This is an outline of how to establish an online business. Although these steps are relatively simple and can be executed entirely by using free, or very low cost services, it’s the very first step that determines whether anything will happen with the rest of the steps:
1: Make a decision that you want to develop an online business and commit to some amount of time you can devote to it – ideally every day. (A failure in establishing personal commitment here will make the rest of these points moot).
2: Determine the business focus. If you already have an offline business that you want to promote, then you have a place to start. Otherwise, determine your area of focus around these two variables:
a) Are there people who will purchase a product/service you are offering?
b) Are you interested enough in this product/service that you will be able to devote some time to it every day?
3: Start a blog on that subject.
Although there are very simple and entirely free blogging platforms that you can use to start immediately (Blogger.com and WordPress.com), a better choice is to pay for your own website name and host your own blog software. Here are the steps to accomplish that:
a) Buy your own website name (less than $10.00/yr)
b) Subscribe to a web hosting service (less than $10/month)
c) Download and install the WordPress blogging software (free) from WordPress.org (note the “.org”). Many hosting services will walk you through this process. (For more info, click the following link for You Need a Professional WordPress Blog).
4: Start an email subscription service, such as an email newsletter, to develop a subscriber base that you can build a relationship with. Click here to for more information on giving away valuable, free information, to build an email list.
(In fact, this would be a good place to plug my own free newsletter: to find out more, click Skyworks Orbit.)
5: Create content every day on the subject of your blog. This is important enough that it deserves special emphasis. You will need traffic arriving to your website. You can either buy traffic or grow traffic naturally. If you are going to develop traffic naturally (free), you’ll need to develop a lot of content over time. The more content that you have, the more reasons search engines have to bring traffic to your site. There is considerably more to know about this subject, but for the sake of simplicity, recognize that a lot of content is needed. (Click here for more information on Generating Free Traffic with Blogs).
6: You need a product or service to sell online. This relates to point 2 above. If you already have a service and/or products, you are already set. (Even so, you will want to consider NEW products and services). One simple option (not the best option) is to create an eBook that can be sold from your blog. (Or, you can hire someone to write an eBook for you.) However, generally speaking, eBooks are not as effective as they used to be, especially since, for many subjects, there are lots of established “Free” eBooks already. The point is you need some kind of product or service, and if you don’t have anything to sell right now, physical products, and especially digital products, represent business opportunities that can scale up more effectively than providing services. “Scaling up more effectively” refers to increasing business profits with an increase in sales, without a proportionate increase in labor. (If you sold 10 widgets last week, you may be able to sell 20 widgets this week without hiring more staff). On the other hand, in some cases providing services may be an easier to way to start a business. Conversely, since there is only so much time in a day, the amount of service that can be delivered by a business is limited, even when more personnel are hired to deliver the service.
7: You’ll need a way to accept money online. There are many shopping carts available online, which facilitate the exchange of money on the Internet. A very simple one to start with is Paypal. Although there is no fee for using Paypal, they do take a small percentage of your payment as a commission. As your business grows, there are other paid options, that will save you money, as long as you are generating enough business to make it cost effective.
8: Steps 5 and 6 need to be repeated to expand your income opportunities. Furthermore, if you have a product/service that is purchased month after month (consumable products, such as vitamins, and/or online services that are paid monthly, are some examples), the built-in repeat sales establish a very good business foundation.
NOTE: Although these steps are relatively simple, it should be emphasized that there are more details to know to expand your business faster. Further, step 5 includes an ongoing and continuous flow of activity that should not be undervalued.
The real point is that it is SIMPLE to get started!