The Internet has made working at home easier and more affordable than ever. But that doesn't mean an Internet business can run on auto-pilot, or that it's an easy way to get rich. Running a business, even one online, takes commitment, planning and consistent work. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, there are many ways to make a home-based online business successful.
Start With What You Know
Too many people jump online looking for the "system" or "program" that can pay off with little to no effort. People can make good money online, but not through sign-up-get-rich schemes. Successful online entrepreneurs take something they already know about, do or love and turn it into an income. Start by inventorying all your skills related to work, volunteering and even hobbies. Write down hobbies, activities or interests you enjoy and are passionate about. Don't censor. Include everything even if you don't think there's a way to make money from it.
Sell Your Skill
There are three primary ways to make money--sell your skill, sell your stuff or sell what you know. Selling your skill involves providing a service. For example, if you're great with numbers, you can offer an online bookkeeping service. You can sell skills you learned from your education or work experience, but also skills you obtained through volunteering and hobbies. For example, if you're great at using Photoshop, you can sell your skill to businesses and others who want help editing their digital photos.
Sell Your Stuff
Selling your stuff involves selling tangible goods. A resource such as eBay allows you to sell items you already possess; later you can add inventory through used items picked up at yard sales and thrift shops, or through drop shipping. Another option for selling your stuff is to market your homemade creations. Etsy, the eBay for crafters, sells home-made products. If you don't want to use a service like eBay or Etsy, you can create your own online store. Another option is to sell items created by other businesses that will pay you a commission for each sale. This can be done through affiliate programs in which you refer customers to the company or through a business opportunity or direct sales company. Remember to keep your interests and skills in mind. If you're passionate about health and wellness, sell products and work with companies that focus on health and wellness.
Sell What You Know
Information is a leading reason people go online. You can make money from what you know by helping others get the information they want. What you know about doesn't matter much--you can do anything from providing advice about cat care to giving xylophone lessons. When choosing a business based on what you know, consider your skills and interests. Or think about the things people come to you for help on. You can sell what you know in a variety of ways, such as creating an e-book or e-course or audios or videos. Some website owners give their expertise away for free but sell advertising and promote affiliate products on their sites. The key to selling what you know is to have information about a topic people are willing to pay to learn about. You don't have to be an expert, although you should have a good understanding of the topic.
Market Your Online Business
The key to online business success is to have a marketing plan and engage in marketing activities daily. It doesn't matter how great your skill, product or knowledge is. If people don't know about you, they won't buy from you. Further, take time to learn not just about marketing strategies, but also about copy writing and creating advertising materials that will entice people to visit your site. Great low-cost marketing tactics include using search engine optimization; writing articles and posting them in article directories for other sites to use; writing press releases; providing a newsletter to people who subscribe through your site; and using social networking.