Success online is certainly subjective.
One person may want to simply turn their hobby into something that helps cover a car payment while another wants to scale a business to multiple 7 figures.
Regardless of what you want, it really boils down to three simple things. There are moving pieces and different elements to each of the simple things, but if you focus on these three things, you will succeed.
The trick is not to get sidetracked.
It’s easy to get caught up with trying new things (I’m 100% guilty of this), which is fine, just make sure your focus and priority are these three things.
The 3 Things
- A property online that YOU own (i.e. your website or even an email list)
- An audience of engaged subscribers
- An offer that solves their problem
Now let’s drill down a little deeper.
A property online that YOU own
I will always, always, always recommend for people to have their own website and publish content there first. Even if you are going all-in with another content format (video on YouTube), make sure that you’re creating a blog post about your video and embedding your video into the post.
It’s far too easy to get a website set up to not do this.
WordPress is my first choice, but I know there are plenty of other platforms that allow you to build a website, publish content, and sell things on. Whatever it is, just make sure that you have complete control and ownership. I’m not a huge fan of all-in-one platforms for your website, but at the end of the day, you need to use whatever will accomplish this that is easiest for you.
I believe that with any tool you want to use: use the one that is the path of least resistance and you’ll actually use.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume that you have a website.
Obviously, I’m not referring to having a ‘brochure’ website. I’m talking about a website where you publish content, you keep it up to date, you make it easy for visitors and customers to get in touch with you, and it’s crystal clear what your business is about.
The next thing you absolutely MUST have is an email list of engaged subscribers.
Even if you’re using an all-in-one platform, I personally would keep my email list on a separate email service provider like ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign (there are too many email providers to mention here and many now have free plans that you can get started with. Functionality may be limited with the free plan but it’s enough to get you started and comfortable with the platform you’ve chosen).
I won’t go too sideways with email marketing here, but you want to make sure that everything you’re doing is driving people to sign up for your email list.
This is literally the ONE regret I have in my business.
I always had an email opt-in form and collected email addresses, I simply didn’t put the time and energy into understanding the power of email marketing until much later. Remember, email marketing is traffic you control.
This is one of the skills and areas that should always be a priority in your business.
Your email list is first and foremost, people.
When you treat those people right (respect their time and attention), your list becomes an asset.
An audience of engaged subscribers
Most people with email lists don’t email them enough.
If you let your list get cold, they’re not going to remember who you are or when they signed up. I had this happen with a course I had on another platform. I didn’t realize the integration with ConvertKit wasn’t working so when I discovered it I emailed the list and a few people emailed me asking me why I was emailing them (always double-check integrations).
Whichever email platform you’re using, you want to make sure that you’re keeping your list clean.
Remove people who aren’t active, aren’t opening your emails, or have signed up with spammy email addresses simply to get your freebie.
If you’re not sure how to do this check the help docs, tutorials, or good ol’ YouTube.
The more frequently you do this, the less sensitive you’ll become to people unsubscribing. It’s all part of the process. This is why you need to always be focusing on adding new subscribers to your list.
Email list growth is an ongoing process. You don’t simply put opt-in forms on your website and hope for the best. You need to promote this constantly. Share a landing page to an opt-in offer on social, ask people to ‘forward to a friend’, link to your opt-in in your bio’s on social, etc.
An Offer That Solves Their Problem
Sounds pretty obvious, I know, but this is something a lot of people do, whether they’re just starting out OR have been in business for a while.
You need to know who you’re serving and what their problems are.
This has been said a bajillion times on the internet, so I won’t go off the rails about this here, but make sure you’re crystal clear on who your audience is. Google ‘customer avatar worksheet’ and you’ll find plenty (or again, go to YouTube).
This can evolve and change over time as your business grows, but you need to know who you’re talking to and how you can help them.
You also need to take the time to figure out what their problems are (as opposed to assuming you know what their problems are).
The easiest way to do this is to ask them 😉.
We recently sent out a survey to our list asking them how they’re using the Content Creators Planner, what features they’d like to see added, and which ones they weren’t using (as well as a few other questions).
Not only were the responses really interesting (some features we hadn’t thought about), but the data and feedback were invaluable.
Obviously, we won’t be able to implement everything, but it helps us to craft content and training in the future or the next version of the planner after version 2 is done.
You can also go into Facebook groups or check out “Answer the Public.”
If you want to go much deeper about your audience, you can try the new tool from Rand Fishkin, called “SparkToro.” Here’s an example of what you can search for:
I signed up for the free trial and have to admit… I’m pretty impressed with the results.
I’ll go into more detail on SparkToro after I’ve had some time to dig deeper, but I’d suggest trying it for free to see how you like it.
There are plenty of ways to dig deeper into the problems your audience has. If you’re willing to take the time and do the work it will be invaluable.
This may seem overly simplified, but the point of this post is to help you get out of your head.
Success online should be defined by you. This is to help you get there faster, while enjoying the journey.
Once you have these 3 things in place, then you can focus on all the additional strategies (and tactics), for growing your business.
It will feel a lot better when you launch your course/product/service to a list of people who know, like, and trust you.