I‘VE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO have experience with both building my own site and having it professionally built. The most important question you want to ask yourself before you dish out the time or money is, “What is the purpose for my site?”
Will it be a static site for potential patients to happen across?
Will it be a blog where I post personal stories and challenges?
Will it a medium to direct traffic (including social media) to build a large audience and generate alternate sources of income?
Or will it be a health resource where I can direct my patients to when they have questions?
Once you’ve decided on your site’s purpose you will be able to decide if learning how to maneuver the backend of your blog is a worthwhile time investment or if you’d rather pay someone to build something that looks aesthetically pleasing and professional.
You may find (as I did) that both are very valuable and appropriate given your situation.
I’ve experimented with free blogging sites during externships to Africa and India, with Blogspot. It requires no backend or html work and are more plug and play ready, but less versatile. Keep in mind, free blogs sites have set templates that you must use and also don’t allow you to make money advertising on them.
While in Naturopathic school, I built my own site and got a feel for blogging and what functions I used most. After a year or so, I knew what I wanted and the purpose for my website and had it custom built. Most servers will allow you to transfer your content over to a new site without much trouble, so remember that your site isn’t forever and you can make modifications along the way.
This site was approximately $4000 to be built and have my content transfered from my previous site (with the same URL- DrAlisonChen.com). The main purposes for my website and blog are:
- to write health articles for the general public
- to share personal stories of self-development and travel
- as a platform to gain email followers and inevitably sell products and services as a source of revenue
Building your own website
— A custom-built website can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $11,000 depending on who you hire, the quality and what functions you want. If you don’t have a basic understanding of how to use the backend of a site, even if you pay for an incredible site, you won’t know how to alter text or information. This might be fine for a static site, but then why pay a small fortune if you aren’t planning on utilizing your website to it’s full capacity? A static site is easy to build on your own. Just follow the steps in the free “Starting a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint” e-book.
I often recommend students start playing around with a free website design. Wix, Weebly, WordPress and many blogging sites are easy to plug and play but with less functionality in regards to SEO (search engine optimization) and Google analytics. I always advise people to buy their domain name (GoDaddy is the most common site) and decide if they want to host on a free site (ie. WordPress) or use their own hosting.
I use DreamHost and they have been great for a basic website design with my personal site (www.DrAlisonChen.com). Within DreamHost, I use WordPress and that is the most common, versatile and reliable program (and free). It is more challenging to learn how to build your own website but it will help you understand how to navigate your site, especially if you decide to invest in paying someone to build your website later on, which is what I did.
Hiring someone to build your website
– If you aren’t tech savvy or don’t want to put the time into making your own website, hire someone who can. Surf the web and check out other website features that are practical (not just aesthetics and pretty colors). Look at the number of tabs, home page design, the format of the ‘about’ page, ‘contact me’ page, and decide if you want to blog and send e-letters. If you are going to be personally updating the info on your site, get the web designer to teach you the basics, or even better, video some tutorials for you.
It is possible to have a web designer to set up and manage your entire site along with email automation, but that starts getting pretty pricey. If you want to be totally off hand make sure you really trust the company and they practice with exceptional integrity.
Website design, SEO, and linking articles with your social media is worth the investment if you are willing to put in the work. If you are consistent with blogging and posting guest articles, a professional web design is a no brainer. Online presence is the future of marketing and will help to diversify your income strategies.
Regardless of if you want to hire someone or build your site on your own, I recommend downloading the free “Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint” to get familiar with the various ways to take advantage of your website.
Also, download the “150 Mistakes Naturopathic Doctors Make and the Solutions for Each“, where you’ll see other golden nuggets of free information for your personal and professional success.