Many people dream of starting their own business but don’t know where to start or even what to do. Often they have very little capital to invest and are seeking ways to know how to start an online business for free or on a budget. Well the good news is that there are a few options out there which could potentially fit but today I will discuss one way that I have found works very well. This is affiliate marketing and I have started with a company called Wealthy Affiliate.
So if you’re looking for an online business opportunity with a low start up, you’re in the right place.
“WHAT’S THAT?” I hear you cry in a voice split between shock and mock horror – “Affiliate market what? What kind of online business is that?”
Well, the answer is simple. Basically:
- you create a website in a niche of your choice
- you drive traffic (users) to the site by creating interesting and unique content using keywords which will help your website get ranked on search engines
- you monetise the site in any number of ways so it is working for you 24/7, 365 days a year.
Now I’m not saying this is done without any work or commitment – of course, any business needs your passion, your energy and your enthusiasm. But this one does not need lots of your money! And for those needed to start on a budget, this is good news! You will need to make some investment, yes, but if you started a window-cleaning business you’d have to buy a bucket and a cloth!
Step One: Create a Website
There are many ways to create a website and I have written an article previously about some of the best affiliate marketing programs out there. I have also written about some of the best website creation tools too.
Most of these programs and websites offer FREE sign up so that you can create a website for nothing more than the cost of your internet connection (I said there would be some investment).
The one I have used to create this website and this article is through Wealthy Affiliate. They offer a free Starter membership and a Premium membership offering the benefits below. Now to many people who are interested in starting an online business this may seem like gobbledygook but the main things to remember are that you want:
a) A way of creating a website or two
b) Some training and support in doing so
and this is exactly what I got with the starter membership.
However, if you have a little more money to spend and are wiling to invest a little more in your business, then I recommend the premium membership which allows for more websites, more training and a host of other benefits that have really helped me with my own business. And the cost of the premium membership is only $19 for the first month and $49 per month after that, but you can leave any time and there is no pressure from within the company. There’s also an annual membership offer for $359 which is really the best value for money.
So, you can easily start a website for free. Or you could get an entire year at the top membership level with Wealthy Affiliate, with a proven, tried-and-tested program to set you up in an online business of your choice, for less than the price of a daily newspaper, a coffee or a donut! And other programs out there are similarly priced although I’ve found that some others don’t have the free starter options.
“WHAT?” I hear you say again, this time with a rather more questioning tone – “What you say can’t be right! It must be a scam, right? – Where’s the catch?”
I don’t believe there is a scam, and I don’t believe there is a catch – but it might fly in the face of what they teach you at school about having to get good exam results in order to get a ‘good, steady-paying job” and live in the rat race like everyone else!
And of course if you aren’t really prepared to work for your business and you were seeking for some get-rich-quick or pie-in-the-sky magic pill, to make you an overnight millionaire!…..
Aha! You were! I’m sure that really we are all secretly looking for something like that, but in reality, we all know in our heart of hearts that they simply don’t exist! Scammers will try their hardest to tell you they do and make believe that they can make you a fortune overnight and you just need to click a few links, (whilst paying them some money of course), order your brand new car (or 4) and sit back waiting for the money to roll in……..waiting……..waiting……you get the idea! Whilst the only cheques being cashed are yours, in the bank account of the scammers!
But back to reality!
I have found Wealthy Affiliate to be a legitimate training program which has helped many people start an online business. It not only allows access to many of hours of training, weekly live webinars and walk-through video courses, but even better, there is an entire community of wonderful, positive and experienced like-minded entrepreneurs ready to help and available 24/7, 365 days a year.
It has helped me run my business:
- in my own time
- at my own pace, and
- in an area that interests and excites me!
And I know if could do the same for YOU!
If your passion is to own a website selling odd socks, or you are enthusiastic about teddy bears, or you want to bring the intricacies of lace-making to the world, that’s OK! If you have a passion and are interested in something, then you can be sure that other people around the globe will be too. Starting a website will help you reach out to this new audience and help them by offering information and advice (that they’re already looking for), whilst at the same time, building your own online business and having a lot of fun doing it.
Step Two: Drive traffic (users) to your site
Step one is easy – really it is. But step two takes a little more know how and if you are not experienced in search engine optimisation (SEO for short) or what a keyword is, or how Google ranks and answers search requests then this could be a minefield. If you don’t have users on your site, then your business will be like the book in your head – lots of ideas but never being written.
Happily though you don’t need to understand some of these things to make them work for you. It’s a bit like turning on the light switch. Few of us really understand how the electricity causes the filament in the light bulb to glow but that doesn’t stop us enjoying the light! And by the same token, if you are a computer internet and programming whizzkid, then that’s OK too. You’ll probably start with an advantage.
The thing is, anyone can learn it with the right help and taking a step by step approach.
I love computers but I have used the training I’ve received with my membership at Wealthy Affiliate to learn what I needed to learn, when I needed to learn it. I know understand what SEO means, I can drive traffic to my site using keywords but I don’t need to understand HTML programming language to do it.
What you do need to learn and understand is:
1) keywords – these are what the search engines use to find your articles. Each time to type in a search request into Google (or Bing or Yahoo for that matter), you are using a keyword. The search engine then searches the billions of articles online and brings you a list of most relevant and most trusted results. You can easily learn which keywords are relevant to your article and how to use them to your best advantage by using keyword research tools such as Jaaxy or even just using Google itself.
2) SEO – search engine optimisation is about how to ensure that the site you create is best optimised so that the search engines will rank it and deliver it to searchers in their list of sites. Most Google searches will return millions of sites, but to have a viable website you need to be in the first few rankings in order for most people to visit. When was the last time to clicked on a link on page 5 of Google?
3) Legal things like what you can and cannot put on your sites. There are many sites out there where people put up content that they don’t actually own or have no right to republish. This is often the case in terms of images and videos but in order to stay on the right side of the law, a bit of training can help you stay out of trouble.
4) Remember that CONTENT is KING! People will visit your site for information and because you will offer them what they are looking for in a particular niche. So understanding how to write effectively is important and again you can learn this too. Have a look at my articles on writing blogs and overcoming writer’s block for some tips on creating interesting posts.
I was able to learn all of the above through the training program but of course it is all freely available on the web if you want to search through and find it yourself. I just wanted to shortcut to what was important and found that following the training program was the best way for me to do that.
Step Three: Monetise your site
This is where you use affiliate marketing skills to make your site earn you an income. Some ways you can do this include:
- Using affiliate links – you promote other people’s products or services that are relevant to your niche site, and they pay you a commission for sending interested people their way. There are many affiliate programs out there and you can search yourself for affiliate programs that interest you, join up and get started. There are some specific sites such as Clickbank and ShareaSale for example that are a bit like a wholesaler for affiliate programs, having many affiliate programs under their banner, but you can also search individual companies and service providers yourself and join those too. Some programs will have an approval system so they may look at your site and/or content before approving you but others are more general.
- Google adsense or similar advertising programs – this is where Google places adverts on your site and you get paid by the advertisers for the space they have. This is like TV advertising where companies pay the TV broadcasters for their airspace. Or radio adverts, or magazine adverts, or bus stop adverts. Adverts are all around us so why not on your site? The trick is not to overload your site so that your content is lost.
- Specific and unique services that you advertise – this could be for your own products or services such as an ebook, new invention or other products you sell.
Again, in the training I have followed, these steps are clearly laid out and I have indeed found all of them easy to implement. These are usually free to set up but they do take a bit of time (that’s where your effort comes in) and you need to update them regularly to keep things fresh for the best user experience.
So you can set up your online business on a small budget or for free, easily. What you can’t then do is sit back and expect it all to come together with a wish and a prayer! Like any business it will take your time, your passion and your dedication to make it successful. But there are many, many people out there who have broken the chains of the rat race to build a thriving, income-generating online business.
The world is changing……but the question is, are you willing to change with it?
Think about it…… When was the last time you:
- searched in a phone book for a phone number?
- or perused your local paper to find out the film showing times at your local cinema?
- or booked a restaurant or hotel without first checking out some online reviews?
The advent of the world wide web (the internet as we know it today) has changed everything but most people choose to remain stuck in the last century when choosing their job and their income strategy. Many of us are still doggedly exchanging our time for money, and it is not usually a lot of much money at that. We drag ourselves out of bed 5 days a week (or more) to a place of employment we don’t really enjoy, only to find that we run out of money days before the end of the month!
Does this sound familiar to you? Are you one of the millions of people setting themselves up for disappointment when you realise too late, that computers have replaced your job and you look around frantically for something to fall back on?
The warning signs are out there, but it is up to you whether you heed them or not. The world is changing, our way of life is changing: in the industrial revolution, machines replaced the agricultural work force, and drove them into the cities. The same is happening with the technological revolution whereby many jobs are being replaced with computers. Artificial intelligence is real – think Alexia, Siri, Google!
So wouldn’t it be good to be one of the ones with your hands on the computers?
And if you still need a gentle push in the right direction…
Here’s a question for you. What could you buy to start your business with less than a dollar a day? Let’s think………perhaps you could get:
- a one-off advert in a local newspaper
- some posters and some leaflets printed provided you took on the design and delivery costs
- a few business cards and some pre-printed letter head with which to impress your customers…but who really sends letters now anyway?!
You get the point!
Or perhaps you could start the business you really wanted to and give yourself the best chance to succeed with your new online business. Remember: a whole year’s membership with Wealthy Affiliate costs less than a dollar a day.
“WHAT?……let me think” you splutter now in that voice you have when you realise it’s decision time but you’re grasping for that weak excuse which has held you back so many times before!
“No pressure” I say…..the decision is yours – just don’t think for too long because tick, tick, tick…..time waits for no one!