In the September issue of Inside Archery, we examined using the internet to market an archery shop. In essence, we wanted to shed light on the different vehicles—many of which are free—that small business owners can use to get their message out there.

One of the main focuses was creating a website. Now, we’re well aware that many archery shops do indeed already have a website. But we were curious about a few things:

  • Did the owner of the store design it themselves or hire someone to make it?
  • Does the owner manage it, update it, and reply to queries that are posted there?
  • How often are these things done?
  • How long ago was the website made, and how many times (if ever) has it been redesigned?

These answers weren’t easy to find with anything short of a national survey, so we decided to start from square one. So, if you already have a beautiful website that you update regularly and keep constant tabs on, you need not read further. If you have a website, but had someone else make it and/or it hasn’t been updated it in years, consider a fresh start. And if you have no website whatsoever, strongly consider changing that immediately.

Like it or not, the internet continues marching forward on its quest to become the most widespread platform for information and communication. Did you know there are “smart fridges” that can access twitter and other apps? I’m not joking. It’s a thing.

“Innovations” like this are a testament to the increasing ubiquity of the worldwide web. Everything, it seems, is moving towards incorporating a digital aspect of some sort. Business owners can’t afford to ignore that. A website serves as a virtual portal to your business. It has to be easy to find, concise and visually appealing. People—particularly younger ones—use the internet to do the ground work on businesses that they’re considering visiting more and more. Everything from a restaurant to retail shoe store must potentially go through an online litmus test. That includes reviewing operation hours and location, as well as online reviews. This can serve as a major bridge to a small business. An unattractive, difficult to navigate, or nonexistent website can deter potential business.

Another important aspect that’s particularly relevant to the archery industry is that baby boomers, which comprise the majority of bowhunters, are slowly but surely putting away the bow and arrow as they grow older. It would take another, lengthy article to examine this problem, but one of the best ways to deal with it would undoubtedly be turning to technology to entice younger archers. The further down the road we go, the more relevant an online presence becomes.

Luckily, getting a solid foot in the door isn’t as difficult to accomplish as it may seem. Buying a website and keeping it running requires a very small investment, but making it look good doesn’t have to cost a dime. There are plenty of free resources with step-by-step instructions on crafting a beautiful, user-friendly website. WordPress is one of the most widely used platforms out there, and for good reason. It’s user friendly, cheap and so widely used that there are scores of free resources that make using it even easier. Here are some examples of great free tutorials:

The basics:

More advanced:

Like pulling off a Band-Aid, creating or revamping a website can seem like real hassle, but it’s worth it. Don’t wait too long and get left behind.