This series is designed to help you make sense of everything that’s thrown at you when you decide to start doing internet marketing. If you look at all of the options available, you’re likely to be paralyzed by information overload and nothing gets done.
But by breaking down just the necessary pieces into bite-sized chunks, you should be able to get your internet marketing business off the ground with few hassles.
Today we’re going to take a look at the part of your online business that doesn’t seem all that exciting, but it’s the piece that everything else is built on — do it wrong and you’ll regret it over and over again. The infrastructure includes things like web hosting, the actual web site, your shopping cart, autoresponder, etc.
I’m not going to recommend a specific web host right here, but I’ll give you some things to look for, and some things to be wary of.
The first thing you DON’T want is a free web host. As compelling as that thought is, don’t give in to it. In the first place, you get what you pay for. Seriously. A web hosting service has to make money somehow, and most do so by putting ads on your web pages. That can be the kiss of death for selling your own product. Plus, a free web host is not as reliable as one you pay for — if they go down for any length of time, threatening to leave them doesn’t hit them in the pocket book.
Here are a few things you do want:
Linux-based Hosting — I don’t care if you’re a died-in-the-wool Windows fan, unless you have a specific reason for a Windows-based server, go with one that’s Linux-based.
Multiple Domains — You want to be able to host multiple domain names on the same account. You’re probably not going to end your internet marketing career with one site, so it makes sense to get a host that allows multiple sites with just one account.
PHP and MySQL — This is pretty much a “gimme” these days, you probably won’t find a reputable web host that doesn’t include those tools, but just make sure.
This is where it can get dicey, and expensive. While a good shopping cart can save you a lot of grief down the road, I’m going to suggest using Clickbank as your shopping cart. It costs about $50 to start a vendor account and thousands of vendors use it — it’s solid and stable. Plus, you get the added benefit of an affiliate program built-in — this can make a big difference when you start trying to drive traffic to your website.
If you go with a different shopping cart I think it’s better to choose one that has fewer bells and whistles. For example, a lot of shopping carts have autoresponders built-in. While it sounds handy to have everything under one roof, if you decide to switch shopping carts, you’ll also have to switch your autoresponder lists — and doing that is NOT something you do lightly. Every time you do that the members of your list have to subscribe again and you’ll typically lose 80-90% of your subscribers every time you make a switch like that.
I can imagine running an online business without a shopping cart, but not without an autoresponder. The autoresponder allows you to build a list of prospects and/or customers and sends them emails at a predetermined rate. That way you can “touch base” with the people on your list and continue to promote your product to them.
Look for an autoresponder service that allows multiple lists per account — you’re probably going to end up with many different lists by the time you’re done.
The Web Site
Just a couple years ago the standard web site was created using something like FrontPage or DreamWeaver. And while that’s still common, more and more web sites are put together using WordPress. Using special themes a WordPress-based site can look like a “normal” website and not a blog.
The upside to using WordPress is it’s very quick and easy to get the site up and running. The downside is that unless there’s a “plugin” that does what you want, you’re limited in how the site looks and acts.
There are some “drag and drop” systems available for building websites — some come free with certain hosting accounts. I’d suggest you steer clear of those. They usually have a “ceiling” that you bump your head against very quickly, and then you’re stuck with what you can do.
Learning just enough HTML and CSS might be the best way to go — even if you hire someone to create your main site, being able to jump in and tweak something can be very handy.
There you have it, the fours areas you need to have a handle on for your infrastructure. You need a web host, a shopping cart, an autoresponder, and an actual web site. Anything else is “gravy” and can be put aside for dealing with later.