When I first started my business I was broke. In fact, I wasn’t really an entrepreneur I was self-employed. I was scrambling to find projects and side-hustles that would sustain me while I figured out what in the hell I was trying to do. The testing phase of entrepreneurship lasted way longer than I would have liked but it’s part of the journey. Not only was I unclear about what I was trying to do, I also was broke. Really broke. For longer than I would have liked even though I was pretty happy. As I slowly landed on what I would like to sell to others and the products I would like to sell I had to deal with a very real issue-I didn’t have the money for Facebook ads. I was paying off a significant amount of debt and I just didn’t feel comfortable allocating debt repayment money towards ad spend. So, I had to reimagine how I would market my business on a non-existent budget. And, how to collect the data that Facebook ads and the powerful Facebook pixel generates on the backend. There were 9 ways that I did this while paying off debt.
Thinking about starting your brand website?
It’s pretty simple to do and cheap! Start with Siteground and WordPress.org. With this winning combination you’ll own your own website by the end of the day. Siteground has easy to follow tutorials to help you with setting up your site. Create a website that you own. I recommend using Siteground to host a WordPress.org (self-hosted) website where you can own your own content and design your online brand. They even have tutorials on how to set up your website. Be clear about the products and services that you’re selling. I recommend using Canva to create marketing materials that “wow!” Thinkific is the platform that I use to create my tools and courses.
Grab my “Do It Ugly” toolkit today. Perfect always gets in the way of done. If you’re looking to get started on your blog, podcast or other digital components of your business grab this kit.
When I first started my business, my finances were a mess. I was paying off debt and just trying to hustle until my business grew. I tried everything to keep my finances in order ranging from using online money management platforms, spreadsheets and the envelope system. This year I discovered Qube Money which is a digital envelope system paired with a debit card. You deposit your money into an FDIC insured account and then can spend based on dedicated Qubes that you’ve created within the app. If you’re paying for tools such as Flodesk for your emails, Thinkific to host your courses and coaching programs, or Deskpass for your coworking access, Qube keeps you organized and can be one of your dedicated business accounts. I’m a proud affiliate of Qube Money, check out the link that I share in the show notes.
Became a Frequent Podcast Guest
John Lee Dumas recently shared on the Amy Porterfield Online Marketing Made Easy show that he prioritizes being a guest on 20 podcasts a month. I follow a similar strategy even though in the beginning I didn’t have a specific number of shows that I was a guest on monthly. I did prioritize being a guest on podcasts both in the niche that I’m currently in and niches adjacent to that content. By doing this I was able to get in front of people who may be looking for my expertise or insight on a topic.
Created a Podcast
All of my content verticals have a podcast attached to them. The reason why is that podcast listeners are a captive audience that convert at a much higher percentage than other audiences. Also, podcasting enables the creator to create long-term impactful connections where the listener feels like they get to know you better. Why? Because they hear your voice. The most challenging part of creating a podcast is understanding how to get listeners to take an action after listening to your show. Podcasts are powerful for the following reasons:
- You have a targeted audience. The listeners are there for exactly what you’re sharing. By that what I mean is if it’s a podcast about Star Trek vs. Star Wars the host is attracting only people from those two fandoms as listeners. If you’re listening to The Brand Building Lab, I know that you’re interested in creating an online brand that serves and that you care about designing your best life through digital entrepreneurship. How do I know that? Because I have a tagline that makes it clear who I’m serving.
- Podcast listeners typically listen to a large number of episodes which creators a better opportunity to convert people to clients because you hit the 7 or more contacts needed to make a purchase decision pretty quickly.
- You can share unique views about your unique take on the content that you’ve created a show about.
- Asserts your authority-Podcasts are a great way to assert your authority in a space or connect with people who’ve created authority in that space.
Share Other Entrepreneur’s Wins and Work
I’ve crunched the numbers and it doesn’t take a lot of me to create a sustainable, healthy business. Because of that it’s incredibly easy to be abundance focused in my business and SHOUT OUT other entrepreneurs. I can’t be of service to everyone in the world. Sharing other entrepreneurs and the amazing work that they’re doing communicates a few things to the universe and to others:
- You’re abundance focused-you don’t feel uncomfortable with other people “winning” and understand that their wins are a beautiful thing.
- These entrepreneurs may have products/services that you don’t have and it’s great to connect other people with them. That is a great service to your future clients. Different people have different areas of expertise. Share their wisdom.
- You’re confident and secure in yourself and understand that you don’t have to win an accolade for everything. Or, that your accolades will come for other things or from other people.
- Why not? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by shouting out other people.
I also connect people with other entrepreneur’s tools, resources, and content.
Show Up in Groups
If you’re active in Facebook groups-show up! This can be a very good marketing strategy but there are a few aspects to this strategy that need to be considered.
- Share content that compliments the group creator’s content but doesn’t COMPETE with it. This is huge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a Facebook group where an online coach is sharing content and other members are trying to grow their coaching business off the group founder’s blood, sweat and tears. It’s an easy mistake to make. I’ve made. I’m going to give you examples how this would work:
- Business Coaching Group=You share Accounting content for business coaches
- Podcasting Community (How to) -You share content on how to grow engaged communities offline
- Content Creation Group=You create content on how to be in legal compliance as a content creator.
- Be a guest in the group-Pitch the group founder to speak on your ADJACENT topic to theirs inside the group. This is a great tactic because it legitimizes you in front of the group and you get time in front of potential future clients that the group founder isn’t able to serve with their content.
Choose Projects that Grow Your Brand
Be thoughtful about the types of projects that you work on as you grow your business. Many digital entrepreneurs or online content creators do freelance writing, social media, or copywriting work. Think about how to connect with projects that grow your personal brand. I’ll share some examples below of what I’ve done.
- Freelance writing-I have worked on content for BBVA, Business Insider, Experian and more. Because I’m in the personal finance space for one of my content verticals being seen in these spaces help to elevate my brand. Also, the backlinks to those projects also give my personal finance website a really solid domain authority.
- PBSNewsHour-I said “yes” to being part of a PBSNewsHour segment with Mr. Money Mustache who I know and lives in my state. It ended up being their most viewed video on their platform and I STILL get messages about that short segment that I was in. Show up on media segments!
- Get quoted-Recently I’ve been quoted in Forbes for my views on the #PROAct. But, I’ve been quoted in other publications as well. I follow a large number of content creators on Twitter and people reach out to me often for my opinion on subjects related to projects that they’re working on.
I am active on social media. My main strategy is to be consistent on one platform in a way that is comfortable for me. That’s literally it. Despite this lack of a super intense strategy, my followers do grow and they engage with me pretty frequently. Read my post on how Twitter Makes Me Money Even Though I Rage Tweet.
Know the Answers to the Questions
That people are asking YOU. As an online brand builder people will begin coming to you for your expertise. Have the answer to the questions that people are asking YOU. Become known as a resource for whatever it is that you would like to be known as an expert in. There is a reason why I’m building out content on The Brand Building Lab. I was getting asked questions over and over again and decided to have the answers to those questions in one place where I could refer people to. Yes, it’s a bit of a PITA to create the content but by doing this I do two things: serve the people needing the answers and save my time.
No matter what people tell you-Pinterest is a place that you should focus on. Especially if you’re in the online content space. Pinterest is basically a visual search engine with answers. COVID did impact how users were using the platform however I do think it’s time to revisit Pinterest especially if you’re in the following content creation spaces:
- Travel space-Get started on creating that content. People are ITCHING to travel and get the hell out of dodge. So many businesses have closed, new businesses have opened, etc. There’s a huge opportunity in this space if you’re creating up to date and current content.
- Online entrepreneurship-There is a percentage of people who may decide to create an online brand or business because they want more personal autonomy. I think there is a wonderful opportunity in this space as businesses ask their employees to return to in office work.
- Fashion-COVID made me feral and I now want to look pretty again. I need all the help that I can get and fashion blogs can give the inspiration that I’m needing. I don’t want to wear those Target prairie dresses.
- Food-I love cooking and discovering new foods is a fun way for me to experience the world while being stuck in the US.
- Minimalism-This is a space that I expect will continue to gain more traction over time.
- Lifestyle space-As a lifelong fan of magazines lifestyle content has a huge place in my heart. I love everything about this space and always will.
Once you have some vague clarity about what you’re selling and who you’re serving-grow your email list. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
- Share a helpful resource with the communities that you show up in.
- Have a helpful tool or 1 page pdf that you share for your podcast audience
- If you have a YouTube Channel create a tool kit that you link back to in your video contents.
- Prioritize GROWING THIS LIST
Email your list. Don’t just grow it and forget about it. Show up. Email them. Tell your list about what you’re up to, what’s working and what isn’t working in your business. Share random stuff about you and what you do. Don’t be afraid to email your list. People who sign up for a list expect that you’re going to contact them.
Also, don’t be upset when they unsubscribe. Shout out from the rooftops when they do! They are saving you money by dropping off your list. It’s not personal.
If you’re starting a business and don’t have a ton of extra cash to spend on marketing I’ve been there. Eventually you will need to spend on marketing but until then you can still get in front of your audience and grow your brand.