Learn how to start an online business in 2023. This simple framework is about providing value to earn trust, laying the foundation for a scalable business.
More and more individuals are eager to ditch the corporate career path in pursuit of the freedom and upside offered by entrepreneurship. If you're one of these people and you're looking to learn how to start an online business, I can assure you there's a relatively simple framework you can follow. The hard part is becoming consistent and staying committed to that consistency, even when you might not be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Now before you get scared away, hear me out. You don't have to quit your 9-5 tomorrow. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Building a company in 2023 is all about growing an audience and earning its trust; this isn't something that happens overnight. It'll take some time to earn your first dollar with this system, but what you'll end up with is a scalable business model that allows you to trade less time for more money.
This is a proven model for making money online that's relevant to all types of online businesses from content creators to software products, so let's dive in!
What is the most Successful Online Business Model in 2023?
The simple answer is join the creator economy, build an audience and monetize it.
However, building an audience is another one of those things that's easier said than done. Fortunately, it can also be boiled down to a simple system. There are two things that are constantly being exchanged in business, especially online: value and trust.
Don't get caught up in what kind of product you're going to build or the service you're going to offer. That'll all reveal itself in due time. Your business strategy is going to be built around providing value, and in exchange you're going to receive trust. As you receive trust, you can start asking for certain actions from your audience.
Reasons you need to know this model
Online businesses that use this model experience several benefits:
- Low start-up costs
- Organic traffic and audience growth
- Flexibility to pivot strategy based on what the audience wants
- Multiple revenue streams with high margins
- Passive income
- Work from home, or anywhere in the world
- You don't need a revolutionary business idea
Let's look at the value-trust exchange in practice:
- Providing value in the form of free content allows you to ask for a follow on social media.
- Once your followers get to know you, you can offer more value through a newsletter, and in exchange you ask them for an email address.
- Once you have data on who's engaging with your newsletter, you can ask them to join a private community where they have direct access to you. More value!
- Once people are in your community, you can introduce a paid element to give a segment of your audience exclusive perks and benefits.
- And then finally you can introduce a product, which your paid community members will get early access to and even help you build.
All along this path you're creating feedback loops to figure out the best way to continually increase the amount of value you're providing. By the time you get to the end, you'll have established product-market fit without even knowing it, and whatever you decide to sell online will be pre-sold. You could sell an online course, launch an online store, start a podcast, or pursue any other business idea you might have.
Here's how you get there...
Step-By-Step Instructions to Building an Online Business
I won't be getting into when to get a business license or register as a limited liability company (LLC) as these are things that can wait until you start to gain traction and start monetizing. This process might feel a bit counterintuitive as we're traditionally taught to come up with a product or service and then figuring out how to market it. This system allows you to let an audience—or better yet, a community—shape the products and services you offer:
- Find your niche
- Build a minimum-viable tech stack
- Publish short-form content
- Grow a newsletter list
- Create an online community
- Introduce a premium access
- Launch a product or service
Each step unlocks the next, but my favorite thing about this process is that you're building a sales funnel as you go. There'll be a group of early adopter who follow you throughout your initial journey, but your content, newsletter, community, and product will continue to be there as stepping stones for people who discover you at a later date.
Read on to learn how to tackle each step!
1. Find Your Niche & Position Yourself
Ensuring you have a clearly defined niche is the foundation of any successful business, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. You might even want to do this before coming up with online business ideas. There are two ways you can position yourself in your business niche, and both are equally viable.
The first option is to pick a topic that you know more about than the average person. Consider your skills and what people often come to you for advice on. If you've experienced a transformation yourself, there are likely others want to experience the same thing. In this case, you'll be able to position yourself as an expert in your niche who can solve a problem.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like you have enough expertise yet, choose something that interests you and make a plan to learn everything about it over time. You'll be positioning yourself as a curious learner, which comes with its advantages and disadvantages. While you won't have the same initial "authority" in your niche as an expert would, you can document your entire learning process, which makes an excellent source of content. You also might be a bit more approachable as you'll be able to meet people on their level. The goal is to eventually become an expert yourself and build a loyal audience along the way.
2. Build a Minimum-Viable Tech Stack
Once you have identified your niche, it's time to start creating content that will help establish your position in your niche. Content is going to be the rocket fuel of your online business' marketing strategy, but it's important to lay your foundation early. Let's look at the two key components of the tech stack that's going to grow with your business.
Website or Link-In-Bio
Your ultimate goal is to have full ownership over your audience, so it's essential to set yourself up to do this early. The first step is to set up a professional and user-friendly website that accurately represents the platform you are building. Even if you don't have a full website, a simple "link-in-bio" tool can serve as a landing page without any need for web development. If you decide to go the website route, you will need a domain, web hosting service, and a website builder.
The objective here is to have somewhere to send people who engage with you and your content.
Building a newsletter list is a critical step that will be discussed later on in this guide. To start building this, you will need a way to capture and store email addresses. You can do this with newsletter software or by setting up a simple form through your website or a free form builder. There are also some tools out there that can be an all-in-one solution for your website and newsletter, like Ghost.
Key Takeaway: Start building your funnel early with a simple landing page, either via a website or link-in-bio tool. Ensure you have somewhere to send your audience to capture email addresses.
3. Publish Short-Form Content
Short-form content is key to starting to grow an audience when launching an online business. Social media posts, short videos, and short blog posts are all effective ways to build an audience at scale. Publishing high-quality content on a consistent basis will establish your online presence and grow your traffic.
Twitter and LinkedIn are great platforms for written content. You can use Twitter for short tweets and multi-part threads on Twitter, while LinkedIn is best for business-focused status updates and short articles. The exact platform you choose will really depend on your target audience, which is also the case for video platforms. Instagram is the perfect platform for video content such as tutorials or product reviews, though TikTok and YouTube Shorts have gained a lot of traction. Many creators and businesses find themselves cross-posting their videos across all platforms to maximize their exposure.
You'll also need to know what type of content your audience wants on the platform(s) you choose to use. Would they prefer a step-by-step guide in video format or a series of images? Do they want to read inspirational quotes or learn actionable business tips? You'll refine your exact social media marketing strategy over time, but you can start off with conducting market research on the various social media sites. See what kind of content performs best for the businesses and creators that have a social media presence in your niche and look to emulate it.
Key Takeaway: Short form content is a great way to grow an audience and start earning its trust. Make sure to identify the most optimal platforms for reaching your target audience and get an understanding of what type of content resonates with them.
4. Grow a newsletter list
Growing a newsletter or mailing list is an essential part of content marketing and monetization for creators, solopreneurs, and small to medium-sized businesses. It's an incredibly versatile tool that can be used to amplify content and start monetizing an audience. Apart from a social media follow, this is the first way your audience will "pay" you. Here are some tips on how to grow your newsletter list:
Start with your existing audience
Remember how you built that minimum-viable tech stack? It's been collecting email addresses of your social media followers as your audience has grown. If you haven't already, ensure your social media profile is optimized with a clear call-to-action (CTA) for signing up to your newsletter. As you continue to establish your social media or web presence, you can begin to integrate CTAs into your content more consistently.
You need a way to differentiate and elevate the value your audience gets in return for subscribing to your newsletter. This means you either need to withhold something from your short-form social media content, or provide an improved version of it to newsletter subscribers exclusively. This could be discounts, exclusive content or early access to what you decide to build in the future.
Collaborate with other newsletters
Comarketing (or cross-promotion) with other creators or businesses with newsletters is an excellent way to grow your audience. Once your newsletter list has reached a certain size, you can seek out similarly sized newsletters in your niche (or an adjacent niche) to collaborate with. These collaborations typically involve each party publishing a newsletter that includes some sort of promotion of the other.
Use newsletter software
If you don't already have newsletter software, now is the time to get it. Building automated workflows will keep your subscribers engaged, and they require very little maintenance after being built initially. You can send your subscribers a welcome email, some past newsletters, and even ask them to refer some friends after they've engaged with a certain number of emails.
Once your newsletter is established and your audience is flowing in from your social media channels, you can take your online business to the next level with an online community.
5. Create an online community
One of the biggest differences in how to start an online business in 2023 is the idea of online communities. New businesses are being built around communities and existing ones are scrambling to incorporate an element of community in their overall business strategy for a number of reasons:
- They're a great way to gather customer feedback and conduct market research
- They're highly monetizable
- They're relatively low-cost to launch and maintain
- They're a way of providing additional value beyond what's offered in a newsletter
In the context of this guide, we're most concerned with that last point. An online community is a great way to continue to elevate the value you're providing in exchange for even more trust. It’s a place where your audience can get access to you and one another. You'll be facilitating high-value relationships between your community members, which is super value in itself. You could honestly stop here and start monetizing your newsletter and online community through sponsorships and affiliate marketing. But let's keep going.
There are a few things you need for your online community.
To start building your community, you need to decide what platform works best for you. Some of the best community platforms include Facebook, Slack, and Discord. Once you have chosen the right platform for your needs, invite people from your newsletter list and social media accounts to join.
Unique value proposition
Similar to your overall online business, you are going to need a unique value proposition for your community. Your community should almost be treated as a product you are launching.
Defining your value proposition is essential for the online community you are building because it differentiates your community from others and provides a clear reason for people to join and participate. You'll want to be clear on what the unique benefit is that you're offering to your members, such as a specific solution to a common problem, a supportive environment for a certain group, or access to exclusive content. Having a unique value proposition helps attract the right members to your community, establish a strong sense of identity, and keep members engaged. It also helps you make decisions about the direction and growth of your community, and communicate its purpose effectively to others.
Engagement and content plan
Once again, your community is essentially a product you are adding to your offering and it needs a plan behind it. Encourage engagement by starting conversations around topics related to what your community members are interested in learning about or working on together. Ask questions and give feedback when appropriate; this will help foster relationships between members while providing valuable insights into different areas of expertise which can be beneficial for all involved.
You may want to consider setting up weekly challenges or activities that members can participate in such as sharing updates on their progress. This encourages collaboration amongst the members and helps your community become self-sustaining. Live Q&A sessions with special guests are also a commonly used tactic for giving members exclusive access to great content. With the way you've been building your business so far, you'll have plenty ideas for your community engagement strategy.
6. Introduce Premium Access
Creating an online community is a great way to build relationships with your audience, increase engagement, and create loyalty. Now let's look at how you can use this platform to offer premium access to your content.
Offering premium access to your content or community is a great way to monetize and reward loyal followers. Premium access can come in many forms, from exclusive content to special discounts.
Subscription Model: One of the most popular ways to offer premium access is through a subscription model. This could be anything from monthly subscriptions for exclusive content, such as behind-the-scenes videos or interviews with industry experts, to yearly memberships that give customers discounted rates on products and services. Subscriptions are an easy way for creators and solopreneurs to generate recurring revenue while providing their audience with valuable benefits.
Pay Per View Content: If you don't want the commitment of a subscription model, you can also offer pay per view (PPV) content instead. PPV allows users to purchase individual pieces of content without having to sign up for any type of membership plan. This gives them more control over what they're buying and how much they're spending at any given time. Popular types of PPV content include webinars, online courses, ebooks, podcasts episodes, and live streams/events hosted by the creator or business owner themselves.
Membership sites are another option for offering premium access that is similar in concept but different in execution than either subscriptions or PPV models mentioned above. With membership sites, customers have full access all at once upon signing up rather than having it drip out over time like with subscriptions or being able to pick and choose which pieces they'd like as with PPV options. Memberships often include exclusive resources such as templates, worksheets, checklists related specifically towards their niche plus additional perks such as discounts on products and services offered by the creator or business owner themselves along with other bonuses like early bird notifications about upcoming events etc
Offering premium access to your content can be a great way to generate additional revenue and increase engagement with your audience. Now, let's explore how you can launch a product for even more success.
Key Takeaway: Premium access can come in many forms, from exclusive content to special discounts. Subscriptions, pay-per-view content and membership sites are popular options for monetizing your online business.
7. Launch a Product
Launching a product is an exciting step for any content creator, solopreneur, or small to medium-sized business. It’s the culmination of all your hard work and dedication to building an engaged audience. To ensure success, it’s important to have a solid understanding of your target market and their needs.
Research Your Audience: Before you can create a successful product launch strategy, you need to know who you are targeting. Conduct surveys and interviews with members of your community in order to gain insight into their pain points and what solutions they would be interested in purchasing from you. This research will help inform the type of product that best meets their needs.
Create Product Offering: Once you have identified the types of products that appeal most to your audience, start creating them. Whether it’s an online course, physical item, membership site or software-as-a-service (SaaS), make sure each offering is tailored specifically for the people who will be using it. Consider partnering with other experts in your field if necessary - this could help increase credibility while also providing valuable resources for customers looking for more information on specific topics related to your product offerings.
Test & Refine: Test out different versions of your products before launching them publicly by having beta testers provide feedback on features and usability issues they encounter during use. Make adjustments as needed based on user feedback so that when the time comes for public launch day everything runs smoothly without any hiccups.
Once you have created a quality offering that solves customer problems effectively, it's time to promote it. Utilize social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, as well as email marketing campaigns sent directly from within MailChimp or Constant Contact services. These methods can help spread awareness about your unique selling proposition (USP) - why someone should purchase from you over competitors in the same space/marketplace? Additionally, consider advertising through Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager if budget allows; this could further amplify reach potential even more quickly than organic methods alone might achieve over a longer period of time frame.
Determine the price point and payment options that work best for your service offering. Consider upfront payments versus monthly subscription fees, as well as which payment options (eCheck vs Credit Card etc.) offer the greatest convenience to both parties involved so everyone feels comfortable making transactions without worrying about security concerns.
Key Takeaway: To launch a successful product, research your target market and create an offering tailored to their needs. Test & refine the product before launching it publicly and use social media, email campaigns, and ads to promote it. Determine the best payment options for both parties involved.
FAQs in Relation to How to Start an Online Business
Which is the best online business to start?
The best online business to start depends on the individual’s goals, skillset, and resources. For those looking to monetize their content quickly, affiliate marketing is a great option. It involves promoting products or services from other companies in exchange for a commission when customers purchase through your referral link. If you have an existing audience or are willing to build one, creating digital products such as ebooks and courses can be lucrative. Alternatively, offering services like web design or copywriting could also be profitable depending on your experience level and target market. Ultimately, it's important to research different options before deciding which type of online business is right for you.
How can I start my own business online for free?
Starting a business online for free is possible with the right tools and resources. First, decide what type of business you want to start. Research your target market and create a plan for success. Then, find ways to promote your product or service without spending money. This could include using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, creating content on YouTube or blogging about topics related to your industry. Finally, look into free options for setting up an e-commerce website such as Shopify Lite or WooCommerce. With these steps in place, you can get started building your own successful online business at no cost.
What kind of online business is most profitable?
For example, a content creator may find success in creating and selling digital products such as ebooks or courses. A solopreneur might focus on affiliate marketing or providing services like web design or virtual assistance. Small to medium-sized businesses often turn to social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and email campaigns for increased visibility and revenue growth. Ultimately, the best option is one that aligns with your unique strengths while also meeting customer needs.
How do I start an online business from nothing?
Starting an online business from nothing can be daunting, but it is possible. The first step is to identify your target market and develop a product or service that meets their needs. Next, create a website or blog to showcase your offering and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Finally, use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to promote your business and build relationships with potential customers. With dedication and hard work you can turn your dream into reality.
Starting an online business can be a daunting task, but with the right strategy and knowledge, it is possible to make your dreams come true. By following the steps outlined in this article – finding your niche, publishing short form content, growing a newsletter list, creating an online community, offering premium access and launching a product – you will have all the tools necessary to start an online business that will be successful in 2023. With hard work and dedication you can create something amazing that has potential for growth and success. So don’t wait any longer; take action today and start building your own online business.
Are you ready to take your business online and start making money? With KeanenBuckley.com, we can help you create content that will engage with customers, develop a monetization strategy for maximum profitability, and provide expert advice on how to maximize success in the digital age. Take control of your future today and join us as we show you how to launch an online business that works!