It’s an exciting time for aspiring online business owners. These days, it’s possible to outsource a profitable business without any kind of technical expertise. While delegating content creation and website administration has proven to be a workable business model, the drawback of relying solely on others is increased expense and hassle when it comes time to make any changes to your website. Why not learn – just a little bit – how to perform a few of these tasks yourself?
#1 Web Hosting and Servers
Nearly every business absolutely requires a website these days. These websites require domain registration and website hosting. These can be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing: high-end servers can cost thousands per month, and hiring an IT person to ‘take care of it’ can be even more costly. Here’s a tip to keep yourself ‘reasonably competent’: use coupon codes. Hosting coupons will save you hundreds, if not thousands per year. Here’s some resources:
#2: BASIC HTML AND CSS
HTML has become something of a lost art due to the proliferation of content management systems, free website builders, and WYSIWYG editors. But make no mistake – HTML is still holding everything together behind the scenes. A lack of HTML and CSS skills can make minor modifications a big problem, particularly with traditional websites. Even open-source content management systems like WordPress, while considerably more user-friendly, hold greater potential for users who can tweak the source code.
While it takes years to become an expert coder, the basics of HTML can be learned in a matter of hours. Check out Lynda.com or Udemy to select from a number of inexpensive (or free) courses available online to walk you through the fundamentals. As an added bonus, knowing which HTML tags are used in search engine optimization will ensure your website is performing at its best from an SEO perspective, which brings us to our next point.
#3: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Contrary to what you may have heard, the basics of SEO are accessible to the layman. The better you understand search engine optimization, the less money you’ll end up forking over to an SEO company for simple tasks you can perform yourself. Who knows what those guys are really doing behind the scenes, anyways? What are all those extra fees for?
At minimum, you should know what keywords your SEO consultants are targeting and have a basic understanding of on-page factors (HTML tags and keywords) and off-page factors (inbound links) that influence how Google indexes your website. Again, there are plenty of inexpensive courses available online to give you a broad overview. When the time comes to assess an SEO company’s credentials, you’ll be better equipped to make sure they aren’t adding on any mysterious fees.
#4: WEBSITE MANAGEMENT TASKS
As an online business owner, your website is your most valuable asset. In case of an emergency, you should be able to perform basic backend functions. You should be comfortable with the ins and outs of FTP so you can easily transfer files to your server. For maximum control, you might opt for a user-friendly content management system rather than a traditional website, which allows for just the right balance of ease of use and flexibility.
#5: WRITING PROFESSIONAL COPY
Maybe you’d like to make some changes to your website text and you don’t have the time or money to hire a professional copywriter. If English wasn’t your best class, don’t sweat it – with a little bit of diligence you can write passable copy. Many online business owners underestimate the importance of presentation when it comes to text content. Educated segments of a market, which tend to be the higher earners, are more likely to be put off by obvious typos, poor grammar, and the inappropriate use of punctuation.
Never forget to run your copy through a spellchecker. When in doubt, use a dictionary to avoid common problems such as the misuse of homonyms. Be especially attentive to your known weaknesses. For example, you might keep a cheat sheet on your desk detailing the proper use of semicolons and apostrophes. Finally, run your copy by a friend or two for a final proofread.
#6: AN EYE FOR AESTHETICS
An appealing website design decreases bounce rates and encourages return customers. A great way to learn is by imitation. Find some websites you admire and try to replicate the placement of headers, text, images, and other elements. Complementary colors are also extremely important. Stay away from the gaudy strobe light look. If color nuances like periwinkle and teal mean nothing to you, it might help to ask for a second opinion.
A large part of what makes online business so fun and challenging is its diversity. The more hats you can put on, the more qualified you’ll be to make minor changes to your website, and the better you will be able to communicate with your writers, designers, and technicians when the time comes for a complete overhaul.