Customers are savvy shoppers who quickly turn to the internet for researching products and services or reading reviews. If your business doesn’t have an online presence, you might be missing out on attracting customers or staying in touch with your existing ones.
A website is the easiest way to get started with your online presence. Small businesses commonly use websites to promote products, solidify branding, and differentiate from competitors. Websites play a critical part in developing and growing your brand.
The good news is that setting up a website isn’t difficult, especially with all the solutions available today. You don’t have to be technical, burn through your cash reserves, or spend countless weeks to create an online presence. With a few dollars a month, you can get started, and as more visitors come to your site, you can scale it.
The challenge is finding the right solution that doesn’t require much maintenance, is reliable, and keeps your data secure. There are many options for getting online, and it can be hard to decide the best path. This blog post will take you through the steps to create a reliable, scalable online presence for your small business at a low and predictable price.
There are five main steps to generating an online presence, and this post will walk you through each step. The steps to getting started are:
1. Creating a domain
2. Choosing a website builder or hosting provider
3. Choosing a cloud platform
4. Setting up your website on a cloud platform
5. Improving customer experience
Let’s dive into each step.
First, choose and create a domain, which is the name of your business online. For example, small businesses typically try to get www.mybusiness.com. The challenge is that sometimes your business name might not be available. It’s best to choose a .com, without any special characters, and with a short name, so your customers can easily find your website.
Registering a domain is painless and typically starts at $9 per year. Amazon Route 53 makes it easy. This blog reviews how you can register your domain with Amazon Route 53. Keep in mind that you can register your domain with any domain registrar, and you can still host your website with a different hosting provider. You are not locked in to hosting it with the same provider. You should always go with the best solution for your business.
The second step is choosing a website builder or hosting provider. This is where your website will live on the internet so your customers can find it.
Website builders include simplified options to create your website, but those options also limit your flexibility. For example, when you choose a theme, you might want to match the fonts and colors of your store or brand. Wouldn’t you want thousands of themes to choose from? What if you wanted to change your hosting provider altogether? Wouldn’t you want the flexibility to move between providers? Sometimes it’s easy to select a website builder based on the simple options, but it might lack versatility, especially when your business needs change.
On the other hand, you can choose a hosting provider for your self-hosted website, which provides that flexibility. However, when you choose a hosting provider, you need to consider an application will host your website. WordPress is the most popular content management system to provide the best customization options, features, and themes, and it comes with thousands of plug-ins to increase your website’s functionality.
WordPress powers more than 64M websites around the world. That’s a lot of sites! It’s also easy to back up your website and store them locally or somewhere in the cloud, in case of a disaster.
Since WordPress provides the most flexibility, we are going to walk you through setting that up. Keep in mind that you can use the same concepts and tools on other content management platforms (e.g., Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Prestashop) if you choose to go that direction.
|Example Website Builders||WordPress||Joomla||Drupal|
|Number of live websites||64+ million||1.5+ million||588+ thousand|
|Ease of Use||Easy to configure||Relatively easy to configure||Harder to configure
|All available as a Lightsail blueprint for quick deployment|
 Sources: https://www.joomla.org/; https://www.drupal.org/; https://wordpress.org/; https://nicepage.com/wordpress-themes; https://nicepage.com/joomla-templates; https://www.drupalfreethemes.com/; https://www.cminds.com/ultimate-guide-wordpress-statistics
The third step is to find a service to host your WordPress website. Remember: You want to choose a provider that is reliable, provides built-in security so you can limit malicious activity impact, and keep your costs low.
Imagine if you can run your website on the same cloud provider as Amazon.com. You can leverage the same technology that Amazon.com uses, without the hassle of maintaining it yourself. You can achieve reliability and scalability at an affordable price point using Amazon Lightsail. It offers an easy-to-use solution with the same underlying technology as Amazon.com, starting at $3.50/month.
With Amazon Lightsail step-by-step guides, you could get your WordPress website online and running in fewer than ten minutes. Designed to get you started on the cloud with minimal technical knowledge, Amazon Lightsail is like the easy button for Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud provider.
AWS offers on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, you can access technology services—such as computing power, storage, and databases—on an as-needed basis and over the internet.
Note: If you already have a website and want to migrate it to a more reliable cloud provider, we have resources and partners for you to use. For example, you can migrate your WordPress website to the cloud using this tutorial.
Another option is to leverage an affordable freelancer for project-based work. AWS IQ, certified AWS experts offers infrastructure setup like setting up your site for the first time or migrating your site from another provider.
The fourth step of creating an online presence involves setting up your WordPress website on your chosen cloud provider. Remember that you have to pay domain costs (e.g., starting at $9/year). Depending on how advanced your needs are (e.g., faster website load times, handling larger number of visitors, and/or enabling website security certificates), your monthly costs will vary.
With Amazon Lightsail, costs range from as little as $3.50/month to $160/month, depending on which resources you choose to support your website and business. In fewer than ten minutes, you can set up your WordPress website on Amazon Lightsail using this guide.
Once your website is launched on Amazon Lightsail, you can personalize your site so it fits your brand authentically. If you are not sure how to customize it, you can work with freelance experts from Upwork. For a nominal fee, they can help with your logo design, website layout, and optimizations so customers can find you online.
The last step is to think about plug-ins that can improve your customers’ experiences. For example, you can add a form so customers can leave feedback or sign up for a newsletter.
To make this feature easy to manage, you should use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, such as Hubspot, which will automatically collect the form information and store it in a database. Then you can use this information to set up an automated email to let them know about upcoming events, sales, and more.
Hubspot has a WordPress plug-in that makes integration simple and can be enabled in a few clicks from WordPress. The Hubspot plug-in also can enable chatbots, installing a chat feature on your website. If someone wants to directly message you, they can start a chat right from your site. These features provide a better overall customer experience by allowing customers to interact with you via their preferred methods.
If you decide to go the e-commerce route, you should consider plug-ins like AdRoll’s targeting/retargeting. This plug-in keeps track of visitors to your site and then helps show them ads on other platforms they visit based on content they visited. This plug-in’s goal is to improve conversions from prospects to customers.
In this blog post, we covered the importance of an online presence and the top five steps to follow:
1. setting up a domain
2. choosing a website builder or hosting provider
3. selecting a cloud platform
4. setting up your WordPress site on the cloud platform
5. optimizing your WordPress site with plug-ins.
Plus, take advantage of 5% Back at AWS with an eligible Prime membership and an Amazon Business Prime American Express Card. Card Members earn 5% Back on U.S. purchases at AWS. Earn 5% Back on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% Back thereafter. Terms apply.
Hosting your website on Amazon Lightsail takes under ten minutes and starts at $3.50/month. For a limited time, new Amazon Lightsail customers get up to three months off on select bundles.
· Three months free on Linux/Unix bundles: $3.50 USD/month, $5 USD/month, and $10 USD/month
· Three months free on Windows bundles: $8 USD /month, $12 USD/month, and $20 USD/month
· Three months free on the $15 USD/month Database bundle
· Three months free on the $10 USD/month Container service (Micro -1 node)
· 12 months on CDN
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