How to Start an Online Business from Home
At one time, starting a business involved things like stock, employees, and in most cases, renting premises to run things from. That’s all changed thanks to the Internet. More and more home-based businesses are popping up. Many of them you can act out online using your existing means, and you don’t need to raise anything like the capital needed to run a typical brick-and-mortar outfit.
To start your home-based business, this post walks you through each step from conceiving an idea, to writing sales copy, and driving valuable targeted potential customers to your website.
You’ll notice when it comes to building a website, I go straight in and recommend WordPress. That’s simply because it’s a great platform that lets anyone build pretty much any type of website, for free, and with little to no web dev skills to their name. Plus, you can create all of the business types mentioned on this page on the WordPress platform.
With that, let’s get started.
Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Today
If you haven’t seen any business ideas that stand out to you yet, take a look at the following examples.
Sell your homemade products
If you make things already, why not turn the fruits of your labor into a business? Whether you make candles, cosmetics, hot sauce or ceramics, you can start selling on your own branded storefront. Without any site-building experience, you build a fully operational e-commerce store with WordPress WooCommerce plugin.
Buy products in bulk to sell
Importing products in bulk and selling individually for a profit is a tried-and-tested business model. Are you invested in a niche and know just the right products for your target customers? Perhaps you’ve been on holiday and seen something great that’s not readily available in your home country? If you can find underrepresented products that are easy to ship and store, such as bamboo straws or jewelry, this is the start of a viable business idea. Just make sure you’ve got space for an inventory at home.
For online retailers working from home, managing inventory efficiently is becoming ever more critical. The Inventory Turnover Ratio is very useful to understand how much you need to keep on-hand, and how many times you’ll need to restock during a given period.
Start an e-commerce store without any stock
With the dropshipping business model, you don’t need an inventory of stock at home. Instead, a third-party like Amazon, or Alibaba stores and ships products for you. That just leaves marketing and customer service as your main responsibilities.
Start a blog and monetize it
Starting a blog and writing about the things you love, and use is a great way to make money. If you’ve been wondering how influencers and content creators create a sustainable income from their blogs, it’s likely due to their affiliate marketing efforts.
You can recommend products, and receive a commission when people click on your link and buy them. Creating content about something you love can be an exhilarating process giving you the flexibility to do what you love, on your own terms.
Sell your services
Rather than sell products from home, you can sell your services (or expertise). Many traditional service-based businesses made the switch to online including:
- Graphic designers
- Personal training
- Yoga instructor
- Online Tutoring
- Virtual Assistant
Create a Digital Product or Course
Go one extra and ‘productize your service’. Create digital products or courses to package up your expertise. Some ideas include merchandise, industry insights, licensable assets like music or photos, digital templates, and ebooks. Best of all, since most of these products are digital, they won’t crowd your house with stock.
Research and Understand Your Market
Now you’ve got a business idea to run with, you want to make sure it’s worth investing time or money in. There’s no way to guarantee your business will succeed or your products will sell, no matter how much research you do. But you can get a good idea of whether you’re choosing a profitable niche market and define a unique selling proposition by researching your market.
Market research underscores any business plan and we’ve written the A-Z of Market Research to help with that. Here’s a brief overview of the essential techniques to refine your idea and deliver one that’s got the potential to work.
Define your target market
Successful businesses look for the market first, product second. So the first step is defining your target market (the people who are most likely to buy your products or use your services). Who’s going to want your homemade candles covers? Who’s most likely to join your daily e-yoga sessions? Targeting the right people with your content and ads will ensure the right people find your pages and increase conversions.
Research your competition
Now you’ve locked in your potential customer base, it’s time to focus on your competition. A quick search on social media and Google can reveal competitors you should be aware of. Try some keywords related to your industry and see who comes up. Whether that’s a rival personal trainer locally, or someone selling a similar product, visit their website.
Observe what they are doing to serve customers and how well are they doing it? Most importantly, take note of what could be done better. If your product is identical, how can you differentiate yours? Things like beneficial shipping terms, warmer branding, and a secure checkout process impact who gets the final sale.
Seek feedback on your business idea
Finally, you need input and ideas to make your business idea bulletproof! To test your ideas you can ask people you know (if you can trust they can be honest with their feedback) or conduct a market research survey to test your ideas. Or you can ask people in your target demographic what they think of your idea, any suggestions on how to improve it, whether they’d visit your site, and their willingness to pay for your product and service. Check here for sites for unbiased feedback.
With the information you’ve gathered, you can deliver a product or service for a market that already exists — and do it better than what’s already available.
Design and Build a Website
Now you’ve refined your business idea and target demographic, it’s time to get started on your website. You will need the following items to make a website with WordPress.
- A domain name – This will be your website’s name such as namecheap.com
- Website hosting – This will be your website’s home and where all your files will be stored
- WordPress – Before you can start using WordPress, you need to install the software from WordPress.org. While installing WordPress isn’t particularly difficult, I’d recommend a one-click installation (a feature of Managed WordPress hosting) to get your site up and running in just a few minutes. With EasyWP you get a 1-click install and managed WordPress hosting for just $1 for the first month, and plans start at a preposterously low $3.88 a month for each month afterwards.
Then, you can get to work building your WordPress website. You have the choice between building it yourself or hiring a developer. The thought of building a website yourself might sound intimidating when actually, it can be pretty simple with WordPress. It’s effortless to get free, authoritative WordPress info online on topics for novice designers, developers & entrepreneurs on starting web endeavors, including online businesses, podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels.
Choose a Theme to Change Your Site’s Design
WordPress themes premade templates that let you control your site’s appearance from the layout to the color scheme. Themes are available to suit every site niche, and you can add them for free from your WordPress dashboard. The screenshot below is a snapshot of the free e-commerce themes available in the WordPress themes directory.
Add Features with WordPress plugins
Within the WordPress Plugin directory, there are tens of thousands of free plugins covering every function from payment gateways, to product galleries, e-commerce store plugins. All the things you need to keep your online business running like clockwork.
Here’s are some examples of five plugins that every online business should have:
- SEO plugin — SEO plugins help you rank higher in search engines. Once you add an SEO plugin, you’ll get features to make your blog post and product pages stand out in the search results pages. Content analysis to help write killer content. SEO plugins are invaluable to writing SEO friendly texts with your focus keywords in mind. They provide recommendations on how to optimize things like your meta description and page title. Plus advanced help with things like sitemaps, internal linking, and so on to keep your site in perfect shape. With over 5 million active installs and a 5-star rating, Yoast SEO is one of the best and easiest options to optimize your pages for SEO.
- Email marketing plugin — We talked about the value of email subscriptions for online businesses. Building a list from scratch can be time-consuming. Fortunately, WordPress email marketing plugins make this task a walk in the park. You might have heard of MailChimp. This awesome email marketing service is regarded as the best available. Their all-in-one package guides you through every step of email marketing, from adding opt-in forms to your webpages to building and managing an email list and creating email campaigns.
- Caching plugin — Caching plugins ensure your pages load faster. It’s said that consumers jump from a slowing loading page, you don’t want to lose out oN potential customers and clients because your WordPress website isn’t fast enough. With a caching plugin like WP Rocket, or WP Super Cache you can speed up your WordPress website and experience more traffic, conversions, and revenue.
- Security plugin — Getting your pages online is the easy part, securing your site from hackers is another story. Keeping your site safe from hackers and malware can seem overwhelming. There are dozens of WordPress plugins that provide an extra layer of protection to your site. With a plugin like Sucuri, you can monitor your site security, and malware attacks, DDoS attacks, and much more.
- E-commerce plugin — By installing an e-commerce plugin, your WordPress blog or business site can sell products and services online. Ecommerce platforms have revolutionized the way we do business, where traditionally, a business had to purchase premises, now, you simply need to install a WordPress plugin to start making sales. To launch an e-commerce site, look no further than WooCommerce, the world’s most popular e-commerce platform. Built for WordPress, you can sell anything online, it’s completely customizable, and it’s free!
- Live chat plugin – Connect with your website guests, find qualified leads, and support customers in real-time using a reliable chat software plugin. Acquire live chat integrates easily with WordPress to provide prompt service through an easy-to-use webchat interface. You can collect data 24/7 through forms and take advantage of automation to increase sales and improve customer experience.
Create Content that Leads to Sales
Content is King. Your copy will make the sales. When we talk about copy, your online business will serve a copy that covers everything from content on a blog post or web page, it can take the form of an email, maybe a PPC or a banner ad, as many other formats. One writing tip to keep in mind: good copy focuses on how your products and services make someone’s life better, it’s not about how fab your brand is and how hard you’ve worked to make your product. People want to know what’s in it for them, and quickly.
Copy is arguably the most important aspect of your online business model. How do you get it right? If you’re new to content creation, you’ll be glad to hear that writing online sales copy is actually, for the most part, formulaic.
In this helpful article for budding content creators, Copyhackers compiled the best formulas to write better:
- Headlines for pages and posts
- Value propositions
- Bullet list
- Body copy
- CTA or button copy
- Email subject lines
Once you’ve got your messages organized, start working through the elements on the page, VSL, email, or blog post you’re writing. If you stick to these general rules, you can’t go far wrong. Except for spelling mistakes and other unprofessional errors. Use the writing app Grammarly to make sure nothing slips past you. One last and important consideration is to optimize your content for SEO, which we’ll cover further down the page.
Launch on Social Media
Social media is your free business marketing tool. Your business could be seen by many people on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. Here are some tips to launch your business on social media profiles:
- Share links to your blog posts, products and website
- Run giveaways to launch your brand and get people actively engaging with your message.
- Post regularly, this way people know you’re an active business
- Check your business profiles regularly and respond to comments, and queries timely (your response time is now listed on your business page)
- Encourage customers to rate your services and share reviews and ratings of your business or products on their profiles
- Add links to your social profiles on your website
- With most social media platforms, you can pay for ads to appear in target customer’s feeds
Unless people know about your business, they won’t find your site. Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your pages. Here’s an in-depth guide to do just that.
Drive Traffic to Your Business
Finally, it’s time to get some customers. The following methods are proven methods to drive traffic to websites.
Search engine optimization
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is integral to online marketing. Good SEO works when someone searches for words or phrases valuable to your business and finds your page at the top of the returned results.
If you want people to find it in search engines, you need to employ techniques that make your copy rank higher on Google search results pages. Key SEO techniques include:
- Keyword targeting — You’ve done some preliminary keyword research. Now’s the time to deep dive into finding relevant-high volume search terms to rank for. Free keyword research tools can help you with this. Then, you can work incorporating those relevant high-volume search terms into your website copy.
- Earning backlinks — A backlink is like a yes vote to google. You’ll get a backlink when a quality publication links back to your website. To score some backlinks for your site, Moz’s guide to link-building is a great resource.
- Security — Google rewards fast and secure websites. Add an SSL to make sure you’re in Google’s good book.
- Pleasing user experience — To avoid something called bounce rate (when people visit a page and click off), ensure smooth and clean user experience. Easy to navigate with unclutter copy that’s readable and useful first and foremost (Google also rewards for relevance).
SEO is a critical part of an online business’s success and worth investing time in getting right. For an in-depth guide to ranking in Google, head to our guide taking the mystery out of SEO.
It can take some time for your site to show up organically. Pay Per Click or PPC ads are a pretty reliable way to get traffic (flow of people) to a brand new website. In 2019, the top 3 paid advertising spots get 46% of the clicks on the page.
It makes sense to bid on keywords related to your audience’s interests or your industry. Ads show up in Google SERPS and every time your ad is clicked. Each click sends a visitor to your website. In this model of internet marketing, you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. If you’re interested in growing traffic through paid ads, follow our guide to PPC advertising.
Email is an incredibly valuable business asset. When people subscribe to your email list, they’ve given you permission to engage with them, regularly. Your emails can establish your brand, deliver product announcements, promote services tweaks, anything that’s relevant. And, it’s what they asked for. The best part? Email marketing is cheaper than most other methods because it’s highly targeted. And, you can learn from your copy, because email response is 100% measurable.
WordPress plugins like Mailchimp are available to create sign up forms for your site, templates for copy, and automate signup welcome emails, and blanket messages to everyone on your list. To turn your visitors into buyers, check out this guide to building your first email list.
Launch Your Online Enterprise Today
Hopefully, you’re brimming with ideas and motivation to make money from home with one of the dozens of home business ideas we’ve talked about. We’ve covered all the steps from conception to launching a fully operational business from home. For even more information, you’ll want to review our guide for how to build a small business website.
With the help of WordPress, you could be running a home-based business in a matter of hours. To give your new enterprise the best start, launch it with EasyWP. All plans include free PositiveSSL, free backups, one-click WordPress installation, and a bunch of other perks. Get started today for as little as $1 for your first month.
Have you started an online business from home with WordPress? We’d love to hear how you used the platform to start your business, and any tips for anyone thinking of starting their own.