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Everyday, more and more people decide they want to explore the possibilities of working online. Maybe they already have a business, and are just ready to use the Internet to put some systems in place that leverage their time and effort. Or, they long to start their own business and are enticed by the idea of the “laptop lifestyle” and the freedom of working for themselves.

Often, however, people end up stuck or in information overload trying to make sense of what seems like a million moving pieces. It’s hard to make progress when you feel like you barely know where to begin.

Of course everyone’s business is different, and there’s unfortunately no “one size fits all” template that someone can just hand to you. But there is a general flow to how online businesses operate, so if you are truly at a standstill right now wondering where in the world to focus, these few steps should get you pointed in the right direction.

1) Be clear on the who, the what and the how of your target market.

It may not seem like the most exciting place to begin, but it is still really important. Who do you serve? What is it they need? And how to you plan to help them with what it is they need? This does take a bit work to discover if you aren’t clear on it yet. But once you have those specifics narrowed down, reaching your target market online becomes a whole lot easier.

2) Start building your list.

The easiest way to do this is to put up a website. It could be a full-blown, traditional brochure site, a blog, or even just a one-page “invite site” where the main focus is just to have people sign up for your list in exchange for some type of freebie such as an e-course, a checklist or a short e-book or special report. The great thing is that today this is easier than ever to do. With easy-to-use free publishing tools like WordPress, you can have a simple website up and running in just a couple of hours. Really! You then want to encourage people to sign up for your freebie in as many ways as possible—through social media, blogging, message boards, you name it.

3) Commit to communicating with your list on a regular basis.

One of the most effective ways to do this is through an electronic newsletter, or “e-zine.” An e-zine can be as simple as a plain text email with a couple of helpful tips for your readers—to a HTML version with pictures, an article, listings of your upcoming events and more. An e-zine is something that can be easily forwarded so that word spreads about you, and it can also help establish you as an expert in your niche and keep you top of mind when it comes to the people on your list.

One final piece of advice: get going NOW. Realize that the time will never be “just right” and you’ll never have ALL of your ducks in a row. My own coach has a mantra that I wholeheartedly agree with when it comes to doing business online: “done is better than perfect.” The sooner you adopt that view, the sooner you will see success.

And now that you know where to start, no more excuses, ok? 🙂 (And if you’d like in-depth, step-by-step help on using the web to get more clients and earn the income you really want, be sure to check out my Get Clients Online Training Program!)