Imagine I told you that I was getting ready to start a new company and I sat you down to get your opinion. Imagine that I told you that I had saved tens of thousands of dollars and I was finally ready.
And that's when I told you I was going to spend the money, all of it, on billboards.
Would you look at me funny?
And yet, every week I talk to folks who are trying to get their first site online and they're planning on spending the equivalent on their first site.
You don't need to spend an arm and a leg on your first site.
Now, to be clear, I'm not against custom development for a business site. I love the work that Web Savvy Marketing, Bourn Creative, and even my own business Crowd Favorite all provide for different kinds of businesses.
But if you're just getting started on your first website, or if it's your first non-static site (using a content management system that lets you edit your pages without a developer), then I want to promise you something.
You can do this. The tools you need are totally available to you.
I'm going to tell you how to get your site online for under $500, using WordPress. When I finish your steps, I'll explain why I suggest WordPress.
First, you need hosting.
These days, with the right hosting company, you don't need to be a server expert. You don't even have to install WordPress yourself. Or worry about back ups.
Check out WP Engine ($29) or Site Ground ($15).
Both options will provide excellent support when you need help. They'll answer questions. They know WordPress. And they'll help you get started.
Yearly Cost: Less than $300
Second, you need a theme.
There are several folks who produce wonderful and high performing themes. Depending on your business, you might want to check these folks out.
- Array Themes ($49-89)
- Web Savvy Marketing's Theme Store ($49-59)
- Elegant Themes ($69)
But before you buy those, make sure you keep reading, because you have another option.
If you're the kind of person that likes to tweak the look of your site to make it look exactly like you want it, then a plugin may be a better option for you.
Check out Beaver Builder ($99-199).
It's more expensive than a theme. But it gives you pre-designed pages, plus drag and drop features to create any page you like.
A site like this took me less than 2 hours, without any programming, using Beaver Builder.
Yearly Cost: Less than $200
Lastly, you need a few plugins
Here are seven plugins that you might want to add to your site, and the good news is that every one of them is free.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – for SEO optimization
- Ninja Forms – for content forms
- Akismet – for dealing with spam
- Easy WP SMTP – for managing email apart from your web server
- WooSidebars – to customize your sidebars per page
- Click to Tweet – for inline promotion of your content to Twitter
- Jetpack – for related posts, image optimization, comments, etc
Yearly Cost: $0
See? You can have a site for under $500.
As you can see, if you make selections from the above list you can build and host your first site on WordPress for less than $500.
While it's possible for you to do that on Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, there's one big difference when you use WordPress.
Your first site is kind of like your first car.
It will work. It's better than walking. It's something you'll always look back and remember fondly. But eventually you'll need something different.
Your business may very well need a custom solution at some point.
And that's not when you're going to want to figure out that you can't scale your solution on those other platforms.
That's not when you want to stress about getting locked onto a platform that makes it difficult to grow your business.
That's why I recommend WordPress. Because when you pick WordPress you're picking an option that can grow with you. For a long time.
And if you go with WordPress and want even more support with tweaking your site, then these three “support” organizations would be glad to help you.
Either way, know this. You can totally do this.
The tools are available and inexpensive, so getting your business online doesn't have to cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.