Often, people begin their online marketing efforts as a part time gig, with the transition of moving as soon as possible to fulltime self-employment. Unfortunately, as time goes on, far too many people find themselves exactly where they started out: Coming home from a necessary day job they don’t particularly enjoy, and working on their online marketing for a few hours for a little “extra income.”
While this is a happy medium for some people, many others will become frustrated. Here are a few ways you can change your approach to your online marketing entrepreneurship efforts in order to finally make the transition into working for yourself full time.
1) ‘A few hours’ won’t cut it: Let’s face it, if you went to work for ‘a few hours’ each day, your boss would have a talk with you before long. Think of how long it would take for a business to reach profitability if every employee cut down their 8 or 9 hours to 2 or 3 each day. Somehow, people expect this approach to work in building their own businesses from home. At best, they underestimate the amount of time it will take to compound the effects of a few hours per day into a fulltime income. The people who will break away from this mode don’t shy away from the hustle, and know that they need to essentially be working fulltime hours on their marketing efforts to quickly get them to a livable scale.
2) Get serious about your customers. Many online marketers like to talk about their ‘clients’ or their ‘projects’ but remember that, at its core, the success of your business is a direct result of how well you interact with your customers. ‘The customer is always right’ should apply, because you’re a small business. People find it too easy to get caught up in ‘working for themselves’ and don’t take the time to be respectful and appreciative of everyone who is kind enough to hand them over money for a service or product. Stay humble, even when you’re kicking butt.
3) Get outside of the norm. In your communication channels, consider working on some new angles that are less crowded and also less expensive to engage with (if you go the route of paid advertising). For example, properly working your content into reddit or Stumbleupon can offer a massive return on your time if done correctly. While most marketers are chasing burnt out and overvalued approaches, you’ll be sitting on the secret sauce.
4) Finally, get disciplined. Have a routine for everything. If you’ve got just your evenings to grow a business with, you need to be efficient. This means making a schedule for your tasks and sticking to it. It means working to ensure that tasks don’t drag into others (checking and responding to emails is a big one!). And, above all else, it means testing and drilling down into the actions that are driving the most results, and focusing your time on those.
Remember, if you want to have a business, don’t work on a side project.
Knowing that this is going to be mostly consumed by online marketers, know that the purpose of this piece is not to insult you. Instead, take it to heart as the advice of someone who cares deeply about your profession and industry.
Marketers ruin everything. The great, loud, always-everywhere Gary Vaynerchuk is a fan of the phrase. By it, he basically means that anywhere the people go, there’s money to be made, so marketers will follow them in droves. If marketers follow them in droves, that means so do their advertisements, spammy private messages, and promotional outreach. Eventually, another place will become cool, the digital hangout to be a part of, and the cycle will repeat itself.
It’s not something that’s going to end any time soon, but it’s good to think about how you can best take advantage of it, and communicate in a way that doesn’t make you the badguy.
The first thing you have to understand is that everyday consumers are becoming aware of the cycle. It’s not something they think about and analyze as much as you do, but they’re far from oblivious. This means that trying to be sneaky or pretend you’re not being promotional when you are isn’t the way to go.
On new social media platforms especially, marketers tend to think that the best way to promote their products or services is by disguising them as learning opportunities, free ebook giveaways into a funnel, etc. The truth is that, if you’ve built a relationship with people and they like the content you put out, they won’t have any problem handing over money all on their own when you ask.
Rather than focusing on sneaky funnels, put your effort into genuinely providing really great, valuable information for your followers. If you’ve already helped someone for free, they’re more likely to be interested in or at least hear you out when it comes time to pitch something.
In a high speed, more transparent world, most of the time you just can’t market like it’s 2007 anymore. What’s more, most people still do this, so you can stand out from the crowd by being the one brand or marketer not assuming they’re smarter than their market.
What are some ways this philosophy can actually be put into use? Here are a few:
– On Instagram, avoid falling into the trap of leaving automatic or, if they are manual, thoughtless comments that don’t serve any purpose. Nobody becomes a huge fan of someone after they auto-comment “NICE!” on a photo tribute to their recently deceased grandfather. Instead, offer real interactions, ask about the context of the pictures people post, etc. Score some people points by acting like an actual person!
– Use a social platform for warming up a prospect, not for the hard sell. Community or social media platforms are meant for reputation and personality building. Instead of going directly for the kill, if you’ve built a rapport with someone and want to pitch them something, use twitter to ask their permission to send an email or schedule a Skype call to discuss your offer.
Most site owners want to rank highly for certain keywords. They will try a lot of methods to achieve this goal. Once they are done, many are unsure how they should test their work. Some will simply type the keywords on a search box and see how their sites rank. In this video, Tommo from London wants to know if there is a better way.
Matt Cutts says that this straightforward test is effective for this purpose. However, he would like webmasters to rethink their SEO strategy. Rather than focusing their efforts on a few trophy keywords, they should look at their server logs and check the phrases that people are already using to arrive at their sites. They should concentrate on optimizing for these established phrases instead.
Matt also wants webmasters to think about metrics other than ranking. The conversion rate, for instance, may be even more vital to the business. They should study this and try to increase the percentage of visitors who actually end up buying their products, subscribing to their newsletter, or whatever it is that they ultimately want to achieve.
Email is a major time sink. We’re talking multiple hours per day for many busy individuals, and as much as half their workdays can be spent on email for those among us with high rates of communication with clients, contacts, and colleagues.
What’s worse, people often feel like they’re being way more productive than they actually are as well when they’re working out of their inboxes. Sure, you might be wheeling and dealing on your keyboard, but the effective hours of solid work achieved when constantly checking email starts to get diminished quickly.
And even still worse than that is the fact that it’s a necessity. Regardless of where you are or what you do, email is a near universally expected communication tool and those you work with will expect you to consistently check and respond to any incoming messages.
So, how can you make your email time more productive and stop it from leaking into your day? Here are a few tips for getting started:
1) Because email is not a live messenger (though some people use it like one!), it is OK if responses are generally put off a few hours. For this reason, emailproductivity experts often recommend that you set 3 times throughout the day to check your email, and then stick to those times, never checking in between.
2) During your designated email check-in times, respond to every message you’ve received, right when you read it. Often, we read something, think “that’s going to take a bit to fully address!”, and then mentally note that we’ll get back to it later when we have more time. However, this forces you to read such emails twice instead of one time, and the procrastinating generally serves no helpful purpose. When you read an email, decide if it requires a response. If the answer is yes, write it then, on the spot.
3) Use shortcuts. Many emailproductivity add-ons (Boomerang is a popular one right now, by the way), allow you to setup shortcuts that will automatically fill in words or sentences when you begin typing a certain key sequence. If you have an opening greeting you always use, or other information that doesn’t make sense to save as a standard email signature, you can use these shortcuts to save you time. Got a long company name you have to type out constantly? Set a shortcut so that you can trigger it by just hitting two letters in a row that normally wouldn’t follow each other. You get the idea.
4) Turn off push notifications. Of course, we receive email on much more than just our PC’s these days, and the constant buzzing of a phone or dinging of an iPad can pull you out of what you’re working on and cause you to lose focus and time, even if you just check your lock screen to see who or what it was. Instead, put these items in do not disturb mode or at least turn off email client notifications when you’re in between your designated email checking times.
Stick to these, and you’ll be well on your way to shaving off minutes or even hours from your workday!
The media through which we excel and sell out brand the best vary from person to person and organization to organization. The best way to get through to your customers becomes not only an exploration of their demographics and where they spend their time, but also of where you and your team can best come across in your content.
Are you comfortable in front of a camera? Well, you might want to brush up on your news anchor skills, or at least find someone who doesn’t mind getting in front of the lens and talking up a storm.
Why? Because while content is still and will continue to be absorbed in a number of different ways throughout society, consumers are more and more expecting brand content to create an experience (and a valuable one at that), and those who innovate the quickest are reaping the rewards.
For example, let’s take three different social media apps that have all created a stir in the tech community over the last year: Periscope, Blab, and Meerkat. What do they all have in common? If you’ve been following any of them, you’d have instantly answered, “Hey, they’re all apps that let you stream video from your phone!”
In fact, many of last year’s social media darlings (Snapchat included) have allowed for the easy creation and sharing of videocontent. Many businesses and entrepreneurs building a brand will continue the classic resistance habit: “Everyone has been fine just reading my blog for years, why would I start doing video instead? What’s the point?”
The point is that the way people like to consume things has evolved, those growing up in the golden era of television might have trouble imaging a generation who prefers to watch video on a 4 inch screen, but it sure as heck beats reading text on it.
Plus, creating interesting videocontent takes more effort, and it’s becoming more and more transparent which companies are putting in the work to make sure that the content they create is useful and helpful.
Plus, the realtime nature of live-streaming apps like Periscope means that people get a chance to send messages, questions, and replies to videocontent in realtime. Plus, much like its less visual content counterparts, videocontent can be created about virtually anything. In fact, in many cases it make topics that aren’t that fun to read about more compelling.
Make a plan to win with video right now by thinking about how you can translate your niche or market’s interest into videocontent. And if you think your business is too boring or not flashy enough for video, think again. There are landscapers getting hundreds to thousands of views on every video they put on their snapchat story where they just explain their plans for someone’s yard or talk about what kind of tools they will use to dig up soil – these show expertise to their target audience and can result in real sales.
Once you’ve got an idea, start executing. Opt for speed over perfect and you’ll quickly find what pulls in the attention of your target market.
Ten years ago, and certainly 15, this discussion would have been laughable. It’s the ‘debate’ between building a business and just raising money. Of course, anyone raising money will tell you that they’re actually building a business, and much of the time it’s true, but there’s still an important distinction to be made.
These days, everyone has an idea. And, at least up until relatively recently, there were a plethora of investors with money who wanted to eagerly hand it over to any young person they thought had an idea that was going to be the next Facebook or the next Uber. Now, with several years of this madness behind it, purses are being tightened, and we’re face with the need for some evaluation as to what exactly entrepreneurship actually is.
Over the past few years, anyone developing an app has likely at least had the thought pass that they might seek out investment in order to help them grow quicker and build a company much more rapidly than they could do on their own (or at all). That said, there are many of these companies who were never going to reach a point of revenue generation, nor would reach the user volume critical mass that has kept giants like Snapchat alive right up until they finally started generating a few bucks after nearly four years of being on the market.
That kind of run time without making a cent from your company was unheard of just a couple short decades ago, but now it’s commonplace. The problem isn’t that that market dynamic exists, it’s that it’s all many young entrepreneurs are banking on. They want to make something that so many people use that they can make a well-compensated exit, without having to worry about such business-related inconveniences as actually making money.
Soon, however, people will start to realize that everyone’s grandson isn’t Zuckerberg, and we’ll probably see a regression to something a little bit hybrid between how things were and how they are now… what will happen to your business when that occurs?
Answering this question before you have a real, pressing need to do so might be a smart place to start. Much like politicians on their last term with no prospect of reelection, business owners who find themselves in the position of having built a meaningful business that’s bringing in profit in that you are no longer scrambling for the next round, the next investment.
Some of the best business advice now lies in books from the 80’s and 90’s that will go largely untouched for many young entrepreneurs whose mistake is thinking that just because the execution has change, the fundamentals have too. In reality, the people who work the hardest and can make real numbers work, incoming vs outgoing, are the ones who tend to win in the end. Unless of course you really do have the next Facebook under your hat, in which case you and only you can ignore everything here… but still.
But no mater if your business is profitable right now or not, you need to be focusing on building your email list NOW as that is a real asset for your business that can pay you for many years to come.