Thinking of starting a business online?
Advertising your business online is a great way to get new customers for your products and services.
It’s easy, affordable, and effective. But what if you don’t know how? That’s where we come in!
At StudywSimon, we’re here to show you how it’s done with our 13-step guide on building an online website that will work for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or already established – this guide has something for everyone. Let’s get started!
Determine what you want to sell
Are you still undecided on what to sell when starting a business online? If so, here are 5 tips to help make your decision.
First, determine what you want to specialize in. For example if you’re a graphic designer then it would be best to offer design services exclusively.
Second, find out how much money is needed for the product or service that you want to offer online and ensure that this amount is feasible.
Third, look at similar websites and see what they’re selling before deciding on the niche market that will work for your business’s needs.
Fourth, take into account any competitors who may be offering these products or services already both offline and online.
Finally study up! Knowledge is power when it comes down to making an informed decision about anything business related.
To sell anything online means that you must have a legitimate product or service to offer and have some sort of website in order to do so. You can choose from a wide variety of products and services but it’s best if you’re willing to do something that you are both interested in and knowledgeable about.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer then offering design services would be both profitable and the best way to go in terms of your knowledge.
On the other hand, if you know nothing about graphic design but have a lot of money saved up, you could always hire an outside source such as freelancer or Fiverr. However these are not recommended because they charge high fees to your benefit.
Once you’ve decided on what sort of product or service you want to offer, determine how much money is needed for this venture and ensure that it is something that you can afford. If it’s a service then you must simply look at the hourly fees assigned and make sure that they are within your range.
Keep in mind that if you’re selling a physical product then in order to make any sort of profit you must sell the item for higher than what it cost you.
For example, if something costs $5.00 to produce and is sold at an online store for $10.00, then there will be a profit only until that first batch has been bought. Any additional purchases from the same customer would result in a loss of $5.00.
If you’re looking at selling a product online, take into account any competitors that already exist and how much they are selling their items for. Study up on what other similar websites offer and you will be better equipped to choose if this is something that you would like to sell yourself.
Finally, study up! There is no better way to ensure that you know what you’re selling than by studying it up and knowing as much about the product or service as possible before going in blindly. Take into account any pros and cons for both your business and your customers as well as any general issues with the economy that may affect your success.
For this reason, it’s best to start out small by offering online products or services. Starting a business online can be risky but you can get a head start by choosing something that you know about and are interested in as well as gaining valuable experience and knowledge for the future.
In summary, deciding on what to sell online boils down to the product or service that you want to offer, how much money is needed for this venture and knowing as much about what you’re selling as possible.
Conduct product research
It’s important to begin your business process by conducting product research. If you already have an established business, your first step is to see how much of the market share your product occupies and see what kind of competitors you have.
It’s important to note that even if your target market may be narrow (such as female gamers), there are still other companies who will also try to gain customers in the same market.
For example, catering to a female gamers’ market, there are other gaming companies who also pursue this demographic. So it’s important that you do your research and see if your product is as competitive as others in the market.
Conducting product research will allow you to find out what consumers want from your products and how they view your products.
This step is important because you need to see if your consumers will consider buying your products or even staying loyal to your company. If the consumers are not willing to buy your products, then it’s time for you reevaluate what it is that they want and how to market towards such a target group.
Once you have conducted product research, you should have your consumers’ interest at heart. This is where you should focus on how to approach the consumer, which I will explain next.
Make a marketing plan for communication with the targeted audience when starting a business online is extremely important.
There are three ways that you can market towards your consumers: through direct or indirect marketing and public relations. These are often used in tandem by businesses to attract their audience.
Direct marketing involves making personal contact with the customer and placing information directly into their hands or through the mail (or whatever mediums that are available for you).
For example, I had participated in a direct mailing program before at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf where they mailed me coupons for free drinks and other deals. As a customer, I find this approach effective because it saves me time and money. The Coffee Bean also caters to my needs by sending me coupons whenever they are available.
Public relations involves working with the media to promote your product through various advertising campaigns and programs.
Learn about online business laws
It’s important to know about online business laws so just in case, you know, things go wrong. That way, you can avoid being sued or going to jail. No one wants that.
Online business laws are really quite simple, though people make them complicated and confusing because they don’t want us to know what they’re doing. That’s the real problem: vested interests with lots of money have a lot at stake here, and they’re not going to let the little guy just have his say. If you want to learn about online business laws, however, we’ll teach you right here and now.
First things first, though: how can laws possibly apply to anyone doing online business? Online business is by definition electronic! It involves bits moving through the ether, not paper and ink. It’s not like we’re printing out a gun or something in 3D and mailing it to people, which is really quite illegal.
Just how are online business laws applied? They’re applied just as they would be to any other kind of business. If you’re running an online business, there are laws that govern what you can do, what you can’t do, and what happens when you break said laws.
It may seem that these make no sense at all, particularly when you consider that a lot of popular online businesses are either illegal or questionably legal. However, the point is that they’re laws and it’s not up to us to decide whether we’ll obey them or not. It’d be nice if we could just do as we please, but it’s not up to us. Everyone else agrees that this is the case, so we have to live with it and follow the rules like everyone else.
There are a few things of interest here: one important thing is that online businesses can’t just go around stealing other people’s stuff. You can read more about intellectual property here.
It’s really important, because without it the world would be full of people stealing stuff. If you want to steal other people’s intellectual property, however, that’s fine: just make sure your lawyer writes up a contract with all the appropriate disclaimers and whatnot for you before you do it.
It is also important to note that online business laws don’t really apply to individuals. That’s because when you take money from people for a product or service, it doesn’t fall under interstate commerce. Interstate commerce is basically where a lot of money changes hands, so it’s not like the guy who does your yard every week – he doesn’t fit the profile for interstate commerce.
However if you start taking money from people for a product or service and you promise them something specific, then you have to deliver on that promise. Otherwise you’re liable to get sued.
If there’s anything we could say about online business laws it is this: they are complex, murky and contested – because all kinds of vested interests have a lot at stake here when starting a business online.
Conduct market research
Don’t forget to do market research for your products and/or services is a key step in starting a business online!
Duh. What is market research? Well, it can be anything from conducting a survey, to looking at what your competitors are doing, to reading studies pertaining to your niche.
Market research helps you understand who you’re selling your product/service to and how they feel about the competition. It also gives you a better idea of how well people are responding to your product/service and what you can improve on.
Market research is not only for those trying to break into a new market, but also for established companies who want to see how well they’re doing. Market research shows you where your business is going and where you currently stand. Knowing both of these things can help generate ideas for future products/services to bring to the market, or improve on current ones.
Market research can also help you discover if there are any other companies doing what you do and how well they’re doing it. If the competition is strong, it might be time for a change in your marketing strategy!
What’s important to know about market research?
While market research on its own is important, it needs to be combined with other factors to generate effective marketing strategies. For example, if your product/service does well in one demographic, but poorly with another – you need to find out why! Market research can give you great insight into what changes are needed.
Once you’ve conducted a round of market research, you’ll need to give your findings to the rest of the team! Your co-founders/co-workers/employees should all be kept updated on what’s working and what isn’t. If they’re not in the loop, how can they help?
Marketing is a continuous process. What works today might not work tomorrow. This is where market research comes in handy. It helps you update your strategy to match what’s working and fix what isn’t.
A marketing/business plan should be dynamic – market research brings that flexibility! Keeping up with trends, changes in customer preferences, and understanding how competitors are responding to the market is vital to your success.
If you see a competitor doing something particularly well, figure out how they’re doing it and implement it into your strategy! Market research allows you to stay one step ahead of the competition. It’s great for brainstorming new strategies as well!
Don’t know where to start with market research? Here’s a link
Define your target audience
Who are you planning to sell your products and/or services to? Aka., you need to define your target audience.
For example, if you’re planning to sell your handmade jewelry, most likely you’ll be selling it to women aged 20-40. Why? Because that’s where the money is at! If your target audience are men aged 40+, then you better focus on targeting those men.
Give a face to your product. This will help your target audience associate with your product, giving them the feeling that they can actually purchase and use these products.
When designing, keep in mind the gender of your target audience (unless you’re selling to both genders), location, lifestyle and brands that they support.
Keep in mind that people like taking pictures of their favourite things, so by the same token, they’ll enjoy looking at pictures of your product.
Designers spend a lot of time on their products and sometimes never get around to selling them. That’s because some designers think that uploading a random photo (i.e., screenshots from their computer) or using an image that looks like it was shot using a potato is good enough.
Don’t be that person! Designers, even those who are just starting out, should put an effort into making their product look professional.
Include your branding
If you’re selling through a marketplace such as Etsy or Zazzle , take advantage of the features and space given by the marketplace to include your branding. If you have a logo, include it on the product itself and put it somewhere on the packaging, too.
If you’re selling through an online store (i.e., Shopify ), include your branding in your product images by using a watermark or logo in the corner of each image.
You can also include your branding in your profile picture.
Use proper branding for each of the mediums that you’re using to sell your product. This will help build a better brand image and recognition from people who see it more than once.
For example, if you’re going to be selling through Etsy, upload high-resolution images (1080px width) onto Zazzle and merge the brand logo into your product images.
Your target audience will be searching for certain keywords to find products that they like. An important part about increasing visibility of your products is including keywords in the titles and descriptions that are relevant to your product.
For example, when I first started selling digital prints, I had problems getting people to find my products when they searched for “luxury bathroom prints.” This was because those who were searching for that phrase mostly wanted to buy prints for their bathrooms, not digital prints.
Finally, I changed the keywords to include “digital print” in the hopes that more people would find it and purchase my product.
Use hashtags to increase your product’s exposure on social media
Hashtags are extremely useful when it comes to increasing the visibility of certain products. You can create your own hashtags or use existing ones, depending on what you’re selling and who your target audience is. Some examples of popular hashtags that I’ve seen people using are #giftsforwedding, #silverjewelry and #zazzleprints.
Starting a business online can be quite a labor, I hope you’re up for it!
Source products/services to sell online
Okay, so you’ve thought through your target audience. It is time to start sourcing products and/or services you’re planning to sell online. Before you start a new online business, consider your background and interests. A good product/service to sell online would be something you’re interested in so that you can produce reliable quality content for your future customers.
A lot of people have an idea but little action because they don’t know where to start. If you are one of them, here’s an online business idea for you.
We all know the saying “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. One of the best ways to sell products online is to find items that are not in demand and resell them for a profit. A lot of people have attics overflowing with junk, yet still go out and buy more stuff even if they don’t need it. These kinds of people are your potential customers.
A good online business idea is to sell such items on eBay and other auction sites. The first thing you should do is research the products that are not usually in demand but could sell well enough for a profit online. If you want to sell brand new products, you might want to consider consulting with a company that is an expert about designing and manufacturing products.
If the product is second hand/used, then it will be easier to source for. Any garage sales or flea market would be good places to start looking for your merchandise. Another method of finding hot used items online is through social bookmarking sites such as Reddit.
There are also a lot of resellers online who sell hot items at great prices; sometimes even below wholesale price! If you have contacts in retail or wholesale, then try to find out which items are not selling well and ask if they would be willing to sell their stock.
Your future customers can’t see your product until you take pictures of it. In order for your ebay/etsy store to look professional, it is best to invest in a digital camera or better yet, hire a photographer. You can also use free web services such as Flickr and Picasa to post photos of the products you’re selling online.
As you go about sourcing your product online, don’t forget to consider the shipping and packaging costs. You will need to build it into your product prices. Depending on your location, time of year and type of products you’re selling, shipping costs can be high.
Also factor in that starting a business online successfully will take some time before it starts making profit. If you want quick returns, then selling your products offline is a better option. That way you don’t need to worry about shipping, product returns, customer service and so on.
Define your brand image
You got the target audience and the products, that’s great! But don’t rush into selling your products / services without defining your brand and image. This is all about tweaking the way you talk to your audience.
Your brand and image gives advice on how your customers should perceive you, what they can expect from you, and how they will feel when interacting with your company. Defining these aspects of your business beforehand reduces the risk of miscommunication when selling or marketing your business to new potential customers.
You can also use brand and image to shift your business into a new market. Supposing you want to sell items required for extreme sports, they most likely won’t go well in combination with the classical banking theme. So, what about a more “high tech” approach instead?
Your brand and image should correspond with your target audience, but be careful not to limit yourself too much, as you might want to expand later on without getting stuck in the image that was once assigned to your business.
Remember: Your brand and image is what people are going to buy! Getting them done right is a crucial step of starting a business online.
Create a website or blog or online store
Here comes the most important part of building a business online – to create a website or blog or online store.
A website is a great way to starting a business online.
The beauty about owning a website is that you are the boss and can do whatever you want with it. You can add, remove or edit content anytime as well as sell anything from all over the world.
So if you’re not feeling too creative right now, have a look at some of the best websites on the web and try to find a template that you like, for free if possible. Then add content to it (See creating valuable content) and start selling!
Creating a blog is quite similar but you are not the boss anymore, because other people can post comments on your blog or even submit their own articles.
A blog allows you to post on a regular basis and update your users about what’s going on in your business or industry. This is how most people get started, because it’s very easy to do compared to building a whole website from scratch.
Creating an online store is by far the easiest option if you want to sell products. You can use one of the many free online store builders like BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion or WooCommerce.
You just have to type in your products and you’re done. This is great if you already know what you want to sell because it’s the simplest and quickest way to get started.
If you’re not too sure yet about what product to sell, like how to create a product , you can start with just a regular website.
Creating products is not rocket science and it’s definitely your future source of income so it’s time to get down to business!
Grow your business
You got your website created, it is time to grow your business!
By now you already know that this website is a powerful sales tool. A great design and clear content can attract visitors, converting them into leads and customers. You also know that website traffic depends on many factors, including the location of your online visitors. In order to grow your business it makes sense to get as many people from the same country as possible .
Why is it important to get visitors from the same country?
When you want to grow your business, the first thing you think of is SEO. You already know that different countries have different search habits and keywords. That means that if your site doesn’t target people in a specific country, chances are high that they will never find it.
So, do you need to translate your site?
In general, no. Even though Google Translate is a brilliant tool that makes your website accessible in any language by translating it on the fly, it has its limits . If you want to be successful at attracting visitors from specific countries and convert them into clients, then you should target people in their own language.
Translated site vs . country specific website
As you can see, having a separate version of your website for each country is the best way to go. That way you will be able to target people in a particular country and improve your SEO ratings. But this is not all – the process doesn’t finish here! You will also have to modify your website, sometimes completely .
If you want to succeed with each version of your site, then you need to hire a professional team that knows the differences between each country’s search habits. That way they will be able to create a separate version of your website for each country and help you grow your business.
SimonWYHuang is a professional website design and development agency that creates country specific websites. We know the differences between search habits in different countries and we can help you starting a business online and grow it!
Contact us today for a free quote on website localization services and more information in starting a business online.
Start marketing your product or service on social media, in person, etc
Now that you got your website created and mapped out for organic growth through SEO, it’s time to market your business on social media and in person. Marketing is essential, and many times people fail to include it in their business plan. Money can be made by starting a business online, but if you don’t have customers it can be difficult to turn any sort of profit.
In-Person Marketing – In order to get your name out there, find ways to market yourself in person as well as online. Pass out business cards, hold marketing events, or even start handing out coupons.
Social Media Marketing – If you have a name for your brand that is well known, use this to your advantage. Try posting memes and promotional deals on Facebook and Twitter at least once a day. Do the same with Google+ if it’s available in your area.
Build Relationships – The most important thing you can focus on is building relationships with people that are interested in your business. Reply to messages, post regularly, and do whatever it takes to keep your name out there. People will see how much effort you put into your brand and will be more likely to buy from you.
There’s a pretty old saying that goes, “Give and you shall receive.” If you are a giving person, don’t expect anything in return. However, if you constantly ask for something without ever offering anything in return, don’t be surprised when people start ignoring your requests. Building relationships is key to success with any business – no matter what the industry is.
There are many different articles on the web that go into detail on social media marketing. If you take a look at some of them, you will find detailed steps and information about setting up your profiles correctly.
Also remember to be yourself when interacting with others online. It may seem like common sense, but there’s nothing wrong with doing a little research on social media sites if it feels like a foreign language.
Find a consultant – If all of this sounds like too much work for you to handle, or you just don’t have the time to do it yourself, hire someone that knows what they’re doing. Search Google and Facebook and see who pops up as a result from people in your area. Many times you can find someone on Craigslist cheap and even get them to do the entire job for a set fee.
Marketing is important, but it won’t be profitable if it’s not done in moderation. When you’re starting a business online, it’s not just about getting your name out there – it’s also about creating a positive image of yourself online and being someone that people can trust. People have to be able to relate to you if they are going to click on your business links and buy from you.
If you want people to see what your business is about, simply give them a teaser of who and what you are and let them do the rest on their own. If someone has to discover what you’re all about, they won’t bother to go through the motions.
By following these simple steps, you can get your business off the ground and start making money online. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get everything in place you should be able to run your own company with minimal effort.
Make sure that you are staying true to yourself and your customers by providing quality products/services at affordable prices
It is very easy to overprice your services or products. There are a number of ways you can combat this issue like; look at competitors prices, do some research on the minimum price you should charge and talk to your customers about their budget!
Customers will only pay what they think something is worth. You have to earn every single sale. You can read more about this topic and many others in the following…
3 Ways to Avoid Overpricing Your Products/Services
Look at competitive prices when you first starting a business online. One of the best ways to determine what you should price your product or service at is look at competitive prices. If there are competitors near you, go check a few out as well as checking out their website. If a product or service is being offered for $10 and you think it’s worth more than that, then try to charge more than $10. If you have the same product/service but are charging less, offer some sort of incentive to draw people in like; buy one get one free.
Research Minimum Prices Another way to determine a good price is doing some research . Some industries have set minimums. For instance, if you’re hiring movers, the minimum charge is usually $60 per hour for 2 movers and a truck. That’s $120 per hour! Talk to your Customers about Their Budget One of the best ways to know what someone can afford is simply asking them. If you think they need to spend $100 for your product, ask them if that’s a good price for them. You can also offer incentives like being able to pay off the cost of a product in installments or offering payment plans.
In summary, remember that your customers are buying from you because they want your products/services. If you charge too much, they will move on to the next person.
Price yourself appropriately by looking at prices in your area as well as researching if there are any rules about minimum pricing. Lastly, always ask your customers what they’re willing to spend and consider giving them some incentives.
However, this does not mean that you should give anything away for next to nothing. These incentives should be relevant to your product or service, and you should always try to get some sort of benefit from doing so as well!
Stay true to yourself and never give everything away for no reason! You worked hard on your products/services, now it’s time to starting a business online and sell them!
Promote yourself on other websites like Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc., so that people know about you without having to search for the business themselves.
Promoting your business is about promotion on websites like Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Etsy and many other sites so that people know about what you do without having to search for them. In order to get the word out there in a more visible way; you have to try different kinds of advertising methods and viral marketing is one of them..
You need to get more people aware about what you do, and the best way to do it is to promote your business on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Etsy or any other site where people come looking for something.
1. Create a shop on Amazon.
Creating an online store on Amazon is the fastest method of getting traffic and searchers to your shop. People are already searching for things on Amazon so you have a great chance of getting some traffic by just creating an online shop there.
2. Promote your eBay Shop and Listings..
Promoting your listings is another useful way to increase traffic and followers without too much effort. You can do this by joining groups, forums, commenting on other listings and making social media pages for traffic to increase.
3. Sell on Craigslist..
Selling in the Free Box is a great way to get your business going because there are thousands of people looking for good deals every day so you have a high chance of getting some views here but also be aware that it is risky.
4. Promote on Etsy..
Promoting your products on Etsy is probably the best option for artists and crafters because there are a lot of buyers there that are interested in handmade things, but it’s also helpful to have a shop on Amazon and eBay as well.
5. Join Forums to get Traffic for your Shop..
Joining forums and commenting on posts is a way of getting traffic to your shop by having people come across you. But be careful because the wrong comments can lower your credibility and affect the views that you have so be nice, share interesting things, give quality comments and answer questions in a polite manner.
6. Facebook Groups..
Facebook groups are another way of creating traffic to your shop. You can join relevant groups and like posts that are related to the things you have in your shop so that people will visit you and see what you do there.
8. Social media..
Making social media pages is a must if you want to properly promote your business online because it is where most people are and you can get a lot of views to your store.
9. Tell your friends..
Tell all your friends and family about what you do so that they share it to others. This creates a snowball effect because if 10 people tell other 10 people then 100 will hear about it, but don’t forget to tell them nicely.
Selling on Craigslist is risky because you can get negative feedback and bad comments so be careful when doing this, but it’s also one of the best ways to promote your business because there are a lot of people who use Craigslist daily.
11. Pay for advertising..
If you have some extra money to spend then you can choose to pay for advertising on Facebook, Twitter or any site where people come to find things.
12. Post on Forums..
Posting in relevant forums is a good idea because there are always discussions about different topics and it’s helpful if you give useful posts that contribute to the discussion so people will see what you do.
13. Search Engines..
Using search engines to find relevant forums and topics is a good idea because you can reply to threads which will get your name out there for more people to see what you do.
To be honest, the possibilities are endless in starting a business online!
Frequently Asking Questions
How can I start a business online?
Everyone knows that starting an online business is one of the most effective ways for entrepreneurs to make money, but getting started can seem overwhelming. There are so many different ideas about what works best—and it seems like all you hear about are success stories.
What is the easiest online business to start?
Most people try to start their online businesses by themselves with no experience or training in e-commerce or marketing. They end up wasting time and money on products that don’t sell well and then give up before they ever make any real money online.
How can I start my own business with no money?
You need to get creative and leverage the resources you have available to build your business from scratch. There are many ways that you can start a business with little or no money by leveraging what you already have at your disposal, both online and offline.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – don’t let it stop you from trying again!
The idea of starting a business online can be scary, but you need to know that it’s a part of life. If you’re afraid of failing or making any sort of mistake, then don’t try at all! You’ll never get anywhere in this world by being passive and doing nothing. The next time something goes wrong for you – whether it’s your fault or not – take the lesson from it and keep trying until you reach success. And if one tactic doesn’t work out well enough for what you want, there are many other ways to make things better with time!
If you are looking to make a change, start with something small. There is no need to go all-in on your first attempt at making improvements – take it slow and steady! If you’ve never tried out our service before, use this post as an opportunity to see what we can do for you. Give us a call or shoot us over an email if you would like more information about how we work with companies of any size to create amazing content that drives sales through increased web traffic. We look forward to hearing from you soon!