Business owners are being ripped off every day, and more often than not, they have no idea that they’re being ripped off at all. And it makes me soooooo mad! So today, in this first in a series I decided to pull the curtain back and show you at least some of the ways in which you, business owners, are being ripped off, so that you can start to protect yourselves from the scammers who are all too willing to take your hard-earned income without delivering much (if anything) in return.
Rip-Off #1: The Web Site Scam
I’m going to start with one of the big ones: web sites. These days, every business should have a web site. Having a web site—a good, professionally-built web site—is critical these days. You absolutely must have a good quality web site to represent your business and build credibility. But there seems to be an awfully big amount of controversy with respect to just how much you should pay for a web site. Specifically, I’ve seen site quotes range from $200 to $20,000 for basic, simple web sites. So there’s not much question in my mind that business owners are being ripped off by web firms.
Why is this a scam?
The scam with web sites is the “customization” scam. Web firms will tell you that they write “custom code” and create everything from scratch, and that’s why they’re quoting you $20,000 for a basic, 10-page web site.
The problem is, most businesses don’t actually need a custom-coded, built-from-scratch web site. Look at my web site. This one right here that you’re reading right now. Looks pretty good, right? Professional, high quality? It’s built on a template. You don’t need custom coding. So for most businesses, paying for a custom-coded site is just plain dumb, but because most business owners are in the business of doing their business and you don’t know that you don’t need custom coding, you don’t know that the $20,000 quote is silly.
On the flip side, for $200, you’re likely to get a really stripped down, poorly-created site that won’t help you grow your business, because it’ll look like your 12 year-old designed it on his iMac in the basement, and frankly, that’s not what you’re after for a professional presence. Further, with a site that cheap, I can pretty much guarantee you that your site won’t be optimized for search engines, so please, don’t waste your time or resources with a site that cheap.
The second scam with web design firms is the “monthly expense” scam. Web design firms will bundle all kinds of things like hosting, domain registration, “maintenance,” and SEO services into a monthly fee that they’ll charge you on top of your regular design fee. Let’s get a few things straight:
- Monthly hosting for your average web site costs like $5/month.
- Domain registration for a .COM is like $8.50/year.
- You should be able to handle your own maintenance, which includes things like changing verbiage on a page or adding a blog post. There really is no other web site maintenance.
- SEO services should come from a search engine optimization specialist, and that is a scam in its own right, which we’ll be writing a blog post about in the near future, so stay tuned for that.
I recently had a client who had a web guy trying to charge her like $99 just to renew her domain name. People, it takes 5 minutes or less and eight and a half bucks to renew the domain name. Quite simply, the monthly expense scam is about creating easy monthly recurring revenue for web developers that doesn’t require them to do much, if any, work.
Think you can’t manage your own web site? Baloney. Whenever we create a web site for a client, we schedule a detailed training session so they learn how to manage their sites. That’s when our clients usually say, “I can’t believe it’s this easy!” You can manage your own web site.
When is it not a scam?
First, let’s talk about what a basic web site is. A basic web site for most businesses should have the following:
- Around 10 pages, including, but not limited to:
- the main page/home page
- A page talking about you/the company (usually “About Us”)
- At least one page talking about your products and services
- A page with testimonials
- A contact page (usually “Contact”)
- A blog
- A way for people to sign up for an email newsletter
- A call to action – what do you want them to do? Call you? Put your phone number on every page and tell them to call you.
- Connectivity to your social media pages (see up in the right hand corner where you can click to go to all of my social media profiles? Like that).
Generally speaking, most businesses should be able to manage their own sites, performing basic updates and adding blog posts, without help from a web developer. In most respects, WordPress is very easy to use and has navigation that’s similar to Microsoft Word (plus it has dynamite search engine optimization features, which means you’ll have less to worry about in terms of getting your web site found by search engines like Google). So you’ll be able to update your web site most of the time on your own, contacting your web developer for significant graphical changes, update, or redesigns.
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