People who start out their online ventures often ask me what it takes to get started – at a bare minimum. I realize money can be tight, especially when starting out. So today I will give you the basic 7 items you must do when you start out:
1. Get Focused
One of the big mistakes most early marketers make is getting distracted by the next shiny thing – the newest ebook or plugin or software or video course. I would venture that you have on your hard drive right now everything you need to be successful. Don’t buy anything else for at least three months.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is the unsubscribe from lists that you might be on. If you are on a list and have not received value from that list in the past 2 weeks, unsubscribe. You must get focused. I couldn’t believe how much time this step saved me!
2. Set Up a Hosting Account
Before you do this step, it is helpful to consider step 3: Register a Domain Name. But don’t do step 3 yet. Usually, when you set up a hosting account, a free domain name is included. No need to pay for it separately. There are literally hundreds of places to set up your hosting (hosting is where your website lives). I recommend Blue Host, but there are others that are good. Please do your research here though. There are many hosting companies that are not good.
3. Register Your Domain Name
As you set up your hosting, you will chose a domain name. Don’t make a typo – it will cost you!! Always choose a .com over any of the other options. Avoid hyphenated names or names with numbers. Your domain name should reflect you or your business. Think carefully about this step – you will live with it for a long time.
4. Set Up Email Addresses
Most of us (all of us?) already have an email address. This address is not the one you want to use in your new venture. Instead you want an address that matches your domain name. You have two choices: an email address with an email box or a forwarding email address.
Now, here’s my 2 cents: I prefer forwarding email addresses. I already have a Gmail account that I check on a regular basis. I really don’t want to have to log into another account somewhere and check email there. I like things simple and fast and efficient. So I forward my email addresses to my Gmail account. Now, if someone sends something to email@example.com, it automatically shows up in my Gmail account.
Which ever way you decide to do it, you need to set up 2 email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
5. Set Up Your Blog or Website
Now that you have your domain and hosting, you are ready to set up your website. I would recommend using a platform such as WordPress. It is easy to use and free. If you have never used WordPress, you can get some great training at Wealthy Affiliate. The first 5 weeks are absolute musts. After that the training gets deeper and the community support is second to none.
6. Set Up Paypal
This one may not be as obvious, but it is completely necessary. You need to have a way to receive payments – either from your direct customers or from the companies whose products you sell (depending on your business model). Either way, set up a Paypal account and upgrade it to a business account (which is free).
7. Set Up Your List
Most people forget this one. But as the saying goes…”The money is in the list.” Whatever business model you use, you absolutely must be gathering a list of website customers. If you don’t, you are just leaving money on the table. There are many places that will host your list for you. I recommend GetResponse, but Aweber, Mailchimp, and a host of others are good as well. Set up your account and put a signup form on your website where you can collect emails.
These are your basic 7 things you must do in order to have an online business. I know not everyone is computer savvy or feels confident enough to set these things up properly. That is why I offer to set it up for you for free. Check out my done for you service.
And if you do set this up yourself, be sure to get all these steps. Each one plays an important part in setting up a good strong foundation for your online venture.
The shiny things were all that attracted me and I’m pretty sure it does the same for everyone else. After a whole year of making $0 online, I turned to the Wealthy Affiliate and I couldn’t be happier. They don’t advertise any “shiny” stuff, but boy does it work. I recommend it to anyone who is ready to make money online or is still trying to make money!
I agree with you, John. I spent over $80,000 on shiny stuff. I stopped doing that once I came across Wealthy Affiliate! (and, actually, that is when I started making money online in real terms)
It’s sad how many people want to run before they can walk. They need to follow your advice on building a strong foundation and you’ve outlined them here in very simple words.
Hey Faithe, this was an excellent read! In past business ventures, the mistake I consistently made was not using an email address that was not domain specific. The other mistake was thinking I could set up a website without any experience. I’m sure you can imagine how quickly I stopped when I saw all the coding I would have had to do in order to make the page look the way I wanted. I agree, WordPress is definitely the way to go and it is not difficult to get everything organized and in place, especially when you have Wealthy Affiliate guiding you. They have been nothing short of awesome I would recommend anyone who is interesting in starting a business from square one to check it out!
My question to you involves setting up email lists. You mentioned some tools that would assist in that process. Would they by any chance be available as plugins through WordPress or is it something you would have to get at their site and sync your website to it? Thank you in advance for your response, and again, awesome read!
Hi Jorge, thanks for the comments. Regarding your question about email lists, they are handled by third-party providers, such as MailChimp, GetResponse, Aweber, etc. They house and maintain your lists, your email follow up series, and any single emails you might want to send the list. They give you stats on your mailings and allow split-testing (sending half your list one email and the other half a different email to see which one does better). No plugin for WordPress is going to handle all of that. The list of names and emails that you send would really beef up your database and make you site slower, even if it was possible. Having said that, these companies do provide easy ways to integrate their forms (where people put in their name and email) with WordPress.
I agree that it is easy to get distracted by email and social media. Clearing yourself of those things will better allow you to concentrate on the more important tasks of learning and applying what you have learned.
Thanks for the great tips
Great article Faithe, especially the tip about getting hosting before the domain name, your first freebie right there! Thanks for the tips!
Excellent step-by-step guide about starting an online business!
I found a lot of useful information that I didn’t know before, so I will definitely go ahead and check out the tools/services that you recommended here.
Thank you for sharing!
Founder of Life In Kaizen Style Blog
Thanks for the comments. It always surprises me how few coaches/trainers share this basic info. Glad I could help.