So you’ve got a great idea and you’re ready to start an online business?
That’s great news!
The problem is your search results are probably all back to front.
Let me explain that.
The first thing most people do is Google “How To Start An Online Store”, Or “How To Make A Business Website”. And this is what you get:
- “How To Start A Website In 20 Minutes”
- “How To Start Your Online Business For $100 Or Less”
- “Build Your Online Store In 5 Easy Steps”
- “6 Online Businesses You Can Start Today”
There are millions of results and they tell you very similar things.
We believe following the accepted process will set you up for failure. Nobody wants that.
While many of these articles contain practical advice, we’re going to show you a better way to get your business started.
1. Do Things In The Right Order
In English, “putting the cart before the horse” is an old proverb. It means doing things in the wrong order.
Let’s say the horse is the momentum for your business. In your online business, momentum is provided by your customers and sales.
The cart is the delivery method. Your website is the system (or cart) that brings your products to your audience.
Here’s the recommended process for setting up your online business:
- Get a domain name (Namecheap or GoDaddy are usually recommended)
- Choose a web hosting platform (WPX, Bluehost, WPEngine, etc.)
- Design your website – using a built-in website builder (WordPress + Astra/Elementor Pro or any other well-known theme)
- Create content
- Add products
- Success! You’re ready for your first sale.
Or are you?
If you’ve tried this method, chances are it didn’t work out the way you thought.
You probably spent a lot of time building your website. You created content and started posting regularly. You added your products and affiliate links.
Finally, you checked your bank account and the result was a big fat zero.
So, what went wrong?
You put the cart before the horse!
2. Here’s Why That’s Not Working:
There are myriad skills required to become a successful online entrepreneur.
When you begin, there are numerous details and strategies that most new business owners are unaware of.
You’re not expected to learn them all in a few weeks or months, but they are necessary to avoid failure.
a) According to several sources, approximately 90% of new online businesses fail within the first 4 months
We’ll say that again – 90% of you will fail!
Data from CB Insights shows that 42% of start-ups fail because owners didn’t figure out if there was a market for their products.
The first thing to determine is whether someone will pay for your product or service.
Isn’t that logical?
It all comes down to choosing the right product and marketing it to the right people.
That’s how you make money.
If your online business isn’t making money, then you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.
b) We hate to say this, but nobody really cares about you and your business
Buyers only care about themselves.
Just because you have a beautifully designed website with well-written content, you’re not entitled to make any sales.
You won’t get traffic to your site, comments on your blog, or money in your bank account.
To get noticed online you need to find your audience and figure out what they need.
Ultimately, your online success relies on building a solid foundation and a steady flow of customers for your business.
3. Discover a Better Way: The Back to Front Online Business Strategy That Works
If you skim the list below, you’ll notice that building your website is the last step. We’re going to outline the reasons why this back – to – front strategy is better.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- a) Choosing A Niche: Find A Need And Fill It
- b) Keyword Research: Get Found And Start Ranking
- c) Your Audience: Who Are You Selling To?
- d) Your Content: Where Most People Go Wrong
- e) Market Research: Don’t Miss This Step
- f) Build Your Website: Why You Do This Last
a) Choosing A Niche: Find A Need And Fill It
A niche is a sector of the market you are in and the products you sell. For example, you may be in the health sector and choose to sell vitamins.
Thousands of niches are available, but choosing the perfect one is very time-consuming.
Finding the right niche is as important as remembering to take your paddle when you go kayaking. We could write a whole post on this (and probably will) but these next tips will help you select your niche.
What Do People Need?
Is there even a market for your niche?
The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem.
Think about the types of products you already buy and ask your friends about their last purchase.
What was the motivation behind those purchases?
Find answers to common problems. Facebook groups are one way to research the problems people raise and how you could solve them.
Google is an obvious choice, but remember to check the discussions and questions asked in forums and sites like Quora. The questions asked (and the answers are given) will provide further insight into what people need.
What Do You Know?
It’s much easier to get enthusiastic about a product or service you know very well.
Make a list of the skills or talents you have and see what products are related to those areas.
Not all of these niches will be profitable, but if you choose one that is aligned with your interests then you’ll enjoy your business more.
Narrow Down Your Niche
This is the tough part.
The narrower your niche, the more focussed your marketing. This will save you a lot of headaches – and money – because your efforts will be targeted in one direction.
When you understand exactly what your audience wants, go ahead and offer it to them.
Your customers will come to trust you and the value you provide. The end result is that they’ll buy more over time.
Evergreen vs. Trending Niches
Products may change through the years, but evergreen niches don’t disappear. Many of these categories have been around way before the internet and are popular in traditional stores too. That means they’ll continue to be an excellent source of income online.
You’ll find examples of evergreen niches in the following industries:
Fitness, Beauty, Health, and Hobbies.
If you intend to sell your website in the future, then concentrate on building your site to stand out from the competition. This will increase its value to an investor.
In our opinion, trending niches are not the best choice. They have a limited lifespan and you’ll need to spend extra on marketing.
If you’re considering a trending product, then understand this is best used as a short term addition to your existing products, and not as the foundation product of your niche.
Unless you’re selling a service, your products will fall into one of two categories:
- Physical Products: Examples of physical products include yoga mats, tents, and watches.
- Digital products: Examples of digital products include eBooks, online courses and software.
Your online shop may offer products from both these categories, but keep them related. If you’re selling yoga mats, then your eBook should be about yoga.
b) Keyword Research: Get Found and Rank Well
Once you decide on a niche, it’s time to research the associated keywords.
Finding keywords you can rank for is one of the toughest tasks you’ll have when starting out.
This involves figuring out how people are searching for your products online.
Start by entering keywords into Google and see what appears. Enter words that your target audience would use when looking for a product.
Keep an eye on what comes up in auto-complete because this will suggest other common search terms.
Is there an opportunity for you to stand out in the crowd?
Google Keyword Planner is the obvious place to start, but there are many other great options. But we do most of our work with Ahrefs.
For some fun, enter a seed keyword phrase into AnswerThePublic.
It will spit out a heap of questions related to your search, along with a list of queries in alphabetical order. If nothing else, it’s a handy way to get blog post ideas when you’re stuck for content.
If you’re prepared to pay for a search tool, then Ahrefs makes it easier to find both short and long tail keywords to target.
You don’t need to add keywords or search terms. Just enter any URL and it will show you all the keywords that are ranking for that website.
Keyword research is the heart of your SEO, paid marketing, and content marketing campaigns.
Don’t try to compete with the big boys when you start
The most popular keywords obviously return the largest number of results.
This means they have huge competition. If you’re advertising they’re also expensive to rank for.
Give your new website time to grow before trying to compete with larger and better-funded businesses.
We suggest getting some traction with keywords that are easier to rank and those phrases unique to your niche.
A word of advice
Try using more “long tail” keywords. These are longer and more specific keyword phrases. Because of this, they have much less competition.
By using these “long tails” instead of high competition keywords, you may be able to rank better and drive more traffic to your site.
c) Your Audience: Who Are You Selling To?
You might think the hardest part of starting a business is designing your website.
It’s not. It’s actually getting your customers.
Defining your ideal customer doesn’t have to be hard, but it involves a lot of work.
To be successful in any business, you need to sell something first. When your customers buy your products they create the revenue for your business to grow.
This is the key element of building your business back to front.
It may seem strange, but finding your customers first before you sell anything is a smarter way to start your online business.
Let’s explore those steps now.
Define your customer
When you understand who your ideal customer is, your important marketing decisions are easier.
This knowledge impacts the way your website looks, the content you write, the products you offer and how you market to your buyers.
A buyer persona is a fictional outline of your ideal customer. This representation should be based on market research as well as information from other sources.
If you don’t have a single customer yet, then reach out to your existing network and social media contacts. Use surveys and interview prospects to develop your database of information.
Another option is to ask for referrals and talk to people who may fit your target persona.
If you don’t adequately define your customer, then your marketing strategy is pretty much the equivalent of standing on a street corner and shouting at passersby.
Demographics allow you to segment your customers according to their characteristics.
This data includes things such as a person’s location, age, education, interests, and income.
If you know your target demographics then it’s far easier to find and market to your prospective buyers.
A clear picture of who your customer is and where to reach them also stretches your marketing budget. You won’t be spending money on email marketing if you’re targeting millennials: you know they’re all on facebook.
Will they pay?
There’s nothing worse than choosing a product and investing time marketing it to the wrong people.
This happens more often than you think.
Thousands of new business owners select their niche, do their keyword and product research, and then omit this one vital ingredient.
Trying to sell to an audience who don’t have the money to buy is wasted effort.
Would you market luxury watches to a student?
This is why it’s essential to build your audience in the right places.
Start marketing to them
If you want money making business, then your best chance of success is to go after a proven market.
With a new online website, it’s unlikely that your first paying customers will find you. It’s your job to find them.
Once you’ve defined your ideal customer there’s no reason you can’t start marketing to them right away. You can do this even before you build a website.
If you’re unsure how to get your first clients, try some of these ideas:
- Create a survey on a subject that interests your target audience and provide them with the conclusions. Just make sure to tell them what they’ll gain from the results.
- Write informative and useful posts on social media and other sites. Choose topics that people ask questions about and that you have experience in.
- Offer some quality content in the form of an eBook, or similar. This can be used as a lead magnet to attract the right people. Start with a simple landing page to build a list of email subscribers and launch your business to them when you’re ready.
- Do a webinar, have a Zoom call, or make a YouTube video on a topic of interest to your niche market.
All of these methods can result in free traffic to your website when you go live.
The more you establish yourself as a reputable expert before you attempt to sell your products, the greater the chance they’ll come back and pay you later.
Above all, you’re creating a positive impression that makes your prospects aware of you, what you do and how you help them.
The unwritten rule: Spend most of your time giving to people before asking for anything back.
d) Your Content: Where Most People Go Wrong
The written content on your website covers everything from your “About Us” page to your blog posts.
Every piece of content on your site needs to be written with a goal in mind. This may be to inform, to educate, to sell or even to entertain.
Your Google search results are all content! This should tell you the importance of creating content that appeals to your target audience.
The purpose is to attract visitors to your business and eventually turn them into buyers. If you’re not sure how effective that is, take a look at the following statistics:
Content marketing brings in 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. (Source: Demand Metric)
61% of online purchases are the direct result of a customer reading a blog. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
The reason so many businesses get this wrong is that they don’t have any strategy in place.
Do the following and your chances of getting noticed online are far greater:
Craft content that fits your brand image
Always keep in mind the purpose or belief that inspires you in your business. This is the essence of your brand image.
It’s your reason for existence that establishes value in the mind of your customer. The content you post allows people to understand how unique you are and helps build trust in you and your products.
Write for your audience
When someone lands on your website they came there for a reason.
If you came up in their search results, it’s because they want a question answered or more information on you or what you’re selling.
By providing visitors with the information they need you’ll also start building a stronger relationship with them. People always return to sites that they trust.
Write for your buyer persona and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Write about things that are relevant to your niche
Stay on topic.
If your business niche is electronic dog training collars, don’t post blogs about chicken food.
Maintain the integrity and quality of your products so that you’re not confusing or frustrating your customers. In this way, you can become an authority in your niche.
When you’re recognized as an expert, your content will be respected, shared, and valued.
The simple truth is that quality content will mean better search results and traffic to your website.
Google rewards high-quality content over quantity. This means you can’t just throw a bunch of 500- word, random articles on your site and expect to be rewarded.
The most notable of Google’s basic principles is that you need to create original content that helps your brand stand out from the competition. You want to get found.
All the promotion on earth won’t build an engaged audience if you have lousy content.
It’s no secret. A focused piece of content answering a user’s search will receive more organic traffic and referrals.
In addition, if another site links to your content, you might be able to get huge traffic in a very short time.
To achieve this goal, concentrate on building a quality content library and not pushy, attention- seeking sales copy.
e) Market Research: Don’t Miss This Step
By now, the importance of doing adequate research will be obvious.
We also recommend these research tactics:
Research your competition
No matter which industry you choose, there is always going to be competition.
Your competitors will have their own brands and their own techniques to acquire customers.
This is why it’s important to spend time researching what your competitors do well.
The objective here is to help you figure out what you can do better or differently. You don’t want to copy their every move, but you could find opportunities they miss.
Go Where Your Prospects Are
If you join social media groups and participate in forums relative to your niche you’ll get a constant stream of valuable information.
When you engage with people by asking questions and commenting on their posts, you create relationships. Eventually, you can leverage those relationships to build awareness about you and your business.
Be genuinely interested in those conversations, though. People will soon notice if your intentions are self-serving.
Perform searches on social media and other platforms
You’ll find the most common questions or challenges people face in their business or niche on social media.
People discuss how they decide what to buy, their motivations and how they compare products.
In addition, check sites like Quora or Reddit for a vast information resource you can tap into.
You may even consider asking your own questions on these sites. Asking a specific question will reward you with answers that expand your market research data.
The end benefit is that you’ll make more informed decisions about the best channels to reach your target customers.
f) Building Your Website: Why You Do This Last
We’re happy you’ve read this far!
So, why is this step last?
The reason is simple:
You need enough customers to buy your products in order for your business to succeed. It makes sense to evaluate your potential customer base before building your website.
A website may be the most expensive part of starting your online business so you need a good reason to have one.
Although there are far more online business categories we could mention, your new business probably fits one of the models below.
Blogs generally concentrate on growing an audience through a relationship with their readers. They rely on informing and teaching others through their content.
Blog owners usually aim to make money by offering services or digital products. Examples of these are “How To” ebooks, selling affiliate products, and selling software.
If you possess a talent that your audience wants to learn and can pay for, then you can make an income from blogging.
A point to note is that you need a strong base of fans and high traffic before you’ll earn a satisfactory income.
An Affiliate Marketing Site
We’re big fans of affiliate marketing sites.
It’s one of our businesses, so we speak from experience!
Even better, an affiliate marketing business is probably one of the most profitable models you’ll find online.
Simply put, affiliate marketing is promoting someone else’s products. When a visitor to your website clicks on a product and makes a purchase, you make a commission on that purchase.
It is now one of the most popular online businesses and it can become a passive income source for you.
Almost every product or service you can imagine in your niche will have an affiliate program somewhere.
If you’re marketing to your audience in a specific niche, then you can attract the buyers most likely to act on your offer.
That really is quite a simple explanation, but if you want to know more, then contact one of our experts here.
E-commerce And Online Stores
E-commerce is like having a digital retail store. Sales are made through online platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Bigcommerce.
The products you sell may be your own or those you buy and promote through your internet marketing strategies.
These websites can produce decent amounts of income provided you have the resources to manage and administer the business.
Most successful e-commerce sites use paid traffic to get buyers to their store.
A few important notes on building your website:
Take a moment to think about these statistics:
“38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive” (Source: Adobe)
“Half a billion dollars are lost each year because of slow websites, with conversion rates dropping 7% as a result.” (Source Website Hosting Rating)
“40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. And 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again.” (Source Website Hosting Rating)
We cannot stress this enough: your website needs to be well designed and well structured from start to finish.
Even a website that looks good at first glance may not get the job done by converting visitors into leads and customers.
There are hundreds of statistics showing that if a website slips up at any point, people will leave it and go elsewhere.
There are many reasons for this and the only real way to find out is to understand how users interact with your website.
If you don’t have this knowledge, then it’s better to get help from an expert.
Many online businesses fail because they don’t plan many things and have no solid marketing strategy. They have little information on their niche or their target market so they can’t reach their customers.
Sometimes it all comes down to overwhelm with market research, tech issues, and content creation.
If you’re just starting an online business, never underestimate how much work goes into the setup.
Each step requires your attention and, most of the time, things are not as easy as they appear. As we all find out at some point, “You don’t know what you don’t know”.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a game of patience and persistence, so it can take time to see results.
We think our back to front business strategy gives you a head start to success online.
In A Hurry to make money online? Consider Ready Made Websites
If you’re looking to fast track this process, then consider a turnkey website.
You’ll save months of setup and costs and can start earning money now.
We identify dozens of potential affiliate niches, do the keyword research, create content and build pre-made sites that are ready to launch now.
Plus, our team is ready to support your ongoing content and SEO efforts.
Take a wander through our website to see the questions we’re asked most often. If you want to find out more, then reach out today.
About Andrej Ilisin: Founder and CEO of Alpha Investors. Has a great passion for building stuff / online businesses. When he’s not in front of his desktop, he’s either at the gym or playing basketball. His wife doesn’t approve… duh…