With the astonishing surge in online commerce, an increasing number of people are becoming interested in starting their own online business.
But to do so effectively, there are steps to consider before you get started.
With some planning you can set yourself up for success from the start.
In this article we will look at what you will need to set up your online business and how to promote it.
Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What Kind Of Niche?
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of industry/niche are you going to be in?
This may sound obvious, but the reason a lot of people struggle to succeed is they do not give enough thought to what industry/niche they are actually going to be operating in.
This step is extremely important because it will dictate so much to you with regards to products, presentation, and promotion.
This is a phrase you should commit to memory.
Let me break this down before we proceed.
Your niche will dictate what kind of products you are going to be selling.
If you are involved in the fitness supplement industry, then you are going to have a broad range of products.
However, if you are aiming at the weight loss aspect, then your product range will be more narrow.
If you are aiming at Vegan weight loss products for women over 40, then your product base is going to be far more narrow.
The deeper you go into a niche, then, the more challenging it can be to source products.
Your niche will also dictate your presentation.
What I mean by this is how you create content and how you promote your products.
Aiming to sell to 20 something year old male body builders looking to bulk up will take a far different approach than to promoting to over 40 year old female vegans looking to lose weight.
It is just the truth of the matter.
The more accurately targeted and appealing your approach to your customers, the more successful you will be.
Now, you may be thinking “Well, I could just do a broad niche such as supplements. Then I can market to everyone!”
Granted, you will have a far larger customer base potential.
You will also have a very generic approach and be up against some of the biggest companies, and therefore marketing teams and budgets, within your niche.
The deeper the niche is, the less competition you will be up against.
It will also be a lot easier to market to your customers if you are not up against everyone and their dog when marketing.
An example would be trying to go up against Vitamin World or GNC for the broad supplement market.
Can it be done?
Is it going to easy, simple, cheap, or quick?
They are focused around one stop shop supplements.
That is what they focus on.
They market broadly.
Now, if you are aiming for just the 40 year old, Vegan, Female, weight loss market, you can laser target your marketing.
A lot of companies will be marketing to the broad audience and you will have to be very creative to stand out.
If your audience is targeted, then the marketing noise you will be up against will be far less.
Hopefully that has explained what I mean by product/presentation/promotion.
What Kind Of Online Business?
The next thing you will need to do is to decide what kind of online business you are going to set up?
Is it going to be your own products?
Are you going to be selling or promoting other peoples products?
Let’s start by looking at creating your own products.
Your own products can literally be almost anything.
These days you have various companies that will do print on demand, custom board games, build your own apps, create your own supplements.
The list is practically endless.
A lot of people are making fortunes by creating their own brands using print on demand services.
Here is an example of print on demand.
To take a look at the site here is a link.
Publishing and selling your own books.
It is now easier than ever to write and publish your own books.
In the old days it was extremely hard to get published and royalties were notoriously low.
Today, a lot of authors are choosing to self publish and promote their own work.
The royalties are many times the amount that authors would receive from traditional publishers.
Here is an example of self publishing with Amazon.
Here is a link to the Amazon Publishing Page
One of my favorite businesses to make money online is of course affiliate marketing.
This entire site is full of articles and resources to get you started with setting up an online business in this field.
Here are a few articles I suggest.
What You Will Need
Here we will look at some of the things you will need to start your own online business.
In order to have an online business and to effectively market your brand you are going to need a domain.
A domain is basically a web address.
For example, if your business was called, Bill’s T-Shirts, then you would be best to buy “bills-t-shirts.com” or a similar variant.
Not only does this allow you to have a web presence for your brand, but it also gives an official and authentic look to your brand.
Some people opt to use free web pages for their businesses.
I personally, and very strongly, advise against this.
The reason is that you are trying to portray your products and business of a good enough quality for people to purchase.
If you do not even have a real domain name for your business, how does that make your business look?
Not good and not trustworthy in a lot of peoples eyes.
In order to sell online, you need to have the trust of the site visitors.
Nothing screams “Sketchy” more than having a cookie cutter site on a free domain name.
Also, free domain names tend to be very long as they are usually an extension of the main hosting site.
This is not easy for people to remember or recommend to others.
I have written an article that goes into great detail on choosing a domain name.
Once you have your domain name you should then find a good place to host it and also choose a website/blog creator platform that suits your needs.
Personally I use WordPress and have created this site with that platform.
Although I have opted to use the classic editor, there is a new version available that uses a new “blocks” set up.
Personally I just prefer using the old interface.
If you are a beginner to building websites, you may prefer what is known as a “WYSIWYG” Editor. (What You See Is What You Get).
Although these can be great for beginners, a lot of people start to migrate their websites to WordPress after a while.
This is because it has far more customization options than most, if not all, other platforms.
However, it does have a learning curve.
But in my experience, it is far better to start as you mean to go on.
In other words, if you put in the effort and learn how to use WordPress, it will pay off in the future.
Here are some examples of website creation platforms.
Here is a video showcasing WordPress
Here is a video showcasing Wix
Here is a video showcasing Weebly
Social Media Presence
Every online business needs to have a social media presence.
This is no longer an option.
It is essential.
Social media is part of every day life now, and just about everyone is glued to their mobile phones, usually on social media.
Each platform has it’s own nuances and best practices, but you do not nee to learn them all.
In fact, I personally suggest, starting with one or two and getting to grips with those before considering expanding on to other platforms.
Social media takes time to grow, but there is usually a tipping point.
At first you may be frustrated as your follower numbers slowly climb or seem to stagnate.
Do not let this stress you!
Just because people are not following you, does not mean they are not seeing your posts.
In fact most platforms have integrated analytics that inform you how many people have viewed your posts.
Typically people do not follow accounts with small followings.
Not at least in any great numbers to begin with.
But, as time goes on and you keep posting, your followers will start to mount up.
At some stage there will be a tipping point.
Each platform has it’s own best practices for success and it is far too broad and deep of a topic to cover here.
But I will give some tips and also list some platforms that you should consider.
Online Business Social Media Tips.
Be sure to add your businesses website url to your social media bio.
Make use of hashtags # relevant to your business and products.
Keep track of which hashtags provide the most viewers for your content.
Try to use pictures, videos, and info-graphics for most of your content posts.
Engage with your followers by answering questions and starting up conversations.
Follow other people in your niche.
Social Media Platforms
Another tool you should implement for your business is email marketing.
A lot of people will say that email marketing is either dead or dying since the arrival and subsequent dominance of social media.
However, this is not true.
Email marketing is a great way to retain your customers and to market to them directly.
Social media is a less direct way of marketing and people are increasingly becoming oblivious to the advertising on there.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is still a very effective, and probably the best, way of marketing currently.
It is not as effective as it once once.
If you start an online business, you should implement both social media and email marketing in my opinion.
I have written an article here that goes into detail on email marketing.
Paid advertising, or PPC (Pay Per Click) as it is usually known, is a very useful tool for any business.
The ads can take the form of social media posts, videos, or traditional links.
PPC can be very effective is used correctly, but can also become very expensive.
If used incorrectly, it can quite literally be a waste of money.
However, a carefully researched and targeted ad campaign can produce amazing results for your business.
PPC is a huge topic, far too detailed to cover here, but here is a video for Google Adwords who are probably the best in the industry.
When starting your own online business, do not be afraid to be creative!
The internet is a very busy place and it can be difficult to get your products in front of customers at first.
Even social media, as fantastic as it is, takes time to build up brand awareness.
Do not be afraid to try new ways to draw attention to your business.
After all, do not forget the key to online success.
Quality Content/Products + Traffic = Revenue.
Be certain to get your infrastructure in place and then focus on getting attention to your business.
Be sure to learn as many skills as you can, especially SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media marketing.
Take a look around to see what other successful businesses in your niche are doing.
If they are successful, then you can learn from their techniques.
Once you can see what is working for them, put your own creativity into gear and make your own ways to stand out in the crowd.
Business online is all about attention.
Learn how to attract and keep it.
Learning the skills to be successful online and building your infrastructure takes time.
Even when that is all done, you still have to be patient while things take root and grow.
Do not expect everything to be plain sailing and bundles of cash straight away.
The internet is a very competitive place.
It is very competitive because there is a vast amount of money to be made and everyone wants a slice.
Do not see the competition as something to deter you.
On the contrary, it should inspire you.
Think of it like this.
If there was not much money to be made, no one would bother doing business online.
Truth of the matter is, there is plenty of money to be made online for anyone willing to put in the effort.
With that, I end this article by wishing you the best of success, and also making a suggestion.
If you are serious about learning the skills needed to be a success online, then take a few moments to read the article below.
It will tell you how to learn the skills you need, not just for affiliate marketing, but for online business in general.
I hope you enjoyed this article and please share it with friends and followers on social media!