Some people absolutely thrive on routines. It’s comforting knowing what to expect and it sure makes planning a heck of a lot easier. But if you’re someone who feels the routine of the 40-hour work week doesn’t feel right and no longer serves you, that’s okay too. Just because something is the norm doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to adopt a lifestyle, especially if it doesn’t fuel your fire. The good news? There’s never been a better time to start an online business. With most people still stuck at home, consumers have been turning to online shopping for most of their needs. To be clear, starting an online business is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking to design your own schedule and work on your terms– from the comfort of your own home if you desire– it’s definitely worth looking into.

 Whether you’re selling homemade candles or starting a podcast, there’s a lot that goes into starting an online business. That’s why we brought in an expert to help. We spoke with Taylor M. Tieman, Esq., founder of Legalmiga, a subscription-based legal services membership for online entrepreneurs for tips on getting started, to get you some insight about how to get started with your own online biz.

Size Up the Competition.

Okay, so you’re ready to bring that idea in your head and heart to life by starting an online business? Before you dive in, you want to know what you’re up against. Researching competitors and similar businesses will offer inspiration, showing you what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s where you can start: search for social media accounts, online reviews, hashtags, and/or simply start asking questions to help you learn about a business. This gives you insight into the type of customers or clients you may or may not want buying your product or booking your service. “Always look to see if there is even a target market for what you want to do,” suggests Taylor. If you’re finding that there is a lot of competition, “then you’ll need to find your unique niche/selling point.” And if you’re not finding many competitors, Taylor encourages you “to dig deeper to really truly understand your audience before you start selling to them because this could mean there’s not a huge market for what you’re getting yourself into, or just that your customer needs to be groomed and nurtured.”

From there, consider incorporating keyword research to help you lay a solid foundation for starting your online business. With tools like the Google Keyword Planner, you’re able to research what customers are searching for on a daily basis. Once you know the keywords and phrases in your industry, you can incorporate the right lingo across your site. Use blogs, category pages, title tags, and meta descriptions to sprinkle in those buzzwords your customers are looking for. 

Know What Type of Website You Need

As Taylor put it, most customers won’t take your business seriously if you don’t have a website. So you know you need one, but I know it can be overwhelming with so many options out there. To start, consider what you’re selling,  the industry you are in, the style and vibes you want, and who your ideal customer is. Knowing these things will help you decide what kind of website you need. Once you figure that out, Taylor recommends that you “always, always invest in good photography and copy” to bring your site to life.

Truth time: you have a little bit of leg work to do before bringing your site to life. A few elements of e-commerce to keep in mind: storage space, safety protocols, and site design. These are crucial in giving your customers a seamless shopping experience that will keep them coming back for more– and that’s the goal, right? Sure, starting an online business from home may be your passion project, but at the end of the day, it’s all about user experience and getting paid.

For the freelancers starting an online business (think consultant) you’ll want to think about things like contact forms, information, and potentially incorporating video chat. Consider setting up a chat-bot to help filter customers’ questions. Adding a simple box at the bottom of the screen that says, “Let’s Chat!” can do wonders in making your life and customers’ lives easier. How? The bot asks a series of questions before using keywords and phrases to narrow down where the customer needs to go for answers. Why work harder when you can work smarter?

 Learn Digital Marketing Tools

So you’ve got your website. You can’t stop there and just see where it goes. You’re going to want to study your customers’ habits to gain honest, valuable feedback. If you’re overwhelmed or afraid you’re doing it wrong, take a deep break. As Taylor reminds us, “digital marketing is all about trial and error.” 

Luckily, there are so many tools at our fingertips to help make this process a little easier. You can use tools like Google Analytics to show you how long customers spent on your site, what they searched for, and where they “fell off.” These insights will show you what you did wrong and what you did right. You can also use it to track your page ranking. We all want to be on page #1, but if you’re not tracking simple things like site traffic, you never will be. While you may be starting an online business from home all alone, there are millions of other people you need to have in mind for your business model.

Sure, it’s a time investment, but Google is the primary search engine, and fortunately, Google has a great, free online learning platform to learn Analytics and other digital marketing tools. And don’t feel like you have to do it all. If you don’t have the time but are willing to pay someone who does? “Do it,” Taylor says, “because digital marketing is truly the wild, wild west and it can become extremely overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.”

Find Balance

I know this is the last piece of advice, but it just might be the most important. If you felt overwhelmed simply by reading this article, take a step back. Starting an online business is a lot of work, but you don’t want to lose sight of what pushed you to pursue it in the first place. Remember the freedom, happiness, and passion that you were looking for. The moment you lose sight of those? Check-in with yourself. Balance is an essential element to your success and fulfillment. Having your own business should be an empowering experience that allows you to pursue your passion while providing for yourself and your family. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have to do the work. But don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.

So go ahead, dream those big dreams. Where there’s a will, there’s a way (and a ton of resources to help you figure it out). If you’re looking to learn more, Million Stories has loads of information to get you on track. Join our community for inspiration, education, and tools to set you up for financial success!