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5 steps to getting your business online in South Africa

5 steps to getting your business online in South Africa

In these pandemic times of social distancing and indefinite lockdown, there is only one way up for most businesses on planet Earth: online. Bricks-and-mortar are no longer safe havens for entrepreneurial ventures, big or small. Now you need to take your business to a new level: straight into the cosy confines of your potential customer’s own home.

There are many benefits to having a web presence – lower overheads and commuting costs, among them. But what the web is most phenomenal for is just that: being a web of connections. With an online presence, you have the opportunity to have more than just a local or even a national presence: the entire world could be your oyster!

In this month’s post, we’ll help guide you towards working virtually in five simple steps and sourcing that e-market:

1) Commission a website designer or build your own website

Your company website is your portal to the world and to global opportunities. It’s the first place that most people will go to find out more information about your products or services, and it may be through a Google search that they find you in the first place. So ensure that you hire a skilled website wizard to work the magic for you or that you know how to do it yourself so that Google will find you pronto, on page 1!

Take time to consider what it is you want to show to the world and break it down into the kinds of pages you want on your site. Do you need product listing pages? Will you have an e-commerce platform for a shop? Will you be running regular blogs or vlogs? Ensure you have all the textual and photographic content (both suitably edited and sized) together before you embark on this. Do plenty of research as well into different types of website layouts and see what appeals to you and what fits your business structure.

2) Use other websites to sell your products and services

Once your website is up and running, look at other avenues where you can advertise and market your offerings, such as:

  • Paid-for, commercial operations – like an online retailer such as co.za, takealot.com, shopify.co.za or faithful-to-nature.co.za/. Even amazon.com has a sales platform, where the fees are about one-third of the sales price of the item (plus monthly fees and warehouse storage costs)…
  • Industry-related companies, such as com where you pay a small fee to list your art rather than commission on an individual piece, or etsy.com, for handcrafted or vintage goods. There are similar umbrella shopfronts for various lines of work. If you’re a writer or an editor, consider freelancer.com or upwork.com.
  • Social media – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter – is also a fantastic sales platform if used wisely and accurately. It is largely free but you can do paid-for posts, with Facebook, for example, which will sprinkle your adverts on users’ pages. Ask your webhost to help you pinpoint your market in this way or teach yourself the ins and outs of the various social media services. com notes that, globally, Facebook still draws most of the world’s consumers at 45%, then Instagram at 19% and Twitter at 9%.

3) Start backlinking and SEO

Backlinking is essential to search engine optimisation (SEO). A backlink is an incoming link to a website. SEO is the process of increasing traffic to your site by improving its visibility through the use of specific words and terms. The more backlinks you have on a page, the higher up the rankings you’ll go! Make sure your backlinks are from reputable, quality webpages and they need to be relevant to your field or line of work to attract the attention of the almighty Elgoog and other search engines out there. Only once they have found your site, will they start to crawl through it effectively, netting you some customers in the process, hopefully..

Educate yourself on how the world of SEO works and how it can work in your favour by:

4) Paid advertising

This is always an option, in online, print or broadcasting, if you have the budget. Check out paid advertising options on:

  • Social media
  • Google Ads
  • Online directories
  • Influencers

5) Pick up the phone and start networking

  • Don’t be scared to pick up the phone and start offering your products and services to friends, family and more. You can even try the cold-call approach, by hitting the phone books and dialling the number of anyone who might be interested in the benefits of your products and