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How to Start a Business For Free

Start a Business Online for Free - Here's how!

The number one reason why people never start a business is fear but close behind that is cost. A common misconception is that starting a business is expensive, but that just isn’t true. In this episode, I talk about how easy it is to start a business online and share the tools you can get for free to get started today.

Episode Sponsor: WPEngine – Best In Class WordPress Hosting: https://jerad.link/wpengine

Links mentioned:
My courses: https://gocreatoracademy.com
WPEngine: https://jerad.link/wpengine
WordPress.Com: https://jerad.link/wordpress
NameCheap: https://jerad.link/namecheap

Get my links of business ideas: https://jerad.link/businessideas

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I have a lot of conversations with people who are interested in starting a business. Pretty much everybody in my circle of people that I talk to that are not currently self employed have expressed some sort of an interest in maybe starting up their own thing. I think it’s something that most of us kind of fantasize about, the idea of starting a business or like this idea that’s been kind of bumping around in our head and we’re thinking like, “What if I put that out there and decided to make it available to the world?” But the number one thing that people bring up to me as a barrier to entry in starting a business is the costs of starting up a business.

Everybody has this misconception that starting a business is expensive. And depending on what you’re trying to do, maybe it could be, but for most of the business ideas that I hear from friends of mine and people that I come in contact with, these are all things that you can start relatively for basically free, if not for a small amount. Because really all you’re doing is getting your idea out there and kind of getting it in front of people and seeing if there’s any interest. And that really is something that you should do first before you dive in and start investing a bunch of money. A lot of us think that we have to have everything ready to go, we have to have a perfectly polished product ready, designed, tested and ready to deliver before we can open our doors for business. And that, that usually requires a lot of expensive startup expenses, a lot of capital that you have to have, you know, and it really does vary depending on what you are wanting to do as far as your line of business.

But most businesses can be started for basically nothing. You could at least get your idea out there and start, you could at least get your idea out there and start to kind of put it in front of people and see if there’s an interest for your product or service. So I have some ideas I wanted to talk to you about today on how you can start your business for free using basically just some of your time, of course. A lot of times we will trade our time for something that we could pay somebody else to do instead and that, of course, takes money, having startup capital. But for those of you that have some extra time in your day, maybe you’re willing to spend a little bit of your weekend kind of plugging away and working on this project, I think it’s something that you can get out there and get done for free, and then even make your first few dollars without having spent any money out of pocket, just your time.

So before I get started, I wanted to mention the sponsor of this episode, which is WP Engine. WP Engine is a WordPress hosting platform that provides websites that are basically turnkey. Now WordPress powers over 30% of the Internet and there are lots of different ways that you can access WordPress. One of the things I’m going to talk about later in this video is how to get a free WordPress website. But if you’re wanting something a little bit more robust that comes with more theme options, so that you can really customize and kind of design your website to be unique. And also, an easy process, I say design a website, that sounds like it was going to require a lot of knowledge, but it really isn’t. And then maybe you want support. You want to be able to email or contact support so that you can have some help and assistance throughout the process. You want a robust system and make sure that your website is going to be up all the time. You want to have storage space so that you can upload photos, or small video clips of your products or your services, so that you could show that to other people. WP Engine is proven to be one of the best out there as far as it goes to WordPress hosting. You’re definitely going to have a great experience with them. The link is down in the description below, or the show notes. Check out their plans and pricing today. So the first thing that you really need to figure out before you go down this path of starting your business is whether, or not you are selling a product or a service. A product, of course, is something that you’re going to have, to have ready. It’s maybe something that you have put together and you’re going to be shipping to people, or perhaps it’s a product that you do on site. Maybe if you’re thinking about starting a local business, but most of the time a product is something that is going to be delivered to a person.

A service is something that is performed such as, if you are a local business, maybe a plumber going in unclogging a drain, or a training session, maybe you’re taking an area of expertise that you have and you’re teaching other people about that, consulting, these are all services that people provide. Products are something that is more of a deliverable. So for example, with my line of work, if I am going to produce a video for a customer or a client, I will go and film. It’s actually half and half. I will go and provide a service, I’ll go and film, I’ll help with, you know, the planning and everything of getting this video put together. But then I also have the deliverable, which is the finished video, that is the product that I deliver. And so you kind of have to look at how your product or service is going to be delivered, how you’re going to work that out.

A lot of online only businesses are usually product or service based, because you can maybe put together an ebook or some sort of a course or a product that you can sell, that’s something that you do maybe provide a little bit of service, because you want to keep your students or your users engaged and keep them around and make sure that they aren’t just jumping from one thing to the next. That you’re providing valuable information for them and continuing to give them useful content so that they can continue to be engaged with you. Or services. Maybe you are a graphic designer or you have some sort of a service that you’re going to provide to people. If you’re like me, you have a lot of experience in website design, so I may actually use my knowledge to build a website and deliver that to a person. I can do that all online without actually having to meet with a person. I do of course, like to meet with people, but I can do that all online.

So you really have to have a clearly defined idea of what you are going to be offering. Is it a product, is it a service, is it some sort of a hybrid? And that’s going to drive your decision making and how you market this product. You have to be thinking about how you’re going to communicate what you’re offering to the person on the other end who is looking for that service. So, the first thing that you need to do is determine that and then you can start moving on through the process of starting to put together your business identity. Now, I have a lot to say too much for this video on how to put together a business identity. Do you use yourself, your name, your face, and make the product and service about you? Or do you come up with a business name and put that out there so the business is more standalone?

I am going to put a video together later on this, because I have several businesses including a business that I branded with my own name. And that has caused it to be a little bit more challenging for me to create content and put content out there under my own name, because the search engines tend to associate you with a particular category or industry. So for example, I marketed myself as a photographer for a lot of years. And so the internet knows me as a photographer under my own name. If you search for me by name, Jerad Hill, you’re going to find a lot of photography related stuff because my name is associated with that. And so Google, thinks when somebody’s searching for me by name that they’re looking for a photographer, unless you put some sort of a word after that to help Google further understand what you’re looking for. Google’s going to bring back all of my photography related content and you won’t see my digital marketing agency, Hill Media Group. You won’t see some of my other YouTube channels unless you start scrolling for a little while. You’ll come across that stuff.

So you want to be careful not to kind of box yourself in. But then again at the same time, a personal brand is a very strong thing and if you are okay with that, if you are okay with associating your name with that particular industry, product or service that you’re going to be producing, then I think that there is a good argument for using your name and building a personal brand, because there’s a lot of trust built in that too. It’s easier for people to trust a person than it is for them to trust a business and so if you decided to go down that route because you’re producing content, like I’m doing here, you’re producing some sort of information. Maybe you’re going to be getting into consulting or something like that, using your name might be better because there’s a better chance for you to build trust with a person. It’s a lot easier for you to build trust by putting information out there and sharing it with others if you’re using your own name.

It’s why I’m using my own name and putting out this content, because I feel like I’m pulling from all of my years of experience of being in business and running different businesses and building businesses and deciding to fold certain businesses and all of this stuff that I’ve done over the years, I want to put out there under my own name. I don’t think that it would be valuable to put it out there under some new business name that nobody knows. So I’m using my own name. So think about that when you are deciding on your identity, and then when you have decided on your identity, you’re going to want to create social media accounts for it and a website of course for that. And so I recommend of course, setting up a Facebook page, not a Facebook profile like you probably already have, but setting up a Facebook business page. I have a link down in the description below to a free course where I teach you how to do that.

So you want to check that out, go through the entire process of setting up a Facebook page. It’s not too challenging, but there’s a lot of options and I want to make sure you choose the right one based on the type of business and whether, or not you’re a local business only or you’re servicing anybody with an internet connection who can connect to your content. There are some variations there, so you want to make sure you choose the right account. And then of course, Instagram. Instagram is very visual, it’s photos and video clips. But you are going to want to create an account there, because you will be able to utilize hashtags and communicating with others who are in similar industries or even the type of audience that you’re looking for. You’ll be able to communicate really easily with people there on Instagram. If you are more, if you’re okay with getting behind the camera like I am, or getting in front of the camera, I guess you should say, or I should say, YouTube would be a great platform as well.

I think YouTube is just continuing to grow. It’s exploding. There are people that are looking for good content, they’re looking for information, they’re looking to grow and expand themselves and they’re using YouTube content for that. And so YouTube creating is definitely an avenue that you should go down if you are interested in creating a YouTube account and getting that set up. I am working on a short course for that on how to go through the process of setting that up and making sure that you have, you know, everything that you can for that YouTube channel when you’re ready to launch it. And then of course, depending on the nature of your business there’s other social networks like Linkedin. If you are offering something that would be marketed to professionals or other people in business, like a business to business type of product, I think it’s important to have a Linkedin. You may already have a personal Linkedin, which is great. You’ll want to customize your Linkedin to reflect the nature of your new business. And then of course, you can start a company page for your Linkedin as well and you could produce content underneath that company page.

It’s been shown that longer form content really works well on Linkedin. And video also works well on Linkedin because there are not a lot of people producing video content on Linkedin. So, when you put up a video it tends to stand out from everybody else. Of course given time, this will change because people are becoming more and more comfortable in front of the camera, which I’ve been doing for a lot of years. I’ve been getting more and more comfortable or trying to get more and more comfortable in front of the camera, so other people are going to be doing that as well. And then last of course, set up a email address that is specific for your business. You can do this for free by setting up a Gmail account. If you want something a little bit more professional, you can set up an email account using the domain name that you purchased and we’ll talk about that here in a second.

So rather than your email address being like jeradhill [at] gmail.com, it would be [email protected] instead, which is a little bit more, a little bit more professional looking and it gives you a little bit more control. And I’ll talk briefly about that here in the video as well. So once you have those things set up, and the reason that I’m, I put social media before your website is when you’re thinking about setting up your social media, you want to use your business name or the name that you’re going to go buy if you’re building your personal brand. So for example, I used to have a personal Facebook profile and it was facebook.com/jeradhill. Well, I decided after a while that I wanted to merge that over to a Facebook page and actually convert it over to a Facebook business page, because I was going to be producing more content related to the different businesses that I have, videos and content, like what I’m producing now. And I wanted that to be a page, so that I had all the marketing tools that they give page owners, Facebook page owners.

I didn’t want to have that for my personal Facebook account and I don’t even really have a personal Facebook account. I have one that I use just so that I can, you know, keep in touch with family and join Facebook groups and stuff like that. But my Facebook page is my primary home on Facebook. And so you want that username, so slash whatever it’s going to be. Or if you’re on Instagram, your Instagram username, you want those to be consistent if possible. It just makes it easier and cleaner if they can be consistent and be the same. So be thinking about that and you may actually have to search a little bit to find a username that’s going to work on all of these platforms. I didn’t mention Twitter, I don’t think so. Twitter’s another one that you should join. I feel like you should join all the social networks, whether, or not you’re going to use all of them is another thing.

But it is important to kind of lock down your business name on all of them, because if later on down the road you decide you want to start using one of those social networks and now your username is taken, you’re going to have to go with a different username, which is kind of a bummer. So I just recommend locking all of those down, it definitely is an easy process and it’s free to register all of those. So why not?

So next we’re going to be setting up a website and you can do this for free. You can go to wordpress.com and when you go to set up a page they have on their pricing page, of course, they have some plans that start at $3 a month. And for blogs and personal sites, you really can just start with a blog or a personal site. They have a tab for business and online stores that gets a little bit more expensive, but you can start with a blog or personal site, which starts at $3 a month.

Of course, if you scroll down below that, there is a free plan. You can start with a free plan, you’re just going to be getting a sub-domain website. And what that means is that it would be like jeradhill.wordpress.com instead of jeradhill.com, and then of course you have to pay a few more dollars in order to get your own domain name. With their $3 plan, you actually get a free .blog domain. I did that early on when .blog was a new domain. So jerad.blog is my actual blog website address and it is a WordPress address. For the $5 a month plan, they give you a free domain for one year and so you get your domain name, you can register it right from within here and you can get your own .com, .net and there’s a whole slew of dot extensions, whatever you wanted. You can also opt to just buy it out, so you don’t have to buy it through WordPress, you could just flat out buy it. I’ve been using Namecheap lately.

I always used to shy away from those cheap kind of low price domain name registers, but Namecheap actually has been like really awesome and I’ve been kind of slowly moving away from GoDaddy whenever I need to renew a domain name, I’d been moving it over to Namecheap. Namecheap has just been super easy to use and their customer support is actually really good as well. So, but WordPress as far as your website goes, you can get one for free. You can use one of their WordPress plans or of course you can use the sponsor of this video, which is WP Engine. If you wanted something that’s a little bit more like professional and turnkey and ready to go, but is still WordPress. I think WP Engine is definitely the best option, but you have to be ready to commit to like $35 a month or something right around there. Of course, the title of this video was how to start a business for free.

So wordpress.com definitely is one that you are going to want to go with, especially if you’re trying to get it done for free or as close to free as possible. Know also that you’re not stuck with one of these, if you want to move your website from wordpress.com to WP Engine or to any other hosting platform that’s out there, it’s really easy to do that. And it’s probably a video that I should put out, maybe not on this YouTube channel, but it’s definitely a video that I should put out on how to move a WordPress website from one site to another, because it is an easy process so long as you just have it set up correctly. So you’re never locked in forever on any of these. You know, I recommend maybe taking advantage, if you’re going to pay for a plan, some of them offer a better price if you pay for six months or a year at a time. So if you know that you’re really going to go after this, you might want to look at getting the better pricing.

But that’s really the only way that you would ever get locked into anything is if you paid for pricing out into the future. And then you kind of have to use the services, because you paid for them already. So, there’s a list of business ideas that I wanted to put together because a lot of times, you know, we’re thinking, “Well, I want to start something, I just don’t really know what it is.” And a lot of times a list of ideas is a thing that can help get you started. You may read an idea, read a suggestion from a list and say like, “Oh, okay, like I didn’t even think about that. I’m not going to do exactly that, but I have this, that just triggered this other idea in my head and I want to do that.” And I am always starting little things and so I want you to know that you do not have to have this all perfected and planned out.

I am always starting little ideas and kind of putting it out there and seeing what happens, and just kind of watching. One of the new things about WP Engine is that they give you fantastic analytics on the traffic that comes to your website. So as you start to share the link and put it out there, as you start to put maybe a blog or two up on your website and a little bit of content, and Google starts to send traffic to your website, you’re going to be able to kind of see what people gravitate towards on your website and whether, or not they’re finding it informational or not. Analytics is a really tricky subject when it comes to websites. All of the numbers and data can help you understand things, but you have to understand what those numbers and all of that data means, so there’s a bit there. But having those analytics helps you also understand whether, or not your idea maybe is going to be able to take off.

A lot of times, and I’m sure you’ve been on a website where you come into the front end of the website, you kind of go through this process of like clicking and looking at things, and then if you leave the website without taking some form of an action, that helps the person who runs the website know where the drop off point was. Maybe you, if you didn’t complete the purchase and go all the way through, then they know what page was the breakdown point. And that’s really cool information for those of us that are, you know, running online businesses because that helps us better craft our message through the process. If there’s a spot in your website that is constantly, like people are jumping off and leaving from that point, there’s probably an issue with the content there. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad content, it might mean that you just solved their problem and then they left. I have a tendency to do that. I give away a lot of the information, it solves the person’s problem and then they leave. And I didn’t do a good job at giving them a next step.

And so that’s the process of making your website kind of flow and giving them the right information, so that it takes them through the process of signing up for your product or service or making a purchase or putting in their email address to learn more or whatever that process is. So I mentioned that list of business ideas, and this is where I will ask for your email address. I have a list of businesses that I think are things that you can start for free. These are businesses that all you have to do is, it may be educate yourself a little bit on before you start them. Maybe take advantage of the education that you got, you know, going to college or something that you’ve studied over the last several years as a hobby, or something that’s been fun or informational to you. These business ideas are things that are not going to require putting out any money to get started. It’s just going to be your time, investing your time to better understand, maybe what some of these are.

And I hope that if, maybe they’re not ideas that you can jump on right away, but maybe it triggers something in you and you say, “Oh yeah, you know what? That’s not it, but this is,” and that’s really what I’m after, is helping you just jog your memory or your mind a little bit to help you come up with something. Because when you can come up with something and get excited about it, that’s going to show through the way that you project yourself and your content and everything online and it’s going to draw other people in. And that’s obviously the kind of person that we all want to do business with. So I hope that that helps, that this helps you on the process of getting started. I think that the biggest barrier to entry is fear, really, fear of just starting. And then of course, money. Sometimes there are other things that block us from getting started on, you know, maybe being an entrepreneur or being self employed. So I hope that this kind of knocks a few of those things down and helps you on the process of getting started on starting your own business.

Signup for access to my list of business ideas: https://jerad.blog/subscribe

Maybe even one day you will replace your income and not have to go to a day job anymore, but being able to invest in your own business, which obviously I think is just better.

What are you waiting for? Get started on that idea of yours!

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Why I’ll no longer be using Groupon locally

When Groupon first launched I was all over it. I am a sucker for a good deal and love to promote local business whenever possible. I buy locally most of the time and used Groupon as an excuse to spend more locally then I normally would. The first few Groupon experiences with local vendors was pretty good, however as I began to use it more I felt like I was becoming more of a pest to the business owner then a honored supporter.

As a typical purchaser of a credit I would use some of them and let some of them expire. This is probably where the business owner has the opportunity to break even. Some of the Groupon purchasers redeem the Groupon and others forget and it expires. They lose their money spent on the Groupon in that case. I am unsure as to wether or not that unredeemed credit goes to Groupon, the business or both. Regardless, I spent some and some expired.

I had great experiences with online retailers with whom I purchased Groupons and local retailers where a kid who could care less about what form of payment I used handled the transaction. However, when dealing with the owner it was almost always a negative experience. They made me feel like I was taking advantage of them. I felt like in the owners head he/she was thinking, “great, another customer who is only going to have to pay half price.” I was only welcomed as a new customer by one business which is Oodles Frozen Yogurt in Modesto. Other then that, every experience made me feel like I was an inconvenience.

It really comes down to how you are going to use a platform such as Groupon and others like it to grow your business. It can be a great way to reach new customers you may not have had access to before. However you need to have the right mindset and understand that these Groupon users are probably hyper-social online types who will blog and comment about their experiences. If you give them a bad experience not only did you receive a smaller portion of their finances for the transaction you will probably end up losing even more money due to the negative remarks the customers will leave all over the internet.

I won’t be using Groupon locally any longer because most business people around here have the wrong mindset. I am sure they start off with great intentions of loving their customers but that fades for many owners. This is why I do a lot of my buying online. If my only local option is a big box store I would rather order online then have to deal with some teenager who is just doing time and wondering what their Facebook and Tumblr friends are posting while they suffer at work. I am going to digress before this blog entry turns into a rant about how big box stores and non-passionate employees are ruining the local economy.

I have ordered several items off of the internet using Groupons from online stores where the Groupon was a coupon coded entered at check out. This to me is a win because there are no grumpy store owners to deal with. You get the same checkout confirmation and thank you page as the full paying customers. I will continue to watch for good online deals through Groupon.

If you have used a Groupon, think about how that experience went. Was it a positive one? Did the person who helped you seem genuinely happy that you were there? If so, then make sure that you go back again and again because that is the kind of business person that deserves business and success. I would even suggest that you tell the owner or manager why you decided to come back. Encourage them to keep the positive attitude. Business owners need encouragement. Half of the time they don’t know if they are making the right decisions with their business. Encouragement and affirmation from you is the best thing you can offer them, along with your credit card of course.

Share with me your Groupon experiences. I would love to hear them.