A professional website makes all the difference in your credibility as an entrepreneur. When starting an online business, blog, or any type of website, one of the biggest struggles is figuring out how to make your website like professional, especially on a budget. It’s not always easy to know when it’s worth spending our money or not. And, of course, if you can do things for free or less expensive, all the better!
In this post (and video!), discover how to make your online business look professional. I include my favorite budget and free tools to do so. You’ll also discover the splurges I’ve found oh so worth it.
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
A Professional Website
Your website is the home of your business. It doesn’t matter how great of a marketing strategy you have, or how great your products or services are. If people are finding out about you and your business on a website you’re not proud of, they’re much less likely to move forward with you.
For nearly the first eight months of my website, I wasn’t very proud of it. I thought I was being cost-savvy by using barebones software to build and run it. Instead, I was probably scaring away anyone that clicked over to it! This showed as my email list barely grew, I made little to money during that time, and traffic was minimal at best.
Below were some of the biggest contributions to the turning points in my website. They turned it from a “for fun” blog for family and friends to the online business it is today.
1- A unique domain
First thing’s first, you want to have a website that is your sole domain. I suggest avoiding things like “urban20something.wordpress.com” or “urban20something.blogspot.com.” To have a website that actually makes money, you need a professional URL. That’s more or less the name of your business!
I purchase my domain through Hover.com. It’s easy to use, inexpensive, and they renew it easily for me so I don’t have to worry about my website staying up and running.
2- Use WordPress
WordPress is the self-hosted way to build a professional website, which is why I recommend and love it so much! It makes your website completely yours, and the flexibility that you have using it is unbeatable. It does take a bit of a learning curve (if you’re a non-techy like I was when I started out). But, it’s totally worth it in the long run. Your WordPress site will always be able to grow with you.
Related post: How to Build a WordPress in 20 Minutes
3- Capture email leads from day one
Emails are the way you’ll communicate with your followers, customers, clients, and so on. It’s the best way to communicate and the best way to market. If you want to build a professional website, you will want to capture emails easily and intuitively. I use ActiveCampaign to house my email list and communicate with them, and I can’t recommend it enough. Throughout my website, I have various PDFs, training, webinars, notifications, and so on people can receive for free, if they sign up for my email list. It’s a win-win! They receive my helpful content for free, and I build my email list.
4- Have your forms be on brand
When I first started my website, I used a free email service provider. It was relatively easy to use and performed a lot of what I needed. But, one thing that I really struggled with was making the forms that it used to capture emails on my site. The forms looked “code-y” and not on brand. It was super out of place on my website. I struggled to find a way to make the form look more on brand until I discovered the free plugin, Magic Action Box.
This allows you to copy and paste the code of your form from any email service provider (free or paid) and then design the form to look exactly the way you want. It’s super easy and free, and will definitely make your website look more professional.
5- Your custom domain email
Instead of having an email with a “Gmail” domain, for instance, create email addresses with your website domain as the email address domain. It’s more professional and will help the growth of your online business.
Related post: How to Create Gmail Addresses with your Custom Domain
6- Paid theme
This was the best investment I made to make a truly professional website. It’s hard to know when you actually should jump from a free theme to a paid theme. Honestly, looking back, I wish I would’ve done this from day one! It’s a one-time payment, the support is super helpful, and it looks so much better.
I buy my themes from MyThemeShop.com. They’re professional, easy to implement, and the support is incredibly helpful.
LeadPages is a page-building software that makes it very easy for you to collect email addresses. You can build beautiful pages that advertise something you give away for free in exchange for an email address (landing pages) in just 10 or 15 minutes! For years, I used MailerLite’s free landing page software and it worked well. But, once I was making a decent amount back from my website, I upgraded to LeadPages and couldn’t be happier with it. I recommend this software to all side hustlers making $500/month or more.
8- A custom designed site
I haven’t done this yet as I’ve been very happy with my paid theme, but once you’re really ready to have a totally professional website, you can hire someone to custom design it.
Let’s see your professional website!
I hope these tips helped you figure out some ways to make your website more professional without spending all your money! Comment below with your website URL and let us see your professional website.