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You need to know more about promoting online

It seems ideal – put a website up and the visitors will come. But unfortunately this is not how it happens. A number of strategies can be effective, from advertising to writing content that can be taken up and distributed through social media. Some like to leave this in the hands of advertising or marketing companies, which can be one solution. However my latest projects have been born from people’s dissatisfaction with their providers.

Ultimately as business owners you need to take control of what your site, your social media and ultimately your customers say about you. There are a number of ways to do this, and the advertising and marketing companies can assist – but it’s YOUR story. Only you will really know what you want to say and who you want to say it to in order to grow your business.

There are a bunch of ways to learn, and recently I’ve been putting my own money where my mouth is on Udemy. There are a bunch of courses on everything from drawing to doing what I do in WordPress. Learn about Social Media Marketing, or content creation for your website blog, but do get involved and learn to at least listen online with sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Just because you don’t have an account there, doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about your business.

It’s up to you to learn how to find out who, where and why.

What I charge for a website? [May 2017]

This is probably the most common question I get when I meet people – how much for a website? I usually start with “it depends…” and then I am cut off with a “yeah, but a basic site.” Is there a “basic site” – sort of. There are some things that can be generalised, however in a lot of cases each organisation has specific requirements. I’m including a list of what I consider to be the most common requests and range of what clients can expect to be charged.

DISCLAIMER: This is current for the date indicated in this post, and I may do updates later. I hope it gives people somewhere to start in terms of setting a budget.

The bare minimum

  • Domain name: A$40/year for .com.au, S$45/year form .com.sg. .com domains can be much cheaper in their first year (US$4-6) but then usually prices increase after that to about US$15-20 per year, depending on provider
  • Hosting: <S$100/year through Siteground (they have a number of locations around the world). $500/year for a quality Australian host. $3,000+ per year for VPS or Dedicated hosting
  • Design and Build: 50 hours minimum including project management, design, build, testing, upload and training. See the Functionality list below.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: $500+ year.
  • Ongoing Marketing: $200/month adwords budget is an absolute minimum for an online marketing spend. More if you want to advertise on Facebook, and LinkedIn can get very pricey.

Additional Functionality

  • Graphic Design to build mock ups or wireframes and a style tile. Custom graphics are just that – custom and they include a bunch of details that will be re-used throughout the site – icons, backgrounds, etc. – $2,500 minimum
  • Template coding – taking your custom design and putting it in to a template for a popular content management system (eg. WordPress) – $2,500
  • Responsive design for mobiles and tablets. This is custom coding for your custom graphics – $1,800-$2500, depending on the design
  • A Content Management System to manage your own content and as a base to develop the site on we generally use WordPress CMS. WordPress itself is free. The cost to install WordPress on a server, configure it properly, set it up with a basic template and minimum set of components and initial set of categories, content and menus will be from around $600- $1,200, depending on content.
  • Slideshows and sliders are great for a landing page. Many extensions exist that can be installed in WordPress and configured. They almost always need some templating work to fit nicely with your site design. Then populate with some images and content. $450 will get you 3 average sliders, and then $150 per additional slider. If you want something fancy I will specify in a quote.
  • Photo Galleries: $200 to $600
  • Newsletters with a html template to match your site $900-$1500, depending on content and provider integration (if you want me to work with Mailchimp, getresponse, etc)
  • Events Management. To do events well takes a bit of planning. Despite what most people think, calendars are not user friendly. A well organised event list is a much better option. There’s generally multiple different views (daily, weekly, monthly as well as the actual event view) to layout and template and often clients want galleries or forms integrated directly into event pages. $1,500 to $3,500. This varies depending on whether you want programmable agenda that dynamically include speaker profiles, etc. More customisation means more time.
  • Events Registration. This is one of those items that could be as simple as a name and email address that gets sent to the site owner or it could consist of online payments, multiple gateways, early bird discounts, different costs based on membership levels, tax rates, coupons, group registrations, etc. $600 to $3,000
  • Document Management. It’s very easy to upload a file and link to it. Sometimes access needs to be controlled (so that only limited users can access) or a different document needs to be served from an existing link. Limiting access will mean that a member area will need to be set up in addition to this. $300 to $900
  • Member areas – User Access Control. Depending on requirements $300 to $1,500.
  • Memberships and Payments. Often this is linked to the above Member area. $1,200 will get you Paypal plus one other gateway. I will discuss this with you prior to quoting.
  • Facebook like community features / member interactions $1,500 to $5,000
  • Product catalogues $2,000
  • E-commerce is dependent on your requirements. Contact me for a quote on this.
  • Contact Forms. Including antispam features and a formatted email to the user and site admin $200 per form.
  • SEO. On site SEO, set up of meta data and microdata and submission to search engines $1,200+ depending on the number of pages to optimise.
  • Social Media Integration. Set up, configure and template social media modules, may include integration of post announcements with your site. $600-$1000
  • Backend integration with external systems like ERM, CRM etc needs to be assessed on an individual basis and may not even be possible depending on what we are integrating with. If you have custom systems, you need to ensure that you provide me with details about the system – what database, what is it written in, are there any APIs, etc. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for me to assess.
  • Custom coded functionality will need to be assessed separately. The price will depend on the amount of time required to code and test it.

Templates

Some hate templates, some like them. Bottom line is that there are a lot of interesting templates out there – just check out themeforest – and they can cut the costs of and speed up website development. They can bring a $8000 job down to $3000-4000. BUT there are compromises. AND there is still 30-50 hours of customisation. I’ve gotten sites out really quickly using customised templates. I don’t mind doing it, unlike some developers, but I will tell you if things you request can or cannot be done.

Content

Creating content for your website can be hard – it takes me 20-30 minutes per page just to lay it out… how long do you think it will take to write it? I’ve had clients put projects on hold for 6 months while they reorganise their entire business based on a request for content for their website. So please don’t be upset when I ask “is the content ready?” Ideally, you will need to provide me with the words for your site – you know your business, and your clients, and (hopefully) will be in a position to frame the message you want to send to your market.

I can write, but it costs (it takes about 3-4 hours to generate content for an average length web page). You can either engage a copywriter, or write what you can and pay for my editing services – it’s up to you.

Just remember – content is what is going to encourage people to go through your website and not leave within the first 60 seconds. It’s worth getting right (even more important than pretty graphics).

So a website can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. It’s up to you in terms of requirements and what you actually need your site to do. 🙂

If you have any comments or questions, please email me, or strike up a conversation on Twitter – I’m @ozlady.

3 useful links this week: Get off Google’s Blacklist

I read a lot of website press, and some of it is useful for my clients, particularly if you’re not asking me to maintain your site. Recovering from a hack can be nasty and I’d encourage you to seek assistance if it happens. Please note that most hacks I’ve experienced recently often occur because you have malware on your computer, and the hacker has obtained or compromised your password in some way. Make sure you update virus scanners!

Check out these reads:

  1. Malware and hacking on WordPress. Oh no – Google slapped a scary red warning message on your site telling people to keep out! If this happened due to an error on your part (bad SEO, shady linking tactics, etc) that’s one thing. But if your site was hacked and now contains malicious code, that’s just adding insult to injury – and can really damage your reputation. Click here for more information on how to recognise WordPress hacks. I install Wordfence on most of my client sites, and encourage them to sign up for the paid version if they can afford it. Totally worth it for the peace of mind, especially if you collect payments through your website.
  2. Tags and categories are a good way to classify your content, but a lot of people get confused between them. Broadly speaking, a category is a broad grouping of post topics. A tag is generally used to describe your post in more detail, and may not apply to all posts in a category. They allow you to associate search terms and other topic areas that may be linked with your post. For example, you might have a category about Resources, but you might include tags that describe the type of resources – eg. Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, Powerpoint templates, Budgeting guides, etc.  This article is a good read if you want to be very clear on how to best use them.
  3. Blogging on Facebook. A lot of customers want their own website, but then end up publishing their content on Facebook. Whether this is wise is debated all over the web, however I generally advise people to consider Facebook an opportunity to extend the reach of your content through a smaller version of what is normally offered on your blog (or the news section of your company website).  This Blogger’s Guide to Facebook is a useful summary of key aspects of extending the reach of your website, and using Facebook for what it is – a tool for engaging existing and potential customers. It also has a good section on etiquette.

Have a good week and I hope these reads are useful.

3 good reasons NOT to hire me to do your website:

  1. You only want a site that looks cool (whether or not it actually sells or generates leads)
  2. You see your website as a short-term project (not a critical part of your marketing)
  3. You want to get your new website at the lowest possible cost
    (rather than an investment in your future - I try and reduce costs, but refer to our blog post as a guide)