I don’t know about you but, my biggest learning curve when I started growing my business was the tech stuff. Thankfully, I was able to find some online resources for learning all the things. But, it did take a bit of time and dedication.
I knew all of the software and technology that I needed to do my job (as a virtual assistant) but, the software and online programs that I needed to know to grow my business were a whole different story.
The internet is massive and when you’re trying to stand out and gain some traction to grow your business, there are so many different options. And, that’s great for people like us who are solopreneurs working towards financial freedom.
But, it also means that for every option available to grow your business and get more eyeballs on your products and services, there are that many methods, software programs, and strategies to learn.
It can be seriously overwhelming when you’ve got a freelancing business that you’re ready to launch but, you can’t figure out how to add a page to your website that you’ve just signed up for.
Some of the key pieces of tech that a solopreneur needs to learn are a website, an email service provider, and graphic design.
My strategy? Be calm and read on …
Why Is It Important To Have A Website For Your Business?
Let’s all keep in mind that there are many paths to success. We are all working towards the same goal of financial freedom but, the paths that we take to get there will be different from one another.
That being said, *most* of us will start with some kind of online presence. Preferably, in the form of a website. Notice that I didn’t say “you absolutely MUST have a website when you first start out.”
I didn’t say that because I don’t believe that it’s true.
In my opinion, you can start your business without a website and still make money. It may be slow-going and you might need some serious chops in your industry but, it is possible.
For instance, I landed my first health and wellness virtual assisting client without having my website up and running. However, I emailed her my resume which clearly outlined that I had years of experience managing a collaborative-care patient clinic that did telemedicine.
It was clear that I was a strong candidate and that I was a professional even without having a website.
Then, when she recommended me to one of her colleagues, my website was up and running and I was able to send a link to it.
Having a website is not necessary to start your business but, I believe it is necessary to grow your business.
Think of it this way, if you were thinking about starting a restaurant you would want to secure a building and put a sign-up, right?
You don’t necessarily need a building in order to feed people. There are food trucks and hot dog carts that prove this on a daily basis. But, you do need the building if you want your business to be thought of as a restaurant.
It’s the same thing with a website. No, it’s not a requirement. You can serve your audience without it. But, if you want to be a solopreneur who has achieved financial freedom, you start a website.
And, you start a website with the absolute best hosting and domain service you can. Hubs is a web designer and has worked with everyone from corporations to non-profit annual events. His #1 hosting recommendation for folks just starting out in online business is Siteground.
Yes, a website can be an investment of both time and money. But, there are also a ton of benefits that give you a return on that investment.
When you’re first starting out in your business as a solopreneur, no one has heard of you and the competition can be fierce. You haven’t built your “know, like and trust” factor. Your online reputation is nil.
But, as soon as you launch a website, you have checked the “know” piece off of your list and given people the opportuntity to learn more about you.
This step alone can give your business a boost in credibility.
Think about it. When you want help with something or you are looking to learn more about a certain subject – where do you go?
The library? Do you drive around town and read bulletin boards and tear off little bits of paper with phone numbers on them?
You head to the internet. And, that is exactly where your potential clients are going to head too. And, not just to the internet but, to social media.
You can have a profile on every social media site that you think your audience would be on and drive all viewers to your website.
The more touchpoints there are to your business online – the more your credibility will increase.
When clients are searching for help with something … they are going to all have similar questions. They will want to know who can help solve their problem, how their problem can be solved, and how much it will cost them.
And, you can publish answers to all of those questions on your website. Giving potential clients the information that they need upfront is a tremendous way to give solid customer service.
You want only the clients who best match what you do and how you do it. So, if you have information on your website that covers all of that, you will only have to spend your time connecting with people who already qualify as a dream client.
Plus, you always want your audience to feel well-served. What could be better than using your blog to give free advice or help? Or, an about me page to give information about your story and credentials? Even having a page for services or plans and pricing will help serve your audience because they will know right away what they were getting and for how much.
Build A Tribe
Building a tribe of your dream clients not only benefits your business but, it can also do wonders for your self-confidence. Growing a business as a solopreneur can be slightly isolating. Yes, it’s a choice and most of us probably prefer to work alone.
But, it’s nice to have a little interaction with people and a little affirmation that the work we are doing is appreciated. Especially, if we truly are passionate about the work.
Whether you are a project management consultant or a freelance writer, having a group of believers who support your work is crucial to increasing your income.
When you publish a website, you have a platform for those believers to gather. You can add testimonials to your website or, start building an email list.
How Does An Email Service Provider Work?
Once you have your website up and you have a good schedule for publishing valuable and relevant content to your blog, it’s time to start capturing email address.
You should start building your email list early in your solopreneur journey because it gives you a direct line to your dream clients.
As a solopreneur, you always want to keep your thumb on the pulse of what your target audience is struggling with. Why? So you can give them a solution!
When you have an email list full of clients who believe in what you do and trust what you say, it is invaluable to the growth and scalability of your business.
When you feel like your content is falling short or your social media strategy just isn’t quite getting it done – you don’t have to wonder why.
You can just go ask your email list.
Send them a message and say, “Hey, I feel like maybe we’re not connecting like we used to. Is there anything that I can do to improve the content that I’m publishing?”
Boom. Your audience replies and you get clear direction for what you need to do next.
Obviously, the more people on your list (who are your exactly target audience), the better. And, no. You would never be expected to manage all of those email addresses using your GMail account.
That’s what email service providers are for!
In fact, not only can email service providers send out automated email sequences that you write and mass-subscriber email broadcasts, but they can also tag or filter your subscribers.
I highly recommend using ConvertKit as your email service provider. Their customer service is outstanding, their interface is very easy to use yet can make some high-level funnels, and at around $40 a month, they very inexpensive for the options that you get.
Tagging is a very cool feature that allows you to segment your list into different groups.
For instance, if you are a health coach and you have a free download on your homepage for recipes, you could build a tag in your email service provider to separate the people who download your form.
Then, when you release your new cooking course, you can send a special email to that list of people because you know they’re interested in cooking.
Another cool thing about having a good email service provider is you can drive social media traffic to landing pages for free downloads, sign-ups for webinars, etc.
Stellar graphics on your social media accounts, which send people to quality landing pages that provide a solution to their problem, make a lasting impression on a new member of your tribe.
How Important Is Social Media Graphic Design To Business Growth?
So, I absolutely love shopping at thrift stores. Hunting for bargains on one of a kind vintage pieces has been a favorite hobby of mind for years.
That being said, I fully admit that walking into Macy’s or Nordstroms’s feels better. I don’t carry hand sanitizer with me and I expect to spend more than a few bucks.
It’s the same thing with online stores. If you can make a good first impression on your visitors, they won’t scrutinize your prices as much and they will trust you more.
****Valuable content that serves the audience and helps them solve a problem is CRUCIAL****
However, if the graphics on the social media feed are ugly or the website is disorganized and amateurish, folks might not stick around long enough to read the content. A sad fact about online business.
There might be a vintage 1950s dress worn by Jackie O herself in that thrift store. But, if I walk-in and there are just a bunch of boxes on the floor full of clothing with no real organization, I’m probably going to miss out on that couture treasure.
Graphic design was my biggest learning curve when I first started my business. In fact, I absolutely hated it. But, then I started to pay attention to the online business owners that I trusted.
I started to think about what it was about the businesses that made me trust them versus other business that I didn’t trust as much.
It was all about the quality of their online presence.
So, I had to do some work and learn graphic design. Not a bunch. I don’t have any interest in becoming a designer. But, enough so that I could design social media graphics that were appealing. And, images for my blog posts that were all sized correctly and uniform.
Think about it this way, whether your potential clients learn about you through word of mouth, a Facebook group, or even Upwork, they’re going to Google you.
They are going to want to learn more about who you are, what you do and what you’re about. That Google search will turn up your website (if you have one) and your social media profiles.
With each link that they click, they’re going to form a bit more of an impression of you.
Having solid graphics that are nicely designed and easy on the eyes can make the difference between that impression being good or bad.
3 Legit Resources For Learning The Tech Stuff That Grows Your Business
So, with things like website, email service providers and graphic design, where are you supposed to learn about all of this stuff!?! Here are a few suggestions for both free and paid resources.
Since YouTube started out as being free to subscribers, there is a big mix of video content that is both helpful and not so helpful.
But, over the years I have weeded through things and found some great channels that have reliable and useful content.
My favorite YouTube channel for learning WordPress and building a WordPress website is WPBeginner. I also really love their blog and subscribe to their newsletter.
ConvertKit has their own YouTube channel where you can learn how to use all of their features plus some other cool things. Check their playlists for “how to use ConvertKit”.
Lynda.com is an online learning resource from LinkedIn. It is designed to teach anyone business, software, technology, and creative skills to further their career goals.
While it is not a free service they do have a free 1-month trial.
Not only can you learn specific concepts like web design or marketing. But, you can also learn software including Facebook and Google Ad Words for SEO.
All of the training is done online so, you can do it at your own pace. You just pay a membership fee once a month and then you can take as many classes as you want to for that month.
There are more than 10,000 online courses to choose from so, it’s definitely worth the money if you want to learn a specific strategy that includes several courses.
Udemy.com is similar to Lynda.com in that there are thousands of classes (more than 50,000) available for a variety of topics. But, Udemy’s pricing is different. You don’t pay per month for access. Instead, you pay per course and there are several courses that are free.
On the other hand, Udemy is similar to YouTube in that anyone can put content on the platform. So, when you come across a free video, you have to consider the source and decide for yourself if the content is valuable or accurate enough to be worth your time.
Udemy also has personal development courses whereas Lynda does not. So, if you’re looking for help with motivation or focus, there is probably a course on Udemy that can help with that.
I will say that the instructors on Lynda.com are of the highest caliber and the information they are teaching is going to be accurate and totally worth the investment.