how to start an online business

20 Step Blueprint to Starting an Online Business

Step 1: Select a Niche for Your Blog/Business

Write down things that interest you the most that you could build an online business around. You want your business to be fun and enjoy building it so pick something you love to talk about with other people. You don’t have to be an expert on the subject right now, you just have to know more than someone else so that you can share your expertise with these people. List out 10 different ideas and then narrow it down until you have one or two major ideas and several fall back ideas.

Step 2: Determine How You’ll Make Money

After you’ve brainstormed several ideas that interest you in starting a business, you’ll want to determine how you’ll be able to monetize each of your business ideas. This can differentiate the ideas and give you a clearer picture as to which idea is the best to pursue based on a combination of income potential and your level of passion for it. It’s recommended you select a niche that has a big market. For example, the fitness industry is a great market to be in if you have a passion for fitness. You can create workout videos, training guides, yoga programs, etc. as there are many angles you can approach this industry and make your own unique spin-off that gains attention.

Read: The 3 Informational Products to Create & Sell on Your Website

Step 3: Research Possible Website Domain Names

Come up with different URL ideas for your website. For example, if you were writing about fitness you could search domains such as,, and others to see if these domains are available or already taken. The first few ideas for a domain URL that you have will likely already be taken. You can check availability by going here to and entering the domain ideas in the search bar. It’s preferred that you select a domain name with a .com extension to it rather than .biz, .net, .edu, .gov, etc.

Read: Websites for Beginners – What is a Domain Name?

Step 4: Purchase Hosting & Your Domain Name URL

Once you’ve found a domain name URL that is available, you need to purchase it so that it’s now officially yours and no one else can purchase it. Every day thousands of domains are being purchased so be sure to secure it as soon as your confident that this is the domain name URL you want to go with for your online business. You can either purchase it on or when you buy hosting you can select a domain to come with your hosting plan for FREE if you buy at least 12 months of hosting. If you buy month to month hosting, you’ll have to pay for the domain name ($15).

For hosting, I recommend using BlueHost which is one of the best hosting companies to choose from. I’ve been using them to run all of my websites as do many of the top bloggers. I’ve created an epic guide showing you step by step how to purchase hosting from Bluehost and install WordPress within your Bluehost account dashboard if you want to read it.

Read: How to Start a WordPress Blog on Bluehost in 20 Minutes

Step 5: Download WordPress and Log In

After purchasing hosting, you’ll log in to your BlueHost account dashboard and install WordPress to use as the platform your website runs on. It’s a super easy and user friendly software for building a website and highly customizable. WordPress makes life easy as you don’t have to have any technical website experience and you don’t have to know how to code HTML.

Read: The Beginner’s Guide to WordPress (with Video Tutorials)

Step 6: Configure WordPress General Settings

You also want to configure the general settings in WordPress which only takes a few minutes. Watch this tutorial.

Step 7: Download WordPress Plugins

Plugins are like apps on a phone. They allow your website to have and do different things. Each plugin you download gives you a different feature to your website. One plugin for example is a Yoast SEO which is a tool that checks your blog articles for search engine optimization and gives you feedback so that you can make changes to optimize your post to show up high in the Google search results. This will help you get more traffic to your website and thus more customers.

See my recommended list of plugins to download.

Step 8: Select a Theme

Once you are logged in, head to the “Appearance” tab and find a free theme for your website. The theme is like the paint job or design to your car. Every website you visit will have a different theme (color scheme, layout, design, etc). If you want your website to look professional and have lots of customization options then I recommend purchasing a professional WordPress theme from like Avada or purchasing the Genesis Theme Framework.

Step 9: Create Pages & Menu

Start designing your website by building webpages and setting up a menu that goes at the top of a website so people can navigate to different pages of your website easily. Your menu should typically include your Home page, About page, and a Contact page as well as whatever other pages you decide to include.

Step 10: Research Topics and Keywords to Write About

Every website needs a blog. Your blog is where you’ll post informative articles such as How To articles that show your expertise on a subject. Your blog can also share articles related to your product or service to help increase the number of customers you attract through your website. Use a keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to discover keywords that people are searching each month and the search volume. You’ll want to include these keywords in your page or article so that Google ranks your website for these keywords. When people search a phrase in Google with these keywords, your website hopefully comes up as one of the first page search results, generating you traffic and viewers. The higher you rank for keywords in Google, the more traffic your website will get.

Step 11: Select an Email Service Provider

Now that you have a website and webpages, you’ll want to create an email list and newsletter series that people receive upon joining your email list. Email lists are very important to your online business as you need to capture the traffic coming to your website so that you can stay in touch with them and build customer loyalty for future products you launch to sell. I recommend using ConvertKit as your email list service as they have a lot of awesome features making it easy for you to build your list and market to your list. An email list is the most important part of your online business so don’t skip this step. Check out ConvertKit today and begin optimizing your website with opt-in forms to capture peoples emails and grow your list.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Email List with ConvertKit

Step 12: Create an Email Newsletter Series

Next you’ll want to build an email series that your email subscribers receive after joining your list. You can set your series up on automation so it sends out your emails at set intervals and is hands off for you. For example, email #1 in the series can come Day 1 that they join, and then email #2 can come 2 days later and email #3 can come 5 days after email #2 was sent, and so on. This allows you to write the emails once, set up the sequence you want them to be sent, and then let ConvertKit do the automated work for you sending out these emails as people join your list.

Read: What Type of Emails to Put in Your Newsletter

Step 13: Create a Free Giveaway to Attract Email Subscribers

Once you signed up with an email provider company such as ConvertKit and created your list and newsletter series, next you need to create a free giveaway to attract people into joining your list. You offer something of value for free such as an eBook, video series, or printable and then your audience gives you their email in exchange for being able to access or download their free gift. Overtime you’ll build up an email list to hundreds or thousands of people as more and more people subscribe to your list for the free value you are giving away in exchange for them opting in. You can create multiple email incentives that you offer on different webpages to test which one has the best results and gets the highest opt-in rate.

Read: What Lead Magnets to Offer for Growing Your Email List

Resource: Learn how to grow your list to 1,000 subscribers in 90 days

Step 14: Build an Opt-in Form

Now that you have a list set up within ConvertKit for new subscribers to be added to and you have a free giveaway created, next you need to create opt-in forms that appear in different places on your website. You also want an opt-in form that pops up when someone first enters your website as well as one that pops up when someone goes to exit your website.

These opt-in forms will be the forms your readers fill out with their name and email in exchange for your free gift/incentive you’re offering if they subscribe. Once they’ve put in their information, you’ll want the button that they click to have a strong call to action like “Get my Free Book Now,” for example. Customize your button so it doesn’t just say “submit.”

To build opt-in forms, I recommend using OptinMonster.  It allows you to easily create and customize beautiful opt-in forms that attract readers to join your email list. OptinMonster will increase your subscriber conversion rates so that you grow your email list faster.

Get started using OptinMonster today

Step 15: Create a Landing Page for Your Free Giveaway & Optin Form

You also want a webpage dedicated solely to your free giveaway, which is also known as a landing page. You can link to this page from various other pages on your website, social media, and YouTube video descriptions so that it funnels people to this landing page. Your landing page will be a brief about page that demonstrates what you are giving away in exchange for an opt-in and why it benefits your viewer. Make sure to answer the question your viewer is likely asking internally: “What is in this for me?” Then place an opt-in form on this page to capture traffic. You’ll want to highlight the reasons or value being received in bullet point format. Also be sure to include a catchy headline and an image if possible.

Read: What is a Landing Page & Why You Need Lots of Them

Step 16: Write Blog Posts and Link to Your Landing Page to Drive Traffic To It

After setting up your email list, drafting your newsletter series of emails, and creating opt-in forms and pages, next you need to drive traffic to these opt-in opportunities. You can do so by creating a blog page on your website and posting blog articles each week or month on different topics related to your passion/niche. Insert links to your landing page or embed the opt-in form into the blog posts and give a call to action so that people check out your free giveaway and potentially opt-in.

Step 17: Create a Product Launch Promotion

As you are building your email list over time, also be thinking of products or services you are going to eventually sell to your list. Create a product launch promotion, stating that you’ll be launching your product at such and such date. This will get your audience excited for the product to launch if you do a good job promoting it and why it will benefit your audience. By stating a date for the launch, it also gives you a deadline so that you are motivated and pushed forward to completing the product before then. Without a deadline, you might never finish or procrastinate. Be sure to plan out an effective marketing plan to build up the hype for your product launch. You can visit my blog on and see examples of case studies where I talk about building my product launches to sell new eBooks and online courses.

Read: 3 Types of Informational Products to Sell

Read: 5 Platforms to Easily Create and Sell Online Courses

Step 18: Create Your Product and Begin Selling It

Finally, create your product(s) and begin selling them on your website. Create landing pages a.k.a. sales pages for each product as well so you can clearly explain what the product is and why it is beneficial. Don’t worry about creating a perfect product. Make a good product, launch it, and improve it later once you get feedback or discover ways to make it better. If you worry about making the perfect product, you’ll never launch and you’ll waste too much time. If you’re struggling to determine a price to charge for your product, consider how much value you are giving away, set a fair price for the value you are giving, and do a hell of a job marketing this value to the customer so they feel the price is worthy for the value being received. Another trick is to simply ask your customer base ahead of time by sending out an email with a survey asking for feedback as to what price range people would feel is fair to spend on an eBook, online course, or whatever type of product you are creating.

Read: 3 Types of Digital Products to Create & Sell Online

Read: The Best Platforms to Easily Create and Sell Your Online Courses

Step 19: Get Testimonials & Reviews

Once you’ve launched your product it’s important to get feed back. You want feedback in order to go back to your product and know how to fix it up so that it’s even better. You’ll also want to ask for reviews and testimonials that you can use on your sales page to give the product social proof and credibility. People love to hear other people’s opinions when trying to decide on a purchase. I’m sure you recall a friend recommending a good restaurant they recently ate at to you and it’s caused you to go check it out and eat there yourself. Same goes with a product if people see that other people have bought the product and enjoyed it.

Step 20: Re-Invest in Your Online Business

Once you see money start coming into your business, make sure to re-invest in your business and continue growing it. You can re-invest by upgrading to better software, spending more on paid advertising, spending more on design and marketing, or even hiring a consultant to help take your business to the next level. The best investment you can make is in yourself to further grow your knowledge, your skill set, and to increase your potential.

Here are several courses I recommend taking to increase your knowledge and grow your business:

My Top Recommended Resources

Now that you’ve completed this 20 step guide to starting your website and online business, you should check out the top recommended resources for growing your business. These are tools I use personally and highly recommend to you for using in your business also.

Nick’s Best Resource List – Check It Out Here

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