If you’re new to the world of online business, it is easy to waste tremendous amounts of time, energy and money trying to figure out how to launch your business, and perhaps more importantly, how to make it successful.
Instead of learning from trial and error, we suggest following the steps we’ve outlined for you below. To a novice, these steps might seem basic, but they are the fundamental building blocks of any online business. In fact, these are the same steps we followed to launch Lifestyle Business Magazine.
Here are 6 steps to help you start and grow an online business:
For many people, the hardest part of starting an online business is actually starting one. Too often, people are held back by their doubts, fears, insecurities, and excuses. The internet offers an infinite number of opportunities to make money by selling products and services to others, and although it can sometimes feel overwhelming, the trick is to just pick something and go for it! Once you get started, you can learn from your results and adapt when required.
A good starting point is to consider the topics on which you have specific knowledge or experience. Knowledge and experience on a specific topic will serve as a strong foundation for starting your business. You should also consider the skills you possess that will be utilized as you start your business (graphic design, marketing, networking, etc.). Any skills that you don’t have must be acquired or hired. Plan for what you can do yourself, and budget for the work that you will need help with.
Lastly, make sure you choose a topic that you have a passion for. Having a passion for your business will help to ensure you stay committed to making it successful.
It is wise to start a business that you have a passion for, but just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean there is a market for it. When considering a potential business venture, you should always research the market potential before launching your business. You want to be sure there are enough people out there who need your product or service before you invest time, energy, and money providing it to them.
Don’t launch a new product and then go searching for a market. Find a hungry market in search of a product. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool to do some market research. It allows you to enter specific keywords/phrases into a search bar, then it tells you how many people are searching those words each month, locally and globally. Google will also identify the competition for those specific keywords as low, medium, or high, and even show you similar keywords/phrases that people use to research the same topic. Going through this exercise will give you a general idea of how much demand there is for your topic.
The easiest way to determine who your main competitors are is by finding out who is advertising to your market. Do a keyword search on a major search engine and pay attention to the paid results (the ads) that appear in the search results. These ads will tell you which companies are paying to appear in front of this market, and if they’re paying to be there, they’re most likely making money. Companies generally don’t spend money on advertising unless they see a return on their investment.
If several ads appear, that is a sign that there is money to be made in this market. If no ads appear, that can mean one of two things: either that market isn’t profitable (which explains why no one is paying to advertise to that market), or you’ve spotted an opportunity to enter a market with very little competition.
Buy a domain
Once you’ve decided on a name for your business, you need to purchase a web domain. Your domain is the internet address where your website will reside. Just like how every piece of real estate has a unique address, so does every website on the internet. Your domain name should be identical (or very close) to the name of your business. For example, if the name of your business was Uncle Joe’s Photography, you may want to purchase the domain www.unclejoesphotography.com. We recommend using Bluehost for domain registration.
Set up your website
Fortunately, creating a website is not nearly as time consuming or expensive as it once was. There are two ways you can create a website. You can pay to have a website designed exclusively for your business, or you can pay to use a theme that has already been created. If you choose the first option, it will likely take longer and cost more money. However, you can be proud that your website will be completely unique. WordPress is an excellent platform for both options. If you registered your domain with Bluehost, you can purchase a WordPress hosting plan from them as well.
Payment processing systems
In order to sell products or services directly from your website, you will need a payment processing system in place to handle transactions securely and efficiently. For most new online business owners, PayPal will be just fine. Another great option is Stripe. Before you start marketing your business, make sure you have your merchant account set up and a payment processing system connected to your website. This will allow you to sell your products and services directly from your website.
Your core offer is your signature product or service. There are several different formats you can deliver your core offer in (coaching, consulting, online course, software, freelance services, etc.). The format that makes the most sense for your business depends on a variety of factors including your niche, the preferences of your target audience, and your price point, just to name a few.
Before you invest time, energy and money creating your core offer, you should spend some time engaging with your target audience to determine which format they will prefer. When you are confident that your core offer will sell, then you get to work on creating it.
It doesn’t matter how nice your website looks, or how superior your products or services are, or how great your prices are… if no one knows about your business, no one will visit your website. If no one visits your website, you won’t make any sales, and a business that doesn’t make any money is really just a hobby. That is why you need a marketing strategy to ensure that your target audience becomes aware of your business.
Here are 4 ways you can promote your business and increase traffic to your website:
If you’ve got the budget for it, paying for ads online can be a great way to drive traffic to your website/offer. There are many platforms which allow you to pay for ads, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, just to name a few. With Google Ads, for example, you can create an ad that targets specific keywords that people search for. If someone searches for “how to train a puppy” on Google, Google will display ads of businesses that paid for their ad to appear in the search results for those keywords.
This is an effective form of advertising because it places your message in front of someone just as they are searching for that specific subject. They are more likely to click on the ad because it appeals to their immediate buying interests.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the discoverability of a website in search engines. When someone does a keyword search on a search engine, two kinds of results will appear: paid results and organic results. Organic results (also called unpaid results) are the results that appear because they are ranked by the search engine as the most relevant to the keywords that were used. You cannot pay to have your website appear in the organic search results. This happens as a result of SEO.
If your website has good SEO, it will rank higher in search engines, making it easier for people to find you. For example, if your health food business has a blog with an article called “7 Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes”, and someone does a search for “green smoothie recipes”, your article is likely to appear in the search results. Creating good quality content consistently and publishing it on your website will, over time, improve your website’s SEO.
Social media marketing
Social media is a term used to collectively describe a set of platforms that foster interaction, discussion, and community, allowing people to build relationships and share information online. The term social network refers to all of the people that someone is connected to via social media. Some of the main platforms you are likely familiar with are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Most businesses now use social media to showcase themselves and cultivate a following of fans and customers. It is not uncommon for a company or an individual to have thousands, even millions of followers on social media. Regardless of which platforms you use, they all provide the opportunity showcase your online business, attract and engage your target audience, and direct that audience to your website. Consider which social networks your target audience is most active on, and engage with them there.
Any communication between your business and its potential or existing customers via email is considered email marketing. The objective of each email may be different but the underlying principle is the same: you are marketing your business to people by sending them an email. In order to successfully implement email marketing, you must build a database of people who have given your business permission to email them. Once you have someone’s permission to email them, you can send them information, newsletters, and special offers.
The value of your mailing list derives from the relationship that you have built with that list. It does not derive from the size of the list. Your business gains credibility by continuing to provide valuable information to its database over extended periods of time. This approach will help to position your business as an authority in your niche. A strong relationship with a list of email subscribers will likely become your greatest source of recurring revenue for your online business. Whenever you have an important announcement (like a new product or service), you can simply email your list to let them know.
As you can imagine, starting and growing a successful online business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to plan, launch and continue to build your business. This article certainly doesn’t have all the answers, but we hope that the steps we outlined we outlined above will at least serve as a good guideline as you begin your journey.
The most important step you can take is to actually take action. Don’t spend too much time thinking about starting a business. Just start one. Take baby steps each day, learn from your results, and improve over time. Good luck!How To Start An Online Business In 6 Simple Steps #lifestylebusiness Click To Tweet
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