Today you'll get insights into what I call my online business toolkit, the tools I use to leverage my WordPress sites for lead generation and generating income.
That online business toolkit includes tools to optimize blogs, do keyword research, build landing pages, generate leads, to handle payments, and ways I grow my skills.
I'm running my online business for over two years now. It started on the side of a job, and within seven months I quit that job to become fully self-employed.
During that period, I refined this toolkit over and over again. Every time my online business evolved, the online business toolkit grew with it.
You'll find this post divided into a few sections:
Let's dive right into it:
You want to build your online business on a solid fundament; that's as true for your business model as it is for your strategy.
So the first section of my online business toolkit contains only tools made to validate business ideas and to build a solid technical foundation for your online business.
I have a few ways to validate business models and ideas in my toolkit, and already explained most of them in other blog posts.
The reason I put these frameworks and methods first in my online business toolkit is quite simple:
Don't build businesses that are doomed to fail. Instead validate your business model before executing on it.
Following the idea validation frameworks and techniques I'm about to list can save you ridiculous amounts of time and money.
If you're just starting your online business, make sure to read and execute at least on one of these posts:
Are you hosting the website for your online business on a web hosting account for just $3 / month?
If so, please move to a professional web host. I mean it, MOVE YOUR SITE.
I made this mistake shortly before the WP Summit:
I hosted the site for the WP Summit on a cheap web hosting account, meaning the website was quite slow, and support was barely available.
Once I noticed how much traction the WP Summit would get, I moved to Cloudways.
Here's what happened after the WP Summit was hosted at Cloudways:
I'm now in the process of moving all my websites to Cloudways; they're that good.
They are different from ANY web host I came across because they allow you to upgrade your server when you need it.
So when you don't have a lot of traffic, you can stay at their low-priced plans.
Once your site gets more traffic, you can simply upgrade to their next bigger package. That adds more power to your website and is an option you don't have on most other hosts. It only takes one support request and a few minutes.
And honestly, if you're not willing to spend $15 / month for web hosting, how serious are you about your online business?!
If you're not a programmer, maintaining and tweaking your WordPress site might be a challenge.
Sometimes online businesses require to have their website updated or customized, so what do you do?
If you're not sure where to start with optimizing your WordPress site, I recommend you hire someone to review it and give you a list of tips for improvement.
I can do that for you, check out my Basic WP Report.
If you want ongoing maintenance and support for your WordPress site, I highly recommend checking out WP Curve.
Their co-founder Dan Norris spoke at the WP Summit on content marketing and common WordPress pitfalls (get a checklist based on his interview here).
WP Curve is one of the fastest growing support companies for WordPress and set the stage for many spin-offs. Their performance and transparency are unrivaled, and I can highly recommend them.
WordPress obviously plays a major role in my online business toolkit, as I built all my websites with WordPress and my services & products are related to WordPress.
Choosing the right WordPress theme for your online business is tricky, as there are so many of them.
Hiring a web designer isn't an option for all online business owners, nor is it necessary when you're just starting out.
"Pick a theme that looks good and go with it. Don't touch it if you're not a designer, as chances are that you'll turn something that looks good into something that looks ugly." - Dan Norris
My favorite themes for online businesses come from StudioPress.
I use their Genesis Framework on this blog, and I think their themes are great to build a good looking website for your online business.
You can get the full checklist in the WP Workbook 101, along with 13 plugin reviews, four theme reviews, a guide to starting your online business, and a guide to selling digital products.
Traffic generation plays a massive role in this online business toolkit, as no online business can survive without at least a little bit of traffic. Not even mine 😉
Over the past two years, I mostly relied on organic traffic and search engine optimization.
My online business toolkit includes SEO tools and resources that you can start leveraging TODAY:
Content marketing also is a very important method to drive organic traffic to my blog.
Since I started implementing a new content marketing plan, my traffic doubled.
I summed up the new content marketing plan in a post, and you can read it here.
For the $10k/month business case study, I'll also leverage paid traffic.
Especially I'll leverage Facebook ads for $1 a day to generate leads and nurture those with email marketing.
That strategy was created by the awesome guys over at Blitzmetrics (read their blog), who work with small businesses but also with brands like Jack Daniels or Rosetta Stone.
Yesterday I also got access to a training program on leveraging webinars and Facebook ads, called Area 51 FB Ads 10x Conversion Method. I assume this training will become quite important for my business case study sooner than later.
I'm currently dabbling around with Facebook ads for the first time. Once I get the first validated results on my experiments, I'll of course share them with you!
To generate leads, you need to have opt-in forms on your website and connect them to an email service provider.
That allows your readers to subscribe to your mailing list and receive emails directly from you.
“I have literally built a million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my #1 business priority and asset.” (Michael Hyatt)
Currently, I use Mailchimp as my email service provider, and they served me well for the past two years.
However, now that my business is growing and scaling, I'm considering a more advanced service like Drip.
When you're starting out, it doesn't matter whether you go with Aweber, Mailchimp or something else. Most important is to start generating leads by building your list!
I'll keep you posted on the decision whether I'll move to Drip and why.
If you want to learn more about list building, you can read these articles:
Yes, I know. Online marketers hate popups.
But they are proven to work.
And when you use them like I do on the WP Summit landing pages, they not as intrusive.
I love OptinMonster for my popups, and on the WP Summit, the conversion rate was close to 70%!
Yes, that's an online event. But it's higher than ANYTHING I've seen on my blog before. If days had more than 24 hours, I would be using OptinMonster on this blog as well.
What I particularly love is their outstanding documentation, which so far answered all the questions I had.
And since Syed Balkhi from WP Beginner is the guy behind OptinMonster, you can be sure they know what they're doing.
The last section of my online business toolkit contains business coaching programs.
Starting online businesses isn't easy, and online coaching programs can help you skip mistakes others already made for you.
The first coaching program I ever joined was Internet Business Mastery by Jeremy Frandsen and Jason van Orden.
I found out about IBMA from Pat Flynn's book "Let Go", in which he attributes Jason and Jeremy to be the main reasons why SmartPassiveIncome became the multiple six-figure business it is.
What more for a testimonial do you need?
IBMA is quite an investment, but it has already paid for itself over and over again.
I also joined a few training programs, but I quit most of them after a few months.
When you invest in an online coaching program, the key to success is that you focus on it and take action.
"FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success" - John Lee Dumas
Other training programs I can recommend are:
I revealed my online business toolkit to give you the exact resources and tools I use to run my online business.
Whenever I add new tools or remove tools, I'll update this post and send out an email to my mailing list to notify you.
As you know, my mission is to help business owners build online businesses that fully leverage WordPress.
And I think this toolkit contributes quite well to this mission.
Let me know how you like it and leave a comment below!