5 Easy Steps To Start An Online Business

Posted by markpage on Saturday Apr 24, 2010 Under Business Articles

Select A Business & Domain Name

5 Easy Steps To Start An Online BusinessWhen it comes to selecting an online business name there are many things to take into consideration. You need to think of the type of product and/or service that you are offering your visitors. The more niche of a market you are selling to, the higher of the odds that people who find your site and purchasing are significantly increased.

When choosing a domain name you would use what your product and/or service offers within the domain name. This helps the search engines to figure out exactly what you are trying to sell and direct the correct customers to your site.

If you are selling something such as electronics, this would be a hard market to break into because of current over saturation. Being a little bit more specific, buy selling only televisions might help. So when it comes to the domain name you would want to be creative with your domain name. You want to keep this name sweet and simple, something easy for everyone to read and understand like johnscheaptvs.com. Your domain name should never be more than 4-6 words at most, most people will not be able to remember you at a later date, such as johnsreallycheapdiscountalmostfreetvs.com.

  • TV.com
  • TVs.com
  • CheapTVs.com
  • BuyTVs.com
  • BuyCheapTVs.com

Adding a descriptive term to a domain name will always help. A lot of people search for items using terms like the following:

  • Online
  • Cheap
  • Buy
  • Used
  • Best
  • Discount

Hire A Web Design Professional

Select A Domain NameThis can be one of the trickiest parts of starting your business since there are so many options out there for new entrepreneurs. A lot of people try and start off with free options that are available to everyone who wants to ‘just get online’. This of course is the worst route to take and 99.9% of the time it doesn’t work at all. These free options usually are not streamlined for search engines they’re more geared towards being easy for someone to copy and paste their content into a template.

After most people try the free options they look into paying a freelance web designer or corporate design company to design and put together their sites for them. Figuring out which one to go with can be tricky because there are both pros and cons with each.

Freelance web designers (non-corporate design companies) can offer a lot of hand holding, advanced graphic development, access to the newest and most advanced development techniques and expert support with web designers that always care about their clients. Without their clients, they wouldn’t be in business either. This is typically the option that most business owners go with but typically freelance designers are more expensive.

A lot of the time a freelance designer has more years of experience within the web design industry than the corporate web design companies who usually hire low paid employees out of high school, use out-sourced employees in other countries or they have unpaid college interns.

Choose A Web Hosting Company

Web Site HostingThis step is pretty simple to get through. There are a lot of options out there but you should know what options you need upfront. If you are a start up business that isn’t going to get a lot of traffic at first, buy the cheapest package that a company offers. Never spend more than $10 per month on web hosting when you first start out. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as; needing a mail exchange, needing a dedicated server, needing daily/weekly backups or having website update (having a web designer make monthly changes to your site) time rolled into your monthly hosting. When you can save on your overhead, this is just money in your pocket.

When looking to find a hosting company you should first look at what they offer compared to other companies and look at their price difference. There should always be a reason for a price difference. All web hosts should offer 24/7 technical support that should either be accessible by phone or web chat. Always test out a webhost before choosing them, give them a call or try to chat with them at obscure times or multiple times, like in the middle of the night just to say “hello”.

Your web hosting company should also offer a money back guarantee for the first 30 days. This will allow you to ‘test drive’ the hosting to see if you would like to stay with them. Always keep in mind that paying for hosting for a year or more in advance will save you a lot of cash. But look into the terms of paying upfront, some companies will allow you to pay for a year upfront, but if you want to cancel 6 months into your contract you may not be entitled to any refund. This is a great scam that a lot of companies like to use, but you can always find this somewhere in their Terms Of Service (TOS).

A really big thing to look for, though most people don’t think of it, is making sure that your host can handle any upgrades that you will most likely need in the future. As people’s website grows, they normally add additional enhanced features such as databases with the ability to handle coding languages such as PHP, ASP and Ruby. Most web hosts should offer a large abundance of extra features, such as a large number of email addresses, Spam and Virus scanning within emails, protected directories and more.

You can also look through a web host directory listing, most now rate how well a web host scores by certain factors, but then again most web host directories are run by major corporations to advertise their own hosting, or some just pay for the listing.

I offer Web Hosting in Metro St. Louis with the cheapest prices you will ever see, considering what you get. Technical support and emails are totally free.

Setup A Form of Communication

Setup A Form of CommunicationYour customers are going to need to contact you, of course. But how customers want to contact you can vary greatly because everyone is different. Having a broad range of ways a customer can contact you is highly suggested. If you can offer your customers an email address, a phone number, a chat system and even a fax or physical address, your customers will trust you a lot more and will be more inclined to use your service or purchase your products.


Setting up an email address is of course the easiest and everyone on the internet has at least one email address. Every web hosting package should come with at least one email address for free. You should create a general box for all customers such as contact@yourdomain.com, but if you can have more specific email addresses this might help your employees as well, so if you can create others such as billing@yourdomain.com or returns@yourdomain.com it will help both parties.

Phone Number

Phone numbers are also a great form of communication that most people look for when purchasing from a website or wanting to contact a company about more questions or purchasing. Having a toll free number would be the best case because not everyone pays for long distance and people normally don’t want to pay for a phone call. A fax number would also be good to have because there are a lot of people that still like to use this service. In some cases it is necessary for things such as signing documents. But if it is not truly necessary for your business you don’t need to have one for a website.

Live Chat

Having a live chat system is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to satisfy your customer’s needs to contact you. A live chat system will allow a business owner or an employee to sit behind a computer and take individual chats with customers. The great thing about this option is the employee doesn’t even have to be in an office to answer chats, saving money for themselves and money for the company.

Start To Advertise Your Website

Start to Advertise Your SiteJust because this is the last step doesn’t mean that as a business owner you should consider your website done. Having a website on the internet is kind of like having a brick and mortar store in an alley with no parking and no signs. How many people do you think will find you? Not many, we assure you.

After your site has been setup and all of your means of contact have been setup, you need to start to advertise your website. Now business owners have a lot more options as to how they want to go about doing this. Search engine optimization, pay-per-click, press releases and social networking are just a few ways that you can go about getting the word out about your website.

Most businesses owners don’t have time. Time is what we all fight to make the most of but never have enough of. When it comes to advertising for your website, it’s best to leave it to the professionals who do it every day for a living. They will always know what’s best for your online business and typically they want to offer services that will make you want to come back and repurchase. But sometimes you will run into companies that offer a whole lot but deliver something inferior.

Search Engine Optimization

When it comes to search engine optimization, beware of working with companies who offer to get you to the number one spot and that say they can do it within a month or less.  These companies use techniques to complete their procedures that are considered ‘black hat techniques’ and if search engines catch on (and they always do), they can ban you and you will never be unbanned. It all reality if you pay for search engine optimization it can take up to 10 months for the changes the company made to start populating results. This of course is on the long end of the scale, but 6 months would be a good average. The reason for this is the algorithm that search engines use, not everything is constantly updated. Search engines are slow, which makes them a reliable source for everyone to use. If every person signed up for $50 to get ranked #1 there wouldn’t be any trust within the search engines because every result would be a paid result. It’s all about quality content that is fresh. This option is expensive typically but it’s a long term investment that will pay off in the end. Most users click on organic search results more often than paid search results. Having both organic and paid search results is optimal.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to drive traffic instantly to your site if you don’t want or can’t wait for search engine optimization to start working. This option is a lot cheaper than email blasting and a lot more effective. With pay-per-click advertising you can target very specific traffic, down to a specific city/state/zip, age range and other great options. These listings will also be seen above and to the right of the organic listings to these listing will stick out more. The more visible your link is the better the odds that someone will click on it. These clicks, though they can be expensive at times, are quality leads. If your ad is worded correctly and clearly the person who clicked on the link is giving you the chance to make a sale because you are offering what they are looking for.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing (email blasts) are a great way to advertise to current customers or customers that have shown an interest in your product or service. In some forms, this can be considered spamming so who you advertise to and how to do this needs to be kept legitimate. Mass marketing to an email database that you purchased is using a shotgun effect that rarely works. If your email is sent to the spam box, your emails will most likely not be read. How many times have you gone through your spam box and read the messages? But if you have an email list of people who want to receive your emails, this is a great opportunity to sell to them. Sending large amounts of emails is cheap so the main cost for this would be the development and design of these emails. Having a designer create these using your branding will create a more professional feel and a highly desirable look to these emails.

Social Networking

Social networking is one of the many ways you should advertise your site, but this should not be the only way you advertise.  If you have a MySpace or Facebook account, you most likely have a business in your liked groups. This will post any updates from that business directly into your news feed. This type of marketing is totally free, unless you pay someone to write and post these ads for you. If you could have a Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few other social networking account and you are posting through them, you will get visitors. People are receptive to what is written, so the more you write the better off you will be. A lot of companies are now hiring writers to do this for them all day long, the results are always positive when companies do this.

Taking everything in all at once can be overwhelming so any professional will always recommend having someone do it for you. This will always be faster and more effective.

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