The internet has brought many new ways for the home business entrepreneur to make money. One very popular and prosperous path to making money online is through internet marketing. Wikipedia defines Internet marketing, also referred to as online marketing or E-marketing, as the marketing of products or services over the Internet.

When getting started in internet marketing, there are a lot of opinions and gurus out there telling you what method or strategy is the best for making money online. Many gurus go to great lengths to teach you the “why”, but conveniently leave out the “how” to get started.

Before getting started in any business, it’s important to have a step-by-step plan to follow, so that you will understand exactly how to determine the market to sell to, and the product to sell that market.

Here are 4 practical steps that, if followed, virtually guarantee success in starting any internet marketing venture.

#1. Research the best market. The most common mistake people make when getting started in internet marketing is to create a product first. While this may sound logical, you may just end up with a product no one wants. Many new internet marketers have started out with a product they were passionate about, spent tons of time and thousands of dollars to create, only to find out no one was really searching for or interested in buying it.

So the first, and most important, step is to do your research. Start with a list of markets you have some knowledge or expertise in. Then do some keyword research and find out if anyone is looking for information on that market. Two great places to start your keyword research are and For example, if I had some knowledge of cats, parrots, gardening, natural living, red hand painted pots or rare Native American artifacts, I might use those to start my research and find out which one has the most searches per day/month. If no one is searching for a particular market you’re going into, then you are going to have a very hard time making any money online.

While research can get much more detailed, keyword research is a great place to start. And realize that you don’t have to just research things you are familiar with. You can always learn a new field or area of expertise, especially if it’s a market worth getting into.

#2. Decide on a small or big market. Based on your research and the competition (or lack of competition), you will need to decide on going into a big mass market or a smaller niche market. Sometimes you will see the word niche used in place of a market. A niche is a smaller refined area of a bigger market.

There are many pros and cons to consider in each type of market. In a large mass market, there are usually quite a few searches online for the different keywords in that market, but there is also more competition for advertising and online search engine rankings. In a smaller niche, there may be less competition and higher profits, but you will need to look at how many people are actually interested in that niche to determine if its viable.

#3. Survey your market. If you are not sure you market is going to be profitable, or even if you think it will be, you need to test it to find out. Wouldn’t it be worth knowing if a market was going to be worth going into, before you committed a lot of time and money?

There are many different programs and methods to setup a survey online.Look at the different survey software programs online and determine which you like best. They are rather inexpensive considering the information it will give you. Then you will need to display your survey on a website so that your market can find it and fill it out. This can be done by yourself, or maybe you will have to hire someone with more programming and coding savvy.

Be sure and ask your potential customer those questions which will most help you to decide if this market it worth getting into. For example, you might ask them why they are looking for this type of information, or what their age is, or if they are a cat owner, etc.

Once your survey site is up, all you need to do is drive some traffic to it. Driving internet traffic is a huge market in itself, and we don’t have the space to go into all the details here. Start with something easy like Google Adwords. Yes, it will cost you a little, but you will drive traffic to your survey very quickly.

These surveys will serve more than one purpose, as you will see next. But whatever you do, don’t skip this step and think it’s irrelevant. Market surveys have save, and make you, a lot of money.

#4. Create a product. Now you can create a product that fits your market’s needs. Most people will be surprised to see this at the bottom of the list, instead of the top. But as I mentioned above, researching your market is far more important.

When creating a product, use the survey you conducted to find out what your ideal customer would really want. If you did your survey properly, you will have a great outline or bullet points to creating a product. Focus on finding a solution to your market or niche’s problems. What is it they are drooling for or staying awake at night for?

Hopefully you didn’t pick something in the research step that is boring, because you do want to have some interest in your market. Creating a product usually takes time, so you will want to have enough interest to push you forward to your goal of creating the best product your market has ever seen.