Those are the key outcomes of research into the earning power and cost of websites for the self-employed. The research was carried out for SIDN by MediaTest and involved an on-line survey of 1,280 tradespeople and independent professionals in the Netherlands.
Website is an important channel for the self-employed
Almost all self-employed people in the Netherlands are on line. No less than 95 per cent of them have websites. That compares with just 65 per cent in the UK. Dutch self-employed people report that their websites are valuable for bringing in new orders (84 per cent). However, only a minority (30 per cent) say that on-line selling is one of the main purposes of their site. Far more of them have a site so that clients can find them (91 per cent), and with a view to communicating their expertise, reinforcing their credibility and increasing their reach (all around 85 per cent).
Modest investments generate substantial additional income
As indicated above, a website brings in an extra € 22,500 a year for the average self-employed person in the Netherlands. Again, that compares favourably with the UK (€ 19,550).
Interestingly, the investment required to secure that extra € 22,500 is quite small. Respondents reported spending an average of € 300 a year on their sites and devoting about sixteen hours of their own time.
Traders and self-employed builders benefit most
People in some lines of business use websites more successfully than those in others. Traders and builders earn quite a lot more from their sites (€ 34,250 and € 28,600, respectively) than self-employed people working in care, ICT and or business services (less than € 8,000).
What's more, people who have started up in the last five years earn considerably less from their sites than more experienced self-employed people (€ 8,950 versus € 25,000).
Success factors and tips
Comparison of successful sites (more than € 10,000 in extra earnings) with less successful (less than € 1,000) highlights clear differences. From the characteristics of the high-earning sites, the researchers have come up with four tips for generating income from a website.
Tip 1. Regularly update your site.Amongst self-employed people with high-earning sites, 56 per cent update their sites on a weekly or monthly basis. Those with low-earning sites update less often.
Tip 2. Do on-line promotion work.On-line promotion is used by 51 per cent of people with high-earning sites, but only 20 per cent of those with low-earning sites. Search engine optimisation is particularly popular amongst self-employed people with successful sites. The amounts of money and time that higher-earners invest in such activities is nevertheless modest: € 130 and twelve hours a year on average.
Tip 3. Support your site with social media.Most self-employed people who do well on line (80 per cent of them) have a social media presence and/or an app, as well as a website. By contrast, only 66 per cent of those who were less successful on line used supporting strategies.
Tip 4. Be prepared to invest a little more.In terms of the average amounts of money and time invested, the difference between successful and less successful sites was € 250 and thirteen hours a year.
The results of the research have been summarised in a whitepaper and an infographic, which are both in Dutch.