4 Things Not to Cheap Out on When Building an Online Presence

May 1, 2016

Everyone loves a bargain. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get the most value for your dollar and cutting unnecessary spending is crucial if you’re going to be in business for the long-term.

In the online world, it’s easy to apply the same line of thinking: reduce costs as much as possible, always be looking for the cheapest alternative. But thinking this way can be a serious mistake.

When it comes to your online presence, “cheap” should be a word you utter sparingly. In fact, your business may not be able to afford going “cheap” – not when the stakes are so high.

This is not a crusade to get you to abandon the idea of careful spending. Instead, I’m hoping to help you save money by putting death to the idea of “cheap” and rethinking how you price out your online needs. Here’s how to start a website.

The True Costs of Going Cheap

There are exceptions to almost every rule and there are a lot of places where going cheap won’t have dire consequences. For example, getting a domain name as cheap as possible is always a good call.

But for the following services, thinking “cheap” is the wrong way to go about it. Affordable alternatives are the way to go for money-conscious businesses.

1. Hosting

Hosting is hosting, right? Wrong.

If and when you have hosting troubles (it happens to the best of them), you’ll want an empathetic human being on the other end of the line. Cheap hosts don’t come with that kind of service or reliability, so it’s best to stay clear – especially when every minute of downtime means a lost sale or frustrated customer.

Affordable alternative: Do your research to find that right mix of affordability and service. There are a lot of great hosts who won’t break the bank.

2. Web Design & Development

A website is only an asset if it works. Bad code can make simple problems tough to fix down the line and an unreliable web developer becomes a big liability when something is broken or needs changing.

Likewise, web design is an important part of your presence. It’s not just about looking pretty; websites should be designed with your customer’s needs and the path to conversion in mind. An ugly or confusing online experience can add up to lost business.

Affordable alternative: For businesses that need simple solutions, save a bundle by opting for a CMS like WordPress and buying a premade template that’s close to what you need. Then, hire a capable designer/developer to take it the rest of the way and do ongoing maintenance.

3. Content

Great care is usually given to the look and feel of your website, so why cut corners when it comes to what your pages actually say? For customers, your web content is synonymous with your brand.

Subpar content is worse than embarrassing; it can cost you trust and sales. Hire someone with a proven portfolio, not just the lowest hourly rate.

Affordable alternative: Look for strong writers early in their careers. Local college students or recent grads often have the chops you’re looking for and are looking to beef up their portfolios. That said, be willing to pay more for someone who really knows their stuff – a great writer is a long-term asset.

4. Search Engine Optimization

Getting SEO wrong can have a long-lasting impact. Google holds all the keys when it comes to whether or not you show up. Cross them and the implications can be disastrous, including a complete loss of visibility. Unfortunately, the vendors who are offering SEO for “cheap” are not the ones playing by Google’s rules. They use unsustainable tactics that can wind up throwing egg on your face if outed by a competitor or caught by an algorithm update.

If you’re willing to risk your reputation and visibility to save a few bucks, roll the dice.

Affordable alternative: Unfortunately, there’s not much flex room here. Hire a credible vendor (here’s some help figuring out who those might be) to avoid paying to fix your mistake later. If you can’t afford a full campaign, an SEO can still save you money by ensuring your site is SEO-friendly and set up for future success.

Consider Your Online Presence an Investment – Not a Cost

The way you describe your vendors will ultimately reflect on how people describe your brand. Do you want to be known as “cheap”?

Probably not!

It helps to consider the money spent on a sound web presence an investment instead of an overhead cost. When done right, all of the elements we’ve covered can actually make you money. When done wrong, they’ll create headaches and destroy opportunities while others who have made the investment reap the rewards.

Put death to cheap and start thinking in terms of “affordable.” It’s great to bargain-hunt but do so knowing that whoever you choose will hold parts of your business in their hands.

Think twice about who you trust to do so. After all, earning your trust? That shouldn’t come cheaply. Thanks for learning how to start a website.

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