Raise your hand if you feel like you’re just copying what others are doing when it comes to marketing your online business but really don’t understand exactly what’s going on?
Consider this post your Marketing 101 Course: For Marketing Your Online Business. Don’t worry, we’re not getting into anything too overwhelming, and I promise at the end, you’ll finally be able to say, “oh I get it!” and feel ready to create your own marketing strategy that works for you!
The Buyer Journey
Everything in marketing starts with The Buyer Journey!
These are the stages (mentally, emotionally, heck sometimes even physically) that your buyer will go through before they are ready to make a purchase.
There are several models in the marketing theory world, but over the years, I’ve found Eugene Schwartz’s 5-Stages of Awareness to be the most accurate in particular when it comes to online business.
Here’s a brief breakdown:
Unaware – Your buyer has no idea that they have a problem that needs to be solved.
Problem Aware – Your buyer becomes aware of the problem, but has no idea how it should be solved.
Solution Aware – Your buyer becomes aware of their ideal solution but has no idea of the right product to make the solution possible.
Product Aware – Your buyer becomes aware of your product, but still has some questions and wants to make sure it provides their ideal solution.
Most Aware – Your buyer feels comfortable with your product, is certain it’s perfect to help them get their ideal solution, and now needs to know the price.
Your goal is to move the right types of clients through the buyer journey quickly and efficiently, while turning them into repeat customers!
We do this by creating content!
Purpose of Content
What is content? Truly it includes any type of media you create in your business. That could be written, video, audio, and/or graphics and they can be used in various ways throughout your business (i.e. Blog Posts, Social Media Captions, Advertising, Sales Pages).
When strategically created, content can be a powerful tool in moving your client through their buyer journey and marketing your online business. It builds trust, answers questions, and helps to overcome objections.
But, where most new entrepreneurs go wrong is that they try to copy what other successful business owners are doing instead of creating their own content strategy geared towards their own target audience.
Remember, not all content is created equal! For example, a blog post explaining the importance of social media is better suited for an ideal client at Stage 1 – Problem Unaware, versus a Live Webinar that walks you through the exact strategy for creating a social media post that converts and then has a pitch at the end for your services. The latter is better suited for Stage 5 – Most Aware.
There’s one final component of creating a well-crafted marketing strategy and that’s Lead Magnets (aka Freebies). This particular type of content deserves its own category because it plays a very unique function.
A lead magnet is basically a free piece of content (see above definition) that’s created with the sole purpose of getting your ideal client’s email address. Once you get this, you can continue to keep in touch with them, notify them of more content, and make offers.
In the online business industry, we place a lot of importance on our email lists because unlike social media, our email followers belong to us!
Lead Magnets are best implemented at the beginning of the buyer journey usually problem unaware but occasionally problem aware.
Creating A Marketing Campaign
Now that you have the components that you’ll need, let’s consider putting everything together! This is called a Marketing Campaign.
A lot of people think that a marketing campaign needs to be this long drawn out journey that takes place over several months until you’re ready to do this big launch. While this is sometimes true, in many instances, you can create a simple marketing campaign with just a few pieces of strategic content sent via email over a few days!
Remember, this is why you need to know your ideal client because the buyer journey could be really quick!
Here’s an example using our Social Media Consultant:
Stage 1 (Unaware): Blog Post – “5 Mistakes You’re Making With Social Media”
Stage 2 (Problem Aware): Blog Post – “What To Do If Your Social Media Isn’t Growing”
Stage 3 (Solution Aware): Video Training – “How To Create A Social Media Strategy That Explodes Your Reach”
Stage 4 (Product Aware): Case Study – “How (Client Name) Grew Her IG Following By 300% In 90 Days”
Stage 5 (Most Aware): Offer Email – “Join Social to Sell”
There you have it, now you know what marketing really is, and how you can stop copying others and get out there and start creating content for your audience on your terms!
I get it, most of the time when you click on an article for how to make money online it’s a bunch of bogus information like “become a survey taker” (no hate to anyone who does this). But if you really want to start your own business, you need to a bit more information and some real actionable online business ideas. So I’ve put together my top four (4) online business ideas for 2021.
The 2020 pandemic has changed a lot of things for many small businesses, forcing most to make the unfortunate decision to cutback on overhead. Departments and positions are usually consolidated or elimated during this time. But, the jobs still need to be done. In these times, businesses will start reaching out to 3rd-Party Freelancers because the cost if lower than full-time staff.
If you have knowledge in any of these positions, now is a good time start that business:
When the s*** hits the fan, of course the first question people have after the shock is, “Now What?” This is where coaches step in. Coaches help people find clarity around areas of their life and empower them to take action or make changes. Unlike Freelancing or Consulting you are not doing the work for them. Instead, you are helping them figure out how to overcome the blocks that prevent them for going after what they want.
I predict that the most in-demand coaching niches for 2021 and beyond will be:
Related: How To Find Your Coaching Niche
Maybe you really want to start a business but you’re super introverted and can’t see yourself working in a 1:1 environment with clients. Not to worry! You can still move forward with you plans, especially if you are creative. Your best bet is going to be starting your own e-commerce store and selling done-for-you digital products.
I personally love buying digital products as a solopreneur because they make my life so much easier! This is definitely a needed industry in online business. Here are some popular types of digital products you can consider:
Social Media Templates
Easily the most under the radar types of income streams. This is one of the rare types of business models that I am willing to classify as passive income. As it does remind of purchasing stock, the longer you leave your investment out there, the more chances you have to see it multiply. Affiliate marketing is a simple process: you write reviews (or create content) for your favorite products.
It’s not a new concept, but with the rise of influencers in social media (particularly the YouTube beauty industry) it has exploded in the past several years. Companies have turned more towards this type of marketing because it’s more cost-effective than advertising.
And the best news is that you don’t have to have huge following in order to make a decent income. I’ve known plenty of people who are just starting out that are making an extra $1,000 a month with less than 1,000 followers because of their close affiliation with some of their favorite products.
Here are some suggestions for products that you might consider:
Resources and Tools you use in your business.
Beauty or cleaning products you supports and regularly use.
Amazon products you swear by!
There you have it, now you should have no excuse as to why you are not getting moving on starting your business! Be sure to access the Resource Library for more tools to help you grow!
If you’ve been holding off on starting your business because you think it’s going to cost you a ton of money, then this is the episode for you! I started my first business for less than $300 and my first clients paid me a total of $3000, you do the ROI.
And I’m proud to say, not much has changed since 2016 (in fact, it’s gotten cheaper)! So let’s get started with how you can build a profitable business for less than a year’s worth of Starbucks Lattes.
Disclaimer: This post/episode may contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase I will get a portion of the profit for referring you. I have a strict policy of only recommending tools I’ve used for more than three (3) Months. Thank You for supporting my blog and business!
Start The Right Business
The quickest and most affordable business you can start online is a service-based consulting business. This means taking whatever skills and knowledge you have (Social Media, Web Design, Administrative Assistant, Project Management, HR, Legal, Writing etc.) and turning that into ‘Done-For-You’ Service Packages!
If you’re trying to become a coach and you’re serious about getting your coaching certification out there, then you’re gonna take a while and cost you a pretty penny (some times thousands of dollars). Likewise, ecommerce usually requires an investment for manufacturing of products and it can be a complicated process.
To get up and running quickly, serviced-based consulting is the way to go. And look, you can eventually move into coaching or ecommerce when you’re ready both emotionally and financially!
Think about what skills and knowledge you currently have and love to do. If you’re a little shaky on your skills check out awesome platforms like Udemy, CreativeLive, and Skillshare. I first learn to code taking courses via Udemy for $10.99.
Business License: $150.00/yr
Easily the biggest expense you’ll have up-front, but necessary if you intend to get a business bank account (which I do recommend) or hire on contractors (which you may want to later on).
Head to your local county administration offices and do this in-person rather than using a 3rd party legal firm as it will save you money. Even if you’re not quite sure what you’ll need, they usually have all the forms necessary and will help you get everything set up. They’re a bit nicer than the DMV (eye-rollllll).
Brand Photography: Free
Use your phone on Portrait Mode.
The computer processors in smartphones are phenomenal these days! There’s no need for you to invest hundreds of dollars in a brand photoshoot in the beginning stages of your business, but, having good quality photos that (a) prove you’re a real person and (b) show you are professional are still necessary!
Head outside to the nearest hippest area (cafe, park, mixed-use development) in your neighborhood (don’t worry about on-lookers) get a couple of vertical shots and a couple landscape (horizontal) shots which you can use for your website initially.
If you’re nervous about taking your photo, check out Sorelle Amore, she’s a travel photographer who started a movement she calls The Advanced Selfie University. Her channel has amazing tutorials on taking selfies including confidence, posing, and staging your shots!
Logo Design: Canva $14.95
Take full advantage of the minimalist movement when it comes to branding. A simple wordmark logo that is just your name in an elegant font (even if it’s not a script font) can actually speak volumes for your business and save you some money.
And even though I have the tools and exprience to create a professional logo, I actully just did my most recent one in Canva. Canva is a graphic design tool that I use daily in my business and while they have a free version, I do use the pro which costs $14.95/mo.
Domain Name, Website Hosting, Professional Email: Dreamhost Unlimited Shared Plan – $10.95/mo
Now it’s time to get your website set up. You’ll need a Domain Name, WordPress Hosting, and Professional Email Address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This is so your potential customers can contact you and you don’t have to feel like a loser using your gmail account ( I’m talking to you email@example.com 😉
I know alot of people have been wanting to try all-in-one website builder like Squarespace or Wix, but I’m going to strongly suggest that you don’t for a two reasons:
Customization – These providers are template based so when you choose your template you’ll go with what you have (even if you buy 3rd party templates) and change the fonts, colors, etc. but the actual layouts and many of the design features… what you see is what you get unless you know how to code.
Integrations – WordPress is the most widely used website platform in the world. Therefore, it integrates with a lot. This means as you start to grow your business and you want to do things like host courses or sell products, instead of having to use another platform, you can build it right on your site.
Website- Page-Builder (Not Just A Theme) Elementor Pro – $49.00/year
Back to customizing your site. I’m a huge fan of using a page-builder theme like Divi by Elegant Themes or Elementor. For the purposes of keeping costs low, I’d go with Elementor Pro as it’s a bit more affordable.
Page-builders give you the flexibility to build your website the way you want it, without the dread of needing to code. They’re usually drag and drop and come with their own library of customizable page templates. You can add or delete elements and get your site looking the exact way you want it!
I suggest the following five (5) pages for all online business owners: Home, About, Blog. Services, Contact.
And I know what you’re thinking: But what if I don’t want a blog!! Short Answer: You need a blog! We’ll talk about why in another post!
CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) – $35/mo
Lastly, I’ll recommend you have a CRM: Customer Relationship Manager. These extremely useful tools are perfect for mapping out your entire client experience!
From sending quotes, contracts, and invoices– to creating a client portal so you can communicate on project details; these all-in-one platforms help keep you sane while making the customer journey seamless. Which is critical for gaining referrals and creating Customer Lifestime Value (meaning they keep coming back!).
Set up your CRM and embed your contact form into your Contact Me page on your website!
Great CRMs to consider are Dubsado, Honeybook, or 17Hats which all cost less than $40.00/mo.
So there you have it, total start-up costs: $260.00!
Pretty slim investment if you ask me.
And if you’re now wondering how you can turn that tiny investment into a liveable salary, then go-ahead and get started on these things and then come back to my channel to learn more about getting your clients and building your confidence!
TL;DR: Be clear enough that people know who you help, but broad enough that you can be flexible.
Here’s an example: I help online female entrepreneurs master their mindset, marketing, sales, and tech.
This is clear enough who I help (online female entrepreneurs) but broad enough that I don’t feel backed into a corner.
Choosing Your Niche: Going Against Convention
I can admit that even I have preached for a very long time that you need to be very niched down. But some years into my business now, I’m even feeling the pressure of only talking about one topic.
When I started my Podcast, I felt way too niched down because I was only talking about one thing: Female Coaches.
And even though I love working with women who are trying to build their coaching business, I also don’t only work with coaches and my first business was Web Design.
I also don’t work with men and I don’t work with all female entrepreneurs (like I don’t know anything about building a brick-and-mortor business).
The Power Of Flexibility
Entrepreneur burnout is a real thing! As most entrepreneurs have a creative thought process (tend to be more B-Type Personality than A-Type), we need a lot of room for innovation and creativity.
When you niche-down too much in your business you can start to feel stifled and bored of your business.
This is why we become serial entrepreneurs and always chasing that next big thing.
If you build your business to be flexible enough to incorporate all your passions, you’ll thank yourself in the long run because you won’t have to deal with the self-imposed guilt we all feel when we switch directions!
I’ve seen a lot of people moving from a DBA to a personal brand name over the past few weeks and it’s always the same reasoning. I know choosing your business name is something many entrepreneurs struggle with, so I wanted to share my journey and some tips for helping you make (what feels like) the biggest decision ever.
Before I jump in, let me just remind you that typically registering as a DBA costs the same or a little more as registering your personal name. So don’t let that be the deciding factor in your decision.
My Journey (Case for Personal Name)
When I first started my coaching business it was all under the name thebrassyboss.co. That was for close to two years. Then I decided to transition to my personal name my reasons why are very similar to a lot of my peers who have made the same choice:
Ready to step into my truth. When I thought about my Future Bio, I envisioned myself as the top tier of my brand and my products as the second. I AM my brand.
Felt more empowering (like I was overcoming imposter syndrome).
Felt more professional (I didn’t have to explain my business and could focus more on my message).
Easier to transition your brand from DBA to Your Name.
While I ultimately feel I made the best decision for my business and brand, but I can definetly see the case for choosing a DBA:
Easier to be seen as a trusted advisor on Social Media – People tend to associate DBA with being more of a tangible resource or asset so you don’t have to prove yourself as much (knowledge and skills) in the beginning.
Operate from the shadows – I think it’s easier to step out more instead of feeling the pressure to take on everything in your business because it’s your name.
3 Questions To Consider
If you’re really stuck on this and feel unable to move forward here’s some questions to ask yourself:
How Do You Want To be Known? (i.e. by product/business name or by yourself)
What is your true motivation? (i.e. suffering from imposter syndrome)
Do you feel inspired to take action? (i.e. motivated to live up to it)
What if you choose the wrong business name?
So maybe you decide one or the other and a year into your business journey you decide you need a change? First of all, it’s totally okay. This is your business and your life, you have to feel comfortable with your journey. That being said, here’s some things to consider if you’re thinking of changing your business name:
Make sure your name (if DBA) is available as a domain! – In fact, if you still can’t make a decision, go ahead an buy the domain name for both so you have it down the line.
The transition can take some time – You’re not just switching website names okay. Your whole brand is changing.
Social Media Rules – Particularly on Facebook and LinkedIn if you have a business page. You have to first announce to your audience before making the change and leave proof on you page that you’ve done so.
There’s a good reason sales funnels are the most talked about marketing trend in the online coaching business industry.
This is because when done correctly they can help you consistently gain the right types of clients for your business while preventing you from burnout with social media.
But if you’re new to all of this you might be scratching your head as to what exactly a sales funnel includes and how do you create one for your business. The good news is that they really aren’t that complicated, and you can set one up in a weekend.
Before you get started though, I want to be very clear about what a sales funnel is not:
What Is A Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel represents the stages that your ideal client goes through before they decide to work with you, this is also known as the ”buyer journey” in marketing lingo.
Each stage of the funnel corresponds with a stage of the buyer journey:
Attract = Top of Funnel
Nurture = Middle of Funnel
Convert = Bottom of Funnel
You use various types of content (educational, social media, email, video) to move your ideal client through the different stages.
This content is designed to build trust while answering questions and helping them overcome objections they may have about working with you.
Stages of the Buyer Journey
Awareness -Attraction content is usually core educational such as a Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel.
This is the first contact that they may have with your brand and makes them aware of a potential solution to a problem they are having.
Example: Sally hates her job. She googles, “How to switch careers” and comes across a blog post you’ve written on this exact topic.
Consideration – Nurture content will further solidify that you are a trusted resource and it further deepens trust by providing a quick win.
Example: At the end of your Blog Post, you offer a free workbook to help Sally figure out what type of new career she should have.
She provides her email address and you send her the workbook along with a series of other emails to help that give her more insight into her journey.
Decision – Finally, conversion content will help your ideal client make a decision by helping them overcome any objections they may have about working with you.
Example: You host a Live Webinar about “Courage To Make A Career Switch” and at the end of your 45-Min Training you offer your 12-Week Career Switch Coaching Program and spend 15-Minutes answering questions for your audience.
Now that you have a good understanding of the buyer journey and the sales funnel process in general, let’s talk about what a Sales Funnel is not.
What a sales funnel is not
A get rich-quick scheme – The ultimate goals of aa sales funnel is consistent lead generation. This can take time to build up in some cases.
Limbo for non-ideal clients – Marketing is about attracting the right people and repelling the wrong people. It’s a funnel for a reason. Expect people who are not your ideal clients to opt-out.
The only way to sell – Until otherwise forced, social media should still have it’s place in your online marketing arsenal. Clients can enter your funnel from here as well and can move through the buyer journey with just social media as well.
Creating Your First Funnel
Step 1: Keep it simple
There are tons of different funnels out there and they can get very complicated (i.e. tiny offers, value ladders, ‘upsells/down sells’ and more) but all of this jargon is why some people shy away from sales funnels entirely.
But, if you’re just getting started and still only offering private coaching your sales funnel can be as simple as: Educational Content (i.e. Blog or Social Media Post) → Lead Magnet → Welcome Email Series → Invite to Free Session
That’s it! Keep it simple at first and as you generate revenue for advertising, you can start implementing more advanced sales funnels like SLOs (Tiny Offers).
Step 2: Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is a free piece of content you give away in exchange for your ideal client’s email address (i.e. a workbook, template, checklist, guidebook, audio or video file, etc.).
Consider these tips when designing your lead magnet:
Relevant – Ultimately you are leading them to your final offer. So your lead magnet should align. Consider the first few steps they need to take or questions you’re often asked.
Branded – This is the first impression they will have of your business so don’t skimp on design. Use a graphic design tool like Canva to make something people will feel was worth signing up to get.
Consumable – Don’t create a 100 page workbook. Let it be easily consumable and get to the point. This is not about you but rather your customers’ journey.
Evergreen – Try to make your lead magnet something that you only have to create once. Perhaps you’ll update it to keep up with current trends, but you don’t want to design a completely new lead magnet every year.
Step 3: Email Series
This is a series of 3 – 5 emails sent over several days (usually 5 – 7 days). As with each of your previous steps, your goal is to continue building trust and overcome any objections to working with you.
Your email series might include:
Welcome Email – your new subscriber, re-introduce yourself, deliver your lead magnet, and tell them what to expect next.
Frequently Asked Questions – that you know keeps your many people from taking the steps in the right direction.
Case studies or testimonials – from your current clients or beta-testers are perfect for easing doubts about your abilities to get results.
Urgency – If you are running a special promotion or the doors will be closing for your coaching program then a Last Call email is perfect for creating a sense of urgency and prompting people to take action.
Step 4: Post Funnel – Creating Lifetime Customer Value
The biggest question I had when I started to implement sales funnels was, “Okay, what if they don’t buy?”
What we do with leads that aren’t ready to work with us, is just as important as when they are.
This is called creating Lifetime Customer Value and it involves both a great customer experience for those that work with us, and continuing to educate and build community for those that don’t.
To do this effectively:
Move all non first-time buyers from your funnel to your weekly email newsletter so they can continue to get encouragement and updates.
If your primary offer involves coursework, be sure to send progress check emails to see how people are doing and offer to answer any questions if they’re stuck.
Keep another list of those who have purchased and when you launch new products be sure to give them a special offer.
Now that you’re clear on what a sales funnel is and how to create your first one, get to work and be sure to drop a comment below to let me know how you’re doing!
Nice to meet you! I’m Shannon Gurulé, Mindset & Business Strategist for Female Entrepreneurs. Follow me for education, inspiration, and encouragement as you build your life and business with intention.
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