There’s a lot of choices when it comes to who handles your email. Basically your options fall under 3 different categories:

  1. Free email from a provider like gmail or yahoo– yourname@gmail.com
  2. ‘Free’ branded email from your web host, bundled into your web hosting fee– yourname@yourdomain.com
  3. Paid branded email service from a provider like Google Workspace– yourname@yourdomain.com

You may notice that options #2 and #3 are suspiciously similar. Except that one you pay nothing extra for beyond your web hosting fee, and one you have to pay monthly for (around $6 per inbox, at time of writing, from Google Workspace).

This might seem like a no-brainer– why pay extra for what looks like the same thing?

Of course, as you might guess, it’s really not the same thing at all. Using the free email that comes with your web host might work for a while, but it comes with some very serious drawbacks that can cost your business money if you ever use it for anything critical.

I’ll lay out the options that you have to handle your business email and the advantages and drawbacks of them all, so that you can make an informed decision.

Option 1: Use a free email like gmail or yahoo

This option has some major advantages. Just about everybody has a free email address like this. You already know how to use it, and you’re used to giving it out. It’s probably already hooked up to your smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about missing important emails.

When you send email, you know that it’s delivered; you generally don’t experience things like your emails being flagged as spam or not delivered to the recipient.

Disadvantages: using yourname@gmail.com, or nameofyourbusiness@gmail.com, doesn’t look as professional. You may appear to be a fly-by-night operation and it won’t position you as a trusted authority in your space.

Option 2: Use the branded email that comes with your web host

Everybody likes a deal. And if the deal you bought came with free email, you’re well within your rights to expect your web host to keep up their end of the bargain. Using this free email, you can usually create as many inboxes as you need, so that you can have emails for yourself, your employees, your payroll department, whatever you need, all at no extra cost beyond the monthly web hosting fee. The only limit is your hard disk space.

As you might expect. something that sounds this good comes with some drawbacks.

If your website goes down for any reason, your email does down with it. That includes your biggest customer emailing you, “Hey, it looks like your website is down?”

Your email will share disk space resources with your website. If you use email frequently for things like sending image, Word, or PDF attachments, like is common for invoicing/billing, sending proposals, etc, you may fill up your allotted disk space pretty quickly* depending on your web hosting plan. And that may cause errors with your website, even causing your website to go offline until disk space is freed up.

*Tiny Little Caveat about this: It’s possible to use a different email setting (called POP, vs the more standard IMAP) to avoid filling up your server with emails. That would mean your emails are actually moved from your server to your device (like your PC or tablet) once you check your email. It’s outside the scope of this question, but you can read more about POP vs. IMAP here.

Your emails may be flagged as spam automatically by your recipients’ email providers. Chances are, your web hosting plan involves sharing the same server space as hundreds or even thousands of other websites. You can look up who’s sharing your space by entering your domain name into this reverse IP tool, for example. If just one other site on your server is a bad apple, all emails including yours that are routed through that server may be flagged as spam. Sometimes they end up in the spam/junk folder, and sometimes they can “hard bounce”– in other words, disappear silently without even appearing as a spam email.

Even if the first two issues are not a problem for you, the issue of unreliable email delivery is one that is basically inevitable. In my roughly ten years of handling the hosting end of web services, including my own personal experience with using freebie branded email hosting, I have seen this become a huge, hair-on-fire issue when business owners start finding their critical emails go unseen.

Of course these days, I recommend any business critical email is never sent through a freebie web host email service. So my clients are able to avoid these issues, and I hope you avoid them too! If you want branded email, though, what’s your alternative?

Option 3: Use a paid branded email service from a provider like Google Workspace

You can set up an email address to send and receive email from an address like yourname@yourdomain.com for a cost ranging from $3-6 dollars per month per inbox, depending on the provider.

The one I recommend is Google Workspace as it is reliable and easy to set up. If you send and receive sensitive emails, and privacy/ security is a concern, ProtonMail is another option. That’s the one my clients in the healthcare space use.

An advantage of paid branded email is that you get the professional look of a branded email without tying your email to your website. So if your website was to experience an issue, your email would still work just fine since it’s handled by your email host’s servers, not yours.

Your emails will be reliably delivered. Unless you’re sending spam, you don’t have to worry about being flagged as junk and having critical emails be deleted unseen.

An advantage of Google Workspace in particular is that checking your email is exactly the same as with a @gmail.com email address. So if that’s your usual email provider, you won’t have to learn anything new and your transition will be very easy.

A real disadvantage is that if you are used to large numbers of free email inboxes, the cost can add up. For instance, having an email address for every employee may add up to more than you’re able or willing to budget.

One thing to keep in mind that may or may not help you is that with Google Workspace, you do have unlimited email aliases. This is when your primary email is, for example, alice@example.com, and you set up an alias that is invoicing@example.com. That alias is just another name for the real email address, alice@example.com. The emails sent and received would look like they were coming from a different email, invoicing@example.com, but they would all be associated with the same inbox.

But for many small businesses, one or two emails is all they really need, and the cost is offset by the value of knowing that your business critical emails will actually be delivered.

I hope this has helped you decide what’s best for sending and receiving your business critical emails!

Note: A related topic is sending and receiving emails via your website, ie, order notifications for eCommerce stores and emails sent via contact forms. If you’ve ever had a problem with emails sent via your website not being delivered reliably to you (or your customers), you may want to check that post out.


When you’re trying to grow your business, do bookkeeping, handle the latest supply chain issues, answer phones, file tax returns, and manage employees– not to mention actually doing the actual work of providing services or products– the LAST thing you may want to take on is writing the content for your own website.

You’re not alone in that. A blank page and a note from your web developer that they need ‘the content for your about page’ can be overwhelming.

As a web developer, I make the process easier than that by providing “stubbed-out” content and personalized thought-starting questions designed to help you get over that blank-page obstacle and make some content as easy as fill in the blanks. But in the end, no one knows your business better than you.

You don’t have to enjoy writing to end up with great content for your site. Your expertise in your business and a little brainstorming about your customers is all you need to bring to the table. Along with that, though, here’s some pitfalls to avoid and practical tips that can help you come up with the perfect words.

Tip #1: Speak as if you’re talking directly to an individual customer, and remember the problem they want to solve.

Speak the customer’s language. A common issue I see with small business website content (copy) is the use of elevated, corporate-sounding language. This really puts up a block between the business and its customers, even though it’s meant to give the impression of professionalism and trustworthiness.

A good way to combat this is to read your copy out loud. This can highlight words or phrases that sound awkward coming out of your own mouth– if it’s not something you’d normally say, it probably doesn’t belong on your website.

Probably the most important bit of copy to get right on your website is the main headline on your front page. This is usually a short statement that can be seen without scrolling, in the section right below your logo and main navigation. This is the first thing that customers will see, often when they are not at all familiar with your business– they may have searched for a keyword and have clicked several of the results on the search engine results page and you’re one of the results.

It’s critical that this headline be short and clear. How clear? If you were to explain what you do in your business to a ten-year-old, that’s the level of clarity that your headline should aim for. That doesn’t mean your headline should actually be what you’d say to that ten year old, but it should be that clear.

In fact, the rest of your copy should aim for a maximum of an 8th grade reading level. There are tools online, like the Hemingway writing app, which can evaluate your writing and give you a grade level.

It is widely agreed that Google uses the reading level difficulty of the text on your website as a ranking signal, ie, a factor in where you stand in the search engine results pages. This is understandable since most people are consuming the content on your website by skipping and scanning for the parts that are important to them– not reading it like it’s a novel or a textbook.

In other words, they’re only half paying attention, so make it easy to follow.

(It’s true that this doesn’t apply to literally everyone, but it’s the only safe assumption. Kind of like how road signs are designed to give you the safe maximum speed in a low-traction scenario like wet roads or old tires.)

Again, I want to make it clear that great website copy doesn’t mean writing for 8th graders. Your audience is unique and you should write for them. But if you aim for that 8th-grade reading level, you’ll tend to write punchier, more readable copy for a potentially distracted audience.

For more tips on writing clearly for your audience, a great resource is this US government backed website: https://www.plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/audience/. Check it out!

Every piece of content on your website is really, in the end, about the customer and their problem, the problem you hope to solve for them.

That even includes the “About Us” page. Mentioning how long you’ve been in business is fine, but make it a part of a larger story of why you’re in business. For example, “Plumbing service with 45 years’ experience,” becomes “Keeping everything flushing and flowing at your home or business for 45 years,” with thanks to Mr. Rooter Plumbing for that turn of phrase. The first is a bit of self-praise, and the second is a promise of how you can solve the customer’s problem!

If you are stumped for how to speak to your customer’s problems and show how you can solve them, read your customer reviews. If you don’t have any yet, read your competitor’s reviews. These are a goldmine of information on how your customers are talking and thinking about their problems and how they were solved.

Tip #2: Answer the most common questions related to your business.

For many businesses, the number one most common question is “How much will it cost?” That’s why so many websites have “pricing” pages prominently linked in their primary navigation menus.

It’s good to address the question of “how much,” even if the answer is “it depends.” A lot of business owners don’t like to give this info because they feel more comfortable selling it over the phone– but you may miss out on those who are just hitting that back button because they are looking for that number, or at least the ballpark idea. So if there’s variables to your pricing, just describe what those variables are.

Make it as detailed as possible. Sometimes, especially for high-ticket items, the question of “How much is it?” is really “Is it worth it?” If you answer the real question, even if they don’t come away with a number, they are likely to be satisfied.

Tip #3: Educate your customer on the number one drawback to your service or product.

This might sound bad when I say it so bluntly, but you don’t have to put it in so many words. The fact is, your customers are already comparing the pros and cons, so lean into it, acknowledge the drawback, and tell them why you are (or your product is) the right choice after all. Who would you rather they hear it from– you, or your competition?

As an example, one of my longtime customers does tree, lawn and landscape management. Their number one tool is careful chemical treatment. In the beginning days of their business, they really tried to emphasize the non-chemical treatments they used, the mechanical methods of keeping unwanted vegetation down (like weedwhackers).

But in reality, for the types of jobs they take on, using the appropriate chemicals is the best way to do the job. It’s more effective, it’s relatively safe, it results in healthier trees and shrubs, and it is a better buy for their customers’ money– if they were simply cutting the weeds down, they’d have to return much more often. So for all these reasons and more, they’d built a successful business using chemical spraying.

Their website did not reflect this, because that word “chemical” seemed a little bit too controversial.

It seemed easier to just talk about it in person or on the phone– it’s easier to have a conversation that way. It’s easier to talk about the “hard parts” of our business, like how much it costs or the pros and cons of our methods, when we can “read the room” and know the customer is receptive or not.

But if we shy away from these things, it just leads to frustration from customers, or frustration on our part when we find we’re chasing business that really just isn’t into us.

On the other hand, if we address the elephant in the room, we’ll be gaining the trust of our customers and showing we really want to answer their questions transparently, that we value informing and educating over selling.

That’s the only way to sell without being sales-y and feeling gross: really care, and really tell them the truth.

As a side effect, in the case of the chemical landscape managers, they found that when their website’s content reflected the actual conversations that they usually only had in person, their organic search traffic drastically increased. Because they were finally writing to their actual customers: people who were open to and actively looking for experts to care for their landscape using chemical spraying.

You can get these results too– by speaking as if directly to your customer, addressing their needs and problems, answering the questions they ask before they ask them, and educating them in a transparent and authentic way.


If you’ve ever experienced the trend of getting a ton of leads through your contact forms that don’t seem to have two cents to rub together to pay for your services, I’ve got some practical tips and tweaks to improve your website and attract much better customers to your website.

In an ideal world, wouldn’t it be great if the time and effort you spend to help customers was surrounded by a “velvet rope” like at fancy red-carpet events? You can and should have that velvet rope! In the end, you and your customers will be much happier. They will feel personally cared for and special, and you will have the time and resources you need to provide your service while maintaining profitability (and a healthy work-life balance instead of breaking your back catering to demanding customers who push back on price).

There are a few problems that can lead to unqualified leads jumping over that velvet rope and wasting your time and energy. Let’s go through four of them one by one.

1. Your website may be making you look low-budget.

Customers, or potential customers, make snap decisions based purely on the appearance of your website. These decisions may not even be conscious, but they are powerful and not easy to reverse.

That means having a professional design is critical. But how can you know if your site looks professional if you’re not a web designer?

Simply put, good design follows certain rules. That’s right– art may be subjective, but design isn’t. That doesn’t mean your website needs to look like everyone else’s, because there’s a lot of room for style within the rules. But check your website for the following elements to see whether it’s following the rules.

Fonts should be easily readable, and convey the personality of your brand. Serif fonts are traditional, and trustworthy; sans-serif fonts are modern and clean.

Ideally your design will feature two fonts, one for headings and one for body text. Sometimes a third can sneak in as an accent for text that’s not critical to the message– but keep in mind every font you add makes your site take longer to load. Websites that have too many fonts also tend to look messy and disorganized.

Colors should convey feelings you want customers to associate with your business, and be used in a way that ensures content is easy to access. For example, red text on a chartreuse background is a bad idea as it’s hard to read.

A great layout uses visual elements to keep customers interested enough to stick around to hear your whole pitch. For example, say you have a number of services and you’re listing them in a two-column layout. One column has an image, and the other column has the headline and a paragraph or two of description. The first item may have the image on the left, on the next item should have the image on the right. This arrangement gives the reader a little hit of “novelty” and encourages them to continue scrolling. Small, but it works!

A good layout also tells your users what’s most important. Headline text is larger and has space around it (but not too much space that distances the headline from its associated content). Other text can be bolded, colored more brightly or more muted to draw or deflect the eye, depending on how important it is.

Images should be high quality and add meaning to your text content. High quality means that they shouldn’t be pixelated or low-resolution, or with the wrong aspect ratio for the space. Image styles– for example, illustrations and photos– shouldn’t be mixed.

Good design makes customers stick around longer, and enables you to charge what you’re worth without pushback. Great design will make them genuinely delighted to pay whatever it costs!

2. Maybe your website isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence that you’re a trustworthy business.

Inspiring trust is critical be be able to charge high end prices.

Avoid any kind of mistake. That means no error codes, from your website or your web host. No typos. No grammar mistakes. No broken images, and no broken links.

All information should be current. Do you have a ‘copyright’ notice in your website footer? What does the year say? If it doesn’t mention the current year, change it right away. Do you have a blog? If you haven’t updated your blog in over a year, remove all the datelines from the posts (and make sure that your content itself isn’t obviously dated).

Associate yourself with third party trusted sources. This can be your local chamber of commerce, big recognizable brand names you’ve worked with, or even the Better Business Bureau or other recognizable names.

Feature customer reviews. You want people who visit your website to know, like, and trust you. What better way than by featuring the personal experiences of those who’ve already done business with you? These reviews and testimonials can convince customers that you’re worth the price you charge, because you will reliably deliver what they need.

You don’t have to take my word for it– I’ve adapted the tips in this #2 section from a Stanford University research paper which produced 10 guidelines for credible websites. You can read what makes a credible website here.

3. You need to position yourself as an authority or thought leader to set yourself apart from the competition.

One way to set yourself apart is to sell by helping and educating your customers, rather than competing on price.

Have a mailing list is key. It takes 6-8 “touches” on average to make a sale, but most visitors leave after viewing one page. Collect emails addresses from visitors so you can connect with your them even after they leave your website, to educate, inform, and persuade.

Offer something genuinely helpful in return. Website visitors won’t just give their email address for free, so you’ll need to come up with a “lead magnet” to attract them. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking– a helpful checklist, a curated resource collection, or a quick guide will do. It should be actionable and give a quick win, to demonstrate your know-how.

Avoid guides that turn into DIY tutorials– you want to be helpful to customers who prefer to hire out the work, after all. The guide should help them to see the value of what you’re offering rather than replace you.

Don’t say “subscribe to our newsletter.” Talk about the actual benefit of your lead magnet. Tell them how often you’ll email. Use a light touch on how often you pitch.

4. Don’t get into a race to the bottom.

Sometimes in order to generate leads, businesses run specials or get involved in third parties that claim to leverage their huge audience to funnel business to you, in exchange for a cut of your profit. These can be a signal to price-sensitive customers that you’re willing to lower your prices.

It can be a challenge to turn away business by not participating in this price competition, but it will be worth it in the end. You may be able to negotiate, not your price, but your service level to be able to get the business without cutting into your profit.

If it feels like you’ve hit an invisible wall and you’re not sure why your website isn’t attracting qualified customers– or any leads at all– be sure to check out my guide “7 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)” which you can download today to start self-evaluating your website.


I am a web designer who primarily works with WordPress– if I felt that there was another platform that was better for the businesses I serve, then I’d switch to that one. But I’m going to be super honest and transparent about the pros and the cons, as I see them, so that YOU can make the right decision for your business.

You’ve probably heard a pitch for a DIY website builder recently. It might seem like they’re beating down your door to tell you that websites are easy and quick and you can have yours up by the weekend without ever touching code.

I’ll get this out of the way right up front: Is there ever a reason to use Shopify, Wix, or Squarespace? Absolutely, yes.

If…

  • You are an experienced designer who knows how to design for the web
  • AND you don’t need to have control over every aspect of your SEO (search engine optimization)
  • AND you have absolutely no budget of time or money to check on your site’s maintenance every once in a while (or pay someone to do that)

However, I would say that literally only if all three of the above things are true would a DIY web builder be the right choice. Why? Here’s 6 reasons why.

1. Misleading about SEO

If you want to actually attract new customers online, and get found on the web by people searching for your services by keyword, you need to know the truth about SEO on Shopify, Wix, or Squarespace. This is real talk for businesses who actually need to be found on the web and need a steady stream of new leads.

Notice that the headline for this section doesn’t say “Bad for SEO.” These platforms are not inherently bad for SEO. But the message that they are sending is that you don’t have to worry about SEO– it’s all taken care of. And that isn’t true, not at all.

In order for Google and other search engines to understand your content, since they are bots and not humans, you need to format your content in bot-friendly ways. This means appropriately numbered h1-h6 headings, alt text for images, meta description, proper internal linking, schema markup, and more (way more, trust me!) To varying degrees, web builders do sometimes give you the power to change these things, but when it comes to getting it done right, you’re on your own. And if you do get it wrong, your site will be less effective and you won’t even know why.

There’s more to getting to #1 on Google than just your text and image content though. That part of the equation– the truly technical stuff of security, accessibility, and information architecture– is…

  • invisible to someone who isn’t familiar with technical best practices
  • largely beyond your control, and
  • currently often not done well by these all-in-one platforms.

Are these platforms getting better at SEO? Sure. But it’s certainly a disadvantage to not have all the tools at your disposal that the rest of the web has. SEO doesn’t have to be “bad” to dry up your flow of new leads– it just has to be worse than the other guy’s.

SEO doesn’t have to be “bad” to dry up your flow of new leads– it just has to be worse than the other guy’s.

But again, sometimes SEO is not a requirement. If you just need a site to direct customers to that you’ve already contacted in person, on the phone, or through directories, getting found by search engines won’t matter. Some businesses don’t rely on finding traffic that’s searching for their product or service online, and if you don’t need it, you don’t need it.

2. You don’t own your space.

If you use an all-in-one platform like Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify, you don’t really “own” your online space. It’s kind of like you are renting tools, as opposed to owning your own set. Clearly, there are many times that renting a tool is better than buying one you won’t need again soon… but just as clearly, a carpenter who doesn’t own a hammer is at a disadvantage.

Since you don’t own your site, you are subject to a number of risks, such as:

  • Price increases
  • Terms of service changes
  • Arbitrary account closure for real or perceived violations of terms of service

Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention the scenario where the platform itself is discontinued or fundamentally changed– the whole thing going under isn’t very likely, but you never know when a company is going to get bought out and make changes that their current customer base doesn’t like.

Because you don’t really own the space, you also have limitations on what you can change or customize. Kind of like when you rent an apartment– it’s not like you can just knock out a wall to make an open floor plan! On these web builders, the actual code is gated, protected, and you’re very limited in what you can change.

Like I said, I’m going to be transparent– limited customization has a major upside. It means you’re not going to be able to break your site! That’s not true for WordPress– it’s pretty easy to break your WordPress site if you start making changes without knowing what you’re doing. With great power comes great responsibility.

This relates to the scenario where you have absolutely no time to maintain your site and you don’t want to hire that task out– so if you don’t care about the lasting SEO value of your site and you want zero maintenance, then you score 2/3 on “good fit for an all-in-one.”

3. Not free to shop around

I’ve been referring to web builders as “all-in-one” platforms. This is because normally, you need 3 things to get your website up and running:

  1. Domain name, i.e. example.com
  2. Web hosting– where your website files live
  3. The website itself, all the files and content that make up your site, its database, etc.

So you may go to someplace like Namecheap to buy your domain name (that’s where I buy all mine), you may go to something like Nearly Free Speech for very inexpensive but reliable web hosting, and someplace else entirely to get your site built. (This is if you’re DIYing it. If I’m your web designer, I can take care of hosting for you.) You are free to shop around for the best value and buying experience for all three. And if you ever want to move away from one of them, you’re free to do so without losing anything. Your domain name can be transferred; your website can be moved.

But with an all in one, your website is locked to your web host. You can’t shop around for the best equipment, the best value, the best hosting experience, or the best support. You can’t have a Squarespace website that’s not hosted on their servers (or Wix, or Shopify, etc). So if you want to shop around for a different web host, you will have to recreate your site from scratch.

4. Fewer professionals to hire

There is a much shallower pool of web professionals who can help you with your site, if you want to pay someone to design it for you.

This is kind of unsurprising, because it’s a section of the market that’s aimed at do-it-yourselfers. So it’s friendly and welcoming to those who are new to the web, but straight-jacket limiting to professional developers.

As a result, those who hang up their shingle to help you with your Squarespace, Wix, Shopify site (can I just start saying “squar-wix-ify”? “wi-space-ify”?) tend to be more visual and brand designers, and less technical. Unfortunately that means they may not know more than you do about the SEO pitfalls we discussed earlier.

Can the same be true of WordPress pros? Yes, absolutely– there’s a huge variety of skill levels everywhere in the field of web design, so there’s lots of non-technical or inexperienced WordPress designers. But you have two very important freedoms in the world of WordPress:

  • You can’t swing a cat without hitting a WordPress developer. It powers over a third of the web, it’s hugely popular, it’s free to use however you want, so there are so many competent individuals you can hire to help you.
  • And you even have the freedom to learn to do it yourself. There is a huge, thriving, friendly community of folks who are ready to help for free because that’s the point of open source software.

That makes me feel good about the sites that I build for customers, because I know that even though most of my clients want me to continue maintaining and improving their websites for them, they’re not locked in. If anything ever happened to me or they wanted to work with someone else, they have many options and will continue to benefit from their investment.

Also, for whatever reason, the low end of their pricing spectrum tends to be much more expensive than the low end of the WordPress pricing spectrum.

Speaking of price…

5. Nickel and dimed for every add-on

This is a major one. I see business owners all the time who see the pitch for the web builder at a fixed price per month and it can look like a screamin’ deal. But then you realize that there’s basic stuff you need that doesn’t come with that basic monthly price. Maybe a marketing tool, an SEO add-on, some eCommerce add-on, and every single one has a monthly subscription attached. Sometimes a BIG price tag.

Don’t get me wrong– WordPress has ongoing costs to factor in, too. Every business is different, especially when it comes to eCommerce, so you’re always going to run into some custom functionality that you want to add on and it’s not always going to be free, especially if it’s quality.

But WordPress also has a lot of competition for plugins that these web builders don’t have because they’re “walled gardens” where only approved vendors can contribute software.

As a result, once you add it all up, even if you only went with the most expensive, high-quality WordPress plugins available for every custom feature, a WordPress website is almost always going to be less expensive on an ongoing basis than the same site built in an all-in-one web builder– for instance, Shopify.

Speaking of shopify, here’s some bonus words-to-the-wise especially for my eCommerce friends…

6. Limitations on how you run your eCommerce store

Lastly, there’s a lot of hidden restrictions that may rule out web builders for your eCommerce, if that’s your game.

For instance, Shopify limits the countries to which you may sell, the number of different products you may sell, the type of products that you sell, and how many variations of products you may have (a variation is a specific combination of product attributes, like size/color/type: large red t-shirt, medium blue t-shirt, for example).

Taking the long view, as well, there’s business drawbacks to using an all-in-one platform: if you want to sell your business, and the new owner wants to run the shop in a way that isn’t possible because of terms and conditions, cost, or coding limitations, then it’s hard to view your site as an asset. It will need to be rebuilt.

Bottom line: if you’re confident in your design skills, and you don’t need your website to rank high in search engine results, and you’re looking for a web solution that you can put together and never touch again, a web builder may be a good fit for you.

But if you’re a non-designer, and it’s important to you to be found on the web, and you’re looking for the best value in the long run– a WordPress site may be an investment that will pay dividends.


Hackers aren’t after your site in particular (at least, 99% of the time they’re not), but that doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. If you’ve ever wondered whether you as a small business owner should really be concerned about protecting yourself from getting hacked, the answer is yes– you absolutely need to. You don’t need to attract the particular attention of an individual hacker or be a famous brand to be a target.

First, let’s cover why and how hackers attack your site. Then, read a real-life example of what happened to one small business who had a security problem, with no countermeasures in place, and how it impacted their business.

Why and how hackers pick websites to attack

Most hacking is not targeted, so you don’t have to be a big business or have a website that gets a lot of traffic in order to get caught in the crossfire. Instead, hackers use automated tools to rapidly search many sites for a weak spot that will allow them to exploit your site or the resources of the server that your site lives on.

Usually, this weak spot is a plugin that has a security vulnerability. Once the flaw is made public, the risk of your site being targeted skyrockets, because bad actors are likely searching at scale for any site with this plugin installed.

The original authors of the flawed software may release an update that fixes the problem right away. But you still need to install the update to protect your site! So if you don’t monitor your site and keep up with the latest security news, you might get hacked.

If your site is hacked, hackers can do things like deface your website, redirect your traffic to other websites (often foreign pharmaceutical sites), insert ads into your content, or even use your server resources as part of a “bot” network for their own purposes.

How it happens in real life

Here’s the story of a security vulnerability that I watched unfold in real time.

A security flaw was discovered in a plugin called Social Warfare, which was very popular with bloggers. The plugin adds social media integration and it had tens of thousands of active installations. The flaw allowed pages on the affected website to be redirected to other arbitrary web addresses. This type of vulnerability is often used to direct traffic from a hacked website to sketchy foreign pharmaceutical websites or other dubious sites.

A well-known (and, if you want the insider drama, notoriously unbalanced) security researcher had published the details of exactly how this security vulnerability worked without giving any heads-up to the original author of the plugin. This was not the normal procedure for disclosing a vulnerability.

The normal way would be to contact the author of the plugin and let them know of the problem, allow them time to develop a patch, and once that patch was available, then publicize the vulnerability.

Instead, the security researcher had published a full proof of concept of the exploit, which amounted to a how-to for hacking any website that had this plugin installed. At the time, there were about 70,000 active installations of this plugin.

Obviously, many were outraged about this, and many sites were hacked as a result. In this particular case, the goal of the hackers seemed to be to “prank” site owners by redirecting their websites to obscene content rather than to make money by redirecting to ads or pharma sites.

Within hours, the authors of the plugin in question had released a patch, but obviously that patch needed to be installed in order to protect anyone with this plugin installed. Most people don’t check their websites daily for plugin updates.

I was browsing the comments section of a news article about this breaking story on a web security forum when I saw an exchange between an account that evidently belonged to the above-mentioned rogue security researcher who’d published the exploit and a random blogger whose site had been victim to the hack.

This poor blogger had sent out an email campaign to his entire list with a link back to his site– not knowing he had just been hacked. Hundreds of his readers clicked a link to his site, but were instead redirected to obscene content. Immediately, the blogger lost trust and credibility and many unsubscribed. His mailing list was decimated. His only recourse was to send a follow up email to remaining subscribers, and let the readers know via the website, after it was restored, that the problem had been a result of hacking– but the damage was done.

All because of a bad plugin, a security expert who irresponsibly blabbed to the entire internet how to exploit the bad plugin, and a bunch of (probably) teenage pranksters who took advantage of the situation.

The lesson is clear: any site can be a target, because they’re not just after sites that get a lot of traffic or famous brands. Hacking can be a game of numbers. And the stakes are high. Make sure your site is protected!


In an unprecedented situation like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has affected the globe, many businesses are scrambling for ways to support their communities, including in charitable outreach or by staying afloat to continue to provide steady work for their employees.

Here’s a quick list of what steps both services and brick and mortar storefronts can take to adapt and overcome to continue to exist and thrive in these new circumstances.

Brick and Mortar Storefronts

Some product retail businesses that rely on foot traffic have adapted to taking orders by credit card over the phone and delivering by post if possible. In cases where storefronts are still open to the public, local pickup might be offered, taking payment by phone or in person (following local health directives) and delivering goods straight to customer’s cars.

notice in store window of covid restrictions

If you already have a website and a mailing list to contact your best customers right in their inboxes, you can hit the ground running. If you don’t already, you’ll be playing catch-up but there’s no better time to be online than now.

Immediate steps to retain customers

In order to make sure your existing customers are aware of the changes that you have made, your first steps should be:

  • Updating business hours on your website, your social media accounts, Google My Business, Yelp, and anywhere else your business hours and location is listed
  • Sending out an update to your mailing list. If you don’t have one, start one ASAP and solicit signups via your website, your social media accounts, and in person/by phone where possible.
  • Reaching out on local community pages, like locality-specific or industry specific community pages on Facebook where appropriate (check the community guidelines before posting)

But there is much more that you can do to thrive in the online retail space. Making the leap to think of yourself as an online retailer sooner rather than later is key; formerly, online retailers may have been your biggest competition, and you may have used the hands-on experience of seeing and handling your products, superior customer service, and your own experience in your product niche to stand out from this competition. Can you still do that online? Yes!

Ways to translate your storefront’s strengths to your online advantage

Does your site get as much traffic as your storefront? Your storefront may have been in a good location and gotten a lot of foot traffic; now that the feet are staying home, getting web traffic is paramount. Now is the time to make sure that your online presence is in order, especially your local SEO. For more information see the article What is SEO?

A beautiful store deserves a beautiful site. You probably take pride in making sure that customers have a nice experience when they enter your retail storefront. Neat and tidy shelves, consistent branding, a well-thought out floor plan, good lighting– all these factors made shopping a delight. Your website should meet the same high standards in its appearance and design, but it may take a professional eye. If your website leaves a lot to be desired because you’ve been focusing your budget and attention on your brick and mortar location, now may be the time to engage a web professional to help.

Treat your online customers right. A good customer experience in person can be translated to a good experience online. You might use software that allows you to greet and communicate in realtime with your customers in the form of a chat window to answer their questions. The checkout experience should be simple and easy, allowing whatever payment method the customer prefers using a payment gateway like Stripe or Paypal.

Replacing the showcase experience: When you can’t see and/or handle a product in person, the next best thing is pictures and video. Having high-resolution pictures from a variety of angles makes customers more likely to buy. Even better are videos that demonstrate or explain. Take the highest quality video that you can, but videos should be under one minute long for most product types. More in depth videos can be helpful for big investments, but for quick checkout, a brief video is better. In other words, as a quick rule of thumb, the more expensive your product is perceived, the longer your video should be.

Develop long-term relationships. Many stores have loyalty programs in place to encourage return visits; this is even more important when your business is online, since out of site is out of mind. Again, the mailing list is key, and the option to join your mailing list should be available on all your main pages, from your home page to the checkout form where they complete their purchase. If you can offer a discount or a coupon for the future, it’s worth it. For soliciting signups in the offline world, make sure that you have an easy-to-type, short link to a page where folks can sign up, for example YourBusinessName.com/VIP.

Consider subscriptions. Another way to maximize revenue for minimal effort is to make it easier for your customers to get a regular supply of your product, if this is possible for your particular niche. If you need help setting this up on your website, please contact me– I can develop and customize this for you, as well as provide the subscription software itself as part of my website care plan. This software enables you to automate regular payments on any time interval you need.

In-person services

Business who typically provide services in person may be able to think creatively to change the way they deliver their service. But like brick and mortar storefronts, they need to make sure they have their online ducks in a row:

  • An appealing, well designed site
  • A mailing list signup so that you can keep yourself in your customers’ inboxes
  • Well-thought out online customer experience, including possible real-time chat to answer questions
  • Fast, smooth checkout for any ecommerce

Fitness centers and gyms. Consider guided workout routines via videoconferencing. This can be automatically charged to your customers via subscription fee software, so that you can minimize and simplify your billing. No more chasing payments!

Similar to the above guidance for brick and mortar storefronts, gyms and fitness centers should also right away send out updates to their customers based on their current changed schedule or possible temporary closure.

Professional services. Offering online scheduling and videoconferencing can not just replace your current real-life meetings, but expand your market beyond the local. Make it a breeze for your customers to make appointments, automatically populate their calendars and set reminders, and keep track of all your appointments in one place too.

Restaurants and bars. Delivering or local curbside or parking lot pickup using ecommerce. Selling gift certificates for every occasion or for gift-giving.


Even though cost is not the only factor you’re considering when you’re in the market for a website, I understand that it’s an important question. If you’re eager to get right down to brass tacks, just go download my pricing guide– it’ll give you a range to work with and we can talk about your particular business needs to narrow things down farther.

But if you’re looking to answer your burning questions about why the heck websites vary in price so much, and why it can be so difficult to get a straight answer on how much yours will cost, keep reading.

If you did a google search for “how much a house costs,” you’re going to get wildly varying answers. Because, of course, houses come in many different shapes and sizes… and materials, and locations, and on and on and on.

But run that same question by a local home builder, while you’re standing in a neighborhood they built, and you’re obviously going to get a solid, narrow(er) range to work with. Context is key!

That’s why, contrary to what you might have heard, it’s not that hard to throw a ballpark figure out there for how much your website is going to cost… as long as we have the right context.

Contrary to what you might have heard, it’s not that hard to get a ballpark figure for how much your website is going to cost.

This article will explain what factors go into pricing your website, and I promise you, it will change the way you think about your website quote.

Ok, so, how much does a website cost?

First, some background.

For years, I’ve heard over and over from my fellow web designers, whether in blog posts, youtube videos, facebook rants, etc., that when a customer asks how much your service costs right away, it’s a “red flag.”

Now, to be fair, if someone only cares about price and nothing else, that would absolutely indicate that they might not be a good fit for a custom-built website– maybe they don’t need to be found by new customers online or to use digital marketing to turn that traffic into leads, or any of the other things a custom built website can do.

Compare it to a familiar shopping experience– when you’re buying something important like shoes, a mattress, or a car, you’re not just going to go with the cheapest available. So yes, if somebody is shopping around for a website for their business and makes their decision on cost alone, they’re probably not someone who cares about the end result as much as I do and that might be a red flag that they’re not a good fit, because they’re in the market for a different product than I offer. They want a cheap, do-nothing website.

But does this mean it’s wrong to ask about price? Absolutely not. Looking at the price tag doesn’t mean you’re looking for the cheapest solution– probably, you’re looking for something that’s cost-effective where the return is a good fit for the investment. Like any reasonable person, you don’t want to waste money on something that doesn’t fit your purposes, so you check the price tag first to save everyone time.

Here’s where it gets a bit complicated. The price tag doesn’t tell the whole story, especially with websites. We all sleep on mattresses and wear shoes, for example, so we more or less know what we need and what we like. But most people don’t make a lifelong habit of building or commissioning websites, so they may have less experience telling a good website from a do-nothing website that’s costing them business.

Sometimes do-nothing websites fly under the radar because they kind of work– maybe some customers find you online, maybe the designs looks ok, maybe it’s got your contact info and whatever other vital info it needs to convey… but it’s certainly not leveling your business up. You’ve hit an invisible wall that’s holding your business back.

How do you know if you’ve hit this invisible wall? Here’s what it might feel like:

  • You’re not getting many (or any) phone calls or leads from your website. Most of the emails you get are just spam, and even the real leads you get are not ideal customers.
  • You’re not excited to share your website with customers. You can explain things much better in person or on the phone– you’re afraid you might lose them if they just go to your site.
  • Your website doesn’t feel authentically you. It doesn’t match your real-world or social media branding, and some of the stuff it talks about doesn’t match up with the current goals that you’re excited about now.

If any of those feelings are familiar to you, your website might be losing you business rather than serving as your most valuable sales tool 24/7.

Now that the background is out of the way… seriously, how much does a website cost? More importantly… how much will your website cost?

It’s true that the real answer is “it depends” and that’s why my pricing guidelines give ranges and serves as a conversation starter (not the final word).

Here’s what your quote will and won’t be based on.

I do not charge based only on the number of pages in your website. The number of pages in a website doesn’t necessarily correlate to how complex it will be to build. For example, you could have a one page website, but that single page has an interactive form that takes online bookings and processes payments. Even with one page, that type of website is more complex and requires more development time and resources than a basic static site with many pages.

On the other hand, a hypothetical website with 1,000+ pages might have the exact same template for all those pages, meaning it wouldn’t take any more “design” time than a one-pager.

Your quote will be priced a little bit on size and mostly based on the functionality it delivers. Most websites are somewhere in between the above examples: they may have many pages that are dynamically generated and use the same template, like blog posts, alongside a handful of static pages that need to be individually custom designed, like the homepage, about page, contact page, and so forth. Individually designed pages do factor into the price– that’s why I mention “custom designed pages” in pricing guidelines. But overall page count doesn’t tell the whole story.

Here’s what I mean by functionality & complexity. A one-page website that allows your customers to read about your products and services, check your prices and contact info, and has no interactivity (commonly called a brochure site) will be charged a base-level price.

A website that allows customers to shop your products, manages inventory, (or allows customers to schedule services) and processes payments, and has a number of custom-designed compelling landing pages, is a more complex site that requires a bigger up-front investment and ongoing support costs.

I don’t use “value-based” pricing. Value based pricing means that the price changes based on the perceived value of the service in the eyes of you, the client.

This is really common in the field of web design and is the reason web designers don’t often have prices posted on their websites. Since the prices are based on how much the customer values what they are getting, it really drives (successful!) web designers to constantly up their skills and offerings to deliver more and more value. And it’s how I used to charge, for that reason: it jives with my desire to deliver the best possible solution for each client as an individual, rather than just assembly-line websites as fast as possible and deliver the minimum effort. “Minimum effort” is just not how I do business.

But it can also be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as taking two projects with the same scope and scale and overcharging the client with deeper pockets. In reality, there might be behind-the-scenes factors that drive the cost of a project up, but still, it’s inherently a non-transparent way to deal with pricing.

✅ Instead, I give price ranges for different types of projects in my downloadable pricing guidelines , and once I know your exact requirements I give you a firm quote.

I know that for small business owners, setting a budget is critical, and that means knowing exactly what you’re getting and how much it costs. You will know what the least expensive option is– I don’t hide that out of fear of “leaving money on the table.” If that means that you start out with a less complex website because that’s what your budget allows, I’m still going to deliver a site that will work for you, and when you’re ready for phase 2, I’ll be there!

The hidden factors that I mention above, ones that drive the cost of a project up and make a simple site cost many thousands of dollars, are mostly experienced in the world of corporate websites. But I don’t work with big corporations. I work with the small business world I know, the world that includes almost all of my friends and family. My husband, my parents, my brother, my in-laws, most of my friends, and of course me, are owners of small service-based businesses.

the office gif of Andy saying "they're just people with tiny businesses"

So that’s why I work with small businesses– I understand your needs and concerns and I really enjoy working with you to build a platform that grows your business while saving you time and headaches. You’re my people.

Hopefully, you now have a whole new perspective on how to get a quote for a website that will really perform for your business– and not something that’s an expensive drain on your budget, but a valuable and cost-effective investment into the future of your business.


“Build it, and they will come.” This famous movie quote has become a huge cliche in internet content writing, mostly repeated to point out how it’s actually not true. Unless you’re literally the only person on the internet writing about a subject that people are searching for, you’re going to have to compete to get search traffic. That means you’ve got to have a strategy to get on the search engine results pages when people search for your product or service.

Search engine optimization, abbreviated SEO, is an umbrella term for improving a site’s ranking in the search engine results pages– in other words, trying to get to the top of search results.

There are two aspects of SEO that concern site owners. The first is known as technical SEO, or on-page SEO. Basically, this means building your site and its content in such a way that Google can easily understand what it’s about and know what traffic to send your way. It also encompasses technical aspects like how fast your website loads and whether visitors using mobile or adaptive devices can use your website.

As a web developer, making sure your new website checks all the above boxes is a high priority for me!

But there’s another aspect of SEO that it’s necessary for you as a site owner to give priority to if you want to have a successful website. We can call this external SEO, or off-page SEO. This refers to all the steps you can take outside of your website (or even without your own website) to rank better in search engine results.

The four aspects of SEO below are an introduction to the basics of off-page SEO, and none of them require any knowledge of code or websites. They are all aimed at owners of businesses rather than web professionals.

Local citations

Local citations are instances of your name, address, and phone number on the web. A citation isn’t the same as a link to your website. If you’re a local business serving your own geographic area, getting local citations is the most important step towards generating leads.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or you’ve been in business a while, the first thing to do is give your site a visibility checkup.

Check how visible online you are right now, and get a list of directories to which you can submit your site, with this free tool from moz.com.

When you search for a local business, you may notice that there are a lot of results near the top that aren’t actually websites, or that aren’t the actual company’s website, like Google My Business (when a business listing appears on a Google Map) and Yelp results.

These links, even though they’re not your website, count toward your “popularity”– as long as your name, address, and phone number match! So if you have multiple phone numbers, or variations on your company name (with and without LLC, for example) pick one to use online and stick to it everywhere.

Where to get local citations: Google My Business, Yelp, Apple Maps, industry-specific directories, local chamber of commerce

Link building

Links to your website, also called backlinks, are the foundation of Google’s method for ranking websites, and the process of getting these is called link building.

Back when the internet was young, Google figured that if many websites are linking to your website, it must be a good website to link to.

But then the internet got bigger and people started gaming the system by spamming links to their websites from other people’s websites, like forums and blog comments. So now there is a complicated system which weights links differently based on perceived relevance and authority (sometimes called “the algorithm”). This system is pretty smart, and it gets better all the time. As a result, artificially produced, low quality, spammy links don’t improve your ranking (at least not for long), and could even hurt your ranking.

But good, old-fashioned natural links from places that are relevant to you will send Google good vibes about your website’s importance, authority, and trustworthiness.

Sources for great backlinks to your local business include:

  • Sponsoring a local sports team (ask them to link to your website)
  • Local awards or recognition
  • Newspaper articles (if the online article links to your site)
  • Chamber of commerce
  • Offer to write a testimonial for a vendor or non-competing business customer of yours, which they can post on their website with a link back to you

Video marketing

After Google, what’s the second-largest search engine? It’s not Bing… it’s Youtube. So take advantage of video marketing. If you sell products, make a walk-through video, a video on how to use or maintain your products, or an “unboxing” video showing how the product will arrive when it’s ordered. For services, ideas include an interview-style video for your about page (great for customer trust), an explainer video for a particular service, or a video testimonial.

Speaking of testimonials…

Reviews & testimonials

Customer reviews will also signal to Google that you are popular. So be sure to ask customers for reviews. If you sell physical products, include a printed request for reviews and an easy-to-type link and/or QR code. If you provide a service, send an email asking them to review when you’ve completed or reached a milestone in your service. Ask them to explain 1) what the problem was when they came to you, 2) what the solution to their problem was, and 3) how they felt after. If they can mention your service keywords right in the review, that’s a home run!

Where to get reviews: Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook


When you are planning a website, one of your first steps may be to shop for a web host. This is a very important choice, because a web host is where your website will “live” and it will affect your website’s speed, security, and reliability.

Essentially, a web host is someone you pay to store the files that make up your website and allows them to be accessible on the internet when someone types in your web address. Usually, they charge for this service monthly, but sometimes you can get discounts for paying a year or multiple years at a time.

When it comes to picking a web host, your two main choices boil down to shared hosting vs. VPS hosting. Let’s discuss!

What is shared hosting?

Shared hosting means that your website lives on the same server as a number of other websites (hundreds of others, if not thousands), and they share resources like bandwidth and processing power with your website. It’s very much like your website lives in one unit of an apartment building.

Advantages of shared hosting

  1. Cheap
  2. Beginner friendly

Shared hosting is typically designed for site owners to get up and running with little technical expertise, and it is very affordable. Entry level shared hosting is typically advertised at $10-15 per month (some offer introductory prices for half that). Hosting companies like to throw around terms like “unlimited everything” and “99% uptime,” and as a result, these inexpensive plans are by far the most popular option for those just starting out with a website for their business.

Drawbacks of shared hosting

  1. Slow
  2. Not reliable
  3. Potential security risks

With shared hosting being like apartment living, sometimes you can be adversely affected by noisy neighbors. If another site that shares resources with yours– your “neighbor” in the server that your site is hosted on– sees a spike in their resource usage, this may affect your website’s reliability. A visitor to your site may see an error message instead of your site, or it may take a very long time for your web page(s) to load.

Tip: If you already have a website on a shared hosting plan… are you curious what other websites are hosted on your same server? Check with this free tool.

Another drawback involves security. If your web host is not on their game security-wise, it’s possible for one insecure site on a shared host to infect other sites living on the same server, and it’s not always easy to detect that your site is infected by malware.

Even when your site is optimized and secure, shared hosting can be pretty slow. If your visitors are mostly directly visiting your website in order to specifically learn about your business, they may be more patient.

However, if you’re in a competitive market, visitors may be quick to hit the back button if the site takes longer than 1-3 seconds to fully load.

Tip: Check how long your site takes to load with this free tool.

If your business is at scale, and absolutely depends on your customers being able to access your website (for example, ecommerce) you’ll want to stay away from shared hosting.

You might think the only other option is paying to have a server all to yourself. For high volume ecommerce or other big scale requirements, this could be the way to go. For others, running your own server(s) can be prohibitively expensive, and unnecessary, because there’s a happy medium in cloud VPS hosting.

VPS Hosting

If you’ve outgrown your shared hosting plan, hosting your website on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) could be the way to go. This is a virtual hosting environment that gives you the control and security of your own dedicated server, at a much more manageable monthly cost.

A VPS is a simulated private server that, while it shares the same physical hardware as other VPSs, is designed to separate your account from others. So even though you are sharing space on the same physical machines, you are able to get much better performance than shared hosting. You have full access to the resources that you pay for. Security issues on other accounts will not affect you. And it’s much less expensive than leasing your own physical server.

For my clients, I provide managed WordPress hosting using DigitalOcean’s cloud computing. Your hosting plan can be totally customized to your needs, and can grow with your business. I provide a high-speed, secure, hands-on managed environment for your website. All my website packages include a free trial so you can see the difference firsthand. If you’re in need of hosting for your website, you can read more about my support plans here, which have hosting bundled in.

Bottom line

Shared hosting is an inexpensive and popular way to get online, but can be slow, unreliable and insecure. If your website is critical to your business, and you need to scale to large amounts of traffic (popular blogs, high volume eCommerce) you will do better investing a little more per month in a VPS hosting plan. This could be with me, or if you are looking to DIY, many hosting companies that offer shared hosting have VPS plans as well.


When it comes to a website, there’s no one size fits all. In my area of expertise, I focus on businesses that have a significant part of their business happening online. Sometimes that’s the attracting, funneling and nurturing of traffic into sales leads (that’s common to almost every business); sometimes that’s eCommerce; sometimes it’s online course building and sales, or online booking and sales for real-life, in-person services.

But occasionally, I get inquiries from business owners who aren’t sure if they really need a full-blown website for their business. For example, if you have a small business that mostly serves those local to you, pick your favorite search engine and search “[your trade here] near me”. The results you see might be mostly Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, or other big-name directories or social media platforms. This might make you wonder, if this is what customers are using to compare and shop, why not just make sure your business is on all those platforms and call it good?

It’s important to have a high quality listing on any platform that is popular with your target audience, like Facebook. But consider carefully and think long-term before deciding that’s all you need.

Here’s some food for thought.

When you make a business page on Facebook, you don’t really own it. Facebook does. So they control who sees it, and how it appears.

Some business owners, especially ones just starting out, may find a measure of success with only a free page for their business on Facebook. After all, it seems to cover all the bases. When a potential customer googles your business name, the first result may be that page, and it’s got your number, your location, all the services or products you offer– who could ask for more?

What if you pay Facebook for advertising? You might have some success in this. Paid advertising through Facebook can be a valuable part of a healthy online strategy. But if it’s your only source of leads, you might be building your business on a shaky foundation.

After all, Facebook takes money from all comers, including your competition. In fact, they’re advertising your competitors to your customers right on your own page– just take a look at the “related pages” section of your own business page. To see your related pages, log out of Facebook and then visit your business’s official Facebook page.

If your business relies on paid advertising through Facebook, at any point, your source of leads could dry up, or your strategy could require a complete change, or advertising could become too expensive to be worth the quality of leads it produces.

And that leads to another potential concern.

Do you really want the business you’re getting from Facebook?

Is it possible for leads to harm rather than help your business? If they are low-quality leads, not your ideal customer, and they can’t afford what you’re offering– yes, they can do more harm than good.

If you are in an extremely niche, less competitive market, or if you are already at the top of your market, you may want all the traffic that Facebook can send your way. For those in that position, Facebook is a goldmine of word-of-mouth advertising. Without spending a dime, they get priceless advertising as customers tell their friends and leave five-star reviews.

However, if you are in a competitive market or if you are just starting out or ramping up your marketing, the leads you get from Facebook may be a little different. If you don’t have your ideal customer targeted, chasing those leads can mean running a race to the bottom.

All things being equal, a smart consumer will pick the cheaper option.

Of course, all things are not equal. Your business has unique selling points that put you head and shoulders above your competition. But having a page that looks exactly like the other guy’s does tend to level the playing field…

Essentially, advertising on Facebook in a crowded field leads to low-quality leads who aren’t willing to spend. Those customers are always the hardest to please, and when it’s all over they rarely leave nice reviews. And if they do tell friends, you might find that those friends are just like them.

On the other hand, with a decent website, you could be getting qualified leads for free by capturing the audience that is actively searching for you.

Bottom line

  • Even if you have a measure of success, you don’t own your facebook page– so if it’s your sole source of leads, your business could dry up at any moment.
  • Your Facebook page looks exactly like everyone else’s, so it’s hard to stand out from the competition.
  • It’s better to have your own platform if you plan on long term success.