According to data from Internet Retailer, global internet sales will surpass $1.25 trillion dollars in 2013. It has also been predicted that online marketing will grow by 14% in 2013 while traditional marketing will experience a 1% decline.
The question is what does this have to do with being a small business owner or blogger? A lot!
First, it shows that there is no doubt that the future is online and second, it proves that there’s enough potential for everyone to benefit from this growth.
Whether you want to move your local business online or want to create a brand new online based business, there is potential for you online and with this article I hope to share a step-by-step guide to help you create a successful online business, even if you’re on a budget.
1. Create a Professional Looking Website
While there’s great potential for marketing and commerce growth online this year, the reality is that this growth will be mostly beneficial to those who have their own website, not to those who rely solely on platforms like Facebook or Twitter or other digital sharecroppers.
You want to create a professional website for your small business, with your own domain name and a good-looking design; this is the first step to establishing yourself as an authority and creating a hub where your marketing efforts will be directed at.
On almost every other website, WordPress is recommended as the platform of choice but I have differing opinion because:
- While the WordPress CMS is free, maintenance and design can be expensive if you want quality – even going to the thousands of dollars – and as a result defying the purpose of this article in helping you create a successful online business on a budget
- The idea behind this article is to be as practical as possible, even if you don’t have prior design and programming experience; something that is, to some extent, required if you want to use WordPress.
2. Create an Offering
Having a website alone is not what is going to make you money; you need a business model and this won’t be centered around ads either.
The idea is to come up with a product or service that you can get paid to offer to people; depending on your area of expertise, this could be in form of consulting, coaching or even freelancing and it could also be an ebook, eCourse or product that helps people solve a particular problem.
It’s important to differentiate your offering and make it as specific as possible, though; for example, if you create a product around helping people overcome bedwetting problems, you’ll have more success if your product is tailored to teenagers than if it is generic. Here’s why:
- Creating an offering that is very specific increases the chances of people trusting you; it’s easier to be an expert at helping teenagers overcome bedwetting problems than it is to be an expert at helping everybody overcome this same problem
- Teenagers or parents of teenagers bedwetting will also be more likely to relate to you, since you’re specialized and focused, and as a result think that you have the exact solutions to their problems
- It becomes easy to stand out online; everybody wants to create a “bedwetting guide,” but very few people want to create a bedwetting guide for teenagers. You get the idea?
The more specific you can get, the better; the idea is not to target everybody, but to target a specific group of people that you can become an expert to.
3. Develop a Marketing Plan
The next step is to develop a marketing plan; having a website and a great product alone won’t be much help to you unless you can develop a strong marketing plan to help you promote your website and product.
While there are various ways to market online, you want to develop a plan around content marketing since it has been proven to be very effective in generating leads. Some great case studies are:
- Leo Widrich from Bufferapp.com who was able to get 100,000 users for his startup in just 9 months only by guest blogging on other websites
- I was able to grow my search traffic by over 120,000 visitors – and more than 300% – in one year by combining guest blogging and effective blog content
- Kissmetrics.com was able to grow to over 1 million unique visitors in 10 months without paying a cent for traffic, just by leveraging effective content marketing
There are dozens of similar case studies I could include but then, this post will be about content marketing. My reason for including the above examples is to make you realize what’s possible. You could also click to the above links for some ideas.
To effectively benefit from content marketing, you want to create a blog for your website that is constantly updated with topics related to your offering and that occasionally references your offering. You also want to leverage other forms of content such as videos, whitepapers, free eBooks and infographics to boost your traffic.
Once you’ve created an internal strategy around content for your website, the next step is the external strategy; this should mostly be based around guest blogging. Like I’m doing now, the idea is to reach out to major blogs in your industry and then contribute quality content to them in exchange for an opportunity to promote your blog.
By combining the above 3 tips you should have built the foundation for a success online business; you just have to keep doing the above and be patient till you get results.
What other tips do you have for us regarding building a successful online business on a budget? Please share below!