Free guide: Start a profitable online business

Wondering how YOU can start an online business that’s perfect for you?  Check out this  free guide that highlights 10  profitable escapes routes for you to start an online business that fits you!

 Introduction:  

Ok let’s get straight to the point, most of the time when someone mentions starting an online business there’s a catch, they’re trying to sell you something, or get you to sign up to their program, be it a coaching program or a network marketing program where you sell other people’s products and the list goes on.

I’ve been to seminars and events where you have a coach saying the best online business is to become a coach and of course they are selling coaching courses. Have a look around YouTube and you’ll find lots of people talking about starting an Amazon FBA business and it just so happens that they have a course you can purchase.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with any of this, I sell a course on how to DIY PR a bit different as I’m selling skills rather than telling you that this is the way you’ll become rich.  But honestly, to have a successful business that you enjoy working on every day, you will need to look within to find the true answer. Yes, the best person to take advice from on this is yourself, you have the answers, what is it that interests you. You’ll be the one putting in all the work so it needs to be something that genuinely interests you and of course has appeal to your target audience so you can make some money and have financial freedom.

Well let’s get on with it shall we, here’s what you learn in this free guide on how to start an online business from home that’s suits you and your lifestyle.

NOTE: Starting an online business does enable you to live a fuller life, but it also takes work…this isn’t a free guide on how to sit back and watch money flow in, you are going to have to put the work in so you can reap the rewards.

In this guide you will learn:

  • 10 online business ideas that you can get started on right away
  • How to know if your business idea is a hit or miss
  • The key tools you’ll need to get started

Chapter 1:

10 online business ideas that you can start now

  1.  Be an independent consultant

As a consultant you are paid to share your professional knowledge with clients to help them achieve their business goals. Anyone can consultant as long as you have the necessary skills set. It’s a great way to escape and earn well whilst you do, this is the route I initially opted for.

Pros:

  • You can set your own fee
  • You can work less and earn well
  • You get to choose when and where you work – yes you can work from home
  • You can choose the types of clients you work with.
  • You can manage your work life balance
  • You can scale up and outsource and collaborate with other consultants
  • You can create online courses

Cons:

  • It can be lonely – isolating
  • You have to find your own work
  • If you take on too many clients it can feel like a regular job and you may end up working longer hours
  • You need to be confident at selling yourself

Relatable Life example: Angela is a mum of two and works as a social media manager for a fashion boutique, she enjoys her job but really wants to have more freedom to spend time with her kids and to travel more, her other passion. She decides to set herself up as social media consultant and works with fashion and lifestyle brands from the comfort of her home, enjoying her work life balance as she can now do the school run. She’s now thinking about creating an online course on how to grow your following on Instagram on a shoestring budget.

Well done Angela –you’ve found your escape route.  

If this interests you – grab my book ‘How to become a consultant: a guide to free yourself from the 9-5′ which lays out exactly what you need to do to get started.

  1. Build your side hustle

What do you do in your spare time?  Whether you do hair, make jewellery, a make- up artist to friends, painting etc. there is an audience that is waiting for you – with hard graft and commitment you can build on this so you can eventually turn your side hustle into a full-time gig and quit your job.

Pros

  • You will be making money from what you enjoy
  • You can choose to work your own hours
  • You’ll be able to leave the day job

Cons

  • Depending on your side hustle it might be hard to scale –for example if you’re a make-up artist, you can only be in one place at one time so unless you are charging premium prices or decided to offer a how-to online course (a one to many formula) you may find it hard to scale and earn more.
  • It can be lonely – isolating
  • You have to find your own work
  • If you take on too many clients it can feel like a regular job and you may end up working longer hours

Relatable Life example – Chelsea loves beauty and grooming, whilst looking for a job in the beauty industry she has been working in an admin job that she hates but has to pay her bills. Chelsea’s love for beauty means that she ends up doing her friends nails and hair, and via word of mouth ends up getting lots of requests. It’s to the point where she can leave her admin job and become a mobile beauty consultant. She enjoys this but realises she is still trading time for money so is considering creating some beauty courses and tutorials for YouTube. This would give her an additional stream of income giving her more freedom on when she works.

Go Claire you’ve found your escape route and no longer in a job she hates!

  1. Start an Online e-commerce business

There are lots of people making money online, if you have an eye for spotting bargains aimed at a niche markets, why not explore an e-commerce business.

Pros

  • You can earn lots of money
  • You can automate your business thus have more free time
  • You get to do something you enjoy

Cons

  • It’s a business so you’ll need to make sure you have systems in place ensure smoothly running
  • Delivery issues, Customer complaints and returns
  • competitive

Relatable Life example – Mark works for a local authority, he has a great eye for bargains and had started to get into collectible items. He thought about having his own shop but decided that the overheads would just be too much. But an online business with no overheads and no rent to pay was an option. He has a Facebook page where he posts about collectible items and has a niche following so he sets up an online business so he can sell on the collectibles and blog about how he spots them. He is now seen as the go to person for that niche and has quit his full-time job and is earning well.

Amazing Mark you found your escape route!

  1. Make money by reviewing products with affiliate marketing

You can make money by creating a website to review products, do some research and you’ll see the potential in this area is limitless. There are lots of bloggers that are doing well reviewing products and signing up for affiliate programs and cashing in. As long as you do it right, target the right niche, remain consistent, it’s a great way to build a passive income that can over take your salary.

Pros

  • You can automate the business
  • Great earning potential
  • Depending on your sector you’ll get lots of freebies

Cons

  • High competition
  • Getting traction – to be successful you need to spread the word
  • Lots of hard work and patience required – it won’t happen over night

Relatable Life example: Sasha works in finance but her true passion is fashion. She does lifestyle blogging in her spare time and has a popular blog where she regularly talks about her favourite products and shares her style and thoughts. She looks into affiliate programs for the products she regularly uses and sign ups. She is now able to generate passive income should any of her visitors click and purchase products from her links. She’s helping others with her honesty and helping herself in return. Soon enough and with lots of hard work and dedication she’s earning more than her day job.

Go Sasha – you found your escape route.

  1. Online selling with Amazon FBA

There are lots of people selling on Amazon and making a killing. The ones that tend to do well are the people that take it seriously, do their research into finding quality products and manufacturers and focus on creating a brand.  Selling on Amazon can be extremely lucrative, whilst it is becoming more popular, with the right product and marketing you can be on your way out of the workplace.

Pros

  • Great earning potential, with successful sellers earning 6 and 7 figure incomes
  • You can automate your business
  • Good model for working from anywhere in the world

Cons

  • Finding the right product
  • Gamble – No guarantee of success
  • Money required upfront for initial investment in products and marketing

Relatable Life example – Daniel worked as a security officer, but didn’t enjoy his job, he heard about selling on Amazon FBA and starts to research and save up money for his product investment and marketing costs. He finds a product that looks like it will work, it’s a niche market and opportunity ratings are good. He takes a chance and starts his business. Much to his surprise the product does well and he starts to make more than he does in his job so he quits.  

Go Daniel welcome to the escape train.

  1. YouTube

Do you have a great personality that translate on screen? Why not look at becoming a YouTuber. With passion, hard work and dedication it’s proven to be a rewarding and lucrative route for many.

Pros

  • Once you get momentum you can earn well
  • It can help build your profile
  • You can become a well-paid influencer

Cons

  • It’s hard to get started – You have to work hard to build your channel and following
  • No money in the beginning – not allowed to monetise your videos until you reach set number of subscribers.
  • Be prepared and ready for negative Nancy’s and Ned’s in the comments.

Relatable Life example: Natasha worked in catering but has a passion for journalism and loves celebrity gossip. She shares this on her YouTube channel, with hard work and good content she gains momentum and gets thousands of followers and starts to make an income, enough that she can now quit her job!

Go Natasha – welcome to the escape train.

  1. Teaching online

There are always people looking to learn new skills, so why not share your knowledge and get paid for it. You might be a maths teacher, accountant teaching how to do your own taxes, how to courses are popular. It needs to be something that has demand. There are thousands of people wanting to learn new skills so why not cash in on it.

Pros

  • You can earn really well
  • You can scale up by offering masterclasses and one to one session’s
  • Its less work than doing one to ones – it’s the one to many formula

Cons

  • Its competitive
  • You have to really market yourself
  • You need to be confident at selling

Relatable Life example:Warren is a stockbroker and wants to create a masterclass course on investing in stock market on a budget in 30 days. He’s worked in the field so has lots of experience to share and there are lots of people interested in making money that can’t afford brokers.

Go Warren – welcome to the escape train.

  1. Freelance

Freelancing like consulting allows you to use your current work skills to make money. Websites like Upwork, and Fivver, allow you to sell your services, such as copy writing, graphic design, social media management, website building etc. You don’t need a website to get started, so essentially you can start earning ASAP.

Pros

  • You can get started right away
  • Good earning potential
  • Using skills, you already have

Cons

  • You still work for someone else (client)
  • You have to be good at selling yourself
  • Demanding clients

Relatable Life example – Fatima builds websites and works for a corporate company but isn’t happy, she decided to start offering services via Fivver, Upwork and freelancer, is able to leave her job and make money working online from London, and whilst she’s on her travels as she doesn’t need to be in one location to get stuff done. Go Fatima & welcome to the escape train.

  1. Membership sites

Membership sites can work really well and are a great way to get reoccurring income. Say for example you are a business coach and you train other coaches you may want to start a membership site so you can drip feed content, offer one to one coaching, guides and cheat sheets, virtual coaching and or give an ail access pass to private members who pay a fee usually charged monthly, bi-monthly or annually.

Pros

  • Good way to earn money
  • Reoccurring income
  • You can upsell to members

Cons

  • Needy members
  • Managing expectations
  • Payment issues – missed payments, cancelled direct debits etc

Relatable life example – Sam has decided that he want to set up a membership community for his yoga practice as he wants more free time. He trains professionals and beginners so decides build an online community around this. He builds a membership site and charges £19.99 per month and provides coaching and mentoring calls, online learning materials and access to him via a private Facebook group.

Go Sam – looks like you found your escape route.

  1. Writing books

Not necessarily a typical online model. But truthfully everyone has a story in them, so why not consider penning a book or creating an audio book. How to and non-fiction books can do really well and of course fictional books do well to. We all know the story of Harry Potter author J.K Rowling, there are people making money from selling books online.

Pros

  • It’s a great achievement to write and publish a book
  • Increased recognition
  • It’s easy to self-publish your book and have it ready to purchase by the masses

Cons

  • No guarantee success
  • Lots of hard work to promote it needed
  • Competitive – they say 500 books published a day!

Relatable Life example: Peter enjoys writing and often enters book writing competitions and publishes short stories online in his spare time. He decides that he wants to write and self-publish a trilogy fictional story. He writes the first one and sell’s it for dirt cheap or gives it away, hooks in his niche audience so when the follows up are released there’s already a demand. He makes the price the follow up books competitive and before he knows it he has a best seller on his hands and is earning a decent passive income from book sales. That he’ll earn for years to come as long as there is demand. He now helps others write and publish their books.

Nicely done Peter – Welcome to the escape train.

Chapter 2:

 How to know if your business idea is a hit or miss viable

As entrepreneurs we are always coming up with creative ideas, its natural part of who we are, but not every idea is good to go. I’ve had lots of ideas bought domain website names and then ended up with a growing list of domain sites.

Sometimes the domain sits and waits until the idea is in full swing and in other instances the idea is not good enough to bring in a decent income – more of a hobby with small profits.

So, what can we do to check if it’s an idea worth persevering with or whether we should go back to the drawing board.

 First things first, you need to understand viability, before you decide to go full throttle with your business idea, ask yourself these questions.

  • Is it a niche market and what is the size? (niche is good but it needs to be enough to be profitable)
  • How much money can I make in the market I’m interested in?
  • How much money does the standard customer in my chosen market have?
  • How much does the average product sell for and what are the profit margins?
  • What do my customers get in return?

Now all the questions are important here, but really it comes down to this, what can you provide that solves a problem, or removes or relieves pains and issues.

Now I’m not suggesting you start a business selling band-aids, but think of it like this, when you by a particular book, a fiction book, you’re looking for escapism and non—fiction to increase your knowledge.

If you purchase food you’re solving a hunger issue, you attend an event to network for more business. We are motivated by our needs and want so solving problems is the business we are all in.

People are generally seeking happiness and things to make our lives easier.

What is the size of the market online?

This is about starting an online business so you need to make sure there is a market for your business.  How do you do this? easy check if people are searching for your business idea.

There are lots of helpful search tools to help you discover interest in your niche area. You can try using

Other’s I’m aware of but not used personally are:

Other research to undertake:

  • Social research – Don’t forget to search on social media channels, you can check twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook and relevant hashtags on Instagram.
  • News research – Do some searches on google and see whether media are talking about your business idea, even better are there individual niche online sites dedicated to it?

If you find after doing all the above that the signs are positive and there is interest then you can happily move forward with your online business idea.

Now you need to decide what suits you, your personality and passion?

This should be pretty easy for you, taking your idea and going over the above 10 online business types to see if the idea and business model marry up well and if it fits your personality.

Asking yourself some of these questions may help.

  1. Does it match you, your personality and does it get you excited?
  2. Can you see yourself working relentlessly on this and enjoying the process?
  3. Are you committed and willing to put in the work to manifest your dream?

Reflect and review to see what feels right and be honest with yourself.

Chapter 3:  

Tools you need to get your online business started

So, it’s an exciting time for you. You are ready to start your online business but to get started you’ll need the following:

  1. A website – it’s an online business so of course you’ll need this.
  2. Email marketing provider to help grow your list

So, there’s a few ways to go about setting up your website. You can purchase the site domain name and domain hosting together or separately.  If you’re not ready just yet to set up your site and or not sure where to start you can simply purchase the domain name from 123 reg or Go Daddy for your business idea to secure it.

If you are ready, then you’ll find that choosing the best web hosting platform and website builder can be a bit of a mind field of confusion so I’m going to shed some light on this…hopefully as I’m not an expert but have learned from trial and error.

There are lots of webs hosting platforms and nearly every one of them offers WordPress site build hosting plan in some shape or form.

However sometimes these plans are providing great value for money and others fall short so you end up having to go for the upsell features when you realise half the features you need are not included.

It can be frustrating when all you want is a website that works and looks good, you can end up making a snap decision costing you more because of information overload.

Some platforms that I list below offer web hosting and then you can build your site using WordPress themes.

I use WordPress myself so I’m happy to recommend, I’m a straight talker so you’ll get an honest no BS perspective.

Of course you don’t have to go with any of my recommendations, I’m just here to help and guide you but the decision is yours and you will know what will work best for you.

If you already have a web host provider that you are happy with, then great, but if you’re not happy, it may be time to change so read on.

Don’t be afraid to change, I know when things are set up we can easily tell ourselves – well if it isn’t broke…but in this case the change may help improve your site performance. Life is about choices after all, so it’s up to you.

So here are some suggestions to keep in mind when choosing a web host:

  • Customer support 24/7 live chats is top of the list for a reason – its key when you are up late or early working on your site and hit a stumbling block you will be grateful for this.
  • Performance/page speed – usually the more you pay the better the speed
  • Tools – cPanel. Free SSL, CDNs etc
  • Value for money – speaks for itself.

Try to keep these in mind when making your choice, don’t always go for the cheapest provider the saying you pay for what you get springs to mind.

Web hosting platforms:

Blue Host

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Bluehost is a very popular website host across the pond, with good reviews depending on who you speak to. You can set up WordPress themes easily, however I’ve heard that the performance is average, but this was a while ago so may have improved and prices are good.

Customer support 24/7:  6/10

Performance/page speed: 5/10

Tools: 6/10

Value for money: prices start from $3.95 per month*

*Special intro offers

Sign up for Blue host

WP Engine

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Now I do know lots of business owners that use WP engine and love it. They talk about website performance being top notch and the customer support I hear is great. And yes, you can build via WordPress yay.

Customer support 24/7:  9/10

Performance/page speed: 9/10

Tools: 8/10

Value for money: prices start from $28.00 per month

Sign up for WP Engine

HostGator

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I’ve used this myself and found it to be good, not great. The tools such as cPanel are easy to use and allow you to build with WordPress themes and I found it really easy to use. However, I did find customer support a tad bit slow at times, but that may have been down to the fact I was on a cheaper plan.  On the positive side starting prices are really good.

Customer support 24/7:  7/10

Performance/page speed: 8/10

Tools: 8/10

Value for money: prices starting from: $2.75* per month

*Special intro offers

Sign-up for HostGator

WordPress

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Yes, you can just sign up with WordPress and cut out the middle hosting men. I’ve also done this and have found it to be really good. WordPress is great, whether you want to start blogging or want to run a full e-commerce site.

As a user of WordPress I’ve been impressed with their customer support services, they’ve helped me out of a few pickles.

Customer support 24/7:  9/10

Performance/page speed: 9/10

Tools: 8/10

Value for money: prices start from £0

Sign up for WordPress

With all of these hosting platforms be sure to check the sign-up small print, sometimes the price advertised is just introductory and you may find you are automatically billed the higher price at renewal time so make a note and put a reminder in your diary. I’m speaking from experience so save yourself the unwanted shock!

Remember that it’s important not to be too cheap with this, you want your website to be performing well and look the part!

Site building – putting it together

Right you’ve made your decision on the hosting and you’re probably thinking omg I’m going to have to spends loads of dosh to get this site done. Err Nope! You can build the site yourself and it’s not as hard as you may think! I mean I built this and other sites for by businesses so if I can do it you can! I am no tech wiz but I knew doing it myself would saves a ton of money that most people won’t have when you’re just starting out.

So, whereas HostGator, blue host and WP engine provide the hosting you can build your website look and feel with any of these popular site builders and there loads more out there:

WordPress

Wix

Sqaurespace

Again, I recommend WordPress I find it really easy to use and they have some great preloaded themes that you can then customise to suit your requirements. However, the other two I don’t have experience with but I do know my sister built one of her sites with Wix and seemed happy with it.  I don’t have any honest reviews or hearsay to add in about Sqaurespace.com.

In my opinion WordPress is the one to go with, I’ve got lots of first-hand experience with it and have no complaints! Lots of businesses use WordPress I having a feeling they are powering the majority of internet businesses and it helps that you can actually create an online business with WordPress right now for free! Whereas the other two will cost you money so it’s a no brainer.

WordPress Themes

Once you have installed WordPress it comes fully loaded with preconfigured themes as I mentioned before and what’s great is you can change the theme at any time. They have plenty of free themes to choose from and you can always choose to upgrade your theme or plan with them at any time – at a cost.

When it comes to choosing a theme – think about your business and of course your site visitors. It needs to look nice and have simple clear navigation.

Email Marketing Provider

You must have heard that the money is in the lists. Growing your email list is key for your new online business, how else will you tell people about your new services or products and offer discounts and info etc to your customers. It’s really important to do this and to be honest this wasn’t something I had prioritised at my peril. As I’m a consultant I worked directly with clients initially and didn’t prioritise this and I am now particularly as I do have a course to sell.

The purpose of the email marketing is to:

  • Help you grow your email list
  • Send email broadcasts
  • Create email automation series

As you’d imagine there are lots of email marketing providers and some come with a high-ticket price. As I’m a frugal Franny I’ll highlight the best free or close to free options so I won’t be talking about the big dogs like Infusionsoft or Clickfunnel.

What I will talk about is Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Aweber

I currently use Mailchimp for email sign ups and I’ve recently set up email automation campaign for one of my sites so my new subscribers get a welcome message series. Mailchimp is free to use until you reach a set number of subscribers – I think it’s 1000. And even after then they have some reasonable prices starting from $10 a month.

ConvertKit is another provider I’m familiar with as one of my clients used it for their email marketing campaigns and loved it. From what I could see it was easy to use and cheaper than the provider they had before so a win for my client.

Aweber I’ve never used so don’t have personal experience, I have considered it in the past as I’ve heard great things about it and lots of popular marketing influencers use it and highly recommend it. They have free trails and some great deals.

Of the three listed I was swayed by the £0 cost that the cheeky monkey Mailchimp had to offer – it fit in with my frugal Franny strategy on keeping cost low.  You’ll be happy to hear that all of the above options come with CRM features so you can accept payments, automate, create affiliate programs and more. The alternative is paying over $200 a month with the larger big dog providers for similar features hence why I opted to write about these three.

How Much Will It Cost to set up?

You can easily set up your online business website for under £100 see break down below:

  • Register your business with companies house £15
  • WordPress domain basic £0
  • Or if you want more features WordPress premium plan £7 per month – but billed annually £84.
  • Mailchimp set up – free

I always recommend having a contingency fund so do aim to put aside an additional £50-£100 for any extra’s you may need like logo design for your site which you can get down fairly cheaply from Fivver.com

Also, don’t forget to budget for other tools you may need along the way, make the most of the free trails (remember to cancel if not interested) but do keep track – don’t get carried away.

Whatever business model you choose, know that it takes time to build up and get momentum so be kind and patient with yourself.

What business will you do? comment below or drop me an email! Good luck and if you need a helping hand get in touch!

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