How to launch a small online business that thrives

Presented by Squarespace

Today’s entrepreneurs are anyone with an internet connection, idea, and the stamina to see it through. They’re the driving force behind the 17 million new small businesses in 2022 selling their time, ideas, expertise, and products digitally. Online classes, services, appointments, and reservations are proliferating, and the key to marketing and monetizing these small businesses is having a robust web presence. Read on to learn how to sell more, easily add new revenue, earn passive income, and more.

What that means: No matter what your business is, your site has to look pristinely professional from the jump: 75% of consumers make judgments about your credibility based on your website design — and it takes less than two-tenths of a second to make up their minds.

All customers want is for your page to be easy to navigate, with the information they need at their fingertips. If your website isn’t easy to use, images take too long to load, or the content and layout aren’t attractively presented, 39% of visitors will stop, drop, and roll out. And 88% say they probably won’t be back.

And if you’re selling directly to your customer on your site, you must ensure your potential customers’ experience is frictionless by allowing them to add products to their cart and check out easily.

How to do it: The good thing is that design isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s completely accessible to businesses of every size and entrepreneurs with every level of talent. Website platforms offer sophisticated web design tools. Squarespace recently announced some upgrades to their product suite that add entrepreneurial tools to design must-haves to help businesses customize the design of their site.      

Among them is Auto Layouts, which simplifies managing sets of related content, while also providing new layout options like interactive carousels and banner slideshows for ecommerce. There are also new website templates with updated features and built-in tools that are designed to help entrepreneurs  across a variety of industries stand out — whether they’re offering memberships, scheduling appointments, or hosting podcasts.

To create a well-designed, attractive online store, sellers now have new commerce tools. You have complete control over the look and feel of your online store. You can create rich product listings with photos and videos, ratings and reviews, related products, product waitlists, and more, as well as allow customers to shop and check out directly on your website. You can also allow customers to book appointments for services you offer, and sell access to digital content and memberships.      

Search engine optimization (SEO) is everything

What that means: One of the most effective ways of building traffic is through organic search results. Google is constantly refining their ranking system to reinforce their driving principle: Quality content must have three elements — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, or EAT. How do you make sure your site is showing up at the top of the list when your ideal prospect is googling away?      

How to do it: To start, consider who your audience is, and what their needs are — creating buyer personas is a profoundly effective way to do that. Think about what hurts them, and how to fix it. What makes them happy, and how to give it to them. Then consider what keywords they’d use when looking for it. Google even has a Keyword Planner to help you grow your keyword list, which is your guide to potential topics for all your content.      

Every Squarespace website and online store comes with a suite of integrated features and guides to help optimize sites for search. Squarespace also integrates directly with Google Search Console. By verifying your site, you can view what keywords customers and visitors are using to find your site, and use that data to inform your content decisions.

When you  start to develop your content, keep the EAT acronym in mind. Expertise means that your content should be written by a subject matter expert — you know your stuff, and you get to demonstrate that know-how. Authority is about garnering outside links from websites with good rankings. And trustworthiness means being transparent about who you are, and why you have that authority to speak to your subject. You can also boost trustworthiness by featuring reviews, testimonials, endorsements, and awards.

Content marketing can make or break you

What that means: A robust content marketing plan is essential for SEO. In fact, content is the number-one ranking factor for websites. As you know, your search results are dramatically impacted by how compelling and useful your content is. That includes blog posts, social media services, email, forums, and more. Content marketing has 6 times the conversion rate of paid advertising and costs 62% less, to boot.

How to do it: Your aim is to engage your audience — which means you need to be able to write a sentence, and be clear, compelling, or at the very least entertaining. Be honest — authenticity and empathy are actually the most important collateral you’ve got. Most importantly, be consistent in your posting schedule, to keep your website fresh and visitors returning for more. It helps to draw up an editorial calendar to keep on top of your posting cadence. Brainstorm post ideas in advance, outline them if you have time, and keep sharing.

Now use your powers for good (and to generate revenue) by creating the content your customers are looking for, sharing it within a community, and monetizing it. Squarespace lets you add a members-only area, a gated space with access to exclusive content where you can offer memberships or accept one-time fees for access to that exclusive content.

Squarespace’s Email Campaigns product also lets you build compelling emails using products and brand elements from your site. Email Campaigns also gives you automation tools that help you engage customers after they’ve made a purchase, and keep them coming back for more.

Leverage the growing power of video

What that means: Video has consistently been one of the biggest trends in marketing for several years running. Video strongly influences traffic, leads, sales, and audience engagement and loyalty. It’s why 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 87% of video marketers say that video gives them a positive ROI, while nearly eight out of ten marketers feel that video has a direct, positive impact on sales.

How to do it: So where do you start? It’s easier than ever to make video a core component of your strategy. But just pointing and shooting isn’t enough. To stand out in a competitive landscape where attention spans are short and trends come and go, don’t chase the hot new thing. Instead, stay true to your brand, your personality, and your ideas, and you’ll make standout videos.

Take advantage of apps like Squarespace Video Studio, which helps you make professional-quality videos that match the design and branding of your Squarespace site. You can access guided project templates to create compelling video content on your own, without hiring a video production team, plus use built-in tools to add audio narration, animated text, and licensed music to your video clips.

With Squarespace, you can also monetize your video content by uploading your video library to your Squarespace Member Area, where you can organize and curate videos on dedicated pages, and sell membership access or subscriptions.

What that means: Social media continues to be one of the most important channels to engage new and existing customers. It’s also a lot of work for entrepreneurs and content creators to keep up across multiple platforms, especially with social media trends constantly evolving. But social media is another place where authenticity and honesty are valued. When you share your life and interact with your customers, you create real relationships and connections. And that’s how you help win customers and advocates for life.

How to do it: Luckily, as social media becomes an increasingly important way to stay in front of your customers, tools to help you stay on top of your social media posting get more sophisticated.

Squarespace has the Unfold app, which offers templates designed to help anyone create polished and professional-looking social content, as well as edit photos and videos and add filters and effects directly in the app. You can make and publish a Bio Site, a simple page that links to everything you offer in one place, which you can promote in your social media bios. With Unfold, you can also map out what your grid of published Instagram posts will look like to visitors, write your post captions, and schedule those posts in advance to save time.          

Whether you’re selling your time, ideas, expertise, or physical products, the entrepreneurial marketplace has gone digital. Learn how to get everything you need to sell anything with Squarespace, and use code VENTUREBEAT for 10% off your first purchase.

Sponsored articles are content produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. Content produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact [email protected].

How to launch a small online business that thrives

Jinggo B Danuarta

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