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Are You Sure Your Coaching Website Is Really Yours?

Today it's so easy to get a website to market and promote your coaching or healing practice. Whether you're a life or business coach, a healer, or another type of service provider you'll find no limit to the ways that you can get a website.

And one of the most popular ways to get a website is by using one of the do-it-yourself website services – such as GoDaddy's Website Tonight Service.

Many of these do-it-yourself services sound great. Just think about it, these services let you select your own website design, add your own content, and publish your own website. Sounds pretty easy (though often it's time consuming) What's even better is often the price. Usually for under $20 a month you can have a website.

But what's the trade-off? Is there something you're missing with these cheap packages? Or is there something potentially detrimental to your coaching or healing practice? Do you even own your own website?

The Story of Lisa, Stay-at-Home Mom & Life Coach

Those are some of the questions Lisa and I talked about last week when she called me asking about getting a website for her new life coaching practice.

You can get a business-ready, fully-functional, easy-to-edit website without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.
Now Lisa is a longtime friend to my wife and I. We knew she was training to be a life coach. And now that her coaching certification was complete she want to talk about how to get a website to best promote her life coaching practice.

Lisa is a stay-at-home mom with two young daughters – one in second grade, the other four years old and not in school. She's a mom first and a life coach second. For her that means she wants to have a small number of life coaching clients booked each month, but not so many that she can't care for her daughters' needs. So she doesn't need some large, expensive website. She wants to be able to edit her own content without spending a lot of time, as she calls it, ‘being techie.'

After looking around the web her first thought was to use GoDaddy's Website Tonight system. “It's great,” she told me. “I can choose a design, add my own content and then publish it. And the costs are very cheap – just $10 per month.”

Coaching Websites on The Cheap, Oh the Limitations

What she was saying is true – she could get a website for just $10 per month. And GoDaddy isn't the only one who offers services like this. You can get a website from Yahoo! Small Business, SiteBuilder, 1and1 and just about any major hosting company for less than $20/month. Seems like an amazing offer, right?

By price, it may be. But for the average life coach, business coach or holistic practitioner, is it the right option for your business needs?

Well, as Lisa and I began talking about what she wanted to do with her website – both now and in the next year – some things about this $10/mo website became clear.

  • First, Lisa would have to choose between GoDaddy's handful of designs – all of which looked dated, flat and, as she put it, ‘unprofessional and unfinished.'
  • Second, Lisa would be limited to the colors that were already provided by each of the GoDaddy designs. So she couldn't really make the site feel, in any way like her.
  • Third, she was limited to a number of pages based on her plan. Need more pages than your package – the monthly fee goes up.
  • Fourth, because of the colors and layout, her logo wouldn't fit on the designs.
  • Fifth, she couldn't add the features – like a newsletter signup form – to her GoDaddy website, as far as she could see (though if you pay more monthly, there is a widget system available that will let you add outside web code like forms)

Ask the Most Important Question

Those five she got on her own as we started talking. But was the fifth point – and the most important point of all – didn't come out until she asked me this question:

Most people don't realize that with these services they don't own their website. So they're either stuck with GoDaddy forever or leave without having a website at all.

“Dawud, if I want to stop using GoDaddy, what do I need to do to move my website?”

The Biggest Problem with Do-it-Yourself Website Services

That's when I had to tell her that the biggest problem with these services is that you can't move your website – because your website is not yours! That’s right, that coaching or healing website you’ve put so much of your time and effort into isn’t yours – you don’t own it. GoDaddy does.

She said, “What do you mean it's not my website, I'm paying for it?”

It's true, she is paying for it. She's paying for the hosting on GoDaddy's servers and for the privilege to use their templates for her design. But she doesn't own any part of the design itself. So once Lisa stops using GoDaddy for hosting, she loses her website all together. The only thing she can retain is her content. But only if she gets it off “her” website before closing the account.

Most people who use these do-it-yourself services don't realize that if you decide to host elsewhere, be it for development, service, pricing, etc, you loose your site. So in essence, you're either stuck with the service they initially chose or they have to start all over when they want to move.

This isn't a bad situation for a personal or club website. Even for some small, brochure-style business sites it's fine.

But for any business owner – a coach, a healing practitioner, etc – who wants their website to be a hub for growing their business it's certainly less than ideal. Not only do you not own your website, it often difficult or impossible to alter the designs you can choose from to accommodate the needs of your growing business. What's more is that you're forever held captive by the service you're paying monthly – stop paying equals no website.

If You’re a Coach, Healer or Other Type of Service Provider, You Must Own Your Website

The bottom line, really, is that as a business owner:

  • you want to own your website.
  • you want to be able to customize, update, alter and change your website without limitation.
  • you want to be able to customize your look and feel of your website to match you so that your audience can get a solid feeling of who you are.
  • you want to be able to move your website around without penalty if you have poor service from your host (does happen).
  • you want to be able to easily add new content, pages and make edits any time you want – without limitations.

And as I said earlier, you can get a business-ready, fully-functional, easy-to-edit website without spending thousands and thousands of dollars. Want to talk about how, just contact me.

As a Good Coach, I Want to Be Fair

To be fair, there is one advantage to using do-it-yourself services…start up costs. You can often get a website off the ground for a very small investment – usually under $50. This may work well for you if you have little cash flow as you're starting your business.

If you choose that path, my advice is the same to you as to my dear friend Lisa…Get a professionally designed website as soon as you have enough cash flow to do so. The investment will pay dividends even in the smallest coaching practice. Especially if your designer has the skills to help you develop and execute a web-based strategy for growing your business.

My advice: own your website right from the start. Go through the development process with a designer that can really help you craft your site into a marketing hub for your business. You really can't measure the gains from working with a professional.

And, you can contact me anytime to discuss your website needs and how they can get met on for your specific situation and budget. And trust me, the best solution isn’t always working with me. The best solution is the one that’s best for you. I can help you with that – even if we don’t work together.

So, have you used a do-it-yourself website service yourself? What was your experience? How did you find it limiting?

Let’s talk about it.

note: image from Alexandra Moreau Photography on Flickr, some rights reserved)

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Comments

  1. I have a suggestion for Lisa.

    Use the free service from blogger.com to create a blog. You can edit the templates as you see fit and collect contact information. All for free including the hosting. You can even purchase a domain name which you can use in conjunction with Blogger to avoid using their domain alias.

    I have included an excerpt from Blogger below:

    “When you create your blog, you can host it for free on Blog*Spot. Just choose an available URL and you’re ready to go. If you change your mind and want a different URL later, making the change is easy. Blogger also includes a custom domain option; you can have a domain name, like example.com, and we’ll still host your blog there, giving you all of Blogger’s great features.”

    Then when you are able to move forward and take on the role of managing your own site in terms of hosting, script updates, etc you can move the contents you have created on blogger to WordPress (FREE open source script) to your own managed hosting account.

    You can reference the site below that will allow you to move the contents from Blogger to WordPress for example.

    http://codex.wordpress.org/Importing_Content#Blogger

    I would recommend this avenue as it is a very small initial fee of about $10-$15 to register your own unique domain name per year. Once you are ready to take on the additional tasks you can move to a managed hosting account with another provider.

    I hope this helps!

  2. In the early days of website building I used Website tonight.. And yes, they are good for getting a really basic website up if you have no website building skills

    But the problem is these programs are so limited and limiting.

    In retrospect and many websites and blogs later, I would say to Lisa that building a website using an HTML editor like Dreamweaver is the way to go. Take the time to learn how to use Dreamweaver [or whatever other HTML editor you choose] learn some CSS and then you have skills that you can us again and again.

    And also there is no limit to what features you want to add to your website then

  3. I would never be able to do this myself but I work with a company that focuses on search engine optimization and have learned that some websites are more seo friendly than other.

  4. @Rick above, those blogs are good but a certain amount of your traffic still goes to the xxx.wordpress.com or whatever domain – you can never catch it all.

    There are loads of hosts out there which cost very little a year and offer control panels which will install everything through a few clicks – this would be much more future proof and still allow her to follow the blog route.

    WordPress for example has some great page tools, you can make a website with minimal knowledge.

  5. Agreed to the points of OWNING your site. no point in paying for a hosting service or design if you cannot own the content or have the rights to it.

    If you have any coding or web design experience, it can be very helpful as a Coach, otherwise you should at least know the basics.

    It is of great importance in the long run that you can change the look and functionality of your site at any time, check with your hosting provider, usually we do this through FTP.

    Agreed with the above poster, WordPress is definitely the way to go, all you need is a little bit of HTML web knowledge to get started, plus it is on an upwards trend in the web world right now. Google loves wordpress, so it will help your ranking.

  6. Well said. With many website builders there are often limitations which don’t become apparent until after you’ve built the site. Then when you want to upgrade your website to match your business needs you find out you can’t, and you can’t move the website to someone who can because some one else owns your design. To many people fall for these website builders getting drawn in by the low start up cost without knowing the limitations and disadvantages of doing so. Hopefully this post will help educate more business owners so they can make an educated decision on what is best for their website.

  7. My experience was similar to Lisa’s. When I wanted to revamp my site and move it from a template provider, I was referred to GoDaddy’s Website tonight product. Like Lisa, I felt that the templates were not professional and looked dated. And your point about owning the site to make it portable is key. It’s worth investing in your site for flexibility, portability, professionalism, and because it will likely the main public touch-point for your businesses.

  8. I am pretty new to the website game and honestly was unaware of many of the disadvantages of having a “do it yourself website”. I think in many ways, these types of server hosts do the job for us, but my biggest worry would have to be not being able to do some of the things we want to do in the future, Such as: sign-up news letters, more pages, and eventual move our site..

  9. Having a website at go daddy seems not too advantageous. That costs much and not having any privileges. I am pretty sure that there will be any competetor of it who will offer more than godaddy.

  10. had my websites also at go daddy… indeed, you dont have much privileges… therefore i transfered them to host europe and now i am really satisfied! :)

    good article, thx for that!

    best wishes

  11. Dawud, I’ve got to agree with you. Owning your own website is the only sensible option. The amount of times I’ve seen my own clients severely limited by their template website is staggering.

    If you want to look professional and reap the full benefits of your site, you need to own it.

  12. I think the do it yourself, low cost, easy to use sites are great for anyone who is just putting up a website for the first time and is a complete web newbie. My sister would fall into that category. For her it worked well. I would go crazy with that set up. I think your advice is very good for anyone who likes to be involved.

  13. Thanks Dawud. That’s something I never knew and I’ve never considered asking about. Don’t you think people automatically assume it’s their site when they are paying for it? Those services should make it clear for consumers. Thanks again.

  14. Well, I have read this article a little to late. I used wordpress.com to host and build a free site. Which was great in the beginning, but after hours of promotion and getting my site up to a PR2 it got deleted with no warning. I was told it may have been a competitor that I jumped ahead of on Google, that got it deleted. So, from now on I will only use bought and paid for domains. Thanks for this article I hope it helps others before they make the same mistake as me.

  15. Marko @ North Vacation says:

    Godaddy is not an option for me. I think better option is CPanel support. Inside godaddy’s control panel sometimes it’s even hard to setup an email account!

  16. The one thing people need to think is “why do I have a website?” If they just want to say they have one and not have it contribute to their business, these little accounts are great. But if they want to serve their customer base and actually fulfill their business purposes online, you cannot use a template or “free” site service. You need to get a professional web developer. Once I figured that out, it made all the difference. Thanks for the great article.

  17. I build a website for free use yola, but it was never any good. It is best to have a professional build your website for you, it is a lot easier and less time consuming.

  18. tourmaline says:

    I never consider those sites really mine because a simple violation in ToS can get your site banned by the service.

    Just like blogging on Blogger platform, the blog isn’t really yours because they have so much control over you.

    -Bob Tourmaline

  19. My website is a Do-It-Yourself site. I am a photographer and there is a company that creates easy websites for photographers.

    My experience with these sites is mixed. On the positive side it was easy, convenient, great for people who no nothing about web design.

    On the bad side I have very little control over certain areas, as I learn more about websites I more and more want to break free and start my own site. And last they suck for SEO.

    I would love more info on places I can go to get some help on creating a more custom site.

    Thanks for the great post!

  20. my website is with godaddy and so far run so softly. I also got the security authentication so my site is verified. Although i didn’t include the mailing but it’s ok.

  21. This is an unbelievable important point. Make sure your domain is registered in YOUR company name not some third parties.

  22. Usually the do it yourself sites look like do it yourself sites (as you stated), which completely negates any benefit from having a cheap site. If you’re trying to have a good web presence but someone goes to your site and can tell you only spent $10 on getting it setup, you won’t look like any expert.

  23. Edinburgh Photographer says:

    Very good point and something that a lot of people would not have even given a second thought to.

  24. sarbinowo says:

    A website is like a pet. You can get it at first if you pay but then you have to care to make it grow and be more popular.

  25. When I saw the title I was like..umm yeah? haha And yeah, the more competition there is in the web that harder it is to make a name for yourself as a coach.

  26. Very interesting. I had not realized that using a hosting company’s templates etc. means they really own the site and you’re stuck with them. I’m glad I didn’t go that route.

  27. No, I never used a “Do It Yourself Service” to create a website. The best option is to buy hosting from Hostgator and install WordPress. This allows the website owner to make custom designs and use a subscription to sign up people to a mailing lists.

  28. Agreed with the above poster, WordPress is definitely the way to go, all you need is a little bit of HTML web knowledge to get started, plus it is on an upwards trend in the web world right now. Google loves wordpress, so it will help your ranking.

  29. is important that domain to be registered on your behalf in order not to risk wasting all the work you will do in the future. My suggestion is buy a low cost web domain and implement a WordPress Blog

  30. nice blog.yeh its better to choose our design content,logo,structure but if you are a beginner take a advice from web developer,study some points then jump into web world.

  31. Hire software developer programmer says:

    thnx for coming up wid such ideas…. its really very helpfulll for those …who wants thr website to b design in thr own personal format… thnx godaddy…for such innovative step…

  32. Web site like a baby. You must be with it already. Because no interest no hit:)

  33. very enteresting point and sometimes a lot of web sites for not upgrade in this system.
    thanks bro

  34. Its really very good and informative blog. Word press is definitely the way to go, all you need is a little bit of HTML web knowledge to get started. thanks for sharing with us…

  35. Wao what a very fine blog. It is of good importance in the long run that you can change the look and functionality of your site at any time.thanks for the information.

  36. Due to lack of updating any website can loose its page rank. For that reason SEO is needed.

  37. Great post!

    I think the limitations of a hosting comapny-created webpage are a definite drawback. Still, they allow access to the web for very small service providers.

    My thought: As long as you own the domain this type of website is a great starting point. Really think, do you need a beautiful page with flash or do you need a placeholder that’s just better than a merchantcircle account. I feel like the average sole-proprietor who is a plumber or something would just be wasting money on a page designed by a professional design company.

    Just my thoughts…

  38. You make a good point about using templates that are designed or owned by the hosting company.

    Nowadays, with WordPress, you can get a plethora of templates which will suit your niche and it is fairly simple to move the database to another web host. As well, most of these wordpress templates are public domain so you do not need to encounter the issues of design infringement.

  39. Gino @ Tofino Accomodation says:

    I agree with the post, it is good to develop the site our own.I think a person can do it easily as there are lots of templates are available at free of cost. The problem is that many others may use the same theme.If you are doing a business it is good to have a professional web site.The themes can be used for personal sites.

  40. FarmVille Secrets Free Download says:

    You are absolutely right that you need your own website! If you are trying to be professional, you can’t have a shoddy looking, temporary website. Do it right the first time and it will be much better down the road! Thanks for sharing your tips!

  41. I think this deal sucks for Lisa. Templates are nice, on a free host. If you have to stick to a paid host and are bount to their designs you should have been a bit more aware of the system. Godaddy is a good deal when it comes to domaining, but honestly, their hardcore promotion of all the other products makes it really hard to not click on one of their offers and regret it later. Especially when you are not a pro. I walked a friend through this and she always looked and thought that she needed that, even though she just wanted a single domain. It’s a tricky product site.

  42. I think a person can do it easily as there are lots of templates are available at free of cost. The problem is that many others may use the same theme.

  43. This is really good advice, and its one that youll end up wishing you knew BEFORE hand. Unfortunately though, when you start up you know the least youll ever know. I’ve encountered a bit of this dilemma myself with my blog. At first it was simply a small time thing — if it somehow got lost altogether it wouldn’t be a great loss. However, now that I’ve grown it and invested so much energy, it would be a real… expletive!

  44. You’ve got an excellent point about owning the website – I’ve never thought of that being an issue with the low cost DIY option.

    That’s actually kind of scary. If your website turns out to be the primary source of new leads, customer service, and business growth in general and you don’t “own” it – that sucks for so many reasons.

    Another reason to get a custom site from someone like Dawud is that it’s very difficult to replicate the effect that having a site built just for you can acheive in the minds of your customers.

    Sure you can find some really nice looking templates and save money but I personally believe there’s something almost “sub concious” happening in the mind of the visitor when they visit a template site. Kind of a “this isn’t really them” voice.

    I know it’s a big huge trust creator when I see a company has invested in something that’s particularly unique to them.

  45. think a person can do it easily as there are lots of templates are available at free of cost. The problem is that many others may use the same theme

  46. I would suggest wordpress this is the best cms system and is really easy to use with many features and tons of widgets that blogger just doesnt have.

    Limitations will be in place if she uses website tonight or something similar where as you are pretty much free to do as you please with wordpress.

  47. Well I am brand new to all this and have just set up a site, should I say still setting it up. Just saying hi and enjoying learning from all you guys have to say

  48. Very interesting. I had not realized that using a hosting company’s templates etc. means they really own the site and you’re stuck with them. I’m glad I didn’t go that route.

  49. Yes that is the biggest problem in Do-it-Yourself Website Services, your website is not your at once you stop hosting. it is much better to use cms like wordpress.

    i am happy with wordpress.

  50. I love this
    the more competition there is in the web that harder it is to make a name for yourself as a coach.

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