This website is all about helping single moms build an income online and there are lots of ways to do that. Today, I wanted to focus on the five main ways to build an online business fast. I don’t mean fast in that you’re an overnight millionaire but fast as in you can get things up and launched fairly quickly. Like in under 30 days, fast.
Just so you know that I’m not talking out of my butt, I’ve launched and continue to run every single one of these businesses and make a nice income from all five of them. Some more than others but still. Like always, if I haven’t done it personally and can share real life experiences, I’ll find an expert who has. In this case, I can tell you that each one of these online business methods works and in future articles, I’ll be digging deeper into exactly how to create each type of business.
Take a look at these five doable ways to get your online business up and running fast.
1. START A BLOG
I know, I know. It seems like everyone and their great uncle Joe has a blog and you’re probably going to tell me the market is saturated with mom blogs. It is. That doesn’t mean you don’t have something to contribute. You can start and build a successful blog if you dig deep, find your passion and your voice, and make what you have to say unique and full of value.
I started my DIY/home decor blog in 2012 when I was bored out of my tree with two little babies at home and another nursery to decorate less than a year after the first one was finished. I was on a tight budget (single mom truth) but I still wanted to make a nursery for Aiden that was fresh and welcoming.
I didn’t have 9 months to make a pretty nursery because he only came to me with a few days notice so there wasn’t time to gather things slowly. Also, I was broke having just come off of an adoption leave for his brother who was only 12 months older. But I was full of DIY ideas at a time when DIY was huge.
That blog eventually became the cornerstone of my business. Although my focus has shifted over the years from DIY to interior design and it eventually led me to building this site, it continues to be a great way for me to be creative, get my design fix, and connect with people who love the same things. And it makes money through affiliate marketing and occasionally, through sponsored posts, like this one.
Yup, that’s a photo from my other site up there. And those are all actual products I’ve bought for my living room and linked to on the blog. Readers who like the look are able to buy the item through a link that takes them to the affiliate site. When my readers click on a link I’ve shared and purchase something, I get a small commission.
That blog also led me into a side business for a few years where I bought used furniture dirt cheap and did custom painting which turned into a pretty lucrative, if messy, side hustle. I loved painting furniture. Still do, although I don’t have much time for it anymore. It turned out lots of people wanted the end piece but didn’t want to do the grunt work and a tiny little business was born that brought me in $500 a month. Very helpful when I waltzed out of my high paying job without a backup plan. And I never did more than two pieces in any month. It gave me lots of projects to share and more affiliate links in the blog as well.
The blog itself continues to make money because of my affiliate relationships, even though I haven’t been very active on it in the past six months. Suh-weet.
2. START AN ONLINE SHOP
If you already have an idea for a product, or a line of merchandise, or even just products you love, an online shop is a great way to do business without the hassle and expense of running a bricks and mortar store. I mean, you can work in your pjs while slugging wine from a sippy cup, something that customers in a regular store might be alarmed about.
Two of the simplest ways to to this are with WordPress (just like you’d use for blogging) and use the WooCommerce plug ins however, this requires some skill. (Stay tuned, peeps, I’m going to actually do some YouTube videos and articles on this exact thing!). You need to know some basic WordPress skills and how to work your Ecommerce plugins as well as how to source and list products and accept payments. Once you climb the learning curve hump though, you’re golden.
Want something even easier?
Shopify is pretty much the easiest way to set up an online store and you can literally have it running in a day if you know what you’re doing. It’s pricier than running your own site but at $30 a month to set up your shop and keep it running, this is a great solution for people that don’t want to be bothered with building a website. Shopify has free themes to keep the cost down that are simple to use. They also have some pricier versions if you’re not loving the freebies. If you know what you want to sell and you don’t want to invest in building and designing a website, I think Shopify is the way to go.
Here are two women who’ve nailed the Shopify store experience and are making a shit ton of cash. (Sweary mom alert).
Tina Roth Eisenburg is the brainiac behind Tatly. She literally made a business out of the frustration she felt over crappy temporary tattoos for kids. It exploded and she now makes stationary and pretty much anything else she feels like. There are even herb tattoos that smell like actual herbs. Love.
Thinx is another fabulous woman owned Shopify site. Want to know what they sell? Period underwear. I kid you not. Founded by Miki Agrawal, her twin sister, Radha, and their friend, Antonia Dunbar, they then went on to create Tushy as a sister company. Ah-maze-ing. While not everyone is cool with being loud and proud about period underwear, these gals have knocked it out of the park. I wish I’d had some of these back in the day. #lovemyhysterectomy
3. NICHE WEBSITES
What the heck is a niche website? Wikipedia defines it best as
A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.”
I’ve been looking at niche marketing sites for a few years now and finally built a few of my own last year with varying degrees of success. Some have failed because I didn’t do the research properly and some I simply abandoned because I lacked interest after awhile. Others are profitable because it’s a niche I get and I try to offer more value than a simple, “Here, buy this thing” that so many niche sites do.
I’m an extensive researcher and when I was learning all about niche sites, I found that this is an area primarily dominated by men. Young men in particular. And often it was the ones looking for a quick buck and then trying to convince others that they are now millionaires from niche websites. Largely, they are not.
I’m not a fan of that kind of thing but I’m a fan of women running niche sites, for sure. Why? Because we bring our entire selves to the table. We’re not in it as a get rich quick scheme (Good grief, there are so many of these guys….why won’t they go away already???) but to genuinely offer a solution to a problem with a niche that we know and understand and have a solution to.
Niche sites are different than shops because they are deeply focused and concentrated on a micro population rather than just targeting the average shopper. They require SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work to make sure that readers can find them easily but they also have the ability to make a big profit if you do it right.
Here’s an example…. On the left would be the accessories store that sells everything to anyone browsing for fashion accessories. I love browsing on shopping sites and looking at accessories.
In the middle is the sunglasses shop, which sells….you guessed it… sunglasses. All sorts of sunglasses because sunglasses are a niche. If you just want sunglasses, you’re going to start looking for an online shop that sells sunglasses and that’s your middle store. A little more focused.
The niche shop on the far right sells only one kind of sunglasses that has a fairly good demand with low competition. These are specifically marketed to the person who’s really looking for something specific and is ready to make a purchase when they find it.
Suppose I love aviator sunglasses. I google search “buy aviator sunglasses online”. This lovely niche aviator sunglasses shop pops up and I’m in aviator heaven. Niche products are either harder to find products that people are actively looking for and/or highly specific. ie aviator sunglasses vs just sunglasses. The people searching for this product online are ready to buy right then and there.
Think about the last time you went on the internet looking for a thing and couldn’t find it. Build a niche around that!
A good niche website (and there aren’t a lot of good ones out there) really understands the reader because they’ve been the customer searching for a solution to a problem. You do need to do your market research carefully to see if your identified niche is something that can be profitable. Just because you love something and want to find a source for it, doesn’t mean everyone will. I heart flamingos but I can’t see making a niche out of it. Well….maybe I can but it’s not happening anytime soon cuz you can’t do all the things all the time.
Anyone want to get into the flamingo everything market? I’ll totally keep you in business lol.
PS. We’ll be talking about market research and SEO techniques in future articles so don’t worry if this doesn’t completely make sense right now.
More PS. PS. You don’t have to take a financial hit if you change your mind about your niche site(s). I sold mine and made a nice profit 🙂
4. START AN ETSY SHOP
For all you creative, crafty, DIYers out there, this one is for you. Got a skill like knitting? Can you make stationary? Do you know how to work a silhouette cutting machine and create wall decals or car stickers? What about jewelry? Or planner stickers and labels? Your photos? Anything creative can be found for sale on Etsy and if you have a skill, Etsy has a space for you.
Etsy is super easy to set up and maintain. I have a site with Etsy that sells blog and website headers, logos, and branding boards as well as office prints for women. Because my product is digital, there is literally no product clogging up space in my house. It’s in my head until it’s in the cloud.
If you can make it, you can sell it here for low start up costs. I personally believe you should also sell on your own website as well but Etsy has thousands of customers just looking for what you have to sell so they’re a great jumping off point. Like this flamingo print that proudly hangs in my living room.
Have I mentioned my fondness for flamingos?
5. START A DROP SHIPPING BUSINESS
This is seriously the easiest thing I’ve ever done and I now own two drop-shipping sites. You build your site either buy building a website through WordPress, or whatever platform you prefer and connect with suppliers who will drop ship products for you. It becomes even easier if you do this through Shopify. In fact, there’s an app called Oberlo, that makes it super easy to upload product straight from Alibaba.com which is where most retailers find products for their online shops.
Drop shipping, quite simply explained, is the listing of a product that you never actually touch for sale on your site. When your customer orders the product at your sell price, you order directly from the supplier at the wholesale price and pocket the difference. The supplier then ships directly to your customer.
I like to think it helps if you’re interested in the product and not doing that get rich quick thing. Because you probably won’t. At least not right away. You need to market your business and get it in front of buyers which requires some work and some knowledge of how to get your website ranking in search engines so that people can find it. But when you get in the right groove, with the right product, advertised to your ideal buyers, you can make some serious cash. Again. Not overnight but with consistent work, you’ll make a profit a lot faster than any bricks and mortar retail store with zero overhead and no product to keep on hand and no shipping nightmares.
Want an example of a drop shipping site that’s gone big time?
Yup. Before Wayfair existed, Niraj Shah and Steve Conine worked out of Steve’s house and built a bunch of niche sites (See, they work!). 200 niche sites in fact. In 2011, they built Wayfair to accommodate all of their niche sites in one large gorgeous department store type of drop-shipping business. As of January 2014, Wayfair is the largest online only company selling home goods in the US.
(PS. I’m an affiliate with Wayfair and they are one of my biggest income sources at the moment! Also, I kind of love them because it’s hard to find nice, affordable things for the home in Canada.)
I know I said 5 online businesses but I wanted to throw another idea out there for those of you that have a marketable skill. You can sell yourself online, too.
No! Not like that! Ewww! Ain’t nobody got time for that.
BONUS ONLINE BUSINESS IDEA
SELL A SERVICE
If you write, copy write, have worked in PR, really get social media, or your’re really good at something like fitness (NOT ME!!) or photography, there is a ton of potential to work with people directly online.
Example? I offer coaching to help single moms build business. I’m also building some courses to show the entire process start to finish and I’m working on videos on how to build websites. All of those are services that people are looking for and would pay money for. If you’ve got a background in some kind of profession, speak a second or third language, or simply know how to match paint colors, you’ve got an opportunity to build a service.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
If you were going to start tomorrow (and you should!), which idea sounds like one you can get behind? Answer in the comment section and let me know what you need to get going, too. Want to learn to build a website? Work Shopify? Let me know, and I’ll make sure to write about it in a future article! And if you need immediate answers, like us (if you haven’t already) and leave a comment on our Facebook page and I’ll do my best to get you an answer asap!