Whoever said you need thousands of dollars to start your own web based business didn't know what they were talking about. If you know where to look your business can be on the web for very little money, and in some cases free.
1) Domain Names: If you want your own domain name like http://www.sallysshop.com, you may expect to pay anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00 a year to own it. Some of the cheaper ones are:
2) Free Web Hosting: If you've been thinking of launching a website but don't want to pay the $20 to $40.00 a month typically charged or hosting it, you don't have to. With a little research, you'll find plenty of places that will host your site free.
Before you get too excited let me tell you the drawback: Most free hosts place a banner at the top of your pages for giving you this courtesy. But believe it or not, I have found web hosts that won't charge you a dime and won't force you to display those pesky banners. Some of them also will take the banners away for a small yearly fee which is nothing compared to paying a host monthly.
Some of the best ones are:
http://www.netfirms.com Requires banners, but you can
remove them for $60.00 a year.
If you sell product and need a shopping cart, check some of these:
3) Product or Service to Sell: Let's face it -- if you don't have something to sell on your website, it won't earn you any money. The best-selling items online seem to be information products and software, because they can be paid for and downloaded immediately. If you sell a product, you need to factor in shipping expenses -- both local and international.
If you don't have your own product to sell, no problem. Many Internet companies will be happy to have you sign up and start selling their products for them. They get increased sales and you get a commission on everything you sell. Online these are called "affiliate" or "associate programs." While most are free to join, you should resist the temptation to
sign up with too many. Stick with one common theme when deciding on what to sell. In other words, don't resell software and dog biscuits on the same website (unless your site is targeted to veterinarians and the software deals with patient records). You need consistency, so pick a theme and stick with it.
To find associate programs to join check out:
4) Fax Number: Don't buy a fax machine; now you can get your own virtual fax number These online companies will give you your own fax number that will send your faxes directly to your email inbox ("e-faxing"). If you travel a lot and need to receive faxes from the office this service is a godsend. Easy to sign up.....and use.
5) Logo: If you're going to have an online business, you really should come up with a logo. A logo will help to brand your company online. After awhile, folks will come to associate your logo with your products and services.
At least, that's the main idea. So what if you can't even draw a stick figure? There are plenty of online sites where you can design your logo or absolutely free:
6) Refer a Friend: People love recommending good things to their friends and family. So why not give them the chance to tell someone about your website? This is an easy feature to add to your site. Once you sign up with your chosen service, you paste a few lines of HTML code they give you onto your page and you're done.This is a form of viral marketing, and it works great.
7) Newsletter/Blog: If you're going to have a website you must publish an ezine or blog. Yep, sorry, hate to break it to you, but if you want to bring people back to your site and remind them of your existence you need to offer an ezine. Luckily, you don't need to set up a tricky list server; use one of the services below.
Yahoo Groups http://groups.yahoo.com/
You'll find plenty of free autoresponders if you take a look, like:
9) Promotional Items: Once your website is built you'll need a few items on hand to help promote it.
a) Press Release- Keep it short & newsworthy, 4/5 paragraphs tops
b) Descriptions of your Site- Long and short for search engines and directories
c) Banners- animated & static, 468X60 and maybe a button banner
d) Classified Ads- Write a few short ads, 4 or 5 lines, 60 to 65
characters wide to use for online advertising in ezines and blogs.
e) Signature Lines: write a few good signature lines and use them on every piece of email that you send out and at the bottom of published articles. Try to include something free in it.
10) Toll Free Number: If you don't want to add another phone line in your house for your new business, don't! There are many companies online who are just waiting to give you your own toll free phone number. Many of them can be configured to ring on your land line, or transferred to your cell phone if you prefer. You can even set the hours and times you want the calls to transfer to your other phone number, all done seamlessly. Many of these types of services will also notify you by email when you have a message waiting in your box.
Google Voice http://www.google.com/voice
11) Ability to Accept Credit Cards; No merchant account, no problem! Let's face it, if you want people to order from your site you need to make it easy for them to pay you and that means accepting online payments. Merchant accounts can be costly to set up, especially for a new Internet business. Good thing there are plenty of third party processors you can use who will take a small percentage of each sale in exchange for giving you this service:
http://www.ccnow.com Must be a tangible product not a service
http://www.propay.com Low rates, and your email address appears
on the customer's cc statement not the processor.
http://www.clickbank.com Rates aren't bad and allows you to take out of country payments.
Another easy way to accept online payment is PayPal http://www.paypal.com Free to register and cheap; an easy way to send or receive money.
So there you have it in a nutshell. Don't put off starting your online business one more day because you think you can't afford it. You can. By implementing these 11 suggestions into your new business, you'll have a site that not only makes the sale, but doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to own.