The days of paying thousands of pounds for a techy web agency to build your website have gone!
I remember when I was in the process of starting my first business, I went along to meet the CEO of a very large organisation for some advice. One of the things I remember him saying to me was - "But, this business will require so much investment. Your website, for example, could cost tens of thousands of pounds!". I looked at him in so much confusion, and asked "But, what about Shopify?". At that point, the confusion on his face looked worse than mine, as he responded "What's that?'.
One month later, I had a fully functioning, neatly designed website up and running. One that looked great and did the job just how I wanted it.
1. It cost me £10.99 for my domain name (this needs to be renewed yearly).
2. It cost me £18 for the first month (+£18 ongoing - there are a few different packages depending on what you need. I also found a discount code somewhere saving a few pounds).
3. I spent £80 on a more advanced template, but there are plenty of free ones.
4. I paid someone techy £100 to fix a few things youtube videos couldn't help with. Although if I put my head to it and had the time, I probably didn't need to pay this.
5.I spent £60 for a student to take my first lot of photos (homepage banner images and product images combined). That is very cheap but the images were still pretty good.
So that's £268.99 excl. VAT to set up. Not thousands after all. Plus, once i launched the site, the amount of people asking me to pass on the details of the "people" who built it was crazy, as it looked so great.
So this is how it works. At the moment, there are probably about a hand-full of decent DIY website builders out there (see the end of this post), and each one is better depending on what you need it for (e.g. portfolio, ecommerce, blog)...
Typically you pay (1)a monthly fee which usually includes the hosting of the website, (2)a one-off cost for a template design (unless you choose a free one, of which there are loads), and (3) if it's an ecommerce site, a very small % of sales (typically between 0.5% - 3% depending on your package). If you don't have a domain name already, (4)you can purchase a customised domain easily through the website builder during set-up, or separately depending what you are comfortable with.
A lot of these website builders have really amazing step-by-step instructions and videos to get started, to help you work with the template you've chosen and to customise it. If you need a hand setting up, there are also a lot of people out there who can help for a fairly small fee, either to set it up for you completely or to make any changes you aren't comfortable doing. For example, if you want to make a change to the template design, it may require some knowledge of coding. Or perhaps you're not very computer savvy and you don't have the time to get your head around it. Setting up these types of websites is something I can help with, so get in touch if you need.
My favourite DIY stylish website builders on the market are listed below. These have fully responsive templates too, which means your website will look just as great across devices:
Shopify - This is great for an ecommerce site and the site I used to build my ecommerce business. I found it super easy to set-up and get started.
Squarespace - Although you can use this for ecommerce, I think it's better for a portfolio or a simple website and blog without an ecommerce function. I used this to build this current website!
Big Cartel - Great for ecommerce and they have a free package for less than 5 products which is good.
Wordpress - The wordpress.com website is great for simple blogging, but if you're a little more tech-savvy, the wordpress.org site which is self-hosted, is great to set up any site including ecommerce, with loads of customisable plugins. I personally found wordpress.org much more challenging that Shopify, as it took me hours to get my head around it. So like I said, I think this one is for the more tech-savvy!
Weebly - I have never used this but have heard it's great especially for simple websites, a bit like squarespace.com
There are more out there, but the above are probably the best if you want something that looks young and is responsive too. Good luck!