How to start your own online business
The digital revolution has changed the way we do business. The power of the Internet brings the world to your virtual doorstep.
An online business (or e-business) has several advantages:
• Minimal financial risk and overhead.
• Convenience. Work from home, or anywhere.
• Flexibility. Work 2 hours per week. Or 60.
• Control. Grow as large or small as your time and priorities dictate.
• Diversification. Multiple streams of income (selling a product or a service is not essential) provide long-term stability.
Compare that to starting an offline business… banks, leases, lawyers, inventory, advertising, government forms and so on. The low-cost simplicity of starting up an online business means that anyone can grow a profitable e-business.
All you need is some time, a computer, Net access and the right set of tools to execute a solid process. (Don’t fall for all the “latest hot get-rich-quick” schemes.)
Start with something you love
An e-business begins with an idea for a website about a theme you know and love. If you have knowledge about a passion or a hobby or some specialized area, chances are that lots of other people want to know it. Let’s take an example…
Love ‘ham radio’? Millions of people enter terms related to ham radio into Google and other Search Engines every month. You don’t have to worry about reaching them — if you do it correctly (not hard to do, although most get it wrong), they will find you while they do their searching. Your site now has visitors (called “traffic”).
When they visit (and they will!), don’t “blow it.” Create quality information (also called “content”) about the topics related to your theme (i.e., how-to instructions, tips, equipment, history, etc.). In order to win visitors over to you, you’ll need to offer high-grade content.
Over time, visitors will start to like and trust you — after all, it’s only natural to trust someone who knows and loves what he is talking about. We call this “pre- selling.”
Delivering quality information is important for a second reason. People react in certain ways to websites they like, such as linking to your site or talking about it online. And while this is happening, Google tracks it all. The more Google sees that people like your site, the higher you get ranked in the search.
Content is king
The more content you create about your theme, the more visitors you’ll receive. The better your content, the better you’ll pre-sell your visitors. As you get more traffic — and Google sees how much people like your site — you’ll begin to get higher rankings. And the more content you create, the higher your rankings…
Well, you get the idea. Round it goes, like a snowball gaining momentum.
Turning traffic into income
So what do you do with all this pre-sold, open-to-buy traffic? You will hear the term “monetize.” This means turning your traffic into income.
The most common error of those who try to create online businesses is that they decide how to monetize first, instead of last . They put up online stores, for example, or a site that sells their services. Or maybe they don’t want customers and they just want to place ads on their sites.
Regardless, they are wasting their time. Why? Because they did not start where future customers start… searching for information. It all starts with content.
You must first know what content to create, along with how much demand there is for that content and how much competition there is (there are tools for this). You should have a good idea of your market and of how much traffic you’ll be able to build.
Only after doing your research and developing quality content should you start thinking of ways to monetize your site.
5 ways to “monetize” (Turn traffic into money)
#1: Ads. The easiest, most popular way that people monetize their traffic is to put ads on their site. You have probably seen “Ads By Google” on many sites while surfing. Have you ever thought about how they got there and who makes money from them?
The way it works is that people who build “theme-based content sites” apply to Google. It’s a simple process and typically, only bad sites are refused. Google gives you a short snippet of “code” to copy-and-paste where you want the ad to appear on your Web page.
Then the magic begins. Visitors to your site see the ads. (The ads change according to what is on the page and what the visitor is searching for.) When a user clicks on an ad, you can earn anywhere from 5 cents to 5 dollars (or more for certain keywords) per click.
#2: Commission.. Some small e-businesses join “affiliate programs” of online companies like Amazon. To generate income you would, say, recommend a number of books (about various topics related to your site’s theme), including a link to Amazon. When someone clicks on your link and buys the book, you earn a commission!
So far, you are making money and you never even have to talk to a customer. And that’s the way many people like it. You can, of course, increase your income by selling goods or services to customers. Some examples…
#3: E-books. Write a 20-page book about a specialized part of your niche, the “extra special” information that people will pay for once they trust your expertise. There are services that will list them, sell them, deliver them, and pay you. (If this sounds complicated, it’s really not.)
#4: Sales rep. Many people, often those who used to be sales reps, create websites about the products they used to sell. They take the order through the site. The manufacturer drop-ships it. No inventory. No warehouse. No overhead.
#5: Services. Editors, programmers, business advisors, you name it. Small business people are selling their specialized skills around the globe.
Other ways to monetize your traffic include promoting your local business, collecting finders’ fees for local businesses, increasing your eBay income, and renting out anything from your vacation home to high-end equipment.
The key, of course, is to build the pre-sold traffic. Once you have that, monetization is limited only by your circumstances, goals and creativity.
The bottom line
Think the Web has passed you by? It has barely scratched the surface. Once you understand the principles of content, traffic, pre-selling and monetization and how one leads to the next, all you need are the proper tools to find and exploit the knowledge that is already in your head.
Article courtesy of SiteSell.com. For more information on starting your own web-based business, click here.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Catherine Yeulet