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It’s safe to say we’ve learned a lot about online business over the past few years, and we love sharing those lessons with other aspiring business owners.

We started our first successful business, a health and fitness blog, in 2015. But before that, we had another health and fitness blog that didn’t go quite as well. We didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t end up making any money.

The good news is we learned a lot, and we were able to take all of those lessons and use them to turn our next blog into a six-figure business.

It was when we started making $10,000+ per month from that business that we knew we were onto something. We had learned so much about running an online business, and we wanted to share that value with the world.

That led us to start our next business, Create and Go, where we teach people how to make money blogging. Since then, we’ve gone from making six figures per year to making six figures per month.

The content we share on Create and Go is a culmination of everything we’ve learned over the past four years about running a successful online business.

In this post, we’ll start with the basics by sharing 7 things you have to know before building your online business.

1. Be Prepared to Work

Achieving business success isn’t going to happen by accident, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to work hard for it.

Now that we make six figures per month, an outsider could look at our business and see how much money we make and often we travel and think that building this business was easy.

But what you don’t see is the hard work that went into it.

When we were first building our business, we gave it everything we had. We put everything else in our lives on hold, including having any kind of real social life. And for people who love to be social and have fun, that was tough! But we knew this business was worth it.

Getting to where we are today took years of hard work. For a long time, we worked many more hours on the business than we had ever worked in our full-time jobs.

This was especially true after we left our jobs before we had started making money from our business. We had risked everything to make this thing succeed, so we had no choice. We had to make it work. And that meant spending all of our time focused on the business.

By this point, we’ve learned a lot about how to work smarter, not harder. And we’ve built a team to help us keep things running smoothly. But make no mistake, we still work hard to keep our income-generating business running and growing.

2. You Have to Have a Plan

There are so many moving parts when it comes to running a business and if you don’t have a clear plan, it’s easy to get lost. Many people get overwhelmed by everything there is to do and just end up giving up.

To get organized and create a plan for yourself, do a brain dump of everything you think you’ll need to accomplish to get your business up and running. And once you’ve done that, start prioritizing them.

Don’t get lost in the busy work – just work on prioritizing the task that will have the biggest impact on your business right now.

In the beginning, this is going to mean getting your website up and running. You can’t accomplish everything else until you’ve completed this step.

Once you’ve got your website up, you can prioritize creating content and driving traffic.

Whatever one task you’re prioritizing right now, give it 100% of your focus. Don’t be worrying about other tasks you’ll need to complete or brainstorming new projects. Just commit to the task at hand.

If you’ve planned correctly, you’ll already have figured out what task comes next and you’ll be ready to dive in when you finish your current task.

Finding the right productivity tools to help you stay on track will be a game-changer.

3. It’s Not About You

Your business is not about you.

I know this is going to come as bad news for those of you trying to build businesses around something just because it’s what you love to talk about. But it’s something you need to hear.

No matter how good your content is, it’s not going to help your business unless it’s the content that your audience wants and needs.

When we started our first health and fitness blog, we made it all about us. We shared the content that we were passionate about, and then we didn’t understand why people didn’t want to buy the awesome product we had created.

The second time around, we did things very differently. When we started our successful health and fitness blog Avocadu, we knew what we had done wrong with the first blog and we avoided making that same mistake again.

We made the blog all about our audience. We used keyword tools to figure out what it was that people were searching for online, and we created content using those keywords.

And once we did it that way, people were eager and excited to buy the products we created for them.

4. Your Email List Is Your Biggest Asset

Social media followers are great and all, but the real number you want to look at is the number of people on your email list. We’ve found time and time again that it is true what they say – the money is in the list.

Most of the sales we make for both affiliate marketing and our digital products come from our email list.

Not only do we generate more sales from our email list than through our blog posts, but it also allows us to get to know our audience more.

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If you’re starting a business, setting up your email list should be one of the first things you do.

Here’s a quick step-by-step for setting up your email list and getting people to sign up:

  1. Sign up for an email service provider. ConvertKit is what we use and recommend to our audience.
  2. Create a freebie. This is the free offer that people will receive when they sign up for your email list. They need some kind of incentive!
  3. Build a sales funnel. Whether you’re selling your product or an affiliate product, create an email funnel that new subscribers will go through. Most of the funnel is valuable free content, but it ends with you selling them something.

Once you have your email list, it’s important to nurture it. Email your subscribers regularly with valuable free content so every time you have something to sell, they’ll already be paying attention.

5. You Have to Invest in Yourself

One of the biggest things separating successful businesses from the rest is that they are willing to invest in themselves. This is something we learned early on in our own business.

There is so much free information available online. And if you’ve got an awful lot of free time, you could certainly attempt to sift through it all and piece together the big picture without paying a dime for information.

But at the end of the day, you’re wasting a lot of time, and you aren’t getting the full picture.

Real businesses aren’t giving away their best information for free. They are giving bits and pieces of what you need to do. But they aren’t telling you how. They’re saving their best information for paying customers.

We invested close to $15,000 in business courses and software when we first got started.

Yes, $15,000 is a lot of money. And certainly, not everyone needs to spend that much. But now that we earn six-figures per month, that initial investment doesn’t seem like all that much.

You’ll see a much bigger return on the investment for money spent on real education than you will on the time spent trying to piece together all of the free information out there.

6. Go all-in on One Social Media Platform

These days it seems like way too many business owners equate social media followers with success. That’s simply not true. Any social media platform or traffic source is only valuable if it’s driving traffic and sales to your website.

When we started Avocado, and subsequently Create and Go, we decided to go all in one Pinterest, and focus and driving as much traffic as we could from that one traffic source.

That is what ultimately inspired us to create our course Pinterest Traffic Avalanche.

We knew that being amazing on one platform would be more profitable than being okay on all of them.

Which platform you choose will depend a lot on the demographics of your target audience, as well as simply which platform interests you. For example, while we chose to focus on Pinterest as a traffic source, there are also businesses in our niche who are killing it on Instagram and driving a lot of traffic.

The key thing, however, is that they are going all-in on Instagram and not getting stuck in the weeds of every other platform out there.

Once you choose a platform, go all in. Invest in a course or training to learn as much as you can about the platform, and create a strategy based on what you’ve learned.

Remember, once you’ve mastered the platform and have streamlined your strategy, you can move onto other platforms to maximize your traffic opportunities!

7. Don’t Forget to Share Your Story

Yes, your reader landed on your blog because of the valuable information you have to share. But let’s be honest, they can probably find similar information on another blog.

So while the information you’re sharing might have brought them to your blog in the first place, it’s not enough to keep them around. Readers are going to keep visiting your blog time after time because of your story.

Your story is what sets you apart from other blogs and truly makes yours memorable, and it’s what helps you to connect to your readers on a level that is deeper than just that of teacher and student.

Sharing your story also helps to add credibility and expertise to your business.

Sure, we could just share blogging and business tips at Create and Go. And the information we shared would be just as valuable, but people wouldn’t take it as seriously.

By sharing the story of the first blog we had that failed and our successful health and fitness blog Avocadu, we’re adding credibility to our site and showing readers that we do know how to make money online. We aren’t just repeating information we’ve learned from other educators.

Finally, sharing your story of online business inspires people to take action. The reason that so many people have purchased our blogging courses is that they know the journey we’ve gone on to get to where we are today, and they can picture themselves going on the same journey with their business.

Final Thoughts

We’ve learned a lot about online business over the past few years, and we learned many of these lessons the hard way. We had a business fail because we didn’t know the things shared in this article.

Starting an online business is no small feat. And no matter how prepared you are, you’ll go through ups and downs and you’ll have days where giving up doesn’t sound so bad.

But now that you’re armed with these lessons, you’ll be able to go into online business confidently and knowing you’re ready to handle anything that comes your way.

Written By
Lauren McManus is a former CPA turned professional blogger, with her business partner Alex, she has managed to build two extremely successful blogs. The first blog, Avocadu, is a blog in the health and fitness niche, that she was able to grow to six figures within the first year. She then started Create and Go, where she and Alex teach others how to start and monetize their own blogs.

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