I started my business, Bloss Words, with one goal in mind: to provide professional ghostwriting and editing services. But while my aim was clear, I was missing something: a proper business plan.
You could say that I ended up taking a somewhat non-traditional route.
The first thing I did was create an email address. Operating off this email for a few months helped me build courage in identifying myself as my business. Then I bought a website domain name—with literally nothing to populate it with. At this stage, I had a brand name and a digital destination.
Obviously, there was still a lot to do. Fortunately, I had some experience under my wings to guide me.
I've had the entrepreneurial spirit since I was seven years old. Me and my neighbor used to go around, knocking on doors, offering to pick up the trash in the gardens (it was not a beautiful suburbia, but rather unemployed council homes in '90s Ireland). We did this for a summer, and we had enough cash to buy sweets for ourselves.
Early in my career, I worked in customer service for two years. And, while I loved the collaborative nature of office life, it wasn't really for me. So, after that, I found a remote content specialist role at a health and wellness company. And it was this job that revealed to me that flexibility and autonomy were two things I definitely wanted in my professional life. Before I left, I was also fortunate enough to learn about SEO, lead hacking, funnels, and email marketing (which would come in handy later).
Fast-forward a bit: I was ready to strike out on my own and become a freelancer. At the start, I got various paid gigs through Upwork, which provided a good education on the business of words (proper pricing strategies, average time spent on projects, etc.).
After that, I began working with Jolly SEO as a freelancer. My job was to provide clients with high DR backlinks. Using their smart system and the online sourcing service HARO (Help A Reporter Out), I sourced high DR publications to give clients the exposure and ratings they were after.
This success made me even more determined to take ownership of my work—by forming a small business of my own. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to run my own business.
Creating an online presence
I knew that, once I had a website, I could leverage HARO to promote it. The only problem was that I didn't know much about building a website. So I decided to buy a domain name first; the rest would come later. After some Googling, I landed on name.com. Their website had the professional, premium feel I was after, so I bought it for $40 a year.
This same site offered website templates, but I still wasn't ready to commit, and I still had zero website-building skills. In the end, I settled on a compromise: I bought a simple, one-page website from name.com that would serve as a temporary substitute for the real deal. Once purchased, I customized it with a brief description of my services and a picture and, finally, it was all ready to go.
It wasn't perfect—far from it. But I finally had an online presence. And that was a start.
Using HARO to promote my business
Once my website was up and running, I began using HARO. I spent an hour every day searching queries to see if anything matched my experience and services. The pitches themselves were limited (it works mostly for C-suite executives), but I landed a few clients.
When you're just starting out, every little bit helps.
When I got my first website proofreading and editing job, I panicked. I of course accepted the contract, but how much should I charge? There's a fine line between underselling your skills and overselling them. Without a pricing structure, I had to think quickly, but I established a figure that was both fair to the customer and fitting for my professional level—and it worked.
Since sealing my first deal, I've been busy acquiring more customers. There's still a lot of learning—like how to create invoices, build income sheets, and get backlinks—but I am able to do that while I run my business, instead of waiting till I have it all figured out to start.
As you scale your small business marketing, take a look at these 4 ways to use marketing automation to grow your business.
The big takeaway I'd like to offer is that it pays to be bold. If you want to start a small business, you should. It doesn't really matter where you begin. Once you've taken the first step, you're on your way.
Buying a website for a business that doesn't yet exist might be unconventional—putting the cart before the horse, perhaps. But for me, and perhaps for you, jumping in head first has actually worked out well. If I sat there and thought about a business plan, I would still be sitting there trying to perfect it.
So be bold. Then, embrace it, rush and all.
This was a guest post from Donna Bloss, founder of Bloss Words, a professional ghostwriting service. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Check out our guidelines, and get in touch.