The Online Startup Guide
Most of us find ourselves following the wrong steps to launch really great online products. It’s time to stop that madness and start following a set of proven steps to create successful online products. This step-by-step online startup guide is your resource to creating great products that actually generate cash flow.
- Start A Blog
- Write Compelling Articles
- Market Your Website
- Create a Minimum Viable Product
- Measure Everything
- Adapt, Adjust and Press On
Start A Blog
The very first step to making money online is to start a blog. Before you even begin coding the next billion dollar startup, you should thing about starting a blog. There are many reasons behind this strategy, as discussed in my post “8 Steps To Avoid Startup Doom“, but the most important one is to start attracting the people who will be interested in your products. A blog is not only a great way to generate online income it’s also a great tool to float your product ideas and get useful feedback. It provides a way to build that list of people who will give you feedback and perspective on your ideas. These are your loyal followers who will become your early adopters and eventually the champions of your product when it takes off.
Your newsletter, social media accounts and other marketing efforts should all point back to your blog, which serves as the main place where people can go to connect with you and your products. Whether your goal is to have a side hustle, be a solopreneur or to grow to a large company, your blog is the starting place. Even the lean startup methodology says to “figure out the problem that needs to be solved and then develop a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible”. A blog is one of the best tools you can use in this discovery process.
Follow the steps below to get your blog up and running in no time.
Select a great domain name
Keep it short. Most one word .com domain names are taken. Therefore, try to keep it to 2-3 words.
Keep it simple. Make it easy to spell and remember. No dashes or other special characters.
Keep it relevant. Using keywords in the domain name helps people recognize your site and helps with search engine optimization too.
Avoid numbers, dashes, misspellings, brand names and trademarks in your domain name.
Create social media accounts
Once you find the perfect domain name the next step is to check social media account availability. Use your domain name as the username to check availability on these popular social media sites.
YouTube (Google), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr
Your domain name may not be available as a username on all of theses sites, but try to register an account on at least the first four: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Bonus if it’s also available on the others.
Select a hosting provider
Different web hosting options are available. You can choose between shared hosting (typically the cheapest), a virtual private server (VPS), cloud instances or a dedicated server (most expensive). Your website files need to reside on some type of web server and each have their advantages and disadvantages. The type of server you choose should be based on what’s important to you. Is it cost, location, availability or control?
Different hosting providers exist as well. These are my top three recommendations. It’s really easy to install WordPress on all of them.
I’ve been with A2Hosting since 2005. Their speeds and uptime are incredible and their support is top-notch. Plus they offer free SSL certificates. The A2 in A2Hosting is a tribute to their hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can’t go wrong with this hosting provider.
BlueHost is one of the largest website hosting providers and they power millions of websites. The best thing about BlueHost is the amount of features they offer. You name it, they support it. There’s Python, Perl, PHP, eCommerce carts, free scripts, etc. Plus their hosting is extremely affordable.
AWS is a leading cloud provider offering cloud based web hosting solutions. The benefits of AWS are broad platform support (including WordPress), worldwide datacenters, extreme scalability to support your site as it grows and very flexible pricing models a.k.a. pay as you go. AWS has options for everyone from those looking for turnkey solutions to the professional developer.
Register your domain name
Some companies are primarily domain registrars that also provide website hosting services (GoDaddy, NameCheap). Others are primarily website hosting companies that also offer registrar services (A2Hosting, BlueHost). Most often the decision of which one to select comes down to saving money or streamlining services. To save money you’ll most likely want to register your domain names with NameCheap. GoDaddy tends to charge around $1 more for the same domain name. NameCheap also honors excellent domain name renewal coupons so you can get discounted prices at checkout.
Most website hosting providers also offer domain registrar services. They tend to have more costly reregistration fees. However, some can offer very lucrative domain registration incentives. Take BlueHost for example. They provide free domain registration when you sign up
for a hosting account.
Recommendation: First, register your name as a domain name. Most hosting accounts require a primary domain name to open an account. Use yourname.com to do this. Then you can add more domains to that existing account as you validate your product ideas and create MVPs.