Perhaps many of you are familiar with the saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, yet having a balance between your work and your personal time seems like mission impossible for those of us with jobs, especially those running their own business.
When it comes to working and taking yourself on a memorable journey, everyone wants to kill two birds with one stone in spite of it being easier said than done. However, the likes of Chris Osborne, the founder Of Founders Grid* can prove that this is achievable.
Founders Grid is an online community for technology knowledge-sharing and Osborne is also one of the hottest travel bloggers cum entrepreneurs in the world that has the expertise on how to embrace the joys of traveling while managing a successful career.
I was honored to have him as one of my webinar speakers, sharing about the challenges he faced, the solutions he adopted, and the business tools he recommended for all those start-ups in the field of online business.
The most common misconception that people made about his job and lifestyle that he was travelling more than working, yet this was totally untrue. In fact, Chris just like any other entrepreneur and works approximately 10 hours a day. The only difference between those white collars and him is that he does not work in a fixed office on a day-to-day basis.
To be frank, he admitted that one of the challenges to working while he is traveling is getting the work done. In general, when people go to a new place, they are excited, so that they tend to go exploring discover new things., food hunting, meet new people and so on and so forth. In this case, the hardest is actually sitting down and getting the work done on time.
To break the myth of the travel entrepreneur Chris used his 9 years of experience to learn from. He realised that adjusting his working mode to whatever the environment he was in and at the same time mastering the work-life balance was vital. Therefore, what he did when going to places that offered cheap living like Laos or Myanmar, was that he would spend longer time there, of around 4-6 weeks to work and then spend a shorter time of 1-2 weeks in busy places like New York or Germany to seek some peace of mind. He cited a trip where he stayed at a hotel which cost USD 20 per night at the border of Thailand to complete his work.
Do you have an interest in starting an online business but don’t know what to do to start it off? For those who have this problem, Chris recommends that the first step to start an online business is, to begin with writing a personal blog.
A personal blog is a useful and effective platform for knowledge sharing. which is why blogging has become such a trend and why there are so many bloggers mushrooming. A good personal blog is able to make people out there know who you are, what you want them to understand, and why your words matter.
Furthermore, a personal blog can bring you the business opportunities which you never thought you would get. In Chris’s case, he posted his travel journals, the photographs he took during his journeys, and some occasional videos he shot on to his personal blog** and he saw that his subscribers were increasing drastically.
He started receiving e-mails from followers as well. It gave him an idea to set up a forum for followers to discuss his blog post about his travel experiences. With the increasing number of followers in the forum, he was able to start his very own online business platform, Founders Grid.
After getting started. you should bear in mind that an important factor of succeeding in the technology-based online business is to develop your own premium member area. A premium member area refers to a group of people who are engaging thoroughly with you. The larger the premium member area, the stronger your business is.
Simply saying, what you should do in order to expand your premium member area is to get your audience to trust you, make then willing to learn from you and constantly show their loyalty to you. There are 2 strategies of expanding the premium member area which have been tested by Chris in his own business and the results turned out pretty good.
The first strategy is having unique content on your website. If your content is worthy, people are actually willing to pay large amounts of money for it. To cite an example, a friend of Chris named James owns his own online business, JamesSuckling.com, and it is all about wine. He travelled a lot to China and is very knowledgeable when it comes to everything on wine. As a result, a big group of people seek out his knowledge and are even willing to pay for his expertise regarding wine.
When you think of what to write about on your blog, do not be afraid of being too specific or focusing on a niche subject. Find whatever you are really knowledgeable on, and start blogging about it. If you think that writing is not your style of expressing thought, instead of forcing yourself to write something. you can take some photographs, design some infographics, draw some illustrations or shoot some videos, as long it is related to what you want to talk about.
The second strategy of developing a premium member area is specifically useful when you are just a start-up, which is inviting new members for free. You open up a premium area on your website, offer 1,000 vacancies for free sign up then send e-mails to invite your subscribers or followers. With more people joining in, your connection expands and it will attract even more members for you as well as build the reputation of your business. The revenue is not the main focus at this starting point but after your existing premium member area gets stronger and is more stable, the future members will contribute to your revenue.
Despite the strategies, using the right business tools is also crucial to managing your online business. There are various online resources available in the market for start-ups to use as business tools. Building a website is the first and foremost step to take for starting an online business, but honestly, you may not know how to set up a website. For your guidance, Chris has listed down the business tools you needed and the choices selected by him step by step.
It is the first thing you will have to purchase. Although many resources are available, there are two choices considered as the best among the rest, Namecheap and GoDaddy. There isn’t a big difference when comparing these two, but the user interface of Namecheap is batter than GoDaddy. However, it does cost you a bit more.
The next thing you need to purchase is a server, also called a web hosting plan. Unlike the domain, there are many companies offering a web hosting plan and most do not differ much. Media Temple is the recommended choice even though its price is higher than others. It’s worth it because you will want to ensure that your website can run smoothly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus, you can choose to purchase discount packages that offer better deals the longer you use.
3. CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)
In other words, it is a blogging service provider. You definitely need a CMS to open up your blog. WordPress is the most convenient and easiest in terms of using methods among the rest of the same products. It is open, free and now has the largest number of users. The advantage of using WordPress is that it allows you to link your blog to your server. For example, when you bought the web hosting plan from Media Temple, you can ask them to link it with your blog from WordPress.
4. THEMES & LOGO
When you get a blog, you will need a pleasant design for your blog. You can search for free theme templates on Google, but those are not always suitable. If you want to recruit a web designer to help you, it can cost you an arm and a leg. Thus, Envato Market is your best bet. It offers thousands of well-designed themes that you can apply to WordPress and the prices are affordable and you can purchase one for around USD40. In comparison to a web designer or web developer that can cost up to USD2000, Envato Market is a much more economical way to go.
The same thing goes to the logo design. Instead of spending about a month to come up with a logo, you can search for nicely designed logo templates also from Envato Market. You can select the design you want and then purchase it to use as your own logo. The price will be around USD30. It is quick, easy, and affordable.
Assuming that you do not have any idea on managing the web design or logo design, you can choose to outsource. Odeskwork has a large number of talented graphic designers that can do you the favour. You post your job onto the website, list down the job description, qualifications and skills required, and the payment method as well as your budget. You will receive hundreds of responses from all over the world within 12 hours.
A little tip given by Chris is when you use the payment method, always go for fixed price instead or hourly basis; because you may face the problem of a designer that drags the progress of your work in order to get higher pay. There is also another outsourcing website — Fiverr. If you compared the two, both perform the same function, the only difference being that they have a different group of designers.
6. COMMUNITY & FORUM BUILDING
After settling your design issues, you have to start focusing on community and forum building. NING is what Chris recommended as he himself was using it for his own business. NING helps you form a system to manage your business’ community. When someone wants to join your forum, you can give them a link and then connect them to the existing community via the link.
7. PROJECT MANAGEMENT
When you start to create a new project or manage several projects at the same time, you would then certainly need a systematic management tool. Trello and Asana would fit your needs well. With its help, you can have up to 10 projects on-the-go and keep on track with each and every project. It allows you and all the people who are involved in the project to be location-free when carrying out tasks. It also helps you to check the progress of projects easily.
8. EMAIL MARKETING INFORMATION SAVING
Quality email marketing benefits you in engaging with members. Mailchimp organises all your emails and contacts, makes the process of sending emails to your members much more convenient and systematic. Pocket offers you a large memory space to save all essential information. For example, if you want to forward some reading pieces to your members. you can save it in the “pocket” and after that, you can use it whenever you want.
*Currently FoundersGrid has been acquired by Smash.VC
Written by: Evanna Phoon is the founder of www.FounderMethod.com, Malaysia’s largest online webinar for the business community. To subscribe and get regular updates on her FREE Training, drop your email at FounderMethod.com.
This article was first published on 16 January 2018.
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