More people are shopping online than ever before. In fact, a study from Pew Research found that 79% of U.S. consumers shopped online in 2016. That figure is up from just 22% in 2000. Aspiring entrepreneurs can take advantage of the ongoing trend by launching an online business.

Just like any other type of business, e-commerce can be complex and will require a great deal of planning if you want to succeed. You’ll need to start with these three basics to create a profitable online business.

1. Fill a Need

The first and most important step with any business is to find and fill a need. Start with your passions and interests. If you’re interested and enjoy your work, you’ll be far more committed to its success.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of looking for a product first, and then trying to find a market afterwards.

The problem with going this route is that there may not be a market for the product, and even if there is, there may not be enough demand to make the venture profitable.

The key is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to their problem, but aren’t finding the results they want. How do you find these people?

  • Read through online forums to see what types of questions people are asking and what types of problems they want to solve.
  • Do some keyword research to see what people are looking for and what kinds of questions they’re asking.

Finding a potentially profitable market can be a challenge, and it will require quite a bit of research and time. But all of that effort will pay off when your business starts generating sales.

2. Build a Website

Every online business needs a website, and that website needs to be carefully planned. You have just a few seconds to grab the visitor’s attention, so make that time count. Keep the design simple, and make sure that your website has a responsive design so that it performs well on mobile devices.

In addition to the website itself, you’ll need to start thinking about your sales copy. You can do your research and create the copy yourself, or you can hire a professional to do it for you. Hiring will cost more, but an experienced copywriter’s work may yield better results.

3. Market Your Business

Marketing an online business is a complex process, and it will take time to see results. However, once you’ve put in all of the leg work, you’ll see sustained results. While you can do all of the marketing yourself, it’s generally more cost effective to hire a professional.

A combination of pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) will help your online business grow, build your brand and start driving traffic to your website.

It may be wise to hire someone local. If you’re in New Zealand, you might search Google for SEO NZ or even SEO Melbourne if you’re comfortable working with a company that’s farther away.

Once you’ve launched your online marketing campaign, you’ll need to start taking steps to improve your credibility and build your audience to win the trust of potential customers.

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