Whatever your home business, you must be online. A digital presence is a must, whether you write as a freelancer or knit dolls to sell.
Your digital presence will have two main parts: a website and social media activity.
How to Start a Website
Your first step is to start building a website. You can grow it over time, but you need the framework in place straight away.
Free Vs. Paid Website
Yes, you can get a free website such as yourbizname.wordpress.com, but, **Please Don’t**.
Who is going to take your business seriously if you aren’t prepared to invest $15 a year in a .com domain name?
Forget all the fancy domain name extensions you have read about. Most people think a .com domain has the most credibility, and in business, you need every ounce of credibility you can find.
Your .com domain name should:
- Be as short as possible
- Be easy to spell
- Be easy to pronounce
- Give some indication of what you do
- Contain no hyphens or underscore characters
- Contain no numbers (either as words or as numerical characters)
- Not be in the dictionary so you can “own” that word in search engines (e.g., Google, Pinterest)
You will see hosting ads on every site you visit. These ads typically pay the website owner $75-150 if you click one and then buy hosting. The same applies to textual links in articles you read.
The only sensible way to choose hosting for your home business is to look for a site that has small business hosting user reviews that are positive and plentiful.
The screenshot above from the HostAdvice.com website illustrates some of the benefits of using an independent hosting review site; it speeds up your research, it gives you access to expert reviews, and you can read hundreds of reports of any hosting company you are looking at.
WordPress Vs. Page Builder
WordPress can give you a stupendous site, but it takes longer and requires more expertise than most sources say. WordPress will be your better bet in the long term because it can handle anything you throw at it. If you want an unusual design, you can have it, if you want a logo in the footer, you can have it, and if you want customizations, they are available.
Every hosting company makes a free page-builder available to clients. If you go this route, your website could be live and looking perfect before you go to bed tonight. You will outgrow your site in time, but you can plan your transition to a WordPress site when you have more of an idea of what you want your website to do.
Digital Marketing for Your Home Business
It’s all very well having a digital presence, but nobody’s going to ever find it unless you tell them. If you own a business, you must also be a marketer.
Using Your Blog
You must have a blog. It will help you appear higher in search results so you get more organic hits from people searching for what you provide. Your blog is also essential to establish yourself as an expert in your field: You do this by sharing everything you know.
You can write guest posts for related blogs, and the links from those will widen your audience and increase the number of visits to your web content.
Using Email Marketing
You must start collecting visitors’ email addresses. You can only talk to your site users if you have their permission. Data protection requirements are becoming tighter in the next few months, so the best way to do this is to use a free email marketing service like Vertical Response or Benchmark Email. These companies will make sure your emails comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is enforceable worldwide in May 2018.
Using Social Media
There is much hype relating to social media, but there are truths hidden away in that hype.
You need to be active where your potential customers are. Active is the key word here. It’s not enough to have an account with each platform and make occasional posts. A better idea is to own your niche in one channel. Facebook groups are very successful for local service-based businesses, but you need to post regularly and to monitor what is being said.
If someone bad-mouths your business, you need to respond instantly in a positive way to stop the negativity from going viral.
HootSuite lets you schedule posts and monitor conversations relating to your business, all in the one package.
Check this HomeBusinessMag.com article for more tips on using social media successfully to improve your business’s marketing efforts.
The Short Version
A digital presence for your home business starts with a website and hosting, but you also need an active blog and social media accounts. Marketing is another essential part of growing your business, and you will need to allocate resources to this area to expand your operation.