Since I’ve built websites and worked closely with online technology for over 10 years, I’m very good friends with this stuff and the many ways it can help you grow your business, reach more people and make your life much easier, so of course I want to share what I know to save you loads of time and frustration and help you make money.

Here are a lot of helpful, no or low-cost ways to plant and nurture the seeds of your thriving business. Happy planting, happy harvest and everything in between!

Download 55 Seed Ideas for Growing Your Business for inspiration.

Email Newsletter Management & Autoresponders
My personal favorite email marketing system is Constant Contact. I’ve used this low-overhead system for years to build my list and stay in touch with eye-catching HTML emails that can be created in minutes. You also get an autoresponder with your account. Upgrades include; surveys, event registration and large storage space for images. As low as $15/month. 60 Day Free Trial – Click here!
Mail Chimp
Free up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month. No expiring trials
.

iContact
Free up to 500 subscribers. $10-up beyond 500.

Aweber is another popular email newsletter/autoresponder program.

As low as $19/mo. Click here for $1 trial.

Get Response has an upgrade available to include audio and video in your emails.

As low as $18/mo. Click here for free trial.

Notice the weird spacing here? I left  it so you can see a real live example of unexpected glitchy things that commonly need techie troubleshooting.
Social Media
Hootsuite – Allows you to schedule social media posts in advance and simultaneously broadcast your social media posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Handy, time-saving tool!
Website Development & Blog Platforms
WordPress.com

User friendly place for beginners to start publishing a blog, but does have drawbacks like; your content is on their servers and if you accidentally do something to get blocked (like sell a product) you can lose access to your site. Free.

WordPress.org

In the last several years, WordPress has become the most common platform for building websites. It’s the lowest cost, user friendly website interface for laypeople, although it does require technical skill (or help from a web professional) to set up. The advantages are that it is the world’s largest blogging software with loads of inexpensive design templates available, thousands of plugins and features.

It’s best to install it directly from your website hosting account. Free.

Blogger.com

Free and easy to set up. This blog platform ruled the blogosphere before WordPress and is now owned by Google.

Woo Themes

Professional-quality design templates for WordPress. Strong customer support forums.

$70-$150 for designs and programming that would cost many thousands to hire yourself.

Web Hosting
Hostmonster

I’ve happily recommend this hosting company for many years because they’re user-friendly, very affordable and have real, live, competent tech support 24/7.

E-commerce

Paypal – No monthly merchant fee, but they take a little bit higher cut and a fee per transaction. Good solution if you just have a few items to sell online with simple ‘buy now’ buttons.

1shoppingcart.com – This is the largest shopping cart company for do-it-yourselfers and the one I use. Their full-featured shopping cart includes, auto-responders, email campaigns, newsletter broadcasting, recurring billing, digital product downloading and affiliate programs. $29-$99/month.
PDF writing
Free PDF writing program. Windows only.
Free PDF writing program. Windows only.

Creating a PDF
on a Mac

Just go to “print” as normal, but instead of choosing a printer, check the PDF button (bottom left) and “save as PDF”
* for more advanced PDF printing, like a linked table of contents within an ebook and password security there are upgraded/paid versions for many of the free programs.

Adobe Acrobat is the big hitter.

Teleclasses and Webinars
FreeConferencing.com

Up to 1,000 callers. Unlimited use. Manual recording capability and moderator dashboard.

Free.

Talkshoe

Manual recording. Good for recurring series. Has moderator dashboard to see how many people are on a call. Free.

Maestro Conference

Interactive conference call system that allows breakout groups. This is the one I use for the weekly GYBO coaching calls. $47/month

Vokle.
A new host for live online video events.
Free.
Xiosoft’s Instant Telesminar
This is the most popular “heavy hitters” program for phone and web simulcast. $1 trial $67/mo
People

Jim Hayes, Cenozoic Design

Great graphic design. Logos, flyers, brochures, headers for websites, illustration, cartooning, package design, book and cover design, print/web advertising including concept and copy. If you’re wondering “Can he do X?” The answer is “Ha-yes!”

Jim just happens to be the love of my life, but even if he wasn’t, I’d still recommend his work because he’s a seasoned pro (30 years) who does top-quality work quickly and affordably. Plus, anyone who can grow hair like this has just got to be good at design.

Other resources
Google Analytics

Most comprehensive way to see and analyze your web traffic data. Free.

Top Ten Reviews

Helpful reference and side-by-side comparisons for web tools, electronics, etc.

Copyright assignment

Who owns your website? Hopefully you.
A signed copyright assignment is important if you ever want to sell your business, but more importantly it’s a great way to start the conversation with your web designer and make sure you’re on the same page.

This form was provided by Jill Bowman Hubbard via Lisa Alessi.

SurveyMonkey.com

Makes it easy to find out what your customers and potential customers want by asking them! And that makes it easy to offer what they want. Free.

AdImpact.com

If you’re focusing on online traffic, this may be worth the $10 a month for floating popups that offer your freebie in an attention-getting way.  This can also be done with some coding knowledge to avoid a monthly fee. $10/mo.

And please feel free to suggest resources you’ve discovered.
The more we share, the easier life is for ALL of us!

Glossary of Internet Terms for non-nerds
Affiliate Program or Affiliate Marketing – a marketing practice in which a business rewards affiliates with a commission for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. Affiliate programs track the source of leads using links unique to each affiliate. This is a low-cost, effective way for entrepreneurs to engage others in their sales effort.

Autoresponder – a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it and/or can be set to deliver a series of emails at preset intervals.

Blog – (weB-LOG) a journal that is available on the web. Uses software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain. Because search engines give ranking preference to recently updated content, the trend in website construction has been towards blogging platforms like WordPress.

Host
the company that provides a server where website files are kept, like rental space for your website.
Websites are simply specialized computer files that other people can see.

Domain Namethe unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain names have 2 parts, separated by dots. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. For example,GrowYourBusinessOrganically.com

The 3 top-level domains are:

.com (generally understood as commercial)

.org   (generally understood as non-profit, although not enforced)

.net   (derived from network. The next best option if .com isn’t available)

Note: The use of www. at the beginning of a domain name is not usually necessary anymore.

Meta tag – hidden element used to provide structured information about a Web page, most often to help search engines categorize them correctly. Meta elements have significantly less effect on search engine results today than they did in the 1990’s and their utility has decreased dramatically as search engine robots have become more sophisticated. Major search engine robots are more likely to quantify such factors as the volume of incoming links from related websites, quantity and quality of content, precision of source code, spelling, functional hyperlinks, etc.

RSS – Real Simple Syndication.

A protocol for syndication and sharing of content. A user can sign up to receive updates of a website or blog. Originally developed to facilitate the syndication of news articles, now widely used to share the contents of blogs.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. The process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via “natural,” “organic” or un-paid search results.

Server – a machine where website files are stored and accessed. When someone visits a website, they are seeing the files housed on a server.

Teleconference – call with multiple people where more than one person talks

Teleseminar – education that you listen to over the phone (also teleclass)

URLthe technical term for the address of a website. For example: http://yourdomainname.com/

Webinar – educational event that you watch or listen to online