Starting your own online business has never been easier. Nowadays, there are various means through which you can start your own online business. These range from starting a blog through which you can promote other people's products, or providing your SAAS services, to starting a dropshipping website.
However, making a website, as you will realize, is only the first step. In fact, making a website might prove to be the easier part of starting your own online business. The real challenge is to drive traffic to your website. Unless you already have a huge number of followers, you're in for a lot of work.
Getting followers from scratch might seem like an overwhelming task, but it's not impossible. And to do that, you have two paths:
1. Starting up for free
Unless you already have many followers, getting some will require diligence, persistence, PATIENCE, and quite some time. The best part is that you can do it for free by starting your own blog, making YouTube videos, or using social media.
2. Paying to generate traffic
Your options here are unlimited. You can pay websites such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, and much more. Using the aforementioned websites, you can advertise your services with paid ads.
Before we move on, I would like to thank you for reading this far. However, If reading is not really your thing, you can always check out my video about starting your own online business from scratch.
Starting a business before the internet:
Imagine going back in time to the 1950s (before the invention of the internet) after working a decent job until your late adulthood. There you are, with a stack of hard-earned cash and your life still ahead of you. Burning with the desire to be financially independent, let's say you want to open your own store in which you are going to sell a selection of the finest whatever’s in the market.
After laying the foundation of your business – planning it down to the finest detail – you want to get started and sell to as many people as possible. A month goes by, and you realize you’re not selling as fast as you expected (which is strange cos you’re providing some top-tier merchandise). Then, another month goes by, and you notice more and more people are buying from you, increasing your profits, albeit slightly.
Let’s assume you have saved a lot of money from your previous job to allow you to keep your business going with negative profit. You plan to have your business survive until it attracts enough customers to keep it afloat. Barely 1 year has passed, and your store is not reeling in any profit, growing more and more frustrated with every day that goes by; you’re already thinking of closing down and contacting your old employers to beg them to take you back.
What went wrong?
You had the perfect product, the perfect set-up, perfect location, but you had no one to sell to. The problem is, you relied on your product to sell itself. A proper way to have made sure your product kicked off would've been to invest in advertisement. Now assuming we were still in 1950, you'd have had to pay for newspaper ads or TV commercials to advertise your business.
Starting a business in 2020
Fast forward to the present, it's the year 2020. Whether you wish to sell physical goods or online services, you have to have a website. Consumerism changes to adapt to modern technology, and as a business owner, you have to adapt to the digital age. In 2019, the number of people going online to find businesses had jumped to 97% from 59% back in 2011. To be clear, If you want to sell your goods, you need to be found online—you must have a website.
In contrast to the 1900s, starting a business now is easier than ever and requires less capital. The shift from physical stores to online stores has a key advantage; the probability of your goods being found is better than ever.
However, one key disadvantage; EVERYONE is doing it. There's a website for everything these days, and the number of websites selling the same goods and services is insane. This is why finding people to whom you can promote your product is where the real work begins.
As I mentioned earlier, to advertise your services, you have to choose to pay for ads or advertise your merchandise yourself. You can, of course, do both at the same time. I will now go through the details of both methods. Stay tuned!
Growing your own audience from scratch
Here are a few of the platforms that you can use to advertise your products:
1. Facebook lets you promote your services with Facebook groups. You can start a Facebook group revolving around your services. After that, start adding people who might be interested in the content. Make frequent updates to your Page; remember, consistency is key! Find yourself a community of like-minded people, engage in groups similar to yours, and slowly build yourself a social network.
2. Twitter is one of those social media platforms used to establish someone as a thought leader. On Twitter, you can discuss topics related to the services you provide. Share your knowledge, offer advice, answer frequently asked questions about problems you wish to solve using your services.
3. Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for brand awareness. You can share images and videos. However, Instagram is not ideal for driving traffic to your website.
Typically, you can only include one link in the profile field. You can use Instagram to follow like-minded people, connect with them, and ultimately increase your followers' number.
4. LinkedIn is a social media channel that is ideal for B2B (a business that sells to other businesses). People and companies use have LinkedIn profiles for brand recognition. Polish your profile, fill it with your content to be found easier in LinkedIn searches.
5. Start a YouTube channel! Then, make videos in which you advertise your content, either directly or indirectly. You can make YouTube tutorials to help people start a business in the same field as yours. Participate in the YouTube community of people posting similar content. Also, Learn from people better than you, and influence people that are just starting up.
First, start a blog!
No, seriously, go now and make one! Don't know where to start? don't worry; I have a list (found below) of both free and paid services that allow you to create a webpage easily. Check them out and select one that suits your style and needs.
Remember: it's almost impossible that starting your own online business wouldn't require promoting your products on a website in some fashion (i.e., blog, social media…etc.), so I urge you to take this first step before moving forward with creating or improving your online presence.
Free Website Builders -WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Weebly…etc.
As you can see, many of these services are platforms that are free to start. By using any of these services, you can write your own blog and customize it to your liking (how much customization available to you depends on what website you end up choosing).
I can't emphasize enough how important this step is. Using a blog, you can have something similar to a newspaper column in the past. On your blog, you can write articles relevant to the services you provide and fill those with links referring to your merchandise.
Moreover, through your blog, you can include an opt-in form for people to subscribe to your e-mail. This way, you'll have a growing e-mail list of people to whom you can send solicited e-mails promoting your content.
Also, share your Youtube videos on your Facebook groups and your blog. Furthermore, make a YouTube video containing a step by step tutorial on how to start a blog and link your blog in the description as an example. You get the point. This way, you will maximize your reach across all platforms and exponentially gain momentum across all platforms.
Secondly, you can pay to generate traffic
All of the platforms mentioned above, in addition to many more not mentioned here, offer the option of advertising your website using different means depending on your budget. You can use Facebook ads, Youtube ads, Instagram ads, and many more.
Finally, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website from search engines. SEO targets natural, organic traffic rather than direct or paid traffic. Organic traffic includes image searches, video searches, news searches.
SEO is an online marketing strategy that considers how search engines work, the computer-programmed algorithms that dictate search engine patterns, what people search for, the search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred their targeted audience.
To wrap up
Starting your own online business has never been easier, whether you choose to provide digital tools or physical goods to be delivered on-demand via drop-shipping or other models. However, launching your website is only the first and easier step when you're starting a business.
The real challenge is to drive traffic to your website. Driving traffic to your website can either be done for free using social media and Q&A platforms, in addition to B2B platforms, or it can be done through paid ad campaigns on the aforementioned platforms.
Thank you guys for reading! Stay tuned for more similar articles, and don't forget to follow me on social media. I will be waiting for you in the comments below!