Register your domain name for multiple years
Domain names are so cheap now—under $10—that there’s no reason you shouldn’t have your own domain name. (i.e. www.yourbusiness.com) I interviewed a client once who insisted that is “free website” was good enough and he didn’t need his own domain name. The problem was his domain name looked like this: http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/Your.Taxlady.719-548-4924. And *that* my friends, is a hard website address to fit on a business card. Not only that but it’s much more difficult to get a good search result ranking with an address like that.
Registering the domain for multiple years (instead of just one) also allows you to begin “aging” your domain name. Basically, this is good because the older a domain name is, the more “weight” it is given by the search engines in rankings. Yes, this is one of those times when Older is Better.
Pay for hosting
There are tons of hosting companies offering affordable plans for less than $10 per month. Assuming you are a “local business” reading this, you won’t likely ever have to worry about getting more traffic than your basic hosting company will allow. If you can swing it, I’d recommend you pay the $1 or so extra per month for a unique IP address. (Just tell your host that, they’ll know what it means.)
Set up an email address using your domain
Trust me on this. It looks much more professional for a business to have an email address with your business name in it than not. For example: email@example.com is not as good as firstname.lastname@example.org. Your host will have instructions on how to set up an email address. (It’s not that hard.)
Have a clean and simple website design
It is SO cheap now to have someone design a site for you. Places like 99designs.com, elance.com and others will design a nice site for you for less than $100! If you want to do it even cheaper (and I generally recommend this), you can install a “blog” using WordPress for free! The WordPress platform is so much more dynamic than a blog though. It’s easily customizable to look like sales page or a shopping cart or almost anything you can think of. You can go to sites like WooThemes and ThemeForest for inspiration and customized themes starting at $1. Just remember that when customers come to your site, their first impression of how professional you are depends on how professional-looking your site is. If it looks sloppy or cheap, they’ll probably assume your work or services are the same—like it or not.
This is the end of Part 1 of the Series. Please let me know if this is helpful and/or comment about anything.