Cost-Effective Ways to Build Your Online Business

person typing on computer
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Ok, you’ve started a business, now what?

During my time helping business owners set off on the journey to go digital, I’ve learned one thing: there’s a lot to know. I forget that what I know is based off of over a decade of working in digital media and marketing along with a hunger to keep up with what’s going on in the ever changing world of content marketing.

But you didn’t click on this article to hear me opine, so I’ll get to the point.

Whether you are the person starting your business online or if you’re trying to help a client, here are some tools you can use.

For building a website

To be honest, companies that will help you build a website are myriad and a longer article on their own. So, I’ll give what I recommend to my clients when they are getting started.

Medium

Medium has a really simple, sophisticated interface. If your business is more content-oriented, then this is a viable option (similar to mine, for example) for you. You have a lot of creative leeway using their free package. There are more options when you pay for the site (this is one of my favorites) but in the meantime you can get started for free.

WordPress

WordPress is a favorite option for many people. My own site is run off their free option (though I do pay for my URL through GoDaddy), but they have a more robust version you can pay for. WordPress is a great option for many businesses because it can be as manual or analog if you want. If you only want to sell some items and update a blog, you can do that via some plugins and an app on your phone. Or if you want to code your own, unique website, that’s available to you too.

SquareSpace

If you’re looking for a simple, beautiful option where you can sit down and have your business up and running in 1hr or less, I’d recommend SquareSpace. At $9.99/month for a basic package, you get a ton of features including the ability to sell things. Truth be told, if I or one of my clients was in a retail business, I’d run it off of SquareSpace. Chances are that just one sale will more than make up for the cost of the site, and you have their support staff on-hand ready to help with your questions. It’s the best value for a paid website I’ve found.

For socializing your business

Every business has a different strategy for how they want their brand and content to be seen by the public which is why there are a lot of different options for managing social media posts. Additionally, you’ll need to decide what you want your tools to do for you: automatically posting, chain of approvals, or simply scheduling. However, keep in mind that you will pay for these conveniences, so it’s important to think about which you really want/need then scale if needed.

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Branding Your Social Media Channels

branding instagram social media
Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

I’ve been fascinated by watching Gen Z grow up and learn to use the internet in a much different way than I did. As a millennial, in my teen years, I spent countless hours chatting on AIM, and watching Napster take days to download a Smash Mouth song over our dial-up internet. I remember my first Hotmail email address (which my dad set up for me) and Facebook when it required a .edu email to register.

What I’m getting at is that the internet changed a lot, and it changed quickly, forcing Gen Z’ers to understand at an early age what the rest of us barely thought about: personal branding via social media.

My teen AIM username died with the platform last year, but let’s be honest, no one is going to think “Natalie Saar” when they read “Missyk134.” But there wasn’t the same pressure back then to brand yourself, or even just to make sure you got your name as your username before anyone else did.

Not only does this cause personal and business users to think outside the box when it comes to their name, it also requires them to think about the content they’re putting out. Each social media platform has a different offering, which is why they can all (somewhat) coexist with each other.

Twitter offers quick takes and the ability to interact with people, many of whom are strangers, in real time. It’s demographics skew younger.

Facebook offers news and sharing largely between friends and family. Its demographics skew older.

Instagram offers the chance to express yourself through photos and captions, and in a way combines the best of Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn offers a professional environment to connect in. You typically won’t find people arguing about politics there, because it’s very clearly a networking tool, and you’ll find that users hold each other to that.

Snapchat and Tumblr each have their own styles of helping people engage with each other as well, though they’re harder for markters to hack for various reasons.

So, how do you decide the way you want to brand all of these free advertising tools you have at your fingertips? Here are some tips to get you started:

Keep Some Aspects the Same

While each social media channel can have its on “personality” there are a few things you should keep the same. Your profile photo, cover photo, and overall vibe. Especially if you’re planning on very different messaging on your channels, you’ll want to keep the logo or profile picture and the overall look and feel as well. This way you build subtle brand awareness and people know that your channels lead back to you.

Buffer does an amazing job with this. Their Instagram and Twitter couldn’t look more different in terms of imagery and messaging, but they feel the same, so you know they’re both Buffer.

You’ll also want to try your best to make sure the name is the same. This may go without saying, but that can be a tall order, and will only get harder as more and more people become social online. Get creative and try a few variations, but when possible, keep the names the same.

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Lessons From My First LinkedIn Article

LinkedIn has been around for so long that it seems crazy a content marketer would have put off testing the waters of this article writing platform, but that’s exactly what I did.

Today, I posted my first article, highlighting six ways a library card can help advance your career for free and I had some interesting observations along the way that I thought might be helpful to share (if anyone else is on the fence):

1. More people from my 2nd connections saw the post than my 1st.

linked in article publishing review

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