Source : forbes.com
By : Natalie Sisson, Contributor
Category : Small Business SEO
When it comes to streamlining your online business building efforts, you can literally go to town when it comes to choosing the best online tools and apps to help you save time and money. The thing is though, you really only need a few core tools to run your online business successfully. I’ve spent years testing and trialling a lot of tools and I often come back to my favorite few to run my business from my suitcase.
The following recommendations are particularly useful if you’re wanting to sell online products or programs. Setting yourself up with these key tools (or similar versions of them) should allow you to save yourself time and effort while strengthening the foundation of your business.
1. Get Your Domain & Build Your Website on Hostgator
After my previous hosting company took down my website when I went over my storage quota, and effectively shut down my business, I’ve been really careful about who I entrust my website and blog hosting too. Hostgator simply rock my world as they get that my business is growing.
They give you a variety of plans to chose from and allow you to upgrade at any time. For example I went from their Hatchling plan of $3.95 per month to their Baby Plan when my traffic increased. Hostgator is one of the best choice for the small to medium-sized business owners and blogging websites because they deliver website templates, great customer support and other useful services.
2. Build Your Audience ADNC -2.94% List and Increase Your Sales With LeadPages
LeadPages claim to be the easiest way to create beautiful landing pages, launch pages, sales pages and squeeze pages for your website that actually convert. After using them for 6 months now I have to agree. Building any of these types of pages on your website used to be a tricky thing that stalled a lot of my clients as it involved understanding which software to install, knowing some basic code and figuring out the design.
But then along came LeadPages which I think has personally changed the way in which we do online marketing by making software that’s so simple to use (think drop and drag solutions to sell your products online).
3. Sell Digital Products Online Quickly With e-Junkie
This is my number one recommendation to people starting out online who want to set up shop quickly and easily. For $5 a month e-Junkie lets you sell your digital products and programs simply by creating a new product, uploading a digital file or pointing to a page on your site for a program and naming your price. Then you can choose from a range of payment methods like Google GOOG -0.34% Checkout or PayPal and embed that code straight into your blog or page you’ve set up with LeadPages, to ensure people can `buy now’ and setup a simple affiliate program. If you want something even more simple, that doesn’t even require PayPal and works in seamlessly to your page you can check out Gumroad for selling digital products by just uploading your file and letting them take care of the rest. I really like what they offer through this platform.
4. Start Selling Your Goods and Services Online with PayPal
This may seem astoundingly simple but the easiest way to start selling your goods or services online is with PayPal. You set up a free account, link it to your bank account and then you’re off and running. You can accept payments via email or through creating email links directly to a PayPal checkout page. Or you can embed simple `Buy Now’ or `Add to Cart’ buttons on your site or blog.
People can also pay by credit card and they accept over 20 currencies which makes doing business internationally much easier. In addition with a Pro Account – which really just requires going through some extra security checks, you can then offer recurring payments (great for memberships or group programs) or subscriptions and free trial periods. The world is your oyster.
5. Manage Your Social Media in One Place Easily With Hootsuite
I’ve been extolling the virtues of Hootsuite ever since I started using it in 2010.. It’s made my life on Twitter immeasurably easier. It’s my number one most used tool for managing not only my two Twitter accounts but also post to LinkedIn LNKD +0.84%, Facebook FB +1.97% – both my page and my profile and even more. With my Pro account, I can manage multiple accounts, set up columns for keyword searches plus see and track all mentions of my twitter handle or my blogs so that I can easily respond back to those people. It’s so useful for sorting your your Direct Messages (DMs) from your Retweets to your list and top people to follow plus much more. There’s a free plan too.
6. Build Your Mailing List & Send Newsletters With MailChimp
Mailchimp makes sending out a newsletter amazingly easy – design and send beautiful emails, manage your subscribers and track your campaign’s performance. I recommend it to anyone starting out in email marketing because it’s so simple to use, and easy to navigate. You can create campaigns easily and setup autoresponders to go out automatically each time you get a new subscriber to welcome them.
7. Get Help From Professional Freelancers Online With Virtual Staff Finder
I love this service because it’s like your one-stop shop to finding and hiring your first virtual assistant, website developer, content writer or SEO specialist. Virtual Staff Finder helps you find your perfect match for a one off setup fee and then you work with them independently from as little as US$400 per month full time! Running an online business requires you to manage and maintain so many moving parts, that having the right people on your team to assist you in covering every aspect is one of the smartest and best investments you’ll ever make.
When it comes to using these tools, or the combination that you like the most, remember to actually implement the tools into your schedule, and set yourself up to use them consistently and your business like a pro in no time!
Source : forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/08/25/7-key-tools-to-run-your-online-business-from-anywhere/