What do you need to sell information products online? The list changes constantly. Some of the services I couldn’t do without might be meaningless to you. Even so, here’s the beginning of a list of essential web sites, tools, applications, and services that no online entrepreneur should be without.
WEB SERVICES AND ACCOUNTS
You absolutely must have an email account for your business. No email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s just not good enough. If you haven’t done it already, register your business domain name and set up a POP 3 email account.
You’ll probably want an online account as well. Right or wrong, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL all still carry a stigma. If you want the convenience of web mail with almost limitless storage and good SPAM protection, get a free GMail account. Just don’t confuse personal and business accounts.
Please don’t waste time constantly checking your favorite blogs for updates. Get a good online RSS aggregator. That’s the fancy name for a blog reader. Google Reader and Bloglines are free, convenient, and easy to use. Pick one.
Web 2.0 hasn’t made the conventional web site obsolete yet. In fact, depending on what you sell and who your clients are, you may find that relying too heavily on your blog will cost you business. You’re going to register your domain anyway, and you need an email plan – so get a web site and put up at least few simple pages. Let your clients know who you are, what you can do for them, and why they should choose you over your competitors.
You may not envision a multi-site empire, but why get a single domain plan when Blue Host offers unlimited domains for the same price? I’ve used Blue Host for over three years without a complaint. Set your site up on Blue Host and you’ll be ready to grow.
You need one. Stop procrastinating. If you absolutely cannot bear to deal with the technical details, get a free blog at either Blogspot or WordPress. Just do it!
If you sell on eBay, you’ve probably set up an account with PhotoBucket or Auctiva to host your listing photos. But you also need a way to share your other photos with the world, not just with eBay buyers.
Social media is a real phenonenon. Your competitors are not standing still. The game has changed and if you refuse to participate, you’ll soon be left behind. Even if all you do is embed a Flickr photo in your blog, you’ll need a Flickr account. Start with the free account. If you find the 100 MB per month limit too restrictive, you can sign up for a Pro account. It’s only about $25.00 annually.
Video is probably the single biggest sales tool at your disposal. If you don’t already have a You Tube account, you are throwing money away. This is not a fad or a trend or a flash in the pan. This is not even tomorrow. Video is already mandatory. Don’t be left behind.
Flip Video Camcorder
The little Flip has taken over the world. If you make DVDs or shoot professional video, the Flip will never replace your 3CC camcorder. But it will certainly supplement it. Professional videographers carry Flips in their gadget bags. Teleseminar hosts keep them in their briefcases next to the cell phone. Bloggers make room in the backpack, right next to the iPhone.
There is nothing that can compete with the Flip for value and ease of use. If you don’t have one yet, you probably dismiss all the oooing and aaaahhhhing as fan-boy silliness. Once you get one, you won’t be able to believe you conducted business without it. Like the cell phone, the Flip became an instant must have business tool.
Embeddable FLV Player
Sure, you’ll probably stream most of your videos from You Tube or Vimeo. But for crystal clear Camtasia tutorials, nothing beats the JW Media Player hosted on your own site. It’s free for non-commercial use. And the Set-Up Wizard makes installation a snap.
Screen Capture Application
Is it possible to offer any sort of training without using screen caps? Sure – some people still do it, but those people are what their rivals call “dog meat.” Come on – this is 2008! Screen caps have been a fact of life since at least 1993.
There are dozens of screen capture tools on the market. Many are free. But none of them beat Snag-It. It is dirt cheap at $49.99 and there is nothing it can’t do.
If you want to add a little more pizzaz to your instructions, download TechSmith’s Jing. It’s a free, lightweight screen recorder from the makers of Camtasia. Save yourself several hours a week in training and support calls. Build up a small Jing library that answers your most Frequently Asked Questions and email a Jing videos when someone needs help. Your clients will love you.
Holy smoke – that barely scratches the surface. There are many, many more amazing and empowering tools out there for anyone who takes the time to look. And the most amazing part is – things that you would have spent thousands of dollars on not that long ago are now free. Jing, Flickr, Blogger, GMail, unlimited hosting – the list keeps growing. These are hgh quality products just waiting to make you money. Are you using them?