In a Nutshell:The internet has become the modern-day phonebook, and businesses lacking a digital presence are those that tend to fall behind. If you’re looking to start a business — or have an existing side hustle to supplement your income — a professional website is among the best investments you can make. WebStarts is one of the web’s leading providers of do-it-yourself web design tools. Its easy drag-and-drop interface allows users with any degree of design experience to level the playing field with vastly larger corporations. The site allows customers access to mobile optimization tools, as well as online storefronts, search engine submission tools, and free credits to advertise on some of the most popular websites. With free packages and paid tiers as low as $4.89 a month, it’s a small price to pay for your business’s first impression.
Two of my greatest passions have always been technology and basketball. The internet was still in its infancy when I was in my late teens, which was an ideal time to blend my two interests together. At the time, I lived in Florida, several hundred miles from my favorite team’s hometown. With no one to talk to about the games and players, I turned to the web. In those days, a half-million websites dedicated to every imaginable topic wasn’t yet available. So I found my niche.
One afternoon, I purchased an “HTML for Dummies” book and set out to build an online destination where I could develop a community to talk about the team with other fans from around the world. After all, I couldn’t be the only one with this problem.
I must have been on the right track because this mess of a website I built with store-bought knowledge grew like wildfire. Within six months, I averaged a half-million unique visitors a week, which was significant for the time. It grew from there and never slowed. Eventually, the site was purchased by a larger entity, which helped me purchase my first home at 19 years old.
Regardless of your experience, you can use WebStarts’ drag-and-drop design tools to quickly create and market a professional-looking website that fosters confidence in customers.
“The idea behind WebStarts is that you can create anything that you can imagine,” said Adam Barger, Founder and CEO of WebStarts. “It really opens you up to the possibilities of creating something totally customizable. That’s one of the advantages that we provide over a lot of the other website builders. A lot of time, the others limit you to just swapping out text and images on a template. With ours, you can create something really unique or replicate just about anything you’ve seen on the web.”
With a pricing model that’s among the most competitive in its class and a robust set of features, you can proudly put your business in front of potential clients knowing that your latest promotions are up-to-date.
Drag and Drop Your Business Dreams Into Reality
The fan website I developed in the late 1990s came with its fair share of trial and error, lots of caffeine-fueled late nights, and frustrating moments. There’s nothing worse than spending hours typing out code just to have something shift out of place for seemingly no reason.
WebStarts’ tools provide users with a pallet of possibilities usually reserved for larger businesses. Adam says the company prides itself on giving customers the ability to build anything they dream up. In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s important to stand out. Even more important is the ability to do it fast, and without the frustration of code that won’t seem to cooperate.
“The fact that we have a visual product helps people understand how to create a layout,” Adam said. “You can kind of play with things to figure how things work and where you’d like them to be on your page. If you’re using a template from a competitor, or WordPress, you’re not actually working in a visual environment. You’re working in a text or HTML editor.”
You can start by choosing a template from the dozens offered, or create your own website from scratch. This template page displays several examples of websites built on the WebStarts platform, if you need a little inspiration.
When you’re ready to start, WebStarts is on hand with features normally reserved for more expensive websites. These include the ability to add an online store, optimization for your site to convert to a mobile browser, as well as hosted video and blog setup. More technical options are also available, like the ability to disable right-clicking on an image, so visitors can’t download or reuse your property.
“Your site can be mobile-optimized through our service,” Adam said. “The biggest benefit in having a mobile version to your website is that you can put the things that are most important front and center on that smaller screen space. We’ve created a way for people to do that with the mobile editor.”
If You Build It, Will They Come? WebStarts Packages Include Advertising Options
WebStarts allows you to start for free and check out its services before making a longer-term commitment. It’s an important advantage because many other website builders force you into a paid service before you even get your feet wet on a new site. By the time you’ve built your site, you might realize you need more than that provider offers, but it might be too much of a hassle to move to a new host by then.
After the free-to-use package is a series of three tiers that grow along with your business. All of the paid packages include social integration on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. They also include unlimited pages, slideshows, and galleries, as well as varying amounts of cloud storage.
The Pro Plan is built for individuals without a lot of traffic. With 23 gigs of bandwidth for $4.89 a month, it’s a good choice for those just starting a side business. It gets you online quickly with all of the tools you need to set up a professional web presence.
The Pro Plus Plan is tailored to clubs, organizations, teams, and nonprofits, but it can work for any side hustle that’s outgrowing its Pro Plan. With SEO tools included to help you improve your ranking on search engines, 100 gigs of bandwidth each month, as well as mobile optimization and membership features, it’s effective for keeping in touch with your client base. To grow that base, the plan also comes with $250 in free advertising credits through several major websites. Plus, this plan is very affordable at $7.16 per month.
“We partner with Google AdWords, Facebook, Amazon, and other popular sites that people visit,” Adam said. “Most of them would like to attract new business as well, so they offer a coupon code that allows our customers to get a certain amount of free advertising. We pass on those coupon codes to the user so they can try something like AdWords or Facebook ads.”
The Business Plan is the top tier of WebStarts services. For $19.99 a month, you get everything included in the other packages, along with $500 in advertising credits, five business email addresses, unlimited contact forms, and unlimited bandwidth. The most significant perk of this plan is the ability to add an online store for selling products and services securely.
“We have more than 4 million users and we have tens of thousands of paying subscriptions,” said Adam. “With the advent of cloud computing and the costs of bandwidth and hardware continually going down, we’re able to create efficiencies that allow our customers to pay an affordable price. Our margins are not as big as our competitors, but we run a more efficient operation.”
The Pro Plus and Business tiers also include the ability to add a customized domain name to your account. This feature is especially helpful to customers with little web-building experience, because the process can be confusing. It’s not as simple as buying a name and attaching it to your website. Updating DNS entries or setting pointers can be a confusing process if you’ve never done it before, but WebStarts removes the confusion.
“We’re probably the only platform that includes a domain name, and that domain automatically configures with your website,” Adam said. “You just use a search function and pick your domain name. It starts working in about 30 seconds, and then you’re online.”
Turn Your Idea into a Web Presence You Can Be Proud Of
In today’s technology-driven world, it’s easier than ever to create and promote an online side hustle that can help improve your lifestyle through additional income. Whether you’re selling a product or service, WebStarts has tools designed to help you get the word out in a professional manner you will be proud of.
“My favorite thing is the fact that you can create anything your heart desires,” Adam said. “I’m a creative person, but not everyone is. Some people would rather just have someone do it for them. There’s nothing more important than a really unique website that stresses what’s valuable or unique about your business or service.”
With decades of web-building experience in several different fields, and his own side hustles that continue to this day, Adam is well-versed in ways to spread the word about your business without it getting lost among the millions of other online voices.
“Keep it simple,” he said. “Focus on having a good headline — like a newspaper — that talks about what the focus of your business is,” he said. “Simple language is important, with a few reasons on your website why someone should choose you, and why you’re different than the competition. You need a very strong call to action, which answers the question of, ‘What do I do next?’
“I think the biggest mistake people make is they don’t give a compelling reason for users to give their contact information to the website once they hit a landing page or homepage. It’s easy to get visitors, but it’s hard to turn a visitor into a lead or turn them into a prospect.”
Whether your side hustle involves your favorite team or a valuable skill or service, WebStarts’ easy interface, cutting-edge technology, and competitive pricing plans can help you take your game from the minor leagues to the majors with minimal time and hassle.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.