If you’re in love with your excuses, if they make you comfortable and you like being comfortable, if you like talking about change way more than doing anything about it, you should probably stop reading here.
But if you’re willing to own up to the fact that “I don’t have any money,” and “I don’t have any technical ability,” are excuses ~ and NOT valid reasons for failing ~ then let’s get started erasing those excuses.
“I don’t have any money”
Usually, “I don’t have any money” means either (1) you think it takes way more money than it does to start an online business, or (2) you aren’t putting your business above your daily Starbucks on the priority list.
Let’s talk about exactly what it takes to start your business. There are people who will argue that you can do all of this for free. Maybe that’s technically true. Maybe.
But, if you want to create a profitable business, rather than a hobby, you’re going to have to spend a little money. I know, you’re broke, but really, it’s just a little.
1. Domain Name
First, your online business needs a website. Resist the urge to go with a free blogging platform such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com. Free blogging platforms weren’t meant for doing business. If you’re not convinced of this one, take a minute to read my article on 2 Big Reasons Your Online Business Needs WordPress.org.
Because you’re going for what’s called a “self-hosted” website on WordPress.org, you’ll need to purchase a domain name. Out of habit, I get mine at GoDaddy.com. It will cost you about $10 per year. That’s right. Figure out a way to put that extra 84 cents a month into your budget.
Some people don’t care for GoDaddy’s politics, for very valid reasons, so let me recommend NameCheap.com as another good place to get your domain name. It’s also about $10 a year.
2. Web Hosting
Next, you’ll need a web host to “host” your domain. The web host is what keeps all of the contents of your website up and running on the Internet. Again, don’t mess with any web hosting out there that claims to be free. It will cost you in the end. Trust me.
I recommend Hostgator.com as your web host. I’ve tried several different companies and have always gotten the best service from Hostgator. The cost for their “Hatchling” plan (which is all you need), is $3.96-$7.17 a month, depending upon whether you pay month-to-month, or for a longer term.
Finally, you’ll need an autoresponder. A major goal of your website is to build a list of people who have agreed to receive email from you. Your autoresponder will let you remain in touch with your list easily and consistently.
Some people will tell you that it’s okay to start with Mailchimp, which is a free service when you have less than 500 people on your list. The problem is, it gets pretty expensive after that. And because you’re serious about creating a profitable business, you’re going to pass the 500 person limit within a few months. Really.
Treat your business like a money-making adventure, not a hobby. Go with a real autoresponder. And don’t just think you’ll switch after you hit the 500 mark. It’s not that easy. I strongly recommend Aweber.com from the start. Great price, great service, and great tutorials.
If you go monthly with Aweber, it’s $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers, and $29 a month for up to 2,500. It continues to go up a little, but the more subscribers you have, the less the price is going to matter to you. I should also add that your first month with Aweber is $1.
Your Online Business Budget
Let’s assume you go month-by-month with Hostgator and Aweber. Your first month’s budget is $9.01. After that, your monthly budget for your business is $27.01. If you can’t swing that, you need to get a job, save $63.03 (your first 3 months worth of expenses), then come back and start your business.
Yes, I know, there are lots of other things you want, and will eventually need, for your business. But, you can get started, and may even get into profit, with $9.01.
“I don’t have any technical ability”
“Okay, I have $9.01. But even if I had a domain name, a web host, and an autoresponder, I’d have no idea what to do with them!” If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this . . .
Well, fear not.
If you have no technical ability, and no money to outsource such things, you’re going to have to work a little harder. But if hard work scares you, you’re not an entrepreneur anyway and you should be scanning the “help wanted” ads about now.
These 3 tips will get you around your technical deficiencies:
1. YouTube is your best friend
YouTube completely rocks for learning how to do stuff online. You can find free step-by-step tutorials on how to do pretty much everything by searching YouTube.
2. Google knows everything
The answer to many of my 8-year-old’s questions is “I don’t know, let’s Google it.” And that’s the same answer I have for you. Seriously, Google knows everything.
And, both Hostgator and Aweber have excellent tutorials for using their services. They also have live chat with competent people who are very kind to the technically challenged.
3. Keep it Simple and Sincere
The thing that is most disabling to new online business owners is the “guru model.” You look at the authorities in your market, and you think that you can’t make money unless you are doing what they do. And that’s simply not true.
I do think there’s something to be said for the idea that the better you look, the more you can charge. But, that will come with time. For now, you’re just trying to get into profit, which means making more than $27.01.
So stop worrying about your website looking like a million dollars. It will soon enough. For now, get started where you are. And if you have good content, and you’re sincere, you can make money on your shoestring budget with your low-tech stuff.
By sincere, I mean let yourself shine through on your website. Be you, and unveil who you are to your audience.
It’s time to go out and do it. If you already have a profitable business, please share additional advice you’d give the new online entrepreneur in the comments below. If you’re just getting started, and you think you need more, let me know what in the comments.
P.S. I submitted this post to ProBlogger’s Group Writing Project. The assignment was to write a “how to” post. There are currently 163 comments, including many other great “how to” posts of all kinds. I encourage you to head over there and check them out.