When I am hanging out on SMEs forums or talk to anyone who wants to start a business, I can’t believe there are still people asking such a question…
‘hey, do I need a website?’
If you are still wondering if you need a website, you might have a very wrong idea what running a business entails these days. Check my post again to see if you are cut out for it.
Because honestly, how were you going to promote your business?
Especially for pet sitting business, and I dare say most self employed kind of one person gig, your business will most likely come from online. Because you can’t really afford to buy billboard now, can you?
In fact, I am seriously considering to stop printing flyers! 90% of my customers come from online and the 10% people that read my flyers usually end up to be the wrong kind of people. (I will do a separate post on this subject for a pet sitter specific discussion.)
Ok, now we have settled the fact that you need a website, let me explain what having a website involves. Over the years, a lot of people ask me questions on this subject and seem to get very confused. So basically, it involves:
- Domain name
- The actual website building
Today, we are going to talk about the domain name and hosting, follow my blog so not to miss my future post on website building!
There are actually many ways to get a domain name. You can either get a domain name through a registrar company or through a website builder, e.g. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc. (In my next post, I will talk about website builders and the comparison between them).
So what are the differences?
- More control, your domain is not attached to any website building company, you can switch company whenever you want.
- You are usually allowed to have as many email addresses as you want, depending on your hosting package.
- One more thing to manage (not much to manage to be honest, just direct debit every month!)
- If you are using one of the website builder, it’s one stop shop. (That’s honestly the only advantage, I can’t think of anything else!)
- You are somehow tie down by the website builder, I am not sure how easy it is to take the domain with you to move to another platform if you decide to stop using WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc. Please do your research and ask people who have used them and leave them with their domains. I have no experience on that.
- You might be able to have an email address with your domain name. That is a bit mental in my opinion to run a business without an email address with your domain name, but I see SMEs doing that all the time. It looks insanely unprofessional and amateur. It screams – I am not doing this full time.
- Limited options, you can’t get an .ie domain for example.
Disclaimer: I do use website builders, but I don’t buy domains from them, I supply my own domain because I don’t want to be tie down by their package. It costs a few Euro more per month to pay for hosting separately, but I am happy to have my own email address and I can change website builder whenever I want. So it’s possible to take advantage of both options.
If you are in Ireland and you want to get an .ie domain, you can get them through these Accredited Registrars. To get an .ie domain, you are required to send in proof that you need an .ie address. Your business has to be somehow related to Ireland.
If you are to get a .com address, you can get them in many more places. If you google ‘buy a domain’, you will find lots of companies. So how do you know who to choose?
That takes us to the second part of the equation – hosting.
You will probably be hosting your website with whoever you buy the domain name from. You need to check if their hosting packages is suitable to you. Check the price, check what is involved, etc, and there is one very very important thing…
How are their customer support?
I can’t emphasize how important it is because down the line your website is in their hands! If there is something wrong with the server, you need to be able to speak to someone. Do they provide 24/7 support? Do they do phone support? Or just email? Are they on a different time zone?
So what did I do?
I am using Blacknight. I have been doing so for the past 7 years and have been really happy with them. I learnt about them from another SME and really grateful for her recommendation. If you are not in Ireland, you might want to ask around, word of mouth is gold.
They are very easy to deal with. You can get your domain name and hosting within 5 minutes! The process is very simple and their customer service is excellent. Whenever there is a technical problem, they keep people posted, and server has never been down for more than half a day in the past 7 years. Really can’t fault them at all. Even with the cheapest hosting package, you can host up to 30 domains and I create as many email address as I want. I even create an email address for each of my cats! What’s more can I ask for?
So how do you buy a domain name on Blacklight then? Here is a step by step guide:
Step 1. First you can enter your whatever domain name you have in mind to the search bar to see if they are available…
Step 2. Then you can see a full listing of what domain extension is available for you. You can see .ie is available for this example…
Step 3. Then you “add to cart”.
Step 4. And yes, due to Irish regulation, you must submit supporting information if you want an .ie domain, but you can email the documents after checkout. Answer the few questions they ask you here then you click “continue”.
Step 5. They will try to “up-sell” you if you want to buy other domains as well.
Step 6. Choose your hosting package. Personally, I think for most SMEs the Linux Minimus is plenty enough, it costs 4.95 Euro plus VAT, the best 4.95 Euro I have ever spent.
Step 7. “Up selling” you again with other trimmings, choose whatever you think you need.
Step 8. Pay! That’s all.
Step 9. Then you are the owner of your domain! Login to your account to create passwords then you can go ahead and create your email. Once you have an email, you can use that for your website builder. And that brings us to the next post…