Sandrine Chesnel, freelance journalist, produced in the January issue of Particular, the Figaro group’s heritage monthly, a file that will interest many business leaders or anyone thinking of starting their own activity and developing on the internet.
franceinfo: “The question no longer arises as to whether to be present online or not.” This is one of the first sentences of the article. Is it that clear today, valid for all fields of activity?
Sandrine Chesnel: The online marketers I interviewed for this dossier are the first to recognize that, of course, there are still professionals, freelancers or artisans, whose business is going very well without the need for a website. Your butcher or mechanic, who have been in business for 10, 15 years or more, with a loyal clientele, probably does not need to have an Instagram account or an online sales site.
But, we see it in particular with the health crisis that we have been going through for almost a year, having the possibility of staying in contact with its customers, even when everything is closed, that can be a big advantage. Above all, more and more consumers have developed the reflex to seek information on search engines like Google – for example for the holidays. If you have a great bed and breakfast to offer, but you are not visible on the Internet, you will lose potential customers to other hosts who will be more visible than you.
Because we can see that there are still questions among business leaders: Sophie 53 years old: “My business is too small to exist on social networks”. Yves 48 years old: “I prefer to favor direct contact with customers”. Stéphanie, 46 years old: “Facebook is not my thing”. For everyone to find the usefulness that a site can have for their activity?
It’s exactly that. There is no single answer, it’s up to everyone to see what will be most useful to them:
– a website to have an online showcase, to be referenced by search engines,
– an e-commerce site, to sell,
– or an account on a social network to make yourself known and keep in touch with customers, or find new ones
For example, a jewelry designer will have an interest in being present on image sharing sites, such as Pinterest or Instagram, and perhaps to combine this presence with an online sales site; Another example, an independent trainer could choose to have his own site, as a showcase of his activity, or be satisfied with having a regularly updated account on a professional social network like Linkedin.
Make your site yourself (you can find free help) or turn to a professional, how to choose? How much does it cost ?
Three parameters to take into account: time, money, and your ease with computer tools If you have the time, and you are already comfortable with the Internet, you can go it alone – you will find on the Net a lot of videos and tutorials to explain to you how to develop a professional site, and then you will be able to use site editors, free, which allow you to create a website yourself, one of the most famous is WordPress, which supposes to know already very well what one wants to do, but there are also other simpler tools like Wix, or Jimbo.
But if you have a little cash, and if in addition, you need an online sales site, it is better to entrust your project to a specialized agency, it will cost you more at the start, but it is an investment on the long term. On the budget side, for a website developed by professionals, it takes around 800 to 1,000 euros for a basic website, with a few pages. We can find less expensive but with a less personalized result.
IThere is also of course the presence on social networks. Can their usefulness be different, complementary to an online site?
Yes, a social media presence can be enough for a lot of activities. it has the advantage of being free but be careful, because to build a community of customers on a Facebook page or other, you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time there, people expecting a lot of responsiveness when they have a question to ask or an order to place, so it’s very time consuming.
The government has just put in place aid for the creation of an online site. What do we know about the device?
It is aid of 500 euros, but it is reserved for traders who have had to close shop because of confinements and curfews, and who have lost at least 50% of their turnover. So it does not concern artisans or freelancers.