Wednesday, January 16, 2013
10 Basics for Starting Your Online Business
Launching an online business can seem either simple or harrowing,
depending on your perception of the Internet. For many, the task at hand will
come naturally because they’re comfortable maneuvering the ‘Net with ease. For
others, it’s an entirely alien idea requiring heavy guidance.
Everyone who has ever sought out legitimate business opportunities online
has probably scoured the Internet for sites that offer both direction and devices to
make their journey easier.
Most people are looking for a place where Internet Marketers can make a
single stop to gather and implement all of the information they need to carry them
from A to Z and a turnkey marketing system that supplies everything they need
There are ten basic steps to initiating and cultivating your dream of
starting of your very own Internet-based business. The steps begin the moment
you first conceptualize your dream and they culminate with continued revenue
from your customers.
1. Motivation and Goal Setting
If you’re reading this book, then you have already instilled some of the
motivation needed to be a successful online entrepreneur. But are you ready to
invest the time and money needed to realize your vision?
Before you ever start the first formal step of launching your cyber-
business, you have to have the right mindset and a list of goals that you plan to
accomplish one step at a time.
First, you need to gather the support of those who will be closely involved
with you in your endeavor. It may be a work partner or your spouse and children
if you’re working solo from home.
Even if you’re interested in signing up with an established affiliate
program, you should still set and try to maintain your own personal goals. While
some seasoned marketers have long-term success, those who sustain their
victories in the marketplace know that they have to put in equal effort to building
a successful affiliate network.
Sit down with a list of things you hope to accomplish with this business
and be as specific as possible. It may help convince others (and even yourself) if
you map out a simple business plan to show them how your idea will come to life.
You can see a small business plan outline at www.sba.gov.
If you run into opposition, or self-doubts, then you may want to take some
time to thoroughly review your business plan and try to solve any areas of
concern before you begin investing too much time or money into your operation.
If you’re considering joining an affiliate program, look at it carefully to
determine what its drawbacks are, if any. Then, if you still have concerns, contact
the administrator or a sponsor of the program and open a dialogue so that you can
find out for yourself if these problems really exist, and if so, how they are solved.
Along with the plan itself, you should have several stages of goals that you
hope to reach and the timeline to accompany them. Too many people sit down
one day and decide to start a business with no direction to go. These people wind
up off the path very quickly, and all the time and funds they devoted to their
business goes down the drain.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew with your goals. Start small and
remember that goals are to be viewed as a “living list,” and can be altered at any
time depending on the success rate of your business.
You might want to set monetary goals – such as hoping to make $2,000
per month within the first three months. Remember that most new businesses
don’t even see a profit until after the first year, so don’t despair if yours is slow to
On the Internet, your growth rate will be much quicker because your
audience is global, not limited to your physical location. Another bonus with
online selling is that many products are informational, and don’t require the
standard upfront investment that other companies do.
When you find a business opportunity that piques your interest, you need
to make sure that there is a system in place that offers plenty of member support
and training to get your own enterprise underway.
For example, Empowerism is not only a site that houses one of the largest
learning environments on the ‘Net, but it’s also a community where members can
interact with one another and get answers on issues that are important to them.
Look for a company that doesn’t stop at just putting the facts and figures
out there. You want one that takes an active interest in your success, offers a
turnkey marketing system, and wants to make sure that your growth spurs more
growth within the industry, which is exactly what a company called Empowerism
has accomplished since 1998.
2. Time Management Control
If you’re working from home or doing this business as a second career
until it firmly gets on its feet, then you’ll have to set and meet your schedule in
order to carefully control your online enterprise.
You don’t want to fall at one end of the spectrum – investing too much or
too little time into your business. Instead, you want a healthy balance where
you’ve spent enough time working toward your goals and plenty of time to spend
enjoying family time or recreational life in general.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You’ve heard the saying.
It rings true for many whose lives are consumed by their business. Don’t let this
happen to you! If you fall into the trap of working yourself to death, your
business will suffer in the end because you’ll become too frustrated to think
clearly and make sound business decisions.
If your online business is your only job, then you can afford to spend 8-10
hours a day working toward its success. But if you’re working at home, those 8-
10 hours a day might be marred by constant interruptions and personal pauses that
so easily take precedence over your work life.
If you have a family at home, remind them that you’re going to be putting
in formal work hours and that even though you might be available to temporarily
stop and help them when they need it, they must respect your efforts to build your
Your time is critically important! You know the saying, “Time is Money”
and you will find that to be especially true online where you can spend hour after
hour on repetitive tasks that deliver marginal results. Don’t fall into the trap of
doing the same thing over and over again without results. Look for a true
“turnkey system” that finds, sorts, and sells to your prospects, while you’re
spending time doing things that contribute to the long haul, like building
relationships with your customers.
How many affiliate programs on the ‘Net have you found who promise a
turnkey investment? Just set it up and it runs itself. When it comes down to it,
not many make the grade – then you eventually end up unwilling to spend the
necessary time – and failure closes in.
Empowerism knows the difference between hype and truth, and makes
promises that are kept by providing actual step-by-step instructions and a turnkey
system that will help you make the most of your time.
3. Product Conception
Many people go through life wishing they could sell something and
become instant millionaires. It rarely works this way, but the possibility still tugs
at us and we’re always looking for the “magic solution” to our financial stresses.
In order to develop a good product line, you have to look at the
marketplace. What are consumers buying? What’s being heavily advertised?
You know it takes money to market your products, so the successful companies
will be advertising greatly because they can afford to.
Is there a need that’s not being met? Many success stories come out of
regular consumers who couldn’t find a particular product to solve their own
problems, so they invented one themselves to help others!
Many thriving online businesses do nothing but sell information on the
‘Net. Information is the hottest commodity, and almost anyone can do it with
very little upfront investment of money.
Think about your own personal experiences. What skills do you have that
cause people come to you for help? Are you a wiz at writing? Do you have a
knack for investing or real estate solutions?
You can write an eBook to sell on the ‘Net and rake in a lot of money –
just for sharing your knowledge with others! Why are eBooks so popular? For
several reasons, including the fact that they can be purchased and read in seconds
from the comfort of your own home.
No bookstores. No traffic. No-hassle returns on most sites. Plus, eBooks
usually come with a package deal, so customers get bonus materials just for
ordering. This can be an extra eBook, a teaser eBook (a shorter version of the
same book, highlighting a few excerpts), or a membership to a free Ezine.
If you aren’t confident in your writing skills, but have an idea you’d like
to see in print, consider hiring a professional to do it for you. Writing consultants
can research and write about topics quickly and gear them toward consumers for
about $20 per page.
Products that are already created can be sold in affiliate programs. The
advantages of marketing someone else’s products or services are many, including
time savings, low monetary investment (and risk), and less work. If that appeals
to you, at least as a stepping stone to “bigger and better,” then the perfect starting
place is Empowerism. It can’t be stressed enough: turnkey, turnkey, turnkey.
4. Site Structure
The structure of your website can mean the difference between a stalled
business and a flourishing one. If your website isn’t built for the consumer, then
the consumer will steer clear.
Have you ever ventured into a store and found it messy or crowded and
hard to maneuver? Did you ever go back to that place? Probably not. The same
thing goes for your online business.
Some websites are not built for the average customer. They use large
graphics that take hours for a 56K modem to download, or their links don’t work.
If you don’t know how to build a website yourself, then hire a professional who
knows how to do it for you.
Your site needs to be user-friendly so that customers keep coming back –
not only for their first purchase, but also for follow-up sales once they’ve
devoured your initial product.
Some basic tips for building a better website include using professional
colors and fonts. You don’t want a rainbow site with happy faces and flowery
lettering trying to sell your serious eBook on Investing for Seniors.
You also want to make sure you have a separate domain for your business.
You can register your very own dot com at GoDaddy.com for only $8.95 per year,
and the investment is well worth it for the professionalism it gives your business.
Once the designer drafts your site and your content is in place, ask a few
friends or family members to make a test run through it and tell you if they notice
any areas where the user would run into problems, like dead links or layout
Sometimes, something as simple as the browser the customer is using will
distort the website and make it appear as if an amateur has launched an online
business. Any reputable designer knows how to appeal to the masses, so you
shouldn’t run into any trouble if you check references and hire someone who’s
been in the business for at least 5 years.
If you’re not quite ready to hire a website designer, there are companies
that offer low-cost, ready-made templates that you can customize. In fact,
Empowerism will give you 35 templates and teach you what to do with them.
You will have a wide variety of options so that your enterprise is created with a
personal slant – designed however you choose. These types of tools reduce the
usual worries that plague other first time cyberpreneurs. Turnkey!
5. Constructive Content
Content can make a big difference if you fail to urge the audience to take
action on your site. You have to create words that provoke the reader to continue
reading until they are convinced to buy your product or sign up for something on
Some websites run on for pages, causing the reader to scroll forever.
Others use a mere paragraph or two to make their point and hope for the best
results. What length you require depends on the product you’re selling and how
much convincing needs to be done to make the sale.
Many websites are sheer sales propaganda, and it often works! Your sales
strategy should reflect the customer and how they approach buying on the
Internet. Many people like and expect to see testimonials sprinkled throughout
your home page, for instance.
Whenever you work on your content, make sure that you answer the 5
W’s: Who (who the product is for and who you are as well); What (what the
product is exactly, along with any other bonus materials included); When (when
the offer expires – an often crucial element in making the sale tonight as opposed
to never); Where (where they can reach you in case they have any questions or
need assistance); and Why (why they need your product above any others selling
on the ‘Net).
You might want to write your online sales content like a personal letter,
complete with an image of your signature at the bottom of the page. Don’t forget
your Postscripts (P.S.) – you can have up to five Postscripts where you sum up the
important facts and urge the client to purchase now or miss out on the deal
You content will play a key factor in your search engine placement, so you
will need to learn how to “write for the search engines” and incorporate that
whenever possible. If that’s something you’re not familiar with, Empowerism
offers a full training module on keyword and keyphrase integration for search
Content isn’t confined just to your website! Email marketing is a vital
aspect of Internet Marketing, and the content of your communications to your
prospects and customers must be professional, with the right blend of
relationship-building, soft-sell, and hard-sell copy. This is also something
Empowerism excels at, in fact you can pick up a complimentary Email Marketing
Course on their website, which addresses email content, among other critical
topics. The last thing you want to do is offend a prospect or appear amateurish in
6. Search Engine Support
Without aiming for a decent search engine ranking, you might have
difficulty in achieving the kind of sales results you’re after. In addition to
content, addressed in the previous section, there are several tools you can use to
help you increase your search engine placement.
While many engines have their own criteria for developing their unique
ranking system, most rely on a combination of keywords, relevancy, and even
link reciprocation. In order to move into the top ten, most coveted positions, you
have to know how to play their game.
First, sit down and brainstorm the keywords most used to describe your
product. Google has a keyword tool that helps you determine the most widely
used search terms for your business. You can find it at:
For example, if you enter “investing,” the tool will return the following
terms to you: Real estate investing, online investing, socially responsible
investing, value investing, stock market investing, stock investing, investing
online, gold investing, drip investing, & investing money – and these are only the
top 10 out of 50+ terms it returns.
How do you use these search terms? You use them both behind the scenes
and on center stage. Your web developer will want to include many of them in
your META tags, which allows search engine spiders to classify your site more
You’ll also want to use them in your keyword content when crafting the
home page of your website. When the spider crawls onto your site, it scans the
keywords to make sure the site is really relevant to that particular subject matter,
and not just a scam to get traffic in the door.
You will need to continue recreating your search engine strategy, since
many engines change their formula to keep everyone on their toes. Google and
others, for instance, now factor into the ranking formula the number of other sites
who have a link to your site. This is known as link reciprocation.
Don’t have a web developer? It’s easy (and much less expensive) to
learn all this, and more, from Empowerism. Not only will you learn about issues
such as link reciprocation, but you’ll see how to generate targeted traffic to your
site using search engines and free tools reserved especially for members. Or you
can use their turnkey system and never have to worry about anything related to
search engines again!
7. Advertising Issues
Advertising will be the lifeblood of your business, so this is where the
majority of your time, money, and effort will be spent. Your goal is to build a
database (list) of prospects and customers you can sell to time and time again.
In the ever-changing (and challenging) world of online advertising, there
are two primary categories: Free and Paid. The basic rule of thumb is that if you
have much more time than money, Free advertising may be your most logical
choice. However, if you have even just a little room in your budget for
advertising, Paid advertising, combined with effective free methods, will save you
bundles of time and is the most direct route to success.
The entire goal of your advertising efforts should be to drive targeted
traffic to your website, where visitors are encouraged to add their name and email
address to your database. Plain and simple. Database Marketing 101.
Free online advertising methods include (but are not limited to) posting to
free safelists, engaging in message board discussions and including your tagline
on each post, posting to free classified ad sites, using traffic generators
(surfing/clicking for credits), submitting your website to search engines, banner
exchanges, reciprocal linking with similar sites, submitting free ezine ads, writing
articles and including your byline at the end, and writing a press release about the
launch of your site or a new product and submitting to online news media.
These methods can be tedious and frustrating, but when you’re starting
off, with no extra funds, if you can choose two and stick with them religiously,
you will most likely generate enough profit to form a Paid advertising plan.
Empowerism can help you get started with any of these, as well as teach you how
to test and track your results, which is vitally important to your sanity!
Paid advertising methods are virtually endless. Some of the most popular
include renting opt-in lists, buying opt-in leads, placing ads in reputable ezines,
using pay-per-click search engines, buying banner ad space, and buying targeted
traffic. When using a system like the one Empowerism supplies, your opt-in
leads, delivery method, and content are automatically included, leaving you free
to try other advertising venues to complement these efforts.
Just because you have an online business, that doesn’t mean all of your
advertising has to be on the Internet. However, online advertising is usually less
costly than offline avenues. You don’t have to pay for pricey prime time
placement, but you do have to spend more time figuring out where your prospects
are so that your dollars are not wasted in your efforts.
8. Customer Service
Everyone knows that keeping a customer is ten times harder than getting
one initially. We can all recall numerous times when we’ve purchased something
and vowed never to return.
You don’t want to be labeled one of those businesses that doesn’t seem to
value its customers. Word on the Internet spreads rapidly. If you burn one
customer, he or she might post that experience on an online message board or
mention it in an email discussion list, and no one else will want to do business
with you, either.
What does customer service mean? Does it mean the customer is always
right? If you want it to! But more often than not, it means that you are willing to
listen to a customer’s complaints and work toward a mutual resolution.
Sometimes the only resolution that will work means a full money-back
guarantee. Yes, even if you know the consumer is only doing this to scam you
out of your money.
But other times, the customer is lodging a legitimate complaint, and this
can be very helpful to you when it comes to satisfying the needs of other
customers. Say a customer emails you with a request for a refund because many
of the links in your eBook were dead links (they no longer worked).
First of all, you need to thank this customer profusely because he’s just
done you a big favor. He’s saved you money. How? Because you can instantly
refund his money, fix the dead links, and avoid dozens of other returns.
Then you should happily refund the money for this sale and promise him
that you’ll be repairing the problem and ensuring it never happens again. As a
result, you might have salvaged his business for your release of the next edition of
your informational eBook.
No matter what the situation, always be courteous and friendly when
dealing with a customer – even those who are furious with you for no good reason
(that you can see). Remain calm and gently take care of the problem.
The biggest complaint online consumers have in working with customer
service departments is their slow reply. To combat this problem, make sure you
stay on top of customer contact so that you can resolve any issues before they
grow into larger ones.
By aligning yourself with a company with an unprecedented reputation for
integrity and fast, friendly service, you will garner the experience to serve your
clients with the respect they expect.
9. Recurrent Marketing Efforts
Don’t think that once you launch a single ad campaign, your efforts are
finished. Marketing your products is a never-ending task that has to be factored
into the continued growth of your business. Even after you’ve made the sale, the
show must go on – your goal is to keep these customers for life, if not longer!
Whenever you create a product to sell on the Internet, you must have a
way to capture and store the contact information of your customer – preferably
through email – and let them know they will hear from you from time to time. So
long as you provide a way for them to opt out of receiving your emails, this is
When someone becomes your customer, the next time he hears from you
will be right after his first purchase – thanking him for becoming a valued
customer. From that point on, you can occasionally contact him to alert him to
other special offers, upgrades, or complementary products that are available to
him at a special discount because he’s an existing customer.
Your new best friends will be an auto-responder and your mailing list
software. Auto-responders usually come with a mass mailing function, which is
very convenient. With auto-responders, the “after-the-sale” marketing is done for
you automatically – contacting the customer periodically with various “drive ‘em
back” messages. You can either write these messages or hire a professional.
Your mailing list software (or the mass mail feature of your auto-
responder) allows you to contact your customers “on the fly” with up-to-the-
minute information that would not typically be loaded into an auto-responder.
This can be in the form of special reports or a newsletter you send out regularly.
Keep your eye on the media – newspapers, television, even radio – and
send your customers a message whenever you find information that could benefit
their lives in some way, relevant to their relationship with you. These reports can
be drafted in a matter of hours, and can be anywhere from one to five pages long.
For example, if you sell an eBook on lowering telecommunications costs,
and you see a story about it on the 5 o’clock news, whip up a short report and
send it to your customers. They will appreciate knowing you’re on top of the
situation and looking out for their best interests. At the same time, you’ll be
positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
One clever concept Empowerism provides its members is the ability to
plug your name and URL into existing material that you can give away to future
prospects and customers. The data is already there – you just substitute your
contact information, and you’ve instantly produced a quality product.
10. Necessity of Reinvention
From time to time, once your business becomes an established entity,
you’ll want to reinvent your methods or your products. If your approach in
selling begins to weaken, and you notice a decline in sales, try something new
before you change your entire product line.
It may be that your audience is now gathering somewhere else online and
you have to find them so that you can begin your new marketing campaign. It
could be that your marketing efforts themselves need a boost or a facelift!
If so, you can find a professional to help you create an ad campaign –
banners, killer content, auto-responders, and more. What if all of those efforts
still don’t reap any rewards? Then it’s time to reassess your products.
Is what you’re trying to sell outdated? Has technology taken over and
demanded a newer approach to solving a problem than what you’re touting as the
“next big thing?” Is your product or service overpriced when compared to the
competition? Stay abreast of current events in your industry and begin
developing a strong affinity to continuing education.
Are you simply tired of selling eBooks based on real estate options and
want to tackle a fresh subject matter? You can do it, but that doesn’t mean you
have to throw away your current enterprise. In fact, if you’ve built a formidable
reputation on the ‘Net as an honest businessperson who provides excellent
information to his or her customers, that will aid you in any endeavors you pursue
Finding your groove in the online community will eventually come
naturally as your products and selling mechanisms begin to harmonize with your
customers’ needs. To keep your business fluid (changing with the times) and
growing, your challenge is to stay organized, focused, and in tune with hot topics
emerging on the Internet.
Keep in tune? How? The best way is by having conversations with
people who are doing the same thing you are! Network with fellow
entrepreneurs, customers, service providers, gurus – ask questions, solicit
opinions, be a sounding board, don’t stop learning. You never know what
contacts you might make or information you’ll learn that could be the key to
taking your business to the next level. Even the shyest among us can send an
email to another business owner to strike up a conversation! No phone required!
at 8:29 AM