Dear Readers, I am about to save you lots of time, money, and aggravation. Since starting my business, I've made so many mistakes out of a simple lack of knowledge. Fortunately for you, I'm willing to share my mistakes and lessons learned in order to pave an easier path for you to succeed.
I cannot underestimate the value of a great website. Seriously, this is really, really important. It isn't 1982. People aren't browsing the Yellow Pages to find you. Unless you have been in business for years and have a huge clientele, you need to be searchable online. And if your website looks like something a 7th grader made in the early 90's, it may hurt you.
That being said, a very basic website is better than no website at all. If I can't find someone online, they simply don't exist to me. If I find someone with a site that isn't great, but is serviceable enough that I can easily get the info I need, I will consider them as an option. If I find a site loaded with grammatical errors that is impossible to navigate...they are going to be low on my list.
In 2010, I started with a Vistaprint website. It wasn't pretty. It was a basic template that was somewhat easy to navigate, and the style wasn't original or intriguing. It got the job done, mainly because of the content (which I will get into in a future blog-content is so important!) it had a low monthly fee, was very easy for a technologically illiterate soul such as myself to maintain, and could be changed easily. I'd give it a C, rating-wise.
After a few years in practice, I decided that it was time to upgrade. I was making money, I was starting to build a reputation...why not spend some money on creating a site that truly reflected my vision as a business owner?
I spent months looking at websites and taking note of those that appealed to me. I highly recommend that everyone does this as they prepare to create a site. What colors, themes, styles resonate with you? The more you hone in on what you like, the more the site will become a reflection of who you are-which is exactly what you want!
After much searching, I realized that I absolutely loved the design of the website for my yoga instructor, so I reached out to the designer. He created my current site (www.healingpointtherapeutics.com), and I was very happy with it for a long time. It was a bit difficult to change, but the designer would get back to me relatively quickly if I needed him. All was well.
But...websites age quickly. Recently, I decided that it was once again time for an upgrade. I was ready to shell out a few thousand for an upgraded site when I asked a techie patient of mine to recommend someone. She told me to take a look at Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. My instant response was: no, thank you. I had grown beyond the homemade website thing. I was so cocky; I could pay someone to do all this stuff for me, now!
She sent me a link to some sites that had been created on these website builders, and I had to admit that they were impressive. Still, I remained stubborn. I wanted all the work done for me. I contacted someone who was willing to revamp my site for $4,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of $79. When I asked what the maintenance fee was for, he explained that it covered any changes I requested once the site was done. But...he also told me that I could make any changes I needed to, myself, once the site was up. So, I was confused. If I could change the site when needed, why was I paying someone a monthly fee to change the site when needed?
I decided to take a look at Squarespace again. It had everything I needed, was easily changeable, and looked clean and modern. It was exactly what I needed, for $19 a month. So here I am.
I'm not trying to sell Squarespace on you. Wix, Weebly, or maybe another company I've not heard of yet may be a better fit for you. I'm just saying, do your research before spending thousands on a website. Website designers are becoming obsolete, as more and more of these companies are cropping up and giving business owners an affordable and flexible way to put their businesses online.