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4 Steps to Start an Online Business or Side Hustle

1. Find Your Niche

It’s been said that people look for a product first, and then a market second. To increase your chances of success, look for a market first!

Chances are, you already have a ‘foolproof’ idea of the business you want to start. For me, it was a clothing dropshipping site. All the designs featured on my E-Commerce store were sourced from a supplier in China who would ship direct to my customers. You know how many sales I totalled over a 6-month period?

Two. That’s right. That’s despite hiring influencers and putting out ads.

See, nobody told me that clothing was such an oversaturated niche, that it was next to impossible to stand out from the crowd. And in another year, the monster fast fashion retailer SHEIN, monopolized that entire market.

Lesson: Always find your market before your product.

2. Design Your Website

Your website forms the basis of a visitors’ first impression of your brand. It needs to be inviting, clean, and modern.

Keep your design simple (no more than two fonts), with one accent color, and one complementary color, along with your neutral blacks/greys and background colors.

Design for mobile. 80% of all web traffic now comes from smartphones, so your User Experience (UX) for these users will need to be top notch.

Speed is critical. Make sure your images are compressed and take up as little space as possible. Additionally, make sure your image formats are being served in modern web-friendly formats such as webp.

Eliminate unnecessary plugins and bloatware installed on your back-end, which increase loading time.

There are so many factors involved in the above step, and considering how important your website is to your business, and how low prices are nowadays, I recommend using a Professional Web Designer.

But if you decide to give it a go on your own, my recommended platform of choice is WordPress.

3. Drive Traffic to Your New Website

Now comes the hard part… actually getting noticed Online.

Gone are the old days of just creating a poorly-written blog post with 1,000 words and stuffing it with your target keywords. Google’s algorithm sees right through these kinds of artificial SEO stunts and will actually penalize you for doing it.

Modern website now should focus on relevance and usability. In other words, create quality contentthat does not try to ‘trick’ users into visiting your page or blog. It should be useful, informative, and concise. Definitely do not include any ads or pop-ups. User experience should be the priority. If you do that, and your content is useful and informative, Big Brother Google will reward you with traffic in due time.

Of course, the easiest and most cost-effective way to achieve this is by starting a blog. Blog article topics should be related to your niche. For example, if you’re a Wedding Photographer, a blog post on “Tips for the Most Romantic Wedding Photos” or something similar should do the trick.

Finally, include plenty of photos, videos and even infographics if you can. (You’ll notice I included one on this page as well.) Most of us prefer learning visually, and these tools will keep visitors on your page longer.

4. Consider Advertising Your Website and Guest Blogging

Starting a blog is a great first step to start getting traffic to your site. However, building up your Domain Authority is a process that will take time.

New websites can benefit greatly from advertising on Google (AdWords) and by acquiring high-quality back-links by means of Guest Blogging.

Google’s AdWords platform is a great way to start directing relevant traffic to your site. This form of advertising is beneficial when a potential customer already knows that they want to make a purchase or obtain more information on your services.

For example, someone who is planning a wedding would likely do a search for “wedding photographer in <location name>”. This is a great keyword you can target for Google Search advertising. For more information, and helpful tips on managing your campaigns, I recommend looking into Google’s own “Digital Garage” free courses, in particular the “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” class. These classes are 100% free.

The other essential for driving more traffic to your site is building high-quality back-links. These back-links, from high Authority web pages, indicate to Google that your site is one to be trusted, and contains informative and helpful content.

Of course, if you are writing great content, people will likely include links to your site on their own Blogs or web pages. But if you want to give this process a boost, look for Blogs that accept Guest Posts or Contributions. A Google search for “Blogs that accept Guest Posts” is a great way to get started, and will help you avoid cold-calling websites that have no interest in accepting additional contributions.

Get Your Business Online!

There’s obviously a lot more involved in starting an Online Business or Side Hustle than these four steps, but these will give you a solid start to finding your perfect Niche and establishing an online presence.

About the author

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Andre Di Carlo