7 Tips for Improving Your Online Business

November 2nd, 2016 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

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Running a digital business can be simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging way to earn a living. And while there are times it seems like there’s always another mountain to climb, there are tried and true methods for improving your online business. Here are seven tips to put you back on track.

Self discipline

Perhaps the most important lesson for anyone running their own business is to learn self discipline. Entrepreneur and web motivational speaker Steve Pavilina believes that running your own business is one of life’s great teachers, and that failure taught him the self discipline he needed to succeed:

“My business compelled me to grow into the kind of person who could handle these sorts of things. I learned to trust myself to work hard, to stay focused under pressure, and to even enjoy the process.”

Steve uses the metaphor of bodybuilding to improve muscles. Remarking that while stress and risk can be a great teacher, it’s important to:

“Lift weights that are heavy and which tax your muscles… but which you can still successfully lift. Afterwards you may feel spent, but you’ll also grow from the experience.”

Keep building your audience

If you’re based on the web (and who isn’t these days?) you need traffic. It’s as simple as that; without traffic you can’t sell to customers and without customers you can’t get paid. There are lots of ways to get more traffic, the problem is everyone’s doing it, right?

Driving more traffic to your website is a strategic goal. If you sell products, you might find advertising with Google Shopping to be the way to go. Provide services? With some smart keyword research you can maximise your ROI with Pay-Per-Click advertising.

If you’re handy with words, Search Engine Optimised content can reap rewards over time, bringing in search traffic that is looking for what you’re selling. Even if you don’t want to write your own content, there are plenty of good copywriters out there who can craft your message for you.

The most important thing with any audience building strategy is to track your achievements. Experiment with analytics and social media services. Record results and refine your strategies. You’ll be on your way in no time.

Don’t wait too long

Your first product launch might not be your best, but regardless, it will be a great learning experience. You might be waiting for a magic number of subscribers, visitors or followers to start launching products, but the truth is it is better to get practice marketing and launching products than to wait for the ideal circumstances.

Having something for sale also engenders trust to your new visitors. Most visitors to your site will have almost no idea how much traffic you’re getting. Putting your best foot forward and having products available, even if your traffic is pretty modest, can be a great way to get visitors to stick around and make a purchase.

Products are also an an opportunity to accumulate data. So even if your first product doesn’t do too well, you’ll have information to help refine the next one.

Don’t provide a solution to a non-existent problem

Imagine you had the cure for aging in your hand right now. It’s yours, you own it, all you have to do is go out and sell it. Easy, right? Not only does the product solve a problem that affects a large group of people, but it’s also in high demand.

Consider your existing products or ideas – do they solve a problem? If the answer is no, then perhaps you need to think about the worth in pursuing them.

Now, not every product has to be the cure for aging. It might simply use better materials, or be designed for an emerging niche. You might cater to a small but dedicated crowd, or provide a more premium experience on a common product. As long as it solves some sort of problem, you should be able to market it to the right audience.

Listen to your customers

By customers we don’t just mean the ones who buy from you, but the ones who ask for refunds, ask questions, or come but don’t buy. In this digital world, there are tools to assess user behaviour, like analytics and conversion tracking. Surveys are a good method for qualitatively evaluating your users as well. Ask the right questions, get the right answers.

Be different

There are millions of websites out there, yet most traffic goes to only a handful.  While mimicking the latest blog or web service might seem like a smart play for success, the truth is almost all these sites started small, and were different.

You’ll never beat the big dogs at their own game, but if you offer something different, you’re giving people a reason to stick around. You don’t have to disrupt the entire industry, just offer something fresh, or something familiar in a new and interesting way.

Keep your page simple

All the traffic in the world isn’t going to help if your website isn’t simple and easy to understand. Don’t clutter up your homepage with useless menus, or add confusing terminology or graphics. Focus on what’s important. Are you providing products or a service? How can you make the journey for visitors simple and easy to understand?

The most visited website in the world started as a simple page with one field where you enter text. Since then, Google has developed a myriad of services and offerings, yet the basic experience remains the same. We can all take a page from Larry and Sergey in keeping things simple.

About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.