You might have hundreds, or even thousands of followers. You might post entertaining content, be an expert, or simply know a lot of people. There are inherent personal advantages to having a network of this size; for example, surveys indicate up to 85 percent of jobs are filled by networking, in some capacity. But have you ever thought about converting your social following into a full-fledged business?
It’s more realistic than you might think. All businesses require a target audience that finds your offer valuable—which many entrepreneurs find to be the hardest part of starting a business—and you’ve already got it. All you need to do is figure out how to convert that fandom into a stream of revenue, and build a business around that model.
Establish a Monetization Strategy
Your business won’t be successful unless you can make money from it—otherwise, it’s just a hobby. Thankfully, there are many ways for you to monetize your existing audience, though most of them boil down to one of these three broad categories:
- Sell products. Your first option is to sell products directly to your followers. For example, if you became known for your artistry, you can sell your finished works of art to your followers. If you’re a renowned reviewer of new gadgets, you may be able to resell some of the latest tech products. You may even be able to sell your best content for a premium, such as offering an eBook for a few dollars per download.
- Sell services. Alternatively, you can sell your services. For example, if you’re an expert in a specific industry, you may consider starting a consulting business, charging hourly to answer your clients’ questions.
- Make money with ads. If you’re popular for your content and you can’t think of a product or service to sell, your best bet is to continue growing your audience with content, adding in a separate strategy to make money. You can use Google to place ads on your site and reap the profits, or use affiliate links, such as through Amazon, to make money on sales commissions. If you have traffic in the thousands of monthly visitors, you should be able to make a decent profit from this.
Building the Business
Once you’ve decided on a way to monetize your traffic, you can start building the infrastructure of your business:
- Get a loan. Your online business won’t be expensive, but you still may need to take out a loan to cover costs like website hosting, advertising, and the cost of your initial materials. For these purposes, taking out a loan is probably your best bet.
- Build a website. Next, you’ll need to create a website. You can use a free or inexpensive website builder, but don’t hesitate to pay for better hosting, a unique domain name, and possibly a template that isn’t currently being used by thousands of people. Your site doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should be unique, functional, and relevant to your brand. Make sure it’s typo-free and loaded with content before you start pointing people in its direction.
- Attract initial traffic. Since you already have a sizable following, it shouldn’t be hard to attract initial traffic to your site. Make the announcement on your most popular social media channels, and if you want an extra boost, consider posting some ads or boosting your announcement. Of course, you’ll also want to list the URL permanently in your social profiles.
- Optimize. After a month, or even a few weeks of operations, you should be able to tell how your campaign is performing. Are people coming to your site on their own? Are they converting? If not, you may need to rethink your approach. For example, you may be able to use conversion optimization to get more people to buy your products and/or services.
- Scale. Finally, if you want to make even greater profits, you’ll need to scale your efforts. Invest in heavier marketing and advertising to get more traffic to your site, and invest more time in producing better content and better products for your users.
Obviously, this guide is somewhat simplified, but if you already have a loyal audience and you introduce a worthwhile monetization strategy, it’s hard to go too wrong. Tweak your business carefully as you learn more about your audience’s needs and start collecting your initial stream of revenue, and don’t be afraid to experiment and make changes so your business model works.
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