Can you start an online business with a $0 budget? Yes! I am living proof of this! Many people I've told this have understandably not believed it or were skeptical and don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that this is an IDEAL way to start a business but I think maybe this will give at least some of you inspiration and encouragement to know that YOU CAN DO IT! No matter what your financial situation is or even your personal physical condition may be. So, here's my story...
As a child, I was a born entrepreneur! From tender age of 5 or so I was hitting streets selling my products and services... everything from lemonade stands, handcrafted potholders (a favorite among neighborhood ladies!), puppet shows (we also sold refreshments!), dancing and singing performances in my parents carport (poor souls had to endure this but they kept coming back every year so I guess we weren't too bad... teehee), doing odd jobs, etc... You get picture... if there was a money making possibility from ANYTHING, my brother and I did it! Funny too because we both own our own businesses now. I told you I was a born entrepreneur!
In 1995 I was working as a surgical nurse for a Vascular surgery group. At that time I'd been a nurse for 13 years. I loved my job and never envisioned myself as doing anything else. At height of my nursing career I was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. I thought my life was over. I couldn't be a nurse anymore due to physical disabilities that followed. I was severely depressed. I had always been an extremely active person and this was really putting a damper on things, not only with my career but my hobbies and social activities as well. I needed to do something to pull me out of this slump! So... even though I had never even moved a mouse before, I bought a computer and got online. A whole new world opened up for me here! This was just what I needed to keep me busy and keep my mind off illness. I was inspired by all websites out there! I just had to have one too but how? I began teaching myself HTML and graphic design (I had PLENTY of time on my hands). I had always been somewhat of an artist so this was a way I could do my art again in a somewhat different form. To make a long story a bit shorter, after a few years of lots of trial and error, trying affiliate programs, working for other people online, etc... I finally learned enough to be successful with an online business of my own.
What I'd like to share with you is my experience so you won't have to struggle like I did trying to start your own online business and wonder why it's not making you amount of money you need to make a living from it. Remember title after all this gab... HOW TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS WITH A $0 BUDGET? Well, I did! It turned out initially to be vintage lingerie and now internet marketing as well. And yes, I started it with a $0 Budget! Okay, yes, you DO have to have a product or service to sell online. This can be anything from things you handcraft at home or even things you know about and can provide information on (to sell) such as "How to make your own candles", etc... The possibilities are endless!
Steps you need to take to get started:
1. YOU NEED A WEBSITE
While it's true that you will need some experience to make one, there are lots of free services still out there that can enable you to create a website with little or no HTML experience. This is a start and you can always improve on it from there. Try AOL (if you're a member) or Geocities.com (a part of yahoo now). You can get a free website and they will host it on their servers for you for free. If you DO have a website already or HTML experience to design your own, even better! You've already taken 1st and biggest step. Be sure that you have GOOD content on your site! You can't just throw up some graphics and call it a website OR a business. You need to include information about your products, provide some nice content, interesting articles, etc... If you don't have enough of your own, find other similar websites that do and ask them if you can display their information or article (in exchange for a link of course! See below for further information on linking)
2. YOU HAVE TO MARKET YOUR SITE SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW YOU EXIST AND VISIT IT!
This is absolutely hardest part... learn from my experience! There are many things you can do to market your site. They include but are not limited to:
Submitting your site to search engines
There are lots of free services to submit your site to a lot of search engines all at once and for FREE. I personally have never paid to have my sites submitted and I DO make money from them so don't be discouraged if you don't have budget for a paid submission.
Exchanging links with other complimentary sites.
This is BEST way to get your site some traffic! It's time consuming but worth it! Now before you start asking anyone and everyone to exchange links with you... You don't want to link to everyone! You want to link to sites that are not necessarily your competition but sites that sell similar products and/or services. Do your homework and surf internet by doing searches for sites you might like to link with. When you do searches, sites who are listed higher in search engines are better since you will be benefiting from their already high traffic. Be polite and email them, complimenting them on their site and things you like most about it (be honest!). Do this first before asking them to exchange links with you. Also, make sure they have a links page before you even bother. Some sites don't (shame on them!) and you don't want to waste your time on most of them although a suggestion that they start one is not a bad idea. I've done that before and have actually had them display my link on their pages even when they didn't have an actual links page - even better for me!
Bulk Email... Just My opinion
Don't spam! Bulk email in general is not a good idea and your email probably won't even reach them anyway since most people have junk mail filters that will delete you. I've never had to spam or send bulk email and my business is doing great.
INSTEAD OF BULK EMAILING... USE OPT-IN MAILING LISTS!
Once you have a website of interest you can have a mailing list for people to sign up voluntarily. That way you're getting people who are really interested in what you have to offer. I use a free opt-in mailing list and newsletter service (just copy and paste code in your webpages) from http://www.wwwtoolz.com that works great! They have a lot of other free tools as well. This allows you to build a mailing list and to send newsletters and/or emails to people on your ever-growing list. Be sure to use it! Once you have people join your list, send them a welcome email and keep them posted with updates, new items you have for sale, new website content, etc... Again, don't spam these nice people who signed up for your mailing list voluntarily or they will quickly unsubscribe. Don't send them email every day or even every week. Don't forward email to them! That's bad business since it's not keeping it personal! Yes, in many ways you have to have a personal touch even in business! Building your mailing list takes time but you have to start somewhere so be patient.