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5 Steps to Start an Online Business and Living a Much Better Life

5 Steps to Start an Online Business and Living a Much Better Life

Working lunch overlooking rice fields in Ubud.

Image credit: Jay Meistrich

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As you’re reading this, customers all over the world are spending millions of dollars online. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion people log onto the Internet every day. We live in the Information Age, which has created new opportunities to start or build a business using the power and reach of the Internet.

While the opportunity is there, so is the competition. You can Google any topic and find at least a few entrepreneurs who are serving the market related to that topic. Whether you are growing an existing business through the Internet or starting an online business, you will have to stand out to thrive.

The Internet offers you the opportunity to create a business you love around the lifestyle you want. Operating a business that generates income from anywhere in the world no longer a fantasy. In fact, I’m writing this article on a flight from Maui to Panama. My business is making money as I fly. Here are five steps to create a profitable and successful online business.

1. Pick a profitable topic.

Choosing a topic is a hard enough task on its own. Making sure it’s profitable is where some entrepreneurs sabotage their chances. To create a business your customers have to be able to afford what you offer. Do your research on the profitability of a topic by seeing who serves that audience and how they’re doing.

Online entrepreneurship is generally a harmonious community. Entrepreneurs are likely to answer a few of your questions. If you can’t get any answers, Google always has a few. Make sure the earning potential is there before trying to generate revenue from that topic and audience.

Related: How to Make Money Online: The Basics

2. Create a strong foundation.

Your foundation online consists of your website, email list and social media following. There are many micro-aspects of an online business, but those are at the core. Your website needs to be simple and clean. You have a short window to capture someone’s attention. If your website is confusing, people will click off. Have the fewest pages possible. Have an “About” page that’s personal and connects the reader to your message and you as the entrepreneur.

Social media has billions of users, but the organic reach is next to nothing. You have to pay to reach your audience. Email marketing is still the best way to convert a lead to a customer. Build your email list by offering a small digital freebie to entice people to sign up. Create a presence on every social media platform, but don’t get caught up in the hype behind social media marketing. Use it only as one part of your overall strategy. 

3. Build an engaged audience.

If your website and social media presence are a ghost town, you won’t draw people in and convert them into customers. Your goal is to build raving fans and followers that will tell everyone they know about you and your business.

You create that engagement by NOT delivering fluff-filled content. When you provide actionable value, people will become engaged and respond. Don’t buy fans or followers—it never creates engagement. Focus on connecting with an engaged group instead of trying to get big numbers. All of us have seen the entrepreneurs who have 30,000 Twitter followers but only get one retweet when they post.

Related: 5 Tools to Help Your Online Business Realize Its Full Potential

4. Create premium offerings.

A business means you have things to sell, and it’s no different in an online business. One of the nice features of an online business is that what you sell is digital. You can create books, guides, and courses. They can be offerings you create one time, and the work is done—you would then update from time to time. Create different types of programs and courses that help your audience, and use your email list to sell them. Make them actionable and packed full of valuable content.

5. Test and scale.

One of the best ways to know what works best for your business is to test what’s working and what isn’t. Be willing to change your strategy if you see it’s not effective. Don’t blindly follow popular advice just because someone got a certain result in THEIR business—it probably won’t work the same for you. When you have the right combination, scale your business.

Life is short. It’s too short to spend it creating a business that doesn’t give you the kind of lifestyle you want to live. Use the Internet and social media to grow or create a business that gives you freedom. The ability to generate income from your knowledge and through digital offerings is incredible.

There are many voices shouting for attention online. You stand out when you do things differently. Build a loyal and engaged following through authenticity. Deliver value that helps them solve their problems and struggles. It won’t take long for you loyal following to draw others in and your business to grow.

Related: Why Customer Engagement Is the Future of Ecommerce