How To Start An Online Business For Free

how to do business online and make money

Steven is 28 years old and he wants to know how to set up an online business. You know, he’s been reading a lot of articles on the internet, hearing a lot of success stories, and now he wants in! He wants a big fat piece of this mysterious internet-lifestyle pie.

How To Start An Online Business For Free

Unfortunately, he can’t simply skip some steps and go straight to relaxing at the beach while everything is done on autopilot. Before he can do that, he has to put a number of elements in place.

First and foremost, he has to have the right …

Having the right mindset is the most important thing

Having the right mindset is the most important thing no matter what we do. Whether it’s setting up an online business or learning to play table tennis.

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.

…How do you like my definition? Anyway, back to the topic… Online business is very different from his offline older brother. You can find out why here: Why Running an ONLINE Business is so Utterly Different Than Running an OFFLINE One.

Now that Steven knows what the difference between online and traditional offline business is, he needs to realize one more thing since we’re talking mindset. And that is: What Mind-Shift You Need to Take When Starting Your First Business. It’s not strictly an online business thing, although it touches upon business in general.

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“There’s a lot to think about” – says Steven – “I don’t know if this whole online business thing is for me after all.” Don’t worry, Steven! It will all become clear in a moment, but for now here’re some entrepreneurial quotes to keep you motivated: 12 Quotations on Success That Are Sure to Change Your Life.

The Roadmap

1. stop – finding a niche

Steven suspects that he needs to focus his efforts on a specific market. He has some passions but he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to monetize them, so he’s kind of stuck here.

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.

There’re many ways of finding a perfect niche, here’s a good starting point: 12 Creative Ways to Find Your Niche. Steven doesn’t look like a ninja but in case he wants to put his wise guy hat on, here’s a more cunning tactic: Can’t Find a Niche? Create a Fake One!

2.  stop – finding out if there’s an audience and some competition

Deciding upon a niche is not sufficient if you want to say that you’re all set to go, Steven. Sorry…

You need some solid data about your future audience and competition. The best place to obtain it from is Google.

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.

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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.

3. stop – domain and hosting

Ok, Steven’s back, he’s selected a niche that fits perfectly within the advised amounts of searches and size of competition, unfortunately he doesn’t want to share this niche with me. Anyway, it’s time to get him some online real-estate.

There’s no online business without a domain and a hosting account. So pay attention Steven because it’s a vital step if you want to learn how to set up an online business.

First, you have to realize that there are 3 main types of domain names and there are 6 important factors when choosing a domain name. Once you have some ideas lined up you can proceed to a tool like Domain Typer to find out what’s available.

Registering an actual domain is not difficult at all. Just go to GoDaddy and you will have a new shiny one in no time. When it comes to hosting I recommend a company called Site5 – they’re both affordable and reliable. Now how to put it all together (connecting your domain to your hosting and everything)… well, it’s too boring for me to write about, so show me some dedication and Google it on your own. ??

4.  stop – setting up a website


Steven hasn’t been sitting under a rock for the past decade, so he knows that everything you need these days is a WordPress blog. Point for you, Steven!

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.

I won’t describe in detail how to install WordPress because again, it’s boring and there are hundreds of resources online, so you’re on your own, but I do have two pieces of advice for you.

Here’s a little WordPress glossary to help you understand all those strange WordPress terms. And here’s a set of must-have WordPress plugins.

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 (which is totally fine) you can get a cheaper theme from a place like ThemeIsle (you can even get some free themes there too). The themes are beautifully designed and well engineered. Highly recommended.

5. stop – signing up for an email delivery service

This might not make much sense to you right now, but trust me. Email is the most effective way of promotion and marketing on the internet. To be able to use it fully you need to sign up for an email delivery service.

Such a service takes care of delivering emails to your customers or prospects. What I’m using, and what I advise you to use as well is MailChimp. Not only are they one of the leaders on the market but they also provide a free account – a perfect starting point.

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To be honest, in my opinion, their website is one of the most user friendly websites on the internet. The number of exceptional training videos they provide is just incredible. Just go there, sign up for a free account and see for yourself.

6.  stop – content is king (sorry for the cliche)

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.

And yes, every website needs good content. Especially when you’re in a niche market trying to kick-start your online business.

If you need some advice on how to get started check out these posts:

7.  stop – traffic and promotion/marketing

If you build it they won’t come.

no traffic

…sorry to be the one to break this to you, but it’s true in the online world. It’s one of the most important things if you want to learn how to set up an online business.

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.

There are many possible sources of traffic. In one of my posts I present a list of more than 9,200,000 blog traffic sources. Feel free to check it out.

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.

Google AdWords is probably the best place to begin your advertising career. But be careful, it’s not that easy to use as Google says it is. You need to learn the basics first if you don’t want to lose your shirt. Like for example: How Does This Little Money-Sucking Machine Work? or 3 Facts About Setting Up Your Google AdWords Campaign Which Google Is Not Telling You and 4 Common Mistakes People Make While Managing Their AdWords Campaigns.

8. stop – networking and being a part of a community


Networking can be fun. But you need to know exactly what you are doing. Find out how to email important person might be a good idea.


You all have been waiting for this, isn’t it? This is what we’re here for.

There are a number of ways to monetize a website. The most common are:

Selling ebooks or other digital content (such as audio, video, apps, etc.).
Charging for services or membership to the VIP section of a website.
Sell online courses.
Running ads on your website (sell them individually or be part of the larger ad networks like AdSense or BuySellAds).
Offer consulting or freelance services.
Offering lectures at the Conference.
Selling physical products (such as books, t-shirts, posters, etc.)
Become an affiliate and sell other people’s products for a Commission.
Selling your own products is often cited as the most profitable approach. Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated than to be an affiliate. From the marketing side (by the way, did you know that you can learn marketing while sunbathing?) You also need to take care of product creation and customer management side. Skills such as copywriting and upselling is useful too.

Becoming a super affiliate is usually seen as the holy grail of generating passive income. When in fact it requires a lot of work to achieve any results. So don’t get excited about it. Each way requires a large number of jobs.

(Honestly, the desired passive income does not happen by itself unless you devote serious time to work on it. “Working on passive income” … it’s almost absurd, isn’t it?)

10 stop-grow and develop


Running an online business is a journey that never ends, and it starts right after you learn how to set up a business online and actually apply the knowledge. You need to learn new things, improve your skills and grow your business. If you don’t evolve you die.

If you want to improve anything about your web site, you first need to learn how to use Google Analytics. Put it on this web site is not difficult, and Google provides some simple how to guide on how to get it done in no time.

But remember that not every important metric, and not all of it is worth tracking. One of the first step to improvement is to learn what the conversion and what it means to your business.

The next step is to do some testing split. You can start by making a few tests in a tool called Google Website Optimizer. This is not surprising but Google provides several training videos are great here too.

One more thing that is usually overlooked by many marketers – the importance of statistical significance a/B split testing. It sounds fancy, but actually it’s not so hard to understand. The following is a brief explanation: how to check the significance of a/B Split testing.

This concludes the Guide. As you can see, there is much work to be done if you want to learn how to set up a business online and become successful overnight … You should not be discouraged, though. Just start by believing in yourself and you should be fine just about … However, you want to ensure that you protect your online business the same way you would with offline business liability insurance. And finally, please note that …

Do you think you can or you can’t, you are right, however.


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