Great Article from Entrepreneur Magazine on How to Make Money Online
Entrepreneur Magazine recently published a great article on How To Make Money Online. They listed a five point checklist for getting started:
- Spend time getting feedback on what you’re selling before launching.
- Have a website.
- Know your competition and customers.
- Create an action plan for sales and marketing.
- Do as much yourself as you can.
I’ve excerpted some content from the article for your reading pleasure.
Let’s say you’re a newbie to the world of online sales and are looking to make money online, but you’re starting with a small startup budget. With the blinding wealth of information available for new business owners, knowing how to spend your limited funds can be a bit intimidating.
1. Get feedback.
Don’t rely on affirmation from friends and family to validate that you have a unique and salable product or service. Chances are, these people are emotionally attached to you, and they’re more likely to think every idea you share is the greatest thing since Nutella. Get market validation from potential customers who aren’t in your social circle. Validation and feedback can be obtained from varying sources, including market testing, surveys, crowdfunding platforms and professional feedback.
2. Have a website.
You must have a website, says Joel Widmer, founder of Fluxe Digital Marketing. Not only for the obvious — to have something to refer customers back to — but having a website builds your brand’s digital footprint. Keep your site simple and copy-driven with opportunities for email captures on every page.
Three easy steps to having your own website to sell products without spending a lot of cash are:
- Select a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, which is popular for its user friendliness and is free.
- Register a domain name and subscribe to a hosting service, such as GoDaddy or Bluehost.
- Customize your CMS with ecommerce-enabling plugins and themes. WooCommerce is a popular and free ecommerce WordPress plugin.
3. Know your competition and customers.
Study up on both competitor and complementary brands (i.e. if you are selling a fire alarm, then look for “house safety” websites). Widmer says your customers will be hanging out on websites for both competitor and complementary brands. He recommends using search tools such as SimilarWeb and Google’s related-search results (located at the bottom of every Google search) to see what sites your prospective customer may be visiting.
Other free research tools to get to know your market, suggests Brandon Schaefer, CEO of MyVirtualSalesForce, are LinkedIn (to see who competitor brands are connecting with and what types of updates they’re posting), Google Alerts (for brand mentions and keywords) and Google Trends.
4. Create an action plan for sales and marketing.
To earn your first million in sales, says Patel, work backwards and put a number on what it takes in monthly revenue to get to a million your first year — meaning how many units, subscriptions or services must be sold. Create benchmarks to reach. Even if you don’t reach them, you have a blueprint.
One way to reach your goal is to figure out which marketing avenues to leverage. Given the wealth of social-media possibilities, start with one or two social-media outlets where you know your audience is. In general, for new products the best channels are Facebook and Pinterest, says Widmer. For expertise and services, try LinkedIn.
Also, two effective and free marketing strategies are blogging on your own site and guest blogging on complementary sites. This strategy helps build content and a digital footprint for your brand, says Widmer. For guidance on what hot topics to blog about, Buzzsumo, a free web service, allows you to input any domain or topic and get a list of the 10 most popular related posts at the moment. It can also inform you of what popular sites to hit up for guest blogging.
Should you guest blog, use the opportunity to lead users back to your site and capture emails, says Widmer. One way to do so is to use a “call to action” — where you offer the reader something of value, such as a free how-to eBook or a must-have checklist — that the user can get or download by going back to your website and providing an email address.
Some other marketing tools? The free KingSumo app allows you to capture email subscribers through giveaways; Facebook Ads start at $1; and the e-newsletter tool MailChimp has a free option and is drag-and-drop easy.
5. Do as much yourself as you can.
The DIY mentality will usually save you money if your budget is limited. Also, it allows you to control the process and brand, explains Callinan, who built his ecommerce site from scratch by talking to others who’d already done ecommerce sites successfully. Don’t farm out jobs you can do yourself, especially in the beginning.
If you need on-demand expertise from entrepreneurs with a track record, try Clarity, says Widmer. The service allows the user to get specific, consultant-level advice for a fee.
All startups are a gamble — but as Patel advises, whose company will hit $10 million in revenue this year, “Hone in on where your strengths are and double down.”
Excerpted from: Entrepreneur.com July 8, 2015
Article by: Carolyn Sun, Entrepreneur Staff/Research Editor