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Why Your Website Needs a Content Management System

If you’ve never owned a website before it can feel like you’re climbing Mt. Kilmanjaro. You have so much information to sift through when it comes to figuring out where to register your domain, which web host to choose, whether or not to invest in a custom job upfront or how to even manage it.

That’s why I’ve decided this week to show you why your best option, as a small business owner, could be a CMS or “content management system”.

A CMS is Way Better Than a Site Builder
I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to a client or prospect who has regretted signing up for a cheap web host plan with a site builder. The premise is that you eliminate the cost of a web designer, but what most of these companies don’t tell you is that it’s nearly impossible to add new features or functionality to your website without paying extra for it.

Some companies charge as much as $85/hour to make any kind of changes outside of the free templates they have available. You also want to be careful, when you purchase business services from a phone or cable company.

Typically they will throw in a free website to get you to sign-up with them and while this may sound great at the time – there’s more to the story.

They really want you to get the “free website” because it then becomes a vehicle they can use to “upsell” to you their custom web design services or to buy online ads. You most likely won’t purchase ads online if you don’t have a website to point them back to.

Slick right? But the real clincher is what they charge to host these websites in the first place. Depending on the service – you could be paying anywhere from $30 to as much as $100 a month for web hosting alone {that’s $360 to $1200 a year}!

Let me tell you – you can get a high-quality web hosting service with a CMS, from some of the best companies out there for around $6.95 a month {that’s around $83.40 a year} and you can do pretty much whatever you want and pay a fraction of what you pay for to have them host your “free website”.

If you aren’t happy with their service, you will have to go jump through hoops to keep your business package but ditch the web hosting and almost no site builder offers you an easy way to transfer or download your site’s content. You will most likely have to move it bit-by-bit and if you have a large archive – that can take up a lot of time and cost you extra money.

A CMS will typically provide a file that you can easily download and import on a clean copy of a CMS that you can host on another site. You can do this sometimes within hours and not skip a beat.

They’re Very Affordable
You can install and host a high-quality CMS for almost nothing {on average around $6 – $8/month}. I always recommend choosing a web host provider that already hosts a CMS and most likely it will be either WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

A CMS is specifically designed to be “dynamic”. What that means, is that the developers and designers made a conscious decision to separate the site’s “techie” functionality from the content {which is kept in a database} and from the site’s “look and feel” – that’s the design, the colors, branding and the like.

In the early days of the web you couldn’t do this so cheaply or easily. You had to have deep pockets and you had to hire a separate designer, a separate programmer to help store the content and most likely another person to code what would ultimately become what the visitor would see on the “front-end”.

The web community realized that this was cost prohibitive and over time developed a more affordable option known as a “content management system” or CMS for short.

They’re Easy to Update & Maintain
One of the biggest complaints most small business owners have about their website is the maintenance. They either don’t have the time or the ability to maintain it themselves.

Well, you have two options you can either pay someone else to do it {like a tech VA} for example or you can take the time to learn how to maintain the site yourself. In all honesty I provide my client with video tutorials of their website and recommend that all of my clients learn how to do it themselves in the beginning.

Even if it’s a short “bootcamp” style training session. That way – when they are ready to hire or train someone else to do it they know what their site can and can’t do.

Many owners shy away from this, but this can save you hundreds of dollars a month in unnecessary site maintenance down the road.

You Can Control Who Has Access to Your Site
Unless you already have a very robust online web presence or are in the process of integrating your online presence into your existing marketing plan, it’s highly unlikely that you will have in the beginning at least – a ton of site updates. Nor should you be at the mercy of a designer or a developer to make them, this is one of the best reasons to use a CMS for your site.

At some point, you should be putting your marketing dollars towards developing or implementing a marketing strategy that will include your website so why purchase a site maintenance contract before you even know what you are going to do yet?

It’s OK to shop around for a business coach, “tech VA” or a social media manager, but they can’t really help you online if your website isn’t set up properly. The VA and the social media manager are going to need to have access to the back-end of your site to provide their services to you.

If your website isn’t set-up so you can do that, you’ll be paying for a service that you can’t really use until you get your site fixed.

This can cause delays and more money, but is easy to control in a CMS. If something {or someone} doesn’t work – you just take it {or them} off the site. You can even customize and give third party users limited or full access to your site’s back-end without involving a designer or programmer.

They Have a Wide Variety of Features You Can Add-On
Content management systems also have a wide variety of plugins or extensions that can add great features like slideshows and appointment calendars to your site. Many well-know online marketing tools for email {like MailChimp or AWeber}, shopping carts {think Shopify} and analytics applications {like Google Analytics} help you manage and track your site.

In fact, I use it for my own website. Yep that’s right – your reading this blog post on a customized WordPress site.

Most public CMSs have a dedicated team of developers and a large enough community to ensure that you don’t really have to worry about if the software or it’s plugins and extensions are being maintained, kept up-to-date and relatively secure.

In my opinion the best of these CMSs is WordPress – it’s the “Google” of content management systems. But there are others that are better suited for eCommerce {like Magento} and many non-profits adopted Drupal very early on. Joomla and Expression Engine are also widely used, but for small business owners, I would recommend WordPress hands-down!

Well, I hope I was able to give you something to think about in this post, before you dive into updating or launching your website. Trust me, setting your website up in a CMS from day one, will save you all sorts of time and money.

If you get this part right – the rest will seem like a walk in the park, because you won’t feel like you’re taking two steps forward and then two steps back.

Question: When it comes to planning your website, what are you struggling with the most? Share your comments and concerns below.

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