How-to Build an Effective Website On a Shoestring Budget

If you want a website that gets results, you don’t have to hire a web designer to do it. You don’t even need to figure out how to set up your own web host.

Most web designers and developers don’t want you to know this, but you can actually set up an awesome website without them. It doesn’t take a big budget to do it either.

Just to be clear before I spill the secrets though, these inside tips will work for most small businesses, but not all. If you need a website that has flashy widgets, a place where people can log in, a CRM, advanced e-commerce, and/or a partridge and a pair tree; than you should skip to the end of this post for the next best option.

Most of you simply need a website that is easily found by search engines, works well with social media, is mobile optimized, and educates customers on the benefits of your business. All for the least amount of money right? If that is you, read on.

To build an effective website, simply do these 4 things:

  1. Set up a account and upgrade to the premium version. It works great, loads fast, and you will never have to worry about hosting, crashes from to much traffic, or getting hacked. For $99 a year you can add a custom domain, remove ads, and unlock some extra features that are handy. It is such a good deal that I recently moved my self hosted website to What to put on your website is a topic for another blog post altogether that I will right soon. Subscribe if you want that delivered to your inbox as soon as I publish it.
  2. Find a good business theme that has a hero header (big title, subtitle, and large button) for the home screen. The cost ranges from $0-$80 one time. I recommend this one or this one if you’re not sure which is best. If you want to get a little fancier you can pay a freelancer to customize the CSS code to perfection, but it isn’t necessary.
  3. After that, sign up for Moz Local. It will help you syndicate your business info (name, services, website, phone number, etc) to some of the most popular directories, increasing the number of ways you can get found as well as helping you rank higher on search engines. It only costs $50 a year. Set that up in 15 minutes and forget about it.
  4. Top this off with a free google business account. Set up your local business profile and Google+ page to get found in Google maps and local searches. Turn on the Adwords Express account that comes with that and throw some money into it. It is not as good as the full blown Adwords, but it still works GREAT and you don’t have to pay a professional to manage it. Start with $100 a month and see where that takes you. Add or subtract as needed. The days of the Yellow Pages are over. People use Google to find your business services now, so that is the best place to be found.

If you did all of that, you would be far ahead of most local businesses for a measly $150/year + monthly ad spend. This also requires a minimal amount of time to maintain (near zero once set up).

Extra Credit:

  • Have more money? Throw $90 a month at your blog (built into wordpress) using Blog Mutt to generate 4 unique blog posts a month that are keyword heavy to raise your organic rankings. It won’t be great content that people will subscribe for, but it will keep your website fresh and help your rankings. WordPress can also autopost the blogs to social networks, so that you can set that and forget it too.
  • More? This one is a bit more complex, but it is still attainable. Set up a and a paid Mailchimp account (starts at $25/month for both) to create an auto responder series that follows up with people automatically who requested a quote. Send an email or two a week for a month that answers the top questions people ask about your product/service or should be asking.

If you need the website with a built in back scratcher …

If your business is a bit more established, you have a dedicated marketing budget, but can’t to bring the designers, developers, and marketing experts on your pay roll, then these guys are your best option. I was once afraid my employer would fire me and hire them instead. Essentially they have boiled the steps I outlined above into a science and will do all of the above for you and more for far less than the cost of single “expert” salary. They’re also for all your other marketing needs to.

Still want more?

I know this post is loaded with marketing jargon that might be flying over a few heads, so if you want more details or you want me to elaborate on any one step, just let me know in the comments below. I would be more than happy to help.



Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

Recent Posts