So, it’s an exciting time for you. You are ready to start your online business but to get started you’ll need the following:
- A website – it’s an online business so of course you’ll need this.
- Email marketing provider to help grow your list
So, there’s a few ways to go about setting up your website. You can purchase the site domain name and domain hosting together or separately. If you’re not ready just yet to set up your site and or not sure where to start you can simply purchase the domain name from 123 reg or Go Daddy for your business idea to secure it.
If you are ready, then you’ll find that choosing the best web hosting platform and website builder can be a bit of a mind field of confusion so I’m going to shed some light on this…hopefully as I’m not an expert but have learned from trial and error.
There are lots of webs hosting platforms and nearly every one of them offers WordPress site build hosting plan in some shape or form.
However sometimes these plans are providing great value for money and others fall short so you end up having to go for the upsell features when you realise half the features you need are not included.
It can be frustrating when all you want is a website that works and looks good, you can end up making a snap decision costing you more because of information overload.
Some platforms that I list below offer web hosting and then you can build your site using WordPress themes.
I use WordPress myself so I’m happy to recommend, I’m a straight talker so you’ll get an honest no BS perspective.
Of course you don’t have to go with any of my recommendations, I’m just here to help and guide you but the decision is yours and you will know what will work best for you.
If you already have a web host provider that you are happy with, then great, but if you’re not happy, it may be time to change so read on.
Don’t be afraid to change, I know when things are set up we can easily tell ourselves – well if it isn’t broke…but in this case the change may help improve your site performance. Life is about choices after all, so it’s up to you.
So here are some suggestions to keep in mind when choosing a web host:
- Customer support 24/7 live chats is top of the list for a reason – its key when you are up late or early working on your site and hit a stumbling block you will be grateful for this.
- Performance/page speed – usually the more you pay the better the speed
- Tools – cPanel. Free SSL, CDNs etc
- Value for money – speaks for itself.
Try to keep these in mind when making your choice, don’t always go for the cheapest provider the saying you pay for what you get springs to mind.
Web hosting platforms:
Bluehost is a very popular website host across the pond, with good reviews depending on who you speak to. You can set up WordPress themes easily, however I’ve heard that the performance is average, but this was a while ago so may have improved and prices are good.
Customer support 24/7: 6/10
Performance/page speed: 5/10
Value for money: prices start from $3.95 per month*
*Special intro offers
Now I do know lots of business owners that use WP engine and love it. They talk about website performance being top notch and the customer support I hear is great. And yes, you can build via WordPress yay.
Customer support 24/7: 9/10
Performance/page speed: 9/10
Value for money: prices start from $28.00 per month
I’ve used this myself and found it to be good, not great. The tools such as cPanel are easy to use and allow you to build with WordPress themes and I found it really easy to use. However, I did find customer support a tad bit slow at times, but that may have been down to the fact I was on a cheaper plan. On the positive side starting prices are really good.
Customer support 24/7: 7/10
Performance/page speed: 8/10
Value for money: prices starting from: $2.75* per month
*Special intro offers
Yes, you can just sign up with WordPress and cut out the middle hosting men. I’ve also done this and have found it to be really good. WordPress is great, whether you want to start blogging or want to run a full e-commerce site.
As a user of WordPress I’ve been impressed with their customer support services, they’ve helped me out of a few pickles.
Customer support 24/7: 9/10
Performance/page speed: 9/10
Value for money: prices start from £0
With all of these hosting platforms be sure to check the sign-up small print, sometimes the price advertised is just introductory and you may find you are automatically billed the higher price at renewal time so make a note and put a reminder in your diary. I’m speaking from experience so save yourself the unwanted shock!
Remember that it’s important not to be too cheap with this, you want your website to be performing well and look the part!
Site building – putting it together
Right you’ve made your decision on the hosting and you’re probably thinking omg I’m going to have to spends loads of dosh to get this site done. Err Nope! You can build the site yourself and it’s not as hard as you may think! I mean I built this and other sites for by businesses so if I can do it you can! I am no tech wiz but I knew doing it myself would saves a ton of money that most people won’t have when you’re just starting out.
So, whereas HostGator, blue host and WP engine provide the hosting you can build your website look and feel with any of these popular site builders and there loads more out there:
Again, I recommend WordPress I find it really easy to use and they have some great preloaded themes that you can then customise to suit your requirements. However, the other two I don’t have experience with but I do know my sister built one of her sites with Wix and seemed happy with it. I don’t have any honest reviews or hearsay to add in about Sqaurespace.com.
In my opinion WordPress is the one to go with, I’ve got lots of first-hand experience with it and have no complaints! Lots of businesses use WordPress I having a feeling they are powering the majority of internet businesses and it helps that you can actually create an online business with WordPress right now for free! Whereas the other two will cost you money so it’s a no brainer.
Once you have installed WordPress it comes fully loaded with preconfigured themes as I mentioned before and what’s great is you can change the theme at any time. They have plenty of free themes to choose from and you can always choose to upgrade your theme or plan with them at any time – at a cost.
When it comes to choosing a theme – think about your business and of course your site visitors. It needs to look nice and have simple clear navigation.
Email Marketing Provider
You must have heard that the money is in the lists. Growing your email list is key for your new online business, how else will you tell people about your new services or products and offer discounts and info etc to your customers. It’s really important to do this and to be honest this wasn’t something I had prioritised at my peril. As I’m a consultant I worked directly with clients initially and didn’t prioritise this and I am now particularly as I do have a course to sell.
The purpose of the email marketing is to:
- Help you grow your email list
- Send email broadcasts
- Create email automation series
As you’d imagine there are lots of email marketing providers and some come with a high-ticket price. As I’m a frugal Franny I’ll highlight the best free or close to free options so I won’t be talking about the big dogs like Infusionsoft or Clickfunnel.
What I will talk about is Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Aweber
I currently use Mailchimp for email sign ups and I’ve recently set up email automation campaign for one of my sites so my new subscribers get a welcome message series. Mailchimp is free to use until you reach a set number of subscribers – I think it’s 1000. And even after then they have some reasonable prices starting from $10 a month.
ConvertKit is another provider I’m familiar with as one of my clients used it for their email marketing campaigns and loved it. From what I could see it was easy to use and cheaper than the provider they had before so a win for my client.
Aweber I’ve never used so don’t have personal experience, I have considered it in the past as I’ve heard great things about it and lots of popular marketing influencers use it and highly recommend it. They have free trails and some great deals.
Of the three listed I was swayed by the £0 cost that the cheeky monkey Mailchimp had to offer – it fit in with my frugal Franny strategy on keeping cost low. You’ll be happy to hear that all of the above options come with CRM features so you can accept payments, automate, create affiliate programs and more. The alternative is paying over $200 a month with the larger big dog providers for similar features hence why I opted to write about these three.
How Much Will It Cost to set up?
You can easily set up your online business website for under £100 see break down below:
- Register your business with companies house £15
- WordPress domain basic £0
- Or if you want more features WordPress premium plan £7 per month – but billed annually £84.
- Mailchimp set up – free
I always recommend having a contingency fund so do aim to put aside an additional £50-£100 for any extra’s you may need like logo design for your site which you can get down fairly cheaply from Fivver.com
Also, don’t forget to budget for other tools you may need along the way, make the most of the free trails (remember to cancel if not interested) but do keep track – don’t get carried away.
Whatever business model you choose, know that it takes time to build up and get momentum so be kind and patient with yourself.
What business will you do? comment below or drop me an email! Good luck and if you need a helping hand get in touch!