Dear Preston: How Do I Build a Website On a Budget?

Dear Preston,

I have read your blog for years and was very encouraged by your post about websites.  I do not have one, and I know it must hinder me as I am asked what my web address is quite often.  I don’t really have a large budget for a webmaster, and I am not all that technologically savvy.  What is your advice for someone like me?
Sincerely,
No URL


Dear No URL,

Thank you for your kind compliment.  In 2012, having a web presence is essential in nearly every industry, most especially ours.  Potential clients, editors and advertisers want to have the option of browsing through some of your best work and to be able to share it with friends and family who often aid them in their decision-making.  With so many clients juggling planning with everyday responsibilities, it can be a challenge to get them to come in and meet with us one-on-one to see our work in person for the first time. This is why it is not only important to have just a website, but to have one that displays your range, talents, experience and contact information. In essence, your web profile makes the first impression.

Now, hiring a professional photographer and web designer can be pricy but fortunately there are some alternatives for florists and planners who are interested in showcasing their work without blowing their budget. Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr all offer a number of templates and easy-to-follow instructions for designing a website, uploading images, and even creating new “pages”.  Of these three, I personally prefer WordPress as it offers a number of free upgrades (called wigets).  It also allows you to create your own URL (such as www.prestonbailey.com) for under $20.00 a year.

Things to Think About When Creating Your Site:

– You want high-resolution photos or at least ones that really showcase your designs.  A friend with an iPhone can help with this and www.picmonkey.com offers free low-grade “photoshop” options that are easy to use.  These will not manipulate the image but they can help with color-boosting, lighting, etc.  You can also watermark images.

– You want to have at least 5 photos on your site and they should show your range in design and budget.

– You want to note your full and complete contact information.  

– If you are comfortable, put a nice photo of yourself on the site along with a short bio.

– Reviews are wonderful to have on the site.

– Having a Pinterest account associated with your work is an option. With this, you can share the work you choose to display with your fans.

Social media is a great way to connect with former clients and introduce yourselves to new ones.  I would suggest creating a Facebook “Like” page as well as a twitter account.  Connect with other vendors in the industry and build your network.

I hope this helps.

Blessings,

Preston
(Photo courtesy of Communicaide)
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