Well, here we are. . . week 2, 3 , 4 (I’ve lost count!) of isolation and pandemic pandemonium. How are you holding up? I truly hope that you are safe and healthy, and that you’re finding some value in this unexpected quiet, slow-paced time that we find ourselves in.
In my last blog post, I talked about ways to make the most of this time at home (if you have the luxury of extra time!) to start thinking about a more-online business model. This might mean that you are pivoting your existing business to be online, even though you are used to more face-to-face interaction. Or maybe you already have some sort of online presence, but are taking advantage of this time to revamp your website, social media, branding, etc. In this post I want to talk about some of these ideas in more detail. So here are some specific suggestions for building or growing an online business in the age of COVID-19.
1. Gift certificates & Products. I’m surprised at the number of small businesses I’ve seen lately just fold up because of COVID-19 and put a “closed” sign (essentially) on their business. This might seem obvious, but one of the simplest things brick-and-mortar or face-to-face businesses can do during this time is to sell gift certificates and products. For example, if you’re a massage therapist who cannot see clients right now, try reaching out to your past clientele to urge them to buy gift cards for future use (they want to support you!). Also you may be able to sell products (directly or via an affiliate) that you use like oils, candles, etc. If you already have a website (gold star!), you should be able to easily add gift card and product sales capability. If you have a WordPress website (double gold star!) you can do this with the free Woocommerce plugin. And keep in mind that products might be virtual, not physical. If you’re a designer, photographer, musician or other type of maker, there are tons of places to sell you work online, and this can be a great way to earn passive income. Ex: You can sell stock images and video with Adobe Stock, or Shutterstock; turn your art or design into products with Society 6; sell stock music with Audio Jungle, and there are so many other websites that will sell your content for you, without you having to create a site, drive traffic to it, ship things, etc.!
2. Set up Email Marketing. Grow your List. I still think that for most businesses, email marketing is the most valuable way to grow. If you can spend some time (and possibly money) to grow your list in an organic way, it will bring incredible value to your business year after year. So if you’re just getting started, I suggest setting up an account with Mailchimp– though there are many other options, I think Mailchimp is the most user-friendly and also it’s free (up to 2,000 email subscribers). Here is a great Mailchimp 101 tutorial.
If you’ve already set up email marketing with Mailchimp or another company, you’re probably wondering now what? Because as with websites, “If you build it, they will come” just does not apply. There are a lot of ways to build an email list, but a good place to start (besides importing all your old contacts) is to create something of value to give to people in exchange for their email address. On my website, I offer a simple downloadable pdf “worksheet” that is targeted to my ideal clients. Once they sign up for my newsletter, they recieve the pdf. Now, if you want to take this a step further, you can build a sales funnel that starts with a targeted ad (I prefer Facebook & Instagram) telling people about your free giveaway, they click on it and go to your website or a landing page (you can create one in Mailchimp) where they have to sign up for your newsletter to get the freebie. This growing email list of potential customers will come in handy later when you have something valuable to share with them (like a video or blog post) or to sell to them, like a product, a service, or an online course!
3. Blogging, Vlogging and Guest Blogging. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, blogging (and vlogging, which is short for video blogging) is the best way to boost SEO and it also gives you credibility to potential clients/ customers. More people than ever are online right now, searching the web for valuable content. So what can you write about (or make a video about) that will catch the eyes and ears of your ideal clients/ customers? What valuable information can you relay or teach? If you have a WordPress website, you can very easily add a blog (that’s what WP was made for!) and if you’re into video, I highly suggest starting a Youtube channel, as well as posting videos on your website/ blog. Don’t forget to also share your videos & blog posts on social media and with your email list!
4. Virtual meetings & Consulting. If you are someone who typically meets with clients face-to-face, you’ve likely thought about or explored the option of video conferencing. If you’re someone with a hands-on business, using this platform might mean pivoting your business a little bit. I’ve been so inspired by all of the creative ways that entrepreneurs are using video- virtual yoga classes, therapy sessions, group coaching, hosting webinars, health & wellness consultations, and much more. There are tons of options for video conferencing popping up, including Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and so many more. Zoom has definitely been the front-runner but recently are getting bad press for security breaches. Here is an article comparing all of the options.
5. Create & Sell Online Courses. Online course creation is, in my opinion, the holy grail of passive income. In theory, once you create a course, you can sell it thousands of times over at a premium price (depending on how time-relevant it is). And if you’re already creating content for your website, blog, or youtube channel, then you’ve already got a good starting point! But the most important thing, of course, is coming up with a course that you know will be valuable to people, save them time, and give them a skill they can use. Once you have the idea (and hopefully, a solid email list to sell to) consider using one of these tools to host your course: Teachable, Udemy, or if you want to host the course directly through your WordPress website there are plugins such as LearnDash, which I have used to help clients build online courses. Here’s a great preliminary video to watch!
Not sure where to start? Need some advice on how to boost your business online?
If you want to talk through all of this and more, consider scheduling an in-depth consultation and audit of your existing online presence with me! We will spend up to 2 hours talking (via Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or phone) about what the bigger picture of your business is and how to take a holistic approach to improving it. What’s currently working and not working? Who are your ideal clients and how do you reach them online? What services can you add or highlight that support your clients online?
We’ll look at existing branding, your website/ web presence, SEO (Google ranking), Social Media, etc. and make a comprehensive plan for how to move forward. I will answer any questions you have and give you honest, useful feedback on building your brand and increasing revenue.
Ongoing consulting packages are also available!