This is how you’re going to start your online business with next to no money

I’m sharing 19 years of lessons learned from working online armed with just a stubborn streak and a fistful of dimes

They say starting an online business is expensive.

I say they don’t know what they’re talking about. With my help, you’ll launch your business without having to sell your soul, your car or your children.

They tell you that $6,263.64 is what you need to spend on your first year of running an online business.

I’m telling you different. You don’t need to spend over $6,000, you don’t even need to spend anywhere near to that. You’re going to be gobsmacked when you discover how little you’re really going spend. I’ll get to that later.

They believe that launching online is too complex for you to do on your own.

I know that with the right tools and guidance, starting up your web business is going to be just like learning to walk. Your first steps may be slower and more awkward, but once you get momentum, there’ll be no stopping you.

I’m Ian Pullen and for the last 19 years my working life has revolved around the web. During that time I’ve worked on projects for individuals, small businesses and household name global corporations. I’ve also worked on my own projects, including websites, web apps and WordPress plugins.

It’s said you need to spend 10,000 hours on something to become an expert in it. I’ve dedicated 35,828 hours to the internet. Actually the true figure is higher, but I’m pretending I don’t get drawn into it at weekends and during holidays like some sad geek who struggles with social etiquette and roll-on deoderant.

From all this time, I’ve discovered just about every little secret there is to be found about running an online business. I’ve learned just what tools a new business owner needs and then found ways to get similar tools for free or, in a few odd cases when I failed in my hunt, for the lowest possible prices.

The web is full of free tools

You see the web is full of free tools and services. You just need to know where to look, and in some cases be a bit tech smart.

Many businesses operate the “freemium” model where a new business like yours, with lower demands, gets free access to tools and services. As your business grows and you need more features, you move onto paid levels, with the costs easily covered by the revenue you’ve built up using the free level.

There’s also a huge range of open source projects that anyone can download and use for free. These are supported by people giving their time for free or companies that make their money from selling services linked to the free product.

Did you know that WordPress powers 35% of all websites? WordPress is an open source project that is completely free for you to download and use, yet the company behind it was valued at $3 billion in 2019.

The world is full of open source projects and I’ve been using and testing many of them for almost two decades. Years ago I was even contracted by The New York Times Company to write about open source graphics software.

Which ties us neatly to Shoestring Hustle, my new book that shares all the secrets, tools, services and hacks I’ve discovered.

This is how you’re going to slash that $6,263.64 down to a crazy low figure. So low you just might not believe it, but it’s completely true.

In Shoestring Hustle, I’m holding nothing back, you get fast track access to almost 20 years of acquired knowledge.

I’m sharing hundreds of tips, plus some valuable lessons learned from an eclectic range of situations involving a diverse cast of characters, including international DJ sensation Fatboy Slim, the drummer from 80s band A Flock of Seagulls, British TV presenter Zoe Ball, a couple of dozen hyperactive sheep and even a gun toting gangster.

Don’t let technology be your excuse

You’ll discover all sorts of tips and secrets to get you through the hard grind of getting the basics in place for your new business and conquering all the modern technology you’re going to rely on.

You’ll learn valuable things like these.

  • I’ve got one simple tip to take a more flattering social media profile picture (#11.2)
  • I’ve found you hands-down the easiest to use video editing app so you can join the video revolution with minimal tears of frustration (#2.3). You’re a power user? No problem, I’ve got a free recommendation too that the pros use.
  • When DJ sensation Fatboy Slim, his TV presenter wife, my own wife and a ******* came together, it revealed a simple truth about logos you can’t ignore. Read about it in section #5.
  • Get 5 email addresses using your domain name for free, saving $25 a month over Google’s G Suite (#4.4.2)
  • Learn the easy way to add a professional looking signature to your emails (#4.4.4)
  • The FREE way to conduct online meetings with large groups of people with no time limit that no-one else seems to know about (#6.9.4)
  • Host your podcast for free and embed it into your own website – you can also monetize your episodes with sponsorships found for you (#6.9.5)
  • A simple way to run a webinar without signing up for an expensive webinar hosting service. This will cost you just $24 per year or nothing if you don’t want attendees to be able to add live comments during your presentation (#6.9.6), saving you $564 compared to one popular solution.
  • The simple design ninja trick to hide the background of a logo when you don’t have a transparent PNG (#5.1.1). Works in lots of free and paid for graphics software.
  • 2 services that let you email up to 2,000 subscribers for free, saving you $588 compared to one of the marketing industry’s favorites (#7.2)
  • Alternatively, these 3 options mean you could run your own email marketing system and still save big time with larger lists, though the 3rd should only be used by real tech power users (#7.3).
  • Three free services that will test and assess the deliverability of your emails, helping you to get more of your emails delivered (#7.4.1)
  • Why you should never pay for a web push notification service if you’ve got less than 30,000 contacts (#7.6) and how to automate Facebook Messenger to run marketing campaigns for your business (#7.7). You could pay $1,188 if you don’t use my solutions.
  • Leverage the benefit of A/B testing to identify and improve your most profitable pages without spending a dime. I’ll even show you how to run your first test (#8), saving $348 in your first year.
  • Web accessibility is an unsexy subject that the majority of the web ignores. I identify one free tool that will assess your site and another to make it more usable for visually impaired users to ensure you’re acting as a leader for equal rights (#9)
  • This crazy powerful SEO tool offers many of the feature found in expensive industry leading services, but costs nada to use. This will take the guesswork out of creating popular blog posts (#10.1.1)
  • Never miss a mention about you or your business online. You can nip negative sentiments in the bud and make the most of positive and supportive comments (#10.1.4)
  • Ever received an email with a photo that contained your name or a countdown timer? Now you can use this approach in your emails for free and grab your subscribers’ attention in the same way (#10.1.5)
  • Wish that reporters could have a way to contact you for information to help them write a story that highlights your expertise? No problem, I show you how you can receive 3 emails every weekday full of journalists seeking expert sources (#10.1.6)
  • This is the easiest free way to put your own press release in front of as many journalists as possible and boost your business’ profile in media coverage (#10.1.7)
  • You may think your site is running fast, but can you be sure? Try the one tool you need to check that your site isn’t running so slow it’s costing you users (#10.1.12)
  • Maybe you can’t afford an accountant when you start your business but this free service will ensure you keep all your finances in order (#10.1.14)
  • Imagine if you could see how your visitors use your site so you can start to find issues that are reducing your sales. Well you don’t need to imagine because it’s real and free to get started (#10.1.17)
  • You can create photo realistic mockups for your lead magnets and digital downloads with this free service to add impact to your landing pages (#10.1.19)
  • The web is full of sites offering free fonts, but many are full of amateurish faces or the usable fonts are only free for personal use. That’s why you should stick to getting your free fonts from just these two websites to help keep your brand looking professional at all times (#10.5)
  • How can a moose help you create unique and striking stock photos for use in your business materials? I’ve not gone crazy, I really will show you (#10.6)
  • Getting music to add to your video and audio projects can be expensive, so here are some sites with free music for commercial use (#10.8)
  • I’ll gift you a free short and easy to read book that explains how to use the manual controls on a camera to get the best product photos you can (#11.1)
  • In 2004 I didn’t cold bloodedly murder a shepherdess and the experience helped me become more comfortable in front of the camera. I share the lesson I learned, so you don’t have to not cold bloodedly murder a shepherdess (#12)
  • Discover the affordable app ($14.99) that can help you shoot better quality video on your phone – this app’s even been used in feature film production (#12.1.1)
  • Tips on how to make your own teleprompter for the cost of a clip frame from a dollar store and why, if you use your phone to film videos, it may be better than buying an expensive professional unit (#12.1.4)
  • Do you hate the way your videos jump around when you splice clips together after you stumbled over your words? Learn this silly simple trick so no-one ever notices the joins (#12.2) – they’ll actually think you’ve got higher production values than most.
  • Discover two services that deliver your videos as encrypted streams so users can’t download them. These aren’t free, but when you’re selling video content, you may want this extra protection (#6.10.4)
  • Learn what a Progressive Web App (PWA) is and why you may want to consider having one built for your business, but not today, this is still a little way off in the future (#13)
  • If your internet speed is still stuck back in the stone age, maybe some of these alternatives are available to you. Plus discover how you can combine your landline and mobile phone into a single faster connection (#3.2)
  • Learn how to use a little known service from a very well known business that will let you transcribe 60 minutes of audio a month for free and then pay less than $1 per hour, saving you $720 over one leading solution (#12.5). Now you can repurpose and reuse your video content
  • Connect with customers and prospects through their Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices using a no-code drag and drop tool (#10.1.22)

Let me show you how to use WordPress the right way

WordPress is undeniably the most popular website platform online today. In it’s basic form, it’s a really user friendly tool to work with. However, so many new owners get carried away with extending it with plugins and premium themes, it often gets a rep for being complex.

Follow my guidance and you’ll learn all you need to know about getting your WordPress website set up right first time. I cover loads of things like these.

  • Never, ever install a WordPress plugin without first checking these 3 things to keep your site fast and secure (#6.3)
  • A backup of your website can be priceless, yet these two systems will backup your site without you spending a penny (#6.3.3.1). You need both, because belt and braces is the best approach when it comes to safe guarding your business.
  • 3 plugins to help you build sales and opt in funnels on your WordPress website – 2 of them are free (#22.2). This can save you $1,116.50 over the leading solution.
  • Don’t trust your website’s security to just your password. Install a free Two factor Authentication system like Facebook and Google use, plus I’ll share the best authentication app for your phone – a lesson I learned the hard way (#6.3.3.2.1)
  • When you answer your customers’ questions on your site in real time, you can win sales that used to disappear forever. For something so valuable, I’ve no idea why this service is free (#6.3.4.5). This can save you $228.
  • Duplicate all your products from your website to your Facebook page with one button click and benefit from all the new selling opportunities. You have to do this if you want to use Instagram Shopping (#6.3.4.8)
  • Complying with the EU’s GDPR privacy laws is a pain, but for sites with less than 100 pages, you can get a fully managed free solution. Got more pages? You can handle it yourself with a free plugin (#6.3.4.9)
  • Buzzfeed is famous for creating fun and engaging quizzes that go viral. If it works for them, it can work for you too and it won’t cost you with the plugin described in section #6.3.4.10.
  • You won’t believe that this plugin can actually save laptop battery life when you’re working on your WordPress site (#6.3.4.12). I saw my work time increase 44%, but just try it yourself.
  • If you’ve had a WordPress site before, you know how chaotic the admin menus become as you add plugins. This little known tool lets you create different menus for different jobs (#6.3.4.13)
  • The four reasons new WordPress site owners should avoid paying for a premium theme (#6.4.1) and what I recommend you use instead (#6.4.1.2)
  • The one simple piece of advice that could save you hours and hours of hair-pulling frustration (#6.4.3) followed by hours of trying to kick yourself. I’ve got this on a post-it note as I still occasionally make this stupid mistake.
  • Add Google Analytics to your site the easy way, even if you don’t need it now, so you have all the data possible when you do need it (#6.7). It’s 100% free so why wouldn’t you?
  • You don’t need to guess what problems could be hurting your site’s search results. Follow these simple steps and let Google tell you what you need to fix (#6.6)
  • Sales taxes are complex at the best of times. If your store is in North America, Europe or Australia, this really is the easiest way to apply and display taxes to your customers (#6.9.1.1.1)
  • Got a product where you want to charge the same price for every customer and calculate the tax behind the scenes. I’ve created and shared a free plugin that’s got you covered (#6.9.1.1.2)
  • What the X-Accel-Redirect/X-Sendfile setting means and why you need to turn it on if you sell downloadable digital products (#6.9.1.2.2)
  • The two WooCommerce settings you must set if you’re selling giraffes and digital products. Actually this applies if you’re selling a mix of any physical and digital products (#6.9.1.2.1)
  • How you can increase your sales by installing the best free cart abandonment plugin. Plus I’ll show you another plugin that makes it even more effective (#6.9.1.5)
  • Test your ecommerce site and checkout works faultlessly without spending your own money (#6.9.1.7)
  • Probably the biggest issue for memberships or sites with recurring payments is card payments randomly failing. Don’t let your business suffer from this, use this freemium service to automate the follow up of failed payments (#6.9.2)
  • Make life more difficult for members who share their login details with others and track their behavior (#6.9.2.2)
  • Training courses are a great way to make money selling your expertise. Now you can host courses on your own site. I’ll show you not one, but two ways to do this (#6.9.3)
  • Run your own online summits from WordPress site and sell or give away tickets to attendees. These can be effective ways to build your list and generate revenue (#6.9.7)
  • Disabling all plugins and themes is always the first advice when a WordPress site hits a problem, but who wants to do that with a site earning money from its users – learn how to troubleshoot problems without affecting your users (#6.13)
  • How to check your site every 5 minutes to ensure it’s still online and get notified by email, Slack or Telegram if not (#6.14)
  • Discover WP-Cron, why it’s vital for your site and why sometimes it fails to run for hours or more, unless you use my cunning free method to ensure it runs every 5 minutes (#6.15)

Take a moment to catch your breath.

So how much will you save?

Now, how much money do you think I can save you off that $6,263.64 in your first year in business? $4,000, $5,000 maybe?

No, you will save $6,183.36.

With the tools and services I’ll share with you, your first year in business will cost you just $80.28, (or $56.28 if you don’t want comments on your webinars).

That’s just 22 cents a day (with webinar comments included).

Your online business is no longer just your dream, it’s about to become your reality.

Start with a solid marketing foundation

However, Shoestring Hustle isn’t finished yet, I’ve got even more to share with you.

Let me be 100% honest with you. I’ve never been great at marketing. My own projects have always been very hit and miss (probably more miss in truth), while I’ve been able to bring greater success to others I’ve worked with.

As I’ve demonstrated above, the tech and systems has been my expertise, but I couldn’t carry on like that.

So I’ve dedicated myself to learning new skills in recent years, so marketing no longer fills me with dread. On the contrary, the lessons and insights I’ve discovered have completely changed how I’m approaching the marketing of Shoestring Hustle.

That’s why when I finished writing what I had originally planned would be the full content of Shoestring Hustle, I didn’t stop typing. In fact I didn’t stop typing for another 24,000+ words because I wanted to try and save you making some of my mistakes.

What I share with you in the last part of the book is not a deep dive marketing lesson. It’s more about making you think deliberately about how you’re going to use the web to sell your products. Think of it as a primer. A lesson outlining the skills you need to become proficient in to maximize your potential and reap the greatest rewards for you and your loved ones.

I’ll discuss things like these with you.

  • Why you need to identify your customer before you even think about your marketing messages (#15) . In a perfect world, you’ll do this before you even create your product.
  • How a new mechanism can make your product so much better than your competition. The dishwasher detergent example will make this a bit clearer (#16.2)
  • The crazy powerful, yet simple lesson in writing headlines I learned from Jonte Wilkins, the drummer of A Flock of Seagulls – I think he may have learned it from copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz, though not in person (#16.5)
  • Did you know the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary? How this childish joke can shine a light on the psychology of persuasion (#18)
  • We each contain a monk and a punk. Discover why your marketing messages should speak very clearly to one and try to avoid engaging the other (#18)
  • If your product does something really well, so well it sounds too good to be true, should you lead with it in your headlines or hold it back for later? Learn the answer from the copywriters’ copywriter (#18)
  • What are Pitch Perfect Pages? These simple principles will make sure your pages are focused on selling your products, not just looking pretty (#19)
  • Discover the font that can make your prospects believe your product is harder to use and one that will make them believe it’s easier to use (#19.1). Do we agree easy to use products will be an easier sell for you?
  • The strange trick a salesperson used to make customers trust them more and the lesson it teaches us about building our sales pages (#19.2.6)
  • If the claim “ugly sells” is a myth, why do I still recommend you use it? (#19.2.7)
  • This is the only punctuation mark you should ever end a headline with (#19.2.9)
  • I even share what by some measures must surely be my single most valuable piece of advice. I very nearly got shot by a gangster in a public restroom to learn this lesson on effective messaging and I’m giving it to you gratis (#20)
  • The painful lesson I learned from my brilliantly clever WonderGut banner advert (#20.1) and how you can avoid the same mistake.
  • The idiot proof simple test you need to apply to any marketing material that is trying to use humor. Never waste your time and money telling jokes that won’t sell your products (#20.2)
  • The scientific way to test how easy to read and understand your copy is, so you’re not making your copy less persuasive through overly elaborate writing (#20.3)
  • How can you use images to prime your prospects to focus on the specific qualities of your products you want them to focus on? (#21.2)
  • Discover the basic principles of sales funnels, a soon to be key part of your business that will maximize your revenue (#22.1)
  • A small selection of funnels that you can start using in your business today and my recommendation for the first you should try (#22.3)
  • Is giving a free gift to prospects and then asking them to opt in to your list a crazy idea or can it be a successful tactic? Making your email list as big as possible isn’t necessarily the most profitable approach (#22.3.1.3)
  • Here’s more than 20 ideas for lead magnets that any business can use and profit from (#22.4)
  • What is a content upgrade and how it can supercharge opt ins on blog sites? (#22.4.3)
  • With this free tool, you can create super useful calculators designed specifically for your audience that you can share on your site in return for email opt ins. The best part is this requires absolutely no code to be written (#22.4.5)
  • Use your web browser to quickly test what your web pages look like in different screen sizes (#22.5) – I’ll also show you how to take full length screen shots of your pages too
  • The free WordPress plugin that makes it easy to test your web pages on your phone just by scanning a QR code, even if the page isn’t published yet (#22.5.1)
  • I’ll share 3 commonly repeated “truths” that actually aren’t and explain why you shouldn’t take every piece of marketing advice you hear at face value (#23)
  • Discover the buttons I pressed to make numerous online marketers start sending me emails calling me things such as Turd Breath, Dickhead, Arsewipe and, somewhat oddly, Dirt Fudge amongst others (#23.1)
  • I share how you can download one of the most respected books on advertising for free. And legally too! (#24)
  • Get my list of some of the most respected experts in a variety of fields so you can get started straight away reading and listening to more hyper valuable content to get your business started (#24)

Are you ready to get Shoestring Hustle?

That’s a lot of stuff and perhaps you find it all a bit daunting. That’s understandable.

Shoestring Hustle will give all the information you need to start your online business without the shadow of debt. That’s all it can do though.

The rest is down to you, which is why I don’t want you to buy Shoestring Hustle if you have any doubts. Sure it’s not expensive considering the wealth of information it includes, but I don’t want you throwing your money away.

Let me be clear, Shoestring Hustle may not be right for you for any of the following reasons.

If you’re proud of your technophobia, don’t buy

If you wear technophobia like a badge of honor and laugh about your technical ineptitude rather than just learning how to achieve something, this book won’t help. You need to put on your big girl or big boy pants and take charge of your business’ IT.

Don’t worry though, most of it is straightforward because it’s been designed for people just like you. The companies behind the tools have created extensive documentation that explains everything you need. In the few cases it’s a more complex tool, then I walk you through the process step by step.

If you want overnight success, don’t buy

If you want a get rich overnight solution, rather than the tools and knowledge to grow your own wealth, this book isn’t going to help you with that. In fact no book, training course or money making scheme is going achieve that.

You need to have a business idea that you’re keen to launch, develop and grow. If that’s you, Shoestring Hustle will empower you to launch and grow without needing to commit significant amounts of money.

If you don’t want to step up, don’t buy

If you don’t cope well with responsibility and would rather others lead you forward, this book isn’t for you.

You will need to step outside of your comfort zone to make a success of your business idea. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if being an employee is more comfortable for you than being an entrepreneur. An army can’t be filled with Generals.

If you’re still itching to launch your own business and start writing the exciting next chapter of your life, there’s just one thing for you to do.

Get Shoestring Hustle now

It’s only $19.97 and you can make that money back so, so many times over with all the information included in the book.

Click the button below to get your copy of Shoestring Hustle and start taking the steps to turn your dream into your reality.

I want the book

Still got some questions?

Are your suggestions in Shoestring Hustle like for like?

How was the first year cost of $6,263.64 calculated?

Can I really handle the tech myself?

I’ve got a question that isn’t covered here, can you help?