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Over the past three years, with wages stagnating and layoffs becoming part of everyday life, many professionals have wanted to start a solopreneur business. A solopreneur business is a business that the owner can manage without a team (often digital).
In September 2022, I quit my job. Despite having two law degrees and a Masters of Science, I had a one-year contract that paid me $50,000 a year while working 50+ hours a week. Now, I had some savings and had been planning to start my own business for several years, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. Before that one-year contract, I founded a tech startup and held a higher-paying job in the tech industry.
Related: 4 Ways to Make Over $1 Million With Your Online Business
When I quit my job, I calculated that I had six months of runway to cover my annual expenses until I found a job. Before embarking on any solopreneur journey or giving up your source of income, it’s important to know exactly how long you have to run your business. This allows you to minimize stress by setting a stopping point instead of dragging yourself and your family through the agony of trying to get started.
Let’s start your journey to $150k and explain how I did it step by step.
1. Cracking your initial audience
The biggest challenge in building a sole proprietorship business is starting the journey and building an initial audience. Going from 10,000 to 50,000 followers is easier than going from 0 to 10,000. What I’ve learned from my experience and speaking with many content creators is that you need to hack your way to your first 10,000 followers. There is no set formula for this initial stage of building your brand.
The most common mistake I see people make when starting out on their journey is trying to create systems that can take them from 0 to 100,000 followers. It doesn’t work; you have to fight for each subscriber until you reach a base of subscribers who are consistently interacting with your content (often around 10,000). Once you have a follower base, you can start building your systems, but it’s a waste of time in the early days.
Related: 5 Strategies to Thrive as a Solo Business Owner—Without Burnout
My first step started about two years before I quit my job. At the time, I was working for a newsletter publication, sending a daily roundup of business news to about 40,000 entrepreneurs every day. For over a year now, I’ve been fortunate to be able to include a link in my affiliate link that entices readers interested in legal insights for their startups or small businesses to subscribe to my newsletter. This little trick helped me get my first 10,000 followers.
Other ways I’ve seen content creators hack their way to their first 10,000 followers include viral videos, product creation, viral tweets, cold messaging, cold emails, paid ads, and more. If you are starting your journey, this is where you need to be creative and focus all your time and effort. Until you reach 10,000 followers on social networks or a newsletter, you will struggle to generate income effectively and consistently as a solopreneur.
Related: 4 Ways to Avoid Loneliness as a Solopreneur
2. Focus on one channel
Once you get 10,000 followers on a channel, you should focus on that channel. For me, it was email. For ten months, all my content was written for email; If I had time, I set it for social media. A big mistake solopreneurs make when building their audience is trying to expand it to multiple platforms at once. Don’t lose momentum on one platform by splitting your focus. Prioritize a channel before using your credit and watch that channel to give you a head start on any other channels you choose to use.
3. Diversification of income sources
While you only need to focus on one channel for growth, you need multiple channels for revenue. My audience is startup founders. I get paid by advertisers to promote products, founders to teach them how to raise money, and investors to refer companies to them. Focus early on securing multiple sources of income; even if you earn very little from each source, it’s better to maximize the size of these deals than to look for new channels when others are hopelessly dry.
Related: Diversify Your Income: Protect Your Finances With These Strategies
4. Capture every price point
When monetizing your audience, you need to capture every price point. The biggest fail I see today are solopreneurs charging $10,000+ for consulting without cheaper services. While it’s true that a $1,000 offer can dampen some of their high-priced sales, I’ve found that lower-priced products can help generate interest at a higher price and build trust and loyalty among your audience.
If you’re only helping people who can afford to pay $10,000 for consulting, why would the average person follow you? Many creators take advantage of viewers who cannot pay large sums; they build a brand of likes, retweets, subscriptions and follows, then abandon them when they need help.
5. Connect with followers
A common tip you’ll hear is to comment on top creators’ posts to get to know your audience and grow your following. In my experience, this is not the optimal way. Instead, I spent my time engaging with my followers.
Even though my comments on their posts don’t get 1k+ views, it builds a relationship between me and my followers. It means a lot to a casual viewer or reader when I take the time to write to them or comment on their posts. In the long run, not to mention the many wonderful connections I make with followers, they will support my posts, stay followers and buy products!