7 Steps to Starting Your Online Consulting Business

When I decided to transition my business from sports nutrition counseling and personal fitness training to online business and wellness coaching, my husband was completely confused. "How can you make money online?" he asked. But today, he doesn't question my vision at all. He now knows that it's very possible to not just make money online, but make good money online.

If you are skeptical about making this kind of professional switch, I understand. When I made that transition, I really had no clue how I was going to do it, either! But here are seven steps I took to make it work.

Step 1: Determine Your Ideal Clients and Their Struggles

Marketing language makes or breaks your business, which is critical when your audience is millions of people who can compare you to thousands of businesses just like yours. You have to get very specific about exactly who you help and delve into the pit of their biggest struggles.

Step 2: Clarify What Makes You Unique

If you want to attract your ideal clients, you have to be yourself, rather than who you think they want to see. The more you are uniquely yourself, the happier you and your clients will be. 

Step 3: Spell Out Your System

This is your brand. Offering a service can be intangible, so you have to turn that service into something your potential clients can understand. To create your system, write down the steps you will take your clients through to achieve their ultimate outcome.

Step 4: Give Something for Free

People don't sign up for newsletters today, but they will sign up for a free tip sheet or report that will solve a problem. You're not giving it all away. That can't happen in a one- to three-page tip sheet! Your free report is just a taste of what they can get from you, and it's how you'll start to grow your mailing list.

Step 5: Craft Your Website

Now that you know your clients and their struggles — and you have your system to solve those problems, and your free offer — you're ready to create your website. You have between four and 15 seconds to capture a visitor's attention when he or she visits your site. If you fail, not only are they gone but they won't be back.

Step 6: Create Your Social Media Presence

No matter how you feel about it, in today's environment you must have a social media presence. It's a terrific way to let people get to know you, develop relationships and attract them to your website. But be careful about using it to sell directly. Instead, think of the process this way: Use social media to bring readers to your website; offer your free tips, in which, they'll join your list; then, they'll get to know, like and trust you; and finally, they will become "clients."

Step 7: Make Your Pitch

All of the above leads to this last step. Until you have the foundation in place, you can't offer your online services or products with any real effectiveness.

Sure, there are details I haven't included. But if you follow these basic steps, you, too, can create a thriving online consulting enterprise.

Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RDN on FacebookMarjorie Geiser, MBA, RDN on Twitter
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RDN
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RDN, is registered dietitian nutritionist and president of MEG Enterprises, Inc., a business that consults health and wellness professionals. Read her blog, and connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.