Many people hear about the benefits of having their own Internet business. They hear about the ability to work from anywhere, not be tied to a cubicle in an office building, not make money for someone else, and be one’s own boss. This greatly appeals to many of them, leading them to starting their own Internet business.
Unfortunately, 95% of Internet businesses fail, many of those not making it past the first year, as many eager business owners fail to recognize that there are critical elements that must be done in order to have a successful business, something many Internet marketers leave out when they are emailing their subscribers with offers.
Fortunately, this ebook will give you the information you need to set a solid foundation for your Internet business so that you can be among the 5% that is a successful, long-lasting Internet business.
Register Your Business With a Legal Business Name
One common mistake many eager Internet business owners make is that they just grab a domain name, put up a basic website, and expect the profits to flow in. That’s not how a legitimate Internet business works.
As with offline businesses, it is important to register your business name for several reasons:
- It’s the law in most locations (including the United States)– people need to know who is running the business.
- Registering your business name prevents other people from using it. After spending months or even years building your brand and business, you don’t want someone else using your hard work and/or ruining your brand’s reputation by taking the same or similar name because you didn’t register your business name.
- You can get tax benefits, especially if you file as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or incorporate your business (INC).
- Most people feel more confident and are more willing to do business with companies that are either incorporated or an LLC than if the business is not.
There is one important exception to having to register your business name. If you plan to use your name as your business, you do not have to register that.
It is recommended that you talk to one or more qualified professionals (including lawyers and/or accountants) about your own specific situation and whether incorporating your business, filing it as an LLC, entering into a partnership, or being a sole proprietorship is best for your particular situation.
Get A Second Address For Your Business
Getting a second address for your business indicates that you are keeping your home and business mail separate, which is smart to ensure you don’t miss any mail associated with your business and get it mixed up with your personal mail. In addition, you won’t be posting your personal address on business cards or on your website, which can help to protect your privacy.
The best way to get a second address for your business is via getting a PO Box from your local post office. You can apply to rent this private box for a monthly fee (usually billed in 3-, 6-, or 12-month incremental payments), which will allow you to receive mail at your local post office. You have to fill out some paperwork and usually have to show two forms of identification before you can be approved to rent a box.
The boxes range in sizes and prices, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. Of course, the smaller the box, the more often you will have to visit your post office to pick up your mail or risk it getting too full and the post office suspending your lease, so choose wisely.
Open a Separate Business Bank Account
Just as with getting a second address for your business, opening a separate business bank account will enable you to keep your business and personal expenses separate so that there are no mistakes or oversights involving business expenses and properly recording them. Proper accounting and records are key to staying legal with your business and helping to ensure you don’t get into any financial or legal ramifications with your country’s tax division at any point in the future.
To open a business bank account at almost any bank, you need to show that you actually have a business. This usually means that you have to provide the name of the business and the nature of the business (i.e. what is the reason for its existence).
In some countries, you may have to provide an identification number known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or may even have to provide a copy of your business plan that includes your company’s target market, profit margins, and forecasted future earnings. All of these requirements are to show the bank that you are legitimately in business and that the bank should feel comfortable in providing you with a business bank account.
Note that you can apply for a business bank account either in person at a local branch or online. Applying for it online is often easier, and this also allows you to apply at virtually any bank anywhere, even if it’s not near your business’ or home’s location. However, it is often advantageous to have a branch of the bank that hosts your business account near your home and/or business so that if some issue or problem arises, you can easily go to the branch to discuss and resolve it. While some issues can be resolved online, others can be dealt with more efficiently if you are present in-person, which will be much harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming if the bank you choose to do business with is located far from your home and/or business.
Open A Merchant Account
A merchant account is an account that allows you to accept credit and debit card payments. In the past, you could only get a merchant account via opening such an account at a bank. However, you now have other options besides the traditional banks, including PayPal and Stripe.
No matter which option(s) you choose to have a merchant account, all merchant accounts provide you with the ability to process credit and debit card transactions. For each transaction that is processed, a percentage of the amount will be taken as compensation, known as a transaction fee. This is often in the 2-3% range, depending on the company providing you with the merchant account and sometimes even the amount of the transaction itself.
PayPal and Stripe are two companies that are really merchant account “aggregators.” Unlike merchant accounts with a bank, PayPal and Stripe allow virtually anyone to have the ability to process credit and debit card transactions, even if their business is brand new and has no history or track record of success.
Conversely, banks need to verify your business plan and know you are a legitimate business before they will consider giving you a merchant account and the ability to process credit and debit card payments. (In fact, you need a business bank account to get a merchant account with a bank).
In addition, PayPal and Stripe don’t require a monthly fee or a contract, whereas traditional merchant accounts do. Thus, if you are just starting out in business, PayPal and/or Stripe are a good way to get a merchant account quickly and begin to take order payments quickly.
To open a merchant account with PayPal, you need to visit the PayPal home page, click “Business” at the top of the page, and click “Get Started” on the resulting page. You then choose between “Payments Pro,” “Payments Standard,” and “Express Checkout,” depending on the features you want to have with your checkout process. The Pro version has a $30 monthly fee, but has all options available, including customizing the checkout experience and customers paying directly on your website, whereas the other two options don’t have monthly fees but fewer features. Choose the option that best fits your vision of the checkout process at this point in time for your business. Each transaction processed by PayPal will cost 2.9% + $0.30.
To open a merchant account with Stripe, go to the Stripe home page, click “Create Account.” You will then need to register an account with an email address and password. You then can choose between whether you want to “pay as you go” or contact Stripe’s sales team and go with the “Enterprise” option. The “pay as you go” option involves charging 2.9% of the transaction plus an additional $0.30 cents of every transaction processed through Stripe, the same exact amount that PayPal takes with each transaction. ACH and Bitcoin payments are charged 0.8% plus an additional amount up to $5 (for payments of $625+). The “Enterprise” option gives you volume discounts (i.e. lower transaction fees for a higher volume of transactions), dedicated support, migration assistance from a previous payment processor to Stripe’s system, and account management tools. Again, you’ll need to assess the options to determine the best choice for your business.
As mentioned previously, you can also choose to open up a merchant account with a bank, but you will need to provide the bank with details on your business, including its name, purpose, and plan. If they are convinced of your business’ longevity and stability (including a good history of your own credit standing), they will likely grant you a merchant account. Be sure to know about any monthly fees, promotional pricing where the rate is lower for the first few months and then increases, equipment leasing fees, etc. before you decide to open a merchant account with a bank to ensure you know the cost involved ahead of time.
Set Up A New Google Account
Google has many valuable free resources for you as an online business owner that you need to take advantage of. This includes Gmail, Google Analytics, Google+, YouTube, Google Drive, and more.
If you don’t have a Google account already, go to https://accounts.google.com/signup and enter in the requested information. This will allow you to sign up for and use services such as Gmail, Google Analytics, and more.
Once you have a Google Account, head over to http://www.google.com/analytics/, click on “Sign In” in the upper-right corner, click “Analytics,” then click the “Sign Up” button on the right side. You’ll then be taken to a page where you can choose to track a website or a mobile app. You input the account name and the name and the URL of the website or the name of the app you wish to track, along with the industry category and reporting time zone.
You then choose the “Data Sharing Settings” options you wish to use at the bottom of the page, including “Google products & services,” “Benchmarking,” “Technical support,” and “Account specialists.” By using these options, you will have more control over sharing your Google Analytics data. When you are finished, click the “Get Tracking ID” button at the bottom of the page.
This Tracking ID code will be placed onto your website or into your app’s source code so that Google can track how many people visit your Web pages or install and use your business’ app. Over a period of time, you will get useful data on the visitors that come to your site or install and use your app, information that can help you to tweak your marketing campaigns and messages in order to gain better engagement from your visitors, gain more subscribers to your list, and get more people to purchase your offers.
Note that you can use up to 100 Google Analytics accounts, and each account can contain up to 50 properties. “Properties” refer to the site or app you are tracking, meaning you can track up to a total of 50 sites or apps per Google Analytics account. Thus, you can track up to a grand total of 5,000 sites or apps via all of your allotted Google Analytics accounts.
Therefore, if you plan to utilize many accounts and/or properties in Google Analytics, be sure to use descriptive names for those accounts and properties to easily differentiate between them at a glance. By using descriptive names, you don’t have to click in and out of accounts and properties to determine which accounts hold which properties and which properties have the specific site or app data you are looking for. Organization is key to getting the most useful information from Google Analytics.
Note that as the main account holder, you also have the capability of adding other authorized users to your Google Analytics accounts and to any property in any of your accounts. This feature can be quite useful later on if you utilize virtual assistants or hire employees or partners in your company and want them to have access to your site or app data.
Create A Free JVZoo Account
Many successful Internet marketers utilize the JVZoo platform, both to sell their own products and to promote other marketers’ products as affiliates. It is free to register an account that will allow to sell and/or promote others’ products as an affiliate. If you purchase other Internet marketers’ offers that are using JVZoo as their platform, you can also access your purchase history and the products you purchased via this account.
To register for a JVZoo Account, go to https://www.jvzoo.com/auth/register and fill out the requested information. You will need to provide the name you wish to be known as (your “Display Name”), your email address, your password, confirmation of your password, and your country. The email address you choose to use should be one that you check regularly, as this is where your confirmation will be sent, plus will also be where notable affiliate offers for you to promote and other information will be sent.
For sellers, JVZoo gives you the ability to create unlimited buy buttons and add as many products or webinars as you wish to JVZoo’s Product Library. You will never be charged a fee for adding more products or webinars- you can a virtually unlimited amount as your business grows.
For affiliates, JVZoo provides tools and training to help you earn more commissions from your affiliate marketing efforts. Promoting other marketers’ offers can help you to bring in revenue more quickly while you work to create your own offers, which can often lead to even greater profits.
JVZoo has become one of the more prominent online marketing platforms over the last several years. With its growing importance in the online community, it has established connections with many leading payment, Webinar, and autoresponder services and providers, including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, GoToWebinar, AWeber, GetResponse, and more. Thus, JVZoo integrates seamlessly with these providers so that their services and products work very easily with JVZoo, enabling you to focus more on your product or affiliate promotions rather than worrying about whether different technologies will work together or not.
Set Up Your Business Website
While having your own website isn’t absolutely essential to making sales online, it’s pretty close, as you will have a much harder time building your brand without having a central presence on the World Wide Web. Additionally, most people expect you to have a presence on the World Wide Web or will not take you seriously as a business. Thus, having your own business website is near the top of priorities in establishing yourself as a legitimate online business.
The two things you need to establish your website online are a domain name and Web hosting. A domain name, also known as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), is a specific location on the Internet that identifies where your site is. It’s similar to your home address- you have a specific number and a specific location, which identifies the place where you reside. In a similar fashion, your domain name is the address where your site resides on the Internet- people must enter that domain name to reach your website.
It is strongly recommended that you choose a domain name that tells what your business is about. For example, if you are planning on selling ebooks, you probably would want to have “ebook” somewhere in the domain name. Not only will this alert Internet users and website visitors to what your website is about, but it can also give your site a boost in the search engine rankings, which can make it easier for people to find your website when using their favorite search engine(s).
To register a domain name, you need to go to a domain name registrar, select it, ensure that it is available for purchase, then purchase it. Two well-known domain name registrars are GoDaddy.com and Namecheap.com Both of them have a search utility on their sites that will allow you to input your desired domain name to see if it is available. If it is, you can purchase it; if it is not, the utility will provide some other domain names that are similar to the one you entered in an effort to help you pick a comparable domain name to the one you wanted that is available.
Note that there are many URL extensions, the part of the domain name that comes after the dot that appears after the name of your site. For instance, in www.mybusinesswebsite.com, the extension is the .com after mybusinesswebsite. Some of the most well-known domain name extensions are the following:
The first three, .com/.net/.org, are the most well-known and well-respected by Internet users across the world. These are really the three domain extensions you should go after, particularly .com. However, they are also the three hardest to obtain, particularly in a specific domain name you want. Thus, you may have to turn to one of the other extensions, something the domain name registrar search utility will point out to you when you put in a prospective domain name.
When you finally have chosen a domain name that is available, you can select it and go through the checkout process to obtain it. You will usually be given a selection of years to choose from that you wish to own this domain name. It costs more upfront to buy several years in advance, but if you plan on keeping this domain name long-term and building a brand and company around it, it may be worthwhile to pay the higher cost upfront, as it will cost more over the long run to renew ownership of the domain name year after year, since the 1-year buying price is higher than the per-year price of the multiple year buying options.
The other key to having your own business website online is to have Web hosting. Web hosting is the capability and capacity to store your website on a Web hosting company’s server so that anyone who enters your domain name into their Web browser will actually see your site and not a blank error page.
There are many Web hosting providers- some of the more well-known ones include HostGator.com and BlueHost.com. It is strongly advised that you carefully research all of the ones you are considering based on reputation (i.e. customer reviews), the features of the plans you are considering by each host, and pricing. Note that the lowest-cost plan isn’t always the best one to go with, though you don’t necessarily have to go with the highest-cost plan either.
Most Web hosting providers have a 7-day trial period for either free or at a lower introductory rate. It often is beneficial to take advantage of this trial period and put the Web hosting provider through its paces to see if it is a good fit for you or not.
Specifically, when you are trying out a Web hosting provider, you should make note of the following:
- Does the host provide a good website building interface? (Can you easily build your own website using their interface?)
- Does the host provide good customer support? (Can you reach them by email, phone, online chat? Do they respond promptly to your questions, and can they resolve them effectively?)
- Does the website seem stable when it is online via this host? (Can you see it and navigate through it if you enter your domain name in your browser? Can other people?)
- Does the Web host provide any backup capabilities in case your site goes down or is lost? (Note what types of backups they make and how often if they do, then be sure to make backups regularly via their interface and even through another method to ensure you can restore your site quickly if something goes wrong).
Also take the time to look for coupon codes that can cut the cost of your Web hosting expenses further- some Web hosting providers will post coupon codes either to their email lists or on various websites (Slickdeals.com, FatWallet.com, etc.) Thus, it can pay to sign up to the email list of the Web hosting provider you are thinking of using, as you can save yourself additional money when starting your new website.
Once you have decided upon the Web hosting provider you are going to use for your site, spend some time working with the website creator provided by your Web host or via a software program you are comfortable with to create your Web pages. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and other software programs can help you to create professional-looking Web pages that can present your brand in a positive light to convince website visitors to consider and purchase your offers.
While you can hire someone to create and manage your Web pages for you, it is preferable if you learn how to work with the software yourself- this way, if you need to make a change to your Web pages, especially a time-sensitive change, you don’t have to rely on someone else to make the change for you because you don’t know how to work with the Web page creation software.
Thus, take some time to work with whatever program you are going to use to create your Web pages and become comfortable enough with it so that you know how to create and edit Web pages yourself- it will pay off for you and your business in the long run.
Start Adding Products To Your Website
Once you have your domain name and Web hosting provider ready to go and you are comfortable enough with the program you will use to create your Web pages, you can begin to add products to your website. There are two main ways to do this, as was referenced in the JVZoo chapter- creating your own products and promoting other marketers’ products as an affiliate.
If you are creating your own products, then you need to not only create the product itself, but also relevant marketing materials to promote the products. This includes sales copy to convince people to purchase the product, blog posts to help promote the product on blogs (including your own) and other websites, and graphics to help illustrate the product.
Graphics are especially important because, even though you may be selling a digital ebook or software program, most people like to see a representation of the product they are going to purchase, much like they like to see a book or other item they purchase in a store or even online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc. Even though people will never physically touch the digital product you are offering them, they still want to see a representation of that product as if it is a physical item- this will also help to encourage them to purchase the product.
Fortunately, there are many graphic templates you can use to help represent your products, including 2D and 3D ebook covers of various shapes and sizes that you can use on your site to represent your product, both as a link to take the visitor to the sales page and as a graphic to represent the product on the sales page itself. If you are selling a software program, there are 2D and 3D CD/DVD box graphics and software box graphics you can use to better illustrate the software program you are offering for sale.
You may already have graphics you can use if you have purchased any Private Label Rights (PLR) ebook and/or software packages. You just download one or more of the graphics that you have from that package, resize the graphics if needed to fit your Web page based on where you plan to place it on the page using a graphic-editing program (even a simple program like “Paint” will do, or you can use a more complex program like PhotoShop if you wish), then paste the resized graphic in the appropriate location using the skills you learned using your Web page creation program from the last chapter.
If you don’t have graphics from a PLR package, there are cheap PLR packages available from sites such as Fiverr.com, Master-Resale-Rights.com, and others. Use your favorite search engine and input “PLR packages” and similar to find cheap PLR packages with graphics you can use for as little as $5. HubSpot even provides free ebook templates in return for some personal information here: https://offers.hubspot.com/ebook-templates.
Alternatively, if you are artistically-inclined and have some knowledge of a graphics software program, you could even create your own ebook graphics from scratch or via built-in templates within a program. There are several ebook cover making software programs available- use your favorite search engine and look up “ebook cover making software” or similar to find them.
Where you place the ebook or software box graphics is totally up to you, but you should probably place a smaller image of the ebook or software box graphic embedded with a link to the sales page on your home page, along with some text describing the offer- this way, visitors to your home page can see your offer and click on the image to be taken to the sales page. Then, when the visitors click on the image and head to your sales page, you can use a larger version of the same ebook or software box graphic image on the sales page to show what the visitor will be getting when he/she purchases your offer.
If you are promoting offers of other marketers as an affiliate, it’s likely they have already provided graphics of their ebook or software program for you to use to make it easier for you to promote their offer. (After all, if they didn’t make it easy for their affiliate to promote their offers, would many bother to do so? Not likely- why every successful marketer with an affiliate program provides graphics to use in marketing campaigns). Thus, you just need to download the graphics, resize them as needed in your favorite graphics-editing program, then place them where needed as described above.
Many marketers use both methods of creating their own offers and promoting others’ offers as an affiliate for multiple income streams without doing all of the hard work. Many who are starting out in the Internet marketing world will promote other marketers’ offers as an affiliate to provide immediate revenue while creating their own offers to provide even more revenue. Creating your own offers takes more work and time, but unlike many affiliate offers, you get to keep 100% of the profits you sell. Plus, you can create your own affiliate program and allow other marketers to promote your offers for a share of the profits. This, of course, will come later on after you have become more established in the industry for providing quality and having a good reputation, keys to success in virtually any business.
Start Sending Traffic To Your Site
Once you have built your site, posted the offer and all relevant graphics, sales copy, and links on the respective pages, it’s time to get traffic to your site. After all, not much good will come of your work to post the offer and all relevant elements of it on your website if no one sees it- you need traffic, something that many new Internet marketers (and even some more seasoned ones) overlook when building their online businesses. An important credo to remember – you don’t have a business if you don’t have traffic- traffic is the lifeblood of your business.
It’s also important to note that you need quality traffic, ones that will be interested in your offer. Many new Internet marketers fall under the impression that all traffic is equal, but that’s not the case. Traffic won’t mean much to your site and your business if they have no interest in what you offer because it won’t lead to any subscribers to your list(s) and any customers to your offer(s).
Fortunately, there are many ways to get quality traffic to your offers- below are just some of the ways to do it:
- Viral Marketing (i.e. Word-of-Mouth online)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization- ranking highly in the search engines)
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, etc.)
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click- paying for traffic to come to your site when they click your link listed in the sponsored posts sections of Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.)
- Forum Marketing
- Email Marketing
The above methods are just a few of the ways in which you can get quality traffic to your site. The overall key is to get the word out about your offer and have it spread around the Internet so that others learn about it. This will especially be effective if people buy your offer, like it, then recommend it to others, as most of today’s consumers tend to buy things that their friends and family recommend.
Thus, it is critical that you start promoting your brand, site, and offer(s) as soon as possible. Every conceivable and legal way you can think of, you should utilize, at least at the beginning. Once you have an idea of what traffic methods are working for you and what ones aren’t, you can concentrate more of your time and efforts on those traffic methods that are bringing subscribers to your list, visitors to your site, and customers to your offer(s).
Note that not all traffic methods work for all offers; some traffic methods will work better for some sites and offers than others- this is normal. The key is finding out which methods will work best to bring quality traffic to your offers, then ramping up your efforts using those methods. This is how you will gain subscribers, customers, and a better reputation.
As with any successful business, the key to enduring success is proper money management. Once you start making profits, don’t start blowing that money on frivolous purchases, such as a new television or computer, a new car or home, etc. You may make some early profits, but you need to continue to ramp up your efforts to build a sustainable income online so that you can quit your day job and live off of your earnings. This will take time, no matter what industry or niche you are serving.
There are two things you should do with your early profits:
- Save enough to pay your taxes.
- Invest some into your future education.
Regarding #1, just as with an offline business, your government takes a percentage of the profits you make. Depending on whether you are a sole proprietor or a separate business entity (LLC, INC, etc.), you will owe a percentage of your profits and have to pay that to your government. In a typical job, your employer takes a percentage of your paycheck for tax purposes. Being that you are also the employer as well as the employee, it is YOUR job to hold onto some of those profits to pay back to your government. Thus, never spend all of your profits, or you could find yourself in a financial bind when it comes tax time.
Regarding #2, just as with any industry, things change over time. No industry remains the same for long- we’ve seen this with the retail industry, the technology industry, the stock markets, and, yes, even with the Internet marketing industry. Some methods that worked years ago or even six months ago either don’t work or don’t work as effectively now as they did then. Yet, new methods are developed and new technologies are created to make the essential processes easier to manage.
Investing in such new methods and new technologies cost money, which is another reason you should not spend much to any of your hard-earned profits. You need to stay on top of the latest trends, strategies, and technology in order to keep your business moving forward and to keep it profitable. If you’re using outdated methods, your profits will quickly dry up, and your business will be teetering on the brink of collapse. If you’re not using the latest technology that is suitable for your business, you will spend more time doing tasks than is needed, which will take away time from tasks that can’t be as easily automated and where you should be spending more of your time in order to produce more profits for your business and for producing more credibility for your brand.
Thus, don’t fall into the trap of spending that hard-earned money on frivolous purchases- doing so will only cause problems for you later. Sure, it’s okay to feel good about yourself and maybe purchasing a little gift or celebrating with a special dinner out for making a decent amount of profits after putting in some hard work, but don’t go overboard with it and think you can just spend frivolously. You still need to think about the taxes you owe and the future education you need to invest in in order for your business to survive and thrive for the long term.
Hopefully, this ebook has given you an overview of how to get your online business started. By no means is this ebook supposed to cover everything you will encounter; there are other materials and resources that can help you expand your education further. Instead, this ebook is to give you a good first step into entering the online marketing world, knowing what is required of you, and how to make your business and brand grow to where your online business is a sustainable business for the long term. While only 5% of such businesses make it past their first year, the information within this ebook should help you to become a part of that 5% that endure beyond one year and become successful for the long term.
Be sure to use the accompanying checklist and resource list to help you review the information in this ebook so that you can continue to make good progress on your Internet marketing journey.