E-junkie's newest eBook, Starting an Online Business from Scratch, provides some insightful, first-hand info on what it takes to be successful as an online entrepreneur.

As a contributor to this work, following is some additional insight I'd like to share. This advice can save you a lot of time, money and possible headaches as you start your entrepreneurial journey.

1. Develop a Business Plan: This is touched on by several of the 11 contributors who opened up their business minds for this eBook. One thing I want to make very clear is that – in my opinion -- you don't have to write a business plan like you're seeking venture capital dollars; at least not in the beginning.

At the start of your online business career, this document is simply a guide to keep you on track. So use it to get the "big picture" down of what you want your freelance business to be about and how you want it to perform. Once you get some steam under you, you can always go back and revise this document with more detail later.

This may be controversial advice for some, but the reason I advise this is that I've seen too many "wannabe" freelancers put off their dream because they put roadblocks in the way like:
"I have to complete my business plan, I don't have a website, I need to _____________ (you fill in the blank) before I start my business."
So fill in the big blocks of your freelance business plan. Then get started!

2. Learn Some SEO: For the uninitiated, SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. And, it's all about how web surfers (ie, your customers) find stuff online. As an online business owner – particularly if you don't have money to hire an internet marketing firm – you're going to have to learn SEO; at least the basics.

If you don't, you'll be marketing in the dark and wondering, "Why can't I make any/many sales?"

3. Integrate Social Media from Jump: Social media is here to stay and search engines are relying on this medium much more to rank sites. So although it's still iffy when it comes to providing sales directly, social media marketing can't be ignored.

And not for nothing, today's online business success depends a lot on developing a "community" around your brand/product/service. Social media is the way to do this. So find out which social media site(s) matches your target market's demographics, and sign up and start interacting on them.

FYI, the six largest social media sites as of this writing are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube (and yeah, this is a social media site).

4. Take Control of Your Website/Blog: If you don't know how to update your blog/website, you'd better learn or you'll be paying through the nose. And, you could even lose control over it.

So take the time to learn the basics (ie, how to post updates). You need to know how to do this so you can introduce special deals and discounts; develop and implement a content marketing strategy; change prices; introduce new products and services; etc.

If you don't and your web designer disappears, or goes on vacation, or doesn't return communication in a timely manner, you're setting yourself up for failure. You never, ever want to be at the mercy of anyone else when it comes to updating your website/blog. You need to know how to do this yourself.

5. Price Your Product/Services to Make a Real Living: One of the biggest mistakes all new entrepreneurs – online and off -- make is not charging enough. I've owned several on and offline businesses and let me tell you, being the cheapest is NOT the way to go.

Most often you will NOT have more sales by being the cheapest;
You will NOT garner more referrals by being the cheapest; and
You will not be able to grow your business by being the cheapest.
This is such a myth that it can't be overstated.

Yeah, you might gain a few clients or get some referrals. But, they will not be the type of clients/customers you want because a customer who shops based on price alone will abandon you when the next cheapest option comes along. And there will always be a cheaper option – especially when you're competing with countries who can offer services for so much lower than you can.

So the best you can do is develop your USP (Unique Selling Proposition);  price your products and/or services competitively (which doesn't mean being the cheapest); and provide killer customer service.

This will ensure that you earn a decent living as an online business owner; a business that can grow steadily into your own little empire.

Author Bio
Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com, an authority site on how to start a successful freelance writing career. Ms. Black says, "Freelance writing is one of the easiest online businesses to start because if you have a computer and an internet connection, you can literally get started today!" Don't know where to start? Take Inkwell Editorial's in-depth freelance writing eCourse, which teaches you how to start earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year working from home as a writer.

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