by Meghan Bliss | Featured Contributor
Starting a blog or online business can be one of the best, most sustainable ways to make a living. With so many potential avenues to follow, it can be easy to diversify your income as blogger or online business owner. This can mean a boost in your current income as well as your savings, making debt repayment and retirement a possibility.
But just because it’s a great option doesn’t mean it’ll be simple right off the bat. In fact, starting a blog or founding an online business can be confusing, especially if you have no idea where to start or how to succeed. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to new bloggers and online business owners that make work (and life!) much smoother and easier to handle.
You’ll want to start by choosing the right web hosting platform for your website or blog. While there are multiple options out there to suit professional and hobby bloggers alike, most professionals choose to use WordPress along with a reputable web hosting company. (Here’s what I used.)
Online business owners often go this route too, although there are other website-building options that are a little more user-friendly for those who don’t consider themselves technologically savvy. Of course, it’s best to research each option before deciding which one best suits your blog, business, and ultimate goal.
Once your website is live, you can develop the details, such as creating consistent branding, building an email list, and using social media to advertise your products or services.
Here are a few essentials to help you along the way:
An ecommerce platform. If you’re selling goods online or in person, you’ll need a point of sale system for your transactions. For instance, Shopify POS is an excellent tool for business owners who don’t always operate out of a brick and mortar establishment. This tool allows you to accept credit card payments online and in person while keeping inventory centralized.
An email service provider. As soon as your blog or website is up and running, you’ll want to start collecting the email addresses of potential customers who want to know more about your products and services. MailChimp and Aweber are a couple of examples, but there are plenty of others to choose from, so do some research to find the right fit for you. Offer a free product, such as a digital download, to everyone who joins your mailing list. One of the most valuable aspects of building a mailing list is knowing that when you send emails, updates, and other information, you’re sending it to people who are interested in and will likely purchase what you have to offer.
Social media scheduling. Effective promotion is key for businesses, bloggers, and creatives who need to get eyes on their products. Though there are tons of ways to advertise, social media is one of the easiest and most affordable. Of course, it can also be one of the most time-consuming. That’s why social media scheduling apps are so important. They allow easy, affordable scheduling so you don’t have to spend hours a day pinning, tweeting, and posting.
Branding and graphics tools. Most marketing experts will tell you that branding is about so much more than visuals. It’s also about building a voice and garnering trust, among other things. However, consistent graphics benefit every blogger and business owner because it builds recognition, which is highly valuable. There are plenty of free stock photo websites (try Burst) and design tools (like PicMonkey and Canva) to help you build a recognizable brand.
Plenty of bloggers and business owners run online businesses on the side while working full-time jobs. Of course, building a highly successful website will take time, effort, and persistence. Fortunately, there are tons of great resources to help you get started, and tools like this make it simpler to do both.
Meghan Bliss is the owner and head writer at TheLadyinRead.com, a blog for women who read, write, and want to be read.
After almost four years in finance, Meghan quit her job to write full time. She spends her days blogging, writing novels, and trying to stay off of Pinterest. She also copyedits books, newsletters, manuals, and basically anything else you throw at her — including subtitles and restaurant menus. Her first novel will be released this year.
When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading, clumsily practicing the ukulele, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.
And, as always, trying to find the perfect shade of red lipstick.