Spending cash on hiring a web designer is an unnecessary risk when getting your business or freelancing career going.
The chances are your instincts were already telling you this. Mine did when I started Webbit. It’s because keeping money in the bank lets you survive for longer without much revenue coming in. This is how it is for most of us.
Of course, that’s not to say you don’t need a half-decent website and logo from the outset – you do.
The trick is to maximize your chances of success whilst minimizing the risk of running out of money. That is, spend only what’s necessary and no more.
Custom design is not essential
Established businesses need to grow their market share by developing their brand which means custom graphic design and a kick-arse website. But, when you’re starting out this doesn’t make any sense. There’s no brand to invest in or customer base to expand.
The main priorities in the early stages of any business are to get customers, generate revenue and maximise profits.
This will happen if you:
- Have a compelling offer for a specific market;
- Sustain the acquisition of new customers;
- Provide a top notch customer experience;
- Spend cash on business essentials only.
Your website plays a crucial role in number 2 because it generates new leads and underpins sales conversions.
A company that’s built a client base must remain relevant to potential customers to sustain their success and drive further growth (i.e. keep doing point number 2).
Amongst other things, this means developing their brand – that is, driving consistent messaging and communications that resonate with their target audience. This is where an iconic logo and custom web design comes in.
As a new business or freelancer you don’t have a customer base or audience as yet. The focus is on survival whilst getting your first customers. Your financial priorities are fundamentally different and revolve around keeping as much cash in the bank as possible.
All you need is a polished yet simple website that acts as a professional validation to convince prospects that you’re relevant and credible.
And, that’s it. No bells and whistles or custom design, and definitely no unnecessary upfront costs.
A logo is essential
Brand’s are identified by their logo. Every great business has one — the golden arches, the apple, and the digital frog (ahem). There’s no need to say who these logos belong to because you already know.
A great logo grabs attention, makes a strong first impression and is highly memorable. These are three essential ingredients for differentiating you, making new sales and fostering customer loyalty.
In other words, a decent logo is very valuable to your business and is worth investing a little money in.
Unsurprisingly, they can cost thousands because designers know how valuable they are. But, the good news is they don’t have to.
Enter 99 Designs.
These guys make it possible to get a professionally designed logo for as little as a few hundred bucks.
They’re platform enables you to host a contest-like design process. Basically, you pick a plan and set your brief, then designers from around the world will present their ideas to you. After feeding back on your favourites, you’ll get to see mock-ups from which you pick the winning design.
It’s the best of both worlds – you get a proper logo that instills confidence in you and, more importantly, prospective customers. It’s also why they’ve helped nearly 450,000 people and have over 25,000 reviews at 4.8 stars (out of 5).
WordPress makes everyone a web designer
Most people have heard of WordPress because it’s the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on earth. In fact, it powers approximately 40% of the world’s websites.
Why is it so popular?
Well, because WordPress requires no coding or technical knowledge whatsoever. If you use an Amazon account to order things online, you’ll be able to use WordPress.
The other reason it’s so prolific is because it’s so versatile. Almost any type of website can be built with WordPress because of the near-limitless number of themes (design templates) and plugins (add-on functionality).
Of course, for newcomers therein lies the challenge – where do you start? And, more importantly, how long will it all take?
Well, actually, not that long – WordPress is extremely easy to learn and highly intuitive to use. There are thousands (and thousands) of free themes to choose from for all industries and sectors, as well as blogging, online shops, and even more specialist websites. All you need to do is follow a theme’s tutorials to add your content and customize where necessary.
For those needing a simple yet polished business website, there’s a solution right here on Webbit.
We’ve simplified everything for you with our fully comprehensive video guide. This details exactly what you need to do from start to finish using our free, professionally designed template (by yours truly) and best-of-breed WordPress plugins for security, backups, and page building (also free).
I also advise on where to source free high quality imagery, how to pick colours and fonts, and even how to create a text-based logo if you’re super-budget-conscious.
There’s no upfront cost – everything used in the build itself is free. Your only outlay will be a little time and web hosting which is an unavoidable expense.
Website builders make it even easier
But, what if WordPress feels a little too intimidating? Or, what if you simply need a website up and running as soon as possible, like this afternoon?
Provided you’re not planning on heavy blogging anytime soon, there’s another option.
Wix is the king of the website builders because it’s the easiest-to-use, has hundreds of templates for every industry, and is the most powerful. For this reason, it’s the perfect option for many small business owners.
Better still, it costs the same as a few Starbucks per month which includes hosting and all technical requirements.
The way it works is simple. You pick a professionally designed template (a.k.a. theme) and then add your content using their superb drag-and-drop editor. It’s possible to have a great looking website live within a couple of hours.
So, if Wix is this good why doesn’t everyone use it?
Well, like all website builders Wix is not designed for high traffic (e.g. serious blogs) and/ or overly complex websites (e.g. large online shops). In other words, it works well provided your website requirements fit their mould.
To determine whether this is the case, or not, you need to read the recommendations in my extensive Wix review. If you fit the criteria then go for it, otherwise follow the guidance therein for your best option.
Hire a digital frog, not a web designer
Most startups and new freelancers can’t afford to hire a professional web designer or pay for custom design work. The risk of spending cash you might need before getting paying customers is too great.
But, it’s a difficult one isn’t it? Your logo and website need to be ‘good enough’ to leave a positive first impression, resonate with people and generate leads.
Wix works for many but not all as we’ve just covered. WordPress is wonderful throughout. It’s the best blogging platform on the planet, bar none, and can be adapted for just about any type of website out there. If you have the time to learn it (with our guidance), you’ll never look back.
But, if you don’t then there’s one final option – let us set up WordPress and our super-clean one-page template for you. All you need to do is learn to add your content using our comprehensive video tutorial.
Think of this as paying for ‘lite’ web design, or as we call it ‘Hiring A Digital Frog’.
Couple this with a logo from 99 Designs to really get off on the right foot – a halfway house that doesn’t cost the earth whilst giving you the very best chances of success.