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Here's How and Where to Start your Online Business

Aug 17, 2007
Are you excited at the prospect of an online business? Do you find yourself asking: Is it possible to earn a living online? Can I do it?
Well, be encouraged. You can earn a living, an incredibly good one, and yes, you can do it. Anyone can do it.
Whether you are in employment looking to supplement your income or fire the boss, or whether you are retired and looking to provide a pension, or whether you are a teenager still at college wanting to make it big, then an online business could be your answer.
The great thing about the internet is that you do not need any high flying qualifications.

So where do you start?

You need a product and a website. Let's start with the product.
You need something to sell. Something you are passionate about or that you can become passionate about. You might have a passion for wigwams or snails but your target market is going to be rather small! Decide on something that appeals to a wide range of people.
It can be a service, information or product.

Service Product

A service is where you might choose to sell your expertise through online consultancy, telephone or email. A key factor, though, in this type of business is that you are limited by the hours in a day that you can commit. As your business expands, a lot will depend on how much you can fit into the hours you have available every day. What would you do if 1 million people replied to your advertising?
Many people, therefore, with a service to offer, often combine it with information in the form of e~books. (An e~book is a book in electronic format that can be downloaded by the customer directly to their computer on payment via a secure system). So if, for example, you are a Life Coach, you would write your own e~books and e~courses that could be sold on line and you could offer an online consultancy as a back up perhaps. This leads into an area of great significance.

Information Products

Information products are hugely profitable. Everyone is looking for information. If you had a passion for natural health products, you could write your own information e~books and advertise them on your site. Other Products
So if you don't have your own product, then Affiliate Programs could be your answer. Put simply, get paid for marketing somebody else's product. Broadly you have two choices: drop shipping or referral marketing.

Drop Shipping

This is where, via your website, you take the order and shipping details, and receive the money at the retail price. You then place the order with the producer/wholesaler and pay at the wholesale price. He in turn ships the product to your customer. All this is great. However, there is a 'personal availability' commitment to your business involved. This can become time consuming as you necessarily become involved with aspects such as servicing returns and refunds with the attendant documentation.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are where you register with a site which agrees to pay you a percentage of the value of the products that are sold via recommendation through your site. They take the order and ship the product to your customer.
The big advantage of an affiliate program is that it more or less runs itself, it's on auto pilot 24/7. You do the promotion, then suddenly you get a notification via email that you have a commission cheque due because somebody somewhere has made a purchase.

Guidelines for choosing an Affiliate Program

There are millions of sites to choose from so you need to examine them carefully. No, you don't have to examine them all! If, for example, you were looking for an affiliate program site dealing with natural health products for a particular condition, work through the list until you find three or four good looking sites that have products to deal with that condition. Then compare them carefully and perhaps choose one of them. You need to be sure that the site you will be referring people to is a top notch sales page.
Check if the is site easy to navigate. Is the information easy to find? Are there some good testimonials? Do they offer a money back guarantee? Some sites have a 'BBB' symbol which means they are members of the Better Business Bureau. Is the ordering process simple and is delivery good?
The best way to check out a prospective affiliate site is to actually purchase something yourself. I would recommend you become a customer of the sites you decide to liaise with. Personal experience and a good testimonial will be excellent when you come to promote them.
Commissions offered vary from 1% to 75% ~ 80% and occasionally more. The higher the percentage the better obviously but make sure it's not in wigwams or snails! Look for the Affiliate button, that will take you to the information about their program and a simple form for registration.

Finding Affiliate Programmes

A good place to start would be www.clickbank.com Another way, if natural products were your chosen line, would be to put 'natural products affiliate programs' into your Google search engine. In this particular case you come up with nearly 18 million sites! Try being a bit more specific. If you were to try 'natural handmade soap affiliate program' you would get about 154,000 sites. You could also enter 'affiliate program directory'.
Yes, it will take time but finding some products that you are happy about and that you find beneficial is important to your credibility when you come to promote them.
About the Author
2006 Penny Shellswell Helping you develop successful internet work at home business opportunities. Download Free 325 page ebook "Dotcomology - The Science of Making Money Online" and sign up for my Free "Marketing Gazette" at www.LotsMoreComingIn.com
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