In the previous post, we looked at 7 tips to help you start and grow your online business. In this second installment, we’re going to look at 10 more.
So, let’s jump right to it!
But first, a quick recap of what we discussed in Part 1:
- Get Into The Right Mindset
- Set Clear Goals
- Determine Your Ideal Audience
- Network, Network, Network
- Create Your Brand Identity
- Take Risks
- Get Your Business Online
17 Essential Steps To Go From Zero To Six Figures Online – Part 2
8. Put Together A Killer Portfolio
Actions speak a lot louder than words ever can, and a strong portfolio that is result-driven is paramount for driving new business.
If your prospects see who you have worked with, and the kind of results you have delivered for others then they will be more likely to trust you and work with you, too.
So whatever industry you’re in, make sure that you show your audience what you’ve done for others and what you can do for them.
If you provide services, then a great way of getting started if you don’t have any customers yet is to provide free work for some of your prospects (and build great relationships while you are at it).
You can then get testimonials from them.
9. Take The Road Less Traveled
As previously mentioned, starting and growing an online business doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
If you’re smart, you’ll be able to save lots of money. Don’t run out and buy a whole set of tools simply because they are recommended by some Internet marketing guru.
You only need the essentials when you first get started, like the domain, hosting, theme, and email host.
After you have the basics nailed down, then you can start to explore some of the tools that you may need to help you complete the actions that you have to take down the road, such as:
- Advertising and Exposure
- Finding Customers
- Providing Customer Service
- And so on
There are ways of doing each one of these cheaply.
For instance, you can find affordable talent on sites like UpWork to do any and all of your online business related tasks.
You can find information online on how to get Facebook Ads all the way down to one cent per click, and there are plenty of free (but ingenious) guerrilla marketing tactics that you can use to get your audience to become aware of your business and generate new leads.
You can find ways of building word of mouth, offering unique sales points, and adding a certain value that no one else can. Before long, you not only will have customers, but most of them will turn into raving fans.
Most of these things cost you nothing, but over time, they can drive a huge amount of business for you.
10. Focus On The Big Picture
Most people start online businesses on their own, and they wear many different hats – from setting up the website to creating content, doing SEO, social media, and so on.
And while this may be necessary, in the beginning, it’s important to realize that this is the one thing that stops most online business owners from truly making it online.
They spend all of their valuable time dealing with the ‘little things’ and not enough time focusing on the big picture. In other words, they use up all their energy and time working IN their business instead of ON it.
That keeps them on the hamster wheel forever, until eventually, they decide that they are tired of creating content, editing, publishing, marketing, engaging on social media, engaging on their blog, guest blogging – and they give up!
They decide that since they haven’t seen any real growth in their business after all that hard work, then this ‘online business’ thing must not work.
But in reality, if they were to simply assign all those small, everyday tasks to other (more qualified) people and focus on their main business goals instead, they would likely see massive growth in a very short space of time.
Think of it this way, if you are really committed to your business goals, then you are eventually going to outgrow your ability to do all the work yourself.
I know a six-figure one-man band might sound appealing to some, but that’s not how you get things done effectively.
As a sole business owner, you have to learn everything from scratch, knuckle down, and do as much of the work as you can on your own.
But it’s not likely that you’ll be as good at, say, creating content as someone who does that for a living. You may know a little about SEO, but you’re not going to be as good as the guy that does SEO all day, every day.
This means that you’ll be competing against all these experts online, and the odds of winning against them will be slim.
The simple solution is to get freelancers on your side and use their talents and skills to fast-track your journey to the top.
11. Stay Clued In On Online Trends
The nature of online marketing today is that trends are always changing, evolving, and growing. SEO, Social Media, Mobile Marketing – you name it.
By the time you’ve learned what’s going on, everything’s changed again (or at least that’s how it seems sometimes…)
A small little update from Google or WordPress can turn everything upside down and have even the most experienced marketers in a daze.
If you want to build and grow a successful online business, you have to constantly keep yourself updated on all the latest trends. You need to be able to learn as you go and build up your expertise over time.
The important thing is to get all the basics right. You need to understand why doing a particular action delivers a specific result. The rest of the techniques, tactics, or processes you can learn as you go.
12. Find Ways To Explain Your Value To Your Customers
Now that you’ve brushed up on your digital marketing skills, it’s time to explain your value to your prospects. Remember that people don’t buy ¼-inch drills because they want a 1/4-inch drill – they buy them because they want ¼-inch holes.
All they care about is the results, and if you can show them that you deliver the results they want (and more) at a price that they can afford, they will pay you for that.
So make sure that your prospects understand what you do, how it benefits them, and highlight all the value they get from working with you. Do all this in the quickest, most effective, and least mentally draining way possible.
Use language that your customers understand.
For example, if you’re providing SEO services, then instead of telling your customers that you will ‘Update all their image alt-tags to match search terms and keywords’ you could say instead that you will ‘Make all their images searchable and easier to find on Google’.
Take away all the industry jargon, and you’ll have an easier time converting customers.
Of course, you have to come up with your own unique means of communicating your value to your own customers but just remember to keep everything simple to understand and easy for them to process.
14. Time To Get Social
Now it’s time to make sure that your social media channels are all in place.
You don’t have to use all of them, just a few where you know most of your customers hang out. Most marketers think that they have to be everywhere at all times, but that is not true.
Social media doesn’t have to be a drain on your time and energy if done right.
In fact, at the beginning (before you’re able to hire someone to take care of all of this for you) you’ll be able to automate a lot of the social media tasks, which means that you don’t have to spend hours every day on social platforms.
Focus on just one, to begin with, then you can add another once you’ve got the first nailed down.
When you’re first getting started, three social networks are more than enough to aid your goals. You will get a lot more engagement and traffic from one strong profile than many mediocre ones.
From marketing and customer engagement to lead generation and everything in between, social media will be invaluable in helping you get the results that you want.
Use it to share offers, blog posts, and all other types of content that can help drive visitors to your website. Use social platforms to deal with complaints (and be seen doing so), see what customers are saying about you, your business and your products or services.
Social media will also help you become a brand that is more ‘human’ to whoever finds you online.
In addition to all that, you can generate a ton of leads on social networks.
While this may not be the most successful tactic for finding new customers, having a strong presence on social media will definitely improve your odds of getting leads.
15. Optimize All Your Content
Everything you create should be optimized no matter what it is – a guest blog, a page on a third-party site, a directory listing, a video, podcast, webinar, ebook, or anything else.
Make sure that it can be found in search.
Whatever it is that you want to rank for, make sure that you build that into all the content you create.
Even if it brings in just a couple of leads or views each month, it is better to have that piece of content than not have it.
Third Stage Tips: Back-Of-House Essentials
In this final stage, we look at some of the things you would much rather put off, but it’s what holds your entire business together and it has to be done.
It’s not exciting, but it’s necessary.
16. Set Up Your Analytics and Reporting Tools
You need to have effective ways of measuring your progress as you work toward your goals so that you know what’s working and what’s not working.
If you don’t measure the right metrics you may be drifting away from your main business goals and not know it until you’ve wasted weeks, months, or even years of your time and energy doing stuff that doesn’t yield results.
There are a lot of free and paid options available online, but when you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to go with Google Analytics as this will provide you with everything you need to get started tracking important metrics on your website.
17. Acquire Bookkeeping Skills
It’s not necessary to become a chartered accountant to run your business, but you do need to keep close tabs on everything that you make and spend.
It’s very easy to lose track and waste money on unnecessary expenses if you don’t keep track of what’s coming and going.
In time, you will be able to hire someone to do this for you, but in the beginning, you can use a simple software or spreadsheet to monitor your incoming and outgoings each month, so that you know where all of your money is at all times.
As you can see, there are many steps that you need to take from the foundational stage until your business is generating the kind of income that you want.
Use the tips outlined here to help you make the process faster and smoother.
Your business will continue to grow as long as you are consistent in your efforts. Set up a firm foundation for your business, build a strong backbone, and then focus on growth and you’ll be able to scale your business into a six-figure empire before long.
Keep in mind that there may be some tough times ahead, but if you maintain the right mindset, you’ll stand a better chance of getting through them to emerge stronger, smarter, and even more successful.
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Updated: Originally published January 2nd 2018