So it sounds like you want to start an online business! That is absolutely fantastic!! But are you starting to feel overwhelmed by all that goes into starting an online business?? I know when I first started I was incredibly overwhelmed. So I am sharing some beginner information that I have learned over the past 7 years when creating a thriving online business.
There are so many forms of online businesses. People sell products on sites like Etsy, or bloggers working with brands, or selling online courses. For the purpose of this blog post, I am specifically talking about starting an online business as being blogging and selling courses. I haven’t had much luck on Etsy, but I know so many others have. There are tons of courses on how to sell on Etsy, which I would recommend you diving into. This article is simply about starting an online business where you sell courses and create blog content that uses affiliate links, ad sales, and brand collaborations. That is my expertise, as I have lots of experience with it!
So You Want To Start An Online Business
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Do You Have What It Takes To Start An Online Business?
I am going to be super straight-forward on this topic…running an online business can be really tough. You are always “on” and have to make a lot of decisions on your own in the beginning. There is lots of second-guessing. Lots of questioning if anyone even reads what you are saying. It is legit an emotional rollercoaster. For me, the first five years were so difficult. I was running the blog and in-home organizing company while raising two tiny babies. I made awful decisions. And I took advice from people who were not invested in me, just wanted my money.
But over the years, I have a big tool bag of tips that I can, hopefully, share with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did when starting out. And the one thing I wish I was told from the get-go is that it is going to be hard. But it is also so worth it! I am lucky that I can create my own hours so I can drop off my kids and pick them up from school. My business is designed that way, for that purpose. I am my own boss, so if I don’t feel like writing that blog post, it is 100% on me not getting it out. I am self-motivated and can hold myself to high standards, which is why I have had success running my own business.
So if you are up for the challenge, can be self- motivated, and able to speak up for yourself, then you are going to be a successful online business owner!
Where To Start An Online Business
Now I am guessing you want to start an online business because you have knowledge about a particular topic and people go to you because you are their expert. That’s how I started. Friends and family were asking me how to organize their spaces, so I took their questions and turned them into a business. Sounds easy right?? But in reality, how are you suppose to turn questions people ask into a business?
For me, I decided to create blog and video content to teach them these skills. And I decided to “monetize” that with affiliate links and brand collaborations. That led to creating online courses on how to organize your home with kids! So I started with my end goal in mind…creating courses and working with brands that pay for content creation.
Now this is all great information, but where do you go next??
You get really clear on your topic, who you are going to serve, and how you are going to serve them. Start looking at everything that got you to this point to decide you want to start an online business. What types of questions do you get asked frequently? Who is asking you these questions? What problems are they having? How can you solve their problem? What is your background and area(s) of expertise?
Once you get really clear on the audience and what you are going to share, then you have to figure out a business name. I suggest checking the trademark checker with the USPTO. You will find if there are other companies out there with the name you are thinking. This will end up saving you so much time, money, and energy figuring this out now!
Don’t forget about setting up social media handles using that same name, along with purchasing a domain name for your website. You don’t have to get all fancy for your website, just something to get your name out there. I highly recommend using WordPress to set up your site. I have used WordPress for the past 5 years and have been so happy with them.
Once your site is up and running, it is time to start creating content. I am a huge fan of writing blog posts. The reason being is that you can write the content once and continuously update it so it stays relevant. For me, organizing doesn’t really change much, so I can go back to an older post and edit it with updated pictures and links but the overall tutorial is the exact same. This will be huge down the road!
Plus, blog posts can be shared via Pinterest. And Pinterest is a huge place to get an audience to read and follow your tutorials.
Now if you aren’t big into writing but want to make videos, simply embed your video into a blog post with a short summary of what the video is about. Add links and a graphic for Pinterest, and you are grabbing new readers that way!
But what are you suppose to write about?? Well, all those questions that you have been asked can be blog or video topics. Seriously!! Every question I get from a reader, I answer by turning it into a blog post. You can also create blog or video content on areas where you are see your friends and family need extra support. For example, when I first started out, I noticed that my mom was struggling to keep her linen closet organized. So I did a 3 part series on how to organize a large linen closet. It was easy because I saw the need from someone and created content around that.
Another thing I do when creating content is to think of my reader and create content for that person. In the online world it is called a reader or customer avatar. This is just a person who you are writing all your content to. This person is fictional, but you have created an entire persona for that individual using your imagination as to who would actually read and enjoy what you have to say.
Build An Email List
You have written a few blogs or created video content. Now you need to start thinking about an email list. This list is going to be your best friend. This list will be filled with your people. The ones who enjoy what you have to say. If all the social media disappeared, this list would be your only way to chat with your fans. Plus that email list is going to be people who enjoy what you have to say and will buy your products from you, so you have to start now! I typically email my email list once a week by sharing new blog content and special freebies that are only for my email list. But I have other blogging friends who write an email once a month. Just find your groove and stick to that schedule so your email list will know when things are coming.
But how do you go about doing that? Well there are a few ways that I have found to be the most successful!
One way to build your email list is creating a freebie. This is simply a printable that the person gets for signing up for your email list. I like to create a new freebie each month. I give it out to my email list before it is live for others. This way the email list feels like they get the goods first, making them know how special they are to me and my business. I have created checklists, cheatsheets, printable labels, and ebooks. All of these freebies were created from questions that my readers or friends were asking me. I include an email sign up in each blog post AND I create pins for Pinterest just for the email sign ups.
Another way is to host an online summit. I did an Instagram summit with other professional organizers. We each created a handout that went with our live chat on Instagram. The only way the viewers could get the handout was to join the email list. This was a big way I grew both my email list and follower count in one fell swoop!
And a third way to grow your email list that I have found successful is to do collaborations with other bloggers like interviews for podcasts or Facebook or Instagram Lives. Then when they ask where can the audience find you, I direct them to my links including my email sign up!
The Beast Of Social Media
And now we are onto social media! Which is truly a beast. There are so many types of social media, so it can be overwhelming with where to start. I suggest only starting with one. And by starting I mean going all in on that one platform. Get the handles for everything else, but only go all in on one channel. When I first started, I thought I had to be on every social media platform, posting like 10-12 times a day. I quickly found out that that was a full-time job itself. So I started only doing Facebook. Then Instagram came around and I went all in on Instagram. Because I only went all in on one platform at a time, I know I can provide the best content I can.
I will be doing another post all about social media and how I have found the best ways to grow. But since we are just talking about where to start, getting all the social media handle names you want is key! Then focus on one platform to give all your energy.
And another little nugget…Pinterest has been lumped into social media, but I don’t agree. There really isn’t much “social” interaction going on. It is more about sharing your content with others. So for Pinterest, I recommend getting your pins up as soon as a blog post or video goes up. This will help grow your email list as well, because you will have your email sign up on each blog post and in your video comments! There are many different strategies for Pinterest which I will share in a later post. But for now, set up a Pinterest account and get those blog posts or YouTube videos out there.
Deciding if starting an online business is right for you is crucial in determining if this is the route you want to take. Once you decided it is a go, then you get to do some fun stuff like deciding on a business name and getting really clear on your audience; who you are speaking and writing to. Then you get to start creating content while building your email list. As your list grows, you will continue to have more people to sell products to down the road, which is why you have to start that list now. Finally, set up that social media. Don’t get overwhelmed by all there is out there. Simply focus on one platform and grow from there!
Now these are just the basics for where to start. As this series progresses, we are going to cover how to start earning an income with an online business, creating courses, presenting, and more! So do you have the guts to start an online business?