February 21

How to make a website for your small business on a budget


I stared at the email I just got, barely believing my eyes.

Was that my first order, online?

In June 2021, after 8 months of trying everything, including nearly throwing the kitchen sink at my website, I finally got a sale.

That might be where you wish to be.

Post your product on the website, kick back, and then watch the sales come in.

Only it’s not that easy.

If I could go back in time, this is what I would do.

You don’t always need a website

If your small business is primarily doing enough on Whatsapp and Instagram, you don’t always need a website. You can even use a simple Google Site to make what you need.

Don’t waste your time building out, when what you have works.

You need a website when:

  1. You want to scale your business and get payment integrations
  2. You want to build out more product lines
  3. You want to share information through your website

Get the basics right

Getting a site up simply involves three components.

Think of it like a house.

  1. You need an address in the web, like a street sign.
  2. You need the land for the house to sit on (this is the hosting), which tends to be the most expensive if you’re buying it separately.
  3. You need to build out the house with a theme builder.

But if you look at this analogy, you will quickly realise some things.

That it’s not easy to know which to choose.

Be prepared to spend some money

Here is the ideal tech stack we would use. Again, this is something we are familiar with and we think would be best for you if you are willing to take time to learn.

Item Fee (dollars per year) Our recommendation
Domain name registration $10.90 Do it on Cloudflare
Hosting $83.40 Do it on Chemicloud Turbo plan
WordPress theme builder Thrive Themes $299 Thrive Themes is one of the best plugins optimised for conversions.
Total $393.30  

If you’re not, we suggest Shopify, because its layout is beautiful, and because it comes with easy integrations to get paid.

The yearly total with Shopify is about $349 per month.
The yearly total with Shopify is about $349 per month.

Please avoid Wix

We personally dislike Wix because of two reasons.

Firstly, we hate that it’s so clunky. If you try adding the blocks, you will slowly find yourself really stymied by the limitations they put.

But we also hate that the SEO is so un-intuitive. It’s hard to change, difficult to see whether you’re doing it right, and compared to the flexibility of WordPress, Wix is horrid.

It always pays to start it on WordPress

WordPress vs Wix is a longstanding debate. It’s a little like whether you would use Android, or Apple. WordPress is the Android that allows you to customise, whilst Wix is a little more fixed.

But we still recommend WordPress, especially for search engine optimisation purposes (SEO).

And please, don’t tell me SEO is not important because there’s social media today.

The data shows otherwise.

That’s why we still swear by WordPress, years after it started.

Understand what your small business is going to use its website for

When we first started Live Young and Well, we didn’t know what it was for. We were in a time when we were pivoting our business multiple times, and our site was confusing.

We went from being a training provider, to being a fitness provider, to a marketing agency, to a web agency, to what it is now, a media production agency.

But people were confused. We were trying to sell, provide useful content, and even try to host online courses on it.

But if we drill down to the basics, there are 3 main ways a website is used.

If you look at the above, your site can probably do one or two functions, but it shouldn’t do everything. You will end up getting nowhere.

Once you choose, stick to it with a hypothesis you have, before adjusting again. Else you might never get to find out credible results, before you adjust again.

For example, Liveyoungandwell.com is today used as a media provider. It didn’t use to be this way.

After producing tons of articles across multiple segments, we slowly realised that this particular site would be used more to showcase our content ability, and our ability to engage readers, to potential clients.

Our mission has today evolved to be ‘cut big, without cutting back’.

Rather than trying to teach clients certain information.

For example, in the past we were teaching people how to set up a site, buy a domain, through liveyoungandwell.com.

But then we adjusted it to more personal finance content after we revitalised our mission to help people cut back, without cutting their quality of life.

We started producing articles in the categories below.

Type of articles you can produce for your site.

Know what you want to measure

The easiest way to measure is often through the revenues checked out through the site, but that may not be very accurate if you’re not a product based business.

For a while, we were chasing vanity metrics like the number of visitors we got each month. But we slowly realised that this wasn’t very helpful because we weren’t necessarily getting more enquiries (measured through email enquiries) for our services.

But we also realised that a far better way was to perhaps measure our input.

We started looking at our blog articles.

You might think this is a lot of thinking to do before your site, but if you measure wrongly, you might start thinking that your site is a waste of time, resulting in you not investing as much time and effort into your site.

Know how your customer behaves

Often when we start creating a product, we might get so excited that we forget that the online channel may not always be the best way someone purchases your item.

Onur Ozer, a marketer who’s worked for the likes of Mastercard, once said at the 2023 Ahrefs SEO Summit, that we often think about marketing in the wrong way.

We tend to start from demographics, before going down to their psychographics (or attitudes,) and their behavior.

But he argues that we should actually invert it.

Start from their behavior, or what they are actually doing now before you go down into who they are and what they think.

We often think about marketing in this way, but we should actually execute in the reverse direction, by starting with what our customers are actually doing NOW to solve their problem.

Here’s how we’ve seen it work out.

For example, when we first started our content agency, we weren’t necessarily sure how to get clients. So we ended up writing about the painpoints that we thought our potential customers would face.

We came up with such a two-column table , which you can try too.

Try writing down at least 10 in each column.
Try writing down at least 10 in each column.

You look at the problem, and you look at how your potential customer would solve it. For example, one of our key products was custom publishing of ghostwritten books.

We wrote a super article (at least I think it is!) on how to publish a book in Singapore. We then saw our first customer walk through the door, contacting us via our email (hidden far within our site,) and then closed our first sale!

For us, the customer would probably search on Google, and then find us.

We took deliberate efforts to make sure that we were ranking the best on Google.

You might start to think the same.

  1. Ask – what would your customer do to solve that problem now?
  2. Where is he going to find answers to solve that problem he’s facing?

Your site is your salesman when you sleep

The beauty of a website, is that you get someone who’s selling for you , as you sleep.

You don’t have to do anything.

Of course you need to follow up on the messages and learn how to close those deals, but you also need a site from the outset.

Start one. You might be well surprised at what you get.



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