The internet has made the concept of entrepreneurship and running a business from your home a whole lot easier.
However, if you think the concept of “working from home” or making it in the world today as an entrepreneur is easy… then you are definitely wrong my friend!
With 20 years of experience in the world of online business and marketing, I’ve seen the internet transition and develop time and time again.
Those who survive, are the ones that continually adapt with it. At the same time, millions of people are still using the internet for the first time every single day.
Even those who have been online for years, today might be the first time they are looking to make money online or researching how to use the internet to further their existing home-based business.
No matter where you currently stand, the good news is that I have some great advice and actionable tips to help you take your expertise, business, and brand to that next level.
The new year is here, so let’s get started!
1. Launch a website to show off your expertise
To successfully make money on the internet, you are going to need to have a website. This can be something as simple as a personal profile site, or a full blown-out content site that represents the core of your business, what you sell and how potential customers can get in contact with you.
The decision on how in-depth you want to go with this is up to you. For example, let’s discuss a scenario that will make it as fast, low-cost and effective as possible.
More often than not, your offering will either sell itself or it won’t. A huge determining factor on how well you can promote and sell is your own expertise and how it’s seen by others (i.e. brand image). In short, you’ll want to establish yourself as an expert within your space. This means at a bare minimum you need to have a website that represents your name, skills, success and also allows people to easily find and connect with you online.
Keeping with the theme of getting this setup and running as easily as possible, a solution like WiseIntro comes in quite handy. The setup is simple: you create an account, select your template, add your details and your site is live!
There is no need to mess around with custom design templates, web hosting, domain transfers or management of your site. Once it’s created, it’s live and ready to go. WiseIntro makes it easy to create a professional site.
Another cool feature within their premium package is a custom email signature (created via WiseStamp) that can be appended to your outgoing emails. This is something I’ve personally been using for a while, as it brings in a ton of exposure and even some new business in the process.
This step highlights the importance of creating an online home for your personal brand right from the beginning.
2. Niche down as much as possible
One of the most common misconceptions about the internet and branding is that it will be easy to grow a following since there are billions of people online. This is simply not true. Why? Because there is way too much information out there already, and way too many people creating it.
Just look at social media (a perfect example). You can barely even log-in to your account before another 50+ updates are there waiting for you.
So how are you supposed to compete and build a respectable brand and following for yourself? Simple — niche down as much as possible! I actually wrote an in-depth guide on this process, but I will recap it for you below as well. Here’s a perfect example of why you’re niche selection is so important.
If you wanted to make money with a sports blog, it would be extremely tough. People go to sites like ESPN and FOX Sports because they want score and highlights — not to buy something. They only make money because they service billions of ad impressions monthly.
On the flip side, if you still wanted to make money with “sports”, it’s definitely possible, you just need to niche down the process until there is a met need. For example… let’s use “basketball”. Here’s how the niching down process could work (Basketball > Basketball Skills Training > Basketball Jump Training).
In short, you know that anyone who is searching for “basketball jump training”, wants to know how to jump higher and would likely purchase a product or service to help them with that. That is the type of niching down you need to take before launching and marketing your business or brand online.
Why is this all so important? Because it will make it that much easier for you to find your exact target audience (i.e. ideal customers), while creating a quality solution (and content) in the process. This will also help you market and brand yourself — ultimately, leading you to be viewed as an authority within your space.
3. Become an authority within your space
If you want to have any pull or respect within your industry, you are going to need to be seen as an expert.
There are a few ways to accomplish this, but the most effective ways are to simply get yourself in front of real audiences that are already out there. This is especially true with social media and content creation.
Here are three working methods to best accomplish this:
Try to participate in expert roundup posts, or by running these types of content posts on your own site. The concept is simple. Ask a bunch of experts a question, then post all of their answers within one article. It’s a great way to establish your name with experts within your niche — no matter if you are within the content, or creating it yourself.
Use your expertise to write high-quality content on other websites. This method works extremely well, as you are providing valuable content to other sites within your niche, while also getting exposure to their audience at the same time. This type of content marketing will also help bring social activity and backlinks to your site. In addition to guest blogging, these 7 promotional methods also still work well today, and should continue to work well through 2017.
If you want other websites and audiences to share your content, you are going to need to create something original and easy to share. Infographics are a perfect example of how to do this. Think about a common topic or question your target audience relates with, then create an infographic around these same perimeters. Once it’s ready any live use any of these infographic promotion tips to increase traffic back to your site.
I’ve been using these methods for several years now and have seen amazing results. They are also great options for anyone on a limited budget or just getting started. They will take a decent amount of time, but the actual costs associated with them are quite minimal.
This is commonly how building a real brand and business online is accomplished. It’s easy to throw money at various solutions, but if you really want to see results, it’s the timely ones that will matter most.
Explode your business in 2017
There you have it. I’ve laid out a simple, yet extremely effective process for using a personal brand to grow your business in 2017.
Create a website to highlight your expertise
Narrow down your niche focus as much as possible
Use existing audiences and social media to grow your following
Now it’s just time for you to take action!
This article has been edited and condensed.
Zac Johnson, the creator of Blogging.org, is an entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space. You can learn more about Zac through his blog at ZacJohnson.com. Connect with @zacjohnson on Twitter.