For all of you who have been singing the same “I don’t have a website because” song for years I give you your final answer. Microsoft Office Live Small Business. If you are just starting out in your business or you have been in business for some time but still had that song in your head here is your chance to take singing lessons from Microsoft.
Microsoft Office Live Small Business will give you a do it yourself starter website, complete with domain name and professionally branded email all for FREE. Yes, I said for FREE. All you have to do is go to http://www.officelive.com/ and fill out a short form first creating a Windows Live ID using your current email address. You would then follow the step-by-step wizard that will help you in creating your Office Live Account.
If you want to see the steps involved before your try them yourself I suggest you go to www.freemswebsite.com a website I created using Office Live Small business. This site has a Step-by-Step video on how to create a Microsoft Live Small Business account. Freemswebsite.com it also has testimonials from many different business owners who used Microsoft Live Small Business to create their own websites.
The great thing about building a website with Microsoft Office Live is that it is so easy. You don’t have to know HTML and you don’t have to download any software to create the website. Once your website is complete you can then create professional email addresses for you and your business. Check out my blog post “How Many Email Addresses Should I have? to see how many emails you should have for your business starting out.
Last but not least you also would get to use some of the many tools needed to help promote your website. Microsoft’s own Ad Manager is included and will give you a $50.00 head start on your first search engine marketing campaign.
OK up to now you have heard me rave about this great way to get your business up and running on the Internet with a FREE website. Now here are some of the not so great things. First you do have to give them your credit or debit card number. This is only used for identity verification and will not be charged any kind of start up fee like most companies that give away free items. Once your account is created and you log into your control panel you will see some advertisements. These advertisements are sometimes annoying but are necessary to keep this service FREE.
Remember this is your starter website and due to the fact that you get it for Free you don’t have a lot of flexibility or creativity in your choice of designing the website. Microsoft gives you a choice of website templates and color schemes that can truly make an impression on your audience but won’t win you any awards when it comes to look and feel.
One feature that I did not like at all was how they first handled the email addresses for the website. You were not allowed to download the email to a pop3 email client like Microsoft Outlook. You had to log into your account and get your mail via the web every time. The pop3 email download was only allowed if you upgraded your account to a non Free account.
Microsoft was smart to rectify this issue and give those who have Free Microsoft Office Live Small Business accounts the ability to download their email to an email client using a downloaded software plug-in called Outlook Connector. I will address the way Outlook Connector works in a future blog entry.
So my friends if you are still singing that same old song “I don’t have a website because I am not a programmer” or that other one ” I can’t afford a website” or maybe even “I don’t have a website because I don’t have the time” Please stop with the excuses and let Microsoft help get you into action with an almost perfect solution.