The 5 most important tools and resources for small business startups
Everyone starting their own site or blog tends to think that their online enterprise is unique. The truth of the matter is that whether or not the idea behind the new site or blog is unique or not, there are certain important features that every website needs in order to succeed.
Regardless of whether you are planning to sell cupcakes, or whether you want to try your hand at affiliate marketing, or simply want to share your thoughts in an online journal, you can benefit from making the right choices about the tools and technologies you use, right from the start.
There is simply so much information online nowadays (and most of it is complete rot), that it can be really difficult to sift through the rubbish to find the genuinely good advice about how to achieve your online goals.
I thought I would list what I consider to be the most important tools and technologies that I value. Using these on a regular basis will help you to a much easier and shorter path to online success.
Having a good hosting package is absolutely critical to online success. Thousands and thousands of new webmasters set up their websites using online development tools that host their sites for free or for a small fee, only to find that when it comes time to do some important customization work, it's simply not possible.
Inflexible online hosting plans that don't give you access to the backend (preferably with a great server management GUI tool like cPanel), often limit your capacity to compete with sites that have forked out the small additional cost (usually around $8 - $20 per month) for good hosting and support.
It is now redundant to build anything but the most basic, static and pretty useless webpages without the help of a good Content Management System (CMS). Your three main options are:
Of these, Drupal is the most powerful and flexible but also requires a bit more effort to master than the other two.
Depending on what you envision your site or blog doing now and in the future, you can go with something more basic (but still of great quality) like Wordpress, or slide up the scale to Joomla or Drupal.
All three CMS platforms are completely free to download and use as you like.
You might also want to look at design-a-webpage.com because this allows you to create hosted, professional marketing quality landing pages without needing any Web experience whatsoever.
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Once you have a great website hosted on a good, reliable and customizable server, you can start shifting your focus to how to understand traffic patterns and how to drive more visitors and get them to convert (perform actions that meet the specific objectives of your site or blog... such as buying something, or signing up to a newsletter).
The only way to get a handle on how your site is interacting with visitors, and the Internet in general, is to install and use a good quality analytics service like Google analytics.
Analytics can tell you things like:
- who is visiting your website
- where they are coming from
- what pages are they visiting
- how long do the spend on your site
- what actions, if any, they take on your site
This information, in turn, can be used to grow your traffic and improve your site to increase revenue and profits.
4: Social Integration
To miss out on the power of social media is tantamount to online suicide these days. Social media drives huge volumes of traffic all over the Internet.
By making small changes to your website to include features that make it easy for people to share your content with their friends, you give your site every opportunity to become an overnight sensation.
In particular, most good sites provide "share" type buttons for most of the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Google +1.
Depending on which CMS platform you are using, you will find that there are already plenty of facilities in place to integrate and implement a wide range of social media features into your site or blog.
5: Professional support
Setting up and operating a successful Internet based enterprise is a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary undertaking. Any single person can't be expected to know everything about each and every important cog in the machinery.
As a result, one of the best things you can do is find a well known and respected industry expert and leverage their knowledge and skill to fill in your skill and knowledge gaps.
For example, you might know a lot about social media, but not much about how to create and operate your own website. You might know how to use Drupal, but not how to operate Google analytics with any confidence.
Armed with the above five important tools and resources, you stand the best chance of succeeding at whatever you choose.
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