Fast money. Easy money. It's the unspoken dream of many wanna-be entrepreneurs who look at building a business online. But is it a reality?
What does it take to launch a business online?
What does it take to make it profitable?
What does it take to scale it?
Are any of those things even possible?
Here's the straight truth: you can build a successful business online.
You can build a wildly successful, massively profitable business online.
Here's the catch: it's going to take hard work.
Creating a business online is the key to the profit and freedom many entrepreneurs want, but you have to be willing to do some work to get it started.
If you're looking for the latest get-rich-quick scheme, this isn't for you…
…if you're willing to put in some work, follow a proven plan, and commit to making lives better for your visitors, subscribers, and customers, keep reading, because you've already taken the first step to building a successful online business.
You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.
Building a Profitable Business
I've been in online business for over a decade at this point. I've done a lot right – and I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, too. I've taken good advice, and I've taken bad advice. At this point I have a thriving authority site and a growing second site. My sites are geared towards helping families – and that's really the reason I started Milk and Mud as well, too. Online business can bring freedom:
- Freedom to spend more time together
- Freedom from financial stress
- Freedom to travel
- Freedom from other people controlling your life and schedule
- Freedom to be with your children
- Freedom to home school, live outside of the city, or other choices impossible before
- Freedom to care for parents, give to charity, etc.
I'm sure there are many things you can think of that I haven't even mentioned! All of those reasons – and all of your reasons – are why I created Milk and Mud. I want to help you find the freedom that an online business can bring.
There's actually a dark secret in Internet marketing, and I hinted at it above…
…there's a belief that wild success should be easy (and overnight) on the Internet.
But that's not true.
Building a profitable business is simple but it's not “easy” – it takes work. That's why this website is here – to take you step-by-step through building a website that works…
…and beyond that to a business that changes your clients' lives – and your own 🙂(NOTE: Want to put together a content marketing plan fast? Use this blueprint to plan and execute a content marketing plan that works - even for the solo entrepreneur and small teams. Get yours here.)
It's About Changing Lives
Remember the Zig Ziglar quote I shared above? Go back and read it again if you just skimmed over it, because it's a key I want you to hold onto.
You are going to do a lot of foundational work as you build your business:
- Building a website
- Starting an email list
- Creating email campaigns
- Creating products
- Creating funnels
- Tracking and testing
All of that can be really “technical” and “numbers-focused” – which is good but that's not the heart of your business. It's easy to get caught up focusing on the dollars (especially when that's how your family needs to eat.
But it's crucial to realize that the money you make comes from real people. Your business is about making someone's life better.
You might be thinking to yourself “well, my business is all about posting funny cat stories” or “I make handmade soaps” or “I sew linen bread bags” and “how can that really be ‘life changing'?”
But the truth is, what you're doing is making lives better. It may be only in a small way… you're not curing cancer or funding life-saving surgeries… but those cat stories might give a laugh. Maybe your funny puppy pictures give someone the smile they desperately needed to keep going in a hard situation (ask me how I know…)
Your homemade soap could help a mother whose child has horrible eczema, or a family that can't use anything else due to allergies. Maybe your linen bread bag makes baking healthier sourdough bread a joy – so somebody actually does that rather than giving in and buying another loaf of nutrient-lacking store-bought bread…
What you do makes an impact on somebody's life, and you should never doubt that. That's what you need to focus on when you're building your business – especially when you're creating content and creating your products (regardless if they're physical or digital products).
Obviously keeping your eye on the business side of things is important, but always hold your visitor, subscriber, and customer in your mind. Is this content helpful to them? Is your product going to help them get something they want in life (be it personal transformation or something as simple as a cleaner house…)? When you focus on helping real people, your business will thrive.
What About Passive Income?
One of the great promises of digital marketing is “passive income” – also known as money while you sleep! It's not going to happen overnight, but it is one of the most important goals you can have in your online business. Passive income has three major benefits:
- It creates financial security for you
- It frees you up to test, optimize, and scale
- It frees you up to focus on delivering amazing value to your audience and customers
Again, passive income is the big dream – usually it's mentioned alongside pictures of tropical beaches and expensive homes. But we're thinking about it realistically here. It's a good goal, and there are big reasons to build a business that creates passive income.
I want you to realize, however, that there's some work involved in getting that started. If you want sales to come in while you sleep, you've got to be willing to do the work that builds a foundation for those kinds of sales.
Having said that, there are many different ways you can create passive income. Here are a few:
- Create your own products (like books, classes, membership programs, coaching programs, physical products etc.)
- Share affiliate products (these could be software, information products, or could be physical products like cameras, strollers, etc.)
- Place display ads on your website so you generate ad income
- Build a big mailing list and sell marketing slots
- Create a successful podcast or video channel and sell sponsorship slots
All of those start with building a solid website and taking steps to turn visitors into subscribers and buyers. Doing that is a key in mastering digital marketing.
A relationship is key in creating an online business. In the past people built what were called “thin sites,” or “Adsense sites,” or “affiliate sites.” Not everyone built that kind of website (and not all experts taught these thin sites), but a lot of them were put up and all had great promises of fast cash with no relationship. It was like you'd be taking money from a machine – not interacting with real people.
Today the only consumer is much savvier. They often want to know the person behind the website – or they want to trust the brand. In the past, humanity relied on great hero stories. Today's generations are jaded and skeptical, but there's still a deep longing for heroes, wise sages, daring adventurers, etc. Brands often fill those voids with messages and stories that consumers can relate to. Brands are trusted (and sometimes mistrusted or positioned as an “enemy”).
Commentary on humanity aside, that means that you as an individual, or the brand you're creating for your business, are important and a key to creating something that's going to sell – and it will sell because people trust you and believe your product.
They think you (or your brand) are trustworthy.
Think about asking someone to marry you. You probably wouldn't ask for their hand in marriage on a first date. The other person would think you're seriously weird! You'd spend some time getting to know them and enjoying being around them. You might not think of it this way, but you'd be building up their trust in you – enough to trust you when you asked for their hand in marriage.
A product purchase isn't quite the same as getting married – but people often have a hard time parting with their money, or even their time. They want to feel good about what they'll be getting in return. Building a trusting relationship helps make sure that when it comes time to share your products, your visitors and subscribers feel good about you.
How do you build a strong relationship with your subscribers?
Content is STILL King
When I first got started many, many years ago, thin sites were the “big thing” – but there were a few voices that kept shouting that wasn't right… that what was right was content.
Content is King
Fortunately, I felt like the “content is king” message sounded right, and that's what I followed. Though I had a lot of stops, starts, and even some failed tests with “thin” sites, I kept building my little niche site into an authority site. “Authority site” is a trendy way of saying “a site focused on a particular topic that's filled with high-quality content people trust and refer to.”
Today content is still king. It's true that the Internet is a lot more crowded, but I firmly believe that gives you an advantage. People are hungry for inspiration and they're hungry for real connection. As an entrepreneur you can make that connection because you are small and approachable. You are a real person providing great content.
High-quality content on whatever the topic may be – how to prepare for a new baby, how to transition your pet to a raw food diet, how to start a bicycle courier business, how to become a food truck chef, how to overcome your skin sensitivities, or source quality makeup, or choose the best camera… – the list is endless…
…high-quality content on your topic is the first step to building trust and relationship.
##This relationship often starts with an article, video, or podcast.## Your audience finds you through a search engine or link. They read, watch, or listen to your excellent content and decide they appreciated it. They may want more from you, so they visit your website or listen to or watch more. This is a great way to introduce yourself to people.
Sometimes it stops there – you may choose to make money through display ads, so you never get subscribers.
But usually you want to get people to subscribe to your mailing list. This is a natural extension of the relationship-building you've been doing. Now you can send great email content – a daily tip (my favorite) or a weekly newsletter. Maybe you can offer some subscriber-only content. Your emails build relationship and trust with your audience.
Your email list also lets you share products and promotions directly with subscribers who are eager to hear from you Here's an important note: you should be willing to share your products (and affiliate offers, if you do that) with your audience. If you never share or ask people to look at and buy your products, you'll create a list of people who only want free information, but don't want to buy.
While you do want to change as many lives as possible, and give great information away, you also need to earn a living. This is a balance that takes skill to develop, but it's not complicated. Just remember to provide great content – in your free posts, articles, videos, and podcasts… and in your amazing products and offers 🙂
Funnels are Essential
Like the concept of “passive income,” the concept of “sales funnels” are, well, trendy in the Internet marketing world. Everyone wants the ultimate funnel that converts and brings in passive income.
As I noted when we talked about passive income above, it takes work to create that income stream. It takes work to create a funnel. It's not something magic you just drop into your business and see it work (sometimes it can seem that way, because a funnel helps you take multiple products and organize then market them in a way that makes a lot of sense to your audience, so sales start happening).
But even though funnels are not “magic,” I feel they're a crucial step for every business owner. Most of us can make a small income online, but a funnel is the key to scaling your income to where it makes a difference for yourself and your family.
A well-executed funnel also helps your customers. As I hinted, sometimes customers are just overwhelmed by everything that you offer. When you have a clean, well-organized funnel, they can see the “next step” they need to take or the next product they need to use to get what they want.
People are often excited when they buy, too – they like something that compliments their purchase. Think about a great store clerk who helps you find the perfect outfit. She or he suggests that a particular belt would look great with it. You're excited and agree – so you buy the belt too! Or maybe your plumber tells you that you need X part to fix your sink – but he's happy to install it for you for $100 more. You don't want water flooding your house, so you're happy to pay him to install it 😉
A funnel helps you get your products or offers in front of the right people at the right time. It maximizes your income – and often maximizes your customer's satisfaction with their purchase, too 🙂
Staying Productive in the Trenches
Thus far we've covered core components of a good online business – I hope I've clarified some misconceptions and given you a good idea of what you need. But there's one more thing you need to think about…
…getting it all done. You have to stay productive if your business is going to succeed.
It's easy to spend hours doing nothing but reading emails from other marketers. That's fine for a hobby, but it won't work for your business. You need tried-and-true methods to maximize your productivity – so you can maximize your profit… and your free time 😉
Here are some steps that have been crucial for me:
- Setting clear, actionable goals
- Blueprinting out my goals so I can break them down step-by-step
- Doing the ONE thing that will move my business ahead today
- Reviewing and adjusting to make sure I hit my goals
- Developing a working task management system
- Scheduling my day so I have focused periods of work time
- Getting up early!
There are many strategies for getting more out of the hours of your day – I encourage you to explore and find the ones that work for you…
…then focus on changing lives, building your business, and keep scaling your income and your success!(NOTE: Want to put together a content marketing plan fast? Use this blueprint to plan and execute a content marketing plan that works - even for the solo entrepreneur and small teams. Get yours here.)