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Natural Impressions
05-18-2009, 11:20 PM
I have been putting off getting a web site for a few years now.

What are the pros and cons about it?
What is the averagecost of a website and how much increase in clients has anyone had??

I'm just curious because I don't the $1000's of dollars like I think it could cost for 2 more clients.
I guess I just need someone to sell me on the idea. Thanks

Inspira
05-19-2009, 07:23 AM
I'll get the con out of the way first - if you want it done right and have it look professional, it's expensive. You'll get people telling you that you can do it yourself - use Yahoo's sitebuilder or Optimum Online's homespace thing, and it will be fine - and that may very well be the case. But I've had many clients come to me after trying that, unhappy with their results - and at that point, they've invested their time, which we all know can be very expensive in itself.

I just had this exact conversation with a client in the container business a few months ago. He spent around $200 per month on an ad in the NJ yellow pages. That ad was 1/8 page, black and white. Pretty much just his logo and a phone number. Seen by potentially thousands, though.

A website is a full-color, enriched experience seen potentially by MILLIONS. Full description of your services, image slideshow, contact form, etc. And once that initial setup is done, the ongoing maintenance is negligible. I can set up my clients so they're able to update their sites themselves without screwing up the design - or if they do need me, it's not expensive to have me update now and then.

But let's take it one step further. I'm in my 30's. I just bought a house a few years ago. I don't use the yellow pages. Or look in the classifieds. I also Tivo straight through all the commercials on TV. Get what I'm saying? If I need a guy to do something, whether it's an exterminator, a landscaper, roofer, you name it - I look on the internet. This mentality is here to stay, as younger generations will rely on the web even more.

Will you see a huge increase in clients? Who knows - hard to tell. I'm in North Jersey - I would be more than happy to talk to you more about it, including price, which I'd rather discuss privately. PM me if you like.

Best of luck whatever you decide to do.

mdvaden
05-19-2009, 10:28 PM
I have been putting off getting a web site for a few years now.

What are the pros and cons about it?
What is the averagecost of a website and how much increase in clients has anyone had??

I'm just curious because I don't the $1000's of dollars like I think it could cost for 2 more clients.
I guess I just need someone to sell me on the idea. Thanks

Get it first and foremost to represent you and our industry on the internet. Put the advertising concept on the backburner.

You can get a nice site even if it's a template, for a few hundred. That cost can be spread over the next 20 years into insignificance.

Then you are maybe looking at $100 a year to cover the name registration and hosting.

It's not really why should a company get a website. It's more like there is no reason not to get one, even if the site is basic.

It can be inexpensive or expensive - whatever you choose. If you are on a budget, and a website professional can't provide you with an option under $500, that web person has crippled solution skills. At minimum, they should be able to provide a referral if they simply don't want to work for under a thousand. A person should be able to get an entry level website between several hundred and several thousand.

Inspira
05-20-2009, 07:22 AM
A person should be able to get an entry level website between several hundred and several thousand.

Now THERE's a price range! Sounds like the quotes I'm getting for my retaining wall...

Turboguy
05-20-2009, 06:40 PM
That almost sounds like it makes more sense to be a web designer than to build walls. Price is about the same, you don't have to lift anything heavy and you don't have to buy the materials for each job. I think all Lawnsite members should become web site designers and we can change the name here to lawnwebsite.com

WebMan
05-20-2009, 07:54 PM
There are NO cons. :clapping:

Today EVERY business is expected to have a web site. A good web site for a landscaping type company shouldn't run more than $300 tops custom-made and you can also get a host with a do it yourself site builder, some of the folks here use ours. There's a lot of different ones available through different hosts if you have time and can "pick up" some new software pretty quick.
Once the cost of the site is out of the way (either the built one or the Do It Yourself) the cost isn't over $130 a year for a top-end host and you have many pages of full color advertising you can change at will. There is NO better investment on the planet than web sites.
Look at all you get compared to the same cost as a small yellow page ad...and with the yellow pages the average is 50% of customers look there, of thew ones that do they will call 3-4 people average; so you get into the "who is the cheapest" game from the start. With a web site you can present yourself as being worth whatever you charge because you have ROOM...

It's hard to believe (nothing personal) that anyone would ask such a question in 2009 :confused:

One thing is do not use the combo registrar-hosts like GoDaddy & Dotster because that often ties your dot-com name to your host. You want to start with a host month-to-month so you can check features, support, etc. and a lot of their "plans" lock you in for a year in the "fine print".

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 12:25 AM
Having a website is the single best form of advertising available to your business. I develop web applications for a living. Despite what others have said a good website can run anywhere between 1000 - 3000 depending on the features and functionality you're wanting and some sites I've worked on have budgets of upwards of 500,000+. I've been in this business for almost 7 years and will not work for anything less than 50/hr. which seems high, but you also have to figure in the value of what you're receiving. BTW I'm not soliciting, I am building accounting, customer and employee management for lawn care professionals. I also work with large firms which produce marketing and web apps for fortune 500 companies. Web development is not cheap by any means but it is the most effective way to differentiate your company from others - so what you pay for is what you get. Hosting and domain names are really the cheapest part of the whole process. A domain name at godaddy will run you somewhere around $10/year ... I usually advise clients to register for multiple years if possible to avoid any issues. Hosting is also fairly cheap, but it's important to get a good host. I've gone through the paces of working with godaddy hosting(crap), blue-host(o.k.), lunar-pages(o.k.), dreamhost etc... I eventually setup a server with slicehost which allows me to actually control what software the server runs. I host about a dozen sites off that server but it also comes at a higher monthly cost. I would not worry about have 10 gigs of disk space/ 100gigs of transfer per month. Those numbers are severely inflated by server companies to get your business. I would suggest checking out lunar-pages as they are the best when it comes to customer service and also realistic features. Also, you need to look for linux hosting as opposed to microsoft server hosting. MS hosting limits the development possibilities because of proprietary software and will ultimately cost you more money in the end. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 08:10 AM
I would agree with some of the advice here and disagree with some.

I certainly can't disagree with the comment that everone should have a web site and that it is the best advertising dollar you can spend. Once your site is up the cost is almost nothing compared to other ways you can spend your advertising money.

As far as the cost of a professionally done website there seems to be a lot of difference in opinions. My two cents worth are that you can get a really nice looking site professionally done for a few hundred. You can get a stunning site that will set you ahead of your competion for a few thousand. You can also get a crap site that will make you look bad for a few hundred or a few thousand. A little reseach when looking for someone to do your site will be a wise investment of your time.

Personally the advice I thought was best would be to avoid the one stop site builder hosting. I agree it ties you in too much. If you create your own website independently you can move it to a new host at any time and you can probably save a lot of money.

If you want to do your own and are good with things like that and want to invest your time more than your money a google search will turn up 1000's of free website templates just by doing a search for that term. There are WYSIWYG programs such as Komposer available for free. Domain names cost you $ 10.00 a year and hosting is easy to find for $ 5.00 - $10.00 a month. Basically your website doesn't have to cost even a hundred bucks a year and for the good it can do everyone should have one.

Personally, I think if you have no experience you are better off letting a pro design your site. It is a one time cost and can save you countless hours and produce better results.

WebMan
05-21-2009, 11:06 AM
My two cents worth are that you can get a really nice looking site professionally done for a few hundred. You can get a stunning site that will set you ahead of your competion for a few thousand. You can also get a crap site that will make you look bad for a few hundred or a few thousand. A little reseach when looking for someone to do your site will be a wise investment of your time.

I think that's accurate. The difference is I deal with the specific market rather than web sites in general. The above post from a designer is not out of line for the average "designer".
However most service industry people don't need near the "web experience" of a multi-thousand dollar site. The consumer looking for a service like landscaping or such isn't looking for the elaborate "web site experience" that other sites would demand for success.
As an example I did a site for a custom chopper shop (like the on-TV show types) last year and the intro alone for that site was over $3,500 and I got them a great deal through a friend on that (normal $6,000) for about 12 seconds of "intro" then plus the cost of the actual site.
BUT when you are going for custom built bikes that are basically "playthings" of those with disposable income in a very "down" economy and with a lot of competition it was felt needed to get them on a par with the competition.

However landscaping and a bike costing around $100K are 2 different markets entirely. In the service business people care little about a web site except for 2 things that they want to find out fast...do these people do what I need? and: Why are they really good at it or Why should I choose them instead of another company?
Fast is because it is the Internet and people want fast or they wouldn't be there...secondly the other 2 are the basics a clean site with easy functionality that conveys those 2 elements quickly (you only have about 8-10 seconds to "catch" their attention enough to keep them on your site) and personally I haven't found people in service industries who spent large amounts for elaborate sites to make any more sales from them or especially profit (expense of site vs. profit generated from jobs gained) than a good, clean, web site that looks professional but gets your "message" across quickly and effectively. That's why I don't think over $300, especially in this economy, is "worth it" (unless you get someone who builds a stinker for $300) for a service business.
The designer above is surely well within the average range for professional designers and that's what stops many small businesses. But I have always left those sites to folks like him and work 98% for contractors of one type or another (with the occasional referred exception like the bike shop) so I can turn out a contractor site for far less by going only for the elements that bring specific job leads. (and I am snowed under as well as having other things to do so I'm not trying to solicit anything in web design now or soon...just advice for the different philosophy of web design and the statement above being very accurate)
Nothing against expensive, professional web sites at all but in my other life as a marketing & sales consultant primarily for the contracting field I am hearing from a LOT of desperate or semi-desperate people who are having bad or at least "off" years and so spending one to three grand for a web site is out of the question for them for now but having web site is more important than ever. That's why I would recommend a site builder if you have the stuff to do it yourself or a specialty designer that may not provide a "state of the art" web presence by today's latest technology but can build something you can afford. (Another place to look this time of year is just graduating college students -web site work is a tough job market & they need a portfolio so you might get the expensive site cheap if you got lucky & found the right "fresh grad" needing something "cool" to fill out their portfolio.

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 12:27 PM
Personally if someone wants to have their site professionally done I think there are some good reasons to go with someone with experience in creating sites in this industry. Perhaps if the contractor is good at selling and putting his ideas into words it would not be so important. Think of it this way. If one of our lawnsite contractors tried to come up with the wording and important points for a dance studio or a manufacturer of turbines how effective would they be? Someone who has done dozens of landscing or lawn care sites would have a much better handle on things.

I think it is also important to define exactly what you want your site to accomlish, the clientel you want to appeal to. The services you want to promote, things that might be important to your customer, etc.

As an example of what I am talking about in the type of client you want to attract if your website shows only multi million dollar estates with showcase lawns it might be the most attractive site around but if most of your customers are mill workers with cracker box homes you will create the impression that you don't look for them as a customer. If your website shows run of the mill, every day people houses the guys with multi million dollar houses won't be very drawn to your services.

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 12:36 PM
I still think that 300 for any site is too little even in this economy unless your outsourcing to a company in India. It's a shame to see designers undercutting themselves like this and exactly why I stay far far away from design. Seems that they've forgotten the time they spent learning how to do what they do, learning html, css, apache, php, photoshop, seo etc... That's where the value to a business comes in because telling a struggling business that they can build there own site it'll just take about 3 months and possibly 100-200 hours min. just to learn how to do it in the first place. All to build 1 simple site that could've been done by a professional in a fraction of the time, and ultimately at a lower cost.

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 12:55 PM
I have seen some web designers that can throw something fairly attractive together fairly cheap. There is a link here somewhere to an outfit that has a lot of pre-designed templates oriented to the lawn care and landscaping industry and for $ 199.00 they will modify one of their standard templates with a customers info. That would not be a bad deal for someone starting in on a tight budget.

I agree that a real pro has spent a lot of time learning HTML, CSS, Flash, PHP, Photoshop and more but for the sites the average person here needs even mastry of a WYSIWYG program such as Dreamweaver would do the trick and most recent graduates of a community college website program could do it.

I think one of the most correct statements you made was that most guys deciding to do it theirseves underestimate the time it will take to put thier first website together. Once they have done a few they can whip one together pretty quickly. Hundreds of hours is probably right on so that puts the value of thier time at about a buck an hour. I think they could spend their time elsewhere much more productivly.

Even taking hudreds of hours the site they put together will most often not be as nice as one of the $ 199.00 modified template sites I talked about.

I can still recall how confusing it was when I did my first sites and that was using a WYSIWYG program (FrontPage at the time) I have switched now to DreamWeaver but for someone to do his own that is expensive and the learning curve is very steep. I am sure I spent a few hundred hours on my first site.

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 12:56 PM
As an example of what I am talking about in the type of client you want to attract if your website shows only multi million dollar estates with showcase lawns it might be the most attractive site around but if most of your customers are mill workers with cracker box homes you will create the impression that you don't look for them as a customer. If your website shows run of the mill, every day people houses the guys with multi million dollar houses won't be very drawn to your services.

That would almost seem true but that's not how marketing works. That's how you would think marketing works. Whenever I hear this exact same thing from someone in the industry I think of two Henry Ford quotes that have been pounded into my head:

A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.

and:

If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse.

This is exactly why Pepsi dropped 1.5mil to have a slightly altered logo. It's the job of the designer to connect an unseen and non obligated potential customer and draw them in. It's not about what kind of pictures you show it's about understanding that market and finding clever ways to sell yourself and build trust. IME a fresh faced designer making 300 off a site has no understanding of this. They just want to make the client happy.

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 01:18 PM
I have to agree with you.

I do think most customers don't know what they want or what will work. You mention two things that stuck in your mind. I will tell you one that always stuck in my mind.

I used to know a management consultant who had done work for MickeyD's and a number of other major companies.

One of the things he said in a one of the speeches I heard him back in the days before cordless drills was:

One of the most amazing things is that one of the best selling tools is the quarter inch electric drill.

The amazing part of that is that no one really wants a quarter inch electric drill.

What people really want is a quarter inch hole.

That has always stuck in my mind and I often think back to that when someone talks about something they want. When I relate the two, just as Henry thought people would ask for a faster horse many times I have been able to determine that what people asked for and what they really wanted was very different and I have had some very good ideas by figuring out what it was they really wanted.

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 01:31 PM
Even taking hudreds of hours the site they put together will most often not be as nice as one of the $ 199.00 modified template sites I talked about.

I can still recall how confusing it was when I did my first sites and that was using a WYSIWYG program (FrontPage at the time) I have switched now to DreamWeaver but for someone to do his own that is expensive and the learning curve is very steep. I am sure I spent a few hundred hours on my first site.

There are some good template sites out there, but IMO they all have a template look to them. I probably spend too much time on the web, but I can almost always point out if a template has been used and usually what site it came from. I'm a little more discerning than your average site visitor though but case in point my brother owns a lawn care business. For the past two years I've been hounding him about putting up a website and doing some marketing and for the past two years he's struggled to have enough lawns to keep his business profitable. Finally this year I set him up a website, made new biz cards and door tags and spent 2 sundays walking up and down every new housing development. He's had about 100+ responses and has had to redirect some business to a friend. If I were to build something similiar I would charge probably 1500 - 2000. With the 60 or so lawns he picked up and I think he averages somewhere in the $20 range per lawn that comes out to around 1200/week extra business. I didn't charge him anything for the site but I now get older brother told you so rights.

Inspira
05-21-2009, 02:17 PM
Just to throw my two cents in - any service industry, where there isn't a tangible product, is highly regional. Here in New York City, where we pay $14 for a sandwich at lunch, a basic site runs a few grand at least. Worth it? Well, this thread argues both sides of that. But there's no way I can compete, yet alone feed my family, doing sites for a few hundred bucks.

Agree with Mikey though - as a designer, I can immediately spot a templated site. Most users probably won't though. And like someone else mentioned - if I need my grass cut, I don't really care if the guy's got a drop-dead site. I care if he can cut grass.

WebMan
05-21-2009, 03:10 PM
I would still have to agree to disagree that yes; what Turboguy considers a nice web site might cost that much, I would imagine he values his time at $125-$180 hr. w/ a 1 hr. minimum. In no way uncommon or unreasonable for some web designers.

But most people in service industries don't need that type site. They may want it, but not need it to have a site. $50 an hour is a respectable amount for sitting at a keyboard in the AC and basic web sites (not templates) are just not that hard to build if you have been doing it 13-14 years. Flash, and other of today's common things which a web designer would consider necessary to make a "nice" site by today's "web designer" standards are not necessary for a service industry.

Like I said, customers looking for services really don't care how "fancy" the web site is as long as the copy is well written, the design is clean and they can find what they want and make contact quickly and easily.
I have several clients, some from here, who built their own using "template based" site builders (certainly the lowest common denominator in web site building-the "do it yourself") and they are getting good results and making good money considering they have a $10 a month investment. So it doesn't take but a few clients to put them well into "the black" on costs (which was the OP's?-"is it worth the costs")
So if that works certainly a person who knows web design can do what you would consider a basic web site 5 pages or so for $300 that will get the customer good enough results to make it VERY cost-effective as far as advertising or marketing if they don't want to do it themselves.

The thing I hate to see is not someone like you building a really cool site here for $1,000 or more if that's what they want and everybody's happy--fine with me...BUT I don't want a regular contractor with a small budget getting scared away from having a web presence because they think it is that expensive and that's all there is.
I have never built a contractor site over $600 and that included Flash & some other extras they wanted as well as I think about 9 pages and many photos that ALL needed work.
I just don't see the need for so much more--we aren't selling Nike against Adidas or Mercedes against Lexus...
I doubt the extra $1,000 would gain $1,000 more worth of profit (and that must be profit-not gross to pay for itself) and I am a firm believer in doing ALL marketing in the most effective way possible. The most profit returned from investment.

So an expensive site is great if someone wants one, but the fact that expensive sites are available and desired by some people shouldn't make other people think if they can't afford that much they can't have a very cost-effective web presence that in this day & age is a virtual (pardon the pun) necessity for ANY business if for nothing more than their own e-mail instead of an ISP ...I cannot believe how many contractors I see with a gmail or hotmail or whatever address which is like a death sentence... or AOL, Earthlink, Comcast, or whatever--just about as bad. Shows they can't even afford less than $1.50 a month for e-mail hosting (no site just them@theirname.com for 10 e-mail accounts or so) but since a web site can be added for so little more...it just makes sense to have one of some type that brings you business...there's just no reason not to, whether you choose do it yourself, a $300 site or a $3,000 site...done right all will bring in business and all are better than having a card with mowalot@gmail.com on the bottom of it and no web site at all in 2009!

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 03:44 PM
I agree with you on the email. I recommend google docs email address which allow you to have you@yourdomain.com ... it's free and all the features of gmail plus like you said it looks better. I never use the email functionality that the server companies have b/c it's notoriously bad for spam. That's one of the many reasons I don't use traditional hosting companies though.

I'm not arguing for or against cheap sites. I have many freelancer friends who design, program, consult, manage etc... and I have yet to run across a good designer who works for less that 40/hr. Some like you said charge 100/150/hr. but those guys might only work 5 hours on a design. I work a 45 hr. work week in addition to whatever charity work I'm doing. My rate of 50 is a basic rate for programming in Python or sometimes PHP, with my max being 100/hr. for linux shell programming and I don't consider my work easy... there are lots of times like today where I will work from ~9 in the a.m. to well past 3 or 4 a.m. tomorrow trying to solve a programming issue(if only math would do itself).

I've never worried to much about scaring a client away. Like anyone logical I give my price and if you like it great, if not next client. Just like going to the mechanic: If you can't do it yourself then be prepared to compensate the mechanic for his expertise, time, overhead, parts etc...

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 08:03 PM
I would still have to agree to disagree that yes; what Turboguy considers a nice web site might cost that much, I would imagine he values his time at $125-$180 hr. w/ a 1 hr. minimum. In no way uncommon or unreasonable for some web designers.



Actually WebMan, I am not a website designer, I just do websites for my own business. I have a small manufacturing business and have about 6 or 7 sites for that some of which may be 60-80 pages. I am also very involved with the HydroSeeding Association and do two sites for them. That association has receintly started to offer free web hosting for thier members and I have been helping the guys who are trying to do their own sites. All the association stuff is for no pay and anything from my business is just whatever good the web sites do. I rfeally don't think in terms of the value of my time.

I would disagree about the templates. I will agree that I have seen some template sites that just glare "template" at you. I have used templates for some of my sites and most don't look like templates. I do spend many hours looking through templates and don't go for the free ones usually. You can get a good site with a template and for someone doing their own it can save a ton of time, money and frustration.

WebMan
05-21-2009, 08:09 PM
I would mention your characterization of spam can be totally wrong. A company I am very familiar with uses the most advanced anti-spam/anti-virus on the planet...updated at 4 hr. interval with the lowest "pass through" rate in the industry. Best you can get with a price tag to go with it.

However as you said most web hosts often just use the spam program that comes bundled with their server software. which is usually right next to worthless but unlike the one mentioned; they're free.

That's why choosing a host is so much more than price and attention grabbing "numbers". You may miss a lot of other functionality. The same way the company I mentioned provides multiple backups plus a "1 click" download to your PC backup function, and many other features because 99% of their clients are business and that's what they design systems around.

However people should be very aware that there are "how to" manuals readily available and free on-line to show a 15 yr. old kid how to set up a web server on the PC in his bedroom. Done right it's very difficult to detect if you aren't a pro and if they build (or buy) a great looking web site so that "big time" looking host might be a PC in a kids bedroom ...just like some companies sell servers set-up for web hosting for $60 a month. Anybody can do the same thing by renting one of those (they are usually old Celeron servers that are "leftovers they have lying around). So it's always a good idea to research your host by seeing how long their domain has been registered, calling their sales dept. and asking some questions about whatever concerns you and drop them an e-mail and see how long it takes them to respond and how professional they are. Watch out for ones that only take PayPal (don't have their own credit card processor) and if they do have PayPal also you can check how long they have had the account & their complaint reputation if they are a verified business member.
(And there is nothing "illegal" about the kid unlesshis ISP decides he's using too much bandwidth and turns him off there's not much to stop him)

If you get a "Thk u 4 callin" type response--run as fast as your finger can click :)

WebMan
05-21-2009, 08:15 PM
Actually WebMan, I am not a website designer, I just do websites for my own business. I have a small manufacturing business
Then why are you stating how much sites should cost and all that? You aren't actually in the "business" although you do some web sites. So why are you arguing about $3,000 sites when you build free ones :confused:

One thing people can look for in do it yourself programs is the ability to customize templates. The good ones will let you completely redesign the template you like to suit you exactly.
Similar to your association post I did a template modification for a manufacturer last year who had/has many customers without sites, so they wanted a template that reflected the company used their products and was all set for their industry so it would be super-easy for their customers (just like the members you mention) to get a web site up.

Turboguy
05-21-2009, 09:29 PM
Then why are you stating how much sites should cost and all that? You aren't actually in the "business" although you do some web sites. So why are you arguing about $3,000 sites when you build free ones :confused:



I was not aware I was arguing about anything. I never said a word about $ 3000.00 sites. I believe you stated $ 3500 for an intro page on one of the sites you have done.

My exact statement was

As far as the cost of a professionally done website there seems to be a lot of difference in opinions. My two cents worth are that you can get a really nice looking site professionally done for a few hundred. You can get a stunning site that will set you ahead of your competion for a few thousand. You can also get a crap site that will make you look bad for a few hundred or a few thousand. A little reseach when looking for someone to do your site will be a wise investment of your time.

I have been doing websites for a dozen years, but only my own. I have also spent a lot of time hanging out at forums for web designers. If you are saying it is impossible for a web site to cost $ 2000.00 then how can you say you did an into page for $ 3500.00.

I come to Lawnsite for two reasons. To help people when I can and to learn from everyone. Personally I think the chances of info being helpful are just fine with someone who has nothing to gain, particularly if they have been around the block a few times.

Since there seems to be some misunderstandings about what I think so I am going to go into more detail and here is what I do think as clear as I can make it.

1. Everyone should make it a priority to have a web site. It's really important these days and will pay for itself quickly.

2. As I said in my quote the cost to have one done can be anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand. Most guys can get a good website for $ 200.00 - $ 500.00. If you have upscale services and want a really classy site it may run a few thousand but will be worth it if you have a good web guy.

3. If you are really struggling starting a new business and a few hundred dollars is a lot of money for you there are ways to do it yourself very cheaply. A domain name is 10 bucks and decent hosting can be had for under a hundred bucks a year. Many hosts offer site building software but that may tie you into that host which is not always a good scenerio. There are free and cheap WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) software such as Komposer (free) and Coffee Cup (cheap) that will make doing your own website much easier and cheaper. Don't exect it to be fast and easy. You will probably spend a few hundred hours on your site.

4. Another option is to learn HTML and CSS. For anyone going this route I would particularly recommend the book "Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML" by Eric Freeman and Elisabeth Freeman. It is great reading and easy to follow and can have you understanding enough to do a good site fairly quickly.

5. If you can afford to advertise at all and put any value on your time you are far better off letting someone else do your site. It is a one time investment that can pay off for years.

6. Personally if I were looking for someone to do my site I would talk to some of the web guys who post on LawnSite. They have a feel for the industry and know what it takes to make a good site.

7. If you are in the want to, but not quite ready stage start taking photos of your jobs. Good photos are worth their weight in gold and photos of your jobs are better than stock photos. Professional photographers take tons of photos. They may take 100 or more for every one they use. Take lots of photos.

There is probably more but that is the main thoughts I have.

mikey.hill
05-21-2009, 11:04 PM
I would mention your characterization of spam can be totally wrong. A company I am very familiar with uses the most advanced anti-spam/anti-virus on the planet...updated at 4 hr. interval with the lowest "pass through" rate in the industry. Best you can get with a price tag to go with it.

However as you said most web hosts often just use the spam program that comes bundled with their server software. which is usually right next to worthless but unlike the one mentioned; they're free.

That's why choosing a host is so much more than price and attention grabbing "numbers". You may miss a lot of other functionality. The same way the company I mentioned provides multiple backups plus a "1 click" download to your PC backup function, and many other features because 99% of their clients are business and that's what they design systems around.

However people should be very aware that there are "how to" manuals readily available and free on-line to show a 15 yr. old kid how to set up a web server on the PC in his bedroom. Done right it's very difficult to detect if you aren't a pro and if they build (or buy) a great looking web site so that "big time" looking host might be a PC in a kids bedroom ...just like some companies sell servers set-up for web hosting for $60 a month. Anybody can do the same thing by renting one of those (they are usually old Celeron servers that are "leftovers they have lying around). So it's always a good idea to research your host by seeing how long their domain has been registered, calling their sales dept. and asking some questions about whatever concerns you and drop them an e-mail and see how long it takes them to respond and how professional they are. Watch out for ones that only take PayPal (don't have their own credit card processor) and if they do have PayPal also you can check how long they have had the account & their complaint reputation if they are a verified business member.
(And there is nothing "illegal" about the kid unlesshis ISP decides he's using too much bandwidth and turns him off there's not much to stop him)

If you get a "Thk u 4 callin" type response--run as fast as your finger can click :)

Absolutely, not everyone is in the same boat as me. I spend a great deal of time managing clients servers so for me what works is a dedicated server(actually xen based hosting). I urge anyone who's interested in running multiple sites to check out slicehost. It can be a little daunting at first though b/c their disclaimer is basically you get a Virtual Server and SSH access and whatever you put on there is your business. I don't particularly like running CPanel or ispconfig ... i think it's just another way to do the same tasks that should be run via command line. Backups, incremental DB backups, Nagios, SVN and the usual LAMP stack is what you will find runnning on any big name websites server(w/ the exception of the rare MS Server). I would also recommend, if you don't already, learning command line. I spend a majority of my day using CLI and have done so for about the past 4 or 5 years. Just a few days ago a client was launching their site and got sucked into a server company that had all the 'bells and whistles' and I had to use CPanel to get everything working and setup b/c it's weird like that. The same task that takes me a few hours at most ended up taking upwards of 12 hours b/c of issues that those types of GUI interfaces have. Didn't bother me though cause I still invoiced em, but I do worry about security issues because those mgmt consoles are just another chance for a security issue. Anyways I'm done ranting about how everyone in the world should use linux the way it was meant to be.

For email, your right - there are some companies out there who do setup email properly, but it's been my experience that the time spent managing and dealing with server based email just doesn't cut it anymore. Gmail, maybe not the best, is put over the top with their integration of all the google docs applications. It's a seamless way to operate a company(I deal with media companies and we pass around alot of info via google docs- obviously isn't the case for everyone) and I've seen it work time and time again. We all have our preferences though and gmail is just mine.