How to Start an Online Business (The Complete Guide)

Owning an online business can be the dream that you have always been looking for.  It will allow you to earn enough money to live comfortably while not having to worry about reporting to a boss or enduring long hours at a boring company.  One of the best benefits is simply that you can work from the comfort of your own home…or anywhere in the world for that matter.  As long as you have a computer and internet connection, it is possible to run a full scale business.  This is not just a pipe dream either; there are hundreds of thousands of successful businesses that are being run by one or two people that do not require a physical store or office.  With enough hard work and creativity, you can successfully launch a small business online.

Before you get started, make sure that you understand exactly what will be required.  Many people try to jump right into an online business without planning it out and they quickly give up, losing their money and remaining stuck at their normal job.  To prevent this from happening, you need to be able to invest the time to properly launch and maintain a business.  Just because it is online does not mean that it will be any easier or will require less time and a traditional business.  You should be prepared to invest a sizeable amount of time researching the market, planning your business, and then growing it to a profitable level.  If you do not have the patience or time to invest in such a project, you may want to just stop now to prevent losing the money you invest.

Another aspect that many people do not think of is that online businesses do require some type of initial capitol to get it off the ground.  Online businesses are often cheaper to start because there is less, or no, overhead, but there are still expenses required to design products, create websites, and advertise effectively.  Very small businesses may be able to get off the ground with only a couple hundred to a thousand dollars, but more complex online businesses could easily eat up over $10,000.  Know how much you are willing to invest and understand the scope of the project before you start to avoid losing money on unfinished projects.

As with all businesses, there is the very real risk of failure.  The vast majority of websites that are launched everyday will last less than two years and many more will never earn a profit.  You have to be prepared for the fact that you may lose money investing in an online business, but you could also make a lot of money.  The level of success of your internet business will rely heavily on how much work you can put into it and how good the central idea is.  When you are ready to invest the proper amount of time and money to create your dream job, you will have much greater chances at being successful.

When starting an online business, it is smart to have a plan of action for how you will accomplish your goals.  It will be much more successful if you employ a well thought out plan instead of just jumping right in a taking your chances.  Here is a general outline that serves as a good start for how to plan out launching your small business, and we will discuss each point in more detail below.

  1. Research an overall topic or niche to focus on
  2. Research specific keywords to target within the niche
  3. Research the types of products and possible ways you can make money within the niche.
  4. Determine your business model
  5. Design your product or service
  6. Create your product or acquire all tools necessary to start selling
  7. Design an attractive website
  8. Perform Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get organic traffic
  9. Set up a social network to get people involved
  10. Advertise your business

By following the steps outlined below, you will have a much greater chance of maintaining a successful online business.

Selecting a Niche Topic

The first step in launching an online business is to pick a topic or niche that is most likely to make money.  Some people like to start businesses based around their hobbies and interests, but this could be a double edged sword online.  Websites need unique content to survive, so it is most likely that as the business owner you will be writing articles to put on your website.  Obviously, this is much easier to do if you know something about the topic and enjoy the subject, which makes picking your hobbies as a natural choice for a small business.  Unfortunately, this will not help you if you happen to have hobbies that are in a poor niche that do not have a lot of potential.  As a small business owner looking to make a profit, your goal should be to do exactly that…earn a profit and not just be another hobby for you.  Therefore, you will want to properly research and select a niche for your business that has the best chances for your success.

There are thousands of niches available on the internet but some of them could be a poor choice for your business.  The most popular topics have become very saturated with millions of websites and articles, making it almost impossible for you to stand out and be found.  It is better to avoid these topics and to pick smaller niches that have much less competition.  You can use Google Keyword tools to help narrow down topics and determine the level of competition on the internet or just type the keyword into a search engine and see how many results it returns.  In general, topics that return less than a half a million results are a good place to start and from there you can narrow down the niche even further to have less competition.

Of course, if you already have a specific product or service that you would like to market, you will have significantly less choice over your niche.  It is still wise to do some research since you may want to change your target audience slightly.  For example, if you want to market your writing skills, you may determine that the film review niche has less competition than just pure blogging while still having plenty of demand.  This may persuade you to start your writing business focusing on film reviews instead of simply being a blogger on random topics.

Selecting Keywords within Your Niche

Once you have picked a topic and a niche within that topic, you will want to find some keywords that you can use in your website and marketing.  As you know, search engines are the primary way that websites and content is found online.  In order to be found online, you need to have certain keywords embedded into your website in the right frequency and style.  If you use keywords that do not pertain to your website theme or what you are trying to sell, it will make it much more difficult to get traffic and to rank well in the search engines.  Therefore, the key is to find the best keywords and then use them appropriately on your website and in your marketing.

Now that you have your niche, use a keyword tool to narrow down the niche to specific keywords.  Long tail keywords are a specific type of keyword that adds descriptors and adjectives to the root keyword until it becomes very specific.  For example, you could be a writer looking to start a blog on film reviews.  The keyword “film reviews” returns millions of results but “old film reviews” narrows down the competition some.  You can continue building keywords like “old western film reviews” that will have much less competition.  You will then want to use the Google Keyword Tool to determine how often those keywords are searched.  The goal is to find several keywords that have low competition, preferably less than 50,000 competing sites, and are searched quite often, preferably over 1,000 searches a month.  It is ideal to build a list of at least 10 keywords and then continue to build your business around them.  This will make your natural search engine optimization much easier down the road and will bring in more traffic naturally without having to advertise.

Picking a Product or Service

By now you should have a better idea of what niche you are going to set up your business in online.  The next step is to determine what exactly you are going to sell to make money.  There are several ways that you can make money online and it is up to you to determine what will be the best for you.  The easiest way is to sell a product that you own and have the resell rights to.  This could be a variety of things, ranging from homemade crafts to a book that you wrote.  You can also sell a service that you can provide, such as writing articles or designing websites or tutoring students in physics.  Whatever you choose, it should fit into the niche that you chose earlier and you should be able to use the keywords you found to readily describe your product or service.

Many people do not have access to a product or do not have a unique enough skill that they can market online.  In that case, you can choose to sell other people’s products or services and take a commission, which is known as affiliate marketing.  Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money because, many times, the marketing tools and websites have already been set up and you simply need to get interested traffic to the website.  When someone goes to your website and clicks on an affiliate link, their sale will be tracked back to you and you will earn credit.  If you are truly an entrepreneur, you can contact other companies and businessmen to start your own affiliate system, but there are already other networks set up.  Affiliate networks such as Commission Junction, Amazon, and Clickbank are great places to start to find programs that will pay you money when you sell their products.  Of course, you will want to find products that fit into your niche and relate to your keywords to get the most amount of traffic possible.

Another possibility to consider when starting an internet business is to determine if you want to create a product that you can sell online.  This may mean creating a new type of widget that can be sold online, or it could mean creating a new smart phone app.  A product could be purely digital, such as an eBook or app, or it could be a new physical invention that could be the next big hit.  It is also possible to create a website that is designed to fill a void in the current market.  You will have to choose what is easiest for you and what is most manageable for starting a new online business.  Going back to the film review example, a new business owner may decide to create a physical book or DVD that reviews certain films and then distribute them online.  Alternatively, it is possible to create a social website that allows people to post their film reviews and engages the audience.  Or you could create a smart phone app that will allow people to log their thoughts in real time as they watch a movie.  The possibilities to make money are endless but you just need to pick the right method for you.

The final consideration when determining how to make money online will be to include advertising revenue on your websites.  This is when advertising networks pay you a small amount to place relevant ads on your site and you get paid whenever someone clicks on the link.  Once you have some traffic to your site, this is a great way to earn a passive income even when people are just clicking through your site.  There are several networks that allow you to sign up for free, but Google Adsense is the biggest and one of the easiest ways to earn some money.  There are generally two different types of advertisements, CPM and CPC.  CPC , or cost per click, is the most common and, as the publisher, you get paid every time someone clicks on an ad on your site.  This type usually pays out more and you can get paid over $1 per click for targeted traffic.  CPM, or cost per mile, is a flat amount that you get paid per thousand impressions.  This means that no one has to even click on the ad but you will get paid.  This usually pays out less, at around $2-$4 per thousand impressions.  This could be a great alternative for websites and blogs that get a lot of traffic but do not get many clicks on ads.  As a webmaster, you will want to play around with the type and placement of such ads to determine what will make the most money.

A crucial part of planning your online business is to determine the methods that you will get paid.  It is possible to use a variety of methods and this is often the most successful because you do not have to rely on only one income stream.  A great example is a website that sells films, has affiliate links to related film products, and includes advertisements for other film websites.  This will allow the site owner to make money no matter what a visitor does when they visit the site…now the key is to get traffic!

Determine Your Business Model

After researching possible ways for you to make money online, you will need to determine exactly which method you will implement.  This is a very important step because it allows you to generate an income and sets business owners apart from merely hobbyists.  In order to maximize your profit, it is best to combine several methods of income into the business, which is relatively easy to do with an online business.  Offline businesses generally only have the luxury of selling a product or service and that is their sole means of income.  Online businesses have websites that can act as virtual billboards, allowing for space to be sold for other people to advertise on, as well as selling your own products.

So you’ve decided that you will sell a book you made on film reviews on your website.  This is great because you have picked a main source of income, namely selling your book, and it is possible to create it with very little money.  You also have all rights to sell your own book, so there is no legal hassle in trying to license someone else’s product.  In addition to the book sales, you decide to that you will include some affiliate links to other film products and include advertisements from Google Adsense.  Since you have researched your niche and keywords, you are also confident that people will be able to find you easily and it will be possible to rank highly in search engines, allowing for more organic traffic.  Overall, this is a solid business model because you do not have to rely on only one source of income and your research indicates that you have a good chance of being successful.

The next step will be to determine some of the other aspects of your business model.  This includes ironing out details that may pop up later when you are short on time and need to make a quick decision.  If you are able to plan everything out beforehand, it will be much easier to address problems and avoid them in the first place.  Some aspects to think about are how you will create your product…will you outsource the work or do it yourself.  Try to get a realistic estimate on how long and how expensive it will cost so that you can make an educated decision.  You do not want to be stuck in a 2 year long project simply writing a book to sell.  If this is the case, it may be easier to license someone else’s book or to outsource the writing to a ghost writer so you have more time to focus on building the actual business.

You will also need to determine how you will get paid and how you will deliver your product or service to your clients.  If you need to ship products, do research on how much it will cost to send individual shipments to people across the country.  You may also determine that it is not worth shipping to people outside of your country or to other continents because the shipping is too expensive.  Think about how you will get money from people, since this can severely impact your overall profit.  Methods such as PayPal and Moneybookers may be an easy option to implement, but they take a percentage of the money transferred.  Other methods may not be as secure but will save you transfer costs.  Escrow can be used when a secure transfer is needed by both parties, but it can take several weeks for your funds to be released.  You could ask clients to send you a check made out directly to you, but there are problems with slow delivery, it getting lost in the mail, and the risk of the check bouncing.  There are many possible ways to receive money from clients, but it will take a bit of thought to find the one that is perfect for your business.

A crucial step for any business is to find the correct price to sell your products and services at.  You don’t want to set the price too low because you will not make a big enough profit and even run the risk of losing money.  This is especially true if your business requires a large amount of money to run on a daily basis but you only sell a couple products, equaling a net loss in the books.  Setting prices too low can also serve the purpose of devaluing the product because people do not think it is worth very much.  Even if you wanted to sell your Ferrari quickly, you would not sell a $100k car for $10k because people would think that there was something wrong with it.  The same goes for your products, if you have great advertising and your product looks really appealing but is priced extremely low, people may think that there is something wrong with it.  Low pricing is not always a bad thing, but be careful when setting your prices too low.

The opposite is also true, for obvious reasons.  Setting the price very high for your product or services will also be counterproductive because people will not be interested in buying it.  There may be a few “elitist” people who think that higher priced products are better, but the vast majority of the population will not be willing to pay prices that are overly marked up.  The one exception to this rule would be if you are trying to target the very wealthy.  In this case, wealthy people have an altered sense of what is expensive and will be willing to pay more for a product that they really want.  As a business owner, you run the risk of alienating potential customers if you set your prices too far at either end of the spectrum.  Therefore, it is best to pick a price that is fair for the market and somewhere in the middle of the range.  If you have a quality product or there is little other competition, you may be able to raise your prices once you have become established.

Another aspect that you will want to think about is how your company will grow and what your vision is for the company.  If you are only looking for a little extra cash, you probably do not need to spend the time or effort in expanding your business, but most people will want to grow so that they can continue to bring in more profit.  In order to do this, you will more resources in the form of money, products, and help.  When you first start off, you may be able to do everything yourself, but as you grow it may become more difficult to do everything.  Plan ahead and be ready for this by having a plan on how you will hire employees or get help.

Will you find a business partner or just outsource certain tasks to freelancers or agents?  A business partner will generally help take care of the day-to-day running of the business and may become involved in a wide variety of tasks.  This can be a great help for you because you only have to half (or less) of the work required in maintaining the small business.  The downside with this is that partners usually ask for a higher pay or percentage of the profit that your internet company makes.  Freelancers may only require 10% of the profit, or whatever you negotiate, but partners might ask for 50% or more of the profit.  It is up to you how much you would like to pay a partner, but it may prove beneficial for you to have a knowledgeable person run the business.  It may take several years, but having a business partner may allow you to retain legal ownership of the company and bring in a monthly paycheck without having to do any actual work.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are contractors that are hired for a particular job and usually cost much less money.  They can be hired online or you can find someone in your local area to complete simple tasks for you.  They are ideal for the “boring” parts of running a small business, such as balancing your sales logs, doing paperwork, or sending emails.  It is possible to hire a virtual assistant who will serve as your secretary and do anything you wish online.  If you need more specialized skills, you can find freelancers who are engineers, programmers, and scholars able of producing higher quality work.  This is great for when you need to actually develop a product or website or for creating engaging content for your website.

Finally, there are many legal issues that can impact small businesses, both offline and online.  Since we are not trained to give you legal advice, be sure to research your state and local laws before you start a business.  If you need help creating an official partnership or LLC, be sure to contact a local attorney before you start.  Many towns require that you register a new business with them before you start doing business, so be sure to do enough research on the legal aspect so it doesn’t hurt you later.  If you are trying to start a business selling tobacco, firearm, fireworks, or pharmaceuticals, be aware that there are many laws restricting what you can do and how you can advertise, which can severely impact your business.

There are many aspects of the small business that you will want to think over before you launch it.  The best way to organize your thoughts is to write them down and make detailed business plan report that you can refer to later.  Keep records of your correspondences and contracts so that you can refer to them later if you have any problem.  If you are applying for additional funding, grants, or an angel investor, you will need to have a well thought out business plan to present to these people.  If you do not require the initial involvement with another party, it is still a good idea to have a written business plan to keep you on track.

Design Your Product or Service

The next step is to start to design your actual product or service so that is can be put into production and then sold.  This means going over every inch of the product to determine what will work and what won’t and to ensure that everything is up to standard.  If you are producing a physical object, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold up to normal rigors of wear and tear and that a safety hazard won’t be exposed down the line.  Think about the materials used and possible ways that is may be used to that cause harm to the user or someone else.  If there is any possibility of injury or damage, you will need to include warning labels on the package and on the product itself.  There are many legal issues associated with creating a new product so, again, be sure to seek proper legal advice while in the design phase.

If you are creating an electronic product such as an eBook, you will need to make an outline of the content to be included and how you would like it to look.  You may decide to deliver it in a special application that will allow people to interact with the eBook, or you may just use a PDF version for simple reading.  Design the cover with unique logos and banners that will catch people’s attention and is representative of what they will find inside.  Always use true statements in your advertising; otherwise people may be upset with your small business for false advertising.

If you are going to sell a service, you will also need to plan out exactly what you will sell.  If you are going to sell your writing skills doing film reviews, know how much you are planning on charging for the service, whether it is by the word, page, or full article.  Have guidelines on what you will write about and if there are certain topics that are off limit.  Even if you are offering a basic service, be aware of what you are planning on giving to customers and think about the best way to deliver it.  Presentation is often very important to make a good impression and keep clients coming back, so spend some time coming up with the best way to deliver your finished product.  This may include sending a full report of the work you did, including pictures with your articles, or attaching a nice cover sheet that will tell your customers that you spent a little extra time on them.

Create Your Product

This is the step when you actually develop and make the product that you are going to sell.  This does not apply as much to online businesses that are selling services, but they still need to gather the equipment needed to provide the service.   This means getting all the tools, equipment, and ideas that you may need to be successful in providing your service to people.  If you are a writer, you will need to have access to a computer with word processing software and you may need to invest in special software that will allow you to create professional reports or templates.

If you are producing a physical product to sell, you can start to build and create the product.  After you design it on paper or using CAD software, it is important to create a prototype that will allow you to see flaws in 3D and make sure it is perfect for your needs.  It may take several revisions, but eventually you will have a product that you are satisfied with and then you can start mass producing.  Depending on the scale of your business, you may need to hire a production company to create the products, or you may be able to make them in your basement.  You can outsource the work to other people, whether it is an official, state of the art production line or just a group of hard working people who can put together the product from home.  This is a great time to use online freelancers to find the cheapest work possible and to create your product quickly using the combined power of many people.

Design Your Website

Of course, this is probably the most crucial step for any online business…creating an attractive website that will serve as your main platform for making money.  Depending on your budget and skill level, you can choose to either hire a professional to make a website or to build it yourself.  If you hire a professional, they can build a unique site in a couple weeks and include every aspect that you might need for your business.  This is probably the best way to go for companies that want to stand out from the crowd or need additional functionality that may not be found in traditional websites.  It is possible to find web designers who will create a website for a couple hundred dollars, but the more detailed and professional websites can cost several thousand dollars, which isn’t cheap for a startup company.  Again, finding freelancers online is very easy with the help of websites like oDesk and Freelancer.  If you have the capitol, this may be a great way to begin without having to learn HTML yourself and can quickly get your business launched.

The other alternative is to create the website yourself, either coding it entirely by hand or using online programs and templates.  For many people, it is fine to use standard blog or website templates and then just customize them to make them fit your needs.  Blogger and WordPress are both good websites that will allow you to set up a free blog and tweak different components to add all the functionality you need.  A great aspect of these websites is that you can use their subdomain (xxx.blogspot.com) for free to test out if their services will work for your small business.  Later on, you can upgrade for a small fee to a custom .COM or .NET domain to make you look more professional.  Other sites such as Yolasite and Webs.com allow you to create fully functional websites for free but do not restrict you to only blog format.  These are great for when you need other functions such as forums, blog, photo gallery, videos, and games.

After you design the website in either HTML or using a template online, you will need to purchase a domain and hosting package for the site.  The domain is the URL or address that you type into the search bar and the popular ones end in either .COM, .NET, .BIZ, or .ORG.  Depending on the popularity of the domain, you can buy ownership of the domain for as little as $10 a year.  Other “premium” domains, the ones with only one or two popular words, can sometimes be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  When you pick your domain name, it is often best to use your main keyword to help you rank better in search engines.  You will also want to make sure that no one else has a similar site with a similar domain, otherwise there may be confusion that will increase your competition and make it harder to be successful.  Also note that typosquatting, or using a domain that is a misspelled variant of a popular site, is illegal.   This means that if you pick a domain name simply because it is a variant of another popular domain so that you can profit off of accidental traffic, the original website can sue you.

In addition to the domain name, you will need to find somewhere to host your website.  Hosting usually includes a monthly fee that allows you to put the files for your website on their server so that they can be accessed through the internet.  Every website is composed of many files that collectively make up the site, and they must be saved in one place so they can easily be accessed on the internet.  You can get a commercial hosting account on big hosts such as GoDaddy or HostGator that will allow you to host your website for a low monthly fee, usually around $5-$10 per month.  Every website includes WHOIS information, which describes the owner of the site and includes some personal information.  If you do not want your name and address floating around the internet, you may want to purchase some additional security that will keep your information private.

When designing a website, there are a couple things to think about.  People will naturally look at the header of the website first and then down the top left side of the page, so these are the areas that you should put your most eye-catching designs.  You have a limited amount of time to get the average surfer interested in your product or service since many people will only view a website for less than ten seconds.  If you do not make an immediate impression, you will lose traffic and have very low conversion rates.  Therefore, make sure you have nice logos, well thought out text placement, and attractive colors that will invite the users to stay longer and read more about what you are offering.  Also, think about the ease of use of the website.  If people have to really search for links and cannot easily navigate the sight, they will give up before they buy whatever you are selling.  It is best to place navigation links either along the top of the page or along the left hand side of the page so that they can be readily found.  Make sure to label each link properly and including pictures can be a great way to draw in readers.

Perform SEO on Your Website

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a term that is often thrown about on the internet but many people do not fully understand it.  SEO is the practice of tweaking all aspects of a website, both onsite and through links to the site, so that search engines will rank it higher and help it get found easier.  The goal of any site should be to appear at the top of the first page of search engine results for your specific keywords.  This is when your keyword research becomes valuable, since you will be targeting those keywords to rank higher in search engines such as Google.  Google also assigns a ‘page rank’ to every website and this can range from 0 to 10, with 10 being the absolute best websites.  You can think of it as a triangle, with there being very few PR 10 websites and many PR 1 or 0 sites.  PR 0 is generally assigned to new websites and it will take a while for it to increase a point or two.  The higher your page rank, the better it will do in search engines, the more traffic it will receive, and the more authority it will hold in the community.  It could many years of hard work to achieve a level of even PR 5 and very few websites attain the reputation and traffic needed to earn a PR 8 or 9.

The first step in optimizing your website is to update the META information for the overall website and on each page so that it can be properly indexed and found in search engines.  Whether you are using a site builder or coding the HTML yourself, there will be an area that will allow you to edit the META title, keywords and description.  It is very important to use your keywords in all three of these fields and to properly describe your site in these concise areas.  These are the keywords that many search engines will use as the primary way to categorize your website and allow you to get found.

Next, you will need to have high quality and unique keyword-rich content on the actual website.  Search engines will penalize you if you have too much information copied from other websites, so do not just copy other articles from directories to fill in space.  While it is ok to use some previously published articles, the majority of the content on your site should be original and created just for your website.  You can either write the content yourself or have someone else do it, but you will want to use Copyscape to make sure that large chunks of the articles do not appear anywhere else on the internet.  As well as being unique, the content should include your keywords that you would like to target in a density of about 3%.  This means that for every 100 words you write, try to mention your keywords 3 times, but make it natural and do not make it forced.  The more words and higher quality content you have, the better your site will do in search engines.  This is why many of the most successful websites regularly publish articles or update a blog.

Backlinks are another essential step in getting traffic and getting ranked higher.  Backlinks are any link that is placed on another website and points towards yours, which serves as mini advertisements for your site and makes it easier for people to find you.  The more backlinks your site has, the more “popular” it looks and the better it will rank.  It will also increase your traffic because there is a drastically larger target for people to hit when they are looking for your keywords.  When creating backlinks, try to get as many high PR websites to link to you as possible.  100 backlinks from page rank 0 websites is good, but 1 or 2 backlinks from PR 9 websites is much better because it will pass along some of its “juice” to your website.  SEO and backlinking can be a time consuming task that gets very involved, so there are companies that specialize in optimizing your website and making sure they perform very well.

Set Up a Social Network

By now, you will have your products and website and be ready to start selling.  Once you have optimized your site, you may start getting organic traffic as soon as the site is indexed and ranked, but this may take several months.  Instead of waiting for people to find you by accident, you will need to start advertising and getting the word out that your small business exists online.  One of the best ways to do this is to use social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, to connect with other people who have similar interests.  It is free to set up a Facebook fan page or Twitter account, and then you can start to attract fans.  These sites can serve as “mini sites” for you that will lead back to your main, money-making site.  They also serve to engage the community and allow you to interact directly with people.

Like any normal website, you will want to design it to be attractive and include your keywords.  Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to change your profile picture and background, so it is wise to use your logo and include your basic information in easy to access areas.  This is also a great way to help brand your company by spreading your logo around and getting your name out.  Once established, you can hold competitions and giveaways to get people to become a fan of your page and keep coming back.  The best part about social networking is that everything is viral, meaning that is you “like” a page or add a photo, all your friends will see it and there is a much higher chance of someone being interested.  Imagine the power if you shared a link to 100 of your friends and they each shared it to 100 more!

Advertise Using Several Methods

In addition to social networking, you will want to include some other forms of advertising to promote your small business.  You can pay other websites directly to put an ad on their site and this is most ideal for other websites that are in your niche but do not compete directly with you.  Depending on your budget and needs, you can usually find people who are willing to put either a text link or banner ad on their site for a couple dollars a month.  Obviously, the more visitors the site receives, the more money they will charge, but you can often negotiate a price if you work directly with webmasters.

Another option is to use an advertising network, such as Google Adwords, to place text or banner ads on any website that has signed up on the network.  This will allow your ad to be shown anywhere in the world on a variety of sites, while being targeted to people who are most likely to be interested in your product.  Since they use the CPC or CPM model, you will have to pay a couple dollars every time someone clicks on your link, but it can be worth it if you have high conversion rates a get a lot of sales.  This is definitely the most popular way to advertise on the internet and can be very efficient if you understand keyword marketing.  The best way to get started with this is to test it out on a new account with a free coupon from the networks…most advertising networks will give away $50 or $75 of free credit when you get started.

Be creative when advertising and you will find other alternatives that can help to promote your online small business.  You can put ads in eBooks, in local newspapers, in online classifieds, and on auction websites.  If you are selling a product, it is possible to get greater exposure by listing some, if not all, of your products on eBay or Craigslist.  Millions of people visit these sites every day, so there is a good chance that more people will find you.  Just because you have started an internet business does not mean that you must stick to online advertising.  You can be just as successful using a mix of online and offline marketing to reach a wider audience and bring in the sales you are looking for.

Don’t Give Up on Your Dream

If you have a dream to be an entrepreneur and to start your own work-at-home business, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to make it a reality.  It is called work for reason, and it will not be easy, but it is completely possible to become very successful online.  Make sure you start with a solid business plan, you do your research, and then execute to completion.  Spend a little time every day improving your website, building backlinks, and advertising, and you will quickly build up a fan base that will allow you to sustain business for years to come.  Good luck building your online business!



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2 Responses:

  1. Caimin says:

    Just wanted to underline what Vahid said in his last paragraph – you can do this but there’s a lot of work involved. Many people have been sold the dream by so called “gurus” that they can slap a website together in an hour and then the money will pour in while they’re Facebooking in Starbucks.

    But it’s like a real business. You need to plan, to research – go to every website you can find that deals with creating an online business or startup – and find out all you can. Then act on what you find – knowledge is nothing if you don’t act on it.

    It’s a lot of work but most of it is fun and you get to be your own boss. That’s a great reward!

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