Starting an online business — it’s easy to talk about but harder to prove.
Entrepreneurship can seem exciting, but it can also be overwhelming for many people. Luckily, starting an online business can be more fruitful than opening a brick and mortar store. Think about it: no overhead costs, no workplace safety measures and no employee benefits.
So, let’s discuss how to actually start your own online business. If you’re still reading this, that means I’ve got your attention — likely, you have a dream of opening up an online business.
Many business ideas do not become successful (or profitable) because the need is not large enough for the market. To help you get started, here are four steps you can take to start your online business:
- Discover a need and satisfy it
- Write content that sells
- Build a website
- Market your website online using Google
1. Discover a need and satisfy it
Many people who choose to open an online business will first decide on a product or service before marketing. Unfortunately, this method is often unsuccessful.
Instead, do things backwards by first finding a market that is searching for a solution to a problem but not finding many answers in the process. This can take some time to research, but once you figure it out, everything else will be a cakewalk. Here are some tips to help you during this stage:
- Look at online forums and blogs to see the questions people are asking the most frequently
- Research popular and competitive keywords that people are searching for on Google
- Identify your competition and perform a competitor analysis to determine which methods are allowing them to fulfill this market demand — once you’ve done this, you can create a product for an existing market that is better than that of your competition
2. Write content that sells
You need to write engaging copy that draws in your audience and maintains their attention.
Start with a compelling headline, and use your content to create a sense of urgency about your products or services.
When reading content, the user will likely ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Use the body of your content to highlight how your product or service addresses a customer pain point — or can make their lives easier.
Additionally, it’s important to establish credibility and trust with your reader. The best way to do this is through blogs, e-books and other in-depth pieces of content. You can also generate trust by staying active on social media.
3. Build a website
This is the fun part — create a well-designed website to give your potential customers the best first impression of your business and brand.
When building a website, you want to make sure it offers a great user experience. People have an attention span shorter than a goldfish, so it’s important to grab their attention and keep it. Many people think that a flashy website will convert a prospect into a customer — although this typically isn’t the case. If anything, a flashy website will increase your bounce rate and lower conversions.
When designing your website, keep the below tips in mind:
- Phone number in the top right corner of the page
- Call to action above the fold
- Quick contact forms on every page
- Responsive design (mobile friendly)
- Content on every page
- Testimonials page
Including these elements in your website design has been shown to increase the percentage of conversions with new users.
4. Market your website online using Google
I often tell clients that a website without a digital marketing strategy is like a billboard in a forest.
Now you face the challenge of bringing in new, qualified traffic to your site — after all, this is how you make sales and increase your customer base. To properly market your website, take advantage of the below strategies:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is a continuously evolving industry. However, there are some best practices to keep in mind. Your website copy should be targeted with keywords that will improve your organic ranking on search engines. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, and strategically use your target keywords throughout the site. Simply put, when Google crawls your site, it will identify these long tail keyword search phrases, improving your organic ranking. Additionally, gain backlinks to your content to signal to Google that you’re an industry authority.
- Pay Per Click (PPC): PPC is usually seen next to the term SEO, although these are completely different services. PPC is a live auction where a company can bid on keywords priced on a per-click basis. For example, if you bid on the keyword “athletic gym shoes,” an ad for your website would appear in the paid search results on Google for this search term. The goal of a pay per click campaign is to generate clicks for potential customers that are at the end of the buying cycle and ready to make a purchase. The best ad copy has a call to action on the ad itself, and once the user clicks through, the following page is usually a one page virtual flyer called a landing page.
- Content Marketing: Content is very important for driving qualified traffic to your site and boosting your organic ranking in search engines. Blogging can also help you to drive traffic and improve brand authority.
- Social Media Marketing: Having a strong social media presence will build trust and credibility for your business, and improve brand awareness. Even more, it can help to assist and improve your interactions with customers.
The online world is constantly evolving — what’s new today is old tomorrow. The principles for running a successful business, however, have remained consistent throughout time. Follow these basic steps and you will be on track for success.