Ironic, as I discussed offshore hosting accounts, my onshore American webhosting went down for 2 hours yesterday morning.

During that time, reader Ernie P. wrote in to tell us about this site, which lists plenty of hosting options around the world, but just to be clear, we aren’t recommending any companies in particular…

=> http://www.webhosting.info/webhosts/tophosts/Country/

Now onto today’s message about 3 things you need on your site…

Have you ever landed on a website where you are required to click a button just to enter the website?

How ridiculous is that?

Why did the silly web designer make me jump through another hoop just to get to the website I was trying to visit?

Strange decision.

Another strange, yet slightly less annoying decision people make with their websites is creating massive headers (the banner across the top) that feature a generic image and no text.

This is a bad use of website real estate.

In fact, the area of a website that is first shown when someone lands on the page is called “the area above the fold”.

(That’s  taken from a newspaper term, which should be self-explanatory. But on a website, what you see first without scrolling is also the area above the fold.)

And your job is to make a dramatic impression on the visitor when they immediately view your website.

After all, most people “bounce” from websites within seconds.

So here are three simple things you need on your site to instantly transmit your message and hook the visitor into staying on your site.

NOTE: These 3 rules apply to your site if you are using the blog approach. If you are creating a site with a sales video on it, the second point does not apply.

1) Thin Header With Text

The header should be thin, taking up no more than 1/3 of the space above the fold.

In the header, you need an image and small amount of text that helps the the reader understand what the site is about.

Don’t be fancy or cheeky or too smart for your own good. Keep it simple.

If I do say so myself, the header at InternetIndependence.com follows this rule quite well. When someone visits the site, they will immediately “get it”, thanks to the banner image and text.

2) An Opt-in Box

In the top right of your site, have an opt-in box that offers your reader free information in exchange for their email address. You can see examples of this on my fat loss blog:

=> http://www.TTFatLoss.com

With that opt-in box, I offer a free report. Currently on InternetIndependence.com, I just offer free daily updates in exchange for the email address. I am now hard at work on creating a free report to increase the number of sign-ups.

Also, in the past I asked for first name AND email address, but for all future sites, I’ll just be asking for email.

The less info you ask for, the more sign-ups you get, and you simply just don’t need someone’s first name to send them emails.

3) Professional Graphics

Here’s where a lot of good folks drop the ball. They try and save $50 by creating their own graphics with some cheesy software program they bought online.

Well, I know of several cases where doing that actually cost the person thousands of dollars, because a super-affiliate (someone who could have sent them hundreds of sales) simply refused to promote a product with terrible graphics.

So don’t lose big money by being cheap to save small money.

I get my artwork done by a New Zealand-based company, www.KillerCovers.com

I’ll admit, they are not the cheapest option online, but I trade “cheap” for dependable.

A more cost-effective company is www.WowMiniSites.com, but they are often quite busy. It might be hard for you to get fit into their schedule.

I have also had some success using Elance.com to find blog designers from countries like India and Pakistan.

In some cases, things worked out very well. The site we talked about earlier this week, www.KettlebellWorkouts.com, was built by a dependable young man in India.

However, some Facebook graphics jobs we hired to people on Elance turned sour. So that site is hit or miss, but cheap.

Finally, I just want to mention that most of my blogs are built on WordPress using the “Thesis Theme”.

(When you get a WordPress blog, you have a to choose a theme. Don’t ask me anything else about it, that’s as far as my techie expertise extends.)

That will only cost you about $97 for the theme, and then a few bucks per month of website hosting.

So as you can see, it’s extremely cheap to get up and running with an online business.

Next week we’ll talk about how to sell your product, and also we’ll get into the “plug-ins” that you can use to supercharge your wordpress sites.

It’s amazing what you can do online for a couple hundred bucks these days.

Take action and change the world,

Craig Ballantyne

“Stake your territory. Create a unique brand for you and your life. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.” – Frank McKinney

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