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One may have an ace online business idea and revenue model but it means little until the website goes live. But websites - especially great ones - are not built in a week or two. Even before the design and development work starts, many details ought to be taken care of. Since no one is flushed with VC funding from the very start, the most obvious way forward is to get your hands dirty.
I know the struggle is real because I’ve been there. That’s why I planned this DIY guide to help young entrepreneurs get their startup off the ground. Read on and discover what you ought to figure out to get your online venture going before investing big in web design, development, and marketing:
Choose a domain name
So, you have a cool name in mind for your startup. That’s great but have you checked its availability? If you are betting on something very simple and industry representative, then, there is very strong chance that your domain name will be taken. Or at least won’t be available in .com.
Therefore, the first thing you ought to do is check if your dream startup name is available or not.
Congratulations if it is available!
If it is not, your first job is to sit and think of domain names. Now, this might seem an easy task but trust me, it can be really frustrating. Here are some pointers to help you out:
- Pick a domain name which is easy to spell and remember.
- Make it reflect your brand pitch and vision.
- If you plan to go global, don’t think in your local language.
- Go beyond top level domains (com, org, etc.)
- Consider combining two words.
- Keep the search factor in mind too.
Pick a hosting provider
Got a nice domain name? That’s great but it means little without a hosting plan. You need server space to store your site files and make it accessible when it finally goes live.
Just like domain name registrars, there are many hosting service providers offering hosting space under different packages. Most domain search platforms also offer hosting services.
Keep following points in mind while choosing a hosting plan:
- Most probably, you won’t get instant traffic to your site. So, it is best to start with the basic package.
- Most hosting service providers offer flexible plans which can be upgraded as per need.
- Invest in top class hosting once your site is ready to provide super experience to visitors.
Compare offerings of top hosting service providers and pick the best deal. Don’t forget to check market reputation.
Sketch a logo
We don’t have to tell you what a logo is. Everyone knows that it’s the most important part of a company’s brand identity. But still, businesses don’t give logo the attention it deserves. Logo requires careful thought before you hire someone to create one for you.
Logos can be of many kinds. Sometimes, they are reflective of what the company is all about (Think Android). Sometimes they score high in creativity, simplicity and focus on being memorable (Think Apple).
Here are some design tips to help you come up with a brilliant logo for your online venture:
- Keep it so simple that anyone can draw it with ease.
- Add cues that are reflective of your business.
- Try to come up with rough sketches for designer’s reference.
- Choose the palette with color psychology in mind.
Setup your blog
Your website, even if it will be just 5 pages, would take some time to go live. But this doesn’t mean you need to wait till then to speak about your company vision, plans, and products. Speak with your design and development team to setup the blog beforehand so that you can start publishing content and engage in pre-marketing.
Running a blog will give you the opportunity to add fresh content to your website and improve its authority in the eyes of search engines. It will also help you in targeting most important keywords.
Pay heed to following ideas to get maximum benefits from your blog:
- Start with a simple blog to get started (pick a free theme if you are short on money)
- Get acquainted with the CMS so that you are familiar with basic functionality.
- Think about images for your blog posts. Canva is a great tool to create simple images for free!
Get a coming-soon page
As we said, your website is not going to go live in a couple of days (unless it is 1-page). Rather than showing a blank page to website visitors, get a nice coming-soon page designed. Plan it in such a way that it introduces visitors to your:
- Company vision
- Product and offerings
Don’t keep the page too long. Make it say all the above in minimum site real estate.
It would be mighty great to gather email addresses through it so that you can mail the visitors when you are ready to go live.
Create email addresses
Company email addresses are a necessity if you are venturing online. They will not only make communications authoritative but also help in creating critical social profiles (like LinkedIn). Most hosting service providers make the provision of generating email addresses as per your choice. Here are a couple of handy pointers:
- If you are a small team (say 3 people), consider creating one for all.
- email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org can be used for official communications.
- Don’t forget to share them on your Contact page and social profiles
There are some businesses that skip email addresses and go for a full-fledged contact form. Though this is surely a personal call, people are usually more at ease with emails.
Launch social media profiles
While your website is getting ready, find time to build your brand’s social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular social platforms out there. In case your product is visual in nature, Pinterest and Instagram can be great choices.
Once you decide which platforms you want to go with, sit down to add all the critical business details. Add company basics, contact information, impressive description, and also critical keywords.
Keep below points in mind for better social presence:
- Confirm image dimensions for logo and banner image.
- Use high-quality images for branding and sharing
- Be active on limited social channels initially.
Setup Google Analytics
Even though your website isn’t ready yet, setup Google Analytics now to track traffic later on. For those who don’t know, Analytics is a free product from Google that will give you site insights related to:
- Visitor demographics
- Page views
- Device accessibility
- Page performance
- And hundreds of other things
Setting up your Google Analytics is not rocket science. Check out this helpful link from Google to get the Analytics going. Google Search Console is also something that will come handy once your site goes live.
Sure there are companies out there that can do all the above mentioned for you but they will charge for it. You can manage it all by sparing some hours. If you get stuck somewhere, I’m sure Google and blogging community can guide the way.
So, what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and get down to work!