Part 6: How to Build an Online Business (The Steps for Starting a Profitable Online Business) 

 October 6, 2021

By  Jake Lang

Part 6: How to Build an Online Business

Welcome to part six of the online business idea mini-series (the final blog in this mini-series!).  In this mini-series, I’m giving you bits and pieces from my business ideas book Step One (a book about finding and validating your first business idea). This is part six of the mini-series. In this blog, I break down how to build an online business. I outline the steps for starting a profitable online business.

You can access the other parts of my business idea series here:

Disclaimer: This is directly copied from Chapter Seven of my book Step One. There may be references to the book, or other chapters, in this blog post. That’s because it is literally copied and pasted from the book to make sure you get all of the necessary content for free (but just a heads up, if I say “later in the book” or “in the next chapter”, that is because I copied this straight from the book).

Steps for Starting a Profitable Online Business (how to build an online business)

Step One Book Cover

Welcome to entrepreneurship. Step one is complete. You have an idea; now you just need to go out and make it happen.

There is no right or wrong way to handle the next steps in your entrepreneurial journey; there are a million ways to make your business work. You have an idea that is set up for success and have done most of the work; the rest will fall into place once you start taking action. That being said, I am not going to leave you high and dry when you have come this far. In this section, I am going to take you through my recommendations of the next steps for starting an online business, the same steps I take when I start a new business.

Next Steps – Steps for Starting an Online Business

Don’t stop now; you have done all the hard work, all the heavy lifting. You have one golden business idea that will generate (at least) $5,000 per month in revenue. Now it’s time to make it happen.

I want you to take this idea and take that next step. I want you to keep pushing this business forward after finish this mini-series. That is why, in the following sections, I am going to walk you through the high-level next steps, six in all, that you should take to get your business up and running. These are the six steps for starting an online business (the same steps I take with each of my new business ideas).

Step 1: Build a Simple Website

I start with a website. This is the first of the steps for starting an online business. This is the first step I take once I move forward with a business idea. I buy a domain name and set up a website for my new business. This is a place to hold your content, a place that you own, that you control, that you can use to drive traffic and sales for your new business.

There is one major caveat to this step, one condition that you must obey: do not spend more than two days building and perfecting your website. I see far too many entrepreneurs waste months tweaking and perfecting every little detail of their website. They tinker with every little word, color, and image before launching the business, but no one ever sees it. They never get around to launching the business because they burned themselves out lost in the weeds of writing and re-writing the About Us page. Don’t do that. The process of building a website is theoretically endless, and it will take all of your time if you let it. Set a limit for yourself and do not spend more than two days building your website. Your website is an ongoing project; you will always be tweaking and perfecting your website. At this stage, however, selling and getting people to see your website is more important than a perfect-looking website.

This is the first iteration of your website. Think of it as a first draft that will change dramatically in the months and years to come. For now, you only need to set up a website with the following pages:

  • Home page: This is the main page. It will describe your value proposition, help people understand what your business is about, and direct people to the right place on your website to learn more.
  • Resource page: This is a simple page to share your most important content, products, and recommendations. This is a page you can share with your audience to quickly direct them to solutions or content that can answer their questions. I often include affiliate product recommendations on this page. You can see an example of my resources page at com/resources.
  • Contact page: This page has your contact information, with a form that lets website visitors quickly and easily connect with you through email. Here’s a pro tip: do not put your personal phone number on your website, as you will get a lot of spam calls. If you need a customer support phone number (I typically don’t), I recommend a free service like Google Voice that lets you set up a free phone number through the Google App.
  • Blog page: This is a page that holds and aggregates your blog posts. You will post blogs and create content in Step 3; the blog page holds your blog posts after they are published.
  • Sales page: You should have a page describing what you are selling and how it solves your target market’s problem. This should be one of the main pages on your website. Whether you are selling a course, book, coaching, membership, or other service, you should always have a sales page.

That is all you need right now. It is more important to focus on content, traffic, and sales right now. You can perfect your website later. You are still learning how to build a profitable online business, so keep your website simple to start, you still have a lot to learn.

For the logistics of building your website, I highly recommend Thrive Themes (theentrepreneurridealong.com/thrivethemes). It is a premium website builder, well worth the low annual fee, that syncs with the WordPress platform. It uses a drag-and-drop page builder that comes with hundreds of templates; all you have to do is modify the template with as little or as much customization as you want. It is the easiest way to build a professional-looking website; no coding or web design skills are needed, saving you from the struggles of learning HTML and hours of searching Google for technical support. If you can click and drag, then you can build a professional website using Thrive Themes. This is how to build a profitable online business the easy way. I use Thrive Themes for all of my websites.

To process a transaction through your website, I recommend using WooCommerce (it’s free). Sync WooCommerce with the Stripe payment processor to collect payments; Stripe charges a 2.9% fee per sale.

That’s it. That is all you need to set up at this time. That is all you need for a website.

Step 2: Start Selling (or pre-selling)

The goal of a business is to make money, so why not start making money as soon as possible? Your goal is to make your first sale within three months of launching your business. Whether you start with an affiliate revenue stream, coaching, courses, books, or an alternative revenue stream, you should target making a sale within the first three months. Start selling right away. Selling is the best way to validate your business idea and your product offering. Your business is officially validated when a stranger pulls out their wallet and pays you for your product or service. When someone pays you, it means you have successfully understood your target market’s pain point and solved their problem with your product or service. That is the definition of a validated business idea.

You can start selling now, even before you start building your product. It’s called “pre-selling”; it means you sell the product to your target market (at a discounted rate) before you finish creating it. This process works well for product validation, especially if you are writing a book or creating a course, because several months will pass before the final product is ready for sale. With a presale, your customer pays a reduced rate for the product that you are creating; in return, they get first access to the final product when it is finished. I do this for every product I sell. Before I invest the time and effort into writing a new book or creating a new course, I validate that people want what I am selling. I see far too many entrepreneurs spend months creating a new course, only to launch and find out that no one wants to buy what they are selling. The presale validates your idea; it ensures that you are building a product that people want and proves that your product idea is so good that someone is willing to pay for it even before you have finished creating it.

When I launch a presale, I call it my Founding Members Group. Anyone that enrolls in the presale is included in a small group of founding members who get direct access to me and have the opportunity to provide input or feedback to ensure that the final product meets their specific needs. When I pitch the presale, I create a sales page describing the product I envision. I make it clear that the product is not yet finished, but all founding members will get access to the product as it is being created and will receive access to the final product once it is finished. I price the presale at a reduced rate, usually a 50% discount, to encourage early adopters to take advantage of the significant savings. This is how I validate each of my businesses and every product I sell.

I presold Step One. That is how I validated the idea for this book. I went to Reddit, joined the entrepreneur community, and started helping entrepreneurs by answering their forum posts. I made 30 worthwhile connections. I pitched my book idea to these 30 entrepreneurs, described my vision for the book, and offered them a Founding Member spot for $10. I sold 10 copies of the book before I wrote the first word. I validated that people liked the idea, I validated that people wanted to learn from me, and I validated that my solution was so powerful that strangers were willing to pay me for the book before I started writing. That is a validated product. That is what I want you to do. You do not need to create your course, write your book, or finish your product before you start selling. Start selling now with a presale.

Selling is a lot easier than you think. At this stage in your business, you can spend 10 minutes per day on social media connecting with people in your target market. Build rapport and send each connection a direct message to pitch your products and services; you will automate this process later. Look back at the 50 people you surveyed and connected with in Part Five of the mini-series. Those are 50 people in your target market, people who are interested in what you are selling. Those 50 connections could be your first customers. Now that you have an idea for a business, do not waver. It is a good idea; go get some sales and make it happen.

Step 3: Create Content

Create free and helpful content to attract people to your website. This could be blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, newsletters, eBooks, or webinars. This can be anything you create and give away for free to help, teach, and engage your target market.

The purpose of content creation is to help your target market, for free, to become known as an authority in the niche and attract new people to your website, where they will see your products and services. At The Entrepreneur Ride Along, I write blogs and record podcast episodes discussing entrepreneurship and online business. I create helpful free content to assist and teach entrepreneurs how to build an online business. That content is how people find my website, and that content is the reason people join my email list, learn to trust me as an expert in the industry, and, ultimately, buy my products.

Create content for your niche. Choose one method of content creation to start with (blog, video, podcast, etcetera). Choose topics in your niche, ideally topics that will be helpful for your target market, and create content about those topics. That content will attract people to your website, it will bring in new leads and new customers, and it will help you become known as a trustworthy business.

Step 4: Increase Traffic

To sell your products, you need people to visit your website, especially the sales page. If no one sees your website, no one will see what you are selling, and you will not make any sales. With an online business, this means you need traffic coming to your website.

The best way to draw traffic to your website is to leverage the content you created in Step 3. The content you create will reach new people. This traffic, the people that visit your website and see your content, will later become paying customers. There are three primary ways to leverage your content to increase your website traffic:

  • Organic traffic: This is when a website visitor finds your content organically using search engines like Google or YouTube. You can strategically create content to target popular search queries. In Part Three, you used Long Tail Pro to analyze topics that people are searching for on Google. You can use the same keyword research from Part Three as the basis for content topics. If you need help with this, join my 1k in 1-week challenge (how to get 1,000 website visitors in one week organically).
  • Social traffic: This refers to traffic that comes to your website from a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This happens when you share content, such as a blog post, on social media, and people from your social media channel click on the link to visit your website and view that content.
  • Paid traffic: This is traffic that comes to your website from a paid source, usually advertising. You can use a program like Google Ads to advertise on Google and encourage people to click on an advertisement to visit your website.

You can leverage any of these three methods of traffic generation to increase the number of people visiting your website, but I recommend putting the majority of your efforts into organic traffic. It’s free and, if done correctly, can generate thousands of leads when your content is ranked highly by a search engine. Blogging is my preferred method of content creation. I write strategic blogs that target keywords I find on Long Tail Pro and rank highly in Google search results. These blog posts drive traffic organically from Google searches to my website. This is a process called SEO; it is my go-to approach whenever I start a new business.

Start by choosing one method of traffic generation. Focus on this one strategy to increase the number of people visiting your website. The more people visiting your website and viewing your content, the more products and services you will sell.

Step 5: Convert Traffic

Once you have traffic coming to your website, the next step is to focus on converting that traffic into leads and converting those leads into sales. This is what business is all about.

I prefer email marketing, and it’s what I recommend to every entrepreneur I coach. It is my favorite method of capturing leads, building trust, and closing sales. Email marketing is the foundation of each of my businesses, it is the primary sales funnel I use for each of my websites. People visit my website, they enter their email to download one of my free giveaways (something helpful, like an eBook), and are then put through my email marketing sales funnel. Once I capture a prospect’s email address, I can send them a series of helpful emails with more free content, beginning to build trust and prove myself as an authority in the niche. When I have built enough trust and proven myself as a valuable resource, then I can send the prospect sales emails and encourage the lead to buy my products or services. This is the process I use to convert my website traffic into paying customers, and it is what I recommend for your business.

Step 6: Automate and Scale

This is the last of the steps for starting an online business. The final step in the process is to automate your sales funnel and scale your business. Automation is key. At this stage, months or perhaps years into your business, you should focus on automating the entire process so that people find your website organically (through your content), join your email list, and buy your products without any human interaction.

Once you have your process down and have your product and website perfected, focus on automation. Take yourself out of the equation and let your business run on its own. Fortunately, there are hundreds of tools that make this possible. Thrive Themes, as I mentioned earlier, offers an entire suite of automation tools that will make your life easier and your business thrive. Email management systems like ConvertKit (theentrepreneurridealong.com/convertkit) make it simple to automate your sales funnel so that marketing emails, receipts, and onboarding are done systematically, without any manual processing.

Once your business is automated and running on autopilot, all you need to do is sit back and think about how to scale. This is the last of the steps for starting an online business. It means tinkering with your business, acting as the CEO, and pushing the right buttons to get more traffic, more leads, and more sales. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of operating a business. You can dream big and try new strategies to grow your market and increase your revenue. You can launch new products, expand into new markets, start a new social media channel, or hire a contractor to write blogs for you. This is the fun part: figuring out new ways to expand your business and generate more revenue.

Your Next Step

That’s it. That is how to build an online business. Those are the six steps to starting a profitable online business. Find your idea, build a website, start selling, get traffic, convert that traffic into buying customers, and continue to increase your traffic and improve your conversion to generate more revenue. It takes time, and it takes effort, but the process will pay off in the end, when you look back on your profitable business.

The best part is that once you go through this process and learn the ropes, it is easy to rinse and repeat and do it again with your next business idea. That’s what I do. I cannot sit still. I need to be working on a new business or product at all times. Once I mastered this process and figured out how to get a successful business up and running, I could not stop myself from starting another. Eight businesses later, I’m still going strong. This process is addicting, but in a good way. If you enjoy it, don’t stop! Keep scaling and automating your business, then rinse and repeat and start another one. Keep stacking your online businesses, and soon you will have multiple profitable online businesses supporting you financially for the rest of your life. That is the beauty of online business. It is easy, cheap, profitable, and it’s a lot of fun to start new businesses.

Summary – How to Build an Online Business

Take two days to build out your website. That is the first of the steps for starting an online business. The first step you should take after choosing your business idea. Your website should be simple. Start with a home page, resources page, contact page, blog page, and sales page. That is all you need; it should not take you longer than two days to put the website together. That is how you build an online business, that is the first step you should take.

Once you have a website, then you can start selling, creating content, driving traffic, converting traffic into sales, and eventually, focusing on automation. This is the fun part. Now that you have your business idea, you get to have fun creating, building, and scaling your business.

Now it’s your turn. Now that you know how to build an online business, it’s your turn to go out and launch your business.

Conclusion – The Online Business Idea Mini-Series

You did it! You made it through all six steps in the online business idea mini-series. You learned all about online business (and why it’s my favorite type of business), you found your business idea in the brain dump exercise, you validated your market size using Long Tail Pro, you chose a profitable online business revenue stream, you surveyed your target market, and now in this last step, you learned the next steps you need to take to launch your business.

Congratulations. You are now an entrepreneur. Now go out there and launch your business.

Continue The Online Business Idea Mini-Series

Continue with the online business idea mini-series. Continue on to the next section of the mini-series below:

Ready to Start Your Business?

Step One Book CoverIf you find yourself saying “I want to start a business, but I don’t know what to do,” this is the book for you. In Step One you will research, validate, and choose the perfect online business idea. By the end of this book, you will come away with a business idea list, one validated business idea, and a plan to launch your first business.

Step One is all about taking action. With this book, you will come up with over one hundred and fifty business ideas, you will conduct market research to narrow your list of ideas down to one viable idea, and you will validate the idea so you can hit the ground running and launch your business.

Ready to start your business? Pick up your copy of Step One today, and get started today. By the end of this book, you will come away with the perfect idea–and plan–to launch your online business.

Jake Lang

Jake Lang is an author, entrepreneur, and founder of over seven online businesses. Jake now helps new entrepreneurs start and scale their first online business at TheEntrepreneurRideAlong.com where he shares his experiences along the entrepreneurial journey starting and growing new businesses.

It’s Jake’s mission to start a new online business every year and share everything behind the scenes on The Entrepreneur Ride Along Podcast and The Entrepreneur Ride Along Blog so that new entrepreneurs can learn from Jake’s mistakes, understand the struggles of starting a new business, and find the path to entrepreneurial success.

Jake Lang

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