Here’s a handy list of essential or really useful services that I talk about using in my various posts, my ebook, and my email newsletter, roughly in the order that you’d use them if you were starting a web business from scratch.
Disclosure: please note that some, though by no means all of these links are affiliate links which means that I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. I only link to information, resources and tools that I have personal experience with and that I believe to be helpful, from organisations that I trust. Please don’t spend money unless it is for something that you believe will really help you to achieve your goals.
Every site on the web needs ‘hosting’ (think of it like paying for a block of space on the internet that your site can sit in, and be available to web users). There are many hosting companies but I’m a massive fan of Hostgator.
Great service, a 99.9% uptime guarantee (in other words, your site will always be available online to web users except maybe once in a blue moon)… Hostgator is about as reliable as you can get because it handles about 1% of the web’s traffic.
Please note: I offer free hosting via Hostgator - with your own unique control panel so you can easily manage your hosting account, create email addresses for your domain, and so on from anywhere in the world – with all of my coaching packages.
Learning and working with HTML
Book: Teach Yourself HTML: Publishing on the World Wide Web, by Mac Bride
HTML is the computer language on which websites are based and a few years ago, I read Mac Bride’s short book above (now apparently out of print but second hand copies are available from Amazon).
Without a shadow of a doubt, it has been one of the most useful things I’ve ever done!
I’d urge you to do the same, because a little bit of HTML knowledge goes a long way towards removing the fear and frustration involved in websites.
An HTML editor allows you to create and edit web pages with an interface that is similar to Microsoft Word. Of the free options I like Kompozer, but, if you can afford it, Dreamweaver is the daddy.
FTP stands for ‘site transfer protocol’ and it is the process whereby you transfer a web page (or PDF, or image, or any type of file) you’ve just created and upload it to the web for everybody to see. You will need an FTP client and I have been satisfied with the free one from Filezilla.
AWeber is the auto-responder service that I use and I recommend it. It’s the world’s number 1, and what that means is that deliverability is very good, because AWeber works hard with the big webmail services and internet service providers to ensure as much of its email gets delivered to the end user as possible.
It’s also web-based (so you can use it easily from anywhere) and feature-packed (and at time of writing you can get your first month for one dollar with this link).
Generating and analysing traffic
Google AdWords is Google’s all conquering pay-per-click (PPC) advertising solution. I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into PPC blind as it’s easy to throw a lot of money down the drain if you do, as many small businesses find. But you should open a free account to familiarise yourself with it and also because it gives you access to two invaluable tools – the keyword research tool, and Google Website Optimizer.
Social networking sites
Everyone should, at the very least, open 1) a personal account and 2) reserve their company’s name/business page on each of the big four social networks, those being Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. And, if only for the search engine benefits at time of writing, you should join up with Google+ too.
Once you’ve done that, opening a free account with Hootsuite is another must – this is an incredible tool, a ‘social dashboard’ that allows you to manage your different social networks from one place, schedule status updates in advance, and track clicks on your social links. Just terrific – easy to use and will save you so much time.
This is a must-have! Google Analytics is free software that will give you incredibly valuable data on what your website visitors are doing at your site. To install it, you just need to open an account at Google Analytics and paste the snippet of code it provides into each of your web pages.
Blogging software/Content Management System
WordPress is fantastic blogging software – so fantastic and feature-packed in fact that you should seriously consider using it as your website content management system.
WordPress is what I use for this blog, along with the Thesis theme, which is a search-engine friendly framework that integrates with your WordPress blog and has loads of useful features.
Flip video camera
I’d strongly recommend getting involved in video marketing. The Flip video camera is so easy to use and because it’s squarely aimed at the ‘blogger’ market uploading your video is simplicity itself; it even has a USB connector built in that pops out of the side, so no need for cables. It also comes with basic video editing software (including a title feature) included. If you just plan on doing the odd video, an iPhone, if you have one, is an excellent substitute.
Video editing software. If you’re doing a lot of video, Camtasia is a great choice for both ‘to camera’ editing, and also ‘screencasts’ – where Camtasia records what’s happening on your screen and combines it with your audio track (ideal for demonstrating something on your computer, for example). The package costs some money but it’s very powerful software while at the same time being not too difficult for the novice to pick up, and they offer a free 30-day trial.
I have an iPhone 4 and I love it! So powerful it’s just mind-boggling – you can blog from it, take a photo with it and upload it to your site in seconds, interact on your social networks, read email, record high quality video, surf the net, make transactions… if you are serious about using the web as a business tool I’d highly recommend you bite the bullet and just get one – you won’t regret it.Website owner? Google+ is a complete no-brainer for you. Connect with me there now...