Starting an Online Business: Expert Advice on What You Need to Do

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Starting an online business is not for the faint of heart.  But this post is not for the faint of heart; it’s for you. 

We know that you are the one who looks forward to challenges, has a passion for helping others, and enjoys the process of creativity. 

You are an entrepreneur at heart.

Whether you are looking at starting an online business, or you just launched your first website, we welcome you!

We are here to help you find inspiration and identify the path that will help you to build your business!

We know from experience that when you are starting anything new, it is easy to find yourself with more questions than answers. 

To help you out, we have consulted with the experts and have some fantastic advice to help you get started with turning your dream of being your own boss into your reality.

>> This article is part of our series designed to give you ideas on how you can make more money!

Our expert panel

This post is dedicated to helping you reach your full potential based on the advice of those that are taking on the online business world.   

Our expert panel is dominating their craft and making a full-time income with:

  • Blogging
  • YouTube
  • eCommerce
  • Podcasts
  • Online teaching
  • Publishing books
  • And more…

When I say full-time income, I need you all to understand that many of these folks are making upwards of a million dollars a year! 

[Mind boggling I know!]

All of our experts were asked:

If you were to start your online business today, where would you invest your time and money?

TRACIE FOBES

Owner of:  TracieFobes.com
Established: 2016

Tracie Fobes started blogging in 2009. When she began blogging she was left to figure it out on her own. As she learned the business of blogging, she knew that no one should ever be left floundering. Now, she has launched coaching and programs to help teach others how to blog — without making the same mistakes she did and without feeling as if they are alone.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

SEO. Period. All too often bloggers jump in and put everything into Pinterest as that can be easy traffic. But, you are a slave to their platform. One algorithm change and they can take it all away. SEO is much more consistent. Yes, it can take a bit longer to see results, but you will never go wrong investing your time and efforts into SEO." Tracie Fobes started blogging in 2009. When she began blogging she was left to figure it out on her own. As she learned the business of blogging, she knew that no one should ever be left floundering. Now, she has launched coaching and programs to help teach others how to blog — without making the same mistakes she did and without feeling as if they are alone.

The best place to invest your resources as a blogger is SEO. Algorithms change, but SEO is much more consistent.

MICHELLE SCHROEDER-GARDNER

Owner of:  Making Sense of Cents
Established:  2011

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder and creator of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance and lifestyle website which aims to helps readers earn more, save more, and live more. Michelle sold her house in 2015, and has been traveling full-time since. She currently earns over $100,000 a month with her business.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

I would do much of the same thing, but faster. I started on free Blogspot without my own domain. If I were to do it again, I would buy my own domain, be on self-hosted WordPress, and pay for a design. Those three things go a long way for a new website, and don't even need to be super expensive either! I did this the wrong way in the beginning because I had no idea what I was doing, didn't spend the time to research the correct way, and because I didn't even know that blogs could make money - instead, my blog was just a personal hobby of mine.

GRANT SABATIER

Owner of:  Millennial Money
Established: 2015

Grant Sabatier is the Creator of Millennial Money & Author of Financial Freedom.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

Taking the time to thoroughly analyze and research the market, the competition, and what I can do differently, BEFORE starting an online business. Most people fail before they even get going because they jumped in too quickly and didn't spend enough time thinking through their unique value proposition and analyzing their competition. Remember an online business is a "business," that hopefully, you'll be able to grow and have for many years. It's worth taking the time to plan and do the research. Most people just try to copy someone else and end up doing something they don't like, so they stop. It's so much easier making money doing something you enjoy and took the time to figure out your angle. A few hours of real research upfront can literally save you years of time.

What can you offer that no one else can? Only your story. Sell your story.

SARAH TITUS

Owner of: SarahTitus.com
Established: December 23, 2013

After being homeless, this single stay-at-home mom wouldn’t let anything stop her from going after her dreams. Now, Sarah Titus makes $4.5 million/year online working part-time. She is most known for her ability to save money, completely rock sales in a Shopify store, and create beautiful printables that help moms organize the chaos in their lives.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

The two most stable and secure things you can invest in is building up your newsletter and starting a Shopify Store. Your newsletter is so important because things come and go. Algorithms change, but unless you stop emailing your people or mess up in a super major way, they will always be there for you. Through thick and thin. When traffic to your blog is high, they'll be there. When traffic to your blog is low, they'll be there. So long as you continue building that relationship with them on a personal level. I've been making money online for 21 years! I've done just about everything legit. A Shopify store is THE best way to make money online, hands down. Shopify is life-changing. My first month on Shopify, I made $52,060. While it may not be that high for everyone else your first month, you have to admit, there's an amazing amount of potential there. Be generous, give your fans free stuff, get them to the store and if you have good products, the products will sell themselves. Your customers will share your stuff, tell their friends, leave positive reviews, and change your life forever. 🙂

JEFF PROCTOR

Owner of:  DollarSprout.com
Established: 2015

Hi! I'm Jeff. A personal finance nerd and entrepreneur at heart, I'm a blogger over at DollarSprout.com, where I write about all the latest cool ways to make and save extra money. I've been quoted in several online publications, including Entrepreneur, NBC News, GoBankingRates, Student Loan Hero, Business.com, Credit Karma, and more.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

From a marketing perspective, if I were to start completely from scratch today, with no knowledge or audience, I would invest nearly all of my time into learning search engine optimization, or SEO. Getting higher visibility from search engines has been an important element in our blog's success, and I think it's just as much as skill as it is an art. Cultivating it early is tremendously important! Money-wise, I would invest in anything related to making your "product" better. For our blog, that would mean investing in high-quality content and anything related to making our site design stand out. These are both long lasting investments -- the benefits will remain long after you've spent the money.

From a marketing perspective, if I were to start completely from scratch today, with no knowledge or audience, I would invest nearly all of my time into learning search engine optimization.

Talaat and Tai McNeely

Owner of:  His and Her Money
Established: 2014

Talaat and Tai McNeely are Financial Educators that are on a mission to get individuals and couples on the same page financially and to experience the joys of financial freedom. They are co-authors of Money Talks: The Ultimate Couple's Guide To Communicating About Money. They are also the hosts of the top-rated podcast, "The His and Her Money Show". Talaat and Tai McNeely (His and Her Money) have been featured in numerous publications such as Black Enterprise, FoxNews.com, MSN.com, Essence, and Business Insider.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

If we were to start our online business today we would invest our time and money in learning as much as possible in the area of video production. Producing content in video format is widely used and preferred. It is a market full of untapped possibilities.

Invest in yourself before you invest in someone else.

Suzi Whitford

Owner of:  Start a Mom Blog
Established:  2015

Suzi Whitford is a former Industrial Engineer who left the corporate world to raise her little tribe of children. She spends her free time helping moms build their blogs and applies her corporate knowledge of Lean Six Sigma to simplify the blogging process. She has helped over 45,000 moms start and grow their blogs and many of her students are making $2,000 - $20,000 per month with their own blogs. Over the past five years, along with the help of her amazing husband, they have grown their family by three and paid off all of their debt before the age of 30. Suzi aims to help other moms gain the confidence to use their talents and grow successful businesses online.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

I would do keyword research, create targeted content and grow my email list. I would focus completely on that for the first year. After that, I'll create and launch products. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best solution.

Just start. 🙂

Elna Cain

Owner of:  Twins Mommy and Elna Cain
Established: 2017 and 2016

Elna is a professional writer for digital brands and offers support to other moms on her website, Twins Mommy and writers on her website, Elna Cain. In a few short years, she was able to start a home-based business with twin toddlers and replace her full-time teaching income only working part-time – at home. She now helps other moms start a blog and grow their business while taking care of their children.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

My investment if I started a new online business today would be the same as when I started my service-based blog in 2016 – consistent content and networking. Those two strategies can help you grow your credibility in your niche, grow your tribe of followers, your email list and eventual income. To break this down I found these tactics to be the most helpful in growing my business. Purposeful and consistent content – there's more that goes into producing regular and consistent content every week or multiple times a week. The content needs to have a purpose like growing your traffic, email list or income. So having a blog plan is key to creating consistent content. As well your content needs to engage your readers and make them invest in your writing. (https://twinsmommy.com/blogtrafficplanner) By using certain copywriting principles that I picked up writing for brands, I create audience-focused content that hooks a reader in and attracts them to sign up to my offers. Guest posting – You can guest post on niche-specific low traffic blogs to connect with your target client or you can guest post on high domain authoritative sites with millions of pageviews to grow your brand. I would use both of those strategies to get in front of a new audience and share my expert knowledge. Collaborating – An aspect of networking is collaborating on future projects with influencers in your industry or similar bloggers in your industry. Early on with Twins Mommy I ran a giveaway and called on a lot of bloggers I had connected with and they graciously offered up their products for my giveaway. Similarly, I started talking about Tailwind a lot on my blog and eventually became an affiliate for their service. This lead to Tailwind promoting my pin and featuring me on their blog and in their white paper guide for list building.

ALEX SCHROEDER

Owner of:  FITnancials
Established: 2013

Alexis Schroeder is the owner of FITnancials, a blog dedicated to serving women who want to achieve financial freedom and grow their online business. With budgeting and numerous side hustles, Alexis paid off over $40,000 of student loans and debt in under 5 months. If you want to pay off debt, start a new career, you've landed in the right place.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

Education! I spent so long trying to find free information online from unreliable sources. I could have saved time and invested a little money to learn how to do things strategically with results and goals in mind. For example, I waited years to learn about Google SEO and lost a lot of potential traffic because of that. I finally enrolled in a Google SEO course and my traffic shot up almost immediately from learning from a qualified teacher with updated SEO lessons.

Learn from someone in the business who is doing what you want to do.

MONICA FROESE

Owner of:  Redefining Mom
Established: 2013

Monica Froese is a professional blogger and Pinterest marketing expert. She has an MBA degree in finance and marketing and blogs at Redefining Mom, a site where moms thrive in both motherhood and business. She has been featured on several media outlets including Fox News, Scary Mommy, Healthline, and Mom Talk Radio. Monica provides online marketing education to professional moms who are looking to build profitable blogs through effective sales funnels and Pinterest ads.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

If I was starting over today, I would hands down invest more time and money into networking and making connections. Looking back over the last 6 years, the biggest impacts have come from joining strategic masterminds and getting in front of people in the same industry. As they say, it's all about how you know and there is so much wisdom in that statement. In the beginning, it's easy to feel held back by wondering what you have to offer people who are further along than you. The answer is A LOT but you won't know that until you put yourself out there. My advice is to seek out communities and programs that will position you to network with influencers.

Everything in business is tied to your network!

Kristin Larsen

Owner of:  Believe in a Budget
Established: 2015

Kristin Larsen is the found of believeinabudget.com, a personal finance website geared towards helping women love their life on any budget. Her website shares tips on how to budget, side hustle and become an entrepreneur. In addition, she's a Pinterest marketing expert and launched PinterestVA.com, which has helped over 2,100 entrepreneurs become Pinterest virtual assistants.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

If I started a new online business today, I would do two things. First, I would invest my time into creating multiple free resources for my readers. Second, I would invest in an email marketing and opt-in provider, so I could test out which resources resonated best with my readers. Building an email list is a must to build relationships with readers, so creating free resources is a great way to start!

Want to learn what your audience really wants from you? Create multiple free, helpful resources for your readers and see which ones readers request the most!

LAUREN BOWLING

Owner of: Financial Best Life
Established: 2016

Lauren Bowling is the blogger behind popular millennial finance site, Financial Best Life. She's worked with several prominent financial brands and been featured in Forbes.com, CNBC, and Business Insider.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

I would focus more on learning about social media and promotion. Initially, I spent a ton of time writing, which is what I wanted to do, but not what served my business best. Learning how to promote and connect with an audience is the key to online brand awareness and selling, which is why it's important to master this skill first.

Learning how to promote and connect with an audience is the key to online brand awareness and selling, which is why it's important to master this skill first.

KUMIKO R. LOVE

Owner of: The Budget Mom

Established: 2016

Kumiko Love is an Accredited Financial Counselor®, successful business owner, blogger, and mom to her 6-year-old son. Her unique, practical and fun budgeting method and techniques have helped thousands of women all around the world take control of their finances, pay off debt, save more money, and build a life they love on a budget they can afford.

IF YOU WERE TO START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS TODAY, WHERE WOULD YOU INVEST YOUR TIME AND MONEY?

In the very beginning, I would focus on creating a business plan. There are a lot of elements to an online business. It's important to focus on the things you want to accomplish. Don't spend all of your time trying to learn and do everything. Focus on what you want to accomplish with your business and spend your time & resources on those specific things.

fINAL THOUGHTS

The possibilities are endless.  The opportunity for success is at your fingertips; you just need to throw yourself out there and try.

Life teaches us that there is never a perfect plan.

But life does teach us to surround ourselves with those who have the same drive and similar goals.

Ponder on what your next step is going to be on your journey to becoming an online entrepreneur and take a chance.

With all of the experts that came together to help you on your quest for greatness, the one common denominator that they all have is they took a chance.

Be brave, be bold and remember, you only lose if you do not try!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Steve Jobs
Stanford Commencement Address - 2005

2 thoughts on “Starting an Online Business: Expert Advice on What You Need to Do”

  1. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for doing this roundup – it’s great. Very interesting and helpful, lots of great insights.
    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your blog!

    Clare xx

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