Starting your own business can be a daunting task, often requiring lots of money, time and expertise. Now you can get a head start using the magic of free online platforms.
Travel blogger, author and business coach Serena Star Leonard used massive existing online platforms to grow her brand without having to worry about the intricacies of building her own website or hiring staff.
Starting in 2009, Ms Star Leonard started using online platform WordPress to create her blog.
“When I found WordPress it was like all the lights went on,” Ms Star Leonard recalls. “It let a non-technical person like me set up a website with very little money.”
From there, Ms Leonard used her blog to sell her business-coaching services and promote her numerous courses and several ebooks. She also made a solid income from affiliate marketing on her site and even scored a book deal.
“It all happened very quickly and blew me away,” Ms Star Leonard says.
Thanks to the success of her site, Ms Star Leonard decided to take her business on the road for three years to travel with her husband, but not without first using another established website to continue to connect to her clients.
“I had to pack my whole office into my laptop,” Ms Star Leonard explains, “But I needed to continue to still coach my clients and Skype was the natural option – it’s free, we can see each other’s faces and we can share screens.”
Business coaching from all corners of the world, Ms Star Leonard decided to fully embrace the power of online platforms and started to experiment with YouTube.
Soon, she was doing video travel blogs about the places she visited and loading them onto the Internet.
As Ms Star Leonard and her husband perfected their filming process and grew their following, the free trips and accommodation started flooding in.
“We started staying in expensive hotels and doing $10,000 cruises,” Ms Star Leonard says.
The best part? All of it was free and completely mobile, allowing Ms Star Leonard to continue her travels while keeping connected with her business.
Cycling enthusiast Rhys Smith also knows the value of keeping your costs low by using online platforms. He started selling secondhand items on eBay with his partner as a hobby, before realising its potential.
“It became something we really enjoyed,” Mr Smith says, “we started looking at the possibility of buying things to resell.”
They settled in cycling equipment and started small, buying limited stock from a contact in Europe.
“The first thing we bought was a cycling cap that cost $10. We still sell it to this day.”
Everything changed when we left our regular nine-to-five jobs and we could think about it from a business perspective not just a hobby perspective.
Working full-time, Mr Evans started noticing that the amount of time he spent on eBay correlated with sales. So, he quit his corporate job and decided to take things up a notch.
“Everything changed when we left our regular nine-to-five jobs and we could think about it from a business perspective not just a hobby perspective,” Mr Smith recalls.
Now, they run a hugely successful online store as well as maintaining a popular eBay account.
“I used to hate joining the rat race to get to work by 9am, but no more,” Mr Smith says.
“These days I time my day to ensure there are no additional stresses. If it’s a nice afternoon we’ll get our bikes and go riding – because we can. That might mean we’re working late into the night, but so what? Our customers still get looked after and we’re a lot happier for it. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”