Thousands of people are now making a living online and the opportunities are abundant as the Internet continues its growth. An added benefit of running an Internet business is that you can usually start one part-time while you maintain your job and steady income.
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How to Launch Your Own Website Today!

Thousands of people are now making a living online and the opportunities are abundant as the Internet continues its growth. An added benefit of running an Internet business is that you can usually start one part-time while you maintain your job and steady income. An internet business can also be an extension of a regular brick-and-mortar business, adding credibility to your company and your offerings.

How Do You Get Started?

First you need to know what kind of business you want to run. Your venture should be something you can be passionate about and more importantly, something that can make money. Here are some options for generating online revenues:

- Sell a Product - This can be the most costly option since you have to acquire inventory and determine how you are going to sell your merchandise whether it's through your own site, eBay or other online reseller. If you are a collector, this could be a fun way to turn your hobby into a business.

- Sell a Service If you want to provide a service such as writing business plans, website design, pet sitting, etc, you can use your website to market your business. A service business is typically inexpensive to start, however you need to calculate how much you will charge and how many clients you will need to service to generate income.

- Sell Information People are hungry for information so if you have information that people want, you can potentially make a profit with your knowledge. You could sell reports, articles, classes and other learning materials Ebooks are growing in popularity and are fairly easy to create if you have Adobe software or use a service like the one offered by The Ebook Directory.

- Affiliate Programs Many companies, large and small, are offering affiliate programs including eBay, Buy.com and Amazon.com When you sign up to be an affiliate, you set up custom links to products from your website. If the customer clicks through and makes a purchase, you get a small percentage of the transaction. To be successful with affiliate programs, you need to generate a lot of website traffic with a target market that is interested in the product links you are providing. Commission Junction offers affiliate links to many businesses, including Yahoo and eBay. You can also set up your own affiliate program and provide incentives for other business to link to your site.

Setting Up Your Website

It's relatively inexpensive to start a website and often the biggest investment will be in your time. You can hire someone to help you get your site up and running, or you can take this on yourself. If you want to have the flexibility to manage your site and change the contents frequently, it would be worth it to learn how to do it yourself. Microsoft Frontpage and Dreamweaver are two of the most popular software programs for website design. If you don't want to design it from the ground up, many companies offer templates that you can purchase for as little as $15. You can then customize the template to meet your needs. Check out the offerings from The Template Store.

If you decide to hire a website designer, there are many to choose from. The best way to find one near you is to ask business owners in your community for a referral. You can also ask someone whose site you admire to share their designer with you.

Website Hosting

Website hosting costs as little as $12 per month through providers such as Yahoo. Yahoo also offers free tools for website design, so if you want to create a simple site with just a few pages, their tools may be enough to get you started.

Merchant Card Services

If you are going to accept credit card payments online, you can attempt to get a merchant services account. Unfortunately, these are difficult for new businesses to obtain from the big banks due to the amount of fraud in the small business arena. There are many merchant brokers that provide credit card services, but keep in mind that you will have to pay a monthly fee in addition to the percentage per transaction. Luckily, PayPal has come to the rescue and now offers affordable credit card payment services. They also offer free shopping cart software if you decide to add some products to your website. This is a great solution if you want to offer a few products for sale.

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