I remember the phone book. (I don’t say this sarcastically) Anytime you needed to find someone, you looked in the phone book. I had a good friend at school but didn’t have his phone number, so I looked it up and found what I thought was his home phone number. I called it up and it turned out to be his father’s office.
Ooops. I was eleven, so I could be forgiven.
Today, I can’t remember the last time I looked inside a phone book, and that’s huge. Even more important, I’m not the only one.
I met a 25-year old just last year, and I was talking to him about how he makes the decision who to do business with. At the time, he was thinking about buying a condo and I was working for a mortgage banker, so I was really curious about his thought process. He told me that he’d been using Google to filter out Realtors based on a simple search of their name. If that search didn’t return a website or LinkedIn profile (which he considered the most basic online profile every professional should have), he moved on to the next person on the list. So, it didn’t have anything to do with what the person knew or didn’t know, or how long they’d been in the business – it all came down to their online presence, or lack thereof.
These days, he isn’t alone. People take to the Internet to find someone, whether it’s an individual, a company or a service provider. Google has replaced the phone book for most of these folks. This makes it imperative that you have an online presence. If you own a business, are a sales person, independent musician or an author with a brand to promote, this means you have to have a website.
The good news is that it’s easier than ever before to make that happen.
The absolute easiest way to have your own website these days is to sign up with a service like WordPress.com, Blogger.com or Weebly.com. Each of these services offer quick, free websites that can be setup in just minutes that are search engine friendly. You don’t even have to have a domain name of your own, you can use theirs and have http://mycoolsite.wordpress.com, for example. Plus, if you blog often, that raises your online profile significantly.
The next step up would be actually registering a domain name through a company like GoDaddy.com, and purchasing webhosting. This can cost anywhere from $3 a month all the way up to $100 depending on the host. Companies like GoDaddy bundle webhosting with easy website templates you can use to build and maintain a quick site.
A step up from that would be hiring someone like me to build a custom site for you. The developer might use WordPress.org, Joomla, Drupal or a host of other programs to create a site built to your specifications that you can update and maintain on your own. Finding a reputable person can be as easy as doing a Google search of your own, checking on Craigslist, (clicking on the ‘Consulting‘ link in the menu above! 😉 ) or asking someone you know who has a decent site of their own, who their developer is.
Any of these options will provide strong long-term results for you, and is definitely better than having nothing at all.
My next post is going to be a follow up to this post and talk about the services mentioned above, and how easily you can create your own hosted website in just a few minutes.