The hardest part of an online business is knowing where to start. When you start to research online business you could end up with information overload. There’s a ton of information out there and a lot of it is contradictory. This is where I found myself at the end of 2011. I had just written a book and was trying to figure out how to turn my dream into a business that supports our family. I started researching and was overwhelmed.
I read about guest-posting, SEO, social media and a ton of other topics. I was already working 50-60 hours a week. Where would I find the time to do all this stuff? All the information actually held me back because I just didn’t know where to start.
When I did figure it out and started to make some progress I realized I still had a ton to learn and missed a key step in creating an online business. Here I am in June of 2014 with an online business that now supports our family.
I can tell you that even after this thing supports you there is still a ton to learn. I can also tell you that the freedom an online business brings is priceless. To be able to wake up every day and know you get to help people is amazing.
Having the freedom to spend the precious time we have on this earth doing what’s important to you is incredible. You get to live life on your terms, not the systems. If you’re on this journey struggling stay encouraged because the struggles will be worth it once you get here.
So where do you start? It all starts with who you want to serve. When I say “serve” I mean who in this world do you most want to help? Is it single women? Married men? Male teenagers? Single mothers? Single fathers? Men with disabilities?
The best way to stand out from the other 900 million websites is to get specific. When you think you’re there get even more specific. Nine times out of ten most of us start out too general. Laura Roeder breaks this down amazingly in this interview with my friend Gene.
Let’s say you’re passionate about single parents and write to single fathers AND mothers. How can you help them both? Single mothers and fathers have two totally different things going on in their lives.
Think about the different situations they would face that’s specific to their gender. In order to serve both you would have to write one post for single mothers on Monday and the single fathers on Tuesday to be effective.
As you’re writing you would have to use a lot of general words and it can get confusing. If you’re a single father and you write for single fathers you know exactly what they’re going through and will face.
You can really hone in and deal with the deeper issues. There’s a ton of fluff and general stuff online that people are used to reading. If you dig in and start talking about the deep issues that’s the kind of content that goes viral. That’s how people really get helped.
Who is your target audience?
- Male or female?
- What age? A 25-year-old is going through a different stage in life than a 50-year-old. They have completely different problems and needs.
- Where do they live? People in the United States have different issues than other countries. There might be a specific situation to whatever country you live in.
- How much money do they make? It’s not all about the money but you’re creating a business. You’re not trying to get rich but you want this to support you so your target audience should be able to afford your services.
- What are their biggest struggles? When you figure out what those struggles are you figure out what products and services to offer. If you create something that solves a problem your audience will buy it.
Once you figure out who you want to serve you can really build a solid foundation online. You can figure out where those people hang out and the best way to reach them. You can also figure out how they want to be reached.
If you already have your foundation set up is there any way to get clear? I had over 5,400 people on my email list in August of 2013. I had a conversation that changed the way I thought about this with a friend/coach.
I decided to get clear and focus on the family man. I told my email list about the change and 1,200 people unsubscribed in one month. Can you imagine that? I almost pulled what little hair I had left out!
Over the next few months my friend’s advice made complete sense. I was able to speak directly to the family man about what he would face. I started talking about specific problems and solutions.
The results were fewer people on my email list but my income increased. As I got specific the family man realized my stuff was for them and they bought it. Since then I’ve seen my revenue increase by $4,000 a month on average.
It’s scary to get specific. You worry about running out of things to talk about. You worry about turning people off. If you do that’s good. Seth Godin says if you try to reach everyone you’ll reach no one.
When someone comes to your website within the first 10 seconds they should know whether or not the website is for them. Wondering where to start or grow online? Start with who you most want to help.
Who’s your target audience? Why?
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