Are you planning to start an online business?
Your decision couldn’t have come at a better time.
All the tools and information you need to get an online business up and running are at your fingertips — thanks to the wealth of free, detailed learning resources available on the web.
Eventually, you’ll have to power through dozens of guides as you pursue growth opportunities for your online business. But in the meantime, you need to start with the basics.
Here is a five-point checklist for a new online business.
1. Reliable, Enterprise-Grade Hosting
Establishing an online presence always starts with choosing a dependable web hosting solution.
You can’t hope to scale an online business that caters to hundreds—if not thousands—of users on a $1 hosting plan. Doing so will put a cap on your website’s growth in terms of bandwidth, data storage, and server security.
What you need is a business hosting solution that can match the needs of a traffic-heavy website.
On top of superior server capabilities, high-end hosting products often come bundled with invaluable services, such as priority customer support, built-in data protection features, and website builders.
A reputable web hosting company can also keep you away from excessive downtime. This directly affects your website’s profitability and your audience’s experience.
While no hosting provider can guarantee a 100% uptime, make sure you’re not losing too much revenue with an uptime monitoring tool like Uptime Robot — allowing you to measure the real-world stability of your host and determine whether or not you need a new one.
2. Solid Domain Name
Your website’s domain name is one of the first things your audience will see upon discovering your brand.
If you already have an established business name prior to building your site, it makes perfect sense to straight-up use it as your domain name. But for those who are starting from scratch, there are a few things you need to remember before you register a domain name:
Use a “.com” top-level domain
In simple terms, a top-level domain or TLD is the suffix in website addresses, like “.com,” “.org,” and “.net”.
A “.com” TLD may not directly affect your success, but it’ll definitely benefit your audience’s perception of your brand. This is because most people associate the “.com” TLD with authority and legitimacy.
Avoid trademarked names
To avoid legal trouble with other brands, check the availability of your domain name. You can use our online tool here at BuyHTTP to check if the domain name is available. Although it’s possible to use a different TLD to make a certain domain name usable, you may still get charged for damages, especially if it causes confusion to consumers.
Incorporate a keyword
Adding a keyword to your domain name can help your website rank on search engines and give your target audience some context on what your site is about. Just avoid using a domain name that exactly matches your target keyword as it could lead to unwanted SEO penalties.
3. Website Security
New business owners may feel safe knowing that their brand isn’t big enough to be targeted by elaborate cyber-attacks.
If only they knew threats such as Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks can be launched by dirty competitors for as little as $5. They only need to find a capable “service” provider from the deep web.
Premium web hosting services are equipped with a custom firewall that can protect your online business against such attacks.
Alternatively, you can leverage a CDN or Content Delivery Network, which can absorb the influx of traffic with multiple proxy servers. Some CDN providers also have integrated DDoS protection that can keep your website safe from targeted attacks.
Apart from DDoS attacks, there’s a host of other cyber threats out there that you must prepare for — from brute force attacks to malware infections. You can refer to this post for more tips on how to improve the security of your website.
4. An Effective Content Marketing Strategy
Whether you like it or not, an online business isn’t built with quality products or services — it’s molded by the content that you publish as a brand.
Content is anything you use to communicate your brand’s messages and provide valuable information to your target audience. It may take the form of an explainer video, an infographic, or a blog post.
To figure out the content formats and topics that pique the interest of your target audience, you can use a content research tool like the Content Explorer in Ahrefs. It allows you to scrape the latest, most popular content in your industry using keywords.
Below are the core aspects of a content marketing strategy you shouldn’t forget:
● Keyword research
To improve the searchability of your content, your content development efforts must be kicked off with keyword research. Use tools like LongTailPro or Ubersuggest to look for long-tail keywords that less competitive, more conversion-oriented, and target a narrower audience.
● Spice up your content with visuals
If you don’t have the budget for a professional graphic designer, you can create visual content yourself with drag-and-drop tools like Canva. The tool features pre-made layouts you can use to produce infographics, blog featured images, social media posts, and many more.
● Build content around your audience’s needs
When it comes to your content’s tone and angle, always focus on the goals of your target audience. Spend less time talking about your brand and more on the key takeaways that can help readers solve their problems.
● Perform Competitor Research
One of the best ways to refine your content strategy is to study your competitors and adopt what works for them. With the addition of Ahrefs, there are plenty of cloud-based tools you can use to spy on your competitors, like SpyFu and SimilarWeb.
5. Social Media Presence
In addition to topic ideas, content research tools also enable you to identify the biggest distribution channels that brands in your niche use.
Social media, for example, is a must-have platform that can give your content instant exposure to the right audience. After you create official accounts for your business, you can capture the attention of your audience by following them, responding to their comments, and providing them with value by curating and sharing content.
A tool like Feedly is a great place to start if you want to look for shareworthy content. Just like most content research tools, it works by pulling in popular and trending content based on keywords and website URLs.
Starting an online business may seem intimidating, but once you get a better handle on the process and all the steps, everything will be like clockwork.
Of course, you just need to focus on one thing at a time and be patient. With the checklist above, you’re already on the right track.
What other tips can you give other people who plan to start their own online business? Feel free to leave a comment below!