To start and effectively market an online business, you’ll need some basic essentials. Here is a list of the ones I recommend and that I use in my own business. Affiliate links are marked with an *asterisks.
What’s an affiliate link? If you make a purchase after clicking, I get a referral fee. It doesn’t cost you any more, it just supports my goal in expanding this website into something that will make a difference for your business.
Business Development and Marketing
Free Classes for Entrepreneurs in North Carolina
North Carolina is very fortunate in that they have a remarkable resource for entrepreneurs and those who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs. The Small Business Technology & Development Centers are spread across the state and provide FREE training and consultation services. They will teach you how to start your business, run your business and market your business. They will also help you determine if you have a viable business idea before you sink your life savings into your dream job. Visit their website to find a location in your area. If you’re in the Polk or Rutherford County areas, Isothermal Community College has one. Contact Faye Bishop by calling 828 395 1667 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your FREE consultation and get on the email list for upcoming FREE classes.
Did I mention all this is free?
Learn How to Get More Customers Using Social Media
Martin Brossman wrote the book on using social media to promote small businesses — literally – you can buy it here. He also teaches YOU how to do it in person through classes. He regularly teaches classes at NC State and colleges throughout North Carolina. Again, if you’re in the Polk and Rutherford County areas, he is at Isothermal Community College several times a year. He’s knowledgeable, dynamic and you will leave his class with an action plan for marketing your business using social media.
Get Funding and Education to Be a Successful Business Owner
The Rural Center of North Carolina offers programs and funding to rural business owners and those who want to start a business in North Carolina. They offer training, certifications through their Growing America Through Entrepreneurship (GATE) program and microloans to help you grow your business. I’m a big fan of this program because it’s what helped my husband Chris Carroll expand his business to the point he can now employ other people in our community. In 2011, GATE chose him to be their spokesperson from over 350 NC Business owners! He was a guest speaker at the Govenor’s Entrepreneurship Summit where he talked about Bootstrapping 101 (he’s a master at bartering!). Boostrapping is just one of topics you’ll learn about if you enroll in the GATE classes . For more information, visit the NC Rural Center.
Domains & Web Hosting
If a domain is the “street address” for your website, a web host is the house where your website and all it’s contents live. You don’t want customers knocking on your door and non one answers because your hosting is down! While GoDaddy is extremely reliable, Blue Host* is another alternative to reliable and affordable web hosting. Unlike GoDaddy, they allow you to host multiple sites under one hosting package, which saves you money. They also have great support.
Before you have a website, you have to have an address for that website. I use GoDaddy because their support is always top-notch. Not only are they native English speakers but they are knowledgeable and work extra hard to resolve any issues I have before I end the call.
Stock Photos and Logo Elements
Stock images are not only a great way to make your own business logo, they’re also good for content marketing. When doing blog posts and social media marketing, you need images. But they have to be YOUR images. You can get in a heap of legal trouble if you do a Google search and just use whatever images you find. Getty Images in particular makes it’s living NOT on selling stock photos but by suing people. For my stock images, I use Fotolia*. I like Fotolia* because I can download images directly into my Dropbox folder or Google Drive. They have a huge inventory of videos, photographs and vector images.
Podcasts & Blogs
I can not stress enough how PHENOMENAL podcasts are! If you do not have iTunes, download it now! If you aren’t tethered to your computer, you can transfer the podcasts to your iphone or android and listen to them while you work, while you exercise or – like me – while you’re driving. I have learned so many things pertaining to new business ideas and growing my business from FREE podcasts. If you have not tapped into the power of podcasts, you are missing out.
Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
Pat Flynn is a guy with an amazing story of going from laid off to making over $120,000 per month via his online websites. He did this through trial, error and hard work. And he puts how he did it out there for the whole world to see. But more importantly, for artists, he interviews other successful online (and offline) business owners who are making money. One of those interviews was about artists and how they can use Patreon to support their craft. Not only is this episode relevant for artists, but every podcast has something an artist can use in developing their online business. Check out episode 180: How Two Woodworkers Make A Full Time Income From Their Craft (online).
The Abundant Artist
The Abundant Artist podcast with Cory Huff is another great resource. He talks to artists who have found the key to making a living from their art. He also has online courses you can take and/or work with him one on one.