HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS WITH A $0 BUDGET

May 10 21:00 2004 Mindy Riddell Print This Article

Can you start an online business with a $0 budget? Yes! I am living proof of this! Many people I've told this have ... not believed it or were ... and don't get me wrong... I'm not sa

Can you start an online business with a $0 budget? Yes! I am living proof of this! Many people I've told this have understandably not believed it or were skeptical and don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that this is an IDEAL way to start a business but I think maybe this will give at least some of you the inspiration and encouragement to know that YOU CAN DO IT! No matter what your financial situation is or even your personal physical condition may be. So,Guest Posting here's my story...

As a child, I was a born entrepreneur! From the tender age of 5 or so I was hitting the streets selling my products and services... everything from lemonade stands, handcrafted potholders (a favorite among the neighborhood ladies!), puppet shows (we also sold refreshments!), dancing and singing performances in my
parents carport (poor souls had to endure this but they kept coming back every year so I guess we weren't too bad... teehee), doing odd jobs, etc... You get the picture... if there was a money making possibility from ANYTHING, my brother and I did it! Funny too because we both own our own businesses now. I told you I was a born entrepreneur!

In 1995 I was working as a surgical nurse for a Vascular surgery group. At that time I'd been a nurse for 13 years. I loved my job and never envisioned myself as doing anything else. At the height of my nursing career I was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. I thought my life was over. I couldn't be a nurse anymore due to the physical disabilities that followed. I was severely depressed. I had always been an extremely active person and this was really putting a damper on things, not only with my career but my hobbies and social activities as well. I needed to do something to pull me out of this slump! So... even though I had never even moved a mouse before, I bought a computer and got online. A whole new world opened up for me here! This was just what I needed to keep me busy and keep my mind off the illness. I was inspired by all the websites out there! I just had to have one too but how? I began teaching myself HTML and graphic design (I had PLENTY of time on my hands). I had always been somewhat of an artist so this was a way I could do my art again in a somewhat different form. To make a long story a bit shorter, after a few years of lots of trial and error, trying affiliate programs, working for other people online, etc... I finally learned enough to be successful with an online business of my own.

What I'd like to share with you is my experience so you won't have to struggle like I did trying to start your own online business and wonder why it's not making you the amount of money you need to make a living from it. Remember the title after all this gab... HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS WITH A $0 BUDGET? Well, I did! It turned out initially to be vintage lingerie and now internet marketing as well. And yes, I started it with a $0 Budget! Okay, yes, you DO have to have a product or service to sell online. This can be anything from things you handcraft at home or even things you know about and can provide information on (to sell) such as "How to make your own candles", etc... The possibilities are endless!

Steps you need to take to get started:

1. YOU NEED A WEBSITE

While it's true that you will need some experience to make one, there are lots of free services still out there that can enable you to create a website with little or no HTML experience. This is a start and you can always improve on it from there. Try AOL (if you're a member) or Geocities.com (a part of yahoo now). You can get a free website and they will host it on their servers for you for free. If you DO have a website already or HTML experience to design your own, even better! You've already taken the 1st and biggest step. Be sure that you have GOOD content on your site! You can't just throw up some graphics and call it a website OR a business. You need to include information about your products, provide some nice content, interesting articles, etc... If you don't have enough of your own, find other similar websites that do and ask them if you can display their information or article (in exchange for a link of course! See below for further information on linking)

2. YOU HAVE TO MARKET YOUR SITE SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW YOU EXIST AND VISIT IT!

This is absolutely the hardest part... learn from my experience! There are many things you can do to market your site. They include but are not limited to:


Submitting your site to search engines

There are lots of free services to submit your site to a lot of search engines all at once and for FREE. I personally have never paid to have my sites submitted and I DO make money from them so don't be discouraged if you don't have the budget for a paid submission.

Exchanging links with other complimentary sites.

This is the BEST way to get your site some traffic! It's time consuming but worth it! Now before you start asking anyone and everyone to exchange links with you... You don't want to link to everyone! You want to link to sites that are not necessarily your competition but sites that sell similar products and/or services. Do your homework and surf the internet by doing searches for sites you might like to link with. When you do the searches, the sites who are listed higher in the search engines are better since you will be benefiting from their already high traffic. Be polite and email them, complimenting them on their site and the things you like most about it (be honest!). Do this first before asking them to exchange links with you. Also, make sure they have a links page before you even bother. Some sites don't (shame on them!) and you don't want to waste your time on most of them although a suggestion that they start one is not a bad idea. I've done that before and have actually had them display my link on their pages even when they didn't have an actual links page - even better for me!


Bulk Email... Just My opinion

Don't spam! Bulk email in general is not a good idea and your email probably won't even reach them anyway since most people have junk mail filters that will delete you. I've never had to spam or send bulk email and my business is doing great.

INSTEAD OF BULK EMAILING... USE OPT-IN MAILING LISTS!

Once you have a website of interest you can have a mailing list for people to sign up voluntarily. That way you're getting people who are really interested in what you have to offer. I use a free opt-in mailing list and newsletter service (just copy and paste the code in your webpages) from http://www.wwwtoolz.com that works great! They have a lot of other free tools as well. This allows you to build a mailing list and to send newsletters and/or emails to the people on your ever-growing list. Be sure to use it! Once you have people join your list, send them a welcome email and keep them posted with updates, new items you have for sale, new website content, etc... Again, don't spam these nice people who signed up for your mailing list voluntarily or they will quickly unsubscribe. Don't send them email every day or even every week. Don't forward email to them! That's bad business since it's not keeping it personal! Yes, in many ways you have to have a personal touch even in business! Building your mailing list takes time but you have to start somewhere so be patient.


Cross-promote using online Auctions, especially eBay!

If you have discovered online auctions and sell your wares there, by all means cross-promote! If you buy but don't sell yet - start selling! Not only will it help jumpstart your new business but it will support your buying habit! haha... Now, eBay has strict rules on this so you can't be too obvious by displaying your web address on your auction pages but I do have a few tricks that ARE EBAY LEGAL. Email me and I'll explain about that. In the meantime, everyone who wins an auction from you... send them a thank you email and tell them about your website! Don't bore them or solicit them with a long ad, just mention that they may find other items of interest on your website and give them the URL. A better way to do this is with a signature file (details below)


Create a Signature File in ALL your Emails!

In your email program there is more than likely a place for you to create what they call a signature file. This is a permanent signature that you can customize with your short ad or at least the title of your website with a link to it. Be sure to not only include the hyperlinked title of your site but the actual web address below that and a short desciption of your site (just in case people don't realize it's a link... there are always newbies out there so be understanding). You'll be amazed at how many people will be curious and go check out your site! This is how I get a lot of new customers so be sure to do this!

Join groups and post on message boards!

This is also time consuming but worth it! The groups don't necessarily have to be about your business topic and it's probably better if they aren't. It can be another interest group or hobby, etc... IMPORTANT: Talk to people, don't just post an ad! BAD! BAD! BAD! You'll get kicked out of the group for sure! Try to join groups who have a lot of members that post frequently so you'll get the most exposure for your time. Now, like I said, you don't have to post ads to these groups at all... Just use a signature file as previously described above! People will be interested and visit. Many groups also allow you to post a banner so a good banner could get their attention too! I get tons of exposure this way! Ebay groups have been especially helpful for me.


Write articles and press releases!

This is a great way to advertise! Hey, you're reading this so obviously it works! Hey, don't get mad at me, I'm trying to make a living here too! haha... There are lots of places for you to do this on the web. Some of my personal favorites are Alumbo.com and Searchwarp.com but there are many others and you should search for them according to the topic you're writing on for more options.You can put out a press release on your new website or business, write an article on something you're good at, an opinion piece, whatever! Put your thinking cap on and be creative! You have something to say, you just don't know it yet! A word on writing... if you're just not good at writing or don't want to do it yourself, get someone you know who IS and have a ghostwriter (No, I don't have a ghost writer... wish I did sometimes though! They might be better than me!). If you write your own, please use your spell checker to make sure you are at least spelling words right. It doesn't look professional if you misspell words. (Gee, hope I don't misspell anything in this article... haha... let me know if I do. I'm a perfectionist and a grammer freak!)


Okay, you knew it was coming sometime... get ready for the pitch!

Okay, yes, I have somewhat of a sales pitch here but it IS an HONEST to goodness valuable marketing tip and it's FREE... I get tons of traffic from hosting contests and sweepstakes and have started my own sweepstakes site. I'm always looking for good websites to join my group of sponsors. If you have a website you're proud of and you sell a product or service (or want to) just pop on over to my sweepstakes site and enter to win a free 1 month sponsorship. You get so many perks and new customers, increased sales, I can't even begin to describe them all here. If your site isn't quite ready yet and you need help I am willing to critique and offer suggestions so make sure to check out my website for details. If you don't have a website yet, you can still enter the many sweepstakes run by my sponsors who give away great merchandise every month. You can win 1 or more each month!

Go to: http://www.a-slip-of-a-girl.com/sweepstakes.html
or email me for more information on this at: hostasweep@hotmail.com
PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR URL SO I CAN ENTER YOU IN THE CONTEST, TYPE A LITTLE NOTE SO I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT! I GET A LOT OF EMAIL AND USE JUNK MAIL FILTERS SO I DON'T WANT TO THINK YOURS IS JUNK MAIL! ALSO BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR MOST USED CONTACT EMAIL SO YOU'LL GET A REPLY FROM ME.
There is so much more I could say here but this should be enough to spark your creativity, get you going, and make you realize that YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN START AN ONLINE BUSINESS WITH A $0 BUDGET! Hey, If I can do it anyone can! Good Luck! Please email me with your comments or if you'd like more information on anything. I am always willing to share my knowledge and resources.
All the best to you for your online success!
Mindy Riddell

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

About Article Author

Mindy Riddell
Mindy Riddell

Mindy Riddell has been working in internet marketing since 1995. She is a published author on a variety of topics across the internet in various e-zines and newsletters. She also owns and operates an internet marketing site, notsobigdogs.com, a Vintage Lingerie shop www.a-slip-of-a-girl.com which is home of The 1st Internet Lingerie Sweepstakes. For more information please email her at: mindy@a-slip-of-a-girl.com

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