A lot of budding entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that running an online business will be cheap. Sure, you might save a lot on overhead, but there are still plenty of costs you need to consider.
This is usually the first cost that people think of when they’re thinking of setting up an online business. It’s typically not too much of a concern at first; most people imagine web hosting to be incredibly cheap these days. And it’s true that it’s definitely a lot cheaper than it used to be! But the problem comes when business owners get too eager to save money on hosting a website.
Because it’s possible to make pretty decent websites for free these days, as well as an increase in the use of social media, there seems to be a growing reluctance to spend that much on hosting. But really cheap web hosts are usually really cheap for a reason—they’re less reliable, not as quick, and don’t offer you a lot of space. Don’t skimp out too much when paying for web space.
The Domain Name
It’s true that the domain is usually a concern that goes along with picking the right web host. But this isn’t always the case; it depends precisely on how you plan to go about naming and branding your business.
For some, a business name will have appeared in their heads and the .com domain for it will be available. For others, finding a cute business name means looking through a list of “reserved” domains and making their decision based on price and availability. Some may even find that their desired domain name is taken by another party altogether, meaning they’ll have to look into negotiation.
In any case, reserving the domain name you want can be a complication and expense all of its own, quite apart from finding a good web host. It’s generally the first thing you need to consider, as it may have a big effect on what web host you can even work with.
A good web host should provide pretty strong security for their servers and, thus, your website. But there may be some areas in which you require added security that doesn’t come as part of the web host package. You’ve also got to consider the security at your end; if someone can access your computer remotely, they may be able to find information that allows them to enter your website or even view customer data. (The latter scenario could very well land you in some dangerously hot water.)
Don’t assume that you won’t be affected by cybercriminals or malware just because you’re “small fry” in the business world; you may actually be more of a target because of your small size! You need to be willing to invest in strong security for your website.
So how skilled are you at actually creating websites? Can you design and develop them? If not, you may be tempted to save money and use one of those drag-and-drop website creators. But this would probably be a mistake.
Yes, it may save you a lot of money, and it may even save you a bunch of time. But you’re going to end up with a website you’re only half in control of – and it will also be a pretty slow and clunky thing that won’t be able to handle waves of traffic, should you ever get that level of success!
Hiring a web developer might not be as expensive as you think. Still, it’s an expense you’ll have to incur if you want to start a good online business but don’t have the skills to take care of this yourself. Sure, you could look into developing those skills yourself – but you may want to consider learning that in your own time and simply letting a professional developer get to work on your website in the meantime.
Remember that the most expensive developers won’t necessarily be the best; there are plenty of newcomers to the scene who can do great work for much cheaper. They’ll also greatly appreciate the opportunity!
Yes, you’re probably going to have invest in marketing. A lot of new business owners start to get a little gung-ho and convince themselves that they can deal with the marketing themselves. I’m not here to tell you it’s impossible; it really is possible to go viral and land yourself a lot of attention (and hits and sales) without the aid of an agency running an expensive marketing campaign.
But the problem is that achieving that sort of success depends on luck as much as it does skill. It may be better to leave it to the experts.
You’ve probably heard of SEO. Maybe you’ve even dismissed it as a mere buzzword. But without search engine optimization, you’re going to have a hard time getting visible on the sort of outlets that will most likely provide you with the most traffic: search engines.
So, it is a worthy investment, and some web development agencies will even take care of the digital marketing for you. Just make sure you check out any given agency’s reputation when it comes to delivering great results in the marketing department.
It doesn’t matter what kind of online business you’re running; you need to put some focus on content creation. The costs you’ll incur will be based on two things: the type of content you want to create, and the skills you already have for making that kind of content.
If you’re going to create most of your content as text content for a blog, and you have both the time and the writing skills to do this, then you could save a lot of money. Still, you should explore your options when it comes to writers – because there’s every chance there are better writers out there than you (sorry) who can actually dedicate more of their time to content creation than you can.
Video content is another matter. It can be more expensive and time-consuming (especially because you have to write it first anyway), but video content is definitely something you shouldn’t dismiss. Its growing importance means that you could suffer great opportunity costs if you’re not willing to invest in video creation.