Starting An Online Business – Complete Steps To Get Started

Like most people you may wonder if there is an easier way of making a living. You might be tired of the 9-5 grind and perhaps you tried to start a business online and failed. Whether you are a new business owner or a newcomer, in this guide im going to go over the steps that you need to follow to get your business started online.

Things I Will Go over in this Guide:

Part 1 – Deciding on A Business                                   
A -Affiliate Marketing
B- Selling A Service or Product                                       
C- Membership Sites
Part 2 – Purchasing A Domain 
Part 3 – Web Hosting                                                     
Part 4 – Designing Your Website                                 
A. WordPress
B. Paying A Designer
C. Tips to Picking A Designer
D. Using DIY Tools
Part 5 – Adding Content
Part 6 – Promotion Techniques
A. Search Engine Optimization
B. Pay per Click
C. Social Marketing

Part 1 – Deciding On A Business Type

The first and probably one of the hardest parts of making a living online is to decide how you will make your money. There are so many ways online it would be almost impossible to cover all of them in just one post. For the most part my guide will be focused more on internet marketing techniques. But most of these steps will apply to almost any business. Even if you already have a storefront business bringing it online can increase your profits.

To help you decide which direction you want to make money online below I am going to list some types of online businesses which will differ on the ways that you earn money.  I will then go into each method in more detail to describe what it involves and how it works.

A. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate_marketing

Affiliate marketing has made billions of dollars over the years, now days it is one of the most popular ways of creating an income online for people with no actual products or services. So this one is probably ideal if you do not already have any products or services.

Affiliate marketing involves selling other companies products or services via your website or through email marketing. Although you can also use other medians like social networks like facebook and twitter. You then promote these products on your website either via banners or in your content, if visitors of your website clickthrough and purchase you receive a commission generally it is per sale. Most commissions are a percentage base and some are a flat rate.

You will be amazed at the amount of companies that offer affiliate programs, so if you are at the drawing board to come up with a website and want to earn with affiliate marketing make sure you research to see what type of affiliate programs are available for your niche.

To perform affiliate marketing generally you will need a website, you will want to have a niche that you are comfortable with or have experience with. The good thing with affiliate marketing almost any niche will have a suitable product or service that you can promote.

If you want to choose affiliate marketing to make money online decide what niche of website you want to make, and also what type of content will you write about. Almost every successful affiliate marketer will need to learn how to write good content to promote others products. So for example if you like cell phones you can make a blog about them and promote cell phone apps or even mobile marketing products.

Avoid promoting products that do not match with what your website niche is about, a golden tip is to learn who your visitors are and what they come to your website for. Once you learn this you can offer products to them that you know they want or need.

Keep in mind there are many twists and ideas you can use to promote affiliate products within your website, some will do subtle promotion in helpful guides, or write reviews about products and use their affiliate link there.

A good place to start to find affiliate products or services is Clickbank or Commission Junction. Both of these have 1000s of products or services to get you started. As I mentioned a lot of companies have their own affiliate programs and do not go through a 3rd party so make sure to do your research. Lastly Amazon is a good source to make money off of their products so this is something you will also want to look in on.


B. Selling A Service Or Product

cart

If you already have experience or a specialty you can start your own website and earn money or exposure online. This can be anything from having a storefront business like a Salon, landscaping, web design, a writer, fitness trainer, marketing, search engine optimization…. You get the idea. Basically any service or product that you can sell online.

When selling a service or product online you want to make sure that you have an appealing and easy to navigate storefront, and of course make sure that your prices are affordable but at the same time bring enough revenue. Since there are so many different types of stores I will keep all of this generalized.

E-commerce Platform

Almost any store or someone who sells products will need to choose some type of E-commerce platform, this is the platform that the website will be ran on to sell your products. There are so many out there but a few examples are Woocommerce (free), magento (free) and Zencart. If you are new to designing I would suggest Woocommerce just because it is based off wordpress and WordPress is very easy for beginners compared to other options. If you have the money you can hire someone to install other ecommerce platforms.

Making an online store is something that will take time, you cant simply put up all your products and prices and start making money. You will have to remember to setup your “Terms of Service”, “Privacy Policy”, “Refund Policy”,  Contact Form and of course all of your product pages. Depending on what you are selling this can be easy or hard depending on how many products you have any if you have images already.

Accepting Payments

Okay so you have your website ecommerce platform installed and setup… but how do you actually get the money? The easiest option which I still use to this day is Paypal. You can sign up for free and generally start receiving payments within a week after you confirm all the details with them.

A good long term option though is depending on the amount of sales you make is a credit card processing merchant account. You can usually get these with a handful of different banks… Some charge monthly or yearly fees and some also require a minimum amount of sales. This is usually the best long term option because not everyone likes or even uses Paypal or other 3rd party merchants. If you already have an ecommerce platform you can also start accepting credit cards once you have a merchant account.

One provider you can look into is http://www.propay.com… Just remember to evaluate all of your options and the charges before choosing a merchant account.

C. Membership Sites

This type of website or business is a little more unique and can even be incorporated in one or both of the types of websites I have gone over above. A membership site or program basically means you have content or some type of service that you will be providing on a timed basis. For example people sign up to receive your expert opinion on a specific niche for $9.99 a month. Keep in mind though for information type subscriptions where you are only offering tips or guides for a price you have to have some pretty good credentials in order to get paying customers not to mention a reputation.

Although there are other types of membership sites, a good example is you can build some type of online community where members must pay a monthly or yearly fee. A good example of this is are dating sites where you sign up its free but to start contacting other people you are prompted to pay. Just remember if you have ideas there are some unique ways to incorporate a membership site or program even in existing websites.

For membership sites you will need software or a platform for your website to run one of these. A few I can think of are Memberpress and Wishlist Member.

 


Part 2 – Purchasing A Domain

domain

Once you have plans for type of website you want to launch you will need a domain name, generally you dont have to invest a lot of time on this step but there are some important factors you want to keep in mind before buying a domain.

Picking a Name

Basically there are two parts to a domain name that you will want to keep in mind. Once is your brand name or keywords. If you already have a brand name its generally best to use that name as your domain name. Since the Google Exact match domain name change having keywords as your domain name is not as important as it was years ago but it still does make a difference.

Avoid long names, generally domain names that are shorter are easier for people to remember and more likely to bring return visitors. You will also want to avoid hyphens and numbers in your domain name.

Picking a Domain Registrar

In my opinion there are really only two choices when it comes to picking a domain Registrar… Godaddy and Namecheap. I use both and there are not much difference in both. Although if you want a domain and hosting together in one package I would recommend Godaddy, if you do please see my next section where I go over hosting options with Godaddy.

To see if your domain name is already taken you can check them at Godaddy or Namecheap.

Generally a new domain will cost you around $13 per year give or take a few bucks plus there are usually coupons you can use.


 

Part 3 – Web Hosting

Now that you have a domain name or one already in mind you will also need hosting. Basically your domain name will be linked to your hosting and the host is where your website will be stored onto.

To keep it simple I will go over 3 Simple choices for Web Hosting:

Cheap Option

Reseller hosting or shared hosting these are generally cheap options and works fine for anyone just starting out on a limited budget. When I first started out years ago I was on $1 hosting for a year or two before I switched. You can find many companies offering $1 a month web hosting ($12 a year). The only downside with the cheaper hosting is the site speed and uptime and possibly other limits to your bandwith or storage space. While many advertise 99.9% uptime that isnt always true. Ensure you get a hosting with Cpanel as this is the easiest and most popular platform to manage your website.

Overall though shared hosting will be fine for most people with a simple website or business starting out.

Median Option

Godaddy or Namecheap – If you decided to go with Godaddy or Namecheap you can also sign up for hosting with them and save the hassle of looking for hosting. Generally this option is ideal for newcomers and this is why Godaddy is very popular.

Pricing: This option is slightly more expensive but only starting at around $3 per month so its not a huge difference. From my experience with some of my clients websites the speed is also acceptable compared to $1 hosting. If you look to manage more than 1 website its worth paying the extra $1 per month for the unlimited websites on your account.

Higher End Option

Virtual Private Hosting (VPS) or Dedicated hosting is the higher end option and if you have the money and want the best this would be your choice. With this hosting you can generally pick the type of hardware that your website will be running off of. This is more ideal with sites with a lot of traffic and bandwidth. The customer service is generally the best possible. Since I changed to this type of hosting I usually get help with anything within the hour and they also can install plugins or platforms often times for free.

Personally I use Knownhost and have been for years, they have packages starting at around $25 per month. Similar companies will be around the same pricing expect to pay around $20 per month or more.

Here are a few example of some premium hosting:

WP Engine – Ideal if you look to use the wordpress platform their hosting comes with CDN (content delivery) use them if you want the best speed.

Webhosting Buzz – They offer most types of hosting plans… I would go with VPS which starts at $14.95 and moves up as you get better hardware.

Once you do have your hosting I suggest taking a look at this post to learn how to link your hosting and Domain Registrar to get your website online.

 


Part 4 – Designing Your Website

design

Now that you have your domain name, hosting and the idea for the type of business you want to start now you need to actually build your website, this can be intimidating for a newcomer but there are many options out there to make your own site. The good news is many of them will involve saving you a lot of trouble in creating your website.

Now remember in my first part of this series I posted about the type of websites that you can make and those were just some, these were product/services sites, affiliate sites and membership sites. In that section I did go over platforms that were ideal for each type of site so keep that in mind when designing your website.

WordPresswp

Now the most ideal option for someone with no or limited HTML and designing knowledge would be WordPress. With wordpress you dont need to know HTML or about designing because there are literally thousands of templates out there free or paid. With wordpress once you install it (there is a 5 minute install guide) you can install a template with the click of a mouse button. From there you simply fill out the areas of your website with content and your products.

Keep in mind wordpress is completely free, the only time you will pay money is if you want a premium theme. Premium themes are usually higher end designs that accommodate a specific need for the user. If you want to run a store or sell products or services on wordpress you will want to take a look at Woocommerce.

Now days WordPress is one of the most popular platforms and I would really suggest this option for any newcomer as its cost worthy and you can do it yourself without having to hire a designer.

To get started with wordpress you can find their install guide and download. Setting it up is fairly easy and you can get all of the details here.

 

Paying A Designer

Paying someone is another viable option, personally I did this on my own site when we redesigned it because we used a ecommerce platform magento and had a lot of products already. If you want to pay a designer keep in mind you will generally need some type of plan or how you expect your site to turn out. You will need to let them know what products you will be selling and what pages you want added.

Paying a designer is usually ideal if you have around $100-500 (more if its a large website or specialty site with) to spend on designing. The benefits of hiring a designer is you dont have to worry about the headache of all the technical details of your website or the graphics. In most cases they can design your graphics like your logo, banners, buttons etc. Most designers will charge dependent upon how many pages you want added onto your website.

 

Tips To Picking A Designer

Here are some tips you want to keep in mind when picking a web designer:

1. Make sure to ask or look at their previous work, if you see something you are impressed you can even mention this when designing your website.

2. Tell your designer your budget up front, this will ensure you dont go over the cost of your budget and will ensure they can handle the work on that budget

3. Tell your designer the purpose of your website, do you want to sell products? Are you promoting affiliates products or are you selling a service.

4. Ask your designer to explain to you how can you manage the site once its build, most sites have CMS (content management system) so you can easily update your website without having to edit HTML. So ensure your designer build the website on a user friendly platform.

5. Browse the web for websites that you like or are good examples of something how you would like your website to look. While they wont simply copy it but will give them an idea for what you are looking for.

6 Make sure to ask for a timeframe to complete your website. You dont want to hire them and they take their time and dont work on it for weeks. In the past I once had a website take nearly 2 months to complete because the designer had personal problems. If this happens you might want to ask for a refund on your deposit.

7. Which brings me to my next point, NEVER pay for the designing in full. Just like a house contractor you never want to pay for this kind of service fully up front. If they do an incomplete job on your design work or never finish it at least you arent out your full budget. Most designers accept a deposit. If you are going with a large designing company or one with a lot of reputation you probably wont have to worry about this.

 

Using DIY Tools Like Godaddy Sitebuilder

Another option is using free tools to make your own website, this can save you some money but is mostly suited for people who want to build simple websites. You will get a along just fine with these kind of tools but only to an extent.

They do have templates that you can choose from to start a website with the click of a button and you then fill out the content. This is similar to wordpress. In my opinion though I would much rather choose the wordpress option then the Godaddy or similar sitebuilder tools just because I feel like your options are limited with these type of tools. WordPress is much more developed and gives more freedom in your website designs.


Part 5 – Adding Your Content

content

Once you have your site designed now you will want to add your content and monetize your website. This will be the lifeline of the website and bring out the whole purpose of your website. From Part1 in the series you will now define what you are selling, promoting or building your website around. This will be adding articles, products, the pricing etc.

If you were lucky enough to get a designer, they sometimes will add the content for you. Usually this is enough to get you started which includes homepage content.

Your homepage is one of the most important parts of your website this is generally the main landing page where people will come into your website at. You want to define on your homepage what you want your visitors to do. Are they here to purchase something? Are they here to learn about something? Most of this can be accomplished in your content.

If you have a blog most of this is straightforward, the natural setup of a blog consists of your most recent posts.

Although if you have a storefront or product site the content is generally static content that does not change over time. So for this reason its important you write content on your homepage that describes what you are selling to your visitors. In this case its best to keep it simple and use product galleries or eye grabbing graphics for your products.

Another thing to keep in mind is Search Engine Optimization. When you are adding your content you will want to ensure you have selected keywords that are relevant to your business. When writing content keep in mind keywords but only write naturally and dont worry about over using keywords.

Hiring A Copywriter

Another option is to hire a copywriter to write your landing page for your homepage. This is ideal if you have a limited amount of products or services. This will keep the cost down focusing on only a few of your products. A copywriter will be able to write a sales copy for your home page that will convert better.

There are many companies out there that can help you come up with content. Whether you just need a one page sales pitch or content for all of your products. In the long run this might be the best route but it can be expensive depending on who you employ for this job.

A good place to start at is Elance where you can find writers for these types of jobs.


Part 6 – Promotion Techniques

Now that you have your website up and running you need traffic otherwise its just a useless website that no one is viewing. Now I could go on and write a whole book about promotion techniques but to keep this post from being too long I will cover the most basic aspects of each promotion technique. You will find that most of my posts here on the blog are in one way or another a way to promote your website. You will mostly spend all of your free time promoting your website in one way or another.

The next section of promotion techniques is not all of the promotion techniques but these are some of the main ones that you will want to focus on. You can utilize one or all of these techniques together. Just remember the more methods that you utilize generally brings in more visitors.

 

Search Engine Optimization

seo

SEO is one of the most reliant forms of promotion because almost everyone uses Google, Yahoo or Bing to search for products or almost anything on the internet. For this reason its one of the best converting forms of visitors. You will want to optimize your website based off of the keywords that your business is based upon.

1. Research your keywords and write them down that you want to use for your website

To do this you can make use of The Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

From here you can either input your own website or search existing keywords. One thing to keep in mind is decide what kind of words will customers be using to look for your type of business? Enter those in and see how many people are search for that keyword per month.

Once you have researched your keywords you will want to ensure they are being used on your page or website. Each page of your website will differ so ensure not to use the same keywords for each different page. For example if you have a Travel website for Italy you can use a keyword on the homepage like “Italy Travel information” but you may have other pages for specific cites like “Milan” so for that page you can use something like “Milan Travel Information”. This is just a very basic description of keyword usage. You will always want to research all of your keywords.

Here are some places on your website that you will want to optimize for SEO:

  • - Homepage Title or Page Title
  • - Inside of Content
  • - In H1 or H2 tags on the page
  • - Alt Image Tags

Keep in mind you do not want to use all of the same keywords in these areas always ensure to use some variation on your on page SEO.

Off Page SEO

Offpage SEO is where you will place most of your time, in general once you have optimized your website for SEO it does not need to be altered unless you are adding new content.

For offpage SEO this includes many different things but the most basic explanation is getting your website linked on other websites in other words a backlink. An example would be is if you had a friend with a website and you asked him to link to your website. For the most part doing offpage SEO will require some knowledge or tools to accomplish.

Here are some types of Offpage SEO:

  • Article Marketing – Writing articles and submitting to Article Directories
  •  Social Bookmarking – Linking to content you have and adding a bookmark on a social bookmarking site an example would be Facebook.
  •  Offpage Blogging – An example would be either guest blogging or creating a blog and writing a post then linking back to your website
  •  Forum Posting – An example would be joining a community forums and filling out your signature with a link to your website.
  •  Directory Submission – Submitting your website to a Web Directory
  •  Link Exchanging – A good example is you have a friend link to your website and you link to his.
  • Press Releases – You can write a press release and submit it to a free or paid PR site with your link in the press release

These are just a few of the methods that you can use, and most of the above methods are free. The only downside is Google changes their algorithm very often so getting your website ranked can be a tough task for a newcomer. Anytime you use these offpage SEO methods you will want to ensure that you are also using your keywords for your website but remember to rotate or add diversity in the keywords you never want to overuse the same keywords because Google will pick up on this.

So you might be thinking if you want to take the route of getting search engine traffic what are your options for SEO?

1. You can do it yourself – This is cheaper but can be very time consuming and frustrating if you do not have much knowledge

2. You can hire an SEO agency or company – This can be expensive but usually will bring much better results then doing it yourself

3. Purchase or utilize free SEO tools – This one will also cost you money but the upside is since generally SEO is an ongoing process it will save you money in the long run.

The most ideal option to most would seem like the 3rd option to purchase your own tools and do it yourself, but then again you still will need knowledge to learn how to use these tools and get the most benefit out of them. If you can find a company who is reliable and cost effective that is also a good option.

Im summary for offpage SEO there are tons of options out there and I cant suggest any one method since everyone’s situation is different but here are some tools I would suggest you take a look at to get you started:

SEO Tools

Google Webmaster Tools – I would always suggest using this, its free and allows you to keep track of your website rankings or any errors you might have on your website.

Google Analytics – This is probably your ideal choice to keep tabs on your traffic you can get almost unlimited analytics for your traffic. Find out when who and where your traffic comes from.

Google Keyword Planner – As mentioned earlier you can use this for keyword research.

SeNuke XCR – When your ready to start building your own Links this is it.

Website Auditor – They have a free version and what this does is scan your website to find any issues.

Just remember SEO is not something you will learn over night and there are is a lot of useful information online about search engine optimization not to mention the many articles we have wrote right here on the blog that will help you along.


 

Pay Per Click

Another option to promote your website is via PPC, if you optimize your campaigns right you can make a lot of money with PPC. The idea behind PPC is that you dont want to spend more on your campaigns then money you bring in from your conversions also known as ROI.

Utilizing Pay Per click you are basically advertising your website in ads utilized on the network. For Google Adwords you will bid on specific keyword and are charged for either CPM cost per impressions (1000) or per each click.

Learning pay per click is similar to SEO and you should read up on PPC techniques before diving right in and setting up your campaign. Failing to do this you might end up spending all of your money with a little return.

Here are some of the main PPC networks that you should look into:

Google Adwords – One of the most popular PPC services but because of the popularity the bid rates may be a bit higher.

Bing Ads – A good alternative to adwords and the prices are generally slightly cheaper. The downside is there are less reporting tools then adwords provides.

Facebook Ads – Right now facebook ads can be quite effective depending on your niche and also pretty cheap.

These are just 3 of the services there are many more out there but in my opinion you probably wont have to look into any besides these. Just remember there are usually always coupons that you can use on all of these networks to get free advertising credits when you first start out.

Overall PPC can be very effective in bringing in traffic and earning more money, to be successful you want to make sure you have a good funnel to target your PPC traffic to earn sales or long term customers.

Here are some PPC Tips to get you started:

  1. Always do research for the keywords you want to target for advertising to ensure they are relevant for what you are promoting.
  2.  Always use multiple ads for the same keyword, this way you have an ad to compare it to and choose the higher converting ad.
  3.  Utilize Negative keywords, this means your ad wont be associated with a specific keyword for example is “free” so if someone searches “free Online Stores” your site wont be showing up. So make sure you use them.
  4.  The biggest important step is to ensure you are keeping an eye on your budget and your Return on Investment. Look into ads that are converting poorly or costing you too much with low ROI and see what can be changed.

Social Marketing

Social marketing has exploded over the years and can be a great platform to boost your sales and keep in contact with your customers. You will always want to utilize facebook and twitter for your social marketing efforts.

Keep in mind Facebook and Twitter arent the only options when it comes to social marketing but these are the primary ones you will first want to focus on initially.

With that said the first three things that you want to do when starting your social marketing is making your Facebook, Twitter and Google + profiles for your business. Once you do that you can link them on your website. Just remember to fill out your profiles and add graphics to your pages so it will appeal to more people.

When To use Social Marketing

Social marketing can be used on a daily basis or any time that you have something to announce or share with your followers of fans. This can be something small like linking to a related news story or announcing a new product or sale.

When you write new content for your website or blog you will also want to update your social profiles to link to this content. This will let your fans and followers know about the new content.

Just remember the more content you put out the more often you can utilize these social networks.

Here are some tips for Social Marketing:

  • Utilize social sharing icons on your website for your products or sales.
  • Remember to utilize other social networks other then Facebook and Twitter
  • If it fits your Niche Youtube can be a great way to give exposure for your business if you have videos.
  • Ensure to follow people who retweet or share your articles
  • Utilize Wisestamp for your emails and add your social profiles

Conclusion

I hope that my guide has brought you closer to achieving success online. Just remember that promoting your business is an ongoing process and there is always room to learn more. If you have setup your business you may also want to take a look at our “Complete Business Blueprint Course” Which you can sign up just below for free that will teach you additional ways to boost sales and bring in more customers.

If you need any help with anything that I have gone over please feel free to comment below and I will guide you in the right direction.

 

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6 thoughts on “Starting An Online Business – Complete Steps To Get Started
  1. Great guide Todd, Ive been thinking of using facebook ads for my promotion but I always figured facebook is geared more towards a younger audience therefor less inclined to buy marketing type services. Do you think FB is okay for these types of ads?

    • Thanks J…

      To answer your question facebook ads right now is a great choice for a PPC platform to advertise on. They have some of the lowest rates and yet highly targeted because of the demographics and also you can narrow it down to pages they have liked.

      Once you learned what type of audience is more likely to buy your product or perform the action you are looking for you can finetune more on facebook ads then you could on Google or Bing… Linkedin is another place but they are a bit expensive.

  2. Some good tips here.

    Ive been thinking of starting something online to add to my regular income. I was thinking of something related to Vaping (ecigs) If you start a website online to make money is that something you would have to claim on your taxes?

    Another question where do most people get their graphics to make their websites can you use ones on the internet already?

    • E-Cigs would be a good choice since I heard they have been increasingly popular over the years and a better choice then regular cigs. About taxes, atleast in the United States pretty much any online income you make would have to be claimed on your taxes… at least if its $400 or $600 i cant remember the exact amount… Better to be safe then sorry anyway.

      For graphics you have a few options… never use copyrighted graphics in the long run you can end up having to pay for it in the worst case scenario. You can use Google image search then you can select images that are "free for reuse". There are also other sites that have stock free photos like istockphotos.com. The only downside is these type of photos some times are kind of cheesy.

      Lastly your best bet is to hire someone to design your graphics, if you decide to have a designer make your website they usually can do this. If you need something specific just let them know. If you make the site yourself just having a at least a few unique designed graphics will make your site look more professional.

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