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How to Succeed With Your Online Business: Start with These 17 Free Resources

How to succeed with online business

Wondering how to succeed with your online business — but feeling a bit overwhelmed as you build it?

Truth is, there’s Too Much Information out there. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, welcome to the club.

A close up of a dog

You’re in very good company.

C’mon in and stay a while, my friend.

Because right here on this page, I’ve gathered some of my top (free!) resources in one place. No need to click around the entire internet.

If you need online business tips and tricks, you’ve just found a whole page of them — complete with a free quiz that will clarify your best next steps, free worksheets, a free ebook, and more.

All in all, there are more than 17 free online business resources on this page, divided into the categories below.

Related: How to Build Your Business Online, The Ultimate Guide

Ready to find how to succeed with your online business — without feeling overwhelmed?

How to succeed with your online business (faster than I did)

I moved from offline to online business in 2010.

It took me longer than it should have to build my online business to where it is today.

I want to help you get there faster!

My Plan & Grow BIG approach will do just that.

Plan & Grow BIG shares an important truth: Online business are built in stages. There are four stages of business growth.

When you pinpoint the business-building stage you’re in now, you can reduce your to-do list by 75%!

And when you focus only on the milestones and mindset issues for the stage you’re in today, you’ll make progress much, much faster.

Plus (bonus!) you’ll feel a whole lot less overwhelmed in the process.

Before you dig in to the resources below, please do Step 1: Take the Focus Finder quiz.

It’s a fast, fun quiz that will help you pinpoint your business stage by answering a few quick questions.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Resources in this article:

Start here:

  • Take the Focus Finder quiz
  • Grab the Free Online Business Success Roadmap

PLAN Stage Milestones:

  • Get to know your ideal customer
  • Plan an online business you’ll love
  • Find the best domain name
  • Fit your visual brand on a sticky note
  • Learn The Easy Way to Create Stunning Branded Images

BUILD Stage Milestones:

  • Create a minimum viable website in less than a week
  • Begin adding content to your website
  • Learn 3 Simple Ways to Use Content Marketing to Increase Your Income
  • Use the perfect length for your blog posts
  • Format your content for maximum readability

IMPLEMENT Stage Milestones:

  • Build your email list: The “fast” and “slow” ways
  • Cook up a money-making online offer
  • Create a minimum viable product or service
  • Launch your offer with an easy-to-follow promotion plan

GROW Stage Milestones:

  • Create high-converting sales pages
  • Use this product strategy for sustainable growth
  • Explore more resources on this website

Harness the power of Plan & Grow BIG

Say goodbye to that feeling of overwhelm that washes over you every time you need yet another piece of content, read about another “must-have” tool, or discover there’s (yet another) “must-do” tactic you need to master.

Instead, get to know exactly what stage of business growth you’re in now. Start using Plan & Grow BIG as you build your online business.

It all starts with a five-minute quiz …

Focus Finder Quiz first page

1. Find your business stage: Take the Focus Finder quiz

The Focus Finder quiz takes just a few minutes and when you’re done, you’ll know which online business building stage you’re in.

Right now, you’re in one of only four stages.

When you know which stage you’re in, you can reduce the size of your to-do list by 75%!

Click to take the Focus Finder quiz today

A laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table with the Online Business Success Roadmap nearby

2. Grab your roadmap for how to succeed with your online business

Great news:

My free Online Business Success Roadmap gives you an overview of all the stages in the Plan & Grow BIG approach to online business building.

It’s the perfect place to begin. You’ll have a framework you can use as you start, build, and grow your profitable online business.

Get my free Online Business Success Roadmap for an easy-to-follow checklist that will introduce you to Plan & Grow BIG and will guide you on your online business journey.

Resources for the PLAN stage

In the PLAN stage, you’ll focus on understanding your ideal customer so you can build a business that serves them. Based on that understanding, you’ll begin to build your brand.

Read on for resources that will help you in the PLAN stage.

How to create your ideal customer profile (with examples and free worksheet)

3. Get to know your ideal customer

When you truly understand the kind of person you want to attract to your online business, everything gets easier.

You build a brand that resonates with them. You publish the kind of content they search for. You create products and services they need (and are willing to pay for).

Don’t skip this step! The article below contains a free worksheet and plenty of examples that will help you identify and get to know the people you want to reach online.

Read Wake Up! Create an Eye-opening Ideal Customer Profile Today [Free Worksheet]

Candy hearts with text How to Build the Perfect Online Business for Your Current Life

4. Plan an online business you’ll love to own and run

Running your business doesn’t happen in a vacuum — it happens in the middle of your life.

How can you create a business you love to run because it fits your life perfectly?

Read How to Build the Perfect Online Business for Your Current Life

Woman searching for a domain name for her online business.

5. Find the best domain name for your online business

Your online business “lives” at a URL — and that URL is so important! It’s hard to see in the early days just how often you’re going to share that domain name over the years.

It’s important to find a domain name that’s short, easy to spell, and memorable.

Read How to Search for a Domain Name That Grows Your New Online Business for more tips on this important PLAN stage step.

A close up of a piece of paper with the text How to Fit a Powerful Brand Style Guide on a 3-Inch Sticky Note

6. Design your visual brand and use a sticky note to keep it consistent

You don’t need to build an elaborate visual brand in the PLAN stage. You just need to select a basic color palette and some brand fonts. If you need help with these steps, visit the Branding & Design Collection — it’s chock-full of my best branding posts.

Once you have your basic branding decisions made, the next step is to use those visual elements over and over in everything you create to represent your brand.

You don’t need a multi-page branding guide! Keep it simple and visible, and you’ll be more likely to use your brand elements.

Read How to Fit a Powerful Brand Style Guide on a 3-Inch Sticky Note

7. Decide if you want a personal brand or a business brand

One important thing you can do in the PLAN stage is to think about whether you’d like to brand as a business or as you.

If you’re not sure, a question to ask is whether you might sell your business someday. If selling your business is a possibility, a business brand will be better for you.

Watch the video to learn the pros and cons of personal versus business brands.

Like the video? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly online business guidance.

Resources for the BUILD stage

In the BUILD stage, you’ll focus on building your online business home base — your website. You’ll also begin building one of your most important business assets — your email list.

Read on for resources that will help you in the BUILD stage.

A woman smiling for the camera with text How to Publish an Amazing Minimum Viable Website in a Week

8. Create a minimum viable website in less than a week

Start with a basic website — what I call a “minimum viable website.” Once that’s in place, you can begin filling it with content.

Your basic website needs just a few pages in place before you publish it.

Don’t overcomplicate this!

The article below will show you how to set up and publish those pages: You’ll go from no website to published website in less than a week.

Read How to Publish an Amazing Minimum Viable Website in a Week

How to write website content, even if you're a beginner

9. Begin adding content to your website

There’s nothing like a completely blank slate to make you sweat, right?

I’m happy to say I have a very easy-to-follow process that you can use to start creating your website content. It works whether you’re creating written, audio, or video content!

Learn the process in the article below.

Read The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your Website Content

10: Learn how to create a lead magnet in a single afternoon

Create a lead magnet (or opt-in incentive, or freebie) that will …

  • Attract the right prospects
  • Entice them to hand over their email address
  • Allow you to nurture the relationship before you ever ask for a purchase

Give your subscribers a quick win so you can grow your list and build your authority.

The article below includes a video and free template.

Read How to Create a Lead Magnet in an Afternoon [Start with the Free Template]

A new way to think about the best blog post length

11. Use the perfect length for your blog posts

There’s no one-size-fits-all “perfect” length to use for every piece of content.

But there’s a guideline you can follow. It takes search engine optimization into account — and it takes you the content creator into account as well.

Read A New Way to Think About the Best Blog Post Length

Content formatting examples and tips

12. Format your content for maximum readability

I’ve been a publication designer for more than 30 years. These days, most of the publication design I do happens on the web.

Formatting content for screen readability is quite different than formatting content for print.

Adding subheads, bulleted lists, block quotes, and images will help keep your site visitors on your content page, eagerly consuming what you’ve worked so hard to create for them.

It’s worth spending a few extra minutes to format your content so it’s easy to read.

Learn how to do it when you read 6 Quick Content Formatting Tips That Will Energize Your Page

How to build an email list with the "Drip-Drip" and "Flood" methods

13. Build your email list: The “fast” and “slow” ways

There are lots of ways to build your email list and most of them either bring in a steady drip of new prospects, or they invite a flood of new subscribers all at once.

Ideally, you use both techniques simultaneously.

Learn how in How to Build an Email List: The Fast and Slow Methods

Resources for the IMPLEMENT stage

The IMPLEMENT stage is focused on getting your offers out into the world.

It’s daunting!

But with the right product strategy in place, you can create a money-making online offer that grows your business.

See the resources below for help.

Build a money-making online offer when you embrace iteration — just like a cook

14. Cook up a money-making online offer

One of the most important skills you’ll master as an online business builder is the ability to iterate and adapt. You’ll begin to see your big wins and your big failures as nothing more than data.

This data will help point you in the right direction — and the more often you collect data on what your audience wants, the faster you’ll discover what you can create that they’ll love and want to buy.

Read How to Build a Money-Making Online Offer

Minimum viable product examples: a small, gold-wrapped chocolate represents a valuable, tiny "solution"

15. Create a minimum viable product or service

Why do you need an MVP? It will allow you to test your big idea and ensure that you get it right before you pour all your effort into building something very elaborate and time-consuming that — it turns out — no one wants. 


You’re going to develop something small that delivers a result so that you can test if it actually works.

Get examples, resources, and tools here:

Read Minimum Viable Product Examples: Build the Core of Your Online Business This Month

Woman with paper airplane getting ready to launch

16: Launch your offer with an easy-to-follow promotion plan

If you’ve never run an online “launch” before, it’s how you:

  • Tell your audience you have something for them
  • Establish what your offer will do for them
  • Help your audience to understand the value
  • Encourage your audience to make a purchase

Your product launch is how you get your offer out into the world. Get started with a simple plan:

Read The 3 Stages of a Stress-Free First-Time Product Launch Plan

Resources for the GROW stage

You’ll know you’ve entered the GROW stage when you have created an offer that generates consistent income.

The beauty of predictable income is that it helps you feel confident about investing some of it back in your business.

This, my friend, is where you really start to GROW.

But what’s next? Read on for resources that will help you in the GROW stage.

Get the recipe: Here's how to write a sales page

17. Create high-converting sales pages

To get to the GROW stage, you have to master sales pages. They’re how you put your offer in front of your ideal customer.

There’s a five-step recipe that will help you as you put together your own pages or supervise a copywriter/designer as they craft a sales page for your latest offer.

Read Start Making More Sales: Remember This 5-Step Recipe for High-Converting Sales Pages

Create a simple product strategy to avoid burnout in your online business

BONUS: Use this product strategy for sustainable growth

Should you create a single “signature” product, or create multiple solutions that meet the needs of your ideal customer?

Either way can work. The best strategy for you will depend on a few factors.

Learn more when you read Stop Burnout Before It Starts with This Simple Product Strategy that Grows Your Business

This site goes back all the way to 2010!

To make it easier to find what you need when you’re searching for how to succeed with your online business, I created Content Collections for my two most-important topic categories — Branding and Online Business.

If you need more help, I recommend you explore these popular categories here on my website:

This article was originally published on December 19, 2018, and has been completely updated with content from 2019.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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