As a web designer and a writer, I get a lot of people asking me why they should pay $2000 to $5,000 for a web designer and developer to build an author website and blog when there are services like Wix and Squarespace that offer a complete website for $20 a month?
They say, even WordPress can’t be that difficult to learn enough to build something that would be passable, right? They think because they heard some guy talking about how easy WordPress is, they can easily build a work of art website in no time.
Just remember, though, that you get what you pay for. And guess what, you are a writer. You author books, articles, and essays. Do you really have the hours needed to learn how to build a professional website?
Look. I am a firm believer in paying for quality. I can’t tell you how tired I am of buying something for a low price, and it ends up being cheap plastic that breaks in a few days.
I only buy quality now. For example, I needed a computer for my work, and I could have bought something cheap and passable, but I knew that in a few weeks or years I would regret the decision. I ended up saving for a few extra months and bought an Apple computer. This MacBook Air costs a bit more, but everything about it exudes quality.
I did end up selling the MacBook to pay for my heart attack but bought an equally good Lenovo after my old Dell kicked the bucket and am very happy I paid more to get a quality laptop, even if it isn’t an Apple.
The same goes for a website. Sure, you could go cheap and use a builder to build the hub for your book, where hopefully thousands and thousands of your readers will go to find out more about you and your career. Hopefully, the website won’t break under strain and the reader will see exactly what you intended them to see because you are trusting a $20 a month software with your financial future.
I have nothing against builders like Wix and Squarespace. If you have experience, they are great options for simple websites and blogs. I use them all the time. But if you have never built a website before, you are asking for trouble if you build a website with a builder and don’t know what is going on under the hood.
What if you want to sell your book or merchandise directly from your website? What if you want to add features to your blog? Are you sure your builder software will allow customization? Is your website builder going to make sure you get the highest ranking in Google?
With Wix and Squarespace, you are trusting software to mimic the hard work of a professional web designer and developer, and it’s like hoping the knockoff smartphone from China will work as well as an iPhone from Apple, or a Galaxy from Samsung.
Admittedly, I have skin in this game. I am a web designer and developer and am a bit biased to the work I do, but let me give you an idea of what someone like me puts into ensuring that your website is the best it can be:
We brainstorm and plan the best possible outcome with you, the client, before we start any work to make sure you are getting exactly what you want and need in a website, and so that they don’t waste valuable time building features that are worthless to you.
We research and purchase the best possible domain name so that your website will be memorable and easy to find.
We set up security for your domain with an SSL certificate for better security, user trust, and ranking from Google.
We set up hosting to meet your needs and plan for eventual growth. You don’t want to be in the position where you are getting a million page views a month and your website crashes because it can only handle 20,000 visitors a month.
Set up a CMS. I often still use WordPress because it is like the Lamborghini of the web world. WordPress will do everything you want, and with a little customization is completely future-proof if you have extensive needs. Wix and SquareSpace are very limited in what they can do, especially so if you don’t know what you are doing.
Choose the best theme or builder template to act as a base on which to build a unique experience for your readers. There are some great layouts out there, but to get them to do exactly what you want, it takes customization, and those cheap online builders won’t do that.
Write, edit, and tweak the copy for every page of your website or blog. Many professional web designers are copywriters as well and know the most effective language to use. We also have access to editors and testers who can pick apart the website piece by piece to ensure that it’s not your reader who finds errors.
We format your blog post and tweak the SEO of your posts. Everything we do is to help you bring in traffic to your book sales page, so we try to squeeze every little drop of that delicious SEO juice from each word and make Google notice you!
Walk you through the website and make changes and revisions based on your needs and wants to make sure you are getting the website you dreamed of. We also make sure it will be what your readers want to see.
Speed is everything. One of Google’s ranking factors is page speed, and if you are using subpar themes and finicky code in your customizations, the website you have will likely be as slow as molasses on a cold winter morning. A professional will ensure your entire website is as fast as possible.
Test, test, and test more. Nothing is worse than launching a website, only to have some functionality fail and you are scrambling around talking to tech support trying to fix the problem before you lose any more readers. A quality web designer and developer will have anticipated issues and will be ready in a second if problems do arise.
Professional web designers and developers can help you plan for future needs. So you want to add a store to your website to sell merchandise? No problem, we thought you might. Do you want a system to book and charge for events online that populate your Google calendar automatically? Not a problem at all.
You get peace of mind knowing you have the best working in your corner, and that while you did spend money, you spent for quality and not a bargain.
Not All Designers Are Created Equal
If you spend enough time on the internet, you are bound to find bargain-basement designers as well, who are willing to undercut anyone else’s prices to ensure they get your contract.
While I might charge you $5k for a complete package, some Farley Farnsworth from Upwork will do it for a fraction of that.
But remember, you get what you pay for. That guy likely has 20 other bottom-basement clients that he is trying to finish as quickly as possible because he is not making any money if he spends more than an hour or two putting the site together. So, he will throw your text in a template and deliver you the trashiest and most generic piece of crap that ever existed on the internet. It is likely full of mistakes and the code is weak, so that means errors for your website visitors.
I can’t speak for everyone, but if I quote you $5K for a website, blog, and e-commerce platform, I will deliver you a work of art I will be proud to support in the days to come. Farley will disappear as soon as you have a “working” website.
Great web designers and developers know the money we ask for can be too much for some authors just starting out. Don’t give up! If you like the designer/developer, ask her or him if they have any discounts, special packages, or payment plans that would better fit your budget.
I know I often run monthly specials and sometimes will even have social media contests where I will give away free packages and websites.
Remember; you get what you pay for, and quality doesn’t come cheap. But with something as important as your author website, you won’t want to take chances with bargain software or Farley Farnsworth designers and developers from Upwork.
Any questions? I thought you might.