You’re moving along with your business! You’ve thought about the areas of service you’d like to focus your pet sitting on (Let’s Talk Marketing.) You’ve taken time to name your business wisely (Name Your Business – Pet Sitter), and today we’ll look at getting that name out to the public by setting up a website.
While you were finalizing your name choice, you probably gave some thought to a domain name. This is the name people would type into their web browser to find you, such as www.wellheeledpetsitter.com is the domain name for this site. Once you have it up and running, you might also hear it be referred to as a URL.
Setting Up Your Domain Name (URL)
Almost any company that works on websites can register a domain name for you. But you can also do it yourself online. This is a good way to go, because you have the freedom to direct it to whichever company you’ll choose to host your website on. There is no advantage I can think of to register a name with a local firm because they will likely go to a company called GoDaddy themselves and act as a reseller for you. Why not go there yourself?
- GoDaddy – According to their website, GoDaddy, is the largest domain name registrar in the world since 2005. It’s simple to sign up and find a name for your very own. [I personally like to pay the additional money to make my name private as well.]
They will ask if you you’d like to order email or hosting services too (so you can use your new name to build a site) – but this is up to you. You can take as many or as few of their packaged services as you wish. I’ve used GoDaddy for many of my domain names. Their customer service is great.
By the way…you cannot actually buy a domain name. You just lease it for a set length of time and it is renewable at that point.
Finding a Hosting Company
You’ll find dozens of website companies in your city or region, all looking to host your website for you. There’s a potential pro to this solution. You can at any time step away from your desk and go pay them a quick visit if you feel you need to have a face-to-face discussion. Even on the phone you’ll usually have only one or two people there to speak with. They get to know you. With the right company, you can build a relationship. The down side is they will most likely not have 24/7 customer service, so even if you’re website suddenly fails, you might have to wait until Monday or at least the morning. Their pricing might also be steep if you’re on a tight budget.
HostGator – While GoDaddy reigns supreme with domain names…HostGator is best known in the industry for excellent web hosting. And you don’t need to choose…you can use both companies if you wish. Buy from one…host it with the other simply by pointing to the servers on HostGator. I do this all the time.
When I started with my first website some years ago, I enjoyed the comfortable relationship I’d built with a web hosting company in our area. But after three years, several periods of down-time, and costs that reflected industry pricing years earlier when hosting was expensive, I had to make a switch. HostGator offers great packages to suit your needs. While you can choose their most economical package to host one site, for pennies more a day you can choose a package to host unlimited domains. Even if you’d like to add a family website or blog or a second site for your spouse’s business…this upgrade is your better choice. They also offer customer service that has never kept me waiting.
Making Your Website Work for You!
You don’t need to purchase fancy web site software to make a simple website any longer. Both GoDaddy and HostGator have simple to follow website packages that come complete with templates! Whichever company you choose to host your domain on…you can order their website package too.
Another solution is to put a blog on your hosting site. WordPress is the most popular and is downloadable right from the the “cpanel” you will use to maintain your website. (Don’t worry…each company provides lots of guidance…just be prepared for a learning curve. It’s worth it to have a great website.) And WordPress can have regular web pages set up just as easily as the blog format.
But what pages will you choose? I’d suggest just a few. You just need to get your basic information across:
- Home page: This will give a short recap of what you do and what area you cover. This saves you from fielding lots of calls and emails you can’t help with. Make sure people know you are covered with pet sitters insurance and you have pet first aid certification (if you do.)
- Services page: This one outlines your services in a few short sentences for each one. Add a few photos if you can to keep it colorful. I’d suggest not including pricing here.
- Prices page: This page is completely optional. I find the number of sitters who put up their pricing is about half-and-half to those who don’t. On the forums of pet sitting organizations you’ll find just as many pros and cons. It’s your choice. I don’t include my pricing because I’ve run into a few situations where I knew I’d need another dollar or two, and not having posted my rates, I didn’t worry about asking for it.
- About page: Of course people will want to know a little about YOU! They don’t need to know your whole history. No one will read it. Tell them you grew up with animals…that your business is covered by pet sitters insurance (again…you don’t want them to miss it!) and any other credentials relevant to the job. Volunteer work at shelters, classes in animal care, pet sitting as a student…anything like that.
- Contact: Most website templates and blogs have a widget or template to add a contact page. This enables the viewer to send you an email without seeing your actual email address up front. Unfortunately, email address harvesters and spammers love to find addresses out there for the picking. Don’t let yours be one of them.
Now get busy – and let’s get that site online! Remember…you can always tinker with it over the next weeks and months…but without it, there’s nothing to tinker with. Or for your potential viewers to read!
Today is the 25th day in our 365-day series! Our multi-dog family went home after dinner. When I’m finished writing this post, I hope to have an hour to myself this evening…before Monday rolls around and we start again!
Until next time…have fun out there!