Stopping the Feast or Famine Cycle
I’m going to start by making you question why you clicked on this article — but bear with me…Ready?
Steady isn’t always possible in Online Business.
Not in the way you think about that word at least. The nature of online business means your income will not arrive on the same day at the same time every month, like it does when you’re working for someone else. Even when I doubled my previous corporate income in my first full year of freelancing — it was nowhere near steady. But that’s okay.
It’s not actually steady that we need when working for ourselves…it’s consistent.
More importantly, consistent enough. I mean, sometimes we’ll make more than we “need” in 1 month and in another we’ll just cover our business and living expenses. What matters is not earning less than we need to cover our costs and living expenses on average.
The Rule of 7
Have you heard of the Rule of 7? Essentially, the idea is that your clients need to come in contact with you about of 7 times before buying or reaching out. People are just more comfortable buying from someone they know. Think about it: you’re more likely to buy when you know the person or when someone you trust has referred the person, right?
You need to help people get to know you.
If you’re consistent with a few effective actions in your business, people will get to know you quickly and arrive sooner at that “magic” 7. So the more people who know, like and trust you, the more often your services will get booked.
The Rule of 7 has proven true for my business. Besides referrals, the majority of my clients have been on my list for several months, are regular readers of my blog or have seen my name pop up on social media over and over. I know, because they tell me.
The key to consistent income is…consistent action
Regardless of how busy you are, you need to stay consistent to earn consistent income. Remember, it’s highly unlikely potential clients will contact you after their first visit to your website. You need to give them a reason (and reminders!) to come back, and show them why they should buy from you.
4 Steps to turn Consistent Action into Consistent Income
1. CONSISTENT EMAIL MARKETING
If you want to get to the magic 7 and consistent income as fast as possible then showing up regularly in your potential clients’ inboxes — and solving their problems — is the best way to get their attention. (More on how to get into their inbox, below.)
Given the millions of tweets and Facebook posts — and the limited number of in-person networking opportunities — email remains the only place you can be readily seen consistently.
How to ensure your email newsletter is helping you move towards consistent enough income.
Have a freebie (or opt in) to entice sign ups
There’s no getting around it, giving something away in exchange for someone’s email is the best way to get into their inbox. Some well-known people online don’t need a freebie because they can trade on their reputation alone but if your list of email subscribers is small or non existent, you will see a huge difference in the number of signups if you have an opt-in gift.
Make this freebie obvious in your web design
Don’t just let it blend in somewhere in your footer. Do a feature box, put it right in the header, embed it between content on your About page, etc. Make it obvious. Make it important. My homepage feature box is the #1 place people sign up — it works.
Create an opt-in page just for your freebie — no menu, header sidebar, etc.
If that seems like a lot of work (or you don’t know how to set these things up), you can always use the opt-in page given to you by your email list service. This allows you to link directly to it without having to say, “Sign up in the sidebar of my website!” (where visitors will inevitably get distracted by other things).
Share your opt-in page regularly on social media. Schedule recurring tweets and Facebook posts linking directly to your opt-in page.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Your clients’ inboxes are already maxed out with emails. The easiest emails to ignore are marketing ones from someone they don’t really remember.
Setting a schedule means deciding how often, and on what day you will send an email, and doing that like clockwork. That way you won’t be at the top of people’s “delete immediately” list simply because they don’t remember you.
Need email newsletter ideas?
You could send:
- a little note and a link to your most recent blog post
- an entire blog post
- helpful tips and tools you know your current and prospective clients need
- a list of interesting things you’ve found online recently that will help them solve a problem related to your services.
Why this turns into consistent income:
- You are able to build your credibility over time so people trust your opinion more and more with each email.
- It is much more likely your marketing promotions will actually get seen (you are in their inbox after all)
- You stay top of mind when your client is ready to purchase.
- Your potential clients don’t have to go looking for you, you show up right where they are.
2. CONSISTENT BLOGGING
Even if you’re a writer (by passion or trade), blogging consistently can seem like quite a burden. But it can also be an incredibly powerful marketing tool, if you do it right.
Blogging consistently is important because many other successful marketing tactics depend on it (social media, email marketing, etc). You don’t just want to be on social media to get people to like you, you want them to visit your site. So you’ve got to give them interesting links to check out, like helpful blog posts.
You won’t be as successful at the other marketing efforts without regular blog posts.
How to ensure your blog is helping you move towards consistent enough income.
Blog about topics that show your expertise and solve your readers’ problems
The #1 blogging mistake business owners make is creating content for their colleagues or friends — not for their customers. If you are using your blog to grow your business, you need to be solving problems for your potential customers. Show them you are the expert and that you have the answers to their problems, and they’ll be more likely to hire you when they’re ready for your services.
Optimize your blog posts
Make sure your readers will stick around your site for a while and come back for more. You can do this by: linking to other relevant posts you’ve written, within each blog post you create; using a plugin to show related posts; and showing your most popular topics in your sidebar. Just make sure you have an opt-in form at the bottom of each post to get people on your email list.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Whether once a month or once a week, decide how often you will blog and make it mandatory. The more blog posts you have, the more people will find you via Google and the more helpful stuff people will find once they land on your site.
Why this turns into consistent income
- It gives people a reason to come back to your site.
- It gives prospective clients the chance to ask you into in their inbox.
- It proves to your readers you have the solutions to their problems.
- It gives you something to share and talk about on social media regularly.
- It brings new people into your sphere through search results.
3. CONSISTENT OVER DELIVERY
Referral business is the most powerful business so you want to make your clients incredibly happy — then they can’t resist spreading the (good!) word about you.
Here are a few ways to ensure your clients will help you move towards consistent enough income.
Raise your prices
Make sure you are pricing your services with enough breathing room to feel confident going above and beyond for clients and not end up resentful. I know raising prices is tough. But feeling good about the money you are making is the first step in feeling confident about treating your clients like royalty. And happy clients mean more referrals…and more consistent income over time.
Streamline your process
Make the experience of working with you as easy as possible with streamlined and automated systems. Have a clear welcome and goodbye package and use online software for call scheduling, contract signatures and project management. Make your clients’ life easier…and yours will be too.
Surprise and delight
Add in some extra services that take you very little time but you know your client will appreciate. For example, a Twitter bio if you’re a copywriter, a Facebook header if you’re a web designer, a week’s worth of social media posts if you’re a VA. Send a thank you gift or card, follow up with them regularly after work is complete and share their stuff on social media.
Why this turns into consistent income
When people love the work you’ve done for them, the more likely they are to become your advocate (sharing your blog posts, referring you to others, etc.) and they will bring people into your sphere and get them closer to the magic 7.
4. CONSISTENT SOCIAL
Showing up on social media does not mean simply having accounts and posting links to your stuff. In fact, it’s not about promotion at all. It’s about being visible. Because Visible = memorable.
The more often you show up, the more likely someone will think of your name when they need the services you provide or when they see someone else needing your services.
How do you show up without promoting yourself?
Be of service.
- Answer questions without linking to your website.
- Share tips and tricks, just because.
- Share stories people can learn from.
- Offer to give away 30 minutes to answer questions on your topic.
Why this turns into consistent income
- Social media is flooded with promotional posts that people ignore. Being of service helps you stand out.
- The more memorable you are, the easier it is for people to seek out your services.
- The more consistently you serve, the more likely people will be to recommend you to their friends, even if they haven’t worked with you themselves.
These are just 4 areas where you can be consistent in order to have consistent income. If these are not for you, try something else. The most important thing is consistency.
So now it’s time to decide:
- which things you will focus on and be über consistent with.
- how consistent you will be (e.g. create a new blog post weekly, give 10 minutes’ free tips in Facebook groups daily, send 2 newsletters monthly)
Put those actions in your calendar, and stick to ‘em!
If you’ve read through this and are thinking, “Maaann…I was hoping for a magic solution to have steady income starting now!” — here’s the most important thing you need to learn:
You can have a thriving, consistent online business, with income beyond your wildest dreams. But it does take time and effort. The more consistent you are, the sooner it will happen. So stop looking for an overnight magic solution and start taking consistent action.
The things you choose to be consistent about change over time. In my case, because I was consistent with blogging and email marketing, I’ve built up enough happy clients that give me referral work. I can now choose to be consistent in other areas of my business instead of blogging.
So if you’re thinking now about how hard it seems to blog (for example) on a regular schedule at all, let alone forever, remember this isn’t necessarily forever. You will see over time which efforts work best for you, what is needed and how often, and you will adjust accordingly. But there will be nothing to adjust if you don’t start.
You don’t have to live in a feast or famine cycle.
Consistent income is possible with consistent actions.