If you’re not earning enough because you’re unemployed or underemployed, you don’t have to keep scanning the classified section of your local newspaper for a job that will help you pay your bills. It’s possible to make cash online and manage your debt. Instead of looking for work, you can create your own income stream. In today’s high-tech world where fortunes are being made from home-based businesses by ordinary people, you don’t have to force yourself to work eight hours a day at an unrewarding job at an office, store, warehouse, or job site.
There are many ways to make money at home working from your computer. You can do affiliate marketing, network marketing, paid surveys, products reviews, and so on. However, if you have a specialized skill, you could try freelancing; and if you have expert knowledge about something, you could create information products. If you decide to create your own business based on your specialized knowledge or skillsets, you don’t have to figure out the whole virtual setup from scratch.
Once you have decided on the service you would like to offer or the information products you would like to sell, you can get professional help from entrepreneurs like Danny De Michele whose digital marketing agency, Elevate, can help you design a website, drive traffic to it through search engine optimization and paid media advertising, and improve sales through conversion rate optimization.
Build an ECommerce Business
There are numerous types of virtual businesses that you could create, but for the sake of illustration, let’s assume that you don’t have specialized knowledge or skills and want to create an eCommerce business. In that case, here are the 5 steps to take:
- Choose an industry.
The industry you choose should be based on two factors: what you find personally interesting and what has popular demand. For instance, if you love to cook, then you might be interested in the cookware industry.
- Pick a product line.
If you’re entering the cookware industry, you’ll be competing with retails giants like Wal-Mart, so you have to choose unique niche products that can’t be purchased off the shelf. You will find these unique products through research.
- Decide on the price.
If you charge too little, then you won’t have a positive return on investment. Conversely, if you charge too much, you won’t be able to make many sales. So you must find the sweet spot. You must earn enough to make a profit but charge low enough for people to think it a good deal. In order to decide on the price, you must know your margins, which is the percentage of your cut on each sale.
- Find a manufacturer.
You must find a manufacturer that offers something that people can’t buy locally. The best way to find a manufacturer is by going through directories like Worldwide Brands or Wholesale Central that has thousands of wholesalers. Before a manufacturer will work with you, you will need a Resale Certificate Number or a Tax ID number, and you will have to inquire with you local state and city offices to find out what licenses you will need before you can sell physical products online.
- Setting up the business.
Once you’ve got a clear idea about your business process, then the next task is to set up a virtual business. Here are 3 things you will need to do to get up and running:
- 1. Set up a website. This will involve getting a domain, finding a hosting account, creating logos, and deciding on a web design. Unless you’re skillful in building your own website, it’s advisable to hire a developer to get all the features you need to have a robust eCommerce website. If it doesn’t look professional, then visitors will be reluctant to buy from you despite your excellent choice of products at a reasonable price.
- 2. Choose an eCommerce platform. These will provide you with a shopping cart. For instance, you could sign up with Shopify at $14 a month or OpenCart, which is free. Make a list of eCommerce platforms and then decide on the best one for your budget and needs.
- 3. Get good at marketing. Once you’ve done your due diligence with finding the right industry, product line, and price point, and after you’ve set up your virtual business, then you should spend most of your time improving your marketing skills.
Other Business Models
Selling a tangible product is only one choice. You have many other ways of building a profitable online business. If you have a particular skill, say building WordPress websites, you could create a freelance writing business. If you have a specific passion, you could build a blog for people who share that passion. If you have a skill that others would love to learn you can become a consultant or a coach.
So the first thing you have to figure out is what kind of online business model you’re interested in. While all virtual businesses have many things in common, they also have their own unique features, too.
The idea of building a virtual business that sells all over the world and around the clock is not a fantasy. However, you have to avoid the trap the temptation to buy a turnkey business. These usually turn out to be scams. Your best chance of success is to create your own business following a proven business model.