Monday, March 12, 2007

First Steps

by Skald

So, how do you get started as a cyber-bedouin? What are the first steps to starting your own web micro-business?

I recommend a slow, easy, and super-cheap start. In fact, the first steps aren't really about "business" at all.

The very first step is to identify your passions. Not interests. Not skills. PASSIONS. What are you crazy about. What do you love to do, learn, and teach? You probably have many.

I certainly do. I love travel. I love living simply. I love writing. I love SCUBA diving. I love teaching English. I love walking. I love hiking.

Once you've identified your passions, try to pick one or two that you might actually want to do as a business. Ideally, this is something you can be GREAT at. Not good. Not very good. GREAT.

After thinking a long time, I realized writing and teaching English were the two passions I had the greatest potential for.

That's when I moved to step two-- Start a blog (or blogs) about your great passions. I started Hobopoet, originally, as a way to practice writing and a means to record my experiments with living a freer and simpler life. Later, when I realized I truly loved teaching English, I started "Effortless Language Acquisition" to record my thoughts.

For a couple of years, both of these blogs evolved. I slowly picked up readers. But more importantly, I slowly evolved my ideas. In time, I realized that English teaching was a better fit for starting my own business... while Hobopoet and writing were things I preferred to do for my own enjoyment only.

Even after this realization, it took time to land on the idea of an English teaching website. I first thought of opening my own school somewhere... but finally realized that the web was the way to go.

Thats when I moved to step three-- building an audience. I began to take the English teaching blog more seriously. I also started a podcast called "Effortless English". It grew steadily.

Most importantly, I created an "opt-in" subscription service. I created an email group using Google Groups... then put a link on the blog & podcast page.... targeted to students. English learners could add their email address to my Group and get periodic English learning tips. Later, I transferred this to a GoDaddy email-list account, and formalized it a bit more as "The Effortless English Newsletter". I still have it.

Through the newsletter, I continued (and continue to this day) to evolve my ideas on teaching and learning English. I communicate with English learners. I get feedback. I learn. I develop and evolve. I build a dialog with my subscribers. Eventually my skills, audience, and ideas evolved to the point where I was ready to launch my web business-- The Effortless English Club....

This, then, are the beginning steps for starting a web business:

1. Identify your Passions.
2. Pick the ones you can be Great at. Study, learn, practice.
3. Start blogs (or podcasts) on these topics. Write. Develop your ideas. Keep learning and improving. Get readers and communicate.
4. Create a Free Email Subscription Service related to your Great Passion-- a newsletter, a Google Group, whatever. Continue to learn, grow, and evolve.
5. Let the Email Subscriptions, and your abilities, grow........

1 comment:

Taoist Poet said...

This is great advice. I look forward to learning more. Thanks for sharing.

-Cym