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So you may be sitting there thinking 2013 didn’t go exactly as planned.
- Life may have gotten in the way
- Your focus may have been in a million places
- You were lazy
- You were confused
- You were at the right place at the wrong time
It’s time to get back into the game and jumpstart your online business. Give yourself permission while your friends are still partying and celebrating to spend a few hours (at least) to contemplate what went wrong and how you’re going to make it right for 2014.
2013 holiday shopping in stores was lackluster, however online sales were up. That tells you something. People love the convenience of shopping and doing business online. They don’t have to plow through traffic, spend valuable hours searching for what they want, or fight crowds. When they want something they Google it. If your business isn’t visible to the online world, you’re not optimizing your earning potential.
But let’s talk about 2013. I was a classic example of what could go wrong. The first 6 months of the year went swimmingly well. I was making connections, building my biz and having fun. Then, in July, I fainted for no reason and was sent to the ER. They never could find anything wrong with me despite many expensive tests. It must have been a fluke, but, because I fell on my face, I was a bit disoriented and shaky for a couple of months. I’m perfectly fine now.
My boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to Eastern and Central Europe for 3 weeks. We had an amazing time visiting Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. The beauty of working for yourself is that you can do stuff like that. Since we were on a River boat on the Danube for a large part of that time, going through 26 locks, my Internet was, unfortunately, a bit sketchy. Oh well, I was on vacation after all.
Then, while I was away my dad died. After my trip I flew back to Colorado to be with my family and my mother died as well while I was there. My parents passed away within two weeks of each other in November and December. Talk about life giving you a swift kick in the pants! I decided to take it easy for the rest of the year and not push myself too much. That’s mainly why I haven’t posted for a while. Now I’m ready to get back into the game again.
My last 6 months have really made me realize the importance of spending the time to build a sustainable business online that will generate income when I can’t or just don’t want to work. Don’t get me wrong, having an online service business is a godsend but generating passive income as well is mandatory.
Every time I see someone in the news who’s losing their unemployment and they’ve been on 500 interviews with no luck, I say to myself, “Start your own business online! Don’t depend on employers or other people to give you a JOB. It seriously costs you only pennies to make money for yourself.”
You can start with some sort of service business, but make sure you build it into something that will generate automatic income also. Promote affiliate products, write a book, create your own digital products, or whatever!
I have to say I was very happy to receive some affiliate income in my Paypal account while I was gone and not working actively on my vacation. That really saved my butt!
So here’s what I suggest you do, if you want to rev up 2014:
Re-access your goals.
Are you doing what you need to do to generate a consistent income by providing a service business and/or a passive income? What can you do to build on what you’ve already started? Or, do you simply need to get started in the first place?
Write down your goals someplace where you can easily access them.
I recently started using a program called Evernote. You download the program to your computer and then you can sync it to your phone and tablet using Evernote apps. It’s a program where you can create notebooks and notes for various aspects of your life and organize them. If you think of something you want to add on the fly, just add it to your notes from anywhere and it will sync to your other devices. You can add images, documents, etc. It’s quite cool.
There are many tutorials on Youtube that will show you how to use Evernote. I like Evernote Scott. Click here to visit his Youtube channel. Make sure your goals are do-able and deadline specific. Getting them completed will not work unless you are very specific on exactly what you want to do, how you want to do it and when you want each task completed. This means a hard date, not just sometime in the future. There’s not an “only way” to set goals. Each of us have brains that work differently. Some people need each task highly detailed and charted on a spreadsheet. Others, like me, prefer to see our goals visually or in a simple check off list in order to take action. Spreadsheets make my brain freeze.
Get rid of email clutter.
That means dump all the marketing emails you have in your inbox that you don’t have time to read. It’s good to do a purge every once in a while because they will zap your time and simply confuse you. If you’re on someone’s legitimate email list, all you have to do is click UnSubscribe at the bottom of the email. Hopefully you won’t do that to me. Ouch! Get rid of all email lists that aren’t serving you. Put the others into folders so that important emails are not sitting in a cluster of other emails getting lost or taking up space on your email server. If someone is sending you emails that are not on a legitimate list like Constant Contact, aweber, MailChimp, Get Response, email that person back and request that they remove you from their list. Sending non-optin emails is actually illegal unless the sender is a good friend of yours.
Clean up your computer files and optimize it for speed.
Slow computers are a frustrating time waster. Make sure your computer has a backup system. I use Carbonite. Carbonite saves all my files on a Cloud. It’s awesome. If my computer dumps or I change computers it will replace all my files easily. Clean up temporary files, history, cookies, etc. and delete extraneous files. Organize your docs so you can find them easily. I move large files, such as images or audios to an external hard drive to free up room in my computer.
Clean and organize your house/office.
It’s rare that someone can function effectively living in an unorganized mess. If you aren’t good at organization, get someone to help you like a personal organizer. Even though this may seem low on your priority list, it will make a huge difference. Feel free to donate or throw unneeded objects or trash away. Someone else may benefit from your outcasts.
Set your main focus to build your business
If you’ve worked on your goals, you hopefully have an idea of what your main focus will be, Sometimes we find ourselves with multiple ideas and websites. There’s only so much time in a day to make them all work. If you can, start with one main focus or idea that you feel will be the most lucrative and satisfying.
Create a website for your focus if you haven’t already.
Note: You can plan, design and spend endless hours, days, months or years making sure your website is completely perfect before you launch it. I recommend you start with a simple design and just get it up as soon as you can. You can add on, change themes, or re-design later. The reason is, despite all your fabulous and possibly expensive plans, you will probably find the need to revamp anyway, eventually. If you get your website up and start posting and adding content, you will have that much more time to create relationships and alliances with others who you will be able to collaborate with.
Many new entrepreneurs are cash strapped and need to work on a shoestring to get started. Unlike starting a brick and mortar store, for example, that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can start an online business practically for free if you’re willing to learn a few skills in order to make it happen.
I just turned 60 years old in December and I taught myself how to customize WordPress sites just a few years ago. At first I was doing it only for myself, but found I could create a business that would provide me with income. I networked and procured a few clients at an event I attended. Since then, my business has thrived solely on referrals and via my website. Most people would think that someone at 60 wouldn’t even know how to work a computer. Sorry all you generations younger than Baby Boomers. Us oldsters can be pretty tech savvy if we put our minds to it. (at least those of us who didn’t destroy our brains with LSD or other drugs) Bill Gates is a Boomer and Steve Jobs was too. I may not have grown up learning code, but I know how to copy and paste it where it’s supposed to go.
For those who want to start their own website and need a little help setting it up, I’ve written a tutorial to set up a WordPress website using Bluehost as a server. It’s written in a language you should be able to understand easily whether you’re as old as me, older or just a sweet young “thang.”
Click on the image below to set up your WordPress site quickly:
If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can always contact me. I’d be happy to help you for a reasonable price, or give you a referral to someone who can, if it’s beyond my capability.
Find a small group of people you can bounce ideas off of.
I joined a mastermind group on Google Plus that consists of 5 other bloggers and myself. We meet in a Google hangout every two weeks. Each of us has our own personal projects, but we’re able to receive feedback from each other on our websites and business plans. I’ve found this to be very valuable. We set goals for each meeting and discuss how we’ve progressed with them. Each of us offers help and suggestions. Our group originated from an online educational site called Fizzle. Fizzle is a monthly subscription site that offers educational videos, tutorials, podcasts and forums for online business owners. It’s the brainchild of Corbett Barr, owner of Think Traffic, (now called Sparkline) along with Chase Reeves and Caleb Wojcik. Both Fizzle and Sparkline are two of the best resources for bloggers and online business owners out there. I highly recommend them.
There are a million other marketing resources out there and you can go nuts with all of them but the ones that I believe are really worth spending time with, and receiving emails from, besides Fizzle and Sparkline are:
Problogger – by Darren Rouse
Copyblogger – by Brian Clark and Co.
Smart Passive Income – by Pat Flynn
Find ways to create passive income
Your service business is very important (if you have one) but developing passive streams of income is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. Like I described at the beginning of this post, life can get in the way sometimes, and if you’re always dependent on having to work every minute of every day, you’ll be in trouble if, for some reason, you’re unable to work or go on vacation.
Passive income is how you can create a retirement plan, especially if you don’t have one now. I, for one, never worked in a job that offered a 401 K. I worked as an actor for over 30 years.
You may want to start by promoting affiliate products. After many attempts and some success, I recommend focusing on products you truly believe in and that will give you a decent return. It’s hard to make a living promoting Amazon books, for example as you get paid a mere pittance for each sale. However, a friend of mine promotes larger ticket items on Amazon such as cameras with some success. She has a photography site so that works for her. It all depends on what your niche is.
I know what doesn’t work. Just slapping links in a post or sticking banner ads on your sidebar, won’t get you much return for your hard work. The more extensive an article you write about a single product that you believe in, the better your return will be.
Writing Ebooks or tutorials, creating online courses, or other digital products that can be purchased using Paypal or other shopping cart options may also be something you want to consider. Obviously, promoting any type of learning course is great, but if you don’t have to physically be there, and can participate via email, streaming video or comments, you will have more freedom to work from anywhere in the world or work with people in other time zones.
Lastly, connect with people and build relationships
You can have the best products, the best website and all the bells and whistles and still not make a dime online because you don’t have other people who are on your team and supporting you. You have to seek out and nurture relationships just like you would if you were out networking locally. If you have a book to sell, for example, you’ll want to create a network of supporters who will get the word out for you and share your product via social media.
Join with other bloggers on projects that help support each other. There are social influencer programs, tweet chats, hangouts, networking events and other activities that may not only bring your website a significant amount of traffic but also new customers. Avoid being a lone wolf. That strategy rarely ever works.
Don’t just join social networks, you have to participate in them. No one likes to read posts from a broadcaster who is clearly not listening to his or her audience, but is only posting links hoping others will bite.
Use your social networks to drive people to your website rather than vice versa. You don’t want to use your website to drive people to Facebook or Twitter. They won’t buy anything there. Instead develop relationships with people on those sites and invite them occasionally to visit your home on the Internet which is your website. Give them valuable content to read and then subtly lead them to the sale.
Forgive yourself for any failures you’ve had in the past. 2014 is a brand new year. You can muck up 2014 the way you may have done with 2013 or you can grow and build your business in the next year to a higher level. It’s your choice. Take a breath, relax, let go of the past and thrive in 2014. I’m rooting for you!