The Sites You Need to Know About to Start Up a Successful Online Business
On this page, we give you our recommendations for the best sites that will provide you with great services, software, resources, marketing, freebies and support. These are the cheapest, best value sites in their class. If you find sites offering better and cheaper services, send in the details and we will check it out.
You can now download a free powerpoint presentation of How to Start an Online Business. This video guides you through most of the information detailed below – and then some!
New release 2 May 2009 – Part 1 (PPT)
New release 16 May 2009 – Part 2 (PPT)
1. Keywords – The Most Important Concept in Internet Marketing!
Keywords are basically what people type into a search engine (e.g. Google) to find things on the ‘net. So why is that so important? Because that is usually how they find your website. You can use keywords to:
Pick a market. Pick products/services. Domain name. Page titles. Link titles. Images. Headings. Formatting. Page content. Google AdWords. Blog topics. Landing pages. And more!
But how do you find out what keywords people are using? Keyword research tools! Here are some of the best keyword tools around (including free tools):
- Google’s Keyword Tool (free, and recently updated)
- Keyword Discovery (US$29.95 per month with free trial available)
- WordTracker – Free (provides only top 100 keywords, with estimate across all search engines)
- WordTracker GTrends – Free (combines the free wordtracker tool with GTrends analysis)
- WordTracker (US$27 per month)
2. Find Out “What’s Hot”
Search the Google Keyword Tool to find out how many searches have been done on a particular keyword. Here’s a new keyword tool I’ve just discovered – Word Tracker’s Free keyword tool. Just type in a keyword into the box below and it will tell you how many searches in the past 90 days:
Search each category of eBooks on Clickbank to find out what topics (and products) are the hottest. Clickbank ranks its ebooks in order of sale popularity, so its easy to see what people are interested in and willing to pay money for.
Yahoo Buzz scores sites according to the percentage of Yahoo! users searching for that subject on a given day, multiplied by a constant to make the number easier to read.
If you’re still struggling for ideas, check out this site which provides hundreds of underground business ideas.
Here is some more information about finding a niche market or finding a product or service to sell to that market.
3. Registering a Domain Name
In Australia, the cheapest domain names can be found at NetRegistry. They are currently $44.95 for two years! Domain names & registration – NetRegistry supports 10,000s businesses who trust us for their domain names.
If you want to register a .com, .biz, .net, .ws, .name etc, then you need to visit GoDaddy. Prices start at US$3.95 for 1 year. and .com domains are only US$8.75.
4. Registering a Company Name or Business Name
There are a lot of resources around to help and guide you through the formal processes of starting a business. One of the most comprehensive is the Australian Government’s Business Entry Point.
As well as a domain name, you also have to register a business name if you want to trade under that name in Australia. You can find out all the details about registration in your state and territory at the relevant Business Entry Point page.
5. Find a Product or Service to Sell
If you want to sell a physical product, you can find a huge list of manufacturers and wholesalers (some of whom will drop list to Australia) at The Thomas Register.
Another alternative is Alibaba – particularly if you are looking at importing from China. It is a huge database and one of the top 100 sites in the internet. Here’s another site with over 9000 maufacturers and wholesalers – Global Sources.
If you want to “drop ship” (ie have products sent directly to your customers from your suppliers), then try the wholesale lists such as SaleHoo and a fabulous new site: Worldwide Brands. Worldwide Brands has a comprehensive database of:
- drop shippers
- light bulk wholesalers
- instant import buys
- liquidation wholesalers
- daily updates.
They also have a Video Learning Centre, where you can watch videos about the Top 5 Product Sourcing Tips. Worldwide Brands also offers a FREE eBook on Starting Your Internet Business Right – so check their site out now.
You can sell someone else’s product as an “affiliate”. They will pay you a % of every sale you refer to them. There are thousands of sites and products offering affiliate programs. You can sell ebooks sourced through ClickBank (don’t forget to search for the most popular books first).
To quickly find merchants who offer affiliate programs, sorted by categories of interest, visit ClixGalore.
For a fantastic guide to making money from affiliate programs, written by the woman who makes US$435,000 as an affiliate, get a copy of “The Super Affiliate Handbook“.
Of course, the other option is that you can develop your own product. You could write an ebook, develop a new software program, record an interview or make a video. Haven’t got the skills to do it yourself? Find someone to do it for you at a great price at RentaCoder.
6. Design Your Site
You can outsource the design of your site to a designer or programmer from anywhere in the world. “Coders” bid to complete your job up to the maximum you set. Brilliant! Check it out now at RentaCoder.
You will need some software to customise your template or to build your site from the ground up. Coffee Cup Software offers a free HTML editor as well as a very reasonably priced WYSIWYG editor (including 100 free templates). It really is a very cheap and fully featured alternative to Frontpage.
If you would like to build your website using the simplest, easiest, most straightforward method possible, then get a Plesk Sitebuilder account with WebCare Hosting. It has templates built in and once you are happy with how the site looks, you just click “publish” and your site will go live immediately. You can have a play with a demo of Plesk Sitebuilder. It really is a very easy way to build a not half bad looking website! You can also watch video tutorials of how to use Plesk Sitebuilder.
Whatever method you use, a great way to add style to your website is by using a professional photo or illustration – pick from 1.5 million royalty free images starting at just $1 – iStockPhoto– a fabulous resource! Just click the button below to go straight there:
Of course, the easiest and cheapest way to get a customised website that will exactly meet your business needs, is to use WebCare Solutions. We will give you the best service, the greatest functionality and the lowest price.
7. Host Your Site
Webcare Solutions can not only build websites, but host them as well. You can host additional domains within the one hosting account, and can access the many features of your hosting account using C-Panel. Our hosting starts at only $15 per month. Features include:
- 200 mb disk space (most of you will only need 20mb)
- 2000MB bandwidth
- 20 Addon Domains (so you can host 6 extra domains with the one account)
- 20 Pop3 Email addresses (email mailboxes)
- 20 Parked Domains
- Free training videos to show you how to use all the hosting features
For more info about our hosting service, please have a look at our hosting page.
Once you have registered your domain, and set up your hosting account, you will want to set-up your new email (e.g.: [email protected]). Log in to your C-Panel account (you will get the username and password when you sign up) and click on the Mail icon (top left hand corner). Then select Add/Remove/Manage Accounts and Add Account. It should be pretty straight forward from there!
8. Shopping Cart Software
There are loads of different packages available at a variety of price points. The software we reckon gives you the “best bang for your buck” is ZenCart. It is Open Source software (i.e. community designed and built), so it is free! It is also very popular, so there are lots of modules which can help us to configure it for you, so you are not paying for programming. Beware though – setting up a complex piece of software like a shopping cart is not usually straightforward. Unless you want to learn a bit of PHP programming, you might want to get someone to do it for you. We offer fully customised and installed shopping cart sites at just $2495 (inc GST). Read more about it here.
9. Payment Facilities
The cheapest and easiest way to start off accepting credit cards on your site is through PayPal. Since PayPal launched its Australian version, you can accept payments in Australian dollars and be paid in Australian dollars. And, it is completely free to sign-up.
Another great option is e-Junkie. This adds a shopping cart into your website (or blog, or Myspace page, or even eBay listing) and allows you to sell multiple products (including digital products or services) from as little as $5 per month. It really is a cool, affordable system and integrates with Paypal and Google Checkout for payment processing. Get a demo of how this system works by clicking on the button below.
After you have been successfully trading for a while, you might want to take the next step and move to merchant facilities integrated into your website (this may give you more credibility amongst potential customers). However, you must understand the rules that govern merchant facilities in Australia – or you could face a huge fine. Read our summary of the Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) on our blog.
If you are going to sell digital products such as ebooks or software, you can sell them through ClickBank. As well as providing you with your own affiliate program, ClickBank will also take care of the credit card payments and transfer your customers to a page you set up for automatic downloads.
If you are going to be selling digital products (such as ebooks, software, video and audio), check out 1 Shopping Cart. It is a sophisticated way to completely automate the sale of your products – so you can sit back, relax, and watch the pennies roll in!
10. Getting Traffic to Your Site
For ALL of the secrets to getting masses of traffic to your website, you must check out the offerings of the traffic guru: John Reese. His package really does have it all! He has over 100 testimonials on his website (which is a brilliant example of a sales letter website (it sold over $1 million worth of product in 18 hours!) and, according to all reports, his product has some incredible content.
One of the ways search engines index sites is by looking at incoming links (i.e. links to your site from other websites). The more places on the web that you can “deposit” your link, the better! Government sites are the most important according to the search engines.
For a start, if your business is in SA, then list your site in the SA Government Business Directory: www.sacentral.sa.gov. If you are in a different state, see if your government has a similar resource.
You should immediately place a free listing in generic business directories such as (as these sites will be spidered by Google every day):
…and find loads of other directories that are relevant to your niche area. A trick to doing this is to do a Google search for your most important keywords, see who comes up in the top five – then do a link search on Google to see where they have got incoming links from (so type in the Google search box the following – links: www.domainname.com.au – where domainname is your competitor’s web address). You will then see where your competitor has listed. Then, one by one, start adding your website in the same directories and websites.
By far and away the best way to get instant, relatively inexpensive traffic to your site is through Google Adwords. Whilst the BlastOff Manual will give you a great overview of how to use Google Adwords, if you want to learn “Advanced Google”, then Perry Marshall is the guy who will teach you how to harness all the power of Google.
Of course, there are “free” traffic generators (usually called “search engines”). In Australia, these include Anzwers, Web Wombat, Google and Yahoo. Make sure you spend time “optimising” your site for search engines. There are lots of businesses out there who can help you.
WebCare offers an affordable package of SEO services. Just decide how many keywords you want to have, then we can help to work out what keywords will work best for you. If you want to do it yourself and save some money, try the suite of tools available at NetApplications. The tools include Submitter.net which helps you to get high rankings in 1000’s of different search engines and HitsLink which provides advanced site traffic analysis, including hundreds of statistics on visitors and their behavior. You can also try Trellian’s SEO Toolkit– Website Optimization and Analysis Software.
For some info about basic SEO concepts, have a look at the SEO education section on our blog. We are adding to it all the time, so it is worth checking backs for updates.
The key to getting high volume, relevant traffic is in understanding your site’s key words (as this is how most of your potential customer’s will find you). You can use free tools such as Overture’s Keyword Tool or get a free trial of the much more sophisticated suite of tools provided by WordTracker. A new tool from Google is also very useful – Keyword Tool.
Operating an affiliate program is another way of getting traffic to your site. 1 Shopping Cart has an excellent affiliate program that automatically manages affiliate sign-ups, tracking and payments. You can get lots of tips and tricks for running an affiliate program from the master himself: Paul Colligan.
11. Increasing Conversion
The cheapest way to get more sales on your website is to improve your visitor conversion rate. There are many, many ways you can do this. Check out Traffic Conversion Secrets for some fabulous tips and tricks for increasing your sales from your existing traffic.
One of the things we use on the WebCare site is an animated character who speaks to new visitors to our homepage. The idea is to give people a clear instruction about what to do (in our case, call us). You can use these characters to explain your products or services, provide instruction about how to use your shopping cart or to tell people what you want them to do (join our mailing list, fill out an enquiry form, checkout our current specials or maybe just buy our great products!). We used SitePal to design our animated character – it is very easy software to use. Try out the Demo and you will see just how easy it is!
Alex Mandossians’s “ASK Database” contains a plethora of tools to find out exactly what your customers want. You can get a 21 trial for only $1.
Add audio to your website so you can communicate with your customers aurally. AudioGenerator helps you to record an audio message to welcome your customers and to add it to your site very easily. There is also a cheaper version of this which enables you to add audio to your site from your computer (with the audio file stored on the server: Brett McFall’s Audio Wiz.
You can now go even one better: add video to your site! Have a look on the left of this page and see Rick Raddatz talking about his new product VideoGenerator. This is hot and is a fabulous way to dramatically increase conversion once you get the traffic to your website!
Now these guys (Rick Raddatz, Alex Mandossian and Armand Morin) have released a massive package of marketing tools. Take it for a test drive for only $1 – Marketing Makeover .
12. Additional Resources
Jason Potash’s “Pick Their Brains” – a site packed full of free and cost effective resources including skyrocketing web traffic and sales, becoming a super-affiliate, ultra-advanced Google Adwords, building an “opt-in” list and creating an ezine cash cow!
Back up your website and other important files, or share files with your clients and friends: Mega enables you to do this, via the web, with a free 50GB account.
There are lots more resources around – we will keep adding to this page as we find them!