If you could create a steady side income by putting in just a few hours a week, would you do it? Listen, it’s entirely possible – and today I’m going to show you how.

I very recently started a new Internet business in a niche market that I am very passionate about. I’ve already started to collect names to build a subscriber list – and I’ve even made a handful of sales!

A handful of sales might not sound like much, but I’m excited. Why? Because the hardest part – getting this new site set up and starting to drive traffic to it – is out of the way.

I’m using the proven business model that helped ETR triple its revenues in three years… the same model that helped ETR’s parent company explode into a nearly $300 million Internet juggernaut. So I know I can realistically expect my site to (eventually) churn out significant income on virtual autopilot.

By no means am I putting a full-time effort into this project. (And most would argue that I’m not even putting in a part-time effort.) It’s just something I’m doing on the side. Of course, that’s one of the major benefits of Internet and information marketing. You can get started as a “chicken entrepreneur“… without quitting your day job.

You, too, can create a home-based Internet business that will provide you with a steady side income. Here are the seven simple steps:

Step 1. Identify Your Market

The biggest mistake I see budding Internet entrepreneurs make is to start by trying to figure out what they’re going to sell. And that can be tough. There are hundreds of thousands, even millions, of possible products and services.

It’s more important to decide what market or niche you are going to target. When you identify your market, you will know who your prospects are, what problems they have, and what solutions they are looking for. And once you have that information, it’s not hard to find a product to sell to them.

So how do you decide which market to go after? My recommendation is to make a list of all the things you are interested in and choose from that. Why make a list and not just zero in on your number one passion? Because you want to give yourself some options. Just because you have a strong interest in something doesn’t mean there are enough people out there who share your interest and (very important) have money to spend on it.

Golfers, for example, are passionate about their game. They also have a lot of money and like to spend it on golf-related “stuff.” On the other hand, though teenage boys may be into rough sports and fast cars, you won’t have much luck selling them anything anytime soon.

Here’s the formula: Your Passion + Profitable Market = Great Niche Website

 

Step 2. Choose – and Purchase – a Domain Name

Another mistake that online entrepreneurs make is to try to come up with a domain name that is cute or creative. (With the popularity if Web 2.0, I am seeing more and more of this.)

Your domain name should be descriptive of your website topic and benefit-driven. Ideally, it should also include your main keyword. And, of course, it should be easy to spell and easy to remember.

A good example of a domain name that is easy to remember, easy to spell, descriptive, benefit-driven, and includes the main keyword of the website’s topic: FreeCreditReport.com.

Step 3. Put Up a Website

If you can use a word processor, you can create a website with similar software.

I use and recommend XSite Pro. This is one of the best website content management systems out there. Another option is to use a website HTML editor like Microsoft Expression Web (formerly Front Page) or Dreamweaver by Macromedia. These two programs aren’t as powerful or easy to use as XSite Pro, but can get the job done.

There are many other lower priced and free programs – but, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Step 4. Add an Opt-In Form to Your Site

When you visit any of ETR’s websites, including EarlyToRise.com, InvestorsDailyEdge.com, and TotalHealthBreakthroughs.com, you’ll notice that there is a box – an opt-in form – near the top right-hand corner.

Having an opt-in form is one of the key things that separate successful online businesses from those that fail. It allows your visitors to give you their name, e-mail address, and any other information you may want to collect.

The entire Agora Model of Internet Marketing is based on this concept.

By capturing your visitors’ contact information, you can follow up with them on a regular basis via e-mail. You can send them valuable content, build a relationship with them, and bring them back to your website to sell them products they are interested in.

Step 5: Offer a Freebie

The best way to get people to give you their contact information is to offer them something of value in exchange. At Early to Rise we offer a free subscription to the newsletter you’re reading right now.

You could also offer a free special report or some type of tip sheet. Putting one together can be as simple as coming up with 10 questions that people in your niche are likely to ask and answering those questions. It can be just 5 or 10 pages long. Better yet, unlike a daily newsletter, you only have to write it once. Then you upload it to your autoresponder (the same software you use for the opt-in form) and have it automatically sent to everyone who gives you their name and e-mail address.

I recommend using a third party autoresponder service such as Aweber.

Step 6. Drive Traffic to Your Website

There are many ways to drive traffic to your website, but when you’re starting out you’ll want to focus mostly on free traffic.

One of my favorite ways to get free traffic is by writing and submitting articles to article directories. I submit most of my articles to EzineArticles.com. (Make sure you include your website’s URL in the blurb or bio that runs with the article.)

Another good way to get free traffic is through social media marketing. Search for blogs and forums that are related to your niche and answer questions and post comments. Most forums and blogs will allow you to link back to your website. Just be sure that you are providing good content and that what you have to say is relevant to the forum’s or blog’s subject matter.

Keep in mind that most of the people you attract to your website by submitting articles and through social media will not purchase anything from you – at least, they won’t purchase anything on their first visit. But that’s why you have the opt-in form – to capture their contact information so you can keep bringing them back.

Step 7. Follow Up… and Start Making Sales

The final step is to follow up with the people on your opt-in list and start selling them products. These can be your own products or products you are promoting as an affiliate.

This, too, can be done with your autoresponder. For example, you could write a series of five to seven e-mails, each one promoting a different product. And as soon as people opts in to get your freebie, you have those e-mails automatically sent to them, one at a time, every couple of days.

You don’t want people to think they’re just going to be getting sales messages from you, so mix it up. Include some valuable content in your e-mails too. This will help you continue to build your relationship with them.

Those are the seven steps you can take to quickly and easily launch a new online business. Once you have this basic system in place you continue to build on it by learning more ways to bring traffic to your site, building a bigger opt-in list, and starting to promote what we call “backend” products.

If any (or all!) of this sounds daunting, don’t worry. I can give you hands-on help to get your own Internet business up and running at ETR’s 5 Days in July conference.

MaryEllen Tribby, Charlie Byrne, Edwin Huertas, David Cross, and I – as well as other experts in Internet marketing and website building – will be there to walk you, step by step, through the entire process.

We’ll teach you how to pick a domain name, set up a website, choose products, start driving traffic to your site, and much more. And at the end of the conference, every attendee will leave with a fully functioning Internet business that has the potential to churn out income for life.

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Brian Edmondson is an author, speaker, and Internet entrepreneur specializing in generating website traffic and building responsive email lists. He is also the director of ETR’s Internet Money Club.
After leaving his “Wall Street” job in 2001, Brian found true success and independence through the power of the Internet. He has launched several websites, including one that grossed over $50,000 in sales in the first week and has masterminded many multi-million dollar Internet businesses. He now works full time online from his home outside of Philadelphia , PA (or anywhere there is an internet connection).Brian is also known for his ability to generate “big profits from a small list”. In one example he generated over $15,000 in 7 days from a list of only 1,286 subscribers. Brian is co-author of The Ultimate Success Secret with Dan Kennedy.