A reader asked about website design basics for riding instructors, insurance, and release forms. I thought I’d share my answer with a blog post and ask other instructors for their input.
In today’s word of internet communication, every riding program needs a web presence. Size and cost should be determined by your type of business. Many starter programs find having a facebook page for advertising and then a group for privacy suits the needs of their clientele. Having a good Facebook presence is important for the social side of riding instruction and can be helpful for group announcements, as well as keeping everyone up on the latest news from the barn. And unless you purchase Facebook adds, it costs nothing.
For a larger business, my preference is to have a website to promote business and handle static issues such as your quality facilities, bio, prices, and recommendations. I’d back the web up with Facebook, and then follow with Instagram.
Good Websites Take Work
Unless you are adept at design, or you use one of the free sites on line, good websites are expensive to build and run. They also take quite a bit of upkeep. I’ll use my site, The Riding Instructor, as an example. Bear in mind that I’m using estimated figures. Since my husband runs multiple web sites for various industries, my personal cost is less, especially on design and maintenance. However, when something happens to The Riding Instructor site, such as a hack or a plug-in that messes with an update, my husband spends hours sorting through everything until he finds the problem. Let me make it clear—without his help. I’d be on one of the free web site builders, which is where I originally started with The Riding Instructor a dozen years ago.
A basic url or domain name will cost about $20 a year. It would be nice if that was the end of things, but you need a place to host your domain name, such as GoDaddy www.godaddy.com, Hostgator, www.hostgator.com or BlueHost https://www.bluehost.com . There are a myriad of plans and prices ranging from $3 and up. The Riding Instructor’s hosting plan costs around $15 a month. Next expense is the themes company, the group who provides the initial template from which my husband works. Add another $30 a month. Maintenance on a website is roughly an hour each month at a cost of $75 an hour. That’s providing there are no major problems such as a hack or a conflict.
Let’s Tally the Costs
- URL/Domain name = $20 a year
- Websites hosting $15 a month x12 months =$180 a year
- Themes Co. $30 a month x 12 months =$360 a year
- Maintenance $75 a month x 12 = $900 a year
That makes a total of $1,460 a year just to run a site like The Riding Instructor. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to pay the maintenance cost, but most people don’t have a web person in their family.
The cost of running a site like this does not even begin to consider the time it takes to make it content rich. Whether you are writing posts to help riding instructors, like I do, or you are writing content to describe the perks of your riding program, content takes your time, and we all know time is money. Consider how much you charge for a hour’s work as a riding instructor.
What About the Initial Design for Websites?
The average web site takes 30 to 50 hours to build. At a price of $75 an hour that ranges from $2,250 – $3,750. There are companies that charge a whole lot more. Thank you, Rick!
Well, That’s Just Depressing
Before you start counting how many lessons you’d have to teach in order to afford a website to promote your business, take a deep breath and keep reading.
The good news for someone starting out with a small business and a limited clientele is that there are free web site builder companies that you can use to get started. The free plans are limited and you will have the option to upgrade as your business grows. These companies are listed on the internet. Do a search for free web sites or build a free web page. My friends have used www.Wix.com and www.Weebly.com satisfactorily.
There are lots of tutorials on YouTube as well. Here’s one with web builder recommendations Those of us who are budget conscious and can invest time more easily than money, will find a lot of help by searching online.
The Riding Instructor reader also asked about insurance. My best recommendations is again to research the internet for insurance for riding instructors. There are a lot companies who insure instructors. http://www.equisure-inc.com and https://www.markelinsurance.com come to mind easily for me and they will give you a quote. Be sure you know your state statues for equestrians. Again the internet is the horseman’s friend here. This site will get you started with equine statutes by state . If you own your own property, check with your agent about your liability coverage. If you don’t own your property check with your landlord before instructing riders. Find out how he or she is covered and what additional liability you need to carry for them. And you will need liability coverage for yourself while teaching, whether you teach at home or at another stable. Some companies charge according to how many lesson horses you utilize. $1,000,000 coverage is not unusual.
Those Release Forms
As far as release forms go, you can write those with the approval of your insurance agent. I recommend having an attorney check your form, too. There are lots of examples of equine release forms online but always have anything you use checked out by your insurance company and /or your attorney. Never take for granted that someone else’s for will cover you.
Take Your Time
My biggest suggestions are to take your time, do your research and find out what will work for you and the business plan you have in mind. A lot goes into any good plan for a riding program, even a small one.
Thanks for stopping by The Riding Instructor. I’d love it if readers would jump in with suggestions for a person who is starting a new riding program. What has worked for your websites, insurance, and release forms?
And as usual, I wish you the best students having great lessons on sure-footed horses!
Barbara Ellin Fox