Starting anything is not easy. Anything! When is started this journey, I felt that I had a lot to do before I started making money online. I tried following the gurus and studying what they were doing and I would often end up feeling even more lost and helpless. I tried enrolling for some free online courses but nothing was working. I had information yes but my dream of being an online worker was appearing even more distant. I don’t believe in giving up so I decided to start taking action with what I knew and learn along the way. The following were my baby steps to online work success;
1. Choose a niche
The biggest question is what exactly you should be doing online! You see, there are hundreds of ways online workers earn and you must select something to specialize in. Choose an area that excites you and one which you are passionate about. Eg if you like cooking, you can start a blog whose main topic will be cooking and recipes. You would then look at ways of monetizing the blog for instance by selling kitchenware products from Amazon as an affiliate. If you are passionate about Finance, ICT, poetry or any other field, you can blog about your niche, or be an authority writer in the same area. You can also start looking for online jigs in the specific area. For example, Fiverr.com allows you to sell any service you are good at online while other sites have hundreds of jobs up for grabs. The site has openings for accountants, designers, marketers, project managers amongst many others. I know a video editor who earns over $400 per week from UpWork. Interestingly, he has a lot of orders such that he has to sometimes reject jobs.
Look for something you have an interest in, flows easily, and which makes your heart flow with warmth when it’s mentioned. If in doubt, start by making a list of all your passions and start from there.
2. Invest in Research
Engage in some research on your niche. Your aim is to learn more about the market for your niche. How big is it? How do you get work? Where is the market? You will also know if the market requires any special skills and how to get them. Here, search engines such as Google and Bing will be your best friends.
But you should avoid the permanent researcher syndrome (PRS) which happens if you are just constantly researching and taking zero action with whatever you learn. PRS will just make you a very good search engine user but bring zero income.
You can also learn a lot for free by joining relevant Facebook and WhatsApp groups. For instance, this group helps beginners find a footing in the online work industry for free. Also try to connect to market leaders in your line. These are respected guys who have already succeeded in their online work which is of course related to your target niche. This group will offer mentorship and provide important networking opportunities.
3. Start Building
Yes! For you to make money online, you need to invest in several essentials;
a. A Product or Portfolio
What exactly will you sell online? Write that e-book, sing the song, record the videos if you will be selling videos or the podcast.
If you will work on freelancing sites such as UpWork or People Per Hour, you will need sample work to showcase as part of your profile or to send to clients when making job proposals. Have sample articles for writers.
Graphic designers need sample logos and infographics. Video editors will need sample video before and after editing. Transcribers will need sample transcribed files. Everyone needs a portfolio and samples.
Have your digital product ready. For example, I am currently working on my online work online course. My product will influence the rest of the stages.
b. An Online Profile
You will not have a shop or an office where clients can find you. Your success online therefore requires that you create an awesome online profile. Many newbies ignore this stage but your online profile is your first selling point. Clients will first check out your online activity before contracting you. For online workers, every day is interview day! You must be at your best.
i. Social Media
Your first selling point is the social media. Invest in an excellent social media profile. Let everyone who cares know you are an online worker each time they visit your profile. Use your real picture, wearing a warm, smiling face. Clients prefer working with real emotional people.
Be there in Facebook, Instagram, twitter and LinkedIn. Other social networks such as Snapchat also works for certain sectors.
A blog is the main selling point for your online services. You will be blogging on matters close to your industry here. Blog is powerful tool in proving your expertise and winning client’s trust. Make yourself the go to guy by consistently publishing quality content in your niche. I recommend wordpress for its ease of use. In fact all my blogs are all on wordpress.
iii. Online Forums
Register with online forums in your niche and be an active contributor. Comment on topics, share advise, ask questions and even propose ideas for the community. Be seen and heard. Always identify yourself with what you do. Just Google for forums in your line. I belong to several Freelance Writers forums from where I learn a lot. I just Googled for freelance writers forums to get access to some interesting forums.
c. A Sales Funnel
This is the process that you will take your customers through to make them buy. Whatever services you sell, you will need to convince prospects to buy. In online business, buying decisions are hugely influenced by the level of trust that buyers have in a particular brand.
It is therefore imperative that you come up with a clear strategy that you will use to influence customers to pay for your services. For instance, assuming you are planning to write and sell an e-book, you will need to create a system that will move customers from the awareness stage to making the actual purchase. Why? Clients are being offered other e-books on the same topic possibly at a cheaper price than yours and maybe by household writers. So, the first question a client has when they see your offer is why they should by from you – remember you are just starting out and not from the usual trustworthy sources.
Typically, a sales funnel has the following stages;
- Awareness– at this stage, the prospect becomes aware for the first time about your product, service or the solution that you are offering. They could get this information from your website, social media post or a forum comment you made.
- Interest– in this very important step, the prospect is seriously looking for a solution to a problem he faces. For example, he could be actively looking for ways to improve his knowledge in finance matters. He recalls seeing you advertising for a finance management e-book. He looks for your pages, subscribes to your mailing list and follows you on social media. You can easily hook your customer at this stage using great content. Be smart as the prospect may have other offers on the table
- Decision– the client is now sold on buying from you. He is actively analyzing all your different offerings and buying options so he can arrive at his final decision to purchase. This is when you go tactical in your sales pitch and make use of calls or landing pages. Some marketers shoot straight and pressurize the customer to quickly buy for instance by issuing constant reminders about their offers ending soon and pending price hikes.
- Action– the prospect is now feeling the heat and sets out to close the deal by clicking the purchase or get access button. Soon, the money flows into your account and voila! You feel excited that things are really working.
d. A Working System
How will customers pay you? What about those who will hire you? Will there be some contracts? You will need to develop a work process.
For instance, writers need a timetable. Separate your time-. Your timetable should clearly indicate what hours will be spent in bidding and prospecting for work, and when will you be working for clients plus relaxing. Also set aside some hours for marketing and brand building.
Regardless of your online work, you require a system to help you collect payments from your clients and employers. It needs to be hassle free to make it easier for clients to buy.
You will have some communication to handle. Create a setup of responding to e-mails, social media enquiries and in some cases, telephone calls. You may hire a virtual assistant or automate your emails using popular tools such as Aweber.
You can automate Social media communication using hootsuite later after you have built enough paying traffic or you have become overwhelmed by work.
Legal documentation and procedures such as contracts drawing and registration of copyrights can be outsourced to a legal professional. It is important to protect your digital business and also work professionally to avoid falling victim to online scams and machinations which could lead to huge loses.
Many newbies have learnt their lessons the hard way after been conned for failing to understand contract terms and ignoring legal advice in their dealings.
Future prosperity as an online worker is guaranteed if you have the right system in place.
e. A Strategic Plan
Many online workers don’t treat their online jigs as businesses. They don’t have a clear blueprint of expanding their online careers so long as they feel comfortable with current income.
You must know that it’s impractical to continue indefinitely at the current levels in your niche. New competition will come up; client’s preferences may change while some of your long term clients may fold. Where will leave this you?
Be proactive and prepare a 5-year strategic plan for your online career. Layout an outline that you will follow to expand your services, increase sales volumes and command higher rates.
Take action to build your online career, be ambitious and see if you might give the world the next internet giant!
4. Make Your Grand Entry
Niche? Tick. Product? Tick. Systems? Tick. Launch it. There is never a better time to make that grand entry.
Announce yourself to the market. If working on freelancing sites, register and start bidding for jobs confidently. Write winning job proposals and do it like a veteran. Never give a hint that you are a newbie as this may diminish your chances of winning a job or attract lower rates.
Launch your website and create a buzz on social media. Let everyone look up and take note! Do it like a guru handing out freebies to attract prospects.
Register in your selected forums. Start hunting for partnerships, leads and offering help where you can. Tell everyone who cares about how proud you are to be accepted there as a new online worker. Remember to learn the forum rules and play by them as you may easily get banned.
Launch the product. You can first offer the free version to bait prospects to sign up in your mailing list. Later you can start marketing the commercial product to your audience.
5. Learn, Grow
By starting, you enrolled into your first practical online class. Strangely, in the online workspace, what works for some will not work for others! You will be your best teacher.
Take lessons from your launch and tweak things to see what works and what doesn’t. Push it until it succeeds. Follow your plan and aim for the grand prize.
If unsure of the path to take, enroll into online courses. Learn and implement everything. Hook up with your mentors and industry gurus and use their experiences to scale your service.
Push it until you become a case study. What’s better than to succeed while rewriting history?