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Developing a Website and Online Presence for Your Home Business

written by: MD Weems•edited by: John Garger•updated: 2/18/2010

Do you think that your home business doesn't need a web site to promote your services? Think again. In part 2 of the series, we'll talk about getting your home business on the web by choosing the right hosting company and package to meet your needs.

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    Develop an Online Presence for a Home Business

    In today's high-tech business market, it is almost a business “no-no” to not have a web site. Yet, there are still many home-based businesses that just don't have one. They assume that they don't need one because they are “just a home business” or they just do business in one area of town. But, as we talked about in part one of this series, they are losing out on a vital part of their target market that can bring them in a higher profit margin. So, just what does it take to have a home business web site? It is much easier than you think, and I'll show you how.

    Before you ever start searching for a web site and hosting package for your business, you need to realistically know what your capabilities are on the web. For example, if you have a degree in computer languages or you design web sites for a living, then you are very familiar with the web, developing a site, and what type of hosting you need. But, if you have no computer experience at all, then you probably have no idea how to build a web site. So, realistically know what you can, and cannot, do when it comes to your business web site. Once you know where your skills lie, then it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.

    Here is a good place to start – search out one of web sites that provide a side-by-side comparison of different hosting packages so you can see the following:

    1.Web domains offered with the packages

    2.Email addresses offered

    3.Hosting space

    4.Technical support

    5.Pre-made layouts or templates

    6.Custom layouts or site building services

    (For those who are familiar with building their own web sites, you will already know how to build one from scratch and the pre-made layouts or templates won't matter to you.)

    Each site listed will show you the amounts of these items that each different hosting package has and the cost of the packages compared to the others on the list. They should also have a ranking on the page that will help you to choose which have the best services for what you need.

    To help determine which one will suit your business the best, simply start small and move up. Home businesses that are just starting out with their online presence do not need a major web site with tons of space. A simple, clean, effective site will do the best as it allows you to have everything that you need to create your site and remain professional. As your online business grows, you can easily move your plan up. Most web hosting companies are happy to move your services up, but it takes a bit to move your package down.

    Now, you simply need to choose a template or design a site that is clean, easy to use, and professional. This is not as hard as it seems, so don't worry. For those who have no site design experience at all, make sure that you choose a hosting package that offers templates and then simply choose one that fits your business needs and offers you what you need in a site. Don't know how to determine what type of site you need? Easy – simply think about what you are offering your customers. If you offer products, then you need a small storefront (I'll take you through some of the free web cart and store front software in another part of this series!) If you offer services, then you need a basic web site with an areas that lists all of the services that you offer. Whatever template you choose for your site will have areas where you simply click to change the information already there. You do want to make sure that you have good written copy for your web site, and if you are not a writer, then you may want to consider hiring one to help you with this area.

    A template wizard on your hosting site will easily walk you through the set up of your business's web site. While this is an easy process, even for those with no computer experience, it can take a bit to get your site just the way you want it with all of the right information. You want to make sure that you have the time to get everything completed on your site before it is published to the web. An incomplete site on the web will signal to your customers that you might not be as professional as you claim, so if you do not have the time to finish your site in one sitting, then just save it and don't publish it yet.

    Once you have your web site built, then you get to start the process of promoting it, which we will go through in the next part of this series!