How to Get Your Business Online in 5 Steps (Without Paying Commissions)

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

It’s fair to say that COVID-19 is a hard bloody time for us businesses. We haven’t seen an economic crisis like this in generations, and Australia is scrambling to keep jobs going for a year or more. In a time like this, it’s so important to be adaptable and ready for change in your business – and a crucial part of this is getting your stuff online!

Right now, your customers are mostly at home, working and browsing socials. You have to take advantage of the tools the internet gives you to capture their interest. By moving your business online, you can keep operating even if you have to close your physical store. And if you’re a food-based business still operating through takeaway only, moving your point of sale online means you don’t have to rely on big businesses like UberEats who will take a cut of your income.

Moving your business online will give you:

· Income during the shutdown

· Self-reliance and sufficiency so you don’t need to outsource services

· A convenient touchpoint for customers to contact you well into the future

· A way to make even more money once things go back to normal

I’m one of the lucky few who has been working purely online for the past 2 years, so my lifestyle hasn’t changed so much. In that time, I’ve gained a bunch of knowledge to help you with! So it’s time to get into it – follow along to get your online business set up in 5 steps!

A proud restaurant owner giving a takeaway meal to a customer

Step 1: Get a Website

Forgive me for making it sound so simple. But... this is the most important step of all. You don’t even need to have an amazing website – but you must have web presence and you must have control over it for the next few months. This means you need to choose something that suits your skills and your budget. If you’re a small business needing to limit overheads, there are DIY website builders like Squarespace or Wix which might be a good option for you. If you need something pro, hire a developer (or try it yourself, if you want a challenge) and get on WordPress. If you’re selling physical items, you might like to look into Shopify. You can also try something like Showit or Webflow which are more professional but harder-to-use drag-and-drop builders. I’ll talk more about choosing the right web builder in a future blog post.

Follow these five substeps to get your website up and running:

1. Choose your builder. I recommend Wix, Squarespace, Shopify or WordPress, depending on my client. Those are in order from easiest and most amateur to hardest and most professional (in my opinion)

2. Get web hosting – meaning, a little slice of internet space to make your website’s home. If you’ve chosen Wix, Squarespace or Shopify, your hosting is already included and you can skip this step. I recommend SiteGround if you’re using WordPress – it comes out on top in most rankings. Other options you might have heard of are GoDaddy, Flywheel and Bluehost.

3. Buy a domain (web address – mine’s You can get a free domain with your subscription if you go with Wix or Squarespace, otherwise you’ll have to buy one. I find OnlyDomains the best because of its nice look, easy use and good pricing, but SiteGround also offers domains. You will then have to connect your domain to your website. Here are the instructions for Wix, Squarespace, Shopify and SiteGround (for your WordPress site).

(Hot tip: Choose a domain that closely matches the name of your business, has no weird characters like numbers or underscores, and is relatively short. You want it to be easy to remember and write.)

4. Get designing. Install WordPress from your SiteGround panel if you’ve gone that direction – otherwise use the inbuilt templates and features in Wix, Squarespace or Shopify to customise to your heart’s content. You can also look at sites like Envato Market and buy premade themes by web designers to make it even easier.

5. Make sure your site works on mobile. You may need to shift a few elements around or hide some sections that are slowing your site down. It’s important that everything is visible, clear, and fast because more people will visit your site from mobile than desktop.

Once that’s done, heave a big sigh of relief and make a cup of tea – the hardest part’s done, and you’ve made an investment in your business way into the future!

Step 2: Take Your Offerings Online

I’ll outline the steps below, industry-by-industry:

Restaurants, Cafes and Catering: You’ll need to have an online ordering system on your website. You can do this by using a plugin (WordPress) or with inbuilt features on Squarespace or Wix – or you can look into a service like The Fork. Lots of options! This process will involve adding all of your menu items to your website and allowing people to select, view, and check out. If you need help setting this up, ask your web person.

Coaches, Therapists and Consultants: Download and learn to use some video call software. Zoom is very popular at the moment, offers both free and paid plans, and appears to have fixed some security issues. Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Facetime are all great options too. Spend a little while getting to know your app so you’re a pro when it comes time to consult online.

Retailers: You’ll need to set up an online (eCommerce) store. You can do this easily on Shopify and Squarespace, and WordPress’ WooCommerce is fantastic – but you’ll need to pay a little extra to set up eCommerce if you’re with Wix. With online stores, you can customise your product photos, write your own descriptions, and set quantities and postage costs – and it’s all doable in one weekend.

Musicians and Artists: You might like to take a leaf out of the retailers' section and set up an online store with merch and CDs. Also, look into getting your music onto Spotify or Apple Music for max exposure and as many points of purchase as possible. Ensure you've got a Facebook page set up for people to connect.

Bang. Get ready for online money.

Step 3: Set Up Payment

Make sure you can get paid for your online work!

If you’ve got an eCommerce store or an online ordering system, an online payment system should have been automatically included. If you don’t, you’ll need a way to get paid online.

I use PayPal, and I embed a code into my invoices through their “Buttons” feature. It’s just a simple copy and paste into my invoice template in Microsoft Word. Alternatively, you could send all your invoices through PayPal or start looking at a subscription to an invoicing service like Xero. Finally, you could just put your bank account details on your invoices so that clients can make a direct transfer into your account. Just be sure to check that any links are working before you e-mail your invoices off.

Tick tick tick.

Step 4: Promote Your Online Offerings

Now that you’ve got everything ready to go online, it’s time to attract people to your business. Let them know about what you’re doing!

If you’re a restaurant who’s still open, then design and print out a takeaway menu with your website and contact details on it and have this available at the door. That way, people will be able to order online next time and spread the word to their friends.

If you’re a coach or consultant who’s moving online, you might like to give some flyers out advertising your new service style and directing your clients to your website. This will give them a few weeks notice before you stop offering in-person service. If you’ve already stopped your in-person consulting, then you might like to send out a mass e-mail letting your clients know about your new online bookings.

It can also be a great strategy to get on social media to post about your online services and connect to your clients. Not only this, but you can take advantage of paid ads on Google, Facebook and Instagram to promote your offerings to people who want them! This can be done for as little as $1 per day and you can choose who you want to show your ads to by their age, their gender and where they live. Finally, look into building an e-mail list with someone like MailChimp or ConvertKit. It’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and let them know about specials or news.

Step 5: Monitor Your Traffic and Make Changes

I highly recommend downloading Google Analytics so you can make changes to your website if you need to. Are people leaving after the first page? Maybe you need to work harder to send them to important pages you want them to visit. Are people putting items in their cart, but not checking out? You might need to set up an e-mail reminder system. Do you have no traffic? Perhaps you need to launch some paid ads to get some momentum going.

Analytics is easy to set up – just follow the directions in this tutorial from Google. (They use a lot of techy language, but it really stands for simple things - create an account, add your website to it, and pop a single line of code in your website so Analytics can read your traffic. Wix and Squarespace both have easy inbuilt ways to do this.)

That’s it – you’re online, and ready to keep doing business! Want some help setting all this up, getting a beautiful new website design, sorting out your domain and hosting, or installing analytics? Get in touch and we can start ASAP!