In Step 1 of Your 2021 Online Business Plan, we explained that everything starts with a domain name. We also mentioned hosting, which describes the various kinds of services, such as websites and email which you can offer through your domain.
Research shows that Irish consumers place more trust in companies that have their own domain, a proper website, and a professional looking email address. If you’re serious about your business, you should let it show. Even a one-page website, with your contact details, shows that you’re not a fly-by-night.
Forget the 20-Minute Website – What Can You Do in 5?
Blacknight siteBuilder, our entry-level do-it-yourself website builder costs only €39.99* for the first year. It’s easy and intuitive to use: you can watch me build a 3-page site here in just 20 minutes. But you don’t even need 3 pages. Choose from a selection of ready-made templates; edit them with your own business name, description and contact details – and you’re live in just five minutes with a professional-looking one-page site.
Every business is different, with different requirements. Ultimately, we’d recommend you hire a professional web developer to design and maintain your site. WordPress is a popular system for site management and our hosting plans are ideal for it. But that’s further down the road for many people. Remember, this business plan is all about taking it one step at a time.
In fact, we can go further to get you started, by building a simple starter website for you. Responding to consumer demand, we introduced a new service called Build-My-Website in 2020.
Let Us Build it For You
Build-My-Website uses Blacknight siteBuilder and Blacknight shopBuilder, our user-operated web design and ecommerce solutions. It includes all their features, including hosting, security certificates and easy operation. The only difference is that we give you a free consultation to help you decide what you need in your site or store and then we give you a helping hand to get started, build the first few pages for you, and add the first product to your ecommerce store. After that, you’re up and running, with ongoing support from our customer service team.
A website doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, or require constant maintenance. It does have to have clear and correct information about your business and adhere to basic technical and security standards. A simple Blacknight siteBuilder site can do all that for a minimal investment of time and it costs only a few cents per day.
Once you have a website, you can be listed in Google and other search engines. Make sure you update your Google Business Profile details with your website, location and opening hours. In these uncertain times, customers are researching online before they leave the house. It’s up to you to ensure the information they find is accurate.
Don’t Use Gmail – It’s Not a Good Look for You
Finally, a word about email. We recommend Microsoft 365 for our business customers but, again, that may be a couple of steps down the road for people getting started. What we don’t recommend is that you advertise your contact details with a Gmail address. Remember, any kid can set up gmail – and you already have your own domain! Adding basic email hosting to your domain name costs as little as €9.99*per year. But the research shows it’s invaluable when it comes to boosting your reputation with customers. If you really want to continue using Gmail, you can configure it as a client, to collect and send email through your own domain’s mailbox. We’ll show you how.
What’s next? You’ve got a domain, and you’ve added hosting so it does useful things. Now tell the world about it. In Step 3 we’ll show you how to make your domain your brand.
Your 2021 Online Business Plan is brought to you by Blacknight.
* All prices are quoted excluding VAT