Monday, September 08, 2008

Your Business Website is $7

Business websites are as ubiquitous as, well, businesses. In this connected age, any business without some sort of online presence is really behind the curve. Websites are a definite marketing advantage, but at what price? Custom sites can easily run into the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. Even cheesy local sites designed by the owner's kid can cost a hundred bucks or more per year just for hosting. But what if you could get a professional looking site and domain for under $7 a year? Would that sound interesting?

Don't keep blinking. That price is correct. For $6.99 a year, the world's largest Web host will register your domain and give you a 5 page site builder. It's hard to find domains priced that low. But with online site building software and hosting included? Incredible.

Over the weekend, I got an idea for a business recruiting site I wanted to build. Normally, I'd just register a domain and then use the tools I've got to build-out a site on my reseller hosting account. But when I saw the deal that 1&1 Internet was offering, I got second thoughts. First of all, the domain name registration itself was priced $2 less than I could get it at the usual haunts. I didn't know if their Starter WebBuilder feature was any good, but thought it worth a try just in case. If it takes a couple of days to code up a site from scratch, there could be considerable time savings using the builder tool.

I'll let you judge the results for yourself. I bought late Saturday night. Then let the DNS propagation settle out overnight and started working with the Web tool after the Indy race on Sunday. It was ready to be posted less than 5 hours later. Immediately upon publication, this "weekend wonder" was open for business.

This particular domain, called River Success, is being used as a recruiting tool for the Commission River affiliate program. Commission River is something like Commission Junction, except that the emphasis is on telecommunications and related technology programs and they have a strong training program in place to jump-start new affiliates. With unemployment numbers skyrocketing, it seems like a lot more people should be interested in building at least a side income to get some control over their future. The program works best for those who have a serious business interest rather than just a passing curiosity. That's why I chose a serious B2B theme rather than something more lightweight. You do get a choice of templates, images and color themes.

I mentioned that the 1&1 WebsiteBuilder limits you to 5 pages. For many small business applications that's plenty. If it becomes a limitation, they offer an upgrade program for $9.99 a month that gives you unlimited pages. You'll also need the upgrade if you want to install any of your own code. With the basic package you're limited to hyperlinks.

The tool is actually pretty simple to use and if you've done any site building you'll be up to speed in literally a matter of minutes. A nice feature is that you can define titles and meta tags page by page. That makes you findable and unique in the eye of the search engines. Perfect for a business site.

So if you have a small business and haven't wanted to get caught up in the learning curve and expense of creating a related Web site, here's your chance. Seems like this is also good for anyone who just wants to try something online to see if it will work. You can start off with the domain name and free builder. If what you're doing proves promising you can always upgrade to the larger package or build-out a big, big site using Adobe Dreamweaver or other design software and then host it with 1&1 Internet.

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