4 min read

Now that your business is up and running, you should start thinking about your online presence. The internet is a staple commodity when it comes to running a business today, and it isn't going away any time soon. Here are some tips for establishing your business online.

Building a Business Website

In the 21st century, having a website is a must for your business. Not only can you reach customers, but customers can also learn everything they need to know about your business on your website. In fact, according to the Local Search Association, 63 percent of consumers look for a site when they're trying to find a local business.1 Voice assistant searches are on the rise and typically look at the top Google result, which means it's important to claim that real estate with your own site. You can either build a website or hire someone else to build it for you. Building it yourself is the less expensive option, but more time-consuming. If you don't have any coding skills, don't worry! There are plenty of sites out with a "site builder" feature you can use for free or at a low cost. A few examples are WeeblyWix, and WordPress.

Domain Name

What sounds more professional to you – "yourbusiness.wordpress.com" or "yourbusiness.com?" Chances are you answered the latter. No matter which platform you use, it's important that your company has its own brand identity. This is where custom domain names come into play. To register a domain name, buy one through one of the major domain registration services. A few examples of companies that register domains are GoDaddyHostGator, and Bluehost. Many of these companies are also web hosts, so they might offer special packages that include both hosting and one or more domain names. Some companies such as GoDaddy, even have their own site builder, so you can have everything in one place. Once you own a domain, you can use it with your web host, or map it to your site if you're using a site builder. Make sure you have chosen a site builder that has a custom domain option. Most do, but it never hurts to check.

Company Email

When it comes to email, using the address of the form "[youraddress]@[yourdomain].com" gives a more professional image. Many domain registrars and web hosts will give you this ability if you buy the right package. You can also set one up if you use G Suite, Google's suite of business apps.

File Transfer Protocol

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program is a tool used to transfer an entire site from a local machine to a server. It helps streamline the process by moving the site files in bulk. Don't worry, you won't need to worry about this unless you're building the site yourself from scratch. However, if you decide to go down that route, make sure you have a good FTP before you start.

Using Social Media

Here is a quick summary of how you can use each major social media platform to help your business:

  • Facebook is a social network, so it's a must to have a presence there. If you have a personal account, you can create and manage any number of Pages. You can also convert a personal profile into a business page if needed. Additionally, you can use Facebook to create and manage ads for your business. For more info, check out the Facebook Business hub.
  • Twitter is one of the most popular social media sites. Over time, it's become a marketing tool for more and more businesses. According to a 2018 study by Pew Research Center, Twitter is popular with users between 18 and 24 years old. So, it may be a good tool to use if you're marketing to the younger generations.
  • LinkedIn is the internet's largest professional network. It's a site where professionals and companies of various fields can connect with each other. You should definitely create a page for your company as soon as possible. The earlier you get started, the earlier you can start networking. Job seekers interested in your company will probably look you up on LinkedIn. Also, current and former employees can show their connection to you on their profiles.
  • YouTube is a huge platform for sharing videos. Anyone can create a channel and start uploading, liking, commenting, and sharing. If you produce video content for your business, YouTube is a great place for your company to have a presence.
  • Tumblr is a popular "micro-blogging" platform that puts a "social media" spin on blogging. Not a lot of businesses use Tumblr in comparison to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, it's a very popular site with the younger generations. It may be a good place to engage with this age group if that's who you're marketing to. However, if you want to run a traditional blog, Tumblr probably isn't the best platform. It's more suited for quickly digestible content, like on Facebook or Twitter.

For more tips on using social media as a business, check out the Social Media Guide.

Using Blogs

Blogs are a useful tool for your business in several ways. For example, blogging gives more insight into what you do, which can help build consumer trust and boost interest in your company. Use your posts to let the public know about your business and community activities.2Blogging gives you useful demographic information. You'll be able to monitor who is reading your posts and which ones they're reading. This can help you learn a lot about your current and potential customers.2 It can also help you plan your marketing plan and your target audience. Blogging can also increase your credibility as a business. To take advantage of this, put out high-quality posts that establish thought leadership in your fields. Get readers interested as they may become potential customers.2Finally, if your blog is getting visitors, it can increase traffic to your main website.2 Because of this, be sure you have easy-to-find links between your blog and website on both ends.

Blogging Tools

There is no shortage of great blogging tools on the internet. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • While WordPress can be used for websites, essentially it's a blogging tool, and this is probably the best way to use it. When you start a blog, you can choose from countless modern, professional themes. Some of these themes are free and others are paid. Each template is built for a different purpose, so be sure to choose one that best fits your blogging needs.
  • Blogger is a service owned by Google that can be used by anyone with a Google account. Like WordPress, there are many templates available for it as well as a handful of customization options. You can run multiple blogs under your account.
  • Medium is a unique blog-like platform. Unlike other blog platforms, it's a form of "social journalism" – a hybrid between social media/blogging and journalistic writing. If you have a Medium account, you'll be able to essentially publish your own editorials. This is a great way to spread thoughts. However, if you want more visual customization, it's probably not the best choice.

Next Steps

Now that you've read about building an online presence, watch the video on this page – "An Accurate Online Presence and Your Small Business" – to learn more useful information. Then, when you're ready, move on to the next article, Growing Your Business.