Almost every type of home-based business will benefit from having a website, and for most, it’s a necessity. The good news is that it’s now incredibly easy to set up a website yourself for your home business: you don’t need a server or any specialist software or knowledge of ‘html’ code.
Follow the steps below to get your home business online.
Step 1: Decide what sort of site you need
There are two main options here: brochureware and e-commerce.
A brochureware website is simply an online version of the kind of marketing material that used to be included in a printed brochure. Particularly suitable for service businesses, in its most basic form it simply introduces what the business does, and explains how to contact you. A brochureware website might include online booking.
If you want to take orders and payments for physical products online, then you’ll need an e-commerce site with a shopping cart that is linked to a payment method.
Step 2: Choose a site-builder
In some ways this is the hardest part of setting up a website for your home business, simply because the vast amount of choice available! Two of the most popular online site-builders are Wix and WordPress. Wix makes the process of setting up and maintaining a website very easy for the beginner, with its visual, drag-and-drop interface. WordPress has been about much longer which means there’s a huge community of knowledgeable users online who can offer advice, and there are also huge numbers of ‘plugins’ available – both free and at a small cost – to enhance your site in specific ways.
Both Wix and WordPress offer a wide range of design templates, although WordPress has by far the most and will allow you to change templates at any time.
Whatever site-builder you choose, make sure that it can provide full e-commerce functionality if you need that.
Step 3: Decide your structure
Make your website easy for your customers – and potential customers – to use. Your home page should clearly state what your business does and where it does it (if relevant): “Hairdressing for all the family in your own home in the Reading area,” for example, or “Book-keeping services for plumbers.”
It’s also worth following a standard structure for your main menu. Most visitors to your website will expect to find pages covering:
- What we do.
- Customer reviews.
- Gallery (where relevant).
- Where to find us (where relevant).
- Book now!
- Contact us.
Visit the websites of other companies in your industry to clarify what works best for customers of your service or products.
To blog or not to blog?
You should also decide whether you want to include a blog on your site. One of the main reasons to include a blog is so that you can add ‘fresh’ content to your site, which makes it more attractive to Google and may help boost your position in Google’s search results. Good blogs cover relevant, topical, personal material that will interest or entertain your readers.
However, don’t include a blog unless you can post regularly – there’s nothing worse than a blog whose last post is from 18 months ago!
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Step 4: Write your content
This can be time-consuming, especially if writing isn’t one of your strengths. However, if you’re nervous about this step, don’t be. Less is definitely more when it comes to websites – long, rambling sentences are hard to read, especially if the site is being viewed on a mobile phone. Assume the reader knows nothing about your business when they arrive on your website, and just tell them what you can do for them in as few words as possible.
Step 5: Put it all together
Your chosen site-builder will take you through the process of uploading your text and images to create your website.
When it’s ready to go, don’t forget to publicise it on social media and to add its address to your business cards.
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