So you want to start an online business – but you’re not sure where to start…
Maybe you have no money and no ideas – or is it too many ideas?
Are you puzzled on how to build a product/service that people will actually buy?
Having the right information is priceless. No matter what business you want to conduct, you need to have access to valid and up to date data. Yes, you can read books about all this, buy info-products, go to seminars and pay for coaching calls. But this will probably take more time and money than you can afford at the moment.
So what’s the other option you’re left with? See what the experts do and discover how they think. I mean, real people making real money on the Internet, not (just) talking about it. For this reason alone, I’ve got my partners (Codrut Turcanu and Jim Mandoli) to scour the web and look up people who are already running successful Internet businesses. They had to be open and honest about their answers.
The only question we asked these guys was simple yet powerful (see below).
“IF you had no idea, zero entrepreneurial experience and under $100 in your Paypal/bank account, what would you do in the next 90 days to launch a profitable Internet business? What niche would you tap? What would you sell or promote? What would you avoid?”
It made them think non-linearly, and share insights you’d probably never thought possible.
Enjoy the ride and take these gold nuggets to the bank. Consider the information below $10,000 worth to you. This stuff is not free as everybody who made this post happen actually spent their valuable time to put it together and bring it into existence. Appreciate the value shared and take action on it, or nothing else will happen.
I want you come back here next year, the same month and day, and share how your business and life changed as a result or reading this expert round up.
Onto this note, I’d like to send a BIG THANK YOU to all participants and everyone else involved to help spread the word about this post.
ENJOY AND PAY IT FORWARD!
Given my strength is writing I would start a new business by writing a free report and then selling private coaching as my first product from within the report. The private coaching would help me learn about my customers so I can determine what digital product to create next.
I’m assuming this is a new business so I have no existing audience to tap into, hence the $100 would go to buying ads on facebook to get people to the optin page where they can download my report.
Using the report, a landing page optin form, and an email autoresponder I would work to get at least 10 coaching clients as research, then launch my digital product to the same list I created doing this process.
Take a loan 🙂 – Joking. $100 is only enough to start a services based business in the beginning until you build capital. There is no way around it but the need to put in a lot of hours. Below is simply 1 example of many that I can think of… here is what I would do:
– Get a domain name ($9) and free hosting (wordpress, tumblr etc.) then research and compile a lot of data from cited sources and write what is known a ‘pillar content’ on your topic of interest. This is normally 5k+ words, lots of nice images to backup your points and is a well compiled resource on that topic.
I would then have a call to action ‘Want pillar content that goes viral for your site? Hire me’ and then outreach to all the large sites and influencers in that niche letting them know that their readers would benefit from that resource. This will help get quality inbound links and start your site off on the right foot. If you include quotes from sources, contact them to let them know you mentioned them if they could tweet and reblog you.
Next, join all the job boards out there (odesk, problogger etc.) and use your new site with the quality links as a case study for viral content you can create. Price it high, there is always demand from the right sources, become the go to person for this type of content.
As you start doing more projects, you can start hiring data researchers and writers under you and start automating much more of the process, this will also grow your nest egg and understanding to the point where you can afford to move into a more traditional internet business, and by this time your personal (case study) site should have become an authority in that niche/topic and you could look to generate more income from there.
Get an Autoresponder early on (sendy.co is 1 time price, or you can get a mailchimp type account free for first 100 subscribers) and start building your list on your site, build an audience. Make Youtube videos where you break down your pillar post and explain it on video, start building a tribe.
I would find a niche dominated by spammy looking 1-3 page sites (let’s call these type of sites “set-and-forget” sites), Rebel Mouse pages and press releases. A niche where no one bothers to build a fleshed out gigantic authority site. The type of niche where every site out there has been made just for the purpose of ranking for one product’s keyword, which they only chose because that product had high gravity on Clickbank, NOT because they know about the market, let alone have a passion for that particular niche.
Because if you build out an authority site properly you can outrank all the set-and-forget sites in a matter of months. Plus you can dominate each and every one of the product keywords in that niche they’re all fighting for with their set-and-forget sites.
Fact is, in these types of niches people are too lazy to build out an entire site. They’d rather just build a set-and-forget type site and then leave it and move onto the next niche.
You see, there’s something I’ve discovered about competitive niches chock full of these set-and-forget sites…
No one fully researches the market, the content SUCKS and they all use the same strategies to rank their sites which are:
Blog comments, article submissions, press releases, Rebel Mouse sites and tiered link building.
They don’t work out a strategy to get any authority sites linking to them. They just plough a load of easy to get links at it and accept that they’ll only rank for a short amount of time, most likely on the first page of Google but nowhere above position 3 and will be happy with a few commissions here and there.
It might not be laziness, it might just be because it works for them, or that no one ever does build out a big site, so there’s no competition.
Whatever it is, I try and capitalise on it.
So what do I do?
Well, I go and research that market, create a brand and a slant on the subject I know I can get authority sites to link to. And then create a strategy where I can attract links from both authority sites in that niche and if necessary, links in adjacent markets.
Then I’ll spend a solid month building out an entire site. I’ll choose about 5 hefty keywords that have a ton of monthly searches, build power pages around those keywords (expert roundups, infographics, list posts, video tutorials etc.), write all the content myself so I can guarantee SEO quality and a unique voice, launch it, then promote it with targeted email outreach.
Those power pages won’t be the exact product keywords, but will be closely related. In fact, I don’t need to get one single link to any of my product reviews because I can send the link juice from the power pages to make them rise up Google.
Basically I’ll create 5 power pages that answer the questions to the major keywords people search for to solve their problems in that niche, build a tonne of white-hat links to those by promoting them to real people’s blogs (strictly through email outreach), get links from those sites, rank the power pages on Google, then all the link juice from those will be filtered through to my product review posts (money pages) which will then rise up Google alongside them.
I build my links though two stages of email outreach. Nothing else. These two stages are:
#2 Broken link building
With promotion I literally email anyone and everyone I think might be interested in my content shortly after it goes live. These will be people I linked out to from the article or people who talk about it a lot on social media.
Broken link building is my bread and butter strategy for convincing authority sites to link to me and I do this after the 3 days of heavy promotion run their course. I recently made a video sharing my exact methods for broken link building.
I have used these simple yet effective strategies to rank #3 for a competitive product review keyword with a ton of competition on one of my niche sites.
I never built a single link to that product review. Instead I used onsite optimisation and internal links from my authority site to pump all the juice I needed to rank it.
That’s the thing. If all of your competition in a niche like the kind of niche I mentioned above only have a few pages on their site, you can throw a lot more inner juice at the product review pages you want to rank with a full blown 20+ page authority site.
Why do you think sites like Wikihow rank for pretty much EVERY how-to keyword?
Because they have hundreds of power pages on their site and an insane inner linking structure.
Sure, it might take longer to make money from your site using this strategy, because it relies predominately on organic search, but once you get there you’ll be there for the long haul. And boy oh boy will you be able to clean up!
And once you do get there, let’s say that one product review you rank in the top 3 results on Google brings in over USD 2,000 in commissions per month.
Do this for 4 other product reviews and maybe after one year you’ll have a USD 10,000 per month site on your hands!
To wrap up, all this can be achieved with in depth market research, clever branding, email outreach and a lot of hard work.
I guess your only expenses out of that initial $100 would be domain name, branding and hosting.
I’d use the same philosophy and business model I talk about on my site. Here’s the short answer:
1. Focus on what you know. From the beginning of SMG, I focused on the aspects of marketing that were second nature to me. I built my sites on those natural marketing principles while running the back end. Web design was a secondary skill, so I focused on the marketing of the sites, which then built revenue. Later I’d invest in a professionally done design.
2. Small changes can equal big revenue. Once a base of traffic and revenue is built, don’t be afraid to experiment with the site. Once the traffic is there, small changes in design and structure can make big changes in revenue. Ad placement, recurring subscriptions and affiliate marketing can add value to a site without disrupting the base of revenue. Monitor revenue daily, even hourly, to see how your changes have affected revenue. If it’s not working, you can always go back to the way it was.
3. Embrace new trends and look for opportunities to exploit them. For example, SMG entered the ring tone market early, captured traffic and has monetized it. Finding angles and exploiting them for profit is a key aspect of SMG. Maximum and diverse revenue streams are built on fairly narrow marketing concepts that are then diversified. I call this “the Coke Theory.” If you are already making Coke, then you can make Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, etc and turn a profit on those as well. A company can achieve growth through small degrees of separation between sites, maximizing diversity within a small industry.
If I had just $100, before anything I would find out a niche that I would like to work in and have it not feel like “work” as this is really something to avoid. Then I would scope out the market and see how a different spin could be put on it. As for the market, for me it would most certainly be related to design or travel as these are my areas of passion.
Ok, if I had $100 – I would go and get a job, period… If anyone thinks or says you can build a business online with $100, they are talking complete horse shit.
A domain and website alone is almost $100 these days, then you have say $40 left… $100 is unrealistic. So the first thing I would do is get a job, or do work online for money (like write articles whatever it takes). Then I would invest in domains with authority and bid on them at auctions. I would then build a small powerful network for linking purposes.
I would research the local business market well, the searches, volume – other competition – scope out my competition in full. I would then rank a site at the top in a local market – a market where I know the businesses are willing to pay for advertising. I would then rent out that site to one of these small business owners, either by speaking to them on the phone – or having a form they can fill in to rent the space.
I would repeat this a few times, then start investing in to more domains and build a bigger network – and then… I would hit affiliate marketing in lower competition niches where I know I can out rank current sites easily. I would build email lists on all the sites with a freebie bribe – and market to them on the back end, but first… I would build good relationships and trust.
After this, I would start a blog teaching what I know – and build a new list. Then, I would hit facebook PPC, SOLO adverts, and some other traffic sources – giving an incredible offer that’s hard to resist on an OTO page after they sign up for very low cost, This makes my list building low cost and in some cases free. I would then build relationship and trust. Once I have 3k leads, I start preselling and picthing related offers or my own products where I know they give value.
Money loves speed, but if you think you are going to grow a REAL business with just $100, go get a job and get real – the end.
Basically, I would come up with a business idea for a service, or software, that I feel could be funded either by venture capital, crowdfunding, or preselling as $100 is not enough to do anything significant, with a high degree of success, in 90 days.
Then I’d use the $100 to buy a domain, a theme, and a logo to build the brand – that’s a no brainer.
Then, get to work.
If I only had $100 in my bank account and had to work online I’d probably try to do freelance writing to begin with. The basics of seo writing are quite simple and it’s not hard to do a little bit of keyword research and create posts that have a chance of being found.
Content marketing is in vogue but most businesses are not great at creating content for their websites and social media accounts but they really want to be doing social and content marketing. You can take away that pain for them.
You could also try picking up some writing work on sites like textbroker.com, I haven’t personally earned any money there but I have employed writers and I know that I’ve been paying them a decent rate for what they do.
But freelance writing is not really launching a business, it’s more like, as Robert Kiyosaki calls it, “owning a job”. You are still trading your time for money and since there is only so much time in the day there is a limit to how much you can earn.
To create a real business, what I would do personally might not be what I would advise someone else to do, especially if you only have $100.
With only $100 you are very low in capital to be starting any business but the good news is you don’t only have $100. You’ve got other start-up assets that you maybe didn’t think about.
Everyone has their own unique set of skills and experience that they bring to the venture.
To make any progress in 90 days you are going to need to seriously assess your own capabilities and try to create a plan that’s going to make the best use of your existing knowledge.
This is actually what I did last year. I already knew how to make websites and how to rank on Google because I had previously been paid to do this for clients.
I took that existing knowledge and started building my own websites and in the last year I’ve been able to build a portfolio that earns me some money and is growing all the time.
It’s not necessary to know everything about your new business before you start but if you are entering into an area that’s totally unfamiliar to you it’s going to be tough.
Stack the odds in your favour by playing to your strengths.
The second thing that I would recommend is to find someone that is making money online already and try to model your business on theirs as closely as you can.
You don’t need to invent anything new and you don’t need a great idea. You need to take a proven idea that works and you need to execute it well. Again, ask yourself do you have the skills and experience to execute the idea well? If you don’t you are setting yourself up for failure right from the start.
The key to executing well is skillset + focus.
You’ve got to commit yourself to 1 method and stay the course. Don’t always be looking at the next new idea.
The key to staying focused is maintaining a sense of control, a sense of self-efficacy and a belief that you are able to take actions that lead to results.
We keep going because we feel “it’s working!” and we’re making progress. But as soon as you start to lose that minute-by-minute sense of control, belief or whatever you want to call it then that’s when you’re going to throw in the towel.
That’s right. The greatest obstacle you are going to face is yourself and how you react to negative outcomes or a lack of immediate outcomes is going to determine your level of success in the end.
The greatest danger your online business faces is that when you fail (and you will fail sometimes) you teach yourself that “it doesn’t work”. And when you believe that “it doesn’t work” of course you’re going to stop trying to make it work.
Even small wins build momentum and keep your confidence up, that’s why you need to be working within your sphere of competence. It’s ok to be working at the edge of your sphere of competence but don’t be so far out your zone that you get overwhelmed and give up.
You have to guard against this “loss of belief” by choosing something that you are good at and where you can see someone else being successful.
You might even reach out to someone and offer to work for free in exchange for a little mentoring and that mentoring relationship might be there to help you when you encounter setbacks.
Mind-set is the key to online success but I guess people are looking for an action plan so here it comes.
My Action Plan
My experience has been in making money through the Amazon Associate Program and I would stick to what I know works and what I know I am good at. I’d create a website and I’d try to get visitors to that website and at times I’d help people make buying decisions and direct them to amazon.com
Because the budget is so small I’d try to use a mixture of search engine optimisation and social media to get traffic.
Totally new websites just don’t rank very well for the first 3 months or so I’d try to counter this by using most of my budget to buy an expired domain name.
An older domain name that already has some backlinks pointing at it will probably rank better in google than a totally new domain name.
I’d look for a hobby or pastime (preferably something that I am interested in) where people have some large purchasing decisions to make. And by large I mean purchases that cost more than $100.
I’d then write articles that use long tail keywords that show buyer intent, the most common examples are keyword such as “best ______” and “_______ reviews”.
For example if I was blogging about gardening I might make some pages about “best lawn mowers” and/or “lawn mower reviews”.
And in those articles I’d include affiliate links to relevant amazon products.
Usually, in this type of work you need a bigger budget than $100 to create links to your website.
Read up of private blog networks if this interests you.
Since I’ve not got a lot of money I would focus on extremely long tail keywords. Here’s a little tip for you:
“best ________ 2014” or “_______ reviews 2014” are often keywords that are easy to rank for.
You don’t get many visitors but the visitors that you do get will be in the mood for buying.
If you create more content you will have more chance of being found. Each page you create is a new chance to be discovered.
You can also get your website found by finding other popular blogs in your niche and writing interesting blog comments. Include a link to your site and some people will follow it.
I need to conclude by going back to mind-set because it’s so important.
As soon as you start actually doing something you are going to have some wins and some losses. Your failures are valuable data
You need to start seeing your failures as another asset. The more you fail, the more you learn.
People fail with online businesses because when they get knocked down they just don’t get up again.
You need to be ready to fail, expect to fail and when you do don’t take it personally.
And don’t generalise failures, just because 1 specific thing didn’t work doesn’t mean nothing will work.
I think that’s all I have for now, go start failing and good luck!
My first instinct is to say “get $2000 more dollars”. Just because you CAN start a business with $100 doesn’t mean you should.
That being said, if you can only swing $100, you definitely want to go into a service-based business of some kind. It’s by far the fastest money you’ll ever make…if you do it right.
In fact, the first $1 I made online wasn’t from SEO or blogging…it was selling freelance writing services. As long as you pitch a service that’s in demand you have the potential to do well REALLY quickly.
It’s not smart to say “go into this niche”, because it depends on what you can bring to the table. If you don’t know the first thing about web design, it doesn’t make sense to say “start a web design service”…even if there’s massive demand for it.
Instead, I’d look at two things:
First, what problems/challenges/time suckers do people with money have? For example, small business owners are often too busy to run A/B tests on their sites or advertising, even though it’s important.
Second, I’d think about how I could help alleviate or remove that pain point via a service.
If you have those two things, it’s a matter of finding the people who have that issue and pitching your service to them.
To be perfectly honest, I think the idea of starting a business with only $100 and 90 days promotes the head-in-the-clouds, easy-button type promises of riches that the biz-opp crowd has been selling for years.
I don’t think online businesses should be treated much differently than offline businesses. That means you’re going to need some start-up capital and you’re going to have to put the hard work in to the right niche to have the best chance at success.
That being said, $100 still doesn’t get me much. I’ll assume I’ve already got a hosting account and a free/cheap Aweber or MailChimp account. I’m going to have to put in a bunch of hustle to build something from scratch.
I need to make money quick, so I’ll avoid developing software or the “build it and they’ll come” approach – I don’t have enough time for those longer-term strategies. Instead, I’ll look to build “productized services” and use my current networks and connections with other entrepreneurs to piggy-back off their success.
Step 1: Email and/or call successful entrepreneurs I know and ask them what problems they have they’d pay $500 – $1,000 per month to solve. I may limit them to my skillsets, but I’d likely keep this a bit more open to see what they come up with.
Step 2: Once I have 25-30 of these replies, do I see any patterns emerging? Any problems I’m uniquely suited to solve? Cut out the rest and cut it down to the top 4-5.
Step 3: Find the best match for my skillsets that’s either tied directly tied to revenue or cutting costs. Design the perfect avatar or customer profile who stands to gain the most from this offer.
Step 4: Reach out to entrepreneurial thought-leaders in the space, describe what I’m offering, and give them a frictionless path to me solving their problems for free.
Step 5: Purchase a catchy domain, a simple, nice-looking theme from Theme Forest, and create 4-5 pages on the site. Limit it to exactly describing and solving the entrepreneurial problem I’m targeting and write to the “perfect” avatar or customer profile I’ve created.
I should be 3-4 weeks in at this point. I’d split my time: 30% solving the problems of the entrepreneurs that I’ve taken on for free and 70% promoting this service to anyone who will listen.
Don’t be afraid of the phone – if you’re wanting to get this rolling quickly getting on the phone can speed up this process significantly.
I wasn’t very specific with an example above as I just wanted to share the process, but here are a couple of specific solutions this might include:
– Podcast editing + distribution (Editing the files, adding bumpers, creating slides and adding to video, uploading to several multimedia channels, etc.)
– Done-For-You Software Setup/Management (Setting up and running Zendesk or Help Scout accounts with multiple, complicated integrations)
I would get a job. $100 will only go so far and for any startup business and most every industry will require more than that to get going. Some exceptions this this would be if you’re selling artisan goods on a site like etsy.com where it costs 20 cents to list an item. With that you would want to list an item with a high-profit margin, however even in a scenario like this you would still have trouble putting food on the table and a roof over your head.
Some plan to live off savings for the first 2 years when starting their business, which is why having a strong personal foundation in addition to having the ability to pay your bills is a critical first step before starting a business. You will become much more productive if you don’t have stress in your personal life, which will increase the likelihood of truly becoming profitable and sustainable in the future.
Having a strong personal foundation is one of the key foundations of starting a new company. A strong personal foundation includes a pay the personal bills plan, strong personal support team and clear personal goals that align with your business plan. With only 100 in the bank it would be clear to me that you do not have a strong pay the bills plan and need to get that in place first.
If I had $100 to spend, I’d use that registering a domain (-$8) and provisioning a cheap static site (a few dollars). On this domain, I’d put together a sales page for a service where I’d provide monthly reports and analysis for agency owners — just give us access to your invoice log and any project management and collaboration apps, and we’ll provide a monthly report that shows you what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and what to do differently.
I’d find customers through a cold outreach campaign. I’d first go to web hosts like Heroku and EngineYard who have partner databases and compile a list of prospects. I’d then sign up for ToutApp (-$30) and send pseudo-templated emails promoting the service. I’d charge anywhere between $500 and $1000 a month.
If/when we grow, I’d then look into automating these monthly reports and fund the development of the software generating these reports through the retainer revenue I’m generating. Once I was confident enough in the software, I’d invest in making it a SaaS and put together a marketing for the app. I’d then phase out the manual report generation (or convert my legacy customers to the SaaS) model.
If I’m not able to sell the reporting service to agencies, I’ll pull the plug with very little time invested on my end and no money/time spent on custom development.
Honestly I think $100 is nothing and there’s no big difference between starting your business with $0 or $100. However, I think that the $100 is best spent on your own education.
Buy a course or an ebook to help you learn a specific skill that can help you succeed online. It can be:
– Search engine optimization
– Niche website building
– Setting up and Using WordPress
Try to focus on one skill at at time and master it before moving on.
I’d do exactly what I did before when I had no money to start with. I’d pick a niche that I was interested in AND that I could find a way to differentiate myself from others. Build a website to target that niche and execute on my differentiation plan. Picking a specific niche is irrelevant. What matter is how you can leverage your individual skills.
I’d start by listening to people who were looking to hire web designers or who had already hired web designers. How were they conducting their search to find one and where? What questions did they have about the process? If their experience with web designers was bad, why? What did they wish they knew before starting a web design project?
And then I’d offer to help. Did they have questions? Did they want a second set of eyes to look at anything? Did they want to brainstorm what to do next? Did they want a second opinion? Was there anything they wanted to know about the industry? And I would help them without offering my own services or charging them. More importantly, I wouldn’t be pushy about it, I’d just look for folks who had questions I had answers to.
This help wouldn’t be a month of work or redesigning their whole website. Instead it’d take the form of emails, chats or talking things out on the phone/Skype. Basically: a free consult.
This would start with a single person. Then another. Then another. Building a highly-relevant audience is the key.
Alright, if I only had $100 and 90 days to make something happen I would definitely get involved with affiliate marketing. Here’s how I would do that:
I would hit up Amazon.com and start looking for products that solve a particular pain point, ie. acne medication, health supplements, hell, even bad breath fixes!
From there I would run a Google search, and compose my query like this: product name “affiliate”.
Once I found a few potential products with affiliate programs I could join, I would then register for a free trial of LongTail Pro, and use it to find profitable keywords based around those products that I could review on my own website—which would cost $10 to register, then $5 to host.
After I discovered at least one product that has low competition keywords, I would then publish posts on my site based around these keywords—so I would look for keywords such as: product name, product name review, does product name work, and buy product name.
From there I would spend the next 2 weeks straight building links in order to start ranking on page one of Google.
Then once the traffic started to roll in, I would create income through the affiliate links on my site promoting the product I found during my keyword research.
Then I would just rinse and repeat until I’m creating enough income to put into future ventures.
I’d first pick a segment that I am particularly passionate and interested in, whether that be ICT, Healthcare, Payment Systems, Ecommerce…it could be anything as long as I am really pumped and excited about it. Then I’d do some extensive research on that segment or vertical. Who would I be competing against? Where are the opportunities in this vertical? How can I truly solve a problem that addresses a huge market? Can I solve that problem better/faster than my competitors? What are the USP’s of my internet business idea? Are they compelling enough to gain traction? What potential business models could I use?
Then I’d hire a freelance web developer to create a landing page that communicates my business idea so that it is exciting, to the point but informative, and I can capture my first early adopters through email sign up on our landing page.
Once I had at least 100 sign ups, I’d contact those users to find out how they found my landing page and why they decided to sign up and simply ask what their expectations are and what they would really love to have in my new internet business that delivers value to them as my customer. I’d kindly ask them for a 1 year commitment as I work towards building a product that satisfies their needs. Then I’d follow up with them with an offer to Pre-order my product/service for a special limited time only price to establish proof of concept and to know that people are willing to pay for my product/service, proof that they need it, that it is worth their time and money to invest in it.
I would choose a niche in ICT apps for businesses on one OS platform to start and focus on the UX and helping businesses use this app to improve their overall business communications that have been deemed chaotic, stressful and unmanageable until they started using my app. Selling/promoting effective and customizable email communication with the best UX in my niche.
I’d avoid competing with the large corps in my space but rather leveraging them and supporting them instead. I’d avoid trying to satisfy every request a user sends me, but rather prioritizing the requests that offer the best ROI on growth for the lowest resources. I’d avoid over pricing or under pricing my product/service. I wouldn’t speak negatively of my competitors, but rather focus on my USP’s and keeping tight communication with my true fans.
With only $100 to invest I would:
Start a website where I could market my skills.
1) Buy cheap shared hosting: $5/month
2) Install WordPress (free and one click install)
3) Buy a WordPress theme from ThemeForest.net $40
4) Buy a logo on Fiverr.com at $5
That would give me a professional looking website for aprox. $75 for the first six months.
Then I would market my skills. This does not necessarily has to be what I’ve been working with. It can also be something I’m passionate about.
For instance I’m passionate about running and I’ve gotten myself from being out of breath after 500 meters to running half-marathons on my own on Sundays.
I don’t have a body that was meant for big physical accomplishments, but I instead have worked only with my mindset. This is something I feel I could help more people with.
Running is a big niche and I could quickly put together a six month program where I talked with people on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. In the beginning I would mainly find customers in my current network as well as being active in several Facebook groups.
While this means that I would sell my time and not really scale, it would supply me enough input on what works and what doesn’t in my program. Once a few people had been through my coaching that would have gotten results (and thereby testimonials) I would launch a cheap $97 information product (probably with video and downloadable checklists).
At this point I would have some cashflow (from the coaching clients) and I would use Facebook ads to reach a bigger audience.
The strategy is to
1) launch quickly, don’t spend months on a website when it can be up and running in a few days. Accept a (in your opinion) 95% finished website (heck I’ve often accepted way less).
2) Market a skill that you’re comfortable with (and preferable passionate about). You might not see yourself as an expert but you probably also know 95% about a topic in your life than rest of the population
3) Accept that this is a learning process and you cannot create a $2000 online product that 5000 people will buy without effort. By doing direct 1 on 1 coaching or consulting you learn about your target audience’s issues and problems. You also get results that you can use in your marketing going forward. The better you know your audience the better results you can get for them, and the easier your marketing will be.
But by launching early you will get paid in this learning process!
4) There is no failure, only feedback. And accept that you will get a lot of it!
A lot of my decisions would be based on the specifics of what I wanted to get out of the site/project. For example, if my goal was to create a small niche site that would ultimately make about $200 per month with little on-going effort the approach would be different than if I was looking to build an authority blog that required a lot of on-going work but had unlimited income potential. If I was looking to create something with high potential and a long-term focus my goal from the start would be to build a large and active email list.
As far as the niche is concerned, I usually choose topics that interest me and that I want to learn more about. It doesn’t always have to be a “passion”, but I do look for topics that I will at least want to learn more about, otherwise the work becomes a lot more tedious. I also tend to look for popular niches and industries because of the higher income potential.
In order to start building the list I’d create some sort of free resource that I could use as a bribe to get people to subscribe. I’d setup a landing page with the optin form, and ideally the site would also have a blog. Building a network would be a priority from the start, so I’d identify some bloggers that I want to connect with and start following them through their blogs and social media (Brian Dean wrote an excellent guide to blogger outreach). One of my favorite ways to build strong connections with other bloggers is to write guest posts.
I wouldn’t go overboard with publishing articles on my own blog at first. One post per week, or even twice a month, could be enough to start generating some traffic and subscribers with effective blogger outreach. I’d email the list about once or twice per week, with only a small percentage of those emails being promotions or pitches. If I’m able to start growing the list I should be able to start making money within the first 90 days. There are affiliate products that can be promoted in just about any niche, so this is probably where I would start. Down the road as the list grows I’d look to create and sell some of my own products as well.
If I only had $100 and 90 days to start a profitable online business, I’d do a couple things:
1. Use $30 to buy a domain and hosting from a reputable website (godaddy, google, bluehost etc), and put up a blog.
2. I’d write the blog on a narrow topic that I had at least some skill AND even more interest in. To figure it out what topic would work the best, I would think about what I would google if I were searching for answers in that niche, and then google those questions. If other companies come up, I know there’s a market for my topic. Excellent! If none really do, I’d turn to google adwords to find out how many people are searching on that topic, and if it where quite a few, I’d start writing the blog. If not, I’d go to the next topic. The great thing about the internet is that it allows almost any skill of value to be turned into a business, and new skills are being created all the time. If I knew about crowdsourcing, for example, I might start a blog on how to crowdsource for your business. If I loved to ride horses, I might talk about how to solve whatever problems I commonly experience as a horse-owner. Or I’d start a blog on how to find your passion…since that’s what I help people do now :).
3. Then I’d make a list of folks I can interview to find out what they need help with the most in my topic. If horses was the topic, I’d talk to all the horse-owners I know, and ask what they struggle with the most. I’d use the blog and the interviews to give free advice to start solving their problems (and building my credibility and expertise). And, after talking to a good number of folks (between 25-50, probably), I could start to develop a product that I know people would be interested in buying. After all, I know their struggles now, right? I’d set up another page on my website for folks to sign up to be interviewed, which would let me capture their email. Now I’ve got a potential product interest list.
4. I’d spend a few weeks creating a simple product, or even a live course via webinar, and then I’d hire an elance person for $50 to do a simple sales page design for me.
5. I’d go back to all the people I interviewed, and offer them the product or the webinar, highlighting how it can help them and boom. I’ve got a business up and running.
6. With the remaining $20 I’d treat myself to something nice :), business building is hard work!
What I’d avoid: Going after a niche that isn’t narrow and specific. “Helping women negotiate better” is a narrow niche. “Work” is way too broad. And I’d also avoid building something with a lot of materials up front. Doing a webinar or a series of live calls allows more flexibility and a lower cost. You can turn that into a product later.
Like many entrepreneurs, I did not have much money when I started my first business, which happened to be a hosting company. At the time I knew nothing about hosting and had never run a hosting company before, but I was willing to give it a shot. So it only makes practical sense for me to describe how I would build a bootstrap hosting company.
I would signup at a host like asmallorange.com, hostgator, or even my previous company (which I am no longer a part of) pacifichost.com with a reseller account, which typically starts around $20-25/month. With a reseller account, I get a free billing system license and typically would choose WHMCS because it is the most popular one. Then, I would go over to themeforest.net and buy a cool looking hosting template to use. A template typically costs between $15-40; however, hosts with re-seller hosting services typically have a small selection of templates to choose from.
Next, I would head to zomex.com and pay them to do a WHMCS integration for me, which is a one time $35 fee. I would then seek a $100 Google Adwords credit and open that up. I would spend some time gathering a list of forums that have host advertising sections and then create a hosting ad to advertise my services. I would slowly start posting these ads on weekly basis, become actively involved in the webhostingtalk.com community, and start to establish a reputation. By offering a decent service and being devoted to the success of your business, it is possible to make it no matter how saturated the market is.
The key, especially in the hosting industry, is finding a specific niche to go after. Minecraft hosting is a popular area, along with many others.
There is an analogy I like to use here. As a host, you do not want to be the general physician. There are many general physicians and they refer you to a specialist. It is harder to get repeat business as a general physician because there is so much competition. But if you have a specific ailment, your physician is going to refer you to a specialist.
As a host you need to be the specialist because it is easier to grow your company. Specialists have more control over setting their prices and there can be little to no competition. Every cPanel host offers the ability to host WordPress, yet WPengine, a host specifically designed for hosting WordPress blogs, has grown tremendously over the past few years. Now, WPengine has come to be almost synonymous with WordPress hosting. As a new host this is what you need to do, Spend some time researching specific software and software plugins, then find an untapped area using google.com/trends and Google Adword keyword research tool. To find untapped areas, look for search terms for software that are not returning any hosting companies. You can also set up individual landing pages for specific types of software or services and then hope to get listed on a search term relevant for that market.
I would steer clear of any fads, get rich quick schemes or niches I know nothing about, and I’d figure out what it was that I could do that people valued. I’d then try insanely hard to be as valuable as possible to as many people as I could with that skill, without worrying too much about whether I got paid or not to begin with.
I’d then use what I learned by helping people to figure out what they wanted / needed enough to pay for, and I’d set myself up to offer that, whether it was through a product, through consulting/coaching or some other service.
Not glamorous or particularly sexy, and certainly not instant riches, but the basis for a great business if you can see it through.
First, I’d make a list of things you’re passionate about and topics you’re willing to live and breathe for the next few years, since that’s essentially what you’ll be doing.
From there, try to look at which might be the easiest to get in to. What niches are lagging behind others in terms of good, quality content? How could you monetize each niche in the future?
You want to think it through for a little bit, but don’t think you’ll have all the answers before you start (because you won’t), and don’t let trying to be perfect paralyze you. Take 2-3 days, pick one, and go for it.
I’d take that $100 and start the site. With $100, you can register a domain, get hosting, and even possibly hire someone to help you build a basic site. Or you can build a basic site yourself using tons of free tools.
After that, reach out to others you respect and admire in the online space. Offer to help them in some way, and tell them you like what they are doing. Start connecting. This will be the most important part of growing your site. Get in a mastermind group. All of this stuff is free, and will have more of an impact than any amount of money you can throw at a site.
I’d avoid any “get rich quick” schemes. Focus on building your brand around YOU, and while growth may be slow, you’ll be building a community of people who trust you, which is much better in the long run.
I’m going to give a slightly unconventional answer. And that is: I don’t know. I would start by listening to myself, and what I felt drawn to do. It might be working with someone else, doing consulting, or even freelance work. But above all, I’d stay open to the possibilities that are in front of me. Not following a formula. Being open to steps and ideas, yes, but also being open to what I feel drawn to do.
That might lead to a profitable internet business, or it might lead to something entirely different. I don’t know. But what I do know is that whenever I listen to the magnetic pull of life, good stuff tends to happen.
Piece of cake. LOL.
To be clear – $100 is a small amount of money to start-up a business, but I like the challenge.
Let’s assume you already own an e-mail list (as long as you have at least one e-mail – you have a list. Obviously, 10,000 e-mails is better than 5).
Ask yourself – what do the people on your e-mail list have in common?
Segment your e-mail list into groups. i.e. “loves gardening,” “vegan,” “interested in making money online,” “looking for stock tips,” etc. Depending on how well you can segment your list and on how many e-mails you have you may end up with just a few groups or dozens of groups.
The key here is to really focus in on what your think the list would be most interesting in learning more about…and if given the opportunity might buy something from you….once you’ve established enough trust by giving away a lot of value on whatever topic your group is interested in.
Do research on the topic the group is interested in. Spend a lot of time here and be smart. You are becoming an expert on topics that your list loves and cares about so they will call your bluff if you don’t know what you are talking about.
Once you’ve done the applicable research select 7-10 topics that you can write about and share with each specific group.
For instance, if you want to establish trust within your “dog lovers” group you may want to share a list of the Top 10 Charitable Organizations Benefiting Dogs, 15 Most Common Types of Dogs, 5 Ways to Avoid Deer Tics Using Non-Toxic Treatments, or share a questionnaire asking common questions to dog lovers (share answers once compiled).
The idea here is to start sending e-mails to your list.
Make sure each e-mail is customized to the group.
Establish trust with the group.
Once trust is established you can begin to mix in recommendations to affiliate products (check out Commission Junction, eBay Enterprises Affiliate Network, ClickBank, etc).
For example, when talking about arthritis in dogs you might want to recommend a few treatment options using affiliate links to 1-800-PetMeds.
Rinse and repeat.
Keep growing your list.
Once you establish that a certain group is easier than others to monetize spend more time on that group and remove groups that don’t perform.
BTW – I just spent $0 of your money.
Take the $100 and buy some Facebook Ads using a Facebook “Audience” campaign.
Facebook Audience allows you to upload your e-mail list by group and send highly targeted Facebook Ads to the group.
Once you make money I’d recommend that you prime the pump on the front end by reinvesting in growth of your list through Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and the Bing / Yahoo AdCenter.
With a $100 I would start a blog. I’d find a niche I am fond of, use a free WordPress theme, and start writing. I would then reach out to others in my space and build traffic through guest posting. Once my traffic starts to go up I would create an informational product, write sales copy, and start to sell it online. I would wait though until I have 50,000 visitors a month before I start monetizing.
The $100 is almost irrelevant in this case, because you don’t need it to begin selling your services online. If you really want to spend it, set-up a WordPress site to showcase your talents in case anyone you pitch asks for references or a portfolio. Between the domain and hosting for a year, you’ll be out $75.
Next, I’d find some people or businesses in need of a service or skill I could provide. You can find them proactively if you know the niche, or you can find them through a giant freelance marketplace like Elance.
In either case, you’ll pitch your unique offering to prospective clients and after the first 90 days you’ll find yourself with a portfolio of client work to showcase, a boatload of positive feedback, and a healthy profit to leverage into new opportunities, scale, and grow.
At that point you can decide if you want to continue or use your earnings to build a more time-leveraged business, but the primary goal was getting out of the risky and desperate situation of having only $100 to your name.
With $100, I would offer my skills as a service. For me, it’d be web design and front-end web development.
In Spring 2008, I wanted to start an online business. WordPress was in it’s infancy. I reached out to get a few quotes for the site that I wanted to build without knowing anything about building a website. They came back between $20K-30K. As a college student, I probably had less than $100.
So I went to the student job listings and found a $15/hour gig as a Joomla developer. I still knew nothing, but I called Craig and told him that I was his guy. That weekend I went through every HTML, CSS, and Joomla tutorial that I could find and got the job on Monday.
Over the next year I built a dozen sites for Craig and learned what it means to build a good website. That experience lead to a few more years of freelancing and now I’m working on a larger project that has more potential to grow.
With only $100, I’d avoid working on anything that doesn’t pay me right away.
In my experience, if you want to have an online business, you need to understand how to build a website. Otherwise, it’s like opening a restaurant without knowing how to cook. The best way to learn is to do and you might as well get paid to learn.
I would change my idea about the 90 day plan as no Rome is ever built in a day. Set your expectations right, that’s step one. If you expect something too quick, you will give up too soon and most certainly fail. And then I would blog or do other content marketing like my life depended on it – better than anyone has ever seen. If you don’t aim to be the very best, your chances are very slim. Don’t cut corners, do it right.
What to sell? That depends entirely on what you’re good at and/or interested in.
$100 and 90 days is tough.
I’d do what I do best these days. Launch a blog in a niche I knew well and was passionate about.
Probably something in the IM, travel or dating niche that’s a big and evergreen market.
With such a small budget I’d stick with shared hosting, buy a domain from namecheap, grab Aweber for their $1 trial for 30 days.
I’d start cranking out content like a mad man.
Probably focusing on a series of lengthy and high quality posts that not only aim to be the best resource on the web about the topic but that reference, quote, link to, and feature lots of big names and influential people in my niche and be sure to let them know about so they’d share my content and link to me.
This would bring in some initial traffic and attention.
I would stick with affiliate programs for now to monetize and promote through the content and via my email list.
Building my list would be priority #1 as that would help my site grow quicker by continually driving traffic back to the blog, building up a relationship, and some promotions thrown in.
There’s no guarantee that by the 90 days it would be profitable (it could easily be though) but it would over the next few months turn into a profitable business IF everything was done correctly.
I’d avoid any shiny new systems or push button stuff and stick with what’s tried and tested.
If I were to advise someone on the business to start now, I would wholeheartedly taking that last $100 and getting an email newsletter service setup.
For $14 you can set up an iContact.com account. I would then set up a WordPress blog, and begin writing short, but helpful posts on a daily basis in the small business / financial sector.
I would also create a 5 page report in some area of my expertise or an area I had researched thoroughly – probably in the area of online reputation and how to solicit positive reviews on yelp and do local marketing for a small business.
I would also create a premium report that builds on the basic tips in my free report. Sell the premium report for $19 – even if you only have a few visitors per day to your website.
Research other sites in the financial and small business sector and offer to interview them for your blog. Get those interviews transcribed and make them into multiple posts.
The money is in the email list! Build that list by giving away your free report and market to that list regularly – both your premium report and affiliate offers for other sites in the same industry.
If I had only $100 in my PayPal account and 90 days I would pick a problem to solve in a competitive niche with a lot of established and active sites that I have some expertise in (finance, real estate, investing). Once the problem I am going to solve is picked I would spend the money obviously on hosting and then with only 90 days I would pay for some reasonable quality articles on ODesk and a little help getting the site set up. The rest of the 90 days I would spend writing a couple posts per week and reaching out to larger bloggers and site owners in the space blog comments and trying to get guest post opportunities.
The short answer is that I’d use the $100 to purchase a year’s domain and hosting, put the change in the bank, then create a service offering and go find my target audience. Not something that involved – start simple with a service like freelancing or consulting and take it from there.
I think I could make at least $1,000 in the first two weeks. There’s a video I created about building a $60,000/m marketing company (in just 8 months) – and this is the exact same strategy I’d be using – to answer your question.
This question can be answered in a few different ways, specifically if this is to build a blog, brand or business long term. I will answer this from both.
With $100 I would look to try and double my money through the use of affiliate marketing. This would be done by finding a good offer on a quality affiliate network then driving traffic directly to the offer through Facebook advertising.
I would look for an offer that was very niche and one that I could still target directly through the “interest” demographic targeting on Facebook.
The next step would be to setup a very low daily budget of ($3-$5 per day) and start split testing ad copy to get the best results and lowest click rates. If all works well you should be able to turn a profit. Even if you only make $20 profit, it’s still a 20% margin and a great learning experience for you to invest that money and do it again the following month. It’s all about scaling and knowing how to setup ad campaigns.
Setting up a web site or blog for your business or brand is always a good idea, but it’s not something that delivers results instantly… yet at the same time it’s not something that costs a lot of money as well. A domain will cost $7 per year and you can get hosting for less than $10 a month.
Put in the time and effort to create a nice looking site with some content and make sure you have a monetization plan in place (hopefully something you can directly sell or a premium service you can provide). Once everything is setup you will have around $75 left to spend.
The last step is for you to take that $75 a market your site the best way possible, whether this is through paid search listings, social advertising or buying placement on another premiere site. The end result is that you now have a blog or site in place to grow your business moving forward, but this will only work if you can provide value that people are willing to pay for, or establish yourself as a trustworthy leader in your niche.
This post shows you’re never too old or too young to start an Internet business. Moreover, it shows everything is possible if you believe in your hidden powers and talents, and more importantly, if you have access to the right information and up to date, valid data.
If you’ve found useful what you’ve read so far, then please help spread the love and tell others about it. They’ll appreciate your gesture and hopefully return the favor sooner than later.