In this digital era, anyone can start an online business or side hustle and generate revenue. On top of that, many business ideas require little or no investment. All successful online businesses have one thing in common, which is a top notch website. Sure, anyone can learn how to make a website, but creating a website which engages with your audience, is easy to navigate, is SEO optimized and is well designed, is not so easy to do.
Once you have a top quality website for your online business and continuously manage it, you will be able to make money from affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, sponsored posts, and so on. It is a step by step process and you will learn many new things along the way. This article will provide you with essential insights you should know before creating your first online business and the benefit of passive income.
The Truth about Passive Income
Society teaches us that building a successful business requires ongoing effort. That’s true for some but not all business models. Take eCommerce, for instance. Yes, it takes time and effort to set up your online store, build traffic, and gain exposure, but once these steps are completed, you can literally make money while you sleep.
Unlike physical stores, online stores are open 24/7. Therefore, an eCommerce site with steady traffic can generate revenue around the clock. Sure, you’ll still need to update, optimize, and promote your website, but you don’t have to be “on” all the time.
Another option is to create and sell online courses, eBooks, software, or other digital products. If they are good enough and you put in the effort to promote them, they’ll generate income day and night. The same goes for affiliate marketing, stock photography, online consulting, print-on-demand stores, and other business models.
Building passive income doesn’t mean you can make money without lifting a finger. After all, no business runs itself, but once your business is up and running, you can automate some operations and make money around the clock. This would give you the freedom to travel more, develop new products, or focus on your hobbies while having a steady revenue stream.
What Does It Take to Build an Online Business?
Every business starts with an idea, but not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, over 35% of startups fail because customers don’t need or want their products.
The key is to sell a product or service that fills a gap in the market or solves a problem. No one expects you to reinvent the wheel, but it’s essential to do things better or differently than your competitors to achieve success.
Let’s say you want to start a fitness blog. Perhaps you’re a personal trainer, physical therapist, or fitness instructor and have in-depth knowledge in this area. The question is, what makes your blog different? Do you have a unique perspective or plan to target an underrepresented group? And how do you intend to monetize your blog? Ask yourself these questions before taking the plunge.
Moving forward, follow these five steps to start an online business and build passive income.
1. Identify an Unsolved Problem in the Market
First, research the market and try to identify an unsolved problem. Returning to the previous example, you could start a fitness blog for people with arthritis or ongoing back pain.
On a similar note, you could launch a website selling at-home fitness equipment, online courses, back braces, or other products appealing to that particular audience.
Next, look into your competitors, the size of your target market, the laws governing that industry, and other aspects. Join online communities, conduct polls and surveys, and ask the right questions to validate your business idea.
2. Choose a Business Model
Once you’ve decided on a niche, choose a business model that will allow you to build passive income. Let’s see a few examples:
- Affiliate marketing: Promote other people’s products or services in exchange for a commission
- Dropshipping: Set up an online store featuring products sold and fulfilled by third-party suppliers like BigBuy, AliExpress, or Worldwide Brands
- Ecommerce: Sell your own products or services online.
- Digital downloads: Create and sell online courses, printables, or eBooks
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Charge monthly or annual fees for access to a software program developed in-house
- Subscription services: Set up a website, blog, or newsletter and charge a monthly fee for access to members-only content
- App development: Create an app and sell it on your website or other platforms, such as the Apple App Store
After choosing a business model, conduct further research to estimate your earning potential and plan things out. For example, you’ll want to look into the different affiliate networks out there and see which ones best meet your needs.
3. Determine How You’ll Monetize Your Website
Depending on your business model, you can leverage your website to build one or more income streams. For example, you could monetize a blog with Google Adsense and earn money every time someone clicks on your ads. Another option is to set up a members-only section on your blog and charge monthly subscription fees. But you can also sell eBooks, digital courses, or funny T-shirts.
But what if you have an online store? Well, nothing stops you from selling ad space, membership plans, or digital products that complement your main product line.
If, say, you sell pet supplies, you can launch a paid newsletter offering expert insights into pet health, training, and nutrition. You could also team up with veterinary clinics and list their services on your site in exchange for a commission.
4. Perform a Competitive Analysis
Your business plan should also include a competitive analysis. Basically, you need to know what your competitors do well, how they do it, and what you could do better.
This practice can also help you uncover market trends, find inspiration, and understand customers’ needs. Think of it as an opportunity to learn.
First, determine who you’re competing against. See what they offer, research their sales and marketing tactics, and check out their social media pages. You’ll also want to find out what tools they use to keep things running smoothly.
After that, perform a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as any potential threats and opportunities that may arise.
5. Launch Your Business Website
Now that you know how to make money, it’s time to launch your website and start selling.
Ideally, choose a drag-and-drop website builder like Wix with pre-built templates. This option eliminates the need for coding, making it easier to customize your pages and add new features.
Next, optimize your content, product descriptions, images, and links for the search engines. Test the page speed, buttons, and how your website looks on mobile devices. Perform these tasks regularly to make sure everything works as it should.
Last but not least, promote your website and build a solid online presence. Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic, engage with your audience on social media, and partner with other non-competing businesses in your niche.
Work Smarter, Not Harder, to Build a Profitable Online Business
There’s no easy way to make money, but that doesn’t mean you must work around the clock to get results. The key is to work smarter, not harder, and think outside the box.
Start with the skills you have, and see how you could use them to make a difference.
For example, an accountant can leverage his skills to start a blog or membership site or sell online courses. If you’re the creative type, consider starting a print-on-demand shop to generate passive income. Alternatively, create a course that teaches others how to play the guitar, draw portraits, or apply makeup.
Chances are, there’s someone who needs what you have to offer. Research the market, identify your audience, and find the best way to “package” your skills. Keep an open mind and try different business models until you find one that’s sustainable in the long run.