Starting A Free Online Business, Step by Step

Every day, thousands of people search for information on starting a free online business. They are looking at online business systems, searching for free online business opportunities, and basically looking for legitimate home business ideas so that they can work from home.

That's what I do, and I love it. That's a photo of me above. It was actually taken several years ago - this is my 12th year working from home. And it was taken at a friends house too. I love being able to work anytime, anywhere!

Anyway- yesterday I had opportunity to meet two such ladies who were searching for that very information, and who happen to live in my town. They found me on MySpace, so we talked there and then decided to meet for lunch and discuss what it takes to start an online business.

I'll share the same details with you here that I shared with them over lunch, which were simple steps for starting a free online business. I cant share the fabulous spinach salad, or the great conversation we had, but hopefully this will prove useful to you if you are searching for internet business ideas yourself...

Home Business Ideas

There are so many home business opportunities and internet business ideas, that it can be a little overwhelming to figure out where you should start. We talked about a few of the different business models - from ecommerce sites that use wholesale dropshipping, to offering a service or starting your own blog.

You can make money online in a variety of ways. Just a few examples include: sell your own product, offer services, sell advertising on your website or blog, or promote other people's products and/or services.

That last option is called Affiliate Marketing. It's basically commission-based sales, and I compare it to the offline model of selling Kirby vacuum cleaners. When you make sales, you make money. You can sign up as an affiliate for a company and they will give you an Affiliate Link. You promote that link, and anyone that goes through your link to make a purchase will be tracked - resulting in a commission to you for that sale.

This is the internet business model that I focused on during our conversation over lunch yesterday. I actually use a variety of internet business models to make money online myself, but Affiliate Marketing seemed to be a perfect match for my new friends.

Some business models are active, while others are more passive. An active business model requires a more active role on your part. A membership site for example is high maintenance. If you offer services, then you need to interact with clients and take phone calls on a regular basis. I prefer passive income models, which allow you more freedom and flexibility.

That's not to say that active business models cant be incredibly profitable and successful, just that something more passive seemed like a good fit once I got to know her a bit.

To clarify, when I say passive I dont mean that you wont have to work at it. I think we've all kind of figured out by now that "get rich quick schemes" dont really work. And we were discussing real, legitimate ways to make consistent income online. Not spotty one-off ways to make a few bucks here and there.

We discussed the realistic investment of time and money, and I confessed that I put a lot of time in upfront to get each of my internet business models up and running (some more than others). I explained that you could invest money to get sales rolling in quicker, or you could invest time (up to 6-12 months even) to get your sales up to a good level on a consistent basis. You'll make money along the way of course, but geting that consistent income is the key.

Going that route, you can get started for less than $10. Yes, literally.

The passive part comes in after you have your affiliate site up and running - once you've done that groundwork. With affiliate marketing the merchant is handling orders, shipping and customer service. All you have to do is send them traffic through your affiliate link.

Once your site is up and running, you've set up your systems (such as a newsletter, blog, or whatever fits your model), and you're driving traffic to the site... most of the "work" from there can be automated, and maintained in very little time. For example, I can usually run a site like that in as little as 5 hours a week. That frees you up to create more just like it, and duplicate your income πŸ˜‰

Starting a Free Online Business

I mentioned above that you can get started for less than $10. I know that a lot of people are interested in starting a free online business, but this small investment is well worth it. Especially if you are serious about making a consistent income with a real online business.

You could actually spend a lot more than ten bucks, but if you take my advice you'll save a lot of money - and still end up with a solid internet business model.

What are the steps in creating an online business?

Your first step is to decide what niche you will target. Meaning: what are you going to sell, or what topic is your website going to be about? You might start with the product, or you might start with the topic - it doesnt really matter as long as you get that initial idea.

To help you, here are some of my own mini-tutorials on keyword research. Keywords are simply the words or phrases that people are searching for online. If you read through the links on that page, you'll have a much better understanding of how you can research keywords to choose topics or products.

Once you decide what your website will be about, you'll need two things: a domain name and a hosting account. The domain name is your website address (like is mine) and the hosting account is the space online where you will put your website.

I use to register my domain names. For hosting, I use HostGator - they allow you to host multiple domains or sites on the one account (saving you money when you start duplicating!) and they have tons of cool features that save you time & money too.

The domain name will cost you $8.95 for the first year. The HostGator account is $9.95/month, but I have a coupon code you can use to get your first month free. And that's all you really need upfront to get started - so start up cost is actually less than $9, and then 9.95/month.

So you've picked a topic for your website, you registered a domain name, you set up your hosting account... now you need to create a website. (This is the hard part for most people)

It might be tempting to just hire a web designer, and that's certainly an option, but you really want to learn some things yourself if you are going to be running an internet business. Creating your own website will also save you a lot of money.

You'll find some tools in your hosting account to help you develop your website. You can also find all kinds of free resources online by doing a search. If you decide you need some help, consider hiring someone to design a template for you - not an entire website. Its much cheaper to just outsource the template design and do the rest of the work yourself.

You're going to run into questions along the way. But dont let that stop you! I have an online business discussion forum where you can stop in and ask any questions you have, and get help from others who have already gone through these steps themselves.

Go back through the steps and check out some of the links. Read my keyword research tutorials, and then join us at the forum if you have any questions before you get started.

Next, see: Starting A Home Business? Read this...

If you liked this tutorial, be sure to sign up for my free weekly tips. It's the best way to get the current scoop on free resources, and new online business tips!


p.s. Also See: Online Jobs - Work From Home

- - - - - - - - - -

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Richard Bailey says

    I still haven't started a home business, timing just isn't right for me, but your articles are awesome, so much to go through but i'll get there πŸ˜‰

  2. Great post! Affiliate marketing can be a very effective way of making money given you know how to promote that particular product or service. And who wouldn't want to work in their PJs?! πŸ˜‰

  3. I'm actually researching , trying to get all the info I can to help me make some money online. Thanks for your information.

  4. With the new web and internet boom I think it is integral for people to look outside the square and develop their skills in other areas. An online business allows you to develop your technological, marketing and administrative skills all in one place.

  5. Reggie Barnett says

    This is great info for many people interested in creating their own online business. This is good that you are giving out honest info about creating an online business because so many people are getting ripped off by so called "gurus".

  6. Lynn Clark (Atlanta) says

    Thanks so much for this article. It is confirmation how I decided to proceed with my online business, and that's as good as it gets for me. I too bought Rosalind Gardner's book late last year which helped a lot but this article just confirms my being on target.
    Much continued success!

  7. I am doing Google and the revenues have been pretty good, but they're going down. I have tried Amazon, which didn't work at all. What are the best affiliate programs?

  8. Lynn, perfectly explain mini tutorial... I also like the keyword research link. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Tony Germana says

    Lynn, what a terrific tutorial, well done. Complete from A to Z; it should inspire and bolster the courage of anyone toying with the idea of starting a work from home business!

  10. I've noticed that people are often afraid to take that bold step of faith and just get started.

    Just doing one thing to get you started, for example buying your domain name or finding a webhost, is often enough to get the ball rolling.

    Once you do something that commits you, it's easier to keep on going.

  11. Just an FYI, I also use godaddy for domain names as well as Hostgator for hosting. One thing I don't recommend is Godaddy for hosting.

  12. Hi Lynn ,
    I am a newby in this matter and I am following your blog every day.
    I got a next question ...
    How can I set my site to be found in google ... top links ... or which other mechanism do you use to make more traffic to your site .. ?

  13. Nicolle Tilleman says

    I am fortunate to have found this web page. Keep up the excellent postings.

  14. @mondex1 says

    A very nice article that gives a basic and very easy to follow steps for those who are planning to start their own online business. I know a lot of people who were cheated by their so called online mentors. Yours is very transparent and very easy to understand. Keep it up!

  15. Great information Lynn, I myself prefer affiliate marketing to a lot of things I've done online. There's a fair amount of writing involved but I happen to like it. For most people it's probably going to be a matter of what you can tolerate doing. I don't relish the idea of dealing with inventory and shipping, so affiliate marketing is a good fit for me.

  16. Great info. You're right, the hard part for most entrepreneurs is creating a professional-looking website. I'd recommend checking out, a free, open-source website content management system with many free templates, add-on tools, a healthy support community and pretty good documentation. I've used it in the past to get sites up and developed in just a couple days.

    • hi i was wondering the website u mentioned here is that a safe site and is it easy to start an online busimess im having a hard tim starting

  17. If you're serious about running an online business it's worth getting a good book on WordPress/Joomla etc and spend time reading it.

    The time and effort you put in now will save you time in the future and will save you a fortune as you won't have to pay a web designer.

  18. Excellent post!

    Working from home didn't work for me in the end. At first it felt great but then things started to feel a bit too heavy to handle. Too much distractions, had to rent an office space.

    When starting up the business working home was great. Less costs.

  19. When I started my online carreer I was a happy mom who wanted to do something else sitting at home. I started learning everything myself. I mean what I said - everything. Step by step I selected some spheres that were interesting for me and went deeper. But I still think that I should learn more and more in order to be more successful.
    Thanks a lot for the post.

  20. Great article. Simple and the the approach is read friendly. I have forwarded your link to some mutual friends, who are looking to start their own on line business.

  21. Thanks a lot for the article, as usual, it is great ( as all others here) but what is interesting for me is how many people are needed to start online business. And is it possible to do it alone?

  22. Fantastic article Lynn, thanks so much for sharing. I am very impressed that you have been able to work at home for over twelve years. Very much enjoyed reading your ideas.

  23. Toby Russell says

    Hi Lynn I really like your style of writing, simple and to the point. Giving quality info. I'm not hugely experienced and I find sites like your's really helpful in my own quest to be successful online. Keep up the great work.

  24. Bert Mussell says

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You cann't imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  25. Countessjewels says

    I really like your site and am learning a lot but I am overwhelmed with so much I still don't know. Find it very hard to learn so many things to be able to run a successful business.

  26. ann smith says

    Hi ! thanks for the information about starting a free online business. Starting an Internet Business needs a total hard work and patience. But worth it!

  27. I simply wanted to let you know how much we appreciate every little thing you've contributed to help improve the lives of people in this subject matter. Through your own articles, we've gone through just a beginner to a pro in the area. It's truly a homage to your initiatives. Thanks

  28. Hey Lynn, I like that your post presents a very practical and really cheap startup plan on the lowest possible budget. Not all marketers make it look very cheap for beginners to enter internet marketing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  29. I like what you said about hiring a web designer. If you do that, there will come a moment when something bad happens to your website and you can't reach the guy. You'll end up cursing with your blog ruined.
    Some people think it's difficult to learn web design, but HTML and CSS are really easy and the basis can be learned in a couple of days.

  30. hi lynn how do i get the business here for the price you showed i never had a business online but i really want to start one

  31. hi lynn how do i get the business here for the price you showed i never had a business online but i really want to start one

  32. That photo of you remind me of the times i used to work as a salesman and at night once i got home after 15 hours of bashing my head on the walls with clients i would everything on the bed: invoices, money, etc. and start counting and sorting them.
    Not the best period in my life, but it feels funny to remember that now.

  33. Ellis from Scholarship Grants Online says

    I think affiliate marketing is a numbers game. The more targetted traffic you attract the more possibility you get sales and commissions. But it really needs more of out time at first. Though, when visitors buy the products and services you promote, it's a start of a passive massive income that you will receive every month.

  34. Hi everyone. I've been in debt for over a year now. I've been unemployed for about 2-3 months now also and nothing has helped me. I have thought about online businesses and online stores, marketing, vending, affiliating but nothing is cheap for me and I can't get started. I don't have skills and knowledge to start things like a MT Medical Transcriptionist. I don't even know what that is. All I'm looking for is a way out and a fresh start. Please someone help me.

  35. Well it is not easy to start an online business specially if your niche has a many existing competitors already. Try to find a niche that you know best and is not yet very saturated in the market.
    -John Sumner

  36. Hello Lynn, thanks for being so straight forward and to the point.

  37. Bill Gassett says

    Lynn I can even imagine being at a point in my life where I would need to go out and find work by looking for a free online business. It would be interesting to know the percentage of people who actually succeed in this endeavor. I can't imagine the percentages are all that high!

    • Bill, the key ingredient is persistence! The main cause of failure is giving up, because it is not easy. Everyone who makes it in online business will say so, and all have a story about what they endured and how long it took. Got an hour? LOL....

  38. I've been searching for an article like that for a long time. I want to start my own online business and this arcitle provides all the basic info I need. Thank you Lynn.

  39. Nice article. I have just started part time online work. I hope one day I can quit my day job and support my family with my online endeavors. Thanks Lynn.

  40. Mark Harbert says


    Another incredibly powerful post, you are giving some serious ideas here. I find a combination of two is a good thing. I love marketing on the internet, its not only fun, but its Anyway, great post my friend.

    Mark Harbert

  41. Virginia Nolan says

    Hello everyone. I just stumbled across this page whilst looking to build a website. I agree that you should have a go yourself at doing this web building. I am in the process of developing a product, but until then, affiliating seems to be the initial way to go and learning how to write articles to promote those products. I have spent 18 hours a day just learning about the terminology, and know that this will not happen overnight. If I can learn this at 66 years of age, then all you younger ones out there can also. Just takes perseverence I suppose. If I earn one dime, I will have succeeded because I know this is just the beginning.

  42. Even if you dont have a blog or website, you can still earn money online by having a free blog space from or and then promote product that offer affiliate commission.

  43. Billy Young says

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post. Very imformative....And yes, building your own website takes time--it doesn't happen over night.

  44. Thanks for the information about starting a free online business.It a great article to read.

  45. Affiliate marketing is a dream come true for those who want freedom from the dreaded JOB. I've been working and making money online - from my work at home ideas site - a similar length of time as yourself Lynn and love it. Nice article!

  46. Fred Foreman says

    Finally, someone who is really trying to help others with good information without asking for money. Thank you for the time you take to help others with your sound business advice. If we could talk a little, please sent me an email, have some other Q & A.

  47. I see of lot of articles on this subject and the assumption is that people can "do it yourself" and be successful. The statistics prove otherwise.

    While some people have the tenacity to work through the plan until they are actually making anything online, the vast majority over my 12 years of experience give up at some point and never see any income from online efforts.

    Getting inexpensive but effective coaching and help is valuable. Being a "jack of all trades" usually makes you a master of none. Better to spend a little money and actually succeed than try so hard to do all things for "FREE" and never really get off the ground.

    I've made as much as $3,000 per day online so I'm speaking from real world experience. Trying to help family and friends isn't easy. They want the results as cheap as possible but then don't follow through.

    My advice is simple ... get help getting off the ground with at least your first successful online enterprise before you start cutting any corners. It's not as expensive as you my think.

  48. Wow, I just found your blog, very useful information here. I started my online business a year ago and I am so glad that I did because I really enjoy it. If there is one benefit that I have learned from having an online business and working from home, is the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world.

    Thanks for sharing your post its really important for people who are considering starting their online businesses have a mentor to help and support them. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

  49. Very helpful article for young mothers, who have to stay at home, but want to proceed working and earn some money! I find it really simple for understanding and it is nice that you can try to do something and do not lose much money.
    And thanks for the tips on keyword research

  50. George Moore says

    I am a 100% disable Vet form combat. I need to make some extra money. How can I get started with out getting into a scam. Please help. Thanks

Leave a Reply


Get My Internet Business & Smart Marketing Diaries - Free!