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The Ultimate Guide to Online Business — Part 6

Technology toolbox: Simple tools to make your first $10,000 online

Technology toolbox: Simple tools to make your first $10,000 online
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If you’re not “tech savvy,” then you are going to love this section.

You’re about to get a step-by-step breakdown of exactly what to do and where to go to get your first website up and running. Then, you’ll get the list of online business tools and resources I used to turn a blog that sold nothing into a multimillion-dollar business.

This guide will save you a ton of time down the road. And show you how simple and easy building an online business can be.

Before I give you my recommendations though, keep two things in mind.

1. Don't nickel-and-dime with service providers. Pay for the right service and move on so you can spend your energy on growing your business.

2. Reliability is priceless. Cheaper services might save you $10 per month — until you really need them. Imagine after months of work, you finally score a guest post on Huffington Post, get a ton of traffic to your website, and then your site crashes. Those few bucks just cost you hundreds of subscribers and thousands of dollars in revenue. Pay a little extra and sleep well at night.

Create your first website in 4 easy steps

Step 1: Your domain

The first thing you need is your web domain, or URL. If you don’t have one yet, I recommend picking something simple and straightforward. Don’t make the mistake I made and create the scammiest sounding website ever: iwillteachyoutoberich.com

Here are some good examples to get your brain thinking:

  • masalabody.com
  • howtobeinstantlyirresistible.com
  • 10xtravel.com
  • wtfprofessor.com
  • amotherfarfromhome.com
  • freelancetowin.com

To see if the domain you want is available and to purchase it, I recommend going to Hover.com.

Success Story

Maria B.

Business summary: Habits coach with a unique approach to fitness. Created 2 online courses and authored 2 books.

Results: Has 100,000 monthly readers, and an email list of 13,000 subscribers.

Read Maria's story

Maria B.: Habits coach with a unique approach to fitness. Created 2 online courses and authored 2 books.

Step 2: Web hosting: WP Engine

Next, you'll need to set up your web host for your website.

One popular hosting option is HostGator, though you can often get hosting through whatever site-build you use. For example, I recommend WP Engine for students building their site through WordPress (we’ll cover what site-builders to use later).

WP Engine

Since you’re just starting, you can go with low-cost options. For example, if you’re using WP Engine, then sign up for the Personal option. As your business grows and you get more traffic, you can upgrade to a higher level.

NOTE: Once you have a domain and host, you’ll need to connect the two so your domain points to your site. I won’t go into detail on that here, but if you get stuck, know that companies like Hover and WP Engine have excellent customer support and can help you.

Step 3: Build your website

Now that you have a place for your site to live online, it’s time to actually build it. I’ll break down some of the top site-builders to use shortly. But I recommend WordPress for most people. It’s what I use and fantastic if you plan to blog regularly.

Step 4: Web design

Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend $3,000 on web design when you’re just starting. You can get some beautiful, professional-looking templates that do the job fine for much cheaper.

The free themes you see on a site like WordPress don’t look great. But for a little bit of money you can get a clean, professional look. One theme I recommend is Genesis at Studiopress.com

Genesis

Genesis is a great design for new websites

Congratulations! You now have your own website up and running.

Down the road, you’ll need more online business tools for creating products, managing email, and customer support. Here’s a list of the resources I use and recommend that will help you scale your online business from $10,000/year to $10,000/month, to $10,000/day.

The Technology Toolbox

Stripe

Payment system

Camtasia

Creating your audio/video products

PowerPoint

PowerPoint slides (for video products)

Wistia

Storing audio/video content

WishList

Membership site


Save hours — even days — of browsing the internet for the best online business tools to use. Download this list as a handy PDF.

Top 5 website-builders for beautiful sites on a budget

While I recommend WordPress for most people, the fact is that may not be the best choice for everyone. For example, if your goal is to sell physical products online, you may prefer Shopify.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the options available to you.

1. WordPress — The world’s most popular site-builder

Wordpress

Go to wordpress.org

WordPress.org is the most popular website-builder on Earth. It’s the engine behind everything from the New York Times, which gets millions of visitors every month, to tiny personal blogs, which barely get any traffic. (In fact, 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs are managed with WordPress.)

(But before I explain it further, I want to make an important distinction: there’s WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and they are NOT the same thing. WordPress.com is a blogging platform that requires no software installations or downloads; just sign up and start using it. WordPress.ORG, however, is blogging software that must be installed on a web server, but allows full customization. For more information on the differences, check out this guide.)

Pros Cons
Flexible

You can create virtually any feature you want for your site with plugins; just download them and they work automatically.

Incomplete

You have to find your own domain from another provider. You’re responsible for your own security, maintenance, and backups.

Customizable

Thousands of themes so you can customize the look of your site. You can edit the code (HTML/CSS) to construct your own website.

Potentially Expensive

WordPress is free, but there are hidden costs: for example, you might spend extra money on themes, plugins, and domains.

Perfect for blogs

Offers the best features to make the perfect blog for your audience. Great SEO abilities so you can increase the number of people who view your site.

 

2. Squarespace — Breathtaking imagery

Squarespace

Go to squarespace.com

Squarespace offers a host of elegant themes and allows users to build crisp, modern designs into their websites. It’s perfect for any online business that centers around image-driven content (such as food blogs and fitness).

Pros Cons
Lots of features

Offers tons of features, even if you’re not tech-savvy. You can easily add social sharing tools to make it easy for visitors to promote your content and bring people back to your site.

Relies on images

If you don’t have crisp images or an advanced camera, you won’t be able to take full advantage of Squarespace.

Easy to change

Their Style Editor lets you quickly customize colors, fonts, widths, and images without fumbling through code and CSS.

Limited blogging

Limited compared to WordPress. Lacks management options and a content-organizing system.

Everything is included

From hosting to traffic stats, it’s all bundled together on one platform, which makes things less complicated to manage.

Harder to customize

Because you can’t edit code as with other website-building options, that could cause problems if you want to add custom features to your site.

3. Shopify — The ultimate online store builder

Shopify

Go to shopify.com

Shopify is an awesome e-commerce platform for an online business’s storefront. Hundreds of thousands of merchants use this software as a way to grow their businesses and customer bases.

Pros Cons
Easy for e-commerce

Lots of flexibility in designing your online store. You can easily track inventory, customer orders, and much more.

More of a storefront

Because it’s designed to be an online store, there are limitations with the type of content you can produce and share.

Beautiful designs

Offers a lot of great-looking, pre-built themes for your online store.

Fees

Shopify charges fees for each credit card transaction, ranging from 2.4% - 2.9% (plus $0.30) depending on the package you purchase.

Fast websites

Offers great page load speeds to keep your visitors’ attention.

Expensive

Pricier compared to other e-commerce platforms, but it depends on the plan you purchase as well as your volume of sales.

4. Wix — Simple and easy-to-use

Wix

Go to wix.com

With over 63 million registered users, Wix is one of the largest website-building platforms in the world. It offers one of the best drag-and-drop builders available. This is great for anyone who hates fumbling with codes and finding plugins.

Pros Cons
Great for beginners

Uses a drag-and-drop site builder. It offers easy-to-see, real-time changes so you can see edits AS you make them to your website.

Hard to edit

You CANNOT change templates once you create your website. No ability to change the code to customize your site.

Many options

Hundreds of beautifully designed and modern-looking templates. Offers many free apps to dial in your site the way you want.

Non-transferable

Hard to export data from your site. (ex. blog posts, sliders, etc.) If you leave Wix, you could have to start from scratch.

5. Weebly — Affordable and easy to set up

Weebly

Go to weebly.com

With over 30 million users worldwide, Weebly focuses on providing an intuitive site-building software with a variety of free services.

Weebly is a great option for beginners who want to create a website for their online business as fast as possible. It’s easy to customize WITHOUT spending a lot of money as well.

Pros Cons
Easy to use

Drag-and-drop abilities so you can easily modify your site. Their Site Planner lets you see how the site will look, even on mobile devices, BEFORE publishing content live.

Lacks customization

Lacks plugins, which limits the customizations you can make. While you can customize a site with HTML or CSS, the themes are plainer than other free website builders.

Flexible

Over 100 themes which you can customize via HTML/CSS. Unlike Wix, you can switch themes whenever you want.

Lacks styling options

Few styling options. Unless you’re familiar with coding, you’ll be limited with the ways you can make your site stand out.

Great value

Unlimited bandwidth, pages, and content on the free account; great for beginners who want to stay as lean as possible.

Which one is right for you?

OK, let's do a quick recap to decide which website builder is right for you.

Wordpress

WordPress

Excellent option for bloggers and people looking to grow their business because of the fantastic features and the flexibility of the platform — you can customize it so many ways and even turn your site into a solid e-commerce destination with plugins such as WooCommerce.

Squarespace

Squarespace

Perfect for online businesses who rely on imagery — graphic artists, photographers, culinary experts, etc. — because of the modern style. Designed to showcase your products and services. Also, because of the drag-and-drop editor, it’s a great solution for creative types who want to avoid hassling with coding or customizations.

Shopify

Shopify

The top solution for online stores because of their robust platform that handles every facet of e-commerce: you’ll have control over invoices, coupon codes, inventory, and customer interactions at your fingertips.

Wix

Wix

Great choice for the novice who wants to quickly create a website and doesn’t want to worry about future modifications. Their drag-and-drop site-building platform is superior to even Weebly, which makes the design process very intuitive. Once you make it, however, you’re stuck.

Weebly

Weebly

Great option for the beginner who wants to create a website for their online business as fast as possible and wants flexibility in the future for customizations WITHOUT spending a lot of money.

I've thrown a lot at you. If you want, I can send you a printable PDF of all the online business tools listed above that you can always refer back to. This guide will help you from your first $1,000, to $10,000, to $100,000 even $1 million and beyond.

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Next steps: From Zero to Launch

Technology toolbox: Simple tools to make your first $10,000 online