June 27, 2008

What Should You Pay For Website/Blog Design with Support and Hosting Package?

http://www.bloggingtricks.com/uploaded_images/iStock_000001627298Small-737898.jpgThis post idea has been percolating in my mind for a while because of client questions about what is a fair cost for the complete construction of a website/blog which includes quality design, security, support, education and monthly carrying costs for hosting, customer support and education.  This post was still languishing until I received a phone call from someone telling me an absolutely outrageous quote he was given at a 'conference.'  I nearly fell off my chair...except it has side arms and prevented this :-)

So, I'm going to share with you what I have learned over the past two years as well as my opinions.  But, remember, they remain my opinions but they are some of the very same opinions I share with my clients.

If you choose to hire an 'expert' to design your web presence on a blogging platform which can include multiple static pages with other types of functionality, you should anticipate paying between $1,500 - $3,000 for the site alone.  (This is in contrast to a Typepad, Terapad, Blogger or Wordpress with pre-designed templates)

The price range noted turns on the components: the number of landing pages such as your "About" "Practice Areas" "Contact", and all the 'moving parts' you require to make the site a valuable go-to resource for potential clients and current clients.  It is an attraction marketing tool and needs to be substantial enough to present the necessary attractors to give clients what they need to make a decision about hiring you.  You are paying for their time to do this, not necessarily for the software as if a company is well established they have long since paid for basic templates which they design off of or are using free blogging software platforms.  Remember, you are buying their time. (You are lawyers..you get that, right?)

After your up front costs for creation and production, there is generally a carrying cost which includes hosting of the site, security, backups, customer support and education.  Based upon feedback from across the profession, and my personal investigation of numerous services, in my opinion, this should not cost you more than $50.00 per month.  For someone to host your site is literally pennies per month.  So, the bulk of the monthly cost is projected for the occasional technical support and early education. Since you won't need this every month averaging it out to $50.00 per month is not unreasonable. You shouldn't begrudge any company these fees if you are comfortable and happy with what you will be provided for this fee and the company delivers in a customer-friendly way.  In some ways, the monthly carrying cost serves as an insurance policy for your very important marketing presence.

However, some people still choose to move their newly designed webpresence to their own host because maybe they are more tech savvy and don't want the monthly carrying cost because for them it doesn't provide value.  And this is okay, too.  The option should always be yours once the website has been produced and the company should allow for this in their contract.

So, let me tell you the story which had me outraged.  I received a phone call on this very subject from someone who had been in attendance at a well-promoted seminar weekend on growing your legal practice.  As makes good sense, vendors were selected to be present to provide a complete solution for the needs of the attendees.  These attendees were presented with a vendor who would provide a website with a blog component for...are you sitting down....$16,000!  THAT'S INSANE! It should be considered a felony.  What's worse, is by having this vendor in attendance, the host of the seminar was endorsing the vendor and the prices.  (I won't go any further on this.)

And do not let others sell you their overpriced product by drawing comparison to other marketing tools.  If you currently spend outrageous sums on yellow pages and want to switch over to an internet presence do not look at what you will save compared to yellow page advertising.  That creates a false economy and you will be inclined to overpay for a web presence.  It's a great sales tactic.  But you should be smarter than that. Compare apples and apples; not apples and gorillas.

Now, lawyers have a reputation for spending because they can if they think they are going to get something no one else has.  So, here's my proposal to you: If you've got $13,000 extra dollars to throw away on a product which you shouldn't pay more than $3,000 for at the high end...please donate it to Solo Practice University so we can set up a couple of new solos in their own practices from soup to nuts, instead.  You'll certainly feel better for it, I promise. 

Related Links:  What I've Learned About Blogging These Past 18 Months

                       Free Blogs at Solo Practice University

                       If You're Serious About Marketing,,,,,,,,,,,,,

May 23, 2008

Free Blogs at Solo Practice University

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We posted such exciting news Tuesday at the Solo Practice University Construction blog I wanted to share it here:

Solo Practice University™ is going to be a web-based educational and networking community for lawyers and law students. But did you know we’re also going to give away free blogs to all community members?

Many solo lawyers know they should blog but don’t have a clue about getting started. Because we firmly believe law students should learn about blogging and related technology in law school but don’t, Solo Practice University™ will provide some of the best instruction on legal blogging from recognized experts. But instruction alone isn’t always enough. Sometimes the best way to learn about blogging is through personal experimentation.

To that end, the Solo Practice University™ platform will enable its members to —

  • create an unlimited number of blogs within seconds
  • control privacy settings for each blog (private/SPU community/public)
  • import/export data with a single click

…and we’ll be using one of the most flexible and state-of-the-art blog publishing platforms in existence.

Free blogs for community members is just another way we are going to make starting your solo practice career easier, smarter, and less intimidating.

So, if to date you have not been following SPU's construction progress, now might be the time to drop your e-mail or sign up for the RSS.  We are going to have more exciting news shortly, especially for current law students.