Marketing From A Woman's Point of View

Money Saving Tips For Your Online Business Startup

Starting a business takes determination and preparation. Oh, and it also takes money. How much money you need depends on the type of business you want to start. For an online business, you can make that dream come true and save some green in the process.

Usually, the first thing that people ask when contemplating a new business start up is “What will it cost me in the beginning?” With an online business you’re already ahead of the game because you’re avoiding many of the costs that come with owning a traditional brick-and-mortar company.

Even so, there will be some initial costs that you’ll have to cover. If your capital is limited, you can still get things going. It may take some legwork and time but it is absolutely doable.

Here are the 3 main costs associated with starting an online business.

Domain Name Purchases – In order to have a presence online, you’ll obviously need a website address or URL. You’ll see special offers and discounts all the time on domain name purchases, but you can generally get your domain name for less than $10. Be careful not to get sucked into buying all the extras most domain name registrars try to get you to purchase when you purchase a domain. Stick to only purchasing the domain name.

Hosting – In order for your website to actually show up on the Internet you’ll need to purchase hosting for your domains. You can purchase this as low as $6.95 a month with hosting companies such as BlueHost – who also offers a free domain,  free setup, and unlimited space, transfers, and domains with their hosting package.

Website Design – If you aren’t proficient in web design or HTML, you’ll need someone to set your website up for you. There are a few different options for getting this done:

• Hire a Designer: This is the most expensive way to get things done.  However, if you are short on time or just do not feel you have the tech skills to take on the project yourself you may end up saving money in the long run by having a site built by a professional.  For design and content marketing, I have referred several people to Kandice at Linwright Design.  She is professional and will also take the time to train you as you go. (Mention that Coree sent you and Kandice has agreed to knock off 10%!)

• Site Builder: You can build your site yourself with programs like SiteBuildIt. Learn how and save money by doing it yourself.  They offer several video tutorials that will take you from beginner to expert.

• Included with Hosting: Look for deals with your hosting company. For instance, when you purchase a BlueHost or HostGator hosting package you can get a WordPress blog (using the WP platform as your main site is very common due to its ease of use and flexibility) installed on your domain for free. Any customization is up to you, but it’s a start that doesn’t cost anything extra

Here are some tips for purchasing additional items you’ll need to run your business online.

1. Negotiate – All you can do is ask for what you want. When it comes to buying computers and other office equipment, there is some room for haggling. Find the best payment plans you can to help you to offset the cost. This goes for telephone services, answering services and high-speed Internet rates too.

2. Shop around - Buying computers online at sites like Dell.com allows you to add the features you need and pay the price you want to pay. Printers don’t cost as much as they used to. If you need a fax machine and a printer, look for deals on all-in-one equipment so you can save money.

3. Buy in bulk – When you need paper, printer ink and other office supplies, buy as much as you can when a deal comes along. Even if it takes you an entire year to use the paper, you know that you will use it so it doesn’t matter.

4. Ask for advice from others – For example, you’ll need hosting for your website. While there are dozens of web hosting companies out there, both paid and free everyone’s needs differ. What are your needs? If you know other online entrepreneurs, ask who they use. Keep in mind that high price doesn’t necessarily equate with good quality, just like low price doesn’t always mean poor quality. (I use BlueHost for my hosting and have found them to be easy to understand and helpful)

5. Use what you already have for now – The best thing about an online business is that it is operated from your computer. Most people already have one of those. It may not be the top of the line model, but if it has high speed Internet access and a word processing program, you’re good to go!

There are costs that you can avoid by starting an online business versus an offline one, but you still have to spend some money. The above five tips will help you to whittle down the costs you do have even more. This allows you to get your new enterprise up and running as soon as possible. And, don’t forget all these costs can be written off on your income taxes so don’t forget to keep records.

What other ways have you found to save on startup costs?  Do you have a secret tip you’d like to share?  Please leave comments or questions below.  I love hearing from you!

To Your Success,

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links that I will profit from if you decide to use them.  I only refer those businesses or services that I would use myself but it is entirely your choice to use these links. :)

February 24, 2010   3 Comments

3 Simple SEO Basics You Need To Know

If you have set up your own  online business or blog I’m sure you have learned how important it is to get as much traffic as possible to your site. Whether you want people to buy a product, a service or you are looking for more authority in your niche…you need people to know you exist.   One of the best ways to get them to come running is through search engine optimization.

This week I’ll be doing a series on building your business on a budget.  Believe me…as a single mom of four I KNOW how to get what needs to be done on a strict budget…and most of the time, for free.  Come back throughout the week for more business budget tips.

What is SEO?

I’m going to start from the very basics because I know what it was like when I first started my blog and I had no clue about any of this…and I know I needed someone to help me.  Since there are so many new blogs started every day, I know there is someone out there seaarching for the same help.

SEO is the abbreviation for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of using keywords to bring targeted traffic to you. Ideally, when people enter their search keywords into any of the most popular search engines, your website content, videos and audio media should pop up in the first page of search results. That’s what everyone wants to achieve.

The better the search engine rankings the more likely you are to get buyers who are ready to spend their money on what you have to offer.  It also shows that others must like what your writing, teaching or selling because your on the front page and gives you that “she must know what she’s talking about” edge.

Should You Outsource?

You can always find courses or paid reports that teach search engine optimization. Or you can use any of the SEO firms that will gladly take your money in exchange for their help in outfitting your website for the traffic that you want. They may promise you those front page Google and Yahoo rankings within web searches to make the deal sound irresistible.

But, all of this costs money and chances are that when you’re first starting out, you don’t have much of a budget to work with. There’s always the trade off of time vs money.

3 Simple SEO Basics You Need To Know

With SEO or any new business talent, it  may take you longer, but you can learn how to do it yourself. As a student of Internet marketing, you have to be willing to do the legwork required to gain the knowledge you need. You should always learn at least the basics of anything you outsource anyway so you know if you’re getting what you pay for, right?

1. Know how to use the resources available to you.

If you don’t have any keywords in mind, you can use free online keyword tools to help you discover the viability of keywords in your niche. They will also rank them for you. Keep a spreadsheet of all the words you use so you can track how they work at increasing your visitors, sales and search engine rankings. Here are two free keyword tools you can start with:

  • http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/
  • https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

2. Pick a keyword or two and use it on your website.

Website optimization is a bit trickier than optimizing content (we’ll get to that later). For your website, these keywords can appear in webpage headlines, picture tags, taglines, anchor text (the words that hide a hyperlink within the text of an article) and other places. When your website is registered with search engines, the bots and spiders crawl each page. You want them to find your keywords and rank accordingly.

3. Use the keywords in your content displayed on your website.

Keyword density is the number of times that a certain keyword appears in a piece of content of a certain size. Optimal keyword usage is between 1% and 3%. Going over that could be considered “stuffing” and you might get your hand slapped by Google.

Search engine optimization is trial and error. Others can do it for you for a price. But, if you are dedicated and want to increase your skillset, you can learn to use it for yourself, drive traffic to your website and increase sales.

These are very basic tips that some of you may already know…for those of you that are more advanced, what other simple tips can you share with readers? What has worked for you?  Please share your comments below.

To Your Success,

February 22, 2010   9 Comments

The Power Of The Ask – 6 Strategies To Increase Your Business

A very fundamental belief we have all heard is, “Ask and you shall receive.”  As a parent teaching my children about manners one of my most used phrases was “Use your words”.  It was my goal to teach them to get beyond the whining and crying for something they needed and to begin using their words to ask for it.

Yet, somehow as adults we seem to have lost our ability to ask and some are still stuck in that whining stage when the things they want don’t come to them. We come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons NOT to ask to avoid any possibility of rejection.

If you are not moving closer to what you want, you probably aren’t doing enough asking. The world responds to those who ask. Here are six asking strategies you can implement in your marketing (and in life) to boost your results:

1. Ask for More Information

To land new clients, subscribers or sponsors you first need to know what their current business challenges are, what their desired outcome is and how they’re planning on accomplishing it. You build your solutions based on their needs  and demonstrate you your unique product or service can help them achieve their goals

Ask open-ended questions (who, why, what, where, when and how) to have your client explain to you what they are seeking in their own words rather than giving yes or no answers. Once you truly understand and appreciate a prospect’s needs you can then offer a needs based solution.

2. Ask for Business

Many Marketers and Salespeople will spend hours creating a beautiful and informative presentation then leave out the most important part – the request for business!  Don’t depend on images and fancy websites to do your selling for you.  You must add a call to action to your presentation.  Use your words.  Ask.

Always ask a closing question to secure the business. Don’t be afraid to ask or waffle around it.  Your potential clients are expecting you to ask for their business so, don’t let them down…or worse, wait for your them to ask you!

3. Ask for Recommendations

Well-written testimonials from respected people are powerful for future sales. They confirm the quality of your product or service and leverage you as a person who has integrity, is trustworthy and gets the job done on time.

The best time to ask is right after you have provided excellent service, gone the extra mile to help out, or have really made your client happy.

LinkedIn works great when asking for referrals.  You can either simply ask if your contact would be willing to give you a testimonial about the value of your product or service…or, usually, if you recommend someone that you respect and have done business with they will return the favor.

4. Ask for Referrals

Just about everyone in business knows the importance of referrals and word of mouth marketing. It’s the easiest, least expensive way of ensuring your growth and success in the marketplace. The business world is very much a “who you know” market, but social media has made it much easier to get to know top influencers.  Increase your ROI by borrowing influence and asking for a referral.

Your core clients will gladly give you referrals because you treat them so well.  Make it a habit to ask for referrals after every sale. It’s a habit that will dramatically increase your income. Like any other habit, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

5. Ask for More Business

Look for other products or services you can provide your customers. Every good sales person knows that it’s much easier to sell an existing client than it is to go searching for new ones.  This is why it’s important to start creating an email list early on in your business development.

If you sell a product, think about creating  a system that tells you when your clients will require more of your products.  If you sell a service, be prepared for the next level of your client’s education by continuing to offer more in depth and advanced training.

6. Ask for Feedback

How do you really know if your product or service is meeting your customers’ needs? Ask them, “How are we doing? What can we do to improve our service to you? Please share what you like or don’t like about our products.” Set up regular customer surveys that ask good questions and tough questions. It’s a powerful way to fine-tune your business.

Please leave me YOUR feedback, below in the comments.  I try to provide my readers with information they will find useful.  How am I doing?  Is there any area you would like to hear more about?  Less?  Where are your business challenges?  I love (and need) to hear from you!

To Your Success,

February 1, 2010   19 Comments

Small Business Tips: Online vs Offline Printing

Online printing is fast becoming the most common way for marketers and others to get their printing jobs done. If you are reading this blog you are probably much like me, in the sense that, I like the convenience of doing as much as possible online.  And why not?  Online printing is very easy and convenient since all the decisions and transactions take place at the comfort of your computer, whether at the office or at home.

As a small business owner, you can get bogged down in all the day to day responsibilities to keep your business running.  If there are shortcuts and time savers a business owner likes to know about them.  By using online printing it’s another way to help you manage your time, so you can focus on what’s important…your business.

When you choose to place an order through an online printing company you’ll find less of a decision making process. You can usually browse through templates which are great helpers if you’re not sure what you want your project to look like. It takes less time when they offer quick decision templates that you can use.

There are a few options out there, but there’s one service I’d recommend looking into first for your printing needs.  Psprint is the leading printing company that offers printing services for business cards, stickers, custom postcard printing, custom greeting cards, posters, and much more. Based in Oakland, CA, they are the heavyweights of the online printing world.

What I liked about using PSprint is the how straightforward the process is:  simply choose a product, place your order, upload your files, preview and approve. They also offer mailing services to give you the marketing solutions you need for a successful promotional mailing.   Psprint is an online store which gives you great value, great services and great products at extremely low prices…and we all like saving money!!

Share your thoughts and experiences on using online vs offline printers.  Which do you favor?

To Your Success,

August 28, 2009   2 Comments