Basic Training for Online Entrepreneurs: Best Beginner Resources

I used to have a long list of resources on the homepage of Oahu Online Entrepreneurs, the meetup group I run. It grew so long that it looked awkward, so I removed it.

Back by popular request, I’ve brought back that list as a blog post here. I’ve also updated it with more of my favorite resources.

They’re mostly free.  If you’ve got suggestions, write them below in the comments.

Enjoy, learn and apply your newfound knowledge to your business.

Before we start, a few thoughts on passion

Here are some videos that will get you thinking. I was going to write my comments, but it’s better for you to watch and draw your own conclusions.

On Being Creative

Follow your passion is wrong

How great leaders inspire action


And a Few Thoughts on Choosing a Profitable Niche

There was a great metaphor used by Dan Andrews at Lifestyle Business Podcast. Think of a land with rivers of cash. Choosing your niche is like choosing where to put your fishing hut.

Ask yourself: Are you putting your hut close to the cash flow, or farther away from it? Is the river right on your doorstep? Or is it miles and miles away?

What most people do is start with their passion and try to make money from that.

I’ve wondered whether it’s better to do the reverse? Make a list of topics that are already proven to be profitable. Things that people are already spending money on: either to solve problems, get entertained, or earn a profit. Eliminate the ones you don’t like, and pick one that you’re interested in.

Where are people making money online now? One guide might be spending on Google AdWords. If companies and industries are spending a lot of money on paid advertising, that’s a good indicator that they’re reaping a healthy return on investment.

There’s an SEO company called WordTracker that has created infographics about Google AdWords. Here’s one with statics, broken down by industry and top companies (click on it to enlarge).

Google advertising revenues

(Google advertising revenues is compiled by the pay per click company WordStream.)

Does your business idea fall into one of those categories? The statistics can spark some ideas. I was surprised by how much money was being spent by companies I’d never heard of, like Uline. The most explosive earnings are sometimes made in boring businesses.

In my meetup group, I’ve talked to owners of traditional, bricks-and-mortar businesses. They confess that they feel left behind by the Internet. I’ve tried to encourage them by saying that having an existing, offline business is actually a big advantage.

You already know what makes money, and you’ve already got a way to make money if you can reach an online audience. You don’t have to worry about monetization, you’ve got a ready-made system for that. Whereas online entrepreneurs have to deal with building up an audience and figuring out a way to make money from users.

All right, enough of my philosophy. Let’s talk resources for getting started! The topics are in alphabetical order.

Affiliate Marketing

How to Make a Living from Affiliate Marketing (Seriously) – In this podcast episode of Tropical Talk Radio, an affiliate marketer explains how the process works and shares his favorite websites and books to get started.

Affiliate Toolbox – In this page from FinchSells, an affiliate marketer/blogger goes more in-depth on affiliate networks, traffic sources, and other necessary tools. Note: it’s old, so some of this information might be outdated. Still worth reading to get a good foundation.

Newbie Guide – Yet another affiliate marketer, NickCakes, wrote this up because he got tired of answering the same questions over and over. Note: he talks about himself in the third person.

AdSense / Niche Sites

Empire Flippers (formerly AdSense Flippers) – Joe and Justin are two Americans who run an outsourcing business in the Philippines. They branched out into using their staff to build niche sites, then sell the sites for cash.

They have a free e-book called “Building a Niche Site Empire.” You don’t have to look for it–once you go the site, wait for the pop-up box to offer it to you 🙂 Yes, the book is worth reading if you’re a beginner. No, they don’t e-mail you that often.


ViperChill – Glen’s blog posts are so long and in-depth, each one could be an e-book.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Which Test Won? –  A fun website where you’re shown two versions of a web page, side by side. You have to vote which one had more “conversions,” e.g. sales, e-mail sign-ups, etc. After you vote, you get to see what the real results were. The outcomes are often surprising.

The $300 Million Button – A legendary story in the conversion and user-experience world. An e-commerce company changed a button on their website, and it resulted in $300 million in revenues.

Digital Goods / Information Products

Why Authors Don’t Have to Be Broke: a $10,000,000 Case Study – If you want to make money with e-books, online courses and things like that, this article is a blueprint.

E-commerce / Drop Shipping

The Ultimate Guide to Drop Shipping – “Drop shipping” is when a manufacturer or wholesaler does the shipping and logistics of products for you. Your job is to focus on marketing, sales and generating orders. This guide is by Shopify, a platform that makes it easy for people to build e-commerce websites.

E-mail Marketing

5 Reasons E-mail Marketing Crushes Social Media for B2B – E-mail is so universal and so boring, that it’s easy to forget how powerful it can be. Aren’t hot new social networks better? This article clears up this myth.

MailChimp Guides – A major e-mail marketing company has a library of free guides on how to build your business with e-mail.

Mobile App Development

WARNING: doing software development and working with programmers can be complex and expensive. Be careful.

How to Build an App Empire – A step-by-step guide to outsourcing your mobile app development to programmers.

iPhone App Development and Marketing Tips (podcast) — In this podcast, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income describes how he outsourced the programming for his mobile app business.

For more tips, see my other article: “I’ve Got a Great Idea and I’m Looking for a Programmer.”

Outsourcing / Virtual Assistants

All About Outsourcing and Virtual Assistants with Chris Ducker – In this podcast, blogger Pat Flynn interviews Chris Ducker, who owns an outsourcing company in the Philippines.

Fiverr – The cheapest way to start outsourcing is this website, where people around the world will do any task for $5.


How to Start a Podcast – This is a step-by-step video course in how to set up a podcast. It’s by Pat Flynn of

PPC / Paid Traffic / Media Buying

Note: this is the topic I know the least about, so definitely do your own research too.

Perry Marshall – The top expert on Google AdWords.

PPC Hero – A blog all about paid traffic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Thoughts on SEO – This video is a good introduction to the sometimes dark art of getting your website ranked highly on Google. My favorite part is around the 2:00 minute mark. No matter how many times I hear it, I still bust out laughing. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – SEOMoz is one of the leading companies on search engine optimization, and this guide is a good start.

Social Media Marketing

QuickSprout – Neil Patel is described like this: “When Amazon, Viacom And NBC Need More Traffic To Their Website This Is Who They Call.”


ThinkTraffic – A blog that’s all about building up an audience that can support your business.


WPBeginner – A terrific resource. Whenever I have to learn how to do something with WordPress, I go here.

YouTube / Video Marketing

I love talking about video, so you’re better off checking out my full article on this: YouTube Video Marketing for Entrepreneurs.

For more resources . . .

. . . check out this article: How to Make Money Doing What You Love on the Internet. The good news is that there are a lot of smart people creating websites that make it easier for you to start an online business.

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc