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websites on the cheap

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Often we are contacted by potential clients that have little to no money. Just yesterday we had an up and coming actress inquire about a site, and only had $300 to spend.
This is hard on me. I love to help people, and I really love the web and marketing. In fact its why I love my job. I really wish I didn’t have bills, I would probably sit around, and help people for free or cheap all day long, and still love my job.
So back to my story. I thought to myself, I wish I could help this actress out, but for $300, there was little we could do. So I had an idea that would get her started on a site, help her out, and not use her entire budget.
wp

WordPress!

WordPress is a blog. but it has pages. and you can flip wordpress around to be pages first, blog secondary. Thus turning it into a sweet little CMS anyone can use. Here are the steps.

1. get hosting set up that doesnt have any advertising headers.

Personally I love Liquid web, and we use LW for our dedicated servers.
or wordpress.com works. If you go this route, skip step 2.

2. Install wordpress.

Most big hosts can do this for you, or give you a simple install button in their control panel.

3. Pick a classy theme

there are great free themes and paid for themes.
free:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/18/100-amazing-free-wordpress-themes-for-2009/
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/08/100-excellent-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes/
Or there are paid themes: woothemes.com

4. Add in your pages as needed.

wordpress is traditionally a blog, but with a few tweeks, it can look more like a website, with a news page, than a blog.
Learn more about using wordpress here
Now while this is a good cheap and dirty set up, its no substitution to a great designer building something custom.

Dont forget – your organization, product and services are unique, and so are your customers, so you still need to custom tailor the site experience to fit those factors. This is merely a quick patch for a no money situation. A real website will do 10x for you that a free template can.