Google is partnering with Intuit Sitebuilder to offer participating Georgia businesses a free website, along with free tools, training and resources to give their businesses an online presence — and therefore, with any luck, more customers.
“Because I don’t have a storefront, I knew that a website was going to be the way people would reach me and how I would reach others,” said Marietta resident Catherine Sanders, owner of The Social Class. Sanders said she will be offering her classes from September through April to students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades, but needs to sign clients up now. She is currently running the business out of her home, but said she will be using space in the Traton Homes office space at the corner of Tower Road and Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta for classes when they begin.
“Many people have an idea and something they’re excited about, but they get gun-shy about getting a website because they think it costs too much and they don’t know how to run it,” she said. “I’m not entirely website-savvy, so it’s been great to make it easy for me to get it up.”
The idea for Sanders’ business began to form into a plan last fall, she said.
“Growing up in Marietta, we had cotillion, but now there isn’t one … so as my children were approaching middle school age, I wanted them to have that experience that so many of us here had,” Sanders said. “I wanted them to learn manners and character with a class like this, along with how to interact in certain situations. So I basically got everything together in January, which was perfect timing because then a friend told me about Google’s program. I put my name in the hat and, luckily, they selected mine.”
Harold’s Barbecue, which has been in Atlanta since 1947, was chosen along with Sanders’ business to be the two launch businesses for the program in Georgia. The program has already been offered in 16 other states and 23 other countries. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce is also a supporting partner for the program.
But now the program is open to any business, new or established, to take advantage of the benefits that it offers, including an easy-to-build website, a domain name and free Web hosting for a year. After the first year, the cost is $4.99 per year to keep a website online and $2 a month to keep the domain name.
Business owners interested in the Google program can walk into the High Museum of Art in midtown Atlanta at 1280 Peachtree St. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Friday. There, they can choose between a variety of services, including building their own websites; learning how to grow their businesses through an online presence; learning how to promote their businesses online and attract their customers using online marketing tools; and meeting with Google team members to get one-on-one advice about existing or new websites for their businesses.
“It’s a great way for established and new businesses in Georgia to take advantage of the boost that a website can give a business,” said Kathy Daly-Jennings, Google Head of Industry.
Sanders, who hopes to have her site, www.thesocialclass.net, up and running by Friday, plans to attend the event to learn more about online marketing.
“For me, having this is crucial,” Sanders said. “People can find my information, my offerings, how to register, all of that through a website, which they couldn’t find without calling me or seeing it online. And when I started my business, searching the Internet was a major part of my research, too. I was researching other businesses like mine and got some great ideas from those. I think everyone now, if they’re interested in a business or a store or restaurant, they will Google it and find it online.”
Follow Katy Ruth Camp on Twitter at twitter.com/KatyRuthC.