How to Monetize Your Blog (4 Revenue-Generating Tips)

Thanks to the rise of user-friendly content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, it’s never been easier to create a blog. However, you may want to convert all of that time and effort into cash at some point. 

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make money as a blogger. If you’re generating a healthy amount of traffic, you’re in a prime position to turn your visitors into revenue. 

In this post, we’ll discuss why so many people are monetizing their blogs. We’ll then share three of our favorite revenue-generating tips. Let’s get started!

Why You Should Consider Monetizing Your Blog

There are many different reasons why people decide to start a blog. You might have dreamed about monetization all along. Alternatively, perhaps you’re knowledgeable about a particular subject and want to share your passion with the world:

An example of a passion blog about growing succulents.

You might even use your posts as part of a content marketing strategy for a related business. 

Regardless of why you started blogging, running a successful blog requires time and effort. At some point, you may want to be reimbursed for all your hard work.

Blogging can also turn into an expensive hobby. While there are plenty of free tools, you’ll usually end up investing some hard-earned cash into your blog. 

Most commonly, these costs include purchasing web hosting and a domain name. However, you can also incur additional miscellaneous fees.

For example, you may pay for specialist training to help grow your audience. Alternatively, you might run advertising campaigns on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google.

By monetizing your blog, you can recoup some of these costs and perhaps even turn a profit.

While blogging is a hugely competitive industry, it’s still possible to convert a popular site into an additional revenue stream. You might even achieve the ultimate dream and trade your job for a career as a full-time blogger.

How to Monetize Your Blog (4 Revenue-Generating Tips)

If your blog has an audience, there are many ways to convert those visitors into revenue. Here are three ways to earn money from blogging.

1. Use a Paywall Plugin

As with any product, one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to make money off your content is to sell it.

If you have a WordPress site (and what blogger doesn't?), a high-quality paywall plugin is your best bet. The most popular one out there is MemberPress – and for good reason.

The MemberPress homepage.

The plugin is super easy to use, requires no coding, and lets you do things like…

  • Create a new paywalled site
  • Add subscriptions to your existing site
  • Use super customized paywalling with flexible sampling (lead-in, metered, and hard paywalls) like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, for example
  • Create and sell online courses
  • Build a dedicated community
  • Accept credit cards and digital wallet payments right on your site

The real beauty of MemberPress is in its Content Protection Rules and Memberships functions.

Through Content Protection Rules, you can really drill down how you monetize your content. You can protect…

  • All content – Your entire website
  • Posts categorized and posts tagged – All content under a specific category or tag
  • Single posts – Any individual post
  • All posts – All posts except those you specify as exempt
  • Custom URIs – Specific URLs (super useful if you want to restrict content like ebooks or digital downloads)
  • Custom post types – Any custom post type you create

MemberPress basically makes your blog work like any of the big, fancy online publications out there.

2. Become an Affiliate Marketer

As an affiliate marketer, you’ll partner with third-party businesses and promote their products and services via your blog. You’ll earn a commission for all sales originating from your unique affiliate links. 

Affiliate marketing is big business. With annual spending estimated at $12 billion, bloggers have a huge opportunity to make money online. 

A quick search will reveal hundreds of affiliate programs that you can join. To help drive conversions, we recommend searching for a partner or products that will appeal to your existing readership.

If you’re unsure about your audience demographics, then you can learn more about your visitors using a tool such as Google Analytics:

The Google Analytics dashboard.

It’s also wise to feature products related to your blog’s content. For example, if you write about your experiences as a parent, it may make sense to promote baby-themed products.

These relevant promotions will make your affiliate links feel more authentic, which can help drive conversions.

While using affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to generate money from blogging, affiliate URLs aren’t always pretty.

These links are often long and complex with obvious tracking codes. They can be off-putting to your readers, who may even wonder whether these odd-looking URLs are spam.

For this reason, we recommend simplifying your affiliate URLs using a link shortener such as the Pretty Links plugin:

Monetize your blog using the Pretty Links plugin.

With Pretty Links, you don't have to worry about lengthy URLs scaring your readers away. Simply enter the target link into the dashboard. Then, the plugin will generate a shorter, neater alternative, ready for you to post to your blog.

3. Enrol in an Advertising Network

Many businesses, including blogs, generate revenue by selling advertising space. There are various ad networks, but Google AdSense is one of the biggest platforms. In fact, it is used by over 38 million blogs and websites.

All of Google’s ads are mobile-responsive, so you can earn revenue regardless of whether readers are using a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.

Google even tailors these adverts based on the visitor’s geographical location, which is great for driving conversions.

There are multiple ways to display Google advertisements on your blog, but WordPress users may want to check out Site Kit. This plugin adds a range of popular Google services to your WordPress dashboard, including Google AdSense:

The Google Site Kit plugin.

After activating and configuring this plugin, you’ll need to wait for Google to approve your blog. However, as soon as you get the go-ahead, it will start displaying ads across your site.

Site Kit will even optimize your advertisements automatically by determining their optimal sizes, types, and placements. With this tool, you can avoid alienating your readers by displaying intrusive or irrelevant adverts. 

4. Add Buy Now Buttons to Your Blog Posts

Some of the biggest websites in the world use buy now buttons to encourage visitors to make a purchase. These buttons simplify the purchasing process by enabling customers to jump straight to checkout:

An example of a buy now button.

Although they’re commonly associated with ecommerce giants such as Amazon and eBay, you can add buy now buttons to your blog posts. If you sell products or services in addition to writing articles, these buttons can convert your readers into customers.

Alternatively, you can use buy now buttons to promote your affiliate URLs if you're part of an affiliate network. 

Even if you don’t have any products to promote, you can still monetize your site using buy now buttons. Many writers publish blogs for free but ask visitors to donate if they enjoyed the content.

If you create your buttons using a flexible service such as our Buy Now Plus plugin, then it’s easy to transform them into donation prompts: 

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

By simply changing the button’s label, you can start accepting donations. Buy Now Plus even supports variable pricing, so your readers can choose how much money to send you. This flexibility may result in more contributions. 

Conclusion

Creating a successful blog takes time and dedication. At some point, you may want to be reimbursed for all of your hard work. 

Let’s quickly recap three ways to monetize your blog:

  1. Become an affiliate marketer, using a plugin such as Pretty Links.
  2. Enrol in an advertising network.
  3. Add buy now buttons to your blog posts, with our Buy Now Plus service.

Do you have any questions about how to make money as a blogger? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

What’s the Best Way to Accept Credit Card Payments?

Credit cards are one of the most popular payment methods for online purchases. Therefore, accommodating these purchases is essential if you want to run your business effectively.

However, there are risks of fraud associated with credit cards, so you'll need to choose your payment providers carefully.

Fortunately, there are a few different ways to accept credit card payments safely. By choosing the best solution for your needs, you can attract and keep customers by making their checkout experiences safe and seamless.

In this guide, we look at the best way to accept credit card payments. We'll also discuss the benefits and dangers of credit cards, and how to choose the best payment method for your business. Let’s get started!

The Benefits of Accepting Credit Card Payments

Credit cards are one of the most common payment methods, especially online. In fact, more than 56% of Americans use this method for online payments. When you consider that more than 365 million Americans had credit cards in 2020, that's a lot of purchases.

If your business doesn't accept these types of payments, you may miss out on a lot of potential sales. Therefore, it's in your best interests to support credit card purchases, and to make the checkout process as easy as possible.

The Dangers of Credit Card Payments

Of course, some customers are wary of using their credit cards to pay online. In 2020, credit cards were the main source of fraud reports for online payments. Additionally, they were the source of 12% of payment data breaches in the same year.

Identity theft and fraudulent payments are dangers for your customers and your business. That's why it's important to choose a secure payment gateway that can protect against these threats.

Credit card payments can also come with transaction and conversion fees. It's vital to know about these fees upfront. Fortunately, there are some payment methods that minimize the fees you're responsible for.

3 Ways to Accept Credit Card Payments

There are multiple ways that you can accept credit card payments online and in person. Each method comes with its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your business' needs. Let's take a look at three of the most popular options.

1. Buy Now Plus

Blue background with an orange button and text describing the Buy Now Plus plugin

Buy Now Plus is one of the easiest and safest ways to accept online credit card payments. You can place buttons on your website that direct customers to a secure payment gateway that works with Stripe.

One of our plugin's best features is that it's free to set up, and only charges you a flat 2% fee for every transaction. Regular credit card merchant fees can be as high as 3-5%, so this can mean significant savings for your business.

Buy Now Plus also offers a very user-friendly interface, and has customizable options. You can set up recurring billing for your customers or process simple transactions. In addition, it uses Stripe, which has reliable anti-fraud protections in place.

However, Buy Now Plus does not accept PayPal payments. You will also need a Stripe account to use it.

Buy Now Plus Fees: 2%

2. PayPal

An advertisement of the PayPal commerce platform

PayPal Commerce is another popular option for small to medium-sized businesses. It's a sophisticated financial platform that enables you to accept and make payments, track your business' growth, and benefit from fraud protection.

The key advantage of the PayPal platform is its streamlined dashboard. There, you can view detailed statistics on your payments and business. You can also access tools that help grow your business and increase online conversions.

PayPal also has sophisticated fraud protection measures. The platform constantly identifies and protects you against payment fraud with its updating algorithms.

However, you should be mindful that PayPal Commerce has higher merchant fees than other credit card platforms. It charges 2.9 percent plus a fixed fee for domestic payments. For international transactions, the amount can be even higher.

PayPal is also not the most user-friendly option. If you do run into issues, it can be challenging to contact the customer service team and receive help promptly.

PayPal Fees: 2.9% + fixed fee for domestic payments

3. EFTPOS

Swiping a card through an EFTPOS terminal
Image credit: Pixabay

Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) is a payment option in most physical stores. These machines accept many card types, and charge the customer instantly when they swipe your card and enter their PIN.

EFTPOS can be an excellent option if you have a physical store or the capacity to accept card details over the phone. These machines process transactions quickly, and store details electronically so you can track transactions. They are also very easy to use.

However, you cannot use EFTPOS to accept transactions online. Therefore, this payment method can be restrictive for many businesses.

EFTPOS Fees: 0.5-1%

How to Choose the Best Way to Accept Credit Card Payments

There are a few factors you might want to consider when you choose a credit card payment platform from the above options.

First, if you have an online business, Buy Now Plus and PayPal Commerce are the most viable options. EFTPOS works via a physical machine, so it's better suited to physical shopfronts. Both PayPal and Buy Now Plus have excellent fraud prevention measures in place to protect your business.

If you want to minimize the fees you pay, Buy Now Plus is the more affordable option. It is also more streamlined and user-friendly, so it could be suitable for users with less technological expertise.

PayPal might be the correct choice for you if you want access to its analytics and business growth tools. These features, when paired with its limited customer service, mean that the platform could suit those with a higher level of familiarity with payment systems.

Overall, we recommend Buy Now Plus for most businesses. Unless you want access to PayPal's analytics, you can benefit more from the lower fees and user-friendly interface.

Conclusion

Credit cards are one of the preferred online payment methods for customers all over the world. If you run a business, you'll need a secure and straightforward way to accept these payments.

The good news is that you have a few different options. If you have a physical store or can accept phone payments, the EFTPOS system can be viable. Otherwise, using Buy Now Plus is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to accept credit card payments.

Do you have any questions about using Buy Now Plus to accept online payments? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Reduce Customer Refunds (3 Tips)

As a business owner, every sale is a success. However, not every sale is final, and sometimes customers may request a refund.

Processing these product returns can be time-consuming and frustrating, but they don’t have to be a constant part of running an online business. There are ways to reduce the number of customer refunds you receive. 

In this post, we’ll discuss why product returns are bad for business. We’ll then share three ways to keep your customers happy – and keep those hard-won dollars in your pocket. Let’s get started! 

Why It’s Important to Reduce Customer Refunds

Whenever a customer requests a refund, you have a lot of work ahead of you – for zero profit. Processing a refund requires time and effort, and it’s an unexpected drain on your resources. In fact, customers returning electronic products alone cost U.S businesses nearly $17 billion a year

Every refund is bad news for your bottom line. If you’re going to turn a profit, then it’s crucial that your product returns are few and far between. 

A customer who wants to return a product may not be in the best frame of mind. For this reason, it’s important that you maintain a high standard of professionalism and positivity throughout the entire refunding process.

If the refund experience is slow, or your staff seem unhelpful, then the customer is likely to take their refunded money and run straight to your competitors. 

A returned product may represent a short-term loss of earnings. However, losing a customer will have a long-term financial impact on your business. To minimize the short and long-term revenue losses, it’s important to take steps to reduce the number of customers who request a refund. 

How to Reduce Customer Refunds (3 Tips)

Refunds represent a major headache for all businesses. Let’s make sure your hard-won profits remain in your pocket. Here are three ways to reduce customer refunds. 

1. Write Informative and Accurate Product Descriptions

With online shopping, customers cannot physically inspect a product before hitting that buy now button. Instead, they rely on product descriptions. This is all the information shoppers have to help them make the correct purchasing decision: 

Detailed product descriptions can help you reduce customer refunds.

If your product page is incomplete, unhelpful, or outdated, there's a greater your customer will make the wrong decision. For example, they might order a piece of hardware that’s incompatible with their setup, or a jacket that’s too big.

If the customer is unhappy with the product, they’re way more likely to request a refund.

That's why all the information on your product pages should be accurate, detailed, and written in a simple and understandable way. However, there’s also the danger of overwhelming shoppers with too much text. To keep the word count to a manageable level, you might want to link to other resources where appropriate:

Reduce customer refunds with in-depth product descriptions.

For example, many clothing websites state the item’s size and then link to supporting documentation. Here, customers will find the exact body measurements for small, medium, and large sizing:

An example sizing guide.

You can also hide some content by default. Shoppers can then click to expand a section in order to access more detailed information: 

An example product description.

Every product description is different. However, you’ll typically want to highlight the product’s weight and its dimensions.

When writing your product information, it may help to refer to the descriptions used by ecommerce giants such as Amazon. This can provide valuable inspiration, and help you spot any details that are missing from your own product pages. 

2. Provide Lots of Visuals

As the saying goes, ​​a picture is worth a thousand words. While shoppers cannot physically see the product in real-life, you can provide lots of high-resolution images:

How to reduce customer refunds with high-resolution images.

Ideally, we recommend uploading at least four photos of each product. These images should show the item’s front, back, and both sides.

Product images are crucial, but they can also add a significant amount of weight to your website. To help preserve your site’s performance, we recommend using an image compression plugin. 

Compression reduces the size of an image by removing or grouping together certain parts of the file. There are many compression solutions available, but TinyPNG is available as both an online service and a WordPress plugin:

The TinyPNG image compression plugin,

Product images are a mainstay of ecommerce stores. However, you may also want to consider creating a short video.

This can be a simple 360-degree view of the product, or something more complex, such as a demonstration of the item’s core features. If there’s a video advertisement for the product, this can help give the customer a clearer picture of what the item looks like.

3. Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews

According to research, shoppers are 270% more likely to purchase an item that has reviews. This makes product reviews a powerful way to boost your sales.

These reviews can also help customers make more informed purchasing decisions. By reading a customer’s honest thoughts and experiences with a product, shoppers can decide whether this is the right item for them.

It may seem crazy to give shoppers a convenient way to complain about your products. However, most consumers understand that you cannot please 100% of the people, 100% of the time.

Reading negative opinions about your products can help customers decide whether these drawbacks are deal breakers for them. This may reduce your conversion rates, but it should also reduce the number of refunds you'll need to process.

According to Bright Local, 76% of consumers are happy to leave feedback, if asked. This suggests that generating lots of customer reviews may be as easy as sending follow-up emails asking customers to review a recent purchase: 

Reviews can help you reduce customer refunds,

Some of the major mailing platforms can even automate this process. For example, ActiveCampaign makes it easy to send follow-up emails to your audience: 

ActiveCampaign homepage

Convincing customers to provide a review is only half the battle. They also need a way to upload their thoughts to your website.

If you’re selling products via WooCommerce, you're in luck. This popular ecommerce platform supports product reviews out-of-the-box. Alternatively, your customers can submit reviews via a plugin such as Site Reviews. 

Conclusion

As the old saying goes, the customer is always right. If someone wants to return a product, then it’s often best to provide their refund with no questions asked, rather than risking losing the customer completely. 

With this in mind, let’s quickly recap how to ensure that your customers are happy with their purchase:

  1. Write informative and accurate product descriptions.
  2. Provide lots of visuals.
  3. Encourage your customers to leave reviews.

Do you have any questions about reducing the number of product returns? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Places You Can Find and Buy Online Businesses for Sale

Building your own business can be a rewarding experience. However, it can also mean long hours, many rounds of trial and error, and lots of hard work.

Fortunately, there is a way to fast-track through those turbulent early years. By purchasing a ready-made business, you can take over an operation that's already generating healthy profits and has a loyal customer base.

In this post, we’ll discuss why becoming a successful business owner doesn't always mean starting your empire from scratch. We’ll then share four places where you can purchase a profitable online business today. Let’s jump right in!

Why You Might Want to Buy an Online Business

Starting your own business can be rewarding and lucrative. However, building a business from the ground up isn't always the best option.

Whenever you start a new venture, there’s always an element of the unknown. Even if you’ve created a thorough business plan, there’s no guarantee that your company will be profitable.

In fact, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years.

Instead of taking a gamble, you might decide to buy into a businesses that has a proven track record.

By purchasing a company that's already established, you can fast-forward through those turbulent early years and get straight to the fun part: running a successful online business and enjoying the profits.

You may also want to buy a ready-made business if you have limited experience building a company from scratch. Purchasing a pre-made empire is particularly attractive to first-time entrepreneurs who dream of running their own businesses, but are unsure where to start.

Some entrepreneurs also purchase online businesses as a means of generating passive income, sometimes in addition to working a full-time job.

Since the business is already established, it can often start providing revenue immediately, with very little manual input from you.

Alternatively, we’ve seen business owners buy into an existing company in order to gain more market share within their industry. By absorbing some of the competition, you can position yourself as a true market leader.

For all these reasons and more, buying an already established company can often be a smart option. Below, we'll take a look at where to find online businesses for sale.

4 Places You Can Find and Buy Online Businesses for Sale

If you’re keen to invest in a thriving and profitable online business, there's no time like the present to start shopping.

Here are four of our favorite marketplaces that specialize in helping eager buyers find the perfect five-star online ventures for their needs.

1. Shopify Exchange

Shopify Exchange is a marketplace dedicated entirely to businesses built on the Shopify platform. Any company you purchase via this marketplace is guaranteed to be built using this popular ecommerce software.

This makes Exchange perfect for anyone who has previous experience with the platform, or if you're specifically looking for a Shopify-based business:

The Shopify Exchange marketplace.

Shopify Exchange plays host to a wide variety of stores. There is a useful search function that can help you to pinpoint your dream business.

You can use search filters to quickly narrow down your search based on crucial characteristics, including business type and size:

Searching for online businesses to buy on Shopify Exchange.

When purchasing an existing company, it's important to keep your eyes out for incorrect information. Some unscrupulous sellers may attempt to withhold details or even tweak their statistics to try and secure a sale.

However, Shopify business owners integrate their stores directly with Shopify Exchange. This prevents them from tampering with any of the data that’s pulled from their sales listings.

While we always recommend conducting thorough due diligence, this integration provides great peace of mind and helps buyers to make confident purchases.

2. AcquireBase

AcquireBase has a huge database of online businesses for sale, and a powerful search function with all the filters you need to find the company that’s right for you.

You can use these filters to narrow down listings based on keywords, or to view only businesses that adhere to a specific model.

With its focus on startups, AcquireBase is a good choice for anyone looking to purchase a smaller business:

The AcquireBase marketplace for online businesses.

One feature that really makes AcquireBase unique is its Premium membership ($299 when purchased annually). With this, you’ll be able to view listings and contact sellers 14 days earlier than regular buyers:

Searching for online businesses to buy on AcquireBase.

AcquireBase doesn’t charge a commission for successful sales. To ensure that transactions are secure, online business sales are facilitated through a partnership with the leading online escrow service, Escrow.com.

3. Flippa

With almost 6,500 live listings at the time of writing, Flippa offers plenty of choice, and claims to have generated over $400 million in sales. Flippa isn’t solely dedicated to selling online businesses, as it also sells applications and domains.

However, the service divides its offerings into categories, so you’ll have no problem narrowing your search to online businesses only:

The Flippa marketplace for online businesses.

Flippa even offers subcategories for all of its listings. This means that you can easily filter your results to view ecommerce businesses created using Shopify, Amazon FBA, and more.

These fine-grained filters mean that Flippa is ideal if you’re searching for an online business that uses a specific platform or technology:

Searching for online businesses to buy on Flippa.

Unlike some other online marketplaces, Flippa offers its own escrow service rather than partnering with an external provider. This integrated approach promises to make the transaction process smooth and secure.

Uniquely, Flippa also offers two legal service packages, which are geared toward sales under $100,000 and over $100,000.

4. Empire Flippers

Empire Flippers is an Inc. 5000 company and marketplace that boasts an 83% sales success rate. Unlike some other marketplaces, Empire Flippers takes a hands-on, personalized approach to help people purchase online businesses:

Empire Flippers' has a range of hand-picked online businesses for sale.

Every company listed for sale on the Empire Flippers marketplace has been carefully vetted. While this may result in fewer listings when compared to competing marketplaces, Empire Flippers promise to deliver quality over quantity:

Searching for online businesses to buy on Empire Flippers.

Empire Flippers may be a good fit if you have the funds to invest in a more established business that’s already generating lots of revenue.

Due to its selective approach, Empire Flippers is also best suited to entrepreneurs who are willing to wait for the perfect business to get listed.

If you find a company you’re interested in learning more about, you can access 12 months of store data by paying a 5% refundable deposit.

All of this information has been examined by the Empire Flippers team, which gives it a higher degree of legitimacy. The info includes Google Analytics data, plus a profit and loss statement.

Conclusion

Many people dream of owning their own businesses, but hesitate due to the risks involved. The good news is that buying an existing company is often less risky (and faster) than starting your empire from scratch.

If you want to fast-forward through the startup phase, here are four places where you can buy an online business:

  1. Shopify Exchange: A marketplace that focuses exclusively on buying and selling Shopify websites.
  2. AcquireBase: A platform offering a unique premium membership that’s ideal for serious buyers.
  3. Flippa: A website that boats its own escrow service and legal service packages.
  4. Empire Flippers: A marketplace that offers fewer listings than some of its competitors, but focuses on quality over quantity.

Do you have any questions about how to purchase a successful online business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Write a Small Business Plan (4 Key Elements to Include)

When you have a brilliant business idea, it’s tempting to dive straight into making your dream a reality. However, without a plan, you may struggle to motivate your new employees, attract the best partners, or secure investor capital.

This is where a business plan comes in.

By taking the time to create this formal document, you can transform your idea into something tangible, and convince everyone to get behind your organization.

In this post, we’ll explore what a business plan is and why every company should have one. We’ll then discuss the four essential elements of any effective small business strategy. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Small Business Plans (And Why They’re Important)

At a high level, a business plan is a written document that defines what your company is, the activities it performs, its core objectives, and how you’re going to achieve those objectives.

Many startups create this document before beginning operations, to help them explore whether their brilliant idea might actually become a viable business.

This plan can be used internally, but also externally. If you’re seeking investment from third parties, an effective business plan can help you secure funding even if you don't have a proven track record:

An example small business plan.

Although they’re useful tools for startups, many established companies treat their business plans as internal road maps.

By constantly referring to this document, you can evaluate whether you’re on track to achieving your goals, or whether you might need to adjust your operations. For this reason, we recommend that all companies maintain an up-to-date business plan.

This document may also help you realize that your goals have evolved, and that you need to adjust your approach as a result. It’s not uncommon for an established company to create an entirely new business plan to reflect a change of direction.

How to Write a Small Business Plan (4 Key Elements to Include)

Before we get to the list, we thought we'd throw you an idea. While you can save money creating your business plan on your own, it might be worth it in the long run to consult with an expert.

Platforms like Fiverr are a great place to find someone who can help you make sure you're starting out on the right foot.

That said, no two business plans are identical. However, there are some common elements that you’ll typically include in your plan. To help you structure this important document, here are four key elements you may want to incorporate.

1. Executive Summary

This section outlines your company and its mission statement. It’s also a good idea to provide information about your products and services, plus an overview of your leadership, employees, operations, and location.

If you plan to ask for financial backing, you may also want to include a high-level overview of your growth plans and some basic financial information:

An executive summary.

Although all parts of your business plan are important, we recommend prioritizing the executive summary.

This is because busy investors, banks, and potential business partners may decide whether to study your business plan in more detail based on the executive summary alone.

As the saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Therefore, if your summary doesn’t contain exactly the information a person is looking for, they may dismiss your plan from the first page.

2. Products, Services, and Market Analysis

Next, you can go into detail about your products and services. You’ll typically want to include pricing, benefits to the customer, and your unique selling point (USP).

And if you’re performing any research and development, now is the time to mention it:

A small business plan.

It’s also smart to disclose your plans for intellectual property, such as copyright or patent filings. For some industries, it may also make sense to go into detail regarding the production and manufacturing process.

In addition to defining what your business has to offer, it’s important to demonstrate an understanding of where your products and services will fit within the industry.

This means exploring the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, and how challenging it will be to acquire part of their market share. Throughout this section, it’s also smart to communicate an understanding of the expected demand for your particular products and services.

3. Financial Planning and Budget

Financial planning and future projections are an essential part of any business plan. Even if the document is for internal use only, this section can help you budget and balance your cash flow:

Financial planning and budgeting information.

As part of your financial planning, we recommend including staffing, development, manufacturing, and marketing costs.

If you’re seeking outside investment, you may want to go into more detail, and provide targets and estimates spanning the first few years of your business:

Projected financial data.

While you may feel passionate about your new venture, it’s important to be realistic. An overly optimistic business plan that ignores weaknesses, potential pitfalls, and threats is unlikely to be well-received by potential investors and business partners.

Even worse, if you overestimate your revenue, this can lead to increased overheads and perhaps even a cash flow crisis.

To help keep your plan grounded in reality, only make claims that you can support with hard evidence. You might weave this proof into your business plan or include it as part of an appendix.

As an alternative, you might simply have this data on hand in case a potential investor requests more information. The only rule is that this evidence must exist.

4. An Appendix

An effective business plan will strike a balance between providing enough detail and remaining focused on what the reader needs to know.

Creating a comprehensive, detailed, and extensive plan may feel like you’re setting your business up for success.

However, lengthy documents are notoriously difficult to maintain. By creating an exhaustive business plan now, you may find that this plan is rarely used in practice.

While creating the document, it’s wise to constantly ask yourself whether each piece of information might be better suited to an appendix. In particular, detailed financial forecasts, market research data, product literature, and technical specifications are usually better included in an index.

This ensures that detailed information is on hand for readers who want to delve into the finer points, without distracting from the flow of the document.

Conclusion

We’re not going to pretend that starting a business is easy. However, with some careful planning, you can maximize your chances of turning your brilliant idea into a world-class business.

To set you on the road to success, let’s recap four things to include in your small business plan:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Products, services, and market analysis
  3. Financial planning and budget
  4. An appendix

Do you have any questions about how to write an effective small business plan? Let us know in the comments section below!

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4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

Finding the right tools is the best way to set your company up for growth and success. However, as a small business, it can feel like your options are limited.

Fortunately, there are plenty of world-class tools that cater to the unique needs (and budgets) of brand-new businesses. By being a savvy shopper, there’s no reason you can’t access the same features and firepower as established enterprises.

In this post, we’ll share advice on how to find the best software for your startup. We’ll then suggest four of our favorite tools for small businesses just starting out. Let’s dive in!

How to Choose the Best Tools for Your Small Business

As a new business, it’s essential that you catch the attention of potential new customers, convert them into qualified leads, and ultimately secure your first sales. To achieve all of this, you’ll need the right tools.

However, as a brand-new business, you may initially be working to a tight budget. To minimize your running costs, you might want to try free software over premium options. Some proprietary tools even offer entry-level or free plans with usage restrictions.

For example, the popular Mailchimp marketing automation platform is free for up to 2,000 contacts:

Mailchimp's range of subscription plans.

Another example is the Hootsuite social media management platform. This marketing tool has a single-user plan that’s perfect for solo entrepreneurs.

For small businesses just starting out, these plans provide access to professional tools without requiring you to pay top dollar for features you don’t currently need.

And the majority of these tools are scalable. As your business grows, you can upgrade to a more expensive plan without the added stress and worry associated with learning a new tool or migrating all of your data.

With almost 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., it’s no surprise there are plenty of tools specifically catering to startups. To make sure you’re getting exactly the features you need, you may want to opt for tools that target smaller businesses rather than a general user base.

4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of startups don’t make it to their first birthdays. Let’s give your business the best possible chance of bucking the trend!

Here are four tools that can set your brand-new venture up for success.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a top tool for small businesses just starting out.

When you launch a business website, your traffic will be a flat zero. The quickest way to get off the starting block is to appeal to search engines.

With over 53% of all web traffic originating from organic search, a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can take you from zero to hundreds (or even thousands) of eager customers.

Yoast SEO has everything you need to optimize your business website for those all-important search engines. Every time you add a new page or post, you can use Yoast SEO to specify the keyword(s) that you want this content to rank for:

The Yoast SEO tool for small businesses.

Yoast will then provide actionable advice on how to optimize the web page for the specified keyword or phrase. In this way, Yoast SEO can increase your chances of scoring Google’s coveted number-one spot.

Features:

  • Readability and SEO analysis
  • Tools to optimize your Google previews
  • Automated technical SEO improvements
  • Ability to boost your branding with title and meta description templating
  • Full control over your site’s breadcrumbs

Pricing: The plugin is free, with a premium version available.

2. Mailchimp

Top tools for small businesses include the Mailchimp platform.

The number of email users is forecast to reach 4.6 billion by 2025, and those people are spending a lot of time in their inboxes.

According to Adobe, the average American spends over five hours a day checking their inboxes. This makes email marketing a powerful way to promote your startup.

You can use Mailchimp to design beautiful, engaging messages using a straightforward drag-and-drop editor. This is ideal if you don’t have access to a graphic designer or a programmer:

The Mailchimp email editor.

You can also use Mailchimp to create automated email campaigns. This can be a life-saver for busy small business owners, who may not have the time to send a personalized message to every contact.

Features:

Pricing: Various subscriptions are available, including a free plan that’s perfect for small businesses.

3. Google Analytics

The Google Analytics platform.

Google Analytics provides detailed insight into the people who are visiting your website. This can be invaluable for understanding your audience and the kind of content that generates the most engagement.

Armed with this information, you can fine-tune your marketing and advertising strategies, and optimize every part of your site to drive conversions:

The top tools for small businesses include Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can also reveal how people find your site (for example, via organic search or by following a referral link). You can then focus your efforts on the channels that are proving the most lucrative.

Alternatively, you might decide that it makes more sense to focus on the channels that are currently underperforming.

Features:

  • Custom reports
  • Event tracking
  • Site speed report
  • Site search tracking
  • Ecommerce tracking

Pricing: The core Google Analytics platform is free. There’s also a premium Analytics 360 subscription available.

4. Buy Now Plus

Buy Now Plus is one of the top tools for small businesses.


In 2020, worldwide ecommerce sales totaled $4.28 trillion. If you want to tap into this lucrative market, you should aim for a seamless shopping experience.

Buy now buttons can be powerful tools for providing a stress-free purchasing journey and boosting your sales. Today, these simple-but-effective buttons are widely used by some of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon:

A buy now button on the Amazon website.

If you want to learn from Amazon’s success, you may want to take a look at Buy Now Plus. You can use our free service to quickly and easily create an Amazon-style buy now button:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You can then deploy this button across multiple platforms. This includes all of your social media accounts and your email marketing messages.

Features:

Pricing: You can sign up for free. Note that Buy Now Plus charges a minimal 2% fee for each sale.

Conclusion

Starting a new business is never easy. However, the right tools can help you secure those all-important first customers and sales, and set your business on the path to success.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s quickly recap our top four tools for small businesses that are just starting out:

  1. Yoast SEO: Make sure your site is appearing in relevant search results with this free WordPress plugin.
  2. Mailchimp: Use a popular mailing platform with a focus on automation that is perfect for the busy small business owner.
  3. Google Analytics: Get insight into your audience and learn how to drive more people to your site with this widely-used analytics service.
  4. Buy Now Plus: Ensure that the purchasing process feels effortless by creating buy now buttons for your website, social media accounts, and email marketing campaigns.

Do you have questions about any of the tools mentioned on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

It might seem like influencers are everywhere these days. However, you're not just seeing things – working with these representatives is a popular and effective way to promote a brand.

You might be wondering how to leverage this power by starting your own affiliate marketing program.

Fortunately, the process doesn't have to be difficult. By following a few best practices and focusing on the essential elements, you can build a profitable affiliate program for your brand.

In this article, we'll cover a few reasons you might want to consider starting an affiliate marketing program. Then we'll show you how to create your own in three simple steps. Let's get to it!

Why You Might Want to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program

An affiliate marketing program is a network of influencers. You connect with respected people within your niche, and they promote your products to their followers. In return, you pay them a commission from any resulting sales.

There are many benefits to running an affiliate program. For one thing, it's a simple way to spread the word about your products. You also don't have to pay unless a sale is made, so using influencers is cost-effective.

Influencers also get a lucrative deal. On top of commissions, affiliate links can be a passive and flexible income stream.

That means these marketers can promote your content even if they've shifted to remote work. Additionally, the influencer's audience might appreciate an informed recommendation.

With advantages for all parties, it's no wonder that affiliate marketing is a booming business. Statistics show that this market is expected to reach a value of nearly $8.2 billion by 2022. That means getting started now will be an investment in your brand's future.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

We'll now use this simple guide as a kickstart for affiliate marketing. If you're interested in promoting your business with affiliate marketing, chances are you already have a website up and running.

If not, you'll need a basic WordPress site ready before you get started with the Easy Affiliate plugin, which we'll be using in this tutorial.

Step 1: Install and Activate Easy Affiliate

Starting an affiliate marketing program can be a bit complex. It can be hard to juggle links, payments, and ads.

That's why we highly recommend you use an affiliate program management product, such as Easy Affiliate, to take care of everything for you:

Easy Affiliate homepage.

Easy Affiliate enables you to host your affiliate program on a WordPress site. It's a simple way to integrate referral marketing infrastructure into your page.

Some other powerful features that you'll unlock with Easy Affiliate include:

  • Detailed progress reports to help you perfect your approach
  • Email marketing to spread the word about your program
  • One-click payouts to make commissions easy for you and your influencers

Additionally, Easy Affiliate doesn't charge any transaction fees. Once you purchase your plan, there are no additional hidden costs. The only per-transaction fee you'll pay is to PayPal, which the plugin uses to process payments.

The program also carries a 14-day money-back guarantee, so it's safe to give it a try if you're on the fence.

First you'll want to decide on your pricing plan. The options are Basic, Plus, and Pro. We suggest starting with Basic if you're new to affiliate marketing. However, Plus and Pro might also be worth considering if you have a few sites.

After you've made your choice, download Easy Affiliate. Be sure to grab your license key as well, because you'll need it to receive crucial plugin updates. Then install and activate the plugin.

You might also want to take some time at this point to consider your strategy. Understanding the essential elements for affiliate beginners can set you up for success.

Step 2: Customize Your Main Settings

Before you get started, there are a few settings you'll want to adjust. We'll take you through the most important ones. However, you might want to thumb through Easy Affiliate's helpful articles for more information.

Let's begin with the basic settings. You can find them in your WordPress dashboard under Easy Affiliate > Settings. Your screen will differ slightly depending on your plan:

The main settings for Easy Affiliate.

If you'd rather use the built-in setup wizard, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page to find that option. You can also add elements such as your basic business info.

If you keep scrolling, you'll find an option to decide which pages will act as your affiliate pages. These pages will generate automatically when you add Easy Affiliate. However, you can also edit them from this area.

Next up, we'll take a look at the Commissions tab:

The Easy Affiliate commissions tab under settings..

Here you'll decide on your affiliate program commission structure.

You can choose to pay out commissions as a percentage of sales or as a fixed rate. Your payout settings are also in this tab. Feel free to take your time here – payments are essential for both you and your influencers.

If you want to add integrations, check out the Ecommerce and Integrations tabs. For example, you can set up one-click PayPal functions under Ecommerce.

Finally, head over over to the Advanced tab:

The Easy Affiliate advanced settings tab.

It has several useful fields, but we'll focus on the essentials for now. We encourage you to set up email notifications to keep affiliates in the loop.

Additionally, you'll need to adjust international settings if you work on a global level.

Step 3: Prepare Resources for Your Affiliates

Finally, let's get to the heart of your program: your affiliates! Supporting your influencers is the best way to help them succeed.

On top of showing them how to do things like accept credit cards without a website, you can also provide other resources.

Remain on the page from the last step. This time, navigate to the Affiliates tab:

The Affiliate tab for Easy Affiliates.

First up is Registration Type. This is where you'll determine whether affiliates can join automatically, will need to apply, or will need direct administrative approval.

For your first program, we recommend requiring an application. This will help you screen for the best candidates directly.

The Form Fields section enables you to decide what information you'll collect from influencers. You can also make it so that users are automatically added as affiliates – which is perfect if you've built your WordPress site solely for your program.

Finally, you can change the affiliate dashboard. We suggest that you take the time to add your brand's colors and a custom welcome message. Doing so is a simple yet essential part of any new website branding checklist.

Next up, we'll change gears. Easy Affiliate enables you to expand your brand with professional-looking links and banners. Go to Easy Affiliate > Creatives > Add New:

The creative creation screen for Easy Affiliates.

Simply fill in the fields to create your new link. If you'd like to add a visual element, choose Banner from the Type drop-down menu. You'll then see an option to upload an image.

Try to make several links and banners. This can help make your marketing varied yet consistent. Once you've made a few creative assets, you can provide them to affiliates so they can advertise your business in places such as their social media accounts.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing spending is on the rise. That means there's a lot of potential for using influencers to advertise your company. Fortunately, starting your own affiliate marketing program can be simple with the right tools.

In this article, we showed you three steps to begin your affiliate program:

  1. Choose and install a pricing plan from Easy Affiliate.
  2. Customize the main settings, such as the commission structure.
  3. Help your influencers succeed with a clear structure and dynamic assets.

Do you have any questions about starting your own affiliate marketing program? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Tips From Successful Small Business Owners

Many people dream of becoming their own boss. However, with 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., your new venture will likely face some stiff competition.

By making smart decisions early on, you can give your business the best possible chance of finding a place in today’s crowded market.

Regardless of your entrepreneurial idea, there are several universal best practices that can set you up for success.

In this post, we’ll share four tips from successful small business owners. We’ll look at how to drive more customers to your website, reduce those sky-high cart abandonment rates, and even explore how your closest competitors can actually help your business succeed. Let’s get started! 

1. Prioritize Customer Support

Customer service is the direct connection between you and your customers. Get it right, and you’ll have no problem transforming one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers.

When it comes to delivering five star customer service, speed is everything. According to research, 66% of shoppers state that valuing their time is the most important factor in customer service. In fact, when they reach out for help, 82% of consumers expect a response in ten minutes or less. 

If you’re going to meet these expectations, it’s vital that you make customer service a priority. However, as a busy business owner, it may not always be feasible to respond to support requests immediately, especially if you don’t have a large customer service department. 

If the ten-minutes-or-less rule feels impossible, a chatbot may be the answer. With the help of a bot, your customers will have instant access to support at any time of the day or night. 

These bots can be a lifesaver for overstretched small businesses, but they also appear to be popular among consumers. According to research, over 67% of shoppers used a chatbot in 2019. 

There are various WordPress chatbots to choose from, including the Tidio plugin. This popular chatbot is customizable, so you can update its User Interface (UI) to reflect your company’s branding:

Many small business owners choose to use a chatbot plugin.

Alternatively, you can create your own chatbot. This may sound complex, but there are services to help you build your bot, including the Botsify platform and HubSpot’s marketing plugin:

The HubSpot WordPress plugin.

Self-help resources can be another way to provide around-the-clock support. Online documentation, FAQs, knowledge bases, and video tutorials are all popular self-help methods.

2. Learn From Your Customers

No matter how much time and effort you invest into your small business, there’s always room for improvement. To keep moving forward, you'll need to be willing to learn from your customers.

This may involve asking consumers for their feedback. Wherever possible, it’s smart to integrate these feedback requests into your normal workflows. For example, you might use your email automation software to request a product review every time a customer makes a purchase. 

Some customer-focused tools can even request feedback automatically. For instance, it’s not uncommon for chatbots to ask the customer to rate their interaction when they try to exit the chat window. This can generate valuable information, which you can then use to improve your small business. 

However, this information can be biased. Humans are subconsciously influenced by social conventions, and may tailor their feedback to align with the expected response. 

For this reason, you may also want to monitor your audience using a tool such as Google Analytics. This can provide an insight into subconscious customer behavior, and how users respond to your content and campaigns:

Many small business owners use a tool such as Google Analytics.

By deploying these two techniques simultaneously, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. This is essential for improving the overall customer experience and optimizing your business website.

3. Spy on Other Small Business Owners

Chances are your business has several close competitors. While these organizations may feel like the bane of your existence, they can also be a valuable learning tool. 

With over 40% of revenue for most stores originating from organic traffic, it’s important to get your SEO right. You can set yourself up for SEO success by using a tool such as Keyword Explorer to discover the terms your competitors are ranking for.

You can then analyze those high-performing keywords and identify any that are relevant to your business:

The Moz Keyword Explorer tool.

By targeting these keywords, you may be able to improve your search engine rankings.

Backlinks are another valuable way to boost your traffic and secure extra sales. You can identify competitor content that has generated lots of backlinks using a tool such as Link Explorer:

Link Explorer can be a useful tool for small business owners.

This can help you pinpoint topics that generate the most buzz. If you can produce similar content to a higher standard, then you stand a good chance of earning valuable backlinks.

Once you’ve refined your SEO and content marketing strategies, it’s time to turn your attention to social media. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook can be an effective way to reach new customers.  

If you’ve created a Facebook page for your small business, you’re off to a good start. However, it’s not enough to simply post content and hope for the best. It’s also important to identify the days and times your customers are online, and the content that generates the most engagement.

You can use Facebook’s Pages to Watch to record when your competitors post, how often they post, and the subsequent engagement. You can then use this data to create a more effective social media strategy, without having to learn through trial and error.

4. Simplify the Purchasing Process

Cart abandonment rates are a serious problem for online businesses. Some industries even report a 96.88% abandonment rate! There’s also evidence to suggest that some customers may fill their baskets with no intention of completing the purchase, making it the digital equivalent of window shopping

This is where buy now buttons come in. These simple-but-effective buttons completely eliminate the add to basket stage, and whisk the customer directly to the checkout. This gives the consumer less time to reconsider their purchase, which is great news for your conversion rates:

Am example of a Buy Now button.

You can create a range of high-converting buy now buttons using our free Buy Now Plus service.

To create your first buy now button, just register for a free Buy Now Plus account. If you already a existing Stripe account, you'll be prompted to connect the two accounts in the sign up process. If you don't have Stripe yet, you can automatically create a new one during the signup process.

Then, just create your buy now first button to publish on your online store, website, or even your social media platform. One of the best things about Buy Now Plus is that you don't even have to run a website to use it!

Conclusion 

Launching a new business isn’t easy, and the line between success and failure can be fine. However, with the right tools, techniques, and know-how, you can achieve start-up success.

Let’s quickly recap four tips from successful small business owners: 

  1. Prioritize customer support by using chatbots.
  2. Learn from your customers by requesting feedback.
  3. Spy on other small business owners by doing keyword research.
  4. Simplify the purchasing process by using Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any questions about how to grow your small business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Keep It Simple and Keep Your Customers (3 Tips)

In today’s always on, always connected world, you have more opportunities than ever to communicate with your customers. However, you also have more chances to overwhelm and even alienate your target audience.

With the typical internet user suffering from information overload, you may be able to stand out from the crowd by doing less. By stripping your marketing down to its essentials, you can help even the most overwhelmed shopper make a smart purchasing decision and inspire customer loyalty. 

In this post, we’ll discuss why keeping it simple may be the key to retaining your customers. We’ll then share three tips on how to do less while achieving more. Let’s get started! 

Why Keeping It Simple May Be the Key to Retaining Your Customers

When trying to appeal to today’s tech-savvy consumer, more isn’t always better. There’s a misconception that the more content you provide, the greater your chances will be of holding the customer’s attention.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that a constant stream of marketing campaigns is the only way to grow your audience. However, this may not always work.

For many shoppers, the sheer amount of online content can be completely overwhelming. If you bombard people with even more information, you may be putting them off rather than drawing them in.

With this in mind, it makes sense to focus on decision simplicity. This is where you provide your customers with just enough data to make an informed purchasing decision – and no more.

For people who are already feeling overwhelmed, this can make your business far more appealing than a competitor who is pumping out content 24/7. 

How to Keep It Simple and Keep Your Customers (3 Tips)

While it’s tempting to try and wow the customer, information overload is a very real phenomenon. By taking a less-is-more approach, you can cut through all of the noise and help your audience make stress-free purchasing decisions.

Let's take a look at how to keep it simple and keep your customers, in three easy steps. 

1. Personalize the Customer Experience

When you’re trying to appeal to your entire customer base, it’s easy to overwhelm the individual with irrelevant information. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, you may want to focus on delivering a personalized experience.

This can help minimize the amount of content the visitor has to deal with, which can simplify the purchasing decision. 

If you want to provide a personalized shopping experience, it might make sense to offer customers a membership service. This is often essential for creating a complete record of the individual’s preferences, habits, and behavior.

All of this data is invaluable for delivering a highly personalized, highly persuasive customer experience.

There are a number of membership plugins available for WordPress, but MemberPress is leading option

Keep your customers, using a membership plugin such as MemberPress.

You can use this plugin to display different content depending on the shopper’s role and capabilities. This can be a quick and easy way to hide information that’s irrelevant to the individual, and prioritize the content that’s more likely to make them convert. 

Meanwhile, if you’re using the popular WooCommerce ecommerce platform, there are a number of add-ons that can help you tailor your website to each user. This includes WooCommerce Customer History:

The WooCommerce History add-on can help you keep your customers.

The Customer History add-on records how each visitor browses your store, and maintains a full purchase history log. You can then use this information to strip out all the unnecessary content and create a more streamlined purchasing journey. 

2. Simplify the Purchasing Journey

By reducing the number of screens the shopper has to navigate, you can reduce the amount of information they come into contact with. This is where a buy now button can be your secret weapon. 

These call to action (CTA) buttons promise to simplify the purchasing journey by transporting the customer directly to the checkout page. You can quickly and easily create this button using our free Buy Now Plus service.

Simply connect Buy Now Plus to your existing Stripe account, or create a new free Stripe account right in the Buy Now Plus setup process. Then you’re ready to create a wide range of high-converting buy now buttons:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

After creating a button, you can even deploy it across multiple platforms. This helps you provide a consistent and seamless experience regardless of whether the customer is making a purchase from your website, social media accounts, or marketing emails.

By providing this kind of omnichannel shopping experience, you can make the purchasing process feel effortless and intuitive across multiple platforms. This can help you improve your customer retention rates. 

3. Segment Your Email Campaigns

According to Adobe’s Email Usage Study, Americans spend over five hours a day checking their emails. That’s a huge window of time where you could be promoting your products.

However, most businesses are fully aware of this opportunity, so your typical shopper is probably already drowning in marketing emails. If you add to the pressure, it’s unlikely to end well. The consumer might ignore your messages or unsubscribe from your email list.

Therefore, it’s important to minimize the number of times you contact the customer, while still using email marketing to drive conversions. The best way to achieve this tricky balancing act is by using segmentation. 

A segmented email campaign is where you send targeted messages to your subscribers based on their characteristics or actions, such as their purchase histories. This enables you to replace multiple generic messages with a single email that speaks to the individual shopper’s needs. 

Even if the customer is feeling swamped, highly-targeted messages can still spark a positive reaction. In fact, segmented email campaigns experience 74.53% higher click rates compared to non-segmented campaigns, and companies report a 760% increase in revenue from segmented emails.

All of the major email automation programs support segmentation. Many WordPress plugins also have built-in support for targeted emails, including the free MailPoet plugin:

The MailPoet plugin can help you send targeted emails.

MailPoet comes with an easy-to-use newsletter builder and a selection of responsive templates. It also enables you to send automatic WooCommerce emails.

For instance, you can welcome your new customers, send emails to shoppers who purchased a particular product, and reach out to those who abandoned their carts.

Conclusion 

When it comes to selling your products, the customer needs just enough information to make an informed purchasing decision – and not a single word more.

While it’s tempting to try to dazzle your audience, your typical internet user is already suffering from information overload and won’t thank you for adding to it.

Let’s quickly recap how you can avoid overwhelming your customers: 

  1. Personalize the shopping experience by creating a membership site with MemberPress.
  2. Simplify the purchasing journey by using buy now buttons with Buy Now Plus.
  3. Segment your email campaigns by using a WordPress plugin like MailPoet.

Do you have any questions about how to keep it simple and keep your customers? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

5 Small Businesses You Can Start for Under $200

If you're tired of working for an employer, you may be looking to start your own business. However, this can be expensive, with many small businesses costing at least $2,000 to set up. If you don't have that kind of capital, you may be looking for more affordable options.

Fortunately, there are plenty of business ventures you can explore without spending a lot of money. You can tap into your creative side, share your professional expertise, or coach other people.

By identifying your skills and strengths, you can monetize them and start generating income.

In this guide, we'll take a look at five different small businesses that you can start for under $200. We'll also outline the skills and resources you will need for each one. Let's get started!

1. Consulting

Many companies hire experts to help them with their business strategies. If you have expertise in a particular area, like finance or law, you can offer your consulting services to different companies in your industry.

For instance, Bain & Company is an international consulting firm that works with organizations in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and retail:

Homepage of a consulting company called Bain & Company

In the United States, freelance consultants make an average salary of $78,922. Therefore, if you have the skills and knowledge to offer, you could potentially set up a very profitable business.

To get started, you'll need to set up a website to promote your services. WordPress equipped with a membership plugin is a great option.

You'll also have to spend some money on a domain name and web hosting service. However, many hosting companies offer very affordable plans for first-time buyers.

2. Tutoring

Tutoring can be a lucrative business if you're qualified in a particular field. For example, you could teach a foreign language to students or professionals.

Tutors make an average of $18 per hour. However, if you have a degree you may be able to charge much more.

To get started, you can sign up with an established tutoring company, such as Tutor.com:

Homepage of tutoring website Tutor.com

You could also create your own website to advertise your services. Remember that you'll need to pay for a domain name and a hosting service to keep it running.

As a tutor, you can create your own lesson plans and host your lessons online or in person. You don't need a large investment to set up this business, and you can purchase additional resources like textbooks as your company grows.

3. Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most flexible businesses you can start. Rather than working for one company, you can deal directly with different clients and work on your own terms.

There are many freelancing options, including writing, blogging, graphic design, programming, and working as a personal assistant. You can also draw upon your skills and experience from previous jobs .

Freelancers make an average of $21 per hour. However, if you are an expert in your field, you may be able to charge much higher rates.

There are various ways to find jobs as a freelancer. For instance, you can join an established freelancing marketplace like Fiverr:

Fiverr homepage

Alternatively, you could try to source your own clients through advertising and reaching out to your personal network. You might also want to set up a LinkedIn account and pitch your services to potential clients.

4. Selling eBooks and Other Digital Products

If you have writing talents and great ideas, you could make money by publishing ebooks or other digital materials. You can write in any genre, from short novels to travel guides, depending on your interests.

As the creator, you can set your own prices for your ebooks. In 2020, customers purchased more than 191 million ebooks in the United States, so there's a large market for this material:

The eBooks homepage

Creating and selling ebooks doesn't have to be expensive. You can create the template for free through an application like Canva. Then you can approach publishers or use a self-publishing service like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.

Alternatively, you could sell your digital products on your site. We recommend using our Buy Now Plus service to add high-converting buy now buttons to your product pages:

The Buy Now Plus homepage

Our program is free to use and very easy to install. Moreover, Buy Now Plus is powered by Stripe and charges a flat 2% fee on your transactions.

If you want to maximize your ebook sales on the cheap, you might want to consider setting up an affiliate program. To do this, you can use a plugin like Easy Affiliate, which helps you create a self-hosted affiliate program and manage your affiliates from a user-friendly dashboard.

5. Fitness Coaching

If you love fitness or have professional accreditation, you could create an online fitness program. For example, you could upload videos of yoga routines and workouts:

The Glo fitness website homepage

At the end of 2019, the online fitness market was worth approximately $6 million. Analysts predict it will grow in value to $59 million by 2027, so there's an opportunity to make significant profits in this industry.

An effective way to make money from your online courses is to build a fitness membership site.

With this type of site, you can upload instructional videos and customize your subscription settings so that only paid members can access this content. Additionally, you can offer a discounted or free trial period to attract new business.

Conclusion

Starting your own business doesn’t need to cost a fortune. By capitalizing on your existing skills and interests, you could quickly set up a small business and start making money.

Let's recap our main ideas for starting a business for under $200:

  1. Offer your consulting services to other companies.
  2. Give online lessons to students and professionals.
  3. Freelance in your area of expertise, such as web design and photography.
  4. Write e-books and sell them on your site, using Buy Now Plus.
  5. Create an online fitness program and set up a membership site.

Do you have any questions about starting your own business? Let us know in the comments section below!

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