So you want to create an online business? Welcome to the club! The freedom of releasing your own content or products for anyone in the world to access is liberating. Your website could lead to fame and fortune … but where do you start? This article lists popular options for your first steps into the world of web publishing.
It’s tempting to jump straight in. That’s a great option if you’re experimenting or learning to code. If you’re thinking of becoming a content author, product developer, or business entrepreneur, a little planning goes a long way. Here are some important questions to ask:
- Why do you want to do this?
- Who is your target audience?
- How are you trying to help them?
- Who is providing a similar service?
- What are your competitor’s shortcomings?
It can be difficult to find your niche, and it may evolve over time, but having a general direction helps to determine your objectives. Deciding on a design, content, and features will become considerably easier.
The next question is, What are you planning to do? …
So You Want to Test an Idea?
Do you want to sell collars for obese pets using Bitcoin? Perhaps you want to educate your readers about tapir taxidermy?
You can assess demand for your product before it’s ready without committing too much time, money, and effort. Social media and chat groups will help, but a landing page builder and an associated marketing campaign will validate interest in your idea.
Unbounce is an ideal landing page creation tool which serves more than 15,000 brands. The service creates measurable marketing campaigns to evaluate your product and features before it’s built.
Unbounce is a comprehensive solution which offers support, training, and statistics reports, and a free trial with plans starting from $72 per month.
These are some similar options:
- Instapage also offers A/B testing, with plans starting at $149 per month.
- Leadpages includes unlimited traffic from $27 per month.
- Hubspot Landing Pages comes with email marketing options from $45 per month.
So You Want to Create a Brochure Site?
Following the success of your landing page, potential customers will be clamoring for more information about your incredible product.
A web building application can get your site up and running with a custom domain in a few hours. It helps to have a flair for design and a little web technology knowledge, but most applications can be used by eager business owners to create a professional-looking site.
Web builders typically include a choice of responsive templates, visual drag-and-drop editing, code customization, hosting, support, marketing tools, ecommerce options, usage analytics, and asset management (fonts, images, videos, and so on).
One of the best is Webflow. It includes a sophisticated design tool, content management system, ecommerce integration, and SEO services. You can get started for free, but additional facilities are available from $12 per month. The page designer is simple to learn, but remains flexible as your knowledge and requirements grow. The scalable hosting platform serves 4.1 billion page views per month.
Alternative options include:
- Wix, a popular and powerful editor with 500 template designs and bespoke customization. Basic plans start from a few dollars per month, but you can upgrade for more features.
- Squarespace offers a slick Getting Started process, high-quality templates, search engine optimization, scheduling, analytics, and customer profiling. Plans start from $12 per month.
- Weebly offers a lot of simplicity, so is ideal for a beginners, offering plenty of templates and a free plan, but not the range of options a more advanced user might require.* Tilda Publishing has a block editor with more than 200 templates. Free plans are available.
So You Want to Start a Blog?
Writing articles publicizes your products, raises interest, and adds some Googling juice. There’s one obvious option: WordPress.
WordPress is the content management system (CMS) which powers more than 40% of the Web. It’s easy to use, and assistance is plentiful.
You can start with a free, pre-installed option at WordPress.com, then upgrade to access features such as custom themes and plugins for a few dollars per month.
Alternatively, you can download the application from WordPress.org and install it on any host offering PHP and MySQL support. (Many provide a one-click installation process.) Hosting charges will vary and you may require some development assistance, but you’re free to configure the application any way you choose.
WordPress started as a blogging platform, but it’s evolved far beyond its roots. You can find themes and plugins to enable ecommerce, membership subscriptions, social media, newsletters, events calendars, booking systems, form builders, image galleries, video hosting, discussion forums, design templates, and much more.
Despite its dominance, alternative blogging options are available:
- Blogger.com was one of the original blogging platforms. It’s free and you can earn money from posts.
- Ghost is a web and email publishing system with plans starting from $9 per month.
- Joomla, Drupal and Craft CMS are similar PHP and MySQL CMS applications.
- Platforms such as Medium and HubPages are writer communities which offer monetization programs for popular content.
The Best Website Builder Tools & Platforms for Your Idea