Let’s talk about my 20 best online business tips for beginners.
A few years ago I lost a freelancing client that made up 90% of my income. That night, while wallowing in self-pity, I decided to buy a large cheese pizza and a six pack of the finest beer I could get my hands on.
I bought Natural light.
As I sat there by myself and ate all that greasy pizza, I felt bad for my current situation.
Then out of left field I got an idea.
What if I created my own online course? I’d been writing on this new platform for a year and had 10,000 followers there — why not teach people how to grow their audience there, too?
Long story short, I created a webinar, a landing page, and signed up with Stripe to collect payments. After three weeks of hard work, I put on my webinar and sold 15 spots of my first online course.
I made a quick $2,000. I didn’t know it yet, but I was officially an online business owner.
Fast forward to today and I’ve had over 800 students take my course, and I’ve generated over $200,000 in revenue.
That’s what the backend of my Teachable account reads right now. I wanted to write a guide listing the best online business tips for beginners, so you can dodge a lot of the mistakes I made.
Here’s a quick table of contents. The rest of the article contains detailed analysis on all of these online business tips for beginners.
20 Online Business Tips For Beginners
- Ask Your Audience What They Want First
- Take 3 Months To Collect Data Before Selling Something
- Start An Email List
- Offer A Freebie To Encourage Email List Sign Ups
- Use Webinars To Sell
- Make A Sale First Before You Create A Product
- Online Courses Make The Most Money
- Work Entirely On Your Cash Cow At First
- …Then Diversify After You’ve Found Your Cash Cow
- Understand You Still Need To Do Things You Don’t Want To Do
- Realize What You Want Today Won’t Be What You Want Tomorrow
- The Best Way to Reach Your Goals Is to Be a Good Human
- Ask How You Can Provide More Value In Less Time
- See Mistakes As Part Of The Journey
- Automate As Much Stuff As Possible In Your Business
- Your Social Media Accounts Don’t Matter That Much
- Utilize Search Engine Optimization
- Hire An Assistant When You Can
- Experiment Constantly, You Never Know What You’ll Learn
- Trust Your Gut
First, let’s talk some things to consider when starting an online business..
3 Things To Consider When Starting An Online Business
I’m just going to list off some things in bullet points before we get to the countdown..
- Healthcare — If you start an online business and quit your traditional job, you’ll have to sort out healthcare options on your own. Consider any underlying health conditions you have, and whether you’ll be able to make enough money to cover healthcare costs.
- How much risk can I handle? — Online businesses may have less overhead costs than a traditional business, but you still have to do EVERYTHING by yourself. It’s all on you. How much stress and risk can you handle? Be honest with yourself.
- Why do I want to start an online business? — Do you want more freedom? More money? Understand that while owning your own business is quite fun, it’s not all rosy-colored on the other side either. Understand WHY you want to start your own business before you get in and focus on your WHY every day to stay on your spiritual course.
Thanks for considering these three concerns. Let’s get into our countdown.
1. Ask Your Audience What They Want First
Before I create any kind of digital product or online course, I ask my email list what they want from me. I tell them they have a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card in exchange for filling out a survey listing all my course ideas. Whichever idea wins, I’ll create that particular course.
2. Take 3 Months To Collect Data Before Selling Something
If I just started writing online 3 months ago, I should not be selling products. You need DATA to figure out what people want and don’t want. It’s going to take you at least 6 months to write a bunch of content and figure out what your audience is really responding to.
3. Start An Email List
If you don’t have an email list, you don’t have a business. In that case you also don’t “own” any of the traffic you generate towards your products/services.
Google, Medium, LinkedIn, or Instagram might drive that traffic for you, and all that’s standing between you and total annihilation is an algorithm change.
Start an email list. This is EXTREMELY crucial.
4. Offer A Freebie To Encourage Email List Sign Ups
Email lists are important. However, some people start one without creating a “freebie” for it, or something that their audience can get for free in exchange for giving up their email address. Without a freebie, you’ll get very low sign up rates and not many people at all will join your list.
Free email courses, ebooks, or even interviews are a great way to encourage sign ups. I saw my sign up rate quadruple overnight when I introduced my first freebie.
5. Use Webinars To Sell
Webinars convert at a 10–20% clip when they’re really working. Meaning, if you have 100 people in a live webinar, you should convert 10–20 of them on your offer.
For whatever reason, not many people I know use webinars to make money online.
6. Make A Sale First Before You Create A Product
My friend Matt Sandrini is a big proponent of this. Before you spend months creating a product, get a sale first. Get someone to actually give you money for it.
When I created my first online course, I pre-sold it. I told people about my idea and made sure they gave me money before creating the product.
My friend once created an online course over the course of 3 months, then when he went to sell nobody bought it. That’s 3 months wasted.
Don’t make that same mistake.
7. Online Courses Make The Most Money
Out of all the possible products you can sell, online courses are your best option. Typically bloggers want to sell their own ebook or something. While it’s cool to sell your own book, you won’t exactly be rolling in the Benjamins selling books for $10-$20 a pop.
You will, however, make a much higher profit by selling a $300+ online course to one person. If you sold a $10 book, you’d need to get 30 purchases to make $300.
You see my point.
8. Work Entirely On Your Cash Cow At First
My cash cow was my online course, Medium Mastery.
I worked diligently on that for 6–8 months making sure my sales funnel was flawless. It pays to work single-mindedly on one objective.
That’s one of my best online business tips for beginners.
9. …Then Diversify After You’ve Found Your Cash Cow
When your cash cow is steady making you money like clockwork, then diversify.
The writing platform I’ve built a following on has been GREAT to me since 2016, but what if their business fails? What if their algorithm changes? What if they decide to go in a completely different direction?
Then I’m shit out of luck.
It pays to diversify once you’ve stabilized your cash cow. For me, I diversified into making videos. It paid off in a lot of ways.
10. Understand You Still Need To Do Things You Don’t Want To Do
One of my best online business tips and tricks is to understand that work still sucks. In a lot of ways, writing this article is a bit tough for me today — even though I LOVE writing more than anything in the world.
A lot of my days are filled with B.S. I don’t want to do. Understand that before going in.
11. Realize What You Want Today Won’t Be What You Want Tomorrow
In early 2018 I started a vlog. I thought I was going to be the next Casey Neistat, and all I wanted to do was make videos!
Now I vomit at the thought of creating a vlog.
Understand that when you’re in the online business game for years, your desires will eventually change. Make sure to check in with yourself every year to see whether you still want what you wanted 12 months ago.
12. The Best Way to Reach Your Goals Is to Be a Good Human
In a world where online business tips are all about conversion rates and sales funnels (like a lot of this post has been about so far), make sure to keep the ultimate ace up your sleeve..
Be a good human being.
Be an authentic human. I’ve heard numerous stories about Niklas Göke taking time to email random people back when they asked him questions.
This dude is infinitely busy, yet he takes time to simply give back without expectations.
Be like Niklas. The people who care more about people than the money those people can give them seem to see more success than anyone else.
13. Ask How You Can Provide More Value In Less Time
I could spend one month creating 4 hours of online course material. I could spend 4 weeks editing, filming, writing, uploading, and captioning these videos.
Or I could do a live 4-hour presentation and bang it all out in one afternoon.
Then I could answer targeted questions at the end.
Ask yourself in your business this simple question.. How can I provide more value in less time?
14. See Mistakes As Part Of The Journey
A few years ago I made a digital magazine for my publication, The Post-Grad Survival Guide.
I was VERY optimistic that I’d be able to sell this $7 product to the masses who read my publication and make a quick $1,000 — or something.
I never ended up selling it because I realized absolutely nobody was going to buy it.
Was this a failure? Not really. I learned a lot, I made friends interviewing guests for features, and I learned how to design my own magazine. That’s pretty dope.
Oh, and one of my Medium articles that copy+pasted a story right out of the magazine got 10,000 views. Happy days.
15. Automate As Much Stuff As Possible In Your Business
You should be automating things for two reasons.
- It gives you more time to focus on other revenue streams/tasks.
- It makes your system way faster and more intuitive for customers.
16. Your Social Media Accounts Don’t Matter That Much
What matters is sales. Focus on that.
3,000 Twitter followers are meaningless.
Focus all the time that you would’ve spent on social media towards making sales.
17. Utilize Search Engine Optimization
This is more for folks who sell products on places like Etsy or Amazon. Or even Youtubers who want to game the algorithm and get more views on their videos.
Look into SEO (search engine optimization) when starting an online business. That’s free traffic you can start getting, and you don’t have a business without traffic.
That’s one of the best online business tips for beginners in my estimation.
18. Hire An Assistant When You Can
One of my best decisions was hiring an assistant who could do a lot of the crap I didn’t want to do anymore. I’ve hired writers, video editors, virtual assistants, publication editors, and more to help me run my business.
Seriously, this is one of those investments that take a long time to initially setup, but they have a HUGE payoff down the line.
19. Experiment Constantly, You Never Know What You’ll Learn
One of the biggest traits I want to instill in my children is curiosity. There’s something to be said for copying others who came before you to find success, but sometimes it’s the things that people never tried that can yield the biggest profit.
I made a course about a platform that nobody had made ANY course about yet. It was hard to trust myself, but I’m so happy I did. Now I’ve made $200,000 from that one course.
20. Trust Your Gut
The last of my online business tips for beginners lies in trusting yourself. Once you have some skin in the online game, you’ll have a pretty good lay of the land.
Trust your gut.