There are many different ways you can make money online – selling on ebay or Amazon, affiliate marketing, selling digital products like ebooks or courses, selling physical products like t-shirts. You can create a membership website that has recurring monthly income. You can use dropshipping to sell physical items you don’t even need to keep stock of..and the list goes on.
But what you will need, unless you are using a third party service like ebay (although i would always still advise building away from 3rd party platforms) is a place you can call home on the internet – somewhere you can point potential customers to, somewhere you can keep everything in one place, but more importantly, that YOU can control.
You are going to need….a WEBSITE !
Yes, of course you can sell things, whether they be physical or digital goods on to your friends or family or neighbours on a Facebook page or via Twitter or Instagram, but what happens when these companies change their algorithms or their business model or as what can happen quite easily, especially with ebay or Amazon, they ban your account.
What you are basically doing is building your business on someone elses land. So what you need to do is have full control over your business. You do this by building your own home, on your own land (albeit rented land), on your own website.
With your own site you have full control over the look, the feel, the ease of use. You have access to all the data about your website visitors, where they come from, what their interests are and more importantly you can ask them for their email address.
As we will learn along the way, email addresses are the single best way to communicate with potential and existing customers.
Ok, so what do we need to create our own website ?
Firstly, we will need the land – which we call hosting. We will need to “rent” the land from a Web Hosting company.
Then we will need an address so people can find our new home – this is known as a domain name. Eg systm.co.uk, cultro.co.uk
Once we have these two things in place we can then start to build our home on the internet – our website.
Let’s start with Hosting.
If you do a quick google search for web hosting, you would be inundated with hosting providers, offering lots of different products with vastly different specifications and pricing structures.
So how do you choose ?
Well, you don’t want to just get the cheapest and have to worry about your website not fitting on the amount of land you’ve paid for, but alternatively you dont want to paying hundreds per month for features and spec you may never use.
Over the years I have used lots of different hosting companies for lots of different online projects of varying sizes and complexities. From Amazon Webservices to Heart Internet, 1&1’s web builder to 123-reg and more.
But I can safely say that the company I have been using for the last few years, and where I now house all my sites and domain names, have been the best value so far.
I currently use an unlimited cpanel account provided by Brixly. Its currently priced at just £8.95 per month and for that I can have unlimited storage (the land), host unlimited number of websites (the houses) and have unlimited bandwidth (people visiting the houses). I never have to worry about running out of space or having too many visitors to any of my websites.
If you want to get started building your own online business I would highly recommend using Brixly. They are a UK based company that have the best customer service I have seen from a hosting company. If you have a problem, which very rarely happens, they will respond within the hour, occasionally within minutes.
Want to get started on your own online business for just £1. Go to systm.co.uk/brixly and you can order your first months web hosting for just £1.
Okay, so we’ve got our hosting sorted. Now we need a domain name.
This step is very important. You will need to make sure you get this right the first time because you can’t simply change a domain name once you’ve registered it.
You need to ensure you have the right name, the right domain extension, and make sure its spelt correctly.
How do you choose a domain name ?
Maybe you already have an existing offline business and you want to create a website to promote it or sell goods globally.
Lets say you own a plumbers merchants – lets call it Taps Etc
Then the domain name you ideally would want would be tapsetc.com
The end part of the domain name, the domain extension, is very important. Ideally you would want the .com (as this is a globally recognised domain extension) or if thats not available, probably because theres another Taps Etc company somewhere else in the world, then go for a geographic extension eg tapsetc.co.uk
If you are UK based and / or the majority of your customers are UK based then having a .co.uk domain extension is fine.
If either the .com or the .co.uk are not available then you may need to get a little more creative with your domain name eg. tapsetcuk.com or visittapsetc.com
What I wouldn;t do, is fo for one of the other domain extensions eg. .net or one of the newer ones like tapsetc.plumber
Although these domain extensions seem like a good idea, even fun to look at, I’ve yet to see one that is easy to remember or even show up in search results.
I would always go for the .com then the .co.uk then change the name slightly and retry the .com and then the .co.uk
If you can, I would always try and buy both the .com and the .co.uk. (but only if they are the same tapsetc.com and tapsetc.co.uk not tapsetcuk.com and tapsetc.co.uk) For the small amount of money that these domain names cost (approx £10 per year for .com and £7 per year for .co.uk)
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need two websites. You can build the website on the .com if you are international or on the .co.uk if you are national and point the other domain to redirect to your main domain name. This is quite easy to set up in your cPanel hosting account.
So, we now have our land – the hosting and our address – the domain name, so we can start building our house – the website.
There are many ways we can build a website.
We could code all the pages by hand in HTML (the basic language of the web), but this would take a long time and be very hard to make any amendments at a later date. Back when I started creating websites this was the only way you could do this.
Luckily, nowadays we have lots of easier ways to build a website. Primarily you need to be using some sort of CMS. This stands for Content Management System. A CMS allows someone to design their website and make changes to it as they wish without having to know any code.
The top three used Content Management Systems are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. There are other ones like, Squarespace, Wix and Shopify, but these are all hosted solutions, which doesn’t allow us the control that we need. Although they are fine, make some great looking websites and are used by thousands of companies, again you would be building on someone else’s land.
For a long time I only ever used Joomla, and was reluctant to use anything else. I used it for all my projects for myself and for my web design clients. For me Joomla did everything I needed it to do, although it could be long winded to get a simple thing to work as I wanted it to do.
But one day, I tried WordPress, this was probably around version 3.0 (we are currently on 5.3) and I have not used anything else since. I would never go back to using Joomla. WordPress works straight away, is simple to install, simple to use, but can be customised on such a level that I really need.
In fact, WordPress is now not only the number one Content Management Systems, its one of the most used websites on the internet accounting for over one third of all websites.
My suggestion for building your own website is always to use WordPress. Its a no-brainer. WordPress has thousands of themes that aid the design of your website, thousands of plugins that can change the functionality of your sire, from adding shopping carts, image galleries or contact forms. WordPress makes it very easy to get up and running quickly. In fact most hosting companies have a one-click install of WordPress, so you can get a copy installed on your hosting account at the click of a button.
Once installed, WordPress is very easy to configure to your liking. Install a theme, either free or premium one, change the fonts or the colours.
You can add one of the thousands of plugins in the WordPress repository that will enhance your site.
If you are selling on your site you can install the Woocommerce plugin, which will allow you to add products and take payments. You can add a plugin like Yoast which will make sure you are doing the best you can to be search engine friendly.
Other plugins can add other functions, like a page builder, contact form, social media channels, image galleries and much more.
So you don’t have to spend a fortune to get started creating your online business. Your first months hosting is just £1
If you need any extra help in setting up a hosting account or registering a domain name why not enrol on our Hosting and Domain Name Course
We also have an indepth WordPress Course which shows you step-by-step how to install, configure and launch your WordPress website.