Warning: May charge hidden fees
As a small business owner you wear many hats. The one that may be the most daunting is your online marketing and social media hat. As a small business owner myself, I deal with and am aware of the many problems a small business faces. However, as a graphic designer and social media planner I have a unique understanding of how online marketing can work to grow a small business. With so many hats, and so many options I know it may be tempting to take that "they'll build it for me for free" path, but I'm here to tell you why that path is more costly than you think.
Yodle, WIX, and Web.com (to name the top three) are all "free" website building and online marketing service companies that claim they build you a "custom", "professional" website "free" of charge. WIX's free version places ads (that you can not choose) all over your website. Web.com and Yodle do not charge for the design, but charge a set up fee, and a monthly "hosting" fee. These kinds of companies may also keep your domain name if you cancel their services, keep your images and content to be used at their discretion, or keep any social media page they've created for your company.
I would also caution any small business owner to Google or Bing search a company that calls looking to sign you up for web design or social media services. A quick Bing of Google search of "Yodle reviews", "Web.com reviews", or "WIX reviews" can reveal a lot. Another thing small business owners should be aware of are companies that want your credit card information before they talk to you about what you need, or ask for credit card information when you sign up for a free trial.
These kinds of practices are severely frowned upon by most all professional web designers. As a professional web designer, it is our goal to make your business look its best for your customers and potential customers. We know that you are depending on our knowledge, and skills to create a website that works well, is easy to use (both in the front and back end), and fits with your current company branding.
Here are my personal three guidelines to follow when considering doing business with any company.
1. Research a company before you hand over your hard earned money. Especially a company that cold-calls you. You know nothing about them, and they probably know very little about you (and your business). *NOTE* If they are pushy, trying to keep you on the phone until you agree to hire them, or not "allowing" you to hang up and do some research be cautious. A company looking out for your well-being and best interest would gladly invite inquiry into their services, practices and overall quality.
2. Educate yourself by writing down and researching terms that the sales person used: terms and words that you do not know. Below are a few that I've gladly explained to past or current clients:
SEO – Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.
Adwords – AdWords (Google AdWords) is an advertising service by Google for businesses wanting to display ads on Google and its advertising network. The AdWords program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click the ads. The ad service is largely focused on keywords.
Pay-per-click – (on the Internet) a business model whereby a company that has placed an advertisement on a website pays a sum of money to the host website when a user clicks on to the advertisement.
Click-rate – the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link to a particular advertisement.
PageRank – PageRank is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to help determine the relative importance of a website. Every website is given a Google PageRank score between 0 and 10 on an exponential scale.
All these terms can be found by typing in "define [term]" in any search engine (Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.). The more you educate yourself, and the more familiar you are with terms like the ones above, the better off you'll be when it comes time to choose a company to help build your online presence.
3. View a contract or itemized list of charges before giving out your credit card information. Though I caution anyone who is giving out that information; if at all possible, pay by check so as to avoid being charged any additional "hidden" fees without your knowledge. You'd be surprised how many places like to tack-on set up fees, start-up fees, termination fees, etc. Be sure you know exactly what you are being charged for and how much it'll cost.
If you have any questions about what Clearmark Studios can do for your business, or have questions about terms, services, or are interested in a quote contact us any time. We would be glad to help however we can.