How to start a business online
Hi there, I have been asked many times how to start a business online and how to make money online. Usually I would send a standard message as my response but have now decided to create a post for this in the hope that it can help someone. Below I have given a basic framework on how to start a business online and it is by no means exhaustive. There is more to it than I have given because of the limitations of a post and not everything can be said in one post. However, it is enough to give you a start and on which you can build as you start your online business.
Millions of persons are on the internet every day. They are searching for information, playing games, having fun on the social media, booking vacations, purchasing items among other things. Millions are spent daily purchasing products and services. This is one of the reasons so many businesses operate online, simply because there is money to be made there. There are many online millionaires who have made their fortunes selling products and services. Now you need to realize that we are talking about the entire world and not just USA, UK and Canada. Australia has become an increasingly important market for online consumption! And Africa is slated to increase its spending online within the year. Therefore, start a business online so you can get your share of this large pie.
You can pretty much start a business online doing anything you want to do. In the same way you can think of a business idea and then open a shop, etc. offline to fulfil that dream, you can do the same thing online. You can start a business to sell products such as shoes, handbags, gift items, baby clothes, books, furniture, electrical appliances, electronic gadgets. You name it, it can be done. You can also sell services including accounting and finance, electrical repairs, construction, consultancy, teaching, school bus service, tourist attractions, vacations, etc. Your own products can be made and sold online including eBooks, any from the first group mentioned, baked products, confectionery, stationery items and so on. I hope that you get the picture by now and that you have begun to form some vivid images in your mind.
Website and Hosting
Now, in order for you to effectively set up and start a business online you need a website. This is where your prospective customers will be exposed to your products and services. We will talk more about this a little later. The options for setting up a website include:
a) A php based website, created using Dreamweaver software or similar. However, to do this you need to be good at coding. If not, you need to outsource it (get someone to do it for you).
b) A blog site which is more popular, easier to set up and is search engine friendly. You can choose any free or paid blogging platform such as Blogger, WordPress.Com and so on. Please note however, that you will be severely limited in what you can do on these sites and your account can be deleted at any time without notice, once you have violated any of the rules (should this ever happens to you, ask for your content to be returned to you). Therefore, because the site we are talking about is for business use and you want it to be stable; I would highly suggest using WordPress.org: http://www.wordpress.org
This you can do by signing into the service, create a free account if you do not have one, so you can participate and follow questions and answers posted on the WordPress Forum. Download the free WordPress blog, upload it to your hosting service after choosing a domain name. In this way you have more control over your website and its content; you can customize it to suit your taste, color, etc. This is a better option.
c) You can combine the php based website with the blog site. The blog would be used to update customers and clients on new products, events, special deals, etc. This option however would be best done by someone already experienced with websites. If you are just starting out use option (b).
After choosing your website option, the next thing you need to do is decide on what it is that you want to sell, products or services? Either way, you need to come up with a good name for your website. This will be called your domain name and is where your customers will go to find you, in other words, it is your address online. Choose a name that matches with something that you want to do. For example, if you want to sell shoes, you could come up with something like “bestshoestolast”,”bestdollarshoes” or
“bestbrandshoes” and so on. In this way your prospective customers will know right away exactly what it is that you do. They would not go to “bestbrandmilk” to buy shoes. Get the point?
Next, you will need to find a hosting service that will host your domain name and your website. There are many to choose from. I am suggesting This One. Please click the link and it will take you there. If you are just starting out choose a package that is affordable (you want to keep your costs down). You will be asked to select .com (dot com); .info (dot info); .net (dot net); .org (dot org) and so on. I would suggest that you select a .com as this is what most persons are familiar with and is for commercial use. Dot info and dot net are less expensive but are not as popular. If you choose dot com (.com), in the case of our example, your domain will end as “bestshoestolast.com”. Whatever the domain name that you choose the service will tell you whether it is available or not. If it is available, register it and pay. If not, you may be given options from which you can select or you will have to come up with other names until you find one that is available (meaning no one has registered it as yet).
You will now upload your website to your hosting account and you are on your way to start a business online. Your customers can find you at your online address: http://www.bestshoestolast.com. (This is just an example, do not click it)
Content for Your Website
You now need to put images of your product or service on your website and write something about it, giving your customers or clients more information. This is called your content. When uploading your content to your website, be sure that you do not copy it from anywhere else on the internet. Make sure to write your content yourself so that it becomes exclusively yours and is unique (it does not appear anywhere else online). If you cannot write it yourself you can ask someone to do it for you, cautioning the person not to copy anything and give to you. Of course you would provide some guidelines on what it is that you want to say. If you search online and find information that you believe can help, change it up and make it your own before uploading it to your site. You can Use This to help make sure it is not duplicated content before you upload it.
The reason for all of this is that Google, the largest search engine, will punish you for what is called duplicate content. Your customers would not be able to find your product or service when they search using certain key words.
When writing your content you also need to consider keywords. These are the words that your prospective customers will type in their browser bars to search for products and services and you would want them to find yours as well. In the examples used; shoes, best affordable shoes, best dollar shoes, are keywords that could be used. When the customer types in ‘best affordable shoes’ in his browser, you would want to make sure that it comes up on the first page of the results returned by Google. This will allow many persons (also called traffic) to go and view your content.
Getting Traffic to your Website
Ok, we have dealt with selecting your website, deciding on your domain name and selection of your hosting package, uploading your website to your hosting account, writing your content and a look at key words. We will now look at traffic to your site. This is very important as you start a business online. Without traffic you will not be able to sell anything.
You are now well on your way to start earning an income online through your online business. But before you can achieve this you must promote your site. This is to get persons (traffic) to go and view what it is that you are offering, and purchase if they are sufficiently interested. The first set of traffic you should consider sending to your site is your family, friends and colleagues. In addition to the traffic generated by search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), there are many other ways to send traffic to your site. Some of these include the use of social media- Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. You should also set up a Facebook Profile and then a Facebook Page. Use the Page to promote your business. Another big way is to use email marketing. You would collect emails of persons whom you feel might have an interest in your product or service and compose and send an email to them announcing your offer. Text messaging could also be used. However, for email marketing and text messaging to work effectively, it would be better to register with a service that can send out your emails for you as well as a service that can provide a platform from which you can send many text messages all at once.
Another method you must use is direct advertising. You can get both free and paid advertising. If you are just starting out, you should keep your costs down so use as many free advertising sources that you can get. GO HERE and use this free advertising service.
There are many more ways of getting traffic to your site; you just have to be creative.
In promoting your website, it is the links to your website and pages of the website that you would send to your prospective customers with a message. In that message, you would ask them to take a specific action.
How to Get Paid
Here you can set up pay buttons on your site. You can choose to get paid using credit cards, PayPal or use other collection services. I would suggest PayPal. If these prove challenging for you then other options can be considered such as Moneygram or Western Union. Please Google payment services, payment options, and online payment options. Choose and set up the one that best suits your needs.
If you are not comfortable with how to start a business online model given above, you can do affiliate marketing as a business model instead. Here you will promote and sell other persons’ products and services for a commission. It is advisable to set up a web site as well so that you can direct your traffic straight to your offers. You could set up your website as a review site for the products and services that you are promoting. Please check out these options for affiliate marketing:
marketing community with free online support
established business with excellent products including health and beauty
marketing platform using blogging- excellent commission
Free Cash Generator – Spend Nothing, Gain Everything!
Bear in mind that I said not everything can be said in a post so if you have experienced any difficulties understanding or implementing anything that is said, please register HERE to become a member of this marketing community and benefit from the tutorials you will receive that can guide you step by step. These include user guides, software and a community of marketers, all dedicated to online businesses success and all the resources given are free. I suggest that you do this regardless, so you can be properly trained to become an online entrepreneur and run your business efficiently.
Well, that is it for now. Let me hope that you have found this useful. Please leave a comment below.