Your website should be an important part of your marketing and customer service strategy, and as such you should treat it as an important investment. However, when you are a small business or sole proprietorship you often don’t have a big budget for anything, especially when you are just starting out. The good news is that there is a lot of tips and tricks you can use to keep your costs low while still building a quality website.
Keep Hosting and Domain Costs Low
Through some frugal shopping you can find web hosting for incredibly cheap. Even VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting can be had for over 40% off with the right promo codes. GoDaddy always has tons flying around. Dreamhost and Fatcow are two other ‘budget hosts’ where you can keep costs incredibly low while you build up resources. (Update: we found a good resource for coupons here).
Appointments and Scheduling
If you really don’t have the budget to spend a significant chunk of cash on your company website then you will just not be able to get a fully customized and integrated appointment booking system. Don’t despair though! While you might not be able to get it built right into your website there are several online services that you can pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to that can handle it for you. Your clients will be directed to your company’s page on the services website and can set up their appointment from there. Pretty seamless, right? And you can’t argue with the price, BookFresh has packages starting at $19.95/month.
Online Payment Processing & Client Billing
One of the easiest ways to take payments from clients is to use PayPal, if your clients don’t have a PayPal account they can use a credit card with their system as well. PayPal does take a small percentage of any payments that you receive, but when you compare it to the expense and hassle of setting up your own payment gateway it is well worth it.
Paypal is a great solution for people who have a product to sell, but what if you run a service that you need to bill hourly for, like a small web dev company? We here at Ibsen Co. use Freshbooks and it’s been a great investment. You pay a monthly subscription fee that varies depending on how many clients and projects you have, and it’s very easy to track your hours. If you are the type of person who gets caught up in their work and doesn’t really notice things like start and stop times, they provide a very handy timer that you can use to track time spent on projects. You can also include any expenses accrued by the client, and when it comes time to generate an invoice it’s a one-click process that makes a very professional looking document that you can choose to email to your clients or print off to send in the mail. You can also accept payments from your clients through your FreshBooks page, they can pay with PayPal or any major credit card. Everything is there, so worth the small subscription fee!