How do I get a Web site to market farm products on-line?
L.M. ArkansasAnswer: One thing you want to do soon is register a domain name. You can go to a site such as http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/domainsto learn which names are still available and also to register a name. Once you register your domain name, you own it. It goes into an international database and no one else can use it. You have to pay a fee to register a name, and the registration must be renewed periodically, or you run the risk of losing it. The charge at Yahoo! Small Business is about $5/year. Other sites where you can register a domain name include www.buildyoursite.com/, www.simplenet.com/, and www.godaddy.com/. Once you own a domain name, you can also use it as your e-mail address, so that you have a permanent address that is associated with your farm. For example, your current address is [mynursery]. If you were to change Internet Service Providers, your e-mail address would also change. If you own the domain name mynursery.com, your permanent e-mail address could be firstname.lastname@example.org, and coworkers or other family members could be associated as well with addresses such as email@example.com. Your next step is to choose a “hosting service” that makes your site available to the millions of people surfing the World Wide Web. The Web site host usually charges a monthly fee for this service. The companies listed above are among those offering this service. Designing your Web site can be compared to designing a brochure or catalog for your business. You want it to be attractive, informative, and easy to read. You can hire or barter for someone to do this, or take a stab at building your own. Yahoo! Small Business also offers a manual to help you build your own Web site, as do other companies. They make it sound easy. GoDaddy, for example, offers WebSite Tonight?, implying you can create one in an evening. Once the Web site is designed, it is ready to be uploaded to the hosting service. We plan to have additional materials on Internet marketing available for distribution in the near future. In the meantime, I hope this helps you get started before you are inundated with other spring garden tasks. Resources Roos, Debbie. 2004. Website Development for Farms. Presentation at Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group annual conference. New Orleans, LA. www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/SSAWGwebworkshop.html E-Commerce: Bringing Your Business into the 21 st Century http://outreach.missouri.edu/web-business/index.html Topics include Web site development and hosting, marketing and customer service, processing and payment and legal considerations.