Setting up your Online Business March 3rd, 2011
by Hannah Wiltshire of This is Your Kingdom
Before setting up This is Your Kingdom (TiYK), I worked in the city as a corporate lawyer – a totally unrelated field and worlds apart from the work I do now. As you can imagine, this transition involved a great deal of hard work and determination – I read endless guides, books, articles and opinions and pestered a great many of my dear friends who work in the online sector. Thankfully none of them as yet have ‘unfriended’ me.
With this in mind, I thought I would impart some of the knowledge I have gleaned along the way and share my hints, tips and pitfalls with all you Motivated Mums out there thinking about setting up your own online businesses.
Design and Build of the Site:
- Write a detailed specification: clarifying exactly what you want your website to be able to/do. This should include everything from the way in which the pages link together, through to the functionality of the search (keyword only or phrases?) and the complexity of the Content Management System or ‘CMS’ (the administrative area that allows you to edit the site’s content). It’s important to think about any additional functionality you may wish to add in the future as you will find it’s often more cost effective to put elements of this in place at the start. eg. If you would like to add a forum it makes sense to allocated members a user name and password.
- Choose a platform: your budget will dictate the type of site you can create. As most of you will know, a brilliant way to achieve an online presence on a teeny tiny budget is to set up a blog. In my opinion the best blogging platforms are WordPress and Blogger – each of these permit you to can add plug-ins and apps that will personalise the design and layout, allow you to send newsletters and recruit followers plus a million other snazzy things.
If you decide to employ the services of a professional do make sure you discuss all the options available with them, including the possibility of utilising freely available software such as Joomla! Even if you do decide to develop a more bespoke system, the route we took for TiYK, at least you know you have considered all the options and arrived at the most suitable cost effective solution. We worked with Mason Web Development who were brilliant and produced a great and flexible system for a very competitive price.
- Find a designer you love! For me the design for TiYK was all about creating something aesthetically pleasing and suitably ‘lovely’ whilst retaining a high level of user friendliness! I was lucky enough to find each of our designers through a brilliant site called Student Gems – a hub for hiring freelance students. Although the selection process was fairly time consuming the end result was well worth all the effort – I cannot thank Jess (illustrations), Freya (paper-cut logo and buttons) or Pete (design of the site) enough for the love, dedication and hard work they put in to producing the designs for TiYK
- Triple Check Everything! Once the build is complete, before the site goes live pencil in an afternoon to sit down with your designer/web developer and go through each and every aspect of the site – every page view, navigation option and function to check they are all working as you had hoped. Any errors or omissions, amends and tweaks can be discussed and implemented there, reducing the likelihood of any unexpected surprises once the site goes live!
- Spread the Word! Once the hard work is done and your site is ‘live’ it’s time to start telling people about it! Here are a few ideas of how to market your site for free:
- Set up accounts for Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook – all brilliant free marketing tools. Use these to interact with similar minded business, industry specialists and of course your target consumer. If you can, install a (free!) app on your site that encourages users to share content with their followers – try www.sharethis.com
- Don’t be afraid to ask and you shall receive..! Email friends, family and ex -colleagues asking them to spread the word and put you in touch with anyone they think can help;
- Write guest blog posts! At TiYK we are always looking for style conscious folk to divulge details of their favourite local thing with our readers in return for an accreditation and link to their site! We hope this is a great way to raise your profile and fly the flag for your county! Find out more here!
- Use and install Google’s webmaster tools – this will allow you to monitor use of keywords, track your traffic and receive notifications of any (google related) problems concerning your site. If you can, upload a sitemap (this encourages google to index each of the url’s) and remember to regularly check your analytics report – once your visitor numbers start going up it becomes strangely addictive!
- Attend as many networking events as possible. The British Library IP Centre hosts some brilliant ones (some for free) as do Business Link , and of course local community sites such as Motivating Mum!
- Share Your Opinion! Set up google alerts , a brilliant free service from google that notifies you each time a key word/phrase of your choice is indexed. This allows you to keep track of key stories online that affect the industry you operate in – raise your profile by commenting on these whenever you can!
Hannah Wiltshire runs This is Your Kingdom (‘TiYK’), an insider’s guide to lovely local things to see and do in the UK. We raise awareness of inspiring local places, people and produce by showcasing all the brilliant folk ‘making, baking and creating’ across the United Kingdom!
This blog is one of 45 featured in my ebook Motivating Business Mums – now available from Brightword publishing.
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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 at 9:50 am and is filed under - Starting Out. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.