Get Your Web Site Up and Running ...
For Less than $32 per Month
Many people ask about how they can set up their web sites to maximize the sales of their books or other products/services.
Or they ask me what I use. In the early days of starting out, I was able to set up and run my online business for less than $31 per month. In addition, I spent $5.99 per domain name for one year, plus $197 for software (that I love and use over and over), and around $200 for my web design.
I want to tell you how I did that, because you can do it this inexpensively as well.
By the way, with what I use, I don't need a webmaster. (Though now that I have one, I am very glad of it!) That is because the documentation of my hosting company is so clear, I have been able to do everything myself.
So, without ado, let me tell you exactly what you need to start up an online business (or part of your business).
Step 1: Register a domain name. You need a name for your site. If you can get your book's title, that's great. Of course, you can always use your own name. For an author, this makes a lot of sense. (I suggest you always get your own domain name, e.g., mine is www.dianeeble.com. I point that to this Web site, so if someone tries to find me this way, they can.)
A couple more tips: make it a .com, if you possibly can. If it's a great name you think others might use, I suggest you also buy the name with hyphens as well (e.g., www.publishing-planner.com along with www.publishingplanner.com). It's best to not have to use hyphens, but sometimes you have to because the name is already taken. (I had to do this for www.abundant-gifts.com. However, then I was able to get www.abundantgiftsbook.com and www.abundantgiftsblog.com.)
I actually have domain names for products I intend to create, so I own quite a few. Whenever I get a bright idea for a domain name, I go to 1and1.com—the least expensive yet reputable company I've found—and see if it's taken. If it's not, I snatch it up.
I can say a lot more about domain names, but for now—make sure you have at least one. At 1and1.com each domain is only $5.99 per year, and they are easy to work with later on, when you may have to do things like redirect your domain name to another site. So that's who I recommend. You can also use GoDaddy.com, but why pay even $3 more per domain name when you don't have to?
Step 2: Decide on where you will host your site. Your site needs to "live" somewhere. Lots of places, including 1and1.com and GoDaddy.com, also offer hosting, and it may seem fairly cheap. But you won't get much of anything that will help you actually sell what you have.
I highly recommend the hosting company I use, ThirdSphere, because they have everything you will need to market, their documentation is amazing, their support good.
The documentation is so clear, you will be able to do everything yourself (or have someone else do it for you, such as a high-school student), and learn a whole lot about online marketing as well. I mean it, if you simple study this site and use the tools, you will receive one of the best educations in online marketing that I've found. And it's all included in your $24.95 per month fee.
Before I found ThirdSphere, I was paying nearly $30 per month just for a simple web host and a service that allowed me to have a list and created autoresponder emails. Now I have more services than I had between the other two companies, for less money!
Here's some of what I like about ThirdSphere:
- With the click of a button, you can install and set up a WordPress blog—which is where I suggest everyone start. I've already written about the advantages of a blog-type site. With WordPress, there are so many templates available, you will surely find one you like. That eliminates the need for a designer, perhaps, which will save you money.
- You can set up and manage email accounts, lists, autoresponder emails very easily. The documentation is very clear, making it easier to set up any of these than any of the other services I've seen (such as aweber or 1shoppingcart, both of which are very popular. I've tried both, and they are not as easy to use as ThirdSphere). These are the staples of online marketing.
- You can also easily set up products to sell, and use Paypal, eliminating the need for what's called a shopping cart, which usually costs at least another $30 per month.
- There are all sorts of tools for marketing. For instance, there's an article creator tool that's easy to use. I was just playing around with it one day, and realized that in 15 minutes I had created an article! They even help you locate places to submit the articles, based on your market's keywords.
- Similarly, there's a press release creator tool right in ThirdSphere. Same idea—you create it in the right format, and it's done!
- Other tools that may not mean much to you now, but will if you take my upcoming "effective websites for authors" course, include: search engine tools such as keyword density tool, link popularity finder, keyword finder; plug-ins that allow you to do all sorts of things, such as set up a survey, set up your own help desk, surveys, chat rooms, guest books—you name it! (Much of what's available I don't understand myself. You might eventually need a webmaster to help you fully exploit all the tools available. But that comes later—or if you're close to someone who loves technical stuff.)
- There's a whole section that takes you step by step through designing a website, and you even have a choice of three different tools for this. I haven't used this feature myself, because of the software I use to create my sites, but I know that you don't have to know a bit of html or anything technical to use any of them.
- There's a simple way to back up your web site. Of course, I ignored this until I inexplicably lost all my sites (I'm sure it was something I did late at night), and had to pay $50 for them to back up my site. Now I faithfully back up my sites with a few clicks of the mouse, at least once a week.
- You can add an unlimited number of subdomains for a one-time fee of $10 per subdomain. ou can have an entirely different site with a different domain name "parked" on your main site, for this small investment. For instance, "wwww.wordstoprofit.com" is my main site, and my blog (a subdomain) is www.yourbookpublishingcoach.com. The search engines "see" these as two separate sites, so that when I link back and forth, it helps my ranking in the search engines.
The only possible down side I have found to ThirdSphere is that you don't get a lot of bandwidth—i.e., space on your site, compared to all these features. I constantly have to check my email in boxes, which seem to fill easily with spam, lest my site reach its limit. (They do send emails to warn when you're getting close.) I also need to figure out how to block spam better—and there are ways to do that with ThirdSphere.
However, I'm still doing fine with the 500 MB bandwidth, even though I have lots on my sites. If you don't have a huge site, with a huge list, ThirdSphere should serve you extremely well. I know lots of high-power Internet marketers use it, and for good reason—it's a great value.
Those are really the two things you absolutely need to start—a domain name and a web hosting company. Next week I'll talk about some optional software, and where to go to find someone to help you with your blog (if you find yourself stymied), as well as where I found my designer.
Would You Like More Help with a Web Site?
I am considering creating a special course on "How to Create an Effective Author Web Site." I'd give you step-by-step instructions and cost-effective tools/resources you can use to start your site from scratch. You will also learn exactly what you will need to set up an effective marketing system through your web site, as well as how to create a media page for your publicity/promotion efforts.
If this would interest you, please sign up to receive notification of when this course will be available. Signing up doesn't obligate you in any way, it will just give me an indication of your interest so I know whether this is something I should invest my time in sooner rather than later. Just go to http://www.wordstoprofit.com/website-minicourse-signup.html to sign up.