Escape the 9-5 and start an online business that pays you to live the life you want. Work from anywhere, make your own hours, and get paid even as you spend time with friends and family.
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That's not hype. It's the new business reality. I know, because I did it.
You don’t need an MBA, venture capital, or special connections to start an online business.
With a small amount of money and time, you can create an online — even automated — business that serves the roaring ocean of people on the internet.
Millions of people willing to pay you.… if you can solve their problems.
Maybe you’re the person that friends come to for relationship advice. Maybe you’re a whiz with Excel. Or have great taste in fashion.
You can turn skills you already have into a profitable online business. Then scale it to earn as much as you want, automatically.
I know, because I’ve done it. And I’ve shown thousands of others how to do the same.
I’m Ramit Sethi, New York Times best-selling author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and GrowthLab. I’ve been featured in Fortune and Forbes Magazine, as well as a long list of media, including the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, NPR, and more.
For the past 12 years, I’ve helped thousands of students to create their own profitable online businesses and taught hundreds of thousands of people live a Rich Life using psychology, systems, tough love, and no-B.S. action steps.
I started my blog in 2004 when I was studying at Stanford. Back then, it was just an ugly blog that no one read.
It wasn’t until 2007 that I created my first online product: A $4.95 ebook that I was afraid to sell because I didn’t want to seem “salesy.” It was the first time I charged readers for my material. They responded by calling me a “sellout” and saying I “jumped the shark.”
Fast forward to today, that blog has become a multimillion-dollar business. We’ve launched over 18 successful products — including courses on career development, psychology, fitness, cooking, and freelancing. And we’ve built a business with over 30,000 paying customers.
But most importantly, the company I started has more documented success stories than anyone else I know of — more than 20,000 at last count. You can see some of them at GrowthLab.com.
I’m not telling you this to brag. But there’s a lot of horrible information out there about online business. Some of it is even dangerous. If you want to avoid it, you need to be able to trust the person giving you advice.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen a million sites promising to help you get rich quick. Or posting cheesy inspirational quotes about success while their own business struggles.
But some of the most dangerous information comes from the countless blogs that focus on the minutia of starting an online business. The ones that say, “You have to start a podcast! And get on social media! And don’t forget to learn SEO!”
It’s overwhelming. Following that advice leaves you spinning your wheels, not getting anywhere. You’re stuck in Marketing Tactical Hell.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can start an online business that’s genuine, authentic to you, and provides real value. Just like thousands of my other students. This guide will show you exactly how to get started.
This guide won’t take your online business from zero to $100,000 overnight. Instead, it will show you the first steps in building an artisanal business that provides real value to your clients.
We won’t be singing kumbaya around a fire. I’m sharing battle-proven strategies and insights discovered by our team of successful internet entrepreneurs, our students, and the friends we’ve made building this company from a tiny blog to a multimillion-dollar business.
You will find the material, tools, and mindsets to start a business that gives you:
Work from wherever you want to. For example, all I need to run my business is a laptop — anywhere in the world.
Once your online business is set up, you can build systems so it keeps bringing in revenue — even if you’re asleep or on vacation.
Some people prefer to keep their online business small. For some, that means an extra $1,000/month (or $10,000/month). Others want to grow their business big, building a team to scale to millions of dollars a year. We can help you at every level since we’ve been there.
Let’s say you have a goal of making $100,000/year with your online business. Sound daunting? You can do it. It’s not magic, it’s math. The key is to stop thinking in terms of trading your time for money and start thinking of systems. That’s what an online business is — a sales machine that does the work for you.Take Me To Part 2
Before you start an online business, you’ve got to decide what type of online business is right for you. There are 6 major online business models the average person can use. Some give you huge profit margins and scale easily. Others require a lot of time and are difficult to grow. I’ve tested them all, so let’s walk through them real quick.Take Me To Part 3
You don’t need a ton of time to create a successful online business. You don’t need a Harvard MBA or some other fancy piece of paper. You just need a computer, an idea, and to overcome 3 common fears. In this section, we’re going to dismantle all three of those seemingly massive barriers to becoming a top online entrepreneur, one-by-one.Take Me To Part 4
If you Google “online business ideas” right now, you’ll see thousands of results. So if online business ideas are so easy to come by, why is finding the right one so hard? Answer: Because you don’t just need any old idea. You need to know if your idea is (a) something you’re passionate about and (b) is profitable (so you don’t waste your time).Take Me To Part 5
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what to do and where to go to get your first website up and running. Then, you’ll get the list of technology tools I used to turn a blog that sold nothing into a multimillion-dollar business. This guide will save you a ton of time down the road. And show you how simple and easy building an online business can be.Take Me To Part 6
At this point, you’ve learned some of the key tools, mindsets, and strategies you need to create your own online business. Whether you want a business that makes an extra $1,000/month, or $10,000/month so you can leave your full-time job and work from anywhere, you can do it. And that means learning more advanced strategies.Take Me To Part 7
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):Yes! Give me my PDF
In the past, people’s lives followed a traditional path: Graduate college, get an entry-level job, work for the same company for 45 years, then retire to a beach in Florida.
Those days are gone (thankfully).
You can create a website in minutes, start blogging, and share videos on YouTube that get seen by hundreds of thousands of people. With less than $100, you can start a successful online business and have access to more customers than you could ever need. (This is exactly how my business started.)
You can start almost any kind of online business. You can help people stop biting their nails, have a better vacation at Disneyland, play tennis, dress better, get press coverage for their business…or whatever you want to do.
And you can set up your business so that it's completely automated. Your online business can keep working even when you're not. You can earn money while you sleep — a game-changer.
But when you’re at square one and don’t even have an idea, it can look impossible. So let’s break it down so you can see how simple it really is.
Let’s say you have a goal of making $100,000/year with your online business. Sound daunting?
You can do it. It’s not magic, it’s math.
The key is to stop thinking in terms of trading your time for money and start thinking of systems. That's what an online business is — a sales machine that does the work for you. You front-load the work and keep profiting from it year after year.
If you have a $500 product and make just 1 sale a day, you'll hit $100,000 in less than 7 months.
Even if you choose to do 1/2 of that, that’s $100,000 in 14 months — life-changing.
And that’s just the beginning. The real magic comes when you add a second product. And then a third. Check out this chart on how you can start with a simple $50 product and scale your business up to $100,000/year.
The best part of all this? YOU decide how big you want your online business to be. You can stay at $1,000/month or scale it to $10,000 or $100,000/month. It’s up to you.
See for yourself. Use the calculator below to see precisely how much your online business can generate.
Personally, I chose to scale. So let me walk you through exactly how I went from making next-to-nothing with a $4.95 ebook to a successful online business that generated $600,000 within a week.
I started my blog in 2004, but it was just an ugly blog that no one read.
At first, it was brutal. Nobody left a single comment. But over time, things started to change. I started to get traffic. People left comments. And I even got a little media coverage.
On the other hand, I still generated $0 in sales. I had no idea what I could even sell. (If this is you, make sure to read Part 5 of this guide.) And I didn’t want to be “salesy.”
Key takeaways at this stage:
I decided “I don’t know” was not an excuse. I started to learn about different online business models and started learning lots of different ways to go from “passion” to “business”
The first thing I ever sold online was a $4.95 ebook. As you can see, I had a flair for names even back then.
I had such low self-confidence that I didn’t think anybody would buy it. And I was petrified they would call me a “sellout” for selling anything.
But you know what? This was a huge turning point. That first sale was one of the most exciting moments of my life. You begin to think “If I can get one person to buy, I can get 10, 20, or 100.”
And if you can sell a $4.95 product, then you can sell one at $50, $500, $2,000, even $10,000.
Once you’ve realized you can sell, the sky’s the limit. For me the big change came when I launched Earn1K — this was my first crack at a really sophisticated course.
Like an awkward kid going on a date for the first time, we were kinda ready, but kinda not.
My business had grown up and we had new capabilities, like our research knowledge, but we didn’t have things like a real video studio. We actually had to BORROW a "studio" to record in! It was hilarious. The company’s employees would literally come in while we were recording and say, “Uh, we have a meeting right now. Can you go outside?” and we had to just stop recording and leave. Another time, we shot on 9th Street in San Francisco and a homeless dude started screaming right outside. Not great for video, I can tell you that.
But things were starting to take shape: People bought the course at $497, or 100 times what I had charged for my $4.95 ebook. We made $600,000 with that launch — our biggest to that point.
Interestingly, the day I closed the course, I immediately doubled the price, and I’ve never lowered it since.
People were getting great results with Earn1K, so I knew I was onto something.
Here’s what you learn by moving 100x up the value chain:
If you simply look at my $600,000 launch, it could feel overwhelming. But now you know the background of what it took to get there. Baby steps, lots of mistakes, and a homeless dude on 9th Street.
Once you crack the code of online business, you can take what you love, bottle it up, and share it with the world — automatically — for years to come.
This isn't drudgery. Imagine a life built around doing what you love.
LOOK AT MY FACE!!!
There's no substitute for the joy of sharing your passions with the world.
Or for the praise you hear on a daily basis:
Your work so tangibly and obviously provided me so much more value than what I paid. To anyone who is hesitating before clicking buy on one of your products I feel like shouting "DO IT, DO IT NOW, C'MON, BUY IT NOW!"
- Lawrence Lee
I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you for the amazing material you've provided… The new perspective on life I've gained has been invaluable, and I'm definitely going to continue being a life-long student of yours.
Just wanted you to know that since I bought my first course through your site I went from a $78K job to a truly amazing $110K… Your material really has helped me more than any other thing. I can't thank you enough! I will definitely be purchasing another product in the near future
I want to prove to you that you can have your own wildly successful online business. So I created something special: 15 Successful Online Businesses You Can Model.
This report features 15 successful students from all around the world, all different industries, and completely different backgrounds. Including:
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what industry you decide to work in. You can have your own successful online business. Enter your email below and see the proof for yourself.
Starting an online business is incredibly simple. All you need is a laptop and these key ingredients to make your first sale:
But before you get there, you’ve got to decide what type of online business you even want.
There are 6 major online business models the average person can use. Some give you huge profit margins, take minimal time, and scale easily. Others require a lot of time, overhead costs, and are difficult to grow.
I’ve tested them all, so let’s walk through them real quick. Then you can decide which model is right for you.
The most common business model online is advertising. Almost all of us have seen these. They’re little advertisements — usually Google AdSense — on the sidebars of a website.
Here’s how they work: as you get traffic, some people will click those ads. When they do, you get a few cents, or even a few dollars per click.
I tried this for IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com. But I quickly realized ads don’t make that much money. In fact, what I learned was that you need a huge amount of visitors, like 50 million visitors — or more — per month, to make a good income from ads. That’s a lot of traffic and not a good way to start a sustainable online business.
Back when I started in 2004, I decided “If I can’t cover my rent with ads, why bother?” They’re ugly and distracting. Plus, I’ll end up spending more time optimizing the click-through-rate on the ads than actually writing great content (aka Marketing Tactical Hell). So after trying that experiment for a little while, I checked the box and said I’m not interested in that business model.
Here’s an example of how affiliates work: A blogger will write a review of “My favorite credit cards.” and at the bottom they’ll say, “you can sign up for the card here — NOTE: this is an affiliate link.”
If you click that link and sign up, the credit card company is going to pay that blogger an affiliate commission. Sometimes it’ll be $50 or $75.
Over time, that can actually add up to a lot of money. And there are affiliate programs for everything — from audio books to weight loss products.
For a long time, I avoided affiliates because I didn’t want people to think I was recommending stuff just to make money. I only wanted to recommend the best products.
But eventually I realized that my readers trusted me, they were already going to sign up for the accounts I was recommending anyways. So I decided to try putting an affiliate link in with one of my recommendations.
When I did — virtually overnight — I became ING Direct’s number one affiliate in the world. I was making more than $10,000 a month — just by putting a link on my site.
But I soon learned this wasn’t a great long-term plan. My click-through rates tailed off and I ended up having to spend all this time dealing with advertisers.
In the end, I realized it wasn’t worth the time, so I stopped.
If you have the skills to create software, then this can be a tempting online business to start. The media loves to tell us stories about hot new Silicon Valley startups and the founders of tech companies who cashed out for billions after their company went public. So we think starting an online business means doing something similar.
And yes, you could quit your job, seek venture funding, and spend the next few years trying to build the next Instagram.
But let’s face it, for most of us, this isn’t a viable option. We’re not programmers. We can’t code. And we’d rather stab ourselves with an ice pick than try to learn any of that technical stuff (at least I would).
And even if you can code, do you really want to deal with the never-ending challenge of marketing, distributing, patching and upgrading your app?
Luckily, there are other options out there. You don’t need to create the next Candy Crush to have a successful online business. You don’t even need any technical or computer skills for the other online business models I’m about to show you.
I’m wary of this business model because the profit margins are terrifyingly low.
Just to give you an example, we have a notepad that our designers created internally for I Will Teach You To Be Rich staff. We would have had to price it at around $50 — for a teeny little notepad — just to break even if we wanted to sell it. And after we shipped it to people, our profit margin would have disappeared.
I know there’s some money to be made in this space. But I prefer the profit margins offered by online products.
With online products, the profit margin is higher, and it’s much easier to scale. Physical products just introduce so many variables and costs that I’m not interested in them.
Now, my favorite online business model: selling something you create. Typically, these are information products, like an online video course.
You can create a video or written course that sells for $49 fairly quickly. But more expensive, high-end ones take a lot longer. For example, when we built Dream Job, we spent months on research, outlines, testing, creation, and design.
Online courses are low-risk, high-reward, and scale very well. You can use them to reach thousands of people all over the world. It’s become the crux of our business and now we generate over 95% of our revenue through our own products. I can’t recommend it enough.
This is going to be the main business model I focus on in the upcoming sections of the guide, but first, I want to share a counter-intuitive strategy to make money online.
One of the fastest ways to start making money from your online business is to offer coaching.
This comes as a surprise to a lot of my Zero to Launch students - my premium course on starting and building an online business. They join my program looking to create an online information product. But as they build their email list, people message them saying: “Hey, I love what you do. Do you offer coaching?”
There are a few great reasons to take them up on this offer:
You don’t have to build anything or have a big audience to get started with coaching, and you can earn money quickly. While online courses let you earn revenue automatically and impact a broad audience.
If you can’t choose, do both.
Here’s something that will help. Enter your email below for a free report on how to get your first coaching clients — even if you’re in a brand new industry.
You don’t need a ton of time to become a successful online entrepreneur. You don’t need a Harvard MBA or some other fancy piece of paper. You just need a computer, an idea, and to overcome these 3 common fears:
In this section, we’re going to dismantle all three of those seemingly massive barriers to starting an online business, one-by-one.
So many of us waste our time chasing mythical credentials. We wait for the right day when we suddenly have a certificate from some random organization giving us permission to go out in the world and do what we’re here to do.
And then what? Suddenly we find that degree didn’t open doors or bring in clients the way we thought it would. Now what are we supposed to do?
Let me be blunt:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR PERMISSION.
We don’t have to wait for gatekeepers to recognize us anymore! This old idea of laboring for 30 years, waiting for some fancy Manhattan TV producer or agent to call us, and then “we’ll be successful” is archaic and wrong.
Stop waiting for someone to knight you. It doesn’t matter if you’re the world’s top expert. To become a successful online entrepreneur, you just have to know more than the people you’re helping. If you can help them get results, they’ll happily pay you — and even recommend you to their friends.
If you work full-time, have kids, or simply like having a vibrant social life, it might seem impossible that you could ever have time to start an online business. You’re over-extended as it is!
I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people to start their businesses. I’m talking about paying students who take this very seriously, not looky-loos.
And along the way, I realized one of the most important determinants of success is:
Will you put 5 hours/week into your calendar?
When people say, “I don’t have time to start a business,” they’re not thinking of some smoothly organized calendar system.
They’re thinking about the vague plans with friends sometime this weekend. About how they have to clean the garage. And about how they have that pile of papers in the living room they’ve been promising to clean up for 3 months.
I get it. But until you can step out of the day-to-day and take control of your time, you’ll always be reacting to the rest of the world’s demands on your time.
In other words, you could go another 3 years responding to emails, organizing piles of papers, and cleaning your garage...and still be treading water.
Or you can decide to start at the calendar level and carve out 5 hours/week — just five — to work on something life-changing, like starting a business.
Maybe you don’t even have a calendar. That’s fine — no judgment. But I discovered that once I put something on my calendar, it was “my time” and I protected it.
You know why I decided to start keeping a calendar? Because I was tired of responding to the rest of the world’s demands without making time for my own.
I know this is a simple suggestion — “add it to your calendar” — but it’s profoundly impactful if you actually do it and stick to it.
When you take control of your time, it’s a total game-changer. No more sighing. No more piles of “stuff” you promised to do.
Besides, with online business, you don’t have to be there constantly working on it. You can set it up once, automate it, then get paid automatically — while you do something else.
Here’s an example from my own life. When I took a vacation to Puerto Rico, my business continued generating revenue:
We all have something special that we’re unusually good at. If you and I talked for 20 minutes, I know I could find something you’re good at. Maybe you can teach dogs to do tricks. Maybe you’re a great decorator. Or maybe your friends always ask you to fix their computers.
When you say, “I don’t have an idea,” that’s really code for, “I’m waiting for a magical idea to fall down from the sky.”
News flash: THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN! Ideas don’t happen to you, you find them!
I didn’t come up with the idea of I Will Teach You To Be Rich one night, staring out at the beach through a rain-drenched window.
And really, is the idea of a personal-finance site really that compelling of an idea? (I’ll answer my own question: No!)
Success almost never comes from a mind-blowing idea. Success comes from a basic idea executed amazingly well.
In the next section of this guide, I'll show you how to find and rapidly test your online business idea.
In the meantime, if you need some ideas, take a look at my most popular report ever: 30 Successful Online Business Ideas. It’ll show you the wide range of opportunities out there waiting for you.
If you Googled “online business ideas” right now, you’d see thousands of ideas to choose from:
So that raises the question: If business ideas are so easy to come by, why is finding the right one so hard?
Answer: Because you don’t just need any old idea. You need to know if your idea:
Anybody can hand you a list of ideas and say, “Run with this. Bye.”
But our approach is decidedly different. We’ve developed a system that guarantees you’ll find a profitable online business idea doing what you love.
(For more on low-cost, high-profit online business models, refer to Part 3.)
I want to share that system with you today. And at the end of this section, I’ll give you a checklist you can use to quickly tell which of your business ideas are profitable.
Let’s get started.
Here’s the most liberating part of coming up with business ideas: You have permission to suck.
There are no bad ideas, especially in the beginning.
Some of my early online business ideas were terrible. And I’ve created more than 19 successful products.
For example, a few years back, I was certain my readers wanted a product on healthcare. After all, I’m an educated guy and I had trouble figuring out what health insurance to use!
We spent over $50,000 building a product, beta testing it with students, even writing copy for a launch.
But after all that testing, we realized that nobody cared. We learned that while people love to complain about healthcare, few want to do anything about it.
This taught us a very expensive lesson: Test your business idea BEFORE you create a product, and you virtually guarantee it will be profitable.
Since then, we’ve developed a system to help you quickly identify bad ideas so you can avoid some of the costly mistakes that we’ve made.
It all starts with this simple realization: You have permission to come up with ideas that suck.
Once you’ve internalized this idea, you’re ready to move on to step two.
It’s relatively easy to sit and come up with a list of random ideas. But without the right framework, you can’t tell if these ideas will ever hold any weight.
That’s why we use this simple exercise to get the ball rolling.
The first part of this exercise to generate online business ideas is to ask yourself 4 questions.
I lead with this question because a lot of us can’t even fathom the idea that someone would pay them for something (remember the 3 biggest fears from Part 4).
But when you think about it, we already pay other people for tons of random stuff.
For example, maybe you pay someone to:
When you start to make your list, you’ll quickly see that you pay other people every day.
That’s why I start with this question. It opens your mind to what’s possible.
So take a second — right now — and think of about 3-5 things that you already pay for. Write them down on a sheet of paper and move on to the next question.
What are you great at? Write those things down.
Remember, there are no bad ideas here. Your list of skills can include anything you want.
As you make your list, you’ll start to see what people might pay you for.
If you’re great at cooking, maybe you could be somebody’s personal chef. If you know Spanish, you could become a tutor. If you’re amazing at Excel, I know plenty of people who would gladly pay you to create some charts for them — right now.
I want you to push yourself to come up with a list of at least 10 skills you already have. Write down anything that comes to mind. Don’t filter any of your ideas.
Once you’ve got at least 10, you can move on to the next question.
This is important to think about because it can be very revealing.
Maybe your friends are always saying, “Wow, you give amazing relationship advice. You’re the only person I come to.” Or, “Your apartment is so organized. I wish my place looked like this.” Or, “OMG, you’re always wearing the perfect outfit! I’m so jealous.”
You could turn all three of those things into successful businesses.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget we have these skills because they come naturally.
That’s why I include this step.
If you find yourself thinking, “Ramit, I do not have any skills,” go ask your friends. It might seem a little weird, but I bet they’ll give you a list of at least 3 things you’re amazing at — right away.
Add these ideas to your list. Shoot for at least 3-5 ideas and feel free to ask a couple of different people if you want.
Trust me: there are things you’re great at that you probably don’t even recognize.
This last question comes from one of my good friends, Ben Casnocha.
He said, “When you’re trying to find a business idea, think about what you do on a Saturday morning before everyone else is awake.”
Another way to think of this is: If you were locked in a room with your friend, what could you talk about for 3 hours straight?
This is a great way to expose the ideas and passions. The things you would have a blast sharing with the world.
Writing these ideas down can go a long way toward helping you find a successful business idea.
By the end of these 4 questions, you should have at least 20 ideas written down. Many of these ideas could make excellent online businesses. If you don’t have 20 ideas, go back and try asking yourself each question again until you do.
Once you get to 20 ideas, you’re ready for step 3.
A lot of people will just leave you there and say, “Make a list. Have fun!”
But I want to take it one step further. In our courses, we always test our ideas for profitability.
That way we can virtually guarantee they’ll be successful.
And for that, I want to show you a tool we use called the “Demand Matrix.” Here’s what it looks like:
The Demand Matrix is a very simple way to take your 20 ideas from step 2 and figure out which of them are worth your time.
Before we get to that, I want to explain how this chart works.
Starting in the upper left-hand corner, you’ve got High End. Ideas that fall under this section are a great business option because you can charge a premium price, but you’ll likely have relatively few customers. Think about companies like Rolls Royce and Prada. They charge a very high price but have relatively few customers.
Moving clockwise to the upper right-hand corner of the chart, you’ve got your Golden Goose. Ideas in this section make really great online businesses. That’s because these ideas have the potential to get a lot of customers and command a high price. Think of companies like P90x and Apple’s iPhone — lots of customers, pretty high price.
In the bottom right-hand corner, you’ll see Mass Market. Under mass market, you can still get a lot of customers, but you’ll only be able to charge a low price. Think of famous books you might read, like The 4-Hour Workweek. There are a lot of customers, but the price-point for each one is pretty low.
Finally, in the bottom left-hand corner, you’ve got a Labor of Love. These are business ideas that have few potential customers and can only charge a very low price. Any online business idea that falls in this category is doomed to fail — before it even starts. This is your weekend hobby that nobody would pay for.
Our 6-Figure Consulting System course. Since this course helps already-successful business owners make more money, it has relatively few customers, but it can command a much higher price. Successful online business owners are willing to pay a premium price to grow their sales.
The Find Your Dream Job course fits here. This is a program where I show people how to find a job they love. Obviously, the market for this is huge because 90+% of us have jobs. And because finding a Dream Job is something people really want, we can charge a relatively high price for the program.
This is where my book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, falls. Books are great Mass Market products because lots of people buy them, but the price is relatively low.
This is where we put all of our business ideas that will probably never see the light of day. Some examples might include an ironing course or a class where I teach people about spicy foods. Yes, those might be things that I love and am great at doing, but there’s not a big market for those. And any market where there are people, those people would not really pay.
See how it works?
It’s a great way to test your ideas for (1) profitability and (2) demand.
It’s not meant to be super scientific. It’s just a back-of-the-napkin way to find out if an idea has a chance of being profitable.
There are no right or wrong answers.
To test for demand, just ask yourself, “Do a lot of people care about this?” If the answer is yes, then ask yourself, “Are people willing to pay a lot to solve this problem?” to figure out the price.
Quickly you’ll see where your different ideas fall on the chart.
It’s pretty simple, but I want to make sure you go through each step thoroughly. Getting this right up front can save you thousands of hours over the long run.
The best way to make sure you don’t miss a step is to download my “Idea Mapping Checklist.” I’ll walk you through each of the 3 steps in detail. This is the same checklist that many of my students use to find and refine their successful online business ideas.
This checklist will show you:
If you’re not “tech savvy,” then you are going to love this section.
You’re about to get a step-by-step breakdown of exactly what to do and where to go to get your first website up and running. Then, you’ll get the list of online business tools and resources I used to turn a blog that sold nothing into a multimillion-dollar business.
This guide will save you a ton of time down the road. And show you how simple and easy building an online business can be.
Before I give you my recommendations though, keep two things in mind.
1. Don't nickel-and-dime with service providers. Pay for the right service and move on so you can spend your energy on growing your business.
2. Reliability is priceless. Cheaper services might save you $10 per month — until you really need them. Imagine after months of work, you finally score a guest post on Huffington Post, get a ton of traffic to your website, and then your site crashes. Those few bucks just cost you hundreds of subscribers and thousands of dollars in revenue. Pay a little extra and sleep well at night.
The first thing you need is your web domain, or URL. If you don’t have one yet, I recommend picking something simple and straightforward. Don’t make the mistake I made and create the scammiest sounding website ever: iwillteachyoutoberich.com
Here are some good examples to get your brain thinking:
To see if the domain you want is available and to purchase it, I recommend going to Hover.com.
Next, you'll need to set up your web host for your website.
One popular hosting option is HostGator, though you can often get hosting through whatever site-build you use. For example, I recommend WP Engine for students building their site through WordPress (we’ll cover what site-builders to use later).
Since you’re just starting, you can go with low-cost options. For example, if you’re using WP Engine, then sign up for the Personal option. As your business grows and you get more traffic, you can upgrade to a higher level.
NOTE: Once you have a domain and host, you’ll need to connect the two so your domain points to your site. I won’t go into detail on that here, but if you get stuck, know that companies like Hover and WP Engine have excellent customer support and can help you.
Now that you have a place for your site to live online, it’s time to actually build it. I’ll break down some of the top site-builders to use shortly. But I recommend WordPress for most people. It’s what I use and fantastic if you plan to blog regularly.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend $3,000 on web design when you’re just starting. You can get some beautiful, professional-looking templates that do the job fine for much cheaper.
The free themes you see on a site like WordPress don’t look great. But for a little bit of money you can get a clean, professional look. One theme I recommend is Genesis at Studiopress.com
Congratulations! You now have your own website up and running.
Down the road, you’ll need more online business tools for creating products, managing email, and customer support. Here’s a list of the resources I use and recommend that will help you scale your online business from $10,000/year to $10,000/month, to $10,000/day.
Creating your audio/video products
PowerPoint slides (for video products)
Storing audio/video content
Email marketing campaigns
A/B split testing
A/B split testing
While I recommend WordPress for most people, the fact is that may not be the best choice for everyone. For example, if your goal is to sell physical products online, you may prefer Shopify.
Below is a more detailed breakdown of the options available to you.
WordPress.org is the most popular website-builder on Earth. It’s the engine behind everything from the New York Times, which gets millions of visitors every month, to tiny personal blogs, which barely get any traffic. (In fact, 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs are managed with WordPress.)
(But before I explain it further, I want to make an important distinction: there’s WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and they are NOT the same thing. WordPress.com is a blogging platform that requires no software installations or downloads; just sign up and start using it. WordPress.ORG, however, is blogging software that must be installed on a web server, but allows full customization. For more information on the differences, check out this guide.)
Squarespace offers a host of elegant themes and allows users to build crisp, modern designs into their websites. It’s perfect for any online business that centers around image-driven content (such as food blogs and fitness).
Shopify is an awesome e-commerce platform for an online business’s storefront. Hundreds of thousands of merchants use this software as a way to grow their businesses and customer bases.
With over 63 million registered users, Wix is one of the largest website-building platforms in the world. It offers one of the best drag-and-drop builders available. This is great for anyone who hates fumbling with codes and finding plugins.
With over 30 million users worldwide, Weebly focuses on providing an intuitive site-building software with a variety of free services.
Weebly is a great option for beginners who want to create a website for their online business as fast as possible. It’s easy to customize WITHOUT spending a lot of money as well.
OK, let's do a quick recap to decide which website builder is right for you.
Excellent option for bloggers and people looking to grow their business because of the fantastic features and the flexibility of the platform — you can customize it so many ways and even turn your site into a solid e-commerce destination with plugins such as WooCommerce.
Perfect for online businesses who rely on imagery — graphic artists, photographers, culinary experts, etc. — because of the modern style. Designed to showcase your products and services. Also, because of the drag-and-drop editor, it’s a great solution for creative types who want to avoid hassling with coding or customizations.
The top solution for online stores because of their robust platform that handles every facet of e-commerce: you’ll have control over invoices, coupon codes, inventory, and customer interactions at your fingertips.
Great choice for the novice who wants to quickly create a website and doesn’t want to worry about future modifications. Their drag-and-drop site-building platform is superior to even Weebly, which makes the design process very intuitive. Once you make it, however, you’re stuck.
Great option for the beginner who wants to create a website for their online business as fast as possible and wants flexibility in the future for customizations WITHOUT spending a lot of money.
I've thrown a lot at you. If you want, I can send you a printable PDF of all the online business tools listed above that you can always refer back to. This guide will help you from your first $1,000, to $10,000, to $100,000 even $1 million and beyond.
Enter your name and email in the box below and I’ll send it right to you.
You’ve learned some of the key tools, mindsets, and strategies you need to create your own online business.
I hope this guide inspires you to get started creating your own online business. Whether you want a business that makes an extra $1,000/month, or $10,000/month so you can leave your full-time job and work from anywhere, you can do it.
And that means learning how to:
I give away tons of free material about these topics. I even have a full course that takes you step-by-step from “no idea” to a successful online business. The course is closed now, but if you want to get a heads up when it opens again, enter your email below.
Join the waitlist, and in the meantime, I’ll send you a special report: Getting Traffic and Leads.