My Own Online Business After A Divorce and Almost Bankruptcy
When I got divorced, I didn't know how I was going to be able to cope with my financial responsibilities which included mortgage, car, my kids's private school plus all the other expenses related to having a family without a husband's salary.
I had recently lost my full-time job, had managed to find a part-time job, and wasn't receiving any child support because we had joined custody.
With all this happening at once, I was desperate to find some kind of work that I could do from home so I could pay the bills.
That's when I decided to look on the Internet. I looked for information on how to start an online business, web design, how to find products to sell and everything related to having a home based business. But guess what, most of the free information available talked about getting a product, promoting it and making money but they actually didn't say how and where to find products, where or how to promote your web site and I was so frustrated that for a moment I thought about forgetting the whole thing and look for a full-time job somewhere else.
At this point I knew that I only had one last chance at it so I decided to spend one more day looking for step-by-step information on how to set up your own home business. Luckily, I came across a very impressive step-by-step manual that taught me how to start my business online.
If you plan to start your own online business, keep in mind that you have to invest a little money. But hey, the investment is a lot less than starting any other business.
My initial investment (after having spent previously around $250 in information that wasn't worth a penny) was $296.90. This included the step-by-step manual, autoresponder, domain, web hosting and search engines.
The basic steps to start your own business are:
1. What to look for first?...A Niche Market
Some people think that they should look for a product first and then look for customers but in reality, it's the other way around.
One of the tools that I use for this is http://www.content.overture.com/d/USm/ac/index.jhtml and look in the "Search Term Suggestion Tool".
All you have to do is type a keyword and it will give you a list of related keywords that people have looked for during the previous month.
You may be asking, how do I know what keywords to type? Well, I recommend you start by writing on a piece of paper the answer to these questions.
- What are my hobbies?
- What are my interests?
- What talents do I have?
Don't leave anything out. Why things you're interested in? Because having a home based business is not only about making money but also about having fun in the process. If you're passionate about what you do, you will suceed.
Once you have your keywords, then you go to Google and start writing each keyword in "search". You will notice numbers underneath the "search" box.
Just to give you an example, if you type the word "home based business" you will see "Results 1-10 of about 13,900,000". To see if you found a niche market, all you have to do is do the following calculation.
Supply/Demand = Supply/Demand Ratio
In other words:
Google Results/Overture Count = Supply/Demand Ratio
Let's say that when you looked for "home based business" in Overture the count was 415461 so the result is:
13,900,000/415461 = 33.45681063
The lower the Supply/Demand Ratio number is, the better because it tells you that there is more demand than supply and you will make more money with this niche market.
2. Looking for a Product
Once you identify your niche market, it's time to look for a product.
In my case, since I don't want to get involved in shipping products, I look for companies that once I sell the product, they will ship it to the customer allowing me to save on shipping charges and time.
Nowadays, people are looking for information on various topics. Most of internet sales are on info products that the customer can download immediately, once they pay for it with a credit card. It doesn't involve any shipping charge and the customer doesn't have to wait 2-3 weeks to receive it.
There are suppliers that have over 10,000 digital products on every topic and the best thing is that they deliver the products, and pay you commission. They issue checks twice a month.
3. Building a Web Site
Once you have your niche market and products, you need to build a web site. Since I didn't know any HTML and didn't have money, I looked for companies that would allow you to build your own web site at a very low price and that included some type of HTML program so all I had to do was type the information and the system would convert it to HTML.
In terms of the design of your web site, make it as simple as possible. Make sure the navigation is easy for your customers and don't use too many pictures. Less is more. The background should be white with black letters to make it easier to read.
Don't have too many pages. Don't give your customer an excuse to leave your web site because it is too long or have too many pages.
Have a "subscribe form" built in your web site. It's very important that you collect as many email addresses as you can because those will be your customers. Provide a free newsletter every month with useful information to your customers.
4. Writing your Sales Letter
When I read about writing a sales letter, I wasn't sure I could write anything. To tell you the truth, I'm not a good writer. What I learned was that if your going to write something for your web site, write as if you were writing to a friend of yours.
Be honest, write the pro's and con's of your products. That way you establish credibility and your customers will be more inclined to buy from you.
5. Choosing a Web Hosting Company
Look for a company that gives you enough bandwidth, email accounts, and support. Look for their reliability because you don't want to choose one that have frequent problems with their system.
You need to set up an autoresponder because if you're going to send information to your costumers, you don't want to spend time writing every month and sending it to them. With an autoresponder, you can type or even copy and paste articles in advance that will be automatically sent to your customers every week or every month.
This may take you 1-2 hours to do but once you do it, you can forget about it for a whole year.
7. Promote Your Web Site
I've found that the most difficult thing to do is this, promoting. Know why? Because there are lots of companies that supposedly "guarantee" that you're going to get lots of hits for a fee. Most are scams. I personally don't spend a cent buying "guaranteed leads".
Another thing that doesn't work for me is "free ads". Most of the time, people don't read them and because they are free, these ads are not sent to anyone.
The only ads that have worked for me are the one in Google Adwords. These are based on a "pay-per-click" basis. You have to make sure that if your are going to use this method of advertising, that you set up the parameters. What I mean by this is, establish the amount of money you will spend on a daily basis so you don't spend more than you can afford to.
During my first month doing business on the Internet, I generated $532.16 working only 2 hours a week.
The feeling of checking my account every day and discovering that I had made money was so great that I decided to look for other ways to make a bigger income.
I'll be honest with you, it hasn't been easy and I'm not going to tell you that I became a millionaire in 6 months because I would be lying, but every day I search for more information and ways to make money and it feels great to be able to pay my bills and still have money to do whatever I want.
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't make it. Believe in yourself.
The advantages of having an online business is that the expenses a very low, you get to have the flexibility of working the hours you want and the days you want, allowing you more time with your family and friends.
One important thing is to keep up to date on everything related to having a home based business. The Internet is changing every day and if you're serious about having an online business, make sure you read and educate yourself.
Maria Estarellas is a former airline manager and mother of two teenage sons. Her website was created with the modern family in mind. She provides a variety of information and fun things to do for the whole family in just one place. Upon request, she also helps people find information when they don't have time to do it themselves. http://www.meg2.citymaker.com