To get started working online you need the following:
You need to find a suitable domain name that is unique to you. If your product is going to be about dog training, look for a name associated with that in some way. There are lots of ways of doing this, but I tend to use Nameboy.com for domain name searches because it is very easy to use. Once you have found a name that is available and appropriate, you will find it much cheaper to buy at Namecheap.com – they currently have the lowest prices, usually under $10 for one year. Almost all of my domain names have been purchased at Namecheap.
You need a suitable server to host your web site. I have tried several over the years but have found the best all-round service to be Hostgator. You can pay as little as $5 per month but will probably find a more suitable service will cost about $15 per month.
As a newbie you will almost certainly need some technical help and support from your server provider, and I have found Hostgator’s service to be first class. Namecheap also provides a server service but I have not tried that for myself.
Website Template and Text Editor
I use WordPress, which is free and very easy to use. You do not need any knowledge of HTML or CSS to write and publish your web pages. You will be able to load this through the cPanel provided by your host server.
There are plenty of text editor programs available, some free and many more costing hundreds of dollars. Each has its advocates but, for me, nothing beats WordPress especially for beginners.
Products To Sell
You are in this business to sell something or, more precisely, make money online. You can do this in two ways:
- Have a product of your own to sell, such as a digital book that can be downloaded to buyers, or even an actual commodity or stock item, or
- Promote somebody else’s product and get paid a commission for each sale that results, known as Affiliate Marketing
There are many things to organize for the first method so I do not recommend this for online marketing beginners. The second, Affiliate Marketing, is the way to go.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
There are millions of websites on the internet, all trying to sell things to other millions of searchers online. How do they come together? The answer, almost always, is through Search Engines. There are lots of these, too, but you are most likely to know about Google, which is the largest.
If you are a searcher you will type in a phrase, known as the Keyword (no matter how many words it contains!), and the search engine will zoom through millions of websites trying to find the one closest to what you want. It does that by looking for your keyword, or ones very like it, in all these websites.
Clearly, to get included in Google’s search, your website must have one or more of these keywords and be able to shout it out in computer terms that puts it in front of other sites and get chosen by the searcher. There is a whole industry devoted to doing this properly, and this is where you will begin to need some expert help if you are to succeed in this business.
Again, there are two ways that you can go about getting noticed. The quick way is by what is known as Pay Per Click (PPC). You advertise your website on a search engine by paying it a fee each time a searcher clicks through to your website. Note that you pay for each click, whether or not that searcher decides to buy your product. This can use up a lot of cash, especially for inexperienced beginners.
The slower method is free in cash terms but can take a long time, weeks or even months. You prepare your website to be as attractive as possible to the search engine (see how to write copy). They use things called robots or spiders that trawl electronically through the internet, looking for all websites that seem to provide what is required by each keyword. Once they have found your website they will rank it according to various secret formulas. Your aim is to get ranked number one or very close to it for each keyword that you are using. Sounds easy?
Well, the process is quite simple, but it requires a lot of research and knowledge of how to optimize each page of the website to catch the eye of all these search engines. This is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is the way we recommend for all beginners. Sure, it takes time, but you get to learn all about online marketing in the process. This will stand you in good stead later, when you start to analyze and use more sophisticated methods to improve your performance.
The wonderful thing about SEO is that you can leave your first website and get on with your next project. All the while it will be cooking away and, one day, you will see your first sale! It’s a great feeling.
OK, so all this sounds very complicated, but it really is not. After doing it once you will feel confident and competent to do it over and over again, each time making those sales increase still further.
I do recognise, however, that every beginner needs a helping hand the first time around. The best way is to have an expert actually show you how to do it. Given that one-on-one tuition is probably not an option on expense grounds alone, the next best thing is a good video tutorial program.