Cleveland Creative Inc

Building an Affordable Small Business Web Site

...That Works, Looks Professional, and Shows up in Search!

by Allen Freeman

Big or small, every business should have a website. But that website need not be expensive to build, host or update.

In fact, with a little bit of training and practice, most entrepreneurs and small business staffers can add their own content / photos / videos / special offers to their website all by themselves, without the help of the 'webmaster' who originally built the site.

In many cases, I suggest entrepreneurs and small business people create a "professionally-developed-do-it-yourself" website.

How? By letting a professional create a website framework underpinned with WordPress, an open-source content management system (CMS) that is easy to update and add content to -- even for the "do-it-yourselfer".

Of course, this idea assumes that you have the time and desire to really do the work required after the 'professionally-developed' part is done. Be realistic! If you already don't have enough time to fully marketing your business, you won't find a new batch of time to work on your website either. If that's the case, you should consider complementing the site design part with a monthly package of ongoing content development and the implementation of other online marketing strategies.

But if you can devote 4-5 hours per week to create worthwhile content about your products or services, then the hybrid idea of a pro-built site with content that you add yourself every week is a perfect marketing solution.

Not sure you have the tech skills to create and manage the content of a Wordpress blog? Here's a simple test to pre-qualify yourself: if you can layout a professional-looking Microsoft Word document with headlines and pictures and well-written copy within, you can handle posting content to a Wordpress blog.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: these suggestions are not directed toward those who need e-commerce sites, but for content or general marketing websites only. If you want to sell product directly from your website, I strongly suggest partnering with a professional; true e-commerce success requires significant knowledge and ongoing development and marketing effort.]

So what's the process for getting your own customized simple-to-update website?

First, check out below the companies offering inexpensive domain name registration and hosting packages, as each of these companies includes the ability to instantly add a Wordpress blog for FREE. Most of these companies include the domain name registration FREE as a part of the hosting package, too.

FatCow Web Hosting: $88 Plan   FastDomain Web Hosting $6.95

In most cases, you'll want to pick the least expensive Wordpress package these companies offer; if your website goes crazy with traffic in the future and you need to upgrade the server to handle more bandwidth, you can always do so later.

Once you pick a hosting package and company, you need to register a domain name with that company for the website (if you don't already have one; if you have an existing domain, you'll transfer that domain to the new hosting company). Register a domain like your first and last name, or the name of your business, or the primary function or product of your business (i.e., or a memorable name or word under which you want to market yourself. Get the .com version of these names/words as often as you can, as that's what people remember. You can even register more than one domain name (and also get the .net, .org, .us, .tv, .biz and .info versions of your primary name, too!) since the registrations are pretty cheap. You can redirect all of the domain names you register to the primary website, so don't be shy about registering what you want. That way, you have all of those domains locked in to prevent others from grabbing them, and you can use them for different marketing purposes in the future. Register anything even think you might want; don't regret saving $10 bucks now vs. a losing domain you wish you had registered.

Why do I suggest that you create this hosting/domain account yourself? Control and cost-savings. Most legitimate web guys will want you to set up the hosting account and register your domains on your own, using your own credit card and contact information. Scammy guys will want to do it for you -- because then they control your domain name and your website hosting, because they can mark up the costs associated with hosting and registration, and because that means you will need their help down the road. Don't get stuck: register your domains and sign up for a hosting account yourself. Once it's done, it will be YOUR domain and YOUR hosting account and not under the control of someone else. (Plus you'll pay exactly the amount it costs, without markups.)

Once you have your hosting account set up and your domain name registered, you'll need to upload and activate Wordpress on your server. Here's where it gets a bit technical, especially if you want the website to look truly professional. Your choices are: 1) you can read all of the instructions, post the code, then build out the Wordpress design framework yourself; or 2) you can hire me (or someone like me) to set it up for you.

I charge $75/hr to get the backend framework set up, to create a customized site design that matches what you want to accomplish, and to teach you how to use the backend system to create and post content. Usually, a Wordpress site project takes 10-15 hours to get everything setup, beautifully designed, and to create the "instruction manual" for your particular account. Of course there is additional billable time if you want me to write or create the initial batch of content about you and your business.

But that's the beauty of a Wordpress blog: once it's designed and fully functioning, that expense is done -- after that, you simply add the content to it on your own as individual blog postings, since the primary template stays the same across categories, pages, postings, etc.

It's all a matter of what you want to accomplish and how much you want to do yourself. So feel free to talk to me about what you want: 216-577-8756  |  

[If you want an e-commerce site, I'm happy to discuss that with you as well; use the same contact points above. And if you are not a "do-it-yourselfer", I understand that, too, and I'm happy to manage a site project from the start through ongoing-updates.]

You can check for available domain names here:

-- Allen Freeman, Cleveland Creative Inc.