I have recently built my own website using the Weebly website builder (free when you register a domain name via Sibername). It was a very pleasant experience, especially for a person with no website building knowledge like myself. I’d like to share my experience about using this basic tool, as well as how I used this tool to build and promote my new website. Sometimes using a basic tool and a good strategy is all you need to bring you closer to your goal. I will be discussing the tool and my “synchronized website marketing strategy” toward the end of this lengthy article.
Here’s the list of what I needed:
- I need a basic website that I can build and maintain myself using free, easy-to-use, web-based website building tools.
- I need a secure, risk-free, affordable website hosting provider with free premium technical support 24/7 from Day 1
- I need to have the tools and support I need to do step-by-step upgrades, if I decide to upgrade my site at some point.
- I need my website to be mobile friendly since that is the current trend.
- I need to find a trustworthy web hosting company with a client referral program to help me pay for my upgrades
- I need an adaptable website marketing strategy to promote my website continually 24/7 from on Day 1 (see below, please scroll down to mid-page below the dividing line)
First I registered a domain name with Sibername. The first decision I had to make was which domain name extension to select since there are now so many options now (.PRO, .CA, .FAMILY, .AUTO …). I selected a .COM after I made sure my specific domain name was available in all other extensions (domain names are actually investments worth protecting). Some competitors had similar domain names so I just peeked to see who owned them using WHOIS Search. I was glad to see that neither I nor my strategic partners had much competition. Once my domain name was registered, accessing my new webmail was immediately important to me, so I created an account and within 5 minutes I was emailing my friends with my new email address. Seeing my new email address based on my new domain name, my contacts kept asking when my website would be up and running so a few weeks later I made the time to build my basic website and satisfied their curiosity. Before building it, however, I toyed with the Weebly site builder to explore all the features that were available in the basic package just to get the feel of it.
Here are some of the basic features of the Weebly website builder tool:
Select professionally pre-designed themes/Change backgrounds, font styles, font sizes, font colors/Add a slide show/Add Youtube videos/Add photo galleries to your pages/Add block quotes/Add customizable contact forms, survey forms, poll forms, RSVP forms/Add documents/Add social media icons/Add a feed reader/Toggle between Desktop or Smartphone views/Embed other applications
The basic website builder had all the features I needed (and still need) for building and updating my website. It’s easy to use and requires no training. Everything is just click and drag. I then built my website and am now in the process of marketing it (my strategy is here, below the dividing line in this article).
The Sibername Web Hosting Company: What warmed me up to the Sibername company was how effective and friendly their technical support department was to me, even when all I did was register a domain name. I once emailed their helpdesk with some questions and was surprised to see that they answered my questions within 30 minutes even though it was late at night. These were the questions I had asked:
- Where do I login to create my webmail?
- Where do I login for my webmail?
- Where do I login to create and update my website?
They responded that the answers to my questions were actually in the welcome email they had sent me after I had registered my domain name. I read it again and followed the instructions in the email and the process was quite simple and quick. At any rate, I’m glad to know that at least one company exists that offers a premium support service even for clients of a basic website building package. That’s something I have never seen before for any kind of company.
About my Website: At any rate, I used this site building tool to build my 4-page website (Sibername offers 5 free web pages with a domain name purchase but I only had enough ideas to fill 4 pages so far. I am thinking of making my 5th page one that is hidden from the navigation bar and just accessible to those who interact with me.). On the “Home Page” I added a slide show gallery of clickable photos of my activities and allies (if visitors of my homepage see a photo they like they simply click on the photo and it links them directly to the website of my allies). On the “About me Page” I just talk about what I do and what I believe in (and I also include a discussion box where people can share what they believe in). On the “Blog Page” I actually invited my allies and strategic partners to contribute blog articles to my Blog Page and added their photo and links to their sites. On the “Contact Me Page”. I added my contact information and my calendar of events (since I organize many public events and my guests like to pre-reserve their seats). On most pages I added social media share buttons. I also added links to my social media profiles.
So, now, for the price of an economical meal I had registered my own domain name, had access to my own webmail address and mailing system, and had my own professional-looking website which I could modify as often as I wish. Before considering investing in the more advanced features of my website, I asked a few fundamental questions to see if it was all worthwhile.
Why do people make websites?
There are billions of webpages on the internet and it is impossible to view them all. Unless a drastic change happens, there will likely be billions more. Governments and major corporations all have them, in fact websites are becoming a requirement for most businesses, in every country of the world. Now the rush is on for websites to be built for authors, artists, performers, thought leaders, and industry experts. But why this increasing rush? Because a good website is the most cost-effective media for targeted promotion and mass communication. Furthermore, it is affordable to most people.
A website is a global business card. If you write the right content you can attract and interact with your intended audience successfully. Anyone in the world with Internet access can view your website and communicate with you almost instantly. Websites can bring like minds together, help people find work, and can be used to sell goods or services. Websites and domain names can be auctioned and sold. Some websites are created as legacies for the benefit of future generations. They are a worthwhile investment once your website gets people’s attention and becomes popular.
Can your ideas, talents, skills and expertise become popular online? Build your own website to find out quickly! See if you have the power to attract the people, resources and support for all you have to offer. All you needed is a domain name, a good web hosting provider with an web-based website building tool, and access to website visitors stats so you can monitor your progress. I’d like to recommend Sibername.
Why doesn’t everyone have a website?
I have asked my friends and contacts that question. Some of them perceive that obtaining their own domain name, building their website, and getting their own website email address would be too complex and costly. They are now affordable and simple to build. You can have your domain name registered and using your customized web-mail service within the next 5 minutes. In fact people can try building a website before they even buy one.
Are websites still meaningful in the social media age?
Some of my contacts rationalize that websites are now redundant. They say it’s just as easy to share information in social media sites without all the fuss of building a website. Yet when I asked them to name just one successful company that uses only social media sites to share information with clients or prospects, I draw a blank stare. Websites and social media sites serve different purposes and both should be used but websites do a number of things social media sites still do not offer.
-Websites can be sold, domain names can be auctioned. Not so with social media sites.
-Website content is searchable in Internet Search Engines.
-Websites can incorporate video-greetings and webinars.
-Website content can be laid out exactly where you want it, and moved when needed.
-Websites can offer secure e-commerce functions, like virtual shopping carts
-Website content does not slip into oblivion like social media posts buried under newer posts
-Website hosting companies usually have stronger analytics data about your website visitors
-Websites offer more design freedom than social media sites or public blog sties
-Websites information is more easily accessible than in social media profiles
-Websites offer distraction free content (no unrelated ads, comments, or news feeds)
-Websites are accessible to all (Many companies prevent staff access to social media sites)
If we spent as much time maintaining and updating our websites as we do our social media profiles then we’d be more focused and successful. Try building a website yourself if you intend to start or grow your business, or even if you just want to leave a legacy.
Why should you have a personal website?
If you intend to become better employed, self-employed, or even become an employer yourself then you should start off by having a personal website so you can learn how to converse with your market (marketing) and become market-driven. Quite a few personal websites have become corporate websites. It’s always a good idea to work on your personal site so that you will be more knowledgeable if it becomes necessary for you to build your professional, or even corporate, site. Your personal website may show the world your expertise, your communication style (artistic, logical, humorous, practical, bold. action-oriented) and your achievements at the touch of a button. Similarly, your corporate site may show your services, your corporate culture, and list your successful projects. A website is the most cost-effective, far-reaching, permanent promotional tool you may ever have both personally and professionally. If you do plan to have a website at some point then it would be a good idea to reserve the domain name(s) you intend to use, before someone does.
What are the elements of a successful website?
Here are some elements of a successful website: a short domain name, easy navigation, appropriate SEO on each page, great content, blog articles, social media integration, video-messages, forms, e-commerce functions, instant communication with visitors, website stats tools, inclusion of phone number and street address. There are many other elements but in my opinion, content is king, social media marketing is queen and functional website design is the prince of a successful website. Make sure you always have enough information on your website to show the world your unique value proposition, your mission or your vision.
Does web design make a difference? Yes design definitely does make a difference, especially functional graphics. But web design is costlier and more time consuming. Furthermore, designs have expiration dates, at some point you will have to redesign your website all over again since the fixed corporate design may already be a thing of the past. However, and if you do not want to use the free design templates and tools available to you, Sibername offers a “middle path” professional design service for about $500 and the work is done with 3-5 days. Similar service may cost more than double this price. A safe plan is for you to start off with the design templates until your business grows enough that you can pay for a customized professional design.
How do you know if your website is having an impact?
- If you get emails sent to your new email address
- If people forward your emails and newsletters to others
- If people fill out your website’s online forms (polls, surveys, contact forms…)
- If people are sharing your profile pages in the social media
- If people in your social media groups comment on your website
- If people subscribe to your social media groups (Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google+…)
- If people comment on the embedded social media posts on your website
- If people submit blog articles for your blog page
- If people phone you, text you or Skype message you
- If people wish to attend one of the public events you promote
- If people ask permission to use one of the photos, videos or graphic artwork on your site
These are all touch points, points of interaction with your audience or your market. If people are not interacting with you, then either your content, or your marketing effort, must change. Here below is a unique strategy I recommend to anyone who intends to build a website that has market impact. If you like this strategy then I welcome you to attend one of my online or onsite workshops where I give more details on how synchronized website building is worth trying. If you are too busy to read, on here’s my main point: Build your first website at the same time as others who are building theirs and benefit from each other’s experience or expertise.
Sylvain’s step-by-step strategic approach to building a simple website that attracts visitors
Building a website is easy, especially with Sibername’s help, regardless if you use basic or advanced features. If you have the content and images ready for pasting in your website, a basic website can be built within an hour and be up and running almost immediately with a reliable web hosting company. But just because something can be made quickly, it doesn’t mean that it should be. So in the next few paragraphs I’d like to suggest a slower and more strategic step-by-step approach to make your website building process more productive, as well as pleasant.
Step 1: Mark your territory
Reserve your domain name(s) and your social media group names ASAP: Perhaps the most important step in building websites is the selection of the domain names. Make sure the name you select is not being used by other companies or other social media groups. Create social media groups with names related to your domain name(s) before anyone else does. As much as possible select a simple domain name so that people can come to your site quickly and without making so many keying errors. It’s also a good idea to reserve a few related domain names because they may not be available in the future.
Step 2: Engage your market. Then build your site.
Create groups in the social media sites: It’s usually a good idea to initiate a conversation with your market even before you build a website. A simple and free way to do that is to create your own groups within popular social media sites. Marketing is simply a conversation companies or organizations have with their market so start engaging your market in a conversation that hopefully never ends. Your groups can provide useful information, ideas and allies you may need to build up your website content. Once your website is built up then you’ll have a focused audience and community that can access your information either via your website of your social media groups.. Many of your group members may gladly help you promote your new website. Your market should be foremost in your plans, never an afterthought. First engage your market then build your website.
Step 3: Know the need then feed the need.
Learn about your market needs in your social media groups: You may think that you do not have enough time to devote to maintaining market relationships via social media groups. But always keep in mind that your competition will find the time to do so, perhaps even using the names you have reserved. If you are truly too busy to maintain social media groups then you should ask a friend, staff member or partner to do it for you. Build up your new social media groups till you have a following of a decent size. Business happens at the point where what you have to offer meets a market need. Sometimes you have to adjust what have to offer to meet their need. Know what they need, verify this need in the social media then feed the need the best you can. If you can make your social media group members respond to well to your posts then you start to understand your market. Withe this information you can create your new website or update an existing one.
Step 4: The Faithful followers
Start building your mailing list and media list: Canada has the most aggressive anti-spam legislation of any nation. Since Canada Day 2014 a law has been passed in Canada to make spammers liable to fines in the millions of dollars. It would be wise to keep that in mind even before you build a website. Start building a permission-based email marketing database before you build your website and please make sure that every email you send out has an unsubscribe note at the bottom in case recipients do not wish to receive further messages from you. That’s another reason why it’s critical that you start building relationships before building your website.
Step 5: Quality before Quantity:
Prepare content for a website of 5 pages only: First impressions matter. It’s always a good idea to have your content tweaked before you publish and promote your website. You never have a second chance to make a first good impression. So it would be a wise choice to prepare content for just 5 web-pages for your website since creating tweaked content for a 100-page website would take forever. The first 5 pages should contain the following navigation buttons: Home, About, Services, Blog, Contact. 5-page websites come free with domain name registration at some web-hosting companies like Sibername. Sibername also offers 2 free webmail accounts tied to your domain name so that you can start using your webmail even before you’ve pasted your content into your 5 free pages. Start with quality and then add more pages if needed. Once your site is published then you can start inviting member or market feedback for site improvements. Adding web pages and advanced features to your website should be a second phase activity once you have covered all the recommended steps in this website building strategy.
Step 6: Synchronized Website Building
Inspire your strategic partners to build/update their sites with you: Never build alone, benefit from the experience and expertise of others. We live in a highly competitive world with a very weak economy. That’s why it’s so important to muster all the forces you can to make your website a success soon after its launch date, especially if you are a startup professional or business. Build strategic relationships with other local businesses that would complement your own business. If these businesses have websites already then see if you can negotiate interlinking your websites to each other. If your other strategic partners do not have a website then this is a good opportunity for you to build, launch and promote your websites together. I call this synchronized website building. It’s fun, focused and productive. Suggest that they register a domain name. If the latter is a possibility then please forward this website building strategy article to them and coordinate your activities so that you can learn from each. Give all your strategic partners the launch date of your website so all of you can have sufficient time to prepare some cross-promotional content (blog articles, webinars…). Major corporations do this all the time.
Summary steps of synchronized website building:
- Find potential strategic partners (established businesses, startups, consultants…)
- For those who have websites already: Ask them when they plan to upgrade their site.
- For those who are building their websites: Ask them when they plan to build their sites
- Register your domain name(s) and make social media groups with a similar name
- Ask your future partners to do the same as step 4
- Create the content for a simple 5 page website. Quality before quantity. Less is usually more.
- Set a date that you will start working on constructing your website. Inform your partners of that date.
- If some of your partners build their websites at roughly the same time as yours, then help each other.
- Paste your content in your 5 page website. Make a basic design or add your own images.
- Offer to interlink with strategic partners or write blog articles for or about each other.
- Publish your website and ask for feedback from friends, contacts, partners. Adjust your site with their feedback.
- Promote your published website, hopefully at the same time your partners publish or upgrade theirs.
Since domain names and websites are now so affordable they make a great year-long gift for company employees, and association members especially at the beginning of a new year. It’s a great way to follow the passions of your staff and members as well as helping them learn a thing or two about content marketing. Perhaps this could stimulate “intrapreneurship” a phenomenon that started back in 2007 and has been steadily increasing ever since!
Step 7: Do it
Publish your basic website by pasting your content in the 5 pages: This is the simplest step. Make sure you have social media sharing buttons, as well as links to your own social media groups. Don’t forget the call-to-action links like this one. If you have an existing website do not copy the content to the new site unless you plan to replace the old website entirely. Never destroy what is currently profitable. It might be wiser to see how profitable your new site is first before retiring the old site.
(In this case, it might be wise to use your new site with a slightly different domain name to compete with your older site. If you are considering this option it would be good to develop your new site completely and then publish it without promoting it just yet. Keep on developing your new site using feedback about your older site from friends, contacts and clients. Then once you have built your new site with new features and new content, avoiding errors of the past, then promote it to new prospects before sharing it with your older site’s regular visitors. Once you are convinced that your new site is better, then you may send out a press release and share it with the social media. Once that is done, then share it with your regular patrons and invite their feedback.)
Step 8: Friends First
Invite your friends and social media group members to view your website: Once your site is published, use your website’s webmail system to email all your friends and ask them to comment, like and share your website. Wait a day or two and invite your strategic partners to do the same. Wait a day or two then post a message in your own social media groups to do the same. After you have invited your friends, your members and your strategic partners to view your website you should then promote it yourself for two weeks before sending out press releases
Step 9: Take it to the press
Prepare press releases to announce your website: If you plan to send out press releases to announce the launch of your website then they should be prepared before your website is launched to give an opportunity for you to share this with your friends and strategic partners to invite their feedback and also to witness your launch. Your website can be published at this point but before you start promoting it you should invite market and member feedback.
Step 10: Follow-up
Websites are marketing tools and the whole purpose of marketing is to get someone with a need for your services or products to contact you: We build websites to attract the people whose needs we can fill. If after all your effort only 2 people contact you: Be glad and focus on these two people. Everything has a beginning. This will give you time to focus on quality replies which you could then use as a template. It will also give you the opportunity to spend more time with your prospects and make them feel important, something they may not get when they contact your competitors. You can also write blog articles about issues important to your first website visitors. Treat them well and more will come. There’s no point in marketing your website, if you are not ready for following-up those who contact you. Let’s always keep that in mind as we build our websites, or people may avoid it.
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To upgrade or not to upgrade, that’s the question
Upgrade your website to include advanced features only once you need to: As discussed previously, focus on improving content, social media marketing, permission-based email marketing and basic functional design. In my next article I will cover the more advanced features and benefits of the Weebly website building tools just in case the time has come for you to upgrade the functionalities of your online presence.
Then, when you find time, build your website using free web-based tools. I’ll likely be the first person to welcome you to the Internet. -sylvain henry 12/16/2015 Next article by sylvain: Your e-Prosperous Zones
Sylvain’s Synchronized Website Building Tutorials: (Free monthly events): If you would like to participate in a live session where I discuss the details of this innovative collaborative approach to marketing a website please text me. Furthermore we will actually be building our basic websites in a group so we can benefit from each other’s experience!
#FirstFridays @5 Live online Skype sylvain.henry (Canada) #SynchronizedWebsiteBuilding Tutorial
( Free but RSVP ASAP via text 613-501-4357 )
#SecondSundays @7 Live onsite in #Ottawa @client sites and online #SynchronizedWebsiteBuilding Tutorial
( Free but RSVP ASAP via text 613-501-4357 )
#ThirdThursdays @3 Live onsite @ BlueBird Coffee shop #Ottawa #SynchronizedWebsiteBuilding Tutorial
( Free but RSVP ASAP via text 613-501-4357 )
NB: This blog article will be updated with the results of the monthly synchronized website building meetings.