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A simple search for “How to start an online business” will return millions of results in a fraction of a second. That’s how much advice is out there on how beginners and experts can build a successful online business.
However, while there are countless ways to make money online, some of the strategies work better than others.
Read the rest of this article to discover the most effective ways to start an online business for beginners and experts so you can start making money or increase your existing revenue.
We will start by looking at a few ways to make money using a website before moving on to other platforms.
Table of Contents
1. Generate SEO Content
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most inexpensive marketing strategies available right now. SEO content boosts your content marketing efforts, improves your search engine rankings, and gets more traffic to your website where you can then promote your products and services.
A basic search engine optimization strategy involves the strategic use of keywords and search terms that can help you be found by your target customers online.
Use relevant keywords in your copy, titles, meta-tags, etc. while focusing on best practices for keyword use, such as keyword density, related keywords, and more.
This will make your content user-friendly and allow your website to get ranked in search engines so you can be found easily by people searching for your products and services. So, when using a website builder to create your website, consider that it should be easy to optimize for SEO.
There are a lot of different ways you can use to make money with search engine optimization (SEO) on your website. For example, you could:
Start an SEO business
Become an SEO freelancer
Sell SEO copywriting services
Create and sell SEO online courses
But, probably the simplest way is to set up a blog, write SEO content, and monetize through ads.
This strategy works extremely well because SEO targets quality traffic which makes it arguably the best inbound marketing strategy you can employ for your blog.
Also, there’s no need to pay for ads in SEO and you get more clicks than PPC (pay per click) campaigns. Moreover, search optimization enhances your public relations (PR) strategies and can be pivotal in helping to move you ahead of your competition.
2. Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is a great option to consider if you want to start a profitable online business but are not interested in creating your own products.
Simply recommend other people’s products to your audience and you’ll be paid a commission for each successful sale.
When SEO first started gaining momentum, niche sites were all the rage. However, these types of websites can still be a lucrative endeavor for affiliate marketers. All you have to do is build a website around a limited topic in order to attract a highly engaged audience.
Sign up for affiliate programs in your niche, and choose specific products to promote to your visitors. Write high-quality, helpful content and insert your affiliate links throughout your posts.
Start driving traffic to your website and you can then monetize this traffic through affiliate links to relevant products that your audience will want or need.
You can promote your affiliate products in a number of ways, including:
Social media posts; and
However, if you want to get a great ROI (return on investment), then you are better off writing SEO content focused around relevant keywords and optimizing it to generate more organic (and therefore highly targeted) traffic from Google.
This strategy also works for advertising or if you offer your own products or services. But, it’s particularly effective for affiliate marketing, and once established, almost every process of running an affiliate site can be automated to provide you with a great source of passive income.
3. Make Money with Display Ads
Display advertising comes in many different forms, such as rich media ads, banner ads, video ads, and other interactive ads for websites and other platforms.
These types of ads are designed to capture the attention of users and compel them to take some sort of action, such as clicking through to a landing page or website.
For website owners and publishers, display ads offer an easy, relatively maintenance-free way to make money from their traffic and generate revenue from blog content.
All you have to do to get started is register with an ad network such as Adsense, Ezoic, AdThrive, or Mediavine. These are just a few of the many ad networks available out there. Note that different ad networks have different requirements, so take the time to understand each of them before applying.
Once you are approved, the network will provide you with a snippet of code which you can then insert on your website to power display ads on your pages. And that’s it – you’re ready to start earning ad revenue on your blog.
The best part about this monetization method is that your income will grow as your traffic grows.
Consider Private Ads
As an alternative to using ad networks, you might consider selling your own ad placements on your website.
For the most part, you’ll get more money this way than you would with a traditional ad network which is why offering ad space to individual advertisers is such an effective way to increase your ad earnings.
Just keep in mind that this approach can be more time-consuming and difficult to manage on your own which is why many publishers choose not to use this type of advertising.
4. Become an eCommerce Retailer
ECommerce is yet another effective way to make money online. And with powerful, yet simple-to-use tools like WooCommerce, Shopify, and WordPress eCommerce plugins, getting started as an eCommerce seller has never been easier.
You can build an online store in just minutes and start driving traffic to it. You can sell physical or digital products that you can send either via an affiliate vendor or drop shipping service.
A lot of eCommerce sellers choose to self-host their stores, and you can do this effectively by choosing dedicated hosting for your eCommerce platform.
You also have the option of designing your own products that others can order on-demand from places like Teespring, Zazzle, or CafePress.
You can also sell products through online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc. As you can see, the options for eCommerce sellers are many.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building your eCommerce store:
Find a niche that has high demand and low competition.
Brainstorm ways to make your eCommerce store stand out from all the rest.
Consider the costs involved in getting the products from the manufacturer to your customers.
Choose a pricing model that allows your products to compete and offer great value to your customers.
Make sure your profit margins are reasonable enough to ensure sustainability and long-term growth for your business.
5. Use eCommerce Platforms
The examples above are focused on making money online with your website. However, another effective way to start an online business is to use social commerce platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok as a way to expand your brand’s eCommerce business into different channels.
This is particularly effective in today’s world where most consumers start their buying journey by conducting searches on social media.
With Facebook Shops, you can provide a mobile-first shopping experience for your customers to easily find what they need on your Facebook or Instagram profile.
Choose which items you want to feature and merchandise other product collections. There are also customizable colors and fonts that allow you to tell your brand story effectively.
6. Become an Influencer on Social Media
There’s only one reason why influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity, and that’s because it works. It’s a very effective way to enhance brand awareness, build authority and trust, connect to a wider market, and reach your target audience.
Influencer marketing also allows you to set trends, create lucrative partnerships, drive conversions, and generate more leads. With so many benefits that come with this marketing strategy, it’s surprising that more brands aren’t making use of its as part of their marketing campaigns.
You can also become an influencer on sites like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. In fact, this single monetization method can suffice as an independent single-channel online business or as part of a larger multi-channel online business.
To get started as an influencer on social media, all you have to do is work on gaining a following and from there you’ll be able to partner with popular brands to promote their products to your audience and get paid for your efforts.
For example, say you are interested in the latest fashion news and trends. If you have an engaged following, then you might use your influence to create a fashion blog or become a social media influencer, and transform that into a full-time business.
You’ll either be paid directly or given a sales commission. Either way, this can be a lucrative online business for you.
7. Create Courses, Podcasts, and Other Digital Products
Yet another reliable way to make money online is to create digital products, such as eBooks sold on Amazon, podcasts hosted on podcast directories, online courses monetized via online course platforms, logos created with Adobe for free, or with some of the best logo makers, etc.
The eLearning industry continues to grow at a phenomenal pace and you can carve out your own piece of that pie by creating a digital product that you can then sell again and again.
Online courses, in particular, are becoming more and more popular, particularly for instructors who don’t have the time or bandwidth to research, write, edit and format an ebook.
And one of the main advantages of selling your knowledge to others using this way is that you have the option to create courses in a variety of formats, including:
… and any other media that works for your target learners.
This online business model works particularly well if you already have an audience on your blog, social media, or email newsletter. This way, you’ll be able to validate your idea and come up with course topics that your audience actually wants or needs, as opposed to what you think they want.
Also, with a ready-made audience, you can get feedback during the creation stage by giving a preview of your course and asking users to provide you with their opinion.
You can sell courses on your own website or create courses on Teachable, Skillshare, Thinkific, and other online course platforms where you’ll get additional marketing and sales features to help you make more money from your online course.
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the number of people using mobile devices to access the internet.
Apps have grown into a massive market, and although some people may believe that it’s saturated at this point, experts predict that the trend will only keep growing.
The great part about using software development as a way to make money online is that you don’t have to be a developer yourself in order to make this work. Simply provide a skilled developer with your idea and they will be able to implement it for you.
Also, you don’t have to focus on mobile apps. There are a lot of other useful web applications you can look into.
For example, the software as a service (SaaS) market is growing, and people are happy to pay a monthly fee to use certain apps which provides you with the opportunity to generate recurring income for your website.
You might also consider creating WordPress plugins or themes. The options are many and you just have to decide which type of software you want to build and promote on your website.
9. Start a Freelance Business
If you feel that creating and selling products is too much work for you then this is a great option to consider.
Freelancing is arguably one of the easiest ways to get started online and doesn’t require a lot of investment of time or money beforehand.
Many of the money-generation methods outlined above make for great freelancing business ideas, such as SEO services, graphic design services, web development services, etc.
Depending on what you’re good at, there are tons of other services you can offer to clients, including:
Social Media Marketing/Management: A lot of businesses these days are present on social media networks. But, a constant challenge they face is finding the time to complete all the tasks necessary to run successful social media marketing campaigns and engage with their audience. You can offer your services as a social media marketer, manager, or consultant and charge by the hour. You can also use third-party tools like social media marketing tools to increase your engagement and visibility.
PPC Ad Management: This is yet another effective freelancing strategy to generate income for your website. If you have any knowledge of PPC ads on Google, Facebook, and other platforms, you can offer your services to run successful PPC campaigns for other businesses.
Content Creation: A lot of businesses face problems when it comes to creating high-quality content on a consistent basis. If you are adept at copywriting, graphic design, using video editors, or some other creative skill,you can offer your services to help fill their content needs including landing page copy, blog posts, white papers, email newsletters, social media content, and any other marketing materials businesses require.
10. Build a Membership Website
This method of making money online is great because it allows you to create a source of recurring revenue.
You can build a membership website using WordPress plugins or dedicated software. Sell a subscription with access to premium content, advice, or community features like forums, etc.
Rather than relying on ad revenue or affiliate marketing, you’ll be able to get users to directly support your site with paid memberships.
Many of the membership website creation platforms offer tools to build any type of online community with various subscription models and features for managing users, receiving online payments, and much more so you can run your entire membership website from one convenient place.
You can choose what type of membership site you want depending on what your own preferences are. However, it may be best to do a bit of research to see what your audience wants so you can provide them with the exact type of online space they need.
For example, you may find that your audience prefers learning via online video courses as opposed to a chat-based forum.
Whatever you decide, make sure that your membership website provides enough value to make it with while for readers to pay for it each month.
This means you have to have a plan for creating and publishing content on a regular basis so users can always find value whenever they log on to your site.
11. Start a Productized Service Business
If you have a skill or knowledge that you can package into a service, then starting a productized service could be for you.
One of the big benefits of a productized service business is that it’s usually a low-cost way to get started. You don’t need to create any products or invest in inventory. And because you’re selling your time and expertise, you can start generating revenue relatively quickly. Then as you grow, you can build a small team and step away from the day to day operations.
Of course, there are some downsides to consider. First, you’ll need to be able to market your services effectively. You’ll also need to be comfortable working with clients and managing expectations.
Examples of productized services include a link building service like Only Outreach or a podcast editing service like Castos.
In case none of the ideas outlined above are appealing to you, here’s a list of some of the best online business ideas that you can get inspiration from:
Start your own designer clothing line
Sell art online
Launch a dropshipping business
Become a freelance writer
Become a designer or developer
Flip thrift store finds
Teach or create an online course
Publish your own book
Become a VA (virtual assistant)
Start a lifestyle blog
Be an influencer
Launch a podcast
Build apps and websites
Curate subscription boxes
Become an affiliate marketer
Develop a niche product
Become a social media manager
Create handmade goods
Invest in real estate
Become a translator
Start a bookkeeping/accounting firm
Sell on marketplaces
Become an online fitness trainer
Start an online coaching business
Create and sell NFTs
Do voiceover work
Become an ad consultant
Start a membership community
Build niche websites
Promote sponsored posts on Instagram
Omnichannel Marketing and Multiple Revenue Streams
Omnichannel marketing helps to create a higher sense of brand familiarity and provides customers with an effortless buying experience. It does this by communicating a single, cohesive message across a variety of channels.
This method provides an elevated cross-channel experience where the focus is on the customer which helps to increase the potential for high customer retention and ultimately boost sales.
There are many benefits that come with omnichannel marketing, including an increase in revenue, integration of cross-channel insights, and marketing analytics.
You’ll also see an increase in customer retention and lifetime value, as well as improved customer self-service, among many other benefits.
Disney is a great example of a company that leverages omnichannel marketing successfully.
Its customers can buy tickets online using mobile, tablet, or desktop devices. They can then use the app to locate attractions, view wait times, etc. They can also use smart wristbands as hotel room keys or FastPass.
Create Multiple Revenue Streams
In addition to having an omnichannel marketing strategy, you also need to focus on creating multiple revenue streams for your business.
This will help you withstand economic downturns, and if one area of your business starts to decline, having other revenue sources to fall back on will add a level of insurance to allow you to continue moving forward.
Having more than one source of income will also allow you to invest a greater proportion in both your business and other new sources of income – a virtuous cycle that compounds your efforts to grow and helps you scale faster.
The internet offers countless ways to make money online while giving you the flexibility to make your own hours and work from anywhere. The best part is that you don’t need a lot of experience to get started.
The tips in this article can be used by everyone, both beginners and experts alike. The most important thing is to get started and execute your online business idea. You can then do the research and find strategies to scale and grow your business to whatever level you’re happy with.
Over to you. Which of these ways to start an online business do you find most appealing, and why? Share your thoughts below!
Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com
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