Besides location independence, the big advantage of starting an online business is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Today, I will show you how to go from having an idea to starting your business – step-by-step.
Best of all, the investment (tools, hosting, etc.) will be less than $100!
That’s crazy when you think about it.
$100 to start a business. In the ‘offline’ world, that would be unthinkable. You would need to invest at least a few thousand dollars just to get up and running.
Office location, storage, etc.
When you start an online business, you need a business or office location & storage space as well. The difference is that both your business location & storage space are online.
- Your domain would be the equivalent to a business location.
- The hosting/webspace is your digital storage.
- The office is wherever you are – assuming you really are location-independent and work from your laptop.
You have an idea for an online business, but are unsure how to get started?
6 Steps To Your Online Business
(Time Required: 1-2 Hrs)
I am showing you step-by-step how to get your online business up and running. Thereby, I will focus on the essentials and leave out the rest.
As always, I recommend you keep it simple when starting out.
There are no programming skills required.
1. Register Your Domain Name
This is the most important step. Deciding on and buying your domain name equals registering your brand name.
You can always change hosting provider along the way, but changing the name of your domain is not a good idea. That’s why it’s important to carefully think about that decision.
I recommend you stick to a traditional .com domain ending.
To keep this simply, I will only recommend 2 different domain registrars.
BlueHost – Very beginner friendly option. You can get both your domain & hosting here. At step 3, I will show you how to install the software for your website. BlueHost has that software already pre-installed which makes things a lot easier.
Njalla – Anonymous domain registration. If for whatever reason you need that additional layer of protection, I recommend using Njalla. They don’t require you to disclose personal information and accept Bitcoin and other cryptocoins as payment.
2. Hosting For Your Website
If all you do is register a domain, people that visit your site would see an empty page. What you need now is storage space for your website’s files (called hosting).
There are thousands of hosting providers to choose from. For most people, the natural tendency would be to opt for the cheapest one.
I DO NOT recommend you make price the primary criteria when choosing a hosting provider.
What you need is reliability & responsive support. Why?
Well, compare these 2 scenarios.
Person A – Picks the cheapest hosting, paying $5 per month. The website crashes frequently and is unavailable for a few hours every week. Customer support is not very responsive, nor helpful. Lots of research (time) required to fix the issues.
Person B – Decides to choose a trusted provider (such as BlueHost) and pay a bit more on a monthly basis. There are no issues with his website, in case of questions, he can call BlueHost directly via phone to receive almost instant support.
What’s the difference?
- If you are just starting out, the difference is minuscule.
- The quicker your business grows, the more Person A misses in revenue any time his website is unavailable.
- Add to that that existing customers might ask for a refund if say that person offers a website or online service and the site is offline.
In the end, trying to save money on hosting will hurt your online business.
The lesson: Make the investment and pick a premium hosting provider. You don’t even need to use the one I recommend (in case you don’t trust my recommendation). You can do your own research, just make sure you don’t sign up with a budget, low quality hosting provider.
3. Website System (WordPress)
The website system we are using is entirely free.
It’s called WordPress and is super easy to use; no programming skills required.
If you are using the hosting provider I recommended above (BlueHost), WordPress is already pre-installed. You just need to click a few buttons to change the settings.
If you are using another provider, you might have to manually download the installation file from WordPress.org – then upload them to your hosting space.
Once you have WordPress installed and configured the basics, you can move on to make a few customizations …
4. Website Design
Besides your domain name, the design of your website is what will set you apart. Ideally, you want to have a unqie look that people will remember and associate with you.
In terms of your website design, you have 3 options:
- Option 1: Use a free theme that potentially thousands of other sites use.
- Option 2: Hire a designer to create your own theme.
- Option 3: Invest in a professional theme, then customize it to match your needs.
Free themes often lack support and regular updates. Hiring a designer will set you back at least $1,000 and is – for most people starting out – not worth the money.
I recommend you invest in a professional theme that comes with support & regular updates – then customize it based on your needs. Where do you get your professional theme?
- StudioPress – I am using the StudioPress Genesis framework here on this site.
- Themify – Allows you to use their themes on unlimited sites. A good choice if you do run multiple websites.
Okay, got your theme? Great!
Now your website is up and running. You can publish content (articles, videos) and people are able to find you and whatever product or service you offer.
BONUS: 5. E-Mail Optin
When you’re just starting out, you don’t necessarily need to capture email leads. However, I highly recommend you do as you’re able to keep in touch with visitors right from the get-go.
By adding an opt-in field to your website, you are collecting visitor’s email addresses. Usually in exchange for some item such as a free PDF file, bonus video, etc.
(I recommend to offer some sort of bait, rather than just saying people can sign up to “stay in touch”.)
It’s possible to have the pop-up appear in one of 3 locations (see screenshot below). You might have seen the bottom bar with an email optin on some websites. I tend to use the regular mid-page pop-up.
It’s the most intrusive option, but at least there’s no chance to be overlooked.
Starting out, I recommend you choose this option as well. Further down the road, you can look at the stats and determine if there’s a need to make a change.
Below is an example of what such a popup/layover looks like.
You can customize every element. There are more advanced settings such as how often the pop-up appears, etc. but for now just having an email optin on your website will suffice.
As your business grows, your email list will be of increased importance. Why that is is beyond the scope of this article, I’ve written about email marketing here.
To start building your email list, you first must choose an email marketing provider. There are 3 that I use/have used an recommend.
- AWeber – One of the few email marketing providers that allows affiliate marketing!
- ConverKit – Premium option if you’re more advanced/have a bigger email list.
Don’t stress too much – you can always switch email service provider along the way.
HIDDEN HACK: 6. Contact Form
What’s so special about adding a contact form to your site?
Why do you consider it important? I don’t even have a product/service I offer yet!
It’s especially important at the beginning stages. As you publish content (blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.) people will usually have questions. You want to make it very easy to get in touch with you.
You don’t need to necessarily reply to every inquiry (that would take away from working on your business).
The power of the contact form lies in the information you receive. Based on people’s emails you will notice recurring questions, get ideas for new content/products or services that are much needed.
Adding a contact form (assuming you are using WordPress) is easy. Just go to Plugins and search for Contact Form 7.
Done. What’s Next?
Great! Now that you’ve gotten the technical part out of the way, it’s time to build up your business.
You can check out my free resources on how to actually build your online business.