Launching a website on a lean budget? It can be done.
Ever since logger Chuck Varney decided seven years ago to halt plans for a subdivision by buying the land he was hired to clear, his Secondwind Farm has grown from a promising patch in the middle of Chebeague Island, Maine into 1.5 acres worth of peas, tomatoes, beans, and more. This year the news is getting around. Handouts announcing specials of strawberries and peas have blossomed on bulletin boards around the Island. The daily Chebeague Island News now reports on what’s fresh this week at the farm stand. And wooden signs pointing the way to the farm have sprouted along the roads.
For a farm hemmed in by a thicket of pine trees and an owner’s very tight schedule the effort signals a big shift. Varney, who continues to work primarily as a logger, spends almost all his farming time clearing the land, which was a farm until about 60 years ago, and planting and growing his crops. Plus there are the never-ending miscellaneous tasks that are part of every small farmer’s lot. When I visited him yesterday Varney was felling several towering pine trees so he can finally install electricity.
In short, very little time is left over for the all-important task of selling the food he grows, which is why he’s so grateful that Ariette Scott, producer of the handouts and farm news alerts, has joined him this year. “I’m very lucky she’s agreed to get the word out about the farm,” he says.
Scott knows that papering the island is only a start. She’s advertising, building out the farm stand offering so there’s more to choose from, and considering the pros and cons of launching a CSA. But a top priority for the former arts manager is giving the farm an online presence, which is how she and I ended up evaluating website builders.
Quick & easy?
Lots of companies promise painless website launches. Having worked with a few of them I beg to differ. My experience illustrates why most businesses still prefer working with a designer. On Intuit I tweaked the photo layout and had such a hard time with the modified design I asked a designer friend to help. She threw up her hands and shipped it back to me. Another designer friend was so exasperated he created a template in Adobe and slid it onto the Intuit platform, which meant it looked great but I had no way to change the content.
Things didn’t go much better on Weebly where I never could get the color I wanted or on Network Solutions, where limited design and tool functionality created so many problems for a client she finally