Starting a business takes some hard handy work. Online businesses are usually scalable and low investment, and now more than ever, good online businesses are based on developing a system that works alone. Although having a passive income is difficult to achieve, it’s highly attainable with the right tools.
Before you decide to start courses of action to make a presence on the Internet, I recommend an analysis of the feasibility of your project. Most people try to start an online business without even having a vague idea of whether or not there is a target audience that is interested in that type of product or service.
In other words, it is a big mistake to start by choosing the product and assuming that it will be received well. Simply because it is very interesting for you doesn’t mean it will be an easy product to sell. The moral of the story:
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know if you have reached your destination.
With that said, once you have determined if there is a market out there for your idea (look online, talk to your target audience, and analyze the competition), there are a few steps to follow for success. However, there are some steps many people easily overlook when starting an online-only business. We’ve compiled the list of the 6 most common ones:
6 Parts of Starting an Online Business That You Are Probably Overlooking
1. Purchasing a Domain Name
The domain should be the name of your company or very close to it. I usually recommend GoDaddy to check domains because it is an easy-to-use interface that lets you check as many domain names as you would like to see if they are available. However, GoDaddy can be difficult in the user interface aspect, so it’s not necessarily the best web host to actually purchase a domain with.
2. Purchasing a Hosting Plan with Shopify
There are tons of different hosting plans out there including GoDaddy, DreamHost, HostGator, and more. I use Shopify and have found it to be the best on the market for customer service and functionality. This is also where you will setup WordPress (I highly recommend WordPress if you’re just started out), so hosting is an important step.
I have started two businesses and helped manage other online businesses, and hosting can sometimes be the most confusing aspect. If you ever decide to branch out and sell products on your website, trust me, it’s incredibly easy to get confused and overwhelmed.
It’s best to have this functionality with one hosting service like Shopify, but if you want to shop around (and we recommend it), check out this article from PCmag for an in-depth comparison chart.
3. Purchasing a Premium Template
There are tons of free WordPress templates out there to choose from, so depending on your business and budget this could be the way to go, but my recommendation is to go with a Premium template that you love right from the start.
Templates are what will essentially “design” your website, so it’s important you like what you’re seeing (and naturally, templates you have to pay for are usually nicer and offer more features). It can be a big pain to work hard on designing a template to your liking and then deciding you want to change it in the future, so if you’re going to spend some money upfront, spend it here. Elegant themes and Theme Forest are both a great place to start browsing.
4. Are You a Sole Proprietor, LLC, or Inc.?
This is always the part that makes people the most nervous when starting an online business, but it shouldn’t be.
I always recommend starting off as a sole proprietor first so you can get a feel for where your business is going before taking the steps to become an LLC or Incorporated.
You will be surprised how much your online business changes as times goes on, so before taking such big steps, start small.
5. Designing Your Website and Populating it with Content
WordPress themes will typically walk you through how to design your website. In most cases, there is a tab on the left that says “Appearance” that will allow you to choose colors, menu items (the tabs you’ll see at the top of your website), and more. Actually learning to use WordPress may actually be the most time-consuming part of the whole process, so learn more about getting started with WordPress specifically here.
Once your website looks the way you want it to, get some content up there. Write your “About Us” page, create a solid “Contact Us” page, homepage, and even write a blog post if you’re feeling ambitious. Eventually, you will want to create a full content strategy (more about that here) so that people will find your website when Google-ing, but for now the goal is to make your actual website as helpful and informative as possible.
6. Having a PPC Strategy
As an online business, you can’t expect people find your business right away. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising come into play. You can get incredibly advanced with this, but when you’re just starting out, I recommend you keep it basic and pay a little bit of money to advertise. This way, you know your website is showing up in relevant searches and has more potential to be clicked by a target audience.
After setting up your website on WordPress, this will be the more time-consuming aspect of starting an online business. PPC ads work through something called AdWords, so you will need to setup an AdWords account. From there you should be walked through a tutorial. Stay targeted for your first few ads if you’re on a budget. This won’t bring you as much traffic, but it will make sure that you’re spending money on people who are very interested in your niche. Below is a screenshot of what the AdWords dashboard looks like:
Learn how to get started with AdWords here.
Don’t be frustrated if at first everything takes a long time and seems difficult. It can take several months to understand HTML and CSS and feel comfortable with WordPress. But, although it doesn’t seem like it, little by little you will be improving. What once took you 3 hours can soon take you only 1 and then maybe even 5 minutes – it takes patience.
In the end, there are many more aspects to really optimizing your business for success, but this foundation should get you started and put you in a position to start accepting clients and learning as you go.
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- 6 Parts of Starting an Online Business That You Are Probably Overlooking - August 10, 2017