Want to start a business but no skill or budget to build a website or design a brand? Learn how we created both in a morning for less than £80 – with zero experience!
A few weeks ago my friend Claire, a mum in my daughter’s class at school, said she wanted to relaunch her business but had no idea how to do it.
I wanted to help Claire so I said I would help her create a brand and build a website, and set up her Facebook page. But also I (a little bit selfishly) wanted to know if it really could be done by just anyone.
After all, we often encourage you to do things yourself if you don’t have the budget to pay someone else. And (as our patient developer Alan will testify!) I am not at all technical. So if I can build a website and design a logo from scratch, anyone can – including you!
What did we do?
In one morning, I helped Claire to:
- Come up with a name for her business.
- Buy a domain name.
- Design a logo.
- Take photos.
- Create a Facebook page.
- Design and build a website.
- Arrange hosting for her website and make it live.
- Design flyers and business cards.
- Arrange printing.
The resources we needed for this were:
- 123-reg* for the domain name.
- Weebly* for the website and hosting.
- Canva* for the logo design and Facebook banner.
- printed.com* for the printing.
- Facebook for the business page.
- A laptop and a camera (you can also take photos on your phone).
* Other resources are available, these are just the ones we chose to use.
The costs were:
- Domain name around £9 for two years.
- Hosting via Weebly around £60 for two years.
- Around £40 for flyers and business cards (you may not need these at the start).
Everything else was free!
How we chose the business name
The first thing we did was decide on a name. Claire’s business is Shellac CND nails and SiennaX spray tanning, so we went for the simple and easy-to-find Claire’s Nails and Tanning. (This was partly decided by the fact that the domain name was available!)
We then booked the domain name. We dropped ‘Claire’s’ from the domain to keep it simple, and chose .co.uk as it was cheaper than .com (around (£9 for two years including VAT).
How we created the brand
Next we needed to create a brand for Claire’s new business, so it would have a defined look and feel, and appeal to the right audience. The elements of a brand can include:
- Colour palette.
- Look and feel (for example, ‘vintage’, ‘feminine’ etc).
We already had a name, and to create a logo we turned to Canva. Canva is reassuringly user-friendly – I had never used the site before, but within minutes was playing around with different logos.
When you start using Canva each time, you’re given the option of pre-selected sizes (such as poster, Facebook cover or post, or presentation) or you can create your own custom size. Then you choose from a simple menu that includes layout, text, background and uploads.
You can choose to use free elements, such as backgrounds and photos, buy them through Canva or upload your own. You can also select your ideal colour from their palette.
We used Canva to design a very simple text logo and Facebook cover image – it also gave us a chance to play around with a different look and feel. We experimented with colours and fonts, until we found a combination Claire liked, that fit the adjectives she used to describe her business, and would appeal to the kind of customers she wanted.
As Claire is officially qualified in Shellac CND nails we were able to get some images and logos from them to use for free. We also browsed some royalty-free photo websites, but as Claire couldn’t find the perfect images we took our own.
Again this was simple. I lined up a selection of nail varnishes against different backgrounds and looked at the shots. Eventually we found the background the worked the best and uploaded those photos. We also took some lifestyle shots round Claire’s home.
How we built the website
Once the domain name was booked and brand created, we started looking at websites. A non-techy friend built hers in Weebly so we tried that. We visited the site and started browsing templates. When we found one we liked, we started playing with building it.
Claire only needs a very simple site – Home page, About and Contact, so it was easy to adapt the template. All you need to do is drag and drop the elements you want, like text boxes.
I helped her to write her copy – we kept it simple and to the point, but made sure her keywords were in there. These were quite simple:
- Shellac nails
- Spray tanning
Making the site live
Once the site was ready we made it live. This was quite easy. Weebly gave us a number to add to the dashboard of the site we’d bought the domain name from. (This is an area you log into that has all your account details.)
I was worried it wouldn’t work as this is the most technical part of the whole process (even though it was as simple as copying and pasting a number!) and as I have already confessed, I am most definitely not a technical person. But it was quite simple to do, and sure enough, 48 hours later the site was live.
Creating a Facebook page
The final element we wanted to get done was to create a Facebook page. If you already have a personal Facebook account this is easy. (Facebook guides you through the process here.)
We’d already created a Facebook banner in Canva so uploaded this as the cover, and the new logo as the profile image. We made sure that the profile text was clear and to the point, and included Claire’s new website.
We also designed flyers and business cards
On a roll, we also decided to create some flyers and business cards. Now familiar with Canva (and with an established brand look and feel), it didn’t take us too long to design something we were happy with.
We then saved our images as high quality PDFs and used another online service, printed.com to order them. We found printed.com really easy to use, and when we did have an issue they gave us a freephone number to call and get help.
Just one important point to remember – as we learned! If you create designs in Canva to send to print, you need to make sure you add a bleed to them. This is easy to do – when you click on ‘Download’ you’ll see ‘Options’ at the bottom of the drop down menu.
Click on this and tick the box next to ‘Publish with crop marks & bleed’, then download as a high quality PDF, ready to send to your printer. This will add a default 3mm bleed.
We did all this in a morning
Everything I have talked through in this article we did easily in a morning. It helped that we were restricted by time – it forced Claire to be decisive, and I think she’s ended up with a better site as a result.
No, it’s not the most fancy or professional website and brand in the world, but it does its job perfectly well. It gives Claire’s business the start she needs, without costing money and taking time. And she can always revisit her site and brand later on, when she has the budget to hire a professional.
If you fancy seeing the results of our work, you can check out Claire’s website here.
The process we followed, step-by-step
So how can you do the same? To help, here’s the process we followed, step-by-step:
- Decide on a business name.
- Check there’s a suitable domain name available and buy it.
- Create your brand elements in a site like Canva.
- Take or find photos for your website and write copy.
- Find a free website builder site like Weebly and start building.
- Sign up for web hosting (from your domain name provider, Weebly or other).
- Make your site live.
- Create a Facebook page.
- Design flyers and business cards on Canva.
- Get them printed (remember to add a bleed!).
Read more about getting your business started!
Need more tips on how to get your business started? You’ll find plenty of advice in these articles:
- Six business ideas for mums.
- How to create your own website for less than £150.
- How to start a business – your first 10 steps.
- 10 things you should never do when starting a business.
- Five reasons why mums’ businesses fail.
- Five ideas for businesses you can start at home.