Start a Business

Many webmasters offer all their content for free and monetize their website using AdSense and affiliate offers. There is nothing wrong with that approach. But AdSense in most cases will not provide you with enough funds to keep your business going. Building your own products and offering useful services to your visitors could always provide your business with the necessary funds to go on. Charging for your premium content or using it to better promote your site could also work.

Some large publishers have already started trying the idea of putting up a paywall to fund their operations. You may not want to do this for all your stories. But it is worth trying for some of your premium content to see how it will work. These 5 plugins let you create a paywall in WordPress easily:

Restrict Content Pro: turns your website into a subscription-based community. You can create multiple subscription levels and even offer your audience with a free trial plan.

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Many small businesses make the mistake of going with the cheapest hosting solution possible to get their website online. When you are starting, that may not be the most terrible (it certainly is not a wise one). Once your business starts to grow, you should consider investing in a premium hosting plan to handle all the traffic coming your way. It is even better if you start with these types of hosts right from the start.

Just paying a ton of money for a hosting plan does not mean you will be getting a decent service in return. You should always do comprehensive research before picking a hosting partner. Here are 4 web hosts that we have found to be very reliable:

Liquid Web: these folks give you a ton of options as far as their hosting plans are concerned. They have one of the best support teams in the industry. Their hardware packages are quite impressive too. They have plans for growing and established businesses.

WiredTree: WiredTree has pretty decent Managed VPS and great Managed dedicated server plans. It offers superior support, including server hardening, phone support, and proactive server monitoring and restoration. [click to continue…]

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There is nothing wrong with making money as an affiliate marketer or blogger. But selling an informational or physical product can give you more flexibility and truly put you in the driver’s seat to achieve great things with your business. Many business owners have achieved a lot of success selling e-books, DVD courses, and other types of products. Everybody can do it with the right idea. Whatever you do, you don’t want to forget about creating a website for your product. One can’t expect to sell a digital product successfully without a decent website. Thanks to WordPress, you won’t have to spend too much money getting your site up and running. These 5 WordPress themes let you create a website for your product fast:

Productz: a dynamic WordPress theme that lets you promote multiple goods and services on your front-page and do your products justice.Very clean.

RT – Theme: a very clean theme for start-ups or anyone selling digital products (such as DVD training programs). It has 10 color schemes and takes advantage of short-codes too.

eBook Theme: have just finished your first e-book? You can always try selling it on Amazon and other online sites. Or you can use this theme to sell it directly to those interested (or just promote your book). [click to continue…]

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How does one pick a name for a startup? It’s easier said than done. Depending on what you plan for your startup, you want to go with a name that is catchy, simple, and brandable. Your domain needs to be available as well. After all, what good is it to you to pick a name without owning .com and other extensions of that name. Not everybody is great at picking names, which is why startup name generators help. They can give you ideas you may not be able to come up on your own. Besides, by watching how they work, you may be able to come up with more name ideas for your startup.

If you are looking to pick a name for your startup, these 5 simple tools can help:

Web 2.0 Name Generator: one of my favorite tools. It can come up with some crazy good names, but you have to be patient with it. You can use their dotomator service to get domain name suggestions.

Behind The Name: a cool random name generator for your startup that can create English and foreign startup names with a click of a button.

NOEMATA Name Generator: creates one word names for your startup in a flash. It also gives you access to a list of random names that you may want to take advantage of.

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One of the best ways to make money online is by having your very own store. It’s true that services such as Amazon astore give you the chance to start selling other people’s products, but when you are dealing with commissions, you usually end up getting a fraction of what you could be making if you had your very own store. Many newbies are scared of spending money to develop their own e-commerce store. In reality, you don’t have to spend that much of a money to get your store going. WordPress is your best friend here.

There are plenty of premium WordPress themes and plugins that one can use to build a killer e-commerce website. Once you have become more established, you can always spend more money adding more features to your website. At the same time, these themes allow you to reduce your initial risk and test some things out.

To start your e-commerce website without spending too much money up front, you should give these 5 cool e-commerce themes for WordPress a look:

E-commerce: a very powerful and flexible WordPress theme for anyone who is serious about starting an online store. It makes it easy to manage coupons, customers, orders, and even start an affiliate program for your store.

Kidz Store: it’s almost as powerful as the first theme on this list. However, it’s more colorful and designed for niche stores. So if you are planning to sell clothes, toys, or other niche items, this WordPress theme has you covered.

The Furniture Store: an attractive, dark WordPress theme designed for those of you who are interested in selling furniture and products of that nature. Pretty versatile for niche stores. [click to continue…]

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Twitter API: Up and Running: Learn How to Build Applications with the Twitter API

The social media world is expanding fast. Just a few months ago, there were a lot of people who were skeptical about Twitter and Facebook. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of these services. There are plenty of ways to start a business on these sites. If you take time to get yourself familiar with the API offered by Twitter and Facebook, you can create real solutions that people want to use. You obviously have to identify a need and provide value with your service, but these APIs can be easily utilized to create killer products for social media sites such as Twitter.

Twitter is growing really fast, which is why starting a Twitter-based business makes sense these days. If you know someone who knows the API or can hire someone to write code for you, the sky’s the limit on what products you can make for Twitter. Here are 10 Twitter business ideas to get you started:

  • Local Services: creating geo-based Twitter solutions is nothing new. But the market is still not saturated. No matter where you are around the world, you can create a Twitter-based service and attract Twitter users in your area. Or you can go for it all and create a craigslist-like service for Twitter.
  • Status Update: creating a software solution that makes it easy to update multiple social media accounts in one shot is still one of the best ways to gain some traction in this business (e.g. Pinging service).
  • Desktop Clients: we have over a dozen of desktop clients that let tweeters tweet from their PC more effectively. At the same time, there is always room for innovation in this area (TweetDeck).
  • Analytics Tools: social media analytics is gaining traction slowly and more people will use SM analytics solutions to measure ROI for their social media campaigns. The sky’s the limit in this area. You can go for simple, freemium services or create premium analytics solution (with the proper investment).
  • Automation Tools: there are a lot of businesses and individuals that prefer automating parts of their social media campaigns. Targeting them could be lucrative (TweetAdder).
  • Account Management Tools: letting people manage their account more efficiently on Twitter is yet another way to make money on Twitter. Though make sure you figure out your business model before going online (Hootsuite).
  • Mobile Apps: offering a mobile solution for iPhone, Android, and other top mobile platforms is yet another way to build business on Twitter. It’s not as hard as it looks as long as you have the right developers.
  • International Twitter Solutions: have you seen tweeters who talk in foreign languages on Twitter? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could develop a solution for them to help them tweet and connect with others more effectively (e.g. a Twitter translation service)?
  • Twitter Training: what if you don’t want to write code? You can still make money on Twitter by letting others know how to get started on Twitter. You can also offer backgrounds, buttons, and all kinds of little solutions and monetize on the side.
  • Twitter Portals: if you are into building content portals, why not use Twitter to build more dynamic ones? Lots of content to take advantage of.

As you can seen, building a business on Twitter is not that hard. You obviously do want to pay attention to business 101 concepts, but as long as you identify a need that is not being addressed in your niche, there are plenty of opportunities to make money on Twitter.

Your take: please share your Twitter ideas here.

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Colorful notebooks

One of the best ways to make money online is by taking advantage of the hottest trends in the tech market and get a jump start over your competitors. iPhone development is one of the hottest avenues for entrepreneurs to make money online. And with the latest decision by Apple to allow in-app purchases for free apps, there are more ways to adopt a freemium business model and start making a living off of those so-called “free apps.” Starting an iPhone business is very similar to any other business. You will need to have a plan, an idea that works (though you could use simple apps to start a business as well), and execute your plan in a manner that would give you business the best chance to succeed.

There are many developers who start writing their apps without testing their market and conducting a comprehensive business analysis. You can be the best developer in the world, but if you don’t approach your development venture as a business, it’s going to stay your hobby. Every-time you want to develop a product, you need to do your research, identify your audience, their potential need, and ways to market your product. You also need to be prepared to offer after-sale support to keep your credibility with your customers. [click to continue…]

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An E-mail!

I have talked about in the past how important it is for any business to choose the right web host. If you are just starting up or just gaining momentum in your business, you can’t afford not to give your business the best chance to succeed. Many small business owners have the temptation to go with the cheapest web host possible. Some don’t mind paying a few more dollars for those unlimited plans. In reality, you can’t have a free lunch and eat it too. World class web hosts offer very reliable services to their customers, but they will need to charge higher to keep offering high quality service. Those who pay $10 a month for their web hosting service and expect to get the best service in the world are dreaming.

If you are a start-up owner and have big plans for your business, you want to invest in a service that keeps your web services up 24/7. The last thing you want to do is leave things to chances and prayer. Besides, it would leave a very bad impression on your new customers if your service is down frequently.

There is more to web hosting than just comparing numbers. Take the below hosts for example. They are great for small businesses that are starting but don’t plan to get too big too soon. They are great for bloggers and those who don’t intend to offer a web service (e.g. Twitter). But you can’t just compare the numbers and choose one of these services for the next YouTube. [click to continue…]

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Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers))

Search Engine Optimization. One of the most underrated and overrated tactics used by webmasters. Before I address why SEO is underrated for businesses, let me tell you why SEO is overrated. A lot of small businesses fall too much in love with their SEO practices and forget about other marketing channels to get the word out about their business. SEO is very attractive as it is considered to generate free leads for your business. But search engine optimization takes time and there are no guarantees. There is simply no way to guarantee #1 ranking on Google and Bing, and anyone who does guarantee it is being deceptive.

SEO underrated among many companies across many industries. I have seen many large companies that simply don’t get it when it comes to SEO. Many think of SEO as a magic trick that can open the traffic floodgates. Some small businesses don’t even bother with SEO, thinking that it’s too hard and simply not beneficial. In reality, none of these approaches are true. SEO can be a powerful channel for your small business, but you shouldn’t over-rely on it and expect miracles. At the end of the day, how much success you get from your SEO efforts depends on your landing page and your product offerings.

Getting started with SEO is not as difficult as most people think. It does take a bit of work, and at some point you may be better off outsourcing your efforts. At the same time, there are a lot of things you can do by yourself. If you are stuck and have no idea where to start, here are a few areas you should focus on:

  • Details: knowing how search engines work goes a long way towards helping you figure out strategies and tactics that can give you the best bang for your buck. You don’t want to implement tactics without knowing what the effects could be.
  • Keywords: your keywords are very important in determining what kind of traffic you get to your website. Not all keywords are created equal, so make sure you do your homework here.
  • Content: having the right kind of content on your website goes along way towards determining your success. Content will always be king, so don’t cut corners here.
  • On page factor: on page factors are in general not as important as they used to be, but you can still get some value out of making your your META tags, alt tags, and so on are done right.
  • Links: building links to your pages is very important. You want to get links from blogs, forums, and authority sites (very important). Education, government, and other top sites can help you climb the rankings fast.
  • Social Media: social media optimization should be a big part of your plans. You should take time to create a Facebook and Twitter account and keep driving traffic to your website.
  • Web 2.0: using sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed goes a long way towards bringing you more traffic. But don’t forget to add podcasts, video-casts, and so on to your web pages to draw more people in and spread the word around your business.

This is just a simple overview of what you need to do to climb the rankings and get more traffic to your website. There are tons of books that you should read to take your SEO game to the next level. Your focus should really not be on search engines but rather providing value to your users. Content and value are still king, so don’t let your eyes off the ball.

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The U.S. economy may still be in recession, but the Internet industry is still growing, and there are still plenty of ways to make money online with your own business, especially if you are a bit technical. Think about it. Twitter and iPhone are two of the hottest topics that are being talked about on TV, radio, and on the Internet. Building a business around these services can certainly pay for the foreseeable future. Since these technologies are not fully mature yet, there are plenty of opportunities to develop innovative solutions for these services and start build your web business.

Twitter API and iPhone SDK provide every entrepreneur with a great opportunity to develop innovative applications and start building up your web business. Unlike what most people assume, getting a handle of these technologies is not that difficult. As long as you have some technical knowledge, you can get started with your own Facebook or Twitter app fast. Besides, you can always outsource the process.

If you are technical enough to tackle Twitter API or iPhone SDK, here are 5 great books you should read to help you get started with your own app:

Twitter API: Up and Running: Learn How to Build Applications with the Twitter API

Twitter API – Up and Running: the best Twitter API book hands down. It teaches you how to develop innovative solutions for Twitter and build a Twitter business fast. If you know PHP, you are going to enjoy reading this book, and by the time you are done, who knows what you can come up with.

Facebook Cookbook: Building Applications to Grow Your Facebook Empire

Facebook Cookbook: Twitter may be very popular these days, but so is Facebook. Many small businesses have taken their business to the next level by developing cool Facebook apps. A great way to brainstorm, develop products, sell yours or other people’s products.

Beginning iPhone Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK

Beginning iPhone Development: if you are completely new to iPhone SDK, you should read this book. It gets you started with everything you need to know to develop a basic iPhone app.

iPhone Games Projects

iPhone Games Projects: I can’t tell you how many people have made a lot of money by developing killer games on iPhone. You can make money from ads or just charge for your iPhone app. If you are app makes it to the top seller list, the sky’s the limit for your business. Many developers have quit their day jobs and gotten started with their own app company. You can always hire a few programmers and do the same.

Pro Web 2.0 Mashups: Remixing Data and Web Services (Expert's Voice in Web Development)

Pro Web 2.0 Mashups: a killer book on Web 2.0 mashups. Teaches you what you need to know to work with various APIs and start building your innovative apps fast. Shows you how to create different types of mashup, such as search, calendars, RSS/Atom feeds, and social bookmarking.
You don’t necessarily have to be on the cutting edge to make money online, but iPhone, Twitter, and Facebook are great technologies to be involved with. These technologies have a large following, and as long as you address a unique need, there is no reason you can’t build a startup around these technologies. The times may be tough but innovative business models survive and thrive under most difficult conditions.

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