Cast your mind back to the beginning of this year (2020). If someone would’ve said that in a few months, all schools would be closed. And that you’d be restricted from leaving the house, except for essential purposes, you probably wouldn’t have believed them, right? I wouldn’t have either.
But, as we know, this is now our reality. How we work, do business, and live has radically changed as we can’t connect with people in person at the moment. And since this is our current way of life (for an indefinite amount of time), how do we make the most out of this situation? What tools and strategies can we use to earn income, build our businesses, and connect with the people who need what we offer?
We do it by going virtual. By harnessing the power of the internet to connect with people and reach them right where they are: at home.
But for this to work, you need to create a well-crafted strategy. And today, I’m giving you the framework for that strategy. I’m sharing five things you can do to digitize your business so you can profit and thrive in the virtual economy.
What does it mean to digitize your business? It’s taking whatever it is that you do (services, products, training, speaking, etc.) and bringing them to an online setting so that you can connect with your customer.
I’ve distilled this into a framework I call the five Ps:
I’ll break down each of the Ps in the framework, but for Part 1 of this series, I’m giving you an overview. Let’s start with the first P: Product.
1. Create or convert your product into digital form
We’re going to explore how to take your product(s) and put them in digital form. Of course, if you sell shippable, physical products, you need a platform to sell them on and a payment processor, to accept payments. We’ll be going over both of those today and later in this series.
But what if your product isn’t physical? What if you offer a service such as speaking, coaching, training or another offer where you provide valuable information, guidance, or inspiration to share? These services can be digitized. And that’s what we’ll dive into during this series. Note: please check that what you’re creating and sharing isn’t restricted by legal/financial/medical licensing bodies.
Here are four common digital formats for your product:
You can create simple digital images that people save, download, or print. Think about well-designed posters with inspiring quotations and phrases. Now you can create these in digital form. You can also put them in printable form and sell them on platforms like etsy.com.
You’ve probably seen images like these when scrolling on social media. They’re simple text with a background picture. You can make them with an easy-to-use program like PicMonkey or Canva or Snappa.
Video is effective and popular for several reasons:
• People want to connect with people, and videos are a powerful means of connection. People get to see and hear you. It encourages familiarity.
• There are so many uses for video. Once recorded, you can take the video and do different things with it. You can put it on various platforms (like YouTube and Vimeo). You can take clips from it and post to Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Another thing you can do with video is to use the audio file from the video to create a third type of content in digital form.
Audio works especially well if you’re a speaker, coach, or trainer. You can record audios that inspire, instruct, inform, motivate, and build connection.
It’s a common and convenient product format. One of the reasons audio format is popular is because people can consume audio content on-the-go. So, whether they’re in their car or doing things around the house, they can be listening. Audio content is also great because people can put headphones in and they won’t disturb anyone around them while listening to the content.
Writing is a powerful way to connect with people. It’s also a great alternative to video and audio; although those formats have their advantages, some people prefer to read instead of watch and listen.
You can publish fresh content to a blog. If you’re an author, for example, you can start putting teasers to book chapters on your blog. This will get people interested in your content before the books get published.
If you don’t have a blog, you can also publish articles on LinkedIn or write articles as a guest blogger on someone else’s website.
Don’t be intimidated by the various formats (audio vs video vs images vs writing). Instead, think of the variety as an opportunity for you to choose and use the format(s) you’re best at, and the one you most enjoy working with. Also, consider what you have ease of access to right now. Start with where you are, and don’t complicate the process.
2. Use a platform to deliver your product(s)
A platform is the digital space where you’ll put your products. A website is best. For a website, you need to purchase a domain (website name) and hosting (a service required to host your website on the internet). If you Google search for either, you’ll see you have many options. Most companies sell both so that you purchase both the domain and the hosting from one place. You do need to have both for a functioning website that people can visit.
I advocate having your own website because if you just have a social media account where you promote your products and connect with your audience, you don’t own that account. So, if, say, Instagram changes their policies or your account gets deactivated (or hacked), you could potentially lose your audience and all your work on that platform.I’ve seen countless Instagram influencers and Facebook rockstars in tears because their accounts got hacked or deactivated. Save yourself that nightmare.
Your own website is also a place people can bookmark and keep coming back, versus trying to find you somewhere on social media where your competitors are.
But if you absolutely cannot build your own website (on WordPress.org, for example). And you can’t get anyone to build one for you, another way to quickly get a platform up and running is to use social media temporarily. For example, you can create a Facebook page, where you can share your offer. You can also use features like Facebook Lives to drum up engagement and spread the word about your products and services. As we already mentioned, this is not a good long-term solution, but may work for right now.
3. Set up your payment processing
How will people pay you for your product?
My preferred way of doing this is to integrate the payment system into my Website. Two tools that allow you to that quickly are Stipe and Square. If you don’t have technical knowledge to do this yourself, ask your web developer to do it.
If you don’t have a web developer to help you, here are a few options that are easier to handle on your own:
4. Promote your product and your message
Promotion is about marketing, how you’re getting the word out about what you’re doing. Letting people know how you can help them.
As you’re creating your content, also create promotional messages. For instance, you’re creating a video recording of a training. You can take a clip of the video and use it as promotional material. You can post it on your social media. Put that on your website, if you have one. Email it to people who you feel like you can connect with. Or let’s say you don’t want to do a video, you want to do audio or images, the same thing. Post them to your social networks, send an email. Get the word out. People need to know you’re out there and that you can help them. But they’ll only find out if you make the effort.
5. Produce and deliver (consistently)
Now that you have your product in digital form, you must produce. You’ve got to deliver.
So, let’s say you sold a coaching package. What now? How is the package delivered to the client? Will you do calls on the phone or a combination of phone and email? If it’s phone, are you calling them or are they calling you? How often? You need to be clear on these details.
When you produce, you’re simply delivering on the things that the person purchased. You must put systems in place to deliver on what you’ve sold. Things don’t have to be set in stone, you can change them as you progress, but you need a basic roadmap of the logistics, pieces and parts of how you connect and deliver to your purchasers.
So, that’s the 5 P’s:
Now that you have a framework for providing value and earning income in this virtual economy, what will you do next?
You must take action. It’s one thing to consume information, it’s another to implement. I encourage you today, right now, to start planning your steps. Review this guide as many times as needed and take notes. Create an outline for what you will do next, and then after that. Your plan will change, but you need to first have a basic plan, an idea of where you’re going and what you need to do next. Then take action. Start your research, if need be, sign up/download the first tools you need. Create a rough outline of emails you will send or social media messages you’ll create. Do something!
Every week this month, I’ll be digging deeper into each of the five Ps, so stay tuned.
You’ve been hit with major life challenges, but you’re not alone. Together, we can survive and thrive. Let’s do this!