After more than two years of being in this Covid pandemic, some of the stories that I have heard from employers are like having to close down their businesses after nearly two decades of running a successful business. Their once high confidence in their business plummeted within months. There were also a few stories of employees having to take pay cuts one after another and there are of course a few stories of pilots who very suddenly lost their lucrative career.
If you are one of those whose work conditions have been affected by these Covid times, which got you thinking about trying or starting a new venture as a Solopreneur or freelancer, here are then some tips on how you can go about setting up a new website for your venture.
Why have your own website?
Before you even begin thinking of building your first website for your new venture, I would assume that you have already made use of your existing network of friends and acquittances in your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to tell them about your exciting new venture. Once you have received some positive feedback after having given your venture a trial run, then perhaps it is time for you to consider having your own website because having one will help your business stand out more from your competitors as well as form a more positive impression among your potential clients.
For example, recently I was googling for the address of a car paint spraying factory that I had visited before many years ago and I came across a competitor of theirs that is located just round the corner from them. This competitor has a WordPress website with nice photos of their factory and workers at work and they also have quite a few positive reviews on Google. On other other hand, the factory that I had patronised before did not have a website, no reviews and no one picked up the phone when I called. Although I know I can trust the quality of work from the factory that I have patronised before, if I have been a new customer though who is comparing between these two businesses, I would have most certainly gone for the one that has a website and positive reviews without much hesitation. From now on, especially with the Generation X and younger people who grew up with the Internet, you can bet that online reviews and a favourable online presence will have a strong influence in their purchasing decisions.
Do read my other post where I have detailed some know-how on some popular options on how a non-techy solopreneur can begin building their first website without needing to fork out huge sums of money.
Deciding on the domain name for your website
Google around for tips on how to choose a domain name and you will find many advising to pick a name that is short and memorable and this is certainly true because typing long domain names into a smartphone with a tiny screen is just not fun. As you meet more people to tell them about your venture, especially those whom you meet face-to-face, you will want them to be able to easily view your website on their smartphone, so do pick a name that you can easily pronounce too without needing the other person to guess the spelling.
Instead of the traditional and general .com, .net and .biz that have been around for a long time, perhaps your new venture needs a more unique domain name that ends with a suffix like e.g. .edu, .club, .green, .tech etc. Depending on your objectives and target market, a more casual or informal sounding name may also draw more interest if your venture sounds like you are serving or benefiting the community rather than just another typical for-profit business.
If you do not intend to serve any international customers or perhaps uncommon names do not appeal to you, then you should find out how to register for a local domain name suffix that is applicable for your country. This will inform your potential clients right away that you are there to serve local customers, so they need not guess the location of your business or your operation hours.
If it is possible, you should avoid dashes and numbers too in your website’s domain name as these keys might be hidden from the main keyboard on a smartphone’s tiny screen. thus making it a bit of a hassle to manually type it. You also do not want people to guess whether it is ’10’ or ‘ten’ to get to your website e.g. if you have a website name like ‘toptentips.com’.
To make it easier for people to visit your website on a smartphone, you can generate a QR code for the website and place it on your name card, brochures or on your website’s main page. Lining a website with a QR code will certainly be the norm from now on as people from all around the world have gotten more accustomed to scanning QR codes with their phone during this Covid 19 pandemic.
Website hosting options
After you finish building your website, to get it live on the World Wide Web, you need to host your website on a web server. A web server is technically a software and there are quite a few popular web servers that are actually free and legal to download and install on any computer. In fact, if you have a spare computer around that you do not mind leaving it on for 24/7, you may certainly set it up as your own personal web server provided that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does not impose any restrictions on using your home Internet service for such purposes. This may be fine if your website is just a personal basic website that receives relatively little traffic but if you are relying on your website as a main revenue generating channel, then your website really needs professional website hosting services.
Professional website hosting offered by commercial companies is a very competitive business and popular companies usually attempt to draw new customers in by offering very low prices for the first year with subsequent years usually incurring a significant increase in costs. Other common marketing tactics include advertising super fast loading speeds and offering limited time freebies to persuade customers to sign up.
New website owners usually start off with a cheap and basic shared hosting service offered by commercial companies and this is where your website will share computing resources with other websites from a single web server. Shared hosting is usually fine for a new website that receives little traffic but you should expect a bit of downtime or lag in website loading times because a single web server that is concurrently hosting multiple websites can only cope with so much traffic in one go. Bear in mind too that if one website on that server causes problems, that could mean all the other websites on that server will need to go offline too in order to fix the problem.
Do you need professional email services?
Whilst a web server host websites, to use your website’s domain name with emails, you also need a mail server. Setting up a mail server is more complicated than setting up a web server as securing a mail server from spammers and unauthorized access requires advanced technical skills. So running a mail server on a home or personal Internet connection service is usually out of the question but that does not mean you really need professional email service as I know a few successful solopreneurs and small business owners who get on fine with using free email services like gmail, yahoo and the likes.
I’d however really recommend using professional email services if you receive sensitive or personal information from your clients e.g. tax numbers, account numbers of any kind, date of birth, home addresses, health information, etc. Free email services offered by Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc are NOT private at all and you obviously would not want potential clients to be disinterested in your services simply because they perceived that you do not care about data privacy.
Final words for new Solopreneurs
The digital revolution that is moving rapidly in many major cities around the world will continue to expand and this has been accelerated when Covid 19 appeared. In the last couple of years during this pandemic, even tech resistant consumers are forced to learn how to navigate and utlise a variety of online services such as food and groceries deliveries, online banking and such services in order to lead a relatively normal life during this pandemic.
Therefore, there is no doubt that websites and social media will continue to be integral marketing channels even for the smallest of solopreneurs and freelancers that desire to stand out among their competitors. A website is like the front entrance of a shop; if potential customers are able to tell right away what the shop sells and decide to walk in to check it out, so will it be with visitors who view your website – if they are able to tell within seconds how your professional services can benefit them, then there is more chance they will call or email you to find out more. Therefore, using unusual and fancy sounding words to describe your business may not be a good choice if your potential clients have to guess what your business is about. No matter how special you think your services might be, there is bound to be another option that your potential clients can turn to.
Drawing potential customers to view your website is of course a challenge on its own. For many years, there has been a lot of talk about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but we are now in 2022 and consumers who have been searching online for the last twenty years or so have certainly become more savvy on how they search online, so they may not just click on a website even if your website appears on the first page or if you have paid for an expensive advertisment to appear there.
Website Marketing is another topic all together and it is an advanced topic. Anyway, have you got your website up and running yet?