With the current state of the world, I predict a massive shift coming to the online business world in the upcoming weeks due to the quarantine requirements. I foresee that a number of you will take this as an opportunity to dig in, reflect, realign priorities and figure out how to make a more connected, slow and intentional life work for YOU — and perhaps never look back to how things “used to be”. I’m optimistic that this could be the reset many of us need.
Please know I’m coming to you from a state of insomnia (as it’s 3:48 am in Minnesota..) and a place of service, not from an opportunist perspective – I have nothing to sell on this topic.
If you’re looking at the next 6-8 weeks of quarantine and feeling some level of concern about what’s coming up next as we head into the unknown (Elsa reference to lighten the mood), I want to share more about what I do – because many of you have been asking.
Long story short, I teach personal brands how to leverage traffic systems to get continuous leads and then sell them digital products.
BUT… things must start long before someone comes into my personal circle of expertise – before I could work with someone, they need to have decided that they have something they could sell on the Internet – a problem that they could solve over bandwidth. They must be an expert, a service provider, or have a set of skills to teach, or a topic on which to lead.
Think about the “human brands” you know – Dave Ramsey, Oprah, Martha Stewart… to name a few.
Those are all personal brands – but you don’t have to be super famous in today’s landscape to call yourself an expert.
Our culture is working in a more human to human way than we ever have before… we are using other human’s cars and trusting their driving skills (Uber/Lyft), we are renting other humans’ homes (AirBNB/VRBO), and we are having humans bring us our groceries (Instacart). All of these are convenience-based human to human brands, driven by technology.
What if there was another human who knew something that YOU wanted to know and could save you a ton of time – like how to invest in the stock market on your own?
What if there was a human who had a skill set that could help you learn something or practice a new skill – like my daughters’ speech therapist?
What if there was a skilled designer who could get the work done in a fraction of the time your in-house design team was taking because there were fewer meetings that should have been emails?
Those are all potential online business owners with personal brand potential.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is born when you use your face, name, personal expertise and method towards results as the anchor of your business. You don’t need an overly designed logo – generally, a nice font will do – (check out CreativeMarket to get a pulse on what typefaces are popular right now).
Of course, this is totally a matter of personal preference.. if you’ve already put effort into building your brand around a “business name”, there’s no reason you need to start over with a personal brand page – unless you’re feeling called to do so. Personally, I think “brand name” pages work well when you’re wanting to grow and scale a full business – maybe even to the point of being acquired. If you’re wanting to go more of the “expert route” where your name would be easily referenced and recognized as an author or speaker, etc, then the personal brand can be the way to go.
Who can start an online business?
Anyone who teaches, coaches, leads or shares their expertise in a one to one (1:1) or one to many fashion – piano teachers, speech therapists, counselors, coaches, teachers, consultants, experts of any kind and skilled service providers (your “typical” freelance jobs – writing, design, tech, coding, assistants, business managers).
What if I rep a network marketing company?
Still totally relevant. The network marketers that I’ve seen have the most success build a personal brand that’s supported by the products they represent. So it’s about YOU as the star of the show, not your product.
What are the tools I use?
I use zoom exclusively for face to face video chat. I use it to host group meetings where I answer questions and host sometimes 50-60 people at a time. I also use it for internal meetings. I love it because I can share my screen to illustrate things OR I can ask my students to share their own screens. You can choose to record the calls or set up additional features like breakout rooms or even run webinars to thousands of people – which I’ve also tested on Zoom.
Google Business Suite:
I use Google Business Suite to host my business email1. so that I can have an email that’s @alliebjerk.com (instead of gmail.com) and still uses the same interface I know and love. I’m also heavily reliant on Google Team Drive, where I’ve set up a team folder where all of my team members can access our files. (You can Google “Shared Google Drives” to find instructions on how to set this up). The folders my team uses include:
2. SOP Vault
3. Social Media
4. Products and Services
This helps keep us organized and makes link sharing within our communication super simple.
For team communication, we use Slack exclusively. We have individual channels set up including
3. Chatra (This pulls in notifications from our on-site customer service chat app – chatra or drift, we’re testing both support apps)
4. Customer Service
5. Executive Team
6. Expert Team
7. Internal Chat
9. Process Creation
10. Product Development
14. Success Coaches
15. User Experience
For quick demos and screen walkthroughs, we use Loom. I’ve personally used Loom to record step by step training materials for my team, to provide audits for my clients or demystify tricky tech setups for my students.
You can record your screen with audio & have the option to add your face in the video. (This works great for course building because people can SEE you while you’re teaching.
Loom has a free service and they are offering special pricing on paid services through July, click the link at the top of the website.
I’ve explained Voxer as a “walkie talkie app” to leave text or voicemail messages. I use this with my private coaching clients & team members to walk through more complicated questions or “talking things through”. This is even my go-to method for communicating with some of my online besties – because the digital (or quarantined) life can get lonely.
When it comes to project management, we’re back using a tool called Asana. We’ve tested others (like Trello AND Clickup) and Asana seems to be the most intuitive to understand. We can assign product due dates, track progress, and assign certain tasks to team members.
The majority of communication around group program questions from students happens within a private Facebook group. This is largely communication and coach driven, though I do pop in and answer questions as often as I can.
I use Membervault to host all of my training content. I really love Membervault for its data, gamification abilities and how easy it is to share direct links to specific lessons and modules while hosting all of my programs in one place for users who have purchased multiple items. It integrates seamlessly with other tools that I use and it’s free for up to 50 users.
Arguably, one of the most important things behind the scenes of a thriving online business is its email list. Building a list of emails people have willingly given you is one of the easiest ways to “own” your audience. When I say own your audience, I mean that Facebook could shut down your business page any time they see fit (ask me how I know) and it can be really scary to be so reliant on one platform. When you have an email list of engaged people (and hopefully buyers!), you know you always have an audience available and paying attention when you have something new to promote. Too many “offline businesses” don’t actively collect email addresses, then they rely on social media for their marketing efforts – which, again, leaves you dependent on Facebook (or whoever’s!) algorithm in hopes that your audience even SEES the thing you’re promoting. One of the best things you can do for your business is to start collecting email addresses now. Of course, I prefer to use my Tiny Offer Strategy to build an email list, but that’s a topic for a different day.
How do I get their email addresses? I use a tool like ClickFunnels to create experiences that encourage the sharing of their contact info. There’s generally an energy exchange that happens here – many people offer a free info product in exchange for their email address, but I like to sell right off the bat because I believe it holds people accountable and builds a list of people who actually buy things – which, shocker, as a business owner, sales are important to me.
This is the full stack of tools that I started with and used to grow my online business into a million-dollar company.
Our reality is shifting – by the hour – right now, and the best way to survive is to get comfortable in being uncomfortable and doing what you can within your four walls.
This is the best time ever to get clear on your online business idea and start serving those that need you – our job market may never go back to normal commutes and oversized conference tables – and maybe that’s a good thing.
Please let me know what questions you have and how I can help you get started.