Many small companies start out with little to no budget. When you are on a shoestring budget, it might seem reasonable to pay a monthly fee to rent your website and let your hosting company deal with the majority of your website management. Makes sense and it’s cheaper than a big payment upfront to own it, right? Wrong. Owning your website is crucial to your business. Let’s find out why.
Just as a real estate company explains the benefits of owning a house over renting one, I will tell you that the same advice applies to your company website. Owning your website should be treated as the biggest investment for your business, much like owning your home is for your family. It should function in your business as a living, breathing testimonial of your work and what you do. It is your digital presence, your brand, and ultimately your online sales force.
Your website is your online hub. It should work to bring your company new business. If you rent one from a hosting or design company it may not fully reflect your company or have a “generic template” look. The company who is developing your site might claim it is yours, but what if you want to leave the arrangement? What happens to your website?
In most cases, it disappears. Gone, like the wind.
Let’s do the math
If you pay a company $300 per month and “rent” your site for 2 years, that means your website (which you do not control) costs you, $7,200. There are a lot of companies out there that charge higher; around $600 per month. That might seem like a small payment, but over 2 years that is over $14k! And what do you have to show for all that money? Nothing. Many companies will tell you they are doing SEO for you, adding content, etc. But speaking from experience, your website may not be optimized properly, and the content added may be completely irrelevant when trying to sell your company.
We recently started working with a new client in the residential remodeling field. Initially, they came to us stating they didn’t think their website was working for them or bringing them any business. So we started by reviewing their website. At first glance, the website had nice pictures and navigation that wasn’t too confusing, but we saw a few things that we knew needed fixing. The site had no visible click-to-call phone number and there were a few odd things about the navigation tabs. After asking a few questions and getting the contact information for the hosting company, I started making phone calls to get the issues straightened out.
The hosting company was working on SEO and blog writing for them. Unfortunately, their hosting company only released specific back-end features for us to use, but they also allowed us to look at the SEO and review what was done to the site. The good news is the contract would allow for this remodeling company to take over the site on their own at the end of a two-year term. The bad news? They had been paying $750 per month for the site and had signed a contract for 2 years. The hosting company refused to transfer site ownership until the end of their two-year contract, which meant, in the end, their website would end up costing them $18,000!
When I looked at the blog writing and SEO, the hosting company had completely missed the mark. From a few crucial design mistakes to basic optimization, our client was right to suspect his website wasn’t pulling its weight. The hosting company wrote a lot of content but optimized it for the wrong terms, and their blog topics had no search value for people looking to contract a remodeling company. For example, a blog on “Lovely Kitchens” was optimized to show up when people typed in the keyword phrase, “Lovely”. The phrase didn’t even include the word “Kitchen”, which was the remodeling work our client wanted to get! With a little bit of digging I discovered that on top of being overly expensive, our client’s website was just a tree in the forest that no one would notice.
No matter who develops your website, make sure that your company is the one owning your website; that you can get admin access to the entire site. Before working with a website developer, ask some simple questions, such as, “If I decided that I no longer wanted to work with you on my website, what happens to my website?” or “Can I take the site and work on it with another company?” Also, do not sign any long-term contracts. If a company is confident in their work, they will be willing to work with you on a month-to-month basis. There is no need for a 12 or 24-month contract for any website or website work.
As much as it pains us to say it, our client is not alone in this situation. I hear a lot of horror stories about the cost and careless content that comes with renting a website, which is why I am determined to inform you to be cautious. There are worse cases out there where the hosting company refuses to release the site, even after the contract is completed, and it makes my skin crawl. At the risk of sounding too curt, this is a dishonest and unethical practice. Don’t let your company’s website become the next horror story.
Splash Communications Can Be Your Partner In Website Management
When we develop anything for our clients, it is our client’s property. We charge a price to do the necessary work and when completed, our client owns it. Our WordPress websites are complete with optimized content, intuitive design, gorgeous visual images, a couple starting blogs, and mobile-friendly capacity. Our starting price is $6,500 – roughly one-third of the price our remodeling client had to pay. When Splash’s work is finalized, your website should act as an online sales force and bring you business. Most importantly, you own the site. The cost might look daunting to shell out initially. Starting a new business is expensive, but from my experience, it is not a place to skimp.
Any website work that we do is month to month. We may have a 30-day kick out for work that we plan a month ahead, but our contracts are never longer than a month. That should be the standard practice and what you look for in a web development company. No long-term contracts and no smoke and mirrors; just full, guaranteed transparency.
It is my hope that this article helps companies make smart decisions for their web design needs. If you have any additional questions on website development or Splash Communications, we are happy to start a conversation. Our goal is to help businesses dive into the world of digital marketing and really MAKE A SPLASH! In my professional opinion, owning your website is the smarter decision by a long shot. Every important item in your life – your home, your car, your website – should be thought as such.