A Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Business
~by Joan Herbert~
You’ve decided that you want to start an online business. With the changing economy, the world of commerce is moving out of brick and mortar stores and into the web. With the digital revolution, many professionals are finding out that they can earn a decent living working remotely, from the comfort of their own homes.
Most freelance writers, web designers and coders don’t have a business location and just work from home. Many run their businesses entirely online and take advantage of the multitude of communications options and marketing platforms available today.
Decide What You Are Selling
Are you providing a service or a product? You need to make sure that there is a demand for whatever it is you’re selling and that people will pay for the product or service. You can take advantage of search engines to see what people are searching for, and whether the product or service you’re selling is trending up or down. Once you settle on a product, you can begin planning your marketing strategy.
Find Your Audience
The first thing you need to do is find out who it is that is going to want to pay you for your product or service. You can use search engine keywords to find out what is trending, who is searching, and who is currently providing services to them. Find out where your target audience is most likely to see advertisements. Is it television? Facebook? Pop-up ads? Once you identify your potential customers and find out how to reach them, you can start sourcing your products or designing your services.
Design Your Site
An essential element of any online business is going to be your website. There are many options for this. You can set up an Amazon affiliate site, a Shopify or Etsy site, or you can spend the time building your own independent site. You may need to employ someone with expertise to help design your site and make it accessible, but having a strong website is crucial to strong sales numbers.
Get People to Your Site
Once your site is up and running and you’re ready to begin selling your product or providing your service, you need to go and get your customers. You need to find them where they are likely to be spending their time, and then you need to market appropriately. If your target audience spends most of their time on Facebook, you need to focus your attention on Facebook content that is easily sharable. If they’re on Twitter, that’s where you need to be, too. The key is to put your advertising in front of your target audience instead of waiting for them to find you.
Build Your Reputation
Maintaining a high-quality product and excellent customer service is important for any business, but it’s critical when you’re just starting out. You want to be certain that your customers are satisfied, and that they will leave good reviews. This may mean going above and beyond, and sometimes losing money to replace a product or redo a contract job, but it can be well worth it in the end. If your customers are upset, they’re going to leave a bad review, which can destroy a new business. Keep your customers happy at all costs in the beginning, at least until your business is thriving and sustainable.
Follow Up with Customers
If they liked your product or service, they’ll buy it again. Send out email advertising or discounts for return customers in order to increase sales. Reward customer loyalty with exclusive savings or market related products directly to them to keep your sales strong.
Joan is an Assistant Manager at Bank-Opening-Times.co.uk, a curious individual, avid reader, and a passionate creative writer.