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It’s the main buzzword you will ever hear in any business circles, growth. Starting a small business takes a lot of time, effort, and gathering finances by begging, stealing or borrowing; growing a business is another thing entirely… In the task of finding ways to make money on the side, you tend to find that your small part-time writing or blogging job has now snowballed into a full-blown career that has taken up most of your days (and nights). If this is you, good on you! In other words, you’ve made a career out of a hobby, something that we all aspire to. But here’s the awkward part, once you’ve made a career out of your hobby, you have to find a way to keep it going because now something you love has turned into a, dare I say it, job. And that’s fine, there are worse jobs in the world, but everything you aspire to do will become a job of sorts, but you would rather do this than flip burgers, so you need to fight your corner. This is why so many people turn to a business model. It’s a structure most freelancers need to keep their career lucrative. So when your business gains a lot of traction and it’s time to build it up from a small-fry startup to a business that means business you need to embrace certain strategies. And here are a few, in laymen’s terms.

 

Picking Your Audience

You’ve built up a small cult following for your blog or whatever you're putting online. And whether you're making films or selling clothes pegs, the “product” is the focus here. Who do you cater it for? Are you putting your product out there in the hopes you'll get enough people to follow it (or buy it, or visit the website) without any sense of focus? This is a big problem and one that will make you work a lot harder for so little in return. This is why you need to really look at your product and make a decision on who you really want it to cater to. This makes sense for you as a business in many ways, from streamlining your efforts to carving out your own name in the market. And if you look at who benefits most from your product, you can make more concerted efforts to focus in on them. It’s the 80/20 rule, 20% of the market brings in 80% of your revenue. In other words, are you putting out content that caters for all age groups, which, in total, gets a high volume of clicks? But when you break down the information, it’s actually the 18-24 age group that brings in the majority of those clicks, wouldn’t it make more sense to start gearing content more towards that age group? They're your main source of traffic and income, so why wouldn’t you focus more on those areas? It’s a big topic, and when you increase a small business to cater to the masses, you need to start thinking how you can get the most out of the least effort. This means streamlining or making processes simpler.

Understanding The Skill Of Networking

Forging partnerships will be the key to building up your business, keeping them will be the key to a successful one. It’s that cliché of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and if you want to start expanding your horizons, you have to make the most of the people who are in the know. Sizing up any competition is a standard practice, and you may as well see who else is out there doing what you do. It’s a hard balance because, on the one hand, you need to make your business grow in an organic kind of way and not change your product too much that it betrays your original image. So for example, if you specialize in a blog that is about indie music, but there are other blogs out there that do the same thing (and there are plenty!), do you completely change direction and write about acid jazz to maintain your originality? But by writing about indie you're competing with the bigger blogs, and if indie is your specialty, what you do? You need to stand out enough from the crowd, so the way to do that is to see what is out there and you can make a conscious decision to move into certain areas that make your content stand out even more. Networking opens up doors to new opportunities, new people to work with/for you, and can catapult your product into areas you had never even thought of. It’s important to make a skill of negotiation, even when your product isn’t viewed as trendy or something that anyone would think about looking at because you could enter into a partnership or a relationship with a distributor that will try and pay you next to nothing for the whole product. George Lucas negotiated a cut of the profits for Star Wars because it wasn’t anticipated to be a success. Learning how to be clever in negotiations and networking with the right people will be the jewel in your crown. And don’t underestimate the importance of internet networking too; sites like LinkedIn are dynamite for these! Online networking is something that can build up your reputation without even trying, and you can learn a lot from other businesses too.

 

Learning How To Market Yourself Better

This goes hand in hand with negotiation and networking. Networking is essentially learning how to market yourself, but you also need to learn how to market your business properly. This links back to your target audience. Marketing strategies are vast and plentiful, and it can be a task to dig down into finding the best processes for your style of business. From a trendy blog to a legal team, every sort of company requires a marketing strategy. There are little tools you can implement to make your site or product stand out more. Take SEO, a very common tool now, but now everyone is using SEO tactics to make their blog or business stand out, what can you do to make your company stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way). It’s time to make the most of marketing agencies if you're stuck for ideas or you’ve tried every last SEO tactic you can think of, whether you're running a shop or a law firm. And depending on the business you run, marketing agencies have a lot of tricks up their sleeve, and can give you the benefit of an outsider’s point of view. There are marketing firms that have their own unique experience, such as legal marketing
services
specialists. They tailor the output of law firms by using SEO tactics and by implementing website changes to make them look more dynamic. And it’s a hard task to make a law firm look sexy, so even if your product is anything but sexy, these marketing specialists can give you the critique you need to bump up your attractiveness to prospective customers or to increase traffic. Throw a dart online, and you can find an article on how to market a company, but the final word on it is that no matter how many tactics you have, it will never replace engaging content. If something is that good, it will warrant sharing on social media and word of mouth can spread. Making your content in keeping with your original goal is what it’s all about, and that’s what will keep people interested.

If you started out your writing or little business as a way to earn pocket money, it would only do so for a limited amount of time. And it’s the way of the world that you need to start building up a little empire for your passion if you stand any chance of making any money from it. People seem to think that making money from a blog doesn’t take long, and for some, it fell into their lap. But if you worked hard at making it the best it can be, you wouldn’t want to throw in the towel at this point. Many people who grow a blog or a little business can find that the popularity is so much that they lost track of why they began it in the first place. But if you are reading this thinking about the best way to earn money by making a blog, then you're doing it the wrong way. The real way to earn a living is to follow your passions and become absurdly single-minded in making it work. This involves some sacrifices of course, but you'll come to find that building up a small blog into a large product or turning a small online shop into an ecommerce monster requires sacrifice too. Little tricks are employed by every business to increase their popularity, or to concentrate their marketing efforts, so if you really want to make the most of your small business and turn it into big business, try these tips.   


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- Chiino

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