How to Start an Online Business in 5 Easy Steps

How to Start an Online Business in 5 Easy StepsDo you have a great idea for a product or service that you want to sell online? Or maybe you want to turn your hobby or passion into a profitable business. If so, you are not alone. According to Forbes, the global e-commerce market reached $6.3 trillion in 2023. By 2026 the e-commerce market is expected to total over $8.1 trillion. That means there is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs like you to start and grow an online business.

But how do you actually start an online business? What are the steps you need to take to turn your idea into reality? In this blog post, I’ll show you how to start an online business in 5 easy steps. Whether you want to sell physical products, digital products, services, or memberships, these steps will assist you to launch your online business successfully.

Step 1: Choose a Niche and Validate Your Idea


The first step to start an online business is to choose a niche and validate your idea. A niche is a specific segment of the market that you want to target with your products or services. For example, if you want to sell dog accessories, your niche could be dog owners, dog lovers, or dog trainers.

Choosing a niche is important because it helps you focus on a specific audience, solve a specific problem, and stand out from the competition. To choose a niche, you ‘ll want to do some research to find out:

  • What are the needs, wants, and pain points of your target audience?

  • What are the existing products or services that are already serving your niche?

  • What are the gaps or opportunities that you can fill with your unique value proposition?

Once you have chosen a niche, you’ll validate your idea. This means testing whether there is enough demand and interest for your products or services in your niche. You can validate your idea by:

  • Creating a landing page that describes your offer and collecting email addresses from potential customers. After you create this landing page you’ll want to drive traffic to it to see if people are interested in your offer. Driving traffic online simply means you’ll have people in your niche go to your landing page to look at your offer.

  • Running surveys or interviews with your target audience to get feedback on your idea.

  • Creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that showcases the core features of your offer and launching it to a small group of early adopters.

  • Measuring the response and engagement of your audience and analyzing the data.

Validating your idea will help you avoid wasting time and money on something that nobody wants. It will also help you refine your offer and improve your product-market fit.

Step 2: Choose a Business Model and Revenue Stream


The second step to start an online business is to choose a business model and revenue stream. A business model is how you deliver value to your customers and how you make money from it. A revenue stream is the specific way you generate income from your business model. There are many types of business models and revenue streams that you can choose from, depending on your niche and offer. Some of the most common ones are:

  • E-commerce: You sell physical products online and ship them to your customers. You can either create your own products, source them from suppliers, or use drop shipping services. Your revenue stream is the sales of your products.

  • Digital products: You sell digital products online, such as ebooks, courses, software, or apps. You can either create your own products or use platforms like Gumroad, Teachable, or Shopify to sell them. Your revenue stream is the sales of your products.

  • Services: You sell services online, such as consulting, coaching, design, or writing. You can either offer your services directly to your customers or use platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer to find clients. Your revenue stream is the fees or commissions you charge for your services.

  • Membership: You sell access to a membership site, community, or subscription service online. You can either create your own membership site or use platforms like Patreon, Substack, or Memberful to manage it. Your revenue stream is the recurring fees or donations you receive from your members.

Choosing a business model and revenue stream is important because it determines how you create and deliver value to your customers and how you monetize it. You need to choose a business model and revenue stream that suits your niche, offer, and goals.

Step 3: Choose a Platform and Build Your Website


The third step to start an online business is to choose a platform and build your website. A platform is the tool or software that you use to create and manage your online presence. A website is the online home of your business, where you showcase your offer, attract visitors, and convert them into customers.

Choosing a platform and building a website is important because it helps you establish your brand identity, credibility, and authority online. It also helps you optimize your user experience, SEO, and conversions. There are many platforms that you can choose from, depending on your business model and revenue stream. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • WordPress: WordPress is the most widely used platform for creating websites. It is a free and open-source software that allows you to customize your website with thousands of themes and plugins. WordPress is ideal for creating blogs, portfolios, or any type of website that requires a lot of content and functionality.

  • Shopify: Shopify is the leading platform for creating e-commerce websites. It is a hosted service that allows you to create and manage your online store with ease. Shopify is ideal for selling physical or digital products online, as it offers features like inventory management, payment processing, shipping, and marketing.

  • Squarespace: Squarespace is a platform for creating beautiful and professional websites. It is a hosted service that allows you to create and design your website with drag-and-drop tools and templates. Squarespace is ideal for creating simple and elegant websites, such as landing pages, portfolios, or online resumes.

I’ve listed the options such as Shopify and Squarespace just so you’ll know that those options are available. In my opinion, the only platform option you should even consider is WordPress. Why? Because WordPress is the most popular and best content management system (CMS) on the market today.

If you choose to build your home on the Internet on Squarespace or Shopify, you’re choosing to build your home on “rented land.” That “land” can disappear at any time. My mentor, Connie Ragen Green, tells the story of Squidoo.

Back in the day, many people built websites on Squidoo. (I dabbled with it a bit myself). Anyway, in 2014 the owners of Squidoo announced that they were closing the site forever. Just like that, millions of people no longer had a website. The same thing can happen at any time to sites like Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, or any platform you don’t own.

And while I’m discussing WordPress, let me also make clear that you want to build a hosted WordPress website. By that I mean that your website is hosted on a domain you own and control. If you choose to build your website on (owned by the company that wrote WordPress) you risk the same situation as with the other platforms I discussed above.

To choose a platform and build your website, you’ll:

  • Register a domain name that represents your brand and niche. There are several companies that can assist you with this. The one I use and recommend is NameCheap.

  • Choose a web hosting service that provides the speed, security, and support you need. The number of companies that can host your website are almost unlimited. The one I recommend and use is NameCheap. Their servers are fast. Their pricing is reasonable and their tech support is quite good.

  • Install and configure WordPress on your web host.

  • Choose a theme or template that matches your brand and niche.

  • Add and edit the content and features of your website, such as your logo, headline, copy, images, videos, forms, buttons, etc.

  • Test and optimize your website for performance, usability, and SEO.

  • Set your blog as your “Home Page” on your website and publish your first blog post within 24 hours, using either your own original writing or something you have as private label rights (PLR) content.

Step 4: Choose a Marketing Strategy and Drive Traffic to Your Website

The fourth step to start an online business is to choose a marketing strategy and drive traffic to your website. A marketing strategy is how you promote your offer and reach your target audience. Traffic is the number of visitors that come to your website.

Choosing a marketing strategy and driving traffic to your website is important because it helps you generate awareness, interest, and demand for your products or services. It also helps you grow your email list, social media following, and customer base. There are many marketing strategies that you can choose from, depending on your niche, offer, and goals. Some of the most effective ones are:

  • Content marketing: Content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable and relevant content, such as blog posts, podcasts, videos, or infographics, to attract and engage your audience. Content marketing is ideal for building trust, authority, and loyalty with your audience, as well as driving organic traffic to your website.

  • Social media marketing: Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, to connect and communicate with your audience. Social media marketing is ideal for increasing your brand awareness, reach, and engagement, as well as driving referral traffic to your website.

  • Email marketing: Email marketing is the use of email to send messages and offers to your subscribers. Email marketing is ideal for nurturing your leads, converting your prospects, and retaining your customers, as well as driving direct traffic to your website.

  • Paid advertising: Paid advertising is the use of paid channels, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or YouTube Ads, to display your ads to your target audience. Paid advertising is ideal for generating quick and targeted traffic to your website, as well as testing and scaling your offer.

To start with, you’ll want to keep your marketing strategy simple.

  • One of the best ways you can market is with a blog just like this one. Commit right now to posting at least one blog post per week.

  • You’ll also want something free to offer to your prospects. You can see an example of my “freebie” (or lead magnet as they’re sometimes called) in the right side bar on this page.

  • You’ll want an autoresponder service to automatically send emails to your prospects. Again, there are literally hundreds of autoresponder service providers. The one I recommend and use is AWeber.

Step 5: Choose a Conversion Strategy and Turn Your Visitors into Customers


The last step to start an online business is to choose a conversion strategy and turn your visitors into customers. A conversion strategy is how you persuade your visitors to take the desired action on your website, such as signing up, buying, or subscribing. A conversion is the completion of the desired action by your visitor.

Choosing a conversion strategy and turning your visitors into customers is important because it helps you generate revenue and profit from your online business. It also helps you increase your lifetime customer value (LCV) and customer retention rate (CRR). There are many conversion strategies that you can choose from, depending on your niche, offer, and goals. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Landing page: A landing page is a web page that is designed to capture the attention and interest of your visitors and persuade them to take a specific action, such as downloading a lead magnet, registering for a webinar, or buying a product. A landing page is ideal for generating leads, sales, or sign-ups, as it offers a clear and compelling value proposition, a strong call to action (CTA), and minimal distraction.

I’m recovering computer technologist Richard Rawlings Smith. I’d love to connect with you so we can build our online businesses together. Please email me at

Want to learn to start taking massive action? My mentor, Connie Ragen Green has a free challenge she calls the Action Habits Challenge. And did I mention it’s FREE???

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