“Help, I need an easy website builder for my music studio!”
So you’re an independent music teacher and you need a website (join the club!). Maybe you are not very tech savvy, and you can’t or don’t want to train yourself in WordPress, or any other web builder (join another club!). You may want to start with a drag and drop website builder (Whew, a club that will actually make my life easier!). Typically, the drag and drop web builders are provided by a web host and they come as a 2-in-1 package. Many of them have nice, professional looking themes, and many of them come e-Commerce ready (for a price)!
As you shop, beware of the following:
- Sometimes “Free Domain Name” doesn’t mean yourstudio.com. You will want your own custom domain.
- Check on transaction fees – you’ll already be paying about 3% to a credit card processor, and some of these sites charge you an additional commission on each sale.
- Terms and pricing change all the time. In the month or two since I first drafted this post, several of them changed.
- Most of these have free trials, which means ads on your site and no custom domain. You have nothing to lose by trying several and seeing which one you like best before you start paying!
- Do an internal gut check for the “sleaze factor” as you’re shopping.
- Read the fine print! If you can’t find the fine print, that’s a problem.
Here are my takes on some Drag and Drop Website builders:
$6.95/month and up
Your domain name will cost you $18.95/year if you register it with them (A good domain price is $10-$15/year). Their standard eCommerce website costs $13.75.
This nice price is only if you sign up for 3 years. They do offer a promotional introductory trial for less. They are powered by green energy, which is pretty cool. This is an affordable option that has gotten good reviews. Domain names ending in “.com” can be renewed for $15.99.year.
$11.99/month and up
Go Dadddy’s standard price is never what you’ll pay for your first year. They don’t have a free trial, but seem to be constantly on sale. GoDaddy has a stronger reputation as a domain registrar than they do as a web host. This price includes a domain name.
$12.42/month and up
Their eCommerce ready version is more expensive –around $16/month. Their “free domain name” is a wix.com/yourstudio/ domain. This is not really ideal, because you want to own your studio’s domain name (Read why in the previous post Website Building for Beginners).
$12.99/month and up
$22.99/month for the fully eComerce ready version. But, if you don’t want an online store, you still get a free domain name (www.yourstudio.com) with the $12.99/month version. For what it’s worth, I had my very first website with webs.com, and I eventually got frustrated with it and went for WordPress.
$16/month and up
Squarespace features a 14-day free trial for the eCommerce ready plan. Squarespace includes 1 domain name (www.yourstudio.com) in all their paid plans – This is actually a decent deal when you consider that domains often cost $10-$15/year.
Both of these include Teacher websites in their packages, and charge comparable prices to the mid-level prices above. If one of these is exactly what you want and need and it seems worth the price to you, then use it! If you’re unhappy with your website in any way, I would encourage you to check out some other options, because you can certainly pay less with another vendor.
Drag and Drop hosts with a high “Sleaze Factor”
If there’s one thing that really ticks me off, it’s Bait-and-Switch sales tactics. I always prefer transparency to obfuscation. For this reason, these two hosts left a bad taste in my mouth.
$14.95/month and up
Also known as Web.com, you might visit their site and think $5/month looks great for an e-commerce ready site. But, it’s only an introductory rate for 1 month! They offer a “free domain name,” but it’s only for a 1-year term. After that they’ll charge you upwards of $35/year to renew your domain name (this is in addition to your web hosting costs). Their pricing is incredibly difficult to find and understand on their website and it looks to me like an eCommerce ready site would cost over $30/month. Obfuscation like this makes me want to scream.
$8/month and up
The lowest price of $8/month is for the “lite” eCommerce ready version. At this membership level, they will take a 3% cut of your sales (probably in addition to credit card fees, it’s hard to tell). The deluxe eCommerce ready version is more like $25/month. Domain names cost $39/year. This is a lot, and you can do better buying your domain elsewhere! It is really hard to find the fine print on their website without signing up, something which always feels like sleaze to me.
Remember, we all have to start somewhere! If you can put in a little time and energy, you can do this! How did you build your website? The Good Business Witch of the North wants to know….
Next Time: To Rent or Not to Rent?