Foundational blog content + my new email list

Foundational content and my new email list

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Day 20 of my new business!

Even though I travelled to the other side of the country I still managed to get some more foundational blog posts finished AND do all the tedious tech stuff to comply with the new email sending requirements.

I also talk about my research and plan for my first free resource/lead magnet, and why my original freebie idea ended up being a blog post instead. Everything evolves, and that’s perfectly OK!

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Resources mentioned

I mention the following resources in the podcast when I talk about my software choices.

Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I will receive a commission if you purchase via that link (thanks!) – see my disclosure here.

6 types of content creator – because you don’t HAVE to be the all-knowing expert to have a successful online business!

Real-life online businesses – Really, if people can make bank talking about calligraphy or succulents I’m sure your quirky idea will do just fine!

MailerLite – My email service provider (the software I use to send newsletters and automatic emails). I’ve used them since 2017 and think they’re brilliant.

Email verification and authentication in MailerLite – here’s how to tick all the boxes. Just take it step-by-step and message the lovely help staff if you get stuck!

Email verification and authentication in Podia – ONLY needed if you have a custom sender address. Again, contact the lovely help team if you get stuck.

Liz Wilcox’s membership – Where I did the welcome sequence workshop bootcamp. The email newsletter templates in here are amazing – they always spark great ideas.

Business Idea Blitz – the little workbook idea I mentioned here morphed into a full-blown course, complete with videos. And yep, it’s free!


Hey, I’m Kelly Kotanidis, and welcome to Online Business from Scratch where I am taking you behind the scenes as I build my new online business, Business in Your Backpack, from scratch to a full-time income while making sure it’s a great fit for my traveling homeschooling life. I will be walking you through everything I do and why so you can follow along and build your own flexible online business quickly and efficiently.

Alright, so in this update, it’s been 2 weeks since the last one and so much has happened. I’ve been in Melbourne with family so there has been a lot of peopling, so much peopling. I’m actually writing this to recover from a few solid days of social stuff. I spent a couple of days finishing and doing the actual application for my Maltese citizenship, which of course means EU citizenship in 27 countries currently, and that is being processed now, which is very exciting. No more Schengen!

So I’ve only done bits and pieces of work, but I’ve done a lot with them. I’ve published two more posts which I will link in the show notes. The first was ‘Six Types of Online Content Creator’, and this one details different ways you can approach content creation from being an expert to a curator or a journeyer, and a few others, to give people more ideas about the sort of perspective they can bring to the content they create instead of thinking that they have to be the all-knowing expert in everything that they do.

And the second post has ’10 Quirky Online Business Ideas You Can Do Anywhere’. I’ll keep adding to that in the future as I run across more real-life businesses. And this post actually started off with the intention of being a free download to use as a lead magnet, as a reason to get people on my email list. But while I was putting it together, I thought, no, it would be better as a public post. So I did that instead. And that’s mostly because I think it just lends itself better as a freebie.

You know, I could put it all together into a PDF and make people sign up and all that sort of stuff, but really it’s not that valuable, I suppose. Overall, I like the things that people sign up for to be very valuable, you know, very worth doing, quite meaty, quite detail-oriented, all that kind of stuff. So for me, sending out a 3 or 4-page PDF with “Here are some businesses that actually work online,” it doesn’t seem good enough.

Yeah, so that’s something to think of too when you’re thinking about whether to make something free or paid. I will probably do a fairly substantial blog post or podcast about that issue in the future because a lot of people really struggle with knowing what to put up for free and what to put up for your email list and what to put up as paid. So I will go through that and break that down more in the future.

Right, so like a lot of online business stuff, you can go to my site and you can see the posts. They’re very visible, that sort of work. But I also had to do quite a few invisible things on the back end. And one of those was working through all the new requirements for email authentication. So that’s making sure that my SPF, my DKIM, and my DMARC are all perfect. It was a bit of a headache but essential. It is something that everyone needs to do now, and I will link to guides in the show notes if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about with all of those abbreviations and letters and pages.

I use MailerLite, so I had to set all this up manually with my domain name register. If you’ve chosen to use Podia, they have pretty much managed it for you if you don’t have a custom domain, but it is still worth checking just to make sure that it’s all in place and they can tell you whether this is all set up properly or not.

And once I had all the email stuff set up and so I could email people safely without sending a big red spam alarm to Google and Yahoo and whoever else has got all these new requirements, I sent an email to the people who said they wanted to come with me from Fearless Homeschool. Before I closed the business, I emailed everyone to say I’ve sold the business, here’s what’s going to happen, and do you want to hear about what I do in the future? I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but if you want to come with me just let me know, and a few hundred people signed up for that. I did it right at the very end. I probably should have started doing it a bit earlier. I probably could have brought quite a few more people with me, but it was all last-minute thinking at the time.

But anyway, I emailed those people and just said hi, I’m back, here’s what I’m doing now, this is my new site, please click if you want to hear more about it. I didn’t assume that all of them would want to know about business content, so I actually made a link and the link was automatically set up in MailerLite to pop them in another group which said yes that they are interested, which is fairly easy to set up on the back end. So the email actually had a 69% open rate and a third of the people in that group want to stay on the list and no more. And I was pretty blown away by that. So these people signed up for homeschooling content in the past, so I wasn’t expecting many to want to hear about online business, but they do. So that’s great. It means I have a really nice starting number of subscribers, a couple of hundred, and those first few hundred are usually the hardest to get, so I’m pretty stoked with that.

I also asked them to write back and let me know their sticking point, and a lot of people did, which is brilliant both because they feel comfortable doing that and because it gives me concrete feedback on what people actually need. So a couple said finding the time, but the vast majority said picking a topic was their hardest task, and that was a bit of a surprise. I was thinking that finding the time would be the hardest thing, so that’s a really good lesson in actually asking people what they want because we don’t always know. Often we get it pretty wrong or maybe sort of half right but not fully right. And if you get it fully right, you’re going to have a lot more success with helping people.

So I found out that people have a really difficult time picking a topic, and I definitely understand that from a personal perspective because for me, picking one topic often feels like I’m locking the rest of my ideas outside and leaving them to die, which is not a good feeling. So that’s why I thought that the list of online business examples was better as a free post, and I’m now thinking that a kind of workbook would be a better lead magnet that the post would lead into nicely. And if you haven’t heard the term lead magnet before, it just means something that you have which entices people to sign up to your email list. So it’s normally a pretty decent bit of content people have to put their email address in there to get it, they’re then added to your email list, they get delivered your lead magnet, your free content, and then they’re on your email list so you can contact them when you like. But they can also unsubscribe whenever they like, so you still need to look after them.

So the workbook would be somewhere where people are guided into listing their current knowledge and experience, brainstorming content ideas and doing some very basic research. I think it would segue nicely into a more detailed course. So maybe that’s my first course sorted. I will keep talking to people and see if the trend continues.

I also did a bit of a welcome sequence boot camp in the membership with Liz Wilcox. So she ran a workshop and then I did my four email sequence and she reviewed everyone who had theirs in by the right date. I haven’t put that into MailerLite yet because it requires me having a free resource to offer plus a few other specific bits of content to support it, but it is good to know that it’s there and ready, and the accountability of doing it in that boot camp sort of setting was really good, and knowing that I had to have it done by a specific time to have it reviewed was also very good. So that’s something for me to remember: deadlines and accountability help me a lot and I need to build it in as much as I can. And normally I’m reasonably good at doing that, but you know we can always add more.

So promo wise, I might be doing a workshop for a world schooling community in about 10 days. I’m not sure whether that’s actually a good idea or not right now considering I have nothing to give them for free in order to build my email list, but there’s nothing like a deadline to make it happen. But also in 10 days, I will be in Athens, so the next week is not going to be especially productive to coming up with some sort of freebie for them, what with two long flights and 30 solid hours of travel to get there, and jet lag, and also eating my weight in vegetarian souvlakis and moustokouloura biscuits when I get there because that’s what I always do. But I figure even if I only get a handful of sign-ups, I’ll still get to talk to my people in the workshop, I’ll get to refine the workshop, make some new connections, so it’s worth jumping in at the deep end really.

Okay, so to wrap up that update, I now get to do a spooky time traveler thing and say, “Guess what? That resource about choosing a business topic exists now.” So if you also have the problem of choosing what your online business will be about, then please head over and do the Business Idea Blitz mini-course. It’s free, it’s short, but you will get results quickly so that you know that your topic is a winner and you can start moving on with your planning and building your very own online business. So over 150 people have done it already. I’ve had great feedback about it being very clear and motivating. So there will be a link in the show notes, and I would love for you to join in, do the Business Idea Blitz, share the idea you develop, and see you turn it into an actual online business. So thank you very much for listening. I will be back sharing my next steps very soon, and I will see you then.

Thanks for listening!

Got any questions? Feel free to to drop them in the comments below.

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