Have you experienced something similar?

John and Ann Nelson bought their first home in an affordable small town. It’s a fixer-upper, but that didn’t stop them from purchasing this 1930s, two-story with bay windows and original architectural details. Unfortunately, the house needs a lot of work: electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and lots of other cosmetic details.

John and Ann start by looking for a contractor to give them a realistic estimate of the total cost of their home remodel. Being savvy with the Internet, they run a Google® search for local contractors. No luck. So they search for other professionals, thinking that if they find someone, they’ll be able to recommend a general contractor. Strike two. They decide to run a search on their small town, hoping there is a website with a list of local businesses. Strike three. http://www.101eldercare.com/

Frustrated, they go to their neighbor to borrow a phonebook. The Nelson’s don’t have a phonebook because they use their cell phones. They do find a contractor and the process starts.

Ann is still very annoyed by this point. Who doesn’t have a website? Surely, since this is the 21st century, businesses are online. Consumers turn to the Internet to find products and services. It just makes sense to have a website.

The Nelsons have now completed their home remodel without the aid of an online resource to help them through the process. They have notes and contact information from a variety of professionals that were either contacted about working on their home, or that actually completed the work.

And now, as she’s enjoying her new sitting room, Ann has an epiphany.

She’s going to find a free website offer so she can create a place online that provides the information she’s collected for other homeowners who may also benefit from a regionally based online resource.

What? No Website?
If there isn’t a website already out there, why not create one dedicated to help those undertaking home renovations in your town-similar to the website Ann Nelson is creating?

If you are starting to remodel your home and there isn’t an online resource for your area, start taking notes and build a free, easy website so that someone in your position will have the resources available to them later. You already have lots of valuable content about making a budget, talking to contractors, architects, and other laborers to get the job done. All you have to do is create a free website using one of those online programs you keep seeing, so you can share this abundance of advice with others.

Doing Your Homework
How do you get started? You can run a search. You’ll see that there are so many different “free website” offers. How do you differentiate between each one? Start by making a list with each of the following categories:

Website builder and marketing tool: Web hosting companies offer website builder tools to design your new site. But they’re not all as user-friendly as they claim. So play around. Try to create something, and if you can’t figure it out in a few minutes-leave. Find another one.

Marketing tool: Good Web hosting companies offer marketing tools to let the world know that, “Hey! I created a really useful website that you might like.” It’s a nice added bonus that you don’t always get with other free website offers.

Web applications: Just because the website is free doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the cool stuff. Maps, forms, polls, and other applications can take your new website from boring to fun.

Website analysis tool: A what? An analysis tool. It means that you can actually check to see how many visitors your new website receives within a certain period; which pages are visited the most often; and a ton of other interesting information.

Templates: The way it looks will affect whether your visitor will stay on your website or leave after two seconds. The template helps you create your fist impression, so take the time to select the one that works best for your purposes.

Website address: What will you name your website? A website address is also called a domain name, and when you purchase a website or hosting or get a free website, you can often get a domain name for free. Make sure it’s relevant to what your website is about and easy to remember.

Your comparisons are done. You are ready to start creating your free website about home remodeling services in your area.

What to Include
The goal behind creating this website is to help other homeowners with a resource they can turn to when they begin their projects. Start with pages for each of the categories you are working with:

Plumbers
Electricians
Contractors/Handymen Services
Appraisers
Kitchen and Bath Showrooms
HVAC
Under each page, list the business and specific services provided. Include a link to Google® Maps and contact information. You can also state whether you used them and include a brief summary of your experience.

Another page that can make your visitors feel more confident in your website content is an “About” page. Since this website is centered on your renovation, you might tell a bit about yourself and describe your project and why you could have used this resource when you were knee-deep in tile, paint and carpet samples.

Helping Others
Let’s face it-home renovations, especially for someone with little experience or someone who is a first time homeowner, can be incredibly burdensome. But these are projects that have to be completed. So if you’re one of those who may not have had a one-stop website with contact info for local professionals to make the job easier, this is your opportunity. You can provide that for someone else. And its’ pretty easy to create a free website. Just plug in your content after you choose a Web hosting company.

Just a Few More Things
Choose your Web hosting company wisely. Read reviews. Check out their paid services. Does it sound reputable? How is their customer service? Do they have a Twitter® or Facebook® page? Check those out and see what others are saying.

Also, since you are creating a free website that caters to your area’s home remodeling services, consider upgrading your plan so you can buy a domain name that will be found more easily. If a free website, for instance, comes with a longer domain because it’s hosted on the provider’s website, consider an upgrade: Buy a domain name that’s short, sweet and easy to remember. Then make sure you take advantage of those marketing tools to announce your site.

Andreea Townsend is a copywriter with Network Solutions®, a provider of online Web ma

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