Having the right mindset is the most important thing no matter what we do. Whether it is setting up an online business or learning to play table tennis, focus and mindset matter.
To be honest, when someone wants to know how to set up an online business it can be a lot more difficult for them than mastering some traditional activities (like sports, for example). That’s because not everyone knows what an online business is (in oppose to table tennis), and what the exact steps that need to be taken are. Hence:
Online business – It’s every business venture where the internet is the main vehicle of: attracting customers, marketing, advertising, processing payments, delivering products (usually), and managing other vital business components.
Many people thought that to set up an online business they need to focus on a specific niche. Well, you may get kind of stuck here because many have passions they won’t even know how to monetize these passions.
Indeed, selecting a niche is the most important thing to do. You can be a slash, there’s nothing wrong with that, but your online business should focus on one thing and one thing only, at least at the beginning stages of its existence.
However, deciding upon a niche is not sufficient. You need some solid data about your future audience and competition. Of course, you need to find out if there is an audience and a competition.
Since you already have some niche ideas you can put them into Google Keyword Tool and find out if there’s anyone interested in it. Here’s how. Just visit the tool and input your desired niche (for example, Steven’s favorite thing in the whole wide world – “medieval swords”). In return Google will give you some data on the number of global searches done every month.
At the time of writing this, “medieval swords” receives 9,900 monthly global searches, which is 330 a day. I would advise to aim for results between 50,000 and 10,000 a month, so our medieval swords niche almost makes it.
Now it’s time to find out how big the competition is. In order to do that just go to Google and input “medieval swords” as your search term (including the quotation marks). Then note the number of results. Right now there are 524,000 competing sites, which is a big number. I would advise to aim at numbers lower than 300,000. In the end, it seems it’s “back to the drawing board” for Steven to find a new niche.
Setting up a website
WordPress is a great platform. You can use it to launch your website in minutes, and you don’t have to be a programming specialist or anything. Of course, using a standard WordPress theme is lame. So you want to get something more interesting and better looking. If you don’t have much money to spend on a professional designer, you can use the free themes and just change later.
There’s no online business without a domain and a hosting account. Registering an actual domain is not difficult at all. Just go to GoDaddy and you will have a new shiny one in no time.
Write good quality content
Once you have your website set up you need that mysterious quality content. Why do I call it mysterious? It seems like every day I stumble upon a post that tells me to produce quality content all the time. However, no one can explain what this quality content is exactly.
And you know what? I don’t have a clue too. The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all kind of a solution. It all depends on your niche, type of audience you’re attracting, your personal style of writing and so on. All of this means only one thing – quality content is not something that happens overnight, it’s something that evolves over the months or years of your blog’s existence. You need to keep producing what you consider being valuable and monitor the impact it has on your audience. Measure the response and you will be on the right path to improving your content.
Marketing your content
If you want to attract some real traffic to your website then there are two main paths: the free path, and the paid path. The free path requires more time to see any results, while the paid path requires money to see any results.
If you want quick results you can start advertising your business online and get traffic within minutes. There is one thing to understand though – people essentially hate advertisements and sometimes it’s not easy to get pass this.
Sitting in a closed room and speaking to no one probably won’t get you very far in terms of business. You need to go out there and be a part of a community.
What’s the easiest place to start? Join a forum within your niche. Browse some threads, ask questions, answer questions, participate in discussions… simply engage.
But wait, there’s more! Comment on blogs within your niche. Engage in twitter conversations. Join a LinkedIn group. Join a Flickr group. Join a Facebook group. Make some friends on StumbleUpon and YouTube. Just get out there and be visible.
Networking can be fun. But you need to know exactly what you’re doing. Finding out how to email important people might be a good idea.
Selling your own products is often quoted as the most profitable approach. Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated than being an affiliate. Apart from the marketing side (by the way, did you know that you can learn marketing while sunbathing?) you also need to take care of the product creation and customer management side. Skills like copywriting and upselling come handy as well.
There’s a number of ways to monetize a website. The most common ones are:
- Selling ebooks or other digital content (like audios, videos, apps, etc.).
- Charging for membership to a service or a VIP section of a website.
- Selling in-depth online courses.
- Running ads on the website (selling them individually or being a part of a larger ad network like BuySellAds or AdSense).
- Offering consulting or freelancing services.
- Offering speaking engagements on conferences.
- Selling physical products (like books, t-shirts, posters, etc.)
- Being an affiliate and selling other people’s products for a commission.
Grow your business
Running an online business is a never-ending journey, and it starts right after you learn how to set up an online business and actually apply this knowledge. You need to be learning new things, improving your skills and growing your business constantly. If you’re not growing you’re dying.
If you want to improve anything about your website, first you need to learn how to use Google Analytics. Installing it on your website is not difficult, and Google provides some simple how to guides on how to get it done in no time.
But remember that not every metric is important, and not everything is worth tracking. One of the first steps to improvement is learning what is a conversion and what it means to your business.