If you have experience with marketing, SEO, or a knack for getting people excited about the products and services you use on a regular basis, think about refining your skills and putting them to work making money online as a small business marketing consultant in your region—especially if you can become a local SEO expert and can help local clients rank higher in their search results.
One of the biggest business success stories of the 21st Century started out as an “online mixer” for college students. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as an Internet forum for Harvard University students to see pictures of and make electronic connections with their classmates. The site was initially marketed exclusively (and very successfully) to college students before exploding onto the cultural and societal landscape in the US and then internationally.
Next, you’ll need the right tools. You can be as complicated or simple as you want depending on your comfort with audio equipment, but at the minimum you’ll want a microphone and software for recording your voice. Companies like Behringer, Blue, Focusrite, and others sell studio-quality plug-and-play podcast setups that can get you recording today.
You love dogs? You’re good at taking care of them? You want to open a dog-boarding business? Just make sure you’re prepared. Sure, it’s a great opportunity, and it’s totally doable—with some planning. Make sure you know your local zoning laws and, perhaps more importantly, make sure your neighbors would be OK with some extra noise and activity around your place.
Another cost effective benefit of niche marketing comes from audience segmentation. Businesses with a broad audience will have various segments within that audience. Successful content, ads, and communication channels will look different for each segment, and catering your methods to each segment requires more effort and bandwidth. When you serve just one demographic, you have less work to do. You can also operate more seamlessly and give your undivided attention to this one area.
If you do not currently have enough money to get the certification you need I would recommend saving a little each month until you have enough to pay cash. If that is not an option or you are desperate to get out of the grind, then you can check personal and student loan rates from various banks at SimpleTuition.com or learn more about Peer to Peer borrowing in my Lending Club review.
Tools & Resources: I’ve written a pretty comprehensive guide on the best web design software that covers both free and premium software packages. If you’re serious about becoming a web designer, then I recommend purchasing the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. At $49.99 per month, this is probably a bargain considering what you can achieve with this set of tools.
There are a lot of items that can be purchased very inexpensively at garage sales or thrift stores and sold for higher prices elsewhere. A few years ago I discovered that I could purchase good hardcover books at my local thrift shop for $1 or less. I realized that some of them could be sold on Amazon.com for $15-$20, which turns out to be a pretty decent profit.
Home-based businesses are quickly becoming the fastest growing form of business start-ups. Growing your company out of your home allows for flexibility that is difficult when renting or buying office and warehouse space. Although working at home requires self-discipline, the benefits can be substantial - especially in the start-up years. (We provide six tips for creating a winning business in a losing economy. Check out Starting A Small Business In Tough Economic Times.)
Once you have a match between niche and product, test-market it. “Give people an opportunity to buy your product or service—not just theoretically but actually putting it out there,” Falkenstein suggests. This can be done by offering samples, such as a free mini-seminar or a sample copy of your newsletter. The test shouldn’t cost you a lot of money: “If you spend huge amounts of money on the initial market test, you're probably doing it wrong,” she says.