Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Ava
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How can you start a business even if you’re broke?
The short answer is *drumroll* the Internet.
Congratulations, you are in the information age, and an absolute TON of information on pretty much any topic you can imagine is a few clicks away.
In the time (over a decade) I have been playing around with Internet Marketing, I have Googled my way through learning self-publishing, WordPress, landing page building, email list starting, podcasting, and I could go on many times over.
My education hasn’t cost me any money, but it’s taken a lot of time. For you, it’s going to depend on which of these two resources you have the most of to spend.
If you have money, you can expedite your education. If you have more time than money, you can absolutely still learn and achieve on the same level as someone who buys their way. It will just take you longer.
If you have more time than money, then stay tuned because I’m going to tell you how to start a business even if you’re broke.
This episode is sponsored by G Suite.
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So, you’re trying to start your online empire on the cheap? I feel you. I feel you deeply.
There is a ton of crap out there about mindset, and a lot of snobs will tell you not to even start if you don’t have capital, a million dollar set-up, and whatever brand of crapola they are selling.
I have seen it all. I’ve seen so much of it that I’ve seen the rehashed stuff and the rehash of the rehashed stuff. I talked a bit about all of the tired marketing methods that I’m sick of seeing in Episode 23 of The Candid Cashflow Podcast.
I don’t believe in any of it. How dare someone who has lined their pockets with the money of a thousand gullible newbies tell me I don’t have what it takes to do anything under the sun!
I may not have the “rich” mindset or the “law of attraction” on my side, but I’ve seen what is possible. What I do have is a NEVER QUIT attitude that I can’t seem to shake even when I want to.
I also have a desire to TRULY help others. I work for my money. The Candid Cashflow Podcast is merely a side hustle with a few affiliate links that has probably generated under $100 in its 7-month tenure.
I can honestly say I’m not here for the paycheck.
If you’ve ever been told that you have to have a certain amount of money to start your business, publish your book, build your website, start your podcast, or start your email list, I’m here to tell you otherwise.
You CAN start your online empire on the cheap! You don’t need a ton of capital for an online business! If you write your own book, you can publish it with NO money. That’s right I said ZILCH!
Some aspects of your brand will cost you a little money, but getting started is FREE.
Decide What Business You Want to Create in 4 Steps
The first and obvious step is to decide what you want to do. I always suggest that you start with your passions and interests. If you’re not interested in what you’re doing, what is the point? In my opinion, you are setting yourself up for failure by choosing one of the top 3 profitable niches just because they are profitable.
In case you’re wondering, those niches are:
- Business/Make Money Online
If your passions and interests happen to align with one of these three, you will have a ton of competition, but if your niche is tight enough, it can be very profitable.
The Candid Cashflow Podcast is pretty much all about helping you find how you can turn your passion into cashflow. In fact, we visited this very early on in Episode 2 when I covered 5 hobbies you can easily turn into income streams.
The possibilities are endless and you can decide what you want to do in a few steps. Here goes:
- Decide what you are most passionate about. No matter what it is, I promise you there are others who share your interest. Google it right now. What’s the community look like? Did you get a ton of results?
- Figure out what kind of content can you create about your passion. If you’re trying to build an online business, then you need to create some type of content. Some types will require minimal content while other will have you deep in the trenches of creation. Take the path of least resistance for you. If you’re not a decent writer and you don’t enjoy it, don’t build a brand that requires tons of written content. More on this later.
- Develop a plan to begin building your brand and business. Once you know what kind of content you’ll be creating to start, you can develop a plan. If you’re creating video content, a YouTube channel is a must-have. On the other hand, if you’re not writing, there’s no need to build a blog. Make sense? Good.
- Start. Even before you think you’re ready, get started! As you are working, other things that need to be done will become apparent. Stay organized and work consistently.
Let’s Break That Down a Bit Further
I want to break these steps down a bit further just to make sure I’m not skimping on the details here. It’s easy to write a few sentences and call it good, but we know it goes much deeper.
Deciding What You are Passionate About
This could require a brainstorming session. I personally have so many interests that it was really difficult for me to figure out which ones I should turn into income streams. I’m still working on it.
Everything you do is going to be a work in progress, so be prepared. Very few businesses are set and forget.
Wherever you decide to begin, it should be something you can create volumes of content about. This content can be finite or infinite. If you’re going the finite route, niche sites might treat you very well. They will also allow you to concentrate on more than one interest.
Deciding where to start will be as complicated or as simple as you make it. My advice is concentrate on the path of least resistance. What niche is the easiest one for you to create content for? Choose that one!
Figuring Out What Kind of Content You Can Create
This can range from long-form blog content like you are reading now, audio content like you’re listening to now, video content, eBooks, e-commerce, and pretty much EVERYTHING on the Internet.
Maybe your thing is programming and you create apps. Maybe you’re into speaking…whatever content is the easiest for you to create a lot of is where you should focus. Everything else is secondary.
Even if you are aiming to work in the service realm like I do as a Virtual Assistant, content creation is a part of that. You have to be able to write a coherent email at the very least.
Developing a Plan to Start Your Online Empire on the Cheap
Once you know what you’re doing and what content you’ll be creating, then you can develop your plan!
At the very least, you’ll need a website. Your website should be the central hub of your business and any other content you create on other platforms like social media should point back to it.
Some basic social media accounts are a must. I recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter. These two are suitable for all businesses. If someone is searching for your niche on one of these two, you want them to find YOU, not your competition!
Decide what you need to begin building your brand. Make a list.
If your business is dependent upon one platform…for example, a YouTube channel, building a website may not be feasible. Unless you are publishing written content to accompany your videos, you will never outrank YouTube in the search engines. Creating a website, would be a waste of time.
Building your plan will require some thinking. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to be in ALL the places at the beginning. Start simple with just a few platforms, and build out as your time, knowledge, and business growth allow.
The planning is the fun part for me. I get hyped on all of the possibilities and awesome things I’m learning. Don’t get lost in all of the hoopla so much that you forget to actually get started!
How to Start a Business Even If You’re Broke
Because I didn’t have a lot of money in the beginning of my online endeavors, I learned how to do a lot of things free or extremely cheap.
I’ve seen people paying crazy amounts of money for things that either can be accomplished free or for very cheap. I’m going to cover several of these, so if I save you any money, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment or sound off at HeyYoAva.com/soundoff. Don’t forget to grab the show notes for all the links and goodies at HeyYoAva.com/Episode36.
1. Building a Website
I’ve seen websites priced anywhere from a few thousand buck to a few hundred. I taught myself how to build websites with WordPress. If you’re starting from scratch, everything is going to have a learning curve.
You have two choices, learn yourself or hire someone. Either way will cost you.
WordPress websites are extremely cheap. You need hosting and a domain. A domain will cost you about $12 per YEAR, and hosting prices vary according to the provider you choose.
I use HostGator. You can get started with HostGator for as low as $2.75 per month.
If you have absolutely NO money for a website, I suggest starting with a platform that you can export to a self-hosted WordPress site once you are ready for that step. WordPress.com is a great choice. Also, Blogger is decent.
You can certainly build a nice website with free services like Wix or Weebly, but exporting your content to a different platform will be more difficult. You definitely want to export to an option you host yourself on a custom domain if you are serious. I don’t recommend these two options.
If you can’t invest $20 per month in a website to start, choose WordPress.com or Blogger. Keep in mind that starting here sets you back a few notches. It will be difficult to build an audience on these platforms. Any audience you do build also may not follow you when you do decide to move to a more professional set-up.
Go legit from the start if at all possible.
Invest a few bucks in a host and a domain. You can get that done for under $20. WordPress is free to install and use. Grab my free eBook at HeyYoAva.com/learnwordpress. It will give a great start and is full of screenshots. There’s no upsells or any of that garbage…just info.
2. Start Building Your Email List
You can do this FREE with MailChimp.
I recently created a video showing you exactly how to do this even before you have a website which I’ll embed in the corresponding blog post for this episode.
Why do you need to build an email list? An email list allows you to gather leads and connect with people who are interested in your business and have opted in to hear from you via email as a result.
One thing I didn’t mention in the video is that you can find great lead magnets to offer as an incentive to sign up for you list at PLRAssassin.com for absolutely FREE. These are not top-of-the-line eBooks, but they are definitely not the worst I’ve seen. I’d give them a 3 out of 5. They will certainly suffice until you can find or create a better incentive product.
An email list is one of the most important assets you can build for you business. The fact that you can do this so cheaply is amazing. If you aren’t going to have website or you can’t afford to have one yet, I would suggest creating a landing page and gathering emails as your first step.
3. Marketing Your Business via Social Media
If you are strapped for cash, social media is FREE. You can begin building a presence and following even before you have a website or a business to speak of.
Create your social media pages and profiles and start posting.
You can create your own graphics for your cover images, etc. with Canva.com free. If you have a little to invest, you can also hire someone to create your branding via Fiverr.com.
4. Publish Your Books FREE
Creating books and publishing them is EASY. It just takes a little know-how. If you can’t afford to pay people who have that know-how, then you must learn the steps yourself.
I write all of my books and edit all of my client’s books in Google Docs first because the styles there are simple and make it easy.
I adhere to a simple format. I insert Page Breaks (Ctrl + Enter) after each section or chapter. All chapter headings are Heading 1, and that allows me to easily create a linked Table of Contents.
I can download the book as a Word document and upload it directly to Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital. I just fill in all of the info for my listing and boom, I’ve published a great-looking eBook.
I then take that same Word document and format it for paperback. This is a fairly simple process, but I tweak a few things like I remove the linked TOC and replace it with one that shows page numbers.
Then I insert page numbers in Microsoft Word and change the font to something bookish like Book Antiqua. I use a template either from CreateSpace or KDP Print to format the Word doc to whatever trim size I’ve selected…usually 6×9.
I have a series of tutorials on this process that I published last year on Steemit. You can access those at HeyYoAva.com/selfpubtutorial.
5. Podcasting on the Cheap
It seems like anytime I have decided to start something, there are two schools of thought: the DIY crowd who tell you how to get it done yourself cheaply and easily or the snobs who say you have to have certain standards and quality to your content before you can call yourself legit. I say BOLLOCKS to those people.
If I had waited until I could afford the best of the best to start The Candid Cashflow Podcast, I’d probably not be here, and I definitely wouldn’t be recording Episode 36.
It took me 2 years to invest in a $30 microphone.
If podcasting is something you are considering, and you’re broke, just do it. You have a smartphone, right? Most people do. Use that.
If you don’t have a smartphone, use the microphone built into your computer. No, it’s not ideal, but it will work.
You’re going to need an audio host, and Anchor.fm is FREE. They even have some great tools to help you record and create a legit show. Start there.
Once you have a couple months of episodes under your belt, use my free report to learn how to get your podcast everywhere it needs to be like iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and more. You can grab that at HeyYoAva.com/podcasteverywhere. Again, none of the resources I’ve created that I’m sharing with you include upsells of any kind. At worst, there are a few affiliate links here and there.
6. Becoming a YouTuber
Listen, this is not my area of expertise at all, but it’s FREE to build a YouTube channel. If you can’t afford a fancy camera, again, use your smartphone.
YouTube is a search engine. In fact, it’s the second largest search engine on the Internet after Google. Use the search box on YouTube to find out what people are searching for.
To get search volume and competition data on those searches, install the free Keywords Everywhere extension for Chrome or Firefox.
Let the search box at YouTube auto-suggest keywords to you. Type in your main keyword. For example, let’s say we want to create a video about creating a YouTube channel. Type “create youtube channel” into the box and see what kind of suggestions you get.
These are long-tail keywords that people are actively searching on YouTube. Creating a video targeted at one or more of these can get your video on the first page and boost your following.
If you have a little to invest, I strongly recommend TubeBuddy which gives you a ton of insights into keywords, and more. Sign up for the free version and wait for them to offer you a discounted monthly fee or lifetime access at a deep discount. I pay less than $5 per month for their service and I can’t live without it on my super small channel.
7. Selling Products Online
There are many platforms to sell products on line depending upon the type of products you have. There’s Etsy for handmade goods, eBay for old stuff you don’t use anymore, Amazon for books and shirts, and so many more.
If you don’t have money to invest, you can set up on one of these platforms free. It will only cost you a percentage of your sales. This is a great way to get some cash flow started for your business. Fund your website or something else you want to invest in.
That’s a Wrap!
Holy cow, so…this is completely off-topic, but WordPress updated and has released their new Gutenberg editor where users can opt in to try it out and offer feedback. I did that, and whoa!
This has to be the hugest thing to come to WordPress maybe ever. I plan to do a video on it soon, but anyway…my word count is gone, and the editor breaks up the content into blocks, so in order to see my word count, I have to copy and paste the preview into some online counter thing which I hate doing.
So, this may be the longest show ever. I’m not sure. I hope you find it helpful. I’m going to wrap things up here. Leave me comments! Show me love!
Don’t forget to grab the show notes and get all links and goodies at HeyYoAva.com/Episode36.
If you think this episode is awesome and you can’t wait to hear more, please subscribe in your favorite listening app at HeyYoAva.com/candidcashflow.
Thanks for being here. You’re the reason I do what I do!
If you’re new around here, I release a new episode each Wednesday!
Until next time, turning your passion into cashflow!