Monthly Archives: May 2010

Jeez, it’s easy setting up an online business these days!

Seriously, how much easier can it get?!

I started my online ‘journey’ in 1998 and getting an online business or website up and running was a totally different experience to today.  My first ‘product’ (if you can call it that!) was something which went onto become an eBook.  However back then, I had no idea what an eBook was and I certainly wasn’t aware of the fact that you could buy software to create one.  Thus my first eBook was little more than a text file (which went onto become a Word document)!  It looked cheap and scrappy and to be fair, it was BUT the content was solid and that was the most important thing and my poorly presented text file sold by the bucketload.  When I eventually decided that there must be a better way of presenting the information I was selling, it took me days of Googling (actually I probably wasn’t even using Google back then so perhaps that should be AOLing or Yahooing) to find the one piece of software that would do what I wanted.  Search for ‘eBook software’ now and Google is jammed full of the stuff!  Not only that but today you could hire someone to write the eBook for you thus saving even more time!

In the early days (actually right up to 2006), I built all of my websites myself using a very cheap bit of software called CoolPage.  This software was extremely easy to use but looking back, it took ages to create anything worthwhile.  I remember opening up Dreamweaver one day and after seeing how complicated it looked, I closed it straight down and removed it from my PC.  So CoolPage it was and I struggled on with this super-basic web design package for years – got to get my moneys worth, after all, I think it cost me about $27.00 🙂 

Taking payments was another pain in the backside – Paypal didn’t exist until 1999 and processors such as WorldPay etc hadn’t even been thought of.  Even when processors such as Clickbank and Paypal started to emerge, they were still very basic systems and integration into your website was hard work, especially if you had no programming skills (ie. me).  I know today you could just head over to freelance sites such as Scriptlance but they weren’t around until 2001 so it was a case of speaking to other Internet marketers to see if they could recommend someone. 

I remember spending weeks working out how to create a video product and then how to get it into a format that everyone could view (it was hard enough getting eBooks into a usable format nevermind video – who remembers .exe eBooks which wouldn’t work on Macs?!)  In the end some bright spark came out with a multi-media package which explained how to create multi-media products.  Desperate to put an end to my trial and error approach, I spent something like $700 on this package.  It was the answer to my prayers at the time admittedly but if I were in the same situation today, a quick Google search would have given me the answer for nothing.

My point is that however hard you might think it is today to get a website business up and running, 12 years ago it was considerably harder.  Everything has just got easier.  Ok, so maybe the technology involved is more complex but the point is that you don’t need to understand how to code or build websites or anything really because there are thousands of people out there who will do the work for you at a very reasonable rate.  Let me give you some examples.  The first website I ever had designed for me was my UK wholesale site, Simply Wholesale.  Now although it might look fairly straightforward from the front-end, the back-end of Simply Wholesale is actually quite complicated.  There is a lot of custom coding which ensures that the site can run pretty much on autopilot yet the intial design and coding costs for this site back in 2006 were around £3,500 and that was using UK developers (as opposed to cheaper options available in Eastern Europe, India etc). 

That was in 2006 and I haven’t been particularly active in developing new Internet businesses during the past 4 years (ok, not active at all!) but now that I am getting back into it, I can only say that things are even easier.  Using sites such as Scriptlance, I have had several websites and bits of code designed/written for me for, what I would consider, bargain prices.  With scripts out there such as WordPress (which this site is based on), it is easy for a designer to throw together a theme or template without having to worry about how the back-end of the site is going to work – that bit has already been done for them.  As I said at the start of this article, how much easier can it get?

In 1998 it would have taken me several weeks work, if not several months to put together one new website.  During the past month I have created two new sites and it really only took me a few days.  The reason being that I just wrote the design brief and then passed the hard work (from my point of view at least) onto someone else.  If you are struggling to get an idea off the ground and are spending time trying to work out how to build your website or make it work, why not consider giving the job to a professional?  It probably won’t be anywhere near as expensive as you might think and it could save you months and months of frustration and effort.  If you are stuck for where to look for designers, programmers, coders etc, try Scriptlance as a starting point…