When entering into the online business or the world of building and growing (hopefully) profitable websites as a beginner you are going to make mistakes and waste money. The quicker you can shorten your learning curve, minimize mistakes and lessen the wastage (time and money) the better for you.
The aim of this article is to provide the beginner (or in some cases those with website experience) a simple resource to help speed up that knowledge base and get you on the path to a profitable website or online business. This article will outline tips, product recommendations and as well as people to follow in the online world.
We will focus on building websites in this article however some of the information below is applicable to building an online business.
Some Basic Tips
If you are a true beginner a lot of this information will mean very little to you. We recommend that you don’t spend any money at this point in time, just consume as much information in this area for the next couple of weeks.
DON’T spend any money on domains, hosting, plugins, courses, e books or mastermind groups when starting your online journey. Read all the online business information on this website or the free information that is available on the recommended authority personalities/websites that we list later in this article.
DON’T get too worried or panic if most of this information goes over your head. Absorb what you can, take a break then get back into it.
DON’T just blindly follow others or accept what people say as gospel (including this website). Question the motive of people offering advice and really drill down into their advice and recommendations. Just because others have success it doesn’t mean that you will automatically have success so questions everything, including your own actions.
DON’T commit (yet) to building a website or online business based on a hobby or activity you enjoy. Make sure you do your (detailed) research to determine whether there is a market or there is money in the niche that you choose to build a website or business around.
DO consume as much information as you can either reading, videos or podcasts from recommended online personalities.
DO subscribe to this website’s email newsletter as well as those who we recommend later in this article.
DO keep an open mind and write down ideas that you may have to build a website or business around and do your due diligence on these before committing to an idea.
The first 3 months or so you should be absorbing as much information as you can. Again, we’ve recommended a couple of niche website professionals to follow to help speed up your progress. Read through their free content, check out their videos (if applicable) , search for podcasts that they have appeared on and importantly follow them on their social media channels and subscribe to their email newsletters.
Now onto the tips!
1. Set Goals For Your Website/Online Plan
What do you want to achieve online? Do you want to build a website that will earn enough income for you to leave your full time job? Or are you looking to earn a little extra money for some luxury expenses such as a new car or family holiday? Know what you want to achieve before embarking on your online journey. Sure these expectations may change however having an initial goal should be something you outline to work towards.
Also how much time and money can you invest in your website idea? Your progress will obviously be quicker if you can focus significant time and money resources towards your new website however for many of you time and money is of short supply. Don’t stress if this is you. Many people venturing into the niche or affiliate website space started their journey while working a full time job and or having a family so success can be achieved if your time and or money is limited.
You just need to be very good and efficient at allocating your time and money.
2. Planning Out Your Website
What is your website going to be about? Starting out you’ll likely favor a topic or niche that you have some experience or knowledge about. Whilst this will be helpful when coming up with site and content ideas, as we touched on above, due your due diligence to determine whether there is enough money in this niche before committing resources to this project. Determine whether this potential niche is going to be profitable before investing too much time or any money into this.
What I mean by this is, is there going to be a sufficient audience that will read, watch or listen to your content? Will this audience be sufficient for your website to be profitable through product sales or through advertising targeting visitors to your website? Will there be sufficient social media engagement to drive traffic or revenue to your website?
In most cases beginners should avoid highly competitive fields such as money or high end gadgets however in some cases your experience or background may mean you shouldn’t totally avoid them. Through your job, knowledge or previous experience you might be an expert in a particular area of a popular niche which might be worthwhile to build a website or brand around.
Once you’ve picked up some basic knowledge and have an idea of what you can build a website around, do your testing to determine whether it’s profitable (and wide enough) for you to target and make money from. This could be through keyword research (more on this later), general research (using various google tools such as search or trends) or following social media.
3. Selecting Your Niche and Building This Out
Now that you’ve selected your niche, what will your website look like? What type of content will you be focusing on? Will you look to add video or a podcast down the track? How are your social media talents?
Plan out content ideas to draw readers or viewers to your website. Plan out your content, plan out your social media approach, what ideas will you incorporate? Now your website and relevant ideas will be fluid. You don’t know what you don’t know and every day of learning will create new ideas and opportunities. Run with this. Look at successful websites in the niche that you are going to build your website in and look at what they are doing.
How have they designed their website? What content are they writing or producing? As your knowledge increases you’ll be able to see what keywords they are ranking for and get some ideas from this.
In the short term we believe a hands on approach works best. You get a better feel and understanding for your website and you get a quicker learning experience by doing most things yourself. As you learn more (and have more money to spend) , outsource the non trivial aspects of your website and (if possible) some of your content generation. The more experienced (and successful) you become the more systems and procedures you can incorporate into your business and this can help you expand into other websites and online businesses.
4. Finding and Registering Your Domain
Whilst the days of having your niches keyword in the domain name to rank high in Google are behind us you will want to create a concise domain that has some relevance to the niche you are entering. Ideally you will purchase a .com domain as this (in most cases) is a more valuable type of domain rather than one limited to a country ie .ca, .uk or .au or a domain that has a suffix that is sector or niche focused (such as .biz or .blog ). Where possible register a .com domain to build your website on.
If you are having trouble finding a domain name to register look at several domain name generator websites such as Domain Wheel, Namelix, Domain Name Generator or Lean Domain Search to give you some ideas to name your domain. Remember to only use these sites to generate a name, don’t use these sites to register your chosen domain or to sign up for hosting of this domain. We’ll recommend domain registration and hosting suggestions below.
Once you’ve found a domain you’d like to register, do a check to make sure a) it’s available and b) wasn’t in use before and hadn’t attracted any google penalties.
If you stumble across a domain that was previously used and is now no longer in use there may be SEO benefits however do your due diligence to make sure there is no negative impact from its previous iteration such as Google penalties. Experienced website builders may search for an expired domain to build a website on, such as Odys.com however as a beginner in most cases we recommend starting your site on a brand new domain.
To check if your chosen domain name is available the only place we recommend you check this is by using a Who Is search, one that is NOT LINKED to a domain registration or hosting company. We recommend Who Is or Domain Tools Who Is search option. DON’T use a domain registration site to check if a domain is available. When previously kicking around some niche ideas and searching for available domains I found it highly unusual when some of my chosen domains that I thought were initially available were suddenly unavailable after using a Who Is linked to a hosting company and these domains could only be purchased at a significantly higher price to the initial registration fee. Shawna Newman from Skipblast has also mentioned this happened to her previously (in her great Beginner’s Guide To Niche Authority Sites course) as have other people online.
After you’ve found your domain that is available and is either fresh or has expired but had no previous issues it’s time to register this domain.
Our preferred domain name company is NameSilo. Their domain registration rate is $10.95 per domain and each domain comes with a free privacy (WHOIS) option. If you don’t want to be spammed by opportunistic supposed SEO experts or web designers you’ll want to have your domain ownership details private. Other services NameSilo offer include SSL and website hosting however we recommend other hosting providers below.
5. Finding a Suitable Website Host
Now that you’ve found your domain, you need a host to host your domain and website. A host needs to be reliable (i.e. your site is always up), it needs to be fast (particularly for higher SEO rankings) and for the beginner it is very simple to access and navigate with good customer service.
For the more experienced, a good host will also offer easy site migrations (moving a site from one host to another and ideally these are free or very inexpensive) and have super fast speed and options that help with this.
We have two recommended hosting options below.
If you are a beginner (and one on a limited budget), you want your hosting option to be cheap and reliable. Ideally your initial hosting period will be a maximum of 12 months which will give you sufficient time to build and test out your website to determine whether it (or your selected niche) is worth sticking with after the first 12 months.
The first hosting service we recommend is SiteGround. Their 12 month basic no frills hosting option will run for about $60 US (cheaper if you sign up during their Cyber Monday promotion). This is a great price that’s not too expensive and should be one of your only costs whilst you are building your new website.
Every new website we build is usually hosted during its first 12 months with SiteGround. They are reliable, relatively easy to use for a beginner or someone less experienced and have pretty good customer service and uptime. In nearly all cases SiteGround is a great host to build a new site.
The sting in the tail of these entry level providers which also include Bluehost and HostGator is that they offer very cheap hosting services for a certain period, however the sting comes when it’s renewal time where in some cases you could be charged at least 5 times your initial 12 month hosting costs.
MORE EXPERIENCED: WPX
If you are happy with your website after your initial 12 month period we recommend moving to a better hosting service. The one we recommend is WPX. Whilst their annual hosting costs are nearly the same as your SiteGround annual renewal would be, WPX offers the ability to host up to 5 domains/websites on the one hosting plan and the hosting service is significantly better than SiteGround.
That’s not to say that SiteGround is bad, far from it. They are just different offerings in the same field catering to different clientele with different needs. In the case of WPX they provide really fast load times (WPX uses their own SSD servers) that only host WordPress CMS websites, they have their own user admin panel (no cPanel that is prominent with basic level hosting companies) plus they offer free website migration from your previous host. Also their basic hosting plan is for 5 websites and is usually cheaper than most renewal contracts for the “cheaper” hosting services.
For those with larger websites or for those with several websites that own them, moving to another provider such as WPX is the best move for you.
6. Finding a Theme and Relevant Plugins
You’ve found your niche, your domain and selected your hosting service, now let’s look at building your website. In the past it was left to professionals who knew the HTML code to build a website. Nowadays anyone with a basic knowledge of websites can use all these great tools and plugins to build an awesome looking website.
In this article we are going to focus on building a website using the content management system (CMS) WordPress. If you choose to use another CMS there are other quality options to build your website on. There are some who estimate that over 40% of all websites are built on WordPress so for that reason as well as it being our preferred option we will focus on this.
Website design/Finding a Theme
When building a website on WordPress you need to start with a theme. For those with no experience with websites, think of a theme being like a blank canvas. Using plugins, content and other additions we can put together a great looking website with very little technical or coding knowledge needed.
To make it easier for those with very little website technical knowledge or you just struggle in this area, there are theme providers or plugin providers that provide great easy to edit website templates as well as website plugin block editor (takes away the need to know code when editing a website)
If you are really struggling with designing your own website (even with using the above themes and plugins) you can always outsource this to a professional. This shouldn’t cost you that much particularly if you use a freelancer from a website such as fiverr.com or upwork.com
GeneratePress – The theme we highly recommend beginners or those looking for a simple affiliate style website use the GeneratePress theme. It is so easy to use, they have a wide range of website templates that you can install on your website and edit to suit your needs.
By purchasing the GeneratePress theme you get access to the associated plugins that help with all the editing needs and you will have a professional looking website. All of our websites are built on GeneratePress and we love using them.
SeedProd is another drag and drop website builder that doesn’t require code knowledge.
The only hard and fast rule regarding plugins is don’t have any plugins that you don’t need. You want a fast website (one of the ranking factors on Google) so downloading and installing bloated or unnecessary plugins will give you a slow website from a user experience point of view and you will struggle with your Google rankings because of this slow speed.
Also there are some plugins that will be needed on one site but not on another. For example you might be running a membership website and would require a membership plugin to enable this however if you were running a simple affiliate website you wouldn’t need a membership plugin.
Remember speed of your site is a big factor in Google’s SEO rankings, with that said there are a couple of plugins that should be on all websites
The Essential Plugins All Websites Should Have:
Security and Backups (Wordfence and Updraft) (both free with paid options)
Cache – WP Rocket (paid) or W3 Cache (free with paid option)
SEO – SEO Press, Rankmath or Yoast (all free at the basic level with paid options)
Photo Compression – Tiny PNG (free)
Content Delivery Network (CDN) – Cloudflare (free and paid)
Important Plugins That Aren’t Essential
Forms – WP Forms (free with paid options)
Analytics – Not a plugin if using Google info directly however a free/paid option is MonsterInsights (free).
Social media – Grow Social (free)
Email Service Provider – Convertkit (paid)
Landing Page – Optin Monster (free with paid options)
Membership – Memberpress (paid)
Grammar – Grammarly (paid)
Note some of the above plugins are free (or have free options) and some are paid.
Content is the lifeblood of all websites. Whether this is written, audio or video you want to make sure you are giving your readers or subscribers quality content and a reason to keep coming back to your site. With all of your content you will also want to incorporate SEO best practices with your content as well (more on this below)
There are many tips about writing great content however the main point you want to focus on is answering a particular query or topic in an entertaining and engaging way. Keep doing this and you will have plenty of repeat visitors and if you nail your SEO techniques you will likely get plenty of search traffic as well.
Don’t forget to incorporate photos or infographics or charts with your written content and also don’t be afraid to seek out experts in the field for their comments to help build great content.
Regarding written content, this can take many forms. The traditional written form of content is the typical information post or article however there are many other forms that your written content can take. These could include the list post, the round up post, the review or comparison post, the how-to post and the Q&A post. Click here for some ideas regarding content templates.
To look to boost traffic back to your website you can also look to write guest posts on other sites.
Video is another form of content that, while easier to prepare than the written post, can provide some great traffic to your website and can also provide some great revenue as well. With video you don’t need the latest video camera and equipment to produce high quality videos. All you need is a quality iphone or google phone with some good lighting and you are well on your way to
Similar to writing good content, plan out what your video topic will be about, do some research on this and give yourself a test run before pressing record. Remember you don’t have to be a polished presenter, just be succinct with your delivery and answer the question or topic that your video is about.
Click here for more info on producing quality videos.
Social Media Content
Whilst the role of SEO is to help build your website’s brand or to drive traffic to your website, you will want to treat social media content creation in a similar way to your written or video content. Determine what your aim for social media is and then plan out what content you want to produce for your social media channels and start producing.
Remember not to spread yourself too thin across many social media channels, focus on one or two (the ones you think will be more favorable to your brand or website) and keep pumping out the content. This content could (and should) involve written, video and photos/infographics.
Click here for more social media content tips.
Other ideas for content:
Email Newsletter/Email Courses
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and what this means is you want to optimize your content to rank high in search engines (namely Google) for a relevant keyword. SEO is a topic that will take some time to understand and master (though no one can really claim to be an expert on ranking on Google) and is an ever changing landscape.
Some of the basic SEO topics to understand are keyword research, backlinks, on (and off) page SEO and Google (and all their tools/analytics software). Understanding keyword research and the Google tools should be some of the first things you should visit in the SEO space.
As mentioned above SEO help can come in the way of a plugin and popular SEO plugins include Yoast and Rankmath. These plug-ins help tweak your websites On Page SEO to help boost your rankings.
Combine this with quality keyword research and gathering quality backlinks and your website and content will be climbing those Google rankings in no time!
Whilst you don’t need a keyword research tool when starting out once your budget allows we recommend you set up an account with Ahrefs. This tool is amazing to help you across many areas including SEO audits for your website, keyword research (both for your site and to spy on your opposition) and gives you plenty of help and ideas around the SEO topic. The cheapest module for Ahrefs will set you back $100 USD per month.
Ideally you’ll want to learn the basics of SEO however if you have the budget you may wish to outsource SEO to a professional.
Click here for quality SEO tips and ideas to build your SEO education.
9. Social Media
As mentioned above, social media is an important tool to build brand awareness, connect directly with your readers and customers and to drive traffic to your website. It can also take up a lot of your time and depending on the niche or area your website is in could be a big waste of your time.
Look to see what some of the competitors in your niche are doing with social media and if this seems promising then look at following their approach.
Also get an understanding of what you want to achieve with your social media (ie traffic or sales), monitor the relevant conversion rates across the social media channels and stick to your content approach and content calendar.
Also as mentioned above stick to one or two social media channels when starting your website, become an expert on these before looking to expand.
Alternatively if your budget allows you to reach out to a social media expert to do your website’s or brands social media.
This article goes into more detail regarding social media.
10. Email Marketing
An underestimated (and at times under utilized) area of website marketing is email marketing.
**Disclaimer** While email marketing can be great across many niches and topics for some it will be a waste of time and will do little to drive traffic or revenue to your website.
Email marketing (if done well) can boost revenue, increase your brand’s profile, create demand for your content and products and even help you get direct feedback from your customers which can help launch new products. If your niche is suitable, email marketing should become an important part of your website’s marketing plan.
To do email marketing properly you’ll want to use a quality email service provider. The one we recommend is ConvertKit. Whilst they do have a free option you’ll want to sign up for their entry level paid tier. For a newbie or someone relatively new to the online world ConvertKit has great customer support, has plenty of how to guides, videos and a great FAQ area with anything that you are stuck.
Similar to your content and social media plans above, have a plan with your email marketing. Set up a content calendar for your email marketing, add suitable opt-in sections and pop ups to enable people subscribe to your mailing list.
11. Back End Of Your Website
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty part of running a website, the back end. This topic covers many areas such as analytics, revenue, systems and procedures as well as staffing and outsourcing. Let’s start with revenue.
How can you make money with a website? Depending on the niche or area that your website is in will determine the possibilities available to you.
The main revenue streams available to website owners include:
Advertising – Both on your website and inside your emails to your subscribers
Selling products or services
Whilst each of these options can be niche specific or you as the website owner might be aligned to them they are all potentially lucrative revenue streams particularly if you provide quality content that gets repeat visitors or viewers. Don’t try and cater to all of these revenue streams all at once, start with one area and build this up then expand to another area.
Again for some niches or topics some of the above revenue streams won’t work or aren’t going to be profitable enough for you to invest time in. Stick with what works and look to scale that revenue stream.
Whilst in the short term you won’t be needing too much accounting help, longer term you will need to have this squared away (particularly when your website starts earning a decent income). In the beginning you should be tracking all of your expenses (in the beginning there shouldn’t be too many) and when it’s time to get an accountant, make sure you get one that is proficient in the online business area.
Systems and Procedures
A well run business has quality systems and procedures and a website should be no different. Whilst when it is only you doing nearly everything on the site once you attempt to scale you will need robust systems and procedures to make the most of this. Ideally this will entail having procedures for everything your website does as eventually you may want to move away from most aspects of this site and outsource nearly everything.
Good systems and procedures will also entail tracking everything related to your site. We touched on the accounting aspect above however regarding website analytics you will want to be on the ball with this as quality data will help speed up the growth and direction of your website.
This will involve making sure your Google Analytics is on point, you will be tracking social media and email opens, visitors and user engagement, the more popular pieces of content, etc.
Whilst it can be quite manageable to run your website, produce all the content and social media and run the SEO in the early stages if you really want to scale your website you will need outside help.
Whether this is hiring writing to produce content or hiring virtual assistants for a variety of tasks to scale (and scale quickly) you will need good staff to help with this.
Lastly, make sure your website is staying inside the laws and regulations around the world. This could mean that you aren’t stealing other people’s content, you aren’t unlawfully using photos that you don’t own the copyright to or you haven’t correctly licensed.
Also do you have the correct legal structures in place, setting up your operation in the best way to legally protect yourself as well as legally minimizing taxes in the location that you are operating your website from?
Many website owners neglect the legal aspect of running a website and this can have costly consequences.
12. Now You’ve Established A Profitable Website, What’s Next?
For some you may be looking to build the website revenue to boost your household income. For others your website’s revenue growth will look to replace your current full time job income. Others may look to build assets for their investment portfolio.
Some of you may be aware that profitable websites can fetch a pretty profit on the open market. In some cases websites can be sold for 45-50 times monthly revenue.
So why would you want to sell a profitable website?
You might want to take the lump sum and invest it elsewhere. You might want to take money off the table in case of increased competition or to insulate yourself in case of a Google algorithm change that could tank your search rankings by 50% leading to a sufficient drop in your website’s revenue.
On the flip side you might have made a success of your website and are looking to either build another one or to purchase one from one of the website brokers or Facebook groups that you are in contact with.
Some places where you can sell websites include:
For those who have an established website and are looking for some tips and suggestions when trying to increase website revenue before potentially selling (looking for a higher sales multiple), Mushfiq Sarker and his website The Website Flip is a great resource regarding all aspects of buying and selling websites. He also offers coaching services and other products to help boost the revenue of your website or some due diligence tips if you are looking to purchase an existing website.
For those who have no experience in building websites then don’t worry too much. You can learn a lot of this information pretty easily and even if you need to have a bit of a technical understanding you can always outsource this technical work. As long as you have an understanding (and don’t need the technical nous to fix or make changes) you will be alright.
If you are one of those people who is open to learning and have a curious approach to life will likely be successful.
This can be frustrating and it is also a leap of faith building a business in an area you may not know a lot about however I will always recommend that you have a go and go all in. Now this doesn’t mean you will have success however if you go all in and it doesn’t work then you can take some comfort that you had a crack and I guarantee you will learn some great life experience that will help you become successful in other enterprises or other areas of life.