The One Guaranteed Way to Do It at No Cost Ever since businesses realized that the Internet is the ultimate resource to reach more people in less time for less than most other marketing mediums, business owners have been asking how can I get my business online and thus in the global marketplace. This question was answered with many solutions including “my son took a web class in school, he can do it”. Well let’s look at the seven different ways to put your business online and the pros and cons of each. 1. Do It Yourself The first way would be the obvious, to do it yourself. If you have technical knowledge and time on your hands, then this is a great way to put up a site that suits your business. Pros: \tSave money by not paying someone else to do it for you \tMaintain full control of your site \tSense of pride in what you have accomplished Cons: \tMany business owners lack the technical knowledge to effectively develop all the necessary components of their website \tMany business owners lack the knowledge of how to write effective web copy that encourage sales as well as will be optimized for search engine \tThey are not versed in layout designs that increase accessibility and functionality \tThey do not have hours invested in research, development, and implementation of a business website due to they must run their business so they put together a rush project \tMany business owners do not know how to effectively market the site after the design Results: In most cases the results are the business owner builds a site that brings no results. The site is a creation that only the owner appreciates. Due to the lack of expertise and time, they miss many critical elements in their site. So, though the price was not much more than registration of a domain name, purchasing of software, hosting fees and time, I cost the owner thousands in loss time and sales. 2. Friends and Family Many business owners have friends and family that have some web design experience, but few have people in their circle that have a full understanding of developing a business site and how it interacts online. Pros: \tThe price of designing the site will be minimal \tYou have someone with some technical knowledge to design and maintain your site \tYou have a personal bond with the designer Cons: \tSince this is for a friend or family and is not a high paying or no paying job, many friends and family take their time and do not put the same effort if it were a full paying job \tThe knowledge of the friend of family may not be much more than the business owner, so the development of good copy and functional design will be lacking \t After the design is complete the job is done, and here is no further marketing of the site. Results: In most cases the results are the same as the results of if the business owners would have done it themselves. Without the expertise in web design and Internet marketing, the site brings no results thus wastes valuable time and money. 3. Templates and Site Builders Templates and template driven site builders are the newest trend in web design. There are numerous sites that business owners can go to and download a template or go through an easy step by step process which will put them online in a matter of minutes. Pros: \tUsually low priced and sometimes comes with hosting \tFast design turn around time \tYou can have your site up the same day \tVisually appealing design that is structured properly by a professional designer \tEasy to put in your information and publish \tYou have control over the site and can freely make changes Cons: \tNonexclusive- This means that you will not have a unique site, instead you will have a site that looks just like many of your competitors (being in business you know how important it is to be unique) \tThey do not optimize the site for your company \tThere are no means of getting targeted customers to come to your site after the design is published Results: The results tend to be slightly better with template driven sites due to the web site layout is visually appealing and structure is functional. The challenge is still to get people to come and buy from your site. This still is placed on the ability of the business owner. 4. Directories Many business owners rely on online directories to place their contact information and a brief description of what they offer. This is fairly inexpensive but you are relying on the merit that that site has many visitors interested in your offering and you have little competition on that site. 5. Freelancer or Employee Many businesses have an employee dedicated to tend to their webmaster needs. They work on salary and can perform many different functions within your organization. You can also have freelancers bid on your project and work within your budget. This is a very popular approach since the fall of dot.com. Many highly qualified designers are looking for work and will do a stand up job within your budget. Pros: \tKnowledgeable professional working on your site within your budget \tFree up your time to do your business Cons: \tRisk of how knowledgeable and dependable the freelancer is that is working with you on your site \tYou will only get what was bidded on within their skill set. Results: If you get a quality designer that is freelancing, you will have a very quality website. If you specify your needs and have the proper budget, you should see some return on your investment. 6. Web Design Firm Hiring a design firm that specializes in business development is a smart decision. They have the expertise and focus on developing you a website for your business that is geared to accomplish your goals. Pros: \tProfessional design team knowledgeable of how to develop a business site that sells \tFree up your time to do your business Cons: \tRisk getting a quality design firm that will do a quality job \tSome design firms will not be ethical after the payment \tSome design firms will leave your project to you to market after the design is complete Results: You will have a professionally designed site with the functional structure and components to generate business. If the design firm is quality, it will be a higher closing rate once visitors come to your site. Many design firms have people versed in marketing that can give you tips on how to bring traffic to your site. This will be priced higher than the other methods but will bring higher results. 7. Marketing Agency The final way to get your business online is employing services from an eMarketing firm. These firms provide you an online solution customized to your business model which will include web development, online software application, and Internet marketing. This typically is the most expensive out of the seven methods, but it is the most complete solution for most businesses that need an effective online presence. Pros: \tProfessional design team knowledgeable of how to develop a business site with sales copy, search engine optimization, and a marketing strategy to generate targeted visitors to your site \tFree up your time to do your business \tStaff of experts that keep up with all the changes in the online marketplace \tYou will have a marketing plan for your online strategy Cons: \tTypically more expensive than the other methods \tTakes much longer and is more complicated Results: Once again you will have a professionally designed site with the functional structure and components to generate business. You will also have a marketing plan with strategies to generate business through your site. Return on Investment (ROI) is typically gained in a shorter period of time. The Greatest Website Myth Many have been told the myth, “Build a business website and they will come”, which proved to fail many businesses eager to expand. To see how to put your business online with no cost you must first understand what cost means in contrast to price. Price defines the amount of purchase where cost represents the end result. To better explain this I will give you an example. If you paid $100 for a website that generates you no business in a year then how much did the site cost you? You Get What You Pay For If you paid $1000 for the same site but that site brought you $100 a month for a year, how much did that site cost? The first site cost you $100 after a year were the second site paid you $1200 at the end of the year and cost you nothing. Actually the site paid you $200 for having it. Makes sense. The only guaranteed way to get a site for nothing (so to speak) is to have it built right as well as marketed to your targeted market the first time. So decide your method wisely.