Having your own website can provide a number of real benefits for contractors, and given the low cost of entry, there isn’t really an excuse not to have one these days.
Why set up your own website?
Aside from the cerebral benefits that creating your own site can provide, there are naturally a number of good business reasons why contractors should consider creating one, including:
1. You may receive direct enquiries from potential clients via the web, providing your site appears in a meaningful way on Google and other search engines.
2. Having an online CV is always useful to confirm your credentials, as recruiters are increasingly scouring the web to clarify information provided by potential candidates. Many clients now use pre-employment screening services, particularly in the financial sector.
3. Having a business website is a pointer towards being in business on your own account, and may help demonstrate that you are operating as a real business, rather than merely a ’disguised employee’ – the term used by HMRC to describe those who are deemed to be the main targets of the IR35 legislation.
4. You have more control, and can provide far more information on your contracting business, compared to the resume service offered by social networking sites such as LinkedIn.
How to set up a business website
Many people presume that all IT contractors are able to do anything ‘web-related’, but of course this isn’t the case.
Unless you are a web designer, or ‘are pretty handy with HTML’ (as many contractors seem to be), chances are you will need some help setting up your website.
The simplest way to get started is to set up a shared hosting account with a solid provider. You can pay as little as £60 per year for a shared hosting account. We’ve used Clook for many years to host dozens of sites (small ones, and larger ones), and have yet to experience a single problem.
Take time choosing a business domain name, and try to secure the .com and .co.uk domain variants at the same time. Again, this should cost no more than £50. You will typically need to renew your domain names every 2 years. A good provider is GoDaddy… or simply set your domains up with a hosting company.
You should be able to access your new website settings almost immediately. This will include setting up email addresses, and other ‘housekeeping’ functions.
Depending on the amount of content you plan to use on your site, a Content Management System could come in very handy.
The leading free blog software is WordPress – it is easy to use, adored by Google, and massively flexible. Most web hosts have WordPress and similar applications pre-installed, so you simply need to click a button to get started.
The amount of design work you require is very much up to you. If you’re going for a ‘brochure’ site, you may want to hire a web designer to design the whole thing. If you’re using an out-of-the-box CMS, you may need as little as a logo.
Search in Google and you will find thousands of companies and freelancers who will be able to provide design resources according to your budget. Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll know someone (possibly another contractor) who will be able to do the job.
Getting your website noticed
Once you have set up your website, you can use your domain name in your email signatures, and of course, use the company email address for correspondence with agencies and clients.
Link up your site to your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts (if applicable), and provide a link on your CV to enable potential recruiters to access any supplementary information about you.
And finally, don’t forget to spend some time promoting your new site on the web. Exchange links with related sites, and even offer to write articles on specialist sites and tech forums.
We work with dozens of contractors on a number of projects, and a number of them work purely for clients they have gained via their own websites, and word-of-mouth recommendations.