Have you been dreaming of working from home as a virtual assistant, blogger, or content provider? No blaring alarm clock; no crazy commute; and no chaotic mornings trying to get the kids fed/washed/off to school while you search in vain for your purse?
You’re not alone. Lots of moms (and others) share your dream, but only a handful will follow through with it. Why? Because too many of these would-be entrepreneurs mistakenly thing it’s expensive and time consuming to start a business.
Here’s the truth: It’s not expensive – you can get started with three tools and less than $30 – and you can do it today.
Domains: Your Business Address
First, you need a storefront. In a brick-and-mortar world, that would mean renting or buying an actual location. In the online world, it means purchasing a domain name and a hosting account.
Your domain is the address of your business. It’s how you tell people where to find you, so you want to make sure it’s easy to spell and remember, and that it can’t be misconstrued. Some tips:
- Choose .com, not .org or .biz or .info. If someone else is already using MyDomainName.com and you register MyDomainName.net, you’ll be inadvertently sending your traffic to them every time someone mistypes your URL (and they will mistype it).
- Avoid dashes, numbers in place of words, and anything else that will make your URL difficult to speak. Plan ahead for podcasting and interviews and choose a domain name that doesn’t have to be explained.
Moms in a Blog recommends GoDaddy.com for purchasing your domain name.
Estimated cost: $12 for one year.
Hosting: Your Virtual Storefront
Next, you’ll need a home for your website. That’s your hosting account. Don’t be tempted to purchase hosting from the same place you registered your domain. That’s bad business.
Instead, look for a host that offers cPanel access (don’t worry about what that means, just trust me when I say it will make your life much easier) and has a great reputation for service.
Moms in a Blog uses and loves MomWebs.com for your hosting needs. They offer good security for your website, and their support staff is phenomenal. They’ll even install your website software for you so you don’t have to worry about the technical details until you’re ready.
Estimated cost: $15 per quarter for a single website.
Email: It’s How Your Business Grows
Mailing lists are one of those things new business owners tend to think of long after the start-up phase, and that’s a tragedy. You should start building your mailing list immediately. It’s the one thing that will ensure you can stay in contact with your customers and fans, regardless of what Google or Facebook does.
And yes, even service providers need a way to stay in touch with past, present, and future clients. You don’t need an official “newsletter,” you just need to say hi somewhat regularly. Tell them what new tools you’ve discovered (you never know if they might need help with something you’re learning about), what new services you’re offering, and most important, when you have time in your schedule for a new client. It’s a great way to get referrals!
Aweber is the mailing list provider of choice for many online business startups, including Moms in a Blog, because they offer phenomenal deliverability, easy-to-use templates, and great support – all at a price even a new business can afford.
Estimated cost: $1 for the first month.
Time and Money Spent: Less than You Imagined!
Never before has it been so easy (or so inexpensive) to start your own business. Putting all the pieces in place will cost less than dinner out, and can be accomplished in a weekend. If you’ve dreamed of working from home – you have no more excuses. Just get out there and do it!
About the Author
Cindy Bidar is a full-time virtual assistant specializing in technical troubleshooting and website maintenance. She also helps other VAs develop critical skills to grow their business and their income through the virtual assistant training guides at www.EducatedVA.com.