How to Build an Online Brand

Statistics say that 96% of businesses fail within the first 10 years.

​OUCH!

The goal of this blog post is to show you how to go from business idea to having an online business that is healthy and profitable.​

Like a tabletop, in order for a business to stay "up" and stable, a business must have solid legs underneath it, or what I call pillars. 

A business without these foundational pillars will almost always fail.

If you imagine a pyramid, the bottom layer is the foundation, and therefore the most important. As we go through this online business blueprint, we are going to start with the most important layer first, the bottom foundational layer, and then work our way up from there.

PILLAR 1: STRATEGY/MINDSET

Your strategy and mindset are the foundation of your business. Without it, nothing else matters. Without a foundation your business is going to crumble. It's not going to be able to withstand the adversity that it will inevitably face.

What is strategy and mindset?

If you don't have the right business strategy, your business will fail. If you want to drive from Los Angeles to New York and you don't have a map, what's going to happen? You won't reach your intended destination. A map will get you from one destination to another. 

What I see a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs​ do is try to get to their intended destination WITHOUT a map. That's insane if you ask me. Someone has already taken the time to create a map for you. Without a map, it could take you a lifetime to reach your intended destination. 

A map saves you time, energy, and money.

You got to have a map or blueprint for your business. Your business blueprint tells you the steps, tells you what's coming. It tells you the road ahead. 

Many people want to start a business without any map, and get lost. They call that a "failure", then they get discouraged, and give up. They come up with reasons, stories, and excuses to justify why they've failed. That way they don't have to feel bad about themselves. They deflect the responsibility to something else. 

The real reason it didn't work is not the business model doesn't work -- it's because you didn't have the right strategy, or the right mindset...​

If you don't have the right mindset and thought patterns, your business will fail.​

Mindset is VERY important.

This is one of the biggest things I've seen that holds people back from success in their business and in life. They have the wrong mentality going into the business venture.

I've coached thousands of people through my online training programs, group coaching program and one-on-one coaching.

I've found that most people are what I call "dabblers."

A dabbler is someone that doesn't commit to anything. They always stay at the surface. They need go deep and commit to mastery. 

You'll never get mastery through a video, or a blog post. You'll get an introduction to mastery, but you'll never get mastery from that.

Dabblers stay at the surface, and never go deep. So they never master anything. They always jump from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next.

They never commit. The reason why they don't commit is because they're afraid. Fear is what stops people. Fear is what holds people back. The fear of:

  • Failure
  • It not working out
  • Wasting time, money and energy
  • The unknown
  • Judgement and ridicule
  • Success 
  • Losing friendships and loved ones

3 Levels Of Mastery

1. Knowing. Most people think that because they know something that they've mastered it. That's ONLY the first step, or stage, of mastery.

2. Doing. Doing what you know is the second step to mastery, but isn't mastery. 

3. Living. This is mastery. You're living it. You're getting the results consistently. It's part of who you are. You only get to this level through countless repetition. 

Other Components To Mindset

Other elements of mindset includes:

  • commitment
  • hardwork
  • ability to deal with adversity
  • patience
  • long-term mentality
  • growth mindset
  • positive beliefs (whatever you believe will be true for you, regardless if it's true or not)
  • confidence
  • certainty
  • investing mindset (leveraging other peoples expertise vs. figuring it out on your own)​
  • resourcefulness (ability to solve problems and find the answer)

The strategy and mindset is SO important. If I had to draw to scale the importance of strategy and mindset in the pyramid, it would take up HALF the pyramid!

I think what's missing from most marketing experts online is that they don't teach the mindset. They teach the strategies all day long, but mention nothing about the mentality and mindset that is required.

I believe this is what makes me different. I've had a big background in self-development before I ever got into business or online marketing. 

PILLAR 2: NICHE

Every business that exists is in a niche. Another word for niche is topic, genre, industry, vertical, or market.

You want to make sure that the market you are doing business in is big enough to achieve the financial goal that you've set for yourself.​

I recommend going into big markets, such as the following:

  1. ​Health
  2. Fitness
  3. Relationships
  4. Investing
  5. Finance
  6. Education
  7. Travel
  8. Music
  9. Cooking
  10. Beauty
  11. Self improvement
  12. Business
  13. Marketing
  14. Relationships
  15. Real estate
  16. Automotive

The three biggest markets are health, wealth, and relationships.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are broad niches and narrow niches. For example, fitness is very broad. Gaining muscle mass or fat loss is more narrow. Even more narrow is fat loss for vegans; fat loss for seniors; paleo diet, etc.

Same thing with music. Music is very broad. Learning guitar is more narrow. Learning jazz guitar is even more narrow.

This applies with travel, self-improvement, and any of the markets I listed above.​

​The more narrow the market, the easier it is to compete, but the revenue potential is usually lower as well. 

When I was younger I started out in narrower niches, but then I realized that there was more earning potential in the bigger broader niches.

One of the most important things when deciding a niche is to pick a niche you're very passionate about AND that has the ability to meet your financial goals.

One way to determine the size of a niche is to use the Google Keyword Planner. ​

I've gone into markets that I wasn't passionate about and ones that I was passionate about, and I will tell you, it's much more enjoyable going into a market that you're passionate about. Remember, you will be in this business for years and years, and it will be very challenging for you to overcome the obstacles along the way if you aren't passionate about the topic. ​

I was speaking to someone who suffers from social anxiety. I told the person that there are a lot of people out there that suffer from social anxiety. I struggled through social anxiety and shyness when I was growing up. I told him the he can build his business around social anxiety and help other people with social anxiety. He doesn't have to be the expert, he could basically share his experience with social anxiety and let people know he's trying to overcome it. Then share the things he's learning that are helping or not helping him.

The added benefit of him creating a business around social anxiety, and building content around it, is that it's going to help him OVERCOME his social anxiety and become a role model for others that suffer from it as well. ​

Ask yourself when selecting a niche, "how many different products and services could serve this market." Is there enough? Does it meet your financial goals?

Still can't find niche ideas? Walk to your local book store and look at all the books. How are the books categorized? You will get tons of ideas from this.

PILLAR 3: BRANDING

To succeed in your online business long-term you have to build a brand. The brand is the asset that you're essentially building in your business.

Your brand is the name for your business. Every business has a name. My name, Stefan James, is a brand. The name for your brand is very important. Your branding is made up of your website, Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube channel, podcast, logo, blog, etc.

Even if you never plan on having a podcast, YouTube channel, or Facebook page for your business you still want to ​reserve the name and setup the account on these platforms, because you don't want other people or companies to acquire the username. 

The brand is what you're building over time. It's an asset. 

Apple has a HUGE brand. Having a brand enables Apple to create new products and sell tons of units with much lower marketing and advertising expense than if Apple was an unknown brand.

This is the power of having a brand. Creating high quality content and sharing them on various platforms will build and grow your brand into a valuable asset over time.

Having a brand means you have an audience of people that know and trust you. 

The more you build your brand, the easier everything gets in the long-term. 

PILLAR 4: MARKETING

Marketing means many things. The way that I define marketing is as follows: it's simply attracting people to you. When you're marketing, you're essentially trying to attract people to you or your business.

A big component of online marketing is content creation (aka Content Marketing). Most of the internet is made up of content, YouTube videos, blog articles, social media content, images, video, etc.

Content is king online. You've heard it before but it's true.

I've mastered content marketing, and have built a big brand from it.​

There are many different platforms on the internet for publishing content; such as Periscope, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and YouTube; to name a few.

If you're going to do content marketing, you have to create content that adds value.​

​Other forms of online marketing include SEO, PPC, lead generation, and getting followers and subscribers. 

PILLAR 5: MONETIZATION

This is where your business starts generating revenue and profit. 

Once you're able to attract people to your business online there are many different ways to generate revenue. You could sell physical products; digital products; digital services; softwares; and mobile apps. You could run Google AdSense on your website. You could promote other peoples' products/services for a commission.

Through my brand I generate revenue from all the avenues just mentioned, except for mobile apps. I may look into mobile apps in the future but who knows.

It's important to diversify your revenue streams because the internet is very dynamic and changes all the time.​ You never want to rely on one product, revenue stream or platform. 

PILLAR 6: OPTIMIZATION

Optimization is another word for improving and making things better.

Important elements of optimization are: tracking, analytics, split-testing, heat maps analysis, and experimenting.

Optimizing your paid advertising campaigns to convert better can make a huge difference in your profitability and bottom-line, especially over the long-term.

Optimizing your email marketing metrics, such as open rates and click-through rates, is very important. ​

You want to optimize and improve your blog posts for SEO to bump your organic search rankings. 

All these "little" shifts and optimizations can make all the difference for your business and its long-term success.

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About the Author Stefan James

Stefan James is a digital marketer, life and business coach, fitness enthusiast, and world traveler. Stefan is passionate about helping people achieve their true potential.

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