There are a multitude of ways you can set up and profit from an online business.
Here, I am going to share with you what I believe to be the fundamental steps that underpin every strategy you would undertake to build an online business. This is a solid method of creating and growing a business online, bringing you consistent and residual monthly income for years to come.
Through this method your business will grow exponentially and you will experience the snowball effect as your business becomes more popular.
Moreover, anyone can do this. Please note it takes time and work. This is not an overnight fix or a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. We’re talking about building you a business which can supplement or completely take over from your current monthly income, but which can be managed from anywhere in the world.
Whether you want to run it in your pajamas from your bed or travel the world, as long as you have a decent internet connection, the world is your oyster!
So here’s my 10 Step process to creating and building a profitable online business;
1. What business are you in?
You may have heard the saying ‘start with the end in mind’ and I have to say there was a time when I just couldn’t get my head around that statement. But the day I could clearly visualise what my business looked like in 1 year, 5 years, even 20 years time was the day I began to truly experience success.
There’s nothing more motivating than moving toward a goal that you can clearly visualise.
So, start with the end in mind. What is your business? What niche / industry are you in? What do you want your business to look like? What’s the big picture?
Once you have the big picture in mind, you can start to break it down and work out the steps you need to get there.
For example, lets say your goal is to help people lose weight. Your big picture is to run weight loss retreats, four times a year in exotic locations. Because its such a huge niche, you might start with advice on healthy eating, then you might become an expert in raw food, then you may master exercise specifically for weight loss, maybe you become the juicing guru, or green smoothie master!
The fact is you don’t have to go after the entire niche all in one go, you can break it down into chunks and master one chunk at a time as long as you know what your big picture is and what your eventual business will look like.
2. Who’s Your Buyer?
The next step is to determine your market. Is this a buyers market? Can this niche / industry make money? Who’s going to buy my product / service?
Knowing your market is probably the most important element of any business, yet it’s the one that seems to allude the most people.
There’s no secrets or rocket science to this. You (to a degree) decide precisely who your market is, if you take the time to sit down and think, ‘who is my ideal customer’?
For example you may say, well for weight loss I’m targeting anyone who’s overweight. Imagine how difficult it is to market to ‘anyone’. Is your marketing aimed at men or women, young or old, professionals or non professionals. This all affects your brand, your copy, your message.
If instead you had this profile;
My ideal customer is called Kate. Kate is 40 years old, is married and has 2/3 children between the ages of 10 – 15. Kate works as a teacher at the local school and has lots of friends / social events she attends, plus runs the kids around. Her husband also works full time and likes to take the family away every weekend to have fun. Over the years as a busy Mum and full time teacher Kate has let herself go a bit and isn’t as energetic or as slim as she once was. She’d love to lose 30lbs and find a way to regularly exercise and raise her energy levels.
Now by being this specific about the ideal profile of your market do you see now how targeted your brand and message could be? How many Kate’s do you reckon there are in the world? All you have to is target your message at Kate and 1000′s of other Kate’s will seek you out!
Remember your business is there to solve a problem and / or to add value to people’s lives, so if your brand, message and resolution are fantastic then your ideal customer will find you.
So, why did I say (to a degree)? Because sometimes you’ll start with your ideal market in mind, you’ll target them with your message and brand, but an entirely different market shows up.
It’s rare but can happen, but that’s ok. When it does, just decide if its the market you want to work with. If so, keep at it. If not change your approach.
3. Be the Expert
For those of you who are creating careers from your passions this section may not be especially relevant as you may already know your subject matter inside out.
But if you’re wanting to start a business in an industry or niche that’s fairly new to you, you will need to do some studying before you can add lots of value to the market place.
This is the point in which niching down becomes vital. Let’s talk about the niche of online marketing for a moment. I see so many people begin their online journey with a brand that promises how to ‘make money online’. Even before they have made a penny themselves.
Let’s just clarify this. There really is no such thing as ‘make money online’. There are however, fantastic niches within ‘how to build an online business’ or ‘how to market your existing business online’.
You can’t just slap up a Facebook page, start a WordPress blog, post a few affiliate links and think you’re going to become a millionairre overnight.
You need to add value to your target market. Ask why they would want to buy something from you? And the answer is, because you have the solution to their challenge. That solution usually comes about because you know a little of what you’re talking about.
To add value you need to demonstrate your expertise. In order to demonstrate your expertise you need to have some.
So rather than tackle a huge subject like how to make money online why not specialise in one area that you can then become an expert in.
Examples in IM would be;
Copywriting, paid media, social media, Facebook, Facebook pages, building apps, blogging etc
Examples in weight loss might be;
Raw food, running, vegan diets, Pilates, yoga, etc
You don’t have to be an absolute expert in everything, you just have to know more than your target market to offer great solutions to their problem.
4. Begin Your Influence Building Campaign
One of the best ways to build a sustainable business is not to be a one hit wonder, but to build a solid, well known and respected reputation.
The way to do this is to purposefully begin to build your influence.
Let’s start with your brand. If you know what business you’re in and who your market is, your brand message should be relatively easy. Please note your brand isn’t just made up of pretty images, it’s about your values and the way you want to be perceived.
With your brand in mind, I highly recommend your first step is to setup your home. This will be the main place that houses all your amazing content, the place you will eventually send the bulk of your traffic. The place that people become familiar with and know where to contact you. This could be your blog, website, facebook page, youtube channel. Anywhere you choose. It’s your space on the web. My only warning if using a social media platform rather than a self hosted website or blog, is that you have less control. Remember social media is made up of 3rd party platforms. It’s their home!
Get connected! The fastest way without doubt to build your reputation, your brand and your profile is with social media. So pick the top one or two platforms that you want to master and setup branded profiles in line with your home.
This is the meat of the act of building your online presence. You have to be in the radar of your target market. So you MUST create awesome content. Whether thats free or paid, it must be amazing, it must be valuable and it must solve problems.
Funnels are by far one of the greatest ways to add value, build a reputation and make sales. So you want to make this a priority when building your business. Set up a basic optin funnel as early as you can so you can be building a database of customers while you’re developing products to sell.
Here’s a typical funnel which I’m sure you know very well by now;
Offer a free gift for an optin (someone’s email details)
Take them to an email confirmation page
They confirm email, take them to a download page for the free gift
Send emails and offer value combined with sales messages taking them to a sales page
That is just one funnel amongst hundreds! There are so many different combinations of funnels it would be difficult to start running through them all here (look out for a separate blog post on funnels), but I do want you to take away one thing.
When someone optins in, the next page that they go to is the only time you are 100% assured of them seeing one of your pages. Think about it, you leave your email address and you’re sent to a confirm page. You may or may not confirm your email. You may or may not click the link to go to the download page, you may or may not open any future emails from that person.
What you absolutely will do though is hit that second page after you optin. So don’t waste that page. Make it a humdinger!
6. Money, Money, Money – Must be Funny!
Now before you get too far into your content campaign, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to monetize your niche. This is a business after all, you’re not here for your health!
So you need a plan as to how you’re going to turn leads to customers.
What you need my friend are ‘assets’! Assets are things of value that you can sell onto others. Here’s some examples of the kinds of assets you may need in your business;
- Video Courses
- Ebooks / PDF’s
- Physical Products
- A big receptive list of customers
- A popular and well visited blog
- A popular and hugely downloaded podcast
- A massive community
These are all assets that you can use to monetize your business.
Now you have some of these assets the next step is to highlight all the different ways you can monetize them. Here’s some examples;
- Sales webinars for products
- WSO’s (IM niche)
- Blog traffic – graphics / posts / recommendations / reviews
- Facebook offers on your fan page
- Recommendations / reviews / offers to your list
- Membership site
- Paid Media direct to funnel / sales page
- Ebooks with links back to products
- and loads more…
The goal here is to have something to sell early on. This is so that you can monetize all the effort you’re making as soon as possible. This helps with motivation and of course investment back into your advertising costs.
Everyone needs traffic! Without customers you don’t have a business and as I have said before if you are in the online marketing business, then you need to master ‘marketing’!
However, this is typically an area many struggle with and I think a lot of it is down to fear. Generating traffic is about putting your money where your mouth is and saying – Yep, I have something worth advertising, marketing, getting out there. I watch people all the time get themselves tied up in knots with the technical stuff and a lot of the time it is an excuse not to have to get to the next stage and actually stick your head above the parapet and get people to optin to your funnel!
Also a lot of traffic generation is repetitive and about testing & tweaking, so it can be pretty time consuming. Hence why you need to master 1 or 2 methods before moving onto the next. But when I say master don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean 6 months per traffic strategy. With focus, you could master a new strategy every week!
So here’s some traffic suggestion;
- Article Marketing
- Guest Blogging
- Ebooks / PDFs
- Web TV Shows
- Social Media
- Video Marketing
- Forum Marketing
- Solo Ads
- JV Giveaways
- Promoted Posts
- FB Ads
- Classified Ads
- Banner Advertising
- Direct Mail / Offline Marketing
- Press Releases
- Paid Media
- Word of Mouth
- Epic Content
- Online Magazines
- and loads more…
8. Sales & Conversions
So your business is rocking and rolling. You’re producing great content, you’ve created some assets, your influence is building, you know how to turn traffic on and off and you’re making some sales.
The next step is to work on increasing all your conversions, so you need to make less effort for greater results. In other words knowing your numbers!
Let’s say you get 100 visitors and 30 optins and 2 sales. That’s a 30% optin rate and a 2% sales rate. Now imagine you tweak your landing pages, improve your funnel and build a better sales page. You may then get 100 visitors, 50 optins and 5 sales. So for the same amount of effort (or money) to get 100 visitors you get higher conversion rates, greater results and more profits.
So the absolute key here is tracking. You MUST track your numbers so you know which campaigns are working.
You can use free tools to help you track i.e. Google Analytics or you can pay a little bit and use platforms such as Linktrackr or AdTrackzGold. I have used both Linktrackr & AdTrackz Gold and highly recommend either.
Once you know your numbers you can then begin to tweak headlines, images, bullet points, offers, guarantees, emails, copy etc etc.
It has been said (not sure by whom), that tracking separates the men from the boys! So get to it!
9. Continue Building Traffic & Influence
Now you have your tracking in place it’s simply a case of rinsing & repeating and creating or finding assets to promote, building your influence and driving traffic. The more potential customers you can reach the better, so focus on building your communities, your email lists and your relationships and creating and adding massive value to your marketplace.
Pick the traffic strategies that you love to do and continue to build and grow.
This really is the part that gets so much fun. Here is where you can start experimenting, trying different strategies and funnels, different products, JV’s, all sorts of things. Plus this is typically where you’ll start outsourcing to any degree.
In an ideal world you will begin to outsourcing some jobs earlier on, but realistically it will more likely be around this stage when you’re beginning to earn a steady decent income every month. Which brings us to….
10. Scale & Grow
The absolute key to a successful business and to your ongoing health and lifestyle are systems! The faster you can systemise and outsource elements of your business, the faster you will grow and the faster you will reach a lifestyle where you can realistically work less hours and live very comfortably. (That all depends on your ambitions and goals)
I urge you to begin creating systems early on in your business as you learn new skills. So if you figure out how to create messages in aweber, create a system for it. Tried a funnel that works? Document a system for creating it, a system for laying out blog posts, a system for social media posting, a system for creating facebook ads, a system for recording and publishing podcasts.
Even if you can’t outsource yet, document the system in readiness for future outsourcing.
You can use sites like these to help;
So there you have it. My 10 Step System for building a profitable online business.
It’s going to take time, it will take some investment in both time and money and in the early days you’ll work like you’ve never worked before! But the results are worth it! You will be able to live and work from anywhere in the world and experience ultimate freedom that only an online business / career can give you.
So, set your goals, know why you’re doing this, set your sights on your dreams and enjoy the journey!!!
Where on the journey are you right now? I’d love to hear from you, please comment below.
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