- Choose a company name. It can be your own name if that fits. Just make sure it isn't identical or easily confused with another business in your industry.
- Think about branding - are there iconic brands that you are inspired by? Write down three and add a list of keywords associated with each brand. For example, Wholefoods is healthy, natural, top quality whereas Target might be hip, inexpensive, fun. Out of the three, pick and choose at least five keywords that apply to you.
- Choose images and colors that support your message and speak to your intended audience. For example, dark blue and red can be sporty & corporate whereas bright green and orange are techy and hip.
- Create a logo - for starters it can be simply your name in a unique font.
- Choose a domain name that is available (check initially by simply typing it in to a browser). Again, choose something that won't be easily confused in your industry.
- Brainstorm revenue streams - ideally more than one:
- Package your products and/or services. A great way to sell wellness services, for example, is to offer a package that may consist of a visit, weekly coaching by phone or online, handouts, helpful videos, etc. Whatever you want to offer, make it into a package that you can explain easily and put a price on.
- Monetize your website:
- Amazon Affiliates is a free program whereby you sign up and chose products to present on your site. When customers buy through your link you get a small commission. Go to Amazon Associates to get all the details.
- Google Ad Sense is a way to earn revenue from ads on your blog or website. See Adsense for details.
- Commission Junction is an affiliate site where you can register and promote thousands of companies. Learn more at cj.com.
- You can also offer videos with ads. Check out YouTube Hub to learn more.
- Become a Brand Ambassador. Many companies will pay you in goods, services or cash for representing their products online. One example that I know is Len & Larry's cookies for bodybuilders. Check out their site as an example. Search for companies in your industry that you would be proud to represent.
- Other ways to make money?
- Type up a simple business plan. There are many online resources for this but you can start simply with one page. Begin with a paragraph about what your company is about. Add a paragraph about what you offer, then a paragraph about how you will market yourself and get paid. Figure out if you need financing and where that might come from. Do you need capital to rent space, buy supplies or equipment or get your website and business cards. For people offering services you can often set up a business with very little money up front. Finish with a conclusion about how you're going to build all of this into a reality.
- Research local taxes. Keep it simple by checking the website of your local county administration office, asking small businesses who do similar work what they do or looking into local community college or extension courses that might have short classes on setting up small businesses. You can even just call your local chamber of commerce.
- Plan your time. An new project will be pushed aside by daily life unless it has dedicated time and resources. Plan out the time you'll spend on creating your products & services, setting up your website and marketing, and creating your online content (blog articles, videos, etc.). These things will take real time, day in and day out. Schedule it and use it wisely.
- Start now. There really is magic in getting started. Try to focus on one thing, get it done and then move on to the next. Looking at everything at once can be overwhelming. In many, many small businesses that I've worked with, starting with a website provides a great foundation for everything else.
Now it's time to Build
One you have an idea of what you're about and a plan to make money by practicing your passion, it's time to start building.
- Create a "home base". Personally I see this as a website because you can control it and shape it to your needs.
- Start a blog - ideally on your own domain name. Your blog is really the keystone of your online marketing and over time you'll see that more people come to your site through your blog than via any other page.
- Offer your product or service in a way that's easy for people to understand and purchase.
- Be sure to include Contact and About info to convey your legitimacy.
- Practice with friends and family to work through the details of how you fulfill new orders. For example, what forms do you need to complete with each new client? And how will they pay you? Do you need a business checking account? You may want to look into accepting credit cards - either in person using a service like Square or online using a service like Stripe.
- Add social media once you have your website up and running. This can be a YouTube Channel, a Facebook Business page, a Twitter profile, an Instagram feed, a Pinterest page, a Yelp business Owners Page, your LinkedIn profile or any other networks where you have a good chance of reaching your target customers.
- Use your social media wisely. Once you have your social media in place, use it to promote your website and, specifically, your blog articles, videos and other content. Remember with social media the golden rule is "Give, Give, Give...ask" ~ Gary Vaynerchuk.
- Monetize your website, blog, YouTube Channel and/or become a brand ambassador if it makes sense for your business. Having more than one revenue stream is important.
- Dedicate time to building your business - both the operations side and the marketing side - on a weekly or - ideally daily - basis.
- Study other small businesses in your industry. If you have the opportunity to contact one of them and get mentoring that's fantastic!
I hope that this brief outline is helpful in providing some step-by-step suggestions for getting started and moving forward. Of course if I can help in that journey with a website or marketing just get in touch but mainly what I want to offer is my heartfelt encouragement.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think in the comments.
~ Ame Stanko, PixelLava.com