How to Start Your First Online Business

Shakespir Edition



1. find your niche

2. build your website

3. choose your email provider

4. develop autoresponders

5. the simple way to grow your list

6. create your simple first offering

7. sell simply

8. expand your offerings


see my library of online business resources

Once you start your online business, the best place for you to go will be to see my library of online business resources.

My online business library contains valuable resources (eBook, workbooks, courses) to help you jumpstart your business online.

Once you join the library, you’ll also get access to my exclusive Facebook community for online entrepreneurs.

If you want to take your business to the next level, click the link below to get access to the online library.



In the summer of 2015, I discovered the incredible truth that business doesn’t have to be complicated.

At the time, I had two online businesses and was very overwhelmed by both. I thought I needed to jump through certain hoops before I could fully monetize my businesses. In other words, I was overly complicating what I needed to do for my business.

Truth was, all I needed to do to start an online business was build a product/offering and sell it.

It might sound too simple, but it is suppose to be simple.

Too often, the reason we don’t get started with our dreams/passions is because we make things too complicated than what they need to be.

If you want another stream of income, desire to live a simpler life, and want to explore what having an online business is like, then this guide will help you get started without complicating things.

Here’s the simple way to start an online business and simplify your life.

my philosophy

But before we dive into the specifics, let me introduce myself.

My name is Neal Samudre, and I’m the creator of EssentialHustle.com, a platform helping individuals build and automate their online business so they can live a simple life.

In the past, I’ve been the entrepreneur who has:

•Been easily overwhelmed by focusing on non-essentials in my business.

•Neglected family and friendships because I was too busy chasing new business ideas.

•Suffered from carpal tunnel, neck pains, sciatica, lower back pains, etc. just because I’ve stretched myself to grow my business with what wasn’t working.

After doing all this, I concluded that if I truly wanted to live a simple life, I needed to build an online business that was focused on the essentials.

I believe business and life should be simple. Let me show you how to make business simple online, so that your life can be simple as well.

With that having been said, let’s get started!

1. find your niche

I believe the hardest part with building an online business is finding your niche, or finding your focus.

The online business world is busy, and at first glance, it can seem like every market is occupied. In other words, you can think that there is no room for you to be profitable online. Every great idea has been taken.

This couldn’t be anymore false.

All you need to do is find your unique focus. Discover how you and your passions and skills can add true value to people. Find the tribe of people you can connect with and help.

To do this, you need to imagine the ONE person you can help.

People define this as finding your customer avatar, or the exact profile of someone who would buy your product/service.

Well, I’m going to give you a quick and simple tip about how to find your avatar so that you can start a focused business.

First step: go look in the mirror. And that’s it. There is your avatar!

You are your best avatar.

Think about what your passions are. Are you passionate about travel? What about an ideology like minimalism?

With your business, you can tap into those markets.

Now think about what you want to offer. How will this help a person in the markets you are passionate about?

For instance, since I am passionate about minimalism, I want to help aspiring entrepreneurs who are also minimalists build simple online businesses.

See what I’m getting at? You are your best avatar. The clearer you are about your own unique passions and desires, the clearer you can be about your business.

And here is the ultimate question you can use to measure the focus of your business:

Would you buy your product/service?

If not, then your business is not focused enough to your specific desires/needs.

This is the crucial first step in building your online business. If you can’t focus your online business, then it’ll become difficult to be noticed and defined as an authority.

Find a profitable small market that you would want to be a part of. The more focused, the better.

Don’t attempt to dive into a large pool. Find your corner of the online world, and set up shop.

What’s your unique focus?

2. build your website

Once you define the focus of your online business, then you can build your website.

This website will be branded with your values and passions. The closer you remain to your values and passions (as you defined in the first chapter), then the more focused your business will be. And the more focused your business is, the more targeted audience you’ll reach.

Remember, this is about claiming your corner in the online world!

Let your website be a reflection of you and your desires/needs/passions, and you’ll start to attract a like-minded audience.

As far as the technical side of starting a website goes, follow the link below for a quick and easy tutorial to build your website in just 10 steps.


Once your website is setup, I recommend finding a Studiopress theme (link in the tutorial). The reason I only use Studiopress themes for the websites I build is because it’s run on a framework called Genesis.

The Genesis framework for Wordpress functions great and is super fast. But possibly the best reason to go with Genesis framework themes is that they are conversion-optimized. This means, they are structured so simply that people who arrive on your website will know what the next, clear step they should take is.

So many websites are cluttered and noisy. People who arrive on these websites don’t know whether they should subscribe to a mailing list or buy a product, just because the next step isn’t clearly outlined for them.

When I say Genesis framework themes are conversion-optimized, I mean they are set up so simply and beautifully, that people will know what to do next.

And that’s what you want. You want people who arrive on your website to take certain actions that’ll move your business forward.

Also, a quick note about hiring out a designer: only do it if you feel like the themes from Studiopress aren’t enough. Try your best to design it yourself.

Again, we’re not trying to overcomplicate things. A Studiopress theme with your Wordpress website might be all you need.

So to recap: find your focus and build a website that appeals to the people you want to attract.

In the next chapter, we’ll talk about your email list, or how you’re going to capture your ideal people.

3. choose your email provider

If you want to sell to people online, you need an audience. To grow your audience, you need an email list. Your email list is your audience.

Imagine sending out an email to a list of people and telling them about your product. Then you make money! That’s why you need an email list. You need a pool of people you can contact about your business.

But before you can grow your email list, you need to choose an email marketing service provider (ESP). In this chapter, I’ll go through the top 3 ESPs, and then show you my absolute favorite ESP that I use for everything.

So let’s begin with Mailchimp!


Mailchimp is so easy, a monkey could use it (get it?).

The biggest appeal with Mailchimp is that it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, which is a great deal for people who are just starting out!

It also has a clean, drag-and-drop design that works great for newsletters.

When I first started my online business, I started with Mailchimp. I set up a RSS-driven campaign, which means that whenever I published a new blog post, it sent out to my subscribers automatically.

And that’s all I did. Pretty lame.

Eventually, I moved into a weekly newsletter model. Here’s what it looked like for my business:

Beautiful, clean, blah blah blah.

But after a while, I found that people weren’t clicking the links I wanted them to click in the email.

Here was the problem with this email: it had too much going on with it.

To me, it felt like an impersonal, company newsletter just trying to throw everything at you at once. It didn’t feel right, and open rates were going down.

So here’s how I sum up Mailchimp:

•PRO – Free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

•PRO – Beautiful design.

•CON – No tagging feature.

•CON – Pay double for the same subscriber on two lists.

•CON – No multiple opt-in forms for the same list.

•CON – No incentive delivery system (where if people sign up to receive an incentive, they get it sent to their inbox automatically. You have to create a workaround).

As you can see, Mailchimp didn’t work for me. To really serve my list, I had to create a series of workarounds.


Aweber has been considered the go-to system for a while now. It’s definitely a step up from Mailchimp!

Aweber starts at $19/month, and then goes up based on the amount of subscribers you have.

But the features are much better!

Here’s how I sum it up in relation to list serving:

•PRO – You can deliver incentives automatically unlike Mailchimp.

•PRO – It has a design that is better suited for people to click the links you want, unlike Mailchimp’s cluttered newsletter like design.

•CON – Like Mailchimp, you pay double for the same person who is on two lists.

•PRO – With “rules” you can move a person from one list to another, which is better than Mailchimp!

•CON – But you can’t tag a subscriber based on certain actions they take (like click a certain link on your email, buy a product, etc.).

So, while Aweber is a step better than Mailchimp, it still doesn’t do the job in terms of finding out everything you need to from your audience.

Basically, you need an ESP that really serves your audience. The next one does that, with one caveat.


Infusionsoft is EXPENSIVE but EFFECTIVE. It’s a complete CRM tool and not just an email service provider.

This means you can tag people based on the actions they take, and then guide them through certain funnels that you set up. Pretty neat!

This is definitely where you want to be if you want to serve your list well. You need to be able to tag your subscribers and give them autoresponders based on their tag (more on how to do that later).

Here’s how I sum up Infusionsoft:

•PRO – has all the bells and whistles to really serve your audience.

•PRO – you can see the entire funnel for your email strategy laid out for you.

•CON – it costs an arm and a leg.

•CON – it has a pricey setup fee.

•CON – it’s really difficult to learn. You would definitely need training for it.

•CON – did I mention it’s expensive?

While Infusionsoft is awesome, it definitely doesn’t work for the individual who is just starting out.

Now it’s time to talk about the ESP I love to use. It’s amazing, easy to learn, and has all the features you need to engage with people as soon as they join your list.

What is it?


ConvertKit is amazing. I switched to it from Mailchimp, and all of a sudden, I felt like I had all the power in the world.

Here’s what I love about ConvertKit:

•It has powerful tagging features based on the actions people take in your emails (such as click a link, etc.)

•Because of this, it makes it easier to segment your audience (which again, is necessary for list serving).

•Their time-based autoresponders (called “sequences”) deliver certain emails to certain people easily after a period of time has passed.

•You don’t have to pay twice for the same subscriber on different lists!

•It’s affordable!

•And you can set up powerful automation rules that run by an “if/then” structure. See picture below.

Basically, if you want to serve your audience well, you need:

•Tagging based on actions taken.

•Automation rules such as the one above. This allows for better segmenting.

•The ability to have multiple forms for one list (each delivering a different incentive, and having it’s own separate tracking).

•Automatic incentive delivery.

•Awesome time-based autoresponders.

ConvertKit has all of that.

Their homepage says that they’re aimed at professional bloggers, but I think you can easily run a small business through it.

If you want to make the switch, you can check out my referral link below.

Note that the link below is an affiliate link, meaning that if you sign up with them using that link, I get a small commission. I always want to be upfront about these things. And also, I only use affiliate links for services I use and love.

All that to say, if you love this eBook so far, a great way to thank me is to use my referral link!


In the next chapter, we’ll talk about the first step for engaging with your list.

4. develop autoresponders

Now that you’ve found you focus, built your website, and chosen your ESP, you’re ready to build your email list, right?

Wrong. Before you build your email list, you need to develop a system for engaging with your list as soon as people subscribe to it.

While you need an email list to sell your product/offering, you don’t simply need a large email list. You need a quality email list, a list of people who are invested in your brand and what you have to sell/offer.

To build quality, you need to establish a system for giving people the information they want.

To do this, you’re going to develop autoresponders, or emails that send automatically to groups of people.

With ConvertKit, setting up autoresponders is easy (in ConvertKit, they’re called sequences). But you can also do it with other ESPs. All you have to do is write the emails and let the technology work its magic.

What autoresponders will do is give your list the sense that you’re truly invested in them. Through the autoresponders, you’re going to give them the relevant information they need to move forward with your brand.

Here’s what to include in your first autoresponder series.

In the first email you write, talk about your business and the core values behind your business. This establishes credibility and authority. It helps your audience trust you.

In the second autoresponder that automatically sends to your audience, give them some educational value. You should basically tell them something they don’t know about their main frustration (the frustration that drove them to join your email list).

For instance, if they joined your email list to learn more about email marketing, tell them something they might not know about email marketing. What this does is, again, establish trust.

In the third email, introduce helpful resources for your subscribers. These resources might be your own products or affiliate links! An affiliate link means you receive a commission from someone buying a product/service using your link. You can easily become an affiliate for Amazon and make a commission anytime buys using your link.

In the fourth email, I would again give educational value with a soft-sell for your product/service. You can include a link to your product/service in the P.S. section of your email.

And then, you can develop more emails if you want. Basically, you want autoresponders set up before people start joining your list because you want to care for every person who joins your list from the moment they first subscribe.

Autoresponders are about building trust and authority with your focused audience.

It’ll make it easier to sell to your audience, which we’ll talk about soon.

5. the simple way to grow your list

Now that you’ve found your focus, built your website, chosen your ESP, and developed your autoresponders, it’s time to build your audience.

To some, this can be a daunting task. Where do you go to find your target audience? How do you grow a quality email list, not just a big one?

In this chapter, I’m going to teach you a simple strategy to build a quality list right now. Ready?

Great. Here it is:

First, write down a list of 10 names.

These 10 names will not be your family and friends who will join anything you develop. This list of 10 names will be people you KNOW will buy your product/service because of their interest in it. They will be in your target audience.

Now, reach out to these people and ask them to join your list.

Congratulations, you have 10 people who are quality subscribers! These people are going to be interested in what you have to offer.

Next, ask these people to share your list with their friends. Hopefully they’ll share with people who share their interest.

Finally, you want to ask these people who joined your list where they go online to find out more about your business’ subject matter.

For instance, if your business is about helping people build their email lists, ask your new subscribers where they go to learn about how to build an email list.

And voila! You now know where to promote your email list to gain more quality subscribers.

Approach the websites that your new subscribers mention, submit a guest post or something like that to them, and include a link back to your website. Then watch as your list grows!

Just a quick note: building an email list takes time. But remember, it’s not so much the size of your list that matters. It’s the quality.

If you set up autoresponders with links to your product/service and affiliates, then you should start making money soon.

Next, it’s time to think about your first offering.

6. create your simple first offering

Remember, you shouldn’t complicate your online business. You can start an online business that makes money within one month, if only you stop complicating things.

Many individuals complicate business by taking their first product/offering too seriously. They want to develop the BEST product right out of the gate. Because of this, they delay making money from their business, and they burnout fast.

If you want to not overcomplicate your business, then you need to create a simple, first offering fast. In other words, create a product that is simple.

Once this product is released and people like it, then you can expand, and ultimately come out with a high priced product that people buy.

For instance, your simple first offering can be an email course. An email course is easy to develop (especially through ConvertKit). Then from there, you can create a workshop that expands on the information from the email course. Then you can compile these multiple paid workshops as a video course, and sell that.

See what I’m getting at?

Basically, you don’t need a large, shiny product as the first thing you offer. The first thing you offer should be simple and easy to create. It can even be priced cheaply at $5.

Then from there, you can keep on building on your subject matter to sell more higher-priced products in the future.

Start simple and pull out all the stops later.

This will give you momentum to keep growing your business. If you aim for the flashiest and biggest product as soon as you start your business, then you’re going to be discouraged when it takes forever to create and you’re not making money as fast as you want.

Create your first offering and sell it fast.

Here are some ideas for a simple first offering:

•A brief eBook detailing a process for people within your target audience to implement (ex: How to________).

•A paid webinar/workshop.

•A consulting session over Skype.

•A paid mastermind through Google Hangouts.

•Or if you’re a service-based business, you can just sell a service of some sort. Doesn’t have to be a fancy, large service. It could be a small service. Whatever you feel comfortable releasing as a service, do it.

In the next chapter, we’ll talk about how to simply sell your first offering.

7. sell simply

You should be ready to start selling now. Congratulations! This is the part where you make money.

But how do you sell? What platform should you host your product on and sell it?

At this point, many people turn to platforms like WooCommerce (a plugin for Wordpress) or PayPal.

But the best and easiest platform I’ve used to sell is Gumroad.

First off, Gumroad makes it really easy to submit your product. Here’s how the screens look when you submit your product.

As you can see, you can either choose to sell a digital product or a physical product.

You can also set up a subscription payment (great for membership programs) or a pre-order (so you can start selling your product before it’s ready).

The whole process takes about 5-10 minutes.

Gumroad can integrate with your Wordpress website through a pop-up modal that looks like this:

So you can trust that the user experience is beautiful.

And finally, Gumroad makes marketing your product easy with email integration (integrates easily with ConvertKit) and affiliates (so you can give people an affiliate link for them to receive a small commission from selling your product).

Basically, Gumroad helps you to start selling fast. Get a Gumroad account and start selling your first product.

8. expand your offerings

So your product/service is selling and your business is making money. Now you can take a deep breath. You have an online business, and it was as simple as setting up a website, building an audience, and selling to your audience.

Now let’s talk about expanding. When should you add a new product/offering to the mix?

My answer for that is to exhaust all the different mediums in which you can sell your product/service.

For instance, if your simple first offering is a paid webinar, then the next tier from there might be a mastermind group, and then from there you could offer a video course, so on and so forth.

Wait until you exhaust every possible medium for your product. What this will do is further establish your authority and expertise on the subject matter, while also upgrading the audience you currently have.

If you continue giving your audience what they want, and you follow with their progression, you can keep making money from them as long as you keep offering them value.

All that to say, follow where your audience is going. And once everything is exhausted, then launch a new product/service.

That’s the simple answer for knowing when to expand. In the meantime, keep automating your process for selling the product/service you have, while also thinking what the next tier for your current product/service might look like.


Obviously there is more to starting an online business.

But this quick and easy guide is to show you that you don’t need to make starting an online business complicated. All business has to be is building a product/service and selling it to a willing audience.

For everything else that has to do with starting an online business, refer to my website, essentialhustle.com.

On Essential Hustle, I have a full library of resources to help you start and grow your online business. To access it, simply subscribe at Essential Hustle. You’ll also join an exclusive Facebook group of entrepreneurs when you join.

With Essential Hustle, I make it my aim to help you start a business focused on the essentials. If we can do that, then we can lead simple lives that matter.

With that having been said, it’s time you live a life that prioritizes what truly matters in life. Don’t waste time on what doesn’t matter. Live a life focused on the essentials.

Let me help you do that by starting a simple online business.

I look forward to seeing more from you!

take vour business to the next level

Now that you know how to start a simple online business, it’s time to take it to the next level.

Learn simple business practices by getting access to my library of online business resources. Just click the link below!

Above are just a few of the resources available inside my library. Gain access to more once you join.


about the author

My name is Neal Samudre, and I believe in simple lives and businesses.

I currently live just north of Boston and spend most of my days writing. I love helping people start their own online businesses so that they can return to what matters most. For me, that means leading a quiet life of character. So on Essential Hustle, I talk about how to make your online business simple, as well as how to simplify your life.

I would love it if you would join me at essentialhustle.com or on social media. Just click the links below to follow me.


How to Start Your First Online Business

Many aspiring entrepreneurs can't start their online business because they overcomplicate the matter. But truth is, starting an online business doesn't have to be complicated. Neal Samudre, the creator of essentialhustle.com, shares a quick and highly-actionable plan to help you start your online business without overcomplicating things. This book is for you if you are someone who: -Dreams of starting an online business. -Is a creative who doesn't know how to monetize their online endeavor. -Has an online business but is overwhelmed by it. -Wants to learn practical ways to build a website, grow a quality email list, and start selling online. -Takes starting a business too seriously. -Wants to live a simpler life. It's time to make both business and life simple again. Learn how to get started with your first online business.

  • ISBN: 9781311582676
  • Author: Neal Samudre
  • Published: 2016-03-12 18:40:13
  • Words: 4455
How to Start Your First Online Business How to Start Your First Online Business