How To Start An Online Business That Doesn’t Break The Bank – 7 Easy Steps
A common misconception is that you need plenty of capital and expert support in order to start an online business. This is simply not true and should not hold you back from embarking on your own online venture.
In this blog, I am going to explain how to start an online business inexpensively, without breaking the bank, and without the need for an expensive website developer, programmer, or graphic designer.
You can create a website which is equipped with everything your business needs, from ecommerce website themes built with shopping carts, member login, and product categories, etc., to payment gate ways and various easy-to-use pre-designed and editable business templates which you can use for all of your branding, stationery, admin and marketing.
1) Pick and buy your website domain name
This is a straightforward, yet vital part of the process. The domain name which you choose for your website is going to be with you for a long time so it should be the name of your business, should be brandable, concise and easy to pronounce.
I recommend choosing a .com domain name for an international web address. It really does not cost much to buy a domain name.
I personally recommend Frikkadel.co.za to buy a cheap website domain.We have used them for a few years now. Their website is user-friendly, and their support is decent.
The cost for a 1-year registration of a .com address is only around $12 (USD) and includes free DNS management for 1 year and custom nameservers which are used for hosting your domain with your chosen host.
2) Choose a reliable web host – we use SiteGround
Your next step is to get your new website domain hosted on a reliable web server. A web host will publish a secure website for your online business, so you can drive customers to your products or services.
The type of hosting you need depends on the demands of your website and the level of web traffic.
Whilst choosing the best website host, you might find yourself swamped with a minefield of different opinions, reviews, and information.
I can personally recommend SiteGround for speed and all-round performance on their GoGeek shared hosting plan for $14.99 per month (streets ahead in performance compared to our previous hosting provider).
A ‘Shared’ hosting package offers cost-effective plans whereby server resources are shared between many websites, and a ‘Cloud’ hosting plan provides you with dedicated server resources for better performance, but at a higher cost.
For most newly hosted websites, you will only need a shared hosting package, because realistically, you should not anticipate high traffic in your first year, although who knows, maybe your online business takes off early on.
Either way, when your online business is more established, and your website starts driving higher levels of web traffic, shared hosting will eventually become insufficient for the demands of your website, and you will need more dedicated server resources for higher performance.
The good news is, you can easily upgrade from a shared hosting package to a cloud hosting package when the time comes. There is really no reason to waste money on cloud hosting until it is necessary.
These are SiteGround’s shared hosting plans below:
3) Choose a WordPress e-commerce theme – we use Shopkeeper
Next, you are going to need an e-commerce theme for your website, equipped with user-friendly online store features.
No need to hire a technical pro to create or design your online business website. There are over 1300 WordPress ready-made e-commerce themes available to choose from.
We use WordPress to create and manage our Diy My Design website, because it comes packed with many powerful features and it’s easy to use, with over 55 000 plugins to meet all of your website’s needs.
The website theme which we use and recommend, is a Woocommerce-integrated website theme called Shopkeeper, which is one of the top Woocommerce integrated website themes for online stores.
Woocommerce is an e-commerce platform built on WordPress, in order to provide a ready-made website theme for your online business. The Woocommerce plugin can be added to any WordPress site and provides the features needed to setup a new store in minutes, including shipping and payment options etc.
Shopkeeper provides an attractive online shopping experience, and provides many features, such as a mobile-responsive website, flexible designs, multiple product page layouts, blog functionality, translation features, drag and drop features, as well as shopping cart and checkout functionality, which is easily connected to your preferred payment gateway (we use PayPal), so that you can start accepting payments and offer your customers a seamless and professional shopping experience.
4) Choose your Business Branding, Stationery, Admin, Social Media, Web and Label Templates
Another misconception is that you need to hire an expensive graphic designer for your business design needs.
This is not true, in fact, the cost-effective option is to use professional, personalized, and editable business templates which have been professionally pre-designed.
Providing everything from logos and branding, to price lists, business cards, gift certificates, loyalty cards, invoice templates, etc. You can also choose from a selection of website banner templates for your new website, or templates designs for your social media accounts.
You can even buy a bundle or set of business templates for a discounted price.
Diy My Design has done the hard work for you and has a wide selection of ready-made business templates to help you market yourself or your business quickly and easily.
5) Add your WordPress plugins (if applicable)
Next you’re going to need a few plugins for your WordPress site. How to start an online business without spending much? Get plugins!
Plugins are pieces of software containing a group of functions that can be easily added to a WordPress website. Plugins are easy to install on the WordPress plugins dashboard and a lot of them come free of charge.
If your website is hosted on Siteground, you can install the SiteGround Optimizer plugin (free of charge), which improves the performance of WordPress websites by offering multiple optimization features and techniques.
The SG Optimizer plugin offers supercacher controls, environment controls, front-end optimizations, Image optimization (although we prefer the Imagify plugin for image optimization).
The SiteGround SuperCacher system provides several layers of caching for your site – NGINX Direct Delivery, Dynamic Cache, and Memcached.
If you do not use SiteGround for hosting, I recommend the WP Rocket plugin which performs many of the same functions as SG Optimizer (do not use WP Rocket if your website is hosted with SiteGround or you could experience incompatibility issues).
SiteGround hosting also comes perfectly integrated with Cloudflare, which offers content delivery network (CDN) services, DDoS mitigation, Internet security, and distributed domain-name-server services for your website.
Many of Cloudflare’s features are free and there are paid plans, but unless you intend to make use of Cloudflare image optimization, or page rules, I do not see any substantial benefit to subscribing to the paid membership.
As mentioned earlier, the Imagify plugin is handy because it optimizes all your website images, which reduces website load times and boosts overall website performance.
Other important plugins include Woocommerce (as discussed earlier), Yoast (for SEO optimization), Better Robots.txt (for a better search engine indexing and rank – I use the paid version because the free version features are a bit limited), WPBakery Page Builder (for an easy drag and drop builder to create your website pages and content).
Other plugins we use include Yith Woocommerce Wishlist, WP 404 Autoredirect, Redirection, Shopkeeper Extender, Query Monitor, and Akismet.
As mentioned, most of these plugins are free. We only pay for Imagify, Better Robots.txt, and the plugins which are already included with the Shopkeeper theme.
If your website is not hosted on SiteGround, and you don’t already use SG Optimizer, it is better to purchase the WP Rocket plugin subscription for better performance.
6) Setup your social media accounts
Social media is a cost-effective way to advertise your business, promote products, add credibility to your online business, and directly interact with potential customers.
Make sure you have registered a company page on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. You can also use these accounts to create hype around your business opening, and to provide general information.
It is completely free so why not? If you want to pay for advertising, you can setup an advertising campaign on most of the mentioned platforms, but it’s not necessary. The costs to do so often outweigh the benefits.
7) Start learning SEO strategies
Your business is now setup and published, but people still need to know that you exist! That is where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website, to attain a higher rank in search engine results. There is On-Page and Off-page SEO, which are 2 ways of optimization.
On-Page SEO includes providing quality content, selecting relevant keywords, putting keywords in the correct places, adding appropriate page titles, etc. Off-page SEO involves link building to drive quality web traffic to your website.
You can use the Yoast plugin to guide you through your SEO work. No need for the paid version because the free version offers everything you need!
The total cost for setting up a new, fully functioning, and professionally designed, personalized and branded online store, comes to less than $500 (USD) per year.
There has never been a better time to start an online business as explained in last week’s blog article (7 reasons to start an online business in 2020).
There is also no need to hire expensive designers, developers, programmers etc. You will find everything you need from the vast availability of templates and plugins, everything you need in order to start an online business.
Just to recap on how to start an online business without breaking the bank: Use Frikkadel to buy a website domain, SiteGround for hosting your website, Shopkeeper for your Woocommerce website theme, Diy My Design for all of your business templates and designs, and WordPress for all of your plugins.
**Disclaimer: Diy My Design personally uses any service, template or plugin which we recommend, and would never recommend a service which we don’t have experience using ourselves. We also would never recommend a service which we don’t prefer using. Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things honest and balanced.