I’ve been online as an entrepreneur since 2006, and have now been mentoring others to great success for well over a decade. Research is something you need to do for your niche and business model early on. This is also something that you will be doing regularly, as time goes on. Whether you are working as a freelance service provider, an information product creator, or an affiliate marketer (to name a few), researching is an ongoing process. Setting up your business as a legal entity is the place to begin.
Get Your Fundamental Research Completed Before You Begin
There are different ways online entrepreneurs conduct their research. First and foremost, keyword tools will be utilized heavily in this business. It will tell you how consumers are searching for whatever it is you are selling or writing about.
It will give you ideas into the different ways that people word their searches. You will get to drill down and find the long tail keywords that are serving as the low hanging fruit you can utilize for easy profits.
Keywords are something you will be researching so that you can use in your content, for the selection of your domain name, as hashtags in your social media content, for product ideas, and more.
You can start out with free keyword tools (even using Google and letting it autofill) and then level up to paid keyword tools that give you tons of information such as volume of searches and how much competition there is for ranking it.
But keyword tools aren’t the only form of research you can use. For your niche and target audience, look in online forums and on social media platforms to see what the demographic is discussing.
You can also look on various websites and news sites to see what breaking information is being published or what trends are evolving that your readers will want to know about. Most news sites have categories for topics like health, lifestyle, personal growth, and other information – and you can simply conduct a search for your niche keywords and click on the Google “News” tab as well.
Set Up Your Official Business Entity and Online Accounts
After doing all of your preliminary research and decision making, the next step will be to set up your official business entity and all of your online accounts. For your business entity, you can either use your real name or choose a business name and use it as a DBA (Doing Business As).
Some people prefer to set up an LLC (Limited Liability Company) and others go straight into the setup of an S corporation. The reason you want to have all of this set up in the beginning is so that you can connect it with your payment processors and get it ready for all of your tax information so that it is not merged with your personal income and spending.
After you set this up, you want to go online and stake claim to all of the accounts that you need to have period this will include a domain name – a URL of the words or phrases you want to represent your brand online as well as any of the social media profile account names you want on various platforms.
Ideally, before you select your official name for your brand, you will go online and make sure that the URL is available as a dot com domain and that all of your brand account names are available on social media platforms.
Even if you don’t plan to start with certain ones in the beginning, you want to go ahead and claim them. For example, make sure you have available account name profiles on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Pages and Groups, etc.
Even if you don’t want to use them at all, you don’t want someone else to claim the profile and be using it in an attempt to pass themselves off as your brand because they may do damage to your online reputation.
Get your payment processors set up through PayPal and Stripe or wherever else you want to register. Set up accounts on Amazon, Warrior Plus, ClickBank, Share-a-Sale, commission Junction, JVZoo and anywhere else you plan to be.
Get Your Tools Registered and Ready for Use
After your business entity and accounts are set up online, you want to think about the tools that you will be needing for your business, and get registered to use these or download them to your computer so that they are set up and ready for you to master.
Some of the tools you may be using include page building tools, keyword tools, search engine optimization tools, plugins that do a variety of things on your WordPress site, graphic design tools, video editing tools, and more.
Don’t just buy anything and everything that other marketers recommend because they want to get a commission on it. Think carefully about which tools will best serve your needs in helping you earn a living online.
If you are on a strict budget in the very beginning, you may want to look for freeware versions or inexpensive versions before you invest in something more top of the line. For example, if you are going to be producing videos to sell as private label rights or as a service to clients, you may want a video editing software.
If you have the money, you can start out with something many marketers use like Camtasia. but if you don’t have the funds yet, you might want to start out with the freeware version called CamStudio.
There are other tools like Canva where you can invest in a professional version, or you can keep the free version, paying to unlock certain elements as you go. For example, if you are designing a graphic using the free account, and you come across an icon that is locked, you can pay to unlock that one icon that you need.
Spend some time making sure that you know how to use the tools and services that you are signing up for. You don’t want to be spending money on something, only to avoid using it because you haven’t devoted anytime to learning about the features and usage.
Devise a Schedule for Productivity
The next thing you want to do is set up a schedule for productivity. We’ve talked about time management in terms of eliminating distractions and making sure you’re motivated as well as setting aside time for the learning and implementing process of strategies.
But another thing you have to take into consideration regarding time is making sure you are on a set schedule to actively cross items off of your to do list. The tasks that you will be doing will vary depending on the business model that you have chosen.
It helps if you go through the entire process one time and map out all of the individual tasks in detail so that you know exactly what has to be done from start to finish. You can also keep track of the time involved in each step so that you can set up a schedule to get everything done in a timely manner.
Once you have an idea of how much time each step takes, you can lump some of the tasks together into a daily productivity sheet that unfolds in a logical manner. This will help you in scheduling deliverables for clients or in setting a launch date for a product. Setting up your online business in the way I’m explaining here will make a huge difference in the goals and results you are able to achieve.
It helps keep you on schedule for productivity and profits, even if you have no one to answer to such as affiliates or clients. You can set in a buffer of time to your schedule so that in case an emergency arises, or if you feel ill, you are able to take that time off without increasing your stress levels.
Begin the Strategic Networking Process
The next step you need to do in your online entrepreneurial journey is to start the networking process. This is a very strategic part of your success that many people tend to overlook.
Networking is something that can help grow your brand in many different ways. For example, you can create partnerships or collaborations with other online entrepreneurs and companies that will bring more exposure to your products and services.
But it also allows you to connect with individuals who may have insight or information that can help you. If you have a question about a strategy or what the best tool is, you can reach out to people that you are networking with and get their trusted insight.
You want to network with people who have a good reputation online. If you start aligning yourself with people who are known for being spammy or taking advantage of their customers, that reputation will rub off on you eventually.
You want to network with people who have knowledge that you may need now or in the future. And do you want to connect with people who might serve as good partners in a situations such as a giveaway event or webinar in the future.
You also want to begin networking with people who can serve as an affiliate for you if you decide to launch an info product of your own. Even competitors who may not promote for you might give you a mention or simply be seen interacting with you online, which can help build trust between you and your target audience.
Set Up Your List Building and Email Marketing System
The next step you want to undertake is getting your email subscriber list set up. Email marketing is a great element of success for many different business models. Having a list allows you to immediately communicate with your target audience whenever you want to promote or sell something, alert them about something important, etc.
To get started, you need to come up with a free gift or idea that you can use to convince people to hand over their name and email address as a subscriber. It needs to be something tempting that hits on a pain point or that they feel will help them achieve a goal in their life.
Your lead magnet can be anything of value such as an eBook, video course, email series, access to a membership, cheat sheet, checklist, etc. It might even be a recording of an interview that you created between yourself and another leading expert.
Once you have your lead magnet ready, you can set up a landing page that you will use to drive traffic to. You will have minimal sales copy on this page that includes a headline, bullet points, and the opt in form.
Before you begin driving traffic to the page, you have to set up your autoresponder system. Choose a reliable system that has a good reputation for deliverability. You don’t want to go with a system that has been created by a spammy marketer, who allows unethical behavior on there system that results in your emails not being able to get through to your subscribers.
Most of the autoresponder systems have an allowance where you can house up to 500 subscribers at no cost before they begin charging you for use. Look into autoresponders such as AWeber or GetResponse.
Once you set up your account on their system, you’ll want to create a list to build subscribers on and your initial welcome email that will deliver the free gift that you promised whenever they signed up. Setting up your online business in the way I’m explaining here will make a huge difference in the goals and results you are able to achieve.
You can schedule emails to drip out to your readers ahead of time, or send emails on the fly. Make sure that as part of your learning process, you take time to go through the knowledge bank or frequently asked questions and learn how to use the system and all of its features.
Create Content That Will Represent Your Brand for Success
One of the most important steps that you will be undertaking as an online entrepreneur is content creation. This is what will showcase your knowledge and insight to your target audience. Setting up your online business with relevant content makes a difference.
Content can be free or paid and in many different formats. You might have free blog posts that are shown to anyone who visits, and you might have gated content or info products that are sold to a paying audience.
Your content can be created in text, video, audio, and images. The first thing you want to do is start with whatever you feel most comfortable with and whatever you’re good at. If you are a horrible writer, then you may want to start with video or use a tool like Grammarly to clean up your content.
What you don’t want to do in most cases is stick with only one media format. In today’s world, people have preferences and you want to be able to cater to those who like to learn in a variety of styles.
Even with video, you’re going to have those who want to learn in long videos that are 20 to 60 minute batches, and those who have a shorter attention span and don’t like anything over 3 minutes max.
The content that you create can be used on your blog, in your email autoresponders, on social media platforms, and then the products that you sell or gift to your audience. content creation is something that you have to do on a regular basis and across many different platforms.
Start Working Smarter, Not Harder
As you can see, there are many different tasks you have to adopt and embrace as an online entrepreneur. This can become very overwhelming quickly. Therefore, you want to learn how to work smarter, not harder.
There are different ways you can do this. For example, once you create one piece of content for your blog, you can repurpose that content in many different ways. You can turn a text blog piece into a transcript that you use to create a video for YouTube.
You can turn the main points of your blog post into an infographic that you can share on Pinterest and elsewhere. Repurposing your content is not just about changing the media format, but also in how and why you are using it.
For example, you might have a series of emails that you sent to your list that you can turn into blog posts or share on social media instead. You can use content that was on your blog and turn it into a report that you use as a lead magnet to build a list.
Another way you can shortcut your success is to start creating templates that will allow you to be creative in a shorter period of time. For example, if you are creating printables to sell on Etsy, you can create a template and then change out the images and quotations quickly and easily.
You can also save time and effort by creating checklists or cheat sheets that walk you through a process so that you don’t forget a step and have to go back and fill in the gaps anywhere.
Determine What You Can Reinvest Into Your Business Needs
As time goes on, you need to start figuring out how you can reinvest some of your profits into your business to help with growth. There are different ways you can do this, and you can start out small and pour more money into it the more your profits explode. Setting up your online business in the way I’m explaining here will make a huge difference in the goals and results you are able to achieve.
Many people like to start with delegating or outsourcing the tasks that they are either not good at or don’t enjoy. For example, if you are choosing to start with info product creation, and you know your eBook covers are atrocious, you may want to spend a little money outsourcing to someone who knows how to make something that looks professional.
You might also want to spend a little more on the graphics that you are using, such as using stock images from a paid stock site rather than using free ones. If you are not good at or don’t enjoy writing all of the content that you have to create for your online business, that’s another place that you can spend money outsourcing to someone who does that kind of work.
You don’t always have to pay for services, either. In some instances, you might be able to purchase things like private label rights that serve as ready made content for you to tweak, edit and use as your own. Setting up your online business in the way I’m explaining here will make a huge difference in the goals and results you are able to achieve.
This is perfect for those who are short on time, and who know exactly what kind of content they want. You can personalize it with ease and use it on your blog, in your emails, as an info product, etc.
Master Your Ability to Read and Respond to What Your Analytics Show
Your business will be thriving at some point, but before it achieves a level that you are hoping for, you want to learn how to read and take action on whatever your analytics are showing.
Analytics are available to you for your domain under your hosting account, on the platforms you are using to sell products, and even with your email autoresponder systems.
It’s a direct reflection on how your content is performing. Whether it’s a blog post that people are quickly bouncing away from or a sales letter that is not converting well for you – or even an email that didn’t get very many clicks to open it, you want to know what’s performing well and what’s performing poorly for you so that you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Some of the tools will even show you exactly how your blog posts are ranking, how quickly the pages are loading, and other elements that can make or break your online success.
It’s important that you set aside time to go over your analytics on a regular basis. But don’t just look at the data and keep doing the same thing period instead, be strategic with your analysis and think of how you can tweak one thing at a time to see if it will improve the outcome.
That may mean you are using different power words on your sales copy, a new call to action in your content, or even changing up the graphics and color palettes along the way to see what your visitors respond best to.
Make Plans for Expansion and Profit Building When Ready
Lastly, every good online entrepreneur needs to make plans for future expansion and profit building whenever you are ready. You don’t want to wait too far into the future to take this step.
It’s best to have an idea of what direction you might want to be heading so that you can pay attention to strategies and trends with that business model or niche. You might be able to spot a pattern or identify the perfect time to jump in and grow your business.
You might simply want to expand and grow your business by doing more of the same. You might bring on a team who can help you create more content or products as you are setting up your online business. Or, you might make the decision to go full time with this career if you started out as a part time entrepreneur.
You might want to tap into another business model if you see that it makes sense. For example, if you started out as an affiliate marketer, but you see a need for an info product that you feel confident you can create, you can take that route, too as you are setting up your online business.
You might even take your info product creation to the next level and offer a coaching program for those who want to pay high ticket prices for individualized attention. You might be able to do less work and earn more by doing this.
And you can even go into additional niches if you develop other interests or if you identify a niche topic that complements your original topic nicely, and would make a great segue into that subject matter for your same target audience.
Getting started as an online entrepreneur is an exciting process that is best approached with a level head and a sense of organization and determination. You want to manage your time properly and push yourself to learn and attempt new things so that you set yourself apart as a competitor that your target audience is eager to pay attention to. Setting up your online business in the way I’m explaining here will make a huge difference in the goals and results you are able to achieve.
I’m Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my training on how to make your first income online at 3 Day eBiz (Use Code MAKEITHAPPEN for a Discount) and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.