When I first started my online business, I did everything I could to save a little money — I didn’t want a domain name, not even for a mere $35/year (it was expensive back then!), and I certainly didn’t want to pay recurring monthly fees for a web host.
That was a mistake. What I came to realize was simply that if I wasn’t willing to make these small investments — well, I just wasn’t in the position to be starting a business. Sometimes the truth hurts!
I came to accept that I could learn from the experiences of successful online entrepreneurs. From them, I learned that it just doesn’t help to try to ‘cut corners’ on certain things. So what are some of the things you need to get started on the ‘net?
- Your own domain. At GoDaddy, you can register a domain for a mere $8.95/year. There is NO excuse not to have your own domain at these rock- bottom prices! Your own domain will help your business build credibility — plus, it’s easier to remember a simple www.yourcompany.com then something like,www.afreedomain.com/userpages/~yourname/homedir!
- Web hosting. Don’t skimp on it, but don’t get a whole bunch of features you don’t need, either. Be willing to spend money for a reliable web host with a great uptime record, one that can offer you excellent customer service. Start your research at TopHosts.
- Website stats. Knowing who your visitors are, how they’re finding your site, which pages they’re viewing most, etc. will help you to refine your site and your marketing efforts. Check with your web host first to see what type of website stats or demographics they offer with your hosting package. Other options include the AXS Visitor Tracking System, and WebLog. Both are currently free.
- Ad tracker. An ad tracker will help you to see which one of your marketing campaigns is giving you the best results. For example, how much response are you getting from your ad on a website? How much interest did your article generate? You can then focus your efforts on the marketing techniques that are giving you the results you want — and dump those that aren’t. AdTrackz is one of many options.
- Autoresponders. These excellent tools help to automate customer follow-ups (you *do* follow up with your prospects, right?) and other tasks, such as mailing out articles or reports to visitors who request them. They typically run about $20/month… but I like the excellent ListMail Pro, which is available for a one-time fee at the time of writing.
- List hosts. You may already know that capturing your prospect’s email address is the one of the most important things you can do — it gives you the ability to build a credible and trusting business ‘relationship’ with them, and you’ll be able to market to them repeatedly. Many Internet businesses offer a newsletter to keep in touch with their customers. To deliver your newsletter you can use either an autoresponder (see above) or a list manager. Yahoo Groups is a popular choice for people on a budget. Again, I prefer ListMail Pro, which doubles as both a list host and an autoresponder.
Note that free tools aren’t necessarily either the best or worst choice, and they’re not guaranteed to be free forever. Please don’t use price as your only criteria.
And finally, don’t forget about investing in two more vital keys to success: education (for example, copywriting manuals, Internet marketing courses, etc) and marketing. All of the best tools in the world won’t do you any good unless you can get interested prospects to visit your site and make a purchase.
The old saying, ‘You have to spend money to make money’ is true of businesses everywhere… and that includes the Internet. Fortunately, starting a business online can be very affordable, even for the ‘average’ person.