Ask eMom :: What is the Best Way to Start a Home Business Online?

Ask eMomWendy, I would love to get your opinion on what the best path to web entrepreneurship is. Some people say affiliate marketing, others believe in blogging while some say blogging is no way to earn a living. I’d really like to work for myself and work at home. What options should I be pursuing?

Well, this might not be the answer you want to hear, but there is no one best path to web entrepreneurship, in my opinion – here’s why:

  • Different niches require different marketing strategies
  • Your strengths as a marketer will determine your quickest path to success
  • All paths can fail – and all paths can succeed – it really depends on you

That being said, let me tell you about a friend of mine – he had just signed up for a $1500 internet marketing seminar taught by someone who I knew to be highly UNqualified to teach the course. The course covered basics such as how to get a website set up, build an email list, start a blog, write an eProduct and build joint ventures (all in two days – LOL!!). My friend realized this wasn’t the right course for him and asked me for advice on who could teach him everything he needed to know about internet marketing.

  • My first advice to him was that he didn’t need to drop $1500 on an introductory course when much of that information is available freely online.
  • My second advice to him was that he doesn’t need to know EVERYTHING about internet marketing to make money online. Sure, the more you know, the better your chances, but you have to start somewhere first.

Here’s what I told my friend – no matter what you end up doing (blogging, email marketing, affiliate marketing, or promoting your own products), you will need to know something about affiliate marketing to make money with any of them – so start there.

I told him he would learn more in Rosalind Gardner’s Super Affiliate Handbook for less than $50 than he would ever learn in a crappy internet marketing course taught by someone who had a page rank of “0” and a non-existent Alexa rank. Most of the material in this book was also covered at Elite Retreat, giving a little more social proof to the fact that that even the most successful affiliate marketers use this same industry knowledge to make millions.

That doesn’t mean that you should only do affiliate marketing – it does mean that the more you know about affiliate marketing, the more successful you will be in any area of internet marketing.

Learning Affiliate Marketing will require that you master:

  • Selling through web copy and targeting visitors accurately
  • Driving traffic via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click search marketing (PPC), and through other means (Social Media, etc.)
  • Analyzing your web stats to understand your site visitors needs more accurately
  • How to choose the best affiliate offers that your site visitors will be most likely to buy/use and have the highest Return on Investment (ROI)

I’d like to qualify this advice with the following caveat – if you are already an experienced professional in any industry, you would likely have the easiest time making money at home by finding your own clients and getting hired for freelance work. Sometimes non-compete employment agreements will prohibit you from going this route, but in my experience, this is the fastest way to bring in revenue and get established as an entrepreneur. Then, as your business grows, you can add additional revenue streams such as affiliate marketing, blogging, email marketing, or launching your own eProducts.

Additionally, working on any of these things will require basic html knowledge, that you are internet savvy, and that you set up a web site.

So, to answer the initial question in a nutshell, here’s the best way to start a home business online:

  1. Leverage your current skills and contacts into freelance work opportunities
  2. Leverage your current marketing knowledge into your first marketing projects
  3. Learn as much as you can about affiliate marketing, because everything you learn about it will help you to be successful in every online marketing endeavor.

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  1. Neena says

    Thanks Wendy. I will have to check out
    Rosalind Gardner’s handbook. I have not yet explored many affiliate opportunities but I think that is the next step for me.

  2. says

    Right On Wendy!

    When people follow their bliss, and pursue what they are passionate about, they usually have more resolve and resilience to overcome those bumps in the road when they arise.

    Also, we spend most of our waking hours at work and life’s too short to invest all of that time begrudginly in endeavors that we don’t enjoy.

    Live Your Dreams,

    Jill :)

  3. says

    As someone that has considered various seminars to try and get up to speed on things I really appreciate this post. You really can learn most of the skills by searching the free resources available online.

    In addition it is always nice to find places like this site that offer a pseudo-mentor through learning from your experiences and sharing.

  4. Saul says

    Your site is great. Filled to the brim with interesting information. Have you checked out the upcoming Postiecon coference in Las Vegas. Where people like you are talking about how to make the best out of your blogs. Just thought you might find it interesting to check out.

    Thanks for the great info.

  5. Des Walsh says

    Great reply, Wendy. Taking your point on the nonsense of expecting to learn everything in two days, people wanting to do business online (as in people wanting to do business offline) need to face and accept the fact that some of the answers are only going to come when they know the questions, and some of the questions are only going to emerge through action. Which means not the action of spending $1500, but the consistent, daily action known by that word some people don’t like (so I won’t spell it out lest I give offence) – w@%k.

  6. says

    Thanks for the great input.

    How do you balance it – especially in the getting started days – months – years? In my case I juggle family – full time job – professional development training, reading, research, etc. – blogging & associated technical development and marketing – and somewhere in there, a shred of self-care or two. And maybe even a 7-hour night of sleep once in a blue moon.

    Do you have any recommendations for a complementary ‘portfolio approach’ where you meld multiple part time endeavors – freelancing, blogging, teaching, consulting, etc, and still stay sane?

  7. says

    Your summary hits the nail on the head. I think too many people leave doing something they love to do something for the money and are never quite happy.

    One of my greatest joys is helping people, especially helping them to succeed or get through challenges. In my paying job that manifests as a programmer analyst.

    So being techy and helpful works out.

    Thanks for the advice!

  8. says

    Hey there, I’d like to add that besides figuring out affiliate marketing, etc. online and what you’re passionate about but what NICHE you can fill and be “the best in the world at” that is under-served that you could excel in, that combined with a good internet strategy sounds like a good combo…Seth Godin’s new book, The Dip is all about that. For example if everyone is offering graphic design, why not offer graphic design services for real estate companies…etc. 馃槈

  9. says

    Wow… this is a really, solid post, Wendy. I’ve been at this for a while, and I learned tons. (great question, too, to whoever asked it)

    I have to admit I find it tough, though, as someone who’s solidly in the “following their bliss” category, and still waiting for the success to arrive. It makes the route of the do-what’s-boring-as-heck-but-makes-the-bucks appeal quite a bit, even though my heart shudders at the thought.

    By the way, I just finished your “10 Days to a Better Blog” course, and it was really solid as well.

  10. JeanMatt says

    Hey there

    Hope all is well, would just like to thank you for the great post and all the other informative posts you give us… Your blog is pretty darn good and it’s only getting stronger…

    All the best

  11. says

    I have to agree Wendy. Even in my own industry there are people out there ‘coaching’ new people into the industry and they don’t have the runs behind them!

    If you’re going to learn from someone how to do something you really need to check that they have walked their talk and have the credentials to back up what they’re preaching. Otherwise, it’s just talk and talk can be cheap – or should I say expensive! For some it is.

    Kathie Thomas, A Claytons Secretary’s last blog post..Developing a niche in the Virtual Assistant world

  12. The Affiliate Academy says

    This is an excellent post by Wendy. All of her recommendations are spot on. I have heard such amazing things about the Elite Retreat and can’t wait to go myself. Although, I have to be making a little more money with my site before I can afford to attend.

    Ohh and by the way, I just voted for you at startup nation. I just found your site today, but have found some amaazingly useful information on it. You have secured a loyal reader! :o)

    Keep up the good work!

    I do have a quick question. If I only had time to focus on one social network, which one do you think is the best? Twitter, Facebook, or one of the social news sites?

    Thanks in advance.

  13. Brian Dickerson says

    You’re definitely spot on with your advice. I’ve purchased many internet marketing courses which weren’t nearly as accurate or timely as the better free sites out there.


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