How To Start An Online Business, Tips and Tricks From 52 Experts - Mad Lemmings

How To Start An Online Business, Tips and Tricks From 52 Experts

When it comes to making money online and starting a business, it is far tougher than you may think.

There are so many "gurus" out there promising you 5 minute success, or riches that fall from the sky.

But, in reality, it requires a lot of hard work, experimentation, persistence and a little bit of luck.

That is why, I went out and asked over 50 people in various fields of online business what advice or tips they would give to someone starting out and also, how they started out online.

Learn from 52 Business Owners some of the best tips and tricks to starting an online business

This will help you to get ideas, and advice from real people who have "made it", at least in the sense of making a living online. And not just from "experts" who talk about it but never actually do it.

At the end, there are also a few people I asked a slightly different question to - about creative ways to start out online, so be sure to check that out too!

There are tweetables from ​each person, so if you like what they said, give them a small thank you by tweeting their advice to your followers.

Below is a quick navigation to help you jump to a specific person, if you recognise a name. Otherwise​, just browse through the golden, hard-earned advice from internet business pros.

What Tips Would You Give Someone Starting Out Online?


What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Tip #1: Put together a long term plan for where you want to be in 5-10 years time. Both your business and your personal life. For your business, consider which tactics will help you reach your goals and prioritize accordingly.

Tip #2: You need to know where you're heading or you'll just end up swimming in circles.

Tip #3: You'll likely read a lot of marketing advice on the web but remember that it's best practice. And that's nothing more than a starting point. Test test test and test some more.

Tip #4: Be prepared to take risks. It's part of business but be careful that you don't take risks that could kill your business.

Tip #5: Avoid building your business on rented land. For example, a bunch of folks have built businesses that rely on buying traffic from Facebook. Platforms change and you need to diversify your efforts to ensure the survival (and growth) of your business.

Tip #6: Failure isn't the end. In some cases, it can be the beginning of something great. Learn from those mistakes. Grow on a personal level and use your experience to improve your business.

Tip #7: Start building an email list from day one. If you want to get ahead online, you NEED an email list. You'll be able to drive more traffic to your blog posts and sell far more products/services.

Tip #8: If you get involved in affiliate marketing, you'll get the best return on sharing damn good products that solve a particular need.

Organic search traffic usually converts best but ranking for keywords that can drive affiliate revenue isn't always easy. Reviews and list posts can work well but every niche is different. Detailed content wins over thin content.

Ultimately you need to select products that will convert (if their sales page sucks, alarm bells should ring) but the product needs to be up to par.

Ask yourself this: would I write about this product if I wasn't an affiliate?

If you answer no - then you probably shouldn't include it. If the answer is yes, then you've probably got the right product.

How did you start a business or making money online?

The odd thing is that I never set out to start a business.

Growing up, I had no interest in starting a business. But that could just be because the encouragement wasn't there.

My first business venture was a record label that I ran from my bedroom. I was at college at the time and wanted to create a platform to help promote the music that my friends and I were creating.

From a business perspective, that venture was a complete failure. My vision was unrealistic and so was almost every aspect of my "plan".

I couldn't even cover the cost of the hosting with the records we sold. The unfortunate truth is that we never got any payment because it was below the payout threshold of the distribution company we used.

But, this wasn't a failure because it prompted one of my biggest successes (not from an ROI perspective). We relaunched as a non-profit record label. Fast forward to today and we've released 60 albums from artists all over the world - they've been downloaded almost 3 million times.

After launching a few more websites, I launched a blog to share what I was learning while working at a marketing agency.

This blog (BloggingWizard.com) eventually grew to the point where I could leave the agency and become a full time blogger. And I've launched a few more since then.

It's allowed me to create the sort of lifestyle that gives me the freedom to work how I want to work. And I could afford to hire my girlfriend so she could leave her job too.

Getting to this point is something I never expected. And I can count those influential moments that helped me get here on one hand. The truth is that good things come to those who don't wait.

Adam Connell

Websites: BloggingWizard And UKLinkology

Twitter: @adamjayc

Start building an email list from day one.~ @adamjayc

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

1) Don’t spend all your time, money and resources on building your course, website, marketing material etc. Create a brochure, start speaking to potential clients and work with them one on one to build up case studies of your work, methodology etc.

Throughout this process you will fine-tune your curriculum, generate the revenue necessary to fund your entire launch and best of all you build a product that resonates and connects with your audience. Remember don’t is better then perfect!

2) Make sure you have a solid online footprint, you are who Google says you are. Go out there and deliver some presentations, secure podcast interviews, generate media exposure and starting writing your own blogs.

Before someone buys your course or a potential partner agrees to joint venture with you, make no doubt they will search for you online. And if you don’t make a good first impression it can be your last. Remember you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Before I started Linkfluencer I ran a business advisory firm where we were consulting to small to medium businesses on how to start, grow and exit their business.

When we first launched the firm we wasted a lot of money on traditional forms of advertising and marketing with little ROI. At the time there was a lot of buzz around social media and personal branding so I decided to engage a few PR agencies to help build my personal and company brand.

After a few meetings with PR agencies I decided to do it myself, mainly because they wanted to charge me an arm and a leg without any real guarantees. One night as I was driving home I got an email from a friend of mine with the headline: 94.2% of journalist and editors are on LinkedIn.

That night I started connecting with a few journalist hear and there and within 3 months I had a network of over 300 media contacts which I managed to build successful relationships with to then get featured in over 50 media publications without sending out a single press release.

This peaked my interest about LinkedIn’s potential so I thought if it’s worked in terms of getting media coverage then surely it would work in terms of generating joint venture partnerships.

So over the next month we connected with 500 accounting firms in Sydney, from those connections we held 70 phone call which resulted in 32 meetings.

Out of those meetings we secured 17 partners who promoted us to their database every month getting us in front of 10,000+ businesses that helped us grow the business by over 38% in 6 months.

In the process we spoke with thousands of businesses who all noticed the success we were having on LinkedIn so we decided to run a survey to see if this was a need amongst the majority.

We research over 2000 business, of which 84.2% said that they struggled to use LinkedIn effectively to grow their business..

Building on the success of our own achievements and the clients we worked with, gave us the experience and insights necessary to create our “3 Steps to LinkedIn Mastery’ methodology and launch Linkfluencer back in February 2014.

We started off the business by working with a handful of business to help build case studies before launching the online program on the back end of it.

Since then we’ve have had over 1000 businesses in 55 industries and 30+ countries go through our online ‘Business Accelerator Program’ helping us become the world’s leading online community for LinkedIn training as recognized by Huffington Post.

Alex Pirouz

Website: LinkFluencer

Twitter: @​alexpirouz

If you don't niche, you don't exist! ~ @​alexpirouz

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Believing in your dream is a big thing. Many people have genius ideas but they are too humble to realize those are great ideas, so they keep watching others do what they could.

Also, going from planning to acting is the toughest. You can plan a project for years but no one has got rich or famous due to a good plan. You need to act to start seeing results. Make mistakes and learn from them. Cherish every experience and build upon it.

Start even if you have no budget. We are still lucky enough to live in the era when the Internet helps you build you presence for free (MyBlogU is a great example!).

How did you start a business or making money online?

I have a few online businesses but let me describe my newer one: MyBlogU.com

MyBlogU is the blog collaboration community where (1) you don't need to have an established following or reputation to succeed and (2) you find mini-projects to become part of to never feel alone.

I started it because I saw too many people starting out with the same problem: You are basically alone when you start. There's too much to learn, to read and too build. It's overwhelming and intimidating. MyBlogU help web writers and bloggers to share their expertise, get cited and grow their authority.

I had had the idea of that project for years but I had no time (or that's what I thought) for another new project, so I waited. One day I decided to go ahead and started developing the site (with a couple of great tech teams who were helping with different aspects of it). The site is still a work on progress but it's already giving a platform to those who want to be heard.

The promotion has been purely organic: We don't do any paid reviews or even ads.

What we do:

- Weekly Twitter chats to get some buzz on Twitter

- Social media promotion of users' case studies and testimonials

- Regular blogging contests (#MBUstorm)

- Showcases what kind of content and results our users get for free though the platform

Ann Smarty

Website: SEO Smarty

Twitter: @SEOSmarty

Stop planning: Just do it! There's no "best" time to start except for "NOW" ~ @SEOSmarty 

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

If you’re serious about starting a profitable business and making money, then you need to focus on becoming a freelance business writer.The benefits of starting a freelance business are clear:

a. You get more consistent freelance work every month.

b. People look up to you as an expert within your niche.

c. Targeted referral client’s floods to your business.

d. You get recurring and consistent revenue.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I read a particular post about "Quitting Your Job and Start Freelancing Business" and I read that post ten times because I was just amazed. I was like ‘holy crap. I have to do this.

I then looked around at the big guys who were proclaiming to be successful at freelancing business and their content was really generic and uninspiring, leaving a massive opportunity for me. And I just modelled it completely after that.

And that’s when I decided to start my freelance business writing blog. Since then I’ve been getting recurring and consistent revenue.

Bill Achola

Website: BillAchola.com

Twitter: @billachola

Focus on getting targeted referral clients who can flood your business with consistent revenue. ~ @billachola

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

You need a centralized system to track projects. This way, everyone in your team has access to this data AND you are able to go back in time to see what was done that caused a success of a failure.

On top of that, communication is key and working remotely can make this quite difficult. We use Slack, it has basically become a part of our team.

Another tough area is that sometimes words can't convey what you are really trying to say. Snaggit has been a huge help in this area. I find it much easier to make a video in order to convey an issue or opportunity. It will also allow you to train your team properly.

How did you start a business or making money online?

This is my second online business. It came about because we were able to grow our first (FriendsEAT) with the help of Social Media. It allowed us to compete with some pretty large businesses in our space.

We found that we were paying for many different softwares, and still had needs that were not met. Since we have engineers on staff, we decided to build our own dashboard.

The planning stages were key. A solid outline of the features we were missing and a strong focus to prevent feature creep. This is one of the most dangerous things when creating a new product. You get very excited for features and prioritize the wrong thing. You end up with a million features nobody wants or needs.

We built the basic functions first, (the drag & drop content calendar and engagement feed). Once those were perfected, we began to work on those that we really wanted (SmartID, reports, downloadable calendar, categorization, duplication, and tasks). Now that those are set, we poll our current users on future features to get their input on what they really want. It's all about setting priorities.

Blanca Valbuena

Website: SocialDraft

Twitter: @SocialDraftApp​

We use Slack, it has basically become a part of our team. ~ @SocialDraftApp 

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

My advice for someone that's starting an online business is to get a resource or mentor that you can bounce questions off of and get unbiased advice and recommendations from.

If you Google stuff, most everything that's going to come up in the search results is someone or some company trying to sell you something, or tell you how much success they've had, and how you can do the same if you follow their plan and you buy their package or learning guide.

You really just need to find someone with your best interest in mind to help you out. Yes, you'll most likely need to pay them, but they'll keep you sane and stop you from making any crazy investments or business decisions.

My closing advice is, whatever you do, don't get caught up in the hype of the next best thing, and don't ever listen to anyone that's going to make you quick or easy money.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I found out very quickly that running an online business costs money. I had watched all types of videos, read books, and educated myself about opening up an online business so that I new what to expect, but what I found was that out of everything that I learned, only a very small percentage of it was true.

I started the business without any real strategic plan, which is not recommended, and then I just ended up throwing away money and playing catch up for the next year. The business did make some money, but not nearly enough to support what I needed to live on a daily basis.

I must say that although the end result was not what I had envisioned, it was truly one of the best learning experiences in my life. It taught me that "failing to plan, is planning to fail," as well as many other life and business lessons.

Brandon Schaefer

Website: MyVirtualSalesForce

Twitter: @​MyVSF_Brandon

Get a resource or mentor that you can bounce questions off ~ @MyVSF_Brandon

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

If you want to get going as a freelance graphic designer, my number one tip for you to grow faster, smarter, and land more work, it's to go all in on one area of work.

What's the one thing you want to be known for? What work excites you most? And who are the type of people you want to do work for?

Even if you’re not 100% certain, having focus now will get you farther than if you continued down the path of uncertainty. The great thing is, you can always shift your focus as you continue to grow. But you’ll grow faster with this focus.

I had this realization a little over a year ago, and that's the moment my freelancing finally became a sustainable career.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started freelancing full-time as a graphic designer right after graduating college in 2011. I'm a very self-driven individual – always creating and bringing my ideas to life, so it was the only path that really excited me.

I had no experience in running a business, let alone a self-employed business. But I didn't let that stop me. If I had a question, I simply Googled it. The mistakes I made along the way were only lessons learned to me.

I dabbled in many areas of design over the years – starting out in website design, gradually transitioning only to graphic design, and now my focus is on t-shirt design. It's the one thing that excites me most.

I know what it’s like to put on your favorite t-shirt. Out of all the options in your wardrobe, you always go to a select few that excites you most. There’s a certain experience you want to relive or a message you’d like to share.

The overall style and imagery on these shirts represent certain interests and makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. This is the root of why I’m passionate about designing t-shirts and helping brands stay creatively relevant.

Brent Galloway

Website: BrentGalloway.me

Twitter: @BrentGalloway

Having focus in your work will get you farther than if you continued down the path of uncertainty. ~ @BrentGalloway

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Nowadays, I would use the content marketing approach to build my audience and also build an email list.

I used to think that an email list wouldn't work as well in the baby shower niche since that is a one time event for many people. But later on I found out that a popular wedding site was getting more than half of their orders from email marketing, even though they had great SEO as well.

I would also pick a bigger niche as there are more opportunities for marketing and growth.

How did you start a business or making money online?

My first online business was e-commerce. I started by selling fragrance oils on Ebay and then a couple of years later, opened up my own e-commerce website selling party favors.

SEO was easy back then, people just traded links and I was able to get top rankings for my main keyword and others just by doing that.

Brian Lang

Website: Small Business Ideas Blog

Twitter: @sbizideasblog

Pick a bigger niche as there are more opportunities ~ @​sbizideasblog

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

You know, it took me a LONG time to figure out how to land new clients for my business and when I finally settled on a strategy, I was like, "WAHOOOO!" It was crazy to me that at one point I had a team of 30+ salespeople and their results weren't even coming CLOSE to mine-- and I had never done sales before!

As it turns out, getting new clients is mostly about taking advantage of your existing network. It's about systematically, authentically and consistently reaching out to the people know (all the while expanding your network) and offering something they want.

I actually put together a course on this because it was so powerful for me; it's called the 60 Client Year if you want to check it out: nerdygirl.co/60-client-year/

How did you start a business or making money online?

I never really set out to start a business. In the beginning, I was doing some freelance blogging for the company where my husband worked and I knew they were going to need a LOT of content. As a blogger, I had met lots of women like me (mom/freelancers at home with young kids) and I had a little "lightbulb" moment.

These ladies were CRAZY talented at writing, design, SEO, social media and all of it, but they weren't making any money. If I could connect them with companies who needed their help, everybody would win! That's when NerdyGirl.co was born. Since then, the response has been truly amazing and I absolutely LOVE the super-cool Nerds I work with every day.

Brittany Bullen

Website: BrittanyBullen.com

Twitter: @​nerdygirlbritt

Relationships are the most powerful tool in your arsenal. ~ @​nerdygirlbritt

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I would say knowing your industry inside and out is not the same thing as knowing how to run a business.

Join entrepreneur/solopreneur groups as soon as you can and start absorbing and participating.

Social media is a constantly changing industry, and keeping on top of the current changes and trends is a must.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started an online business offering social media strategy and training to small businesses. I had worked for a couple of years as the social media manager for Megadeth and Dave Mustaine - I was completely self-taught and was handling 17 social media accounts and 13 millions fans.

After that tenure, I went to work for a social media agency, which was not in any way shape or form a great fit for a 30-something mom.

I realized that I had all the knowledge, training, and experience to offer social media services as a business and took the leap.

I made lots of adjustments my first year in focus, services, and client boundaries - but each step got me closer to a successful business that I love.

Cara Chace

Website: CaraChace.com

Twitter: ​@carachace

Knowing your industry is not the same thing as knowing how to run a business. ~ @carachace

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

It's the kind of advice many beginner-business books might tell you, but I think it's relevant (and easily forgotten) at any stage in business.

Know the answers to these questions:

1) What do you want? (Ideal lifestyle, what your priorities are, what your values are, what you enjoy doing, what you're obsessed with) If those things aren't in-line with your business plan... you've got a problem.

2) Who are you trying to help? (Knowing your ideal 'avatar' in and out is tried-and-true advice - and something I wish I had taken more seriously from the beginning!)

3) How are you solving their problems? (More specifically, do they WANT that problem to be solved? I know plenty of people whose 'problems' I can solve but I can't help if they don't want it enough!)"

How did you start a business or making money online?

Honestly I didn't intentionally set out to have an online business as such... my site was originally a portfolio of my design work, then I decided to blog in response to the questions I kept getting from clients... Before I knew it I was setting up an online community and designing training programs!

I think the best businesses come out of an itch the founder is trying to scratch themselves. For me, I had a rocky start in business when trying to sell my quirky animal-themed illustrations on t-shirts, prints, mugs... and learnt quickly it wasn't a matter of 'if you make it they will come.'

So I did everything I could to learn about online marketing, and offline networking. My number one challenge wasn't the technical bits. It was the mental attitude: the voice in my head that told me I was 'too quiet' to be heard online, and 'too shy' to make an impact at a networking event.

Long story short, my current business is my way of scratching that itch, and hopefully helping others with the same problems!

Cat Rose Neligan

Website: Creative Introvert

Twitter: @creativeintro

Drop the ego. This isn't about you, it's about who you're helping. ~ @creativeintro

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

1. Focus on marketing your product as soon as possible, don't wait for it to be 100% finished. It's never too early. 

2. When your product is nearly ready then beta test it with a group of experienced users.​

3. Don't be afraid to change things in your product if you aren't getting traction​.

How did you start a business or making money online?

We have developed MavSocial which is a social media visual content management & publishing solution. It is a cloud based solution SAAS (software as a service) system. We started developing in 2013.

Chris Hodgeman

Website: MavSocial

Twitter: @chrishodgeman​

When your product is nearly ready then beta test it with a group of experienced users.​~ @chrishodgeman

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

My suggestion for someone who is starting out online in my area (blogging) is to be innovative.

There are so many blogging coaches out there, and it's essential that you find your superpower - the thing that makes you stand out - and then run with it.

My superpower is teaching, which is why the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge was so successful for me. Identify your superpower (yes, you have one) and then ask yourself,

"What can I do that will be different from what I see others doing online?" Do that thing.

Also, don't be afraid to take action and experiment. The best thing you can do to get results faster is to go out there and make things happen. Even if they don't work out, you'll have data you can use to change things in the future.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started a business helping women bloggers gain confidence, clarity, and a plan of action on their blogging journeys. In the beginning, I wrote a lot of blog posts about writing and finding your voice. I got some traction by sharing my blog posts strategically on Pinterest.

Then I created the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge, which helps bloggers improve their blogs' design and content. By doing that challenge, I grew my small Facebook group, Blogging on Your Own Terms, to almost 5,000 members, and then launched my membership site for women bloggers, Have Your Cupcake.

Daniela Uslan

Website: DanielaUslan.com

Twitter: @​DanielaUslan

Find your superpower, and then think outside the blog and become known for it. ~ @​DanielaUslan

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Find out who does what you do and better.

Copy and imitate until you are as good, then push past them.

Keep to one specific niche, don't be jack of all trades.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I got into SEO by accident as it was the first job out of university. I was lucky as it was still really new and lots of opportunity for people to learn from blogs, etc. After 3 years I decided to start freelancing and then from there it grew into an agency.

There was never any point that I said, "I want to create a business," it just happened. Certainly since then I have made a large amount of mistakes and had to take things a little more seriously.

NeoMam Studios identifies audiences for clients, creates publisher grade content and then we get it out to influencers - Journalists/bloggers, etc.

Danny Ashton

Website: Neomam 

Twitter: @dannyashton​

Copy and imitate until you are as good, then push past them. ~ @​DannyAshton

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Don't over complicate things and don't "want" to do too many things at the same time.

Doing many small and different things = Never getting anything done.

Map it out.

Break big tasks into smaller tasks.

You'll see the progress each and every day and that will keep you motivated.

Starting a business is hard, whether it's offline or online. Keep focused, keep motivated.

Once you are up and running, don't go filling up your brain with every marketing trick out there or read through every productivity article or the latest tactic to streamline your operations.

That's another trap you will encounter because you are an entrepreneur. You will always want to be better. You will always look at the next shiny thing. The next big idea, the next business idea or whatever it is.

Don't!

Be mindful when you are in this trap. Get out quickly and focus on moving the needle forward.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I've always had this entrepreneurial spirit. I never really wanted to work for anybody. I grew up knowing that I will never do that. I was selling stuff to people since I was 4. I just knew that I needed to be in business. LOL.

I started out back in the early 2000s.

I sold random things, from wireless phones (landlines!!), portable VCD players etc. and eventually, digital cameras.That was where I found and learned about the "niche" concept on selling online to improve my e-commerce business.

That was when I started to learn marketing and the rest was history.

I started putting up sites from there. I learned how fragile it is to have my shop be on a 3rd party site or a social networking site. They can shut down any time and my sales will all be gone with them.

Dennis Seymour

Website: LeapFrogger

Twitter: @denseymour​

Don't go filling up your brain with every marketing trick out there ~ @​DenSeymour

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

The first thing we realized, when trying to build a marketing agency with the website being the focal point, is that people really do still love face to face interactions. While the website is our clear hub for information, and ranks well online, we also own a local meetup group of over 5,000 members, we regularly do workshops centered around educating clients, and we help host local events in our city.

Don't limit yourself to just online when running a service based business, especially one where you know the customers like phone and face to face interactions still.

The website may be the first point of contact for many users, but it will often serve some far greater purposes, such as:

Vetting your prospective clients so that you don't have to waste time on the phone with a bad lead.

Educating prospective clients and clients so that you can get "buy-in" from them and not have to say the same thing twice to two separate clients.

Explain your exact process and exactly what you do and why you do it - this shortens the sales cycle and builds trust before you ever meet your prospective client.

Build authority in the industry by having other marketers follow and help promote your content.

Specifically for our industry, this helps prove that we do know what to do, because, well, we rank #1 for some crucial key terms where other agencies don't. We practice what we preach... We drink our own Kool-Aid, and people know that. That's why they trust us.

Meetup and running live local events have been the 2nd and 3rd largest contributors to our online success - the 1st is just a solid online marketing strategy, specifically the content marketing strategy. "

How did you start a business or making money online?

I like to tell people thinking of starting an online business one clear and simple truth that often seems to be forgotten:

There's no such thing as an online business.

What you are really doing is starting a business, where the primary method of engaging, acquiring, and selling takes place online.

Why would I tell you this? Because sometimes you can use offline strategies to jump start your online business. Tools such as Meetup, conferences, and networking events can be great tools to your business. Furthermore, a lot of my business is really done over the phone or face-to-face, I just acquire many of my customers online.

So, to get to the question... I have started many online business, but let's focus on my marketing agency, which we launched in late 2014. The main front of the business is the website, where we get about 3,000 monthly unique visitors, mostly from the San Diego area, on a regular basis. While that number isn't huge, by any means, it's well targeted and regularly brings in new clients.

We rank #1 for ""digital marketing agency san diego"" and some other related key terms, which gives us a distinct advantage over some of San Diego's giant companies. How did we do that? You can see our step-by-step-process in this video. So to launch the site, we had to build the website, the content for the website, come up with a strategy for collecting email addresses, and how we wanted users to experience the website. Ultimately, that comes down to creating an Online Marketing Strategy Guide.The Online Marketing Strategy Guide has 5 key pillars:

Content Marketing Strategy

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing Strategy

Online Advertising Strategy

On-site Optimizations

When you combine those 5 strategies, you have a clear framework to how you will acquire and convert customers, grow your user base, grow your social channels, and test the entire process for improvement.

Without a written Online Marketing Strategy Guide, or any of the parts therein, you are really just winging it with your business. You will have a harder time getting investors, a harder time teaching new employees or interns what to do, and an overall harder time acquiring customers. According to Joe Pulizzi - the Godfather of Content Marketing - a written strategy will increase your chances of success by ~400%. So write it down.

Derric Haynie

Website: SplashOPM

Twitter: @SixPeppers

Don't think like an online business, think like a business online.. ~ @sixpeppers

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I am in marketing.

I help small businesses set up shop, reach their target audiences and grow by integrating various communication channels. I also help aspiring freelancers position themselves right on the market so that they don’t drown in competition but instantly stand apart from the crowd. Experienced freelancers also can benefit from my help as there is often that moment when you seem to have plateaued but you really haven’t – it’s just a small step you need to take to sky-rocket your practice again. I help you find that missing step and take it.

Tips for someone who’s just starting? Two things instantly come to mind.

First – know what you are getting into. Too many people get into freelancing for all the wrong reasons or with unrealistic expectations. No, freelancing is not about quick and easy cash, neither will you achieve success overnight. But it’s not about working 24/7 either.

All the misconceptions about freelance out there are a result of misinformed or not-so-successful freelancers who didn’t bother preparing for the journey ahead. Life as a freelancer can be really easy – yes, just like you have seen in magazines and shiny blogs! Getting out of bed when you want, taking unexpected vacations, or traveling for months in a row to exotic countries, working from a park or in your pyjamas, working only a few hours a day or why not a week – I do all of these, so I should know.

But it doesn’t start like that. It requires a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of sweat, blood and tears to make it in the online world. When you start as a freelancer, you will deal with a lot of rejection. You will feel a lot of time that you are chasing your tail. You will think that nobody will ever give you a chance because you lack portfolio or references from previous clients. Envious wanna-be freelancers, spiteful frenemies or bad clients will tell you how stupid you are and how you suck at your job (which will not necessarily be true but you’ll believe them anyway and your self-confidence will suffer even more as a result).

But if you make the extra effort to inform yourself what you are getting into, you will make it. You just need to believe in yourself and commit to achieving success as a freelancer.

Which leads me to the second most important tip – plan.

Once you know what you are getting into, set your goals and draw the path you have to go to reach your goals. Do a thorough research – don’t just think that all you need to work online is a computer. You need skills but more importantly, you need to offer solutions to real clients’ problems. Find who those clients are and what they need.

Create an ideal client profile.

Then figure out the solution you can offer. Be sure to find the niche where your competition doesn’t do as good of a job as you could. You can branch out later but starting on the right foot is what will make or break your online practice.

Did you put that down? Oh, right – do a thorough research and put it all down on paper.

Don’t think about it. Don’t guesstimate what you might need to do at some point. Plan based on hard data and write down the steps you need to take. It sounds silly but humor me – your future is at stake!

Bottom line:Inform yourself about the journey ahead, do a thorough research to position yourself on the market, set your goals and write down the steps you need to take to get there. These are the steps that most freelancers skip and fail as a result, no matter their profession.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started working as a freelance marketing consultant in January 2010 through a website called oDesk (now known as Upwork).

I was jobless and almost broke at the time. I couldn’t find a satisfying job that would also pay well, so I started looking for alternative employment methods and came across the said website. I spent three days reading oDesk policies and rules, terms of service, researching freelancers’ profiles, and whatnot. I don’t think they even had a blog back then.

Freelancing was an unheard-of concept in my home country and the information online was very limited in general. I took up the opportunity out of curiosity and decided to try this “freelance thing” while someone calls me for a “real job”.

Today I can say that what started as a joke turned out to be the best career decision I have made in my life.

Diana Marinova

Website: DianaMarinova.com

Twitter: @DianaLMarinova

Establishing a successful freelance practice is a matter of offering customized solutions to your ideal clients. ~ @DianaLMarinova

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

For someone starting out, I have two main tips:

First, I would say that it will pay off big to find a mentor to show you the ropes. See, you can learn things by watching YouTube videos, reading blog posts, or listening to podcasts, but that's a really inefficient way to learn. Sure, that's a free way to learn, but you risk learning from old material.

That's exactly what I did. And the impact was that I learned slower and made more mistakes. Once I found a mentor, I was able to learn from others mistakes and learn faster.

Second, you should focus on one thing until it's successful. I see people jumping from one project to another over and over again. They never stick with anything long enough to actually find success.

Here is an example... They try to build a niche site, then they try to create a Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) business, then they try drop shipping, and so on... Of course, they never make anything work because they never really focused.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started a business around Amazon Affiliate Sites. It was a rough start because I didn't know anything about niche sites at all. I found a couple podcasts about niche sites and then got obsessed with the idea. That was back in 2013 and I was able to find some early success.

I really did get obsessed with niche sites and SEO. I just found the entire concept fascinating.

My day job is in software project management so I instantly tried to figure out how to create a system for niche sites. It took me a few tries but I distilled the process down to a few steps:

1. Select a Niche or Market

2. Build Out the Framework

3. Develop a Content Management Plan

4. Execute a Link Building Campaign

5. Execute an Outreach & Promotion Campaign

6. Execute an Email Marketing Campaign (if desired)

7. Continue Growing the Niche Site or Transition to an Authority Site (if desired)

You can find the list along with more details here *

Doug Cunnington

Website: NicheSiteProject

Twitter: @nichesitepm

Focus on ONE niche site at a time. Focus is key. ~ @nichesitepm

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

The best thing new freelance writers can do is to take action. 

If you don't have a website, that's okay. Focus on creating quality samples and uploading them to Contently, for example.

If your pitch email isn't perfect, that's okay too. Visit job boards daily and send your pitch, whatever the state it's in.

Taking action gives you results and you have to start somewhere!

How did you start a business or making money online?

I'm a freelance writer and coach. I started in the fall of 2014 by applying to content jobs on freelance marketplaces like Upwork. I found, though, these jobs were low-paying and low-quality so I decided to start a website and pitch to small businesses.

I also started guest posting. All of these tactics – pitching, having a website and guest posting – made me available to prospects and got my name out there.

Using this method quickly landed me high-profiled clients.

In less than a year, I grew my business to full-time status by only working part-time. I write for OptinMonster, Blogging Wizard and soon the Huffington Post. I've also started teaching other freelance writers through 1:1 mentoring, and through my freelance writing course.

Elna Cain

Website: ElnaCain.com

Twitter: @ecainwrites

Network with others and grow your biz. ~ @ecainwrites

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Don't get stuck in the detail. Don't get me wrong, details matter. However, get rid of all the roadblocks and throw away your perfectionism.

One of the roadblocks for launching my blog was that it needed to look perfect. After years and years of procrastinating I decided to just launch with an "off the shelf" WordPress theme. That was the best decision. I just started writing and fixed the theme later.

Be prepared for the long haul. Building an online business is HARD work and you're unlikely to be successful over night. There's no such thing as passive income - but you can build recurring revenue by putting systems in place and having proper goals in place.

How did you start a business or making money online?

To be honest I kind of fell into what I'm currently doing!

Originally I trained as a singer at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. When I left I found myself building websites for fellow musicians and enjoyed the mixture of tech and music as a career. My dad retired at the time and we decided to go into business together.

Select Performers was born - and we're still doing it today!

Then around 5 years ago I started blogging (after years or procrastination) and I found myself writing about social media. It started as a bit of fun, but I was overwhelmed by how many people resonated with what I was saying.

After years of hard work, failures, and a few bumps I've discovered what I love doing. Helping people and solving problems.

Today I'm doing just that - websites are still part of that, but I'm speaking at international conferences, giving training and coaching sessions on social media and marketing and having a lot of fun!

Ian Anderson Gray

Website: Seriously Social

Twitter: @iagdotme

There is NO such thing as Passive Income. ~ @iagdotme

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Get the foundation in place!

One marketing strategy I enjoy using is influencer marketing.

In short, you build relationships with key people that are looked to for helpful advice by your audience.

I'd begin with finding a list of those that blog about your topic. Simply doing a Google search of "top [niche] blogs" or "[niche] influencers usually is a good starting point (i.e. "top real estate blogs" or "real estate" influencers).

I'd aim for 150. You'll find that you will weed out those on the list for various reasons (not closely relevant, too small a blog, not influential, etc).Then start building a relationship with a few at a time, trying to find out how you can help them.

Do keep in mind that different influencers have different interests in what they find helpful.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Recently I became the co-founder of a web hosting startup. My co-founder and I met on reddit last year, initially bringing me on as a marketing consultant.

One of the most important starting points for us was to "find the smoking gun." In a criminal investigation, the police are seeking to find a piece of evidence that will find the villain. For a new business, this meant finding out what our customers did not like about our competitors and what we should do instead.

Our solution was to find where our audience hung out (for us, reddit.com/r/entrepreneur), and asked them what they would like a web hosting startup do for them.

Immediately we began to see patterns of what we should offer, things like:

1. Free website migration.

2. Faster speeds and provide an SSL to help increase traffic and sales.

3. Custom setup to improve security.

4. 24/7 customer support from people that speak your language

Jason Quey

Website: Decibite

Twitter: @jdquey

Success is a team sport. Failure you can do alone ~ @jdquey #influencermarketing

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

If you are selling wholesale as well as retail, you will need to consider how you set your retail pricing so that it does not undersell your existing wholesalers. It is important to ensure all of your sales channels are supported.

Try to get your customers to create your content. For example, we have a room of the month competition where we get our customers to send in photos of our products in their room. This gives us beautiful images of our products with authentic comments from our customers that we can share across various platforms.

Don't wait for everything to be perfect before you launch or implement changes to your site. The important thing is to keep moving forward but keep your channels open to feedback.

How did you start a business or making money online?

My business is as a manufacturer and retailer of removable wall stickers and wallpapers.

I started selling decals wholesale to children's shops and the natural next step was to begin selling online direct to customers in order to expand our customer base. I contacted a local web developer and we worked together to design the online shop. When we launched we contacted various interior design magazines and blogs to write stories on our products in their publications.

Jennifer Menz

Website: The Wall Sticker Company

Twitter: @WallStickerCo

Think of creative ways to get customers to create your content. ~ @WallStickerCo

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

So many people spend months and even years creating an online business without even knowing if people will buy their product or program.

I highly recommend pre-selling it to see if the market want what you have to offer.

It is the quickest and easiest way to tell and it will save you a tonne of time and effort in the long run.

Focus on your niche. Don't try to be all things to all people - if you do you'll get pretty poor results. Position yourself as an expert in your niche and then become damn good at what you do.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started my first online membership site back in 2010 called Essential Social Media For Business. It was a drip-feed, monthly membership program that was $69 a month. However, I pre-sold it BEFORE I built it so that I could tell whether there would be a demand for it or not.

So I put on an 3 hour workshop and had some friends post it out to their lists to promote it and launched the offer at the event. 42% of the room took up the offer which was a good indicator for demand...so I then built it and kept promoting it.

I have since built 2 other membership sites, one that was $495 per month and my newest one which is $997 for unlimited membership.

Julie Mason

Website: LinkedSalesFormula

Twitter: @GuruJules

Add value, be consistent and focus on outcomes for your client and you will be a success. ~ @GuruJules

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Be narrow minded! That sounds terrible, right?

When it comes to starting a business I suggest focusing on what you are passionate about and/or what you do best. I call this narrowcasting and I picked up the term from a curator that I met back in 2011, Lance Anderson.

His niche was leather goods and his music passion was Bob Dylan. I watched him build a massive community around his business and a fan base around his love for music by honing in on those two topics only.

In short, there are a lot of things we 'can' do. But to build a solid reputation as a thought leader and a thriving business, we need laser focus on the things we love and the things we rock at!

How did you start a business or making money online?

After 15 years of helping startups build digital operations from the ground up, I thought it was time to strike out on my own.

Overnight, I left a pretty cushy position and decided to go for it, which was great, however I hadn't taken into consideration the lead time necessary to get find new clients.

I felt scattered and wasn't quite sure how to generate leads so I put what I learned working in my last company to work: curate content and narrow cast on one topic, and one topic only.

I took my knowledge, passion and skills in community building and curating content to build an audience that will generate ideas and help spread a digital footprint around the area that I wanted to actively consult in.

Within 30 days I had two signed projects. Now I'm working with the community to understand better where they see community building and audience development and work my services to fill their needs.

Kelly Hungerford

Website: CommunityWorks

Twitter: @​KDHungerford

Narrowcast, and focus on the one thing you want to be known for doing. ~ @​KDHungerford

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

The truth is, if you have a good pitch, a few writing clips and you've done your research on a client, they have every reason to hire you as their online writer. I had a good success rate with this strategy in the beginning and after a while it gathered momentum and now clients tend to come to me so I don't have to relentlessly pitch as much anymore.

A lot of becoming successful as a freelance writer online - to the point where you can quit your day job if you want, like I did - comes down to confidence.

To be confident, you have to know your craft. I went through a period of intense self-learning with a steep learning curve that didn't plateau until I'd been reading, writing, learning and taking courses for around a year. I'm still learning now, just not as intensely as in that first year.

My blog helped a lot with this as I got to explore different writing styles and stuck to a rigid writing schedule, come rain or shine. For this reason, I'd recommend creating your own blog if you have the time and inclination (don't start one just because you think you have to - you won't stick at it!). 

So confidence born from a strong foundation of learning is the key to starting a freelance writing business, I would say.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started a freelance writing business that is solely dedicated to serving clients online.

I began by writing on sites such as Fiverr and basically anywhere else that would help me to build a portfolio of work to show to potential clients. After I completed the work, I asked for any positive feedback, then I created a simple website, where I put up my contact details and these first few testimonials.

This all sounds rather simple, and in a sense it is. The most important part of setting up this type of online business though (or any type, I would imagine) is to get out there and be proactive.

I knew clients weren't going to suddenly stumble across my website just because I'd hit publish on it, so I began a blog, which I posted to regularly, and used social media to market my new freelance writing business. I was then ruthless at relentlessly pitching to clients I wanted to work for.

After a while, I quit my day job and became a full-time freelance travel writer for the online market. Needless to say, I haven't looked back! I write and travel the world. I live in London, but I'm actually writing these words from Peru, for instance!

Kirsty Stuart

Website: Freelance Writers Online

Twitter: @kirstythewriter

Have the confidence to go out and get writing clients - don't wait for them to come to you! ~ @kirstythewriter

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

This advice is particularly aimed at those looking to start a business as a freelance writer who creates online content: blog posts, ebooks, white papers, etc.

1. If you haven't already, start building an online portfolio by writing about the topics you want to get paid to write about. When I started out, along with writing content for my own blog, I became a regular contributor to sites like Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Examiner. These sites helped me gain exposure in my industry and boost up the number of items in my portfolio.

2. Create a website dedicated to your freelance writing services (like mine) and, if you have a separate blog, link to it in your main menu bar using Freelance Writing Services, Hire Me, etc. If you only have a blog, you can also just create a page on your blog for your freelance writing services.

3. Create a portfolio page on your website / blog that lists your latest / best blog posts (see mine here) to showcase your work. Also create profiles on sites like Clearvoice.

4. Say that you are a freelance writer in every profile you create - social media profiles, author bios on your blogs and blogs you contribute to, forum profiles, etc. You never know where a customer might discover you.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I'd love to say that I started my online business intentionally, but to be honest, my first freelance writing client found me through guest blogging. It wasn't until then that I even considered freelance writing as a full time career path.

Kristi Hines

Website: KristiHines.com

Twitter: @kikolani

Get as much exposure as you can in front of your ideal customers through guest blogging on reputable publications! ~ @kikolani

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I would say first, solve your own problem. If you find an awesome solution to a problem in your life, then YOU are your target market. It's easy to know what motivates and frightens you, so most of your market research is done.

My first info product was written to folks like me that had gotten KILLED financially by following bad advice. My aim was to help others not make the same mistake, and instead do something with a similar benefit but 1/10th the risk.

After solving your own problem, quit talking about you... talk with your target audience about their problem. That's what everyone wants anyway: someone to listen.

And, when and if you have a solution, make it available. "Hey, I know EXACTLY what you're going through. That's what happened to me. And here's how I figured out how to never let it happen again. Would you like some details? Where can I send them?"

This is your attitude: the attitude of a servant leader. You are not the hero, you are the guide.

After learning this attitude I would seek out where your target audience is congregating and be eager to help.

Don't worry about giving too much away. I actually give the MOST helpful tips for free, and once people are used to a shift in their thinking I can help enhance that a little further with my paid products. But really, the most valuable stuff is what I make available in plain sight... and I still make sales.

Finally, this is key: things didn't start really taking off until I made the commitment to email my list once per day on weekdays. Every day I had to come up with a valuable thing to share, and then link back to my paid programs or webinars which sold the paid programs. If there was any one thing I would do and do sooner, it's engage with your list.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Back in 2007 I began sharing the story of how I got KILLED in the stock market, and how the lessons learned from that incident helped me return to the stock market... safer and wiser.

My product is for a very specific type of investor with very specific goals. It's not on Shoestring101.com; THAT site is where I teach small biz owners how to get more sales with both online and offline methods.

So I won't even mention, let alone promote that product's name here... it's not the right audience.

The info product I'm talking about is promoted on a different site and name altogether. Watch the movie, "The Big Short" some day and you'll get an idea of what I was helping my target audience protect themselves against.

Suffice it to say that from the certain type of investor that this product is written for, we got hundreds of unsolicited 'thank-yous' when the market crashed in 2008. Because the information helped them protect their bottom line, in a BIG way. While some folks had -40% losses or worse, OUR guys were reporting losses like -0.6%. And with 99.4% of your money left when catastrophe strikes, it's easy to buy in at the bottom, which many of them did.

So, how did I go about establishing this online business? Well, growing an idea like this came from solving my OWN problem first. I wrote the basic idea down. Then all I needed to do was make short but helpful PDFs, videos, and blog posts talking about the method's best features and actually giving it away.

Then, listeners and readers would ask questions, which told me what was on their minds. I would answer the questions, but also tailor my paid materials to give even more in-depth solutions to the exact problems they would pose.

It became a bit of an interwoven web; my videos were quick, helpful and shareable. So the audience would pass 'em around. Then folks watching the videos would come to my site, where one of the most popular videos was hosted. They would join the mailing list, I would send them to other videos, creating more traffic, which also got passed around... you get the idea.

The best video was a two-minute thing where a guy from Pakistan following my system was able to get into a stock with low risk, then later REMOVE that risk... but still have the potential of doing well if the stock kept moving up. Kind of a heads you win, tails you can't lose scenario.

So with zero risk he held on to the stock and later sold for something like a 7% profit in five weeks. The impressive part wan't the gain; it was the fact that for more than half of the trade he couldn't lose, even if the stock went in the toilet.

Once my audience was emulating my methods and making money with it, they would share with (read: BRAG) their buddies, and the whole thing became a self-perpetuating engine. After capturing a boatload of email subscribers, I monetized by selling my book and a supporting subscription in a webinar.

Over $2MM in sales later, we're pretty much doing the same thing: emailing the latest success story, links to videos, and inviting folks to webinars that explain the method in more detail, and selling the book and subscriptions that spell it all out completely.

Kurt Frankenberg

Website: Shoestring101

Twitter: @shoestring101

You can't create money, but you CAN create value which can be EXCHANGED for money. ~ @shoestring101

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

People LOVE to discover new things, especially when they involve freebies. My advice is that once you figure out a niche and audience, start sharing useful resources, freebies and articles that are relevant to that niche way before you launch your own website.

If you're the sharer of cool, free stuff in your niche, people will want to follow you.

Also, listen to your followers. Be as helpful as you can. Bend over backwards to help someone solve a problem, especially when you're starting out.

This is what will help you to stand out because people remember that. 

How did you start a business or making money online?

I've been a corporate web designer for over ten years. For a short stint, I helped friends and family start their own websites using WordPress. That's when I realized there was a need for people to have the knowledge, ability and empowerment to design their own blogs and websites on a budget.

So in 2013, I started an infoprenerial business teaching women how to design their own blogs. While I was building up my new blog and filling it with launch content, I started a Facebook page and Twitter account to share all the cool free and cheap resources I was discovering.

Apparently it struck a chord because I ended up getting a good amount of followers and subscribers to my "Coming Soon" page well before I actually launched the blog.

I try to get to know my followers as much as I can. I reply to their comments and tweets. I thank them for sharing my stuff. Even though it takes a lot of time, I think it's important to keep in touch with them and let them know they mean a lot to me.

Marianne Manthey

Website: Design Your Own Blog

Twitter: @​marianney

If you're the sharer of cool, free stuff in your niche, people will want to follow you. ~ @​marianney

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I'm in gardening education, which doesn't have as big of an online presence as other sectors. I'm hoping that means there's plenty of room for growth! If you're just starting out, I'd suggest trying to network with and get to know other people in your industry.

I'm in an online group for garden bloggers and I've also reached out personally to people in my field. It's important to have a group of people who can help promote you and support your business. I definitely waited too long to do this and spent many months working alone in my house without much of a connection with other entrepreneurs.

As for membership sites, when I was starting mine, I worked with an awesome brand strategist who helped me figure out the name, logo, sales page text and sales page design. She even helped me think through the first three months of the club. I try to hire people to help me out in my business whenever I can because two heads are always better than one!

How did you start a business or making money online?

Through my gardening education business, The Creative Vegetable Gardener, I help people get more from their gardens by first mastering the essentials and then indulging in the colorful details that make gardening not just a favorite pastime, but a lifestyle.

I've been a garden educator for over 12 years and worked for a small non-profit for much of that time. Four years ago I was ready for a change and decided to start my own business. At first I was more like a vegetable landscaping company, but then realized that my passion lies in teaching people how to garden, not doing it for them.

So, I decided to let go of the design and installation parts and focus on the education. I knew that in order to make that new focus work I needed to figure out some ways that gardeners who didn't live in my city could be my customers.

So, I started writing eBooks and print books, teaching online classes and eventually launching a membership site.

Megan Cain

Website: Creative Vegetable Gardner

Facebook: Creative Vegetable Gardener​

Think and act big. Don't be afraid to take bold steps in your business! ~ Megan Cain

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Our area is productised service and more specifically "online bookkeeping".

For someone else starting a productised service I would say "Start with the end goal in mind". For us that was building a team so that Ben and I can work less than 20 hours per week and spend more time with our families.

That mindset has meant that Ben and I focus on creating repeatable processes so that over time we can train other people. It has also forced us to stay focused and not get distracted by other new ideas ... a common trend for plenty of entrepreneurs.

My other big tip is to talk to your customers! A productised service business will evolve over time as you understand your customers and test what works and what doesn't. Stay in touch with what your customers like / don't like about your service, why they came to you and why they stay with you.

Ben or I have had conversations with everyone of our customers and also stay in touch with check-in calls.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Bean Ninjas is a subscription style online bookkeeping business. We launched in July 2015 and went from 0-$100k ARR in 8 months. Here is the story behind why we started the business.

In 2013 I launched an accounting consulting business, by 2014 I'd hit capacity and by 2015 I was well and truly burnt out from running a business I couldn't scale.

My main frustrations were:

- project work without regular cash-flow

- customised projects so I couldn't create processes and train a team

- long lead times in scoping projects, writing a tender and getting paid

As an accountant I'd been exposed to the bookkeeping. And I had also noticed some issues in the bookkeeping industry including:

- variable prices rather than fixed fees

- inconsistent quality of work which sometimes needed to be corrected by the accountant

- slow response times to clients

- slow turn around times in sending monthly reports

- a lack of understanding of online businesses

I met Ben in an online entrepreneurs community called Dynamite Circle. As fellow accountants we shared our stories about our frustrations with the industry. Then we decided it was time to stop talking and to do something about it.

We created Bean Ninjas to solve the problems we identified in the bookkeeping industry and the issues we faced with the agency business model.

Ben and I spent a week together in June 2015 and launched our business, following Dan Norris's 7 Day Startup methodology. During that time we came up with our product, a business name, logo, website and found our first paying customer.

We've now been operating for 10 months and have a team of 8 bookkeepers based in Australia, the US and UK.

Meryl Johnston

Website: Bean Ninjas

Twitter: @Johnston_Meryl

As the founder of a productised service you need to be creating repeatable processes from Day 1. ~ @Johnston_Meryl

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

My first tip to new bloggers is to always remember that there are no shortcuts!

While there are certainly great ideas and tips, the best and most effective ones will be mistakes to avoid and directions to take, so that you waste less time starting out.

You see, THAT is the biggest issue facing new bloggers. 

Getting from point A to B faster often just means SLOWING DOWN, in the beginning, and taking the time to make great decisions.

Don't be in such a rush to start that you fail to do your homework.

Study other blogs and bloggers in the niche you want to get into. Use tools like SBI for WordPress to research the viability of your idea... before you've published a single word.

If you take the time to set that solid foundation for your online business, it will grow far faster.

How did you start a business or making money online?

My online business is a blog about Content Marketing, including blogging, social media and email marketing.

I began the business in 2012 because I'd discovered that I really enjoyed writing about those topics, and that there was a real need for the kind of information and guidance. While the writing wasn't helping my previous business, it made sense to start a dedicated site and blog.

So, The Social Media Hat was born, and within a few years has grown into a successful online business and award-winning blog.

Mike Allton

Website: The Social Media Hat

Twitter: @Mike_Allton

The most successful bloggers take the time to discover a profitable niche. ~ @Mike_Allton 

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

SAAS

How did you start a business or making money online?

SAAS.

Expensive different tools so decided to make all in one.

Mike Dane

Website: TruConversion

Twitter: @MikeDane7

If you keep on doing what you have been doing, you will keep on getting what you have been getting ~ @MikeDane7 

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Do you want to be successful? Do you want to have financial freedom? Do you want to be able to travel anywhere you want without having to ask permission from your boss?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then BLOG LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

There are too many newbies that treat blogging like a hobby, not as a business. This is the biggest mistake you can do. It's alright to blog about something that you like or you are passionate about, but you have to set clear, measurable goals.

How much do you want to earn in the next 6 months? What about in the next 5 years? What strategy do you use to get that income from your blog? How much time and effort are you willing TO INVEST to make your dream a reality?

If you don't have kids or if you aren't your only provider for your family, then I suggest you quit your 9-5 job and dedicate yourself to blogging. The only way in which you will get to the income you want is to have no other option. No choice.

When you know that the only source of money to put food on your table is the profit that you earn (or not) from your online business, then you will be highly motivated to succeed.

There are people that are filthy rich because they were lucky enough to be born into the right families and received everything on a golden plate.

This doesn't happen in blogging. Top bloggers weren't born in a royal blogging family and they didn't get where they are working 2 hours per day. You need to WAKE UP and decide what do you want to achieve through blogging. If it is only a hobby then great. It's your choice. But don't expect to earn a living from it.

Think about blogging and online marketing like a sport.

There are millions of people that play tennis, but there is only a handful of professional tennis players that become rich thanks to tennis. Do you know who they are and how they got there? They worked for years, trained every day and they made it their #1 priority.

The vast majority of tennis players do it only as a hobby. They don't expect to earn money from it. They just do it because it's fun. Also, the vast majority of bloggers don't build a fortune from blogging. Many of them don't even earn enough to pay their bills and groceries from it. That's why you "need" a 9-5 job.

You're probably wondering how do I dare to tell you something like this?

Well, five months ago, after one year of working and ghost blogging for only one blogger I had no job, no income, and no savings. Nobody knew me in the blogging world, I had no relationships with other bloggers and I didn't have a blog or any way to prove my experience.

Now I'm building a reputation for myself, I have clients in all types of niches (from blogging to food, cycling, gardening, parenting etc). I support my living from what I earn online, I have savings and my income increases every month.

And, yes I wanted to take a job then, but my mother didn't let me. Yes, you read correctly. My mother that has nothing to do with blogging had more trust in me and in my skills than I had. And, I'm grateful to her for it.

My advice for you is: set your goals, plan a strategy, put it in practice and don't stop working until you've reached your aim. Have trust in yourself or find a close person that trusts and supports you to accomplish your goals.

There is no limit to what you can achieve working online. The only limit is in your mind.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I create expert roundups that provide quality content, bring huge traffic, and help bloggers connect with influencers.

I recently shared how I started blogging in another roundup. You can check my full story here. 

Minuca Elena

Website: MinucaElena.com

Twitter: @MinucaElena

Set your goals, plan a strategy, apply it and don't stop working until you've reached your aim. ~ @MinucaElena

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Find as many mentors as possible crushing it in the area that you want to achieve in.

Unfortunately there is no fast way. When you're just starting out you have to be prepared to be extremely patient.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Digital Media Company called Foundr.

Foundr Magazine started as just a passion project 3 years ago, and is now fully fledged media company serving millions of entrepreneurs monthly.

I started the business while I was working in my day job. The first day we launched we made $5 and sold 2 subscriptions. That first $5 was the most important amount of money I have ever made in my life.

It wasn't the amount that hit me, it was the process required to generate the money. The ability to be able to create something myself with my own two hands, and people were prepared to exchange their money for it was a just a life changing moment for me. That was really the point of no return.

Since that first day I fell in love with the business and mission to help and serve entrepreneurs however we could.

Nathan Chan

Website: FoundrMag

Twitter: @nathanhchan

So many entrepreneurs overthink things. Stop overthinking and just start moving. ~ @nathanhchan

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

The best advice I can give anyone who is thinking of starting a new business is to do plenty of research in advance of your launch.

Find a great community online, join a local business group and start networking. You need a build a business 'tribe' which will support you and amplify your brand message when you launch.

Find out where your clients / customers are online and which social media platform they prefer. Start building Twitter lists, for example. Join a Group on LinkedIn if you're in the B2B sector.

Get all your ducks in a row before you start and save plenty of money as a back-up!

How did you start a business or making money online?

Before I started my business I worked for 16 years as a legal PA/Paralegal in Civil Litigation. That was until I had one of those 'lightbulb moments' people talk about in February 2013.

After the recession hit the UK in 2009 new opportunities became scarce as people clung onto their jobs. I was stuck in a dead-end job I really disliked.

However, I realised that, as the workplace was starting to embrace digital technology, I could make a living working remotely from home as a legal transcriber. This I did for 6 months before launching my own business, Virtuoso Assistant in September 2013.

Initially I was only interested in earning enough money to pay the bills but I became hooked by social media, blogging and visual marketing and I wanted a slice of that pie!

Consequently my business now has two sides to it: virtual PA services, and specialist social media / marketing services.

Nicky Pasquier

Website: VirtuosoAssitant​

Twitter: @VirtuosoAssist​

You need a build a business 'tribe' which will support you ~ @VirtuosoAssist

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

The key to running a successful business is waking up with your why every single day and guarding that with everything you've got.

Because the reality is, running a business - whether online or offline - will bring with it some tough decisions and very dark days. If you're not grounded in who you are and why you do what you do, it will be very easy to get derailed.

Surround yourself with the right people. Those that will lift you up on those days, but also be your champion no matter what.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I’m the founder of RadiantLA, a digital marketing agency that assists business owners create manageable, measurable and explosive results within their online marketing efforts.

I am what you would call a serial entrepreneur. I have started multiple businesses throughout my career and have been self-employed for close to 20 years.

With my early days spent on morning radio, I honed my skills at engaging, communicating with and reaching an audience. The years since then have been spent in the marketing arena.

I have always been, as Albert Einstein says, 'passionately curious.' I love to know what makes people buy what they buy or take action when they do. That curiosity and desire to constantly evolve within an industry that is ever-changing has served me well.

I've also known that working in a corporate setting (although I do have that in my background) is not conducive to my personality.

I started my first business when I was 8 years old. What began as a way to make a few extra dollars, soon became a booming fruit stand business in my childhood home right here in Southern California. It also lit the entrepreneur fire within me that still burns bright today.

Rebekah Radice

Website: RebekahRadice.com

Twitter: ​@rebekahradice

Surround yourself with the right people. ~ @RebekahRadice

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

If you are thinking of starting an online business, first identify a gap in the market. This will help you to decide what type of products or service you can realistically sell.

Another great tip would be to identify who your audience is. For example, Who are your target audience? What age range do they fit into? Do they have disposable income?

You can use this information to plan an online marketing strategy which will hopefully result in your target market approaching your business.

Use social media along with your blog to help you reach a higher percentage of people. Only publish high-quality information which is relevant to your target market. Also, consider including a photo with each post as research shows that post with an image is more likely to be shared.

Promote your content as much as you can by linking your blog with your social media. If you have a WordPress site, then there are some great plugins that help you to do this. These will allow you to schedule posts and share images and information. Include a clear call-to-action at the end of each blog or post to encourage readers to buy from your business.

It is important to be helpful and attentive towards customers needs as this helps to build trust. This is particularly the case when you first start your business as happy customers may repeat their purchases or recommend your business to their friends.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started a blog which focuses on Influencer Marketing and B2B Content Marketing. I did this by creating a website with a blog that I publish a new article on every week. I also keep my blog interesting by hosting guest authors on a regular basis.

I aim to provide high-quality material to my readers as this keeps them interested and engaged, making them want to read on. I encourage readers to check back and read other articles and in this way, I have successfully grown my readership.

The business is driven by people that are searching for content on these topics, so it is important to keep the site updated regularly. Mostly all of my customers are marketers who are looking to improve their content marketing and lead generation from the web.

Ron Sela

Website: RonSela.com

Twitter: @RonSela

Identify a gap in the market. ~ @RonSela

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Online Courses: As you're getting started, if you don't already have an established audience of your own, create content for a very specific, well-defined niche audience you want to go after.

Take the time to learn about your audience, interact with them, figure out their biggest pain points, understand how they learn, and create the solutions they need most.

How did you start a business or making money online?

My website, ryrob.com is my primary online business. I teach online courses that teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to start and grow a profitable business. My course topics range from winning your first freelance clients, to finding profitable business ideas, launching a business while keeping your day job, and more.

I give away 95% of the content I create for my audience, completely free through in-depth blog posts, free versions of each course I build, downloadable templates, and guides. I also interact one-on-one with hundreds of new community members each month, and spend a large amount of my time consulting for free.

Aside from online courses, I also do freelance content marketing work, of which my website serves as my primary lead generator.

I got into online education and consulting several years ago when I started creating eBooks and digital guides that guided business owners through using (new at the time) social commerce platforms like Pinterest and Fancy.com to drive business. I also had a B2B product-based business, Case Escape, (see about page link below) that relied heavily upon digital training in order to get our customers up and running with the equipment we sold them. I've always written about my experiences in business from my blog, and that's slowly attracted a large readership.. now that I have my own personal audience, I've been creating the online courses they've been asking for. (More detail: http://www.ryrob.com/about/)

Ryan Robinson

Website: RyRob.com

Twitter: @TheRyanRobinson

Focus or fail. Be ruthless about prioritization and choosing what you say yes to in your business. ~ @TheRyanRobinson

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

There are too many Social Media generalist. Ever since I decided to specialize in one platform, I have seen a big change in my business: more and better quality leads, bigger budgets & better recognition.

I would recommend to people who are just starting out to position themselves as specialists. Pick either one niche market or one tool that you specialize in. And then start building your e-mail list: webinars, podcasts, guest posts etc.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started out as a Virtual Assistant in 2007. At the time I was living in California and it was in the middle of the Social Media boom. As I learned how I would go about promoting my new business with Social Media, I realized that that's what I really wanted to do: teach Small Business owners how to grow their online visibility with Social Media.

I have since then changed my brand many times and today I specialize in LinkedIn Coaching & Training.

Essentially I used online content (blog posts) and Social Media to position myself. Webinars have also had a big role in how I initially built my list rapidly.

Sarah Santacroce

Website: SimplicitySmallBiz & SarahSantacroce.com

Twitter: ​@SarahSantacroce

You'll start to grow once you'll learn to say no! ~ @SarahSantacroce

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I help bloggers take the guesswork out of building a profitable blog. The key when you start an online business is to:

1) build your traffic,

2) get people to subscribe to your mailing list by giving away a free Lead Magnet and

3) put out offers for products/services/programs that solve your readers' problems.

How did you start a business or making money online?

6 years ago, I wrote a book on stress management after having to take early retirement due to a stress-induced illness. After I wrote the book, I thought I could teach courses on burnout.

So I started a blog to promote my book and courses. 3+ years later, most of my readers were asking me how to build a successful and profitable blog.

So I went on to Flippa.com and bought Successful Blogging 2 years ago and have never looked back!

Sue Anne Dunlevie

Website: SuccessfulBlogging

Twitter: @sueannedunlevie

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. ~ @sueannedunlevie

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

In Germany the market is smaller than in the US/UK or the international market. Make sure your niche is big enough to bring in some money. You can sometimes even copy US/UK or international business models because nobody else has tried them here yet.

Personally I went after international clients and popularity myself because the market here is too conservative and innovative solutions arrive years after or sometimes never.

This can be also an advantage in case you serve a niche which is far less competitive then. Just do your research first and then decide whether to go international or national/local with your offering.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Roughly 12 years ago I started my blogging, social media and search engine optimization business. I'd been blogging for more than a year as hobby by then. Also I worked as web developer building websites for a few years.

After I lost my agency job I had to try it by myself. Why? There were no jobs after the new economy bubble burst. I also wanted to become independent. I stagnated in my boring but well paid job.

The beginning was pretty hard. I just started by trial and error. Blogging wasn't a business back then yet. I was one of the first people to try it, especially where I live, in Germany. Google optimization was an underground scene. There was not even a book in German covering it yet.

I searched job boards and forums for freelance jobs, often tiny ones for a few hundred Euros. At the same time I optimized my own site for Google and targeted some less competitive but more relevant keywords. I ranked #1 for "search engine optimizer" in German for example.

The #1 ranking also brought me an interview with the largest German economic weekly. After I got covered there the phone rang for weeks. Then I started guest blogging for links and exposure.

Ultimately I started my SEO 2.0 blog in English and made it popular on social media by engaging a lot and spreading enthusiasm all over the place.

Tad Chef

Website: OnReact.com

Twitter: @onreact_com

Don't compete by pricing, compete by quality. ~ @onreact_com

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Here are some of the crucial lessons I've learned while building my plugin business:

1. Build an audience before creating a product.

The most precious asset for any marketer is his email list, because this is a list of potential customers for whatever he's going to build. When I launched my first plugin, I didn't have a list of people to promote it to. But when I launched my second one, I had an audience big enough to bring me a bunch of early customers.

2. Sell your product before you build it.

This is the smartest thing ever. With my first plugin I wasted tons of time and money to create a perfect piece of software and a perfect landing page just to realise that I don't have any potential customers to show it to.

With the second one, I created a basic landing page, explaining the concept and offered my email subscribers to pre-order my plugin with a huge "early adopter" discount. This immediately validated my idea and brought me some money to pay for plugin development.

3. Tier your pricing

This is an advice that I got from a fellow blogger, that literally doubled my profits overnight. Whatever product you're selling, you need to have different pricing options: from a cheap limited package to a feature rich unlimited offer. Different people have different budgets and you never know how much they're willing to pay.

4. Connections

Spreading the word about your product solely on your own is incredibly hard. So it makes sense to network with people, give them your product for free and encourage them to talk about it.

But first and foremost - your product should be REALLY good. Because authoritative guys can't afford to talk about lame things. And yeah, make sure that you have an affiliate program, so that the guys who opt to promote your product could get their share.

That's it! Good luck with your plugin business if you decide to launch one!

How did you start a business or making money online?

I have a bunch of different online businesses behind my belt, but the most recent one is my premium WordPress plugins: http://www.tweetdis.com/ and http://contentupgradespro.com/

I tapped into this business without much experience, so it was incredibly hard for me to earn my first $100 in plugin sales.

To be precise, it took me 13 months from building TweetDis plugin and listing it for sale to earning my first $100 with it.

One of the reasons why it took me so long was of course the fact that I was doing it part time, while keeping my 9to5 job.

But apart from that - I simply ended up facing too many roadblocks.

The whole concept of "tweetable quotes" (http://bloggerjet.com/create-tweetable-quotes/) was very new to the blogosphere at that time and I literally had to create a demand for my plugin by writing dozens of guest articles promoting this strategy.

However after all that harsh experience my next plugin was a breeze.

I earned my first $100 with Content Upgrades PRO plugin without even having a working prototype on my hands.

How? Read the section above.

Tim Soulo

Websites: BloggerJet & Ahrefs

Twitter: @timsoulo

Build an audience before creating a product.. ~ @TimSoulo

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

I've found Jon Morrow's advice really useful. I'd recommend his coaching course (seriousbloggersonly.com) for information and advice on setting up and starting your business online.

I’m in the Blogging for Business area. Maybe even the Internet Marketing area. I cross over.

I’ve found out something very important that changed how I look at business online:

Niches as they’re talked about now are simply categories such as Parenting, Internet Marketing, Self Improvement and so on.

But what this “categorising” does is to keep a lot of people stuck. They don’t feel right about a particular niche because, maybe they want to write about other things too. Or maybe they feel they fit across several niches. Or none.

But conventional wisdom about how important it is to pick a niche makes them feel they have to decide and pick one. Or stick to one.

For instance, maybe you want to start online to sell your better parenting solution. So you pick the Parenting niche. But what if you want to write about Self Improvement too because you know that being a better parent means becoming more a confident person.

Niche advice would probably tell you mixing two or more niches together is wrong.

However, what I’ve discovered as I have focused on finding my audience first, is that the people who come to me for advice and coaching on how to succeed online, come to me from the Writing niche, the Internet Marketing niche, the Blogging niche. Three very different niches. But it doesn’t matter. They come to me because they’re not getting the traffic they want and I can help them get it.

That’s how to start out online: find a problem that’s frustrating the hell out of people, a problem you know how to solve and create content for them that solves this problem for them.

This means finding your audience first before trying to sell anything. And there’s a method I call Common Bond Marketing that I recommend my clients and readers use when seeking out your audience.

It starts with knowing what end result you want out of having a blog, what you want to get from it. Do you want to more clients, for example? Do you want to sell more books? You need to take time to decide exactly what it is you want your blog to do for you. And ... you need to know how to tell if your blog is on track for achieving it – you need to know what will have had to happen for you to consider your blog is a success (or becoming successful).

Too many people fail to spend time on deciding their end result and they have no way of knowing if what they’re doing is working or not. They don’t see result they expected. They get discouraged, frustrated and often, give up, disillusioned.

Knowing your end result can also help you find the right niche for you.

If you’re struggling to find a niche that doesn’t restrict what you write about on your blog, or that doesn’t feel right for you, deciding on what end result you want can help too.

Often, I’ve found when talking to clients or readers of my blog, TrafficSmartMarketing.com, that the problem they’re having with lack of traffic is actually because they’ve picked the wrong niche.

They may have followed that old keyword research advice for finding a profitable niche, or just picked a niche that sort of fits with what they want to do. Now, this niche isn’t working for them.

They can’t get traffic because they don’t know what to write about. Without content that attracts people most likely to want it, they get no traffic.

No traffic means no readers, subscribers, no income.

Without traffic you just can’t do a lot of what business online needs you to do to succeed, for instance if you want to build an email list, you need traffic in the first place.

If you share a common bond with your audience, you've been through the same experiences as they have, you can establish a strong relationship of trust and influence with them. They see you as one of them.

They're more likely – and willing – to listen to you when you advise them on solutions: your products and services.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started a blog coaching business that was intended initially to promote and sell a blogging course I had created.

This was not successful. Although, my blog was getting traffic, no one seemed to want my course.

But what I discovered was that my growing audience came in two groups:

Group 1: they wanted advice on how to get traffic in the first place because none of the usual advice like SEO, keyword research or link sharing on social media had worked for them.

They had also spent several $100s to $1000s on courses that had promised to help them build a business online but had failed to do so, leaving them suspicious of buying into more courses (a great piece of information for me and why my course was failing to sell).

Group 2: was getting traffic but struggling to converting it into subscribers or buyers.This was a big frustration for this group because its members had all taken on board the "money's in the list" mantra and were surprised, disappointed and frustrated it wasn't working for them. (More crucial information for me and where to focus my offers).

So, I stopped trying to sell my course and instead thought about offering a coaching only service. Also, around this time, I discovered the European Union Value Added Tax (EUVAT) law that had come into action.

This is a complicated tax on information products that, to cut a long story short, I didn't want to get into. But I did know that selling a completely automated online course was not for me under this EUVAT requirement. (I've since discovered how to offer online courses that comply with this EUVAT requirement and will create a course in the future, depending on market need).

My business is now based on consultations over Skype with clients and a blog critique/review service.

The consultations begin with a free 30 minute consultation call in which I offer advice and recommend solutions to a problem that each individual has highlighted for me they want to solve by filling in a pre-call questionnaire.

Then we book a call. This often leads on to further consultations which are priced individually or as packages of 3 to 4 calls over a pre-agreed length of time.

In between calls each client needs to have completed or carried out actions that I've recommended to them on the previous call. This means they get maximum benefit out of each call and that I'm giving them advice that is actually useful to them.

I based this coaching service on advice and guidance for starting an online business from Jon Morrow. I'm a student of his Guestblogging course and have bought several of his mini-courses, one being his coaching course.

Tom Southern

Website: Traffic Smart Marketing

Twitter: @copybytom

Find people going through the same pains you went through and then write about what you did to succeed. ~ @CopyByTom

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

1. Hire a coach

2. Shut up, listen to your coach and apply MASSIVE action

3. Write epic content and promote it like your life was depending on it

4. Blogger outreach like crazy

How did you start a business or making money online?

I have always had a big passion for marketing, and I initially wanted to start a marketing blog.

But I didn't (and I thank my coach for that).

Why?Because I didn't have any results online regarding marketing. Furthermore, I didn't want to become one of those fake self-proclaimed experts saying that I could help people to get 10 000 subscribers in X months……while only having two people on my own email list - my mother and myself (true story.)

I chose a niche that I already mastered.

When I worked for one of the biggest companies in Norway earning six-figures, I managed to increase my own productivity with 200%. In other words, I managed to complete in 2 hours what I used to spend 8 hours on doing.

As you have guessed, my first niche was productivity.

However, I did the fatal mistake by targeting every living creature on two legs that could read that was interested in productivity. I was doing the rookie mistake by being afraid to lose “potential” subscribers.

Well, I later found out that when you try to target EVERYONE, you are actually targeting no one.

On my email list I had everything from high school students to CEO´s for big companies.

In my first year of blogging I managed to build an email list of 3000+ subscribers, but I wasn't able to monetize it. I had earned some dollars, but not something that I would give myself a flying high.

After my first 12 months of blogging I realized a few things:

1. The amount of subscribers on your email list doesn't matter at all (it´s all about how targeted the subscribers are)

2. I hadn't narrowed my niche down enough

3. I hadn't created my avatar (ideal customer), so I didn't know who to target

4. I hadn't found my unique value proposition

Then I nailed the tasks above, and I decided to start a new narrowed niche and start a highly targeted email list from scratch.

Since many of my blogger friends had given me compliments about my blogger outreach skills, I decided to…position myself in 2016 as the blogger outreach go-to-guy.

So what did I do:

- I got endorsement for my blogger outreach skills from the big dogs like Evan Carmichael, Yaro Starak, Jon Morrow, Jamie Masters (Tardy) and John Lee Dumas

- My blog got ranked as #50 on the Personal Development Blogs for 2016 (Tim Ferriss was #2, darn you Tim)

- I got wrote a few guest posts on Blogger outreach SumoMe, Jeff Bullas and Skip Prichard

- In 2 months I built a highly targeted email list of 470+ subscribers on blogger outreach

- I used blogger outreach to get to know a huge influencers who has 306 000+ people on his email list

Blogger outreach helped me to get featured on 158 blogs and build an email list of 3600 subscribers in my first 14 months of blogging. 

Even though the stuff above is kind of cool, I needed to show that there was proof in the pudding. I needed to test if it was possible for me use blogger outreach to turn cold leads into paying clients.

The results?

In the last two months, I have been able to use blogger outreach to get new clients paying me $500-1500 per month. I am now helping online entrepreneurs networking with influencers and positioning their brand so they can attract the right clients fast.

Tor Refsland

Website: TimeManagementChef

Twitter: @torrefsland

Write epic content and promote it like your life was depending on it. ~ @TorRefsland

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

My general suggestion to people who are starting out is to go with a lean startup which is easy to create. Build it easy and quickly too - and put most of your time and energy and hopefully money as well in the marketing.

When you are creating a new startup, look for these points and make sure your new startup has all of these things:

- Monthly Subscription Payments - sell whatever you want but make sure that it is in subscription.

- Lean Startup - Keep it lean, don't spend more money in creating it upfront.

- For Marketing look to get more of your paid subscribers and focus on retaining them.

That is pretty much it.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Ages back in 2007, when I was really active on the social media and it's Nth sites starting from MySpace in my early days to sites like Hi5, Friendster and Facebook or Twitter - I never did anything other than sharing content on any of those sites.

This "content sharing" thing was something in its nascent stage and I knew it would explode in the future. This is where I wanted to work out a startup which will focus on sharing content on the social media - but with greater control for the one who is sharing it. This is how the Idea of GuestCrew started.

GuestCrew is a Crowd Speaking Website which can amplify your message so that those tweets or shares or likes are not posted randomly, as and when. Rather they are stored in the system and sent out all at once when you want, on the scheduled day, all at the same time – automatically. Read More about Crowd Speaking. 

Uttoran Sen

Website: Guest Crew

Twitter: @uttoransen

Build a lean startup that focuses on subscription payments. ~ @uttoransen

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

My niche is early childhood education, I am often lumped into the "kid blogging" niche but Pre-K Pages is really more for teachers of young children.

When I look back on my journey from classroom teacher to online entrepreneur I think the traits that have helped me the most are patience, passion, and persistence.

As a teacher of little kids I have an abundance of patience so that part was easy for me. If you're not patient you may become discouraged and give up too quickly.

Passion was another easy one for me because I eat, sleep, and breathe early childhood. My job wasn't being a teacher, being a teacher and learning about teaching was (and still is) my hobby and my life.

Persistence is a little more challenging because when something isn't working, one of our first instincts is to give up. I thought about giving up Pre-K Pages or even selling a few times over the years but I'm really glad I stuck it out!

How did you start a business or making money online?

I started Pre-K Pages in 2001 as a way to share a glimpse inside my classroom with other teachers around the world- a novel idea at the time. I never dreamed my little site would one day become a viable business!

Pre-K Pages was created using the primitive tools that were available to me at the time- like FrontPage and Yahoo Geocities (yikes!). I just shared pictures of my classroom, helpful teaching tips, and ideas and the site continued to grow over the years.

Of course, it helped that I was one of the very first to cater to a very underserved niche.

Vanessa Levin

Website: Pre-K Pages

Twitter: @prekpages

Rome wasn't built in a day! Patience + Passion + Persistence = Success! ~ @prekpages

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What tips would you give someone starting out online?

Don't be afraid to experiment and test things out, in order to find your "sweet spot". Your "sweet spot" is the combination of what you're passionate about and what people care and would need your help with.

Be strategic the content you create and have clear goals. If you want to grow your email list, the podcast episodes you publish should help you with that. You may include Call-to-Actions in the show notes for each episode or perhaps use a tool like LeadDigits let people know – while you're recording – how the can join your newsletter by sending a text to a specific number.

Many new podcasters are blinded by the success-stories of the likes of John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn and set goals like "I'm going to have sponsors and make money from my podcast in a couple of months".

Comparing your beginning with somebody else's middle is a BIG mistake. With this kind of mindset, you'll get frustrated and quit quickly (as in 99.9% of the cases you won't get the results you wished for in the short period of time you were hoping for).

Have a clear goal or set of goals in mind and leverage your podcast to achieve that/those. Instead of focusing on downloads and sponsorships, think about what you really want to achieve in your business.

Do you want to sell an online training? Think of how your show can feature things that trigger people to sign up for your training.

Are you a coach looking for clients? Perhaps you could think about how to strategically use your podcast and invite people to join you for a free consultation.

So many podcasters waste their time focusing on the traditional – CPM – sponsorship model and don't think about the bigger picture and their business.

In the CPM model 500 listeners per episodes is peanuts. However, if you're strategic about leveraging your podcast, you may be able to attract paying customers within those 500 people – and generate more money you'd be paid by a sponsor for 1,000 or even 2,000 downloads/episode.

If podcasting is not your thing, you may want to consider leveraging podcasting as a guest. Podcasts are a great networking tool and an excellent opportunity to build authority and grow your email list.

SO, TO RECAP:

1. Don't be afraid to test & experiment, so that you find your "sweet spot"

2. Think about your goals and create content that helps you achieve those goals

3. If you're interested in podcasting, think about your show as an element of your business and leverage its power strategically (rather than thinking about the traditional CPM podcast sponsorship model)

4. If you are NOT interested in podcasting, still consider leveraging interviews to network, build authority and grow your email list.

How did you start a business or making money online?

My business is two-folded.

On the one hand, I do coaching and help entrepreneurs, marketers and creatives strategically leverage the power of podcasting. Whether that's as a host or as a guest. I also have a podcast related to it, the "360 Entrepreneur Podcast". It's a show that features inspiring conversations with top entrepreneurs, marketers and best-selling authors like Pat Flynn, Joel Comm, Kim Garst, Jay Baer and John Lee Dumas. I have an upcoming membership site called Podcast Success Academy, which revolves around podcasting.

On the other hand, I help musicians and creatives leverage the power of digital and social media marketing. For this area of expertise, I host a different show called "the Jazz Spotlight Podcast". It features interviews with Grammy Award-winning artists, contemporary music starts and music business experts.

I originally started with the Jazz Spotlight, as I already had connections in the music industry (because of my experience working at the press office of a music festival in Switzerland). I started blogging and podcasting and soon started turning my expertise into coaching.

I wanted to have more interaction with the entrepreneurial space, so I started a different blog and, soon after that, podcast. I have turned my podcasting expertise and lessons learned into coaching and the membership site Podcast Success Academy.

I started my online business in the spring of 2014, after having lived in Finland for a couple of years. I had a bachelor's degree and was about to complete my graduate studies and obtain my master's degree.

I was working as a journalist, but felt that something was missing. So I took the first steps toward freedom and started online.

I originally started blogging and make my first dollars online through affiliate marketing. After gaining clarity and noticing that I was asked the same questions over and over again, I decided to provide coaching to artists.

The same applies for the 360 Entrepreneur and my podcasting services. People kept asking me similar types of questions, so I packaged my knowledge into products and services.

Yann ilunga

Website: Yannilunga.com

Twitter: @yannick_ilunga

Remember The 3 Ts: Test. Track (stats). Tweak! ~ @yannick_ilunga 

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Creative Ways To Get Started Making Money Online

The following people were asked for the most creative way to make money online, instead of tips for starting an online business. This was the original question I asked before changing the idea. I think the answers here are really worth a read.


What is the most creative way to make money with an online business you have seen?

One of the most creative ways I've seen for making some cha cha CHANG was from Marisa Murgatroyd, who created a 2 week long online event, which called a Superhero Summit.

She gathered a ton of really epic marketers and bloggers and gave them 1-2 hour slots where they provided epic, actionable training and THEN she allowed them to pitch their latest product {which was nicely discounted for her peeps}.

She made affiliate commission on every product that was sold by each of her presenters. It was truly and win/win of epic proportions for all involved.

I don't doubt it was a lot of work to put this event together, but the relationships, profits, and insights gain from it had to be beyond invaluable, which I'm sure is a large part of why she's now done these events 3-4 times.

How did you start a business or making money online?

The fastest way to start making money from your business is by offering a service. Services don't require much upfront time or money as far as creating something goes, making it really easy to test out different services to see the interest from your peeps.

Services can be 'done for you' things like writing, designing, or managing something, or they can be coaching/mentoring.

The first stream of income I brought in from my biz was logo design, the 2nd stream came from my branding mentorships. Neither of which cost me a dime to offer!

The last bonus of starting with services is that you can open a dialogue up with people. By talking to them 1:1 you can find out what other things they are struggling with at the moment. Those struggles will guide you on exactly what else you can create to solve your peeps problems, while bringing home some of that tasty bacon!

I call that a win/win, baby!

Andrea (Dre) Beltrami

Website: TheBrandedSolopreneur.com

Twitter: @drebeltrami​

The fastest way to start making money - services~ @DreBeltrami

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What is the most creative way to make money with an online business you have seen?

You know, that's the beauty of the internet... over the past twenty years or so, we've seen all sorts of things our grandparents never dreamed of, haven't we?

I don't know if I could cite the most creative way to make money I've ever seen... but I have a soft spot for people who offer talent gigs including voiceover work, composing beats or epic movie trailer music, and even those who do caricature work.

I find it all really impressive.

Decades ago, a caricature artist could only sit on a pier or at a carnival all day hoping an interested customer would walk by.

Now, he or she can be in high demand at any hour of the day with customers all around the world without leaving their home... it's wild.

The internet made the world a smaller place, and every time I see a solopreneur leverage that online reach to market their creative talents, I'm truly impressed.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I think the key word in this question is 'fastest' because there is way too much hype online about passive income.

Passive income is wonderful, but if you want to start making money with an online business quickly, consider choosing a more active route. Focus on developing an online, service-based business.

Whether you want to label yourself a freelancer, solopreneur, webpreneur, or otherwise, consider offering your talents to qualified prospects who are willing to pay for writing services, social media management, marketing, consulting, coaching, administrative assistance, or otherwise.

You could pitch a prospective client one day and get an invoice paid in full the next... I know, because I have done it.

If you want to start making money online, offering real services to real people with real money is the fastest way I know how to do it.

I'd also endeavor to say it's the most tangible, realistic and sustainable option for most people who desire to work online and from home.

Brent Jones

Website: Brent Jones Online

Twitter: @brentjonline​

Focus on developing an online, service-based business. ~ @BrentJOnline

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What is the most creative way to make money with an online business you have seen?

This is going to sound like the most boring thing in the world, but someone needs to offer legally correct and optimized tax consulting to digital nomads. There are a lot of very intelligent people travelling around the world at the moment with a complete mess of financial lives.

For the right person or team (international tax lawyers/accountants/business consultants), I think they could really make a big difference to the lives of many online entrepreneurs and freelancers.

How did you start a business or making money online?

Freelancing. Take skill or expertise that you have and offer to help others using this skill. Setup costs are nil (or very low), it's very quick to get started. Best of all there are no excuses to not start. If you aren't making money, you're procrastinating.

I did exactly this. I was a successful system administrator but the nature of the work meant that it was tied to a desk/data center. I wanted to become location independent, so the digital marketing skills I had been using for years on my personal sites gave me the perfect opportunity to work with other businesses.

Jase Rodley

Website: JSquared

Twitter: @​jaseridesbikes

"If you aren't making money, you're procrastinating." ~ @jaseridesbikes

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What is the most creative way to make money with an online business you have seen?

Use Fiverr to start your sales process. I sell gigs for $5 that I turn into $100-200 orders on a regular basis. Think about structuring them in a way that you're making money, not wasting time.

People think Fiverr is just for making a quick buck and filling the gaps but it's gotten me some great clients who've come back for more!

How did you start a business or making money online?

A lot of people talk about creating courses and recurring revenue, but that's a long-term revenue generator. Get your hands dirty working in your field of choice and taking on lots of projects to gain experience.

The quicker you can show potential clients that you have something valuable to offer, the quicker you'll make money. I guest post for free on some high-authority websites to show people that I know what I'm talking about. This has helped me secure higher paying jobs than just grinding away at different projects.

So think short-term and long-term, always.

Maddy Osman

Website: The BlogSmith

Twitter: @​MaddyOsman

"Get your hands dirty working in your field of choice and taking on lots of projects to gain experience." ~ @MaddyOsman

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What is the most creative way to make money with an online business you have seen?

Take Codrut as a great example who really owns the expert round up space. He developed a skill of organizing and networking with influencers and eventually sold the service of doing expert round ups for bloggers. From that, he created a website and posts case studies on it from the ones he does. It seems to be working well, since he contacts me all the time about new round ups he's putting together. I can only think of one other person in the space, Minuca.

How did you start a business or making money online?

I really think the best / fastest way to make money online is to develop a skill and market it as a service.The reason for this is because products take a long time to develop, at least if they are technical in the least.

On the other hand, non-technical products (like information products), generally require you to build an audience to market too, which takes just as long.

A service is the only thing that you can email someone and make a sale for that day, without any product or audience.

Previously I had a service where I helped travel bloggers monetize their blogs by connecting them with advertising, and that thing shot up like a rocket until it eventually crashed with some Google algorithm updates!

Dave Schneider

Website: Ninja Outreach

Twitter: @ninjaoutreach​

Start a service - email someone, and make money that day ~ @NinjaOutreach

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About the Author Ashley Faulkes

Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).

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