Freelancers and those trying to run a small business have no doubt asked, "Do I need a website?" As a marketing consultant, when I'm asked this question I often reply with, "Do you have a phone number?" The question sounds ridiculous to anyone trying to get work. That's the point. If you have a business, you need a website. Your credibility and professionalism will be called into question if you don't have a website. People today Google before they get out a phonebook. If you're not online, you're missing out on huge potential for business.
How to Start Your Website
You don't need $1000s to invest in a website. If you can find your way around the internet, compose an email, and use a word processing program – you can probably start your own website with little difficulty (shh, don't tell my clients). There are many choices out there, but the best for something simple (better than nothing) is to register a domain and use a template to create a simple website. You can start with one simple webpage (much less intimidating). On one page you can showcase your logo, contact info, experience, mission statement, unique selling position, and even pictures of actual welding you've done.
You don't need to sell anything directly on your website. You don't need any complex forms, checkouts, or payment options. Templates can be found on sites like TemplateMonster.com, Jigsy.com, and try EasySiteBuild.com. If you're just looking for somewhere to host your site, my developer prefers HostMonster.com. WordPress blogs are free to start, easy to update, and a custom URL will only set you back a few bucks. Be sure to read Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name.
Promoting Your Website
Perhaps you've already thought of adding your site name to your business cards, but don't forget to add it to your email signature so it is seen on all your outgoing communication. Add your website address to any social media profiles you have and be sure to check with any associations, unions, or organizations you are a member of. If there is a directory that you can be in, you should be in it.
You may be surprised to learn that it is not hard to get a top ranking and a high search engine result for your local market. Because you cater to a specific market, all you need to do is write to the right audience. Include your specialties on your website. These are keywords that search engines use to return results to searchers. Be sure to add your location (city is fine if you're not comfortable posting a physical address), places you've worked, and where you're willing to work. If someone looks for a "thermoplastic welder in Small Town" they may find you!
Get started on your website today. Soon you'll be proudly introducing not only friends and family to your site, but – more importantly – clients and potential clients.