As the world expands online and becomes smaller each day, people can work from anywhere and many are migrating their work home. Consumers are shifting their attention online so home-based businesses are becoming more popular than ever. Entrepreneurs have limitless ability to make a living from their living room. Having a home-based business is both a blessing and a curse. Along with all the comforts and flexibility come problems and difficult decisions.
There are boundless reasons why some home-based businesses fail, but one common reason is simple: marketing. As entrepreneurs turn their passion into an occupation, it’s too easy to focus on the wrong things or get distracted and derail.
You might be an expert of your craft, but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert marketer.
If hiring an agency or an employee is out of the question, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
What exactly is a home-based business?
The literal definition of a home-based business is any business whose main office is within one’s home. If you’re offering a service, selling a product or making money within the walls of your home, you’re an official home-based business owner. But it doesn’t stop there.
Perhaps you’re an interior designer, truck driver or personal chef and you must travel to your clients or appointments. You are still a home-based business if you don’t base your operations elsewhere. Online based companies are the most common home-based ventures — and, with some many easy-to-use eCommerce platforms available, the sky is the limit for enterprising entrepreneurs who want to build a home-based business.
The most common problems
Regardless of your profession, home-based business owners face the same problems. Let’s address the struggles that come along with this type of company.
Proving you have a professional company, not a hobby
You managed to turn your passion into a career, but when you’re putting your home address on mailing labels, suddenly it doesn’t feel as glamorous. It’s not a hobby, it’s a job, but sometimes it’s hard to prove that to the outside world.
That sheds light on our first obstacle: building a professional reputation.
If you have not already, be sure to keep separate social media profiles for yourself and your business. Create both a LinkedIn profile for yourself and a business page. Same with Facebook. Be sure to buff out any online account you create. And if you make a social media profile for your business, dedicate time each week to interacting with your social followers. Nothing is worse than an empty Facebook timeline or silent Twitter.
Do you have a logo? If not, take a shot at creating one yourself, contracting the design work to a freelancer on a site like DesignCrowd, or working with professional logo designers at a company like GoDaddy. The same idea applies to website building. Make sure your home page is something you’re proud of because your world is online and first impressions are everything.
Editor’s note: Building a website doesn’t have to be hard. Check out GoDaddy’s GoCentral website builder, an easy-to-use tool that enables you to build a site in about an hour.
Using your home address is scary
A shocking realization happens when you enter your home address into office fields on Google. Suddenly your home and neighborhood is being advertised in search results and you aren’t comfortable with that. No problem! You can still list your business on Google Maps with the option to customize and hide fields — including your home address so no one knows you work from home but you.
Here is a step-by-step guide to listing your business on Google. Do you have a unique business that still doesn’t make sense on Google Maps, like a charity, a jazz band or other brand? Check out a Google Brand account and see if that’s a better option.
Work life balance and time management
There aren’t enough hours in the day. As the ringleader of your home-based business, you wear 50 different hats to manage every branch of your company. Focusing on marketing is difficult, which is why you need to dedicate time to it. Unless your appointment book is overflowing and you’re not seeking new customers (but then why would you be reading this article?), you should carve out three to four hours per day solely to generating new business. Whether that’s engaging with forums online, purchasing a banner ad or making old-fashioned phone calls, take time each day to grow.
The good stuff: Your digital marketing strategy
Now that the big problems are out in the open, let’s talk about how to conquer them. Here are some suggestions on easy, DIY ways to market your home brand.
Embrace your inner social butterfly
It’s nothing revolutionary, but social media can be a great, free way to build an audience.
Flex those wings and build real relationships with people, offer guidance and education and be seen as a leader in your community.
Facebook advertising is a great way to hone in on your best audience demographics. For a few dollars a day, you can figure out who responds best to your ads. Find out their gender, age, job title and more so you know who to spend money marketing to later. Here’s an article that breaks down how to market on all the big social media platforms.
Make people need you
You know your product inside and out, but you could be selling it all wrong. Look at it from another angle and find true pain points for potential customers. What is the root of their problem that you solve? What is the solution they’re seeking? Once you understand their concerns, you can define your marketing strategy by hitting their soft spots. And as a result, they view you as their solution.
Test different messaging until you hit your stride!
Build a referral network
Hopefully your first few customers are loving your company, so make sure they know you love them, too. Think about offering incentives for referral business so everyone wins. Word of mouth is the king of marketing, and nothing beats a personal endorsement and repeat clients. Leverage your social media platforms or send a follow-up email to customers you haven’t heard from in a while to re-engage with you.
Try writing a blog and applying SEO
Before you begin typing away, learn why a blog can be beneficial to you so you write with purpose. SEO, or search engine optimization, is how sites like Google find you. While SEO is a never ending wonderland that puzzles even well-seasoned marketers, it’s important for you to understand the basics if you’re hosting most of your business online. Then you’ll be prepared to write search-optimized blog posts that will help your home-based business gain ground in search results.
If your home-based business is a passion of yours, hopefully writing about related topics in a blog will be easy and even enjoyable for you.
Also, each post should teach the reader something new, or rather, they should feel that your blog benefitted them in some way. Give insight and offer more so readers come back or subscribe.
Advertise on Google
Building successful SEO can take months to take effect, so topping the search results is difficult without a little help. Google’s AdWords is a great way businesses can position themselves in front of customers in their moment of need. Put your home-based business front and center when someone in your area is searching your relatable keywords.
AdWords requires quite the learning curve and does require some education up front and a few hours per week to monitor your ads. Thankfully, there are many resources to help, whether it’s free online education or paid software that automates your campaigns. To learn more about AdWords in 10 pages, here’s a free eBook just for small business.
Use a review platform to your advantage
Yelp is the world’s leading review site for local businesses. They have an influx of hot leads since users are far down the sales funnel with a high intent to purchase.
Everyone is automatically granted a free business page. Claim your profile and fill it with quality pictures and up-to-date information. Yelp has paid programs available to boost conversions, but much can be accomplished with the base, free profile. Once it’s live, be sure to thank customers who leave a review and go above and beyond in customer service. People will be promoting your business in no time!
Invest wisely in your home-based business
Marketing your home-based business is a full-time job but it’s entirely possible if you commit to the cause. When time and money are limited, invest your initial marketing efforts into figuring out what channels are best for you.
Be sure your efforts aren’t getting lost amongst the noise by highly targeting your messages with a specific audience, focusing on pain points, and investing in your most lucrative channels. Your home-based business is your dream job, so keep this dream alive and your business will continue to grow for years to come. Good luck!