How to Start Online Business for Free - It is Simple and Easy

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Learn how to start online business for free to earn some extra cash on the side

Do you feel that you are not ready to start an online business because you don’t have a business idea and cannot afford a website? Or you are not web-savvy and it is too late for you to learn? Or you simply don't have the time?

NOTE: This article was originally published at startingnewonline.blogspot.com



Starting Online Business - Put Your Thinking Into Action

We think about these fears all the time. That is why things will never be ready for us. To quote W Clement Stone:

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will

This article on how to start online business for free will put your thinking into action. I will show you how you can start with the tools and features available to get you started. I will not overwhelm you with too many options and will keep it simple.

How to Get Started

You just need these two things to get you started on your online business:
  1. A website
  2. A business idea

    1. How to Get a Free Website

    Before we get into this, a quick explanation on the differences between a website, blog, domain, and hosting.
    • A website is a collection of posts or pages that have information relating to your online business.

    • A blog is a TYPE of website as essentially anything on the WWW is a website

    • Domain name is used in URL to identify a particular website. For example, this website with URL https://sixtyplustips.blogspot.com has a domain name sixtyplustips.blogspot.my

    • Hosting is where your online business website is housed in. Without this, your website is like a homeless business entity short of an address for people to find you.
    There are several places where you can get a free website. Some of the popular sites are:

    i. Google Blogger 

    • If you have a Gmail account, by default, you are already registered for a Blogger account. It is a free platform and takes only a few minutes to get started.  This is also the site I use for my blog site startingnewonline.

    • Log into your Gmail account, go to Blogger site and click “New Blog” button. Fill in the Title, Blog Address (e.g. yourblogname.blogspot.com) and your preferred theme from the list shown. Your blog is now ready for action. However, it does have its limitation. Here are its pros and cons:
    Pros: 
    • Free with any Gmail account. 

    • Easy to set up and ready to go within 10 minutes.

    • Fast learning curve.

    • You can monetize your blog with Google AdSense account (create this account with the same Gmail account) as well as other affiliate programs like the popular Amazon.

    • You can add Google Analytics to your Blogger site. This will track your site traffic and conversion.

    • Blogger now comes with https for better protection and security of data sent to your website and your visitors' browsers.
    Cons:
    • Templates are limited in numbers and will look like any other blogger's site. UPDATE: You can now get better and responsive templates from independent developers that are both free and payable. 

    • Limited option to customize the template unless you are well versed with CSS and HTML. UPDATE: Templates from independent developers come in several customizing options. 

    • The free blogger templates from third parties can be tricky to upload them.

    • Limited control of the Comment section. You either allow or deny the comment on your blog. Since you have to go to each post or page to reply, this can be time-consuming if your blog is very popular.

    •  Limited to 1GB of photo storage and 1MB of the page size.

    • Blogger sites are hosted on Google servers and cannot be self-hosted. This lack of ownership is a big disadvantage if you want to build a viable online business. 

    ii. Free Website from WordPress 

    WordPress may not be as easy as Blogger but it is still easy and probably the most powerful blogging website today. It is used by many Fortune 500 companies and if you come across a website, chances are, it was published on WordPress.

    WordPress is free and you can download and use the theme of your choice (some themes are payable, so look for the free theme). Download it from WordPress.org if it is self-hosted, or you can get it hosted via WordPress.com for free.

    In case you are confused over WordPress.org and WordPress.com, here is a brief comparison table:

    WORDPRESS.ORGWORDPRESS.COM
    Theme SupportFull Support - can modify & customizeLimited - cannot modify CSS and other codes
    PluginsAllowedUploading plugins not allowed. Use only built-in plugins
    CostPay for hosting, domain registration feeFree up to 3GB
    MonetizationYesSelling ads not allowed unless you have high traffic of 25,000+

    Or you can go to sites like Wealthy Affiliates that gives you two free WordPress theme website, free hosting and get it up and running in under a minute. You also get ten free lessons that show you how to create a successful online business. But Wealthy Affiliate's most important feature is its sophisticated security system that protects your website around the clock against hackers. Not many host providers give this security feature free of charge.

    Just like Blogger, WordPress has its good and bad points, which are:

    Pros:
    • Free. You don't need any WordPress account.

    • You can host your website on any site and not restricted to any hosting company. For free hosting, you can go with WordPress.com

    • Your website is yours and you have full control over it.

    • It has the potential to grow. If you start with a simple blogging and it grew to be very popular, you can take it to the next level and earn extra money on the side.

    • You can monetize your site with Amazon affiliates or any affiliates of your choice (e.g. commission junctions, wealthy affiliate) AdSense advertisement, or create an email list for your marketing campaign.
    Cons:
    • It has more features than Blogger and therefore there are more things to learn about WordPress. Hence, longer learning curve.

    • If you are on your own, it may take some time to set up a WordPress site. Unless you join Wealthy Affiliate that helps you set it up in under a minute.

    • You need a hosting site (unless you opt for free hosting at WordPress.com

    • Spend time browsing through thousands of free templates before deciding on your chosen theme.

    • Unless you opt for free hosting, a hosting cost can be expensive. Likewise, plugins and themes can also be expensive unless you use the free versions (which are pretty good).

    2. Online Business Idea

    When you don't have a clue what business you want to be in, you Google for suggestions and most of the time the recommendation is for you try something that you are passionate or good at. Some of the suggested ideas can be on 'consultancy services' in the internet business such as SEO consultancy, web designing and etc. Or capitalize on your creativity in design, interior works, cooking or on your hobby, sports, and your pet.

    If none of the above applies to you or you think you are not an expert to sell those services, then what? Or what if you have no idea at all?

    When you are stuck with this issue, the best way to kick-start your online business is to do Affiliate Marketing. That's what I did and I think it will work for all people.

    What is Affiliate Marketing?

    If for example, you go into consultancy services, then it is You selling Your Services or things that You have.

    Affiliate Marketing is You selling Other people's services or products and earn a commission for doing this.

    This is a simple explanation of what is affiliate marketing, and to get you started, these are the action plan:
    1. You got your website, domain name and had it hosted. Great!

    2. Next, sign up with a reputable company as their affiliate. There are many companies that you can apply to. My recommendation is to initially sign up with Amazon Associate and recommend any item (related to your article niche) from millions of products on Amazon.com. Amazon will pay you initially 4% and it can go up to 8.5% as the total number of item shipped increases.

    3. You do this by writing a good content article and put the Amazon product link (that has your affiliate ID, just like what I have done here) in that article. Or by adding a banner like here.
      For example, if your article is on "The Best Mosquito Repellent", then the product link can be for 'Repel 100 Insect Repellent' or 'Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer' or any other product or products that suit your article.

    4. When your reader clicks on that link and decides to buy the product OR any product on Amazon.com within the 24 hour period, you earn a commission.

    5. Some companies have a different policy on the commission fee and cookie period (the time duration from the moment someone clicks on the link to the expiry date, for the commission to be earned. In Amazon, if someone buys within that 24 hour cookie period, then you will earn a commission. After the 24 hours, you don't get any commission).  So check the detail before signing up for their affiliate program.

    6. To get traffic to your site share your articles with friends through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or through emails.

    7. Slowly, your income get to grow!


    Still Confused on How to Start Online Business?

    If you are new to all these, it can be confusing and the terms and 'technical jargon' that I used are probably Greek to you.

    That was what I was before but with proper training and the knowledge that I gained from Wealthy Affiliate, I was able to move forward.

    With proper training, you too can steer clear of scams, learn the right way to start your online business and know of the many ways to monetize your site. And you can slowly earn that extra cash on the side. When your online business grows and sees a consistent stream of income, you can say goodbye to your 9 to 5 regime. Or be financially independent. These are some of the benefits of having your own online business. But the best thing is...

    ...you can start without any capital outlay or a business idea.

    And you get Flexi hours, choose to work from anywhere, no office rent to pay and not be worried about redundancy.

    If you want to know more about the free training at Wealthy Affiliate, you can read my Wealthy Affiliate Review here. Or you can visit their website for more info.

    And if you need further clarifications or have any questions, feel free to leave your comment below.

    So, now that you know how to start an online business for free, what's holding you back?

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