Most of have a fascination with creating a lasting brand, business or a combination of these two things when starting out in entrepreneurship. Many of us don’t want to take the risk of spending our hard earned capital to find out in the day of getting the right product market fit, it doesn’t have to cost you either.
I was as risk averse as you are and started my first business on $200 and earned over $202,000 in annual revenue in 14 days. There is a way to gather some credibility, get feedback and improve your online visibility all for free.
By utilising the following five free tools you will be able to:
1. Networking with the best of them
Very quickly I was able to gain my own foothold in the world of start-up business and writing just by utilising my network. The best place to start is Facebook reach out to friends you know who are doing what you’re wanting to do or find a community that is already doing this.
Throw the ideas you want to be apart of into google i.e “Facebook Entrepreneur Groups” I found my communities by looking here and joined up. Once you’ve joined these groups, ask the community about your goals and ask to connect with people who are doing something similar to you.These communities are free and you should look for two types; the first with 500 members or less, the other with 5000 or more so that you can observe what type of posts gather attention on a micro and macro scale. Try to find at least ten people and send an intro about your goals.
Make sure you really connect with each of these people and that you care about what they’re doing; offer your services to see if you can help them in return for their time. Immediately you will have gained new friends, feedback and possibly a way to model or build your own brand based on what others are doing.
Keep in contact with these guys regularly as they will be extremely useful throughout this journey.
2. Writing like a pro
Now that you’ve got connections it is time to write down what makes you an expert. If you’re looking at building a business or brand you should already know a lot about your target market, other thought leaders and what has engaged people previously.
Find other thought leaders who are doing what you’re doing and use their work as a template for your writing. When I am creating articles I look up the most shared entrepreneurial articles of previous years and look at the replicability of those articles to the concept I am writing on. If you’re still struggling on how to write, check out the free tools at the bottom of this post.
Now, sit down and write 3 - 5 articles that will engage people about why you’re good at what you’re doing or how your business fills a gap in your niche. These need to be approximately 700 - 900 words, these need to be short so that when you share them for the first time people don’t get deterred by the amount of time it will take to read. Remember make this information valuable, concise and readable people want to engage with exciting content.
This will quickly give you authority in your field or business when you publish your first free site.
3. Branding for Business
Now that you’ve fleshed out all the reasons you’re going to do great things with your business it is time to create an identity. Head over to Shopify and create a quick branded logo for free, you can create as many as you like.
Take this new brand back to your network and share it your communities and ask them which one they like best. You now have your own personal brand or business logo. I did this with own mailing list and friends, it has been narrowed down to the two options people interacted with the most.
4. Create a website
There is a ton of free tools and tutorials that people can use to build their own blog and or business website. You can get a free trial of Shopify for 14 days here - I prefer this as it gives you a timeline for action and makes you accountable to get noticed in those 14 days. Make sure to install Google Analytics which is free to find out the response from your audience.
Design your site so that it directs people to the traffic you want them to see and that it is aesthetically pleasing. If you’re struggling for photos you can find some here - the point of this project is to instill credibility in your business or blog so you can use this to gain further influence.
Again ask others what they think of your site before moving onto the next step - all feedback from those who have gone before us is extremely valuable.
5. Sharing to go Viral
Now that you’ve established yourself with a site, a brand and valuable content it is time to get noticed.
Send the best content on your site (one of the pieces you’ve written earlier) to 20 people; 10 from your new network and 10 close friends and ask them to share your content on their own personal Facebook page. Then get these people to tag three people who would find your content valuable or useful - with some luck some of those people might be contributors like myself that can introduce you to a publisher.
Get your network to share this twice in the first week of your site being live and see if you can get them to co-ordinate this at the same time (in the evening if possible - a larger of numbers of Facebook users are on at that time). Then post in your communities at the same time as those who are sharing it on Facebook.
I followed this strategy with one of my start-up clients, their premium article was shared 59 times from their own site and as a result they were asked to feature in a local publication. This then was used as proof to feature in a larger publication after seeing their articles.
You now have:
I’ve used this approach with both businesses and bloggers and the result is they all have end up getting recognised from somebody allowing them a bigger break for the work they’ve completed. This is a soft PR launch executed without a PR firm on a budget of $0 all you needed was time. The great thing you find your product market fit at no cost and you can repeat this process with other ideas.
My Personal Results
I followed this strategy with my first business page on Facebook across the first week before physically launching my product. Our organic reach came to a total of 5,670 in the first six days; you can see the cumulative effect building – I paid $11.89 NZD to boost two of our posts which gave us another 1 K of reach.
The post engagement on the 13th as you can see below -resulted in 676 people organically interacting with our content by following the same strategy I described above. The last post got us featured in a national newspaper article the following week.
A lack of money and skills don’t always have to be your worst enemy; any person can create something from nothing. I love growth hacking because it provides with new opportunities to circumvent seemingly impossible problems. Here is the checklist I use when working with businesses and other clients.
What’s your favorite growth hack? Let us know in the comments.
Writing good content – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwII2DrUxIQ
Entrepreneur’s top 10 articles: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254308