How to Build an Online Business From Scratch

To build a successful online business, you need potential and customers. Learn how to build a basic website that offers prospective customers a free digital product in exchange for an email address as well as how to get paid customers to sign up after making a purchase.

By Nathan Segal
Mon, October 29, 2012

CIO — There are three primary ways to build an online business. One option is to use a website that shows off your products and services. Another possibility is to create an online catalog of products that you sell. The third way is to build a website that sells only one product or service up front. This article looks at this third option in the context of an Internet marketing business site that uses features such as squeeze pages, sales pages, autoresponders and payment processors.

How-To: Beyond Templates: Building a Better Business Website

Contrary to what many people might think, the purpose of building an online business isn't just to sell a product. The long-term purpose is to build a customer list that will lead to multiple sales.

According to Maria Veloso, author of Web Copy That Sells, if you concentrate only on making one sale, you've left as much as 90 percent of the potential income from the lifetime of that customer on the table. This is why you need to build a list.

List building is the heart of all your marketing efforts. This is how you keep in contact with your clients. It's also a way to market other products and services.

Get the Tools and Programs You Need

First, let's take a look at the applications, services and expertise that you'll need to get your site up and running.

WordPress logo

To get started, you'll need a hosting account and the capability to build Web pages. Until recently, I built all my sites, including Corel Photo-Paint X4 Insider and Speed Up My Computer Now, from scratch. While this method offers a lot of control, it's also time-consuming—and, unless you are trained in graphic design, you'll need to hire a graphic designer as well.

Recently, I learned of an alternative—a professional template known as OptimizePress that functions with the WordPress Content Management System.

OptimizePress logo

There are several advantages to using OptimizePress:

  • It offers a professional appearance and uniform design.
  • It uses shortcodes, which are linked to graphical elements. These speed up your development timeline.
  • It can function as a sales funnel as well as a blog.
  • It can integrate with third-party products such as a membership site.

As for hosting, I currently use GoDaddy—but if I was to start over, I'd use a service such as HostGator, which makes it easy to make regular database backups through its Control Panel. This is an essential security measure. While WordPress is a popular CMS, it also needs to be secured against hackers. Making regular database backups on a weekly basis will protect your valuable data.

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