One question I continually get asked by my blogger friends is, what can I do to grow my online business? My response is always the same …think like a businessman and act like an entrepreneur.
You see, when it comes down to it, we’re all selling something. Whether your company helps businesses develop an online presence or you’re a blogger who sells someone else’s products, the basic underlying principles of business can be applied to help you build a massive blogging empire.
Here are four important business principles you need to know.
Principle #1: Always start with a great product
You MUST start with a great product.
Of course, you probably already know that, right? If you’re a blogger, the real question is, what is your product?
In most cases, you’ll likely make money in one (or both) of the following ways:
In either scenario, like any entrepreneur, you need to make sure that the products you’re selling work great for both you and your clients.
Here are a few key characteristics of great products:
- Valuable - A great product is one that delivers a good deal of value to your customers. Of course, what people value can differ depending on who you are selling to. This means that you’ll have to get to know your audience and will need to only sell them products that offer to solve their specific problems.
- Reliable - Let’s face it, people buy things from people they trust. Just because you sell someone else’s products doesn’t mean you are off the hook after they’ve made the purchase. If things go south between your blog reader and the products you are pushing, you may end up losing a blog reader. Be sure to do your homework before selling someone else’s products to make sure that they are reliable.
- Profitable and Financially Stable - As an entrepreneur, you need to consider whether or not this product you are selling is a wise financial move. As your blogging empire grows, what’s considered a “wise financial move” may change. You may discover that you can make a higher profit margin by making one time sells. However, in almost every case, it’s a wise move to have at least 60% of your income come from recurring revenue. This will give you a solid foundation to build your blogging empire from and will keep you in business during periods of drought.
Principle #2: Master marketing and sales
I tell this to business owners all the time; if you want to continually and predictably make money, you need to build a marketing and sales process and then continually optimize that process.
As bloggers, you are, essentially, acting as marketers. So in all reality this should be your bread and butter.
Whether you sell directly to consumers or to other businesses, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Understand your target market - Before you can sell something to someone, you need to have a good understanding of who they are. This starts with market research and then continues to evolve as you grow your business.
- Identify the product life cycle objectives - It’s important to remember that a product won’t last forever. This means that you’ll need to identify the product life cycle objectives and then appropriately adjust your marketing strategy to best accomplish those objectives.
- Crunch the numbers - Business is a numbers game. As a marketer, it’s important to keep in mind the basics such as customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value.
Principle #3: Be obsessed with customer service
Unless you have a large marketing budget, you’ll need to be a bit creative in order to generate prospective customers.
One of the best ways to get new customers is through your current customer base. In most cases, customers that are referred to you by a current customer are cheaper to acquire and will likely stay a client for a longer period of time.
So how do you get customers to tell their friends? ….by providing excellent customer service and making it easy for them to share.
Here are a few thoughts that you may want to consider before launching your ebook program:
- Pre-purchase experience - Great customer service isn’t just about keeping clients happy. It’s also about keeping potential clients happy. Before you launch your ebook program, make sure that your marketing and sales process will ensure that each lead has a good experience. Also, you may want to consider testing your landing pages and such to ensure that users can easily make the purchase decisions they are trying to make.
- Post-purchase experience - Once someone has purchased your ebook, you need to consider two scenarios; someone who is happy with their purchase and someone who is not. Before you sell even one ebook, make sure that you know what you are going to do in both scenarios. Consider how you can leverage the moment when someone emails you and tells you how great your ebook is. What will you do to get that person to tell others?
Principle #4: Leverage technology, people, and success
Once your business starts to gain momentum, you’ll find that you have less and less time available to get things done.
While growing a business is certainly a good thing, if you don’t manage this transition carefully you could end up damaging your business credibility.
In general, there are basically two ways you can go about this:
- Leverage technology - When you first start out, consider what free technologies exists that you can use to help speed up your business operations. As you grow, start to research different technologies that will make your life easier.
- Outsource - Another way to get things done is to have someone else do them. Of course, this will cost you money. As you start to accomplish things, consider how you can leverage that success to get people to help you do the things you have to get done. For example, as a blogger, you need great content to continually generate traffic. As your blogging empire grows, show off your site’s growth and try to attract guest bloggers to contribute to your blog.
In most cases, I would typically recommend a mixture of both. The main point, however, is that you’re going to need help if you want to continually grow your business.
Make sure that you lay out your IT strategic plan ahead of time and consider how it may evolve with your business over time.
You see, building a blogging business requires the same fundamental business principles as any business.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. As with anything, it’s important you continually grow and develop your skills over time. There are certainly many more business principles that can be applied to blogging and, as an entrepreneur, you should be focused on perfecting your craft.
What are some additional business principles that you’ve applied to blogging?