When Shauna Davis started Stepping Stone Wedding Rentals and Events, it seemed like a natural fit—her experience as a bridal consultant gave her direct access to her target market and after her own wedding in May, she had plenty of decor to share.
The business took off quickly. She knew she needed to expand or she’d never be able to meet the needs of her clients. After creating a Facebook page for her business, calls started flooding in from brides across Oregon.
So, she launched a website.
“It was a learning experience,” says Shauna. “I didn’t expect to need a site this soon, so I was definitely scrambling to get it up and running as soon as possible.”
Here are the three key pieces of advice she learned when starting a business website:
“I know how important networking is, but social sites aren’t enough,” Shauna says. “I thought that Facebook could sustain Stepping Stone for a little while, but the interface doesn’t provide you with everything you need as a store owner.”
It’s a great idea to keep your clients updated with social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but with a website, you can share more information. Since social media is constantly changing with updates and new posts, it doesn’t allow potential customers to see everything. Having a website allows them to go to the site and choose what they want to learn more about.
“I am not a technology person,” Shauna says. “I can admit that upfront, so I didn’t even want to try to build the site on my own. I had a friend help me through the process of getting it hosted and setting up the layout. I gave her the content and she coded it.”
When it comes to creating your website, you want to do it right the first time. If code is a foreign language to you, get help. Maybe you have a developer friend or there’s a local company that can walk you through it. Either way, don’t go it alone. If you’re not sure where to start, this site has a great list of websites that will help you build your own, for free.
“I originally hosted my domain through Network Solutions, but then as I was trying to install an app, the site crashed. I lost everything!” Shauna recalls. “Luckily, I hadn’t completed the site yet, but I took it as a sign to switch to a different host.”
When choosing a web host, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Will you be hosting rich content? Videos? Do you need email as an added feature? There are certain aspects that you’ll want across the board:
24/7 local support
Positive customer reviews
Room to grow
Creating your business website can cause major headaches, or major business growth. If you do it right, it will be the latter. When it gets tough, don’t forget why you’re doing it.
“I started Stepping Stone Wedding Rentals and Events because it’s my passion,” Shauna says. “I’ve always loved decorating parties and events, and when I started in the bridal industry, I realized I just loved all things wedding! There is a need in the market for my business. I’m fortunate to meet amazing brides and learn their stories. Being with them from choosing the dress to decor allows me to see them through their entire experience.”