- Business and Employment»
- Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
Working At Home For Family and Income
How This WAHM Learned How to Make a Living From Home Online
For me working from home is both a necessity and a blessing. Learning how to make money online has been a long learning curve, but some very nice people along the way were willing to share tips and shortcuts, most of it free. Now I'd like to pass that knowledge along to someone else who might be just beginning the journey.
My Online Money-Making Plan Begins
I started at the start. You don't need to.
Several years ago, after doing much research (many months), I had determined a list of steps I needed to take towards making money online. I woke up really early the next morning so I wouldn't be distracted, ready to take the plunge and choose a domain name and web hosting to start my very first website. After starting up my computer, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a news feature that appeared to be some sort of fire or something in New York. I was determined not to be distracted until I had completed my mission. It was September 11, 2001, and at that moment I had no idea how that date would become impressed in my mind. Ever since then, I never forget the annual renewal date of my domain name. Needless to say, I didn't get any other work done that day, but I had staked my claim and purchased my $15 piece of Internet real estate.
Back then there were about six really well-known Internet marketing gurus. I bought one of the $300 courses, well worth the money by the way, and studied it from cover to cover. Today, all that valuable information can be found online totally free. Internet marketing has changed since then, but the basic elements of starting a business online are pretty much the same.
The biggest challenge now is information overload; sorting through all the good and not so good free tips, tricks, secrets and advice. Whose information do you trust? When do you stop learning and just dive in?
Fast Forward to How I Make A Living Online Today
Work Hard, But Focus Your Work in the Right Places
I think you already know that making a living online is hard work and not a quick and easy way to get rich. But there are some people that are still chasing that dream with their time and money. If you're one of those people, STOP right now and save your money and your time.
If you're a person who believes in working hard at whatever you do, but you would like that work to take place at home, follow along.
After years of developing my online business, I realized that I was working too hard at recreating the wheel. I was developing entire websites from html scratch, which I had to learn one painstaking keystroke at a time. I also taught myself how to make my own graphics. The list goes on, but you get the picture.
If I was just starting out today, I would make use of what is already available free to use, created by talented experts, and devote my talent to the actual content of my website, store, blog or whatever I'm developing online.
A Simple HTML Guide
Even though you don't need to learn how to develop a whole website from scratch, it is very helpful to know a little basic html coding. I found it useful to have just one book that I use as a reference when I need snippets of code. But, you can get away with no code at all if you use a website builder or WordPress site, or sites like Squidoo.
Here is a very simplified list for starting an Internet business. Explanations and definitions are not included here. The order will vary somewhat for each business. I'm using my own business as a model to extract the list.
What took me years to develop I can duplicate today in weeks or even days. The list is a very bare outline that will need to be filled in with details and to-do lists further on.
- Choose your niche or subject (basically your business).
- Determine your service or product and any ways you will make money from your business.
- Name your business.
- Get a domain name the same as or close to your business name.
- Get web hosting for your business website.
- Determine how you will build the actual website.
- Add the elements and content to your website.
- Promote your business.
Small Work-At-Home Business Plans
If you need some help and suggestions to generally structure your overall business plan, a book can provide a shortcut for you.
How I Used This List to Build My Internet Business
My Business as an Example
Choose a Niche
After taking an inventory of my skills and talents I decided to start a website about something I already knew about--being a Notary Public. That became my niche.
I needed a way to make money on my site, so I decided to create my own product to sell--a guide on how to make money as a Mobile Notary. I also researched affiliate products and found none that would match. I heard about Google Adsense campaigns so I signed up to place them on my site. (Almost immediately this created a little stream of income that paid for the monthly hosting.)
Name Your Business
My business name needed to have "Notary" in the title, and the rest came from brainstorming and checking the availability of the domain. I intended to be a good resource for information on becoming a Notary Public, and "Notary Sources" was born.
Register Your Domain Name
A friend recommended a domain name registration site that charged $15/year. After trying several domain names that were already taken, I found that notarysources.com was available and I grabbed it. Today I use GoDaddy.com to register domain names and then attach them to my hosting account. GoDaddy.com has the most affordable domain registration, which is very useful if you plan on developing several sites.
Choose Your Hosting Company
I originally signed up for web hosting from the same company that I got the domain name from. It was $19.95 a month, which at that time was a good deal for the features I needed. They were very dependable and had great customer service. Today I use HostGator.com because they, also, are dependable, they offer even more, and they're only $9.95 a month. It's even lower right now for new sign-ups. You can host an unlimited number of domain names onto the same account at no extra cost.
Build the Website
Building my website was that painstaking one-keystroke-at-a-time html exercise I was telling you about before. You don't have to do it that way. HostGator.com has a website builder that's all built in and easy to use. It also has plug-ins for blogs and e-commerce stores. The easiest way to build a new uncomplicated site is to use the WordPress blog plug-in and build your site around it. So easy! So fast! Even easier and faster is to build a Squidoo lens, or two, or a hundred. Then maybe build some websites around the topics that have the most success. Squidoo lenses can be mini web experiments, so to speak. The successful ones get promoted.
Add Elements and Content
Adding elements and content was the fun part for me. I simply wrote what I knew about and added links to truly helpful and valuable resources. If you need an e-commerce store, simply plug it in. HostGator has lots of plug-ins to suit any need. This is so much easier than when I did it all by hand (see picture of confused caveman staring at wheel, that's so me!).
Market Your Site
I knew I was supposed to promote and market my site, but I never really got around to it. Any success my site experienced was due to what I now know is referred to as organic growth. It could have been a lot better if I knew then what I know now about marketing. "They" (the gurus) always said, "If you build it they won't come." I know from experience that's not entirely true. If you build it with really good content they will come eventually. But if you build it with really good content AND market it properly, they'll come faster and in greater numbers.
Guides for Online Marketing
All of the online marketing advice you need can be had for free online. But, if you'd rather not do the research, the same information I paid $300 for years ago can be found inexpensively all in one book.
How To Leverage Your Online Business
The Rest of the Story of Making a Living Online
If you really want/need to make a real income working from home, it can be done, but it does take time. Since I created my own information product, my sales were pure profit. In a few short months I had a regular monthly income of $200-$500 and growing. The Google AdSense paid for my hosting, plus some. Not enough income to support my family, but enough to make me realize it could be done by building other websites on other topics, and simply leveraging my online efforts. Today I make a full living off my online income. I love the freedom and creativity I enjoy each and every day working from my home.
Also, keep in mind that you can skip the kind of learning curve I needlessly gave myself. Establish your infrastructure (domain service and web hosting) and start creating content. Dive in! Get started! Your website can start incubating while you learn marketing techniques to apply later when you freshen up your site.
Just don't try to create fast junky websites hoping to pull in a little from each one. Don't be a web litterbug. Establish a creed of quality and integrity for all your work at the very start. Think in terms of what YOU like to find when you're searching for something online. Don't create the kind of site you wouldn't find useful.
Creating Good Online Content
If you're a wealth of knowledge, writing may come naturally to you. But if you have a hard time organizing and writing good content, a writing guide can be helpful.
There Must Be More to Making a Living Online
Details, Details, Details. . . .
You probably already know where to find lots of information about working from home and making a living online, and are overwhelmed with all the information overload. I found most of it so confusing and over my head, that I also let it paralyze me from taking action. I felt I had to understand every little detail of search engine optimization, for instance, before I could build my business.
Don't get bogged down in the details. Just start putting good content on a website. You can tune it up later.
One last suggestion. Make a Squidoo lens today. You'll be surprised what you learn in the process. Squidoo's easy-to-use format actually becomes a great website tutorial to practice on before you build your big site, plus you can try out lots of topics and ideas. Not only is it free, but they pay YOU. Find the link in the right-hand column of this page and dive in. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to learn (and earn).