One of the things I think many contractors worry about when it comes to advertising their businesses online is the technology; hosting, websites, blogs, email lists, who the hell has time for it all right? Well, I am going to give you a short list of things to do so you can get your company online and in the faces of your clients or customers.
In full disclosure, some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, I get a few bucks if you sign up to use their service. I will designate these links by adding (aff) next to each one, but you should know I use each of these companies and would have no problem recommending them to my mom. So, here goes.
Registrar – This is the company that will register your domain name for you or your business. For example, https://darrenslaughtercom.stage.site had to be registered before you could see it online. The 800 lb gorilla in the domain registration space and registrar for this site is GoDaddy (aff). The name may not ring a bell, but like them or not, the Super Bowl commercials sure will.
Hosting – Hosting is where the files for your site reside. Most sites can get away with a shared plan when they first launch, and one of the best shared hosting companies out there is HostGator (aff). HostGator is great for one reason…uptime. If you know your hosting company’s name it’s probably because your site is always down or you are having other problems with them. Now, I don’t know if HostGator is hitting the fabled five 9’s, or 99.999% uptime, but I have never had a problem with these guys and I have had hundreds of sites with them.
Once your site grows and you need something a bit more robust than shared hosting, take the next step and get a VPS setup. The company I use for this is KnownHost (aff). The entire organization is fantastic and they will even transfer your site files to their servers for you for free with minimal downtime. Best of all, their people are awesome!
After you have your domain registered and you have settled on a hosting company, you need to design the site. If you want to have a static site (not a blog) and don’t mind getting your hands dirty under the hood, then I suggest using a website software package called XSitePro (aff). There is a bit of a learning curve, but it really is great software and they have fantastic support and training. You need to understand that you are trading time for dollars, and you should know that you are not going to whip up your perfect site in a day, but you will be happy with the results.
If it is a blog you are after, nothing is going to beat WordPress. WordPress is a “blogging platform” or skeleton that is the framework of your site. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between a blog and a static site, do a Google search, there is plenty of info.
Once you have decided on a blog or a standard website, you then need to decide on a way to let your prospects stay in touch with you by adding them to your email list. Hands down, the best in the industry is MailChimp. The best part about MailChimp is their free accounts and deliverability. There are plenty of other options on the market, but if you want your email to actually find its way into your subscriber’s inbox, then MailChimp is the way to go.
Now that you have the makings of a proper site in place, it is time to figure out ways to get prospects to your new site and using your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is with Google Adwords. Nothing provides traffic to your site faster and cheaper than advertising your small business online with Adwords. A word of caution, if you don’t know what you are doing with Google Adwords, you can spend thousands before you realize what the hell happened, so get a free 5 day Guide to Adwords (aff) by Perry Marshall BEFORE you plunk down your credit card.
Domain name…check, registrar…check, site up on the net…check!
You are almost there, but there are a few more things you still need to do and one is to get yourself a cheap 800 number service. You might be saying to yourself that you can get along fine with your local number, but remember you are going global (or at least extending your local reach), and people may call you from places you didn’t even think existed, so you need to make it easy for them to reach you. The toll-free service I use is from a company called Grasshopper. They not only offer cheap rates and bundled minutes, but they can give your business that’s run out of your second bedroom a big company feel for less than $10 a month, so check them out.
Now, if you are not married to a desk all day and you need to stay in touch with the office, email and clients, then do yourself a favor by not getting sucked into the iPhone hype and get yourself a true business tool, the Blackberry.
And that’s it; you are well on your way to having your contracting business online and ready to advertise. Continue to embrace technology and watch how easy it becomes to stay in front of your customers and prospects.