5 Tips For Starting Your Own Online Business

Starting your own business is no longer a pipe dream. This is the information age, the computer age, the digital age. Whatever you want to call it, modern society’s transition to connected living has created opportunities on an unheard-of scale. The average person is perfectly poised to take advantage of all that the digital world offers.

I’ve been running my own online business for over three years now. I’m not a veteran entrepreneur by any measure, not even in internet years, but I’ve had a successful start and learned plenty along the way.

Check out my top 5 tips for starting your own online business.

1. Make The Obvious Choice

People generally associate business with the physical; convenient corner stores, trendy inner city cafes, the skyscrapers of Wall Street. Starting a brick-and-mortar business requires a lot of capital. You have to lease a storefront in an ideal location, design the interior, maintain the property, establish an inventory, hire employees, and hope the store gets enough foot traffic to keep you in business. For the individual, traditional business is often a huge risk.

You need to go digital.

Many facets of online business contrast with traditional business. You can start your own online business without a dollar to your name. You can create a website (digital storefront) easily and for free, and an infinite number of services offer access to website builders, simple ecommerce, and more. You can interact with a global audience at the click of a button. Profit margins are high, and you don’t need to keep an inventory of products to sell.

Is it really possible? Check out these regular people that started an online business and now make a living doing what they love.

pinchofyumFood blogging duo Lindsay and Bjork made $22,280 online in a month
Read their income report »

matthewwoodwardAffiliate marketer Matthew Woodward made $16,400 online in a month
Read his income report »

ratracegradTeacher-turned-entrepreneur Jennifer Bland made $4,230 online in a month
Read her income report »

With time and effort, these online business owners turned their passions into their career. All they need to make a living is a laptop and an internet connection. When you run your own online business, you can work on anything you want, whenever you want, from anywhere in the world…that’s my definition of true freedom.

Starting your own online business is not only viable, it’s life-changing. As long as you’re knowledgeable about a topic, have a skill, or are willing to learn, you can realistically start your own business by choosing digital over traditional.

2. Know Your Niche

Entrepreneurs have been doing business online for decades so you can expect to find plenty of competition in the digital world today. If you want to stand out from the ever-growing crowd, you need to find a new or underserved niche market and make it the center of your online business.

You’ll find it so much easier to get your business off the ground if you have a niche to thrive in.

buy-html5-gamesMy niche is HTML5 game development. Using a relatively new web technology, I create simple web games which I license to companies across the world. I run websites about HTML5 game development, and have published a book about the topic. The HTML5 games market is both a new and underserved niche so I’m able to capitalize on the limited availability of content. I made over $100,000 online in my first two years of business by focusing on this niche and using it to kickstart my business.

Finding a good niche is not as hard at it might seem. Sit down with a pen and paper and sketch the links between your passions and new trends, technologies, and products. Conduct research and determine which topic is the most interesting and the most underserved. Optimally, you want to be able to create more than just an information resource based around your niche, but even that is enough to get started.

If you can’t find a niche that matches your interests or skill set, aim to give an existing niche a new spin.

Don’t start an online business based on just anything. You need to do your research and combine your passion with a niche that allows you to stand out. Then you need to own it.

3. Networking Is King

Bill Gates popularized the saying “Content is king” in a 1996 essay of the same name, and internet marketers have been parroting the Microsoft founder’s words ever since. The reality is that content only gets you so far and oftentimes will not be the biggest factor of success online. Since the global proliferation of social media, the human element has become the most important one in the digital world.

Social media offers unparalleled networking opportunities for business owners. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter enable you to reach new readers, clients, and customers from around the world…all without leaving your chair.

In the past, if you wanted to broadcast a message to thousands of people, you’d need to advertise on billboards, the radio, or television. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.

By proactively adopting social media you can build an audience to engage with repeatedly, instantly, and freely.

Instead of dismissing social media as a short-lived fad, make it a central part of your business. The size of your platform will generally correlate with your ability to generate an income online.

To grow your social platforms, you need to find people who share your interests, then interact with them and provide value of some kind. Take a genuine interest in your followers and they will do the same with you.

4. Marketing Is A Mindset

There’s no point building a platform if you’re not willing to use it. You can’t be timid when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. Do everything you can to get your content and products in front of as many eyes as possible!

icon-upgradeMy approach to marketing is quite aggressive, and most of my readers are well aware of that. But this proactive stance has also been a driving factor in the development of my online income and reputation.

I share my content on a variety of websites and forums, link to my own products at every opportunity, and make my achievements public to help establish credibility. Marketing is such a significant part of my average work day that I even have sales pitches mapped to hotkeys.

So many talented people could be successful if they had a basic grasp of marketing and a willingness to embrace it. This is especially true in my field of work. Some of the most skilled game developers I know have absolutely no understanding of marketing and promotion. As a result, their work goes unrewarded and they miss out on the success they deserve.

Naturally, promoting yourself online requires some finesse. It’s very easy to hit the wrong note or appear arrogant if all you’re talking about is yourself, so be sure to involve others in the conversation.

5. Diversify Aggressively

Once you’ve established your first significant income stream, stop and think about how you can expand upon it. Relying on a single source of income for an extended period of time can be very dangerous. If that income stream suddenly dries up, you’ve effectively “lost your job” and have to start over again.

Diversification is critical to the long-term survival of your online business.

Let’s say you’ve built a useful information website that generates revenue from advertising banners. You could diversify by adding tutorials, converting the tutorials into videos, then starting a premium support forum to convert readers and viewers into paying customers.

You could offer a personalized consulting service, publish an ebook, or become an affiliate by promoting other people’s products for a share of the profits.

Often, pursuing new sources of revenue will require you to turn your attention away from an established income stream; diversification comes at the expense of guaranteed income. Despite this, you absolutely have to spend time building more revenues streams. When you have an established platform and audience, diversifying is as easy as taking action.

The same can be said for starting your own online business: take action.

Thanks for reading!


  • frank says:

    well done great article i agree with your five tips specially with the first one to select the choice
    i think its the main thing we need to focus on cause mindset is everything

  • This is great! Well done on sharing these 5 tips.

  • Hanif says:

    “Know your niche” it’s the great solution

  • David Zarett says:

    Thank you for sharing these 5 tips. Really great post.

  • D.Cleark says:

    @Matthew great post. I am planning to start an online business but did not get the proper way to start. it will help me. Thanks

  • Lúcia says:

    To work on the Internet, with a business it takes a lot of dedication, and study. Adventurous people who find it simple to stay at home, watch TV, and do anything, never achieve success. Congratulations on the content, very relevant.

  • Hey Matthew !!

    Its been great to read such content which is so valuable. In many ways, starting an online business is similar to starting a brick-and-mortar store. You’ll plan your business, organize your funding, produce your product, and get to work. But, there are unique aspects of running an online-only business that would-be entrepreneurs need to consider.I’ve laid out a few of the various types of online businesses that you might be interested in starting, both those based around existing platforms like Etsy and eBay, and self-hosted eCommerce sites.

    Keep sharing !!
    Have a great day

  • BloggableFeed says:

    Worth reading! Thank you for sharing, it’s very important to think what type of business will work. There are so many opportunities, especially online.

  • Cindy Tesler says:

    Thanks for pointing out that it’s the obvious choice to have your business go digital. You also mention that many facets of online business contrast with traditional business. I think it’s important to create your own business so that you have more free time to spend with your family.

  • Myles says:

    Great article, I can’t stress how important it is to find your niche and make sure there’s money to be made in that niche. Give your visitors exactly what they want as soon as they land on your website, and make sure that thing leads to you making money.

    Whether it’s a referral form, a quoting form, an email newsletter form, or a product to buy, it needs to be very clear to your visitor.

  • Kaitlyn says:

    This was a good read. Thanks for sharing these great tips! Combining your passion with a niche can be very rewarding.

  • Morgan says:

    I agree with you! If you are familiar with your own skill set, you know what you have to offer others, which will make you standout among competitors. Great post! Thanks so much for all the pointers!

  • JB says:

    These are all great tips! They are surely helpful for the beginners and those who have yet to begin an online job or business. Thanks!

  • Alphonse Couturier says:

    I like your tip to review your business’s past goals before setting new ones. Determining what goals were successful in the past can help you better plan your strategy for the coming year. You can adjust your goals and priorities based on the successes or failures of the past year to better determine your business’s course of action. Thanks for the article!

  • Iyabo says:

    I found the point about marketing aggressively and self-promotion useful. I also like that you mention it has to be done with finesse. When used, these tips can get the attention of potential customers. And they can be further engaged to get sales. I like this article.

  • Michelle says:

    I always dream owning business since I was a kid. It’s like watching your business make others happy, be your own boss, and make your own hours. The only problem is when you start a business you need tons of money especially, online it is a difficult endeavor, and so many of us have seen shows revolving around either helping or showcasing failed businesses.

    • Matthew says:

      That’s not always the case. I started my online business on a very low budget (roughly $1000), and it’s gone on to generate almost $300,000 in the first 4 years. When you get into the business of selling physical products (whether in a traditional brick-and-mortar store or an online store), that’s when costs can start to skyrocket.

  • Scott Biddick says:

    Good article. I love how you point out some stuff that really needs to be noticed and well informative.

  • Laurie says:

    It is always important to do your research, and continuously monitor how things progress. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cinnabar says:

    Thanks, this has opened my eyes more. I’ve been considering making games as a business and have been having a hard time putting the pieces together. I’m going to take this to heart, especially the networking and marketing bits.

  • Anna Parr says:

    Great post!! Thanks for tips.

  • Boris says:

    Great tips!

  • Eaga says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • John Fisher says:

    Very good information. One thing I might add, is that the best approach is to offer products that are consumable, that people NEED to buy every month, and prices that are more competitive than the major brand stores.

  • Roger Patrick says:

    I like all the tips, really helpful.. Thanks for sharing.. I hope that I’ll be able to put up my own business online..

  • lyuba says:

    Great post, all points are very important. I find networking and marketing very hard for me as a developer.

  • Robert says:

    Great advice right here. I like what you’re saying about diversifying aggressively. A lot of people get the other 4 done, yet fall flat with that last point. Of course, it’s probably the most time-consuming and costly part of the entire exercise, but really, it opens up endless possibilities.

  • Bilge Kaan says:

    Awesome post, thanks for the advices! I would like see more contents like this. They are really helpful.

  • Dave says:

    Well, I already have a good idea for my new blog, but I don’t know what hosting service to use.
    I already used hostgator and I want to know if bluehost is better or cheaper?

    • Matthew says:

      I can’t remember which one is cheaper, but I have used both Hostgator and Bluehost, and I would definitely recommend Bluehost.

  • eyokfla says:

    Thanks for your advices, they’re really useful.

  • RD says:

    Great tips Matthew!

    One thing I would like to add is the 3 things that do earn money for business’s online. 1. Selling your own product/service 2. Selling someone else product for a commission (affiliate marketing) 3. Selling ad space

    Just wanted to share that hopefully it will save some people the time of buying courses full of false promises.

  • Boysano says:

    Very good solid advice Matthew, gave you a FB share.

  • Thanks for the kind mention!

  • John Taylor says:

    Very nice article. Really need this Mathew :)

    Thanks for your words

  • Slava says:

    Thanks for your words

    I am only starting my life as the website owner and the enterpreneur. It would be great to hear your tips when I was 21. A lot of time is wasted. But it’s never too late to start. Even if I have be in the end of the line. Your articles and articles of M. Woodward will help me to save some time starting with your knowledge.

    Thank you

    • Matthew says:

      Best of luck with it! Please feel free to contact me if there’s anything I can do to help.

  • John Sims says:

    Good read. I have my own (offline business as a tattoo artist and tattoo shop), so I know all about the struggle! But after 4 years I know employ 5 people and the business is going from strength to strength! Marketing at every chance you get is great advice. I have lost count of the amount of business i have picked up from conventions, networking events, parties and even on facebook just from talking about my business!

  • Tokkatrain says:

    Very good article, btw do you need an employee (grfx,sfx) ? :D Keep rockin!

  • Josh says:

    well thank you for this resource! it’s cool that you’ve outlined the keys that drove your success. many times these things go unpublished, so thank you for sharing

  • Sujit Yadav says:

    Very nice article. Really need this Mathew:) Online business is our dream. Thanks for your guide brother.