There are very few businesses these days that don’t have websites, and as a home business your website is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. A good website can really work for you, but you need to know what you’re doing.
Hire Foreign Designers.
Web design really is something that you shouldn’t try to do yourself, unless you really know what you’re doing — I’m sure you’ve seen what happens when people try this. Hiring a web designer, though, can be prohibitively expensive. Luckily for you, the Internet puts you in touch with designers all over the world, and it’s easy to hire one of them very cheaply to design your website. They don’t do any worse of a job than someone in your country would, it just happens that your few hundred dollars is worth as much to someone in India as a few thousand would be to you or I.
Use Search Engine Optimisation.
There are a heck of a lot of websites out there, and search engines will return everything relevant to a user’s search. How can you possibly get your site above the thousands of others that the search engine thinks are relevant to your keywords?
The answer is to use basic search engine optimisation techniques. For example, make sure you often use phrases that you think your target market will be searching for (your ‘keywords’), and make your web addresses contain them too. For this article, for example, http://www.website.com/home-business-website would be a much better web address than http://www.website.com/articles/205. That’s just a brief introduction — there’s a whole SEO industry out there, if you go looking for it.
Have Lots of Useful Content.
When you have a website, you’re not just trying to reach people who were searching for you — you’re trying to get people to check your website, read your latest news and offers, and the rest. The best way of doing this is to have fresh and useful content on there. Write short articles about the kind of things your customers might be interested in. If your home business is computer repair, for example, you could keep track of the latest virus threats on your site and offer help to anyone affected.
Make It Easy to Update.
You should make sure that whatever software you’re using to write your website makes it easy to post new articles without too many problems. If you have go to around putting HTML tags into your articles before you can upload them, then you should think about changing the way your website works.
Keep a Weblog.
One of the simplest ways to have fresh, useful content on your site is to keep a weblog (or ‘blog’). A blog is a series of entries, like entries in a diary, that are displayed on your site starting with the most recent first. It is easy to log in and quickly write a new entry, and it can be as short or as long as you like.
For your home business’ blog, the only rule to stick to is not to post anything there that isn’t related to your industry and your work. It might be great that you’ve got a new baby or sad that your cat Mr Tibbles died, but you should start a personal blog on another website if you want to post about that kind of thing.
Let People E-Mail You with No Hassle.
One of the worst mistakes people often make when they’re starting a website is to think that it would be a good idea to give their customers a ‘contact form’ to fill in. People really, really don’t like filling in forms, and you’ll lose a lot of interested customers if you require them to tell you all sorts of things before you’ll even talk to them over the Internet.
The best thing to do is to simply list your email address on your site, as a clickable link, and advise customers near the link of the kind of information it would be useful for them to include in an email. It might sound strange, but people are far more willing to go to the trouble of typing things in when it’s on their own terms, and not into an annoying web form.