5 Essential Investments for Any Online Entrepreneur

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woman money 17 300x199 photoThere are tons of people who are interested in making money online. There are also tons of people who are already making money online. Some manage to generate some extra spending money and they are satisfied. Others strive to support themselves and their families by working online from home. Many of these people end up failing, for a number of reasons.

Obviously each person’s situation is unique and we can’t really account for all the variables when it comes to each individual. However, the most important investments will generally be the same for everyone who wants to find success in internet marketing or making money online in general.

The following list contains the five basic pillars of your online career success. They are the foundation of your internet marketing business, regardless of which niche you choose. If you’re a newbie, use these suggestions as goals that you plan to achieve within the first six months of your online money making efforts.

Domain/Hosting

This one is pretty important, so don’t put it off for too long. It’s perfectly fine to start out using a free domain from a service like Blogger, but you want to upgrade to a custom domain name and paid hosting package as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that buying a domain and paying for hosting each month won’t set you back much at all. I recommend registering your domain for AT LEAST two years to start with. The main reason for doing this is the SEO benefit from Google. Since most spam sites only register domains for the minimum one year period, Google automatically gives your domain less page rank when you do this.

I personally use Namecheap to register my domains. They are cheap and their customer service rocks. Registering a new domain name for two years will cost you somewhere around $23.00. In my opinion, this is worth the money as soon as you are able to afford it. As far as hosting goes, I recommend HostGator. Their Baby Croc package (the one I use for this blog) only costs $9.95/month, which is very reasonable.

Need help with choosing the right web host for your business website? Check out this list for some valuable advice.

Extra credit: I highly suggest that you also pay for an email address for your domain name. This looks much more professional and people will take you more seriously than if you are using a free email service.

Payment Processor

If you want to make money online while working from home, you will need a method of receiving payments. That’s pretty damn important, right? So you have two main options to choose between: applying for an actual merchant account or using a payment processor like Paypal.

I do not recommend Paypal at all, but it is the easiest and most simple service that will allow you to start accepting credit card payments immediately. Just be sure to exercise extreme caution when using Paypal and be aware of the risks associated with their less than trustworthy services.

While no perfect alternative to Paypal currently exists, there are some worth looking into, depending in your business model and situation. You can find a comprehensive list of Paypal alternatives here. My top recommendations to check out for receiving and sending payments online are Amazon Payments, Google Checkout, Dwolla and Payza (formerly AlertPay).

TOS/Privacy Policy

If you are serious about your online business, you should convey that to your website visitors in every way possible. There are certain elements that people expect to find on authority sites, which is exactly what you want to establish yourself as over time. As you probably already know, we place a high value in professionalism when it comes to trusting and respecting a business in the real world. The same applies online.

Among the most important links that visitors should find in your site’s footer or even in the top navigation are the terms of service/user agreement and the privacy policy. While these may sound like scary or intimidating titles, the documents themselves do not have to be written by an attorney or cost you tons of money to produce.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with using free online resources to generate these when you are just starting out. Having something in place is always better than having nothing at all. Besides, that just looks incredibly amateur and will make your visitors suspicious.

Visit this site to get started on creating your Terms of Service, and make this site your next stop in order to get a Privacy Policy written up.

Important: Don’t forget that the links for both of these documents should be featured on your homepage and be easily found by anyone visiting your site for the first time.

Professional Logo

This one ties in directly with the last item on this list. Investing in a professional logo design is a crucial element of your business branding and plays a huge role in the image that people will associate with your company. Again, don’t make the mistake of being cheap when it comes to your logo. It will only end up hurting your brand’s reputation in the long run.

There are tons of affordable options for getting a professional quality graphic design for your logo. If you save up a few hundred dollars, you can use a crowdsourcing service like 99Designs for your logo design project. Going that route is probably the closest thing to having your cake and eating it too, since tons of different professional designers will submit their best work to compete for your business. You choose the design you like the most, and only pay one designer.

If your budget is a bit more modest than that, I suggest using a similar service which is priced slightly lower than 99Designs or getting super frugal by searching for a Fiverr seller with lots of good feedback for logo designs.

Autoresponder

While this item is not a must-have, I still feel like it’s important enough to include on this list. An email newsletter service or autoresponder is not something that every business needs, but it remains a fact that email is among the most effective methods of online marketing for the majority of businesses. That being said, it’s worth at least considering.

There are tons of email marketing services out there, each of them offering their own unique features. Choosing the best one for your business will really depend on what niche you are in and what you are marketing. There is no one size fits all when it comes to choosing an autoresponder service.

And you may not need a paid service. You may want to start with a free newsletter service, such as Letter.ly or TinyLetter. If you decide to upgrade to a more robust provider in the future, I suggest AWeber for most internet marketers. If you are trying to market a brick and mortar business, you may find a service like iContact better suited to your needs.

 

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3 Responses to 5 Essential Investments for Any Online Entrepreneur

  1. Just a couple of points before my actually comment:

    1. Paypal really isn’t that bad, is it? They appear to be the leader of the industry, and has been holding it down for years. What is the most glaring reason (to you) as to why one should avoid Paypal?

    2. I don’t see why any internet marketer or small business owner would pass up on an autoresponder. At the rate the internet market is expanding and online transactions are going, I am surprised that you didn’t place this near the top of your list.

    I did, however, get very good information from this article. ESPECIALLY about the logo. This is something I have thought about getting for years but didn’t know where to start. Thanks to me finding your blog on the first page of Google (Blogs) I now have sources to attack and finally accomplish this aspect of branding.

    I really like this website, though. I will be Pinning this shortly, and I am looking forward to more of your helpful point of views.

    PS. Wow! Name Cheap really is very reasonable.

    • Ashly Lorenzana says:

      Hi there, Kevin.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. In response to your questions:

      1. I didn’t think anything bad about Paypal either, until I ran into problems with them. I never had a single chargeback or dispute in my account, never used it for anything fraudulent and was all in good standing (as far as I knew).

      I then found out that Paypal considers themselves the moral police of digital downloads when I discovered that selling my eBook (a memoir about a time in my life when I worked as an escort) was considered a violation of their “acceptable use policy.” This of course was a stretch since the content of my book was actually quite tame by anyone’s standards and was not what I’d consider “sexually explicit” by any means.

      I also sell this book on Amazon and Smashwords (the latter of which ran into the same issue recently regarding adult themed eBooks and erotic literature). They finally agreed to not censor ebooks on Smashwords, but they simply banned my account for selling an eBook.

      It was after that experience that I discovered how many others were treated unfairly by Paypal and I was shocked at all the horror stories of people who were victims of Paypal freezing their accounts and refusing to release their funds for 180 days.

      Did you know they have entire websites DEVOTED to stories about how Paypal has mistreated their users and customers? A good example is http://screw-paypal.com/. That site is loaded with useful info about the shady practices that Paypal engages in. It’s definitely worth a look, so you can form your own opinion based off more than just my word.

      But if you never have any trouble with them, then I agree it’s a great service!

      2. As for the importance of an autoresponder for internet marketing, I actually agree with you on this one. I wasn’t necessarily listing the items in this post in any particular order, to be honest. I think autoresponders are an important part of any internet marketing strategy, though I would say that newbies should do their research first and understand how to implement them before investing in an email marketing solution.

      I’m really glad you found the logo sites useful, I can honestly say that 99Designs will get you AMAZING results that are of the highest quality. I have a couple of friends who have held contests on that site and I was quite impressed with all the professional designs they had to choose from.

      Thank you for pinning my site, I really appreciate that!

      And yes, I really do love NameCheap. They have great deals and their support is available around the clock via live chat. They are a pleasure to work with!

  2. Pingback: 5 FREE Internet Marketing Tools to Get You Started | Ashly Lorenzana

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