There is a saying, “If you don’t have a website you don’t exist!” As of January 2021, it is reported that there are 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide. As a small farm, food hub or farmers market, this is reason enough to take control of your online presence and give prospective customers an easy place to find you on the World Wide Web. Fortunately, building a website has never been easier!
The following is an easy step-by-step guide for creating a website for your business.
Note that a “website builder” such as WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. takes you through many of the following steps and purchases on your behalf.
Claim Your Domain Name
What is a domain name? This is where people will find your website on the internet, e.g. sleepypupfarms.com.
How do I claim a domain name? There are many different websites where you can buy and register your domain name, including GoDaddy.com, Domain.com or Bluehost.com; alternatively you can register your domain name using your website builder, for example, SquareSpace, WordPress or Wix. A domain name should cost between $2-20 per year.
How do I choose a domain name? Your domain name is ideally your business name. When you choose a domain name registration website, you will have to do a domain name search to check if yours is available. If it is already claimed, which is likely if you have a common farm name, brainstorm alternatives, for example: sleepypupfarmsca.com or shopsleepypupfarms.com or sleepypupfarmscsa.com. Be sure to choose a name that is adaptable in case you change your business model in the future. Here are 14 Tips and Tools for Choosing the Best Domain Name (source: WPBeginner – Beginner’s Guide for WordPress).
Choose a Hosting Service
What is a web host? A web host allocates space on the web for a website to store its files, and makes those available for viewing online. It essentially allows you to rent or buy space on the web.
How do I choose a web host? Now is the time to think ahead about the features and functionality that you’d like included in your website. Do you want to use ecommerce? What is your budget? Do you want to bundle hosting with your website builder? A lot of website builders double as website hosts, so you could use something like Wix, Shopify and Squarespace, for example, for both hosting and building. Alternatively, you can use a third party website host like Bluehost, HostGator or Namecheap.
How do I choose between a bundle package or a third party host? You can opt for a web host that doesn’t include web building if you’re building an entirely custom website or using a specific website builder that doesn’t include hosting, such as WordPress. A note that you can also choose to bundle in the domain name with hosting and website building.
Choose a Website Builder
What is a website builder? Website builders are service providers that allow anyone to build a website using simple tools. They handle the coding and offer beautiful templates that you can easily customize with your own text, designs, images, and more.
How do I choose a website builder? Important questions to ask yourself include:
Who will design and maintain the website? Do you want to build and manage it yourself? Do you want a web developer to help you build it, but make it possible for anyone to manage it once it’s set up?
What’s your budget?
What will your site be used for? Consider what you want to use your website for now AND in the future. Blog? Ecommerce?1 Event ticket sales? Maybe you will want to use a platform like Local Line or Barn2Door that is catered specifically to farmers. Perhaps a popular website builder like WordPress or Wix is best for your business. If you aren’t sure, the Small Farm Tech Hub is here to help!
Prepare Your Content
What information do I include on my website? It is important to evaluate what audience you are trying to reach when building your website. However, basic information on any website should include:
Your business name
An “About Us” section that describes your farm operation, including ideals, values and practices that make your business unique
Contact information, including email and phone number
Subscription pop-up form or easy to find button for capturing email subscribers
Where people can find your products
Current photos and images of your farm, products and people (e.g. you and your crew)
Links to social media accounts
Reviews from customers that love your product/farm
What other features should be included? At this stage, you should be clear about features that you want to include on your website, for example, an online ecommerce store, a CSA sign-up and/or sign-in page, event signup page for agritourism, or whatever is part of your farm business model.
Choose a Template
How do I choose a template for my website? If you are using a simple website builder to design the website on your own, it will offer many templates, which will guide the aesthetics of your website. Choose one that fits well with your content and farm brand.
Build Your Website
How do I build my website? Popular website builders are user-friendly and generally easy to use. They often have drag-and-drop features, which allow you to build each page of your website with ease of functionality.
What if I don’t have time or worry I’ll be too slow? If you’re not confident in your ability to build your website, you may consider hiring someone to set it up for you. This may be more costly, but time you spend building the website is also valuable. Keep in mind that you should be able to make updates to the website yourself once they’ve laid the foundation for you. Don’t rely on them to make minor updates and changes whenever that comes up.
Publish Your Website
Congratulations! You’ve created a website for your farm business! Before you put it out to the world, proofread everything, and also have a friend or two do the same. It is always helpful to have a second pair of eyes look over your work. Put the best foot forward when you share your new website with your audience.
1For more information on choosing an Ecommerce platform, check out these resources from the CSA Innovation Network:
eCommerce Platform Questions to Ask
Farmer to Farmer eCommerce Platforms Report