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A step-by-step guide on how to set up an online business

There are a million different ways to start an online business and just as many opinions on how to do so. The matter of fact is that there’s no perfect recipe. However, some steps are more necessary and important than others. This guide is a very simplified beginners guide on how everyone can start building an online business and which tools can help you get there!

1. Make sure you fill a need

This is the most important part of starting a new business. In order for your business to succeed it is vital that your business fulfills a need or a gap in the market. Do your market research before starting. Do a keyword search online, read relevant online forums and talk to your potential target markets in order to understand their actual pains and needs.

2. Choose the right platform:

First, you need a tool, that can easily help you create the actual website. There are different ways to do it but the important thing is to choose a framework, which you are comfortable with and can easily manage. Simplicity is key if you’re a rookie – don’t go overboard!

There are several platforms that allow you to easily build a website. Research which ones fulfill your needs. Shopify is good if you’re looking to open an online store and WordPress offers more freedom and simple templates. It all depends on how complex and simple you need the website to be.

3. Get a domain and web hosting

In order to connect your WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace or any other website you need to do two things:

  1. Get a domain name (this is your web address www.yourname.com)
  2. Get a hosting service (connects your website to the internet)

This can be done in several different places. Check out GoDaddy or Bluehost

4. Build and design compelling website

Spend time and energy on writing copy that sells. The text on your website needs to be compelling but also needs to work with pictures and videos on your website. No one will ever read a website full of text only. There are many ways to make your visitors compelled to purchase your product or service.

  • Describe the problem your product is solving and establish yourself as a credible solver of this problem.
  • It is also a good idea to add testimonials from previous customers.
  • Create urgency. Figure out how you can make the potential customers purchase your product right away instead of waiting. Maybe make an offer that will expire or a special discount code.
  • Make a strong guarantee. This could be a satisfaction guarantee, free return shipping if the customers aren’t happy with the product.
  • Always use top quality visual elements. This is essential for the success of any online business.

5. Generate traffic to your site

Now that your website is ready to go, then you need to generate some traffic. There are endless ways to attract potential customers to your website.

Beneath is a list of the 10 most popular ways to generate traffic to your online businesses. It will give you a quick overview of ways to promote your website or gain traction.

SEO: Get visible on Google, Bing and other search engines. This is key if you want people to find your website through search. Be aware that this is a very time-consuming task and it takes time to get a good ranking.

Social media: Target your primary target audience through advertising on social media. This is easy and can be done by everyone. Create a ‘company page’ on the relevant networks and promote it. There are dozens of methods to promote your brand through advertising on social media. Test which platform is most appropriate for your business depending on your target market.

Blog: Starting a blog may help you generate some traffic. However, it is a time-consuming job and may not help you obtain the results that you are hoping for. However, it is a great way to build trust towards your brand amongst the readers. You can also contact relevant blogs and ask if you can be a guest blogger on external sites to create some traffic back to your own website.

Influencers and ambassadors: Find people with a big amount of followers (who are mainly within your target market), who either blog or post on social media. Getting them to promote your business or product also helps to create credibility amongst your target market. Today, there are several paid online services that you can use to find the right influencers for your business. This may be a great help if you don’t know where to begin but you can also just contact them directly on their social accounts.

Press release: Write a press release and get it out there! This may be a hit or miss depending on your business but you might as well send it to your local newspapers, blogs or upload it on relevant sites.

PR: Try and find a unique angle or story about your business (it needs some kind of news value). Don’t make it just about your business. What’s newsworthy about it? Find the most relevant journalist from the news sites, magazines or blogs and write them a personal message.

Join an online community: This can be time-consuming but also rewarding depending on your business. Find a relevant community and gain the trust of the members. Help out where you can and answer people’s questions and link to your site whenever it’s relevant. Contribute with content that’s relating to your product/ business but try not to be too promotional.

Videos: Videos are proven to be highly engaging. Create good quality videos and post them on the relevant platforms. This can be a promotional video, a tutorial etc. Website visitors will be more likely to convert on your website if you include a video.

Photo marketing: If you have a physical product then take some high-quality photos and post them on social networks that are focussing on photo content. Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr are great for this.

E-mail marketing: When you are building an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets for your business. Use emails to retain and do remarketing to customers. This is a chance for you to communicate directly and personally to your target audience.

6. Analyze and track your progress

When you’re all set up and are generating traffic to your website it’s time for optimization. Your website and overall digital presence can always be better! You can always convert more customers and generate more sales. However, it can be quite difficult to figure out where to begin and what to improve.

Finding the right analytics tools all depends on how sensitive you are with your data and your customers’ privacy and level of expertise. If you want to get more out of your web analytics and might be a bit unsure how. Then check out how to get more out of your analytics here.

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