How To Build a Do-It-Yourself Website and Not Sacrifice Quality

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Emma Siemasko is a Boston-based writer and ecommerce expert. She loves providing resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is the author of JUMP: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Growing a Business.

It may seem hard to believe but there are still businesses without building websites. Don’t be one of them! Creating a high-quality website has never been easier. Even if you have the smallest of small businesses, you can and should have a great site – and you can do it yourself.

The three most important aspects to consider are,

  • The right URL
  • The right site builder
  • The right content

Do your research, and be committed in order to have a great site.

The Right URL

One of the first things you need to consider is your URL. It does not have to be your exact business name (though you should probably register that, too).

Is there a problem that your business solves, or a feature that makes you unique? Your URL will be used in a lot of different places and in different ways, so take some care in selecting it.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Shorter is better.
  • Avoid terms that are difficult or commonly misspelled.
  • If your business has a physical location, consider including the name of your city or region.
  • Nothing too similar to URLs of your competition.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy multiple URLs, either initially or as inspiration strikes.

The Right Site Builder

Standards today are a lot higher than the web world of dancing hamsters and MIDI files, but it has also gotten a lot easier to build sites. There are lots of free and low-cost site-builders out there.

Here are some of the best free ones, and what they’re good at:

  • Wix – Easy drag-and-drop interface, largest selection of free templates, very available customer support
  • Squarespace – Very stylish, responsive, and easily customizable templates
  • Weebly – Probably the smallest ad placement for a free service, really easy drag-and-drop site builder tool
  • IM Creator – Creates simple/sleek websites, great for image-rich content
  • Jimdo – Free forever and great tools for ecommerce
  • Webs – Intuitive builder, good ecommerce tools, integrated membership option available

Another option is to not really build a site at all. You can have your URL redirect to a Tumblr blog, a Pinterest profile, or a WordPress blog, if one of those formats better matches your brand DNA.

Unsure of which site builder to choose? See our guide on the Best Website Builders

Also, take a look at How You can Easily Build a Site in Less Than a Day

The Right Content

Once you have your site, you need to get to work on updating it. Great content, created consistently, can pay off with huge results. The main expense is simply your time and creativity; the ROI can be huge compared to traditional mass media marketing.

An interesting example is Gala will probably never win a design award for the look of this site, but consistent and frequent updates has allowed her to turn a simple-looking blog into a career.

Here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Create an editorial calendar to keep you inspired and on-track.
  • Carefully filter and craft what you share.
  • Don’t limit your content to your niche. Anything that would appeal to the lifestyle of your target customer is fair game, and humanizes your business.
  • Spend where it counts. may not have the flashiest site design, but she consistently springs for and shares professional photographs, a good investment for a fashion-focused site.
  • Be honest about your ability to update your site. If you know you just can’t or won’t do it, hire help. Consider a freelance writer or a student in your industry.

Be patient. Building an audience takes time.

Quality + Autonomy = Great Things, If You Do The Work

There is no one magic secret to building a great site, but high quality and DIY do not have to be mutually exclusive. Take the time to make the best selections for your business, and then enjoy the rewards that a great website can bring to your business.

Emma Siemasko is a Boston-based writer and ecommerce expert. She loves providing resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is the author of JUMP: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Growing a Business.
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Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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