In the last 25 years the world has seen more changes than in its entire history. Such changes ware made possible thanks to the advancements in transportation, communication and technology, which have led to a phenomenon known as globalization. Globalization has leveled the playing field by opening up traditionally closed markets, connecting continents, countries and cities in the most unimaginable ways. This borderless environment with seamless connectivity and communication channels has created a fierce global marketplace and a new breed of professionals called freelancers.
The flexibility, convenience and freedom associated with freelancing has spurred growth of online businesses e.g., e-commerce websites, freelancing platforms, blogs, communities etc. which can be operated from the comfort of home. While everyone seems to want to start some sort of online business, starting point should be the realization that simply building an online business and launching it into the crowded and noisy world of internet isn’t going to cut it. Instead, if you are planning on launching an online business of your own, here’s what you can and should do to increase the likelihood of its survival and success.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While I’m by no means an expert on SEO, I can tell you with certainty that this should be your starting point. Sure, many social media platforms can be leveraged to let the people – target audience – know of your existence and value you bring to them however, considering that the starting point of most – if not all – enquiries and searches on the internet start with the search engine e.g. Google, Bing etc. do focus on the SEO before all else. With that in mind, make sure to make your online business SEO friendly. If you – like most other startup founders and business owners – aren’t really all that familiar with the inner workings of the SEO, simply hire the best subject matter expert (SME) that you can afford and work with her on getting your business on the first page of the Google search results.
Long term sustainability and business discoverability is hugely dependent on the quality of the SEO of your online business. Sure, you can always use just about any one of the popular social media platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. to increase traffic to your online business but the downside of this approach is that it’s a short-lived, in other words as you cut the marketing funding, the traction you may have achieved will mysteriously disappear, almost overnight. So it’s not the solution for longevity and prosperity but rather a quick fix. Focus on your SEO instead and watch it like a hawk.
2. Social Media Platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
Think of a social media as a hub which attracts billions of people worldwide of which a certain percentage – no matter what profile of clients or industry you may cater to – belongs to your prospective target audience. They all ‘hang out’ there in search of belonging, knowledge, opportunity and gain, so get in three and set up your very own community of followers and fans. Depending on the nature of your business and the target audience, you’ll have to pick and choose social media platforms that are best suited for you. For example, if you are wedding planner or a fashion blogger, Instagram and Facebook would be your best bets, conversely if you are a content marketer or a business consultant, you may have more success with LinkedIn and Twitter. You get the point.
Next, you must make sure that you only share highly valuable and captivating content which is of course relevant to your target audience. Be disciplined and consistent in your content sharing, in fact over a period of time – several weeks – try to identity days and time with most activities and followers interactions for each social media platform and build a schedule around it. Clearly, you’ll have to do a fair bit of experimenting with each platform but in the end, it’ll all be well worth it. When it comes to frequency of your content sharing, don’t overdo it, for you could annoy your target audience – also, don’t disappear from the face of the planet for days in time. Empathize and be sensitive to your target audience feelings and share in moderation.
3. Blogs and Relevant Online Communities
Popularity of the blogs in recent years has grown stupendously and with it the number of bloggers, some truly amazing and utterly valuable and many well, not so valuable. While new blogs are popping up like wild mushrooms on a daily basis by the tens if not hundreds of thousands creating a lot of unnecessary noise and avalanche of useless information, your focus should be chiefly on the blogs and bloggers that create awesome and truly valuable content for their readers and followers. Clearly and this goes without saying, your blogs of interest will be those within your chosen industry and sphere of interest e.g. freelancing, e-commerce, web development etc.
Identify them and partake in discussions – share ideas and respond to blog posts, get immersed in it. Use the mass exposure and visibility of each blog or a community to establish yourself as an authority in your industry or sphere of interest by providing valuable responses and solutions to members questions and issues. Be selfless and with time, you’ll reap a great benefits.
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