When brick and mortar businesses are struggling, success and business don’t sound like they go hand-in-hand.
However, a successful online business is completely realistic in these times.
Maybe you need some motivation. Or maybe what you really need are some practical online business tips.
From starting your online business to growing it and, finally, running it, here are 9 tips to get you to success.
Tips for Starting Your Online Business
Starting an online business can look like a lot of work… and it is.
To be a success, you need to begin by asking yourself 3 important questions.
1. Are You Passionate About It?
You need to be passionate about whatever niche you choose to start your online business in.
If you want it to be successful, you will eat, sleep, and breathe this topic.
So, it cannot be about something that you’re only doing because everyone else is doing it, even though you’re only mildly interested in it.
Solo Build It! member Carl Trent puts it this way…
There are a lot of business builders that say… find something that’s going to make you money. Don’t do that because website building, product development, everything you do — the passion for your topic is what’s going to set you apart from everybody else.
Pick something you are passionate about, something you love… something that it won’t matter how bad things get; you’re still going to want to go talk about it every day. So that’s the main thing: be passionate about your topic. That’s going to be what serves you best.
Read and watch Carl’s fascinating story from retired air-traffic controller to “Disney Dad” online entrepreneur here.
2. What Are Your Goals?
Ask yourself what’s driving your desire to start a business?
If it’s “to make money,” then ask yourself why you want to earn more money.
Is it to pay off your student loans? Reduce credit card debt? Contribute to your kids’ college funds? Plan for your own retirement?
Once you attach an outcome to making money, it’ll be more satisfying and you’ll be more likely to stick with your online business.
Maybe your goal is different — to fund a charity or to simply spread accurate information about a super rare breed of turtles.
Either way, create a goal (or goals) to work towards.
Need an inspiring example? Adele Sweeney’s goal was to improve wellbeing and mental health through creativity, especially for those who can’t usually afford or access fancy tools or craft supplies.
How she managed to turn her idea into reality, and how fulfilling she finds her career as a “social entrepreneur,” is summarized in our interview.
3. Is Your Idea a Real “Winner?”
Before you register your domain name or do anything else, are you sure your online business idea is a winner?
One aspect to consider is if you’ll be able to monetize your business. Some niches lend themselves well to monetization and others don’t. We’ll get more into monetization later in this article.
The most important point to consider before starting your online business…
It’s ideal if your visitors come in through organic searches (via Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc.).
You’ll need to be able to rank for keywords related to your topic. This means that you’ll have to learn how website architecture and search engines work and how to write to be found organically.
You do not want to start your business if you will rely mostly on buying Facebook or Google ads to get traffic or leads. Your online business will not be yours if you’re at Facebook’s or Google’s ad mercy. They could ban your ads or your business page, or raise their ad rates tremendously — then what would you do?
Tips for Growing Your Online Business
Now that you have your domain name registered and a couple dozen pages written, it’s time to grow your online business…
4. Build a Relationship With Your Audience/Site Visitors
Your visitors should mean everything to you and your online business.
Without them, who will be the eyes that drive your ad revenue or buy what you’re selling?
To pre-sell them, you should have at least one social media account for your business and have a newsletter.
It’s important to build a relationship with your visitors by regularly keeping in touch. That doesn’t mean to sell them all the time. You shouldn’t. Your main goal is to get to know your audience and create a strong connection with them.
And the best way to do that is through social media and writing a regular newsletter.
5. Monetize, Monetize, Monetize
By now, you’ve built a solid relationship with your visitors and they trust you.
Their trust makes sense, since you’ve always over-delivered the amount of knowledge — information and wisdom — that you share with them.
Now is the time to start monetizing and turn your website or blog into a true online business.
How you monetize depends on how much you want to earn and how much effort you want to put into it.
Since your visitors regard you as an expert in your field, now is the right time to start placing ads or affiliate links on your website. Here’s our definitive guide about how to start affiliate marketing.
Ads and affiliate programs represent just a small part of passive monetization.
In order to keep growing income from your online business, you need to keep adding new monetization methods.
Depending on how much you ultimately need to earn to meet your goals, your business could stay relatively small, earning $50,000/year using passive monetization models or you could even build a $1,000,000+ business using passive and active monetization methods.
6. Establish a Work From Home Routine
It’s natural to struggle with growing your online business.
In addition, working from home brings its own challenges. If you’re easily distracted, consider establishing boundaries and a routine.
Take note of what times you get your best work done and carve out space around that time to work. You may want to check out this ultimate list of work from home tips as well.
Don’t be too hard on yourself — like any type of work, there are days when you’ll be more productive than others. As long as you ultimately get what you want done, then your business will keep growing.
Tips for Running Your Online Business
When your online business has grown to a point that you’re happy with, you’re ready to get into the next phase: running it.
It’s important not to let it lapse and grow idle, so here are some tips to keep running it smoothly…
7. Look at Numbers
This is the ideal time to go through your Google Analytics numbers.
Take note of these two metrics:
i- Bounce rate
ii- Session duration
These two metrics will give you direction on what to work on.
Google favors pages that are sticky, i.e., that folks spend a lot of time on and pages that keep visitors on your website. So, take your pages with the highest bounce rates and lowest time on page and consider how you can get people to stay — can you link to other relevant pages on your site? Is there a YouTube video on the topic (bonus points if it’s a video you created yourself!) that you can embed on a page?
Admittedly, it’s a lot of technically and slightly nerdy work, but once you start, you’ll really get into it… especially when you see the benefits.
In the video below Luke explains how this product idea boosted his online business income into the 6-figure range.
8. Take Care of Tasks (That You’ve Been Putting Off)
Your ebook, creating compelling pins for your Pinterest account, writing pages you think won’t rank, starting a YouTube channel, figuring out more creative ways to monetize…
Now that your online business is on a steady course, you can spend time on extracurricular activities that will benefit your business.
These are tasks that take up a lot of time (an ebook isn’t written and promoted overnight!). Fortunately, you have time now.
Doesn’t it feel great to go back to some creative work?
9. Revisit Your Online Business Goals
Do you remember why you started your online business way back when?
Reflect back and assess your goals.
Maybe you have achieved financial success, but you’re still lacking a raison d’être.
If that’s the case, then reassess and sort out how to find your online business’s purpose.
It’s never too late to get there, and it’s also never too late to set new goals.
Starting, growing, and running a successful online business takes a lot of work.
… but it’s 100% doable.