A drawing of people taking measurements of a giant computer screen is used to illustrate the concept of building a business website.

You need a website. If you build it yourself, you can save money. However, you will need to invest some time to learn a few new things. Is it worth it? You might have recently asked yourself, “how do I get a website?” To answer that question, let’s put everything on the table to see if building a website is for you, starting with comparing costs.

How Much If They Build It

How much will it cost to hire someone to build your website? According to Upwork: “Experienced freelancers charge anywhere between $20 and $80 per hour. As a rough estimate, a small business website could cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000.”

Probably not what you wanted to hear. That said, you will see cheaper offers to build websites on Fiverr, and if you ask around, you will probably find someone who does websites on the side for less than the going rate.

In addition to the cost of building of your website, you’ll have ongoing maintenance costs with your website. The maintenance costs will cover everything needed to keep your website running, including the ongoing expense of hosting your website and the yearly fee for your domain name.

Fortunately, this cost should be in the hundreds of dollars unless you are making a lot of changes to your website. The person or company who built your website will probably offer a maintenance plan, and you can always shop around for cheaper pricing.

How Much If You Build It

First, building your own website does not mean having to learn to code; instead, you would work with a company that provides a website template, which you will fill in.

You can build a website for free. Free sounds good, right? But free means you will have severe limitations with what you can do with your website. Also, you will probably have ads on your website, and you won’t own your domain name. That means your website address will look something like this—www.websitebuildername/mymassagebiz.com.

For advertising purposes, your website address will be useless. That said, if you have to go with free for financial reasons, don’t sweat it, you can always upgrade later and purchase your domain name then.

To build a website with a paid-version website builder, you will pay from $96 to $300+ depending on the features you want with it. When comparing prices with website builders, you need to pay attention to details. Sometimes you will see a special price if you pay for a year or more as opposed to month-to-month. Sometimes the price you sign up for is not the price you will pay later for the service.

According to PC Magazine, reliable website builders are Wix, HostGator, Duda, Bluehost, Hostinger, GoDaddy, Dorik, Web.com, Squarespace and Weebly.

Personally, I have used Wix, Bluehost and Weebly and found them all easy to use. Most website builders offer a free trial version so you can experiment with the website builder before you commit.

If you build your website yourself, using a paid-version website builder, it will be easy to maintain. Your maintenance costs will simply be the ongoing cost of your website hosting, domain name and any additional upgrades you may purchase.

Building your own website will definitely save you hundreds of dollars, but now you have to weigh saving money against spending time.

The Time Investment for Building a Website

Nowadays, the most time-consuming aspect of building a website is not designing the website; it’s creating the content for the website. Designs are done for you, but you have to supply all the words for your website, and no matter how good a writer you are, it’s going to take time for you to come up with your final product.

Let’s look at the time investment you will have to make for creating content on a basic, three-page website:

Assume your three-page website will have three tabs: Home, Services and About.

On your Homepage, you will introduce your business and provide your contact information, including how someone can book with you.

On your Service page, you will list and describe all your services with the pricing.

On your About page, you will tell your business story.

Easy-peasy, right? Not so fast. There is more to consider. For example, on your Services page, are you going to simply list Relaxation Massage with a price? Or are you going to thoughtfully write a description of your relaxation massage that conveys the quality of work you do? Before listing your prices online, are you going to research other massage websites in your area to see what they are charging, or are you just going to assume your pricing is competitive?

You see where I’m going here. You website is a digital billboard, competing with other digital billboards for the person who is searching for a massage. Once you realize that, there is no turning back. You will want a website that is capable of pulling in customers, so you need to take the time to create the content that best conveys your business story and sells your massage.

By the way, taking time to provide the content that accurately reflects you and your business has an added marketing benefit: You will define who you are as a business in relation to your competitors around you.

My DIY rule of thumb is if you think that creating content for your website will take you “x” hours, double it. It is better to overestimate than underestimate. Why? You won’t resent having extra time because the website project didn’t take as long as you thought, but you will resent missing family time to finish your website by your deadline.

If you can spend only an hour or so on your website at a time, complete the basic information first. Make sure people can contact you, and let them know what you offer, including pricing. Then go back and fill in the descriptions of your services later.

Last, regarding content, it’s hard to be objective with your work. Enlist a friend or family member to edit your work or offer a critique. Make sure to add hours in your time budget for that.

The Time it Takes for Design

Although website builders make the design part easy, you still have to learn the system. So don’t expect to build a website in an hour. Most website builders have great tutorials. If you can’t find the answer to a question in the internal search of the website builder you are using, do a Google search.

To save time with design, pick a template. Most website builders have decent massage and spa website templates. But if you can’t find a massage or spa template that you like, look at the templates under related headings like health, wellness, personal training and coaching.

If colors are not your thing, select a suggested color scheme for your website builder. You can zoom in and out with how much involvement you want in the design process of your website. For example, you can get down into the nitty-gritty by adding pictures as you see fit on your website or you can follow the template and insert a picture when asked.

Time Added Up

Are you starting to feel the hours add up? Content hours + editing hours + design hours = a lot more hours than if you had someone else do it.

The bottom line is building a decent website yourself takes time. But here’s the thing: It’s time well spent. A website is a powerful business tool.

You may start with a three-page website, but you can add more features as you go along. For instance, you can add an online scheduler to your website so that clients can schedule instantly, without you ever having to field their calls or return their texts.

A website can have a gift card option where a customer can purchase an e-gift card that cuts out you mailing the gift card or the customer coming into your office to pick it up. Add a shopping cart to your website and customers can purchase physical and digital products off your website while you sleep.

People can sign up to be on your email list through a link on your website if you add an email marketing service. And with one click of a button, you can add a blog, vlog or videos to your website to sell your services or inform viewers about self-massage techniques or whatever massage topic you want to cover.

In essence, your website is a digital Swiss Army knife—a marketing, scheduling, sales, all-in-one, online tool that every business needs. So are you going to build your website yourself or have someone else build it?

Your Way to Having a Website

If you are cash-strapped, use a free-version website builder. Accept that you will not have all the features you want. When you have enough money, upgrade to a paid version, buy your own domain name and fix the things you don’t like with the free version. Make sure to allot for the time it will take to build your website or you will resent putting in the hours.

If you have money in your budget for a website, then having a professional build you one will save you time so that you can focus on other aspects of your business. In addition, it will free you up from any issues with website maintenance.

If you would like to save some money and value the added benefits that come with creating your content for your website, then build your website yourself using a paid-version of a website builder.

Remember that as you write the content for your website, you are literally defining who you are as a business which will differentiate you from the businesses around you.

Last, enjoy the process that will result in letting the online world know you are here and open for business. And you won’t ever have to ask again, “how do I get a website?”

Mark Liskey

About the Author

Mark Liskey, LMT, CNMT, is a massage therapist, business owner, teacher and blogger. You can access his free, massage-business crash course on his business page.