Here are some tips from the ITContracting team to help you create an online presence for your contracting business – and avoid the many potential pitfalls which await the unprepared!
These ideas have been compiled from our own experiences (both good and bad) of running a dozen small business sites over the past 15+ years.
- Domain name suffixes – try to secure both .com and .co.uk at the same time, to safeguard your online identity.
- Domain naming tips – Keep your domain name simple, professional-sounding and future proof. Don’t worry about keywords and SEO, and avoid hyphens in the name. Two recommended domain sellers are GoDaddy and Namecheap.com – both are good value, and provide great support from our experience.
- Trademarks – don’t consider domain names which may breach trademarks, for obvious reasons.
- Which web host? – follow recommendations. We’ve used Clook for years with all of our sites – the support is excellent and we’ve never experienced a single problem. Siteground is also worth considering
- Dedicated or shared hosting? Don’t overpay, as most small companies don’t need to spend much – shared hosting is all you need for a brochure site or low-traffic business.
- Choose a CMS (Content Management System) – you can either choose a hosted solution (such as WordPress.com or Squarespace) where everything is managed for a monthly fee. However, most businesses prefer to host the CMS themselves – you will own the site, and have more control and functionality – but you will need a developer to help set it up.
- DIY website creators – these are passable for very basic sites, but they are often fairly restrictive. The compromise might be worthwhile if you want a simple site set up in a matter of hours.
- Use a web designer for a professional finish – you may know colleagues who can recommend one, but if not, there are many online portals to source freelancers from, such as Upwork. Look for lots of happy testimonials and high ratings. Find someone who’s a web designer/developer, not someone who claims to also be expert in a million other things (they won’t be expert in any of them). Write a very clear, very specific job advert. Send it directly to people you’ve identified as being good candidates, but let others apply too. Ditch applications immediately that haven’t answered your questions properly, or haven’t supplied what you requested.
- Logo – keep it clean, clear and memorable. Ideally, you would get a professional to design a logo for you – and this needn’t be expensive. Take a look at 99designs for example – the site provides access to hundreds of prospective designers.
- Post regular content – and keep your copy updated. Demonstrate your expertise, and industry knowledge. You also have more chance of ranking in search engines with high quality, updated content. Spell-check everything before you publish.
- Easy to reach – make sure your Contact Us page is easy to access. Also display your contact details prominently.
- Does your site work on mobile? – a responsive website layout is essential for all devices – this comes as default in all modern WordPress themes.
- Promotion – don’t overdo the SEO but use best practices. Spread the word by offering to write articles for other sites in your industry. Produce a guide, and let others know about it on social media.
- Advertise your site – use Google Adwords and similar services if you’re looking for instant visitors, e.g. seeking new work. Also consider investing Facebook ads – although they tend to be less targeted from our experience.
- Do you own your site? – if you hire a designer at any stage, make sure all copyright and files are owned by you once the design has been finished.
- Social media – consider using Twitter and LinkedIn to mention your site, and to engage with potential clients and past colleagues.
- Keep it legal – include any details required by law, e.g. your company name and other details, especially if you trade online. Make sure you have copyright notices to discourage others from copying your content.
- Beware hackers – make sure your site is secure and safe from hacking threats… especially if you collect and store third party data, e.g.client details. If you’re using WordPress, use the All In One WordPress Security & Firewall plugin.
- Simplicity is key – above all, keep things simple and have a clear message.
- Before you go live – thoroughly test your site before launch, get feedback from friends and colleagues, check for broken links and ensure the site works across browsers and screen sizes.
Protect your contract income if you can't work - pay via your limited company