No matter what kind of home business you have, you must create a website. If you’re over 50, you may not really recognize how indispensable a web presence is to a business today, but skipping this step will limit your chances in a world where few people under 30 have ever used the Yellow Pages and believe that if a piece of information is worth knowing, a Google search will find it. In addition, a website opens your business up to the world outside your local neighborhood. With a website, many businesses can be run entirely from home, and your website will work for you 24/7. So, having a business website is indispensable, whether you sell products or provide services.
How much time you spend creating your website and how detailed it needs to be will depend largely on what kind of business you are establishing. A simple one-page site with business details and contact information might be all you need for an import/export business. If you are a freelancer specializing in writing or design, your website should be more elaborate and provide a showcase of your talents. If you are selling items online, you will need to provide photos, add a shopping cart, and indicate ways for customers to pay for their purchases.
Getting a Domain Name
To set up a website, you first need a domain name. That’s the part of a web address that comes after the www. There are many online services that will register a domain name, including the popular GoDaddy and www.UltraCheapDomains.com. This step is very easy to do, even if you have limited computer knowledge, and the fees can be as low as about $10 per year.
Just log on to one of the services and search for a particular domain name of your choice to see if it is in use. The ideal domain name should be easy to remember and easy to relate to your business name. You may want to start by entering the name of your business as a domain name. Most businesses register as a “.com.” If your first choice of domain name is not available, you may be able to make it work with only a slight revision, such as adding a word like “the” or “best” before it, or “store,” “online,” or “shop” after it.
At most of the domain registration services, you can acquire a domain name and have a website up and running in a few hours, using easyto- use templates from the site. Or, you can pay a bit more and have the service set it all up for you, including adding your company logo. These services even offer very reasonable hosting plans for your website, which you will need for your site to be “live” and accessible to the world.
Creating a Website
Sound scary to do all this by yourself? Well, it really isn’t anymore. There are so many services that will walk you through the setup, step-by-step, or supply you with templates to get the look you need and the features you want. Or, you can hire someone to set up and/or keep your website updated. If money is tight, you can look for a college student or recent college grad who would be willing to set you up for a reduced price in order to get a sample for her portfolio. Or, look on Craigslist or Fiverr.
Once your website is up and running, you can also sign up for an e-mail with your website address, which looks very professional. If you have accounts at social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can add buttons which will allow clients to go to your social media sites straight from your business website. And, on your social media sites, you should have your website links in full view so that people who find you there can go directly to your website and learn about your products and services.
Using SEO for Your Website
Once you have created a website, how do you make sure anyone sees it? The best way is to add meta tags in the coding of your web pages and also write copy content that contains words search engines can pick up during a search. Known as SEO (search engine optimization), it does take some time and testing to find out what will bring you the best results. The objective is to use keywords that will move your page as close as possible to the top of a list generated by a user’s search request. The title of your web page should reflect words in your content, and your words, especially keywords, should reflect the purpose of your website and its existence.
There are multiple books and websites written about how to conduct SEO. If you’re confused by the very concept, a good place to start to educate yourself is Rocketface, which includes tutorials on all aspects of website design. Or, for more information, search online for “website optimization” and “how to optimize a website.”
How Bob Does It
When I was creating my initial website, I took my last name for my domain name because it is short, easy to remember, and identifies me: www.bly.com. For other sites, I always try to select domain names that are easy to remember. For example, for my site selling my e-book How to Write and Sell E-Books, I set up a website with domain name: www.MyVeryFirstEbook.com.
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Reprinted with permission from Start Your Own Home Business After 50: How to Survive, Thrive, and Earn the Income You Deserve! by Robert W. Bly and published by Quill Driver Books, 2013.