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Building a farm website — should you DIY or hire an agency?


When it comes to building a farm website, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you move forward.

Image courtesy of Dairy Carrie

1. How important is my farm website?

Your farm website is important to how you want to represent the farm to your community and the world. People on the internet will be able to view your farm, and after it’s launched, it should come up as the No. 1 Google search response. Your website could include information about the farm, including how you feel about animal welfare, where people can buy your products, how people can tour the farm (whether in person, online through videos or photos or both) and how people can reach you. You’ve put a lot of resources and energy into your farm. Why would you not take the time and resources to make sure it looks its best online as well?

2. Can I create the content that people want to know about my farm?

Many farmers can speak volumes about everything they do on the farm. But can you turn that knowledge into video, photos, and text on a website page? If you can, then you can probably create your own website. If you struggle with a blank page or aren’t sure if your photos or video will turn out, then I would recommend using a professional communicator.

3. How often will I need to update my website?

Farms are usually in a constant state of flux. Building or tearing down facilities, adding cows and new tech, or even adding family or new employees is part of everyday farm life. This means your website should be updated and you can do that on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. This is a skill that you and your staff can learn to save money instead of using an agency, which can get expensive.

If you feel comfortable creating your own website that has great content and you can update it regularly, then it is worth saving money to do so.

There are several options for DIY:

1. WordPress.com is a do-it-yourself website creation platform.

  • Cost: Free
  • Use: Easy
  • Design: Templated
  • Domain name: Free version requires wordpress.com in domain name but you can pay for your own domain name for a small yearly fee.
  • Hosting: Free
  • Mobile friendly: Yes

There are many free website templates that would work for your farm. WordPress is very easy to update and can be transferred to a hosted website on wordpress.org (which allows for more control) if you wish. You also don’t have to worry about a monthly hosting fee or domain name fee.

Click here to learn how to set up a WordPress website.

2. Wix, Weebly, and Square Space are website creation platforms.

  • Cost: Free and paid
  • Use: Medium
  • Design: Templated and build your own
  • Domain name: Paid
  • Hosting: Paid
  • Mobile friendly: Yes

Wix, Weebly and Square Space are DIY solutions that I have heard mixed reviews on, but they are the biggest players when it comes to building your own website behind WordPress. I do not recommend one over the other as I have not tried them all.

Click here to learn how to get started using Wix.
Here’s how to get started using Weebly.
Here’s how to get started using Square Space.

If you’d rather not tackle this project by yourself, you can work with an agency or a business, though it can be a bit overwhelming. A good agency will ask you questions about your website needs and want to learn about you and your farm. If they don’t ask you these questions, then it’s a red flag to not use them.

1. What are your goals?

After you define your goals, the agency will need to have an answer on how it can help measure them via analytics and marketing tools. Be sure all questions are answered before you begin.

2. Who’s your target audience?

After you define who you want to reach, the agency should be able to find out more information about this audience or discuss with you if this is the correct audience to pursue. With the Undeniably Dairy campaign, we are focused on young moms who are health seekers. They have a lot of influence over peers via social channels and are more likely to explore the benefits of dairy.

3. What do you want visitors to do?

This is your “call to action.” There should be a first and secondary calls to action such as “Sign Up For Email” or “Connect with Socially and Share our Content.” This call to action should be able to be measured by the agency.

4. What do you want visitors to your site to believe?

This is your story and it needs to be based on the insights the agency should uncover from the information you tell them about your farm.

Then I would get into the specifics of technology. I would ask:

5. Which web content management system do you recommend if we want to manage the information with our employees? Why do you recommend it?

6. Where will the website be hosted, and what are the yearly fees?

7. How difficult is it to change text and add photos and video on the website?

8. How does it look on a mobile phone?

9. How fast will the speed of the website be?

10. How are things going to be optimized for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

11. Should we be building an email list? What services do you recommend? How often should we send email to them?

12. How will people find the website? What are you recommendations for advertising / digital and offline?

13. What about social media? How important is it? How do we handle it? What networks does our target audience use? How can we engage with them?

Agencies should be able to handle these questions without any issues.

As far as recommending agencies that can help you, I would start by contacting your local checkoff or co-op to see who they might be working with. If you aren’t sure who to contact, feel free to reach out to me at don.schindler@dairy.org, and I would be happy to offer some suggestions.

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