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I've chosen to write about the Weebly Website Builder because it is a website tool that I have extensive knowledge in and use everyday. I feel like Weebly gets a bad wrap online from time to time but as an experienced user of the program I feel it necessary to broadcast all of it's great features and the things I love about it. I have created both of my own websites (eringipfordfreelance.com & eringipfordphotography.com) using Weebly and since the creation of my own sites was so easy and successful, I also started creating websites for my clients using Weebly. To date I have created 5 additional client websites as well. If you have been debating about how to build your first website or are currently frustrated with your own site keep reading and I will show you the light :)
First I want to let you know that when I first started my freelance design business I did TONS of research before choosing how to build my website. I had no website design experience but I knew that being a designer, I wanted my site to be my own and I wanted to have full control over it. I didn't want to have to depend on a 2nd person to create it, let alone make changes and updates further down the road. Everything I found online (blogs, Facebook groups, reviews, ect) were pointing me towards Wordpress. Hands down, Wordpress seemed to be the platform of choice among the communities I was following. Squarespace.com was a close second. Not knowing any better, I signed up via Wordpress for my first every website and I was soooooooooooo excited!
wordpress was a complete buzz kill....
I'm not gonna lie, after two days of endless frustation... I had already regretted my decision of trying to create my site via Wordpress. I felt like a failure. I had all these great design ideas for my site but I couldn't even figure out how to change the color of the buttons on my site! Let alone format my text and images the way I wanted them. Ugh. Nobody told me that you had to know CSS and html in order to customize a Wordpress site. I'm a graphic designer, not a developer! lol Basically, I selected a free theme that was OK but I wanted to tweak it and could not for the life of me figure out how. Like I said, I spent 3 hours just trying to make the button on my home page black instead of green. And I was not successful. Not to mention I had this whole dashboard of "plugins" and couldn't get those to work correctly either. And then randomely, a couple times within the first two weeks I would get emails from Jetpack saying "your site is down" and then an hour later "good news, your site is back up!" After the 3rd email like that I thought OK, I have to find something else, this is going to drive me crazy. Clearly this is out of my knowledge range and I don't have the time, energy or funds to figure it out.
Weebly to the rescue!
I'm not even exactly sure how I stumbled upon true savior, Weebly.com... but I do know that I am eternally grateful that I found it! I signed up for the starter package (I'll explain pricing in depth below) which was 1 annual payment of $96. I figured that was a small price to pay for having complete control over the design and functionality of my site. I logged into my new dashboard and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy everything was to find and access. Their interface is called WISYWIG - short for "What You See Is What You Get". Basically, you drag a design element from the menu board onto your website and drop it wherever you want it. You get to design in constant preview mode so you always know what your site will look like. It's genius for those of us who do not "get code". You don't need to know code in order to create a custom website!
I started out by choosing a free "theme" but I complete customized everything about it so if you sign up, don't spend too much time trying to pick the perfect theme because in this case, it's easy to customize and make it the exact way you want it.
Weebly also allows you access to the html code so if you do know some CSS and html you can still customize it using that as well. I have since, learned a few CSS tips and tricks to add some additional spice to my sites but I like knowing that it's not necessary.
8 reasons why I continually choose weebly.com
1. It's easy to learn, easy to use. NO CODE NECESSARY
2. It's affordable. They have free plans and paid plans depending on what features you need. I use the Business plan for my design site because it allows me to sell digital downloads and the cost is $25/mo which more than pays for itself!
3. Weebly has EXCELLENT customer service! I have submitted help tickets and used the live Chat. They respond to help tickets within 24 hours MAX and I've always gotten someone instantly via the live chat.
4. SEO - Keywords and Page Titles are easy to enter on each page and each blog post
5. Stats and page views are clearly visible right when you log in
6. Weebly is cloud based so I never get emails stating "your site is down"
7. Backing up my site is a breeze. No fancy plug ins. I just go into my settings and hit the "download a zip file of your site" button. I save a zip file every 3 months as backup.
8. They have a TON of plug ins that you can use to add additional features like promo bars and social media sharing buttons. I have never had to pay for a plug in. The free versions have been all I have needed so far which is super nice.
Compare weebly pricing plans
Weebly offers FIVE different payment plans. The first plan is a free plan and if you are OK with the Weebly logo in the footer of your website, and using a subdomain (www.yourwebsite.weebly.com) then you can just stick with the free plan. This is a great option for anyone on a limited budget or anyone who is just starting out and wants to see if their website will be a successful tool (which I'm 99% sure it will be). Or maybe you are not 100% sure you can successfully build your own site? (again, I'm confident you can) The free option is a great way to test the waters without a commitment.
Each pricing tier comes with certain features. For example, I use the Business plan for my freelance site because it includes the ability to sell digital goods. My customers can download my digital projects directly from my site. You can sell physical goods with the starter plan but I wanted to sell digital goods so I upgraded. They also have a new "Promote" plan that includes email marketing and the ability to send promotions and customized emails right from your Weebly dashboard. I haven't used that yet because I'm pretty content with MailChimp but I will be checking it out in the near future to see if it's a better option.
I hope this information has been useful to you and I cannot say enough good things about Weebly and how they have contributed to my online success. I love logging in and having complete creative control of my website and my clients love it too. If you have any specific questions about Weebly please don't hesitate to leave them below or shoot me an email. My inbox is always open!
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