I bet that any housewife is capable of starting an online business, having no money in her pocket. It doesn’t matter where do you live, what is your education, and what is your age. I claim that it’s possible to become an entrepreneur online. The primary obstacle along your way is the information which is frequently hidden behind the attractive headlines that promise you the incredible revenue right now. Unfortunately, as a rule, you face defeat since you don’t know whom to believe.
But today you’re lucky since I’m going to showcase you the exact strategy to start your first online business without investments. Of course, you will have to spend about $20. It’s a cost of your lunch. Generally speaking, you can reduce your expenses up to $8 or even $6 if you don’t need a domain in the zone “.com.” About $5 you should pay for a cloud hosting. Are you ready for such outlay?
Well, let’s try to calculate your annual expenses:
1) Domain registration for one year ($14,99 in the case of “.com.” But it’s a one-time payment)
2) Cloud hosting provided by Digital Ocean ($5*12 = $60)
As a result, your annual expenses will be less than $75 (or $6,25 per month). Are you ready for initiation of your online business from scratch right now? Let’s get it started.
One might object, you promised me that I wouldn’t spend a penny. But please, think about your future incomes instead of it. Even if you live in Bangladesh and you have access to a PC, I bet you will find a chance to borrow these $6,25 each month. I hope that we’ve finished with the expenses. Let’s now talk about what exactly you need to do.
To start an online business, you require:
- Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, etc.
- An attractive domain name
- Initial server setup
- A reliable platform for your blog/project (WordPress)
- A unique idea
- A micro niche
- A semantic core
- At least 100 blog posts
- SEO optimization
- A Google AdSense account
- About half a year
- A bit of luck
Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, etc.
Unfortunately, I can’t assist you if you don’t know the basics of HTML and CSS. Even if you don’t know PHP, it’s not a big issue. Anyway, you have a chance to start a blog, thanks to a variety of free blog platforms. However, you will have no opportunity to sell ad places on such a blog, or this possibility would cost more money.
Therefore, I’d suggest you visit this website to educate yourself. Next, go back to this article. Since we are talking about the online business without investments, you should be ready for education. Otherwise, it’s not your way, unfortunately.
Unlike other authors, business consultants, advisors, etc., I want to show you the exact steps to earn money online from scratch. So please, be ready for a hard job.
Register an attractive domain name
It’s your choice which domain registrar to use. I register my domains using GoDaddy.
In fact, it doesn’t matter which domain you choose. However, don’t try to purchase the so-called EMD domain since Google would surely apply sanctions to your website in the future.
I want you to register the domain which possesses the following features:
- The name must be short since it’s easy to remember
- It would be perfect if your domain name contained a keyword (but only one)
- If you have some money, I’d recommend you to purchase your domain for at least two years since Google uses the age of a domain as a ranking factor
- It would be better if your name has a meaning
- Your domain must look like a brand since thereby you might receive branded backlinks in the future
Once you registered your first domain name, I would like us to move on to the next step. I don’t want to spend my time publishing a vast instruction how to register a domain since there are a lot of more important things to discuss.
The only thing you need to do is to set the NS names for your domain.
Use these names:
Let’s tune up your server
The next thing you need to do is to register in Digital Ocean. This cloud hosting provider allows you to rent the VPS for $0.007 per hour or $5 per month. You don’t need to use more expensive subscription plans. If you would like to change your hosting plan in the future, you might do it with just one click.
After registration, our primary goal is to tune up your server correctly. Since I want to simplify your setup, I’d suggest you use the one-click apps.
Now the magic begins. Unlike usual hosting providers, Digital Ocean gives you the total freedom. You just rent a VPS, and later you’re free to do everything you want.
Why is this important? Let’s imagine you use an ordinary hosting provider. In that case, you can’t control your server. You can’t speed it up. You have no chance to install the additional apps. You have no opportunity to install another operating system. On the contrary, in the case of Digital Ocean, each detail is under your control.
I know that currently, you can’t appreciate my advice. But I bet, in the future, you would realize what a big secret I share with you right now. I will show you how to initiate a server setup for as less as $5, which must cost, in fact, about $100/mo.
Let’s back to the actions.
Log in to your DO dashboard and click on the button “create.” Choose “Droplet/Cloud Server,” and next go to “One-click apps.” We will use the so-called LAMP stack on Ubuntu 16.0.4 + WordPress.
Next, choose a size of your droplet ($5/mo.) as well as a data center region.
Depending on your location, it could be:
- New York
- San Francisco
This step isn’t necessary for a beginner. However, if you live in India, but your target audience is located in the United States, I’d recommend you use NY or SF instead of Bangalore. Do you understand the course of my thoughts?
Next, choose a name of your droplet and push the button “create.” Now, we’re done. After you finished, you would receive a message from Digital Ocean in your inbox.
You would see something like this:
Droplet Name: your name
IP Address: 220.127.116.11
For now, it might seem a bit complicated or even sophisticated, but I try to do the things more accessible for you. Remember, the only way to start an online business is to use the self-hosted solution. In such a case everything depends on you. You can control any detail of your setup. When you become a more experienced webmaster, you might change each bit on your server. But currently, don’t try to understand all the technical things I present to you, just follow the instructions.
Initial Server Setup
I can’t explain this step better than Mitchell Anicas, a member of the DO community. Therefore, I will leave a link to his useful article here. The only thing I want to do to assist you with these instructions is to explain which steps to follow and which to omit.
You need to follow these steps:
- Step One — Root Login
- Step Two — Create a New User
- Step Three — Root Privileges
- Type: “logout”
- Omit the next steps
- Step Six — Test Log In
- Step Seven — Set Up a Basic Firewall
Depending on your operating system, you will have to use a “Console” or “Terminal.” I use macOS. So, in my case, the terminal window looks like this.
I know that right now you’re frustrated. I suppose that something went wrong. I know, it’s a painful process to set up a server. But I promised you to start an online business with no money. Therefore, you must be ready for difficulties. Don’t give up! It’s time to prove your strength.
When you’re done with the initial server settings, move to the next step.
LAMP & WordPress Installation
Why WordPress? My goal is to reduce your time. In fact, you can choose any platform for your blog or a web project such as Joomla or Drupal. But I’d recommend you to use WordPress since this platform has a lot of free themes and plugins. Since you don’t want to wait, this choice is essential.
Unlike others, we will use the self-hosted free version of WordPress. Moreover, our setup will be perfect since we use the LAMP stack. We used the pre-installed application. However, if you want to tune up everything as you want, I would recommend you to use the LEMP stack.
Nonetheless, I want to explain to you what is the LAMP stack.
LAMP is an abbreviation which means Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP
- Linux is a free software operating system
- APACHE is a web server
- MySQL is an open-source database management system
- PHP is a server-side scripting language designed for web development
Thanks to Digital Ocean, you don’t need to set up all these complicated software manually. Our cloud hosting provider allows us to do the installation of WordPress with just one click.
Go to the URL http://18.104.22.168, where 22.214.171.124 is the IP address which was sent to your email right after the installation of your one-click application. You’ll see the WordPress welcome screen.
Click the button “continue.”
Now you will have to fill the following data:
- Site Title
- Your Email
- Don’t click the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”
Next, click the button “Install WordPress.”
Allow Google Chrome to save your password.
After, click the button “Log In.”
Type your login and password into the fields and press “Log In” once again.
Welcome to the WordPress dashboard!
I’d recommend you to update your WordPress installation to the latest version, and you’re done.
For more experienced webmasters, I would recommend using a LEMP stack instead of a LAMP installation since NGINX is faster than APACHE. However, in that case, you will have to tune up your WordPress installation manually by following these instructions. Additionally, you should add your domain name in the NGINX configuration file. This step is complicated for a freshman. But such approach worth attention since, in the future, it would be easier to tune up caching and thereby speed up your server. I, personally, use LEMP + WordPress. I strictly recommend you to use such a bundle if you expect a lot of organic traffic to your website.
Attach your domain name to your IP address
This step might seem a bit tricky since you have no experience in server administration. But it’s necessary to follow the instructions, as you need to attach your domain to your server.
This blog post, created by the Digital Ocean community, contains all the necessary data you need, to append your domain to your DO droplet.
Nonetheless, I’d like to repeat the essential steps:
- As you remember, we’ve attached the NS names in the first step; but I’d recommend you to re-check your domain settings on your GoDaddy dashboard
- Configure your domain settings in WordPress
- Log in to your DO dashboard and click Networking -> Domains
- Follow the instructions presented in this (link) article starting from the subhead titled “Adding a Domain.”
- All you need is to set up the A Records, AAAA Records, CNAME Records, and MX Records
- Omit all the next steps
Now you need to wait for a while. As a rule, it takes about a day to change the DNS. However, in the case of Digital Ocean, I think it would be 1-2 hours.
If you managed to tune up all the settings correctly, you could follow the next steps.
Spend some time to learn WordPress
In fact, WordPress is an intuitive platform. I don’t think it could be complicated for you to learn the basics. The only thing I would strictly recommend is to make your platform SEO ready. Learn what is an SEO thanks to my article (link) for beginners.
I wrote an article on the subject of WordPress & SEO since I’m more experienced in SEO. Therefore, it’s essential to install all the necessary plugins. However, your primary goal is to set up a layout. If you have no experience in HTML, CSS, and PHP, omit this step since it’s recommended for the experienced webmasters.
If you have no experience, I’d suggest you install any free theme you like from the WordPress repository.
But I don’t want to do a review of WordPress within the frameworks of this article.
Now it’s time to forget about all these boring technical details and start thinking about our strategy. After all, our goal is to start an online business. Therefore, our next step relates to creativity.
Find a unique idea
To be honest, this step must be the first one. However, If I started from this step, you would never read all these necessary technical details. Of course, you have an idea, but you don’t know how to apply it online.
It’s time to be unique and creative. Now you can relax since all the technical details remained behind. But this step is not straightforward. There are millions of websites on the Internet. Your goal is to survive among the more experienced competitors. Therefore, you must be smarter.
Your primary purpose is to invent something which no one had seen before you presented your product or service. I know that you already have an idea. But it’s essential to realize that you’re just a freshman. You have no advantage to compete with dangerous rivals in your area of interests.
Fortunately, I have a solution for you. To succeed in business, you need to discover a micro niche.
Discover a micro niche
Now it’s time to talk a bit about SEO. I know that you have not clicked a link which I suggested you in the paragraph about WordPress. Therefore, I will have to leave it here. My goal is to teach you how to start an online business from scratch. Consequently, I need to convince you to follow my instructions. Otherwise, my article would be purposeless.
There is the only way to compete with business sharks, is to find your micro niche. Unlike offline business, there are a lot of tools to analyze your competitor, estimate his traffic and define the keywords he uses to promote his web projects.
But right now, I don’t want to torture your mind with complicated SEO terms. You will have a lot of time to study my blog and learn more about the search engine optimization. On the contrary, at this stage, I’d like to simplify the things. Let’s imagine that you work offline. What might you do to surpass your rival if you have no money (or not enough money)?
Take a minute to think about it. While you’re meditating, I’ll explain to you how it works online.
- You can’t compete with your rivals by a high-competition keyword since you have not enough experience and authority
- Your goal is to determine some low-competition keywords and write a bunch of articles on the subject
- You don’t need to use any advanced webmaster tools at this stage
- Google would assist you to cope with such a task
- You need to become an expert in your micro niche and create the best website to cover the topic completely
How to find the ideas for my blog posts?
Google is willing to assist you with the ideas. Let’s imagine that your goal is to promote a website which contains the data about tube amplifiers, or you want to sell the ones you created.
“Tube amp” is your desired keyword. Even given the fact that this is not a problematic keyword for an experienced webmaster, you have no chance to be in the 1st place by this search phrase. However, if you type “tube amps” in the Google search string, you might discover a block titled “People also ask.” This search block is your key to a micro niche since it contains the ideas for your future blog posts.
What do you see in this search block?
- Are tube amps louder?
- How long do tubes last in a tube amp?
- How does a tube work?
- What is a guitar combo amp?
Isn’t it the ideas for your posts?
The Semantic Core
Now a big secret is revealed. Your next goal to create a so-called “Semantic Core” for your website. In other words, you need to write about 500-1000 articles on the subject to earn serious money. But your ideas must fit the search queries.
Click on each link in the box described above. What do you see?
- What is a guitar combo amp?
- How many watts do you need in a guitar amp?
- What is a tube guitar amp?
- How long do tubes stay in your ear?
- What is a vacuum tube amplifier?
- What were vacuum tubes first used for?
- How do ear tubes work?
and more more more ideas for your future articles.
After, you need to gather all these data, create a list of your posts and separate them into categories and tags to embed this semantic core into your WordPress platform.
Now you’re ready to move to the next level.
Write at least 100 articles (better 500)
When your technical setup is ready, the semantic core is full of articles and is prepared to be integrated into the WordPress structure; it’s time to write some content for your web project.
To get some organic traffic from Google, you need to publish at least 100 articles. To be competitive, you need to create at least 500 blog posts. Is it looking unreal? I know that other authors offer you more accessible solutions. But ask yourself, what is my reason for lying to you? I claim that you need a lot of quality content to gain success. You must be ready to spend much time to become famous. You want to start your online business, having no money. If you have some budget, you might hire copywriters who would accomplish this work instead of you.
I know a female blogger who created about 100 blogs, each consisting of at least 500 articles. She has more than 125,000 unique visitors per day, thanks to her private blog network. She managed to write all these articles on a pair with her husband. Just imagine how much money she earns. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you must be ready for hard work. My blog is not about motivation. On the contrary, I’m the one of those (maybe the only one) who is about to explain to you what exactly you need to do in practice.
My blog posts are enormous. But you can start with 500-700 words. If you’re a native speaker, it’s not a big deal for you to write about 3-5 articles a day. If you write five articles a day excluding weekends, you will cope with the task for just one month. Therefore, it would take only half a year for you to complete your first blog consisting of 500 articles.
By the way, I’m not a native speaker, and English is not my mother tongue. Therefore, please, don’t tell me that it’s impossible to create 500 blog posts for half a year. If you think so, you found a wrong place. Well, let’s finish up with motivation.
Remember, you need at least 500 articles in a micro niche to obtain some organic traffic from Google. One more detail, your blog posts must be completely unique.
I don’t want to talk a lot about SEO within this article. Instead, I’d suggest you read all the items on my SEO blog to become an experienced SEO expert. Besides, all these data are free. Unlike other SEO bloggers, I reveal many secret techniques and sufficient details. In fact, SEO serves as a crucial factor for your success.
At this stage, all you need is to make the on-page optimization. I wrote a comprehensive article on the subject. Generally speaking, there are a lot of the essential details you will have to care about in the future. But right now, it would be enough to install the Yoast SEO plugin for your WordPress.
Create a Google AdSense account
Finally, it’s time to talk about money. I know, you have been waiting for this part of my long article. After all, it’s your final purpose to get some revenue. Don’t worry; I’ll explain you the details.
In fact, there are a lot of ways to monetize your blog, including:
However, I bet you desire a passive income. Therefore, I suggest you use Google AdSense for such purposes.
Google AdSense is a Pay Per Click affiliate program which allows the webmasters to monetize their websites.
What is Google AdSense?
Why I don’t recommend you to place ads on your blog right away. The answer is simple. To complete a moderation process in Google AdSense, you need to generate some traffic on your website and fit the requirements. Otherwise, your request might be rejected. That’s why I was recommending to you to tune up your server, use WordPress as your platform, find a micro niche, write a lot of articles. All these actions were necessary to pass the process of moderation successfully.
I will leave here a link to the AdSense registration page. However, don’t hurry up with the registration if you have no website which generates at least 1,000 visitors a day. Of course, you could try. But you’ll see only a dozen of cents in your AdSense report. Moreover, you need to overcome a payment threshold of $100 to receive your first payment from AdSense.
But if you already possess an approved AdSense account, it’s time to talk about the monetization.
Create and paste AdSense ads on your blog
If you started your blog in 2018, you’re lucky since Google AdSense introduced the so-called “auto ads.” Given the fact that you have no experience, it’s your most straightforward way to monetize your blog.
All you need is to follow these simple steps:
- Log in to your AdSense account
- Go to Content -> Auto Ads
- You’ll see a JS code
- Copy and paste this code in between the <head> tags of your site
- You’re done
The only thing that could be complicated for you is how to paste this code in between the <head> tags. But I’d like to assist you with such an issue right now.
- Log into your WordPress installation
- Go to Appearance -> Editor ->
- Click on Theme Header
- Find the text “<head>” in the code by using Ctrl/CMD + F
- Paste your AdSense code right after the tag <head>
Wow! The magic has happened. Now your website is ready for generating revenue.
What is the next?
Now you will have to wait
Time is the factor, which is essential in business. As a rule, you need at least three years to receive some revenue from your offline business. However, in the case of online business, it could take about half a year to see your first results.
Honestly, I doubt that you have enough patience to write 500 articles. Most likely, you’ll see your first organic traffic after you published first 50 blog posts. In any case, you will have to wait at least half a year for some visible results. Besides, the time of waiting is very depended on your niche.
If you were lucky to discover a gold mine, your organic traffic would increase immediately.
But what to do next?
In fact, there are just two things you need to care about during this period:
- Write more quality content
- Study my blog or other sources you like, to improve your SEO skills
You need luck
I don’t want to lie to you, your success in the online business very depends on a lucky break. In the most cases, everything depends on your niche. It’s worth noting that if you’re a woman, you have more opportunities in the online business since the vast majority of websites were made for women. So if you have some experience in cosmetology, fitness, beauty, wellness, etc., your odds are very high. Well, I even can give you a hint, there is a niche called DIY. If you undertake some attempts to explore this niche, you will discover a lot of micro branches inside it. Besides, there are a lot of micro niches about parenting, cooking, gardening, etc.
For men, it’s better to share your experience with others. If you’re a geek, you’re lucky since you can create a blog about gadgets. If you have skills in coding, it’s time to launch a blog about PHP, JS, WordPress plugins, etc. But you can write about sports, bodybuilding, or fitness as well. I don’t know your interests. But bear in mind, you need to adore your business. Don’t try to find a micro niche if you are not aware of its subject.
I don’t like any blog posts about motivation since they explain you only theory. My goal is to teach you some practice. So, in the abstract, everyone is lucky. Unfortunately, in practice, everything depends on your efforts. The only thing you can do is to increase the possibility of your luck, thanks to studying the matter, and doing more job than other, in my opinion.
I know that it was painful for you to read all these unfamiliar terms and console commands, but I’ve been trying to do all my best to simplify your task. Despite the difficulty of my approach, it requires no money, excluding a one-time payment for your domain as well as a $5/month payment of your hosting.
You’ve been trying to learn how to start an online business with no money, and I gave you the answer. All the rest depends on your efforts. But I want to warn you that without studying SEO, you can’t survive among the business sharks. That’s not because of I’m trying to promote my SEO blog. On the contrary, I want you to avoid the common mistakes. I strictly recommend you to study all the data on my blog since it’s useful. I have immense experience in the subject since I launch wide-scale projects.
I suppose that most of the experienced webmasters don’t know about such simple solutions as a presented to you. At the beginning of my way, I was paying about $100 each month for my hosting while my organic traffic was less than 1,000 uniques a day. If you follow my instructions, your way will be less painful. I hope my pieces of advice were useful. Thank you for reading!