You only need these 3 things for an online business yet many miss out


onlinep-business-3-things-online-business-needs-1An online business isn’t that complicated. You only need to accomplish 3 things, yet I see many people not able to keep up. Here are the 3 things you need — and I’ll explain each in more detail:

  1. An audience
  2. A relationship with your audience
  3. Offers to put in front of your audience


It doesn’t sound so hard, does it? But I see online entrepreneurs having problems with all 3 areas. This is important because if you miss the mark in any one area, you won’t have a thriving business.

Look for the links in each section, because I’ll give you resources to help you throughout.

Problem #1: Not building your audience

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by Ellen Finkelstein

How to sell without hard selling

It’s doesn’t have to look like this!

I’m sure you’ve seen sales pages filled with yellow highlights, bright red text, and BUY NOW buttons all over the place. You might think that’s what’s necessary to make the sale — and some people do succeed that way — but it isn’t the only way to make sales.

In fact, you might find that you generate more interest—and potentially more sales—with a more indirect approach. I’ve collected 4 methods that you can use.

1. Use stories to sell

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by Ellen Finkelstein

How to target your most likely customers


internet-marketing-target-likely-customers-1Many Internet marketers tell you to provide free content and people will come.

This is true; I know because I’ve developed two email lists totaling over 17,000 using this method. It’s called information marketing or education marketing.

But this method doesn’t necessarily find your most likely customers. Offering free content often attracts people who will never buy — they are looking only for free content. These are do-it-yourselfers, bootstrappers. You might be reading this post because you’re one of those yourself!

But getting people who will never buy doesn’t help your business. You may be able to earn ad income from all the traffic, but you’ll have a problem selling your products and services.

The good news

The good news is that when people need help, even if they signed up for free information, they may buy from you eventually. Here are strategies you can use:

  1. Offer free events, such as webinars and provide useful information. At the end, sell a product that extends the information you gave. Even if they don’t buy, just signing up for a free event gets them used to responding actively to your emails.
  2. Provide inexpensive products that won’t be a price pinch. You can move them up from there. Once you have the person as a customer, put that person into a separate email list and provide special tips and deals. In this way, you develop a relationship with your customers.
  3. Always broadcast the fact that others on the list are participating or buying. One technique of persuasion is to let people know what others like them are doing.

How to get buyers onto your list

Providing free content isn’t enough to get buyers onto your list. It’s useful, but you need to do more. Here are some ideas:

  1. Partner with others in your field and ask them to recommend you to their list. Do the same in return. I find that this is a good way to start, because you can quickly see if those people have good content on their site that you can recommend. And they can see what you have.
  2. Try to get joint venture partners for your products. This doesn’t work in all niches, but you can try. It’s a very powerful technique. Give your partner a percentage of the sales using an affiliate program. Your shopping cart probably has one.
  3. Use social media widely. In this way, you’ll attract a wider group of people and can invite them to participate in your events and buy your products and services. I especially recommend being active in LinkedIn groups. By joining relevant groups, you’ll target people who share an interest in your niche. You can add them as connections and invite them personally to an event. If you create your own group, you can email the members once a week.
by Ellen Finkelstein

How do I make money with my website while I try to change the world?


How social entrepreneurs can make money onlineWhat’s your goal in terms of changing the world?

What’s your goal in terms of making money? Do you have a product? A service?

If what you offer is attractive enough, they’ll come to you. If that isn’t working, survey your readers to see what they want! Your idea might seem great to you, but not to your readers. Yes, sometimes you need to educate people and you might be ahead of your time. But sometimes, you need to make adjustments, either in what you offer or in the way you explain it.

See “Are You Uncomfortable with Selling?” if you have difficulty asking people to buy your products or services.

Do some planning

Write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. Who is your target market?
  2. How can you reach them? (Where are they online?)
  3. Do they have money to spend?
  4. Are they willing to buy products and services?

The answers to those questions, along with your survey results, should help you focus on the right offering and the right people.

Provide choices

Of course, you need to start with one product. But eventually, you need to have a range of products from cheap to expensive. You can often offer levels of one product, but adding bonuses or extra levels of service. In this way, people can choose the level that meets their needs.

Don’t forget emotions

Appeal to their desire to change the world. This is something you and your potential customers have in common! Emotions affect people’s decision. You can use photos and emotion-charged words to reach people. This isn’t unethical; it’s helping people feel comfortable with what you offer. Did you know when the emotion center in the brain is damaged, a person can’t make a decision?

Always give; it’s the basis of receiving

Continue to provide free, valuable information–it won’t hurt your sales. Instead, it will help them, because it will establish you as an expert. And it’s the right thing to do!

by Ellen Finkelstein

Are you uncomfortable with selling?


Internet market-For Sale signSome people, especially social and heart-based entrepreneurs, feel uncomfortable about selling. They feel comfortable giving out information for free, but not asking for money. Are you one of those people?

A friend of mine felt uncomfortable enough to write a draft email that said, “Warning — rare sales copy follows” and offering readers a free gift just for reading to the end. It was like apologizing for selling. (She removed that part from the final version.)

When you consistently send out valuable information, you don’t have to feel guilty about sometimes charging for a product!

Just make your product valuable, charge a fair price (both to your customer and to you), and offer it to your readers.

Think of selling as giving

When you create a product, you are giving useful knowledge and skills to your buyers. Just be simple about it. Explain the benefits, describe what buyers will get, offer a guarantee, and see what happens. You don’t need to be uncomfortable about this!

Ask your subscribers what they want

When you first start out, you have to make an educated guess about what product will sell. That’s because you don’t have a large list of people to ask.

Later on, it’s useful to ask subscribers what products would be valuable to them. You can do a survey. (I recommend SurveyGizmo.) Then build your product based on the results.

Try and try again

If people don’t buy your product, you can try 2 alternatives:

  1. Reword your offer. Sometimes, using a different heading or description will make a big difference
  2. Create a different product. Maybe something else will click with your audience

What has your experience been with selling?

by Ellen Finkelstein