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Small business owners who want to start a website have lots of options that make it easier than in the past. Companies such as Wix.com, Google, SquareSpace.com and Weebly.com require no coding or technical skills. Users can choose a template, drag in photos and paste in words.
And with more people searching for businesses online and on their smartphones, companies without a site may be missing out on extra business.
"You might as well be a ghost," says Blasingame, who hosts "The Small Business Advocate," an online and nationally syndicated radio show. "The customers and opportunity pass right through you."
Sales at Bad Pickle Tees have doubled since Cyndi Grasman began selling her quirky food-related T-shirts online a year ago. She started the business in 2012, selling shirts with sayings like "Oh Kale Yeah!" and "I Heart Bacon" at food festivals. She launched the site using website publishing company Weebly, paying $250 a year.
"I'm reaching a larger audience," she says.
Marilyn Caskey says her website has cut down on time-consuming phone calls with customers. The owner of The Garment Exchange launched a website for her San Antonio consignment shop two years ago using a Google program. The store, which she opened in 2008, used to get calls all the time asking which clothing designers the shop resells.
"I'll be trying to ring up a sale and someone would call," says Caskey, who would read through a list to the caller of all the designers the store does and doesn't buy. "Now we refer them to the website."
Amy Gilson hopes to be able to do that soon.
She hired a company to build a website for her Oklahoma City snack food business Healthy Cravings. She is paying $4,500 for it, but she hasn't been able to find the time to take photos and give them other information needed to finish. All customers see on EatHealthyCravings.com is a message that the site is coming soon.
"Right now, I do everything," says Gilson. "I am the accountant, the marketer, the salesman."
When she sells Healthy Cravings' zucchini brownie bites or chia cookies at farmers' markets, shoppers ask about a website. One customer, who was looking for the fat content of the snacks, took to Healthy Cravings' Facebook page to ask if it had a website with more information.
"I can't wait for my website," says Gilson, who also plans to sell treats from the site. "I can just send them there."
© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.