Websites, as with most marketing material, often get pushed to the bottom of the priority list for many businesses, especially small businesses or sole practitioners. The reasons we tell ourselves for not working on a new site or updating our existing one are numerous: too busy, too expensive, too lazy, writer’s block, not enough time to do it just perfectly, and so on. All of these excuses may seem valid, but you have to look at it from the other perspective: Am I losing potential business by not having my website up (or up-to-date)?
Nowadays it’s pretty much expected that every business, regardless of its size, will have its own website. More and more people all the time search the Internet for a service or product they’re interested in purchasing. And if you don’t have a website, those people are not going to find your business, period.
Even if your business does have a website, if it looks like a dog’s breakfast and/or is completely outdated (either in its design and/or its content), people may find the site, but probably will not be overly impressed and likely will keep searching for someone who appears to be more professional.
So, you have to ask yourself, “Can I afford not to have a website (or update my existing one)?”
All too often I hear people say that they’re planning to get their new site up and running soon and two years later, having not done anything on it, are repeating the same mantra. It’s true, we’re all busy and no one’s got time for anything these days (I swear someone lowered the number of hours in the day when we weren’t looking!). But, you’ll find that if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to get it done, trust me.
Okay, pep talk over. Let’s talk about realistic options and steps you can take to actually get your website done.
1. Set aside some time.
Whatever works for you, just book either one chunk of time when you won’t be distracted (a week off of work, a long weekend, etc.) when you can get everything done that you need to or schedule a regular weekly time slot to work on your site and stick to that time no matter what, until it’s finished. For example, I use every Tuesday morning to work on my marketing (and sometimes administration). When I first thought about taking that time, I was terrified that I’d be taking up some of my valuable “real work” time. But, the truth is, marketing is real work that needs to be done and, for me, if I don’t stick to my Tuesday morning routine, it’ll just pile up until it’s out of control. Perhaps for you, one evening a week (or a week off of work) might work better. Only you know what will work for you. Just plan it and stay with it until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
2. Something – anything – is better than nothing.
If you currently have no website at all, getting a new site up might seem extremely daunting. Just like when you decide to tackle cleaning out the garage. But if you look at the task in stages, rather than one huge project, it seems much more manageable and you can start to see results – no matter how small they may seem – fairly quickly.
Even if you’re at Square One with your website – i.e., you got nada – take the few minutes required to decide on a domain name (e.g., yourname.com), register that name, and get the hosting for the site set up. If this sounds Greek to you (unless you are Greek), you can even hire someone (including yours truly) to do this for you. Having this out of the way at least gives you a canvas to paint on, so to speak.
The next small step should be to have some sort of “coming soon” and/or contact information single page up under your domain name. This serves the dual purpose of (a) letting visitors to your site see that you exist and know how to contact you and (b) speeds up the process of getting your site indexed by the search engines (Google, etc.), while you work on your “real” website. And, notice you haven’t specified a date when that site will be ready, so nobody will hold you to having it done by then.
This starting-off stage should probably not take more than an hour of your or your web developer’s time to set up. And then you’ll at least have something so that if you want to get your business cards done, with your new website and email address on them, you can, knowing those now exist in cyberspace.
If it’s unrealistic for you to get the full website that you’d like online fairly soon, perhaps – while still working on getting all of it done (see #1, above) – you can get something up or updated.
Maybe, instead of posting a new 10-page site, for the time being you can really only finish off five pages. If getting the second five is going to hold up the production for a significant amount of time, it probably would make sense to put up the first five and finish the rest off when you can.
Or, if your existing site is badly outdated both in the design and content departments, but you really don’t have time to tackle both, which of the two is more in need of being done right now? If getting the re-design process underway isn’t going to happen for a while, maybe you should at least fix up the old out-of-date photos and contact information and add in the recent news releases in the meantime? Or, conversely, if you’ve got months of work to do on the content, but the site’s design is turning people away, it might make sense to update the look first, while working on revising the content.
Although it’s usually easier to do a full re-vamp in one fell swoop, it just might not be realistic for you to do so in a timely manner. Again, any improvement is better than no improvement. Even when you have “finished” your website completely, it should always be a work in progress – adding new content and tweaking what’s there.
4. Hire quality professionals.
You don’t have to do everything on your own. Not only on your website, but also in life in general. My favourite analogy is that, sure, you may be able to cut your own hair, but are the time and energy that you spend on doing so really worth the uneven bowl cut you end up with? Might you have been better off spending the $30 to have a professional hair stylist cut your hair and use your own time to do what you do best and get paid for?
There are professionals (I happen to know a couple 😉 who can help you out with the writing, design, development, search engine optimization, and marketing of your website so that you don’t need to spend hours learning how to do it all yourself (and spend the money on the software). Naturally you’ll need to be involved in the process, but weigh the value of the time you’ll be using to determine just how much involvement you’ll want to have. Repairing your car on your own (if you have never done so) might (I repeat, might) save you money on mechanic’s bills, but how much could you have been earning had you used that same time doing the work you specialize in?
So, to sum up… Yes, of course we’d all like to be able to quickly put together an amazing and effective website. But, unless you’ve got a big enough block of time that you can dedicate to working on your site until it’s completely done, you need to be realistic. Do, without question, make getting the site done a priority and schedule the time to work on it. And get done what you can in steps and reasonable sized chunks in order to keep the flow moving along. Finally, don’t be shy about hiring professionals to ease the burden – of both time and learning – on yourself.