Once you get past initial utter confusion and "overwhelmingness" of scramble to learn how to start and run an online business, time eventually comes to dispense with training wheels and just get on with it.
A common trap for new online entrepreneurs is to try and perfect their website before inviting anyone to come over. It's true that you shouldn't submit your site to major search engines and directories while your site's still truly under construction but at some point you have to stop developing and start marketing. Your site will NEVER be finished and it will certainly never be perfect. If you wait until it is before you start inviting guests, you're going to be one very lonely webmaster indeed.
Working on your website is fun. The visual results are immediate and, as a result, self-gratification you feel admiring your handiwork becomes addictive. After all, it's a helluva lot easier to control how your site looks and works than it is to actually drive traffic to it.
Because of this, and fun factor, there's a tendency to spend a disproportionate amount of time dabbling with your site, tweaking this and that and trying out new cgi scripts when time has long since passed when you should have started working on driving traffic to your site already.
To make a success of any business, including an online one, you must strive to always be doing right thing, right way and at right time.
Because being disciplined is so important to making most of your time, I find it helps if I commit to spending a certain period of time every day to one or more of marketing activities listed below and getting it over with as early in day as possible. Then I can enjoy reward of spending time on areas of my business that I find more enjoyable such as writing articles, and sourcing new and interesting programs for my website visitors. By getting marketing chores out of way first, you can enjoy rest of your day guilt-free. (That's not to say that all marketing activities have to be "chores". It's just that some are more enjoyable than others.)
Be especially careful of your time when it comes to email. This is another common trap many online entrepreneurs get sucked into. It comes in endlessly and builds up quickly. We are always so conscious that it's sitting there waiting to be read and responded to that it can become a major distraction. Try to read and respond to your email in one or two sittings at particular times of day. And impose a time limit too. This will force you to work more efficiently. (The exception is email from customers who need your assistance. You need to devote whatever time is necessary to correcting problem.) If you're not disciplined when it comes to email you can quite easily fritter away an entire day and another and another with very little to show for it.
OK, so here's a list of top 15 things you should be doing to market your online business once your site is ready for launch. You don't have to do every one of these activities every single day (although if you do your business will certainly have a lot to show for it) but do strive to do at least a few. The results will definitely be worth it.
1 Submit Your Main Pages to Search Engines
Once your site is "ready" (bearing in mind what I said above), your first job is to hand submit your main pages to major search engines.
My "majors" (opinions differ) are:
Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com (fee) Alta Vista - http://www.altavista.com (free and fee) Northern Light - http://www.northernlight.com (free) Excite - http://www.excite.com (fee) Hotbot/Lycos - http://hotbot.lycos.com (free) Looksmart - http://www.looksmart.com (fee - get listed with Looksmart and your listing will also appear at MSN, Excite, Alta Vista, iWon, Webcrawler and CNN)
It takes anywhere from several weeks to several months to get listed with some of these engines so start early.
Then submit to "minors" (i.e. all others).
Visit http://www.searchenginewatch.com for latest news on search engines and what you can do to improve your rankings.
Automate process of search engine submissions as much as you can. The program I recommend ahead of all others is Webposition Gold. Check it out here: http://www.ahbbo.com/webpositiongold.html .
2. Submit Your Home Page to Directories
There are literally hundreds so this will be a time- consuming job. Aim for ten per day and you'll make progress. Visit http://www.jimworld.com for links to hundreds of directories.
3. Publish An Ezine
For information about how to do that and generate subscribers, read "Growing Your List" at http://www.ahbbo.com/growingyourlist.html . If you're new to ezine publishing, an excellent resource is List-Universe.com's Ezine University at http://www.ezineuniversity.com .
Try to write your own original articles for publication in your ezine rather than relying on other people to provide your content.
Make sure you have a sign up form on every page of your website and a pop-up page inviting visitors to subscribe. To see an example of this in action, visit http://www.ahbbo.com.