Congrats! You’ve built up a social media following and you’re looking to take the next steps. Building an audience is the first step towards making a business. Providing free content and seeing how your audience responds is a great way to get to know them. You get to see how they act, what they like, and how to communicate to them more importantly. Building an audience is a risk free way to prove that there is demand for your idea and niche. The more engagement you have with your audience shows you how interested your audience really is. While the more audience members, or followers, shows how large that audience is. A healthy mixture or quantity and quality is right where you want to be. You want to have a large audience, but you don’t want to lose out on engagement with your audience members. Especially in the beginning, engagement is crucial because these will be your first true loyal fans.
Some people want to have their audience and simple grow it and have no desire to make a profit from it. For others, they may have intentions of turning their ideas into profit by selling a product that fits the niche that they built. If your intention is to make money, then this is the path you want to take.
Getting the audience and their trust is the hard part. Once that is started, then you can think about releasing a product to start making some money and slowing turning your passion project into a real business.
One of the best strategies to turn your passion project into a business is to simply ask them. This is why engagement levels are so important. Having back and forth communication with your audience will give you valuable insights about what content to post to keep them engaged and what products they want that you can offer them. Often times they will know exactly what they want and will tell you. In other cases, you may have a trial and error period where you ask them if they are interested in buying product ‘x’ from you. If no one sounds interested in product ‘x’, then come up with product ‘y’. And keep moving on until you find something that fits. Remember it’s crucial to stay in your lane with this step. Pick a product that resonates with the niche you build. Be sure that it fits the culture of the niche and provides a solution to a problem that your niche has.
This process takes a while so be patient. It takes a lot of trial and error but that’s OK. It’s common to make adaptations to your product until it’s just right. Remember, it’s not what you think is a good idea. It’s what your audience thinks is a good idea. That should be your goal.
After you hone in on the right product or products to sell, that’s when you get your website ready to sell your products. If you already have a website, you may have to upgrade it to a business version in order to sell products. If you don’t have a website, then you’ll need to create one suitable for small business needs.
The best way to make your first sales is by having customers order their product before you have any real inventory. This will ensure that there is demand for your product and will save you a lot of headache of trying to sell something no one wants. Once you have a bunch of orders waiting to be filled, then it’s time to locate a supplier or manufacturer and buy your first inventory.
Choosing a supplier is not easy. It can be a dreadful process depending on how unique the product you’re looking to sell is. When you get to the right supplier, make sure you are able to put your logo on it and always try to negotiate MOQs, or minimum order quantities. You want to get as little product as you can when you are new to selling because you don’t want to have leftover product. You still want to prove to yourself that real demand is there and people are buying your product. So don’t risk too much by buying too much at first. Start small with your first order. Then when demand becomes more consistent and apparent, you can buy more at a time.
After you receive your inventory, then you are ready to fulfill those orders to your first customers. Since they are your first customers, it’s a good idea to throw in something extra for them. Either a hand written note, or a bonus product, or a discount code on future purchases.
At this point, you’re off and running. Problems will come up with getting orders out or getting inventory, but you will all learn this as you go. You will learn how to deal with each individual problem as it comes up. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.