If you're reading this, I'm earning money. Thanks for helping to feed my family. Please see our disclosure for more information. Also, any advice provided is for informational purposes only. I'm not a CPA, lawyer, or doctor, although my parents wanted me to be all three. So, talk to a professional before acting on anything you read below.
We have an awesome guest post today from Jock Purtle on how to start your own online business. Jock is an entrepreneur and founder of Digital Exits who has built and sold several online businesses throughout his career. He considers working over the Internet a fantastic way to live a better life, as it provides freedom and flexibility, as well as the financial stability needed to help achieve a good work-life balance. Take it away, Jock!
One of the best ways to achieve financial freedom is running your own business. You get to choose your own hours, work on something you love, and your earning potential is much higher than if you were a salaried employee somewhere else. For many people, owning their own business is a dream.
Yet because it usually requires a large amount of startup money—either from savings or loans—for most of us, this dream seems far from reality. But it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to the Internet, there are a whole host of low-budget ventures you can pursue that can be rather profitable. And, since these businesses are run over the Internet, you can work from anywhere and at any time, adding a level of flexibility to your life you won’t get from many other jobs.
But for this strategy to work, you need to take the right steps to make sure you’re making a profit and not getting in too deep. It’ll obviously be different for each business, but there are some common things that will help you no matter what. Let’s talk a little bit about what they are so that you can see if this path to financial freedom is for you.
The goal here is to start a business without having to invest a fortune. One of the best ways to do this, especially in the beginning, is to sell other people’s products. The official term for this is ‘affiliate marketing’ and it works much like a traditional sales job, only over the internet. You sell a certain product to the customer, taking a commission on everything you sell.
This strategy is great for two reasons:
Finding a specific affiliate marketing program is the part you will have to figure out on your own, as it will depend greatly on the niche in which you are operating. Sometimes you can make an arrangement with just one company, or you can sign up for affiliate programs run through companies such as Amazon, which allow you to sell pretty much any product.
No matter which you choose, though, the way you’ll make money is through your conversion strategy. This is the content you use to turn visitors to your site into customers. It’ll take some time to figure this out for your specific audience, but it won’t take a lot of money. You’ll just need to invest your time in creating the content and monitoring how it performs.
Now let’s talk about how you’ll get people to come to your site so that your conversion strategy can make you some money.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is huge for any business trying to make money online. SEO is comprised of lots of different things, but its purpose is to make it so that pages (typically your conversion pages) on your website rank at or near the top of search engine results pages. So, if you have a page on your site that reviews, say, sleeping bags for camping, your SEO strategy will be considered a success if you can rank at the top of search results pages for the keyword “best sleeping bags for camping.”
What’s great about SEO is that it works in the background, and it’s “free.” Of course, nothing is really free, but you cannot pay to be at the top of search engine results without the “Paid Advertisement” message coming up.
There are tools out there, such as KWFinder, that help you find keywords that aren’t all that competitive so that you have a better chance of ranking well for them, and they can either be used in a limited fashion for free, or they require a small monthly subscription fee.
So, for you, your strategy would be to write up some great conversion content about a low-competition keyword and then do some link building to your site, which will help you rise in the rankings. Then, when you get to the top of the rankings, you just need to maintain your spot by continuing to build links.
Now, this is much easier said than done, and you’ll have to spend some time tinkering to see what works for you. But the important thing is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can either do it all yourself, spending only your time, or you can farm out some of the content creation, which isn’t going to cost a fortune (the going rate for a quality blog post is around $40-60). Considering the returns you stand to make, this is well worth the investment and won’t break the bank.
Since the goal is to get a business going with a limited budget, you should start off taking baby steps. This is largely because the biggest thing you are going to be investing into your business is time. If your spending 80 hours a week creating content and designing your site, and not making any money, you’re doing too much (and likely going hungry).
It’s much better to start off small and then work your way up as your revenues climb. Also, if you are making money, you can begin to invest in it a little more. You can hire a web developer, or bring on a few people to help you create your content, but if you want to keep your budget manageable, hold off on this until things get going.
But you still want to make some money, so one of the best things you can do when starting out that doesn’t cost any money is to plan your exit strategy. If you can get your business going and build it into something sustainable and profitable, then down the road you can sell it. If you’ve managed to keep your investment low in the beginning, you can expect this to be a nice chunk of profit.
There are sites where you can advertise and sell your site yourself. It can be hard to find serious buyers there—most people are, like you, trying to get started on a small budget but it can work out well. Brokers can help you figure out how much your business is worth, and then they will use their network to help you find a serious buyer who is willing to pay the right price. You will have to pay a commission but it might be worth it, depending on your business value and your goals.
Starting and building an online business does not have to be a tremendous investment. With a small budget and some time to dedicate to it, you can have something off the ground and running in less than a year, giving you the financial freedom and flexibility you’ve always wanted.