How To Start An Online Business On A Budget
Starting any business costs money. Traditional “brick and mortar” businesses are really expensive as you need to pay for the property, utilities, stock and anything else that is associated with having a physical shop or office. But, you can build a business for a lot cheaper online. In this post I am going to tell you how to start an online business on a budget.
I had always wanted to work for myself and a couple of years ago the right time came to start making moves to do make this dream a reality. I didn’t want to go blindly in to a business that I knew nothing about, but I was starting from scratch with no experience. Therefore, I did a lot of research in to my options. My new venture had to tick some boxes for me.
It had to be legitimate
I am fully aware that there are lots of scammers on the internet and I didn’t want to become a victim of one. Nor did I want to waste my time or anyone elses by pursuing something that was dishonest or fake
It had to be worth it
I am fully prepared to work hard, but it had to be worth the effort. The last thing I wanted to do was to work really hard for no reward.
It had to give me flexibility
This was actually my primary reason for starting my own business. I wanted to be able to work to my own timetable in order to enjoy my life. I live in the French alps with a passion for the outdoors. I love the fact that I can go mountain biking, snowboarding or hiking when I like. Obviously I had to be productive to make my business successful. But as long as I get through all my weekly tasks I know I am doing enough work.
There had to be good training resources
As I was starting from scratch, I needed to learn what to do to make my business successful. Again this was something that I didn’t want to get scammed on by paying for a poor training course or an eBook from a so called “guru”.
So what online business did I choose? I chose affiliate marketing, this is because it ticked all the boxes for my business venture. I didn’t just jump in to it, I did a lot of research and I found a way of getting some first hand experience before I spent a penny on my new business.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of recommending other people’s products and services to customers. When a sale is made through your website, you get paid a commission for your efforts. This is a tried and tested business model that works very well. It is ideal for someone who is looking how to start an online business on a budget:
- You don’t actually sell anything yourself, so you don’t need to buy, store or ship products yourself.
- You don’t need to create any physical products or services yourself, so you don’t have to have any experience to make money
- You don’t need to worry about customer service issues
- It is cheap to start
How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business
Affiliate marketing is quite simple, but you have to do it properly. To do it properly you have to be prepared, so I am now going to take you through the stages you need to go through to start your affiliate marketing business.
Choose A Niche
A niche is the topic your website is based around. For example the niche for this website is to help people start their own business to enjoy their lives. Every website works and sells within a niche, other examples include:
A niche focusses on an audience looking for answers to problems. People could be looking for help in making a purchasing decision or they are looking for a way to do something.
A niche breaks down the topic in to specifics making it much easier to drive traffic to your website that is more likely to buy through it.
it can be very tempting to choose a niche that you think will appeal to a broad range of people. This is a big mistake, I should know because I tried it and it failed miserably. I chose the niche of food & drink, but it wasn’t;t focussed enough because I thought I could capture beer lovers, vegans, barbecue lovers, coffee drinkers etc. In reality I should have broken it down to a website for one of these subgroups.
A niche should be:
- Something you have a passion for
- Have a good following
- Not go out of fashion
Products And Services To Promote
The products and services that you promote need to be of high quality. If you start promoting stuff that is no good, you will get a bad reputation. If you can think of something that you can buy online, you will be able to find an affiliate program for it. An affiliate program is where you get your affiliate links from that track your sales and pay you for them. An example of an affiliate program, is Amazon Associates. This allows you to promote anything for sale on Amazon. This is a good place to start for most affiliate marketers because you can write about and promote anything for sale on Amazon. There are some advantages and disadvantages to Amazon Associates though:
- More products to promote than you can possibly think of
- Good commission rates, depending on what products you are selling
- 24 hours of cookies. This means that if someone goes to Amazon through your website and goes back to it within 24 hours and buys something, you still get the commission no matter what they buy.
- If you don’t follow the rules Amazon can close your Associates account rendering your website useless
You can also join affiliate networks. These are websites that are linked with hundreds of affiliate programs. The big advantage of joining affiliate networks, is that you can be a member of multiple programs, but all you sales are tracked in one place. This means that you get paid from one place for all of them.
A great example of an affiliate network is Awin, which is one of the networks I use to manage my payments.
Build An Online Presence
Building an online presence is key to your success and you need to be aware of how important it is to do this. Here are the tree main ways you can build an online presence.
1 - Building a website
Your website is the medium you will market the products and services with great content. By content, I mean the all the posts you are going to write that hello people out with their problems.
Building a website is actually very easy to do and only takes a few minutes. It is the content that takes time to create. But this content will eventually start to earn you money. The best part about it, is that if you do it properly, it will continue to earn you money for months or years later.
It is pretty cheap to build a website these days. You can have a domain name for around $11 and have it hosted for around $4. Once you have done this, you have a fully functional online business!
Your content is the key to your success. There is a specific way that you need to create your content in order to get it inferno of your audience and for it to make you any money. The first thing you need to do is write with your target audience in mind. You do this by basing your content around the keywords that people are searching for.
People will type certain words and phrases in to search engines, if your content is deemed the most relevant by the search engine it will be placed at the top of the search results. To get a good list of quality keywords I use a tool called Jaaxy.
Building a list of keywords doesn’t take that long, but it can last you months. By basing your content around these keywords, your audience comes to you, meaning that you don’t need to rely on paid adverts and promotions.
When it comes to actually writing your content, you need to do it in a non-salesy way. If you go in for the big sell straight away, people will see right through it and won’t believe what you have to say about the product or service you are promoting. To keep their attention, you must give the reader lots of helpful information. Then they will trust you and hopefully take onboard your recommendations.
2 - Social Media
By building a good social media presence, you can increase the traffic to your website. This will eventually bring you more sales. Your social media content needs to be engaging, informative and it needs to look good. This will get you get you a loyal fan base that buys in to your brand.
3 - Build A Mailing List
When you become an authority in your niche and you have built up your trust, you can set up a mailing list. People will sign up to your mailing list, so you can send them regular updates. This is invaluable when it comes to sales. These people already trust you, so when they see a newsletter from you in their inbox they are very likely to visit your new content and even buy more stuff through it.
4 - Learn About SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, it is not as complicated as it sounds but having some knowledge about it is essential. There are a number of SEO techniques that affiliate marketers and anyone with a website use to get their content as high as possible for people’s searches.
Where To Learn About This Stuff
You will find a lot of information on this website, but to be honest you need to get some proper training. The processes involved with starting your online isn’t business isn’t difficult, but following a structured course will mean that you will learn about every step that you need to take and why you need to take them.
As I said earlier, I did a lot of research in to what it takes to start up an affiliate marketing business and a huge part of that research was to find out about training resources. I had found lots of “gurus” who claimed to have the secret to overnight success, but I was dubious to hand money over to them without knowing what I was getting myself in too.
I found a platform called Wealthy Affiliate. While I was still weary of trusting people on the internet, but these guys offered something the others didn’t. They have a free membership that gives you 2 free websites to play with, limited access to the Jaaxy keyword research tool and 10 free lessons to show you how to do it.
This really appealed to me as I was starting from scratch and still wasn’t sure if I even wanted to go in to affiliate marketing yet. But, all I needed to sign up to the free membership, was an email address. This meant that if I didn’t want to carry on, I hadn’t lost anything or given away any valuable information about myself.
What Exactly Is Wealthy Affiliate?
I was originally looking for training and as much information as I could to see what affiliate marketing was all about. And Wealthy Affiliate gave me all this with the free membership, but there is so much more to it than just a few lessons. Here I will go in to a bit more detail about what what Wealthy Affiliate is.
Excellent Training Resource
The Online Entrepreneur course takes you from having zero knowledge, to having a fully functional affiliate marketing website that will make you money. The free membership gives you the first 10 lessons and which gives you the opportunity to learn all the fundamentals you need to know to help you decide if it is for you. Each lesson has a combination of walk through videos and blogs that are easy to follow.
The lessons have a number of tasks associated with them with step by step instructions on how to do them. This is great as you can be sure that you take all the necessary steps to make your business successful.
There is also a live weekly training session that you can attend. This gives you loads of up to date information with lots of tips and tricks to increase productivity, traffic to your website and sales. Each session is recorded which is ideal for me, as it is made in Canada. Due to the time difference, the session is usually in the middle of the night for me, but I can watch it back in the morning with a coffee. I can also look over historic sessions to see if there is anything that will help me out with whatever I am working on at the time.
Wealthy Affiliate has a website builder that makes building your website super easy. Once you have chosen your domain name, you can have a hosted website preinstalled with WordPress in less than a minute. This makes life a lot easier than hunting around for the best host as a reasonable price. This makes it really convenient, as everything is on one place, meaning you don’t have to remember loads of passwords and everything all in one place.
Jaaxy Keyword Tool
I mentioned Jaaxy earlier and it is a great keyword research tool. Using a keyword research tool is essential for creating quality content that your audience is going to find. Jaaxy gives you vital information about keywords, such as how much traffic they will bring you and how much competition they have. This information will let you know which keywords are worth using.
Jaaxy also has loads more features to help you find keywords, track their rankings and assess your competition.
All this is included in your Wealthy Affiliate membership.
If you are concerned about the technical side of your website in terms of any problems that may occur, there is no need to worry. There is a very good tech support service that is included in your membership. By submitting a support ticket, you will get an answer or solution for any problems you will have within a few minutes.
But the support isn’t just limited to technical stuff, you can ask the support team pretty much anything related to your website, from content, design or even the layout. You also get assigned a coach who is extremely knowledgeable about all things related to affiliate marketing that will help you out with anything you you need for your website.
Another great resource for support, is the Wealthy Affiliate community. This is a collection of people passionate about affiliate marketing and are only too keep to share their knowledge and experiences.
There are a few ways you can communicate with the community. There is a live chat, an area where you can broadcast your question to everyone and a private messenger service. This is a great way of getting even quicker answers to your questions.
The community has some very experienced affiliate marketers that actually create their own training. By using a search bar, you can type in an issue or a question and there is a good chance that someone will have created a lesson for it. These lessons are full of tips and tricks that people have found out on their affiliate marketing journey.
What You Need To Know About Affiliate Marketing
The affiliate marketing business model is a great one, but it won’t get you rich overnight. It takes a long time to make any money at all, let alone a significant amount. The way to earn good money is to be consistent with your content creation and to have patience. You won’t see any money for a few months, but you will eventually get some pennies and they the money will start rolling in if you do everything right.
Should You Sign Up To Wealthy Affiliate?
If you are considering an online business, I recommend that you check out the free membership. You have nothing to lose, because once you have done some of the lessons, you will have some choices:
1. Walk Away
If you decide that Wealthy Affiliate is not for you, you can just cancel your membership and not bother continuing. You haven’t lost anything, all you have done is used your time to try something new out.
2. Continue With The Free Membership
This is how to start an online business on a budget. However, the free membership is quite limited in its functionality. I think you could earn money with the free membership, but there is a lot of information and tools that you will miss out on by not signing up to the premium membership.
3. Go Premium
Going premium will give you a lot more information and chance of success. If you are really serious about starting an affiliate marketing business, I recommend that you go for the premium membership. But you should try the free membership first to make sure it is for you.
- You can start a business for free in minutes
- Included website tools
- Excellent training
- Excellent support from Wealthy Affiliate and the community
- No hidden costs
- Honest communication about earning potential
- Easy to follow
- The community can be a bit of a distraction and sometimes you end up getting “help” from enthusiastic newbies
How I Started My Business
I was working full time for a holiday company here in the French alps. I had always wanted to have my own business and the time had come to start making a move to do so.
I wanted a business that would fit in with the lifestyle that I wanted. At the top of this post I mentioned that I wanted the flexibility to go snowboarding and mountain biking when the conditions were perfect, rather than having to wait for a day off hoping that the weather was good.
I researched all my options, tried out the Wealthy Affiliate free membership and made the decision to go all in with the premium membership.
Every night after work, I was learning and creating content at home. I then managed to go part time at work which allowed me to increase my productivity. After a while, I left my job, but picked up a the odd blog writing job while managing the social media accounts for my previous employer and a local bike shop. I still do this for a bit of beer money and to stay connected with people.
I now enjoy a great life with all the benefits of having my own business brings. Yes it can be very frustrating and soul destroying when sales are not made, but when it works, it is great!
That Is How To Start An Online Business On A Budget
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to start an online business on a budget. The outlay is low but the earning potential is huge. I hope that this post has been of use to you and I hope you have enjoyed it. If you click here to sign up to the Wealthy Affiliate free membership I will get a notification and I will say hi. You can ask me anything about this subject and I will get back to you. Alternatively, you can leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.