Whether you’re looking to get away from the 9-5 grind or earn a part-time income to supplement your salary, starting an online business can be extremely rewarding. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses that require heavy capital investments upfront, business ideas such as a new blog concept or offering freelance services are relatively cheap and easy to build. Here are 5 essential steps to Start A Successful Online Business.
1. Build A Blog or Website
It isn’t the 90s or early 2000s where a blog was optional. If you want to establish credibility for any business, you have to build a blog. And fortunately for non-technical business owners, a blog no longer requires HTML, CSS, PHP, or an in-depth knowledge of any coding language.
Enter WordPress – the most popular blogging software in the world. In fact, your very own Small Business Can is built on it and see how professional it looks! There are dozens of great tutorials and guides that can teach you how to start a blog online.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing refers to the concept of creating valuable, interesting content for your visitors as a means of indirectly marketing your products or services. Content marketing serves multiple purposes, but the following are the biggest benefits:
- Developing trust. Publishing quality content allows you to demonstrate your expertise and credibility without being arrogant or making the hard-sell. By addressing their concerns through “how-to” guides, readers and potential customers begin to trust your industry knowledge and insights.
- Build exposure. It’s hard to get people to link to or visit your website if all you are trying to do is sell them something. Why should other bloggers send their hard-earned traffic to your blog so you can make money? If they do, it’s called advertising and they will charge you. However, if you have unique content that might prove valuable to their readers, it is in their best interest, as an expert in their industry, to be aware of helpful publications.
- SEO benefits. If you don’t already know, aside from cold-hard cash, links are the biggest online currency because search engines like Google use them as editorial votes to rank web pages. As you build your website’s credibility through links, you eventually start to earn organic search engine traffic from relevant keywords. For example, if you write a very high quality blog post on “How To Invest For Retirement”, you may end up ranking for the term “Investing For Retirement”, which is searched 720 times per month world-wide in on Google. As your rankings improve, a majority of those visitors may end up visiting your site.
3. Leverage Social Media
Social media is a great equalizer in the sense that anyone can become an overnight “celebrity” with the right Tweet, Share, or Pin. Due to the growing popular and user levels on social platforms, this free traffic source is difficult to ignore. However, bloggers and business owners must know where to find their target demographic.
For instance, LinkedIn might be best if your business targets professionals and a B2B audience. Instagram and Pinterest are great for image-friendly blogs, especially catering to women. Facebook is usually best for B2C niches and Twitter is ideal for news and current events.
Knowing where to invest your energy and resource is critical to reaching your best potential customers.
4. Be Consistent and Patient
Forget the Dot Com millionaires who enjoyed overnight success – those days are long gone. Making money online is just as competitive, if not more competitive, then any other industry given that the barriers-to-entry are exceptionally low. Nonetheless, there is still room for new success stories and bloggers looking to build an empire.
You just need to stay consistent and expect your online business to be a long-term investment of your time and energy. If you are doing something special and unique, you will eventually be noticed. Like anything else in life, the things worth doing take time to develop into something great.
5. Be Creative and Take Risks
When people think of innovation, they think of big technologies companies coming up with revolutionary ideas and concepts. But as a small business owner online, you have an opportunity to do something creative as well. Analyzing your competitors and copying their content or offerings will not get you noticed.
Instead, you can change an industry model to challenge established business practices, take a controversial, yet enlightened stance on a public issue, provide the absolute best quality services and products in an industry, etc.
Whatever you end up doing, always strive to be proud of what you’re building. The passion, determination, and goodwill will become apparent to your loyal readers and customers.