Does it Make Sense to do a Template Site?
Or Should I Spend More for a Custom WordPress Site?
I almost titled this article, “Sure you can get a website for a fraction of what we charge! But what are you getting?” Sometimes we’re not the best fit for a client that’s just getting started in business. And that’s fine! Today I’d like to share my thoughts on template sites from places like Wix. I won’t lie, if you’re just starting out you should probably go this route. But it really depends on your startup capital. Established businesses should never use a template. It’s going to make you look unprofessional if you do. But when are you ready to step up to a WordPress site? I’ll give you my opinion for both startups and established businesses. Here we go. Let’s look at some numbers:
Online Marketing Budget for the 1st year in Business
According to the SBA, we should all be spending at least 7% of our gross revenue on marketing. That’s great in an ideal world, but in the first year you’re likely struggling to figure out what your target market is and what services or goods provide you the best ROI. It’s tough starting out, and chances are you’re 6-months or more away from your next paycheck. Hopefully you have some capital set aside to use in the business for sales and marketing. If you do, there’s a threshold where I think it makes sense to upgrade to a fully responsive WordPress theme site.
You can get a template site going with a little effort and some graphics help from Fiverr for around $400 in your first year. If your startup cash is less than $25,000 this is going to be a big percentage of your marketing budget right here! Remember the 7% is your total marketing budget. You’ve still got personal bills to pay, and I am all for keeping your powder dry while you focus on the things that most effectively grow revenue. If you spend all your marketing money on a website, there’s nothing left for business cards, flyers, or anything else you might want to do to promote your business. What’s worse is that a website on page 12 of Google isn’t doing a thing for you. And let me be brutally honest, your template site will never rank in Google unless you live in the middle of nowhere. The only reason to have a website at this stage is to reserve a domain and put it on your business cards. If you have less than $25k saved up, you better grow fast and don’t even bother with a website. Spend $10 to reserve a good domain name and just sit on it. Get business cards and network. Going to Chamber functions, cold calling and visiting referral groups is a low cost way to get your message out there. It’s only going to cost you some gas and time to meet people and tell them what you do. Now get out there and hustle!
What Can You Do With $25k?
At that level of capitalization, I would suggest you focus on setting up a Google Business account, getting it verified, and creating all your social media pages. Do all the free stuff! If you start out between $25k-$50 in total capital, then I’m of the opinion that this is the range you should probably just do a template site yourself. Anything above that starting out, and you need a legit WordPress site. Again, this is all just my opinion, but it’s based on experience and talking to business owners each and every week. Are there exceptions to this? Sure! It all depends on your industry. If I were to build you this site you’re reading this article on, it would cost somewhere north of $12,000 at this point. We’ve poured hundreds of hours into development, design, content and SEO. But this is what we do! You can’t expect to sell online marketing with a garbage website, so we went all-out early on.
Advantages of Custom WordPress Development
If you’ve got over $50k saved up to pay your personal bills and you plan to invest all your time into the business, consider getting a professional website. There’s several reasons why, starting with image. Would you rather pull up to a meeting with a potential big-fish client in a beat-up 10 year old Corolla with fading paint and squeaky brakes, or a brand new Lexus? Unless you want to be the next Saul Goodman, you better get a decent ride! Image is everything in real-life and on the web.
Web Development for Established Businesses
I’ll keep this section brief. If you’ve been in business for more than a year or two, chances are good you already have a decent website. So, this section might be redundant for most of you. If not, I’d recommend seriously considering it as your next course of action. If you grossed over $100,000 last year, you need to spend $7,000 on marketing this year to position yourself for more growth. For many small businesses, this will cover a website and some basic SEO work with money left over. If you’re a local business, I don’t know of anything more cost effective than ranking your website above the competition in Google. So, as soon as your gross income exceeds $100,000 it’s time to build a professional web presence.
Anyone whose visited more than a dozen websites will be able to spot a template site. Sure, you can do a good job with the layout, and they are better than they were 10 years ago. But it’s still a template that’s probably not fully responsive for mobile devices. It’s still limited to a few standard layouts. And there’s no way to do all the technical SEO work needed to rank in Google. Technical SEO is always step #1 in the process of getting your site ranked in Google. If you can afford it, custom WordPress is the way to go. But here’s a word of caution: You’re probably throwing your money away if you don’t immediately start SEO work. Here’s why…
SEO: Critical to your Business Survival?
If you’re a local business that’s just getting started, chances are good that your competition has not been doing SEO. If you go into business and just copy what everyone else is doing, you might not survive long. Look for marketing opportunities that are both low-cost and underutilized in your market. Stand out! A SEO marketing agency can quickly determine how tough it’s going to be to rank in Google against your competition. If your competition has an established client base, they might not be open to trying digital marketing.
“Why try something new when things are working okay?” If that’s what your competition is thinking, you need to look into exploiting SEO as an opportunity to grow your own client base.
Isn’t SEO Expensive?
Like many things in life, the answer is: It Depends! If you made a mistake and got a domain registered through GoDaddy, chances are you get tons of cold-calls about SEO. These companies provide cheap SEO. I probably should have put some quotation marks around SEO in that last sentence. Usually it’s super cheap, and you get what you pay for. I’ve heard numbers as low as $60/month from some of these companies. Typically, they are going to setup a Google profile for you, aggregate your information in Yext, and do nothing while they collect a check from you each month for a very long time. It takes them less than three hours of work, and they probably do nothing in the subsequent months while you’re still obligated to pay! Sounds like a bad investment to me.
When you shop for SEO, get the word cost out of your mind completely and replace it with the word value. Would it be of value if I charge you $800 a month to rank your roofing website in Google? What if you sold an average of two extra roofs each month? You’d probably ask me to do more SEO at that point and charge you double if we can bring in four new roof installs! Yes, SEO is expensive because it is a labor-intensive form of online marketing. But SEO provides exponential value to the business owner if it’s done well.
How Much Will SEO Cost Me?
I can’t really answer that unless I take a look at your site and the competition. I’m not going to sell you a service if I don’t think I can deliver results. For some businesses, the answer is going to be $400 a month. For others, we need 40 hours of work each month to rank against your competition. That’s going to cost a lot more! If you want to get a general idea, check out our SEO pricing page where we list the current rates towards the bottom. If you want to know which option is going to get you ranked at the top of Google, just give us a call or e-mail. We’ll provide a free SEO analysis of your existing site.
The Verdict on Template Websites
If it seems like I spent too much time writing about SEO, please accept my apology. There’s a reason for it. I want you to understand that a website can be an asset or a liability. It’s an asset if it’s generating sales for your business. But if your site is on page 10 of Google, it’s little more than a liability. Before you upgrade to a WordPress site, be sure you have an adequate SEO strategy. If your startup has less than $50,000 in total savings (personal + business), template sites are perfectly fine. The same goes for established businesses that reported less than $100,000 in gross revenue in the prior year. Templates from places like SiteBuilder and Wix are a great way to get something put together on your reserved domain name. They give you a starting point. But you’ll never rank them in Google no matter how many promises they make about “built in SEO tools”. You need full access to the backend of a site to take your business to the next level with SEO. Webology can help build a professional WordPress or Static HTML site when your business reaches that next level. Give us a call whenever you’re ready.