ultimately, the customer has the say over what happens to their website.
        Marketers and Web Developers are paid residual income to support those customers as an incentive to not just blow them off after the site is done. The good ones will rise to the top and build a long-term income with unique capabilities only found in higher priced software.

        Because it is more than a website product and ties in other aspects for running a small business, I have seen the savings in time, training, and money for the businesses that are taking advantage of the software.

        I only chose to work with the company after seeing the functionality of my consulting clients improve drastically and found it was the common denominator.

        I would love to have someone with 15 years review it and possibly poke holes in it so we can improve it.

        I also believe that FREE is never FREE. Time is money. Inefficiencies is money. Replicated efforts is money. Looking at a business as a whole and not compartmentalizing it, can save a business in all those areas.

        Thanks for the conversation.