The idea of starting an online business is appealing to ambitious entrepreneurs who want to work from home and also work on their own terms, while at the same time not having to head to an office or do something where they are working directly with customers. The appeal of this type of business is completely understandable – who wouldn’t want to work from home, on their own terms, in something they are passionate about? However, when you decide to start an online business there is more to just hanging a (virtual) shingle and going from there. You need to have a plan and when you have a good plan, that means your online business has a better chance of succeeding and giving you the life free from the rat race you have always dreamed of.
Having a plan for your online business is critical. There are several facets to your online business you must consider when you are ready to commence operations. There should be plans for where your actual office would be, how to handle the different ordering systems, websites, and so much more. Your online business has an infrastructure that needs to be built, therefore to start an online business requires more than just a desire and an internet connection. You need to plan for what your business is going to do, how you are going to do it, the invoicing system, and so much more. That’s why planning is so important, because the time you take to plan will bear fruit as you hit the inevitable complications.
Here are the steps to start your online business.
Find and Exploit Your Niche
Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Many online businesses think being versatile is how to build their business, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, it is better to do the second part of Lincoln’s quote. Find something you are an expert in. For example, if you are knowledgeable about physical fitness, drill down further. For example, strength training for athletes is a great niche, and there are lots of people interested in consuming that knowledge instead of general physical fitness. Having a niche means you’ll have a dedicated group of readers interested in learning more from you.
Create Great Content
There are several ways to get your content great, but the key is to make it compelling using a simple formula. The first thing you need to go is make sure that your content has a great headline. This is what draws people in. The success of something like listicles is because the headline is inviting and causes people to feel like they can learn something without a major investment of time. For example, using the niche described earlier of strength training for athletes, an article titled, “3 Ways You Improve Performance in Basketball with Strength Training” will naturally attract readers. You will additionally want to add credibility by using testimonials or evidence from experts. After that, make an offer and create urgency. No offer will last forever, and that will assist you in getting your readers to act quickly.
Build Your Website
This is critical because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If your content creates urgency and directs people to your site, but your site doesn’t look good, then customers won’t convert. There are several tricks to make this work. First, limit your color palette to just a few colors that complement each other. Nothing loud or ostentatious unless your industry calls for that. Stay with the industry standard as that is the best way to make sure that you set the right impression. Second, no crazy fonts, stick with the standard fonts and make sure the writing contrasts the right way with the page background, but not ostentatiously so. Lastly, when you design the buying process, make it simple. There should be at most two clicks a customer has to do in order to check out. The simpler the process is, the better it is for a customer because it shows you as an efficient business.
Leverage Search Engines
The best way to get started with your content is to make sure it is SEO all the way. The reason being is that SEO is critical to your success because it uses the algorithms of the sites to build your site. The more traffic you get, the higher your rankings. This is where links are important as well. The more you link to your content along with outside content, the better your rankings will be. Talk to other people in your industry and network, ask them to link to your stuff as you link to theirs. This will help you build your reputation and increase your business.
Build Reputation and Upsell
LinkedIn is a great tool to build your reputation, so post content on there about your products and services and that will help people find you as well. It is vital to your business that you are established as an expert, and LinkedIn does a great job here. As you become an expert and more traffic comes your way, work on upselling. You don’t want your customers just to buy your basic services, but you want them to buy more as well. This will help you increase your margins and get greater profitability. These steps are critical for the establishment and success of your online business. The more credible you are, the easier it is to upsell, so anywhere you can establish your expertise, take it. If it means posting on boards where your niche is frequently discussed, this is also a great way to promote, and social media is a great tool to promote your business and your expertise as well – especially if the channels lead back to your site.