Do You Really Need to be Online, in the Equine Business?
Today, more than ever, clients are looking for instant information. Whether you are offering professional services (lessons, boarding, etc), or selling horses or products, your clients are going to look online. If they don't find you or what they are looking for in the first minute-or-two, they ARE going to find whoever IS instantly and easily accessible.
You don't have to spend a fortune, and sometimes you can even do it yourself almost for FREE, but you do need to be online. Learn about a few ways to better your online presence for your Equine Business, and how you can do it on a HORSE-OWNER'S BUDGET...
1. Do I Need a Website? YES!
It is important that you have an online presence. You don't have to spend a fortune, and yes, there are ways to not spend a penny, but you MUST be online if you want to grow your business or reach new clients and customers.
What options do I have for a website?
You have a few options. You can hire someone to build you a website, find a friend (or tech savvy student), or give it a try yoursel! You do not need the most elaborate site out there. Anything is better than nothing. It can be simple, just a few pages with your basic info, some photos, and contact information. It can also be updated frequently with show results, horses for sale/lease, videos, show schedule and more. It all depends on your budget and needs. If you don't have the funds to hire someone, you CAN do it yourself! Today, there are many options out there called "Web Builders", that allow you to easily design a simple website yourself, without a degree to major tech skills required! You just drag and drop options (such as: Text, Title, Photo, Link...) where you want them to go, and start designing. You can have a simple yet effective site pretty easily. Trust your own skills and time. Many of you are busy, so if you are going to build your own site, make sure you have the time to do it, otherwise finding someone to help you may be cheaper and easier in the end!
Can I get something for free?
Do a little research, look on Google, read reviews, ask around. Many of these sites (such as Weebly.com) even have options where you can build one FOR FREE (yes, you read that correctly). By creating a site with a web address such as "www.GlennOakeFarm.weebly.com" instead of buying a unique domain name (ex: www.GlennOakeFarm.com). Having an ending of ".weebly.com" allows you to have a page online - for free. Each company that offers these "Web Builders" have different packages, pricing, and options, with many having some level of "free" by using their web address ending. Look around and see what is right for you. This is a better option to start out with than NO WEBSITE AT ALL.
What does a website usually cost?
My personal and professional recommendation, is to pay the avg $20 a year cost and register a unique ".com" address. Along with your own web address (domain name), plan on paying an average of $100 - $125 per year for "hosting" (this is like paying rent to the Internet, for having a website on it) as well. Of course, pricing can vary depending on the company so compare before you buy. You are looking at apx $120-$145 per year to have a website, but just think, how long would it take to get that investment back? One horse show? Teaching a couple lessons? In the end, with the additional clients, customers, students and horses sold/leased, it is an investment well worth the money!
Of course, if you hire someone to design or build your website for you, you will be paying for their time and design fees. All designers are different and offer a wide range in pricing. It depends on the designer, time frame, your budget, and what you want done. You could be paying anywhere from $300 - $3,000 depending on how elaborate you want your site to be. Again, do your research, ask around, look online, and try to find someone who at least understands the "Horse Business". If you focus on Hunters/Jumpers and your new website is covered in photos of cowboys, cattle, and some furry ponies from Iceland, you may have a problem.
2. Do I Need a Facebook Page? YES!
This will make you happy. You can have a Facebook page - f o r F R E E. It doesn't cost anything to create your own business page on Facebook. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can ask just about any of your students that own a cell phone, and I bet they can help you set-up a Business Page. You have to have a personal account in order to create a business page, or have a student/client that will link it up with theirs. You can have Administrators added so various people can "post" (add text, photos, videos, links, etc) to the page for you. If you want to ability to post things, but hate the idea of having a Facebook, you can create a personal page and never actually use it! You just need something so that you can log-in.
This is also where people like myself come in. You can hire a professional to create a Facebook Business Page, add photos, videos, links, results, information, and all the content to get your page started. It can be linked to your website and other social media accounts (Instagram is another big one you should think about having). Sometimes, a professional just wants it set up and to have someone handle it for them professionally. It is usually not expensive ($25-$125 month average depending on how often and how much content you want posted/updated each month), and reaches such large amounts of people. You get "fans" that "follow" your page, so every time you share a photo, text, a horse for sale, anything, that is TARGETED marketing. Horse-people, mutual friends, trainers, etc are seeing those posts. It is common sense that this is beneficial to your horse-business.
There are a variety of ways to advertise, market, and grow your business, many of which you can spend money, but there are many ways you can work around emptying your pockets and getting results. These are just a few oats in the grain bag of advice and information out there that can help your business be a success.
Have a great ride!