Roughly 6 months ago I started an online business and this week I passed $50,000 in sales – while I have much to do my short term goal of accelerating sales and helping users is working. My goal was to create my own “gig economy” that worked for me. In this article, I want to help explain how I thought about content creation, niche picking, and the ways I scaled my efforts to accelerate revenue.
Crowdfire helps you discover and schedule content, and manage all your social accounts from one place. That is a very powerful and useful software tool to leverage, and I encourage you to do so.
But before you can leverage content organizational software, you first need to figure out your content strategy. And in order to do that you need to know what your users care about.
I believe that any healthy and successful online business has three attributes:
- You start with the customers and work backwards. You know what your users want.
- You can build and scale content that helps educate and empower people.
- You can execute and use software tools to create feedback loops that accelerate your impact.
Before building any business, first figure out the profit potential of the area you will enter. How competitive is it? How many other people or companies exist in this space? Website and app builders need to have relentlessly high standards if they are to be successful. Builders are continually raising the bar to drive their teams to deliver high-quality products, services, and processes. Your users need to articulate what they value and what they need from your product.
Builders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. You must be vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing.
When I think about the MVP of the site I first built, I laugh. As LinkedIn Founder Reed Hoffman argues, “if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product at launch you have waited too long to launch”. I couldn’t agree more: builders do not believe their or their team’s body odour smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
Building and Scaling
Once you know what you want and need to build, it’s time to start doing so. When I started Great Ceiling Fans I actually knew a fair amount about how fans work and operate. But I was less familiar with how people purchased them online and how they were shipped and installed.
I had to go learn these things.
I had to write content, conduct research, and experiment. You should do the same. You can’t scale without first putting “pen to paper”. Before you update your website, blog, or app, you need to know what people care about. How do you know? Look at the data – or better yet, speak with your users. Especially during the era of Covid, when so many of us are working from home, you can now find ample time to start a Zoom with your clients. Ask what they want or how to better improve your product to meet their needs.
If you are getting the same guidance over and over, build and write content (or alter the product) to make these improvements. This will help you scale because happy users are your most important ones. They will tell their family and friends and keep coming back. At the end of the day, you will be the beneficiary of this affection.
There are many tools to help you create content, build products, get user feedback, and add value to clients and the world. Execution is about attention to the metrics that matter most. For some that is time to market, or speed. For others it is time to value, or quality. Figure out what your business needs and make sure that your technology is aligned with its growth.
For example, when a colleague started Living Better CBD and was responsible for providing product reviews and guides on topics he knew little about. What did he do? He obtained product samples, hired neutral evaluators, and got to work executing on what his clients cared about.
He experimented and kept executing. He uses tools like WordPress’s Yoast functionality to ensure that both search engines and people could easily interact with his content. This led to growth and sustained increased the numbers of happy customers he engaged with.
When building a website or company you need to solve real problems for real people. This is because these stakeholders will ultimately pay your bills. Before you can scale or execute, you need to get the foundations done correctly. And there is no better place than by working backwards from your customers.
Once you know how you can help users – because you have listened to them – you can start to build and scale. As you grow you can document best practices and the processes that have helped your growth. This part of the lifecycle is called execution. Of course you can execute from Day 1 but in reality you won’t know exactly how and where to execute until you have expanded your operations. When you think about the websites, apps, or software tools that you use to solve problems in your everyday life, they all add tangible value.
When I started my first website I had zero traffic, zero pages indexed on Google, and of course zero sales. By following the above framework I was able to chip away and grow – slowly and steadily. You too can (and should) follow a blueprint, either this one or one you create. Much like learning how to code software or learning how to ride a bike, the learning process takes time and can lead you in new and different directions. But always remember to solve real problems for real people and listen to your clients’ feedback. This is where the seeds of success are first planted.