Category Archives for "Start an online business"

Hosting Your Website

Having registered your domain name (as we saw in my earlier post), it’s necessary to think about where to host it.

Hosting, in layperson’s terms, means where your website will “live”.

My first reaction to hosting was – “Well, I have a PC, it can live on that!”

NO!! Your PC wouldn’t be nearly powerful enough to host a website that catered for any serious volume of customers – and you probably wouldn’t want to keep your PC on day and night in case someone wanted to browse for your service in the middle of the night, or from a different country if appropriate.

Choosing a web-host is not a decision to be taken lightly. Contact Us to discuss your needs, because that’s the only way we can make the right decision.

The service I use myself (after many false starts) is recommended at the right-hand side.

But if you (think you) can’t afford that, I have other options. And I’d be happy to discuss with you why I pay for the quality service I am now using.


Why Build A Contact List?

GetResponse200x200Although you will probably think of your website as a way to tell customers about your service, another vital function it serves is to capture the names and email addresses of visitors to your site so that you can build a contact list and keep them informed of developments in your company.

It’s very rare that a prospective client will buy your service the first time they visit your site. It’s said that it can take as many as 7 contacts from you before a customer is comfortable enough to buy from you.

There are many reasons why they may not buy on that first visit:

  • They’re not yet in “buy” mode, they’re “just looking”
  • They’ve mis-placed their credit card
  • The computer crashes at the wrong time
  • The kids want to get on Facebook
  • It’s meal time!

None of them are your fault –  your prospect just isn’t yet ready to become a client.

Don’t let these prospects slips away and end up buying on someone else’s site. Do everything you can to capture their contact details so that you can send them more information and updates about new information.

E-mail marketing puzzleOr, perhaps they HAVE already bought from you. You will want them to buy again. If you have special offers or events, keep them informed by sending a regular newsletter. Assuming you did a good job the first time you provided a service, it’s far easier to sell something new to an existing customer than to find and cultivate a new one.

For this reason, most businesses say their customer list is their most valuable asset, and should be guarded jealously.

Many people do not take this essential step of building a client and/or prospect list, purely because they haven’t appreciated how important it is.

When I took my first website online, it sat on page 1 of Google, quite near the top, so had plenty of visitors, but I never captured their email addresses so if they didn’t buy there and then, chances are they bought from a competitor.

How Do You Build A Contact List?

The tool you will need to use to capture email addresses is an Auto-Responder.

I have tried several auto-responder services and been less than pleased with them for my own site – for various technical reasons.

So, to recommend a service to my own clients, who trust me to recommend the best, I must come back to the GetResponse. I actually left it once for another (good) service that many feel is the best auto-responder for small businesses – but I missed several of GetResponse’s features and moved back (which is a real hassle, but well worth it).

It’s not the cheapest – but your business deserves the best. Remember, you get what you pay for.

To learn more about GetResponse click here – with that link you can get a free trial.

Features You Need In Your Auto-responder

  • Fast, reliable email deliverability – MOST important of all
  • Personalise your emails
  • Professional forms to choose from
  • Create unlimited campaigns
  • Ability to send single messages
  • Ability to send messages timed to arrive when they’re most likely to be read
  • Subscriber filtering and searching
  • Unsubscribe function to comply with anti-spam regulations and keep your emails legal
  • Advanced click tracking and reporting
  • Daily activity reports
  • Correct, compliant handling of bounced emails
  • Send in HTML or Plain text
  • Easy to use editor

Don’t worry if you don’t know what they mean at the moment. Just trust me that you WILL need them as your website handles more and more of your business.

Don’t settle for second best. Take a free trial of GetResponse here.

PS Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can leave this until your on-line presence is “bigger”. I did that and it cost me dearly.

Build firm email marketing foundations from the start.

Set Your Name Servers

When you have registered a domain name, you need to ensure that it points to the Internet server where your website is hosted (“lives”).

I register my domains with GoDaddy as I described in an earlier post.

If we are providing you with a done-for-you service then you do not need this post as this step will have happened automatically for you, but otherwise you may need to change your nameservers. (For instance, if you have an existing domain that you want to transfer to us to take advantage of the the additional services we offer.)

What Are Name Servers?

In case this is a new term to you, nameservers map the human-friendly domain name (for instance to the physical IP / Internet Protocol address (unique internet address) where your domain is stored. This is done using Domain Name Servers (DNS).

You don’t actually need to understand the process, but if you want to, I can explain DNS by quoting from an excellent site HowStuffWorks:

DNS is a protocol within the set of standards for how computers exchange data on the Internet and on many private networks, known as the TCP/IP protocol suite. Its basic job is to turn a user-friendly domain name like “” into an Internet Protocol (IP) address like that computers use to identify each other on the network.

How To Change Name Servers

So (to carry on with my previous example) you may have registered your domain name with GoDaddy, but be hosting it at “Another Company”. In that case you need to tell GoDaddy to point your domain name to Another’s servers, where the files making up your website are being hosted (stored). This is a one-off job, so don’t worry! If you get stuck there are tutorial videos in GoDaddy and they also have a very helpful support desk.

All you need to do is login to your domain registrar account and from within your account, launch the domain management section. Select the domain name you want to change and you will see information such as this.

gvo-name-serversSelect the drop down option to “Set Nameservers” and change them to the Nameservers given to you when you signed up for your hosting account. The nameservers in the example above will differ from your nameservers.

When you have made the change, you need to allow a certain length of time for the new settings to be propagated round the Internet. The time needed is unpredictable and out of your control. It can be fast, or it may take as long as 48 hours. After a suitable time you should find that you can access your new site from the human-friendly name. To be safe, wait the full 48 hours before promoting your domain name!

If it hasn’t happened as quickly as you hoped for, wait the full 48 hours before you raise a support ticket or resubmit the change. In the former case you’ll just be reminded you haven’t waited long enough. In the latter case, you’ll probably restart the whole “wait” time again.

This is all “stuff” I didn’t know when I first started out online, but everyone assumed I knew all about it and treated it as something I could do in 5 minutes. It wasn’t! Apologies if this is old-hat to some readers. Hopefully it will be helpful to newer people.


Welcome to, a family run business established in 1979 and trading successfully since then.

Having started out (and still serving customers with bespoke software and accounting systems) our new mission is to transform the online experience of small businesses, saving them:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Stress

Our Mission

We want to turn you into a raving fan, by saving you from the unanticipated problems facing small businesses when they start out on-line if they take a “DIY” approach.

Our philosophy is to let experts do the initial task of setting up your website because:

  • It’s a one-off task you should never need to do again, so why waste time learning complicated stuff you’ll probably never do again?
  • Those brave souls who DO navigate the mire of setting up their own site are unlikely to do as good a job as a professional who has done it many times before. The result of a DIY site is almost always sub-optimal. You’ll probably find, as your knowledge grows, you need to re-do many things we would do for you as standard.

Our approach is to encourage you to have a professionally set up site to start with and then you have three choices:

  • You can learn how to manage it yourself and need never involve us again
  • We will teach you how to do the regular tasks such as adding articles and routine maintenance
  • We can manage your site for you completely. All you need do is supply the content for your articles

We suggest that, at the very least, you will commission us to set up your site in the first instance, and set you on the road to maintaining it yourself. Then you can make your own choice after that.

The sooner your site is online, the sooner you can be working on your own business – which is what you’re best at.

Determined to Set Up Your Own Site?

Here’s a list of some of the skills you will need to learn to set up your own website from scratch.

  • Choosing a good domain name
  • Registering your domain name with a registrar
  • Choosing a web host provider
  • Setting up your DNS to connect your domain to your web host provider
  • Setting up and configuring a pop email account
  • Sourcing attractive images that don’t violate copyright
  • Deciding which is the best platform / style for your site
  • Learning how to install your website platform
  • Using FTP to upload files from your computer to your web host provider’s server
  • Setting up a sales page and order link with PayPal if you want to sell online
  • Setting up thank you pages
  • HTML (unless you are using a blogging platform such as WordPress)
  • Installing a free WordPress blog
  • Using your WordPress blog
  • Which plugins to use – and how to avoid ones that slow down your site
  • How to make and edit articles and pages for your site
  • Adding an auto-responder and squeeze page to collect your most valuable resource
  • Creating the title tag and meta tags for your website
  • Optimizing your website for search engines – keyword density and content
  • Submitting your site to the search engines
  • Should you use affiliate programs?
  • Creating redirects for your affiliate links to shorten them
  • Connecting your site to your social media accounts
  • Engaging with your prospect and clients to encourage (repeat) sales
  • Using RSS feeds

Instead of spending weeks or months trying to figure out these skills by yourself, we hope you will choose one of our services.