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How to Start Your Own Online Business: A Beginner’s Guide

Updated on September 30, 2012

Starting an online business is easy in today's society because of the numerous online platforms that allow you to sell items to people all over the world. There are many ways to go about selling things online, but how do you start an online business? This article will provide you with a checklist that will assure your online business is successful.

Before we dive into the details of creating an online business, you must determine what your business will sell. Is your business providing services or merchandise? If you are selling services, you may want to consider advertising and selling your services in other mediums. The most profitable online products are items that can be downloaded and instantly purchased like iTunes sells music or class notes. Once you know what you are selling, you must establish yourself online by creating or joining a platform to sell your products or services.

Do you think social media is an important part of having on online business?

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How to Make a Facebook Page

Establishing your Online Business

If your business is new to the internet, you need to establish a brand online. Before you start promoting your brand, you need to create all of the necessary profiles and pages to make your brand searchable on as many platforms as are relevant to your business. Here are some suggestions on where to put your business online:

  • Facebook: Every business in this time should have a Facebook page. Do not make a profile for your business, but make a "Page" that people can "Like". Not only is Facebook the most popular social media site in the world, but it is the quickest way to share information.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a great tool for building a fan-base and potential customers. By using hash tags and posting relevant links to sites outside of your brand, you will gain and keep followers that are interested in the type of things you are posting.
  • Pinterest: One of the fastest-emerging social media websites is Pinterest, which allows users to "Pin" photos to their online bulletin board. A pinned image links to the site it is from; it is shared so quickly that interesting products can sell out in minutes if a photo is eye-catching. Another great feature of Pinterest is the option to display the price on the photo. Just type "$" and the dollar amount and it will appear on the photo.
  • Blogger: Blogs are a great way to communicate useful information to your customers. If you have a jewelry company, you may want to have a jewelry fashion or jewelry care blog that attracts customers from search engines and contains links to your online store. Blogger is the best platform for blogging because of its easy-to-use, customizable features.

Where to Sell Your Products Online

After you have created and designed your social media sites to appeal to your customer base, you will need to determine where to sell your products online. Making your own website is desirable because of the control you have over SEO, but, selling platforms like WePay, eBay, Amazon, etc. already have an established customer base. These platforms also categorize your products so that they can be found through numerous avenues.

Having your own site is beneficial since you will not have to pay one of the larger sites a percent of each sale. See the chart below for an outline of some rates of seller fees.

Etsy vs. eBay vs. WePay


Creating a Buzz for your Online Business

The following are some ideas for creating a buzz that will attract potential customers to your online store:

  • Creating a contest: Online contests are very popular and can be effective in creating a brand. Make either a contest that only buyers can win (like Willy Wonka's golden tickets) or simply create one that leads people to your website. An example of the latter would be to ask contestants to create a video that gives the best jewelry care tips. Offer free merchandise or cash for a prize.
  • Facebook Ads: Facebook ads are a great way to create a quick buzz because they target potential customers that are likely to buy your product based on what they are searching for online.
  • Creating a Fundraiser on Kickstarter: If you have a specific goal for your business (i.e. purchasing a vital piece of equipment, raising funds for a good cause, etc.), you can create a fundraising campaign on This will not only generate a buzz, but create income. Make sure to have a great video to promote it on social media sites.
  • Creating a meme: If you have young friends, chances are that your Facebook feed is crowded with memes, images that have usually humorous text over them. Make sure that your meme is relevant to what you are selling and will somehow convince readers to share and look up your business.


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    • miss1magination profile image

      miss1magination 5 years ago

      Thankyou for some very useful idea's. Voted up:)

    • mts1098 profile image

      mts1098 5 years ago from InsideTheManCave

      Great job here...I like the FB tip and you buzz tips...thanks and cheers...voted up and awesome

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Excellent hub on starting your own online business! Glad I read this! Lots of useful information!

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Excellent advice. Very helpful.


    • profile image

      DigbyAdams 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed this hub. Ebay might be expensive, but that's where I've had the most success reselling things that I've bought cheaply at discount stores or yard sales. I've tried other platforms and they haven't produced the sales traffic. Funny, I've never thought of that as a business, perhaps I should get more serious about it.

      I've found that the key to selling on ebay is to spend a lot of time looking at the competition and seeing what their pricing structure is. I also am careful when I describe them to make them as search engine friendly as I can.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Ebay is expensive - I once tried to start my "art" business using Etsy and Ebay - ugh. Either I'm a dunce and have no selling skills whatsoever, or I just wasn't destined to do that. In any case, this hub is very helpful, though! I know a lot of people will find this very useful. Voted up and a some other buttons. :)

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Your hub is very well organized and thorough. You cover all the topis a person would need to get started. I definitely voted this one up, up, up! Very useful information.

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Simone, eBay is so expensive! I think having a website for your business is the best way to avoid those silly sellers fees especially when the business is small and losing any income in fees isn't the best. Thanks for the great title an topic!

    • brittanytodd profile image

      Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

      Peg, thank you so much. I used one of Simone's suggested titles and love this topic. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This was informative and interesting! When Simone posted this topic I immediately started thinking brick and mortar. But you have caught the trend of today's successful businesses. There's so much opportunity to sell anywhere, anytime with an on-line business. Great write up of the most important things to learn up front.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This is brilliant. Great simple tips on utilizing social media, and I LOVE the graph showing fees across major platforms. Dang- eBay is pricey for sellers!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Excellent,, practical hints and tips! Simple effective steps to set up online businesses. Voted up.

    • Julieonline profile image

      Julieonline 5 years ago

      Voted up. Excellent hub to help newbies and remind some of us "oldies" of tried and true options.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Brittany-I rated this hub WAY UP! This is really helpful for someone like me who plans to eventually get an online business started...thanks!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks, well written and clear advice which I will follow.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Really interesting read. Though I'm not yet into it it provided me with some useful ideas. Maybe one day.

      Bookmarked, voted up and useful.