I design web sites for free, if you host them with LunarPages who pays me a commission for each new hosting account I refer to them. Here is a sample site I recently designed: Cardinal’s Crest B&B. This page will stay open while you look it over. Simple, clean web pages with a cute feature here and there, but fast and easy to navigate.
Commerce and eCommerce
If making money with an online store is your goal, simply HAVING a web site by itself will probably not work because there is just too much competition on the web. Unless you have lots of advertising dollars to push people to your site there is no reason for anyone to even find you, other than chance.
On the other hand, if you have a physical store, or a list of customers you serve, then a web site can have a positive effect on your bottom line. The primary concern is to make the site as simple to use and maintain as possible.
If your business is new, think how you would promote it with NO website. Whatever you would use (newspaper, yellow pages, the radio, cold calling, etc.) should then include your web site address. You can run smaller, less expensive, but more frequent advertising using traditional methods such as a yellow pages ad or the paper, and then tell the “rest of the story” on your website. You may also use other web sites to bring people to yours. The B&B site above is a good example. The owners started their property with major sites people use to locate a B&B. These listing sites have links back to Cardinal’s Crest. The approach has been completely successful.
To be effective, your site should be more than simple advertising and promotion. It is a good idea to list resources and helpful information for free. Cardinal’s Crest, for example, includes a page of area attractions. A home contractor might include links to county offices which deal with zoning and building permits, or the location of schools, including a map. After the first view, people rarely go back to read advertising, but they may well return for information they need.
If your goal is to sell products, your best bet is to establish yourself on an eCommerce site that offers low cost/no cost hosting and processes payments for you. A good example is Bonanzle, where every seller has a separate store (called a “booth”) and lists products with pictures and descriptions at no cost, paying a very low fee only when something sells. This is a far wiser choice than spending time, energy and money on an eCommerce site of your own, with shopping cart, payment processing and other functionality which must be maintained by you or someone you pay. You will still need to independently develop customers or direct existing customers to your Bonanzle booth. Ebay is no longer a good choice for small to medium sellers, owing to very high fees and rules against negotiating privately with buyers. To learn more about Bonanzle, click this Bonanzle link.
You may have your own website to show and explain your products and services, with links back to your Bonanzle store, where sales are processed by Bonanzle. This gives you the freedom to publicize a web site address of your own choosing, but still have the low cost payment processing at Bonanzle.
Churches, civic groups and clubs may deploy web sites as a good method to keep all members up to date on activities and schedules, and tell their story to the public at large. They may also be effective support for fund raising initiatives. The possibilities are as wide and varied as are the organizations themselves.
A basic web site at LunarPages costs a bit less than $10 a month, or less if you buy multiple years at a time. Domain name registration and renewal is free, as long as you keep your site at LunarPages. Search the Internet for other hosting services, many of them free, but with limited functionality or advertising by others around your web page.
Your Web Site is YOURS, not Mine
Although I may be responsible for building and publishing your site, it belongs to you. Consequently, you pay for it and are responsible for it and may select or dismiss anyone else with respect to work on or access to the site.
How It Works
Select a domain not currently in use. You may do so at http://www.lunarpages.com/domains/. Then click the LunarPages link below to go through the sign-up process. Using the link will automatically trigger my commission from LunarPages.
Once this is done, I begin work on your web site according to your goals and over-all design, and the site is published on LunarPages, fine tuned, and periodically maintained.
For More Discussion
Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If You’re Ready to Get Started: