The Online Business beginners guide to websites and softwares.May 02, 2023
I know starting your online business can be overwhelming. There are so many different choices to make when it comes to where to host and sell your digital products one doesn't know where to start.
In 2015 when I started I had the same dilemma. I am going to break down your options in this blog in the hope it makes your decision easier.
So when it comes to how you host your online business you have three options.
- WordPress site with your own developer
- Marketplace and E-commerce platform
- All-in-one software
- Social media E-commerce store
One of the problems when starting your online business is that what you need now as a start-up is very different from what you need when you have a fully scaled online business. How fast your business progresses depends entirely on the amount of work you put into it.
When I first started my online business I went for option 1 because to be dead honest I "thought" it was the cheaper option. Well, the developer sold it to me that way. The problem was that it was cheaper in regards to the plugin and web hosting costs but definitely not cheaper when it comes to the costs of the developer. But the problem is once you start with WordPress and you have spent so much money already it's hard to change. So you keep going hitting your head against a brick wall. If I could go back I would take option 3. That's what I am using now to run Veterinary Professionals making money online.
Software has rapidly advanced since 2015 when I started. The software that is available in options 2 and 3 is so easy that anyone can use them without the need for a developer.
I have put together the following resources which I recommend. Over the last 8 years, I have tried a lot of online software and these are by far the best ones I have used. I will only recommend software that I have used and that I think will be useful to you.
Some of these are affiliate links. I get a small commission if you sign up using my links.
OPTION 1: WORDPRESS AND DEVELOPER
With this option, you need a whole lot of software and plugins to run your online business. You also need software such as Zapier to connect all your plugins and other software when you start to automate things in your online business.
Domain registration And Web hosting :
There are so many options for web hosting companies and I have used a few of them. I like HostGator for a number of reasons. The cost is reasonable and they can host your website no matter where you are in the world. The biggest plus for me is that their customer service is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A lot of web hosting is only during business hours and as Veterinary Professionals we are often dealing with website headaches after hours. They are also extremely helpful and always find a solution to my issues.
Email Software :
Over the last few years, there have been so many of these software companies popping up. And I will be honest with you I have used and looked at many of them searching for the ideal software, trying to take into account list size, cost, and what they offer.
I have used Mailchimp, Aweber, Mailerlite, Get Response, and eventually now Active Campaign. Active Campaign is expensive and is for the more advanced marketer. I would not recommend it for a veterinary professional just starting out. We have to hire someone to help us with it at Onlinepethealth, it's that complicated. We need it for advanced automation and tagging as we have more than one audience.
I like the ones that have a free option so you can see if it works for you before committing.
So my two choices are
I have chosen these two and what you choose depends on your budget and needs.
Most affordable, looking for simple email software: Mailerlite – is a simple email marketing software, you can create landing pages and opt-in forms (these are pages where people can sign up for your email lists) but I find them tricky to create especially if you have no design experience. If you are just going to use these to email and will connect the sign-up to your website (you might need your developer to do this) then I would recommend Mailerlite as it's great value for money. The price doesn’t increase too drastically as the number on your list increases.
Slightly more expensive, but great if you are wanting to create landing pages: Get Response – Now this one is a lot easier to use and has templates with easy drag-and-drop editing if you are wanting to create landing pages and opt-in forms. It also has a free version and is good value for money. The price increases more when your list number increases but it still has good value for money compared to the other platforms.
Create simple Web pages :
You don't actually need a fancy full-on website to start an online business. So many people don't realise this. There are very simple-to-use one-page website builders that are enough for you to get your online business afloat. You can create these yourself or get a developer's help.
OPTION 2: E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS
There are some platforms that will host your courses and products for you. Now, I recommend using these when you are just starting out or if your online business is a side hustle. You don't have monthly costs and you only pay when you make a sale. It's a win-win for everyone.
Etsy.com : Great for digital products such as PDFs and Templates (6.5% transaction fee)
Udemy : Known for selling courses on demand. Udemy will host your course and help market it for you. (63% transaction fee)
Gumroad: Hosts all your digital products (10% transaction fee)
All of these platforms take either a fee or a percentage of the sale of your product.
OPTION 3: ALL-IN-ONE SOFTWARE
Now these are becoming a lot more popular. You pay one fee and you get everything in one including your hosting, email software, etc. You don't have to worry about contacting different people to help you.
This is what I use now and I am over the moon. It costs me $149 per month (paid annually). I do not need any other software. I don't need a developer and it's so simple to use that you don’t have to spend hours and hours trying to work things out. They also have tutorials and Kajabi University, as well as a live chat and there is always someone to come online to assist or create a video explaining how to do something.
I am able to run my whole online business by myself using this software. They have a 14-day trial normally but if you sign up with this link you will be able to get 30 days free trial, which gives you a month to test it out.
For those on a tighter budget, you should look at System.io. It's not as userfriendly or aesthetically pleasing as Kajabi and the support is not 24/7 but it has similar features.
OPTION 4: SOCIAL MEDIA E-COMMERCE STORE
Now, I just starting using Stanstore one of these for my Instagram account. I used to use Linktree. Linktree allows you to create a personalized and customizable page that houses all the important links that you want to share with your audience.
Stanstore allows you to host your products, email and serves as a social media storefront. When you first start you won't even need a website, you can just use Stanstore. Click this link to get a 14-day free trial.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
Choosing which option can be difficult as some require an investment and you always want to be sure that you getting a return on investment. In other words, you want to be selling something and receiving an income.
I love the All-one- platform because you do not have to worry about connecting plugins to your website with third-party software. When you add all the plugins and software that you need to run your online business it very quickly adds up to more than double the monthly fee you pay for the all-in-one platform, and with a whole lot more potential problems.
I have on more than one occasion not realized that one of the connections using Zapier is not working and only found out months down the line resulting in a serious loss of income.
WordPress websites are also more vulnerable to being hacked. I have had my websites hacked twice before, losing thousands of dollars, and feeling completely helpless as I could not find anyone to assist in getting rid of the hackers. The 4 developers who I approached tried and failed. We had the hackers for more than a month. You never ever want to be in this situation. Trust me.
You also want to be able to make changes to your website on your own. This website you are reading the blog on is 100% created by myself without any developer's help. When I have an idea I like to get things done. I hate having to wait for the developer to quote and then put me into the queue and tell me it can be done in 3 weeks' time. 😖
When I started with Kajabi I created a product very quickly that I could start selling so that the sale of that first product would cover my monthly software costs.
So which option should you choose:
For the Online business beginner that is starting as a side hustle and is planning on being a solopreneur with a small team around them. I would start with option 4. Stanstore is all you need to start your online business. The cost is $29 per month at the time of writing this email. You can quickly progress to option 3 the All-in-one platform when you start seeing that things are taking off.
For larger Online businesses that have the ability to have a huge team - option 1 might be better. You have the flexibility to create a custom website but software and contractors costs are high.
CLICK HERE TO GET A 30-DAY FREE TRIAL WITH KAJABI. The normal trial is 14 days. This will allow you to get your online business started and earn some income before you need to pay your first month.
If you are having problems deciding where to start you can download my online business roadmap. Click here
If you are a veterinarian please join this group Veterinary Professionals making money online Facebook group