3 Ways To Run An Online Business More Cheaply

ways run online business more cheaply bootstrap company

These days, it’s not surprising that small online business owners everywhere are looking for ways to streamline their operations and run their businesses more cheaply. Customers come and go during times of economic uncertainty. Even if your financials are looking great right now, finding ways to reduce your expenses will make your operation more profitable and set you up for long-term stability. 

If you’re like most online business owners, there’s a good chance that a significant amount of your monthly budget goes toward three things: your shopping cart provider, your SEO firm and Google AdWords or another advertising platform. 

There’s also a good chance that you’re spending much more money on those three things than you need to. Here’s how you can do things differently and dramatically reduce the cost of running your business. 

Host Your Own E-Commerce System 

Shopify has become extremely successful over the past several years, and with good reason. The platform makes it easy for people to begin selling products online, even if they have no web development experience. If you entered the world of e-commerce recently, there’s a good chance that you’re using Shopify. 

Have you noticed, though, that most really successful online merchants like V2 Cigs host their own e-commerce software instead of using platforms like Shopify? That’s because paying a company like Shopify to host your online business is a very expensive proposition. For your money, you do receive access to a good support team, and you get to use a platform that’s incredibly intuitive, even for business owners with no prior e-commerce experience. That’s a great thing – until you start to gain experience. Then, you might start to realize that you’re paying a monthly fee – plus transaction fees – for a service that you’ve outgrown. 

One of the best ways to reduce your online business’s recurring expenses is by hosting your own website and using your own e-commerce platform. When you do that, you can use the payment processor of your choice, and you’ll probably spend significantly less per transaction than you do now. Your only other recurring cost will be your hosting bill. With free e-commerce solutions like WooCommerce now available for the WordPress content management system – which is also free – hosting your own site is one of the best moves you’ll ever make, even if it means that you might have to pay a web developer to help with the transition. 

Write Your Own Content And Product Descriptions 

If you’re a new business owner, you might be at a loss when it comes to figuring out how to populate your website with content and do the outreach necessary to get yourself noticed. Maybe you’re even spending a bit of money each month to hire freelancers from a site like Fiverr or Textbroker to write product descriptions or blog posts. Of course, the people you’re hiring don’t really know anything about your industry, but at least you’re working with people who know a bit about SEO, right? 

There are three reasons, though, why hiring SEO freelancers is often the wrong decision for a small online business. The first reason is the expense. Good freelancers are expensive, and unless you have some investment capital available, you probably won’t be able to work with the best freelancers until your business becomes a bit more successful. The second reason is that, since you can’t afford to work with freelancers who understand your industry, the people that you’re working with on Fiverr or elsewhere are providing content that isn’t actually helping your cause. 

The third reason why hiring an SEO freelancer is often the wrong decision for a new online business owner is because the only way to learn SEO is by doing it. If you always hire others to do the work for you, you’ll never learn the ins and outs of SEO. Once your business begins to grow, you may find that it’ll make a lot of sense to hire an experienced SEO freelancer to help push the needle a little. I’ll be greatly beneficial to you if you understand what that person is doing and why he or she is doing it. 

Get More Repeat Business Instead Of Bidding On AdWords 

When you started your online business, you probably spent a lot of time looking for tips about how to get web traffic and grow your customer base. You learned about advertising platforms like Google AdWords, and you may have even received an AdWords coupon from your web host and started bidding on keywords right away. Advertising on AdWords and other platforms is a great way to get business, but pay-per-click marketing has one major problem: Some keywords are so competitive that you’ll end up spending more to acquire new customers than you can actually expect to earn from those customers. 

Unless you do an excellent job of retaining your existing customers, encouraging repeat business and increasing average order values, bidding on traffic always has a good chance of being a losing proposition because too many other businesses are bidding on the same keywords. There are plenty of ways to improve your business’s bottom line without giving all of your profits to Google or another ad network. 

• Write some interesting and insightful blog posts to improve your website’s raw traffic numbers. If you absolutely can’t figure out what to write about or can’t find the time to write blog content, it may be worthwhile to hire an outside writer. Although writers aren’t cheap, the benefit of investing in website content rather than spending your money on advertising is that, once you’ve bought the content, it’s yours forever. When you write – or hire someone to write – blog content, try to focus on evergreen topics that will remain relevant for several years. 

• Make your product content more helpful and informative to increase your conversion rates. This is especially vital if your product pages currently have text that’s copied from other sources. Your product pages won’t receive any organic traffic from search engines if their content isn’t unique. 

• Create a mailing list and keep in touch with your customers by sending information about sales and other special offers. Starting a mailing list is a great way to stay at the top of your customers’ minds and encourage repeat business.

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