I’ve set up many several web sites, both for myself and for paying clients. In 2016 I set up my first online ‘ecommerce’ website, and here are some of the things I wish I knew then! (in no particular order!)
1 – Huge layouts in cost are NOT necessary when starting up an online business. Particularly, for instance, in Life Coaching; an online business can be as simple as a single page describing you and your services, with a contact page. Try not to be dazzled with flashy websites – I promise, many of them are broken, lack substance and authenticity, and are intensely annoying to use.
2 – Start simple! Once you create your basic website, play around and get used to that tech before adding to it. If you’re happy with where you’re at, don’t add to it. You know the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’…. it’s true – and will stand you in good stead when setting up an online business.
3 – Don’t let the whole ‘web tech’ world intimidate you. You know that most of it was invented by a guy in pajamas living in his Mom’s basement. Some of them still live there. These days, it’s completely okay to not know anything.
4 – Website Hosts (where you store your site content) will try and sell you things, like domain names (a web site name). Domain Businesses will try and sell you website hosting. They do this by telling you that it’s absolutely necessary and fluffy bunnies in Indonesia will die if you don’t. In actual fact, you choose. Twenty years ago when internet businesses were about as stable as chocolate teapots, it may have been prudent to keep them separate. Nowadays, it’s quite common. and okay to do either.
5 – Keep your private internet life separate from your business. In tech terms, this means having a separate email address for your business. When you buy a domain name, pay the bit extra to have it private. This just means that Joe Whojimmy won’t be able to look up your domain name and see your name, home address, email and phone number (which anyone with a very basic knowledge can do)
6 – Setting up an online business means that you will have several places requiring you to have ‘an account’ (a user name and password). NEVER use the same password for everything. Do a bit of research about internet security and get used to the idea you may ultimately be responsible for client data, even patient notes one day. There are literally countries who have government-endorsed buildings of people paid to steal corporate data, even yours. Although I suspect we’re not entirely at the top of their lists, it might pay to read up on the subject.
7 – Out of all of these, this should probably be number one: If you intend to post to your website regularly, plan a posting schedule and design your topics. Then stick to it. With regiment-style zeal! If you commit to posting every day, you had better be up to that task. I would suggest finding thirty minutes a week to write something and post it. Use the same day every week. Even use the same title (‘Sammy’s Saturday Sass’). Once you start building your audience (your tribe), they will not only identify with this title, but take time out of their day to read it. It should be THE number one habit you stick to. Next to brushing your teeth.
8 – You don’t need to sign up to every social media platform out there, and post to it regularly. You will end up in an endless marketing loop which takes up hours of your day and leaves you will no time to CONNECT to people that might need your help. Some websites, like WordPress, can automatically post your content to these platforms, but it’s important to understand the reason you might do that. When you do, stay ‘on message’ and be consistent.
9 – Take some time out. It’s important to go outside and smell the honeysuckle, at least once a day. Whilst it shouldn’t be, web tech often is frustrating on occasion; and if that happens I highly recommend having a break from it. Staring at a problem for three hours won’t fix it. Connect with something else for an hour or two, even a day. You’ll feel refreshed and reset, and ready to look at it in another way. Absolutely nothing is worth a cortisol release. Well, unless an escaped rabid male Siberian sabretooth has just jumped into your back yard. And then, you know, RUN.
10 – Want the good news? in ‘tech’ terms, setting up an online business is the easy part. If it’s done right the first time you won’t be revisiting the whole she-bang six months down the line to re-write all of it (ahem, yes I did that). The hard (but fun) part is finding your audience, connecting with actual people and encouraging that first breakthrough. Stay consistent, stay authentic, and those connections will be life-changing for all involved.