How much should you expect to pay for a website?

Business owners and web designers alike struggle with this question because there are so many variables involved, including the fact that many site builder programs are “free.” Of course you and I know that free software does not equate to a free website, but what does it really take to build a website and why are the costs so variable? I have done significant research on this topic and the results are actually more consistent than I initially thought. Here are a few things I’ve discovered.

1. Simple site builders are available for the DIY crowd. These include Wix, Weebly and Square Space. And you can certainly do it yourself with these tools if you are looking for a simple site to get started. But you will likely be disappointed or frustrated as soon as your business starts to grow or you decide you want some special feature that these tools don’t offer. Even something as simple as adding a tracking code to your webpage for advertising purposes like Facebook or AdRoll ads will quickly show you the limitations of these platforms. The initial costs of these platforms are free, but hosting costs for an ad-free site is something you will have to pay for. If a web designer builds a site for you on one of these platforms, expect to pay $1000 to $2500 for the design and $120 per year for hosting. Website maintenance is covered in point #4 below.

2. Using a full blown content management system like Joomla, Drupal, or the internet’s most popular CMS, WordPress, will cost you more. WordPress currently runs almost one-third of the entire internet, so that is what I am going to concentrate on in this article.

Many of the world’s most-recognized companies use WordPress as the foundation for their website. Examples include Target, UPS, Walt Disney, Best Buy, Xerox, NASA, CNN, CBS, Time magazine, Vogue, People magazine, Samsung,, Forbes, General Motors, NFL, Singer, AirStream, Macy’s Toyota, Alaska airlines, and many, many others. In fact, 54 out of the top 100 companies of Inc.5000 are running their website on WordPress! When you choose WordPress as the platform for your website, you are in good company. While popularity is nice, it is really the flexibility of WordPress why you would choose it as the foundation for a business website.

WordPress is “free,” but […]

Take Charge of Your Website!

Any web developer knows that it takes a large amount of work to design and launch a new website. Once that website is up and running, however, you’ll need to continue working to manage it. If you’re handling website management for a company, understand that annual site management will need roughly the same amount of financial resources as designing and building the site in the first place. Which elicits this question: Should you maintain your business Web site yourself or pay someone to do it for you?

If you’re handling website management for a company, understand that annual site management will need roughly the same amount of financial resources as designing and building the site in the first place. Click To Tweet

Some of the worst advice I’ve seen asks this question: Could your time be better spent doing more important things like, oh I don’t know, running your business? If so, then you have no business building and maintaining a Web site. WHAT? Your website IS your business – it is your online presence and you absolutely NEED to maintain it yourself. Turning this task over to someone else is like turning over your business to a third party and expecting that it will succeed. Granted there are some tasks that can (and in many cases should) be outsourced, like server  requirements, software patches, and the like, but think about it this way: If you have a physical store and decide to hold a sale, do you hire an outside party to come in and create an end-cap display of the products you are promoting or do you make the decision and change your store yourself? Your website is no different – you need the skills to update your website yourself based on the needs of your business at any given point in time.

I have recently been sharing a series of videos about maintaining your own website in a free online course called “Take Charge of Your Website!” In the final video […]

Affecting Behavior

Long time readers of this blog know that I wrote the #1 best-selling book, “The Influencer Effect.” Since then, influencer marketing has become a “thing” (those two events are not necessarily related, as I don’t claim to be responsible for causing a change in the rise of influencer marketing). But influencers are not just someone with a large following, they are someone who do affect our actions.

I recently interviewed Tom Ross, the founder of for my podcast (listen to that interview at the Tom talks about how he used to have hundreds of thousands of viewers each month – but he wasn’t making any money. Like so many of us, he was chasing what he calls “vanity metrics.” this is a dangerous path for many of us. We all want more traffic to our websites. We want more people liking our social media posts. we want more followers. In fact, most influencer marketing platforms use these metrics to measure effectiveness of a marketing campaign. But those metrics don’t put money in your pocket. when it comes to influencer marketing there are really only 3 things that matter:

  1.  Engagement
    Traffic and visibility are important, but you can buy advertisements to achieve those results. When working with influencers, you want an expert that actually causes change in the behavior of your customers. Sidney Pierucci, Founder of ESPLMedia, says “Because they are personally invested in their crafts, micro-influencers are trusted sources of recommendations for followers. The Game’ isn’t just getting eyeballs; but getting eyeballs that care!”Because they are personally invested in their crafts, micro-influencers are trusted sources of recommendations for followers. The Game’ isn’t just getting eyeballs; but getting eyeballs that care! - Sidney Pierucci Click To Tweet Engagement can include clicks to the website, likes, comments, video views, number of sales, repins on Pinterest, retweets on Twitter, and shares on Facebook, among other social interactions.But simply having a large number of followers or getting lots of traffic is not what is important – getting someone to take action is what matters.In my interview with Tom Ross, we talk about how you can accomplish this through your relationship with your customers, understanding your audience, and having a passion for what you are offering.

  2. Content
    Influencers are content creators. I read an article recently about the history of influencer marketing and they were trying to make the case that Aunt Jemimah, Santa Claus, and the Marlboro Man were early influencers. No they were not – those were corporate images that were drummed up for advertising purposes, but they were not content creators. An influencer is someone who […]

WordPress 5.0 is Here!

The WordPress development community has been anticipating this release for most of this past year. Some of us have installed pre-release versions of the software and have been testing it and learning it for months. Today (December 6), it was finally released to the public. You can read the details here: The biggest change is in the editor, which now uses blocks to layout pages. I will be covering the use of this editor extensively in my upcoming online course coming out in late January. Yes, there will be a learning curve, but this release is going to allow WordPress to remain the dominant web development platform for years to come. If you are unsure of when is the right time to update to this latest version (especially since it is right before Christmas), let us help you! […]

California Enacts Nation’s First Anti-Bot Law

Chatbots are everywhere now – I use them on this site and on my Facebook page. They are a great way to communicate with potential customers quickly. But as of September 28th, they are also illegal (at least in California) unless you specifically disclose to someone that they are communicating with a bot. (That’s not a problem for me, as I tell people right up front that they are chatting with my automated bot). But the “Blade-Runner_Law” as it has become known, is interesting in that it targets two specific groups: politicians and ecommerce. The law actually takes effect in July 1, 2019, and it may lead to other states adopting similar policies. The law is in response partly to the “computational propaganda” deployed most notably during the 2016 US election cycle, trying to influence a vote, but also covers trying to deceive a person about the content of the communication in order to incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a commercial transaction. You can view the complete act here: I don’t see anything in there about robo calls, but that is one area I’d like to see enforced, not only for political calls, but those claiming to be with Google, Microsoft, or even the IRS.

Bots are here to stay, regardless of the law, as they are simply a great way to handle customer service, technical support, online sales, and political ads. Click To Tweet

Bots are here to stay, regardless of the law, as they are simply a great way to handle customer service, technical support, online sales, and I presume, political ads. I don’t have a problem disclosing the fact that you are communicating with a bot, especially if you have the opportunity to opt out and get to a real person when the bot is incapable of handling your issue or request.  Chatbots in particular are a great way to augment online sales, and I am going to spend some time showing you how to use chatfuel to create you own online sales assistant in my upcoming online course that will be release mid-January. Make sure you are on the list by signing up for my free class at:

We are going to cover all aspects of running an online business, and bots are only a small part of what you will be learning. Plan on joining us and learning from the hundreds of customers I’ve helped over the past 20 years.


Colorado the most recent state to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax

I just got an email from B&H Photo stating that they would now be collecting sales tax in Colorado. Sadly, this is not because they are opening a store here (I love their New York store!), but instead because of a new tax law. The email stated, “All reputable retailers are complying with the new laws and collecting sales tax.”

Sales tax has long applied to brick and mortar business in the United States, but eCommerce businesses have been operating largely tax-free outside their home state. The new ruling overturns a decision made in 1992 that said businesses were exempt from sales tax unless they had a substantial connection to the particular state they operated in. This has opened the door for states to tax sales for businesses that do not have a presence in their state.

Based on a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, states now have the opportunity to start collecting sales tax at the point of sales, rather than on the point of delivery. The Colorado Department of Revenue issued a press release that requires online retailers to begin collecting sales tax as of November 20, 2018., even if they have no physical presence in the state.

“Tax collection at the point of sale eases the process for our residents and creates a level playing field for Colorado businesses, as out-of-state retailers will be required to collect state sales tax, just as in-state retailers do today,” Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Michael Hartman said in the release.

Per the Supreme court’s ruling, “there is a small-seller exception for retailers whose in state sales of products do not exceed $100,000 or 200 transactions annually.” Wholesale orders are not taxed, only orders being shipped directly to consumers.

Per the Supreme court's ruling, there is a small-seller exception for retailers whose in state sales of products do not exceed $100,000 or 200 transactions annually. Click To Tweet

“The [Colorado Department of Revenue] will ensure fair, efficient and transparent implementation of this decision,” Hartman said. “We will pave the least burdensome road possible for businesses to comply with these regulations.”

“Out-of-state retailers were not required to collect sales tax on sales prior to the registration deadline,” the release said. Visit  to register for a sales tax license if you plan on selling online into Colorado going forward.

The best way to manage this retail nightmare is to utilize WooCommerce as your shopping cart platform and install JetPack.  With JetPack,  it’s possible to enable automated tax calculations. With automated taxes enabled, you won’t need to set up any tax rates manually — it will be taken care of for you!

This is not just an issue if you sell more than $100,000 or have 200 transactions in Colorado. It is an issue you must address for every state as they adopt legislation to take advantage of the tax ruling. Detailed information about which states […]

The busiest shopping weekend of the year – are you ready?

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday traditionally mark the busiest shopping weekend of the year, and the start of the holiday shopping season. How do you compete against WalMart and other big box stores to get your share of the holiday revenue? Here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your sales and marketing efforts this year:

1. Create the Perfect Product Sales Page

I just wrote a new (very short) ebook about creating the prefect product page that will literally help you sell more. You can get it for free this week on Amazon (I’m looking for reviews!). Check it out at:

2. Use your email list

You do have a list of your customer’s emails that you’ve been collecting throughout the year, don’t you? Send them special coupons just for existing customers.

3. Throw a party.

Have food and drinks available for your special guests. Treat Small Business Saturday as an open house to retain your customers over the long haul.

4. Free gift wrap.

Do something that the big box stores are unable to do, especially during busy times.

5. Provide an incentive.

Have your customers bring in a friend, and give them a small gift for doing so.

6. Whether people are shopping online or in your store, create a deal.

Customers don’t just randomly flock to the big box stores this weekend – they go there because they know about and/or are expecting deals they don’t normally get. As a small business owner, you too must offer deals to bring customers into your store and your website. Don’t disappoint them, or you may end up disappointed yourself.

Customers are expecting a deal this weekend. Don't disappoint them, or you may end up disappointed yourself. Click To Tweet

It should go without saying that if you really want to take advantage of this shopping weekend (or holiday shopping in general), you need to market what you are doing. Make it different than just saying “come into our store” or “visit our website” – give them a reason to do so. then tell the world what you are doing to make this season special. Tweet about it. Post to Facebook. Write blog posts, Send emails – really step up your marketing so you get seen above the crowds and the noise being generated by the big boxes. Consider retargeted ads (see my post from a couple of weeks ago:

What are you doing to attract customers this holiday season? What are doing for Black Friday/SBS/Cyber Monday? I’d love to hear your thoughts! […]

I grew my Instagram by 100 followers per day!

Perhaps I still don’t get it, but Instagram is a strange social media platform. Instagram is not a website, but an app. You have to use your phone to post on Instagram. Every post must include a photo – and the photo must be square. Further, you can’t include a link in your posts to drive people to your website. Quite honestly, I find all of these things annoying, especially for business use. Yet, I’ve heard so many great things about Instagram, especially for Influencer Marketing, that I keep trying to figure out how to really make it work. I’ve tried assorted services that will grow your account, without buying followers, but instead will get you real people following your account. These have worked only marginally, growing my followers by perhaps 10 to 20 people per day. Not stellar, but I know better than to buy fake followers. Besides, what good are followers on Instagram if you can’t include a link? – you might as well just advertise where you can get people to click.

I don’t take a constant stream of selfies to post to social media, I prefer to create real valuable content, so decided to generate a series of motivational quotes. I grabbed some free stock photos, found quotes related to marketing, online sales, and ebusiness, and made a new meme for each day. Editing tools are better on my laptop, so I create the memes on my computer, then transfer them to my phone in order to post them on Instagram. These are good quality content, and I share them on Instagram with automatic posts to Facebook and Twitter (which you can do on Instagram). I also included a variety of hashtags. (Hashtags are those key words that start with # and are clickable links that people follow). Hashtags are key to growing your following on Instagram, as that is how new people find you. So, you want to use hashtags that people are looking for.

Anyways, it was recently Veteran’s Day. I decided to post a photo of my dad from back in the day when he was a liaison officer at the Air Force Academy. I used hashtags like #airforce, #veteransday, and #military. My account grew by over 100 followers in a single day – way better than anything I had done previously. Then it hit me as to why Instagram is important for your business. It is because […]

How can I get more traffic to my website?

I recently had a customer ask me, “how can I get more traffic to my website?” The answer can be broken down into 2 parts: free (organic) traffic and paid (advertising) traffic. Let’s examine the benefits and disadvantages of each.

Free traffic: This is what everyone wants, but has become increasingly harder to get and sustain ongoing. The way to get lots of free traffic is to create amazing content on an ongoing and consistent basis. Whether it be great photos that get shared, viral videos, or articles that offer information that visitors want to consume, content is what drives free traffic. If you build great content on a regular basis and keep doing it week after week, month after month, and year after year, then people start to notice you. And when people start to notice you, Google and the other search engines start to notice you. It takes a long time and a lot of work to generate free traffic. The advantage of course is that it is free, and it last a long time – when you put out quality content, your information may very well still be found months later. But it does take a huge amount of time and effort.

Amateur web designers rely on free traffic, while professionals pay for traffic by advertising. Click To Tweet

Paid Traffic: The other option is paid traffic. Paid traffic is great: create an ad for Facebook or Google, and they will send traffic your way. Plus, the traffic is highly optimized, either based on a specific search term or the targeted interests of your customers. I’ve heard it said that amateur web designers rely on free traffic, while professionals pay for traffic by advertising. And here’s the thing: you WILL get a lot more traffic when you advertise. Of course, your offer still has to be of interest to your customers; if they don’t care about what you are selling or what your lead magnet is, they will still not buy anything. I just did an entire podcast episode today on “conversion optimization,” which is all about getting someone to take action once they reach your website – watch for it in a couple of weeks.

So, is Facebook advertising worth it? […]

WordPress is about to change forever

Few versions of WordPress in the past have garnered as much buzz around them as WordPress 5.0. the last time we saw this much hype (and change) was the introduction of custom post types, which changed WordPress from a blogging platform into the world’s most popular content management system that now powers 30% of the websites on the planet. The reason for this hype about 5.0 is two simple words: Gutenberg Editor. Once WordPress 5.0 ships, the default way that people create content with WordPress will radically change.  As of now, here is the scheduled release dates for WordPress 5.0:

  • October 19: Beta 1
  • October 30: RC 1 (Release Candidate)
  • November 19: Release
  • There will likely be a secondary RC in January of 2019

The scope of this project entails:

  • Merging the Gutenberg plugin into the core software
  • Updating the default themes to work well with the block editor
  • Creating the new Twenty Nineteen theme
  • Creating an upgrade experience to remove the Gutenberg plugin and offer the Classic Editor plugin

The launch of Gutenberg means that you’ll need to get acquainted with a whole new editing experience. You can get a head start and find out exactly what you’re in for by installing a beta version of the Gutenberg editor as a plugin. Here’s what to expect after 5.0 rolls out:

The platform’s focus is moving towards a more intuitive site-building experience. Specifically, the core team is looking to maintain it’s market share against the rise of hosted website builders, many of which are easier to use for novice designers than all the complexities that WordPress offers. Building themes will become easier. In the past, you needed at least a simple development background to put together a WordPress theme. With Gutenberg, theme creation will become much more accessible thanks to blocks. Aside from your own editing experience, Gutenberg will also bring important changes to a lot of your favorite plugins, especially those that interact with the editor such as page builders and those that use shortcodes.

The biggest improvement is that it will now make it possible for you to build and create unique web pages filled with lots of content blocks, which you can easily move around with a drag-and-drop interface. Here’s a preview of what the new editor will look like: […]