There are lots of tutorials published online that talk about ways to start an eCommerce business. But what if you prefer to sell a service, instead of a physical product? In this tutorial, we’ll give you several easy steps that you can take to advertise your services online.
1Pick a Service that People Need
The great thing about selling a service instead of a product is that you don’t have to carry any inventory. This saves you the cost of investing in products that you may not actually be able to sell. It also saves you the hassle and cost of storing that inventory. Even if you’ve got a home-based business, that inventory takes up space, and that space has a cost in dollars and opportunity. If you choose poorly, you can end up in a lot of debt.
By contrast, a service is something that you do for people. If your service requires tools, then it’s true that it too will have a cost and may take up valuable space. If you’re performing a service like landscaping, where you need a truck, lawnmower, and other equipment, that cost can be very high. Furthermore, you are limited to a very small geography unless you’re fortunate enough to grow into a massive business. But, if your service is something like content-writing or sharing social media posts, then that cost is next to nothing. The only equipment you need is your computer, which you probably already own, and your brain.
Consider how many people are in need of your service, and how much they’d be willing to pay for it. Do some competitor research to find out what others are charging for your service, and map out your pricing according to the market. A good place to start is with a free keyword research tool like Ubersuggest. It’ll tell you what people are typing into Google to find the services they need. Then, click through to the top-ranking websites and dig into their content.
Ideally, you’ll want a niche business that can be automated to some degree. Using the content-writing example, there are lots of writers. However, you could specialize in one kind of content. For example, you might already be an expert in riding lawn-mowers. If there is an actual demand for related content, then you could charge a premium and specialize in its production. With this in mind, consider a service for which you already possess some of the required skills and knowledge.
As your business starts to grow, you’ll want to think about automation. Using the content-writing example, you can hire other writers to do the work for you. Find them on websites like Craigslist or Upwork. They can do the work, and you can mark it up for a profit. If you pick the right people, then everybody wins.
2Register Your Business
It’s a good idea to register your business. Just keep in mind that there will be some up-front costs and some annual costs. In addition, your taxes will become a bit more complicated. Keep this in mind before you get started. When you’re ready, put some thought into how and where you get registered. Many small businesses choose to register as LLCs because the paperwork is much less complicated than an Inc. Plus, corporations are often double-taxed, where LLCs are pass-through entities that offer you some protections while enabling you to file a single return.
Also, keep in mind that you may not want to register your business in your home state. States like New York can be very costly. Alternatively, states like Delaware and Wyoming are often very business-friendly, and there are plenty of websites that will file the paperwork for you at a reasonable cost.
Once you’ve got your name, you’ll want a logo and other branded materials. Don’t spend a lot of money on this stuff. But, you can generally find a logo design service on the cheap to get started. Often you can get decent results for under $100.
3Create a Website
Now that you’re official, it’s time to put up your website. In order to do this, you’re going to need a domain name, and a web hosting account. You can register your domain for around $10 per year at websites like GoDaddy.com and NameCheap.com. Once you have a domain name, like MyBusinessName.com, you’ll need to get your web hosting set up. This is where the files for your website will be stored in a way that the world can see them. Domain registrars typically offer cheap hosting plans as an added service. However, their plans tend to be very limited. It’s better to use a web hosting company that gives you much more flexibility in how you set up your website. Start by reading some web hosting reviews to find a company that suits your needs.
Most service businesses can do well by setting their websites up on WordPress. Many web hosting companies have one-click installs of the required software, and there are plenty of tutorials online on how to use the platform.
Once you get your hosting account set up, you’ll need to adjust the nameservers at the hosting company to point to your files.
4Advertise Your Service
Now that you’ve got your website set up, it’s time to advertise it. If you’re on a shoestring budget then this means putting in the sweat equity required to get your name out there. Start by setting up social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Post content regularly that would be of interest to your customers.
You’ll want to work on your Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, too. Start by creating blog posts on your WordPress website. As with social media, write about things that your customers would find useful. Then, reach out to other blogs to link to your content.
Over time, the above tactics can help you to build your business. But, they may not be enough, so you’re going to want to invest some money into advertising. You can start with digital advertising by setting up accounts on Google Adwords and Facebook. Just be mindful of your target audience, and make your offer clear and compelling. Otherwise, you could waste a lot of money on ads that don’t convert.
5Do a Great Job
When you get your first customer, and your second, and your hundredth and beyond, do a great job. In fact, do such a good job that your customers can’t wait to give you more money to do more of the great stuff that you do. When your work is great, people will be happy to tell others about you and your services.
6Ask for Referrals and Reviews
Sometimes, people want to help you, but they need a small nudge to actually do something. So, nudge them! Don’t be afraid to ask your best customers for referrals. A great place to start is by asking them to leave reviews on your social profiles. This might be a good time to get your LinkedIn profile set up. They can easily write testimonials there, as well as on Facebook and other places. Look for review sites that list your competitors and ask your customers to leave kind words there, too. If it makes sense for your business, consider registering with the Better Business Bureau or Yelp.
7Stop Waiting Around and Get to Work
Okay, now you know how to get your service business off the ground. It’s time to get to work. Follow this simple guide and you could be up and running within a few weeks. Just keep reading articles like this and over time, you’ll be a pro at building your online service business.