Atop the list of goals we set each year is ‘Financial goals’. ‘There is no way I’m going to get the same financial result next year’,’ Next year, I’m going to make more money’, we’ll say.
Despite all the hopes and optimism, with all its uncertainties, the year 2014 will record financial successes as well as failures (lessons in disguise). The question is, ‘By this time next year, are you going to be proud of your result or not?’
That is why going after quick money making solutions is a disastrous quest. Because if you think about it, between Emeka who committed to long-term business approach and Hassan who has been in constant quest for quick fixes, both started two years ago, who do you think would have achieved better results?
Interestingly, two years is a reasonable time to record good financial results online if you commit to your work – I am a witness.
That is why I am an ardent advocate of long-term strategies ‘that works’ (not just long-term for the sake of long-term).
It is important that I make these comments because what I’m about to share with you is not a quick fix but a long-term business approach that works most of the time.
So this brings us to the topic of today; How to build an online platform to grow your own business and make more money in 2014. As a believer of the gospel of “Teach what you know and grow your business”, I strive to take advantage of this strategy to build my business online.
Below are 10 steps to build an online platform, grow your business and make more money in 2014.
1. Unlearn the outdated
Seriously nothing I say here will make sense to you if you don’t wear an open mind. First, a lot of people get repulsive at the mention of business online. Some who do believe in doing business online are skeptical of the very principles that make business work on the internet.
For instance, when creating a website for business, some business owners and entrepreneurs prefer to go with the onetime website design – the create it and forget - approach. The reality is that this strategy no longer works. This post highlights 7 important things you need to know before creating a business website. The time of ‘Build it, forget it and they will come’ have long gone.
If you are willing to do it the right way, your website can be the best marketing tool you ever had. But you have to be willing unlearn what you know to learn something new.
2. Start an online platform
You probably already have an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and/or Instagram. That may pass as a good thing, but until you own your platform, you don’t have control over your online presence or your business’s.
The good news is that it’s easy to start your own online platform today. This site you is a platform to teach what I know and connect with people that share my ideals. To create your own platform, here is a do-it-yourself tutorial on how to create a professional website.
Note: These days, a platform, a website, a blog, an online media are often the same thing. You call it what works best for your industry.
3. Become a Writer and Content Creator
Not everyone love to write, but you cannot build an online platform without a writer; a content creator. Content is what fuels the web – text, graphics, audio and video. Your web platform is nothing without content and the trend of content-driven website is only beginning.
Interestingly, you don’t have to be Chinua Achebe or any such great writers to write engaging content for your audience. If you are business, you can hire a writer to do the job of creating content for your platform. To learn how to write better for the web Click here to subscribe to Blogerian newsletter.
4. Define your ideal persona
One very easy way to fail when building your online platform is to try to write for everyone. And one of the best ways to build an online platform is to define who you are building for. So the questions, ‘Who am I speaking to?’ ‘Who do I want to serve?’ ‘Who do I help?’ are critical.
The irony is that every prospect secretly thinks that he or she has problems nobody else in the world has. We all sort of feel alone in our challenges, our problems. We are looking for somebody who really gets us, who speaks to us in our individuality, who can solve this unique problem.
When you create all of your content for one, well-defined person, your message immediately becomes more compelling. And even if the prospect doesn’t fit your precise “perfect customer” definition, he’ll respond to the more personal tone that this exercise creates.
This post on Ducttapemarketing.com gives some interest perspective of choosing your ideal persona
5. Research your ideal audience concern
The step that complements deciding your ideal prospect is to research (stalk) them. Go to forums, social media were they gather. Listen to what they are saying and complaining about. Take note of the kind of language they are using to express their problems and concerns.
This will make a good background of how you communicate with them on your platform.
If you become that person who listens to their problems and fears, and then provide solutions to them, you develop a very important role in their life. That’s the kind of relationship that you’re looking for.
6. Write compelling Content for your ideal prospect
One of the worst mistakes I see small businesses and entrepreneurs make is that they define their customers as anyone with a heartbeat; ‘anybody with a wallet is great.’
When you do that, you create content that lacks strength and influence. And that kind of flat, flavourless content absolutely doesn’t work in content marketing. To make your content effective, focus on writing directly to your ideal prospect. This post on CopyBlogger.com will teach you how to write compelling content.
7. Create foundational content
To take your writing a step further, create foundational content aka cornerstone content. Foundational content are blog posts/articles, documents, audio, video, application etc which does most of the credibility building for your brand. They are the content you put in a lot of work to create and when published, they live to work for you long-term.
These content are the backbone of your philosophy; your brand. They will support and thoroughly flesh out your ideas, your creative process, and your effort.
Characteristics of Foundational content:
- They are original and unique
- They outline your expertise around a specific topic
- They attract a rush of new readers and backlinks (other sites linking to your blog).
- They continue to bring in more readers over time as you and other people refer to it.
- Eventually it will bring in traffic from search engines, consistently for a long time.
- They are timeless – in 12 months’ time and beyond they’ll still be relevant and useful.
8. Start an email newsletter
Email marketing is like having your own network of subscribers who you reach on a personal and higher level. You have a direct contact of a defined group of people with similar worldview, and they look forward to receive email newsletter from you.
If you want to take your content marketing to the next level and build a stable business in 2014; create an Email List. If you are considering an email service to use, I recommend MailChimp.
9. Give your content wings with social media
Content is Fire – Social Media is gasoline
Great content wouldn’t distribute itself. In fact great content alone is like turkey; they can’t fly. Social media is the eagle wing that makes your content fly, far and high above the skies.
Like the wind, people come along to pass your content around, discuss and even blog about it, and help you spread the word. Great content gives social media life by giving people something more interesting to talk about. They’ll start spreading the gospel about you as soon as you give them something they can relate to, to talk about.
Your job is to create something amazing, then use the social network intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it. A percentage of them will become leads and people that are willing to do business with you.
10. Become an online educator – teach what you know and grow your business
The whole idea of building an online platform that will grow your business and improve your finance is centred on one theme, “Teach what you know and grow your business”. And that is the summary of what content marketing is all about.
To grow your own business and make more money online in 2014, you have to embrace content marketing. There is no shortcut. In a crowded competitive society, people are not looking for faceless, perfect, unemotional entities. They are looking for someone they can relate with on a personal level; someone who understands their problems and frustrations; someone they feel they know, like and trust enough to do business with.
Every step you take to build your online platform should be to position yourself as that person.
They can steal your ideas, your methods; they can copy your product, but they can’t steal the individual personality that’s associated with your content marketing.