In today’s post we will look at 5 mistakes to avoid when starting an online business. I made all of these mistakes, and more. And I am happy to share them with you so that you can avoid a lot of wasted time. If you are wondering why your blog is not making money yet or you have no traffic, check out the following mistakes.
There are a lot of moving parts on the path to success, this is true. You can get rich starting a company or small business, but it is not a get rich quick kind of thing.
If you are willing to put in the work and time to avoid these mistakes, as well as proper keywording and SEO techniques, the time will pass much faster. Business entrepreneurship is a learned skill. And the good news is that anyone can learn it!
I jumped in without having a real business plan. This is online business mistake number one, so if you have no plan, make one!
Part of building that plan is researching the potential topic or niche of your blog or website. Your business will not be as successful in a niche where the audience is more limited; it also might not be as profitable if you go into a niche that is too broad as the competition might be too great.
That being said, if you are in a limited audience niche, you can simply add a “how to start a blog” or “how to make money online” niche to your website. Kind of like lifestyle bloggers do when they blog about food, kids, and pets on the same blog.
One piece of advice given to those thinking about starting a blog or website is to go with what you know.
And that is true for a couple of reasons.
One, you will have more of an interest in the niche; it might even be a passion of yours. If so, your enthusiasm will reflect in your blog posts and products that you create.
Two, it will be easier to write based off your experience and knowledge of the subject. It is easier and will make your blog much more successful as you can interject personal stories and experiences into your writing. And you will not have to spend as much time researching the topic. The bottom line is it will show in your writing if you are winging it or know your subject matter.
A first year blog plan may answer these questions:
Why am I choosing this niche? Who will my business serve?
What is the goal of this business? Passive income? Full time income? How will I make that happen?
What are my first year business start up costs?
What is the networking part of network marketing?
Should I set up a business cash flow? You may want to invest in courses, a better theme if you are blogging, or better hosting.
What must I learn to create “easy money” or passive income (money that is generated after you set something up once)?
Related Post: How to Set Goals in 5 Easy Steps
By treating your new venture as a real business, you have a plan laid out with your goal and a roadmap of how you are going to get there. Then it is just a matter of building it out according to your plan. But without a plan, you are going to waste a lot of time hitting roadblocks, going back and taking a different route.
An understanding of your audience is another key aspect of any business plan, but many new to the business overlook it. They are going under the old philosophy of “Built it and they will come.”
While that strategy did work a few years ago when blogging and online businesses were just starting to take off, the field is too saturated to use it today. It is just too hard to get “found” if you don’t have a strategy.
Part of that strategy is knowing the profile of your audience called an avatar.
You must know certain things about them, like:
- What is their age range?
- What is their income range?
- Are they primarily male or female or about equally split?
- What are their hobbies or interests?
- What problems do they have that you can solve?
I recommend this video to help you define your avatar:
Knowing this information, you can target the products and services to your audience. For example, it would not make sense to offer an eBook on women’s health over 40 on your blog or website if your audience is either primarily male or in women in their 20s and 30s.
So how do you find out this information?
There are several ways, but what many people do is either to ask them or hang out where their potential customers hang out. This can be Facebook groups or social media.
One of the best ways to get precise information on your audience is to post surveys and polls on your blog or website. The answers you get back are valuable information about your audience specifically. And in most cases, it doesn’t cost anything. You can create poll questions in a post. Or create a survey using Survey Monkey or another survey service.
MailerLite has recently added a block widget in their drag and drop editor that allows you to create a survey for your newsletters. MailerLite is free for the first 1000 subscribers, so check them out.
Hang out on the forums and groups in your niche. Read their audience comments and interactions. See if you can pick out an area where there are a lot of questions or if you can see a need that isn’t being filled right now.
Develop a product or service that fills that need and get it out there on social media sites with a link back to your blog or website. Keep it simple by using the one problem – one solution theory.
One of the most repeated phrases I hear in the blogging world is “The money is in the list.” I believed it and set up email right away. However, I stopped there. I had no idea how to market or what to do after the initial set up. Sigh.
After I read one super helpful blog post on setting up MailerLite, I went straight to work setting it up. And the result was amazing! I got 28 subscribers that month.That was 11 months after I started my blog.
Having a list of customers that like your offerings and will buy from you is the lifeblood of an online business. Without customers, who are going to buy your products or services? You may get some one-time buyers, but nothing like full time income.
But so many new online entrepreneurs fail to take the time to start their list right away.
Some people think it is “too early” to start, while others may feel that email marketing is too “salesy”. This is only true if you are selling to your subscribers, which you do not have to do right away.
If you start your list as a new blogger, you can get everything set up before you even get a subscriber. When that first person signs up, they will get a nice series of emails from you, along with the free item. You can set-it-and-forget-it.
You know you need a list, but how do you start one? Most people start by offering a free gift to their readers in return for their name and email address. This puts them on your autoresponder list.
From there just create a schedule of what you want to talk about each week: share a blog post idea that you have not published yet (exclusive content); inspire them with a story of success; share a problem that you solved that might help them; or just be encouraging.
Link to other blog posts to encourage or inspire your subscribers.
This gets them used to clicking links and you get used to adding them to your content. Use your email service providers analytics to see what people click on and repeat that. This helps you to further niche-down. As well, you do not waste time writing content that your audience does not care about. Win-win.
Some people will never progress from getting your free gift to actually buying something. After a period of time with them not buying anything, you may want to delete them from your list. A good email provider will send periodic emails to you reminding you to do this. And they will help you do it.
Related Post: How to Use MailerLite
Related Post: How to Build an Email List Fast
This online business mistake ties in with the one just finished. You are starting to build your list of customers. Some of them are going to contact you either through email or your web contact form on your blog or website.
If you do not address their questions, comments or concerns in a timely manner, they will go away.
They will unsubscribe from your list and never buy anything from you again.
Being an online entrepreneur is very much a social skills-based business. And the good news is that, when your business is small and still growing, you have the time to get really personal with everyone who leaves you a comment or sends you an email. This is not only rewarding for you as a business owner (and them as a customer!) but it can also lead to great relationships and loyal customers down the line.
And don’t forget that you can also use customer emails and questions as ideas for blog posts or products to create in future!
Another aspect of your business plan should be how you want to grow or scale-up your business. The mistake many make is trying to build up too fast thinking that quantity is key. In other words, rushing to offer a lot of products or services thinking there is numbers in volume.
While that may work in certain niches, it is usually much better to put up a few quality products that address the needs of your audience, instead of taking the “shotgun” approach and put up a bunch of inferior ones that really don’t solve anything for them. To know the difference is again a knowing your audience thing.
Starting out, you are a one-person show having to do everything yourself, so you are going to have limited time to produce content with all the other things going on. Don’t burn yourself out from the very beginning! Start with one good product and add more, or improve the existing products, when you have the time, energy and knowledge about your audience.
Those are 5 mistakes to avoid when starting an online business. Of the five, I would say that setting up email seems to be the one that people wait the longest to fix. And yet connecting with (potential) customers is the way to earn money online! Such a contradiction.
Creating a successful online business takes time and determination. It is also extremely rewarding, and opens up a new world of freedom from the 9-to-5. And the potential to scale your earnings means that your hard work is worth the time that you put in.
I hope that you have found this post to be helpful and will share it with others. And be sure to sign up for my free weekly newsletter of tips and free printables for bloggers.
Until next time, happy blogging and follow me on Pinterest.