Becoming successful online – maybe even with your own business - this is a dream that has been dreamed mainly by people who want to build up a very large customer base – or visionaries who are looking for ways to become more financially independent or those who have already recognized early on how the "business world" could develop – but that has changed!
By 2020 at the latest, the lockdown will have made it clear to many entrepreneurs what advantages they have if they have already placed a lot of emphasis on digitization, new technologies and online presence – if their business or company
1. can already be found or contacted online (via Google Business or their own homepage).
2. you may already have your own online store or a site through which to market your products and services
or 3. even offer the services completely on the Internet.
Because many of those who have not done so to date are currently finding it difficult to sell their products and services – not to mention win over new customers. An absolute disadvantage.
Dear entrepreneurs & dear experts who still find it difficult to take the step to online presence – now it really is time to rethink, to think ahead and, if necessary, even to break new ground!
This 2-part blog series is aimed at all those for whom waiting and hoping is not enough in the current times – and at those people who are brave, creative and disciplined enough to offer their services online and (with a lot of hard work, of course) to be successful with it even in times of closed stores and unrealizable events.
Specifically, the two articles are intended to inspire and assist you in either
Not only will you get plenty of ideas here, but you will also be shown important steps and considerations.
In principle, there are many - really many! - possibilities how to become successful with the help of the internet or even how to build up your own online business. Of course, in 99 percent of cases this does not happen overnight and not by itself! Even if this is promised gladly. You will have to put a lot of strategic thought, creativity, hard work and courage, as well as patience. Now we would like to take a look at the various possibilities.
Note: For all those who just want to create a simple online presence and thus new contact opportunities, we recommend our blog series and guide on how to create a website.
No one would have guessed what was coming in the last few months and, above all, what this means and will mean for the local economy – for the favorite restaurant around the corner, for the cobbler, the favorite hairdresser, the florist. All of these people once built their businesses to do something good for other people with their personal service, to be a good contact person – in other words, to do something for and with people. For many of these very people, the topic of online presence has not been an issue at all. Maybe it would even have made sense, but personal contact was just so much in the foreground. Maybe for you, too?
If you want to bring your offer directly to the Internet, you should create your own website. This should not only contain all products and product categories of which it makes sense that you offer here – No! Perhaps you can even transfer your "advice" or some advantages that arise from the otherwise direct support to the Internet.
What does it mean? What could your company – your project look like online?
An example to illustrate:
Let's assume you have a wedding dress store. Your customers really appreciate the personal advice, the cozy ambience and, of course, the fitting directly on site. Of course, you can't replicate this 1:1 online. But how about:
You can apply the above mentioned concept to a wide variety of locally available stores and, to some extent, services. Let's say you have a repair service – you could explain to potential customers on your website how the goods to be repaired will get to you as soon as possible, making the process less complicated for them.
You could also contact your existing or potential customers to assess what they would like from a corresponding website. Initially, there are no limits to your imagination.
In addition, you should consider - and this is pleasing - that you can offer more goods via an online store than via a retail store. Use this advantage! Possibly you could expand your services. Think carefully about what makes sense and what does not.
Of course, not everything has to happen immediately either. You can build the online presence step by step and improve it over time. Possibly have an agency give you a few tips or help you build the site.
Depending on what you want to present and market on the Internet, you should consider what kind of online presence this should take place on. Basically, it makes sense to lay the foundation for this with a website or an online store. We explained how to decide on the right website type in Part 1 of our blog series on creating a website.
Furthermore, you should ask yourself how you can reach your existing customers and potential new customers – i.e. how they get to your website!
What data have you received from your customers so far, which you may also use for advertising purposes? (Attention, GDPR!) Draw attention to your new website in these ways (e.g. by email).
Other possibilities are social media channels & groups, advertising in the social networks or ads on Google. Basically, you should make sure from the beginning that your site is search engine optimized (SEO) – because this is the only way your ideal customers will find you when they search the Internet for corresponding products or services. In the second part of this blog series, we will go into more detail about how you can make your site better known.
Once the contact has been established – and the interest in your products, which you present online, has been awakened, you can offer the potential customers (on your site) various contact options, which make good advice as good and easy as possible. From telephone to video conferencing, everything is possible here. However, ensure data privacy at all steps. This is especially important if you manage customer or employee data. We have some helpful articles on the topic for you on our blog:
Blog article about data protection in the company
If you have not yet been self-employed or active as an entrepreneur both online and offline, or if you would like to try something new, then you should perhaps set up your own online business – i.e. a company that operates exclusively via the Internet. Because if you approach the matter with brains and discipline, then this can become quite successful. We have already pointed out the many advantages above.
But with which ideas and formats can you actually become successful on the Internet with your own online business? In the following, we would like to introduce you to some ideas – a few you may already know, others may even surprise you.
If you build your own online presence and link the products of other companies here, it is affiliate marketing.
You create good and, if possible, also regular content, thus build up reach and "recommend" (link) to the corresponding store. If the products are then purchased from the respective provider, you receive a commission. We have already described this topic in great detail in a blog post:
In specific terms, your site can be about very specific products, e.g. a test site for electrical appliances or other. Affiliate marketing can also take the form of running your own store where products are sold via affiliate links. The customer chooses the product on the affiliate site and is directed by you to the supplier's site for the ordering process.
Furthermore, even a simple blog can become a platform on which you can place affiliate links – for example, you could link books on a certain topic or, of course, high-priced products. For example, if you are doing a construction project and regularly report about it on your blog – and it also has many readers – then you could act as a "recommender" for products and machines of certain manufacturers and earn money with it.
The more valuable the products, the higher the commission in many cases! However, it is very important that the products also fit your theme – otherwise you will quickly lose credibility and users are very likely to lose interest in your site.
You certainly know the conventional online shop! – This is the classic trade that is carried out via the Internet. On the one hand, you can sell your own products or third-party products that you store in your shop. On the other hand, you can also do "dropshipping". This means that you are only responsible for marketing and order processing. However, the products are sent directly from the manufacturer to the ordering customer. Probably the best-known example of this is Amazon.
If you run a shop on a very specific topic that is in good demand and you also have a good strategy for publicising your shop, then nothing stands in the way of success! You can find out more about the last mentioned topic soon in part 2 on this topic on our blog.
Yes, hosting is also an exciting field in which you can start a pure online business and become successful. You don't even need your own data center and can still offer your customers a wide range of high-quality hosting services – as a reseller or specialised trade partner of a hosting company. If you are interested in Keyweb's reseller programme, you can find out more here: Reseller at Keyweb
Do you take great pleasure in compiling information for others and using it to provide them with knowledge, experience, tips or entertaining content? Then "digital information products" are probably an area that might interest you.
Here you create your own content, for example in video, audio or PDF format (e.g. an eBook) and sell it on the internet – and only in digital form. The advantage: The content only has to be created once and, if necessary, touched up later. However, if you are good, you can sell the information products very often. Another advantage: With instructions, learning offers and guides – which digital information products often are, you also do something good for other people – you deliver real added value!
Whether career, health, dancing, children, programming, IT, gaming, living, making music, travelling, languages, finance, etc. – in all these subject areas and beyond, there are 1000 topics and tips that you could work on in your info product. Of course, the product can also be offered additionally in non-digital form.
First look around at what the competition is doing – and then do it better! More understandable! More user-friendly! More entertaining! More targeted! – and "interpret" the content in your own way – because this will give your product its very own charm.
Ideally, you will need your own website for all three of the formats described, which you can set up according to your offer and your goals.
In contrast to option 1 - if a local business already exists – option 2 requires you to build up a completely new customer base with your business. This can also be done through good search engine optimisation, advertisements in the social media or other advertisements – online as well as offline.
As a possibly completely new player on the market, you first have to build up the trust of potential customers. This can be done, for example, through positive reviews from the first test customers – or through good content marketing. You will learn more about this soon in the second part of this blog article.
Furthermore, whenever you work with customer and employee data, the issue of IT and data security is particularly important. Your website, or the server on which it is located, should be in Germany (or in the country where you are setting up your business). The site or shop should have SSL encryption and of course you should pay attention to data security when selecting all providers. This is also important when choosing any necessary payment providers.
For example, if you want to offer your courses via a sales platform, check the issue of security here too. Even if you want to manage your digital products on an online course platform, inform yourself about this extensively in advance!
Especially if your job is affected by the current crisis, the third option might be helpful for you. We are absolutely aware that this is not possible for every profession – but people who may have previously held an office job could, for example, make themselves available as digital assistants to employers who need this support all the more.
But programmers, photographers or filmmakers, for example, can also offer their services via the internet not only at times of lockdown, but also in general, for example as a sideline.
In order to recognise the potential of one's own job or talent via the internet, one needs, on the one hand, the famous "thinking outside the box" and, on the other hand, a lot of creativity. Because in order to "think outside the box", you have to leave the familiar way of thinking for once. For example, there are now many people in advisory professions who offer their services via video calls and also sell various documents as information products as described above.
In the field of web design or in other professions in the field of media, for example, it is definitely possible to discuss and complete projects entirely via the Internet. Physical proximity is not absolutely necessary here either.
Here are a few examples of activities that could be carried out via the internet:
It can be assumed that the working world will change due to the current situation, which goes hand in hand with accelerated digitalisation, that the openness to the topic of home offices will increase more and more and that physical proximity will possibly become a subordinate factor in business relationships. On the other hand, the willingness to use services online, as described here, could probably increase.
The prerequisite for this is, of course, an online presence – ideally your own website, which you can use as your digital business card and present, for example, references, projects or your qualifications.
With this variant, too, it can make sense to use the marketing tools already mentioned, such as online ads and search engine marketing.
Once your potential clients have become aware of you, contact that inspires confidence is important. Video conferencing tools can be of great help to you in the discussions with the potential client and also increase the effectiveness of the work. Here, too, pay attention to high data security and communicate this. After all, no one wants sensitive information to be seen by unauthorised persons.
Once you have decided which option is best for you, you should plan everything carefully. We would like to give you a few points in the form of questions that you should consider in advance. These questions are particularly important for options 2 and 3 (i.e. if you do not yet have a clientele)!
Is there a subject area in which you are a real professional? In which you are repeatedly asked for advice? This can either be your profession that you have been doing for a long time – or a hobby, a passion that you have been dealing with for a long time and thus have automatically become a professional in the field over time, so to speak.
Another possibility is to become a professional in a certain subject area that has been of interest to you for a long time. You learn something new AND offer others real added value with your skills or knowledge.
Success does not come overnight! Especially in the early days, you may spend days and nights, even weekends, dealing with your topic. When you create your digital offer, you will deal with all the important aspects around the topic in many situations – again and again. This doesn't even have to feel like work for an area you love. However, with a topic that you have only chosen for financial or other "logical" reasons, this can become very energy draining in the long run. Find something that you can stick with, that you are really passionate about.
The trick is to find a niche in which there is not yet too much competition - but which nevertheless attracts sufficient interest. A useful tool for "market research" can be a so-called keyword research. This can be done, for example, via the website "Ubersuggest" or the "Google Keyword Planner". You enter various potential search terms on the topic (general and specific queries, also synonyms and similar terms) and the tool shows you how many people search for such a term each month and how big the competition is. This method allows some insights into the interests as they prevail on the internet.
Whether you want to bring your local business online, offer your own services online or start a new online business, get to know your target audience! Think about who the customers are that you want to target online and get as much information as possible about them. What are their needs? What media do they use? Which platforms? This is the only way you will be able to address them in a targeted way later on.
... and what added value can you offer potential customers? Do they really benefit from your offer? Is there perhaps even something that makes or should make your particular offer very special? For example, do you convey complicated information in a very special way? Does your product perhaps have a very special user-friendliness? Are you a person who is particularly good at responding to the individual needs of your customers? These are aspects that should be directly reflected in your communication and also in the service/product! Find your special method to meet the needs of your customers!
So, now you're ready to go! You can think about how you would like to go online with your local business, a great business idea or your service! In the next part of this topic, we would like to discuss what you should think about in terms of concrete implementation and how you could proceed in order to arouse the interest and trust of potential customers!
Feel free to let us know if we have inspired you! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Keyweb AG
We would like to point out that this article should serve as your inspiration. For professional advice on business ideas and setting up a company, please contact an expert consultant in this field! We are very happy to assist you with all website and hosting related topics!