Every business owner should be able to perform basic website maintenance.
An entire industry has cropped up around building gym sites, SEO and marketing. Most of these are good builders; some are even a good investment. But a few capitalize on your fear of “breaking” your website to charge ridiculous hosting fees. Here’s a “fear factor” checklist:
- Can you build a landing page without their “help”?
- Can you create a simple signup form and embed it without waiting for them to do it for you?
- Do you know how to back up your site or move it to another host?
If the answer is “no” to any of the above, you’re vulnerable. While your website isn’t the only tool you have to grow your gym, it’s a necessary one. And if you’re totally reliant on someone else to build and maintain that tool…well, they can charge you whatever they want, can’t they?
I built this site from scratch after taking a course on WordPress For Beginners, purchasing the Salient theme and uploading pictures. It took a few hours, but I wanted to prove that I could do it with no previous knowledge. Cost: $19.
Many new business owners will have more time than money available. If this is you, it IS possible to learn enough to build your own site with good functionality over a weekend.
After I did the Beginner’s course, I downloaded the Salient theme from ThemeNectar.com ($59)
I watched these videos:
…and then just literally played around with things.
I used these plugins:
- Subscriptio – allows you to sell different service levels, and automagically controls access for subscribers.
- Memberships for WooCommerce – allows for autodialing every month, and links with Subscriptio
- Out-of-the-Box – allows users to upload videos to your DropBox folder, and automatically gives them their own private folder. In the case of TwoBrainCoaching.com, gyms upload videos of their coaches for evaluation; for coaches, this would be for athletes.
- LearnDash – An online Learning Management System. TwoBrainCoaching.com sells courses to coaches and gym owners, handing internship programs and continuing education remotely. I also use LearnDash WooCommerce Integration and LearnDash CourseGrid.
- MailChimp for WP – allows me to build forms to collect email addresses. For example, you can get a free copy of Two-Brain Business 1.0 in exchange for your email address here.
- Acuity Scheduling – lets me embed a scheduler (like this) so clients can book consultations without adding another 40 emails to my day. Also allows clients to pay online, if you want to use that feature.
- Google Forms – how I built the Gym Checkup and store the data.
My logos were designed on Fiverr, but there are other options too.
Total cost, including a year of hosting on DreamHost: less than $300. I’m NOT a design guy. You can pay someone to do a better design. But knowing what’s actually happening behind the curtain will save you THOUSANDS.
See a site you like? Start with the theme: Use this link to figure out what theme the site is using.
A final note on Intellectual Property: while you can copy a lot of ideas online, DON’T copy specific text or pictures. I’ve been bitten myself: you see a funny meme and post it on your site…and three years later, you’re hit with a bill for $600 for using the photo. While I successfully fought off the image-licensing site, I have IP lawyers. You might not.
I’ve also been on the other side of the plagiarism problem. My blog posts get copied or used by other gyms and websites. When they ask permission first, I usually give it right away. When they don’t ask permission, or fail to link back to my site or give credit otherwise, I’m quick to remind them of their legal responsibility.
Final point on IP theft: if your staff is writing blog posts for you, you HAVE to credit them as author. Your site might auto-post itself as author; if that’s the case, you have to add a byline. You probably own the content you create (it’s in their contract…right?) but there’s a difference between ownership and authorship. Read more here.
When is it best to hire a professional site builder? Almost always. Depending on the value of your time, even paying $2500 for a website is probably better than building it yourself. But after spending nearly $20,000 on websites over the last 4 years, it would be crazy for me to pay hundreds in “hosting fees” every month.
Stop being a virtual victim. Know how to change your online oil.