Thinking about starting an online business? Q&A

Here are some common questions that I have had about starting an online business over time that might be helpful for you as well.

Q: Do I need to know how to program or code to have a website?

A: No. Various people and services will prepare and maintain your website for you. However, it’s highly advisable that you obtain some basic understanding of the internet, so you can both verify that your work is actually being done for you, and so you can receive email responses generated by your website.

If you do not want to program or learn how to code this is normal and there is a simple workaround and that is called WordPress. If you have not heard of it the premise is that it is an easy content management tool and has a myriad of free plugins that make it easy to manage your own website.

The best thing about WordPress is that it is offered by just about every hosting company out there with quick installers so that you can be up and running the site within a few minutes.

There are always situations that exist when a custom website development will be needed and that is ok. If you are starting out you should give WordPress a try as well and you can even start a free site on wordpress.com to see if it can meet your needs.

Q: I put up a website with a company that told me that that I’d receive tons of sales. I’ve yet to receive a single response. What’s the problem?

A: There are a number of things you should know and understand before you advertise on the Web.  The internet is crawling full of users and getting larger every day. However, most of those people won’t be interested in what you have to offer. That’s just life. The ones that might be interested need to know how to find you.

Have you worked on your social media presence? That is all the rage these days. Are you showcasing your work through Pinterest or facebook groups? How about the search engine directories? Have you submitted to those or created lead generation content outside of your primary site?

If the answer to these is no then there is still a lot to do to grease the wheels and build your site up to your audience.

If you aren’t out there people will never know about you. If you are not in the search engines and social cafe’s it doesn’t matter how great that your site is as you will only get a slow trickle of traffic.

Q: I want to put a lot of large images on my website, as well as a video of myself that will play when someone accesses my website. Is this feasible?

A: Yes and no.  In general, it’s a good practice to keep individual images under 100k in size, smaller if possible. If your site takes too long to download, people will become impatient and will leave before it’s finished loading.

As for the video, you can host these on your own website, however, you should take advantages of other social platforms as well to bring in additional traffic such as Youtube, Vimeo, and others. This way you can share high-quality videos and content without incurring the cost of bandwidth from your hosting company and also use those services as traffic streams you would have never had access to. Videos are crucial media elements in most interactive and engaging websites online.

Q: How can I tell how many people have visited my website?

A: There are many ways to do this.  In the old days, the simplest method was to add a counter to your website. This is not how you handle this today! I use and love google analytics hands down since it can help me keep track of all my online assets as well as help with suggestions on how I can improve my sites.

This is a free service from google so you really can’t go wrong.

If the idea of sharing your website traffic data freaks you out a little bit then most hosting and internet service providers usually have on their web servers basic stats and analysis tracking. Cpanel which is usually a favorite from hosting companies (learn this platform if possible) these days has many options such as AWStats which is also a good alternative.

Q: Is it possible to tell where someone heard about my website when they visit it? Is this even important?

A: Yes, tracking is very important and something that you need to think about early on when building a website. Just remember that when you create additional content sites you can typically see from your analytics tool of choice usually the referring sites and pages the visitors came from. If you want to tag a specific page or reference it for tracking purposes you can append your link with a special tracking code so that you can

If you want to tag visitors from a specific page you can append your link with a special tracking code so that you can report at a later time. Everything with a website is about the inflow of users and the actions they take so it is one of the most important things that can make or break your website.

Q: I’ve written a book and would like visitors to my website to be able to pay for and download the book.

They should be able to fill out a form with their name, address, and credit card information. Only after they’ve filled this out will they be able to download the book. Is this possible?

A:  Yes, this is extremely common and there are a lot of services to handle this transaction for you if you are not comfortable standing up an option like this on your own. You can become an Amazon publisher, have your content published on commissioned based sales sites like Clickbank, If you have and use WordPress you can install some plugins to handle this for you or you can sell direct through your own site using a custom script.

Some of the issues that I have had in the past is the illegal sharing of content. In my experience personally, these issues have been minimal, but you could end up with your ebook or content posted on a filesharing site no matter which of these options above that you choose.

The huge advantage of these methods is that the buyer receives their product immediately, so you need to weigh these factors when deciding how you want to do business.

Q: How can I get my website recognized by the top search engines?

A: Good question. Getting listed in the search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo may or may not be a strategy for your online business, but if it is important it will be some work. There are literally only a couple ways to take those top spots for important keywords and phrases that users type in.

There are literally only a couple ways to take those top spots for important keywords and phrases that users type in.

Method 1 – Pay Per Click

The first way is called Pay Per Click or PPC Advertising. Google made this method super famous because they essentially are the moguls of advertising on the internet. The way it works is like bidding at an auction you tell the search engine what you are willing to pay to have your site listed on the front page. When a user clicks to visit your site you pay Google that amount so this is where metrics are really critically important.

The amount that you pay the search engine depends on a few things, but most importantly, the competition of the keyword and how much volume, or traffic, the keyword has in a given month. Just as bidding wars happen that drive up prices at auctions, the same goes for getting listed in the search engines.

The price per click can be as small as .10 cents per visitor, to super competitive high-value keywords at $53 dollars for a single click.

Method 2 – Search Engine Optimization and Ranking Naturally

In this method, you build your website up over time creating high-value content, build and audience, a social presence, and provide value added assets for your community of regular visitors. This is the best way to create long-term success on the internet, however, it does not come overnight and requires a lot of effort and time.

You also must realize that there are some niches and markets online that you will simply not be able to break into because of over-saturation. Honestly, for me, the internet marketing niche is… if I had a word for it would be hyper-saturated. I mean this site has been in existence for over 16 years and I still do not rank on some of the keywords I wish that I could.

If you are old enough to remember the phrase “knowing is half the battle” you need to learn when you have spotted an opportunity. Sometimes the opportunity is just not worth the time or effort for the return on the initial investment you have.

Method 3 – Forget the search engines and focus on your social presence only

You can also focus on social such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever makes sense for your specific demographic or target of potential users.

Many companies these days focus on social more than their marketing efforts with traditional search engines. I personally like to stick with a hybrid approach of tried and true methods with the search engines together for maximum possible exposure.

With that said all of these methods can bring you some traffic just remember that it needs to be the right fit for you and what you are looking to accomplish.