How to Grow Your Online Business

I received a comment from a young entrepreneur, Jan, who wanted to discuss ways of growing his online business. I researched this topic and experimented on it considerably in the past and here’s what I have found. The post is composed based on the comment of Jan. So, if you have further questions or remarks, please feel free to reach out to me with comments or private messages with the contact form.

Ad Networks

The major ad networks AdWords, Facebook Ads, and Bing Ads are expensive. They are useful in two cases. The first case is that you already have a profitable business and you want to accelerate it. The second case is you have cash to burn and you want to experiment, a.k.a. gamble. In the second case, your goal is to find a cash flow positive business model.

I have experimented with the second case and didn’t succeed. I came to the conclusion that the only way to create a profitable business is through good old hard work. Once you develop a cash flow positive business model through organic methods, then you can use online ads to accelerate it.

The major ad networks reward the first strategy by offering you cheaper ad placements. They punish the second strategy by offering expensive ad placements to the not-so-well-established websites.

Google Analytics

I find Google Analytics to be a distraction for the starting solopreneur. Once you have Google Analytics set up on your website, guess what you do the whole day? Yes, that’s right; you check the number of visitors visiting your website the whole day, instead of creating valuable content and building relationships with other content creators and potential customers.

If you grow your business to a certain size and you have to start making decisions, such as which promotion method to invest more time and money, then you can set up Google Analytics to make those decisions.

If you’re a starter and your number of visitors don’t add up to a meaningful sample size, it doesn’t make sense to waste time and effort on Google Analytics.

The Best Way to Go

The best way to promote your business is through hard work on social media. The first question to ask yourself is what do you like to do the most. What comes natural to you? Do you like to write Facebook posts? Do you like to participate on Twitter? Do you like to write blog posts? Do you like to create images with quotes on them? Do you like to record audio and publish it as a podcast? Do you like to shoot videos and publish them as vlogs on YouTube? Do you like SnapChat? Do you like to answer questions on Quora? Do you like to use another social media channel that isn’t mentioned here?

Find what comes natural to you. Find the one medium where you can create valuable, premium quality content on autopilot like a machine. Focus on that medium, produce and publish massive amounts of valuable, premium quality content. Next to that focus on building relationships with other content creators and potential customers. Once you have done that you can add other methods on top of those methods, such as adding other social media channels, or using the ad networks.

Whatever you do, don’t expect to get massive results within two years. As a matter of fact, don’t expect to get any results at all. If you are in need of urgent money, get a job. If you want to build a business that would bring you long-term value, be ready to invest at least two years of your life without seeing any result in return.

Nowadays, my medium is writing blog posts, publishing them on my blog, importing them to Medium, participating on Medium responding to other content creators’ posts, and participating on Twitter. There are dozens of other channels out there that I can use, but I want to focus on this chain first to build a base and then add on op of that step by step. Maybe I wouldn’t add any other channels at all.

How to Monetize

Don’t start a business with the question “how can I make money?” Start a business with “how can I add value?” When you add sufficient value, the market will find a way to compensate you. This is counter-intuitive, but this is how it works in this day and age. Not the other way around.

In the past, I started websites with the only intention of making money. The first thing I’d do is to find something to sell, such as products on Amazon, Audible, ClickBank, or other affiliate programs. I’d then create content around channeling my audience to those avenues. That doesn’t work anymore, if it ever worked.

My strategy now is to create 1000 diehard fans, provide them insane value for free, and let them tell me what I can do for them they’d pay for. If I can’t create those 1000 diehard fans, then it doesn’t make sense to develop a product in advance and trying to sell it to random people online. So, that’s my benchmark to start creating a product or service. I expect that to take me six months to two years. So, before that benchmark is hit, you won’t see me selling anything here.

SEO

I don’t believe in hacking your way to fooling search engines to sending you more traffic. Especially, using obvious techniques such as link exchanges are easy to detect and ignored, if not punished, by the search engines.

Here’s the mindset I have on SEO. When I start a website, I completely ignore the search engines. I act as if they don’t exist. I try to create the most valuable website that I can create and try to grow it in organic ways as explained above. I see the search engine traffic as by-product, not the main goal. People who see the search engine traffic as their main goal are one Google algorithm change away from getting broke. It happened before; it will happen in the future.

By the way, importing your blog posts to Medium through their importing tool would improve your SEO.

References

I’d like to say that I was the top expert on this issue, but I’m not. I have some experience over the years. When it comes to online marketing, the only person I look at is Gary Vaynerchuk. I listened to all of his books on audible and checked his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook on Kindle. I believe Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is the right place to start. And of course, his podcast is a great, free source to learn from.

Be careful that this is time sensitive information and try to grasp the mindset instead of the techniques. Because the techniques change over time. The techniques that worked last year might not work this year. However, once you get the mindset of the Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, you’re set up for life. I have learned the concept of 1000 true fans from Tim Ferris’s book Tools of Titans.

If you have more comments and questions, let me know in the comments below or via a private message. Thank you.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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