Get out your white board and start brainstorming. Use this article to help focus on a step by step plan to get started. For the TLDR crowd just skip to the video at the bottom!
Whenever I start something new, I typically start with choosing an available domain name. Its important to do some research when it comes to choosing a domain and here are a few things to consider: 1. What is available with .com (not much anymore) Or maybe its best to choose a another top level domain. 2. How unique can you be and yet still have a memorable brand name. Google, Yahoo and Tumblr all sound cool but give no explanation what the product or service is. Its totally your preference though. Maybe you want to be 100% unique or maybe you want to choose a name like “IndianapolisSnowShoveling.com” where its very obvious what you are doing. If your promoting your self as an artist, musician, comedian, etc. just try to find your own name and go with another top level domain if .com is taken. For example our 3rd guest and an amazing produce and videographer has JakeHuber.net.
Use your hosting service to find and buy the domain. I have found this to be the best route in the long run. For example I don’t recommend using Godaddy to buy the domain and then hosting it elsewhere. I use 2 hosting companies. For my DIY bootstrapped projects I use siteground.com and for FShouses.com I use Midwestern Technology. I do this for many reasons but to summarize it real quick, Midwestern Technology is local, and has a real person who is responsive 24/7. If there is a technical problem with our website they fix it immediately. They know everything about our site and all the software and social media that interacts with it so they can solve any problem. If you have a bit of a budget I highly recommend them. For those of us who are working with a very small budget I would use Siteground.
With Siteground you can buy the domain ($18/year), the hosting ($84/year) and have wordpress (free) automatically installed. I have used many content management systems over the years and wordpress seems to have the biggest following which means more plug-ins, feature upgrades, integrations etc. So I continue to use it. Wordpress is not perfect by any means but I am happy with it. With wordpress you can install a plugin called woocommerce (free). Woocommerce is some of my all time favorite software. It makes an e-commerce shop for you… all you have to do is enter in the products. Dont have products? No worries. Create an account on printful (free). With printful.com you can easily sell merch like t-shirts, hoodies and iPhone cases with out buying any inventory at all. Its easily connected to a Paypal account (free) and integrates with Woocommerce / WordPress beautifully. So now you have a functional blog and shop to sell merch! If you need a logo or a design for you merch you can a killer deal using someone on Fivver.com (Cost will vary) or you can get a month of Placeit.net for $29 and make all the logos and designs you want as well as a ton of other cool stuff. If you need images to use for merch and have zero budget for it try out pixabay.com. Be sure to do your research and only use images that you have commercial rights to use.
Ah! Now for the fun stuff.
Hopefully every knows about instagram. Set up your instagram asap (if it wasn’t the very first thing you did 🙂 Create a Facebook page (free). Link them together. This way you can post something to Insta and it goes directly to your FB page with no extra effort. Facebook owns ig so of course they work perfectly together. You will also need to have your fb page linked with your insta account if you want to runs paid ads.
Twitter (free). Im not all that into twitter but a lot of people are. Set it up. At least link your instagram with it and publish content to twitter automatically. Make sure it doesn’t look like spam and utilize hashtags like crazy. If you are into twitter and really dig it then go bananas with it. Its a great platform.
Linktree (free). Set up an account and publish your linktree URL to your insta and twitter profile. Choose at least 4 different links to allow your followers to easily find specific content. Whatever you are pushing for the hardest, keep that as the top link. Maybe its merch sales, or email sign ups, or podcast downloads. Here you can see how my artist linktree is different than say FS Houses’. There is a paid version ($6/month) that has some pretty cool features like customized look and feel, analytics and more.
Linkedin Business Page (free). This is in addition to your linkedin personal profile. If you expect it might benefit to be seen by a professional audience or if you’re doing B2B sales and service definitely set up a linkedin page.
Choose 1 or 2 additional social sites depending on your genre. For example a break dancer might do really well on Tiktok where a videographer might choose to spend time building a youtube or vimeo channel. A home decor professional could do really well on Pintrest and a company like Circle City Metalworks kills it on Etsy. Its very hard to be a master at all social sites so I have found its smart to pick and choose how you spend your time.
Mailchimp (free). Collect emails for your newsletter and do some other really cool marketing stuff with mailchimp. You can make a landing page with a sign-up form and offer a discount code through woocommerce. You can also do pop up ads and automatic emails when certain events take place, such as an abandoned shopping cart.
Zapier (free). One last thing to mention… look into Zapier. You can use zapier to do all kinds of crazy things. Just use your imagination. For example every time you post something on instagram you could have it published on your Linkedin business page. Or.. anytime someone mentions you on Twitter you get an automatic email. The list of possibilities is endless.