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How to Start a Catering Website
Transforming your love of cooking into a thriving catering business is a challenge. Once you have established the business, with licenses obtained and the menu developed, your next step is giving your business an online presence by creating a website. The catering website establishes your company's credibility and lets potential clients get to know you and your services at their leisure. Your website is like an advertising campaign that runs 24/7.
Select a name for your catering business that also is appropriate, and available, as the domain name for your website. The domain name also is known as a universal resource locator, or URL, and is similar to a street address. Just as only one building occupies a physical address, the URL provides a unique path to your business. For example, if the company name is Brian's Best Barbecue Catering, your URL would www.briansbestbarbecuecatering.com.
Domain and Hosting
Register the domain through a hosting company. The host is a computer -- a server -- where the files for your website are accessible on the Internet by browsers. Most small businesses don't require their own dedicated server. Domain registration costs approximately $10 to $20 per year. Hosting can cost as little as $6 per month, depending on the web services your company requires.
Programming and Uploading
Most web hosts provide a what-you-see-is-what-you-get application to assist customers who don't have programming skills to build their websites. Another alternative is to choose a blog platform rather than a static HTML website. The blog platform has different themes to choose from and allows you to customize the layout. Some companies offer a package of services that include domain registration, hosting and a fill-in-the-blank format for the web pages. Those packages allow only a minimal number of pages. A third and more expensive alternative is to hire a web designer to create the site from scratch.
Develop written web content that explains your catering business: your location, the types of cuisine you serve, sample menus and the types of events you prefer to cater. The content introduces your services to prospective customers and demonstrates your competence and range of capabilities. The content will be uploaded to the host's server through an FTP -- file transfer protocol -- program or through the host's control panel for your site.
The content should include keywords, which is the term for phrases potential customers use to find what they want through search engines. A catering company would use, for example, the city plus the type of catering. For example, if Brian's Best Barbecue Catering were located in Houston, then "Houston barbecue caterers," "Houston barbecue catering," "Houston BBQ caterers" and "Brian's catering Houston" all would be relevant keywords. If you cater weddings, then "Houston wedding caterer" and "catering for weddings" would serve as appropriate keywords for those pages that explain your wedding catering. The file name for the page should include the keyword phrase. It also should be used as the headline on the page and once or twice in the written content of the page.
A caterer doesn't just sell prepared food but offers a solution to the client's problem of preparing scrumptious meals, appetizers, salads and desserts when she doesn't have the time, space or experience to do so. If writing isn't your forte, hire a freelancer with experience in both writing web content and writing about food. The menu descriptions should be mouth watering.
Graphics and Photographs
Upload photos of your food, your kitchen and staff to your site to personalize the company. Take photos of the food at different events you cater as well as general photos of the event itself. If a person is clearly identifiable in the photo, you might need written permission to display the photo on your site.
Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."
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