With all the free tools offered online, it’s a shame so few people take advantage of them. Best of all, each of these tools are scalable and can be used with a business of any size. Although the free versions of some of these tools have limits and are not fully customizable, users can still create a free business website that will give the business a definite web presence, run smoothly, and be fully maintained and operated by that person.
To begin, you’ll need a website. Hands down, WordPress is the best way to get started. Signing up gets you URL, server space, and a customizable web page. Because WordPress is a blogging platform, its easy for users to create, upload, and change content on their website whenever they want.
The website WordPress gives you isn’t the only thing that is free. You can change the design of your site by downloading and installing any number of free themes found online. For more technical functions – slideshows, newsletter registration, and contact forms, there are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins that can installed on your site.
Depending on what kind of business you’re running, this may be all you need. Some small businesses can get away with an informational site. However, most businesses will need some sort of e-commerce platform to handle sales.
If you’re just starting out with running your own online store, Wazala can’t be beat. Wazala can be used on any blog or website, no coding knowledge is required, and it integrates with Google Checkout or Paypal. Wazala is free to use for up to five products. Unfortunately, no tracking, categories, or coupons are offered at this tier. To collect payment for your products, just head on over to PayPal and sign up for a premier business account.
Alright, now that you have your web store running, you’ll need to do a bit of marketing to drive people to your site. One of the best ways to do this is to learn SEO (search engine optimization). There are tons of articles, blogs, and websites that deal with SEO; learning and implementing the basics can potentially draw hundreds of visitors to your site.
Quite likely, you already use Facebook or Twitter or both. You can use the same platforms to promote your business. In Facebook, you can create and maintain a ‘fan page’ for your business. Use your fan page just like you would a normal profile page. You can even create a custom landing page that non-fans will see when they check out your site!
Same thing for Twitter – you can create a business account and tweet your happenings or promotions to your followers. By tapping into your social network using Facebook and Twitter, you can create highly-targeted promotions and present them instantly across your entire business following at the click of a button.
Finally, sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. This free service lets you track what’s going on on the back end of your website. In addition to tracking, these tools will help you optimize your site, increase conversions, and generally let you know how well your site is doing.
Like I said before, all of these tools are scalable. Quite a few large companies download the entire WordPress code, install it on their servers, and manipulate their entire website with WordPress. Wazala’s e-commerce platform can accommodate up to 1,000 products. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all used by large corporations and don’t really have limits.
In this digital era, it is so easy to bootstrap a business that you shouldn’t need to pay to get your business going. If it costs you more than your time to create your own commercial website, you’ve spent too much. Remember, grow as your business grows; if you can get by without spending any money, do it.