Okay here we go, here is a quick check list for everything you need to get your online business started, off the ground, and making money:
- Your business profit plan: What value (product or service) you will deliver in exchange for money.
- Domain name: www.yourstore.com.
- Hosting Company: I recommend and prefer Hostgator (This is where your domain lives)
- Website - I recommend Weebly.
- Payment processor (How you'll collect money from customers)
- Email service: I recommend Mailchimp.com -It's free and simple
- Traffic source. Ways to get visitors to your site. (Google, Facebook, word of mouth etc...)
Those are the basics you'll need for your business to operate and generate income.
I'll cover ALL those topics in more detail in just a minute. I just wanted you to have a mental little checklist that will help you see the big picture of all that goes into your business/website.
Ok, let's get started!
Alright! You got the ball rolling, things are happening - now let's pick a name for your business!
Here's another topic I have a strong opinion on (imagine that!)
When it comes to naming your business I think there are a few best practices:
- Make it clear
- Make sure it sounds good as a domain name
- Easy to spell
- No guessing as to what you do
A few examples:
One of my clients is "Cheapest Auto Insurance."
Can you guess what service they provide? That's right! The Cheapest car insurance. You will have the best deal if you go with them. You know that instantly.
As opposed to naming their business after the last name like some people do: "Dougherty's Insurance."
Okay, well I know it's insurance so that's good. But if someone tried to tell me about it I don't know how to spell their last name so it would be hard to find online since there are multiple spellings of that last name. They also sound like any other insurance company out there.
Another example: I sell net guns. So my site is www.TheNetGunStore.com. -Easy, clear and concise.
You don't want customers to have to guess what you do, or have to explain how to spell it. Trust me.
A friend of mine started a website design company called, "Tastemaker Creative." He soon found out that 9 out of 10 people kept mishearing him on the phone and in person. "Faithmaker creative? Faithtester? Taste...what?" It happened so many times he changed the name.
If you have an Irish last name like O'sherigan, remember that you will have to spell that out for everyone, every time. And then people will ask if they need to put the apostrophe in the domain name, on and on...
It's best to stick with simple. For everyone's sake!
Keep it simple, but also don't get TOO hung up on the name.
I personally think it's important to not "fall in love" with a business name. Maybe from the conception of your business idea you always had a name you thought would be great for the business, but after reading this you realize:
- It's not that clear
- I'd have to spell it out for people when they ask for my website
- It takes me several minutes to explain what my business does
Then strongly consider changing it. This is seen most often when you want to name your business after a relative, a family name, your mom's maiden name etc...
If you have always dreamed of naming your business O'Sherigan's after your great grandpa, then think about what happens when you meet someone at a party and they ask you what you do:
Person: "Oh hi, I'm Jennifer, what do you do for a living?"
You: "I am an online entrepreneur. I have a website O'Sherigan's.com and I sell high-end, leather wallets."
Person: "Oh wow that's awesome! I've been looking for a gift for my husband, what's your website again?"
Person: "Okay great, I'm going to look that up when I get home and if I like what I see, I'll place an order."
Now at this point you have two options:
- Hope she guesses how to spell your domain correctly. Does she know you don't put an apostrophe after the O or after the N? Because technically your website will be www.osherigans.com. Does she know it's only one R, or is it double G's - Osheriggans?...She doesn't know and probably won't find your site, and you'll lose the sale.
- Have her write it down and you spell it out for her. Which is a time waster and trust me, after awhile, you'll get tired of doing this and question if you picked the right name for your company.
My point is, if research (and common sense) showed that changing the name of my business from my beloved O'Sherigan's to www.highendleatherwallets.com would increase my site traffic, my sales conversions, AND my profits - then let's make the change.
To be 100% honest with you, the purpose of the business you're creating is to make money. If changing the name from the one you've dreamed of will make you more money. I'm going to do it.
Of course the name is important, but we don't want it to hold us up. We don't want deciding on the "perfect name" to take days or weeks or months.
For now, go with something simple and direct.
And later on, if you decide to change it, you can.
When first starting out we will want to pick a website builder that is:
- Easy to use for a beginner
- Does not require any coding or tech experience
- Looks great
- Built in payment processor
- Has very little startup costs
That being said, there are really 3 main website builders out there right now. (There are more but these fit our criteria best)
For this course, I'm going to be showing you how to build websites in Weebly.
It's EXTREMELY easy to use, has a drag n drop editor
I built my first several websites on Weebly and it's been good to me over the years. I still use it to this day for a few of my sites.
I have built websites in Wix and Squarespace and I don't have any complaints about them. Feel free to do your own research if you'd like to explore a different avenue, but here I'll be recommending and teaching from Weebly. (They are all somewhat similar, so even if you go with another platform, these videos will give you the info you need to be successful with the other companies as well)
I'll show you how to use Weebly to build your site in a minute, but first...
Let me give you a quick rundown of what's next:
1.We need to purchase and setup your domain name. Think of your domain as the place where your website lives. It's like the address to your house. This is your www._________.com. You can do this through a company like GoDaddy, Hostgator or just go through Weebly. (It's a little more work but I like to buy my domains with a company like GoDaddy, that way it's easier to leave Weebly later on if you decide to switch website builders)
2. Then we need to setup a hosting company. Think of your host as the electric company that supplies the power to your house. (your website) I recommend and personally use Hostgator for this. I like them because they have GREAT customer service, I've been happy every single time I've reached out to them, AND because they have an affordable monthly plan. (About $12 a month) I have about 10 websites through them. (Or you can have Weebly host your site)
3. Then we need to connect the two: Your hosting account and the domain name you've purchased. We can do this right inside hostgator itself. (You'll contact Hostgator's support team and they'll walk you through this)
4. Start your Weebly website.
5. Then you'll be set up and ready to rock and roll!
Watch this video here and I'll show you how to buy your domain name:
SIDE NOTE: Now, I do recommend using a hosting account because it gives you more control long term, BUT - if you absolutely don't have the extra $12 in your budget, you can skip this for now and weebly will host your site for a small fee.
If you have any questions on this part, your website builder will walk you through it. They are always changing, adapting and making their processes better, so instead of me walking you through it, you'll get the most accurate directions by going through their "help" sections if you get stuck on this section.
But rest assured, they've simplified the process and it's very easy to setup.
As a starter guide, your first basic website needs to be comprised of just a few elements:
- Home page
- Store page (If applicable)
- Blog page (If applicable)
- About page
- Contact page
- Opportunity to get on your email list
Take a deep breath, watch the video below and let's dive into your first website! (I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is!)
This is a comprehensive video that covers all of the following:
1. Signing up for and starting your first Weebly website
2. At the 24 minute mark: How to connect your website to Stripe and start taking payments! Also covers info on setting up your store on the backend.
3. At the 28 minute mark: I explain how to "upgrade" your Weebly account to the starter, pro, or business packages. There is a small fee to do this BUT in my opinion, totally worth it. This allows you to use your own domain name (that you purchased earlier) instead of using weebly's domain. (ex: www.shirtcannon.weebly.com)
-This upgrade is totally optional. You can do this part after you've built out your website a little more, or go ahead and get it done now. Either way is fine.
SIDENOTE: Once you do upgrade and "connect to a domain you already own" (see video below) Weebly will send you an instructional email, and you will need to call or open an online chat with Weebly support to help complete this process. They will walk you through a few changes you will make in your hosting account to connect your domain/hosting to your new Weebly site. Don't let this intimidate you. It's simple and they show you how to do it, and it only takes a few minutes!
Now let's get on with the video!
Click here and let's get started building your first site! (Affiliate link)
As you saw in the previous lesson's video (at about the 28 minute mark) I briefly walk you through connecting your Weebly website with Stripe.com which will be your credit card processor.
This is a part that often intimidates people. It's not scary, it's actually super easy. I'll show you in the video below. Now, no matter what program you use to take payments just know and understand that they will take a small percentage of the sale price as their free. Usually around 2.5%, don't let this bother you. It's just the cost of doing business.
There are two main credit card processors you'll need to be aware of:
In the video from the previous lesson I showed you how to connect stripe to your weebly website. Stripe is great program, and I like their app for you iphone.
Stripe is a more "bare bones" payment processor, but that's what I like. They keep it simple and sleek. They don't require the customer to enter as much info as Paypal so it's a faster, more smooth process for your customers to check out.
The second option is Paypal. I like Paypal a lot. They are THE biggest and most popular online payment processor by far. Now, you do have to upgrade your weebly account in order to use them, but there are advantages to going with Paypal.
I do suggest you go ahead and set up a Paypal account just in case. Paypal has a lot of options and customizations, it also allows you to email your customers a custom invoice if your product varies in price or if you're charging for some kind of a service.
Over 70 million people have joined Paypal so it's a brand and a name that people know, like and trust. This can help people during the checkout process. When people are buying your stuff they need to know they can trust you. Having the Paypal logo near your checkout button helps with this as well.
I personally use both Stripe and Paypal depending on my website so I suggest you go ahead and set up and account with both. Your bank account will thank you!
If you're looking to sell ebooks and information products, I recommend using Gumroad.com
They make everything simple, clean and easy. The video below is just a quick rundown of how an "information product" business works.
Information products include:
- Online courses (like this one!)
- PDF guides or checklists
- Membership sites (people pay you recurring monthly)
Information products are a GREAT way to get started (and honestly one of my favorite business models) because they don't require much money up front, and on the back end, each sale is 100% profit.
To get started selling an book:
- Type up your ebook in Google Docs or Microsoft Word (or whatever your Word processor preference may be)
- Save your work as a PDF
- Sign up for your account at Gumroad.com
- Follow the instructions in the video below, upload your PDF to gumroad
- Copy and paste the "embed code" into your Weebly site
- Get ready to sell!
Below that I'll show you how to quickly setup and install your first information product in gumroad and sell it on your weebly website.
This video will show you how to setup, install and start selling your first your information product:
So what exactly makes a "good" website?
Probably the biggest mistake I see is a new business comes out and they often go one of two ways:
- They focus too much on their website's looks
- Or they don't focus enough on their website's looks
Here's what I mean: The goal of your website is to MAKE SALES. You created this website business because you want to make money right?
THAT should be the goal of your website. To exchange something of value that you offer, for money.
Your focus IS NOT to have a pretty website. Yes, you want your site to look good, but the MOST important thing about your website is that it needs to convert browsers into buyers.
Pretty websites do not always equal high converting websites.
So in order to find the balance, I've comprised some points below followed by some examples.
These are a few of the basics you need to make sure your website contains:
- A clear and concise title. People need to know where they've landed.
- Right up front your website needs to tell your customer EXACTLY what benefits you will be giving them. Don't be vague. Be very direct here. Example: "Custom baby clothes for our tiniest football fans." Or, "Teaching Christians How to Live a Life of Increase and Purpose."
- BIG pretty pictures. There's a link in the next module for great places to find nice, big pictures for your site. Pictures matter, especially the presentation of your product. It needs to look high end. Usually a white background comes across better when taking product pictures. Here's a good article on taking product photos with your phone: Product photo tips
- For the background of your site, try to stay with light colors. Dark color backgrounds (for the most part) indicate older websites. It's pretty easy to spot an old tired website these days and a lot of them have dark backgrounds. So stay toward the lighter colors.
- Use a minimum of size 14 font.
- You need a way for people to sign up for your email list. In this course I teach you how to use Mailchimp for this. Make sure you have several opportunities for people to get on your list. (This is vital to long term success)
- Way to take payment (Stripe/Paypal)
Here are some great examples of websites built on the weebly platform. Extract from these examples and use them as motivation:
Watch this video as I point out some things that make a website GREAT:
Adopt this mindset that online mega business coach Marie Forleo says:
"Everything is figureoutable"
When it comes to online business (and just life in general) there is a basic skill we need to have in our tool belts that will help us be more successful faster.
We need to "learn how to learn."
What I mean: All the answers you are looking for are available either on Google or on YouTube.
Don't let ANYTHING hang you up or slow you down from making progress on your business. I learned most of what I know by googling very specific questions and lo and behold - the answers were out there!
Seriously, when you get hung up on something, go to google and type in your questions.
Be specific like: "How do I change the shipping charges on my weebly website?"
Or, "How do I create a pop-up on my weebly website?"
Even, "How do I send emails to my list using Mailchimp?"
If you have a problem or a hang ups, odds are so have many others. And thankfully you can find the answers out there easily through forums and articles from people who have already solved your problem. You'll be amazed at what you can find!
I simply don't want you to feel overwhelmed. Again, if you start to feel stuck or have questions, google it or YouTube it and watch a video on how to fix it.
If you need help on your Weebly website, they have quick help available on their support page. During normal office hours they have customer support available through an online chat box and they will walk you through any problem!
Don't get intimidated, don't disqualify yourself, don't get discouraged.
Just get determined to figure this out and know you got this, don't quit! Your breakthrough is just around the corner!