You can start your own online business with a small budget.
How To Make Money Online With An Online Business
Starting an online business can seem like a monumental task, but with some advance planning and shopping around, it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Let’s explore just how doable it is to get a web business off the ground. Here (and in our online business guide), we’ll outline some steps that you can take to become your own boss without a huge budget.
Who’s Your Web Host?
One key aspect of an online business is the actual website you’ll use to attract customers and offer your products or services. A reliable and inexpensive web host can be a crucial backbone to your website, so it’s wise to invest some time before signing up with one.
Decide on what you’d like in terms of storage space, data transfer limits, number of hosted domains, and other services. Also, check reviews from customers to see how the company responds during problems or outages. A free hosting plan isn’t worth it if the customer service is skimpy or non-existent, in my opinion.
Here are a few of our top picks for cheap web hosting services:
Cover Your Domain
If you need your online business’ web presence to have a unique name, you’ll want to register your own domain. Your web host might throw in domain registration as part of your package. If not, a site like GoDaddy offers domain registration as low as $1.99 if you qualify.
Designs and Logos
Instead of spending hours trying to come up with designs on your own, you can hire someone else for your site design and logos. Check out the rates of graphic artists who often try to find freelance work at sites such as Gofreelance.com, Guru.com or Elance, where bids for jobs start as low as $50. Ask your prospective designers to share their portfolios so you can see examples of their work before you hire anyone.
You can also check out online sites that offer such services and packages for a good rate. Try LogoWorks, a service that can create a logo design for you, but is also recognized as a one stop shop for business cards, stationery, brochures and other items that help you build your business identity.
You can build a site easily through tools like SiteSell, which are geared towards helping you develop sites that monetize well or that earn an income for you.
If you need an e-commerce package with options for product entry, billing, order processing, and beyond, a choice like Yahoo! Merchant Solutions might suit you. Prices start at $39.95 a month with a $50 setup fee.
Features like credit card or PayPal processing, unlimited disk space, and podcasting tools might be offered as part of some ecommerce packages, too.
Blogging Can Be Cheaper
If you prefer to go with a blog instead of a website, you can get started for free over at Google’s Blogger.com. From experience, I know it doesn’t take long to set up. It’s a simple process to add posts with pictures or videos, and it’s easy to edit posts, too. You can also customize your posts with labels, HTML, or templates. If you want to hear from your customers, let them add comments to your posts. You can let your blog be hosted for free on Blog*Spot or give your blog a custom domain name.
Another popular choice is WordPress, which has a wide array of themes and tools to personalize your blog. You’ll need a web host to get started.
With the help of free social sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can quickly connect with potential customers. Share brief posts about your products, ask customers to tweet about their favorite experiences with your company, or hold contests for promotional items. Taking advantage of free sites like Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon, among others, might benefit your online business too.
Another marketing idea is to write guest posts for sites that are relevant to your niche. For instance, if you’d like to promote your new online video game store, you might want to seek out a video game blogger and ask to write a feature about a gaming topic of interest to both of you. Or you can add insightful comments on other websites and build up a network over time. Later on, you might want to compile an ebook about your product or services to give away as a freebie.
How About Ads?
Putting up a website or blog at a low cost is great, now what about bringing in some revenue? Here’s where advertising comes into the picture. See if a program like Google’s AdSense can work for you. You may not make millions each month, but even a small amount of revenue can help. In addition, affiliate programs such as the one from Amazon.com might make money for you.
A crash course in SEO (search engine optimization) can help you build your traffic too. Darren Rowse of Problogger has some great tips to share, including 8 First Step SEO Tips for Bloggers that can apply to non-bloggers as well.
Tying Up Loose Ends
And finally, be aware of the legal aspects of running an online business. Does your region require licenses or fees for starting an online business? You may want to consult a lawyer about incorporating and your insurance agent for liability coverage too. Don’t forget to budget for these sort of expenses as well.
As you can see, starting your online business doesn’t necessarily require an enormous investment, but it can yield lasting rewards in terms of income as well as customers if done in a thoughtful manner. For more information on the topic of entrepreneurship, check out our small business management tips or our small business section.