Setting up a Website or Online Business


More than ever, small businesses are flocking online to market their products and services. However, many of them don't realise that just putting up a few pages on a "website" is not necessarily going to increase your sales or attract more customers to your business. To avoid wasting time and money you need to be thinking about Online Businesses, Not Websites.

Where to start? This can be confusing if you are not sure of the terminology and process involved so I have outlined the basic steps for you below, and please don't hesitate to contact me for assistance in planning and setting up your online business:


1. Choosing and registering your website name (i.e. domain name)

This is called your domain name and whilst most people generally want their domain name to be the same as their business name it is wise to do a search first to make sure someone else hasn't already registered the domain name (if you are setting up a new business you also need to check the ABR and ASIC business and company name registers to check no one else has your chosen business name already registered as well).  You can search and/or register your domain name through companies such as Melbourne IT or Netregistry. Costs vary but it's generally around $150 for 2 years.

2. Choosing a hosting company

Unless you are familiar with the technology and security required to host your own website most people generally pay a hosting company to do this for them (i.e. they store your website files on their system and make them available online). A lot of companies that offer domain name registration also offer basic hosting packages but for comprehensive design and hosting for your online business offer second to none service and features including:


  • Website & email hosting
  • Range of website design templates or complete design service
  • Online customer database
  • Email marketing – advertise promotions, send out newsletters, targeted marketing, loyalty campaigns, etc.
  • Frequently asked questions database – saves customers ringing/emailing you with the same questions all the time
  • Ecommerce - sell products online, manage inventory, automate shipping options, etc.
  • Effective lead capture – receive emails and/or sms
  • Build online communities – blogs, forums, etc.
  • Online content management – keep your website up to date anytime and anywhere
  • Extensive reporting capability

3. Choose your design method

a) use a web designer
b) use an online content management system & choose from a range of templates provided
c) use an online content management system & buy & import a template from somewhere like

Using a web designer can be benficial if you require a unique and technically advanced website built from scratch. A web designer generally uses coding or software such as Frontpage or Dreamweaver to create your website file and then uploads them to the hosting company. The disadvantages are that this is usually the most expensive method (ranging between $5,000 & $15,000) and you will need your designer to make any changes and updates at additional cost. 

An online content management system is online software provided by the hosting company that lets you create, maintain, update and manage your website online. Most hosting companies provide this and a range of templates to choose from to create your site. Some content management systems allow you the flexibility of either creating your site from one of their templates, or importing a template from somewhere like  or creating the site in something like Dreamweaver first and then uploading but most just allow you to create your site online starting with one of their templates. The advantages are the cost savings and convenience of being able to make changes anywhere and anytime. offer both hosting and design services and have a wide range of templates and hosting packages depending on your requirements. They also provide additional options such as enabling you to import a template purchased from someone like, or import an existing website, or getting a designer to create a template that can be imported into their online content management system. Prices start from $23/month (or $248/year) for a basic brochure style site or from $47/month ($507/year)  for an all in one solution with hosting, e-mail, e-commerce (online shop), online database, blog and email marketing. You can create your own site using the easy Online Business Builder or please contact me with your requirements and I'd be happy to give you a quote to build your online business for you. 

See how a online business solution package could work for you

Web designers click here to see how to use Business Catalyst as an all in one solution for your clients

4. Search Engine Optimisation

Bascially this refers to making your content search engine friendly so Google can find you. It's no good having lots of flashy images if you don't show up when people search on google for words relating to your business, services or products. There are some things that you/your designer can do that don't cost any money, e.g. use descriptive names for your page titles, use words in your content that relate to your business, product or service, have hyperlinks in your content to other pages in your site and uploading your sitemap to google, as well as things like bidding on words relating to your business which can be costly. For more information and tips refer to the relevant section of Google's website

5. Email Hosting

This refers to the company that hosts your email account. You may already have an account with an internet service provider (ISP) such as bigpond where your email account ends with something like Most web hosters also offer email hosting as part of your website package. This means that for added professionalism and branding you can have an email account that ends with the same name as your website domain name, e.g. or if you want something generic. You can then set up this/these account/s in your mail software, e.g. Microsoft Outlook, so emails sent to this address automatically come into the same inbox where you receive your personal email. The added advantage is you can generally also access this email online anywhere in the world by using your web hoster's webmail service, e.g. or and entering your given user name and password.

Download instructions for setting up your email account in Outlook

5. Affiliate Marketing

This is where you can either use your website to promote relevant products and receive a commission in return (Affiliate Marketer) or you can set up an affiliate program offering other website owners commission to promote your products via their website (Affiliate Merchant). Affiliate centres such as these below enable affiliate marketers to sign up for affiliate programs that have been listed by affiliate merchants: