Back in 2021 I came to two ‘kick in the guts’ realisations:
The first was understanding that many businesses and entrepreneurs just don’t have the luxury of spending big on a fancy wizbang website.
The second was this: why would anyone bother spending money on a website if they’re not planning on also spending money on getting traffic to it? (e.g. SEO or ads). It would be like spending money on a billboard that sits in the middle of the desert – it just doesn’t make sense.
Now, this obviously doesn’t bode well for a website developer (like me) because it means we’re often talking to businesses who don’t really see any benefit or value in having a website. And if they do decide they want a website, they’re looking for the cheapest option.
I had come to see why so many website developers before me had either quit, or pivoted their business.
Why every business needs a professional looking website
Regardless of budget constraints, a website is a critical asset that every business should have, even if your business relies solely on word of mouth referrals.
I often say to people – Having a website may not generate any new customers, but not having a website can lose you referred customers. And the simple reason for this is that many referred customers will still want to check you out, and if you don’t have a website (or you have an amateur looking one), that’s enough for some to turn around and walk away.
Cheap website options
When it comes to building a cheap website, there are a few common options that people will turn to. But ultimately, they don’t end up being as cheap as you’d hoped for. Here are the options, and the potential hidden costs associated with them.
Building your own website on Wix
There is nothing inherently wrong with building a website using Wix. In fact, Wix is a popular website builder that offers a somewhat easy-to-use platform for creating websites. However, there are some potential drawbacks to consider when deciding whether to use Wix to build your website:
- Limited flexibility: Wix provides a range of templates and design elements that you can use to create your website, but you are limited to working within the constraints of the Wix platform. This means that you may not be able to make your site look exactly like you want it to be, or add certain features that are not supported by Wix.
- SEO limitations: While Wix does offer some basic SEO features, it may not be as robust as other platforms. This means that your website may not rank as highly in search engine results, which can make it more difficult for people to find your site.
- Limited scalability, and this is a big one: As your business grows, you may find that the limitations of the Wix platform become more apparent. If you need to add new features or scale your website, you may need to consider switching to a different platform, which means rebuilding.
- Time: While you think you might be saving money by doing it yourself, have you considered how much time and energy you’re putting in, and whether or not that time and energy could be used elsewhere in your business? If you placed an hourly rate of just $40 to your time, how much did your ‘cheap’ website actually cost you?
Outsource to overseas developers on platforms like Fiverr
Outsourcing the building of a website to a company overseas can present a number of challenges for businesses. Some of the potential problems that businesses may face when outsourcing website development overseas include:
- Communication barriers: Language barriers and cultural differences can make it difficult to effectively communicate with overseas web developers. This can lead to misunderstandings and delays in the project.
- Time zone differences: Working with a company in a different time zone can make it difficult to coordinate meetings or get timely responses to questions and concerns.
- Quality control issues: It can be difficult to ensure that the quality of work meets your standards when you are working with an overseas company. It may be more challenging to review and provide feedback on the work, which can lead to delays and additional costs.
- Intellectual property concerns: Working with an overseas company can also raise concerns about the protection of your intellectual property. It may be more difficult to ensure that your proprietary information is kept confidential and secure.
- Legal issues: There may be legal issues to consider when working with an overseas company, such as differences in laws and regulations. It’s important to carefully review any contracts and agreements to ensure that your rights are protected.
- Platform technology: They may develop your website in a way that can not be easily modified by someone else later on down the track, leaving you locked into them to make changes, or forcing you to rebuild your website later on down the track.
Having your neighbours best friends tech savvy teenage son build it for you
Weirdly, this is something that I come across quite often. And I’d say nine times out of ten, it doesn’t end well. Anytime I’ve been engaged to ‘fix’ a website built by someone who wasn’t experienced, the website has required a complete rebuild from scratch.
Hiring a tech-savvy teenager to build a website for your business can present a number of challenges and potential problems. Some of these include:
- Lack of professional experience: A teenager who is inexperienced in website development may not have the skills or knowledge to create a high-quality, professional website. This can result in a poorly designed site that does not meet your needs or the needs of your customers. Examples include: code bloating, far too many plugins, poor mobile responsiveness, bad theme choice, excessive image sizes, etc, etc.
- Lack of understanding of business needs: A teenager may not have the business experience or understanding of what is needed to create a successful website for your business. They may not be able to identify or address key factors such as user experience, branding, or search engine optimisation.
- Inability to complete the project: A teenager who lacks professional experience may not have the skills or resources to complete the project in a timely manner. This can result in delays and missed deadlines, which can be costly for your business.
- They move on: Working with a teenager means working with someone who is not going to be a teenager sometime soon. This can make it difficult to get updates or make changes to the website later on.
Surely there’s a better way
At the end of 2022, I sat down and revisited those above realisations, and remembered that I’m no ordinary website developer.
I have over 15 years of skills and experience built up in business analysis and process improvement for large organisations. Surely if anyone can come up with a way to make professional website development more affordable for businesses and entrepreneurs, while still making it a viable business, it’s me.
And that is where the Free Website Guy was born.
I was able to develop a process whereby I can offer businesses a website that is:
- Built on WordPress – future proofing it, and allowing it to grow as marketing needs grow. No future rebuilds here.
- Professionally designed – with over 2,000 high quality website designs to choose from
- Mobile friendly & SEO optimised so customers have a great experience.
So what’s the catch?
Now obviously there are some T&C’s here. I still need to make a dollar somehow.
But simply and honestly put, free website builds are how I acquire customers. It’s purely lead generation – I’m not trying to turn a profit on them.
There are some minor ongoing costs involved with hosting & maintaining the free websites that I build, but I barely break even on them. Overall, it’s a completely cost-neutral endeavour.
Sounds crazy right?
Well, not really. Where my business becomes viable is in the small percentage of businesses who will then engage me for other marketing services once their business grows, e.g. Marketing Mentorship, SEO, Social Media, Facebook & Google Ads, etc.
Can you help me reach my goals?
I love making a difference in people’s lives, so my goal each year is to build 50 free websites for businesses who have not been able to afford them in the past. If you are, or know of, a business owner who could greatly benefit from finally getting their business online, please direct them my way.