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5 Online businesses you could start today

Guest post presented by 3rd party-- BLOG not written by Doug Sandler

Guest post presented by 3rd party-- BLOG not written by Doug Sandler

If you are looking for a new career and want to be your own boss, then there are many ways you can start a business online. It is easier to work online than in an office, and you can always work from home if you needed that flexibility. You can start by utilizing your strengths, but before you do, ask questions like what could you offer people? Do you have any skills that you can add to your online business? Here are some ideas that you can start working on today.

Social Media Consultant

Social media is an area that many companies are looking to expand their reach. However, a lot of them do not have the time or resources to do it themselves, so they employ an outside company to manage it for them. This is where you can create an opportunity for yourself. First, you will need to do some research and understand the mechanics, but you can quickly become a very sought after freelancer.

Web Design

If you have skills at web design, then you will be able to attract many clients. With what almost seems like everyone running a website, web designers can run a profitable business. There are lots of companies, especially start-ups, which need new sites designed. You can also add more to your products by offering a web hosting service as well. Companies such as Certa Hosting offer many services, and they also allow you to resell web hosting which can generate extra income.

Virtual assistant

There are many jobs that smaller companies are now outsourcing to freelancers instead of recruiting additional, permanent staff. In particular, virtual assistants are becoming an excellent way for business owners to have someone look after his or her emails and calendar. The responsibilities vary from project to project, but primarily it involves organizing emails, diary and occasionally phone calls and invoicing. Many people who hire you will be happy to show you how to use their particular software.

Virtual Support

In a similar way to a virtual assistant, virtual support offers companies IT support for their computers and software. It can save companies much money to just hire someone when there is a problem and is means there is plenty of work for you. Most of the support you give will be over the phone, although you can always offer a call-out service as well.

App Development

Mobile apps are very popular with companies, with more companies now looking for freelancers to develop apps for them. There is much work involved in app creation, but the financial rewards can be significant. Some mobile apps can cost $15,000 or more if there are many elements included. You can also collaborate with designers and other freelancers to offer more detailed creations.

These are just a few of the many online businesses that you can start from the comfort of your home. Some might need a little work, and you many need training or to conduct research, but the benefits of having your own business and working from home are more than enough to compensate.

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How Twitter Messed Up Everything

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How Twitter Messed Up Everything

Twitter messed everything up and I love it. Talk about equaling the playing field between the little guy and big business. Twitter’s 300 million users spread their wings about 500 million times every day using this short message social channel. With nearly half of the tweets generated from mobile, it’s no wonder small businesses are making it a challenge for big business to keep up; and that’s just one reason. But keep running hard little tweeter, big bird business is getting wise to us.

Exactly how much can you say in 140 characters on Twitter? Whether you are a small player or big business, you get the same amount of real estate; 160 characters was the SMS text message limit, so the founders thought the 140 character limit was good. Although big business is able to dump big money into advertising dollars on Twitter, it’s not ad money that generates the biggest bang. People sharing ideas, product reviews, advice, inspiration and real life relationships and experiences with products and services are what hits a homerun with other Tweeps (users of the social media giant). And if you get to be a pro at building relationships, 140 characters at a time, it can be a grand slam for your business too.

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5 Essential Elements of Any Social Media Campaign

If you spend any length of time surfing social media channels than you have bumped into thousands of social media marketing campaigns. The channels I tune into include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If, as a campaigner, I am doing my job properly, you would be intrigued enough to read, click, share, like or buy something I offer. Ultimately, anyone running a social media campaign is trying to get you to do something. Since you have limited time to invest in reading, watching or listening, the messages you are receiving need to keep you interested, invested and involved in the campaign or you will tune out. If you want a bonus FREE gift via email, text your email address to 410-340-6861 (U.S. phone number).

High touch trumps high tech. Every. Single. Time.

Do a quick analysis and see how you compare. So, are you social? In order to be successful, any business, no matter the size, should focus its attention on building a social media campaign with the following components in mind:

The List

It’s a great idea to start here because any campaign, even an awesome one, will go absolutely nowhere if there is no one to promote a product or service to. So where does one get this list? Interestingly enough, the businesses that build a social media campaign effectively build it one prospective customer at a time. Over the last 2 years I have been fortunate to build a sizeable list with thousands of people by connecting via post, content and promotion. That being said, I would much rather have 500 connections that I personally connected with on social media than 5,000 people that have no idea who I am or why I am interested in them. If you are reading this message, chances are good I have connected with you directly over the last two years . Under no circumstances do you want to buy followers, connections or likes.

Brand

Would I know who you are if I saw your logo? Do you have a signature saying or slogan that’s easily recognizable? What is your company’s reputation on social media? Defined, your brand is what the public thinks of you when they hear your name. Real or imagined, it doesn’t matter, it’s the public’s perception of your image. On social media channels, the message you put out, the content you create, the images you use, your tone and the speed at which you respond on social media will all help determine your brand. If you have a great message and your content is stellar, but you fail to respond to people requesting information via social media, your reputation (and your brand) will go down the toilet. The biggest complaint I see on social media is a company’s lack of response to questions, critique, complaints or praise when posted.

Content

What are you doing to be an expert in your industry? If all you do is “puke product” you will quickly destroy your list. To become an expert, you should be blogging, posting on your page, guest blogging, sharing other’s content and promoting your industry in addition to talking up your products and services. The idea is simple, if you become the expert, others will point to you and they will promote your products as well. And don’t just stick to writing. Try your hand at podcasting, video creation, pictograms and anything else outside the box. You may be thinking, “How the heck am I going to find time for all of this?” My answer is this: If you don’t find time for this new way of marketing in the “social age,” you will be left behind. Get involved now.

Call to Action

When you create your message or your content, you must tell people what you want them to do. Don’t just post a link. In addition, tell people to “click on the link” to see the 5 must do’s of social media campaigning or do something to get them to want to keep their focus on you. Give away your content, and tell people to act now and act often. Do it gently, creatively and with enthusiasm. On social, offer a free download or bonus materials or give a little extra. People like to feel compelled to do something and by offering a call to action that includes a fun, free or festive outcome, they are more likely to act. If you want a bonus FREE gift via email, text your email address to 410-340-6861 (U.S. phone number).

Human Element

Above all else, people like to feel as though they are connecting with other people, not machines. I have and will always be an "xoxo" kind of guy, running an "xoxo" kind of company. On social media especially, there are way too many companies that have automated their processes and have enlisted the help of “robots” to respond to requests for information. Not good. Even tiny companies of one (called solopreneurs) can set aside time during the course of their day to add the element of “social” to the mix. It requires only seconds to respond, even if the response is, “Please provide me with a phone number so I (a human being) can call you back later today.

I run an ‘xoxo’ kind of company. Don’t like it? Than you’ll have to get used to an impersonal experience with an attitude from someone else.

Include the above 5 components in your social program and you will have a huge head start in creating a successful social media campaign. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of having a solid product or service and good reputation for supporting it as well. Even the best of campaigns will fall short of the mark if your stuff stinks. Do not hide behind technology, thinking that social media will provide an opportunity to get lost in the shuffle millions of subscribers, connections and friends. Just the opposite will occur. Social media is a microscope and a bad experience can be broadcast to millions faster than you can say, “Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.” If social media is going to be used as your only source of marketing, dedicate enough time during the day to make it a successful program. Invest your time wisely in the campaign and you will rise to the top when you add consistency, persistence and dedication to the social frontier.

Don’t forget text your email address to 410-340-6861 (U.S. phone) to get a bonus FREE gift via email.

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Today's Currency - Your List

Photo Credit - pixabay.com

Photo Credit - pixabay.com

I can almost guarantee, before reading this post, several times today, you checked out what your friends, followers and connections were doing on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And if you are anything like me, you may have even taken care of doing that before you got out of bed this morning, maybe even before you said good morning to your significant other. Most definitely, you were stalking, tweeting, snapping, boosting, plus one-ing, discussing and hashtagging before you had your first cup of coffee. Hey, it’s 2015 and we’ve got to get social pretty darn early these days.

Most definitely, you were stalking, tweeting, snapping, boosting, plus one-ing, discussing and hashtagging before you had your first cup of coffee.

You have your favorite social stream, but for the sake of this blog, I want to discuss what you will need to do to take something that could be perceived as your biggest “time suck” and turn it into a big money maker, cash cow and marketing machine for you and your business. Over the past 2 years I have become a student of social media and although I am confident I have plenty more to learn, what I have learned so far has started a flywheel that is building momentum and chugging along quite nicely. The question is, how can you monetize social media and make it work for you?

Stop using social media just as a hobby. Start using it as an integral part of your marketing plan. Sure, you can find out where your ex-boyfriend is on vacation with his new girlfriend and you can definitely see what your neighbors have been eating, drinking and buying off eBay, but why not make some money while you’re at it. Plus it is so easy to measure results using tools right at your finger tips. Plus, next to having happy customers, there is nothing better than a rising bank account to measure if your business plan is working or not.

Stop using social media just as a hobby. Start using it as an integral part of your marketing plan.

Regardless of which social media channel you have in your virtual bag of tricks, there remains one common denominator that will turn your keystrokes into bank notes: The List. Without a powerful list, you are pitching products to a stadium of empty seats. There are thousands of advertisers that will add followers, connections and likes to your accounts. Don’t waste your money. Paying for followers is the equivalent of putting a crash test dummy in your passenger seat to drive in the HOV lanes. Sure it looks good, but you could still get a ticket. Although there is nothing illegal about “buying” your list, it will do you absolutely no good.

Paying for followers is the equivalent of putting a crash test dummy in your passenger seat to drive in the HOV lanes. Sure it looks good, but you could still get a ticket.

Here are several tips that you should put to work immediately to bolster your list, bump up your follower base and boost your connections:

LinkedIn

  1. Start posting to Pulse - If you don’t know what Pulse is, go to your homepage on LinkedIn and under the “Interest” tab is a dropdown for PULSE. Click on any of the posts and you will see a post in a number of categories including Social Media, Advertising, Small Business and many others. Write your own posts, keep the content short (500-1500 words is ideal) and write about stuff that you are interested in. Love your job, maybe you are an expert in human resources or accounting, or maybe you just like the idea of dressing for success. No matter what your calling, people want to read about it.
  2. Add to discussion groups - Again, the “Interest” tab is your friend. Drop down to GROUPS and in the search box type in something you are interested in and join that group. Joining a LinkedIn group is like joining an association. As a matter of fact, there is probably a discussion group for any association you are a part of. Start contributing to the conversations and discussions. After a while, start your own discussions. The key in the discussion groups is to keep your tone aligned with consulting, being an expert and providing solid information. Selling or spamming others in the group is against LinkedIn terms of service and should be avoided.
  3. Wall posts and your profile - You should post business related items daily on your wall, share content and congratulate people you see are on the move in the industry. Don’t just stalk your former coworkers to see where they started working. Also, it’s key to have a good profile picture, a short work history and all of your contact info right there on your profile. Don’t make people work too hard to find out how to reach you.

Twitter

  1. How creative can you be in 140 characters? - Very! Once you get good at maximizing your small real estate, life on Twitter will become wonderful. The goal of Twitter is to lead people (followers) to your content in a creative way. If you don't have a website to lead them to, send them back to the post you just created on LinkedIn. I let pictures do my talking. Nearly 100% of my tweets contain a picture and if you don’t believe me, head over to @djdoug to check out my 18,000 tweets that have gotten me 8,300 followers over the last 8 months alone. Twitter studies show there is a 94% better chance of your tweet being shared (retweeted) if a picture is used.
  2. Use hashtags to find others with similar interests - Similar to the discussion groups on LinkedIn, hashtags on Twitter will connect you with others that are talking about the things you are interested in. Follow those people, share their content and connect directly with people they are also following. Don’t go “follow” crazy. Twitter has a 2,000 account follow limit. Once you hit that number of accounts you are following, you will need to have 2,000 followers following you before you can move to greener pastures. That’s not a bad thing. Just like in life, balance is important, build a solid list of people you are interested in, spread their love and they will follow you back. It takes patience and time.
  3. Tweet, retweet and favorite - Consistency is king. Make sure you keep a steady diet of adding to the information feed. The more active you are, the more others will see you. Establish yourself and align yourself with others, tweet at least several times a day and welcome Twitter into your daily routine. Your virtual friends will become your biggest business supporters if you play the social media game properly.

Facebook

  1. Establish a business page - If you don’t have a website for your business, use Facebook as your “business page.” The benefit to using Facebook as your business promotional tool is that your “store” is open right next to your home if you also keep a personal Facebook page. It is 2015, get busy, get social. It’s super easy to invite your friends to come on over and many of them will. I would encourage you to also have a website, but if you don’t, Facebook is a great way to promote your business.
  2. Keep your page professional - If you are the kind of guy that would take your coworkers out for happy hour, vacation with them on a houseboat and do body shots off of the cocktail waitress, then go for it. But I wouldn’t suggest taking pictures of it and posting them to your business page. Potential clients, future employers and pretty much the world might see these posts one day, you may want to pause before posting.
  3. Just like Twitter, pictures and links play a vital role on Facebook as well. You want your content to be read and shared with others. Your goal is to get page likes while engaging as many people as you are able. If they have an interest in your product or service, you want to also make sure they have a super easy way to reach you as well.

In an upcoming blog I discuss how to turn your growing list into money. But let’s not put the cart before the horse, or the feed before the birdie. In the meantime, get busy building your lists on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and all of your preferred social channels. It’s also a great idea to let your connections know how to reach you on each of your social channels. Although the tone of each is very different, you will see a core group of supporters emerge. They will be your social army, providing encouragement every tweet, post, like, favorite, pin, pic and share at a time.

Doug’s book, Nice Guys Finish First, is quickly climbing the Amazon charts. As of the date of this post it was rated on the Amazon Best Seller ranking at #38 for Business Strategy and Competition. You can purchase his book at Amazon.com . Doug also has a weekly podcast called The Nice Guys Podcast on iTunes.

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