How To Start An Online Business

How To Start An Online BusinessThis past week, I have received many e-mails asking for steps that a person should take if they are interested in starting their own online business.

I started my business very slowly and I definitely didn’t follow any steps. I made many mistakes and I had to learned things the hard and slow way.

However, hopefully with this post I can help others start an online business. Of course, reading blog posts will not mean that your business will be successful. Even if you have a plan, how you approach your business and the amount of time and effort you put into it is important.

Have a business plan.

If you want to start a new business, then you need some sort of business plan. You need to do research and think about everything that needs to be done in order to have a fully functioning business.

You need to know:

  • What your product or service is. It’s nice to want a business, but what are you trying to sell?
  • How you plan on gaining an edge over your competitors.
  • Who you will sell your product or service to.

Is there a market for the product or service that you want to sell?

Before you change your whole life around and focus on your business, you should make sure that there is a market for your product or service.

If you can’t think of a single person who would want to pay you for your product or service, then it may not be the best idea. Yes, some people start non-profit businesses, but they still have someone out there who is interested in what they are offering.

Do you have a website?

I’m not sure how people start an online business without a website, but I have seen it done. I think that if you want to create a successful online business then you need a website.

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just a simple website that details your services and tells a potential customer more about you. Usually simpler is better.

However, you don’t want to have such a bad-looking website that people close out of your website immediately.

The steps in my blog post How To Start a Blog can also apply to starting a commercial website as well. You will need a domain name, a hosting company, a website design, and more.

Have a way to accept payments.

I have seen this happen before. A person starts a business but didn’t think about how they will accept payments. Sometimes they don’t want to start a PayPal account because they don’t want to pay fees, or they try to deal with cash as much as they can.

I think if you want an online business, that 99% of the time you will have to deal with PayPal. About 99.9% of the transactions that I deal with are through PayPal, and I can count on one hand the amount of times that I have received a check in the mail instead.

Make your business legal.

Many people start their business without thinking about any legal or accounting aspects, but it can never hurt to start off on the right foot.

Talk to a lawyer and/or accountant about forming a company (LLC, Partnership, etc.), any licenses that you may need, tax help and so on.

Be polite to your customers.

I think you should always be polite to your customers, but you should really aim to be polite and careful with what you say when you are in the beginning stages of having a business.

For example, the other day I was on Instagram and I saw a company be rude to its customers.  Multiple customers said that they hadn’t received the product. That’s when the owner of the company started calling the customers names and was yelling. I could not believe the things that I was reading from the owner. I immediately unfollowed the company on all social media accounts because I knew it wasn’t something that I ever wanted to deal with.

In the beginning, how you treat your customers will shape your reputation. If you are known for being rude, this can actually lead to your downfall very quickly.

What am I forgetting? What steps did you make sure to make?

 

Buying Blogs/Websites For Profit Part 1

Buying Blogs:Websites For Profit Part 1In the past few months, I have bought two websites. I don’t seem to be the only one who has been buying websites recently though.

Last Summer, I saw that many other bloggers were buying websites, so I started doing some research and I knew I wanted to get in on the action.

I’m always looking to add income streams to my business, and buying more websites is something that has been helping me increase my income.

Below are common questions that I have received about buying websites.

What kind of websites have I bought?

I won’t lie, the two websites that I bought were not the highest quality, but they were both within my budget (see below).

They were both less than $1,000, and I have already made my money back on them. I knew I wanted websites that I could improve myself and have more control over, so having a low-budget was fine for me.

Both of these websites are in the personal finance niche. I figured I should stick to what I know for now, and then maybe eventually get into travel websites as well. I won’t be sharing the names of the websites today, even though some of you probably already know. One day when I am ready to completely unveil them, I will though.

Website A – It didn’t have very many articles on it, but the website has been around for a few years and I was just looking for something to build on. I have made over $1,000 from this website already.

Website B – This website has quite a few articles, but it hadn’t been touched at all for a long time. I have made back what I paid for this website already.

How do you make money with websites?

There are many different ways to make money with a website. I’m going to quickly summarize them below, but you can check out How To Make Money Blogging if you want to read the whole thing.

  • Buy to flip. Many people buy websites so that they can slightly improve them (new design, fix old articles, etc.) and then sell them for a higher price to a new owner.
  • Affiliate income. Affiliate income is where you will insert a link into an article and recommend a product. Then when someone clicks on your link and buys something, you make money.
  • Ad Networks. You can place Adsense or other ad networks (such as BlogHer and Social Spark) widgets nearly anywhere on your blog. Usually bloggers place them in their sidebars, but you can also place them within posts, on your homepage, as a banner above your header or in the footer.
  • Advertising. This is where you sell advertisements on your blog to companies. These can be in the form of contributed posts, reviews, sidebar widgets, and so on. Some advertisers just want link juice (there are risks with this, so please be careful), whereas others want traffic to their website and sales.

 

Why don’t I just build more websites from the ground up?

I have a few websites that I have built from the ground up (those include Making Sense of Cents, Diversified Finances, and a few others).

Positives of building a website yourself:

  • What’s nice about building a website from the very beginning is that you completely have control over a website. You know what content is on the website, you control what is talked about, and so on.
  • Cheap to start. All you really have to pay for is the domain and hosting.

 

Positives of buying a website:

  • A lot of the leg work is already done. If you build a website on your own, then you have to work for months or years before you can make any money from a website that you built. However, if you buy a website, there is already content published.
  • The site will already have rankings and statistics.

 

How do you know if a website should be bought?

There is no right or wrong website for a person. Just like if you were buying actual real estate (such as if you wanted to become a landlord), you should always research the online real estate as much as you can before you buy it.

You should first think about your budget.

How much do you plan on spending on a website? There are high-quality websites which can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes even in the millions), and then there are websites that you can buy on Flippa for $50.

You need to first set a budget so that you can narrow down your options. If your budget is $1,000, then you obviously shouldn’t even be wasting anyone’s time by looking at websites that are in the $100,000 price range.

When buying a website, you want to look at:

  • The quality of the content on the website. Does the website produce quality content, or does the quality suck?
  • The traffic of the website. Does the website receive any traffic? If you are looking to make money with affiliate income, then traffic is important. You want loyal readers and you also want clicks from search engines.
  • The website’s design. If the website has an absolutely horrible design, then you need to factor in the cost of getting a new design made into your budget as well.
  • The website’s stats. If you are looking to place direct advertising on a website, then this is usually important. You need to look at the website’s Page Rank, Moz, Page Authority, and Domain Authority. A website with a Page Rank of 1 is probably less valuable than a website with a Page Rank of 4 if you are looking to sell advertising. However, sometimes it can be the exact opposite, for example if a Page Rank 4 website has low quality content filled with sponsored advertising. They might lose their Page Rank, which would then mean the website is not as useful to you if you are looking to make money from direct advertising.

 

This concludes Part 1 of my Buying Blogs/Websites For Profit series. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will try to include it in the next part of the series.

Have you ever bought a website? Or would you prefer to build one from scratch?

 

Blogging Is Real Work

Blogging Is Hard Work“So, what do you do ALL day?”

That’s a question I hear all the time. Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I almost always hesitate – not because I’m ashamed – but because I know that about 1,000 more questions are about to follow.

This isn’t anything new though. My title at my last job was “Business Valuation Analyst,” and that always led to about 1,000 questions whenever I said it. I would always explain, and there would always be blank stares back at me.

I don’t “just” blog, but I don’t think any other bloggers do either. Blogging entails a lot of work, and I think those outside of the blogging world don’t know about everything else that goes on behind the curtains.

Even though blogging can be a lot of work, I do enjoy it a lot (the same goes for many bloggers) and so it’s not like I’m dreading the time I spend blogging.

However, there is a reason why many bloggers don’t last past 6 months, it’s because there is so much that goes on behind the scenes! Not everyone is cut out for blogging. Also, money never comes right away, often years pass before a blogger can make some money.

Below are some of the things that happen when you have a blog. Remember that most bloggers do freelancing work outside of blogging, and they mainly have their blog as a platform for the freelancing services that they offer. So, a lot of work goes into blogging, but even more probably goes into the other services that a blogger offers.

Creating content.

Of course, you need content if you are going to be a blogger. And, you want high-quality content. If your content sucks then no one will read it and blogging would just be pointless.

I remember one time someone asked me what I do all day because they said that writing a blog post probably only takes 5 minutes. I had to laugh when I heard that!

If it only took 5 minutes to write a blog post, I would have a ton of free time. I usually spend hours writing a blog post, and many times I go back days later to read it again.

You also need a good headline, which I am probably the worst at. Coming up with a good headline can take a lot of time!

Then you need more content.

Even if you can write, you need a lot of content in order to have a blog that people keep coming back to. This is one of the reasons why many bloggers don’t make it past the 6 month mark – they run out of ideas for blog posts and no longer have the passion for it.

Also, most bloggers don’t have just one website. Many have several, and offer many other services. I don’t really know of any blogger who lives only off of one blog alone – it would be very difficult. If you have multiple websites, then you will need articles on all of these websites.

I have over 5 websites, and I also manage websites for many others. It takes a lot of time to manage it all!

Many bloggers are also starting to do podcasts, YouTube videos, radio/TV interviews and writing ebooks, which means that you will need even more content. Podcasts and interviews take time, and you need a great personality for it as well.

You will need to do research.

Just like if you were doing a school paper, research will need to be done. If you spew out random information then you should have facts to back up your claims.

You will need to know about SEO.

I am horrible when it comes to SEO, but it is something that I am slowly learning more and more about.

Many successful bloggers are great when it comes to SEO, and I think their SEO skills helped them get to where they are a little bit more quickly than someone who knows nothing about SEO.

Networking and marketing.

This is not a requirement of blogging, but networking is something that I like to do and I enjoy. I think that if you never networked, then it would be hard for you to become a successful blogger.

Networking means that you may have to have a Twitter account, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and more. You have to actually manage each one and that can be time-consuming.

Networking also means that you should try to attend blog-related conferences, such as FinCon. They are a ton of fun though 🙂

I like reading and commenting on blogs. For some reason, many people don’t believe that reading and commenting can bring enjoyment, but it actually does. I like to be nosy and read about other bloggers’ lives, and I like to chime in and comment as well. I almost always go back and see if there was a reply to my comment to.

Recently, I was talking to Holly and she explained why she likes to comment, and she said it perfectly. She said that since she works from home, reading and commenting on posts are her form of socializing with others, which is exactly how I feel.

You also have to run it like a business.

You might need an office, to start a company (such as an LLC), do your own taxes, hire other workers, and so on. The list goes on and on and this is pretty much all of the boring stuff that goes on with blogging as well.

Other things that go into blogging:

  • You need a design for your website.
  • You might have technical difficulties with your website that need to be handled ASAP.
  • Formatting posts.
  • Images for content.
  • You need to figure out how you will actually make money.

 

What else am I forgetting?

Do you think blogging is easy or a way to make a quick buck?

 

Photo credit: I found the photo on Pinterest and searched all over for the original owner. Could not find the person but the picture is amazing and perfect for this article.