Launching a website can be a pretty exciting moment in your business. It gives small business owners a great chance to expand their visibility and get in front of a new group of potential customers that they could have never reached before.
It also takes a considerable amount of time and energy to get all of the images, video, copy, products and services organized on your site to showcase your business in it’s best light – but now it’s time to get back to work.
You’ve got bills to pay and customers to serve. But you know there’s going to come a time when you’re going to need to launch a new product or start promoting a new service.
You’re going to want to make sure you can generate some buzz and get the word out pronto and that means you’re going to need to find somebody to help you do that.
Asking for a “favor” from your neighbor’s kid was OK before but that just isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s time to “go pro or go home” but there are a ton of options to sift through.
So what’s that best way to keep your website up to date? Where do you start?
Here are three things I think you’ll want to keep in mind: your site’s maintenance, how much time you should spend on it yourself and who you really need to hire to maintain it. Let’s begin with your website’s maintenance.
If you’re just looking for someone to manage the occasional update or add a page to your website or if you just aren’t that tech-savvy. You may
want to consider hiring someone to handle your website updates or maintenance for you.
It almost goes without saying that your website needs to be hosted with a reliable and secure service. Hackers are everywhere these days and it has become a full time job just keeping up with them. Let’s leave web-hosting and cyber security to the professionals.
I recommend finding a reliable resource where you can build a long-term relationship instead of just trying to find someone on the cheap on a “project by project” basis. Plus, you don’t really want to give too many people access to the back-end of your website. It just isn’t safe or secure.
So while I love supporting independent small businesses and freelancers, this is the one time I would say go with an established company with more than just a handful of employees. Why?
Because if someone quits they will most likely have someone to replace them as they should have enough staff on hand where they can just reassign your account to someone else.
This saves you time and money because you don’t have to deal with the hassle of stopping what you’re doing and “hoping” you can find a good replacement. They’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
For WordPress sites I would suggest either WP Tangerine or Go WP, both offer very flexible and affordable services and no long term contracts. For site builders like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace, you have the option to either hire one of their vetted specialist or you can go with a service like What Army for Shopify or Zen Change who offer site maintenance services for just about everyone except Weebly.
Take the Time to Learn the Basics
It is not unreasonable to expect your web designer and/or developer to provide you with adequate access and training and you should take advantage of this. No more hunting around for or giving your sole admin password to a complete stranger because that is the only one you have.
Make sure that at the very least – your designer/developer give you a few generic “web admin” logins and passwords for you to be able to give out to freelancers and they should NEVER have complete access to your website.
Take the time to learn the basics because there will be times, where you’ll need to make a quick change at the last minute and your developer or assistant may not be available.
Being proactive about educating yourself first (before you start investing in designers, social media managers or virtual assistants) is never a waste of time. When you do finally have the money or the time to hire someone, you’ll be able to have more meaningful and productive conversations with them.
If you “brush this off” or just don’t make the time for it – you could end up spending hundreds, in some cases, thousands of dollars for products and services that you don’t need or can’t use to their fullest potential, simply because you didn’t do your homework first.
Freelance Designer or Virtual Assistant?
Now if you do decide to hire a freelancer there are lots of options, but I would recommend choosing someone based on what your needs are. For example, if you’re looking for design work you may want to consider hiring a professional freelance designer or design services, from say Design Pickle or UpWork, over a virtual assistant.
Business owners make this mistake all the time and it’s partially our fault because we have so many websites out there where both virtual assistants and designers are vying for your attention. It can be confusing and overwhelming.
If you’re really just looking for someone to help “keep-up with everything” – consider hiring a virtual assistant. But keep in mind that all virtual assistants are not created equally.
Some have a deep set of design, marketing and/or tech support skills (in things like Hootsuite or Canva or even WordPress) and others really fall along the lines of an executive assistant or project manager with no design or tech support skills at all.
Companies like Belay, Zirtual or TimeEtc. are all great places to start, but don’t let the pricing catch you off-guard. Keep in mind that you want to pay for high quality work and that most of these companies offer packages that cost a few hundred dollars a month.
That is no where near as expensive as hiring a full-time or even part-time employee for the same work and well worth the investment.
OK that’s it for me this week. As always – I love feedback and I want to hear from you!
Question: How hard or easy is it for you to keep your website up-to-date? What do you struggle with the most? Share your questions and comments below.
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