How do you get a website? I had no idea! Luckily, I do contract work with someone who has a high volume, self-hosted site and he explained the details. I can’t claim that I understood everything her told me, but I did get that it was a bit complicated and had some initial start up expenses. There were also issues with processing online payments, setting up an email, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), staying off blacklists, etc.
The benefit of self-hosting is that you can control long term costs. If you are running a high volume operation, then the incremental costs of paying someone for your email, domain, payment processing, etc., becomes a real issue. Imagine as many transactions as Amazon does every day. A single penny for every transaction is literally billions of dollars!
Luckily, I didn’t think I would have that problem... Initially!
The other option is paing a web hosting service to do it for you! The benefits are that you don’t have to be a web expert to stand up a site. You tell them what type of site you want and they walk you through the process. There are many web hosting services and I narrowed it down to GoDaddy and Wix. A friend of mine had a lot of success with Wix, so I decided to go with them.
Let me say that there is a lot going on when you set up a website! Getting the initial website set up is just the start! Think about how you use the internet. You go to your favorite search engine and type in SeaClutch, and immediately get back millions of responses all in rank order. What makes the top answer the top answer, and why is one website at the bottom of the list? If you use Norton as your virus protection, you will also note that there is a Norton symbol next to each web site that either shows a gray question mark or it shows a green Norton symbol. When you hover over that symbol, you get a pop up that either describes the threat or that indicates the website is OK.
How do you get a Norton safe ranking? How do you get your website optimized so that you are sequenced and at the top of the search listing? I’m going to explain all that, but the first step is a domain name.
While the process is straightforward, please remember that every choice you make will stick with you, so choose wisely!
I went to Wix.com and picked their online store option. The first step is to determine if your chosen web domain is taken, so I chose SeaClutch.com. Since it is a rather unique name, it was available and I bought it! One of the drawbacks is that “buying” it with a hosting service means that they bought it and I get to pay them forever to keep it in use!
After you choose the website domain and purchase it, then Wix logically walks you through the process of building your website. You can choose the theme, color pallet and overall layout. The website lets you upload art, photographs and link to video sites like YouTube. It really has a lot of customization and if you take your time and learn how to navigate things, you can build a nice-looking website with minimal effort.
There are other features as well. For example, you want an email address at @seaclutch.com, you can easily set that up! Do you want a chat feature? Add it! Want a blog (you do for reasons we will discuss later), add one! Want to have Google Analytics track visits, do it!
A couple of things to consider. You can start small and add on features later. The functionality is modular in the sense that you can purchase Apps when you need them. For example, if you think you may need email marketing in the future but not necessarily now, you can add the functionality to build a mailing list under the basic plan, then pay for an app to actually build a robust email marketing plan later. The sites are designed so you can update the plan when you feel it is optimal for you, and within your current plan level you can add on functionality in an ad hoc fashion.
In less than a few hours, I had www.SeaClutch.com up and running! My total cost for a 3 year website subscription was around $500 including storefront, blog and content pages.