Hi I’m Mike, the owner of this Retire Well site dedicated to helping people to an early retirement or to earn some extra income in retirement. Even if you’re not thinking about retirement per se but just starting an online business, this article should provide some tips and tricks and allow you to avoid some of the more obvious scams and pitfalls as well as getting started quickly, safely and without breaking the bank. I’m using affiliate marketing as my income generating medium so most of the examples will come from this genre and you can think of this as a beginners guide to online marketing or even a step by step guide to affiliate marketing for beginners.
If you don’t know much about affiliate marketing as a thing, you might like to read Affiliate Marketing – Scam or Legit which provides an introductory guide. Basically, affiliate marketing is about introducing customers to products you are promoting on your website and if they buy something via your site you will be paid a small commission. The nice thing about this is that you can do this from anywhere with the internet. Want to start an online marketing business in India? Fine – just do it as Nike would say.
Before we go too much further I’d like to add that setting up your online business should not cost you much money, if any. My first website was completely free as was the training package that got it up and running. I really dislike locked in packages and only promote options which allow you inside to experience most, if not all, the system free. Even worse are the MLM or Multi-Level Marketing offers. My thoughts on those are unprintable. So if you can’t “try before you buy” with a 30 day deal or better then I’d tend to run away screaming with all my money still in my pocket.
This introductory guide is going to cover the following steps to starting your online business, getting established and generally laying a good foundation for longer term success:
- Setting up the business of your business – your plan
- Selecting your niche
- Creating Your Website
- Keywords and writing good content
- Ongoing training and support
- Intro to advanced topics e.g analytics and social media
Before we get into the specific steps let’s take a helicopter view of what drives online success as an affiliate marketer. The basics steps are:
Setting up the business of your business
As the saying goes it’s pretty hard to reach your destination if you don’t know where you are trying to go. So too with starting your online business. This step is very personal to you and there is no right or wrong answer. It is also not something that needs to be set in stone but you do need to at least have a framework and some detail for the next few weeks – your action plan if you like. I’m a bit of a strategic person at heart so I naturally gravitate to longer term objectives so personally, I need to reign myself in with some concrete steps that I’ll do over a shorter period of time.
By way of example, I gave myself a month to try out the free stuff and learn as much as I could; then I committed three months to prove what I’d learned and am now aiming for that better retirement goal in the next year to 18 months.
As a first step, decide what your goal or goals is or are. You may find the acronym S M A R T helpful. It stands for
- Specific – put a number to this e.g. $1,000 a month or retire by age 45
- Measurable – typically we achieve and focus on what we can measure so not “retire with more income” but “earn $2,000 per month in passive income”
- Achievable – most things are but it will depend on your circumstances and the amount of time you have to work on your business. So expecting to earn $25,000 extra per month within 6 months by investing fours hours a week is probably not “achievable” – if it is please leave a comment below and tell the rest of us how !! This is not a get-rich-quick process so be realistic on your own success time frames.
- Relevant – your goals must be relevant to you and what you want. For most of us one goal will relate to earning money but this may be only part of the story. Your overall goal maybe to spend more time with family, to travel, to pursue other interests not related to earning money. In that sense earning income is just an enabler to achieving what you really want and not the ultimate goal in itself.
- Time bound – your goal can’t be on the never never. I find that setting mini-goals that lead to the overall objective works best for me e.g establish my website by the end of August, achieve average monthly traffic of 1,500 by …, replace my current salary income by December 202x
So having thought about and written down your goal – yes you have to write it down otherwise it’s not a goal and certainly not part of a plan; it’s just a wish – what are the next steps? I’ll write a more complete guide on this shortly but here’s some things you need to think about.
- What’s the name of your business? Tip – this should probably be something different to your website name and something reasonably short because eventually you could have multiple websites and online profiles.
- What sort of entity is your business? e.g are you trading personally, establishing a limited liability company, a non-profit, a trust. Once you have decided then set it up.
- Sort out your banking and tax registration. Depending on your business entity, you’ll need a bank account and tax ID for it. Even if you are sole trading as yourself I strongly suggest you keep your business finances separate from your personal ones. I also suggest that you keep a second account to hold money you’ll need to pay the tax man separate from your business operating expenses. One that topic DO NOT GET ON YOUR TAX MAN’S NAUGHTY LIST. Keep your tax matters simple and straightforward; submit your returns and pay your tax on time. Any tax issues just become a distraction and they are easily avoided if you just do what you should. Seek professional advice if you need to.
- Set up a Gmail (or similar) account for your business entity. This is one area where a shorter business name helps because you’ll be repeating it a lot once you start signing up for affiliate sites and other online accounts like Google and Bing. Tip – I have used label/ folders extensively to separate my business emails from those related my site, social media accounts and just spam. By filtering sensibly you can organize your email so that you can focus on what matters and basically ignore the rest.
- Open a business PayPal account – it’s the way quite a few programs will pay you. If you’re thinking of using Amazon Affiliate Program and don’t live in the US you may also consider a Payoneer account or similar so you can get direct credits rather than cheque payments or gift cards.
- Start a spreadsheet to record your various links, IDs and passwords for your business. As you establish yourself with affiliate programs you’ll need access to bank numbers, company registration (if you have one), login IDs & passwords, affiliate membership numbers and links … well you get the idea. It’s just easier to have all this detail in one place. Tip – include a hyperlink to affiliate programs so you can “one click” to them from your record spreadsheet.
All of these things will need to be thought about and done but …. eventually. Don’t fall into the trap of spending so much time and effort administering your business that you don’t do anything to grow it. Personally I just worked through this stuff over the first several weeks as I thought I needed it. Your business name and entity is probably an exception because it can be hard to change that retrospectively.
Selecting Your Niche
Now to the fun stuff – your niche, your passion, your brand. When I started I had no idea where to begin with this. I just had a vague idea of earning money online using affiliate marketing. Fortunately the free training course I signed up for guided me along the way and introduced me to a free tool called Jaaxy. There are paid version of this but I haven’t felt the need to move beyond the free version at this stage partly because I am now using a paid version of my training program which comes with a free upgrade to Jaaxy Light anyway.
In my case I established a free website based on the initial training and Jaaxy research so I could follow along the training and apply the lessons as I went. After all it was free so the worst that could happen is that I learned something and potentially identified another scam to avoid. As long as I wasn’t parting with any money or credit card details then I had nothing to lose – right? I’ve written a full review of my experience in which I share what I found that may be of some interest to you but if you want to jump straight in and have a play with some of your own keywords here’s the free tool.
Creating Your Website
Although you may not think so, creating a website really is the easy bit. As part of the introduction to affiliate marketing training I signed up for, I was able to get two free websites and literally make one within a few minutes. This video shows you how it’s done and is by Jay the online trainer from the program I’m following.
If you know what your niche is going to be from Jaaxy above, you can do the same through the siterubix portal and although you will need to provide an email address to establish your free account, no money or credit card details changes hands. Have a play and see what you think.
Keywords and Writing Good Content
If you’ve been following along you may well already have established your own site. Now you have to get some people to that site so you need some interesting content. The good news is that this too is free and strange as it may seem the free traffic attracted by good content is probably more valuable than anything you pay for because it is likely to convert to sales better.
Welcome to the wonderful world of SEO or search engine optimization. Put simply this is about optimizing your site so that search engines “like” it, rank it highly when people are searching and generally directed people or “traffic” to your site. This takes time and some technique but basically “content is king”. You should aim for a minimum of a keyword rich blog per week once your site is established. To get established is probably going to take 3-6 months and you should aim to have 30-50 articles and reviews published on it by then – more if you can.
Most research indicates that posts of 1,200 words or more are the most effective with one article I read noting that the average word count for posts ranking on page one of Google was 1,890 words. This traffic will eventually lead to income by “monetizing your site” but that’s in the future. The nice thing about this is that you don’t need to sell. In fact, don’t even try. Just write good, interesting content with the aim of educating or informing and success will come over time.
Ongoing training and support
I’ve covered a lot so far in this article and hopefully by now you’ve learned a few tips and tricks which will help you get started. There is still much more to all this but I’d like to make one final major point.
Very, very few people can do this completely on their own.
Establishing a business of any sort is hard work and something of an emotional roller coaster ride. Just as it takes a village to raise a child so too building a business works best as a community of like-minded individuals. We all need some support and a boost from time to time.
If you’ve looked at some of the links earlier in this article you will know that I use Wealthy Affiliates as my community of support. I have found the training and education to be second to none and have no hesitation in recommending WA as a valid choice for you. Have a look at my full review and if you decide to investigate the free membership, I’ll see you inside to provide whatever guidance I can or refer you to those that have already solved your particular issue.
The initial free training will amplify many of the topics I’ve touched on in this article and introduce you to some new ones as well. Below is a screenshot of the initial education package.
Introduction to Advanced Topics
If we step forward a few weeks, let’s assume that you have your first website site up and some modest regular traffic visiting it. You may even have made your first few sales – well done you. That’s all fine and dandy but how do you go from that to an early retirement or replacing your current salaried income?
Remember the helicopter overview at the beginning of this article? There were a couple of extras in that which we haven’t really covered as yet – “leverage” being the main one. You will need to leverage your initial success to achieve your longer term goals and that means your education needs to move to the next level when you’re ready for it. Topics to learn will include:
- Using analytics through Google and Bing
- Optimizing your site and content for SEO – even more
- Promotion through your social media profile
- Off site promotions
- Guest hosting
- Optimizing your writing schedule
- Paid ads and promotions
- Using hired content writers
- Internal and authority site linking
- Deep niche penetration
- And so much more to help you reach your ultimate goal
Obviously there’s a lot to all this and I hope I haven’t put you off with all this information. There is a lot out here and online success is within your grasp. Don’t try to do or even understand it all at once. Just accept the fact that there is a process and a rhythm to all this that does work and you can do it. Start with some of the beginner steps recommended in this article. I’ll be there to help you if you decide to do that through Wealthy Affiliates as will a whole bunch of people you don’t even know yet.
Thank you for coming this far. If you like what you’ve read or know somebody that might benefit from this article please share it with them using the buttons below. If you have a question or a comment then please leave it below. Apart from that, thanks for reading this and good luck getting to where ever you want to go.