Building low-cost websites for clients with GoCentral in 12 steps

Seize the opportunity

Here’s a familiar scenario: A project comes your way from a potential client. You run them through an hours-long discovery session. You listen to their wants and needs. You ask questions and dig deeper, taking notes the entire time. Then you go back to your office. You pull together a proposal outlining what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, and for how much (for reference, you typically don’t build low-cost websites). Satisfied with your work, you send off the proposal and move on to other tasks.

A few days later, you get a response:

“Why does this cost so much?! Your price is ridiculous! I could get my niece to build this in a weekend!”

So, what do you do?

Are low-cost websites worth building?

Prevailing wisdom is that low-cost website projects, and the clients who ask for them, aren’t worth it. They’ll take up too much of your time for too little of a return. They’re cheap, and they’ll haggle over every single line item you put in front of them. But I’d like to offer a different perspective on that.

There’s a sweet spot for budget-conscious, very small businesses who need a website.

 

The trick in making it work comes down to how you approach them and how you implement the project. These sorts of clients are the perfect fit for a website builder like GoCentral, where sites can be spun up in a fraction of the time you’d spend on a WordPress build.

Building low-cost websites with GoCentral in 12 steps

If you’re thoughtful with your approach, you can treat these low-cost projects as an opportunity, rather than as a burden. Here’s one way to go about it, using GoCentral as your website builder.

  1. Provide potential clients with a limited list of options.

  2. Get delegated access to your client’s GoDaddy account.

  3. Build a quick prototype.

  4. Plan and produce the content.

  5. Choose your images.

  6. Finish the page layouts and design.

  7. Optimize for SEO.

  8. Connect to Google Analytics.

  9. Set up email marketing.

  10. Connect to a Facebook page.

  11. Put your client on a monthly maintenance plan.

  12. Document everything and work fast.

Let’s dive into the details.

1. Provide potential clients with a limited list of options

Have you ever been to Freshii?

The uber health-conscious, fast, casual restaurant hands you an order list when you get in line. You can either go with a default selection of ingredients, or you can customize your own. You take a pencil and check off all the things you want, including any premium toppings. But if it’s not on the list, it’s not available.

Low-Cost Websites Freshii
Photo: Dora B on Yelp

Be like Freshii. Create an order form to give your potential clients a tightly-defined list of options. They can choose what they want, but it has to be on the form. Include recommendations based on their type of business by pre-selecting options for them.

Need a starting point? Try using our website planning worksheet. Then, base the extra options on what’s available in GoCentral styles, sections and add-ons like email marketing. That way, the client’s order form is a set of instructions for you to follow.

Pro tip: You can go through a discovery workshop with your client, working together to fill out the form. This is a great opportunity to provide consultative value, and you can even charge for it.

Don’t forget about payments. A typical pricing model is to charge 50 percent upfront for the work, then the final 50 percent when the site is launched. So you could ask for a 50 percent deposit along with the order form.

2. Ask for delegated access to your client’s GoDaddy account

If your new client doesn’t have a GoDaddy account yet, have them go and create one.

When that’s done, add them as a client to your Pro Clients dashboard in GoDaddy Pro. You’ll want to request access to manage and buy products on their behalf.

Low-Cost Websites GoDaddy Pro

After your client approves the request, you’ll be able to buy products for them. So go ahead and choose the GoCentral plan that best suits their needs.

After that, you’ll be able to log into the GoCentral website builder via their account.

3. Build a quick prototype

Using the order form as a guide, go through the setup process. Add pages and sections. You don’t need to worry about adding “lorem ipsum” to your pages, by the way. GoCentral provides placeholder content.

Low-Cost Websites Add Section

The goal here isn’t to create a final version of the website, it’s to show incremental progress. Email your client when the prototype is ready for review. Explain the purpose of each page. Then segue into the next step: planning and producing the content.

4. Plan and produce the content

Use this worksheet to plan the website content. Then, in an external editor like Word Online, produce and edit the content.

You want the focus to be on the text here — not on the site’s design. You can massage the text later on when you add it to the website.

Getting content out of clients can be difficult, but there are some tricks to make it easier. What points or questions does each page need to cover? Go through existing marketing collateral to find that information. Add it to the document.

What if there’s no existing marketing collateral? What if it’s not enough to address all the questions and points you need to cover? Ask your client the questions instead. Use their answers as the basis for the site content, beefing it up where necessary.

I would also include forms in this step, too. What forms do you need? What are the required fields for each form? Outline that as part of your content gathering and production.

Pro tip: This is where you’re injecting the most value in a simple website project. You’re taking this disparate information and pulling it all together into one place. The more value you provide, the more you can charge.

Once you’ve finalized the content, get your client to review and approve it via email.

5. Choose your images

You’re going to need visuals.

My advice is to use cloud storage like OneDrive (part of Office 365) to put all the media in a shared folder. Use folder names that match the site’s pages so you know where each media asset should go.

On your client’s About page, for example, there could be a photo of your client, their team or their business. So those images would go into an /about_page/ folder.

What if your client is short on images? Don’t worry. GoCentral lets you choose from thousands of stock photos to use throughout the site. They’re a good fallback solution when you need it.

Low-Cost Websites Stock Images

Pro tip: If you have the photography chops, you could do your own photo shoot to gather custom images for the website. Boom — there’s another service upsell you can charge for.

6. Finish the page layouts and design

You’ve taken your client through a discovery process. You’ve requested delegated access and set them up with GoCentral. You’ve set up placeholder pages. You’ve gathered content and images.

Now you need to pull it all together.

Copy and paste content from the document into the website builder. Tweak it where necessary so the visuals flow. Change the section layouts to test different compositions. Replace the placeholder images with the images you’ve collected from your client.

Low-Cost Websites Header

This step is all about making the site cohesive. Is it easy to navigate? Does the content make sense? Do the visuals work, or are they a distraction?

Go through it yourself at first and then with your client. Get them to approve it via email.

7. Optimize for SEO

With the finalized layout approved by your client, it’s time to get everything ready for launch. First up? Search engine visibility.

You’ll handle SEO through a separate tool from the GoCentral dashboard. It walks you through each page of the site, asking for the specific keyword or phrase each page is targeting. Based on that, it’ll mate recommendations for content changes.

Low-Cost Websites Optimize

Optimize every page on the site, then get in touch with your client. Let them know that the optimization is complete. They might be wondering why the content looks different from what they’ve seen before. Let them know that it’s because of the optimization for the specified keywords.

8. Connect to Google Analytics

With optimization done, the next step is to connect the site to Google Analytics (GA). GA is essential for understanding how visitors are actually using the website. I won’t go into detail here, since it’s well beyond the scope of this post. For a deep dive, check out this post on website traffic analysis using Google Analytics.

9. Set up email marketing.

An email marketing list is one of the most valuable assets a business has. If you’ve included email marketing as part of the project, now’s the time to set it up.

As with Google Analytics, I won’t go into a bunch of detail here. There’s a lot to email marketing. But for the website setup, you should at least ensure that there’s an email capture form on each page.

Low-Cost Websites Subscribe

Make sure that email addresses are going where they need to. Add yourself as the first subscriber. That also lets you see what the experience is like.

Pro tip: Creating email campaigns is a value-added service you can charge for. For example, you could create an autoresponder to welcome new email subscribers.

10. Connect to a Facebook page

Facebook pages are a must-have for small businesses, especially local ones.

Three reasons, in particular, come to mind:

  • The ability for customers to check in, review, and recommend the business to their friends.
  • The ability for customers and potential customers to message the business.
  • The powerful paid advertising capabilities.

Connecting GoCentral to a Facebook page also adds the “Facebook pixel” to the website. This lets the business dig into Facebook Audience Insights for their website. It’s a nice complement to the stats gathered by Google Analytics.

11. Put your client on a monthly maintenance plan

The gist of a website maintenance plan is that you’re putting your client on a monthly subscription. They pay a flat rate of X dollars per month in exchange for you performing specific services.

We talk about maintenance plans a lot, especially for WordPress websites. They’re a great way to earn recurring revenue. But they’re also applicable to sites built with a website builder like GoCentral.

Some ideas:

  • Publish new pages each month to target more keywords for organic search traffic.
  • Create a new landing page each month for promotional campaigns.
  • Run a weekly or monthly customer newsletter.
  • Produce monthly reports using Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights.
  • Manage their product listings, if they have an online store.
  • Manage their social media presence, including ad campaigns.

There’s a lot you can do, and this is where the profit margin comes in. The client is paying based on the deliverables, not how long it takes to do the work. You can increase your profitability by increasing your efficiency.

Which takes me to my final point …

12. Document everything and work fast

The faster you build, the more sites you can get done, the more money you can make. How do you do it? By standardizing your processes as much as possible.

Reinforce your standards by documenting every step of the process. If you ever need to grow a team, you can focus on training them to follow your procedures.

That’s how fast food restaurants ensure consistency, regardless of where you go. (The book E-Myth Revisited is a great read on this subject.)

Low-budget clients are an opportunity, not a burden

A $500 website could lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in recurring revenue later on. You could even “finance” the initial build. Get the client onto a one-year commitment of a monthly maintenance plan. Spread the cost of the website out across months. Treat it like a subscription.

Your pricing and profit comes down to your decisions:

  • How tightly defined are your projects?
  • How quickly can work through them?
  • How many value-added, higher-margin services can you place on top?

Who knows? The business might take off. They they might soon find themselves needing more than a simple website. And then you can start talking about moving to WordPress.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: Robin van der Ploeg on Unsplash