The 5-Step Guide To Success in Online Business
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With wages stagnating and layoffs seemingly part of everyday life for the past three years, many professionals have sought to start a solopreneur business. A solopreneur business is a business (often digital) that the owner can run without a team.
In September 2022, I left my job. Despite having two law degrees and a Master of Sciences, I was wrapping up a one-year contract that paid me $50k annually while working 50+ hours per week. Now, I did have some savings and had been planning to start my solopreneurship venture for a few years, so I wasn’t starting from zero. Before that one-year contract, I founded a technology startup and worked a higher-paying job in the technology industry.
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When I left my job, I calculated that I had six months of runway to make enough to cover my annual costs before finding a job. It is vital that before you start any solopreneur journey or abandon your source of income, you know exactly how long you have to make your business work. This allows you to minimize stress by determining a stopping point instead of endlessly dragging yourself and your family through the pain of trying to start a business while dropping deeper into debt.
Let’s start your journey to $150k and walk you through exactly how I did it, step by step.
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1. Hacking your initial audience
The biggest challenge in building a solopreneur business is starting the journey and building an initial audience. Going from 10,000 to 50,000 followers is much easier than going from 0 to 10,000. From my experience and speaking to many content creators, I’ve learned that you must hack your way to your first 10,000 followers. There is no set formula for this early stage of building your brand.
The most common mistake I see when people are starting their journey is that they try to create systems that can take them from 0 to 100,000 followers. This doesn’t work; you’ll need to fight for every subscriber until you reach a base of subscribers who consistently interact with your content (often around 10,000). Once you have a base of followers, you can start building your systems, but it’s a waste of time in the early days.
My first step started about two years before I left my job. At the time, I was working for a newsletter publication, sending summaries of daily business news to roughly 40,000 entrepreneurs each day. I was lucky enough to be able to add a link in my by-line for over a year, prompting readers interested in legal insights for their startup or small business to subscribe to my newsletter. This little trick helped me gain my first 10,000 followers.
Other ways I’ve seen content creators hacking their way to their first 10,000 followers include viral videos, product creation, viral tweets, cold messaging, cold emails, paid advertisements and much more. If you are starting your journey, this is where you need to be creative and focus all your time and effort. Until you can hack your way to 10,000 followers on socials or a newsletter, you’ll struggle to generate revenues effectively and consistently as a solopreneur.
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2. Focus on one channel
Once you’ve gained 10,000 followers on one channel, you must focus on that channel. For me, it was email. For ten months, all my content was written for email; if I had time, I repurposed it for social media. A big scaling mistake solopreneurs make when building their audience is immediately trying to expand it onto multiple platforms. Don’t lose momentum on one platform by dividing your attention. Dominate one channel before using your influence and following that channel to give you a headstart on any other channels you choose to use.
3. Diversify income sources
While you should focus on just one channel for growth, you need multiple channels for income. My audience is startup founders. I get paid by advertisers to promote products, founders themselves to teach them how to fundraise, and investors for referring companies to them. Focus early on securing multiple sources of income; even if you make very little from each source, it’s better to grow the size of these deals than to try seeking new channels when others dry up desperately.
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4. Capture every pricepoint
When monetizing your audience, you need to capture every price point. A major failure I see today is solopreneurs who charge $10,000+ for consulting with no cheaper services available. While it’s true that a $1,000 offer might cannibalize some of their higher-priced sales, I’ve found that lower-price products can help generate interest in higher-priced ones and build trust and loyalty with your audience.
If you only help people who can pay $10,000 for consulting, why would the average person follow you? Too many creators abuse those followers who cannot pay large amounts; they build a brand of their likes, retweets, subscriptions and follows, then abandon them when they need help.
Related: 5 Strategies to Thrive as a Solo Business Owner — Without Burning Out
5. Interact with followers
Common advice you are likely to hear is commenting on top creators’ posts to gain exposure to their audience and grow your following. In my experience, this isn’t the optimal path. Instead, I chose to spend my time engaging with my audience.
While my comments on their posts won’t get 1k+ views, they build a relationship between me and my followers. It means a lot to a random follower or reader when I take the time to write to them or comment on their posts. In the long run, it makes it more likely that they will support my posts, remain a follower, and purchase a product, not to mention the many great relationships I’ve built with followers!