List building requires attention to detail, careful thought, and, most importantly, action.
So, if you think the early stages of list building are boring and seemingly unproductive, don’t give up. It takes time and effort, but you have to keep at it if you ever want to see progress.
So let’s start with the dry, boring stuff. What are the bare essential tasks that you’ll need to complete before you can start making money with your list? f0 There are roughly 3 things you’ll need to do before you can get to the “fun” parts of list building.
Purchase a Domain and Get Hosting
Before you can do anything else, you’ll need a working website. In short, this means purchasing a domain, purchasing hosting services, and using a page-builder to create your website.
When it comes to this, the best place to start is probably by determining the theme and URL for your website.
Start by thinking about what niche your site will focus on. A good rule of thumb is to keep things narrow. For instance, if you’re thinking about creating a niche site that markets retail products through affiliate links, drill down further and consider focusing only on one type of product, such as fishing gear.
If you grow out of your niche in the future, you can always create another site or expand your current site. But for now, keep things narrow to avoid confusing your visitors.
Once you’ve settled on a theme, you’ll want to come up with potential URLs for your site, since your first choice may already be taken.
In the past, marketers used to select URLs that were actually the key phrase they were targeting (but with a dash between each word); however, if you plan to create memorable, credible business, you will want to avoid this and opt for a URL that is short and that visitors will remember.
Write Down Your Ideas
Before you move to the next step, write everything down. Take careful notes about the theme you wanted and the specific URLs that you believe will fit well with your business model and niche.
Once you’ve done this, you can continue on to the next step.
Comparison Shop for Your Domain and Hosting
Many hosting services will also allow you to purchase your domain when you purchase hosting. In general, this isn’t a bad idea. It will make it easier to manage all information related to your site.
One good place to start on your search is www.findmyhosting.com. This site lists an exhaustive break-down of 10 popular hosting services, which includes important details, such as:
• The monthly price
• The setup fee
• Whether the domain registration is included at no additional cost
• Whether you can setup email accounts through the domain
• The plugins and features that come with the hosting service
• Whether or not the hosting comes with a website building tool
Spend some time comparing hosts and determine which hosting service will work best for your particular needs.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re new to Internet business, you’ll want to look primarily at three items:
- The “UpTime Guarantee,” which will give you a rough idea of whether a particular host has problems keeping sites up.
- The price, as well as the various deals offered for locking in a 6month or 12-month contract.
- The site builder and plugins offered. I recommend looking for a site that offers the WordPress Plugin (which is fairly standard) and Fantastico. These two items will greatly simplify the site-creation process.
And there you have it. You’re now ready to purchase a domain and hosting services. Once you’re done with that, we can move on to the next step—creating your site.
Create a Marketable Website
Before you even think about marketing your website, you’ll want to first spend the time to create a site that will sell itself well. It’s not critical that this site be flawless and expensive to build, but if you want it to close sales, then you should put in the time to make sure it is attractive and will convert visitors into subscribers.
A good place to start is by obtaining a WYSIWYG editor. This will allow you to make changes to your site without learning a language like HTML. Additionally, it will allow you to make your site attractive and able to convert—even if you could never code such a website yourself.
Now, when it comes to getting a WYSIWYG editor, you have a number of options. If you’re able to pay upfront in order to make your life easier down the line, you may want to purchase something like XSitePro: http://www.xsitepro.com
XSitePro is a favorite among Internet marketers for many reasons. Not only will it allow you to build an attractive site, but it will also allow you to tweak the site in order to optimize it for search engine traffic.
If you don’t have the money to purchase XSitePro (or a different WYSIWYG editor), you still have a vast array of free editors you may use for the site. The categories of editors below are just a small sample of what you have available:
- WordPress Themes. Most hosting services will now allow you to install WordPress on your site by simply clicking a button on your hosting control panel. Once you do this, you can simply login your WordPress administrative panel and use it to create an appropriate theme for your website.
- Fantastico Plugins. If your hosting service offers Fantastico, you can use this to search for an appropriate WYSIWYG for your site. You will have a large variety of choices in terms of the capabilities of the various programs and the usability of their interfaces.
- Open Source WYSIWYG editors. If you’re not interested in using WordPress or a Fantastico Plugin, you can select from one of the many open source editors. You can find one here http://www.openwebware.com/ and http://www.kompozer.net/ and http://netobjects.com/html/essentials.html. There are many others available.
Ultimately, the final decision will be a matter of taste. But at a minimum, you will want to select something that has a usable interface and allows you to easily manipulate your site, so that you can make it appear professional and fit the theme you’ve constructed in your own mind.
As far as the visual component of site building goes, there’s considerable debate over what way is best for sales when it comes to structuring a site; however, most agree that using the color blue on your site will induce visitors to stay longer on average. Most also agree that using red will slightly elevate their blood pressure and induce them to make decisions quickly.
Setup an Autoresponder Account
Whatever else you do with your site, you will also use it to build lists (which is why you’re reading this guide). This means you’ll need an autoresponder.
An autoresponder is a tool that will allow you to create mailing lists, manage member subscriptions, avoid spam complaints, and test and track campaign results.
Autoresponders are invaluable tools for all list owners; and as a new listbuilder, you will want to become intimately familiar with how they work.
Let’s start with the basics.
Selecting an Autoresponder Service
When it comes to selecting an autoresponder service, you have several choices. I personally recommend that you select http://www.aweber.com. However, there are many other good options, including http://www.getresponse.com.
If you select Aweber, you can simply follow these steps to create your list:
- Start by clicking “do this step” under “Enter a List Name.”
- Fill in the list name, list description, and any other required information.
- Create the list and then begin editing the confirmation email. When you first create the list, your confirmation email will say something generic. You should change this to say something reflective of your business.
- If you have a sequence of presales or follow up emails, add each of these to the sequence for your new list, paying careful attention to the amount of days between each email.
Once you’ve finished setting up your autoresponder, you’ll want to use Aweber to generate a form that you can use to capture information from visitors. At a minimum, you’ll want your form to capture email addresses. You may also want it to capture first names, so that you can use a macro to insert names into email subject lines.
So far you’ve created your website theme, selected an appropriate URL, purchased a domain name and hosting, selected a WYSIWYG editor, and picked an autoresponder service. You’ve also created your first list, updated the subscription confirmation email, and created a form for your website.
You’ve made a lot of progress so far, but you’ve still only covered the “bare essentials”—as the title of the chapter suggests. This means you’ll need to do a lot more before you can expect to have a profitable list.
So what’s next? It’s time to create your squeeze page.