oday, the internet offers everyone “opportunity equality.” Okay, maybe not exactly, but it does even the playing field quite a bit.
As a home or small business owner, while you may not have the same marketing budget or resources as a bigger company, you do have the ability to use low cost and even free online marketing strategies to create visibility, draw traffic (people) to your website, and convert visitors into customers or clients.
Here are five steps to get you on the path of success.
“The quickest way to become discouraged and give up is to set goals that are impossible or too difficult to reach.”
1. Planning and Vision
“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”
This is a famous quote by Harvey MacKay, the author of five New York Times bestsellers. This one simple sentence makes it easy to understand the importance of creating a plan, the absolute need to create a plan.
So, the first step in building a successful online business is to create a realistic and doable marketing plan.
If you notice, there are two key words in the sentence above: realistic and doable.
Your plan must be attainable. The quickest way to become discouraged and give up is to set goals that are impossible or too difficult to reach. If you’re not sure what’s realistic, ask for guidance from a mentor or coach. You might also ask someone who has climbed the same mountain and reached the top. Successful business people (like writers) are usually generous with advice.
Your plan also needs to be detailed with specific action steps to take you from point A to point B. Think of it as your map to success. And your plan needs to have a timeframe. It’s not a good idea to leave your plan open-ended. It’s the timeframe that sparks determined action.
I didn’t begin to find success in my ghostwriting business until I focused on what I really wanted and figured out how I’d get there.
In my case, the magic of an optimized platform also had a part in it. Clients come to me.
The next part of this first step is to have a “success” mindset. It may sound funny, but thinking positive and envisioning your success helps you realize it.
You can create vision boards with images and content conveying what success looks like to you. You can also write positive affirmations and repeat them daily.
Planning and positive projection will help you realize your goals.
I practice this daily. I have a vision board, and I have a Word doc to-do list that I open every morning. My affirmations are at the top of the page, and I have images on it.
Even if I’m too busy to read the affirmations, I can’t miss the images. With that said, though, it’s important to take the few minutes and actually read your affirmations and say them out loud. It all works together to create a path of success that opens up for you.
Karen’s Ghostwriting Website
2. The Website
After you have a plan and vision, the very next step in competing in today’s job market is to create a website or have one set up for you. This is now the single most essential tool in your marketing tool belt.
Your website should be visitor and search engine optimized (friendly). The basics include:
- Think about and choose an effective domain name. It should have a keyword in it that’s relevant to the site, if possible.
- Think about and choose an effective website title. The title should also be keyword effective.
- Create a keyword effective subtitle that elaborates on the title.
- Create keyword effective page titles.
- Create a blog and post to it regularly, providing helpful and “relevant to your site” information. You want your content to be reader optimized. In other words, helpful or engaging enough to be “shareable”.
- Effectively link to top quality websites in your niche. You can do this within your blog content or on a webpage. You can also use the links sidebar feature on your site.
- Link to other pages and posts in your website, which is also known as deep linking.
- Use images on your site, but sparingly—don’t overcrowd the page. Make sure they’re relevant to the site’s focus, understandable, and optimized.
- Incorporate video and/or animation into your site.
- Keep your site simple.
I have two different businesses, and I have a website for each. For my ghostwriting site, probably 99% of my clients find me through Google search.
Need another reason why you should have a website?
According to Internet World Stats, there are over 7 billion online users worldwide. This means over 7 billion possible online searches, some of which will be for your service or product.
This is the power of the website.
“If you think of your website as the foundation of your house, the content of your blog posts and pages are the furnishings within your home.”
3. Building Authority and Increasing Visibility through Article and Book Marketing
A key element to becoming the “go to” person in your business field is to create authority. This means to be known as someone who has the answers, someone who’s willing to help, someone who can help. You build authority by providing information that solves a problem, answers a nagging question, or provides the tools to overcome an obstacle.
Blogging is the number one strategy in this step to build authority and visibility. But you also need to broaden your marketing reach. Article marketing is an excellent way to do this. You can publish content on article directories, like Medium.com and LinkedIn, and you can guest post on similar niche sites.
Each article directory or hosting site you publish your content on has its own unique neighborhood and friends. This is how you branch out and widen your marketing reach (visibility).
Another great tool for building authority and visibility is publishing an ebook or paper book. People are impressed when you have a book. Your book should be filled with impressive information that cements your authority status.
If you don’t have the skills or time to write your own book, you can hire a ghostwriter.
Article marketing (content marketing) is my primary focus for driving traffic to my websites. I write and publish articles on my own sites and guest on other sites. I also accept guest posts to give my readers a broader reader experience.
If you think of your website as the foundation of your house, the content of your blog posts and pages are the furnishings within your home.
4. Social Proof
Building social proof of your qualifications is another element to building a successful online business. It matters to the search engines, and it matters to people.
The search engines view social proof as:
- The quality of your content and its relevancy to your site’s topic
- How many people share your content
- How long visitors stay on your website
- How many high-ranking sites are linking back to you
People view social proof as:
- Recommendations (including likes, shares, mentions, and so on)
This means you need to build your social proof. Request reviews or recommendations from satisfied customers/clients. Add each one you get to a Reviews Page or Testimonials Page.
I ask each of my clients and students for recommendations. When I get one, I add it to the others on my Testimonials Page.
I’ve had clients who told me they based their decision to hire me because of my website content (blog posts and pages), my activity on social networks, and the testimonials from clients.
This all matters.
“You don’t want to dilute your online presence.”
5. Working Social Media
Your blogging and social media go hand-in-hand. While you may create outstanding content, if no one sees it . . .
That’s where social media comes in.
While the search engines, like Google, send people to your site through online searches, sharing your content to social networks amplifies your results.
Choose two social media networks that work best for you—two that get shares and mentions for you. Then work them.
Working means to post links to your blog posts and other content too (promotional). You’ll also need to engage with others: share and like their posts that are relevant to your niche.
If possible get a conversation going. Make yourself noticeable.
Statistics show that “content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”
I use Twitter and Facebook as well as Google+ and LinkedIn somewhat. It takes a bit of time, but I think of it as an investment in my business. You should too.
6. Be Focused.
Okay, this is an extra step, but it’s super-important.
From personal experience, I know that success becomes more difficult to obtain when you’re pulling in different directions.
I’m a children’s ghostwriter and an author/writer online marketing instructor. While they’re in the same realm, they are different. The problem becomes: What presence do I convey online? If I try to market both these fields, I’m diluting my focus and expertise.
So you see, it can be a dilemma.
When you’re faced with this situation, you need to make a choice. You need to decide which field you want to be known in.
There are two reasons you need to make this choice:
1. Avoid dilution of focus and expertise.
You will confuse your audience. You never want to do that.
2. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to effectively work two or more niches. I’ve tried to keep up both my niches for a long while, but finally realized something had to give.
Keeping up with clients, websites, and marketing is time consuming.
This doesn’t mean you need to give up on one of your niches, but you do need to prioritize. You do need to focus on one more than the other.
So, when you’re building your online business, keep this in mind. You want to be known as the go-to person in your niche. You want to be known as an expert in your field. You don’t want to dilute your online presence.
Summing It Up
There is obviously more involved in creating an online business, but taking these six steps will give your small business a running start and help you build it into a successful and prosperous endeavor.
Karen Cioffi (http://www.articlewritingdoctor.com/) is a former accountant who is now a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.
Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.
In addition to this, Karen’s website, Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing (http://karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com), was named Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012.
Karen is also a WOW! Women On Writing instructor. She teaches the popular classes for WOW:
Create Your WordPress Website Today: No Code, No Technical Stuff, No Fuss
Blogging Made Easy
Become a Power-Blogger and Content Writer in Just 4 Weeks
Ghostwriting Your Way to a Profitable Writing Business