News Leadership 3.0

August 03, 2009

Entrepreneurship 101: Use the free stuff

In a guest post, entrepreneurial journalist Julia Scott of BargainBabe.com, lists nine steps - free or low cost - to starting a Web site and a business that helps people save money

Julia Scott is an entrepreneurial journalist, professional speaker, and blogger at BargainBabe.com, which helps people save money on everyday expenses. She just launched a second site, BargainBabeLA.com, which helps Angelenos save money using Google maps. Scott was a fellow in Knight Digital Media Center’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp in May and I’ve asked her to write an occasional guest post about her adventures in creating BargainBabe.com.

By Julia Scott

People often ask me how I got my website BargainBabe.com up and running for nothing. My answer is simple. I had no money so I found ways to do it for (almost) free.

1. I chose a site name and slogan - free!

2. I established a Wordpress blog - free!

3. I purchased a domain name ~ $8/year at GoDaddy.com if someone doesn’t already own the url (it’s usually $10 but there are often coupons). That’s dirt cheap real estate.

4. I arranged hosting for my site ~ $10/month.

5. I relied on the talents of my wonderful friends, including a graphic designer who developed my banner and a glamorous, cartoony version of me that you can peek at on my About page. A professional photographer-friend snapped the picture that is on my homepage and my techie husband and cousin did hours of back end work on the site to make it look professional and unique - free!

6. I churned out a ton of blog posts, created a blogroll, and set up a free email newsletter for readers to receive my blog posts through Feedblitz. I’ve had mixed results with Feedblitz but on the whole things have been excellent for the price - free!

7. I wrote press releases and contacted local media to get publicity for my site - free!

8. I emailed and Twittered (@bargainbabe) with other personal finance writers to join my niche’s conversation online. Linking to others and asking them to link to me did great things for my SEO - free!

9. I continue to provide useful, practical tips on saving money written in my distinct voice. I constantly poll readers and ask them for feedback on what they want to read about, what they think of an issue, or ask them to share their two cents. Building a community around my site increases loyalty and stickiness - free!

Creating my online website and business set me back just a few dollars. The real cost is my time. I do the vast majority of the work myself (I have a fantastic intern and Bargain Hubby regularly does tech maintenance) so the most pressing dilemma is how to invest my time. Everyday I have 100 things I absolutely must do. But I can only do about seven of them. Spending money is off the table, but how I spend my time will make or break my business. If you are bootstrapping your website, it is likely you will face the same time management challenges.

Later this week: Julia Scott on the challenges and opportunities of making money off a niche website.

Comments

hmm… interesting article.


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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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