Thanks to the internet, more and more people are earning money in ways that were impossible before. For instance, a whole host of freelance content writers are finding work with SEO firms, or through commission sites like Upwork. The idea of being able to brand yourself and write for strangers over the internet, sometimes on a commissioning basis, is quite interesting to think about. Even twenty years ago that would have been a hard ask.
Of course, this is just one tiny definition, and perhaps not the same as running your own online business – which is a much more prevalent consideration. You don’t even have to be selling anything directly to make money from merchandise. A podcast growing in popularity, for instance, may decide to craft and sell t-shirts to help supplement their income, provide fans of the show a token of their appreciation, and it may help you grow in exposure.
So, let’s say you’re running one of these initiatives, to be defined in a thousand possible ways. How might you get the most from your small, online business? Let’s consider:
The Right Platform For You
It’s important to consider what platform is best for you. For instance, let’s say you want to make it as an ASMR artist (yes, this is a thing, and quite a lucrative thing, too!) Might it be that streaming your content on Twitch is appropriate? Could it be that sticking to YouTube works for you? How else might you monetize your content? For instance, Patreon is known for being a place where individual creators can offer a subscription-based service to those who wish to further support their content and gain subscribers as a result.
The right platform for you may not be the right platform for someone else. Famous journalists, such as Glenn Greenwald, are finding the time to move to sites like Substack thanks to their editorial freedom and ability to earn a commission from doing so – all from paying subscribers. It could just be that your best option is:
Hosting A Website
Having a website, hosted with a particular and specific domain name, is essential for most professionals hoping to attract a presence. Even if you don’t want to make best-use of the SEO practices that may generate natural traffic, it can serve as a great hub for your portfolio and contact information.
Hosting a website, perhaps through a service like Squarespace or WordPress, can help you make use of a range of pre-determined themes. This may, in effect, help take the difficulty of web design from having to bother you. First though, be sure to purchase a good, memorable domain name. In 2020, even an extension to your domain can be original. For instance, if your podcast, in the example described above, is named ‘Heather Town’ you may purchase the domain name ‘heather.town’ to gain some readability. However, try to be as creatively simple as you can. Upload a favicon to your site browser. Ensure that people have a reason to use your brand. If you can establish that, odds are you’ll be in a better position moving forward, and you’ll have pride of place on the internet to transmit and expose your work.
Mail & Costs
It’s important to consider the strict cost of your work, and how that applies to the rest of your business. Saving the pennies will help you save the dollars, or pounds. It might be, for instance, that postage meters could save you up to 24% compared to having your deliveries weight and sent at the post office each time.
If you’re selling high volumes of smaller items, calling back to our original example about t-shirts and other merchandise, it could be that this effort saves you a great deal of cash. However, it could also save you the one thing more important than cash – time. For this reason, mail and costs should be considered, both as a specific example and an ever-present principle to help you squeeze the most from your business planning.
Social Media Principles
Social media is a tricky landscape to navigate, but it’s very important that you do so. If you can focus on how you relate to your customers and drum up new business, you can more adequately understand what effective measures are needed for the best result. That’s a worthwhile use of your time, as it can quite often help you establish the core personality of your brand.
So – what social media principle are worth following? Well, actively keeping your audience updated is important. If you’re something of a personable brand, making jokes and networking publicly can also be a good way of creating content. It might be that you use this for branding, or for generating buzz about events, or simply having a business page people can review and add legitimacy to your brand can be a worthwhile use of your time. Social media principles matter. Be sure to focus on them.
Remember that personal privacy should also be a factor when it comes to running a small online business, likely because you won’t have an office space or place of business to run it from.
If you wish to protect your home address, you may consider opening a virtual mailbox address with a range of services that provide just that. You may also opt for opening your own business email account. Making sure your business and personal social media accounts aren’t linked, publicly anyway, is an important consideration to make. Furthermore, if accepting payments through services like PayPal, make sure that your personal address isn’t there for everyone to see via the settings on your profile. Business profiles offered by these services often offer you the best account security – but it’s important to check.
With this advice, we hope you can more actively, and accurately, run your own business in the best possible sense. Remember – it’s entrepreneurs like you that will inspire a future generation of go-getters, so no matter how humble your operation is, give yourself the credit you deserve.