Some of my friends are retired now, others want to be…(and some of them are just plain tired!) But just about all of them tell me this: "If I could start a little business on the Internet, you know, bring in a few extra bucks each month, that'd be great."
Many of them are very successful human beings, a couple have some great ideas that could actually work online, and some already have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs. They're computer savvy. (Photocredit: Shutterstock)
Most are overwhelmed when they sit down to figure out what "little business on the Web" they should do. Here's their line of thinking:
- I'm smart, educated, why aren't I rich? Where can I make some money online?
- When I "Google" my questions on how to do this, I get a bunch of scams and flaky sites
- I don't want to invest in some Guru's $1,000+ program, just tell me what I need to do
- I don't have a lot of time to learn all about Internet marketing or copywriting, just give me the abridged version…
- I've got this idea, I know a lot about "xyz", I could sell my expertise to everyone …
My friend Lucy and her husband Tom recently got bad news that their retirement income dropped 30% in one month. Until things turn around, if and when they do, they'll have to make do with less.
Or, they could look to find an additional income stream. Lucy asked me what was the best way to start an online business, using information products.
Here are my thoughts:
Part 1: Get Started Now
- First start with a blog. When you write about your area of expertise, you'll clarify why you're passionate about it, what the problems are that exist, and you'll start connecting with readers.
- Brand it. If you can come up with a clever name for your business and your brand, register it immediately as a domain name. If not, wait a while. You can rename your blog when you discover it's true identity. Sometimes it takes people time to gain clarity.
- Focus on your readers' problems, the ones you have solutions for. What do you know that could help people? Really dig deep into their challenges.
- Research. Find out what's on the Web already. Who is already serving the people you want to target? How can you be better or different? Where are there needed gaps? What's missing?
- Create. Start writing. Start publishing on your blog. Write every day or every other day. Start building a community of readers who want what you have to say.
If they do nothing else right now, it's important to get started writing and publishing content on the Web. They don't have to have a polished business plan yet, or even clear ideas, those will come with time and with responses from their readers.
It may seem counter-intuitive to start publishing on a blog before all the details of the business plan are in place, but today we live and work in an interactive world. Why not take advantage of responses from potential customers? You can't do that before you open up and start asking people what they want.
But I'm open to discussion. I've never held myself out to be an expert business woman. I only know what I know, what's worked for me. I've started several businesses, not all of them have made money. Most have given me more than enough in enjoyment and learning experiences, in any case.
What's you're experience, what advice would you give Tom and Lucy?
Next, Part 2: What content should you create first?
How to Start a Company Using "How-To" Content