Back to the Basics

How to Successfully Start an Online Business

by Diane Hughes

As someone who has been running a full-time Internet business for years, I often have to remind myself that there are thousands of business "newbies" who are just starting out. As I get farther and farther into the realm of online business, I find that the basics for starting your own business still hold true.

If you begin with a solid foundation, you increase your chances of success. With that in mind, I'd like to share some of those truths with you now in an effort to help you get started on the right foot.

Build a Professionally Designed Web Site

One of the biggest mistakes startups make is to save money by creating a Web site themselves. Unless you are graphically talented and have a good deal of experience with Web design, I would not recommend this.

Your Web site is ALL that your site visitors have to base their decisions on. Your site's design simply must give your visitor a sense of professionalism, trust, security, and ease. A "homemade" looking site screams "I'm a startup business who has no money and may go out of business at any minute!" You don't want to portray that type of image.

If you can't afford to hire a pro to design your site, that leaves you with one of two choices. First, wait and save some more money. Or wait and learn to do it yourself properly.

Yes, You DO Need To Know at Least a Little HTML...

Whether you have someone else design your site or you do it yourself, you'll need to have a good knowledge of HTML basics. No... you don't need to be able to write full-blown code in HTML, but you DO need to be able to make changes to your site, load scripts, and handle several other minor administrative details.

HTML basics are very easy to learn. Once you get a handle on this language, you'll be in a much better position to save time and money when it comes to keeping your Web site fresh and up-to-date.

Content Is King

The saying may be out of date, but the principle is definitely still accurate. People come to the Internet for information. Buyers need to be convinced in order to purchase. Search engines rank your site based primarily on the words on the pages. The whole virtual world revolves around content.

Not to sound like a broken record, but if you aren't able to write compelling copy that persuades your visitors to take action, you would be better off waiting to launch your site. Just as with Web design, you have two choices. First, wait and save some money in order to pay a professional copywriter. Or take the time to learn to do it yourself properly.

Never Use a Free Host

Free Web hosting companies trade you space on their servers for pop-up ads on your site. In many cases, the host uses several pop-up ads. How annoyed do YOU get when you visit a site and seven or eight pop-up or pop-under windows launch? Then don't put your customers through that same aggravation.

There are a multitude of hosts now that charge less than $10 per month. No pop-ups, lots of features, and good service, too. Use one of those as opposed to the freebie hosts.

Pursue Free Search Engine Listings

Search engines (such as Google and AOL) can be an exceptional way to drive traffic to your site. By incorporating just a few "rules of the game," you can rank quite highly in most engines. It will be VERY worth your while to learn about search engine optimization basics. This can be an ongoing source of qualified traffic for you for years to come.

Above all, don't rush! The Internet isn't going anywhere. Those who hurry to throw a site up quickly find themselves with all sorts of problems. If you take your time and get a decent "Internet business education" before you launch your site, you'll bypass many of the struggles most startups have. You'll also increase your chances of success and find that profits come much more easily than you thought!



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About the Author

Diane Hughes is an accomplished Internet entrepreneur and editor of the popular ProBizTips Newsletter. Subscribe to her newsletter for more tips, tricks, and secrets of the trade -- plus get HUNDREDS of eBooks, software and tools just for subscribing! http://www.ProBizTips.com



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