Updated: Aug 28, 2021
36% of small businesses in the U.S. don't have a website (Ref: SBA)
Over one-half of these 36% businesses don't have a website because they;
don't fully understand the purpose of a website
don't know what to include on a website
can't afford to hire a website designer.
Small business owners can be overwhelmed by their lack of general knowledge about websites such as not knowing what features to include. They don't understand the difference between a domain, a website, hosting, and a blog.
So they continue to put something off that they don't understand.
These small business owners seek helpful information about the benefits of a website, what key features they need and, the costs of developing one.
This post is for tradespeople thinking about starting their own business or having just done so and now want a website. The website features and ideas presented here are beneficial to all small business owners.
Websites are just an online advertisement
Agreed, it does advertise your business, but that is where the similarity with a printed brochure or newspaper advertisement ends.
Worldwide there are currently about 1.83 billion websites. All these website owners can't have got it wrong!
Main benefits of a website.
It's the cheapest form of advertising available.
The only ongoing costs are several small monthly fees (website and domain hosting) that should total less than $20.
Your business is accessible to your potential customers 24/7.
Your potential clients can read about what your business offers from anywhere and, at any time day or night, whatever best suits them.
Easy and cheap to update.
As a young tradesman and new business owner, your phone number or street address might change or new services added to your business. Updating your website to reflect these changes can be done quickly and easily.
Your website provides a quick and accessible forum for communication exchanges between your business and your potential customers. You display your business brand, list the services you offer, opening hours and, any current special deals. In exchange, your potential customer can quickly reach you by filling out an online contact form – which you receive instantly.
Your website can facilitate feedback from existing customers in the form of testimonials. Customers can post a review of the service your business provided them. Reviews are valuable for two reasons; they let other potential customers know about your service and, you receive helpful information to use for continuous business improvement.
Potential customers are comforted when they see a physical business address, email address, contact numbers, staff names (and pics), and customer testimonials. Most websites have an "About" page describing more detail about the business, its history, and purpose. You should include a paragraph about the business owner. People like reading a story that personalizes the business and makes it appear more approachable and friendly.
Analytic tools provide an extensive array of helpful information about visitors to your site. Such as; how many people visited your site, what search terms they used, and their location. What page they 'landed' on, what pages they visited and how long they spent on your site. Use this information to make continuous improvements to your site.
Perhaps you decide to run a promo, a 'discount offer' on your website. Use analytics tools to track website visitor interest in your promo and its success.
Your competitors will have a website even if you don't. They will have a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Reduce customer service costs
A website reduces the time potential customers spend asking you or your staff questions about your services. Display everything a customer needs to know on the website. Also, include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that lists the most commonly asked questions and answers. You will save your business time and money, and your potential customers will have more confidence in your business.
Investment and business growth
Your website is an excellent way for potential investors to learn about your business and adds credibility, as discussed above.
Facebook: Link your website to your Facebook page. Also, use Facebook Ads because it is the most accessible and fastest online tool to reach your market. Facebook collects information about its users and can target your ads to those interested in your services. An excellent form of target marketing.
Google Ads: (called Adwords) puts your website at the top position for any search about your business. Say your plumbing business is in Randwick Sydney, any local search by a potential customer "plumber near me" will list your website at the top position.
Websites are much more than just an online brochure. They are a forum where you can introduce your business to your potential clients. They read all about your services, why they should use you rather than your competitors. They read about your staff, have questions answered, and importantly, can quickly contact your business about their problem via the contact page.
8 out of 10 potential customers are likely to engage with your business if it has a website.
80% of customer-to-business engagement happens online.
Getting a website built is too complicated, I don't know enough about it.
Websites needn't be complicated. Let's identify the five pages a tradesman needs on their website.
A Home Page
A home page is the front door of your business. Most of your website visitors will land on this page. This page should highlight the services offered and, most importantly, how they will benefit your visitor.
Visitors will quickly skim read its content and make a quick decision whether to engage further with your website.
Studies show you have about 8 seconds to convince them to stay.
The Guide offers detailed information about using website content that keeps visitors interested.
About us Page
It contains a section describing your business. Who owns it, how it started, who you sell to and, what makes it different or unique compared with your competitors. The content needs to be specific and avoid generalities like "We offer excellent customer service" or "our staff are ready to help you." This type of comment won't get any traction.
Testimonials are particularly persuasive as a tool to promote your business and an easily added feature.
Frequently Asked Questions Page
Compile a list of the most commonly asked questions and your answers. Also an easily added feature.
Online contact form Page
A vital page where anybody interested in your products and services can request you to contact them. The primary purpose of your website is to encourage visitors to complete the form on this page, which you will receive in your email inbox and on a mobile app. As such it will have strategically placed Calls-To-Action (CTA) on various pages that link to the contact form page.
Optional Pages that may suit a Tradesman
Products and services
If you have a significant list of products and services, describe them on this page. However, a typical tradesman offers just one service – plumbing, electrical work, building, carpentry, landscaping, etc., so the home page can adequately describe it.
Blogs can be helpful to bring more visitors to your website. It is a forum for sharing information about your industry, perhaps new technology a product. You can also use blogs to create a client list and email your list updates about your business or special offers.
Once you start a blog, you do need to post reasonably frequently. Otherwise, your 'blog readers' will lose interest. For a typical tradesman, blogs can be time-consuming and thus not a cost-effective activity.
There are other ways to drive visitors to your local business. Download a copy of the Guide to read about these different ways.
There are just five pages or 'sections' of information that a tradesman needs to have on his website.
A website building platform will offer you templates that already have these pages built. All you need to do is change the text and images to suit your business. Then, click the publish button and you are up and running with a new website. See below for more information about website building platforms.
70% of small businesses find it challenging to find new leads, and close to 80% of generated leads don't get converted. The main reason is that a small business doesn't properly nurture its leads. Your website is a forum to nurture your leads.
Getting a website is way too expensive
Not at all if you use a 'build-you-own' website platform. Click here to go to the section below that is about building your own (very affordable) website using a commercially available website building platform.
Typical Website design and development costs
Otherwise read on to get an understanding of industry standard website development costs.
A Google search "how much to build a small business website" shows website designers and developers displaying their estimate build prices.
An average small business website (without eCommerce functionality) ranges between $2000 and $20,000.
One major professional website developer broke their costs down into the following five sections.
SSL certificate ($0 – $1500 / year)
Design ($2000 – $15,000)
Number of pages ($1000 – $5000)
Functionality ($2000 – $25,000)
CMS (Content Management System) ($2000-$25,000)
Some professional website developers ask the visitor to, "contact our company for a more accurate estimate." Is possible to interpret this as an opportunity to 'upsell' to an unsuspecting tradesman or small business owner.
The same website developer had a website online cost calculator. Using the following inputs to suit a typical tradesman, it estimated between $12,000 and $19,000 to build a website.
Number of pages: 1 - 10
Style of design: Moderately stylized
Copywriting # of pages: 5-10
SEO w/ Placement Guarantee: 30 keywords
Responsive Design: Yes
Database Integration: None
e-Commerce Functionality: None
Ongoing annual fees
There are also ongoing annual costs for website hosting and domain name which should be less than $200 combined.
Additional annual maintenance costs" are also mentioned by professional website developers and designers. These range upwards from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. They mention fees for;
maximising your sites performance,
SSL certificate renewal and,
These additional costs are interesting because, unlike a motor vehicle with ongoing running costs, you wouldn't anticipate a website needing the digital equivalent of an oil change, engine service, brake pads, new tires, each year.
The section below on the build-you-own-website platform also mentions annual costs for a tradesman level website. They amount to around $80 to $120 per annum which is considerably cheaper.
So what does all this mean exactly to a tradesman or small business owner?
It's all rather confusing......
Typical tradesmen who are used to quoting specific prices for their services may consider these price ranges somewhat loose.
Seemingly high start prices, technical jargon and, wide-ranging estimates could put many tradespeople off engaging with professional website designers and developers.
A build-your-own Website option
Drop & Drag
During the last five years or so, online digital design technology has advanced significantly. To the point where people can simply drop, drag and resize images onscreen. Similarly, create text boxes and drag, resized, and format them.
Click an image or text to drag it around the screen or a corner or side of the image/text box and drag to resize. It's that easy.
Some 'build-your-own website' platforms offer this drop-and-drag facility. If you can drop, drag and resize text and images, you can build an attractive and fully functioning website.
It's worth noting that some professional website developers and designers see the recent user-friendly advance of 'do-it-yourself' website platforms as a threat and thus tend to understate their benefits as an alternative cost-effective solution.
Now is also an excellent time to mentions costs. These website build platforms offer monthly prices starting at around $7-$10. A tradesman wanting a 5-page website as described above would pay this amount. Compare this price with between $2,000 and $20,000 to have one built for you.
These build-your-own platforms have many features that make building a website simple. They offer hundreds of ready-to-use templates from within categories across all sectors. You choose a template, change images and written content to suit your business. You are then literally ready to publish your 'brand new website online.
User friendly help
Because these platforms offer so many features, learning to navigate the menu can, at first, appear daunting. However, they provide excellent help facilities. Often both contextual help and short video tutorials are available to make your user experience more pleasant.
Build-your-own website platforms unravel the mysteries of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They have SEO wizards that lead you through the process of setting your website up to be Google-friendly.
Ease-of-use and sophistication
Effectively, these platforms make every attempt to make the complex task of website design and development an enjoyable and straightforward process while allowing total flexibility to suit individual tastes.
Ease-of-use and flexibility do not mean your site cannot be stunning looking and sophisticated. Many outstanding website designs were built using a build-your-own website platform.
Seven Grams Caffe https://sevengramscaffe.com
Ravin ai https://www.ravin.ai
The Salty Donut https://www.saltydonut.com
These website platforms have become user-friendly because it's a competitive market and, their business survival relies upon attracting non-technical people such as a tradesman.
Worth noting there is a trend towards single-page websites where visitors scroll down to view each section of information rather than clicking a page menu. The primary influence is a dramatic increase in browsing on mobile devices where "finger flicking" is used to scroll.
Currently, mobile users account for 68% of all global searches. This percentage will increase as technology (such as voice commands) continue to improve mobile devices.
However, single-page websites have a significant downside; they don't work well with Search Engine Optimization. Single-page websites will significantly reduce the chances of your website being "seen" by Google.
A website is considered a vital tool for any tradesman or small business. Despite this, many small business owners and tradesmen wishing to start their own business are uncertain about websites, knowing about the many benefits of having one, how they work and what they cost.
This post clarifies some of these issues and offers an alternative do-it-yourself approach to building a website.
The Guide recommends the best website builder platform available for a tradesman or small business owner. In making this recommendation, ease of use and costs are the critical determining criteria.
The Guide also links to an excellent 1-hour video tutorial about building your website. The video introduces the website builder platform and then completes a website development, providing easy-to-follow detailed step-by-step instructions.