5 Steps to Make Money With a Small Online Following Your business doesn't need millions of followers and weekly viral videos to make money online.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It's a myth that you need weekly viral videos and millions of followers to make money online or succeed in business. To succeed in business, you need a community of fans that you can nurture to a sale. You need to get your future customers to know, like and trust you.
Sure, having millions of followers is nice. Every athlete, TV star and beauty influencer on Instagram has that. But you don't need it. You can be successful without a large following.
Over the years, I've learned that it's not how large your email list or Instagram follower count is. It's how in tune you are with your customers and how well you serve their needs.
Here's how to make money even if you don't have a lot of followers.
Focus on your best customer
Instead of focusing on how many followers you have, first focus on who your best customer is.
What does he or she look like? As you write your next email newsletter, your next blog post or do your next Instagram video, do it with that customer in mind. Every time you create content, consider who your best customer is and serve him or her.
There's power in being very focused on your ideal customer. You become extremely aware of his or her needs. You become an expert in how he or she buys, thinks and wishes to be served.
Another benefit? Similar customer types can often be found in similar business groups and communities. They'll begin to spread the word about you.
Related: It's All About the Customer Service
Before you ask people for their money, use your content to educate them. As you're educating them, you start to build trust. As you build trust, you build a relationship.
Your future customers see you as the "go-to source" for information to solve their problems. You then have earned the right to ask for the "sale." It's a knee-jerk reaction to ask for a sale first. Don't do that. First educate. Ask for a smile before you ask for a sale.
If you're the leader in educating your future and current customers, you'll remain top of mind. There's power in having a strong personal brand. By staying top of mind to the customers and future customers who need you, you're the "Celebrity CEO" of your industry. Maybe you're not as famous as Beyonce or Jeff Bezos, but you're very well known to the potential customers who need your products and services.
Capture contact information
Social media is a great way to get attention for your business. But it's not enough.
Once you capture someone's attention, you want that person to share his or her contact information with you so you can follow up. This follow-up should include a clear "call to action" to move the future customer further along the sales funnel — to eventually buy from you.
Some marketing-automation tools you can consider to help you include Mailchimp, Keap, Aweber, Active Campaign, Kajabi and Ontraport.
Wow your customer
After you've made the sale. Don't stop there. Now, keep educating the customer. Follow up with the customer and ask how he or she liked (or didn't like) your product or service. See what you can do to wow the customer and ensure he or she has a great customer experience.
If you focus on customers as much after the sale as you have before the sale, they'll be customers for life, and it's much cheaper to have an existing customer buy from you than for you to have to get a new customer.
Be the right kind of celebrity
Most of us will never be a globally famous celebrity like Michael Jackson, Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.
However, we can all be celebrities to our customers. We can all get more known in the niche industries and marketplaces that matter. The only stage that matters is the stage, or community, where your best customers reside.
Make sure you're well known there.