[:en]Last Thursday evening, I attended a seminar by the Estonian Female Investors’ club, titled “Location-independent business.” Krista Teearu, who has by now become a good acquaintance, agreed to talk about her experience.
Krista told us how she built up her “Cloud Office” and also gave examples of clients who now make up to six-figure sum incomes a month. Yes, it is indeed possible, a six-figure income, without having to be grounded in a certain place or bothering yourself with working in a team. You can work from wherever you wish – “From Hiiumaa (Estonian Island) to the Canary islands or Vietnam,” as Krista put it.
Krista also said that her income is stable. With her accounting services, she makes about 2000 euros monthly (Which is pretty high salary in Estonia!). By selling E-books, she makes about 5000 euros per year. “It’s so good. You wake up in the morning, check your bank balance and see that someone’s given you some money again. It’s great!” Krista says.
So how is it possible to have a location-independent business? Krista offered several possibilities. In essence, it is business as usual, which means that you’re selling something. There are three types of things one can sell:
– A material product
– An electronic product
– A service
A material product can be a handicraft product, which you yourself sell on Etsy. It could also be a cardigan for a terrier that you sell as a niche product on Amazon. During our discussion, the thought occurred that even if you don’t have your own product thought out yet, you can still sell products. Let’s say you’ve found a sports bag that you really like. To make product your own, make some design changes, put your logo on it and you’ll have a product to sell on Amazon.
In the context of location-independent business, you can, for example, sell products by commissioning production from China and they will send it straight to Amazon’s inventory in the US. This is called Dropshipping. The only thing you would need for this is a good computer and a fast internet connection.
A side note from Krista – “If you have a sale business in the internet and you order your product from China, your markup should be at least 200%, otherwise it wouldn’t pay off. There are many extra fees and taxes that are added in the process. So if the cost of your product is 4 euros, for example, you’ll need to sell it for at least 12 euros.
An electronic product can be an informational product, as I call them, or an e-book, a mobile app or a video training course. That’s one of the fields that Krista makes her passive income from. She has written four e-books that bring her income every day without her having to work on them or having to do actual physical work at all. At the moment, Krista is working on a video training course that belongs to a slightly higher price range than her books and will most likely bring her even more passive income.
There are also possibilities for business here even if you don’t have your own informational product. This means that you can make your profit on an affiliate fee. Or as it’s better known in Estonia, a commission fee – that means you sell other peoples’ electronic products.
For example, you can recommend someone’s book on your blog and if a person clicks the direct link on your blog and buys the book, you’ll make a small commission fee from the sale of that book.
Services can be divided into two groups. You can offer professional services that do not require physical presence, such as accounting, as Krista knows well, or web design. Another way is to offer services related to online business, such as internet marketing or niche accounting services (for people trading on Amazon, for example), copywriting, ghostwriting, etc.
And again, you don’t actually need a service of your own that you’re really good at. You can make an affiliate fee selling other peoples’ services. If I wrote about online marketing in my blog and used Mailchimp as my e-mail management application, I would make a small affiliate fee from every person who came from my blog and that registered as a paid user of Mailchimp (or I would have if Mailchimp offered such options at the moment. They have a slightly different system now, but this was just an example anyway).
How does location-independent business work?
In essence your job would be project management and marketing. With marketing, you again have two options:
– Something I call content marketing, although Krista prefers “Authority Marketing”
– Paid advertising
With Content marketing, you create valuable content for your blog’s readers by giving information in a field that you know well. You write about something that is a passion of yours and which you are still learning something new about every day. By providing free and valuable information, you generate traffic for your homepage. That of course depends on the assumption that the topics you write about turn up in search engines and that you post links to your work in internet forums (if there are any) or Facebook groups. If you are up for the very un-Estonian task of selling yourself on the internet.
As a side note, the topic you write about has to be something you really like and are passionate about, because keeping an updated bog requires consistency and discipline, especially when starting out. If you start writing about a topic you’re not really interested in, then you won’t have the motivation to keep writing.
Through content marketing, you essentially create an image of yourself as an expert in your field and therefore generate trust in people. Besides, there’s the well- known international saying that if you have read ten different books on a given field, you are more aware of it than 90% of people.
One other thing about content marketing is that if you give valuable information to the Estonian public, you actually have a good chance to become an expert in your subject in the space of a year. Blogging is simply not that widespread in Estonia yet and people thirst for information, especially beginners – take this as a small hint as to whom to direct your content towards. In regards to content, it is important to offer people information they actually need. To know more about what kind of information people search for, I suggest using the Google Keyword tool. It will help you to find words and phrases that people in your field search for.
If you want to provide content to an international audience, it would be wiser to write about a very specific topic. For example, Kristi Saare demonstrated that her blog comes up when searching for topics on investing in social banking. Very few people write about this topic here.
When you have generated enough trust in people, they will be ready to buy from you, and as I like to tell my clients, people who have reached you through content marketing are ready to pay more for your products or services. In their eyes, you’re an expert in your field and have already given them something very valuable.
Kristi also brought out some very interesting statistics:
96% of people use free products
4% buy something
0,4% buy more expensive products, but they are the ones who will generate half your income.
As is true for investing, with content marketing, it’s important to put together a portfolio of what kinds of services you offer for your business. You can add, for example:
– informational products
– advertising (in your blog)
– affiliate fees
What do you need to start?
With a location-independent business, you don’t need large investments, other than your time. All you need to start is:
– a domain (a .com domain costs about 8.80€ per year, for an .ee domain, it’s about 11€ per year)
– web hosting (I recommend Zone, which is 6.60€ per month, including VAT)
– a WordPress theme (some are free, some cost from 10€ to 100€. I use and recommend the Avada theme)
– an e-mail management app (I use Mailchimp, which is free for up to 2000 contacts)
As the first step, register your domain and publish your homepage. You should preferably use WordPress, because it works well and has many additional widgets and plugins to aid your marketing efforts. It also has an extensive user base and developer support, so there’s little chance of it failing on you anytime soon.
A homepage is your face on the internet. This is what you represent yourself with. With content marketing (starting with blogging), you generate visitor traffic to your page and have the chance to introduce yourself. On your homepage you should have:
– a blog
– a mailing list (opt-in)
– an introduction of your services
– an introduction to your informational products
– social media links
– in addition to Krista’s list above, I’d add an introduction section. People will want to know who the person behind the business is.
When publishing a homepage, think about its purpose:
– joining a mailing list
– referral to purchasing or ordering a service
– raising awareness by boosting traffic through content marketing
– your representation on the internet (including search engine discoverability)
– the opportunity for your fans to share information about you and your content
As a marketing recommendation, design your homepage to fulfill its primary purpose. In the example of an opt-in, there has to be a clear plea on the page (a call to action) to join your mailing list. This would increase your contact list and remind a much larger group of people about yourself.
To a mailing list you can send:
– an autoresponder (a series of automated letters) to all new subscribers. With Krista, it is a five-part “101 of entrepreneurship” course, or in my case, a one stop marketing plan video course.
– notifications about new posts and articles
– sales information for new products
– other advertisements and news
A mailing list in an important thing to have, because this is (along with a home page) the only marketing channel on the internet that you have complete control over. For example, on Facebook or some other social media site, you don’t have control over how many people actually see the information you provide. These channels ask for more and more money to spread your message. With a mailing list, you know exactly who and to how many people you publish your information to. In addition, you’ll receive clear feedback on who read your mail and clicks on the links therein.
Krista has had her blog on the Cloud Office for almost 3 years. Her monthly traffic on the Cloud Office is between 8000 and 12 000 visitors.
Her mailing list has over 3000 contacts.
In the Cloud Office, she offers:
Free: a blog with hundreds of articles
Cheap: four e-books
Moderately priced: A video training course – in production
Expensive: accounting services
Krista spends around 10 hours of her time a week working on the Cloud Office
A big thank you to Krista and Kristi for sharing their experiences.
I wish you all success and persistence in creating content and good luck in business!
This article is oriented to Estonain market, but all the basics are same internationally.