So you have a computer and an idea and you want to start an online business or blog, or maybe both. You have heard about the “Laptop Lifestyle” and after you start making great money, you can “Fire Your Boss”. That’s all well and good but you have no idea what you need to do and how to start-up that online presence. You have read that setting it up is easy and you can do it for free and you don’t need a website or anything special to get going. Well, you know what, that can be true but deep down you know that it probably isn’t. Remember, if it’s free then there is probably a catch, and the catch is that all that free stuff isn’t yours. You don’t own it. It’s not your “Digital Asset”, somebody else owns it and they are letting you use it. Plus, the version that you will be using has severe limitations and the feature set is very short. Maybe you can only write one blog post a week, or maybe your word count is limited. It could be that you can’t advertise any products and if you can sell products you have to use the owner’s payment gateway and they take a big percentage of your sale. The list can go on and on, but remember this, The two most important Digital Assets that you will ever own are your website and your email list. I’ll say that again. The two most important Digital Assets that you will ever own are your website and your email list. Why? Because you own the real estate, your website. And you own your money making ability, your customer list. That’s it, and it means that you can make offers on your website and email your customers about those offers. Your customers buy the offer from you and you only have to pay a small percentages to your payment gateway provider. What could ever be sweeter than that. Nothing that I know of and I have had my own businesses for several decades. Online selling and blogging are two of the most lucrative businesses available today and it will stay that way for many, many years to come. With billions of people on the Internet daily, online activity is 24/7/365 and the amount of users will continue to grow.
Listed below, are what I believe are the “5 Most Important Steps” you need to take to start an online business or blog.
1. Find a Niche:
This is number one because the following steps can depend on this one and this is what your undertaking is all about. There is a exception to this rule but we will get to that. All the experts here say “What’s Your Passion”. I think that’s BS, because nobody’s passion, when they start out, is some sub niche that they don’t even know exists. If you are going into this, and let’s say that you once coached a kid’s baseball team and you know the one and only secret to turn a kid into an Instant Mike Trout or Justin Verlander, that’s great, you have your million dollar idea. But if you are just into baseball and want to write about that, you will find out that you need to drill down a little farther into that niche. That is not usually a passion. Baseball is the passion but the niche that you need to be in in most every case is not. The good news is you don’t need to do the drill down today, just get an idea of what your niche will be so you can think about it and start to build a mind map.
2. Buy a domain:
Remember, this will be your first “Digital Asset”. It’s not life or death whether you get this right the first time. Domains are cheap and you can always buy another one. That said, try to buy a domain that is your name. If all the domains with you name are taken, then add something to your name like blog, online, marketing or even innercircle. You want to use your name because you can also use your picture on the website and it makes the whole thing more personal. Readers, followers and customers like to have a personal connection with the people that they read about or buy from. Think about it, how many times have you bought an automobile from some salesman that you don’t like. More than likely, never. You let that salesperson shows you all the features and give you a test drive, and then you head down the road and buy somewhere else. It’s the same thing on a website, visitors land on the site and if they like what they see they stay. If they don’t like what they see, they leave. My advice is to use your name as your first domain name because visitors are looking for a personal connection.
3. Purchase Hosting:
This is a step that you can’t overlook and it causes a lot of headaches because you don’t know what makes a good hosting company. First off, all hosting companies have different packages and the choices are endless. The good news is that you can buy a basic package and upgrade as your business grows. How do you find a great hosting company? Ask people what they use. Ask your friends, ask your Facebook group and read online reviews. When I started, I bought a lifetime hosting deal from a company for unlimited websites. The price was pretty good but I found out quickly that the customer support was poor and the servers were slow. After that I looked around and asked a lot of people for their opinions. In the end I found a hosting company that had been in business for quite a while, had a good customer service reputation and a good uptime reputation. The added bonus was that all the plans that they offered had really good website load times. So, do your homework here and “Choose Wisely”, because it is a bit of a pain in the butt to move all your sites to a new host later.
4. Choose a Platform:
This is a no brainer, Choose WordPress.org. Most every hosting company offers Word Press as a download on their cPanel. Go with it.
5. Sign-up with one or more Payment Gateways:
The first choice here is PayPal because it is an industry leader. Stripe is a credit card processor that is a big player on the Internet. There are others out there. Square is good and I use and continue to use PayPal, Stripe and Square. If you expect a lot of international sales, then Payoneer is good and so is 2Checkout. The choices here are many and in most cases you can’t go wrong if you stay with the big names. Again, research is key, but I would always choose PayPal.
Well, those are the “Gang of Five”, and if you are starting out, you need to get these steps done. One, thing that I will point out is that if you use your own name for you domain, that you can put off you niche selection. A website like joemitchellonline.com really doesn’t say what niche you are in, it just personalizes the user experience.
If you are interested in finding out my suggestions for domain purchase, hosting company and just about anything else that has to do with your start-up, just email me at email@example.com.
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