Now, making money online should seem like a pleasurable activity. Why wouldn't we do just about anything to see things through, since it would be a major source of pleasure, right? Wrong. In the beginning, like anything else, we might get really excited about it. We might also set our hopes very high. But that all comes crashing down when we begin to fail.
The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.
Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).[6]
With drop shipping, you’re effectively partnering with a manufacturer or wholesaler to sell their products. This way, you don’t pay upfront costs to buy inventory, aren’t sitting on unsold items taking up expensive warehouse space, and don’t have to deal with shipping the products yourself. You simply create your site, fill it with drop shippable products, and drive in customers, with almost everything else done for you.
Facebook and Twitter are still the top business networks, but businesses often tend to struggle with more visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge consumer audiences, but many businesses don't realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their brand. If you have a background in social media marketing and a passion for photography, focusing your consulting business on one specific platform, like Instagram, can be a great way to make money while helping other businesses improve their content and achieve their business goals.
If you’re a skilled worker in a specific niche, like marketing, design, or software development, there are specialty marketplaces that cater just to you. These are amazing places to make money online as you know that the people visiting them are looking specifically for the skills you have. Check out places like 99Designs or Dribbble for designers, Cloudpeeps for marketing and SEO professionals, and TopTal, Crew, or Gigster for high-level software developers. Once you've built up your development skills, you can begin building a brand for yourself as a higher-value consultant and start charging brands for larger projects like implementing an entire WordPress security overhaul or migrating a website from http to https.
Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).[6]
I know what you're thinking. How do you start a webinar business? Well, webinars are quite possibly one of the best ways that you can sell anything online. The best part? You don't even need your own product. Webinar guru, Jason Fladlien, co-founder of Rapid Crush, has grossed well north of $100 million in sales via webinars, which goes to show you the sheer power of this medium for selling.
Best of all, unlike a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t need a lot of startup capital. In fact, you can get many internet businesses up and running with no money at all because so many free services facilitate the possibility. For example, you can set up a website or blog for free using WordPress. Or you can leverage a third-party site like Amazon or eBay to sell goods with no inventory costs. You use their selling platform in exchange for giving them a cut of your sales.

Startup costs: Freelance writing is another of those service-based businesses with very low start-up costs. There are tons of places online where you can find clients for free. At worst you can sign up for an Upwork account for $10 per month, just don’t plan on staying there forever. The most lucrative writing projects are rarely found on platforms like Upwork.
If that approach doesn’t interest you then head over to Google Trends and look for a trending topic. Ideally this will be something you find interesting, but that’s not an absolute requirement here. Then create a piece of content on that same topic, sign up for a free WordPress account and post it there. Voila – you now have one “clip” for your writing portfolio.
Rent out a room on Airbnb. Living near a tourist area has its perks, including the prospect of renting out a room for a profit. With home sharing sites like Airbnb, you can rent out a room in your home – or even the entire place – for a day, a week, or longer. If you have extra space and might enjoy the company of travelers, renting out a room is great way to earn some extra money with little effort on your part. See our post, “How to Make Money as an AirBNB Host.”
If you are more interested in the coding side of building websites, freelance web development might be your wheelhouse. If you already know HTML, CSS or JavaScript and have a good eye for solving problems with creative solutions, you can launch a service to build attractive, easy-to-use websites for small businesses. If you need to learn the basics of web developing before launching your full-stack career, you can take a simple beginner's course to get started.
Find your niche partners, collaborators, and champions: As you’re creating your course, look for notable people who are also creating content in the space. Look at how their businesses operate and incorporate that into your own plan. You can also reach out to any influencers and make them affiliates for your own course. This way, they’ll be incentivized to share your content with their own audiences (which can be a major way to generate your first sales—it helps if you're using one of the best CRMs for small business—and start building your own community!)

Hold a yard sale. If you have a yard or garage and plenty of items to sell, you can have a yard sale as early as tomorrow. By advertising your sale on local Facebook pages and Craigslist, you can also skip the paid newspaper ad and keep all of the profits for yourself. If you don’t have time to price everything, try asking patrons to “make an offer” or grouping similar items on tables with an advertised price (e.g. everything on this table is $5).
Starting a new business online requires much less risk than investing your dollars into a brick-and-mortar storefront or downtown office. Because your business is based online, you can reach more potential customers, work from virtually anywhere and make money online without large overheads. With some basic website and communication skills along with a little maintenance know-how, almost anyone can launch a business online and get it up and running in only days. Think you’re ready to become the next big entrepreneur online?
Blogging is something that requires patience, persistence and discipline. It may mean writing everyday for over a year before you really start to see any money from it. There are exceptions to the rule, but from my dealings with other bloggers, it seems to be pretty common to spend one or even two years building your blog, your brand and your authority, before making any serious amount of money.
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