The triumph of gaining your financial freedom and independence is mind-blowing. Having an online business can be spectacular. You determine your own working hours and your own place of business. What’s not to like about it?
Let me tell you what. Online business can also be frightening, scary and painful at the same time. The ticket to success is not free of charge.
Have you ever wondered how some people succeed with their online business?
So have I. When I started my own online business, I made all 3 mistakes that I’m describing below. Let me explain all about them, so you can avoid them from the start.
I started my online endeavors with no big plan in mind. All I knew was that I want to start an online business and that was it.
I listened about all the amazing stories about people making a fortune online and I said to myself: “What the heck, I will try that too!” I don’t consider myself to be a dumb person. Besides, how hard could it be anyway?
So I started with building my own webpage. I was familiar with SEO from my job and I read all the Google SEO recommendations for 2016. I knew that the content is the king. So I started producing content. Nothing out of the ordinary, basically just stuff I learned, while I was still working for others. During my regular employment I gained a lot of experience in the field of digital project, project management, animation, publishing and so on.
I published a piece of good quality content every now and then. Producing quality content went quite well, because I had a lot to share. But soon I realized I’m not getting any readers. I made a Facebook page. I posted links there. I built subscription forms and so on and so on. But not much happened. I wasn’t getting any readers. No one was subscribing to my newsletter.
Then I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan. So the first mistake I made was:
1. Not having a plan
You don’t need to have a formal business plan or anything fancy like that at all, but you do need a plan. A plan for:
- Content creation and publishing – Once a week, twice a week, every day. Anything, as long as you have a plan that you know you’ll be able to follow. Decide what you can deliver and then stick to it. Be consistent. Readers love the routine. If you deliver astonishingly great content every Wednesday, people will expect it. So you better deliver, or they will leave.
- Sharing content – Start small and use a social media platform that is familiar to you. Mine was Facebook. I wasn’t there much before, but at least I knew something about it. It would be best though, if you concentrate social media starting efforts on platform where your audience is. Speaking of:
- Target audience – Deciding about content will give you an idea about what your ideal audience is or vice versa. Once you determine that, you can research about where they most commonly hang out in the digital world. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, dedicated forums? Whatever you find out, you need to go there as well. Think about demographics, their interests, their needs and what they can afford.
- What products to sell – This is very much related to demographics of your target audience. You cannot sell a $10.000 product to someone who can only afford to buy a $100 product at most. You cannot just put a product on your web page and hope for the best. Again you need a plan.
Further down the line, you will definitely need to adjust your overall plan. But have your initial plan in front of your eyes the whole time. Eyes on the target.
Setting your long term goals is just as important as setting the short term ones. Keep them somewhere in front of you at all times, as your constant reminder of what your direction is.
If you find yourself working on something else, look at the written goal in front of you and ask yourself: “Is this activity getting me closer to my goal?” If your answer is no, stop doing it right away and direct your focus to your goal achieving activities.
Another piece of advice. You might want to keep a list of things to do, a schedule of sorts if you will, to keep you on track for the times when you get distracted. And let me tell you from my experience, it happens so fast and covertly as well. You don’t even realize it when an hour went by, while distractions had been occupying your attention.
2. Focusing on little stuff
When I started, I was spreading myself too thin on all the tasks that needed to be done. I’m a designer and animator by profession. The thing is, I haven’t been working in the field for almost a decade. But I tasked myself with making my own logo, designing and setting up my own custom web page.
Don’t do that. Once you start a business, treat it like a business. You’re an entrepreneur so do entrepreneurial stuff and leave the design stuff to designers. I realized I would have never taken off my business if I would have been doing all the work myself. In the end I decided to use WordPress. I picked a theme I liked and worked with that. It doesn’t really matter how the web page looks like at the beginning anyhow, as long as the content is readable and call to action buttons are visible enough to get users to click on them. Hopefully.
I was very much against using WordPress for numerous reasons, top one being lack of control of the coding and SEO. But concentrating on it at the beginning of the business makes no sense at all. I will not be able to compete with organic traffic for a while anyway. So what’s the point?
Just take a look at Google. Do you still remember their minimalistic homepage? Even now, it hasn’t changed all that much from that. But when you look behind the first visual impression, it offers an awesome service. This is something you should concentrate on as well, service, not how to make things look pretty. Unless, of course, you’re a designer and you’re selling your design services online.
Get someone else to do the following stuff for you once you reach that point in your business, but you mostly don’t need it from the start anyway:
- design a logo, business cars, stationary (if you use it), pretty web page,
- more social media channels coverage, once you outgrow the basic ones,
- email services,
- and so on and on.
3. Underestimating things
Since I can remember, I had issues with setting the correct timeframe for task completion. My tendency to underestimate was enormous. I thought it would’ve taken an hour to complete a task, but it took 3. I thought I could’ve finished all the tasks I planned for the day, but I had been left with more than half of them unchecked.
I underestimated a whole lot more.
I had a vague idea of how online marketing works. I had a slightly better idea about how social media marketing works. Well, I was wrong. I only thought I did.
Nothing worked as I had thought it would. Since the last time I did any of those social activities, a lot had changed. Facebook logic is completely different now. Of course, they want to make money. Google Ads became quite expensive. Organic traffic from Google is impossible to achieve, well, at least for certain keywords. And let me not go into my expectations about timeframe I had in mind for getting results. It’s embarrassing.
Let me tell you one thing I learned, though: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And neither will your success. There are tactics you can use to get to your success faster, but even with those, there’s a lot of work involved.
Here are some tips for you:
- Don’t think that making money online is easy – You might find some get rich quick schemes out there, you might even earn some money with them, even overnight. But after that scheme is gone, you’ll be looking for a new one. As for the long term goal of making money online, I’m talking about sustainable income for years, is hard work. And after that, it’s a lot of hard work.
- Success will come, just not overnight – If you’re diligent every single day. You produce quality content and get it out there for your perfect audience to see, they are bound to find it. Sooner or later. But don’t expect success overnight. It might have happened to some people, but it’s more likely we just don’t know the whole story of that particular online millionaire. Consistently take action. Every day. Persistence is the key.
- Do not multitask, focus instead – Concentrate on one thing at a time. Implement it. Finish it. Whatever you need to do to successfully get it out of your way, and only then move on to the next one. Believing in a myth, that you will achieve more in less time with multitasking, is just plain crap. Maybe multitasking works, but just maybe, if one task is something you do on a complete autopilot and you don’t need any brain power for it, and the other task is something you need your brain for. Like listening to a podcast while riding a bike.
- Don’t put too much on your plate – Get what you can eat, finish it and then go get seconds. Or you might even need to digest it first. Don’t take too many things on at the same time. Again, you will spread yourself too thin and you will not accomplish anything with it. Don’t jump between jobs and don’t test multiple income streams at the same time. Pick one or two, get it to work and use it if it works. If it doesn’t work, abandon it and try a new one.
Think big. Grow your ideas. Set your goals. But work on one at the time. You’re in for the long haul. It doesn’t matter all that much that you might need to suffer through first few months or a year. Not if you have your why in front of you.
This is my last tip for today. You decided to start your own online business, or you’re in the process of doing so. Think deeply about your why.
Why do you want to have this business?
What is the reason for it?
Think about it long and hard. And you better come up with a pretty damn good answer, one that is so very important to you, one that will keep you motivated, when things don’t go quite as well as you planned, or hoped for.
Your why for your goal must be clearly defined and very, very important to you. When you get to that kind of why, you will succeed no matter what the project is that you take on.