Our Very First Ultimate Guide — Starting an Online Business in 2020 (for Beginners)

You may have noticed that we’ve been a little absent from posting educational content on our Thrive Themes blog lately.

If you’ve been wondering what happened, not to worry... we didn’t forget about you. ;-)

Our team was actually hard at work on an important content project we think you’re really going to enjoy.

In fact, it’s now time to share the most epic piece of free content we’ve ever created.

The first ever Ultimate Guide from Thrive Themes — built entirely with Thrive Architect of course!

It's a detailed roadmap for aspiring solopreneurs teaching how to bootstrap an online business with very limited resources (a.k.a. time and money).

Did you already start reading this guide? We’d love to know what you think by leaving us a comment at the end of this blog post!

Why We Wrote this Ultimate Business Guide

If you’ve been interested in building an online business, then we’re sure you've already heard that they’re scalable, affordable and can yield high returns.

But amidst the ocean of hype out there promising “overnight success” and — let’s face it — BS advice, how do you really know where to start?

More...

Here at Thrive Themes, our primary focus is to build tools that help you sell more and create a better business. But with so many moving pieces to manage along the way, it becomes super tough to maintain the bird's-eye view towards success.

So that’s why we decided to take the time to write an in-depth, step-by-step ultimate business guide for the year 2020 that will help you get there.

And it’s for the beginner; the ambitious solopreneur who wants to get started on the RIGHT track, make the best business decisions possible from the beginning, and avoid costly mistakes that end up getting you nowhere fast.

So if you’re ready to get started building your first online business, read on to get a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what’s inside our epic, value-packed ultimate business guide...

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 1 Illustration

One of the toughest challenges to overcome in your online business journey is finding and validating a niche business idea that compliments your talents and expertise.

That’s why the first chapter in our ultimate business guide therefore focuses on helping you achieve exactly that.

In this chapter, you’re going to learn:

  • How To Identify A Problem In Your Market
  • How To Craft the Perfect Solution for the Problem You Identified
  • How To Validate Your Business Idea

So if you’re looking for help on how to select the best business niche for yourself, jump straight into Chapter 1.

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 2 Illustration

Of course there’s all sorts of online business models out there for you to choose from.

E-commerce, Affiliate Marketing, Coaching and Consulting, Software, and Digital Products…

But which one is going to be right for you as a novice DIY solopreneur?

Well, Chapter 2 is going to help you make the best decision most likely to see you succeed. Once you nail down your business idea, start reading here to fast-track the work of actually getting your online business off the ground.

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 3 Illustration

If you read this far, then I’m guessing you figured out what the best online business model for beginners is: online courses.

That’s because turning your knowledge into desirable outcomes for customers is one of the most low-overhead, high profit margin and bootstrapped businesses you can find online in 2020.

But to help you do the hard work of creating courses people actually want to buy, Chapter 3 will teach you the following:

  • How To Price Your Course
  • Which Online Course You Should Create
  • How To Do Effective Competition Research
  • How To Structure Your Online Course
  • Why and How To Create Your Sales Page — First

Get through Chapter 3 and you’ll have the foundations of a profitable online course business ready to build in the digital space.

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 4 Illustration

Here’s where your online course business building gets a bit more technical.

That’s because Chapter 4 is going to teach you how to build an actual website to host and market your online course product. In it, you’ll learn:

  • Why You Should Use WordPress To Build Your Online Business
  • How To Build a WordPress Website Fast
  • How To Craft Your Online Course On Your New Website

Yup, that’s right. After completing all the steps in Chapter 4, you’ll not only have your website up and running, but your online course too.

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 5 Illustration

When it comes to building an online business, one of the most crucial skills you’ll need to cultivate is how to build an engaged audience.

And although there’s a myriad of social platforms out there you could try to audience build on, your primary efforts should always be hyper-focused on building an email list.

Why?

You’ll need to read Chapter 5 to find out, but here’s the other super important lessons you’ll pick up along the way:

  • The 2 Tools You'll Need To Start Building Your Audience
  • How To Create Irresistible Opt-In Offers
  • Effective Blog & Content Marketing to Help Promote Your Online Course Business

No matter what size audience you’re starting out with (even zero), Chapter 5 will teach you how to grow it — on autopilot.

Ultimate Business Guide Chapter 6 Illustration

You did it. Your website and online course are built — and you even started growing an engaged audience.

Now it’s time to actually launch your online course!

Here’s how Chapter 6 is going to help you do that. You’ll learn:

  • How to create your online course sales funnel
  • How to leverage scarcity marketing to get more of your leads to convert into paying customers
  • How to craft an email marketing campaign that adds conversion focused rocket fuel to your product launch
  • How to launch your online course using other people's audiences — especially if you’re just getting started

Get excited for this chapter because by the time it’s over, you’ll be ready to press that big red product launch button!

Although Chapter 7 is short, it’s one you may need to come back to in due time.

That’s because it focuses on teaching you how to scale your business once it’s up and running (i.e. making you some profit!).

Here, you’ll get a final roadmap on how to scale your business from DIY solopreneur side-hustle into your primary source of income. And although it’ll probably take you some time to get to that point, this chapter will be ready and waiting to teach you:

  • How to grow a steady stream of online traffic to your website
  • How to deploy marketing channels like: Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Paid Ads and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • How to start iteratively improving your conversion rates with a very powerful optimization tool known as A/B Testing

Successful value-based businesses don’t appear overnight, but if you follow the step-by-step process laid out in the chapters of this guide, you’ll be on our way to building an info-product empire you can be super proud of.

Ready to Get Started Building Your First Online Business?

So there it is.

The chapter-by-chapter preview of what’s inside the very first ultimate guide from Thrive Themes.

We’d love to hear what you think about it as well as whether or not this new type of ultimate guide content is something you’d like to see more of from the Thrive Themes team in the future.

Join the conversation in the comments below and we can’t wait to see the online business you go build!

Author: Matt Totten

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital nomad. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a wild lifestyle – by design. When away from his tech, you can find him studying movement through practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.

  • Reginald says:

    Crazy article!

    I can’t help but to bookmark this article for future reference. Well done and this covers very much on something I wanted to do with Thrive Architect for a long, long time!

    Appreciate the share and thank you for sharing once again.

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      One of our goals was ‘make something people will bookmark’. So it’s awesome to hear you’ve already done that. Thanks Reginald!

  • Luis says:

    Hi, Matt.

    Thanks for sharing the info. on the blog. I’m going through the guide as I write this comment.

    Would it be possible to know how did you use Thrive Architect in building the guide?

    I’m very interested in learning how to achieve permalinks like the one shown on the guide, from one chapter to the next.

    https://thrivethemes.com/start-online-business/find-your-niche/

    Your help is much appreciated, as always.

    • Ryan J says:

      The “Find your Niche” page is a totally separate page from the “Start Online Business” page. You need to create the individual pages in WordPress and then when you’re building a link in Thrive Architect you search for the page you want to link to.

      • Bradley Stevens says:

        Yeah, that’s right. We set each chapter page to have the ‘parent page’ as the chapter hub. Then WordPress automatically builds out the permalinks as a result

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      Hey Luis, I’ll jump in here for Matt.

      Sure! Each chapter is a WordPress ‘Page’, and we built the landing page templates from scratch. It is basically 3 background sections: the full width title area, the narrow chapter text area, and the full width ‘next chapter’ link area at the end. Inside of WP, we nested the 7 chapters under the hub page, which gave them the permalink structure you see.

      Hope that makes the wizardry a little clearer

  • MamaRed says:

    Holy schmoly…I’m “technically” not a beginner AND am jumping over to read this epic guide today. Why? Because if it could be done wrong I’ve done it (probably at least a couple of times)…AND because I love how y’all share the tech AND the business advice in a consumable, understandable, doable way. I may have to find a Thesaurus so I quit repeating the same thing! And what is the same thing? Y’all Rock Socks!!!!!!!!!! Blessings to you and the team. MamaRed.

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      Thanks MamaRed! It’s good to see that you’re not ashamed of making mistakes. It’s all part of learning and improving. Glad you’re enjoying the guide

      • MamaRed says:

        Hey there Bradley…I’ve had a hard time admitting those mistakes at times and now use them to, hopefully, help others avoid the same!

  • diana says:

    How can I get this content to print out……and digest….is in in ebook format or printed ?

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      We’re considering turning it into a PDF you can read, but wanted to get it published and get feedback first

  • What an amazing piece of content guys. I’m absolutely loving it.

    I’ve got to say I love the layout and attention to detail you’ve gone through to get this guide right. Very inspiring.

    Packed full of practical, golden nuggets that everyone will get value from.

    Thanks again for producing rad content like this. I absolutely love reading it.

    Peace.
    Rowan.

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      Thanks Rowan! Our motto when we write content is ‘go deep, not wide’ – meaning: be very thorough on one specific topic, without tangents. But this is our first piece that goes deep AND wide.

  • Karen McCamy says:

    Hi Matt,
    The Guide is great… I’ve mostly just skimmed the chapters so far! Lots to digest! :D

    It appeared to me that each chapter & the Overview are all separate pages… is this correct? As Luis indicated in his comment, it would be great to see / read how you built this in Architect…

    A Guide template in Architect would be even better!

    For me, it’s hard to know how to construct a complex page w/o designing it on paper first…

    Where to plan for background sections, etc. I’m sure there is a “best practices” process but I’ve yet to figure it out! ;-p

    Thanks! <3

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      Hey Karen, I’m jumping in here for Matt – Check my reply above to Luis, where I go a bit more in depth.

      But the short version is: Yes, they are WordPress pages (not posts) build like landing pages with Architect, and set with the hub page as the parent. We constructed the first chapter how we liked it, then duplicated it 6 times and changed the content for each chapter.

      It’s actually much more simple than it looks!

      • Karen McCamy says:

        Hi Brad,

        Thanks! It’s getting a little easier for me to “de-construct” how to build stuff in Architect! ;-) LoL (still, I’d rather have a template! ;-) )

        BTW, you should have made this an “OpenPDF” format so readers like Diane can print it off!

        Your OpenPDF is my favorite long-content format! I refer to that post all the time! ;-D

      • I was quite proud of that OpenPDF post post, too! Yes, we are considering doing that to this one, but wanted to get it published as soon as we had the Architect pages for it ready

      • Karen McCamy says:

        You should be proud of it! :D It was inspiring to me!

        I feel like you’re sitting there looking over my shoulder — mentoring me — every time I refer back to it! Yay!

  • Ryan says:

    You guys never disappoint! I can’t wait to dig into this material. Have to ask, any updates on the new page builder?

    • Bradley Stevens says:

      New page builder? You mean Thrive Theme Builder? We’ll have some positive news about it soon-ish, and we’ll make a lot of noise about it when we do :)

  • casadasexecutivas says:

    Hi Matt, Thank you so much for sending me this precious Ultimate Guide that will help me a lot. I loved the way it was written encouraging users to take action one after the other.
    Good to learn who we can trust!

  • Keryn Lee says:

    So much gold in this. Not padded out with useless info as often happens. Well written, easy to read and understand. Love it. Thank you!

  • Tom says:

    Not the first time I’ve heard your guys talking about ultimate guides here (I think there was a guide on open eBook which you guys published a while ago), but the way this guide turned out is pretty epic, both in design and content.

    On that note, I have a similar question related to the nested page structure you guys used for this guide, but it’s about how to create the navigational menu on the left pane like it’s done on this page:

    https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/what-is-seo

    As you might see, on the left hand side there is a panel listing all the sibling pages under the same parent page, and on the top of it there’s a counter that displays the numbers of pages in total. I’m not sure if Backlinko used menus or widgets to achieve that, but it seems unlikely that the navigation index is set up manually. Or that might have been a custom post I don’t know. Any possibility of achieving this purely through Thrive and WordPress?

    Adding to the complexity, it seems that the pages on Backlinko are such that some pages have left sidebars and some don’t. I’m not sure if we can choose the sidebar orientation for posts and pages individually Thrive’s themes. But is it possible to set the sidebar orientation manually through CSS or other means?

    Tom

    • Hey Tom, Brian Dean makes some great ultimate guides, for sure. Good example!

      About 90% of this can set up manually in Thrive Architect without much trouble. Since Ultimate Guides are their own clusters of pages, I don’t imagine that automating the page linking will save a huge amount of time.

      There’s a few ways in Architect to build something that behaves just like a sidebar (such as columns, or using float).

      But it’s when you can create customized WordPress theme templates that you get the unlimited power. For that… Thrive Theme Builder is the answer. And we’re working on it :)

  • Wow, its an amazing article. you covered almost eveything and make me exited for online business. Thanks for sharing such detailed information

  • Becky Smith says:

    I definitely want to know how to make a “blook” (blog book) with Thrive! Spill plz.

    • A “Blook”! I’ve never heard that term and I love it. We’re considering a tutorial about how we made it, so… we’ll see

  • Rian says:

    This guide taught me so many things today. I had my own share of failures due to wrong niche and business model and of late realised that these are the two main things that you need to consider before jumping into an online business.
    Excellent post. Appreciate your time!

    • You’re not alone, Rian. Niche and business model are some of the most common fundamental struggles that are better fixed early than later. Thanks for your comment

  • jessica says:

    I dived really deep into that guide today and OMG what can I say? It is amazing and despite my brains flipping out I wished I had knew all those super-clear connections a year earlier.

    Would have saved a lot of hassle and time. I saved it to Evernote and will be using it as a present and future reference.

    I am super-motivated now to implement and update the topics you wrote about. But first I want to finish the SEO-course ;)

    Well done!

    Jessica

    • This is the best thing we can hear! Thanks Jessica. Hope you’re getting lots out of SEO Sprint too

  • Jeff B says:

    I have tried a few times, over a few days, to access the 3-part video series, but I never get an email. Any idea?

    • Hey Jeff, that’s odd. I can see that you haven’t received the emails, but can’t seem to see a reason why. You can try again, or I can manually add you if I have your permission. Let me know

  • David says:

    thank you so much for sharing this and keep it up, thanks for this post

  • Miles says:

    This looks great, thanks!

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