Planning Your Online Business to Work From Home

by WorkFromHome on May 4, 2011

Starting a business in a storefront or in an office can cost thousands of dollars, but by starting an online business the costs are usually greatly reduced. As a result, for budding entrepreneurs, this is a great way to start a home business that has very low start up and overhead costs and the potential to generate huge profits while you work from home. Planning your online business well is an essential component of succeeding. Follow the steps below to get started:

Start With What You Know

What are you good at? Any talents or hobbies? What is your professional experience in? Take some time to brainstorm different subjects and areas that you are both interested in and knowledgeable about. After all, an online business will require you to spend a great deal of time focusing on this topic, which means that you had better both like it and know something about it if you are going to be able to provide value to your new customers. Being able to provide value, whether it is in the form of better products or more intuitive services, is what will allow you to be competitive.

Once you have decided on your area of expertise, then you can refine it further by evaluating whether there is a demand for your services. Brainstorm different phrases and keywords that relate to your topic. For example, if you plan to sell dog toys, then potential keywords may include a variety of dog breeds, dog chews, pet toys, pet gifts, dog bones, etc.

Create The Answer To Their Problems

Use search engine optimization websites to identify problem statements that have both high search results and low competition. This means finding the keywords that will help you to find searches from potential customers that are not turning up answers. These problem statements present an opportunity for you to customize your new business to provide the answer.

This could lead to your creating a new product or offering an entirely new service than what is currently available. It also could just be that you need to rebrand your current services or products so that when customers search for these keywords, your website, which has the products that they are looking for, shows up in the results.

If you are creating a new product, then you may need to do further research on manufacturers, publishers and even resellers. If you find through your research that there is an opening in the market for a book, then instead of writing a book and having it published in hard copy, it may be more profitable to go entirely digital and, after you write it or hire someone else to write it for you, self publish it as an e-book.

Long Sales Copy Sells

Take your first product all the way from development through manufacturing and all the way to the point of sales. Then it is time to sell it online. Set up a website for it and write a long sales letter that describes its different features and benefits in depth. Do not forget to add in photographs! Having excellent quality photographs of all angles of your product is no longer considered optional when selling goods online, but not offering them will kill your sales.

Set Up Your Website For Success

Yes, there are plenty of free hosting options out there that will allow you to use a sub domain for your website address. However, your potential customers will never take you seriously if your website address is a sub domain that looks like http://YourName.FreeHostsDomainName.com. Instead, get your own domain. It will cost you a few dollars each year to register it, but it will be worth it. Make it as close to your business purpose as possible, and aim for one that is only one or two words. The fewer letters your potential customers have to remember, the more likely they are to visit your website!

Once you have your website domain, it is time to set up your website. Use a domain builder or hire a website designer to create your e-commerce website. Unless you are an HTML expert, it is worth your time and money to invest in a professional design to have a website that instils a sense of confidence in your website’s visitors thanks to its high level of professionalism as well as its smooth interface. You also can use website building software, which will cost you less. Remember, however, that you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap software package, then you can expect it to be limited in functionality. It also may be popular with other business owners, which may dilute the brand value that you are working so hard to build.

No matter what you are selling on your website, remember that your customers may have questions for you. Be a customer friendly company by giving customers an easy to use form to send you questions. You also should have an opt-in form that collects sales leads information, starting with e-mail addresses. Add in one or two other demographic questions, such as interests, gender, age, location or other data that can help you to tailor future sales e-mails to your new customers or product lines.

Get Found By Search Engines

You can have the most magnificently designed website in the world, but if no one can find it while searching for your products, then you will never make any money from it. If, instead of an online store, you were launching a brick and mortar store, then you would take out an advertisement in the phone book or put up a billboard. Because you are operating a virtual business, you need to make certain that potential customers and clients can find you while searching for your products and services on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Go back to your original list of keywords that relate to your product or service. Flesh it out by brainstorming more terms and phrases that relate to your core competencies and offerings. Use online tools to test the popularity of each combination that you come up and track this with a spreadsheet. Add your keywords to your website through the meta data or within the website itself. You also can purchase advertising from search engines, wherein you will be paying per click for visits from searches from specific phrases that you preselect.

Use Affiliate Programs To Grow Your Online Business

An affiliate program can help you to more than double your online business with almost no effort from you. In an affiliate program, other websites link to your products in return for a percentage of sales. As a result, you only have to pay your affiliates when your online business makes a sale. You should only set up an affiliate program, however, once your business in profitable, since affiliate websites will not want to continue to link to an online business that does not make sales when there are so many other affiliate programs clamouring to have a relationship with them.

Write Your Way To Online Business Success

Creating connections with current and potential customers and clients is a major component of long term success for many online businesses. Start small with a monthly online newsletter that you send out to subscribers via e-mail. By providing valuable updates and news, as well as a discount code or details about a top secret sale, you will hopefully generate more traffic to your website. Add in social media buttons to the newsletter to make it easy for your readers to forward it to their friends and relatives through both e-mail as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

A free e-book that gains popularity can also have a tremendous positive impact on your online business’s total sales. Making it free means that your website traffic will soar, while many of those visitors will be inspired to continue to browse through your site and, hopefully, make a purchase from you. Make sure that your e-book is aligned with your core product or service to keep your brand identity consistent for your visitors, whose confidence in you will increase as a result.

Get A Professional’s Take On Your Website

Sometimes it is hard to pull back from something that you have put so much hard work into and take an objective and critical look at what you need to do to push it to the next level. For your website, if you are not a website designer by trade, it can be even more challenging, which means that having an expert weigh in on areas that you could improve your website even more important.

Listening to your clients is also important. Use short surveys to ask customers about current problems that they have, so that you can tweak your current product offerings. Your survey results may also inspire your next product. Use the e-mail addresses that you collect from your customer surveys to promote your new products and solutions as soon as possible so you can enjoy that sales increase as soon as possible.

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