Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Sean Ogle of Location 180.
These days, with so many people proclaiming how easy it is to build a business online, everyone is trying to do it.
Unfortunately, almost all of them are going to fail.
It’s not because they don’t have a good enough idea, aren’t smart enough, or don’t have the work ethic to do it. I’m living proof that just about anyone can build a successful business online. The problem is that very few people take the time to approach it the right way, and follow a process that’s proven to work.
If all you want to do is jump into affiliate marketing or creating your own product, with the hopes of living out your own version of the 4 Hour Workweek inside of 3 months, then I’m sorry, you’ll need to go somewhere else.
However if you’re serious about building a sustainable business, and building your own skill set in the process, then read on. I’m going to teach you exactly what you need to know to live out what I call the Location Rebel lifestyle.
How to start your business (before you start your business)
There are three distinct phases you’ll need to go through as you prepare and execute the creation of your online empire. The first happens before you even think about making your first dollar:
You need to educate yourself.
We’re not talking about spending tens of thousands of dollars on obscure philosophy courses at a university. Rather, you can quickly and easily learn a handful of skills that will directly correlate to your success online.
For me personally, after quitting my job as a financial analyst in 2009, I moved to Thailand for 7 months to build these skills. I continued to build my brand and reputation, but didn’t worry much about money during this time. I wanted to make sure I had all of the tools I needed to be successful after my trip ended.
So what are these skills exactly? They are as simple as this:
Knowledge of how to setup and use WordPress
The easiest way to build and manage a website is with WordPress. Period. This was my missing step when I first got started with affiliate marketing. Had I known how to use WordPress, it would be a whole different story.
This is the most important of any of these skills. No matter what you do online, you’re selling something. Whether it’s an idea, a product, or yourself, you need to be able to use your words to influence others.
As you build your business, this becomes more and more relevant. We’ll talk about how I made SEO the foundation of my online business later on.
Design work can get expensive. If you know the basics of how to design a decent logo and setup your WordPress site in a way that’s appealing to the eye and can convert your traffic, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
The online landscape has completely changed due to social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier than ever before for people to get in contact with you, follow you, and interact with you and your business.
If you reach an intermediate proficiency in each of these, you’ll have no trouble building a business online. The great thing is that these skills are relatively easy to learn, and you can start right this second, if you want to.
Where most people miss the boat
So now that we’ve established that step 1 is all about learning the skills, we should jump into step 2. Step 2 is where most people miss the boat. They want everything immediately, so after they think they have some of these skills down they rush ahead to their goal of sitting on a beach with a mai tai.
Step 2 is all about refining your skills and finding clients.
Freelancing is the easiest way to build a business online.
After returning from my 7 month stint in Thailand, I’d had an internship where I was able to hone my SEO skills. Along with the work I was doing on my blog, I decided to start a freelance SEO business.
One of the questions I get asked the most is all about how to find more clients. It’s actually quite simple, and in my experience involves two steps:
1) Build a blog to establish expertise.
Like we said, in this second step of the process you’re going to be refining your skills, building your reputation and finding clients.
By building a personal website advertising your services, and writing on a blog a few times a month about your topic of choice, you are proving you are the go-to-person in that industry.
I wrote a huge post about how to become an SEO freelancer that got me 5 job offers inside of a week.
The more you prove you know what you’re talking about, the more people will want to work with you, and the easier it will be to find clients.
2) Go to meetups in complimentary industries.
Right after I got back from Thailand I went to a social media marketing event. I told people I ran a small SEO business, and in 2 hours I had 3 job offers. Most of these people were doing social media, design, PPC, etc. They didn’t specialize in SEO, but they had clients who needed it. The more people they can turn to outsource that work the better – especially if you can be reliable.
If you’re doing web design, go to a conference or meetup for coders or developers. Do these two things and you’ll be swimming in clients in no time.
Start small with your clients first. Regardless of which of those five skills you decide to specialize in, you’re still going to be learning. Don’t over promise anything you know you can’t do.
That said, you don’t have to know everything either. Be upfront with your clients about the work you’ll be providing, and in time you’ll begin to see referrals, a better reputation, and more money.
Bringing it all together
So now you’ve got some skills. You’re making a little bit of money with your clients, so you have some confidence and a bit of a reputation.
Only now do we begin to focus on the really fun part — the part where you can begin to dabble in the fun things like product creation and affiliate marketing.
I’ve worked in SEO for a few years now. Is it my passion? No. However it’s enabling me to live out the things I’m passionate about.
After I had some success with the freelancing, I started to translate those skills into things I was passionate about. I built HDR Software to monetize my passion for photography. I recently launched Breaking Eighty to turn my love of golf into a business.
I’ve built a community for people who want to build a business that allows them to travel the world, and have almost reached my goal of helping 50 people quit their jobs in 2012.
The reason all of those projects have worked is because I didn’t rush them. I spent two years establishing my reputation on Location 180, building my skills and clients for my SEO freelancing, and only when I’d been successful with both of those things did I shift gears and devote more time and energy to my personal “passion” projects.
If you’re serious about building a location independent business, it isn’t hard to do. However it takes some time, discipline, and a willingness to learn.
That said, I want to help. As a special bonus just for Paid to Exist readers I’ve put together a package to get you on the right track.
You’ll receive the following:
- How to Quit Your Job PDF (exclusive for Paid to Exist readers)
- How to Setup a WordPress Site (usually only available to premium clients)
- Location Rebel Arsenal – Everything you need to work from anywhere
I tried to make this stuff as useful and immediately applicable as possible. Good luck as you make your transition, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything I can do to help you personally.