if you’re running, or thinking of starting, a work-at-home business, you will hit a point where a Facebook page or Etsy account no longer serve your needs entirely. It is about this stage where your thoughts turn to creating a web site, so off you head to Google, full of enthusiasm, to research your options. shortly afterwards you return, feeling scared, dismayed or downright confused! you probably found sites that go into details about how many gigaflips and wotsit boxes you get, or signed up for a free web service that just left you feeling abandoned, stupid and disheartened.
if that sounds like you then don’t be surprised – you’re not alone in this experience!
the real problem is that you're part of a new breed…
rest assured, you are still an intelligent person and that dastardly web things didn’t suck your IQ out while you were Googling. the real problem is that the web hosting, web design and web development industry grew up around traditional small, medium and enterprise-sized business. so it is not at all surprising that it makes little sense to WAHMs; it quite simply didn’t develop around the needs of what is a relatively new business genre.
things ARE changing (particularly as existing players spot the potential of the Work-at-Home sector). others will continue to ignore hard-working Mums (and Dads) like you, simply because you don’t have a budget large enough to warrant their attention. that’s cool – they will continue to service their existing, more traditional, customer base, while innovation and momentum will ensure that new providers will step in and provide the much-needed solutions.
“right now” solutions
while we wait for the rest of the world to catch up with the WAHM revolution (and it really is nothing short of a lifestyle revolution that is happening) what options are available?
well, getting a web site consists of 3 basic ingredients – the first two are dead simple and “cheap as chips”, the 3rd one is going to require a bit of work…
- somewhere for your web site to live (aka web hosting)
- an address so that people can find you (aka a domain name)
- your website contents
typically you will be able to take care of steps 1 and 2 in one go by signing up for a regular web hosting account – often you will even get the domain name thrown in with the hosting package for free (well, that’s what happens at http://www.avallach.net/ anyway!)
the next bit is a bit trickier, and you can be sure that I'll be covering that extensively in the future…
"simpler" alternatives to traditional web hosting (they're not always simpler)
in recent times there has been an explosion in the availability of web-based services, offering website building options for a low monthly fee. examples include weebly, wix and webs.com. these services set out to package everything up so you simply sign into your account and start building your site by adding pages, writing content and so on.
from what I have heard (from people who have tried this route), many WAHMs still hit obstacles once they start exploring their site building account. at the same time, it has to be said that many home-based business operators build very successful, attractive sites this way. in my opinion this is probably an example of “horses for courses”; what confuses the heck out of some people undoubtedly makes complete sense to others. that’s the beauty of living in a world populated by a diverse range of people!
for those who struggle to make sense of these site builders, I believe the main issue is that these services still follow the traditional model where you start with a blank piece of paper, and add content one page at a time. even the addition of setup wizards can only get people so far down the track; they are still left to figure out things like:
- how they want the pages to be structured
- what names and captions to use for the pages
- how to add products and services to their virtual shop
this is where they hit a real conundrum; they start thinking about paying for an expert to do these things for them, and then realise that they may just about be able to afford a couple of hours of a web pro’s time!
it’s why etsy actually works, but….
the main strength of a system like Etsy is that it specialises; you have a narrower focus, less things to think about, and you can be selling products from your store very quickly.
hang on though – didn’t we start with the idea that Etsy isn’t cutting it for you anymore???
well….. that’s really why the wahm zone came to be. through the power of WAHMs coming together, sharing information, helping and supporting one another, individual business owners are able to work through all the tricky stuff to get their content and products in place.
not only that – the mini site fature of the system was put together based on over a decade’s experience of developing web solutions. so now, by hanging out in the zone, you get access to expert assistance without having to hand over huge wedges of cash.
the web really isn’t as scary as it might look, and creating an online presence is easily within the grasp of anyone with the ability to make clever stuff and start a business around that!
all it takes is a bit of time, and the support of some new friends.