Why should my small business have a website?

More people are searching online for local products and services than ever before and that number is still growing.  If they are anything like me, the old-fashioned paper directories do little more than take up valuable space in my drawer and eventually find their way into the trash.  As a small business owner, taking advantage of the multitude of online shoppers should be an easy choice.

Worried about the cost? 
While there can be a substantial up front cost to building a website, maintaining it over time is quite inexpensive.  Year after year, you can have an online presence for less than $100 a year, plus the low cost of keeping the content fresh.

Be available at all times: A website gives your customers and potential customers a way to find you and contact you at any time.  A website doesn’t have business hours and isn’t closed on Sundays.  If you offer products for sale on your website, you can make sales even while on vacation!  A website never closes.

Having a quality website will add credibility to your business.  More people are doing their research before spending their hard earned money.  If your potential customers can go to your website and learn more about you, you are building a relationship with them before they even set foot in your door.  (Likewise, a poorly designed website can hurt your credibility, so make sure you do it right!)

Give your business that personal touch:  You can showcase your family and involvement in the community.  This builds trust and loyalty and inspires people to want to do business with you.

Get a lot of questions from your customers?  Offer them an easy way to find the answers at any time with a Frequently Asked Questions page.  If they can’t find the answer they are looking for, give them an easy option to reach you.  E-mail forms are a great way to get people to contact you.  They are inviting and easy to use.  They help take the stress out of shopping by allowing the customer to ask questions in a no-pressure setting.

Many shoppers like to ask questions or get information about a company before leaving their house.  Offering your customers a way to do this will improve the chances that they will come to you when they do decide to buy.

Clueless Clients?

I was reading some blogs today and someone pointed out a link that would be helpful to thier "clueless clients." Maybe I haven’t been in the business long enough to understand, but the last thing I want to do is call my clients clueless.

I value my clients more than that. They are the reason I can do what I love to do, and that is design websites. I don’t expect them to know everything that I know about web design. After all, if they did, they wouldn’t need me. But there is something about the word clueless that I feel is insulting… poking fun at people for not knowing everything there is to know.

I’ve been on the receiving end of such insults and it’s frustrating. I’m trying to learn something on my own. My goal is to improve the services that I can offer my clients. When I get stuck, I ask for help and am sometimes greeted by know-it-alls who think it’s ok to put me down for being too stupid to see the obvious.

I couldn’t possibly treat my clients with such schoolyard mentality. My clients are the most important part of my business.

I guess the schoolyard mentality runs rampant on the internet, even among adults of all ages.

Welcome to the Mariposa Weblog

I’ve been in business for two years now. I’ve been growing the business very slowly, because frankly, quitting my "sure thing" job to focus solely on this business is a scary thing to think about. Of course, in today’s economy, even that job isn’t a "sure thing."

I joined a new mailing list today, trying to learn more about the business and gain knowledge that I can use to add more value to the service that I offer to my clients.

As I was browsing, I found out that there is quite a bit of disdain for designers like myself, who offer low cost solutions for small businesses.

I’m not at all saying that the seasoned designers aren’t worth the thousands that they could potentially charge for high end websites. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for simple, yet attractive websites for small businesses who work on a budget. That is what I sell. Perhaps some day, I too will sell high end designs for those who need them. But I will not abandon the small businesses who need an inexpensive web solution.

I know what it’s like to run a small business on a tight, even non-existent, budget. Sure, there is great value in a high end website for those who can afford it. But not everyone can. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have a quality website. I can’t offer all of the bells and whistles, but I promise my best effort to build a quality, attractive site.