- June 16, 2021
- Posted by: Richard Takemura
- Categories: Affiliate Marketing, Blog, Business, Make Money Online
Why an Online Business? The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it in several ways. The need to quarantine and socially distance to avoid the spread of the virus left many brick-and-mortar businesses empty for months. Many businesses had to shut down to prevent further losses and many are hanging on to a hope that the future will be better.
But for every difficult situation, there is a solution if you persevere. All you need to do is put in a little effort and come out of your comfort zone to try new things. Despite the grim situation post-pandemic, there is a silver lining to this whole scenario. We must consider ourselves fortunate that the pandemic occurred in an age where digital technology is at a new high.
So what if your brick-and-mortar store cannot sustain itself in times like these? As long as you have the internet, your business does not necessarily need a physical store.
Going online with your business
The pandemic has shown us the importance and relevance of online businesses. Any business that does not have the capability to shift online has very little likelihood of surviving today. Well, not all businesses can transfer their entire operations online. Businesses that rely on the physical experience of customers as a selling point cannot entirely depend on online channels.
For instance, a coffee shop that was designed to give the perfect ambiance for weekend hangout cannot fulfill its value proposition online. But they can still benefit from shifting a part of their business online, such as taking orders for home delivery or takeaway through online platforms.
But apart from these exceptions, most other businesses should be able to make the best use of digital communication channels.
How to start an online business
The answer to this question depends on several factors. Firstly, you need to decide how you plan to do business online. An assessment of your business’s current state, its capabilities to move online and the capabilities of your team to handle an online business will be necessary. Initially, you may not be in a position to start a full-fledged business online. You need enough resources to do that. Starting an online business will need people with sufficient skills and knowledge of technology to manage the business. You will also need infrastructures such as computers, a reliable internet connection and some relevant software tools to run the business efficiently.
Building your website
Assuming that you have access to these resources, the first thing that your online business would need is a platform to showcase and sell your products. So, you will need a good website for your business. You may hire a professional web developer if you can afford one. If you can’t, though, there are several website builder tools available online that will let you create a simple website on your own, without coding. You can choose designs, graphics, fonts, and images from their libraries and customize the site as you go.
As a first attempt, it is best to keep the website simple and the navigation easy and uniform on every page. Also, make sure to write a killer copy that can drive conversions on your site.
Create content that drives traffic to your site
Once your business website is up and running, you will need to attract your target customers’ attention to it. This is where your digital marketing skills will be put to test. The first requirement here is good content. You will need to promote your website and its products on various platforms, from social media to relevant blogs or through emails. It would be a good idea to do some research on quality content creation.
You have to know what your target audience usually searches for in your niche online. Identify the most popular keywords they use, check out competitor websites, and do some market research to understand what kind of content can draw people to your online business. The content does not always have to be a direct promotion of your products or services. You can also create content that adds value for your audience, shares some valuable knowledge in your niche, and establishes you as an authority in your field.
When consumers see you as a thought leader in your field, they will automatically be drawn to your business as well.
Keep your inventory and your website updated
One of the most important things that most new online businesses neglect is updating their stocks. Make sure that you maintain an inventory and update the information on your website regularly. If a product on your catalog is out of stock and someone places an order, it would be disappointing to let them know you can’t deliver as promised. You risk losing customers who will never come back to your site again.
So make it a point to synchronize your inventory and your website for better service.
Online businesses that can be easily set up
Now that you know how to start an online business, here are some ideas for online businesses that you can start with minimum investments to begin your entrepreneurial journey.
How to start a print-on-demand business
A print-on-demand business is where you offer custom-made printed merchandise as and when a customer places an order. It could be any product, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to calendars or souvenirs. This is one of the best ways to venture into online selling because you don’t need to stock up too many products. It is easy to set up and involves very low startup costs.
- Choose your niche. Something that will set you apart from others and create a unique identity for your business. (For instance, someone prints pet photos only, while someone prints custom quotes, etc.)
- Choose your print provider and the products you wish to sell. There are many print-on-demand providers that will print your designs for you, or you could choose to print yourself if the order volumes are manageable.
- Set up your online store and promote it. This is just what we discussed above. An attractive website and great promotional content can do the trick.
How to start a dropshipping business
Dropshipping is another very popular online business model with new entrepreneurs. Dropshipping does not require you to stock the products you’re selling. You acquire the products from a third party instead and ship them directly to your customers. So you’re actually doing business without the added costs of inventory and warehousing.
So, here’s how to start a dropshipping business in a few steps.
- Select a niche. Your drop shipping business should offer a unique value to customers. There are many big players, like Amazon, Etsy, etc. already offering drop shipping services in the market. Make sure to choose a niche that appeals to your target market.
- Partner with the right supplier. Even though you are not responsible for manufacturing the products you sell, the quality of products is important to keep customers coming back for more. Ensure that your supplier is reliable and doesn’t compromise on quality or packaging and offers reasonable shipping charges.
- Create your business website and build a customer acquisition strategy. So, like any other online business, you will need a good web copy and content to attract customers to your site.
How to get started in affiliate marketing
Another great way to set foot into the world of online business is through affiliate marketing. You neither need to sell products nor stock them. All you have to do is to market products effectively and earn commissions from the actual seller. Most businesses today have their own affiliate programs. You can choose a program you like and start recommending the products to your audience on various channels.
Decide on the platform you want to use. Affiliate marketing can be done anywhere, be it YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or even your own website or blog.
- Pick a niche. You could choose to promote gadgets, beauty products, household appliances, or anything that you think could be a profitable choice. Choosing a niche and sticking to it can increase your credibility among your audience. Once they see you as an authority in your niche, they are more likely to follow your recommendations.
- Find an affiliate program to join. There are various programs offered by different businesses. Some are high-paying and low-volume, some are low-paying but high-volume, and so on. Choose one that suits your niche and your level of expertise.
- Create amazing content that drives traffic to your affiliate marketing site or channel and convinces people to try your recommendations. Once people start clicking on your affiliate links to products and the clicks start converting to sales, you start generating revenue from your business.
Starting an online business is no longer an option for business owners and entrepreneurs. It is the need of the hour. Having a basic know-how of online selling and marketing and doing your own research to learn more can help your business survive this post-pandemic crisis and sustain in the long run.