If you are reading this, you are probably looking for a quick guide for starting an online business. While building a successful business takes time, the beauty of starting an online business is that it can be quick and inexpensive to get started.
While this blog is more of a lifestyle blog where I talk about things like green cleaning and healthy habits, this post will be a little bit different. This is because I know that making more money and obtaining financial freedom are key goals for most people’s lifestyles, and starting an online business is one of the best and easiest ways to achieve that goal.
So what are the steps to starting an online business, you ask?
5 Steps to Starting an Online Business:
*Quick disclaimer this post may contain affiliate links. You can click here to learn more.
Step 1: Figure Out What Type of Online Business You Want to Start
The first question you want to ask yourself, is why do you want to start an online business to begin with? Is it to earn extra money as a side hustle or in hopes of replacing your current job? Are you hoping to bring in passive income to allow for lifestyle freedom, or is it more important to build something of significance by putting in the time and effort to build a successful company?
The second question you want to ask yourself is what type of online business you want to start. Again, the options are endless, but the following are some popular online business models.
- Content Marketing is where you start a blog, podcast, video channel, etc., regularly share your expertise, and then make money by running ads, selling your own products, or promoting other people’s products.
- Influencer Marketing is similar but using your influence as an individual by sharing your lifestyle on social media to sell to your audience by promoting your own or other people’s products.
- Affiliate Marketing is where you as an affiliate earn a commission by selling other people’s products. This can be done in conjunction with the two models just mentioned or done on its own through direct advertising.
- Software Development or Service is where you create online software or an application that services a unique need you then build and sell your creation online for a one-time fee or recurring subscription.
- Coaching or Consulting is a popular choice where you become a coach or consultant in your area of expertise and teach and mentor others.
- Freelance Work has so many options and is based on hiring out your own set of skills for a fee. It is different than coaching or consulting, which uses your expertise to teach others, wherewith freelance you do the work yourself.
- Selling Physical Products, these could be products you create and sell in an online shop or other people’s products. Examples of popular online business models for selling online products are drop shipping, print-on-demand merchandise, becoming a seller on amazon, or reselling something online at a higher price than you purchased it for using auction and listing websites.
- Online Course or Digital Product Creation is one of the more popular and potentially easier options long-term as you don’t need to worry about carrying product, shipping concerns, or trading your time for money. Because after you have built the digital products or online course and figured out how to best promote them, it can be put mainly on autopilot.
Step 2: Figure Out What You Are Offering and Who You Are Offering It To
So now that you know what type of online business you are going to start, it is time to get specific and figure out what you are selling and who you are selling it to. Even if you are not selling physical or digital products of your own, (examples include affiliate marketing or running ads to your content), you still need to figure out who you will target and what you will offer.
To do that, you need to do three things which I have provided more detailed links you can follow for a breakdown on exactly how to do them.
After you have completed those steps and have a really good idea of what you are offering and who you it will be offered to, it will be time to start sourcing or creating your product. This may mean finding good wholesalers, dropshipping suppliers, or on-demand printing services. It could also mean starting to build or plan your digital product or online course.
If your online business is going to be service-based, like consulting or freelance work, get clear about what you are offering. If you are doing affiliate or content marketing promoting other people’s products, start researching affiliate programs in your niche or seeking out advertising sources and potential sponsorships.
Step 3: Create Your Brand and Register Your Business
This is the stage where you will want to figure out your business name if you haven’t already.
When picking a name, you will want to check and make sure it is available to register in your state and will also want to make sure you can register a domain name that will work for your business. If you are going to be an influencer that uses yourself as the primary form of marketing, this may even be your name. Social media handles are also a good thing to look for and reserve at this time if you plan on using social media.
Next, you will want to decide on the appropriate business structure before taking care of the legal tasks associated with your state and industry. These could include registering your business with appropriate government authorities, obtaining all required permits and licenses, and meeting all federal and state tax requirements, which may consist of applying for an EIN/Federal Tax ID. You will also want to familiarize yourself with copyright, patent, and trademark law, as some or all of them might be necessary depending on your online business model.
In addition, you will want to make sure you have all necessary internal documentation set up like operating agreements for LLCs or bylaws for corporations.
Once you have the less exciting but fundamental aspects completed, you can move on to the fun stuff like designing your brand by picking colors and designing a logo.
My favorite resource to use for logo design by far is Fiverr, a marketplace for freelance services consisting primarily of low-cost providers from all over the globe. Because of the lower cost, when using a service like Fiverr, I like to hire a couple of different designers to design logos and pick the one I like best.
Step 4: Set Up Your Website
There are very few instances when creating an online business where you won’t need a website. You may even need several.
A website can be used to sell your products or service, host your content, build your email list (which is an integral part of building a successful online business), or have a website that gives you or your business credibility.
While building a website may seem daunting, it can be fairly easy and completed in a day or so, depending on your needs.
The first step to building a website is to get very clear about what you want to build it on. The old days of building a website from scratch, which was very costly, are over, and your best options are to either go through an all-in-one website builder like Wix or Squarespace or build a self-hosted website through WordPress.org and pick a pre-built theme for it to run on. Leadpages, a website and landing page builder, is another good option if you want a lot of landing pages but don’t need the capability of a blog.
Now I know I just threw a lot at you, and the most challenging part about building a website nowadays is just picking the right tools for your business as there are so many to choose from based on various needs. So that is why I am creating a FREE guide on picking the right tools for building an online course, so by signing up now, you are guaranteed to receive it as soon as it is complete.
While you may not be interested in building an online course, I cover everything you need to build a website in this free guide. The guide includes comparisons on picking the best website builder or hosting service, selecting the best email marketing services, and choosing the best shopping carts and other tools based on your individual needs or budget.
Another resource I want to recommend again once you have picked your tools is Fiverr because if you are not tech-savvy, you can find a freelancer on there to set up your website for you at a very low cost. If you go through the WordPress.org option, an all-in-one online builder is highly recommended.
Step 5: Bring Traffic to Your Products/Website
Last but not least, all your work will be in vain if people don’t know about you or your company and you don’t bring people to your website, content, or products.
There are several different things you can do to generate traffic, including:
- SEO through things like content marketing picking keywords that will do well in search engines like Google or Pinterest.
- Paid Advertising by purchasing ad space through things like Google or Facebook Ads.
- Direct Outreach, where you can reach out to individuals or companies directly to either sell your service or see if they will promote it.
- Social Media Marketing you can use social media to engage your target audience and drive traffic to your website or products.
- PR (Public Relations) you can also try to use media attention to drive awareness to your brand.
I recommend picking one or several to master for your own online business.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this quick five-step guide for starting an online business. However, I will leave you with one final but very important step that applies to any business you start to make successful, and that is delivering on what you had promised!
So after reading this what type of online business do you want to start? Leave it in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to sign up to get access to the FREE guide showing you how to pick the best online tools not only for course creation but for any online business.
If you would like to check out more of my blog, I recommend you start here. I am wishing you a ton of success in your online endeavors!
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