Starting an online business frequently asked questions.
You’ve likely heard the old saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Cliché, I know. But also quite true.
What could be your first step into starting an online business? How about answers to some of the most frequently asked questions?
From understanding the basics to identifying the right niche or figuring out costs, it can seem a bit dizzying!
I’m here to help navigate these waters and offer genuine answers to your starting an online business frequently asked questions. These answers aren’t pulled out of thin air. They’re based on working with budding online business owners here at Solo Build It! since 2010 and having started my own in 2006.
So, buckle up. Let’s jump right in together!
1. I have no experience with online businesses, websites or blogs. Where do I even begin?
Starting an online business can seem daunting, especially when you’re new to it all. But here’s the truth: no one went from zero to successful business owner in a week, month, or even six months.Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your online business. The path to success may be long, but it’s certainly worth it. Click To Tweet
Those who claim you’ll be up and running in a few days are either delusional or lying.
Start small. Learn the basics. Learn a little bit more each day and start applying what you learn.
You’ll find tons of resources when you search for “how to start a blog” or “blogging for beginners.” However, if you want to speed up your learning curve and follow a more structured approach, joining the Solo Build It! community is your best option.
Solo Build It! (SBI!) is designed to walk you through the entire process of building a profitable online business, step by step.
It’s not just about blogging or creating a website. It’s about having the right mindset (running a business vs writing a blog), finding the right niche for you, understanding your audience, crafting high-quality content, building your “brand of one,” and developing strategies to monetize your efforts.
2. Can I create a website or blog with no technical skills?
Absolutely! Don’t worry if you aren’t tech-savvy. Sometimes that’s even an advantage. Why? Because you don’t have to “unlearn” bad habits or wrong advice you might have picked up in previous attempts.
Like, for example, believing that SEO (search engine optimization) is the most important factor for succeeding online. It’s not. Yes, sure, you need to understand and apply the basic rules, but your main emphasis should always be on serving your human visitor.With the right tools and guidance, you can create a professional-looking site without knowing a single line of code.Click To Tweet
No need to be a designer either! Many blogging and website platforms offer customizable templates and a user-friendly interface. Ease of use is one of the ten factors to consider when choosing the best blogging platform for your needs.
Hear from Jill Loeffler how she built a successful travel website with zero technical know-how:
3. Which online business is best (for beginners)?
Perhaps you’re wondering what kind of online business you should start. Honestly, it depends on your interests, skills, and time. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.
What I’ve seen from working with online business owners here at Solo Build It! is that many start with an informational website about one of their hobbies or passions. Info sites are great because you can earn an income in a “hands-off” way, with display ads and affiliate marketing.
These passive monetization methods are easy to implement and maintain. Once you’ve got your feet wet, it makes sense to move to higher paying models, like creating and selling digital products, selling services or adding a shop where you offer physical products.
The advantage of a platform like SBI! is that it caters to various types of online businesses, offering the necessary tools and guidance, no matter what path you choose.
4. How do I find the right niche/topic?
Choosing your niche can make or break the success of your online business. Yes, it’s that important. So take your time with it.
Be sure to pick a topic you love and know a lot about (or you’re at least willing to learn as much as you can about it).
It’s also vital to ensure there’s a demand for what you want to offer. You need a balance between your passion and what people want or need.
Using tools such as SBI!’s Brainstorm It!, you can research and find the areas where your interests meet high demand with low competition. That’s your sweet spot for starting a successful online business.In effect, the perfect niche is one that blends passion and demand with solid monetization potential.Click To Tweet
5. How much does it cost to start an online business?
Starting an online business frequently asked questions would not be complete if we didn’t address expenses. The good news is, starting a business online costs a lot less than starting a brick-and-mortar store.
At the most basic level, you’ll need to pay for domain registration (typically $10 to $20 per year) and website hosting.
The cost for hosting varies greatly, depending on the host, the features you want and your website traffic. When you’re just getting started, go with shared hosting, which is the cheapest form of hosting. Expect to pay between $3 and $14 per month.
You might also need to spend on tools for doing keyword research, site design, an email marketing provider and — of course — training.
Or you could choose a platform that provides all of the above in one place and for one inclusive price (no upsells, no plugins). I know one that offers exactly that. 😉
6. How long does it take to make money with an online business?
There are just too many factors at play: your niche, how much and how consistently you work on your business, the monetization methods you choose, how strong your competition is.
As a general rule of thumb, expect the first income after about 6 months. Why not sooner? Because you first need to publish sufficient content to attract enough visitors, who will — because of your great content — begin to trust you as an expert in your niche. Only then can you start monetizing.
We call this the C T P M
process. It has proven its value for our members for more than two decades.
7. How many hours per week do I need to work on my business?
The beauty of an online business is the flexibility it offers. You can devote as many or as few hours per week as your personal circumstances allow.
Most of the Solo Build It! members I interviewed started their website as a side hustle, while still working a full-time job. If that’s your situation too, you may only be able to spend 5 to 10 hours per week on your business.
Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home parent and you can dedicate the morning hours, when the kids are at school, to building your online business.
Or maybe you’ll go all in with 40 hours per week or more, because you’re retired or you quit your job.
The key is consistency, as regular inputs — even small ones — add up over time.🐢 Slow and steady wins the online business race. Whether it's 5 or 40 hours a week, consistency is key!Click To Tweet
8. How can I make money with an online business (especially if I have no product to sell)?
If you thought that making money online means you need your own products to sell, I have good news for you. Selling your own digital or physical products is a good way to monetize, no doubt, and one to aspire to.
But it’s not the only way. And you certainly don’t need your own products to get started.
In an earlier article, I collected a list of 32 ways to make money blogging.
At the beginning, many solopreneurs choose passive monetization models like Google AdSense or recommending other people’s products or services for which they receive a commission (what’s called the affiliate marketing model).
While these passive income streams are convenient — they don’t require much of your time — they also have a low profit margin.
To earn more per visitor, you need to move on to more active ways to monetize, like creating your own products, or offering your own services. Of course, the higher earnings come with more work and the obligation of dealing with customers, suppliers, contractors, and perhaps even employees.
Whatever direction you choose, there’s one golden rule to follow:
Don’t put all your monetization eggs in one basket. In other words, diversify your income streams!
9. What are the best ways to promote an online business?
The single best way to promote your online business is to create outstanding content that overdelivers on your visitors’ search intent.
Sounds simple, right? On one hand it is, because there’s no “secret sauce” involved. But it’s also hard because to succeed you need to:
- know your topic well
- know your audience well, and
- know how to write well.
Want to learn more about how to produce quality content? Download the free quality content checklist.
There are many ways to promote your website and business.
Applying basic SEO rules (especially choosing the right keywords) can help improve your site’s visibility in search engines, driving free, organic traffic to your site.
Social media is a fantastic way to engage with your audience, build a community around your brand, and advertise your offerings.
And then there’s email marketing. Building an email list from the start is a must. It allows you to nurture relationships with your readers and potential customers.
10. How do I avoid getting overwhelmed or discouraged?
Building a business isn’t easy. It never will be, not in a thousand years. Free money would be nice, but it simply isn’t in the cards.
Whenever you get the occasional sinking or drowning feeling, this personal story by Solo Build It!’s founder and CEO, Ken Evoy, might help:
“I love snorkeling. But one time in Anguilla, when I was just a beginner, I went too far out, about 700 yards or so, to where the second reef suddenly drops into dark water and it gets cold. A first-time snorkeler should never be there alone.
I started to panic, and began flailing around. I quickly realized I was going to drown if I didn’t slow down, breathe easy and do a slow steady stroke all the way back to shore. And that’s exactly what I did.
I stayed around the inshore reef and explored its treasures after that. It was just as much fun, and I was perfectly safe.
So why did I get myself into that near-drowning situation in the first place? I couldn’t help myself. I kept wanting to see and do more. And when I got into trouble, I felt overwhelmed in that huge ocean. I did way more than I should have.”
Starting an online business can be like Ken’s snorkeling experience. It sometimes feels like you’ve swum too far into the unknown. The thought of it all can be overwhelming, even terrifying.
The key to avoiding feeling discouraged or overwhelmed is to take it steady and slow… the tortoise way. 🐢Just like a turtle navigating the deep, remember to keep calm and find your rhythm along the journey to online success. Even turtles make waves!😄 Click To Tweet
Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on mastering one task at a time. And most important, remember to breathe and take breaks. Find 7 more business motivation tips here.
And, just like a first time snorkeler shouldn’t go too far from shore alone, you shouldn’t be alone either. That’s why being part of a friendly community of like-minded solopreneurs — like the legendary SBI! forums — is so important.
Bonus question: How can AI help me start and grow an online business?
Picture AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a super helper that’s by your side at all times. While AI can help with many things, I want to talk about the three areas most important to us as online business owners: researching, writing, and creating images and videos.
Researching your topic: Imagine having an enthusiastic assistant who never sleeps and spends all their time online, eager to help you uncover all the secrets of your chosen business topic. That’s what AI can do! It can gather a heap of information in no time, sparking ideas for new articles or putting a different spin on existing ones.
Outlining and writing content: Who wouldn’t want an assistant to help us write compelling content that connects with our audience? Even better if that helper had vast knowledge about practically every topic. And to top it off, had flawless grammar and spelling skills!
Generative AI ticks all the boxes. It can help create outlines for your content, suggest irresistible titles and subheadings, create a first draft, and make sure the spelling and grammar are right.
Creating images and videos: Adding images for your content was limited to either your personal skills or to what you could find to use. Now, thanks to AI image generators, you’re limited only by your imagination and how well you can prompt, i.e., tell a generator what image (or video) you want it to produce.
That’s why Tai, Solo Build It’s soon-to-be released AI assistant includes all you need under one roof: a combination of the right tools and step-by-step process to help you create outstanding content faster than ever before.
By the way, I created the article you’re reading now in collaboration with Tai (I’m part of the beta testing team).
Starting an Online Business Frequently Asked Questions Answered
Did I manage to answer your most pressing questions about starting an online business? I hope so. If not, please ask in the comments section or — even better — get in touch with one of my colleagues from the SBI! Advisor Team.
Ready to begin? We’re here for you. With Solo Build It!’s advanced tools, guidance, community, and your very own AI assistant, Tai, this journey will be less daunting and more exciting. Pinkie promise. 😊