There is ONE Mistake You Should Never Make in your online business…
In this article, you’ll learn why your ads and posts may not be converting as expected, and what you can do to instantly change that.
Nobody wants traffic without conversion, so if you have a product, most especially a digital product, then you need to be absolutely sure you are marketing your product to the correct stage of your target buyer's journey. If you mess up this one critical component, you'll never get conversions. Sound confusing? It's really not…read on for more!
Why are my Facebook ads not working?
One of the biggest mistakes that I see businesses of all sizes make with their online marketing and advertising efforts, is that they put together an ad (such as a Facebook ad or a Google ad) and they start driving traffic to the product or service that they are offering.
Oftentimes, they are paying for these ads, and looking at their analytics, wondering why they are not getting any sales. They are wondering:
Why am I not getting any sales…how long does it take, or are the ads being shown to the right audience?
How do I know what makes an ad “good” compared to a “not so good” ad?
I’m not sure how to interpret the data.
The problem is not that your product or service is a bad idea, the problem is that you are likely marketing to the wrong phase of the sales funnel.
Think about it. If you’ve never heard of someone, are you going to just scroll through your social media feed and then pull out your credit card as soon as they catch your attention?
Of course not.
You’re not an idiot.
You’re going to do some research first.
Look at their website.
Read some reviews. Maybe ask around.
Check out their other social media channels.
Just because they got your attention with their ad doesn’t mean you’re rushing to open up your wallet and buy…especially if what they’re offering is upwards of $500. But listen closely…even if it’s only $50.
The Digital Business Model
The part of the digital business model that includes the digital sales process has 3 very different phases of the buyer’s path toward purchasing your product or service.
These 3 phases are: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
When you develop a digital marketing campaign, remember the very first step is to first determine who you are targeting, but what most people forget, is that you also need to determine what phase they are in.
You absolutely must only market a decision phase offer (ie: your product) to someone who is in the decision phase! This does not work on a cold audience.
Here’s the thing, you can’t market a bottom of the funnel product (i.e.: something you expect them to pay for) to a top of the funnel prospect. Top of the funnel means that they are a cold audience. Reference the sales funnel diagram below.
People whom you are trying to attract to your business….Those are cold, those are the people who don’t know you, but you’re trying to get the word out about a solution you have to their problem.
Why can't I market my product to a cold audience?
Because if they don’t even know you yet, they don’t trust you. In order for someone to buy from you, they must first believe that you have a solution to their problem and that you can help them.
This is the single reason why so many coaches and online entrepreneurs fail miserably and lose their money on Facebook when they run ads for digital products. Because they’re running an ad to an audience that has never heard of them, they’re not ready to buy yet.
What exactly is the solution?
The better option is to market a lead magnet to your cold audience, and gain their trust by giving them something valuable in exchange for their email address. It’s a quick win for them because you’re giving them something that will make their life easier and solve a problem for them, allowing them to move forward, this proves that you can actually help them. So you gain their trust.
Next is where the nurturing comes in. Now that you have their email address, you can move them down the sales funnel to the next phase which is a warm lead, and eventually with the right automation sequence, you can feed your evergreen lead machine in a way that enables them to become ready to open up their wallet and buy from you.
See how that works? Lead first. Email them about your offer next. After some nurturing of course.
So, then, what is Clickfunnels, and how can it help me grow my business?
Maybe you’ve heard of Clickfunnels and you’re wondering what exactly it is, and how it can help you grow your business.
Think of this post as your official initiation into understanding how this tool works, and I promise you’ll walk away with a ton of ideas about how it will help grow your blog or your online business.
Now listen, I love my husband dearly, but I am a fempreneur all the way. I support women-owned business, shattering the glass ceiling, and all things #GirlBoss, especially in online business.
Clickfunnels was developed by a guy, and I’ll tell you right now, a lot of people who use this software fit into that category of men that make webinars showing their fancy sports cars (in the industry we call this “bro-marketing”).
But if you can get past their hype, you will recognize that the software really is exceptional, just don’t go to their Facebook Group with 100,000 members for support, because it’s full of arrogance and you’ll never get the support you need.
It’s not a good place for women entrepreneurs.
The software itself is magical, but I hate their Facebook group with a passion.
Ready to rock and roll?
How does a FREE half hour consulting call sound?
If you're interested…keep reading.
So Clickfunnels is relatively “new” in the world of online marketing, as it only started in 2014, but here’s what it actually is, just in case you’ve never heard of it or you’re wondering if this post is even relevant to you:
Clickfunnels is a cloud-based software tool that you can use to create stunning landing pages for lead magnets, selling your digital products, and even webinars in order to grow your business.
Cloud-based simply means you can log into their website from anywhere and work on your website. You don’t have to download and install anything onto your computer. It’s very robust, but super intuitive and easy to use. I use it every day. Seriously…every.single.day.
What Clickfunnels is not:
Clickfunnels is *not* the same thing as your email marketing software, such as Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or Aweber. While Clickfunnels does give you the option to use their own built-in email marketing platform, I would not recommend it.
Instead, start with a free account from ConvertKit (Click here to sign up for the FREE account!). Almost all of the newer email marketing automation providers integrate with Clickfunnels, but in my experience, I have found that ConvertKit is the one that does the job best.
MailChimp used to be the only one that was free, however, in late 2019, ConvertKit rolled out a free program, so this is actually a game changer because ConvertKit is far and away the best email automation provider. Why? Because you can see your automations visually (like HubSpot). HubSpot is an enterprise system that is best suited for businesses making over $250,000 per year in annual revenue (and they require payment up front) so many new bloggers don’t have the ability to go pro with HubSpot Automation right away, but in my opinion, the closest you can get to HubSpot is definitely ConvertKit!
Clickfunnels offers a ton of one-click templates that allow you to start with a sales page (that is proven to convert) and then just customize it with your own brand colors and photos (and text obviously!). Because they offer tons of templates, you’ll be putting up high-converting landing pages and easily sending content upgrades like a pro!
What do you use Clickfunnels for?
Clickfunnels is super robust, you can use it for a variety of tech needs. If you can only afford to pay for one software tool, this is the one, because it can do so much! Here are 5 things you can do with Clickfunnels:
1. Use Clickfunnels to Create Your Own Website
If you don’t already have a website, you can create your website pages and essentially DIY your very own website using Clickfunnels. They offer templates with menu navigation so you can literally put a menu at the top on your regular website pages and then create your landing pages without the navigation!
2. Use Clickfunnels to Host Webinars
Webinar software can be pricy, but this solution allows you to do them nearly for free by embedding either a live broadcast or your evergreen video. It’s a great option for anyone getting started with webinars so that you don’t have to fork over the cost of software like WebinarJam right off the bat.
3. Use Clickfunnels for Automated Content Upgrades
If you’ve already signed up for a ConverKit account, then you will see how Clickfunnels is an excellent solution for content upgrades because you can style your forms to match your brand. While you can also do this inside ConvertKit, the catch is that there is a limited amount of customization. If you want to grow your list with content upgrades, but don’t know how to figure it out tech-wise, Clickfunnels can help. Here is an example of an appropriate Content Upgrade for this blog post.
4. Use Clickfunnels to Create Beautiful Opt-In Popups
There is nothing worse than a popup that appears when you least expect it. The beauty of Clickfunnels is that you have complete control over your opt-in! I like to use a button, so if someone is interested, they click the button and know that a popup will appear. I use this on my landing pages a lot, and it’s also great for giving away free lead magnets.
5. Use Clickfunnels to Create Landing Pages and Sales Pages
This is one of my favorite things about Clickfunnels. Most of the time, designing a proper lead magnet landing page or sales page on on your blog or website is difficult because many WordPress themes don’t easily remove your navigation menu, or you have to figure out which plugins will work best or even mess with the code. Instead of all this, Clickfunnels makes it mega easy. You can literally just use one of their templates and it takes 10 minutes.
How Can Clickfunnels Help Improve Your Blog or Online Business?
I like to design my content upgrades in Photoshop or Canva so that I can insert an image of the free checklist or worksheet people will receive if they subscribe (it’s more convincing) as shown in the example above (you can also click on the link to create an account with ConvertKit for free so you can do these yourself), but if you’re looking for an easier solution, then Clickfunnels allows you to easily insert a clickable button right inside of their software.
Using Clickfunnels for Affiliate Marketing with a Bridge Page
If you do any advertising or Affiliate Marketing at all, Facebook Ads or Google Ads for example, then you already know that you have to send visitors to a verified website that you are connected to, and you cannot send them directly to an affiliate product.
Sending paid ads to a landing page means that they only have one choice: to subscribe or leave. There are no other distractions to keep them from opting in, so if they like your offer, they’ll subscribe. If you are selling something, then you can then put them in an email nurturing sequence to eventually pitch your product. Conversion rates on landing pages are much higher than simply sending someone to a blog post, and most often, if you’re paying for ads, you want to get the best chance of conversion. You can do that with Clickfunnels!
Once you have someone’s email address, you’re able to communicate and build a relationship with them. It’s much different than if they simply visited your blog once, two weeks ago and never come back.
Online marketing is no longer an option for today’s small business owner, and if you’re trying to start or grow an online business, then Clickfunnels is a no-brainer.
With as many as 90% of small businesses using online tactics, the question isn’t when, but what tools will you use to expand and grow your reach?
Too often, business owners feel stumped by all of the options, allowing all of them to take a back seat instead of harnessing the power of the ones that really make a difference.
Maybe it’s a fear of the unknown or the overwhelm that comes with learning something new. Whatever the case, the effective use of these online tools can confuse even the most seasoned business marketer.
But the good news is this…
No matter what stage you’re in, you can reinvent your online presence, starting now! Before Clickfunnels came on the scene, I had several different software integrations all designed to work together. Even though I had been using WordPress for 14 years (and I still do) when I discovered how easy it was to create the exact type of landing pages that I wanted using Clickfunnels, I couldn't believe how much easier the “tech” part of my online business became!
Huge BONUS just for my Blog Readers!
Vogue Media is partnered with Clickfunnels (because I love it that much!) I would never recommend a product that I didn’t personally use and love, so here’s the bonus…
If you decide to purchase Clickfunnels, make sure you click through and start with a FREE 14-Day Trial using my referral link (CLICK HERE for your FREE TRIAL) because if you do, to show my gratitude for the referral, I will offer you a FREE 30-minute phone call or video screen share, live with me, to help you out with anything you might be stuck on!
This is a huge bonus, because if you’re trying to set up an integration or a sales page, or anything…and you get stuck…I can help! But only for my referrals, so be sure to use this link to sign up, then contact me to schedule your free 30-minute session.
Questions about Clickfunnels? Let me know in the comments below!
One of the reasons why many employees choose to work outside the traditional office setting and manage their tasks from home is because working from home has been proven to significantly reduce stress. However, while this may be true for many people, some also experience stress even if they are working from the comforts of their own home. If you are one of these people, and you are looking for ways to reduce your stress levels while working from home, here are 5 tips:
1. Schedule your work when you are most productive
If you’re working in an office, you are most likely required to report at set schedules like 9 AM to 5 PM. Whether you’re a morning person or not, you would have to get up and brave the morning commute every single day. This daily grind is one of the reasons why many people choose flexible working times and the option to work from home.
What’s surprising is that many people still follow a fixed 8-hour schedule even if they’re working from home. For many, this is the sure-fire way that they can get things done and separate their personal stuff from their work tasks. Following this can also help avoid working non-stop, which is why many people recommend following a set time. However, sticking to a strict work schedule can also be very stressful and in reality, it defeats the advantage of working from home, which is being able to choose a time when you want to work.
Working from home gives you the flexibility to schedule your work around your personal life so you can achieve a satisfying work-life balance. However, if you’re constraining yourself to a fixed schedule, not being able to keep to this schedule can add to your stress, especially if unexpected things come up.
This does not mean however that you should not keep a schedule at all. Instead of following a regimented nine to five daily routine, find out your peak productivity time that works for you and schedule your tasks during these periods. If you’re the type of person who can’t get things done in the morning, go ahead and snooze away. It will be better for you to schedule your work in the afternoons rather than forcing yourself to work early without achieving anything. If you find, however, that a nine to five schedule is best for you, then that’s also not an issue. The takeaway here is that you have the power to decide when to do your work so use that to your advantage rather than being limited by it.
2. Take frequent breaks
One of the best things about working from home is that if you’re feeling stuck whether mentally or physically, you can always take a break without anyone commenting about it. Many people who work from home do not take advantage of this luxury. Remember that you’re no longer trapped to your office desk so you don’t need to stay there for eight hours straight!
There have been numerous studies suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle, including sitting on an office desk for long periods, can shorten your life. This can also cause a lot of physical pains like backaches and neck pains, which can add to your stress. So, before you even begin feeling eye strain or stiff neck, make sure that you’re giving yourself time to move and breathe.
Get up and stretch out. Go to the kitchen and have a cup of coffee. Contrary to common belief, studies have shown that coffee breaks don’t kill productivity, instead, these breaks can help you become more alert and avoid mistakes. When you take these micro breaks, you are also allowing your brain to recharge so you can be more creative and efficient in doing your work.
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3. Create a dedicated workspace
Whether you live in a small studio space or a five-bedroom home, it is recommended to have a dedicated working space that you can call your own. It can be an entire home office or just a small desk by the window. What’s important is that you do your work in that space and if people live with you, they are aware that that space is for you.
Why is this important? When you don’t have a fixed space to work in, you’re most likely to use just any available space in the house. This will expose you to a lot of distractions. One of the pitfalls of working from home is having these distractions. These distractions can come in the form of family members, roommates, television, or even your own bed. When you are distracted from your work, the tendency is that you won’t be able to complete your tasks on schedule which can be very stressful. This can be avoided if you have your own workspace away from these distractions. If you don’t live alone, try to avoid working in common rooms like the living room or kitchen where people may come and go constantly.
4. Get rid of clutter
If you’re reading this while you’re in front of your work desk, take a hard look at your working table and your office. How many items do you really need in that space? Are all the items around helping you become more productive? If there are items that are not necessary, these may be adding to your stress. According to a study, clutter can restrict your ability to focus, process information, and can make you distracted.
Make sure to have your work area always clean and organized. Remove unnecessary items in your work area to help you focus better. If you have an uneaten bar of candy beside your laptop, a coffee mug from two days ago, or paper files that you haven’t touched in months, then it’s time for you to do a KonMari makeover of your workspace and get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy, or in this case, spark productivity.
5. Know when to log off
There are people who believe that working from home can cause more stress. This is because you can be at risk of longer working hours, unpaid overtime, lack of sleep, or the inability to separate work from your personal life. When you’re working from home, nobody is there to command you to keep working, but at the same time, nobody will also switch off the lights and tell you to go home. The temptation to just keep on working exists which can result in overworking and stress. How can this be avoided?
The best way to avoid working non-stop is to become results-oriented in planning your day. Prioritize what you want to achieve during your workday using realistic timelines. Don’t cram in too many tasks when you know that it’s impossible to finish those tasks in eight hours.
If a job is too big to finish in a day, break it down into smaller tasks and stop when the tasks are completed. For example, if you’re supposed to write a 30-page report which you know you can’t complete in one day, divide the work into 10 pages a day over three days. After completing 10 pages, stop working and continue the next day.
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Another useful tip is to take time to plan your schedule. If you know what work is coming your way, calendar your tasks early on to avoid stressing out and cramming when the deadlines are near. Use a digital calendar that can prompt you of your deadlines so you’ll not miss out on important dates.
Busting work from home stress
Working from home can provide a lot of benefits to employees, however, if you practice poor work habits, you could suffer from numerous distractions which can stress you out. Following the recommendations above could help you in managing your work and hopefully, reduce your stress levels when working from home.
This blog was contributed by Nathan Sharpe. Nathan is a business advisor and business writer at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.
Pinterest for Business: Your Guide to Proper SEO + Keyword Research
Are you using Pinterest for business effectively? Pinterest is a search engine, in other words, it’s a place for research and discovery, just like Google. The difference is that Pinterest is visual…in fact Pinterest is the largest visual search engine in the world!
While most people tend to think Pinterest is a social media network, it's very different from other social networks in that by using proper SEO techniques, pins can be continuously discovered for years! My best performing pin is actually from 2014.
A user of Pinterest could be actively searching for ideas like recipes, DIY, and home decor, or they could be passively searching for dreams, plans, and goals without even realizing it. Unlike other social networks like Facebook or Twitter, your content has the potential to show up in front of people who are not yet “following” you. But in order to get your content seen by the right target audience, you need to add very specific words and phrases in just the right places…and this is called SEO or search engine optimization.
Here’s an example:
If I type in a phrase such as “chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing” I would expect each different photo that appears in the search results to lead to a website with a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing when I click on it. It doesn’t matter if the pin was posted in 2014 or yesterday, if the picture and the words match what I’m searching for, then Pinterest is smart enough to know that and return the results when someone is searching. Pinterest is so smart, in fact, that it can even discern what the picture is even if there isn’t any text to accompany the picture.
Smart and savvy businesses can use the power of Pinterest search to get discovered. Niche businesses with target customers who match the primary users of the platform tend to do quite well. The reason is because the nature of a search engine is to return the results with the closest match to what the user is searching for. It’s a great way to ensure the right people find your content. This translates into something called attraction marketing, in other words, hyper-qualified leads that are actually searching for what your business has to offer. When you are consciously specific and strategic with your choice of keywords and long tail keyword phrases, you have a good chance of attracting your target audience.
What is a keyword and a long tail keyword phrase in the context of Pinterest?
Lets look at the example of the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. Think about what a user would search for when you would expect this to match their results. Perhaps they are searching for a recipe, so the keyword would be: “chocolate peanut butter cupcakes” while a long tail keyword phrase might be something like: “gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cupcakes recipe.” It’s better to be more specific.
If you only use the keyword “cupcakes” then the search engine isn’t sure what kinds of results to provide, but if you use that long tail keyword phrase, there is no question about what you’re looking for. As a business, the more specific you can be, the better. Notice how this Pin pulls in the keyword description directly from the blog post as well as a pin description with appropriate keywords and hashtags:
How to Ensure Your Pinterest Business Account is Set Up Properly
Every board, board description and pin description should be completely filled in with hyper relevant keywords and phrases that sound natural. Some people make it a practice to “keyword stuff” their descriptions, and this is definitely the wrong way to go about Pinterest optimization. An example of a description with “keyword stuffing” would be:
This board is about cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, peanut butter cupcakes and all things cupcake. Need a cupcake recipe? Here you’ll find cupcake recipes and gluten-free cupcake recipes. Are you hungry for cupcakes? Try one of our cupcake recipes.
As you can see, this paragraph isn’t easily “readable” because it’s too stuffed with the word cupcake. Instead a better board description would be:
This board contains recipes for the best gluten-free cupcakes. You’ll find recipes for all different flavors, each accompanied by a gluten-free recipe option.
The algorithm on Pinterest knows how to categorize your content and share it with those who may not follow you but are interested in the topic; however if you stuff a bunch of words that are either too broad or not hyper-relevant, the algorithm recognizes that and penalizes you by not showing your content to your intended target audience.
Want to learn more about how to get your Pinterest Business account set up for success? Download my FREE Pinterest for Business Getting Started Checklist!
Pinterest SEO for Business
The first step to proper Pinterest SEO is to make sure people are actually searching for what you think they’re searching for. Sometimes we tend to think people are searching for our product or services, but in reality they are using a completely different keyword phrase. For example, when I worked for a digital agency, I was optimizing a website for a client who sold a digital product that helped connect sales and marketing teams.
Initially, I made the assumption that potential customers were searching for the term “sales and marketing alignment” which has a search volume of almost 600 searches each month. In reality, only a fraction of the people searching for the product actually used those exact words. Instead, they used the words “sales enablement” which had 8,900 searches per month. So while proper SEO includes using simple words that fit into your niche, it’s important to research the words and phrases to ensure you are using words that are both relevant as well as highly searched for.
It’s best to keep your descriptions brief and straight to the point. You can use up to 500 characters in your pin description and that also includes hashtags. However, I would recommend keeping your hashtags limited to 3 hyper-relevant tags.
For example, #cupcakes is not super relevant and would be difficult to rank for unless you are a very large and well established account. Instead, you might use a hashtag like #chocolatepeanutbuttercupcakes
Keep in mind Pinterest users are mainly looking at the picture. Pins that are sized at 2 to 3 are the best performers. Most of the time, people won’t click on a rectangular pin because its much smaller and harder to see. If a picture gives someone all the information they need, they will either pin, scroll, or click. Most of the time, people overlook the title and description, but those are important so that Pinterest can properly find and categorize your pins properly. The titles and descriptions don’t need fancy, but they do need to be informative.
5 Places to Put Keywords on Pinterest
1. Your Website First
First and most importantly, optimize your website. When you write a blog post, you should include keywords and long tail keyword phrases into the title and meta-description of the Pinterest image that is attached to that blog post. Alt-text inside the image on your website is specifically meant to describe what the image is showing, it’s not the same as the image description. Alt-text is meant for the visually impaired.
There are two ways to accomplish this. One is by using the Tasty Pins plugin (if you have a WordPress site). The other way is to add the description manually by using the data-pin-description tag inside the code editor.
Why do SEO on your website first?
If your Pinterest account is connected to your website properly, it will pull the meta-data directly from the blog post. In other words, when someone pins your pin directly from your website, the specific information included inside your blog post optimization carries over to the pin.
2. Pin Descriptions
If you’ve already optimized your website, the Pinterest description will carry over and you won’t have to do anything when you pin. The best way to create a brand new pin on Pinterest is by pinning it directly from your website. When the pin image matches the blog post featured image and all the meta-data matches up, Pinterest recognized your pin as high quality. However, there are times when you will want to upload a pin image directly to the platform. The only time I upload a pin image directly is when I direct it to one of my YouTube videos. In that situation, I add a title and description to the pin, and then edit the URL to video or landing page.
Your profile is a great place to add keywords and it’s one that is often overlooked. There are two places you can add them. First, your business name. Include your business name and a brief description of what you do. Pinterest limits the amount of characters in your title, but you can add more inside the profile description.
Use this section to let prospective customers know how you’re going to serve them with the type of content or niche you are in. You can repeat keywords that you used in your business name.
4. Board Titles
In this section, it’s important to consider who your target customer is. Be specific in the types of titles you use. Use hyper-targeted and descriptive keywords and phrases. For example, it’s better to create a board called “cupcakes” and pin cupcake recipes to it rather than creating a more generic board such as “desserts”. While regular people (i.e.: your potential customers) use Pinterest for pleasure and may not care whether their pins get shown to other people, as a business, you want your pins to get shown to people when they are searching for “cupcakes” so your pins have a much better chance of being seen when they are pinned to a “cupcake” board rather than a “dessert” board.
5. Board Descriptions
This is the place where you will tell the user what you pin on the board. Write complete sentences in a natural way. Add a few hyper-relevant sentences about what kind of pins go on the board, and repeat the keyword and long tail keyword phrases.
Know Your Pinterest Audience
Last but not least, the goal with Pinterest SEO is to target your intended audience. Think about it this way: you want to attract the kind of people who will want to consume your content and share it with their friends. If you’re stuck on which keywords to use, my advice is to start with a simple list of 10-15 words or short phrases that you believe people would type into a search to find your content. In the world of marketing and advertising, we create something called a “persona” or an “avatar”. This is your “ideal” customer. Each pin (or piece of advertising) is intended to attract your ideal customer.
Once you get your target audience clicking on your pins and landing on your website or product page, make sure you are using something like the Milotree app to help convert them into Pinterest followers. If they find your content interesting enough to click over from Pinterest, it’s important to wow them with a reason to stick around and follow you for more!
No…really…how much does it REALLY cost to start a blog or an online business?
First things first…the most successful online businesses also require a blog, and if anyone tells you differently, they're either not being truthful, or they just don't know. There are various types of online businesses, and the biggest myth on the internet is that you can do affiliate marketing without a blog. Yes, you can, if you want to make fifteen cents a month.
Ok, maybe not fifteen cents, but you can't make enough money to live on. The most successful super affiliates even have a blog or squeeze page builder.
So the short answer is that you can start a blog for free, but quite honestly, free blogs are not only mediocre, you will gain zero credibility with your online business and nobody will take your blog or your business seriously. The better question is:
How do I actually Make Money from my Blog so that I can turn it into an Online Business?
DO: Use the term “blog” and “website” interchangeably. For the purpose of starting an online business, they are one and the same.
This article will address most of your questions. The reality is that you don't really have to spend a lot of money to get started. In fact, if you do spend money, just a little (we're not talking thousands here) you will be able to get an amazing blog (website) theme that will help you gain credibility faster.
You can start a blog (website) that is slightly above mediocre for about $100; however, if you have a little time and desire on your side, my recommendation is to keep reading and you’ll learn that you can DIY your own professional looking blog or website for around $250.
But wait…there's more!
Marketing your blog, website, or even affiliate product on social media and on an email list is a huge part of building a successful online business, but we'll get to that in a minute. First…
This is really the number one question anyone who is even thinking about starting an online business asks:
How much money do I have to fork over up-front to start a blog or website?
Let's focus on the details of how to start a high quality website from scratch. Serious deets. Like the concept is only in your head because you have a career at the moment, but you're frustrated beyond belief because you work your ass off to get your kids where they need to go, your dinner on the table, your work-life balance practically doesn't exist and you've been hearing about these bloggers who rack in thousands each month working from the comfort of their homes.
Did I hit the nerve yet?
You CAN do it too, you just need to know exactly where to begin. This is not just a bunch of pink sparkle here at Vogue Media, but real, actual numbers. Up front numbers. A year down the road numbers. Cold, hard, facts that no one seems to be giving you a straight answer about.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
How much does it really cost to start a blog or a website? Because I hate the answer “it depends” I'm going to give you a straight answer first: you can get started for between $60 and $250, depending upon how Type-A you are. Here’s what you need to know:
The FREE Blog
First things first, sure, you can start a blog for free using WordPress.com, but it’s a waste of time. Nobody will ever take your topic seriously if you do that.
There are basically 2 reasons why people start blogs: 1. to make money online and 2. because they are passionate about a topic. Even if you are passionate about a topic that you want to share with the world, for less than $100 bucks, you might as well set it up right the first time, otherwise, you’ll be kicking yourself in a year from now saying “damn it, I wish I would have set it up right from the start!” Then you’ll experience all kinds of annoying nonsense like trying to figure out how to transfer your blog to the “right” platform while still keeping your readership, making sure your site doesn’t go “down” while you do it, or getting knee deep into an argument with a customer service provider that doesn’t speak your language.
No thanks. No time for that. I’m a mom, I only have a limited amount of time anyway. Moral of the story…free is not always better.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org both share a similar name, but there are some very important differences between the two. Lets clear up some of the most common questions about blogging with WordPress.
Is WordPress FREE?
Yes, WordPress is Free. But it’s important to be clear about what exactly is FREE about WordPress. The code itself that makes up the WordPress core files is free. This is called “Source Code”. The WordPress platform is what enables you to make changes to your website without having to be a real web designer or developer who studied computer science. So while the code itself is free, in order to actually use it, you need to know exactly what to do with it.
So, yes, the code found on WordPress.org is free and open source (“open source” means that developers, or people who know how to write the code, can go to WordPress.org and download the files for free, modify those files any way they want…for free). The WordPress core files consist of thousands of pages of code that makes your website work. If you don't know how to read “code” then even if you download the files, you will have no idea what to do with them.
Why might someone without a computer science background use WordPress.org?
Here’s the catch, well, there really isn’t a catch, you just need a little guidance. Quick backstory…I started creating WordPress websites for clients in 2006. Back then, I was pregnant with my first baby and I needed a job with some flexibility, however, most companies were not hiring for “Remote” positions at that time. (Omg, am I really THAT old?)
In fact, digital marketing as we know it today didn’t exist yet in 2006, so I created my own business and my mission was simple…to create beautiful websites for my clients.
Back then, I thought all websites were ugly and that people deserved to have a gorgeous website without having to pay a developer a shit-load of money to get a beautiful website. At the time, the web developers all used the same “ugly blue” hyper-links and the term “web designer” meant “computer science major” not actually a professional designer.
Fast forward 14 years and the moral of this story is that bloggers don’t have to do it the hard way anymore.
In simple terms…It’s not necessary for you to download source files from WordPress.org in order to use the “Free” version of WordPress. Instead, the easiest and most intuitive way to get your online business started is to create an account with BlueHost.
BlueHost is the most beginner-friendly hosting provider that exists today, yet it's a complete platform that offers everything you need to run your business. But more on hosting in a moment. Let me explain what hosting is and why you need the right host.
The difference between the “Free Source Files” from WordPress.org and the “Free Blog” from WordPress.com:
WordPress.com is that platform that enables you to set up your blog completely free of charge, however, there are some VERY BIG disadvantages to using this version:
1. You cannot pick a custom domain name (i.e. your URL will be yoursite.wordpress.com)
2. Very limited monetization options (in other words, you can’t sell anything on your website and ads are very limited, so there is little opportunity to make money with your blog if you opt for the “free” version
3. Limited use of plugins for such things as an email list
4. You have to pay anyway if you want to have the WordPress branding removed
5. There is very limited theme support and very basic design themes
6. Limited analytics and SEO capabilities
WordPress.org contains the source files, however, you don’t need to be a developer to use them if you create your blog through a hosting company such as BlueHost. Here are the advantages to buying a hosting plan from BlueHost for about $60:
1. Fully customizable design
2. Unlimited plugin options
3. Your own branding
4. Full monetization
5. Powerful SEO features (so people can find your site easier on Google)
6. Capability for a membership site, or affiliate site
Here’s the stark reality: you can’t make money using a free blog from WordPress.com. Period. End of Story.
You might think that you don’t care about making money, you care about your cause. You’re super passionate about this topic that you plan to blog about. It’s a small niche topic and you’ve got some serious intel about it…and that is a great start!
But you see your blog, it’s kind of a like this virtual, inanimate love. You’ll nurture it, take good care of it, share it with others, and you’ll want it to be top notch. You’re not just any blogger, you’re about to pour your heart and soul into this and you want to run with the big dogs, because your topic has the potential to inspire others around the world.
This is not just.any.blog.
GirlBoss Secret: Raise your standards, and the universe will meet you there.
The $100 Blog
The first step to starting a real, respectable blog will cost you less than $100. What you are paying for is called hosting. Your hosting account stores all your “virtual” website files. It’s kind of like a virtual file cabinet. But if you are still wavering between the Free Blog and the $100 blog, take it from someone who has been doing this for a VERY long time, I would never, ever, ever, ever, in a million years recommend using WordPress.com to create a Free blog.
But what if you’re not a developer? What if your fear is that you have no idea how computer code works? What if you get stuck?
You dream about having a blog that makes money while you sleep. One that looks professional…like a designer created it. That’s the kind of blog you want. But you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on it. At least not yet.
Lets get back to being transparent about how this all works. You don’t have to be a designer or a developer to DIY your own stunning WordPress website. You just have to be willing to spend a little bit of time to educate yourself about how it works, and then spend a little time and money to get it set up the right way.
In order for your blog or website to be up and running on the world wide web 24 hours a day 7 days a week, those files you are getting for ‘free’ from WordPress.org need to be stored somewhere…and that is called hosting…remember your virtual file cabinet that I mentioned above?
Storing your website’s files, is not free, and neither is owning your domain name. However, hosting is very inexpensive, especially if you choose a reputable host such as BlueHost, so the benefit of setting up your website or blog through a solid registrar is of the utmost importance. Not only does BlueHost offer hosting for $3.95 per month, it’s basically a “point and click” method whereby your WordPress website is set up in just a few clicks. You don’t even need to go get the source code from WordPress.org because BlueHost does everything for you! It’s quite literally a newbie blogger’s best friend.
This is the very first step to getting your website set up right. You can even check to see if your preferred URL is available right now!
If hosting costs around $60, then what about that other $200?
The great part about DIY is this is that all of these tools are a-la-carte. That means you don’t have to buy all of them at one time or pay a digital agency upwards of $10,000 to get a gorgeous website. Lets break down a few more costs so that you understand how to take your website from ordinary to extraordinary.
The more you buy at a time, the less expensive it is. Typically you can purchase your domain (ie: Your URL) and hosting for up to 5 years at a time. If you choose to purchase only one year, the typical annual renewal fee for hosting is around $80. Note that this annual cost increases significantly if you choose to use a lesser known hosting company such as SiteGround. Often, SiteGround is recommended by amateur bloggers because it has an affiliate program. I have set up websites for hundreds of clients using a variety of web-hosts including: GoDaddy, BlueHost, 1and1, SiteGround, HostGator, and WildWildWest. I think Bluehost is the most intuitive and easy to use for those new to the industry.
Once you set up your account and your blog with BlueHost, you’ll notice that your website looks very ordinary. WordPress comes standard with their “year” themes such as 2017, 2018, and 2019. These are fine, they will get the job done, but they are all rather ordinary.
This is where the “Type-A Personality” comes in.
If you’ve been reading up, you’ll notice that the most beautiful blogs do not look “ordinary” and you probably want yours to look nicer. More Professional. You may already have a logo and preferred color scheme, and a plain-Jane or free WordPress theme isn’t going to launch your blog into the final cut where you can run with the big dogs.
In order to get a beautiful website design, the most efficient method is to purchase a theme which will cost anywhere from $35 to $100 depending upon which design you select. The great part about using a theme, is that it easily integrates with your WordPress files, so you can essentially upload the theme and install demo content with one click. Then all you have to do is swap out the text and photos, and you’re all set. The theme fee is a one-time fee. Depending upon which theme you select, some themes may offer an annual “renewal” fee which is anywhere between $50 and $100.
Please know, however, that some themes require you to buy additional plugins to make them work. The Genesis Framework, for example, is one of those.
What's Next in Getting Your Online Business Started?
Now that you’ve got your website up and running, and you’ve shared your blogs on your social media channels, the next most common question is “how do I get more traffic to my website?”
This is where the additional tools and potential expenses come in. A lot of people think that if they set up their website, people will just find it online. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work. There are no “social media fairies” that magically make people visit your website; it takes a lot of effort…probably more than you originally thought.
From SEO to online advertising and social media marketing, there are a variety of strategies and tools that you can put into place to get more traffic to your blog. The tools that you’ll use depend on the topic that you blog about as well as the type of online business that you are starting, but there are some tools that I highly recommend for ALL online entrepreneurs, regardless of what topic you blog about. These tools are:
No matter what Niche you are in, you will need email automation. A lot of people mistakenly get started with MailChimp or MailerLite because they offer free options. BIG MISTAKE. I could go on and on about how much of a headache you will have later if you do this, but that is for a completely different blog article.
The best choice for businesses just starting out is ConvertKit. For businesses making over $250,000 per year, then I recommend HubSpot. Why? Well because HubSpot costs a lot.
Watch this video for more information about online businesses
Want to gain some clarity about your Niche and the direction of your online business? Download my FREE Worksheet!
Still need some help? If you would like to schedule a “blog audit” or connect to discuss your unique situation, click here. I will personally review your website or consult with you about your business idea and provide you with a written report that focus’ on what you can do to improve your chances of success!