5 Simple Solutions if Your Online Business Isn’t Making Money
business isn't making money

No one tells you about this side of running your own online business. 

You read all the stories of people going from zero to seven figures in a few months - but you don't get to hear about the months and years of struggle that have gone on beforehand. The mis-steps, the self-doubt, the failed launches...

So, I'm hear to tell you; if you're struggling to make money with your business at the moment - perhaps you haven't made any sales at all yet - that doesn't make you a failure. We all start somewhere and there is no specific length of time that it's supposed to take.

That being said, I'm guessing you'd quite like to start earning some money sooner rather than later, so with that in mind, here are 5 things you can do right now to get those sales rolling in...

1) Review Your Offer

If you're struggling to sell your product or service, then the first question to ask is if your offer is is of value to your audience.

The second question is whether you're communicating that value effectively.

To help you along the way, I'm going to highlight some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to creating and marketing their stuff.  If you're making any of these errors then fixing them will go a long way to helping you sell.

  • Assuming Rather than Asking: I'm almost certain that you've heard this before - and if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, then you DEFINITELY have! As business owners we can sometimes feel so passionate about our work that we believe we just know what our audience needs. The problem is, that even if that's the case, they don't necessarily want what they need, so to find out what they actually desire (and are willing to pay for), we have to ask. You might think what they need is a 6 month coaching package to lose 3 stone, but maybe if you ask them you'll discover that what they're truly craving is a monthly membership to keep them motivated during their weight loss journey ...
  • Focusing on Features Rather than Benefits: Your audience does need to know the practicalities of what you're selling; things like times, dates, sizes etc. But those aren't the things which will encourage them to buy. Your audience is interested in how your product or service will improve their life. What problem will it solve for them? Which brings me to...
  • Not Solving a Big Enough Problem: The success of your offer (and the amount you can charge for it) is proportional to the size of the problem you're solving. Now, I'm not saying that unless your offer is bringing around world peace, then don't bother. But what I am saying, is that if you're struggling to sell your offer then it could be because it just isn't tempting enough for your audience to buy...
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    Equating 'Value' with 'Price': Ok, you're gonna want to remember this one. If you want to really motivate your audience to buy, then the perceived value of your offer should be MUCH HIGHER than the price. 

2) Evaluate Your Audience

This is a sneaky little problem that a lot of people miss.

If we're not selling, we blame the offer or we blame ourselves - we're just not good at selling!

What we never think to do is look to our audience.

The fact is though, everything else could be spot on, but if there's a problem with your audience, then you're not going to sell.  Here's what I mean...

Audience Clarity

One of the biggest struggles when you're just starting your business can be getting really clear on WHO your audience should be. Who is your target market?

Our natural instinct is to go as broad as possible. The broader the market, the more people we can attract, right?

Wrong.

In fact, the opposite is true: the more specific you can be with your ideal client description, the easier it will be for you to attract those people to your business. Let's look at some examples.

If you were a dog groomer for example, you might say that your ideal clients are dog owners. However, to get more specific you could just focus on certain breeds or sizes of dogs.

Or if you were a life coach, you might want to help people with anything and everything in their lives. However, you could get more specific by focusing on specific things like relationships, career or self-confidence...

Consider if you're being too general with your own audience and how you could refine your ideal client description to make it more specific.

Audience Size

If you're just starting out with your business (and if you're reading this, then I'm guessing you are...) then the good news is that your lack of income is more than likely down to pure numbers.

You just don't have a big enough audience yet. Let's take a look at a basic sales funnel so you can see what I mean...

Say for example that you're selling a fitness course and you're using a 5 day Push Up Challenge to promote it. Perhaps you can expect to convert around 10% of the challenge attendees, so in order to get ONE sale, you'd need 10 people to participate in your challenge. 

You've created a landing page where people can sign up for the challenge and of the people visiting that page, around 25% are actually joining. So to get your 10 participants, you'll need 40 people to see the landing page.

With me so far?

Lastly, you're promoting your landing page on your blog and social media. Around 20% of people are clicking through so you'll need 200 people to see your promotion...

This is just an example and I've plucked these numbers at random - but hopefully they give you an idea of why you're struggling to sell if your audience is still just a handful of people.

Now that might feel frustrating - but it really is a positive problem to have because it's incredibly fixable!

The first fix of course is to focus on building your audience and you can do this in many different ways.

The second fix is to focus on more pro-active selling strategies while your audience is still small. Rather than using funnels like the one described above, just go out and actively search out your ideal clients and connect with them directly.

Audience Quality

If your audience is filled with people who are NOT your ideal clients, they're never going to buy from you. 

*Mic Drop*

Now, I know you KNOW that really. But are you remembering that when you're going about your daily hustle?

Are you remembering that when you're panicking about your numbers? Worrying that you're not getting enough blog views or FB likes or Instagram followers?

Time and time again, I see people SO focused on these vanity metrics that they forget WHY they're building their audience.  So they do 'like for like' to give it a boost.

They invite all their family and friends to like their stuff too - whether they're ideal clients or not..

I've done it. But now I realise how silly it was - I was filling my audience with people who don't care about my business. They're not going to engage and they're certainly not going to buy.

When it comes to building your audience, please, please, please remember:

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

3) Assess Your Sales Strategy

Did you know that when I first started out with my coaching business, I made a huge mistake for around 9 months?

I just wasn't getting any clients and my confidence was getting lower and lower.

Then it hit me. I wasn't actually SELLING... like, EVER.

It sounds pretty dumb - but I was so caught up with writing blog posts, getting new followers on social media and filling my Facebook group that I just.. well.. FORGOT about the selling my products part.

So, in case you're doing the same - just take a moment to consider. Are YOU selling?

I mean, what are you actually doing to sell your offer? Because *spoiler alert*, just adding a 'work with me' page to your website or adding a link to your sales page to Facebook doesn't count...You need a sales strategy and if you don't have one - well, I'm guessing that's a big part of why you're not making moolah yet. 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Frequency of Promotion: Too often and you'll turn your audience right off and come across as self-serving and a bit of a bore.  Too rarely and your audience may completely miss what your offer even is - and they certainly won't see it enough to consider purchasing.
  • Sales Method: There are tons of way to promote and sell your stuff. Think webinars, email marketing, Facebook Live, Discovery Calls... and so much more. What can you try for your business?
  • The Customer Journey: I'm always surprised by how little the customer journey is mentioned because frankly, it's absolutely key when it comes to selling your stuff. You see, everyone who buys from you goes through a specific lifecycle or 'journey'. First, they must know you exist, secondly, they need to like you and finally, they will trust you enough to part with their cash. The way you speak to a potential customer should vary depending on which stage of this journey they're at. It's just like any other relationship - you don't ask someone to marry you before you've even been on a date! 

4) Check Your Mindset

There's no escaping it, the path to building a profitable online business is largely done from the inside out. If your head ain't in the game, then frankly, there's no point in playing.

So, if you're struggling to make money with your business then do me a favour and spend some time considering your answers to the following 3 questions. They may just reveal what's been holding you back...

Do you feel like a CEO?

Seriously, do you? 

Because that's what you are! This isn't a hobby. It's not a lemonade stand at the end of your drive that you're doing to earn some pocket money or to pass some time at the weekend.

This is your BUSINESS. Are you treating it that way?

Do you deserve to succeed?

Imposter Syndrome is all too real, especially when you're just getting started.

I have 13 years of corporate experience. I worked across pretty much all fields of marketing and customer relationship management - and I did it for a FTSE 30 company. I managed a department, I recruited and trained, reviewed and occasionally even fired people. I worked on million pound projects and for products with over a million customers. 

But when it came to starting my own business, I suddenly felt like a complete beginner again - because I was! Running your own business is different to corporate. Sure there are tons of transferrable skills but there's also a steep and ongoing learning curve which can make the most experienced of us feel like a fraud.

The thing is, if you feel like that, it's going to come across in your business. You need to believe in yourself - if you don't, how can you expect your audience to?

Do you believe in your offer?

Here are some of the thoughts that I'm willing to bet have passed through your mind at some point:

  • Why would someone buy this when it's so easy to learn/do? 
  • No one will pay me for this when so many others do it better
  • I'm charging too much - no one will pay that amount for my offer
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    I'm charging too little - I feel pretty rubbish about it but no one would buy it for more
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     I could have done this better - it's not perfect yet

If you were nodding along to any of those then chances are you're sabotaging your chance to make money because those niggling doubts will come through in your messaging and your marketing.

They'll also stop you from promoting your products consistently and with passion. 

If you don't truly believe in your offer then ask yourself why and then fix it.

5) Have Another Income Source

I couldn't decide whether to include this point or not - but I think it's important to say.

If you're not at the point where you're making much (or any) profit from your business yet then there's no shame in doing whatever you need to in order to keep some money coming in.  If you're constantly worrying about how you'll pay your bills then you won't be able to focus on growing your biz.

There's no rule book when it comes to this stuff. If achieving your dream means staying in your 9-5 a little longer or taking on some extra freelance work for now, then do what you need to do - no one's judging you but you.

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    How to write your first, simple business plan
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    How to beat 'Imposter Syndrome'

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Colette Broomhead

Helping you to leave your 9-5 behind for good and create a business and life you love.