I'm Melissa Rodgers, recovering supermom, corporate dropout and CEO of a successful online business that I built from scratch with a baby on my hip. Through lots of trial and more error than I'd like to admit, I built a thriving company that impacts thousands of busy high achieving moms around the world- and gives me and my family a life and future that we had only dreamed of before.

I created the Self-Made Mamas Podcast to bring you step-by-step strategies and inspirational stories that will help you design a business that gives you the life you really want and the future you've been dreaming of. If you are an ambitious business mom or one in the making, you're in the right place. So... let's get to work!


5 Steps You Cannot Miss If You Want a Successful Online Business

February 1, 2022

Episode 25 of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast


Every single day, more ambitious people take their skills to the internet and start an online business. The online business space is getting more and more crowded, but I’m noticing that most of the businesses I see popping up are failing to check a few very important boxes. Without doing these things, I believe you are setting yourself up for failure. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re busy growing an existing business, you’re going to want to listen to today’s episode: 5 steps you cannot miss if you want a successful online business.


This episode of the podcast is sponsored by Thrivecart. If I could go back and make one different purchasing decision in my business, it would be to go and get Thrivecart almost immediately. It feels like a pricy investment, BUT it is a one-time payment, which means you actually save thousands of dollars over the course of a couple of years. It is also the most powerful checkout and funnel builder on the market, and using Thrivecart checkouts has 3Xed my digital product and subscription sales—because it’s easy to checkout, looks legit, and makes the buying process easy and secure for customers. Thrivecart allows you to build any kind of funnel you want, take payment at any frequency or duration you want, and will save you hours of time by allowing you to clone your most successful sales pages and checkouts.


Okay, my friends. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today, we are talking about five steps you cannot miss if you want a successful online business. I’m going to be walking you through these five steps and the reason I wanted to record this episode is because, as I mentioned, I am seeing a huge influx of people that are service providers or business owners taking their skills, experience, and education and moving into the online business space. This is completely understandable, with the pandemic and the impact that it’s had on the economy people’s working situations, particularly working parents. I think it’s a logical next step for people. What I’m seeing, though, is that the space is getting really, really crowded with all of these new brands and businesses and people launching themselves into the online business space. It’s very apparent to me when someone hasn’t done the foundational work for their business. Sometimes people get years into their business without taking these foundational steps. What they’ll find is they’ll hit a relatively low plateau that they can’t get over because this work hasn’t been done because these steps haven’t been taken.


These are the steps that I want to share with you today. These are really, really important, whether or not you are just starting out or maybe you’re more established and you’re feeling that things are a little bit slower than you would like. It’s worth going back and working through these steps to really set yourself up with a strong, solid foundation that you can really build on.


Online business context, woman sitting at table with laptop and cell phone


Pick One Person


Step one is to pick one person that you want to serve really, really well. This is perhaps the easiest and most obvious of the steps. We all know about niches. We all know that you are supposed to have an ideal client or dream client or an ICA, however you’ve been taught. I think that a lot of people gloss over this or they do some kind of surface-level work around an ideal client and then just kind of leave it alone. They would give them a label and that’s it. For example, if I was just doing sort of superficial level ideal client work for my business, I might say like, “Hey mama,” or “To the moms,” or I would just label them as moms and talk that way and just continue with my messaging, but there’s difference between just labelling your ideal client and really understanding them. 


When you’re picking that one person you want to serve really, really well, it’s really important that you have a deeper level understanding of them and the problems that they’re facing and the things they want out of their life. Barriers that have prevented them from solving their problems and also their priorities. That’s really important as well. Often, what we see is people pick a niche, an ideal client, a person that they want to serve, and they will want to solve a problem for them that is not actually that person’s priority. Or they will be pitching something to them that is just not quite valuable enough to that person for them to take action. Then that business will struggle because it’s not something that is a no-brainer for the person to buy.


Pick One Problem


That leads to the second step, which is to pick one problem that person has that you can confidently solve if they work with you.


When you gain a really deep understanding of the person you want to serve, you should have a very deep understanding of the problems that they’re facing in their life as they relate to your skills and education. I want you to pick just one problem that person has that you can confidently solve. Confidently solve. I don’t want you to identify a problem that they have. For example, let’s say a lot of moms with young kids at home have trouble making time for working out. That’s a problem they have, and I know that’s a problem they have. I cannot solve that problem for them. I’m sitting next to my Peloton right now, and there is dust on it. This is not my area of genius. Just because you’ve identified 10 or 20 problems the person has doesn’t mean that you are the one to solve all of them. Even if there are a few different ones you could solve, it doesn’t mean that you should be trying to solve all of them at once.


When you are trying to build your business to the six-figure or low multiple six-figure range, you need to be focusing on one problem. This doesn’t mean support and knowledge cannot be built into your offer in the end. It just means that when it comes to the way you’re marketing and the foundation and the core of your offers, they need to revolve around one problem. Pick one problem that your person has that you can confidently solve if they work with you. 


Online business context, woman with headphones writing in notebook in front of laptop


Pick One Platform


The next step is that I want you to pick one platform. Now, I’m going to add some disclaimers to this. What I want you to do is pick one platform to create primary content for. That doesn’t mean you’re only going to show up on one platform, because unfortunately with the way digital marketing has evolved over the last couple of years, that is no longer enough, nor is that a good strategy.


Three years ago, if you had asked me for advice about marketing on social media, I would have said to pick a platform and don’t bother with anything else. Just focus all your efforts there, and it will grow. Sadly, that is no longer the case. What I recommend now is picking one platform to focus your primary content creation efforts on and then using that content and distributing it across multiple platforms. Whether that means doing that yourself, or perhaps hiring a VA to do it or someone like that. It’s really important that your content is present in several different places. The way algorithms and the demand for content have changed the digital marketing space means that if you are not producing an insanely high volume of competitive content (as in, high quality enough to compete in the feed with all of the millions of other pieces of content that are out there) then you are going to find growth and client attraction very difficult.


I believe it’s no longer wise to have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. It’s never been completely wise. I would always caution my clients, “Build on Instagram, but you should also be building your email list just in case.” The reality is that you could have an email list of 10,000 people and only 2,000 of them open your emails. The 20-30% open rate is very common. Much like on Instagram, for example, where you can have a following of 10,000 people and only a few hundred of them will see your content. Email is similar, you just have a better reach on the people that have opted in. 


It’s really important in 2022 that we pay attention to diversifying our traffic sources and client attraction and lead attraction plan so we can algorithm-proof and market-shift-proof our marketing efforts. You want to make sure that your content is being repurposed in several places.


I’ve seen lots of people that build primarily on TikTok, then take their content and upload it to Instagram, and vice versa. I don’t believe it works quite as well. Instagram is like the less cool cousin of TikTok at this point. Understand that if you are posting your Instagram content to TikTok, it’s just not going to be received as well because it just doesn’t fit the vibe on TikTok and it’s clearly from Instagram, whereas that is not true in reverse. You can take TikTok content, and as long as you’ve removed the watermarks, you can share it to Instagram and users are so used to the formatting and the way that it looks, that it doesn’t miss a beat. Lots of people are very successful in doing that. 


Depending on the kind of business you have and your capacity for content creation, I actually suggest that you have at least one long-form piece of content at least once a month. Ideally once a week or more. For me, my long-form content is my podcast and over the last few months, I’ve not been particularly consistent with it. I’ve been having some really disruptive childcare struggles, but my littlest is going into some regular childcare starting next week. We’ll have a couple of weeks of gradual entry and our schedule will be all over the place, and then he’ll be looked after consistently so that I can get back to being consistent in my content. 


As much as you are able to, I do recommend having either a podcast or videos. I don’t think that we should be sleeping on YouTube. I’m not quite ready to do it yet, but one of my goals is to actually turn this into a video podcast and record videos of myself, recording the podcast and having it in both places. I think YouTube is up and coming. Instagram has now become searchable as well. Everything is kind of moving towards that highly searchable SEO content. TikTok has always been highly searchable. One of the things that makes it so good compared to Instagram, from a user perspective, is that if you’ve seen a video or you’ve heard of a video or a topic and you want to look it up, you literally can just search it and TikTok is so searchable that it will pull the truly relevant videos and you’ll be able to go through them. Instagram is only just doing that. Instagram historically has been terrible for searchability and they’ve relied on hashtags. 


That was a bit of a social media tangent. I want you to pick one platform to create your primary content for. It may be that you’re creating short-form content on TikTok or Instagram, and then distributing it to Pinterest, your email list, you’re doing a little write-up about it. Or maybe you’re starting with your long-form content. Maybe you’re writing a blog post or recording a YouTube video or podcast, and then you are creating short-form content out of that one piece of long-form content. However you do it, I want you to pick one platform to be your primary platform and then develop a way to distribute that elsewhere.


Position Yourself as an Authentic Authority


Step four: Position yourself as an authentic authority in your space and earn trust by showing up to serve consistently. So…what the hell does authentic authority mean? In my opinion, this means that you have knowledge, you have experience, you have ability, and you have empathy. If you do not have those things within your niche, then you are not an authentic authority in your space. 


You need to have knowledge, obviously—you shouldn’t be selling something you don’t have significant knowledge about. You should have experience. You shouldn’t be selling services or digital products that you do not have experience getting results with or getting results through. Of course, you should have an ability. Ideally, we’re not starting a business based on something that we’re really bad at. We’re starting a business based on something we’re really good at. There needs to be ability there. There also needs to be empathy. I think there needs to be an understanding of the person that you are selling to and true empathy for their position and their problems and the barriers they are facing. You can have knowledge and experience and ability and if you don’t have true empathy for the person you’re trying to serve, it’s going to come through in your content and your marketing and people are not going to feel compelled to buy from you. I think that’s missing from a lot of businesses.


Often we’ll see an average Jane Doe starting a business. She is averagely resourced—middle-class, just a normal person living in a normal house, normal suburb. She starts a business from home. Maybe she has little kids at home. Maybe her kids are at school, but it’s not like she has tens of thousands of dollars to put into the startup. That’s typically the big pull to an online business, right? The overhead to start is almost non-existent. You need social media, maybe a website, a few things like that. It’s not hard to get into, the barrier is very low. However, what I often see is people that are very well-resourced starting businesses and using their wealth and their lifestyle as marketing. People don’t usually like that. It does work in some cases, but for the most part, I believe that consumers are too savvy for that. One of the reasons it doesn’t land most of the time is because those people often actually lack empathy for the person they’re trying to serve. 


Let’s say you are a life coach who helps people stop drinking. That’s your niche and your marketing is based on the idea that when you stop drinking, you will have all of this incredible success and things will be amazing for you. Your life will be so much better, you’ll weigh less, you’ll be healthier, your skin will be clear, your relationship will be better, and you’ll be richer. Everything will be amazing. You are living this beautiful, abundant life because you are a person of means, and you’re able to flash that all over the internet and blah, blah, blah. Except you have never actually struggled with alcohol, you’ve just learned about how to help people with it. Or maybe you don’t even know anyone in your immediate presence who has struggled with alcohol and you’re marketing to people who are struggling with drinking but you haven’t been there or witnessed it. You are so beyond it, so above it, that you don’t actually have any true empathy for it. That can be felt in your marketing. 


People know when the energy is off. People know when you don’t actually get them. That’s why empathy is such an important ingredient when it comes to positioning yourself as an authentic authority because people can feel and sense the energy of someone who is just looking out for themselves, who doesn’t particularly care about the person they’re serving and just sees them as a paycheck. That’s very apparent and especially as the space gets more and more crowded, you cannot go into a business if you do not empathize with the person that you are trying to sell to in your business because there’s too much competition. There are too many options. People are not interested in having salesy, aspirational stuff rammed down their throat anymore. There’s too much of it. It may work a little bit. People are obviously drawn to flash and wealth and luxury and things like that. It may work to an extent, but I think it’s kind of an empty shell that you’re building your business on and not an actual strong foundation. Businesses are built on relationships. Relationships require empathy and a successful business in the online business space requires you to have that as well as knowledge, experience and ability in your niche.


Online business context, woman writing on tablet at desk with laptop


Price to Pay Yourself


Step number five is to price yourself in a way that pays you for all of the time that you put into your business. I’m going to dig into this one a little bit. When we start businesses (I’m talking about an online business where you’re monetizing your skills or you’ve developed a digital product, something like that) we often price our services and digital products for the delivery of the service or the product. We don’t price our products and services for everything that has gone into that delivery. This is a mistake that I 100% made in the early years of my business. Even when I first started coaching, I would just charge for my time. I didn’t really grasp this concept. 


At this point, I’ve coached hundreds of women, and the more I analyze the data that we have in The Society and I look at where people are getting stuck or where people may be heading towards burnout, the more I’ve observed what’s going on in the online space I realized that most of us when starting out, are not pricing our work in a way that pays us for all the time we put into our business. As a result, we get paid for the clients that we secure and the products that we sell, and then the other 75% of the time that we’re putting into our business is unpaid. This is unsustainable. 


Think about what it’s like when you pay a professional for something. Let’s say you are paying a therapist $200 an hour for a session. You’re not actually paying them $200 for their time. You are paying them for the 6 or 7 years of post-secondary education and practicum and hands-on learning and experience that has gone into them being equipped to lead that session with you and to help you with whatever problems you are bringing to the session. When we pay for things, we’re not just paying for the item or the service. I think the fast consumerism economy has really contributed to this mindset for a lot of us. The reality is that when someone is buying a service or a product from your business, they are buying a piece of your knowledge, experience, and effort from your business. You need to price yourself in such a way that you are compensated for all the time you’re putting into your business. That will allow you to always have the time and effort to put into your business and be well-resourced enough to continue to do that over time so your business can grow. 


For example, let’s say you are a life coach only charging for your time, and you charge a hundred dollars an hour. If you were trying to bring in $5,000 a month, you have to book enough calls to add up to $5,000 a month, which is 50 calls, an average of about 12 calls a week. You’re spending 12 hours on zoom or in session in your office every single week. You are getting paid for those 12 hours, but in order to secure those clients to have those 50 calls every month (which is a lot of calls) you have to spend another 30 hours marketing and doing operational things for your business and all the things that go into lead acquisition for your business, having your website done, all of these expenses that contribute to actually getting the clients, and you’re not getting compensated for those.


I think we all think that’s normal. I certainly did when I first started my business. I’ve come to realize that the secret to having a sustainable business right from the start is to price yourself in a way where you are compensated for all of that, and it’s not a bad thing to do so. All of that effort, time, money, experience, and education that is going into your business, has value and you should be compensated for it. 


That’s a big mindset shift and perhaps the most important step on this list. A big mindset shift I had to make and one that I’m working with all of my clients at the moment is making sure that you are being compensated appropriately. When I say appropriately, I mean in a way that makes your business sustainable to run. Not just in a way that you think is affordable or right for your customer. Obviously, there are market caps depending on who you’re serving. There is kind of a max to how much you can charge in certain spaces, but for the most part, pricing is very variable and the sky’s the limit.


While that doesn’t mean that you should be charging $30,000 for some kind of low value, low ticket offer, it does mean that there is probably a lot of wiggle room in what you are charging to cover the time that you’re putting into your marketing and operations and business expenses you are carrying in order to keep going. I think this is really the secret to having a profitable online business right from the early days so you have the resources you need at your disposal to put back into your business, to put back into yourself and your life, so it’s sustainable and scalable. 


That’s what I’m going to leave you with today. If you liked this episode, make sure you take a screenshot, share it to your stories, tag me, let me know you’re listening to it. Let me know what you thought, I’d love to hear from you, and I will see you next time.


Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast. You can find more information about working with us at theselfmademama.com or connect with us on Instagram at @selfmademama_. I can’t wait to chat.


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