Most Popular Micropolitan Areas (Small Cities) for Startups According to the US Census

Most Popular Micropolitan Areas (Small Cities) for Startups According to the US Census

ShivarWeb has a lot of DIYers and freelancers not living in the biggest, richest cities of the world. In fact, I originally started this business in Athens, Georgia, USA – not in larger Atlanta. As a fun post, I thought I’d dig into some data for my non-metro area readers.

The benefits of big metro areas for new businesses are well-known, but so are the costs in money, time, and health. In the era of remote work, you can get a lot of the benefits of the city anywhere with an Internet connection, except one – being physically around other new business-owners.

With that in mind, I decided to look at the Census Bureau’s data on cities to see if there were any places in America that hit a sweet spot between being small & self-contained and being a popular place to start a new business.

Micropolitan areas are populated areas that have too much population to qualify as a rural area, and too few commuting ties to a larger city to qualify as part of a larger metropolitan area. They are between 10,000 to 50,000 people and quite a distance from a large city.

In other words – micropolitan areas are true small cities.

There are 536 micropolitan areas in America with a core city of between 10,000 and 50,000 people plus the population of the surrounding area.

Here are the Top 20 Most Popular Micropolitan Areas for New Small Businesses in America based on US Census data from 2015-2016 (most recently available). You can view the full list of 536 areas here.

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20. Breckenridge, CO Micro Area

Breckenridge CO
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New Businesses: 239

Breckenridge, Colorado is a hub for every outdoor sport that you can imagine. The Rocky Mountain scenery is incredible. It has world-class skiing, hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The area has a population of 31,007.

According to Crunchbase, you’ll find startups like –

  • Vaway, a vacation rental marketplace
  • Tomorrow Holding, a fiber reactor technology firm
  • Area 101, a professional food service firm

19. Tupelo, MS Micro Area

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New Businesses: 247

Tupelo, Mississippi is the hub of North Mississippi with an area population of 140,552. It’s the smallest city in America with two banks with more than $10 billion in assets.

Unlike many small towns, it has a thriving downtown with a strong balance of businesses and an independent spirit. You’ll also find growing startups such as –

  • Central Services Association, an IT firm focusing on utility management
  • Malco Theaters, a family-owned cinema firm

18. Summit Park, UT Micro Area

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New Businesses: 247

Summit Park has an area population of 41,933 and is known as the “richest small town in America.” Nestled in the Uinta mountain range, many of the homes are vacation homes, but it is also a hub for consultants and wealthy remote workers.

17. Sevierville, TN Micro Area

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New Businesses: 247

The Sevierville, Tennessee area has a population of 97,892 and is a mountain vacation hub on the East Coast. It’s surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains with world-class hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

In addition to tourism-based startups, Sevierville is home to stratups such as –

  • Carp Data Service, a data analysis firm
  • Comfort Flow, an orthopedic dog bed firm

16. Jackson, WY-ID Micro Area

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New Businesses: 251

The Jackson, Wyoming area has a population of 34,721 and has played an outsized role in America’s history. It’s surrounded by two of America’s most iconic National Parks with the Rocky Mountains forming a bowl around the city.

The small city is a mini-hub for a range of startups like –

  • DMOS Collective, a provider of collapsible stealth and alpha shovels
  • Odyssey Sensors, an ag-tech company
  • Video Science, a video chat service for the healthcare industry

15. Brainerd, MN Micro Area

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New Businesses: 251

The Brainerd, Minnesota area has a population of 94,408 and a deep history with railroads, logging, mining – and now, tourism. It has a wealth of lakes and deep forests in addition to a classic downtown.

Brainerd is home to startups such as –

  • Elite Motorcycle Parts, a maker of premium motorcycle parts
  • MaxBotix, a designer & manufacturer of ultrasonic sensors

14. Branson, MO Micro Area

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New Businesses: 263

The Branson, Missouri area has a population of 87,601. It is the home of Mark Twain, and the setting of many of his stories.

The startup community is focused on tourism and food.

13. Augusta-Waterville, ME Micro Area

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New Businesses: 269

The Augusta, Maine area has a population of 122,083, and is also the capital of Maine. The city lies on the Kennebec River, and is also host to the University of Maine.

The startup community includes companies like –

  • Kenway, a manufacturer of custom composite products for mining
  • Southport Boats, a maker of high performance boats

12. Truckee-Grass Valley, CA Micro Area

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New Businesses: 274

The Truckee, California area has a population of 99,696, and is a popular home for small companies moving out of the Bay area into the beautiful Sierra Mountains.

The town lies on both I-80 and the first (and main) transcontinental railroad. The startup community includes companies like –

  • bigtruck Brand, a specialist in the design, marketing, and manufacturing of hats
  • Clear Capital, a valuation company for the mortgage industry
  • 1bios, a health tracking & engagement platform for healthcare companies

11. Twin Falls, ID Micro Area

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New Businesses: 279

Twin Falls, Idaho has an area population of 110,096. The main city has grown so fast, that the Census Bureau reclassified the area as a metropolitan area in 2019.

The startup community includes companies like –

  • Plant Therapy, a direct-to-consumer supplier of essential oils
  • BestNotes, a HIPAA compliant CRM and EHR system
  • KickBack Rewards, a data entry & CRM company

10. Concord, NH Micro Area

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New Businesses: 301

The Concord, New Hampshire area has a population of 151,232, and has strong links to the Boston startup scene. It’s the capital of New Hampshire and lies on the Merrimack River.

The startup community includes companies like –

  • Bradford Networks, a maker of automated security products for enterprise & governments
  • Nanocomp, a commercial producer of carbon nanotube-based lightweight sheets, tapes, and wires
  • CoolSim, an advanced CFD-based tool available for optimizing energy consumption in data centers

9. Hilo, HI Micro Area

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New Businesses: 318

The Hilo area has a population of 200,383, and is the main city of the “big island” of Hawaii. The city lies at the base of Mauna Lea and Mauna Loa – two of the most famous volcanoes in the world.

The city has large scientific, agricultural, and tourist industries – all of which influence the startup community. Companies in Hilo include –

  • Mauna Loa Macadamias, the world’s largest processor of macadamia seeds
  • DroneFlow, a fully automated aerial inspection technology
  • Shaka Tea – a line of refreshing herbal iced teas

8. Edwards, CO Micro Area

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New Businesses: 322

The Edwards, Colorado area has a population of 54,993, and lies in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Central Colorado.

The area is a favorite of skiers and outdoor fans. The startup community is spread out & remote, but includes companies like –

  • HomeTrax, online tools for homeowners, service providers, and organizations
  • TripHero, a solution to the multi-layered problem of traveling with luggage and equipment

7. Glenwood Springs, CO Micro Area

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New Businesses: 342

The Glenwood Springs area has a population of 77,732, and is the “sister” micropolitan area to Edwards, Colorado. The city is nestled in the Roaring Fork Valley on the Colorado River. It has been named “the Most Vibrant Small Town for Arts” and the “5th Best Small Town” in America by different publications.

The startup community is very small and focused on arts & agriculture, but also includes some tech startups like Helpp, a connecting service for providers & consumers.

6. Kalispell, MT Micro Area

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New Businesses: 353

The Kalispell area has a population of 102,106, and lies nestled near both Glacier National Park (the “Crown of the Continent”) and the Canadian border.

The startup community includes companies like –

  • Roomie, a provider of better furniture options for college students
  • Counter Assault, a manufacturer of bear spray and personal protection spray
  • Expesicor, a drug discovery firm for neurological disorders

5. Torrington, CT Micro Area

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New Businesses: 382

The Torrington area has a population of 181,111, and lies within day trip distance of both New York City and Boston.

The business community includes companies like –

  • Trlby Innovative, a maker of custom impulse heat sealing equipment
  • Altek Electronics, an electronic manufacturing company providing chassis and control panels

4. Traverse City, MI Micro Area

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New Businesses: 385

The Traverse City area has a population of 149,914, and lies at the far north of Michigan’s “mitten” along Lake Michigan. The city is a top agricultural producer of cherries and other fruits. It’s regularly named as one of the best small town travel destinations and one of the best small towns to retire to.

The business community includes companies such as –

  • ATLAS Space Operations, a satellite communications service
  • DriveShare, an online marketplace for classic cars

3. Key West, FL Micro Area

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New Businesses: 387

The Key West area has a population of 75,027, and is the sourthernmost city in the continental United States. It is a hub for tourism, festivals, and tropical living.

The business community centers around consultants, travel, and tourism companies.

2. Claremont-Lebanon, NH-VT Micro Area

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New Businesses: 437

The Lebanon area has a population of 217,215, and lies in the Connecticut River Valley. It is home to the Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth Medical Center. It also has strong transport links to the Boston area, which influences its business community.

The Lebanon area is home to businesses such as –

  • Appcast, a job advertising platform
  • Adima, an antibody discovery and optimization platform
  • Avitide, a purification solutions firm for biopharmaceutical companies

1. Bozeman, MT Micro Area

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New Businesses: 536

The Bozeman area has a population of 111,876, and lies at the gateway to Yellowstone National Park along with the largest ski resorts & outdoor opportunities in the United States. The town regularly appears as the “Best Small Town in America” lists. With all the entrepreneurs & economic growth moving to Bozeman – I’m not surprised to see it top this list as well.

Bozeman is home to businesses such as –

  • Schedulicity, an online appointment scheduling platform for discovering and booking local services
  • Quiq, a customer service messaging platform
  • Absaroka Energy Company, a provider of clean renewable energy

Takeaways

I can’t criticize big cities. After all, I ended up moving to Atlanta after starting in Athens, GA. Big cities are great.

But…big cities aren’t the best option for some businesses. And the certainly aren’t the best option for many individuals. I loved this Planet Money episode explaining why.

Remote work and online tools make anywhere a good place to work. But you still need to be able to make “anywhere” work for you – and that includes being around other businesses & startups.

There are plenty of startups & small businesses in nearly every city. And as you can see from the list above, there are some small cities that have more than plenty.

Find your place, find your people, and build your business.

You can view the full list of 536 areas here.

The post Most Popular Micropolitan Areas (Small Cities) for Startups According to the US Census appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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The ‘How-To’ For One Page Business Plans

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Strikingly Website Builder Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Strikingly Website Builder Review_ Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Strikingly is an all-inclusive website builder that’s tailored to helping entrepreneurs get up and running online quickly and easily. They’re platform requires zero code or design skills, meaning even those with no website experience can create a good-looking site in minutes.

See Strikingly’s Current Plans & Pricing

Recently, I gave Strikingly a try for a full Strikingly Website Builder review. But before I get into the pros and cons of my review, let’s dive into an overview about tools to build a website.

There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing a website builder — and really, there are a thousand ways to get what you want in the end in terms of functionality, convenience, pricing, etc. The thing to remember is: whether you’re building a simple personal website or running a business, the way you build your site has a lot of consequences.

In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short-term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.

What Is Strikingly Website Builder?

On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, Strikingly lives on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. It contrasts with solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately.

Using Strikingly is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

Everything may fit together just right with a website builder like Strikingly, but that may or may not be what you’re looking for.

As far as competition, Strikingly competes with all-inclusive website builders like GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo, Yahoo!, and WordPress.com  (and Shopify for online stores).

Compared to their direct competition, they focus on speed and ease of use. Strikingly offers several website templates you can customize with no coding or design experience required (more on that in a bit).

One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Using Strikingly Website Builder

Here’s what I found to be the pros of using Strikingly website builder — not just in comparison to direct competitors like GoDaddy and Wix, but as an overall website solution.

Straightforward Sign Up Process

One of the biggest pros of using Strikingly is how easy it is to get up and running on the platform. It’s basically just two steps — enter your information, pick your theme, and you’re in!

Strikingly sign up process

This is great for DIYers who want to get up and running as quickly as possible without the hassle of creating a detailed account, selecting a niche, etc.

Template Design / Functionality

Strikingly also offers a wide selection of template designs that are responsive (AKA they look good on a mobile device, tablet, and computer). There are a wide variety of options to choose from, and Strikingly has them broken down by niche, so you can find a template that includes the functionality your business may need.

Now, Strikingly isn’t technically drag-and-drop (where you choose from premade sections and “drop” those onto your page), but it is fairy intuitive to use. You can customize the styles on the page (like fonts and colors), and you can add premade sections and blocks, but you don’t get the ability to add elements willy nilly.

The whole setup is like painting by numbers.

There are obvious drawbacks to this setup, which I will cover in the disadvantages, but it is a real advantage to having limited but accessible design options. It makes Strikingly a great option for entrepreneurs/ DIY-ers who want a website that looks professionally designed without having to hire someone to build something custom or spend much time tweaking the design themselves.

Free Trial + Free Plan

Another benefit Strikingly is their 14-day free trial and free plan.

Strikingly allows you to trial any plan (even their highest-tiered option!) for 14 days before committing. This is great for DIYers who want to give a plan a test drive before committing.

They also offer a free plan, which includes a fair amount of features when compared to competitors, such as unlimited sites and limited ecommerce functionality.

There are some cons with the free plan, such as limited storage, limited pages, having to use a subdomain (ex: yourname.strikingly.com), and extremely limited integrations — but if you’re looking for a simple site for a short-term project, this could be a solid option.

Some Product Integration

While limited, Strikingly does offer some product integration, such as ecommerce functionality and apps in their app store (which give you the ability to add maps, forms, and other functionality to your site).

product integrations in Strikingly

You can also add on custom email for an additional $25/year. One thing to note — these additional integrations / functionality are all part of paid plans. This isn’t necessarily a con, but it is something to pay attention to… especially because you can find a lot of this functionality for less with other website builders (particularly if you went the self-hosted WordPress route).

Cons

Of course, no review would be complete without looking at the downsides. Every piece of software will have complaints. Let’s look at the specific cons I found with using Strikingly as your website builder.

Pricing + Plans

While Strikingly is fairly easy and convenient for DIYers and small businesses, they do leave a lot to be desired when it comes to pricing. All of their plans come with some sort of limitation, whether it be domains, the number of “pro” sites you can publish, or even storage.

Strikingly pricing plans

You also can’t access the VIP plan on the monthly payment option. Again, this isn’t inherently a con… unless you need the VIP features and want to pay monthly. Then you’re out of luck. The price also changes based on how long you commit to, which is a pro if you’re looking for a long-term solution, and a con if you’re looking for a short-term solution.

Limited Feature Set – Design

With any technology product, there is almost always a trade-off between convenience and control (think Android vs. iOS)

And you can really see this trade-off with the Strikingly website builder. The convenience of their design setup is great. It’s straightforward and fast, and puts your focus on getting your content into a premade template. You can add pages and sections based on your specific needs, but for the most part, it’s got everything you need.

However, if you want to go anywhere beyond the basics of design, you are limited with the builder. You can’t add anything within the premade sections, you can’t create your own sections, and the elements you can change on the overall template are fairly limited.

If your website is growing, or becoming a bigger part of your business, the design limitations can be crippling. And unlike other website builders that attempt to solve this issue through apps, extensions, or access to the website code or HTML, there is no outlet for a Strikingly website builder website. You can embed HTML/CSS/Javascript with a pro plan, but you can’t manipulate the actual template you’re provided with.

Limited Feature Set – Technical

The limitations on design also bleed over into technical limitations.

Technical limitations are features that you don’t know that you want until you want them, and then you find out you can’t have them.

These are things like integrations with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Ads, social sharing options, blogging, and a whole host of every intermediate to advanced marketing tools on the internet. Now, as I mentioned above, Strikingly does give some integrations, like DNS / hosting services and email for an additional payment. They also allow you to insert code into the header of your website for things like analytics tracking (but only on Pro plans).

However, there are a ton of technical features that Strikingly doesn’t provide or that are extremely limited.

For example, let’s look at Strikingly’s SEO features. I can edit the site title, description, and add a category and social share image. But aside from that, I’m pretty locked in to what I have. There’s no options for Schema, Open Graph settings, etc. – much less highly advanced options.

Even the additional add-on products / integrations are limited. There’s not much to address marketing your site, aside from adding code for Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics or putting code into the header of your website, which again, is only available for Pro plans.

Ultimately, Strikingly leaves much to be desired when it comes to product integrations and additional technical features that can help you better market your website.

Strikingly Review Conclusion

Strikingly makes getting your website up and running simple and fast, which makes it a great choice for DIYers who want a quick and easy way to build a nice website without the hassle of getting into the code or having something custom made.

Check out Strikingly’s plans here.

However, like most all-inclusive website builders, there does come a point where there’s a tradeoff between convenience and control, especially when you factor in price. Strikingly pricing leaves something to be desired, especially when you get into the higher priced plans and take into account the technical limitations, even with the higher priced options. If you’re looking for something that offers more control and scalability, you’re better off elsewhere.

Not sure Strikingly fits your needs? Check out my quiz to find what the best website builder is for you based on your preferences.

The post Strikingly Website Builder Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Everything You Need To Know About eCommerce Payments

The post Everything You Need To Know About eCommerce Payments appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Homestead Website Builder Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Homestead Website Builder Review_ Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Homestead is an all-inclusive website builder that’s tailored to helping businesses build their websites quickly, so they can have an online presence. Their platform includes “ready-to-use” templates that DIYers can customize to meet their needs, or simply “plug in” their content and hit publish.

See Homestead’s Current Plans & Pricing

Recently, I gave Homestead a try for a full Homestead Website Builder review. But before I get into the pros and cons of my review, let’s dive into an overview about tools to build a website.

There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing a website builder — and really, there are a thousand ways to get what you want in the end in terms of functionality, convenience, pricing, etc. The thing to remember is: whether you’re building a simple personal website or running a business, the way you build your site has a lot of consequences.

In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short-term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.

What Is Homestead Website Builder?

On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, Homestead lives on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. It contrasts with solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately.

Using Homestead is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

Everything may fit together just right with a website builder like Homestead, but that may or may not be what you’re looking for.

As far as competition, Homestead competes with all-inclusive website builders like GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo, Yahoo!, and WordPress.com  (and Shopify for online stores).

Compared to their direct competition, they focus more on getting businesses up and running not just with an easy-to-create website, but also through traffic driving strategies and consultations.

In fact – Homestead was one of the original website builders with a positively ancient history going back to the early 2000s. They, along with Blogger, helped make websites accessible to everyone regardless of HTML knowledge. Their product has evolved over time, but they are still ticking.

One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Using Homestead Website Builder

Here’s what I found to be the pros of using Homestead website builder — not just in comparison to direct competitors like GoDaddy and Wix, but as an overall website solution.

Template Design / Functionality

Homestead offers a wide selection of template designs that are responsive (AKA they look good on a mobile device, tablet, and computer), which makes the website builder a solid option for a variety of niches.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with just how many templates Homestead offers and how well designed they are. When I was first doing research, I checked out their sample templates. These looked… outdated… to say the least.

Once you actually get inside the platform, the template selections are great.

Speaking of being inside the platform, let’s talk about functionality. The Homestead Website Builder is incredibly easy to use. When you first log into the platform, they offer a quick tutorial of how to use the features.

The whole set up is incredibly intuitive. You can add new sections (pre-made or blank), drag and drop different elements like photos, buttons, text, etc, and customize the existing template to match your branding.

There are obvious drawbacks to this setup, which I will cover in the disadvantages, but it is a real advantage to having accessible design options.

It makes Homestead a great option for entrepreneurs/ DIY-ers who want a website that looks professionally designed without having to hire someone to build something custom or spend hours trying to figure out how to tweak the design themselves.

Free 30-Day Trial

Another benefit Homestead is their 30-day free trial.

Homestead allows you to trial any plan (even their highest-tiered option!) for 30 days before committing. This is great for DIYers who want to give a plan a test drive before committing.

It is important to note, however, that your subscription will automatically renew, which means if you don’t cancel within 30 days, your card will automatically be charged.

Homestead sign up credit card info

This isn’t necessarily a “con”, but it something to be aware of if you’re just testing out the builder.

Some Product Integration

While limited, Homestead does offer some product integration, such as ecommerce functionality and domains / email.

One thing to note — these additional integrations / functionality are either part of paid plans or require additional fees. This isn’t necessarily a con, but it is something to pay attention to… especially because you can find a lot of this functionality for less with other website builders.

Cons

Of course, no review would be complete without looking at the downsides. Every piece of software will have complaints. Let’s look at the specific cons I found with using Homestead as your website builder.

Pricing + Plans

Perhaps the biggest con with Homestead’s website builder is their pricing and plan structure.

All of their plans come with storage caps, which means you’re limited to the photos, documents, files, etc. you store on your website. Their plans also limit bandwidth across all tiers.

Homestead Pricing

There are also some significant fees for add-ons and advanced features on top of the paid plans. When you compare Homestead to other all-inclusive website builders, they’re definitely on the pricier side for similar features and less storage.

Design & Branding

Trust is a huge factor when choosing a website builder (or any other website product). You want to know that whoever you’re doing business with (and giving your credit card to) is a legitimate company who is going to stand by their offer.

Trust comes in many forms — word of mouth, reviews, years of existence, etc. — but it also comes via design and branding. If a business doesn’t look particularly trustworthy or credible based on their website design, it leaves you wondering… ESPECIALLY when you’re using them to build your website design.

While we didn’t have any issues with Homestead in terms of getting started with their website builder, their website design and branding does leave something to be desired. They haven’t quite kept up with the times, and it actually made me doubt that their template designs would be worth using.

homestead branding

Limited Feature Set – Technical

Technical limitations are features that you don’t know that you want until you want them, and then you find out you can’t have them.

These are things like integrations with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Ads, social sharing options, blogging, and a whole host of every intermediate to advanced marketing tools on the internet.

Now, as I mentioned above, Homestead does give some integrations, like DNS / hosting services and email for an additional payment.

They also allow you to insert code into the header of your website for things like analytics tracking, and even offer some ecommerce functionality.

However, there are a ton of technical features that Homestead doesn’t provide or that are extremely limited.

For example, let’s look at Homestead’s Advanced settings. I can edit the site meta tags and header tags, and hide the site from search engines. But aside from that, I’m pretty locked in. There’s no options for Schema, Open Graph settings, etc. – much less highly advanced options.

Even the additional add-on products / integrations are limited. There’s not much to address marketing your site, aside from adding code for Google Analytics and or adding social share functionality. Even their traffic generating / SEO service add-on sounds… less than ideal.

homestead seo add on servie

Ultimately, Homestead leaves much to be desired when it comes to product integrations and additional technical features that can help you better market your website.

Homestead Review Conclusion

Homestead has well-designed templates that allow for quite a bit of customization when compared to other all-inclusive website builders. They make getting a good-looking website up and running fairly easy.

Check out Homestead’s plans here.

However, like most all-inclusive website builders, there does come a point where there’s a tradeoff between convenience and control, especially when you factor in price. Homestead’s pricing leaves a lot to be desired, especially when you get into the higher priced plans and take into account the technical limitations AND the extra fees for add-ons, even with the higher priced options. If you’re looking for something that offers more control and scalability for less cost, you’re better off elsewhere.

Not sure Homestead fits your needs? Check out my quiz to find what the best website builder is for you based on your preferences.

The post Homestead Website Builder Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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The Complete Guide To Finding An Internet Merchant Account

The post The Complete Guide To Finding An Internet Merchant Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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9+ Best Professional Personal Website Examples for Inspiration

9+ Best Professional Personal Website Examples for Inspiration

So you’re creating a personal website, and you’re looking for professional personal website design examples for inspiration and guidance. You’re also wondering which website platform is best to use for your website.

But before we dive into examples of what professional personal websites look like in the wild on a variety of website builders and hosting platforms, there is one thing to keep in mind when you’re evaluating a website: it’s not just about how the websites look. The functionality matters too.

Think of it like buying a car. You have a make / model in mind, and you’re probably looking to see them drive by on the road to see how they actually look. However, you also care about how they operate. Does it accelerate well? Does it have the hauling capabilities you need? How is the gas mileage?

Looking at a professional personal website examples should be done in the same way. We collected the following website examples not just to show you how they look on different platforms, but how they can function, so you can be sure you create a website that fits both the look and functionality you need!

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgement as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Best Professional Personal Website Examples

We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability. Again, when you’re looking to build a professional personal website, remember that you’re not just thinking about making the site look good. You want to think about what your site actually needs to do, and find a platform that supports all of your needs.

Susannah Rigg

Susannah Rigg

Software: Squarespace

Hosting: Squarespace

This professional personal website stands out for a few reasons. First, check out the homepage. The clear navigation + simple header image (with a strong call to action button!) make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they need.

Next, the portfolio page is a great example of using a card layout with images and text to display your work.

Susannah Rigg Portfolio

If you’re wondering how to structure your professional personal website in a way that’s intuitive, clear, and polished, this site is a great place to start for inspiration (especially if you have work or content to display).

Brian Smith

brian smith website example

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Unified Layer

What stands out about this professional personal website is how simple yet effective it is. As soon as your arrive on Brian Smith’s homepage, you know exactly what he’s offering (keynote speaking).

We also liked how the website spells out why you should book him to speak. As you scroll down the page, Brian includes some short copy about what he brings to the table and why the audience would want to hear from him.

Brian smith speaking

This, combined with the logos underneath, is a great way to build in added credibility.

If you’re looking for a way to position your expertise in a way that’s simple and clear, this website is a great place to start for inspiration.

Rational Reminder (Benjamin Felix)

Rational Reminder

Software: Squarespace

Hosting: Squarespace

This professional personal website takes a unique approach. Benjamin Felix uses his website for his podcast and thought leadership content around investing.

His homepage is a collection of episodes from the podcast, and as you dive deeper into the site, you can learn more about him, investing information, and his firm.

This is a great example to use if you have content you want to display, but also want an easy way to tie it back into your company (his Find an Investor page gives information on how to work with his firm — genius!).

Ian Enders

Ian Enders

Software: Minimally-built website

Hosting: Amazon Web Services

A professional personal website doesn’t need to be a multi-page, in-depth site. In fact, this is a great example of how a single-page site can be incredibly effective for someone who wants to just give a brief overview and link out to other information.

We also liked how Ian showcases his personality in the copy, and added an extra piece of customization with the sketch of him (instead of using a photo). Remember that your personal website should show off YOU personally — which means including a bit of your personality throughout.

Dave Horak

Dave Horak

Software: Weebly

Hosting: Weebly

Speaking of showing off your personality… oftentimes, people get so focused on design that they tend to forget that what really matters on a professional personal website is, well, you.

Dave’s site is a great example of how you can build your personal brand and showcase your work without a ton of flair (in fact, great copy will do the trick).

If you’re looking for a simple layout that gives you the opportunity to tell everyone what you’re all about, this one will do the trick.

Meghan Kreidler

Meghan Kreidler website

Software: Wix

Hosting: Wix

When showcasing your personality and creativity on your professional personal website, you don’t want to sacrifice clarity in the name of creativity. Meghan’s website includes the right balance of both.

The navigation changes the main box content, making it easy to read about who she is, what she does, and what she’s done.

If you’re looking for an easy way to put your work and experience out into the world, this layout does the trick.

Heath Fogg Davis

Heath Fogg Davis

Software: WordPress.com

Hosting: WordPress

This professional personal website is another example of a straightforward, intuitive website that’s easy to navigate, clear, and gives visitors all of the information they need to learn about you, your qualifications, and your thought leadership.

We particularly liked how Heath lays out his content:

Heath Fogg Davis thought leadership

Buy using short paragraphs with “Read More” buttons, visitors can easily skim his information and choose to dive deeper into what pertains to them.

Jasmine Star

Jasmine Star

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Amazon

If you’re looking for a more creative approach to your professional personal website, check out this example by Jasmine Star. She takes a different approach than the examples we’ve seen so far. Her site is bright, with large text and plenty of photos. It’s a slightly more creative, yet still polished, look.

We also liked how Jasmine positions herself on her site. When you ARE your brand, there needs to be a lot of, well, you on the site. If you’re wanting to creating a professional personal website for your personal brand, this is a great example to use for inspiration.

Rita Gunther McGrath

Rita Gunther McGrath

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Peak10

What stood out to us about this professional personal website is how Rita uses a video background header to show her speak. This, combined with a strong headline and call-to-action to learn more, immediately draws visitors in and positions her as an expert.

We also liked how Rita includes a short bio on the homepage:

Rita Gunther McGrath Bio

This is a great way to give visitors an overview of your achievements before inviting them to connect with you further.

Next Steps

Now that you have some inspiration in terms of the design, colors, and functionality you may want in your event website, where do you go from here?

Well, it really depends on where you are in your event website building journey!

If you’re ready to decide on a website builder, check out my guide to choosing a website builder here.

If you’re looking to go DIY with a specific template to match your design and functionality needs, check out my Build a Personal Website: Templates, Design, and Setup Guide.

Lastly, if you’re wondering how to market your personal website, check out my guide to creating a local marketing strategy (yes, personal websites need marketing, too!).

The post 9+ Best Professional Personal Website Examples for Inspiration appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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The Complete Guide To Credit Scores

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What Is Shopify Pay And Why Does It Matter For Merchants?

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1&1 IONOS MyWebsite Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

1&1 IONOS MyWebsite Review_ Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

1&1 MyWebsite is an all-inclusive website builder from German web hosting company IONOS. Their website builder is geared toward helping small businesses get up and running online with pre-made templates that include images and text based on your niche. Their platform requires zero code or design skills, meaning even those with no website experience can create a good-looking site in minutes.

See 1&1 MyWebsite’s Current Plans & Pricing

Recently, I gave 1&1 MyWebsite a try for a full 1&1 MyWebsite review (I have previously reviewed their hosting services). But before I get into the pros and cons of this website builder review, let’s dive into an overview about tools to build a website.

There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing a website builder — and really, there are a thousand ways to get what you want in the end in terms of functionality, convenience, pricing, etc. The thing to remember is: whether you’re building a simple personal website or running a business, the way you build your site has a lot of consequences.

In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short-term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.

What Is the 1&1 MyWebsite Website Builder?

On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, 1&1 MyWebsite lives on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. It contrasts with solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately.

Using 1&1 MyWebsite is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

Everything may fit together just right with a website builder like 1&1 MyWebsite, but that may or may not be what you’re looking for.

As far as competition, 1&1 MyWebsite competes with all-inclusive website builders like GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Jimdo, Yahoo!, and WordPress.com  (and Shopify for online stores).

Compared to their direct competition, they focus on ecommerce functionality (they have three separate ecommerce plans — but more on that in a bit!). 1&1 MyWebsite offers several website templates organized by niche (i.e. fitness, consulting, business services, etc).

One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pros of Using 1&1 MyWebsite Builder

Here’s what I found to be the pros of using the 1&1 MyWebsite builder — not just in comparison to direct competitors like GoDaddy and Wix, but as an overall website solution.

Template Design / Customization

1&1 MyWebsite offers a wide selection of template designs that are responsive (AKA they look good on a mobile device, tablet, and computer) and are premade with images, layouts, and text that are chosen specifically for your selected niche.

Not only to the templates look good — they’re also incredibly easy to customize. The whole set up is intuitive. You can add new sections, drag and drop different elements like photos, buttons, text, etc. on custom pages, and even dive into developer mode to edit the code of the template.

custom page 1 and 1 builder
Developer-Mode-IONOS-Website-Builder

As far as all-inclusive website builders go, 1&1 MyWebsite gives users a ton of flexibility in customization. Typically, there’s a tradeoff between convenience and control (and there still is here — which we’ll get to in a bit), but again, when compared to competitors, 1&1 MyWebsite’s Builder gives DIYers more control than most!

$1 Trial + No obligation

Another benefit 1&1 MyWebsite is their $1 trial for their baseline plan, and the fact that all plans allow users to cancel at any time.

1&1 MyWebsite allows you to use their Online plan for $1 for the first month, which is great for DIYers who want to give the platform a test drive before committing for the long-term (as long as you don’t need ecommerce features!).

They also offer a “no risk, anytime cancellation”, which means you can cancel your plan at any time and aren’t locked in for the long haul. This is a big pro for those who want the advanced functionality of the ecommerce plans, but perhaps have a short-term project or don’t want to be stuck in a long-term commitment before giving the platform a test drive for a few months.

Functionality + Integrations

Another pro of 1&1 MyWebsite’s Builder is their functionality and additional product integrations, such as ecommerce, domains, email, social media widgets, and more.

Even their basic Online Plan (which is just $5/month) offers extensive app functionality, such as Yelp Reviews, Live Chat functionality, PayPal integration, OpenTable integration, MailChimp, etc.

They also make it easy to upgrade to a higher plan for advanced functionality while maintaining your current content.

Again, there’s always going to be some sort of trade-off between convenience and control, but when it comes to all-inclusive website builders, 1&1 MyWebsite gives users A LOT of control in addition to convenience.

Pricing

Another pro of 1&1 MyWebsite is that their pricing is very competitive not only compared to other all-inclusive website builders but also with buying your own hosting.

Their Starter plan starts around $5/mo (with a $1 trial for the first month) and you can cancel at any time. You are limited to one domain and 5 email accounts, but even this is more than some all-inclusive competitors offer.

There also doesn’t seem to be any caps on storage space, which is amazing given the pricing – though I do wish they’d be clearer with the feature set. In fact, this feature transparency is a bit of a con for 1&1. It’s not that they don’t have the feature / storage – it’s that so many builders do overpromise, that they need to be much clearer on what you are getting.

Even their ecommerce pricing, while more expensive than doing the same thing on your own hosting, is much cheaper than comparable plans with direct competitors.

Compared to building your own website on your host and especially with other website builders, 1&1 MyWebsite’s pricing is very competitive. Price isn’t everything, but I really like how they structure it.

Cons

Of course, no review would be complete without looking at the downsides. Every piece of software will have complaints. Let’s look at the specific cons I found with using 1&1 MyWebsite as your website builder.

Setup Clarity

While 1&1 MyWebsite is fairly easy to use and convenient for DIYers who want to build a website fast (or even create something more custom), there was some confusion when I signed up — which is the biggest con with the platform.

For starters, I named my website and registered my free domain… so I thought. After I chose my theme and published my site, I came back to find my website was unnamed and had a subdomain.

Now, there’s always a chance of user error… but it was confusing nonetheless.

I also couldn’t seem to find information on storage caps. Most all-inclusive website builders cap storage and/or pages. But IONOS didn’t say anything about storage on their plans at all.

In fact, the only place I did see mention of storage was in an upsell on the checkout page.

1&1 MyWebsite Review Conclusion

1&1 MyWebsite makes getting your website up and running simple and fast, and they include advanced customization options and functionality integrations for those who want to take their site to the next level. This, combined with their pricing, makes them a great choice for those looking to bundle their hosting, domain, and website builder.

Check out 1&1 MyWebsite plans here.

However, like all website software, there’s no such thing as “perfect”. The lack of clarity and transparency tainted what would have been a smooth experience with 1&1 MyWebsite, and made me concerned about what else I was missing when using the platform.

Not sure 1&1 MyWebsite fits your needs? Check out my quiz to find what the best website builder is for you based on your preferences.

The post 1&1 IONOS MyWebsite Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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