I get it. You may feel like everyone has an online business or a blog of some sort these days, but that shouldn’t discourage you from going after that dream business or that blog you’ve always wanted to start. I’ve always loved blogging, and started my first blog back in 2010, but I had absolutely no idea I would end up starting a small business one day. To be honest with you, I never created a formal business plan when I started my first business, and didn’t have any sort of strategy in place with my first blog. I went in blind and had to figure things out as I went along. Looking back, of course there are plenty of things I wish I would’ve done differently in the beginning, but something that helped guide me through and keep me on track with my online brands were a series of questions I made sure to ask myself, which is what I’m sharing with you below.
Some of these questions may seem a bit tedious to answer, but getting super clear on your response to each is important when setting up your brand:
For starters — what is your brand about?
First of all, are you a blogger? A business owner? If you’re a blogger, do you plan on turning your blog into a business by selling digital products or services? If you’re an aspiring business owner, do you currently run a brick and mortar business or plan to market your products or services solely online?
What is your niche? What will you focus on when you start your blog? What area of business will you go into?
If you’re a business owner, what products or services are you selling? If you’re a blogger, what topics will you cover?
What problems are you solving with your brand? Why would people read your blog or invest in your products/services?
What is your brand’s mission? What is your why?
Take some time to answer these questions before you think about some of the items below.
Getting clear on your target market or target audience
In addition to getting clear on the basics of your brand, determining who you’re targeting is a crucial step in setting up your brand. Whether you’re a blogger or a business owner, you need to be marketing your brand with your ideal customers, clients or readers in mind. You should be asking yourself:
Who is your target audience or target market?
Who are you writing to? Who are you selling to?
How does your product, service or content solve a problem they are experiencing?
Something that can help you think deeper about your target market, and an exercise I ask many of my Pinterest clients to do, is create a personal profile of your ideal customer, client or reader. This gives you visual reference and helps put things into perspective. When I do this for my brands, I even go as far to find a photo from Unsplash of someone who fits my target market, then include the following:
Name, age, likes/dislikes, profession
The problem(s) they need solved
How you can help solve their problem with your products, services or content
Identifying your target market or target audience helps you start to figure out how you can market your brand, bring more traffic to your website and create valuable content.
Marketing your brand
When I started my first business I had absolutely no idea how to market my brand online. I struggled for quite awhile to figure out the best practices to reach my target customers, and definitely tried my hand at a variety of methods. Having a published website is great, but you need to get people there and have that traffic convert, right? If you’re running an online brand, there are several options you can look into:
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Pinterest — registering for a business account and implementing specific strategies to grow your brand and drive traffic to your site to increase sales, clients and readers. I’ve even created a course to show you exactly how to increase your website traffic by using Pinterest!
Facebook — running ads, creating your own page and/or group, joining other groups that allow promoted posts
Email — setting up a solid email marketing system, building an email list, providing subscribers with valuable, informative content
Instagram — building a following, running ads, collaborating with influencers or other bloggers and business owners
In-Person — networking with people in your area, attending local events, cold calling, visiting local businesses
I’ll get into some specifics around online marketing in another post because there’s a lot to talk about here, but in my experience I’ve found it most manageable to focus your efforts on two to three platforms so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Try and figure out where your target market is hanging out the most, and get really good at marketing on those platforms first. It’s tempting to want to tap into all of the platforms above, but it can be incredibly overwhelming to juggle everything at once, especially if you’re just starting out.
Regardless of where you are in establishing an online brand, it’s always helpful to refer back to these questions before and during the process. While there is certainly so much more to consider when creating a new blog or online business, getting clear on these essential questions helps to shape some of your future decisions.