6 Simple Steps To Launching A Great Website

Your website is the core of your online presence. Regardless of how potential customers find you—whether searching on Google, noticing an ad you placed on Facebook, or browsing reviews on Yelp—today’s savvy online consumers will check out your site as part of their vetting process when seeking out products or services.

nike

In today’s ultra-digital landscape, even offline marketing and advertising efforts drive prospects to business websites. For example, the last time you received a postcard for a teeth cleaning, I’ll bet you at least checked out the dentist’s website and online reviews before letting her start going to work in your mouth with shiny metal objects.

Yet most small business websites are uncompelling, seldom updated, text-filled “digital sales flyers” that fail to either reach and engage visitors or serve as effective tools for lead generation.

Most small business owners start the website creation process by paying a chunk of money to a web designer who was not screened with the right qualifying questions, giving them little guidance relating to the purpose and goals of the website. And those few business owners who do assume an active role in the design and functions of the site often focus way too much time and energy on aesthetics rather than on the broader strategy required for online success.

Let’s look at six simple steps that will get you to a live, basic yet effective website in nearly no time!

STEP 1: SELECT A GREAT DOMAIN NAME

Now it’s time to select a domain name. This is a very important decision, as your domain name should and will become synonymous with your brand more and more as the Internet becomes an increasingly significant part of your business.

Selecting a great domain name is the first of many Search Engine Optimization activities we’ll be doing along our path to launching an awesome website. Although we’ll cover a series of lessons on SEO later, it’s imperative that you get a preview right now, and selecting a Google-friendly domain name is an important step toward online success.

Just as with other aspects of online marketing, it’s important to balance branding with SEO: choosing a domain that resonates with your audience—a memorable and user-friendly domain that people can easily type and remember—while factoring in the SEO benefits of keyword-rich domains. In the past Google’s algorithms placed great value on the inclusion of keywords in domain names, meaning that using your target search terms within your Web address would help your site rank higher on Google (this is why using the domain “ColumbusPizza.com” would help you rank for these keywords better than “LuigisPlace.com”). However, recently Google has turned down the signals on exact-match domains, as many low-quality websites were outranking more content-rich sites in search results.

WWW

Tips for Choosing a Great Domain Name

  • Use relevant keywords. Start by brainstorming the top five or six keyword phrases that relate to your business. For example, if you are a bankruptcy lawyer in Dallas, you may list the following keyword phrases: Bankruptcy, Lawyer, Lawyers, Attorney, Attorneys, Dallas.
  • Keep your domain short. Users will be better able to remember your website address, and shorter addresses both display better in SERPS (search engine results pages) and fit better on business cards.
  • Use the “.COM” only. Users often place more trust in “.com” websites and assume that extension most often when remembering a website URL. If you must make an exception and can’t find any suitable “.com” domain names, you can go with “.net” or “.org” only—avoid any of the new and weird ones (“.biz,” “.ca,” “.tv”).
  • Make your Web address easy to type. Many small business sites contain terms that are often misspelled or don’t make sense together (e.g., dealsyousave.com). Remember to balance search and branding—don’t act on the temptation to use a keyword-rich domain at the expense of poor branding or usability (“ClevelandBakeryCoffeeAndCateringServices.com would be bad).
  • Avoid using hyphens or weird characters. Resist the temptation to purchase and use “Atlanta-pet-sitting-services.com,” for example. These domains are obviously unfriendly and don’t provide much SEO value.
  • Save the abstract branding for the big companies. Crafting your local business domain name may not be the best time to get ultra-creative—this isn’t the time to invent new words or create a new online revolution. Zappos.com can get away with this but you’d be better off with denvershoestore.com. Again, you want to consider your brand, but not with complete disregard for keyword-rich SEO friendliness.
  • Make sure your domain describes what you do. Many site owners make the mistake of generating the “wrong traffic,” that is, attracting users that won’t convert into clients. For example, a site called “www.freestockinfo.com” that offers a $500 investment course may discourage users and yield few, if any, benefits.
  • Length of time matters! If you are starting a new site, be sure and register your domain for five years or more. Most small business owners fail to realize that Google and other search engines place more trust in domains with longer registration periods.
  • Avoid tricks and shortcuts. Many people try to capture misguided traffic in the form of misspelled domain names. Google (and people) have caught on to such practices and these tactics seldom pay off (buying “DenverHairSaloon.com” won’t do any good nowadays).
  • Do not pay “cyber-squatters” for domain names. Buying and selling domain names has blossomed into an extremely lucrative industry, based largely on small business owners paying too much for “aged” and “reserved” domains. Right around the time you start enjoying increased visibility and traffic to your site, you’ll also start receiving more emails and phone calls from sales reps selling you an exhaustive number of things including domain names. In most cases, paying more than a couple hundred bucks for a domain name you really, really like isn’t warranted. Keep searching for a great domain using the tactics outlined in this chapter and spend the money you’ve saved on marketing.

What to Do If All the Good Domain Names Are Taken

If you’ve already been searching for the perfect domain name, you’re probably feeling a bit pessimistic and frustrated, as most of the good, keyword-rich “.com” domains have been taken. This is normal—you can’t simply jump on to Godaddy, whip out your Amex, and throw down $12.00 to reserve “LosAngelesPizza.com.” However, there are several techniques you can employ to find a great domain name that still supports both SEO and branding goals:

  • Use a prefix like “the,” “best,” or “top”: I have had great luck in finding powerful domains for my clients by simply adding “the” as a prefix, resulting in a killer domain from both search and branding perspectives (if I ever have to file for bankruptcy, I don’t want any Orlando bankruptcy lawyer—I want “TheOrlandoBankruptcyLawyer”!).
  • Swap the order of keywords in your domain: try using “TireRepairDallas” if “DallasTireRepair” has been taken. Your site will still make sense to people searching without sacrificing keywords.
  • Try a short suffix that’s simple and still makes sense to users: “hub,” “services,” and “info” are examples of commonly used suffixes if all of your ideal domain names are unavailable.
  • Attract active buyers by adding a “buyer adjective”: or add one that describes your unique marketing message to your domain (cheapdomains.com, fastdivorce.com).

RESOURCE: SEOMOZ’s 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name

STEP 2: REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN NAME

Once you’ve clarified the ultimate domain name for your business, the next step is to register your domain with a reputable registrar. This is a pretty straightforward process: all you need to do is pay around $12.00 per year for domain registration. However, I do have a few tips for you to avoid potential headaches down the road:

  • Register your domain(s) with the same company who handles your hosting (see the recommended hosting providers in the next section). This makes it easy to manage potential transfers and billing and to avoid letting renewals slip through the cracks.
  • Register your domain for at least 3 years. Many SEO experts agree that longer domain registration periods act as a signal of trust in the eyes of Google. Prolonged registration also allows you to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your domain is protected for several years.
  • Set your domain name to auto renew. As badly as most of us despise having companies auto-charge our credit cards, this is one case where doing so is in your best interest. This will help prevent accidental surrender of your domain name.
  • Purchase the “.org” and “.net” versions of your domain name. Although you may never use these variations, owning them is a cheap and important measure toward protecting your brand.

WHAT ABOUT MY CURRENT DOMAIN NAME?

There are several reasons you may want to start using a new domain. The important thing when transferring domain names is that you’re able to start using your new website address while preserving the authority and online mojo of your former one—especially if you’ve had it live for 2 years or more and have invested time and money increasing the site’s Web presence via social media and/or SEO.

Don’t let the fear of starting over or of technical barriers prevent you from upgrading to a better domain name. All you need to do is create what’s called a “301 Redirect,” which is geek-speak for a permanent change of address. Most hosting providers and domain name registrars allow you to do this right from your “control panel” without the need to access or make changes to your code. The cool thing about doing a 301 Redirect is that nearly all—98 percent, according to Google—of the “online mojo” in the form of links to your site, trust, or other quality factors in the eyes of Google, gets passed on to the new website!

Contact your domain name registrar for further guidance or read this article.

STEP 3: USE A CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)

Now that we know who your website is trying to reach and what we want them to do, there’s one more layer of groundwork to be laid: you must decide which foundation to build your site on.

Most small business websites are “Non-CMS” sites, designed using HTML, an acronym standing for “Hyper Text Markup Language” – Wikipedia.  All this means is that such sites were designed using code, including HTML, CSS, and/or additional programming languages.

There are numerous downsides to such sites, the most significant being that whoever owns and manages these sites can’t easily access, manage, and update their own websites. In fact, many business owners actually pay monthly maintenance fees for a “Web master” to update and maintain their sites. If this is you, we’re about to change that.

A Content Management System (CMS) is a platform that allows for even the most non-technical folks to log in to their own websites and perform numerous functions, all without knowing a lick of geeky code. There are literally hundreds of CMS platforms available, each with a unique set of features, popularity, cost structure, and intended use.

Three of the most commonly used CMS systems are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. I recommend you build or re-build your site on WordPress. In fact, in my consulting business, we require that our clients move their non-WordPress sites over before we start working with them, for the same reason a SCUBA instructor requires professionally manufactured and calibrated regulator, mask, and fins: your success depends on it.

Advantages of Using WordPress to Build Your Website

WP

WordPress  is the largest, most powerful, and easiest CMS anywhere, period. According to Wikipedia, WordPress “manages 22 percent of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet” – Wikipedia.

Initially developed as a blogging platform, WordPress has since become the premier CMS for businesses of all sizes, functions, and categories. From the smallest of local businesses, all the way up to large entities such as eBay, Yahoo, Ford, and The Wall Street Journal, WordPress has become the de facto platform for building great-looking, stable, and well-performing sites.

Aside from the general benefits of any popular CMS, WordPress website owners enjoy several other powerful features and functions:

  • Ease of use: Easily access, edit, publish, and manage content using a simple, non-technical interface. Performing these basic functions is as simple as updating your Facebook page.
  • Low cost: Most CMS systems are free, open-source platforms that can be downloaded by anyone with a decent Internet connection. The base files are free, so your only expenses would be hosting and any premium themes or customizations you care to do. Additional savings also result from not having to pay high maintenance fees to your hosting company.
  • Support: Like all popular CMS systems, WordPress is frequently updated to ensure ongoing security, performance, and reliability.
  • Large number of professional themes: WordPress is supported by a large community devoted to creating powerful and elegant themes that require very little customization to give small businesses a modern and professional online presence. Instead of building a site from scratch, you can start with a general framework or “theme” that’s been proven to work for other businesses in your niche, and have this site customized to your liking.
  • Performance: CMS platforms are designed to reflect current best practices in SEO site speed and security, all of which greatly contribute to your overall success online.
  • Portability: you can easily switch hosting providers or marketing advertising agencies without being tied to any propriety CMS systems or paying lofty “data transfer” fees.
  • Thousands of free plugins: plugins are stand-alone modules that add a specific function to your WordPress site, including social media sharing, SEO, installing Google Analytics, contact forms, Web lead forms, and much more. We’ll cover plugins later in this chapter.

Whether you’re in the process of building your first site or considering an update or upgrade to your current one, we’ll cover a simple process for ensuring that your new site meets your online marketing goals.

KEY CONCEPT: Even if you’re planning to outsource maintenance of your site to someone else, you still need a CMS-based site like WordPress for site performance, security, support, and access to thousands of open-source plugins and add-ons. Using a well-established CMS such as WordPress allows for building better websites, with countless features and at a much lower cost than that of building a custom site.

The final benefit of working with WordPress is that it’s easy to launch and upload, with “one-click installs” and a basic theme that you or a designer can customize.

STEP 4: CHOOSE A HOSTING PROVIDER

Once you’ve chosen the best content management system for your website and registered your domain name, the next step is to choose the type of hosting and hosting company that will be best suited for your website and business needs.

In a nutshell, Web hosting is defined as a hosting Internet service provider (ISP) that provides you with a Web server, a physical machine that stores the files that make up your website. “Hosting” your site on such a Web server makes your site available to visitors on the Internet.

Every website has an IP (Internet protocol) address, which is simply the specific location or “virtual address” of the server on which your Web files (site) reside. This is an important concept to understand, as hosting companies offer low-cost “shared” hosting plans that require customers to share a single IP address.

The main factors you should take into consideration are cost, size, the functions of your site, and which of the four types of hosting you need: free, shared, virtual-dedicated, or dedicated server (explained below). Since many hosting providers provide similar services, the key for me is service. Nothing is more frustrating than being stuck with your website down, unable to reach your provider’s technical support department for answers to simple questions. Along these lines, you want to host your site with a provider who offers extensive how-to tutorials (preferably videos) on their site as well.

Types of Website Hosting:

  • Free hosting is becoming more common lately. But it is not recommended for small business owners because it involves a lack of technical support, the inability to use your own domain name, poor performance, and the inability to access and update your site. It’s critical to use your own domain (rather than “yourbusiness.wordpress.com”).
  • Shared hosting is a very inexpensive and popular option for small business site owners. Shared hosting means that several websites share the same Web server. This may be the best option if you’re on a budget (three to five dollars per month), but I must caution you to only utilize shared hosting from reputable companies like those listed below, as it’s important to avoid being associated with questionable or “spammy” websites (like adult or gambling sites).
  • Virtual Dedicated Servers, also known a Virtual Private Server (VPS), is the next step up from shared hosting in both cost and quality. VPS hosting allows website owners to own a dedicated portion of “space” on a Web server, resulting in better performance (speed). VPS servers also allow fewer sites to share an IP address, which is better than shared hosting from a security perspective.
  • Dedicated hosting is a hosting plan in which a website owner rents a whole “dedicated” server and enjoys increased flexibility, performance, and security. However, the cost of dedicated hosting makes it unappealing for the average small business site, thus making this form of hosting most suitable for large e-commerce sites with thousands or more visitors per day.

KEY CONCEPT: Get the Best of Both Hosting Worlds

Many hosting providers want you to purchase a dedicated IP address while using shared or virtual-dedicated hosting plans. This is a great option for hosting your website, as doing so provides both the lower cost of shared hosting and the increased trust and security of dedicated plans. Be sure and select a hosting provider that can offer a dedicated IP address and take advantage of this option. The additional cost is only around $30 per year.

WARNING: Don’t Move Your Site to a Bad Neighborhood

When it comes to Web hosting, it’s very true that you are the company you keep. Many low-cost hosting plans require you to share a server and IP address with dozens or even hundreds of sites. This can not only cause problems with performance (site speed and load times) but also with your online trust, as sharing an IP address with gambling or adult sites can reflect poorly on your site from the vantage point of search engine and spam filters. For this reason, spend the extra money on a dedicated or “virtual-dedicated” hosting service, as explained below.

Recommended Hosting Providers

There are tons of hosting providers out there. If you are using WordPress or a similar CMS-based platform, ensure that your provider has good reviews from members of the online community or people using the same platform. You should also look for a hosting provider who offers “one-click” installs for your CMS system.

Sound like a lot of research? No worries—here’s my short list of high-quality hosting providers who provide great service and work great with WordPress and other CMS platforms:

Each of these providers would be a great fit, depending on your personal preference and budget ($4.95 – $50 per month, depending on the level of service).

STEP 5: LAUNCH A BASIC THEME

launch

Since you have all the prerequisites in place—you’ve selected your CMS, registered a strong name, and signed up for hosting with a trusted provider—you’re about to see just how powerful and non-technical (and fun!) getting your virtual hands dirty can be.

You can register a domain and launch a basic website in five minutes or less with no technical knowledge. This won’t be your “final” website, with all the best practices in Web design, usability, lead generation, and SEO implementation (Reach, Engage, Convert), but the goal now is to get your domain live, which serves you in two significant ways:

  1. Launching a site “starts the clock ticking” when it comes to Google’s trust factors.
  2. Having this basic site live on your domain name provides the “shell” or platform that you or your chosen Web designer(s) and programmer(s) will be working in.

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a domain name.
  2. Pick a hosting provider/domain registrar.
  3. Decide which credit or debit card to use and sign up for hosting.
  4. Click on the “one-click WordPress Install” from your hosting control panel.
  5. Install WordPress on your new domain name.

RESOURCE: “How to Build a Blog in Less than 4 Minutes (and Write Your First Blog Post)”

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, a great blog which any small business owner would gain immense value from following, demonstrates the above process in the video, “How to Build a Blog in Less than 4 Minutes (and Write Your First Blog Post)”

STEP 6: DECIDE TO HIRE A DESIGNER OR DO IT YOURSELF

Whether you have used the quick-step process we just covered to launch a “shell” or basic site, or you have an existing site that’s already built on WordPress with another CMS platform, the next step is to customize your site to reflect best practices in each of three phases of the online marketing funnel.

Customizing and even creating your own website can be a simple, non-technical, cheap, and fun process! These days you can use very high-quality, professional-looking themes that allow you to ad your own logo, branding (through colors and basic design elements), and content with virtually zero technical knowledge.

Like

I am not suggesting that you spend the next year mastering Web development, programming, or graphic design, neglecting your business in the process. But by being more involved with the design of your site, gaining just enough knowledge in terms of reach, engage, and convert elements on your site, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache, time, and money. In other words, you need to know the basics before you pay anyone to work on your site.

There are three basic models for getting a great site designed:

  1. Outsource the process entirely.
  2. Do the whole website yourself.
  3. Use a hybrid approach: pick a theme that you can customize with some help from a hired programmer.

As you’ve likely guessed, I strongly recommend the third method. The reason for this is that the hybrid approach to launching or re-launching a website provides the best of both worlds: You can gain way more control of the process and save a ton of time and money compared to either outsourcing the whole enchilada or applying the do-it yourself method. The hybrid method lets you do the easy stuff, picking up valuable knowledge and skills in the process, while letting skilled pros handle the technical side on a much cheaper, pay-as-you-go basis.

Regardless of which path you choose, you’ll find the following steps and resources extremely valuable.

Where to Find a Great WordPress Theme

WordPress has become so popular among small business website owners, bloggers, and Internet marketers that an entire marketplace has been spawned from companies who create and sell ready-made “Themes,” which are essentially highly customizable and affordable templates that can be used with any WordPress site with little more than a click of a mouse. Think of these themes as “shells,” or foundations, upon which we’ll be expanding over the next several chapters to meet the specific needs of your business.

WordPress themes range from free to $300. Several popular theme companies also offer “theme clubs,” allowing you to pay one flat fee or monthly subscription for access to all available themes. This option may be useful if you have or plan to have several websites, or if you intend to test multiple themes over time.

Tips on Choosing a Theme:

  • Use a big-picture perspective when looking at themes. Don’t fixate on the colors, logos, or images—you’re only choosing a theme based on the overall structure of the site, not the cosmetics.
  • Go with a reputable theme company. WordPress is constantly being updated, releasing new functions and security measures. It’s important to work with a theme that’s large and stable enough to provide ongoing support and updates.
  • Look for theme portfolios. Most theme providers offer galleries that display examples of real websites that were built using the providers’ themes. These will help you to better envision what your site will look like once customized.

Popular WordPress Theme Companies:

  • StudioPress by Copyblogger.com is a great resource for professional-looking and well-performing themes. Each Studio Press theme functions on Copyblogger’s Genesis Framework, which is simply a base theme that all of their other themes work with. The benefits of using a “framework” like Genesis include search engine-friendliness, security, and simple yet versatile customization.
  • Elegant Themes: Just as with Studio Press, Elegant Themes work within their own “framework.”
  • Woo Themes: Woo Themes offers a great community and support structure, combined with nearly 100 unique, customizable themes, many serving specialized uses such as retail shops, video-based websites, and social media themes.
  • Themeforest: Many first-time visitors to this site find themselves overwhelmed by the vast selection of professional-looking themes, many at just $50 or less. Before buying a theme on this site, be sure and consider the ratings and popularity of the seller and theme.
  • Free Themes on WordPress.org offers more then 1500 free themes for your unlimited use. Many look very professional and can be customized well enough to provide a basic yet professional site if you’re in a hurry or on a shoestring budget.

Whichever theme you decide on, you’ll need to upload and activate it on your site in order for the theme to display on your new site.

How to Add a WordPress Theme to Your Site

Once you purchase a new theme, you’ll usually be able to immediately download it right to your computer. Since a theme is essentially a folder containing files, it’s pretty simple to activate a new theme using one of two methods:

  • Upload the theme from your WordPress Admin Dashboard. As long as the theme you’re adding to your site is in compressed (.zip) format, you can easily upload and activate it by clicking on Appearance > Themes > Add New Theme. If you run into trouble, simply use YouTube to find videos on this or any other WordPress-related function. If you intend to use a free theme, you can simply download these from your Admin panel.
  • Use an FTP connection. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a simple application used to transfer files from one server to another over the Internet. Some functions, such as adding images or logos to your site may require the use of an FTP client. If you plan on performing these functions yourself, I recommend you use Filezilla (http://filezilla-project.org as it’s a very simple, trusted, and stable FTP tool that works very well.

If you’ve come this far, the next step is to seek the services of an expert who can help you customize the site and implement the Reach, Engage, and Convert elements covered in the next three chapters. Although many business owners will be able to meet their Web design goals using the “off the shelf,” non-technical customization options offered by most themes, others will want a more personalized design that will require the skills of a WordPress designer. If you fall into this latter category, it’s important to use a skilled, well-vetted contractor rather than learning advanced Web design skills yourself.

How to Hire a Great Website Developer for a Fraction of the Cost

As an entrepreneur and business owner, you probably already have a website that falls into one of the following two categories:

  • A free or low-cost website that came along with a recent domain name or related online purchase, or
  • A way-too-expensive “designer” website that cost you an arm and a leg but has yet to generate more than the occasional lukewarm lead

Either way, it’s time to find and hire a great designer/developer who can complete the customizations you’ll need, quickly and at a reasonable price, by using a reputable outsourcing site.

programmer

Outsourcing sites are simply online marketplaces which focus on matching customers (business owners like you) with qualified contractors who have agreed to perform specific skills for a fixed or hourly price. These sites make money by charging clients (“hirers”) a small percentage of the fees paid to each contractor, usually around 10 percent—a small price to pay for the stability, trust, and ease of use provided.

Top Outsourcing Sites

  • Odesk: Odesk is a great source for finding and hiring skilled contractors for both short- and long-term assignments. I’ve found Odesk to be better for technical work such as WordPress Programming and SEO, and not so much for writing, virtual assisting, or journalistic tasks.
  • Elance: Elance is a wonderful portal for finding writers, editors, and project management resources. While this site also boasts thousands of contractors skilled in technical areas, I’ve found better results using ODesk for the aforementioned tasks.
  • Guru: This site is much like Elance and Odesk in that it is a very well-constructed, popular site offering experienced and skilled resources. I recommend you browse each of these three sites and test out one or two that you like best for ease-of-use and talent related to your needs.
  • 99 designs: This is a great site if you’re looking for a fresh Web design, logo, brochure, or even a T-shirt for your business. Using 99 Designs is a simple and unique experience. Unlike most outsourcing, which is essentially hiring a contractor with a task-based fee structure, 99 Designs uses “crowdsourcing,” where you agree to pay a fixed price for a task, and several contractors work to earn your business. You’ll get to see designs from 10, 20, or more designers and pick the one you like best, or you can ask for a full refund if none of the designs are what you envisioned. 99Designs.com is great for design work but not for coding (creating an actual website from your design). The other sites listed are better for this kind of work.
  • Fiverr: If you haven’t checked out Fiverr, you’re in for a treat! Fiverr.com is a site comprised of folks who will do nearly anything for $5.00. Need a cheap graphic or logo designed? No problem. Want someone to do a professional voice-over or YouTube video intro for your business? Piece of cake. How about having someone film themselves singing “Happy Birthday” to your significant other, while riding a unicycle in front if the Eiffel Tower? Consider it done (seriously). Fiverr is a great concept and there are dozens of truly valuable services on there for you to experiment with.

How to Pick the Best Contractor to Work on Your Website

A common and costly mistake made by outsourcing newbies is to jump the gun when hiring a contractor. Nothing is more frustrating than going through the exciting process of hiring someone to work on your website or marketing campaign, only to be met with severe disappointment soon afterward.

Because each outsourcing site may have hundreds or even thousands of contractors specializing in the skills you’re looking for, it’s critical that you have a quick process for sifting, sorting, and screening potential service providers:

  • Search for specific skills. each of the outsourcing sites allows you to search for a specific skill for which you’re looking to hire. To start off on the right foot, be very specific in what you search for: typing in “WordPress programmer” is much more targeted than “Web Designer.”
  • Filter based on location, quality, or price. Narrow your list of potential candidates by filtering for service providers who are within your price range. If you want to hire a contractor located in a specific area or who speaks a specific language, filter by these criteria as well.
  • Check reviews and portfolios. This will serve as an immediate indicator of whether you’re dealing with the caliber or style that you’re looking for. I recommend that you avoid brand-new contractors and stick with those who have a proven, verifiable track record of working with businesses similar to yours.
  • Start with a small test. Never hire a freelancer for a large or high-paying task or project right off the bat—ask your top candidates to perform a very focused, small task at first. Doing so will provide you with immediate insight into the working relationship to come, and may help you avoid wasted time and money.
  • Communicate clearly. When it comes to giving instructions to your new contractor, leave nothing to chance or interpretation. Provide as much detail and as many examples of what you want up front and you’ll greatly reduce unnecessary back-and-forth communication resulting from a misunderstanding of your requirements. It’s also important that your contractor speak and write your native language fluently. Lastly, use Skype, Google chat, or any other video/audio to clearly and efficiently communicate with your consultant(s).

WARNING: Be Aware of Potential Security Risks Associated with Outsourcing

By definition, outsourcing is temporary in nature. As such, certain security measures must be taken. In cyberspace, trust must be earned. It’s important to limit access to sensitive data including website hosting and domain registrar logins and financial information. If you must grant rights to outsourced contractors, do so on a controlled and temporary basis. If you’re unlucky enough to encounter fraud or illegal activity resulting from actions taken by a freelancer you’ve hired, recourse may be difficult or even impossible, particularly if the freelancer is overseas.

RESOURCE: For Longer-Term Outsourcing Needs, Check Out Virtual Staff Finder

If you’re a more experienced or savvy online marketer, you may have identified a need for outsourced skills and bandwidth on a regular basis. You may want ongoing help with your SEO, Pay-per-click (PPC), Content Development, or Analytics, or even a virtual assistant to help you stay organized and free up your time to work on more profitable activities. If so, take a look at Virtual Staff Finder (VSF), a reputable agency based in the Philippines whose sole focus is sourcing and screening long-term contractors. I have used VSF in hiring several full-time team members for our organization and have had great success with them. VSF charges a flat fee for their services and they guarantee their results.

VSF breaks down contractors into four main categories:

  • Virtual Assistant (VA) ($450-$600 per month)
  • Web Developer ($700-900 per month)
  • SEO and Online Marketer ($500-$800 per month)
  • Graphic Designer ($500-800 per month)

They don’t recommend you assume any overlap, meaning you shouldn’t expect a WordPress programmer to check your email.

BLOG SUMMARY

So there you have it—you’ve picked a client-grabbing, Google-friendly domain name that’s sure to go to work for you for many years to come, possibly even leading your competitors to reconsider their chosen profession in the process! You have launched a basic site on your domain, using a cost-effective and solid hosting provider. You’ve also created the perfect springboard to customize this newly sprouted site and help it grow.

Everyone knows Google dominates the search engine market, with 70 percent market share, but can you guess who occupies the number-two spot? The second largest search engine in the world is, in fact, YouTube. YouTube gets over 660 million searches each month—eclipsing Bing! and Yahoo by an increasing margin. This means that your business must utilize video to reach and engage potential clients online.

NEXT STEPS

For a limited time, register FREE for my new 4-Part video series and discover the one page template I used to build a 7 figure business in 90 Days with zero tech overwhelm.

If you’re struggling with the the frustration, tech overwhelm and information overload that so often comes along with online marketing, this workshop is for you.

Sign-up for our new workshop: The 4 Day Online Marketing Master Class.