By David Kitchenham Monday, 26th April 2021 1 Comment The Easy ways to set up a website as a sole trader or small business Tradesmen run busy lives and are constantly on the go. You may think that you don’t have the time, or money to have your own website or that you offline customer base is strong enough But with over 4.72 billion internet users in the world today, having an online presence can help skyrocket your business and benefit your income. As we stated in our recent article, to encourage more business and sustain or grow your business. You need a website. Long gone are the days when you can rely on a directory to supply you with a constant stream of leads. A website can be so much more. From a fully functional booking facility to a simple online form where you can collate leads and manage them when you are ready. Let’s take a look at some of the cost effective website options you have. Benefits of having a website Increase your business visibility The main reason businesses have a website is to increase their online presence and visibility. Having a website gives you the ability to reach so many more customers especially in your local area. Thousands of people are searching for services like yours on Google each week, and with the power of a well-designed, SEO optimised website – you will be able to rank for certain keywords and obtain future customers. Your website helps you create a professional first impression A website is the perfect place to connect with potential clients and show them how good you are. It also assists with building a brand around your service, even if you are a sole trader. Many people visiting your website will be doing so for the first time, so this gives you a chance to make a really good, professional first impression. Include a portfolio of your recent work to prove to customers that you can deliver to expectations and are seen as a reliable service. Your website gives your 24/7 online presence Websites don’t sleep. No seriously, people can visit your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Potential customers can easily find your business online at any time of the day, without you having to be at the other end of the phone or email. This makes it so much easier for potential homeowners to contact you and learn about your business without taking up any of your time. Show your previous work and customer testimonials Customers are always nervous when hiring a tradesman to come into their home. They will check up on reviews, previous work and you’re branding before making a decision on who to work with. As a tradesman, having a website allows you to showcase your portfolio of previous work easily. It also gives you space to add some customer testimonials which will help build trust and credibility with potential customers and may help you stand out from the crowd. Websites do not have to be daunting Where to start? When starting a new website, you have many options to choose from. In fact, it can be quite daunting at first. You can employ and agency to create your website for you. Which can be expensive or result in limited ability to tailor your content, or future updates. Or you could be bold and create your website yourself, which can be time consuming. You need to decide which option suits you. But to help out, below, we break it down for you and discuss some of the most popular website builders for start-ups and sole traders. WordPress WordPress is a free website building platform that is very easy to use. Having been around for a long time, WordPress has been used to build 75 million sites worldwide. It is also more advanced in comparison to some of the other options here. But in general if you sort the look and feel of how you want your business to look, perhaps by selecting and modifying a theme. Then the content bit is as simple as using Word or similar. It’s so popular amongst beginners as its very easy to use and has a really simple interface. As a tradesman, it’s probably true that your website skills aren’t spectacular, but luckily WordPress offers many free templates that require no coding at all. Simply choose your favourite template, upload it and use a free theme builder plugin called ‘Elementor’ to assist you adding content to the site. Or use the included Gutenberg Editor released as a part of version 5.0. Which is a simple but serious wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) editor. Giving you complete control over your content. The provider boasts over 22,000 advanced plugins, which allow you to very easily customise your site. The popular Yoast SEO plugin is used by tradesmen who want to rank higher for their keywords in a certain area – this could help you rank higher for local searches. WordPress is an open sourced mature content management system, whether you use it for a self hosted solution or use WordPress.com to start your business web presence. You are entering into a world of web creativity. Wix Similarly to WordPress, Wix is a very easy to use website builder. Although rather new to the market, Wix still offers thousands of free templates that tradesmen and small businesses can choose from. This again helps with an easy set up and requires no coding skills at all. It actually has a drag and drop interface which helps to keep things easy to use for beginners whilst still having enough options to take your business to the next level. Like WordPress, Wix offers a responsive design that works perfectly on mobile, desktop, and tablets which is very valuable now that 56% of all traffic comes through a mobile device. All in all, a very handy and accessible platform for traders looking to increase their online presence without breaking the bank. Wix is free to start, and premium plans start from as little as £3 per month. Everything with Wix is point and click and simplicity. This is a good starting point for your growing business. Squarespace Slightly more advanced than Wix, Squarespace offers hundreds of premium website templates that will help you start a website in minutes and with ease. The platform allows you to customise all elements of the site, add your image logo, text and imagery in order to brand your business and boost your online presence. Plans start from as little as £10 per month so slightly pricier than the other two but certainly offers value in return. In order to get a new website online, there are two main things that you will need: A domain nameWebsite Hosting Where do I get a domain name and hosting? The most popular place, and one of the cheapest, is www.bluehost.com Their website hosting costs starts at just £2.00 per month, cheaper than your weekly cappuccino! Included in most of their plans is a free domain name too, this refers to the site link e.g., yourbuildersname.com Whatever you chose to do with your website. It is a vital part of growing and sustaining your business. It is your digital shop front, it can be your catalogue for your customers, detailing your services and availability. Your website can channel feedback for your customers. Provide you with a mechanism for referrals and accept new business. All whilst you are focusing on your trade. 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