Your Website – The Foundation of Your Minimum Viable Marketing Strategy

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Have you ever moved across the country, or been on one of those big trips where you stay a different place night after night? For me, I start to feel a little unmoored after a few days – like I don’t have an anchor. 
 
Its the same for your business. It needs a home, an anchor, a foundation where it can flourish and grow. A place where your current customers and future prospects can find you – any time. And a place that’s not held to the whims of other programmers. 
 
If if you have a brick & mortar (i.e., physical) business location, you need a digital foundation. Your foundation must be your website. You must have your own website, on your own domain. 
 
Not a Facebook business page. 
Not a Google business page. 
 
Today’s website builders make it easier than ever to have a website, so you don’t have any excuses. 
 
You can’t say “We’re just a restaurant, we don’t need a website.” Your customers check your website to find out your hours and review the menu before they head out the door. 
 
You can’t say “I’m just a life coach, I don’t need a website.” If your clients want to refer you to someone, how will they get in touch? Share your email address? 
 
“I’m just an artist, I don’t need a website.” How will your fans know where to find your latest exhibition, or get behind the scenes of your process? 
 
You can get started with your website for less than $200 a year (for hosting & software – design will cost you more if you’re not a DIY kind of person.)

To Get Started

Domain Names

The first thing you'll need when developing your website is a domain name. The domain name is your web address – like www.minimumviablemarketing.com or cnn.com. 

You'll want it to be something memorable, easy to say, and easy to spell. 

Because domains have been available since the early 1990s, many simple domains have been purchased. You may need to get a little creative with yours, but there are still millions of great domain names available. 

If your dream domain name is taken, try adding a location or another descriptor. For example, if you run Claire's Donut House, but the domain is already taken, you could use ClairesDonutHouseDenver.com, or ClairesDeliciousDonuts.com

Many hosting providers (the companies that house the files for your website) also provide domain registration, or you can get a domain from another service, like NameCheap and host with whatever company you choose.

Hosting

If your domain name is the virtual address of your business, then hosting is the land that it is built on. Your hosting provider provides the space where all the files that make up your website live. 

There are dozens of great hosting companies out there. Hosting: Hosting is simply server space where your website lives. Two of the best hosting programs available are SiteGround and WPEngine.

 

Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems, also known as your CMS, makes it easy to build your website knowing very little code. They organize all of your files at your hosting, and give you a user-friendly interface to add pages, graphics, and more.

My CMS of choice is WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a free CMS with thousands of themes and plugins to customize your website to your heart's content. WPEngine specializes in hosting WordPress.org websites. 

Themes: Themes control what your website looks like. With the right theme, your site design should be 80-90% done for you. Just apply your logos and colors, and start adding your own personal content. A great source for WordPress themes is Creativemarket.com(While you're there, make sure you sign up for their email newsletter to take advantage of FREE weekly downloads – including fonts, stock images, social media templates and more.)

Page Builder: Wordpress is a powerful tool to build your websites, but sometimes building beautiful pages without knowing code can be challenging. This is where page builders come in. Page builders like Divi and SiteOrigin give you drag and drop functionality to build your own pages. My personal recommendation is Elementor. You can get started with the free plugin, but I quickly upgraded to the Pro version. It's an amazingly powerful tool to make your website stand out for less than $100 a year.

 

All in One Solutions

If worrying about a domain name, hosting, and a content management solution sounds like too much for you, you can also choose to use an all-in-one service, like WordPress.com or Squarespace. 

With both of these solutions, you pay a monthly fee to host your website and your content management solution. You can also purchase a custom domain through them. 

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