When you’re committing to the journey of building an online business, you’re agreeing to an enormous task that can either be a pleasant and exhilarating experience or a harrowing adventure that you second-guess along the way.
One thing that can help you ensure a smoother success story is if you learn to make important decisions early on. Many online entrepreneurs hesitate too much, sitting on the fence for far too long – assuming they’ll make choices when they’re absolutely forced to.
The longer you put it off, the more you’re delaying your profits and your ability to thrive in the marketplace as a competitor. If you have to prioritize them, tackle these 10 decisions first.
Then, whenever a new set of options presents itself, don’t shy away from it – but take time to choose the best option for you and get on with the task of implementing your choice.
Decision #1 – Choose a Niche You’ll Be Happy In
The longer you procrastinate in choosing a niche, which includes flip flopping around between many different niches, the longer you delay your earnings. Never pick a niche based on what someone else is doing.
It has to be right for you. It has to excite you – or at the very least make you feel comfortable and confident in leading others. Your niche should have plenty of information you can share, and a bevy of products you can promote and create to help others eliminate problems and achieve their goals.
Make this decision after conducting some basic market research – but also once you spend a day brainstorming topics and promotion ideas to see if you get stuck easily with content ideas or if it comes effortlessly.
Check out both digital and tangible marketplaces to see what you can promote as an affiliate marketer. You don’t want to be stuck with a small inventory of promotions – you want to have an endless supply of products your people can purchase through your link.
When it comes to content, look at topics in bookstores, on news sites and the covers of magazines. Decide how narrow or broad you want (or should) go with it. Then commit fully – get it in your mind that you are the new leader of that niche – regardless of experience or earnings – you will be the best source of information and recommendations for your target audience.
Keep in mind that just because you commit to one niche, it doesn’t mean you can’t add more in the future. Once you get your current business up and running, you always have the opportunity to add additional websites and businesses so that you have multiple streams of income supporting you.
Decision #2 – Select a Business Model You Can Profit From
Business models are very important because they determine how much you will earn and how much effort you will have to invest in your online business. You can’t be all over the place every day trying to earn from different areas before you have one business fully functional.
You have to methodically build your business branches strategically so that each one is earning on its own. You have many different options for business models, but it will depend on what your niche topic is.
For example, if you were in the toy niche, you wouldn’t have coaching as a business model. Instead, you would only have affiliate marketing. But if you were in the niche of making money online, you could be a coach, an affiliate, a product creator, and more!
There are many niches that have multiple business model opportunities, such as weight loss, health, parenting, gardening, survival, and more. You could even take your knowledge and become a PLR (private label rights) vendor.
Take a day to evaluate the various business models including affiliate marketing, coaching, info product creation, self-publishing on sites like Kindle, private label rights seller, low content or printables seller on Etsy, freelance service provider, or even social media influencer.
You want to look and see what the competition is like, if your niche it allows for each particular type of business model, what the income is like for each one, and answer any other questions you have about it such as how in demand it is and how much effort you would need to put into it.
If you want to, you can choose more than one option for your business models. However, you need to prioritize these in the order that you will build them because you don’t want to be building many different business models at once until each one is profitable.
You also want to choose a business model based on what you enjoy. It’s not a purely profitable decision. Sometimes, something will be more profitable, but it is a business model that you would not enjoy and would therefore struggle with.
When choosing a business model, you want to consider all of the tasks involved. For example, how much content would you need to create? Would you need to have direct, one-on-one interaction with clients or customers?
What kind of equipment would you need, such as video or audio equipment, online editors, and so on? Envision the daily and weekly tasks of running each business model so that you can predict what it would be like and make an informed decision as soon as possible.
Decision #3 – Pick an Email Autoresponder System
As you will soon learn, if you haven’t already, building a list is one of the most important tasks you can do as an online entrepreneur. This needs to be done early on in your journey because every day that you wait to build a list of subscribers is a day of missed opportunity for future profits.
In order to get the ball rolling with a list, you need to make a decision about which email autoresponder is best for you. Even though you could technically switch gears and change to a different company later, this can be a harrowing task importing contact information, so ideally you want to start off with a tool you will stick with.
Not only do you not want to have to transfer names, but you also don’t want to have to relearn a new system in the middle of trying to run your online business. There are many different factors to consider when choosing the best autoresponder.
You will frequently see launches of new autoresponders run by marketers who frequently push a new product at a cheap price point, only to abandon it later without supporting new customers.
Instead of risking your entire business on one of these offers, it’s better to choose an email autoresponder tool that has a good track record. It’s not all about price point, either.
Pricing is definitely important to many people, but most solid autoresponders have a free limit or trial period that you can take advantage of before your business begins to earn money.
For example, many of the autoresponders allow you to have up to 500 subscribers at no cost. Some will insert a little bit of advertising into your emails, but this may be worth it if you are on a strict, type budget.
One important element you want to consider when choosing your autoresponder early is whether or not it has the ability to get through the spam filters for email companies. If you are signed up with an autoresponder that has allowed spammers to operate on it, chances are everyone using that will struggle in getting their emails through to their customers.
GetResponse, Aweber and MailChimp are three of the most noteworthy competitors when it comes to autoresponder systems. You want your emails to be delivered, and all three have a good reputation for achieving this.
If you are new to email marketing, you want to make sure that the company you choose has a good learning database built into their website so that you can easily look up how to perform a task and find the answer already provided to you.
Make sure, before you make a final decision, that you look at some videos or screenshots to see how easy the user interface is. You want something that is quick and simple to understand.
Your autoresponder should give you a lot of detail and data about the performance of your emails, such as telling you what your open rate was, what your bounce rate was, the number of people who clicked on your links, and whether or not any of them lodged a complaint.
If you plan on using autoresponder integration with a variety of platforms, you need to make sure that the platform you are using will accept integration from the autoresponder you are considering.
Make sure you also have the ability to download the database of your subscribers. This is not only smart to backup your system, but if you ever have to move to another autoresponder tool, you will want this information readily available to you.
Decision #4 – Decide Which Product & Affiliate Platforms You’ll Use
Another decision you need to make quickly is which product and affiliate platforms you plan to promote from and sell your products on. This, of course, will depend on which business models you have chosen.
But even if you are starting out as a freelance service provider, you need to do your due diligence in researching the various platforms that you can sell your services on, such as UpWork and Fiverr.
If you are planning to sell digital info products, you will want to look at a variety of platforms such as ClickBank, Warrior Plus, JVZoo, and even Udemy. There are a variety of things you want to look for.
Start by looking at their database to see how easy it is to use their platform. Do they require specific approval or can you launch your product immediately? You also want to know what their fees are.
Make sure you understand whether or not your niche topic or type of product is allowed to be sold on their platform, too. Also think of whether or not you approve of how their affiliate program works.
You may want to look for other features such as the ability to host contests, the ability to have a funnel system in place, whether or not you can capture leads from the sale of your products, and more.
As an affiliate marketer, you are looking for slightly different things. For example, you want to know whether or not the platform has the type of product you want to promote for your niche.
As an affiliate, you may be looking at both digital platforms such as those listed above as well as tangible product platforms. These would include sites like Amazon, Commission Junction, and Share-a-Sale – in addition to vendors who have their own, direct affiliate program.
Decision #5 – Invest in a Good Keyword Tool
Keywords and phrases are so important in running your online business. They are the guideposts that help search engine bots as well as human visitors identify the purpose of your content so that they can see if it is relevant to them or how to index it.
They also allow you to generate thousands of slants based on the actual requests users are typing in to find information that they need. Having a keyword tool at your disposal is akin to tapping into the mind of the consumer.
If you are on an extremely tight budget, you can certainly go to Google or even Amazon and begin typing a keyword or phrase and allowing it to auto fill and give you ideas. This will give you at least ten options right off the bat.
For example, if you go to Google and type in the phrase, gardening tips for, you will get results such as:
* Gardening tips for beginners
* Gardening tips for vegetables
* Gardening tips for tomatoes
* Gardening tips for summer
* Gardening tips for cucumbers…and more!
But one thing you’ll notice is that many of them are too similar. Instead of using the word summer, it might say July or August, and that takes up two additional spots of your free search.
If you were to use a keyword tool, you would get hundreds of results in one search. Using a tool such as WordRecon, you might get additional examples like:
* Gardening tips for a small space
* Gardening tips for clay soil
* Gardening tips for the disabled
* Gardening tips for the environment…and hundreds more!
Not only that, but you are able to quickly and easily drill down with a keyword phrase so that you get more narrow results. If you drill down on the gardening tips for beginners result, you will see more long tail phrases that you can use in your online content, such as:
* Gardening tips for beginners at home
* Simple gardening tips for beginners
* How do you start a garden for beginners
* Gardening tips for beginners for vegetables…and more!
You can also get results from different platforms. Using WordRecon, you see how people are searching on Google, Amazon, Target, Etsy, Bing, YouTube, and more. This is important because the purpose will be unique at each place.
Someone searching on Google might want information, which on Amazon, they’re looking for a product. On YouTube, they want a step-by-step, informative video. It’s all similar and unique – even if it’s related.
You don’t want to be targeting the wrong slants or solutions when you are starting out with an online business, and a good keyword tool can help you pinpoint the needs of your target audience quickly and easily so that you hit the ground running.
Many keyword tools will also give you a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) information so that you can be competitive with the content you create and help your site rank faster in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Invest in one early and you can use it for ideas for your blog posts, email autoresponders, social media hashtags, lead magnets, and even your info product slants.
Decision #6 – Determine the Best Tasks to Outsource Early On
You want to shortcut your path to success as much as possible. As an online entrepreneur, there’s no way you can grow to a level where you’re earning on autopilot unless you systemize your business and delegate whenever possible.
You’ll be able to do it all yourself for awhile, but there are only so many hours in a day, and eventually, the volume of things on your to do list will overtake the effort you had planned to put into it.
You may not even have the funds to outsource yet, but you need to plan for it – which means learning how the process of outsourcing works, finding good people you want to hire for projects eventually, and setting aside money for the tasks little by little if you’re on a budget.
Start by looking at your task list and identify things you don’t feel qualified to do. This might be content creation, graphic design, or something else. You want to know what type of freelancer or business you’ll need to delegate to – a ghostwriter, graphic designer, or virtual assistant?
You might find workarounds initially, such as using templates on Canva – but eventually, you can outsource a task to a freelancer to make you something unique and professional.
You also want to look at the different platforms including UpWork and Fiverr or elsewhere and scout out the freelancers that you are considering delegating to in the future.
You can go ahead and look at their profile and portfolio and even engage in a back and forth of questions with them about how things will work and what their pricing is like so that you can plan for a future project.
When the time comes, remember to always start out with a small project to test the waters and make sure the two of you are a good fit for one another as provider and client.
Decision #7 – Nail Down Your Primary Media Format
The next decision you will need to make as soon as possible is what will be your primary media format – text, video, or audio. While images are a great addition to help you build a business online, it’s more difficult to gain traction with just an individual image, even if it is an infographic.
Text is the most prevalent media format there is online. You can use as little or as much content as you need to explain something and paint a picture for your readers. Video is a close second in terms of popularity.
In fact, YouTube is the second largest search engine online next to Google. TikTok is also one of the fastest growing social media platforms, and it utilizes short form video, such as 15 to 60 seconds in length.
Many online marketers build their business around audio podcasts. Not only can you have a podcast with various episodes representing your content, but you can also create audiobooks that your customers can download and listen to at their convenience.
When you are deciding which format you want to use, you need to go over a couple of questions. Keep in mind that you will be able to use all media formats, but you want to have a main one that you use as the most prevalent option to deliver your message.
The first question is what are you good at? Not everyone is a good communicator when it comes to the written word. Likewise, many people look like a deer in the headlights when it comes to video.
You also want to consider the question of what does your audience prefer? You may find, during your initial research, that your target audience devours more video than they do a text based blog content.
Or, you might find that podcasts and audiobooks are soaring in your niche, whereas video or text are not as popular. Make sure you consider the tools needed to present yourself as a niche leader with whatever media format you choose.
If you are using text, you may want to learn how to use a good online editing tool to clean up any typos, spelling or grammatical errors before you publish your content online.
If you are using video, you will want to have a good camera or smartphone that has a decent built-in camera. You will also need a way to edit your videos so that you can add intros and outros, turn your cursor into a highlighted one, blur information out that you do not want shown on screen, and more.
if you are focusing on the use of audio as your primary media format, you will want to invest in a decent microphone, pop filter, and acoustic foam panels that you can use to record a high quality episode.
Decision #8 – Get Set Up on the Best Social Networks Right Away
Don’t hesitate in staking claim to your profiles on social networking sites and apps. Even if you don’t think or know whether you’ll be using a platform, grab your brand’s usernames the minute you go into business.
The last thing you want to do is wait until your brand begins gaining some traction to register your profiles because, by that time, someone else will have already taking it from you.
You may or may not want to register to use every single social networking site and app in the marketplace. This is a little excessive. However, for the major social platforms, you want to go ahead and do this.
Even if you don’t currently see a big following on a specific platform, it wouldn’t hurt to register on it anyway in case there is an influx of your target audience later period or, you may be able to identify a demographic that is using that social platform, and you will be all set to reach out to them.
Some of the ones you want to consider include well known platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and Audio platforms like Clubhouse. On Facebook, you want to have both a page and a group set up so that you can begin building a following if and when you want to.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to begin cultivating an audience on social networks. Many times, you can simply repurpose your blog content or at the very least link to it from these platforms.
When you get set up, make sure that your profile graphics such as your the profile picture, your header, or your channel graphics are all uniform across the board. Consumers should be able to recognize you whether they are on Facebook or YouTube.
There are some templates you can use on sites like Canva. But if you want to, you can outsource the graphics to a professional on a site like Fiverr. Make sure they know the dimensions you need for your graphics and that they can create the right size for each social platform you sign up for.
Decision #9 – Make a Decision About Who to Network With – And Why
Networking is a very important part of your journey as an online marketer period from your very first days as a beginner who knows nothing to a time when you are the expert others are hoping to connect with, you have to start early with this task.
This not only helps you get the support and information you need from your colleagues in this industry, but it also helps you get more name recognition. For example, you might start out as an info product developer, and unless you are out there networking with others, they may not feel comfortable promoting you as an affiliate.
Networking is more than just introducing yourself and sending people a link to your joint venture page. It’s often your ability to form fast friendships with people who are in the same line of business, seeking the camaraderie and guidance that can help both of you.
Networking is done in a variety of ways. Most often, it is on Facebook in groups as well as via private messages. You can send people a friend request so that you can engage on their personal profile, and let them get to know a little bit about you.
Always align yourself with the most ethical individuals that are in this business. If you began befriending the wrong people, it can make others sit up and take notice and suspect your motives.
You want to look for people that you want to learn from. Their strategies, their technical developments, and even their ethics. Learn how they communicate with their customers, how they choose their products, and everything you feel you can look up to about them.
You also want to be networking with individuals who you plan to promote as an affiliate marketer, if applicable. This will allow you to get advance notice about upcoming launches as well as review copies whenever if possible.
Similarly, you want to begin networking with people that you hope to bring onboard for your launch as an affiliate. You want to target people that have a high converting list and whose recommendations go far with their target audience.
You even want to begin networking with people who will be your potential customers and clients. You may have different content for these individuals, but you do want to show that you are available and engaged with them directly so that you are not viewed as unapproachable.
Decision #10 – Decide on a Schedule You Can Thrive in
The last decision you need to make in a timely manner is what kind of schedule you intend to adhere to with your online business. This is different for every individual. Some people want to work a full time, 40 hour work week while others only want to dip their toe in with four hours total.
There is no right or wrong schedule. You will have to come up with something that works in terms of the kind of money you want to make as well as what you are capable of.
You also want to figure out when you want to work – not just how often. You have the ability to set your own hours, so you can work at 3:00 PM or 3:00 AM – whenever you are most productive, alert, and happy.
You might even do a split schedule where you work every other day or Monday, Wednesday, Fridays or only on weekends if you prefer. Be careful that you don’t overwhelm and overload yourself.
Solo entrepreneurs are notorious for running themselves into the ground because they carry the burden of sustaining an entire business all on their own. Self-care is very important when you work for yourself.
If you need to work a few hours in the morning and a little bit in the evening so that you can take a break midday and do something beneficial for your own mental and physical health, you can do that.
But try to set up a schedule early on so that you can get in the groove of things and see what works best for you. You may need to tweak things along the way or if a life change occurs, you may need to switch gears and change your schedule up a bit.
Being an Internet marketer gives you the freedom you crave to be your own boss and pursue your passions in life. Just don’t allow yourself to become too comfortable sitting on the sidelines trying to make sure everything is perfect when you need to jump in and take action without hesitation.