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Essentials for Starting an Online Business

July 8, 2020

I want to talk to you for a second about courage. You know, the feeling that drives you to do something you’re afraid of and motivates you to chase after your dreams.

If that sounds familiar and it’s brought you here, I’m thrilled for you. You’ve taken the first step to creating the online business that will give you more freedom and control than you ever thought possible. 

But in my 11 years of building an online business, you could say I’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t; and today I want to share my top tips with you. 

Start by Defining Your Niche

Start by asking yourself: “what is the one thing that people always ask me for advice on?”. It may not be your current job, but it should be something that you are both experienced in and also passionate about. Once you’ve chosen your niche, it’s time to get clear and what it’s going to mean for your potential customers. 

For example, if floristry is your niche, then your online business could be teaching people how to create their own flower arrangements. Or if teaching languages to kids is your passion, you could sell PDF guides to support parents in practicing a language with their kids at home. 

The point I want to make here is that your niche doesn’t have to be in something complicated or even profitable for your customers, it just has to be where there could be a clear demand. 

>> Who Are You and What Do You Do? 

It sounds like a question you’d hear at an awkward cocktail party, but knowing the answer to this question clearly will be a massive help as you start to establish your brand and identity. You want to be able to demonstrate your expertise, while still remaining authentically human to your audience. 

Gather up your relevant qualifications, experience, and maybe a few fun facts about yourself and put them in your bio section, or make an About Me page (here’s mine, if you’re in need of a little inspiration). While the act of writing alone can help you to narrow down your focus, publishing it on your website or elsewhere will help your audience start to trust your knowledge. 

>> Get Clear on Your Offer 

Deep down, you know you’re meant for more than the standard 9-5, otherwise you wouldn’t be starting an online business. But maybe you’re not sure what exactly you should be offering, or you have too many ideas and can’t decide which one you should focus on. Some questions you can ask yourself when honing in on your offer are:

  • What do people often ask me for help with?
  • What aspects of my business have people been happy with, or impressed by?
  • What have others in my industry, and similar industries, been successful with?

Writing down answers to all of these questions is a great exercise to help you develop your identity and your offer. They can also help you to figure out what you don’t want to do (think about the question you get that you dread answering — probably not a great idea to build a product around it). 

>> Stay True to Yourself

You’re a person of many talents, and maybe you want to sell a little bit of everything. More offers, means more money, right? Not necessarily. While it can be tempting to have a range of products or services, doing so is the fast track to becoming overwhelmed with too much to do. 

It also becomes more difficult to reach a target audience if your audience is everyone. By discovering and embracing a few core specialties, you will ensure a more manageable workload, and a more satisfied customer every time.

online-businessIf you’re the type to have a million ideas (you lucky duck) you may also enjoy my podcast episode where I talk about how to sell more by offering less.

Find Your Favorite Platform

If you’re serious about starting an online business, you’re going to have to get serious about content creation as well. This is because your free content is going to be both where you demonstrate your expertise, and also how you’ll entice people to become part of your audience (and eventually happy customers). 

So take some time to think about what’s sustainable for you to keep up with long enough to start getting the return; be it a YouTube channel, a podcast, or a blog. For me, it's my podcast: Online Marketing Made Easy.

Creating content inconsistently across a few different mediums will feel like a lot of work, but ultimately won’t get you the traction you need. So, choose your favorite platform and stick with it. 

Remember, you’re only one person and it’s just not realistic to expect yourself to be able create high quality content for each platform – especially considering how different the workflow is for each. Sure, you can repurpose content to some extent, but the reality is that your time is better spent focusing your time and efforts into a single format and getting really, really good at it. 

I said it before but it’s important enough that it’s worth mentioning again: no matter what platform you choose, one of the most effective ways to grow your audience is to keep at it consistently! If you’re going to post every Tuesday, make it a priority to post every Tuesday. This will get you into a rhythm and build trust with your audience. 

I highly recommend creating a content calendar to guide your efforts and to help you stay on track over time. It can also be helpful down the line when you look back on what you’ve created in the past to help you build more effective content for the future. 

>> How to Amplify Your Content 

After creating your free content, you’re going to want to make sure it gets in front of the right people. The most straightforward and least expensive way to do this is via social media, but if you want to turbocharge it, you may also consider Facebook Ads or other forms of paid promotion. 

“But Amy, I don’t have a social following yet.”

No problem! Here are a few of my favorite strategies to help you get your content in front of new audiences: 

  • Find Facebook groups where your prospective audience might be hanging out. Leave links to your content when it answers related questions. 
  • Be a guest on someone else’s podcast or YouTube channel and mention your own content if you can. 
  • Use the right hashtags and don’t be afraid to give any potential passersby a call-to-action to like, follow, or share your content. 
  • Be sure to interact with the followers that you do have. When your audience is small, this is the best time to really get in there and communicate with each and every person. Use this to your advantage! 


Keep creating the content that your audience needs, keep sharing it on your social accounts and keep encouraging others to share it and to engage with you. I remember when I had zero followers on Twitter, so I know how hard it can be to keep posting when you feel like you’re talking to an empty room, but trust me when I say that you will see results if you put in the time and the work.

>> A Little About Email List Building

If you’ve spent any time with me, you know how important an email list is for your business. And if you’re new here, or aren’t really sure if an email list is necessary for your business, make sure to take a look at my other post on the importance of an email list.

In addition to growing your audience, putting out new content regularly can also help you to grow your email list. When you produce free, useful content on the regular, your audience not only starts to get bigger, but they also start to transition from ‘cold’ to ‘warm’. This means that when the time comes for you to make your offer, they’ll be that much more receptive to it.

Your free content can also be a great segue to your freebies, or ‘lead magnets’, that you give to people in exchange for signing up for your email list. This is because you can create blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos  that naturally point to your downloadable freebie as the next step in your audience’s journey. For a little more about how to create a stellar freebie that converts visitors into subscribers, check out my podcast episode on creating a profit-driven lead magnet

Final Thoughts and First Steps

Now that you’ve decided to become an online business owner, you’ve taken the first step to building the life you’ve always dreamed of. If you’re feeling excited, but a little nervous on what steps to take, I understand — and that’s why I want to give you a few actionable steps that you can take today to begin.

First, take 30 minutes to brainstorm without judging yourself. I mean it. Go grab a pen and paper (yeah, I’m old school) and write whatever comes to mind when I ask you: ‘what would you do if you were brave?”. Write it ALL down. Seriously. Then narrow it down to your top three choices. Don’t have three options to choose from? One answer is plenty.  

Second, go join three Facebook groups dedicated to the industry that you are interested in pursuing. Plan to spend a few hours every week in those groups, learning what people are looking for and what they’re struggling with. Click the links you see people posting to get inspired for your own products and freebies. 

And finally, kickstart the marketing for your online business with my free 3-part training series on growing your email list. This will help you to get those oh-so-essential first 250 subscribers, which will be the confidence boost you need to start making the bold moves you’ve dreamed of in your business.

What do you think? I know it feels like a lot right now, but I also know that if you’ve read this whole post, you are 100% ready to take the leap into starting to build your online business. And if you follow the three steps above, you’ll be well on your way to the business (and life) that you’ve been searching for.


Results are not guaranteed. Please see earnings disclaimer for more detail.

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