Are you looking to earn a living online? This is the third article in a series of posts on the 3 Simple Steps To Earning A Living From Your Skills Online.
Online, you can’t survive without marketing. And marketing can be real hard work.
Trying to do it consistently can be a pain.
But the good thing about doing it consistently is that it becomes a habit overtime.
How you choose to promote your work online will, in the long run, determine your results.
Regardless of what you’ve decided to sell online, there are different marketing methods to choose from. And in this post, I’ll let you know what they are and why they’re important.
But first… before settling on a marketing method, here’s something you have to get right at the beginning, or else your efforts will go to waste…
The most important part of marketing that most people ignore
There’s a crime a lot of entrepreneurs make:
We’re very good at making half-baked plans because sometimes, we just can’t wait to get started. Other times, we’re just too lazy to complete the planning process.
And I’m guilty of it too.
At the beginning, there are several things to put in place. It’s like laying the foundation of your house – cement isn’t the only element that goes into the foundation.
In marketing, one important aspect that you need to get right first is this:
Knowing your target customer.
Being active online has to be for a purpose, if not you’ll waste your time, as I said before.
At the same time, your activity is going to attract people to you. It’s your duty to determine the kind of people you want attracted to you.
Your target customer is that one person who your business is created for.
- He is that one person who would be the most blessed from the value you give.
- He is that one person with the ability to pay for what you sell online.
- He is the one person whose problem is directly connected to the solution you provide.
Entrepreneur.com defines target customers as “those who are most likely to buy from you”.
How do you define your target customer?
In marketing, you do this by first writing out their profile.
This exercise is called developing your buyer persona.
The buyer persona is that person you’ll speak to in all your marketing efforts so that you attract the right target customer.
He’s the imaginary customer you’ll write to, or take pictures for online. And creating one like this isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Create your buyer persona
Being that your target customer is a real person, whatever you write down has to be real. There are a few questions below to guide you through this process. You might want to do some research online or offline to get appropriate answers. But don’t leave everything to assumption.
Here are a few steps:
- Refer back to the second post in this series and look at what value you’re giving online.
- Determine who would be the best person to benefit from that value? Do you already know someone like this? If you do, the next steps would be simple.
- Write his/her name.
- Where does he/she work?
- How much does he earn?
- What problem is he afraid of? What problems gives him unending headaches? These problems can be unrelated to what you’re offering. What you’re doing here is to document a day in the life of your target customer.
- What’s that specific nagging problem he has that’s related to your solution?
- How old is he?
- If he was to search for a solution to his problem online, how would he search for it? What would he write? Where would he go?
- How would he feel when he finally uses your solution?
These 10 questions are all you need to get started with knowing your target customer.
For a more advanced and detailed approach, you can check this guide on QuickSprout. But if you like it simple, then stick around :).
Now that we’ve sorted that out, it’s time to take the next step.
Choose a marketing method
There are two marketing methods you can use online. And the good thing is you can combine both to form a good marketing strategy.
1. Content marketing
Content marketing is the new kid around the block. And businesses are beginning to see the growing advantage of this marketing method.
In simple terms, content marketing allows you talk about what you know and do, in a way that enables your target customer to eventually know who you are, like what you do and trust you enough to buy what you sell.
How? You create online content and put it in places where your target customers hang out. Whether this is Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or your website.
“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.”
However, you can’t just start using this marketing method without proper planning. But we’ll discuss strategy in a later post.
Basically, content marketing is only successful when you have a blog as your major marketing channel. A blog, as opposed to what most people think, is not where you ramble about how tough it was for you to take a shit yesterday.
Your blog is a marketing medium used for your business where you share information that’s relevant to what your business is about. We’ll discuss how this plays out in the final post in this series.
Here are a few advantages of this method:
- Content marketing can work on a low budget, if you do it yourself. From experience, I’ve realized that when you outsource all your content marketing, it can turn out to be really expensive. However if you learn what it takes to create, publish and promote quality content that your target audience is looking for, it’ll come at no extra cost to you.
- It leads to other benefits asides money. You get to build online authority with an audience, build authority in search engines and you connect with great people along the process.
- You attract your ideal customers to you instead of you screaming about what you’re offering. It helps you build a connection with those you want to do business with, either now or in future.
While there are other benefits, it has its downside. But the truth is, this is only a minus for people who aren’t patient. Content marketing is a long haul game. It’s a long-term commitment that eventually yields great results. But you need to delay your gratification. You may not get the results you want immediately – it could take months and for some, years. But in the end, it pays off.
2. Paid advertising
Paid advertising, unlike content marketing has been around for decades. The only thing that has changed is the media used.
Paid advertising simply involves you creating and running adverts to attract the kind of people you want.
Paid ads come in different shapes and sizes:
- There’s the all famous PPC (Pay Per Click ads) used by Google AdWords. Here, you pay every time a potential customer clicks on your advert. You’ve probably seen these ads when you make specific searches in Google.
- Then there are social media adverts. These are run on the various social media channels and the channel you use depends on where your target customer hangs out. This turns out cheaper and gives you good return on investment if you’re on a tight budget. However, your results depend on other factors as well.
On its own, paid ads have proven to be very effective in recent times, especially when it’s backed up with a good strategy. Here are a few advantages of this method:
- Results are more short term unlike content marketing. You setup some adverts, run them and you start seeing results depending on how good your advert was. This eventually leads to traffic back to your website or to whatever place you want.
- As the name implies, it is paid. And the results you get sometimes depend on just how much you spend. With a good strategy, your ad budget can be directly proportional to your results. Other factors include the words used in the advert (ad copy), the people you’re targeting and what you’re selling.
What’s the best marketing method for you?
A good strategy usually involves a mix of content marketing and paid advertising. While this isn’t always the way to go, it does provide some form of short term satisfaction, while waiting for the long term benefits.
You can use any type of the two methods above for just about any business. However, consider your options before settling on one.
Do you have a large budget? Then you might consider going for paid ads.
Do you know how to create the kind of content your business needs, but don’t have a large budget? Consider using content marketing.
But remember that before you choose any method, know your target customer. This would ensure that you get the results you want, regardless of your marketing method of choice.
Out of the two methods above, which one appeals to you the most?
This article is the third in a series of posts on the 3 Simple Steps To Earning A Living From Your Skills Online. Learn the different marketing methods you can use in the next post.