If you had asked me about making money online four years ago, I would have called you a liar. I was a blue-collar worker who never touched computers.
I woke up every day at midnight to deliver bread to grocery stores. I hated my job; I hated my life, but I didn’t know how to escape.
In 2011, I started listening to podcasts. I found Pat Flynn and got excited about the idea of creating a location-independent online business. I studied any information I could get my hands on. What I found got me far, but I decided that investing in a course from a well-known marketer would help me reach the next level.
I was sadly disappointed. The course was $697, which was a HUGE investment for me at the time. We were living paycheck-to-paycheck. There were a few good tidbits, but overall the course was designed to up sell students on the marketers “elite” program.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson and forced me to learn these four steps to creating a profitable online business. Use these strategies to create freedom in your “work” and give you the flexibility to spend your time on the things that are important to you.
Here are the 4 steps to creating a profitable online business:
1. Build a sizable and engaged following
You are probably familiar with the theory of 1,000 true fans. The reality is that you don’t need a thousand fans to start making serious money. If your fans are engaged, they will spend money with you and tell others about your business. So, how do you build a following? There are a few ways:
- Social media. This is my least favorite way because the organic reach of social media is pretty small these days. More times than not, you will have to pay to reach your audience. Even though the engagement is low, there’s still an opportunity to reach the billions of users on social media.
- Get interviewed on Podcasts. Podcasting is huge and only getting bigger. These days, people listen to podcasts more than traditional radio. You can sign up for a service like Radio Guest List and have shows emailed to you every morning that are looking for a guest like you. Get interviewed on as many shows as possible, and some of those listeners will come back to your website. In 2012, I was interviewed on 80 podcasts and brought 100,000 visitors back to my website from the shows.
- Write for large authority sites. You can write for some of the biggest websites in the world. Websites, such as the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine —among others—are always looking for good content. Since these websites publish so much content, they’re always looking. You can get a free guide that walks you through how to get into these sites on my website.
These are a few ways to build a following fast. Just using these strategies, I’ve been able to build my email list from 3,000 people to over 24,000 in one year.
“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury
2. Stop chasing influencers
When you’re building an online business, the common advice is to connect with an influencer in hopes of them giving your business a shout out. This is bad advice because so many other people are trying to do the same thing. Influencers such as Pat Flynn get hundreds of emails every day from people looking to “connect.” The time you spend chasing could be spent building your business using the strategies I mentioned above. Once you build your business without chasing, you can connect with an influencer as a colleague.
3. Focus on what will help your business
A lot of times, the frustration in building a business comes from information overload. We see someone talk about making six-figures using Instagram, and we’re focused on Instagram marketing for the next month with no results. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. You have to focus on what will help you where you are in your building journey.
4. Don’t be afraid to sell
You may have the sincere desire to help people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t charge a fair price for your products/services. The goal is to create freedom and that comes from your business making money. Don’t be afraid to sell. If someone opts out of your email list because you made an offer, so be it. As long as you’re not spamming your list, you only want those who are interested—not the tire kickers.
“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” – David Ogilvy
It took two years, but I was able to quit a job I hated. I now write, speak, coach, and consult from my home in Maui, Hawaii. The business grew so much it funded our move from Wisconsin to Hawaii. The business is online so I could operate it from anywhere in the world. That is what freedom means to me.
You can build a profitable online business. Don’t believe the hype and don’t follow commonly accepted advice. Test what works and believe in yourself.