To someone who’s all geared up to enter the online business world, things can look downright confusing. Most internet entrepreneurs start as complete newbies with no or little knowledge of the work that goes behind a successful business website. Terms like blog, niche blogging, internet traffic, search engine optimisation (SEO), WordPress, affiliate marketing, e-mail marketing, Google Adsense, Google Webmaster Tools, search engine result page (SERP), page rank, social media ads, etc. are all too common and they could sound overwhelming to a newcomer. Many questions come up to the mind and there are different answers to the same question. While there can be no list of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) that is exhaustive and answers to everything that a beginner asks, there are some basic questions that need to be cleared from the very outset.
Q1. What is the difference between a website and a blog?
A. Basically, there’s not much difference between the two. A website (a site on the web) is the broad term that is used to indicate all sites that you browse online. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Quora, Wikipedia are all examples of websites. A blog (a web log = blog) is a part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. One major difference between the two is the way the data is presented. A website’s content (pages, multimedia, FAQs) remain more or less static for a long time. Whereas in a blog, content is regularly updated. A blog has the most recent content on the top followed by the previously updated content. In the website, the language used is formal while in a blog, it is informal. Communication in a website is mostly one-way while in a blog, there’s a commenting system and all queries are answered by the blogger. A website communicates its information about the services and/or products. A blog provides an interactive platform for different issues of a particular industry or market.
All blogs are websites but all websites are not blogs.
Q2. How can I earn money through the internet?
A. There are many ways one could earn money through the internet. The opportunities are limitless and with more than three billion internet users worldwide searching for products and services every moment, the possibility of a thriving online business in a particular niche market is immense. Selling products, coaching, online tutorials, copywriting, data entry work, surveys, advertisement clicks are some examples. The most popular is affiliate marketing where you get commissions for driving sales to a merchant like Amazon through your website.
Q3. Does money flow in automatically if a large number of people visit my site daily?
A. No. Money is not created simply from people visiting your site. Even if there are a million plus visitors daily to your website, if it isn’t selling anything or isn’t making people buy a product or a service through your content, no money is going to be created. You have to learn the ways to monetise your website.
Q4. Is it true that people earn money when visitors click ads on their website?
A. Yes and no. Unless people place ads that actually pay for clicks made there, no revenue is generated on its own. But there are ads like Google AdSense that pays when people click them. You need the approval from Google to be able to place ads on your site.
Q4. Is starting an online business easy?
A. Starting an online business is relatively easy. However, in order to be successful, it takes a lot of hard work. It is a common misconception that an online business is a walk-in-the-park venture. This is the reason why it has a low success rate. 90% of all online business start-ups fold up within the first four months, and it is very important to understand that success will not happen overnight. If you want to enter the online business world, be prepared for the long haul.
Q6. Can a newcomer with no knowledge of website building start an online business?
A. Absolutely. There are many online courses or communities that teach you everything about creating a business from scratch. If you follow the training diligently and go step by step, a person without any knowledge of HTML or other technical stuff can easily start building a business website and get it up and running within a few days itself.
Q7. If I register a domain name, will it remain mine forever?
A. Domain name registration is for a fixed period and incurs a fee. It needs to be renewed before the expiry date. If you keep on renewing it (one year, three years, five years, etc.) upon payment of its requisite fee, the domain name will be yours forever.
Q8. Can I start building my website after purchasing the domain name?
A. Purchasing a domain name is one of the first steps towards creating your online presence. But you will be needing a server space to ‘host’ your website on the World Wide Web for the world to see it. Companies that provide this service are called ‘hosting companies’. After you register your domain, you need to contact a hosting company and tell them you want your website to be hosted on their server under the domain name you had purchased. They will do everything to make your site live in no time. There are some companies where you can register your domain as well as do the hosting for your website.
Q9. Are there costs involved in running an online business?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch and anybody telling you that it doesn’t take money to build an online business is not telling the truth. Though much cheaper than starting a traditional brick-and-mortar business, an online business would require money for buying a domain name (for your website), cost for domain hosting, website building course fee, money for buying premium WordPress themes (free themes could be used too), buying a keyword research tool (the tool is not compulsory but it does give you an edge over others in the keyword research), professional fee for website creation and maintenance (if you are not building the site yourself).
Q10. Are there risks involved?
A. No business is without risks. The success of an online business depends on many factors, mostly related to the ability and dedication of the person running the business. There is no particular success model. It takes a hard work to be successful.
Q11. How do I know if I’m qualified to start an online business of my own?
A. There’s no such thing as eligibility criteria for starting a home-based online business. Anybody could start it easily. If you can use a computer, have little knowledge of the internet, have a more-than-average knowledge than a commoner in a market segment (niche), can communicate your idea through written words, are insightful, hardworking, innovative, have an eye for detail, then you are more than qualified.
Q12. What is the biggest challenge in creating a successful online business?
A. The biggest challenge in creating a successful online business is the generation of internet traffic to your website. Traffic is nothing but the visitors to your site who are your potential buyers and it comes from the trust people have in your content. Without the traffic, business will not happen. But this traffic will come because of how you provide your information to the visitors. They must be valuable and facilitate solutions to people’s problems. You must regularly update your business website with new valuable content. The free traffic will happen if your page ranks high in SERPs under different search terms. Hence, your ultimate aim is to get your pages ranked for different keywords in most search engines, in particular, Google.
Q13. How soon will I start earning from my website?
A. If you are enthusiastic, ready to learn and willing to follow step-by-step lessons in an internet business, it can take you anywhere between three months to a year to be able to start generating revenue from your site. However, in some instances, it could even take longer.
Q14. Is getting indexed in Google the same as getting ranked?
A. No, many newbies confuse between the two and think that the two are the same thing. Getting indexed simply means Google recognises your website and has it catalogued in its database. When your website is indexed in Google, you can see it appearing on its search page when you type in your site’s domain name. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean, your site is ranked for any keyword or search term. On the other hand, getting ranked means your website is listed in search engines for keywords associated with your content. A ranking is where your site (or page) shows up in search pages. Your site could be indexed but not show up in SERPs because it lacks the authority to outrank other sites ahead of it.
Q15. How important is the ranking of a page for business conversion?
A. The position of a page in the search engine result pages (SERPs) can make or break a business. The whole idea of an online business is getting ranked high in search engines for different search terms. People mostly do not go beyond page 1 of a search page and your effort will be to get your content ranked there.
Q16. Is there are a limit to the earning potential?
A. There’s no limit to one’s earning potential in online business. Once yours become an authority website with thousands of visitors daily, the earning potential is huge.
Q17. Isn’t the home-based online business market already saturated?
A. No. The number of internet users is increasing worldwide and today more and more people are shopping online. It is more convenient than visiting different stores physically. The number of people searching for solutions to their problems has increased and the trend will remain unchanged for many more years to come. Today, more than 3 billion people use the internet daily and hence it is wrong to think that the market has reached its saturation point.
Q18. Will the online business of selling products and services remain the same in the future?
A. It cannot be predicted. Internet keeps on evolving and things become obsolete fast in today’s technology-driven world. One has to remain alert and be watchful of the new technological trends in order to stay ahead of the competition. Leveraging online activities require that you adapt to the changing trends and business scenario and innovate yourself.
Q19. Do I need to have graphics on my website to attract visitors?
A. People are visual by nature and it is said that a visitor takes only a fraction of a second to decide whether to stay on the site or else jump to other sites. Graphics play a very important role in halting a visitor and this is crucial in making him stay on the site to browse on other pages as well. However, too many flashy graphics tend to irritate a visitor and also make the site heavier to load. Instead of enhancing the user-experience, too many graphics can mar it. A good user-experience comes from a mix of beautiful graphics and valuable content.
Q20. Can I use any picture downloaded from the internet for my visual content?
A. No, absolutely not. Unless a picture (or that matter any media) is copyright-free, you cannot use it on your website without prior permission from the owner. There are penalties involved for copyright infringement and using a photograph without permission constitutes an infringement. However, the good news is that there are many websites offering copyright-free (or royalty-free) images which you can use on your site.
Q21. What is affiliate marketing?
A. Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing where you as an affiliate (or publisher) drive sales of products of a merchant (Amazon, eBay) through your website. The affiliate promotes a merchant’s product or services and gets commissions for every sale, visit, or subscription sent to the merchant. Payment arrangements include pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead and pay-per-click. Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful and popular forms of online business. It is one of the easiest too.
Q22. Who are affiliates?
A. Affiliates are bloggers (independent or group), publishers or companies.
Q24. Will it cost me for signing up for an affiliate program?
A. There is no cost for signing up as an affiliate through an affiliate program. There is no restriction to the number of programs you can sign up and there is no signing up fee as such.
Q25. What kinds of business offer affiliate programs?
A. There are thousands of companies running affiliate programs and you can enter into any program related to your business. Examples are Amazon, eBay, Adidas, Alibaba, etc. It is a fact that more than 80% of brands all over the world use affiliate marketing mode to drive sales.
Q26. What is an affiliate link?
A. An affiliate link is a specific URL that contains the affiliate’s unique ID or username. In affiliate marketing, a merchant uses the affiliate link to record the traffic sent by the affiliate to the merchant’s site. Each affiliate has a unique ID.
A. A cookie is a small piece of data embedded in the web browsers to store information like login or registration information, user preferences, and shopping cart contents. When a visitor clicks on an affiliate link in your website, a cookie is placed on their computer or mobile device which enables it to remember the link or ad clicked by the person for a long time. Hence, if the person leaves your site without buying and comes back later to make a purchase, you will still get credit for the sale and gets a commission for it provided the purchase is made during the cookie’s lifetime.
Q28. How long do cookies last?
A. The cookie’s duration or lifespan depends on the merchant’s discretion. It can last for a few days or for a month or even longer.
Q29. What is an RSS feed?
A. It is a system that allows your site to be ‘fed’ continuously or automatically updated based on the banners, links or products you display there.
Q30. What is Email marketing?
A. Email marketing is a type of internet marketing that uses Email to promote products and/or services. It uses Email to develop a relationship with potential clients or customers. It is inexpensive and one of the most effective ways to advertise your products or services to your potential customers.