Mar 9, 2012

How to Build Your Own Business Website, Part I


(Photo by mmagallan)
If you intend to sell things, offer services, or brand your expertise on the Internet, it's a very good idea to have your own website.

Now some people may be intimidated by this, thinking that creating a website is beyond them. Well, I must admit, it's not easy and it's definitely not quick; but it doesn't have to be expensive, and it is definitely not impossible either.

So let's jump straight into it. What do you need to build your own website?

1. Domain name. Some people are able to build their business websites for free on Multiply or even Blogger. If you don't mind having "multiply" or "blogspot" as part of your site's domain name, then you don't need to spend anything to get a domain name. But if you want something that's truly yours, you only need to shell out P500 per year to get a domain name from Blogger.com.

2. Logo. A logo helps build your brand. Even if you're just blogging, if you intend to use your blog to brand your expertise or eventually sell a product or service, you will need a logo. You can make your own logo or get a professional designer to make one for you.

You'll need two logos, by the way: a big rectangular one to use as a banner for your website and a small square one to use as your Favicon (that tiny icon that appears beside the name of your website on the tabs of your browser).

3. Template. Blogger lets you choose among preset templates when you open an account, but if you want something more classy-looking, check out the free downloadable templates on Btemplates.com. That's where I got the template for this blog, though I had to do a lot of tweaking on the HTML to get the exact look I wanted.

4. Content. This refers to images and text. If you're selling a product, you'll need good quality images to display on your site. You'll also need text content for your website's pages.

Mandatory pages are your front page, where you would probably want to tell your clients exactly what you offer; the About page, where you tell your clients about yourself and why they can trust you and why they should buy from you; the Contact page, which lets your clients reach you. To establish the legitimacy of your business, it is best that you include a physical address here, your full name, your landline number as well as your mobile number, and other ways they can contact you.

Other pages you may want to have are Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions of Use (you can copy the text for these two from businesses similar to yours and just tweak the information and guidelines so that they fit your business perfectly), FAQs, Services (where you give further details on the services you outlined on your front page), and Location (there is a Google Map code you can input here to show people exactly where your office is located, in case your clients want to visit you).

5. Mode of payment. You open a business to earn money. Your online clients need to have a way to pay you. Will you accept payments via bank deposit or Gcash or Paypal?

For bank deposits, make sure you have an account with a bank that's easily found even in remote areas. BDO is a good bank for accepting payment deposits because they are open after regular work hours and even on Saturdays, and you can find them in nearly all SM malls. Metrobank and BPI are good too because they have a lot of branches. If your bank is not one of these three, you may have trouble finding clients willing to make bank payments to your account.

If you're selling products or services overseas, Paypal may be your best (if not sole) option. It's free to open a Paypal account, but you need a credit card to verify your account. If you don't have a credit card, you can use Unionbank's EON card. I can't speak for other debit cards because I've never tried them. I've tried to use BPI's ExpressCash card to verify my Paypal account, but it did not work.

Why do you need to verify your Paypal account? Verifying your Paypal account will remove limits on how much you can withdraw from it. Withdrawal limits vary from country to country. If you are from the Philippines, your withdrawal limit if you are unverified is $0. That's right: you cannot withdraw a single cent from your Paypal account if you are from the Philippines and you are not a verified member. You can use your Paypal credits to buy stuff on eBay, though, and other online stores.

So these are the things you need to have on hand when you start to build your website. Next article, we'll talk about putting it all together.

Did I miss anything? Let me know!

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