An Online Business Primer: the basics
You need 3 things to be in business online:
1) an audience
2) a product
3) a platform. You could even do it without a platform, but more on that later.
You can be in business online AT NO COST in a single day or less.
1) An audience can be accumulated by social media such as facebook, twitter, instagram, etc., by SEO such as adwords through Google, through PR such as writing blogs, commercial projects such as Shopify, and more, but basically these. All of them work. Some take more time, some take more $$$, some are more suitable for different products.
2) Products are easy to get, Aliexpress, Alibaba, Amazon, Clickbank are huge catalogues of products whose manufacturers are crying out for distributors, re-sellers, representataives to take on their products. Online businesses are in the buy low-sell high model. Online business people are not salaried reps; they are entrepreneurs. Any business should have at least three streams of income to ensure success. Diversification allows you to maintain cash flow from another source when one product, say, dries up, is superceded by competition, or becomes unfashionable. Having a material product that is drop-shipped, a digital product which is delivered by email, and a service which is delivered by webinar is a good mix of diversified income streams.
3) A platform to display your products or services can be had for free as a facebook community page, by a blog, free hosted by Google, Blogspot, etc. an instagram account, or a twitter account, a Youtube channel, all are excellent ways to present services or products and can be had for free. Shopify is an example of a paid platform that will display your goods/services for sale.
An Online Business Primer: the tools
You will need to learn some skills, such as to handle some simple programs
1) email, posting on facebook, etc.
2) writing a blog, formatting a blog to look like a webpage if you want to use that platform
3) online banking, eg. Paypal - so you can get paid, collect and send $$$. It is free to sign up. They charge fees to receive money as a vendor. Paypal uses USD as a default currency. There are others, such as Stripe, Alipay, etc.
An Online Business Primer: Promotion
Building an audience can be done by starting a blog on some subject, travel, cooking, sewing, gardening, photography, almost any subject in the book.
Write articles, post pix & videos. If you don't know anything well, review other people's posts, articles, books. Be creative, entertaining, invite followers. Start a Youtube channel with videos you made, or have sampled from other people's videos. Compilations of skateboard falls for example gather thousands of viewers. How to videos are great for getting followers. All of this is free.
You can pay to host your own webpage. Some free webpage hosts are okay, some are invasive with pop-ups and ads of their own. Your choice. TANSTAAFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch)
An Online Business Primer: Products
Products come in several forms. These are the streams of income I mentioned above.
1) Material goods such as watches, shoes, clothes, cell phones, toys which can be drop-shipped by the manufacturer or purchased and inventoried by you the distributor. Drop-shipping is best. You get an order from a customer, receive payment and only then do you send $$ to the manufacturer (MFG), (keeping your cut). The MFG ships the product to your customer directly. You never see the customer, or the product, or the MFG.
2) Digital goods. Books, videos in digital form are great products. They cost nothing to produce, to warehouse, or to deliver. They are often .pdfs sent by email. Examples: How to Train your dog, How to Grow a Herb Garden, How to Improve your Golf swing. How to invest in the Commodity Market, etc. Selling these books on behalf of the author is called affiliate marketing. You promote them, take orders, and the customer pays the author/publisher. The author/publisher then pays you. You do not deliver the book, unless, of course, it is your book and you own it. The working relationship you have with the author is crucial, based on trust. You can become an affiliate marketer by signing up with Amazon, or with Clickbank. Go to their webpages, scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for affiliate marketers.
3) Online courses are great if you have knowledge to share. You can do a webinar using Zoom, say. People pay you for the webinar, or buy your ebooks, or videos. Promote the webinar by facebook, social media or by google adwords. Possibly free, but investing some $$ can pay off handsomely.
Building an Audience
Start a facebook community page about something. I started two of them: Mortensen math Users 648 followers now and Green Solutions last year about the environment and saving the planet, 52 followers. No money was spent to promote these pages . The audience grew organically by search engines and word of mouth. Unless something goes viral, this is slow but steady and very stable. Going viral is great, but, easy come, easy go.
Buying facebook ads is very safe and very profitable. You can control the budget (as little as $5 a day), the target (you say who sees the ads, where they live, their est. family income, and so on), and the length of time it runs. I ran a $5 a day ad for two days. It cost $11.20 and reaped $600 USD in sales for me over the next two weeks!
You can build a mailing list and develop a newsletter easily using a free service such as mailchimp, Mailerlite, or Sendinblue.
Six best Free Auto-responders: https://www.emailtooltester.com/en/blog/free-autoresponder/
The point of building an email list is to have a list of interested, potential customers to whom you can send, for free, notice of a sale, or a special offer, say, when you need to.
An Online business in 60 minutes or less.
Okay, so how to do it?
In one hour or less, at NO COST, you can open a free blog through Wordpress hosted by Google, sign up at Amazon and Clickbank, copy and paste the code they give you onto your blog page. Suppose your service is travel reviews: Learn how here: https://prosociate.com/best-hotel-affiliate-programs/
Then go on facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram, and whatever else you can lay your hands on, and announce your product review giving the URL, or link, from your blog.
Presto, you are in business online. In this example, earnings will come from affiliate commissions, from the Amazon and Clickbank links, and or direct orders of the product you reviewed.
This business model has you learning as you go. You will discover what works by doing it. You will learn by answering questions asked by potential customers, and you will make money as you learn.
An Online Business Primer: Real Life Example
One of my online businesses is linked below. I have been operating it for many years, ten say.
facebook page: Mortensen Math Users
Private message me through facebook if you like, or post on the wall.
Teacher's Handbook for Teaching Math with Manipulatives
$65 USD - by Paypal only, receive delivery same day by email! (m-f, bus. hrs.)
Table of Contents The Premise P.1 The Five-Minute Overview of the Method P.8 Key Phrases in Mortensen Math Very Brief Summary of the Method Psychological Principles at Work Introduction - cont'd Create a Math-Rich Environment The Teacher's Role & Student Self-Esteem Six Key Ideas from Jerry Mortensen Appendices: Section One - Counting P.46 Section Two - Addition Section Three - Subtraction Section Four - Multiplication Section Five - Division Section Six - Fractions Section Seven - Algebra Section Eight - Solving Equations Section Nine - Functions & Relations Section Ten - Story Problems Section Eleven - Mortensen Math Program & Materials P.240