One of the first things I noticed when I announced I would leave my salaried job as one of North America's top consumer advocates to start up my own business, is that everybody else wants to fire the boss, too. "How can I do what you are doing?" so many friends asked me. It seems their idea of self-actualization is to own a business or to make money on the Internet or to work from home.

I still get so many questions on this, so I assembled this quick primer on what you need to make a living on the Internet from home, and where to get what you need.

First, you need a plan. You need to know what you want to sell, what product or service, and who you want to sell it to. In this respect, Internet marketing is no different than any other business. You could sell your own products, or you could be a storefront for related products from several suppliers. You could sell hard goods or electronic goods (ebooks, software, etc.) You should also understand the principles of Internet marketing. Here are a few respected sources of Internet marketing information:

Next, you need an ISP. ISP stands for "Internet service provider", the company that connects you to the Internet. When you make your living online, you need quality customer service. I recently switched to Phastnet, and promptly found out just how good a decision I made. Do not shop for an ISP on price; shop on customer service.

Then you need a domain name. Your domain name is the URL of your web site. For instance, mine is Only once you have a domain name can you get a web host to store your files and make them readable to people surfing the Internet.

Most domain name vendors also host web sites and vice versa, but you do not have to buy from the same place. I recommend buying domain names on price, which is why I chose Dotster, but you want a web host that makes adding, changing and deleting files easy ... and offers top notch customer support. Phastnet is so much easier to use than my old host for my happiness site, and they offer wonderful customer support. So does Ancient ClanHostCabin.

Of course, you will need a web site designer and/or developer. A quick search will reveal that there are more web site designers than almost any other profession. I can happily recommend a good one if you wish.

Or you could learn to do it yourself, as I did. I learned web site design at Writing HTML. I found additional information at HTML Goodies. Another good source is the book HTML for the World Wide Web, which I frequently refer to.

Or, if your project is interesting enough and you can articulate your goals, I just might be willing design your web site myself.

Another alternative is to buy pre-made web site templates, and alter them for your own use. Here is one source of templates . And here is another web template source.

Now you have the basic tools, but where do you get content for your web site? There are two kinds of content: merchandise and information. Every Internet business needs both. Assuming you want to sell someone else's merchandise, as a typical retail store does, here are some great sources:

Looking for information content? Here are a few places to go:

There are many more free content sources, but these are my favorites.

Now that your web site is ready to go, you need people to find you. Unlike a real storefront, people don't just walk by. They look for something in a search engine, and hopefully they will find you. So you need a "search engine optimization strategy". That's where a professional SEO, like me, or a lot of home study comes in helpful.

The two keys to search engine success are "keywords" (or search terms) and link popularity (or PageRank). Keywords are what you search for. Try searching for "happiness" or for "self-actualization" on any search engine and see what site comes up tops. That's how People find my personal growth site,

Link popularity is about how many other web sites link to yours. This takes time, but you can learn many handy tips at the resources below. OK, so it's about much more than just how many site link to yours. Read this article on SEO tips.

Study all the information you can find on this topic, but please resist the temptation to "trick" the search engines. You will end up blacklisted, and then NOBODY will find your business. (And, yes, you will be tempted!) Read this article on SEO ethics

Here are a few sources of information on search engine strategies, many of which I rely on:

Link popularity check
Mikes Marketing Tools
High Rankings

You will learn a lot about how to use keywords, and also a lot about link popularity through these resources.

One more thing. You have products and you are attracting customers. How will you collect your money. If your products are electronic, I highly recommend ClickBank. If not, you can accept Paypal. Otherwise, you will need a merchant credit card account or insist on checks. Keep in mind, the easier for customers to pay, the more likely they will buy before leaving your web site.

Build a relationship with your customers

Read even a little about Internet marketing, and very quickly you discover the importance of the "opt-in list". In other words, a list of email addresses that have signed up to receive information from you. I have a much more detailed article on this here, but on this page is a summary.

In very few circumstances do people sign up to receive marketing messages, except perhaps for product upgrades. More likely, people will sign up for valuable information you deliver through an ezine. For an example, please visit A Daily Dose of Happiness. You will need three things to publish an ezine: subscribers, content and distribution.

Subscribers: One great way to get subscribers is to invite all your friends to sign up and to recommend you to their friends. Another way is to include a sign-up form on your web site. Still another effective way is to swap ads with other ezine publishers. The most effective tool I have found BY FAR, is Subscription Rocket . In fact, this may be the strongest recommendation I make on this page. If you have an ezine, join the free Subscription Rocket co-op. Another tool many people are using is Opt-in Lightening

Content: I assume you will want to write much, if not all, of your content. But there are other sources. You can invite reader comments. You can republish, with permission, content from other ezines and web sites. Or you can go to those free content sites I recommended above. Idea Marketers even has a fairly inexpensive service to compile and distribute your ezine using their free content. (A great option for technophobes!) Make sure the content is relevant to your readers, and preferably puts them in the frame of mind to make a purchase.

DistributionThis is the toughest aspect of ezine publishing. If you don't mind some pretty irritating ads, you can use the free Topica or Yahoo Groups services. I do not recommend them, for the "irritating" reason.

Most ad-free list hosting services cost an arm and a leg. There are several programs out there for list sending, and many are good. I opted for Gammadyne Mailer after a lengthy search. If you are a total technophobe, stay away. But if you are capable of learning new software programs, this is a very powerful and flexible tool that personalizes your messages, preprograms them, and does it all from your desktop. It also has a large "help" file. I am really happy with it.

Here are some other options:

Some nifty extras to make you even happier

Once you have the basics, try adding a few extras that can help grow your business. For instance, this link will take you to a free service to increase traffic to your web site.

Or, you can set up free SendFree autoresponders for people to get more information. You get the triple benefits of capturing the email person's email address, delivering your marketing message automatically -even while you sleep!- and earning ad space on other people's autoresponders. Take a test drive by clicking on these three fun links:

10 Reasons You Need Media Coverage
The Red Balloon of Happiness
How to Tell If You Are a Literary Snob

If you want totally ad-free autoresponders, here is another option

Where can you advertise your web site, your ezine or your products? The best place is in others' ezines sent to others' opt-in mailing lists. There are many ways to find lists of ezines accepting advertising. One of my favorites is Vector Central Ad Express.

You may want a logo designed. can do that for you.

Do you want covers for your ebooks and ezines to help them sell better? Vaughan Davidson can help. So can Mark Willigerod

Finally, how about a free Internet resource every day?

I hope this beginner's Internet business article has been helpful to you and your dream. While the world would probably fall apart if all employees became entrepreneurs, I really want to encourage those few with the heart and drive to go for it. May success and happiness shine on your path.

For more free website and webmastering articles for reprint, please see our article directory.

Permission is granted to republish this article on your website on condition that you include the following byline with all hyperlinks intact:

David Leonhardt is a freelance SEO consultant and a website marketing consultant. For a free quote, call 613-448-1841, or send us an email.

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