Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Offering to Develop 1 Free website for a Small Business - Details Inside

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 14th, 2014 9:18 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON

Offering to Develop 1 Free website for a Small Business - Details Inside

Hello RFD,

I'm currently starting up an affiliate website called Vesbium geared towards Canadian Small Businesses. Hoping to launch it by 2015.

That aside I got this idea from the other random thread in Craigslist offering free websites.
I need to test out whether the affiliate links actually work and see what will happen when people buy before I invest in PPC advertising.

So here's my offer -

I will:
Create a Small Business website for you on one of the platforms here: http://www.vesbium.com/easy-websites.html (The website itself was created on Weebly)
Develop a calling-card type website for your business for free using stock images or images/logos you provide. (I have a good collection of stock images - all of the pictures on the site are stock).

You will:
Buy the hosting through the link above and choose one of the 2 platforms and invite me as an editor and I'll tinker away at your website (will probably take me a week or 2).
Basic websites are usually $4/month if you buy annually - same as a regular host.
If you like what I've done, I'd appreciate a testimonial of a job well done, and the ability to show your website in my portfolio.

Limitations: I'm not doing anything over-the-top like a full on e-commerce website (unless you wanna pay me for it) or the making the next Huffington post. 5 pages MAX (unless your request is reasonable).

Since I'm only doing 1 website for now, if you're interested, comment with what type of business you have and what you expect out of your website below and I'll pick from whoever replies.
If this one becomes a success for all involved, I can do it again.
29 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2004
4993 posts
731 upvotes
Am I reading this correct? You're offering to make a piece of crap site on piece of crap Weebly? And in return you get recurring commission from the hosting?
Thank you so much for 'helping' us.
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON
Do you own a business that doesn't have a website who doesn't have time to build one or pay a local IT company a few hundred dollars to develop one for them?

If yes, then I'm not sure why you would think Weebly is a piece of crap - it's one of the best web 2.0 creators out there.
If not, then I'm not sure why you're replying or what you're contributing by bashing an offer of free web development work for someone who's going to pay hosting anyways. How is that not helping?

Hope you have better days ahead of you because I don't think you had a very good one today.
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
754 posts
121 upvotes
Toronto
You are welcome to offer your design/development services for free, if you want to build up a body of work and gather experience, referrals, etc.

What doesn't sound good is the requirement of buying the hosting through your associate links.

Many people here prefer unbundled offers, where domain buying, hosting, design, maintenance are all negotiated and contracted individually on their own merits and needs.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2004
4993 posts
731 upvotes
aenkryption wrote:
Aug 10th, 2014 9:23 pm
Do you own a business that doesn't have a website who doesn't have time to build one or pay a local IT company a few hundred dollars to develop one for them?

If yes, then I'm not sure why you would think Weebly is a piece of crap - it's one of the best web 2.0 creators out there.
If not, then I'm not sure why you're replying or what you're contributing by bashing an offer of free web development work for someone who's going to pay hosting anyways. How is that not helping?

Hope you have better days ahead of you because I don't think you had a very good one today.
If you want commission on hosting, you're not offering a free site.
Weebly is so simple and limited, all you're doing is saving someone a half hour from doing their own.
It just irks me your post makes it sound like you're doing something great for free, when really you're just doing something that takes no skill.
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON
Fair point Dani. That said, for the purposes of this offer, the primary goal is to test the affiliate end-to-end process itself. I offer the web development piece as a paid service as well on it's own.
Also, I do have associate partnerships with various other hosting providers without restrictions (see the hosting section of the site); however, my own skills are more towards Design, UI, UX, and SEO.
Even though I'm offering something for free, I want to ensure that I can offer something of quality and I can only do that with 100% certainty with the 2 platforms I mentioned in my post.

So to your point, I fully understand that many here might not see this as an offer that suits their needs which I fully respect.
However, my goal is to find someone who's needs can work well with my own and ultimately benefit both parties.

I do appreciate your input as I'm fairly new to interacting with this community!
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON
baz5 wrote:
Aug 10th, 2014 10:28 pm
If you want commission on hosting, you're not offering a free site.
Weebly is so simple and limited, all you're doing is saving someone a half hour from doing their own.
It just irks me your post makes it sound like you're doing something great for free, when really you're just doing something that takes no skill.
I've been working with Small Businesses for several years, and the majority wouldn't care to touch a web development solution, no matter how easy it is, with a 50-foot pole.
I'm not trying to make it out to sound like what I'm doing is something it's not - the going rate for a calling-card website, regardless of platform, is roughly $250-$500 - not inclusive of hosting.
The reason it's this rate isn't because of how hard it is to create a website, but because there are other aspects to building the solution that will either make the website useful or useless, namely design, experience, and an SEO strategy.

As I mentioned in my reply to dani, I'm well aware that many in a "deals" forum won't see this as something that suits their needs, and would likely hold the same hostile attitude you do.
I will reiterate that there are people out there who would rather not do this work themselves, which is why I'm offering my time and experience in exchange for helping me test my own website process.
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
754 posts
121 upvotes
Toronto
Still doesn't smell right. You need to decide if you want to showcase your skills (Design, UI, UX, and SEO) or drop link-traps to get affiliate fees. Can't do both at the same time with a straight face.

People in this section of the forum is trained to smell BS and pick it apart for a living. Can't survive in business otherwise.
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON
I'm not entirely sure where you're getting that my point was to showcase my skills. I'm firmly aware of where my skills are and don't need to showcase them in this context.
If you refer to my original post: "I need to test out whether the affiliate links actually work and see what will happen when people buy before I invest in PPC advertising."

I never said anything about showcasing skills aside from asking for a referral from whoever takes my offer which I ask from my paid clients as well.
This was meant to be an exchange for free website development for helping me test my affiliate links.
You simply assumed in your initial comment that I was trying to build up referrals where I never said that was my goal.
Newbie
May 28, 2013
68 posts
10 upvotes
Toronto
The problem with services like Weebly is that they "sell" the value of their service based on "it's easy to make yourself a great site!" and then the end result is a SEO and usability nightmare. Looking at some of the examples they link to from their site, some of the sites are still at PageRank 1, some have not yet been assigned a PageRank, and they ALL have SEO and usability issues ranging from many minor problems to some that are fairly severe.

"Quick, easy, and free" =/= properly. So, using such a free service to found your own free services on does not sound like a good deal for any entrepreneur who takes you up on it, especially if you add in that it is an affiliate pitch for you.
Newbie
Jul 23, 2014
37 posts
5 upvotes
Toronto, ON
I echo the feeling of all the others who have posted here especially baz5- and dani. I think it really comes down to how you word it. As the others who have snapped at you upon reading the deal( I wanted to do that to start with)- we are trained especially our sub-conscious to watch out for others- especially in a close knit forum like this where some actually seem to watch out for the others. However if you had worded this different the response would have been different. Had you said- "Hello all- I use Weebly- a free tool to create amazing websites for my clients. My specialty is web design and Seo or whatever( rather than saying tinker away- which any one here can do- lets be honest) and I will charge you a mere $30 per hour. I expect most websites to be finished in a couple of hours from when I start- however if you need more functions we can discuss the time it would take me. I usually need a week or two to schedule your site design as I only accept limited work to ensure I deliver good quality to all my clients. Weebly offers a lot of hosting plans starting at 2 o3 $- I can share an affiliate link with you which will earn me a small comission- and I can take $10 off my design work. If you are happy with my work and would leave me a small review, I will take a further $10 off your price.

You stand to gain a lot more this way than the recurring hosting- If a client needs a more functional site they will move from weebly- if not as a lot of small businesses wind up after a year- so you only stand to gain by being truthful- You have to think from what the customer wants rather than what or how you have come up with- where you are trying to portray you are some great developer on the Weebly platform
[OP]
Newbie
Nov 23, 2010
18 posts
4 upvotes
Brampton, ON
[QUOTE]The problem with services like Weebly is that they "sell" the value of their service based on "it's easy to make yourself a great site!" and then the end result is a SEO and usability nightmare. Looking at some of the examples they link to from their site, some of the sites are still at PageRank 1, some have not yet been assigned a PageRank, and they ALL have SEO and usability issues ranging from many minor problems to some that are fairly severe.[/QUOTE]

I've gone through the platform and there's not really anything that prevents it from becoming an SEO optimized site - if anything it forces you to make it SEO optimized since it limits your margins and most of your copy is going to be on-page. The only downside I've ever seen on the platform is that you don't get H1 tags out of the box, but you can easily input those with embedded HTML. Since the Panda/Penguin updates, most SEO relies on PR backlinks and shareable content, which Weebly makes it easy to do - especially for Small Business owners - since I don't provide on-going SEO management or content marketing services. Again, it caters to a specific demographic of users.

[QUOTE]I echo the feeling of all the others who have posted here especially baz5- and dani. I think it really comes down to how you word it. As the others who have snapped at you upon reading the deal( I wanted to do that to start with)- we are trained especially our sub-conscious to watch out for others- especially in a close knit forum like this where some actually seem to watch out for the others. However if you had worded this different the response would have been different. Had you said- "Hello all- I use Weebly- a free tool to create amazing websites for my clients. My specialty is web design and Seo or whatever( rather than saying tinker away- which any one here can do- lets be honest) and I will charge you a mere $30 per hour. I expect most websites to be finished in a couple of hours from when I start- however if you need more functions we can discuss the time it would take me. I usually need a week or two to schedule your site design as I only accept limited work to ensure I deliver good quality to all my clients. Weebly offers a lot of hosting plans starting at 2 o3 $- I can share an affiliate link with you which will earn me a small comission- and I can take $10 off my design work. If you are happy with my work and would leave me a small review, I will take a further $10 off your price.

You stand to gain a lot more this way than the recurring hosting- If a client needs a more functional site they will move from weebly- if not as a lot of small businesses wind up after a year- so you only stand to gain by being truthful- You have to think from what the customer wants rather than what or how you have come up with- where you are trying to portray you are some great developer on the Weebly platform[/QUOTE]

I agree that my wording could have been positioned less transactionally. As I mentioned in one of my responses, I haven't had the chance to interact with this community in the past. I posted the same offer at another Small Business forum and was met with a wildly different response, and was much more transactional rather than emotional. That being said, this thread has been a good learning opportunity regardless, since this forum is probably a much better representation of the online Small Business community at large and I think it's been enormously valuable to hear out all of your thoughts. I definitely need to pay more attention to my positioning in future - I appreciate you guys taking the time to respond.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 17, 2004
6316 posts
802 upvotes
Toronto
Cut the OP break, for a business that has never had a web presence even a POS webpage is a significant improvement than having no website at all.

The one thing I would suggest is that you make it clear that you are only doing this to earn some coin off web hosting, it is not free in the normal sense but it is just as good from a risk reward perspective, if you do not like what the OP does for your website just tell him that you do not like it and you will not be paying $4 a month to host it.
I workout to get big so I can pickup bricks and ****.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2004
4993 posts
731 upvotes
Kiwibloke made good points.
toalan wrote:
Aug 11th, 2014 6:14 pm
Cut the OP break, for a business that has never had a web presence even a POS webpage is a significant improvement than having no website at all.

The one thing I would suggest is that you make it clear that you are only doing this to earn some coin off web hosting, it is not free in the normal sense but it is just as good from a risk reward perspective, if you do not like what the OP does for your website just tell him that you do not like it and you will not be paying $4 a month to host it.
I disagree. I'd rather have no web presence than something that looked like it was built in the 90s. That's a horrible first impression imo.
Newbie
May 28, 2013
68 posts
10 upvotes
Toronto
aenkryption wrote:
Aug 11th, 2014 5:44 pm
I've gone through the platform and there's not really anything that prevents it from becoming an SEO optimized site - if anything it forces you to make it SEO optimized since it limits your margins and most of your copy is going to be on-page. The only downside I've ever seen on the platform is that you don't get H1 tags out of the box, but you can easily input those with embedded HTML. Since the Panda/Penguin updates, most SEO relies on PR backlinks and shareable content, which Weebly makes it easy to do - especially for Small Business owners - since I don't provide on-going SEO management or content marketing services. Again, it caters to a specific demographic of users.
My point was that such services mean people don't actually have to learn how their sites work, which means they don't easily know how it's SEO influencing factors are functioning and interacting. It's the nature of technology: the more things are dumbed down so accessibility is increased, expertise becomes more rare.

There's always going to be a benefit for tearing into the code oneself. The examples on their own site are a clear indicator of it, especially if you pop open their source code to have a look.

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