Let’s admit it, there has never been a better time to start an online business. The start-up costs are lower than ever while the web is littered with information on nearly everything you’d like to know about running a business online.
Are you looking to start a small business online? This post is meant for you. Here, we will show you the 10 key steps to follow for a profitable business.
Let’s dive straight in!
Choose your niche
This will probably sound like a cliché to you but choosing a niche for your business is possibly the most important decisions you will make when starting out. A niche is simply an area of interest that you wish to pursue, usually based on your strengths/area of specialization or education. A few examples of niches include weight loss, carpentry, automotive, etc. You can niche down even further to set up your business around weight loss for weaning mothers, kitchen furniture, or car interior. The purpose is to give your business a direction so that you’re not being a jack of all trades which only leads to incompetence.
Choose your business model
Having decided on what you will be selling in your business, it’s now time to choose how you’re going to monetise your website (which is where your online business will be conducted).
Today, there are numerous monetisation models you can adopt including advertising, affiliate marketing, subscription, and freemium business models.
Advertising is the most popular and possibly the easiest model to implement online today. Just as the name suggests, it entails placing adverts of other businesses on your website and charging them for the exposure and promotion. On the other hand, affiliate marketing is a form of advertising where you are paid commissions for products and services sold through your unique affiliate links.
As for the subscription model, readers pay to access part or all of the content on your site, usually through a one-off charge. Finally, the freemium model (free + premium) involves giving readers free access to some of your content and asking them to pay for extra premium features.
Choose your preferred name
A business name plays an incredibly important role in the overall branding of your business. For this, it pays to take some time to think over and choose a unique and memorable name. While at it, confirm that the name doesn’t have any existing trademark issues tied to it, otherwise you risk being sued for infringement of ownership rights. Finally, your name should comply with your specific state law requirements, and this especially applies to LLCs or corporations.
Secure your domain name
So you now have a business name, what next? Naturally, you need to register a domain name that matches your business name. So, if the name is not available for registration at any domain name registrar, it could mean going back to the drawing board in search for another more fitting business name.
Buy hosting and go live
Supposing you found the right domain name and have already purchased it, the next step is to choose a reliable hosting service provider to enable your site to go live. Mangomatter wrote this guide on the best hosting services for UK businesses – check it out and choose a suitable host for your small online business.
Publish high-quality content
With your site now hosted and ready to be broadcasted to the world, it’s time to develop content and begin attracting visitors. Start with the pillar pages aka the homepage, about, services, contact us, and any other relevant pages depending on your business model. While at it, be sure to follow the basic rules of copywriting including writing compelling headlines, describing the problems that your product and services help to solve, placing testimonials strategically within the copy, and creating urgency.
Add a blog
Having a blog on your site means you can keep creating evergreen content that readers will love and use to solve their problems. In return, they will start seeing you as an authority in your field which is good for building reputation and brand positioning. What’s more, this content can help you rank higher on search results thereby pulling even more potential customers to your website.
Launch social media profiles
Social media is no longer meant to kill boredom or meet friends only; at least not when you’re targeting it for business growth. Today, social media platforms serve as free and highly effective marketing tools that can transform your business fortunes when used properly.
To get the most out of social media, be sure to specialise in only a few channels and invest your energy and time on them alone. This could be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. To boost engagement and reach especially when starting out, consider using paid ads or run promotions and giveaways.
Start building an email list
Email marketing remains to be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing. Indeed, you need to have it in your plans right from the time you launch your site by creating a lead magnet or just adding an opt-in form to help you with collecting emails. When done right, email marketing can be a game-changer in the success of your online business.
Track and measure growth
Try to gather as much data from your website as possible to enable you visualise the direction your online business is heading to. This includes tracking the number of web visitors, keywords ranking on search results, traffic sources, and emails open and click-through rates just to name a few. You can use both free and paid tools to collect this data with Google Analytics and email autoresponder tools offering a good place to start.
Are you planning to start an online business? What has been your biggest impediment to implementing that idea you’ve been thinking about for so long? Share with us – we’re here to help you achieve your goals.