Yes, you need an online presence. Nowadays, having a site is as necessary as having a phone.
There are many ways to get your online presence. Here we assume that you are a small business or an individual artist seeking your place “in the cloud”. For larger businesses there are many commercial service organizations that can provide the skilled staffs in art, promotion, merchandising, technology and more, to do all or part of site setup and management. Small entrepreneurs do not have the financial resources yet need to make their enterprise known in our online world. This is where CloudLadder comes in. We help to do the job with limited resources. This article, and others in this series, shows how you can get online by yourself with very little help and at minimal cost.
The online presence is not free. You will always need to make a significant investment with your time. Even if you can afford to outsource the technical and artistic aspects, you will need to direct the effort, to analyze and specify your needs, to make sure that the site reflects your enterprise and your ideas faithfully.
So what do you need?
For most start-ups, the online presence consists of a basic website providing essential information to establish a connection with customers and participation on social media sites. Twitter and Facebook are so prevalent in everyone’s lives that a presence there is almost essential.
A Twitter account is not a sufficient online presence. Some individual artists and small enterprises leverage a Facebook presence to provide for all their needs. Often this is done in conjunction with a trade service site, such as a booking or merchandising service.
A more independent and flexible site presents a more professional face with much more detailed information.
Where to start
There are many service providers that offer site creation and maintenance. You will see many offerings in TV advertising almost every day. How can you pick the right one for you? You will need to spend some time to investigate. Look up a number of the providers; find out what they offer, what the cost is, what efforts you will need to put in.
You will need to allocate at least an hour a week of your time for the “cloud”. Just like other efforts in your enterprise, this is part of keeping the business going.
Getting started requires even more time. No one else can do the detailed planning for you. Even if you hire the site work done, the consultants will ask question after question that require careful analysis by you.
You will want to start fairly simply with a basic site. Many of the providers, including our advertisers on our Resources page, offer basic sites with really easy setup and management. For many these sites provide the right solution. There is a small downside in that the sites use proprietary themes and methods.
Here at CloudLadder we promote the use of sites based on WordPress. WordPress engines power many millions of sites. There are many themes and “plugins” to provide for just about any need. Any bookstore will have several volumes on using WordPress and there are online forums for advice and help.
In following installments we will look at the fine details of how to get started with a presence on social sites for your enterprise, on building your website at no outside cost or very minimal expense.