20 Free Website Builders For Small Business

Free Website Builders

In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible for a small business to succeed without establishing some sort of digital presence. Unfortunately, not every would-be entrepreneur is a digital guru — and not every start-up can afford to spend money on a shiny, new website.

Thankfully, there are plenty of free website builders out there designed to arm small business owners with all the basic tools they need to get up-and-running and turn a few heads online.

In 2010, Small Business Trends compiled a list of its top seven website building platforms. But a lot has changed since then, and so, here’s an update, a listing of 2016’s top 20 free website builders.

20 Free Website Builders

1. Weebly

Weebly has been around for a while, and so it’s definitely one of the most popular website builders out there. There are no hidden costs involved in constructing a new website — and although premium and ecommerce versions do exist, a vast majority of small businesses are unlikely to need them. Weebly’s top feature is its intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that makes Web creation dead simple for even the most IT-challenged individuals.

2. Wix

Wix boasts a similarly easy-to-use interface, and is immensely popular because the site offers users hundreds and hundreds of free design templates to choose from. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re operating in. Chances are, Wix will have a free template that caters specifically to your needs. After selecting a template, the site’s drag-and-drop feature makes drafting your first website a quick and painless process.

3. Webs

Webs is an ideal website builder for small businesses because it offers an unrivalled level of SEO functionality. Built-in search indicators can help you to optimize your new website so that your small business starts to generate organic traffic quicker. The platform’s themes are well-designed. Changes can be made instantly and all of the layouts are relatively intuitive.

4. DudaOne

DudaOne is an innovative website builder that focuses largely on producing responsive mobile sites. It has a clear interface, intelligent social media integration and a great built-in analytics system. By setting up a free site, small business owners gain a fast, natively responsive website, Web hosting on Amazon Cloud and crucial community support. From there, users can upgrade to various business and ecommerce packages that come with multi-language sites, push notifications and unlimited product categories for online stores.

5. SiteBuilder

SiteBuilder is still one of the simplest and most intuitive website design tools available online. Its platform is incredibly user-friendly, and comes with all of the tools you’ll need to get a dynamic small business website immediately live. SiteBuilder also includes basic ecommerce features and premium plans with a wide range of custom design tools.

6. Squarespace

Squarespace is a professional website building platform designed largely for those operating within  creative industries. The site has loads of high-caliber templates geared at photographers, musicians, writers and art venues. Squarespace’s templates are extremely visual-based — and although they aren’t quite as customizable as the templates some other platforms may offer, small business websites built on Squarespace are some of the Web’s most clean and responsive.

7. WordPress

WordPress is still a small business favorite, and for good reason. WordPress is one of the easiest building platforms for beginners, and it offers some of the Web’s most well-designed free templates. WordPress also comes with a wide selection of free analytics and SEO tools that make it fairly simple to keep track of how your site is performing. Bearing all that in mind, it’s little wonder around one in five sites on the Internet are now constructed using WordPress.

8. Yola

Yola is a Web-based tool that makes life easy for small business owners who are after a simple, code-free way of producing a professional commercial website. Yola operates a drag-and-drop interface with fully-integrated social features and quite a few handy widgets. It’s worth pointing out that Yola’s free accounts don’t include access to the platform’s useful blogging tool — and so small business owners may ultimately need to go premium in order to unlock Yola’s full potential.

9. IM Creator

IM Creator is another simple drag-and-drop system that offers a wide range of professionally-designed Web templates that are hugely responsive. With IM Creator’s free package, users can take advantage of a second level domain and a respectable 50MB of storage. The platform also updates its selection of templates on a regular basis — meaning it’s a relatively quick and painless process to give your small business website a complete makeover.

10. Sitey

Sitey is an intuitive platform that offers small business owners incredibly professional-looking websites in the blink of an eye. With each free account, you’ll receive 50MB storage, 5MB file upload and 1GB worth of bandwidth. Better yet, you’ll gain access to Sitey’s database of excellent templates, image galleries and simple social media integration.

11. Jimdo

Jimdo is another well-established website builder, and is quite useful for those who are a little bit more comfortable with coding. Jimdo enables users to create free, mobile-friendly HTML5 sites. The platform’s top strength is its free online store  as most website builders tend to charge an arm and a leg for this feature. Jimdo also offers a generous 500MB of storage and great customer support.

12. WebStarts

WebStarts provides a rapid solution for small business owners who need a website quick. The platform’s templates boast intelligent layouts, and its design interface is extremely easy-to-use. That said, those in need of a large website or more integrated features will most likely need to upgrade to a premium plan. WebStarts’ free version includes just 10MB of storage for a five page website.

13. Moonfruit

Moonfruit is home to some of the Web’s most creative design templates. The platform’s free version enables small business owners to create a website of up to 15 pages on a second level domain. But Moonfruit does a whole lot more than host a few free templates. It also enables you to create an optimized mobile version of your site, and can be fully integrated with your company’s social media profiles.

14. DoodleKit

DoodleKit offers some of the best editing functionality of any free website builder. Although its free version is limited, it does enable you to create a site up to five pages in under five minutes. You can also take advantage of the site’s free blogging platform, which is an immensely useful tool in order to expand your brand’s digital profile. DoodleKit includes a range of great design templates and hosts a useful forum that can help to inspire you when constructing your own site.

15. Voog

Established site Edicy has recently relaunched under the name ‘Voog’, but it’s still a fast and simple website builder that will help you to establish an online presence in the blink of an eye. Voog doesn’t come with the most all-encompassing user experience, but its free trial version does offer free lifetime hosting, generous storage space and allows you to register more than one editor in order to manage the site.

16. ezweb123

ezweb123 is an award-winner website builder that offers a wide array of package options for small business owners. The site’s free package will enable you to create a website of up to 15 pages that’s hosted on a second-level domain. ezweb123’s biggest draw is convenience. From a design point-of-view, the platform is extremely basic and very easy to use.

17. Webnode

Webnode offers a dynamic solution for small businesses in need of a simple, online store. The platform’s free ecommerce package includes 1GB bandwidth, 10MB storage space and enables you to sell up to 10 products. In order to expand that store, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Webnode’s premium packages — but its free offerings are ideal for a part-time micro-business.

18. emyspot

emyspot is an all-encompassing website builder with an attractive range of free features. A small business site on emyspot has got no page limit, and enjoys use of a blog and unlimited bandwidth. Meanwhile, the platform’s free version offers a generous 250MB worth of storage. Dynamic ecommerce templates are available for an additional fee.

19. GoDaddy

GoDaddy might be better known for its hosting services, but the company also offers a user-friendly website construction platform. GoDaddy users enjoy quite generous storage limits, and a clear, drag-and-drop interface. The platform also includes decent photo editing software. That being said, users will need to go premium in order to take advantage of GoDaddy’s ecommerce, mobile and blog features.

20. Zoho Sites

Zoho Sites is another useful drag-and-drop editor. It’s a crystal clear building tool, and includes an ecommerce upgrade that is fully integrated with PayPal. The platform’s top feature is definitely its form builder. Users can take advantage of an unprecedented level of fields. Including drop-downs, URLs and file uploads.

Before committing to a website builder, you should always do your homework. After all, no two businesses are alike, and so you’ve got to come up with an idea of what it is you’re after in a website. But once you’ve figured that out, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re operating in or how comfortable you are with the Web.  There’s definitely a website builder out there that’s perfect for you and your small business.

Web Construction Illustration via Shutterstock

This article, "20 Free Website Builders For Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

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7 Tips for Getting the Most out of Freelancers

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working with freelancers

Outsourcing to freelancers can give a huge boost to your business — cost effectively.

If your business is like mine, you have an endless number of goals and activities you want to accomplish. Yet few of us have sufficient cash flow to commit to hiring part-time or full-time employees for everything that needs to get done.

What’s a business owner to do?

That’s where a flexible workforce comes in. “Flexible workforce” refers to getting help from those you can use when needed, without long term commitments you may not be in a position to make yet. Typically this means hiring freelancers.

Working with freelancers on specific projects gives you flexibility as it helps you scale and accelerate growth. With talented freelancers, it’s possible to get amazing results — without exceeding your available financial resources.

However, the trick to getting great results when working with freelancers is structuring the project properly. Here are seven tips for working with freelancers in your small business, for maximum success:

1. Choose a Freelancer with the Right Skills

Skills and ability — this is arguably the single most important factor in successful outsourcing. Does the freelancer have skills in the area you need? Don’t just look at what the freelancer says he or she can do, but look at the person’s portfolio. Does the portfolio reflect the types of skills and the level of ability you need?

Look at past jobs. For instance, on Fiverr you can look at current and past gigs to see what the freelancer has delivered. Also, look at testimonials. What do past clients say about that freelancer’s skill level and results? Marketplaces that embrace transparency around reviews and previous portfolio work can be a great asset in getting a job done quickly and effectively.

A capable freelancer can deliver awesome results, so make sure there’s a good match between the skill required and what the freelancer is capable of delivering.

2. Match Budget Expectations on Both Sides

Price is important, of course. Find a freelancer whose expectations about compensation are in line with your budget expectations.

But at the same time, check around to make sure your expectations are realistic. If you are seeing a lot of talented freelancers expecting $200 for a project you budgeted at $100, you may need to adjust the project scope or your budget expectations to meet market rates.

3. Make Sure Your Style Syncs Up

Skills and budget are not the only factors in a successful project. It’s just as important to get a result that matches your style and approach. That’s especially true in any kind of creative or design project. The question isn’t merely whether the freelancer turns out good work, but whether the end result is the style you need.

Look at the freelancer’s portfolio and past projects to assess style. Do you like the way something was done or the look of something else? Point out what you like as specifically as possible.

4. Clearly Outline the Project

State clearly what you expect in the project. Your freelancer and you must have a meeting of the minds when it comes to the project. Take the time to outline exactly what deliverables you want and what you would consider a successful result.

Examples help tremendously. Point out examples that you see online or in the freelancer’s portfolio to describe what you’re looking for. Examples save time and help to avoid having to re-do work later on–something that hurts trust and impacts tight deadlines.

5. Encourage Open Two-way Communication

It might be tempting to think you can whip off the project requirements, sit back and wait for an awesome result. Sometimes it is that simple. However, projects may require back and forth discussion. You may need to communicate about revisions or tweaks to a design or illustration. There’s no need to settle for the first result delivered if it doesn’t meet your needs. Give feedback to the freelancer and an opportunity to make a few changes if necessary, so that you get a result you can wholeheartedly embrace.

Just as importantly, encourage the freelancer to ask questions. He or she may be unsure of the requirements or need input. The more the freelancer understands your needs, the better able he or she will be to deliver a terrific result to wow you.

6. Start Small When Working with New Freelancers

The first time you work with a new freelancer, it’s best to start with a small non-critical project. Think of this as a sort of try-out. You’re testing the freelancer’s skills. You’re also going to discover how good a communicator the freelancer is, how well he or she meets deadlines, and how many rounds of revisions a project is likely to take to get to a result you love. You will be taking less of a business risk on a new freelancer if you allow extra time and if it’s not a critical project the first time.

7. Treat Freelancers as Partners

Freelancers are partners in your success. Treat freelancers with respect not only for their time, but for their expertise. Rather than just telling them what to do, ask what they think or recommend. Treat them as experts in whatever field or endeavor they are in. Respect is a two way street — they will value you more if you value them as experts you rely on.

At the same time, don’t hesitate to give constructive (yet respectful) feedback if you’re not getting the results you expected. The freelancer simply may not understand your expectations. By giving constructive criticism, you may actually help that person successfully conclude the project.

Remember also that paying promptly and fully for expected results is a way of showing your respect for the freelancer. Consider milestone payments for lengthy projects. Or break the project down into several smaller projects that each can be priced, delivered and paid quickly.

Don’t hesitate to give positive reinforcement, as well. Freelancers are people and in the end, they like hearing “job well done” just like the rest of us.

The good news of working with freelancers is, if you do it well the results can be stunningly effective for your business. Freelancers can enable your business to grow faster and achieve success with lower business risk. The effort you put into working with freelancers can pay off in business success.

What better way to increase business success than with updated and fresh digital assets? Small businesses in Chicago, San Francisco and New York City can register below for the Fiverr Small Biz Digital Makeover. In partnership with Gary Vaynerchuk, the contest gives three business owners in each city a chance to win $3,000 in Fiverr services to give their businesses a digital spa day worth of upgrades from talented creative freelancers.

You can learn more about the makeover:

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This article, "7 Tips for Getting the Most out of Freelancers" was first published on Small Business Trends

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