Sometimes, there seem to be a million-and-a-half different ways to “{annoying salesman voice} Get your own site and start building your web presence today!” Everyone has a solution whether it is professional agencies, your best friend’s kid who is fresh out of design school, or services where you can “easily” build it yourself.

Building a web presence shouldn’t be difficult. Regrettably, the truth is that is very rarely the case. So, let’s walk through the pros and cons of some of the options out there in your quest to get the right website for you.

High-End Branding Houses and Professional Agencies

The websites these professional agencies develop hold a somewhat revered sense of appeal for all of us. Honestly, the awe is deserved, as some of the most inventive sites and techniques come from the top agencies throughout the world. And when you work with them you also get an upscale design team. A design team that will create and execute their vision of your website flawlessly. For large corporations, this is ideal. They need a team to take the ball and run with it. But it comes with a high-end price tag.

As an entrepreneur, you are used to driving the vision of your company and its presence in the market. You are the expert on your business. And you surround yourself with collaborators that ensure your efforts reflect your vision. So, this arrangement of having someone else take the ball and run with it may make you uncomfortable.

If you find yourself in the position that you have the funds and you need a site that pushes boundaries and makes a truly unique statement, a large agency may be ideal for you. The most important thing is to find an agency with an impressive portfolio and a good working history with previous clients.

Freelancers

I’ve worked as a freelancer. I love freelancers—particularly the good ones. Many people have a great working relationship with the person that created their site and are happy with the results. Because you’re working with an individual, you don’t have to worry about getting through a wall of people to get answers. The one-on-one working relationship is more personable and often can be a more comfortable solution.

Freelancers are affordable on average costing anywhere from $20/hr. to over $100/hr. And there are many talented freelancers who create exceptional work at a surprisingly affordable price. But people often think that the higher the price the more experience and talent they are getting…but that isn’t always the case. We have all heard of people who pay thousands of dollars for a site and end up hating the experience and the site.

Sometimes freelancers may be juggling too many clients and as a result cannot devote the time needed. And with a freelancer, there is no one to delegate the workload to. This can result in changes being slow, waiting months to see a finished site, and you may never hear back from your freelancer again once the check goes through even if you aren’t happy. You’re paying for a product, not a service, so once you receive that product you are on your own. This can get much “stickier” if you have “hired” someone that you have a personal relationship with. So if you think the freelance route is for you make sure you hire a freelancer outside of your social circle. And that you set clear expectations for exactly what it is you should be getting for the price you are paying in the timeframe you need.

Build It Yourself:

In recent years, this has become a very highly publicized option. And why not? No high-priced agencies, no dealing with freelancers, and the sites in the ads look so pretty. And there is usually customer support to help with any major issues. And many entrepreneurs go this route because they are in control. There is freedom with this choice that you would not get by having someone else building your site. But that’s only if you know website building.

It is important to make sure you understand the amount of time it will take. You don’t have to be a professional web developer to do this, and if you are able to find something that is exactly what you want, and are comfortable with it, then you should absolutely use it. But often once you’ve signed up, you may realize that it is more complicated than you thought. You may find yourself frustrated trying to figure out how to style your headers, insert images, add other functions, and you can’t get your margins set to save your life. We’ve all been there. Don’t be hard on yourself. These sites can be annoying, even to people who have years of web experience. So, it is good to go into this option with your eyes wide open to the “true” cost of the solution.

A New Option:

Thankfully, more and more people within the industry are creating alternatives to the above options. Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but he revolutionized how they’re made. He made owning a car affordable enough to make it a commodity instead of a luxury. That is what this option is all about. Several companies have started offering a solution that takes the best of all the others and eliminates the hassles. They have created subscription based services that allow you to have your website tailored to your needs and built by professional designers and developers using the latest templates and tools available. They then handle the ongoing management (…like posting blog entries) for you. This is where I am today. My company has created one of these new options. I work with our clients and make having a website built no more difficult than selecting a cell phone and a service plan.

This new option allows you the freedom of having a site that incorporates the latest and greatest stuff with fresh content and images. Pick a plan, provide some information, and you’re off to the races with a new website. No quotes, change orders, turnarounds, or “buzzwords”. No offshoring talent, no hidden fees… just a good site, quickly, and at a monthly price you can budget for.

And in many cases, you get a reliable site without the giant price tag and without having to do it yourself while still getting a site that makes you proud. But remember I said this was a new option. Unfortunately, this option like all the others has a variety of companies offering the all kids of subscription services with pricing that is all over the map. Just as before the most important thing is to find a company that offers this service with a subscription plan that works for you and your budget.

To Sum Things Up

Building a site, or having a site built should not be difficult. In the end, you want a website that comfortably fits your budget, that you want to show people, and a partner that offers ongoing support to make changes and updates when you need them. Knowing what you want from the beginning will help you chose the best option for you and can save you a lot of money, time, and frustration on the road to getting the right website for you.

By: Jen G Anders, for AMI LC