5 Things You SHOULD spend money on in your online business to look professional and legit
There are a lot of Joe Bloggers out there trying to make a name for themselves in the online world, half of which don’t know the first thing about running a business.
That’s why you aren’t going to market yourself as a blogger. Instead you are going to market yourself as an online business owner.
But there's more on that here, so that I don’t digress.
In order to come across as an online business owner and not just some Nancy Schmancy blogger with an affinity for hearts, there are 5 things that are WORTH investing in to make you look professional and legit, even if your main gig still looks a lot like blogging.
Be forewarned, some affiliate links are scattered about below, but I don't promote anything I don't believe in or use myself. I'm promoting it because it's working for me and I want it to work for you too! So without further unnecessary a-do, let's jump right in and start talking about why they are worth your investment.
1. A Domain Name
A domain name is also known as a URL or your web address. If you are starting out and hosting on a website builder that offers a free option, they usually insert a .wordpress, .weebly, .wix, etc into the middle of your website address.
That’s fine if you are just a blogger. But you are not. You are an online business owner and so that little intrusion is not okay at all.
A domain name costs anywhere from $12 -$30/yr depending on the name. It can cost more if someone is squatting on a popular name that someone could want. They buy it at normal price and then up the price and use it as a method to make money. If someone has a name you really, really want, I’ve seen people try to charge $700 for a domain name.
I started out in Wordpress so I originally used BlueHost for my hosting and domain name. I took on a couple more websites and stuck with BlueHost for it all.
I’m now on Squarespace as my site building platform but still host my domain names with BlueHost.
2. Custom Email
Theres’s something about an email for a business that comes across as way more professional and legitimate if it doesn’t have @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com at the end of it. (Does anyone even use hotmail anymore?)
Some domain name hosting options offer email hosting like BlueHost does. This means they take your domain name (like brittneyrossie.com) and create an email with that as the suffix instead of @bluehost.com.
This is easy to do with BlueHost and sync it with my Mac Mail application, which is what I have now. Here's a tutorial on how to do that.
Originally, I originally ended up going with G Suite (formerly GoogleApps for Business), which offers the same email solution and a whole host of other business application features.
With G Suite, the user interface is the same familiar gmail inbox that you would be used to seeing, except you use your domain name as your email address suffix.
G Suite also syncs easily with Google Analytics, has improving features for doing webinars, coaching calls and integrates with Squarespace. So not only is Google Apps a good solution for making your email help you look legit, it also provides a lot of other business solutions.
The only reason I switched to Bluehost was to save $50/year.
As an online business owner a website is your office, store front, first impression, shopping cart, main marketing platform—basically everything. Therefore, it’s important that it is functional, navigable and, well, attractive.
If your strengths are NOT in design, branding, photography or visually creative abilities, hire someone who has them, (like me!).
I love Squarespace because it is so beautiful and navigable right out of the box that it’s really hard to mess up and it has so many integrations and features built in.
There's no affiliate program for them yet but you can get 10% off an annual plan by entering GIMME10.
My second favorite, very slightly cheaper alternative would have to be Wordpress.
I’ve played around on just about every website building platform on there and for online business that are starting up and they aren’t web designers by trade, I have to just point people to Squarespace and Wordpress.
Logos are important. For example, a lot can be learned from The Nike Swoosh. That little check-mark like symbol conveys tons of information to people like quality, attitude, or sports without any further clarification.
A logo represents you and your business. It can be a symbol, image or typographic letters and words. Whatever you choose, it's recognizably and distinctly you. A good look causes people to recognize and immediately associate it with you, your product, your quality, your reputation, your tone, etc.
You have a lot of options when it comes to Logos. If you decided to invest in Squarespace, there is a simple logo creator that is actually pretty cool and built in. That option is limited and feels a little on the free side.
The next step up from that would be something like Fiverr.com, 99designs.com, odesk.com or any other freelance design site can get you a decent looking logo for between $5-20.
Or you can go all out and hire a digital designer (like yours truly) to create a logo and variations of it for different media and materials.
Just be sure you trademark that thing, especially if it is a part of your business name and branding.
5. Marketing Strategy
If you are just starting out and you are reading this, then you probably don’t have a very clear marketing strategy to start with.
My recommendation for beginners is to focus on one channel- one that makes the most sense for your business. You need to understand it, pour into it and really get a rhythm with it before expanding into another channel.
What do I meant by that?
There is SO much to think about when starting an online business that one person just can’t do it all. It’s hard to be on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Youtube, Google Plus, Linked, etc. It may not even make sense for you to be on all of those platforms right away.
When I started my business, I knew I just wanted to focus on my site, Twitter and Pinterest because I knew that was where my audience would be and I wanted to make it easy to find me.
I was on the right track but I didn’t have a strategy yet even though I knew I needed one. I slowly started to build a presence on Twitter and cleaned up my Pinterest boards but my growth was just too slow for my preferences.
It was totally worth the money 1) not to have to waste time trying to figure out a strategy to start with on Pinterest 2) learn about the Pinterest algorithm and how to conquer it, 3) learn how to use Board Booster and 4) to get access to a community of incredibly kind and hardworking entrepreneurs.
Melyssa walked me through a strategy I could stick with as I continue to grow my online business and taught me how to use an awesome tool called Board Booster to help me save my time, which is so precious as a solopreneur.
I started with 117 followers on Pinterest. That’s pretty measly.
Now I’m growing my reach a little bit everyday, with minimal effort on my part after the setup. All I have to do now is focus on creating more helpful content and then plug it into my Pinterest strategy and tools!
I was so excited when the first person who was totally obscure to me asked to be a part or MY group board! But I digress.
All that to say, if you don’t have a strategy but can find a course on building your email list or if know you want to focus on marketing in certain channels, like YouTube and can find an e-course to help you do that, it’s worth the investment, especially if it includes a community aspect.
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