Digital entrepreneurship consists of creating a business on the Internet, selling services or products online, without the need to invest in physical spaces.
A few examples of digital businesses are online courses, e-commerce, blogs, YouTube channels, and technological solutions in general.
The main advantage of this business model is that you don’t need to invest a lot of money in order to get started, in comparison to the offline market.
In addition, this format allows entrepreneurs to work from wherever and whenever they want to, having greater flexibility in their daily routine.
Reasons to become a digital entrepreneur
Before you get started on this topic, check out a few interesting headlines below:
“Almost 4.66 billion people were active internet users as of October 2020, encompassing 59 percent of the global population.” – Statista (2021)
“On average, more than 1.3 million new users joined social media every day during 2020, equating to roughly 15½ new users every single second.” – Hootsuite (2021)
“Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year.” – Digital Commerce 360 (2021)
“With digital buyer penetration expected to surpass 65 percent of internet users worldwide in 2021, the e-commerce industry is set to evolve and expand.” – Statista (2020)
If you perform a Google search for terms, such as digital entrepreneurship, digital marketplace, or online sales, you’ll see that several such articles will be displayed, confirming what we have been saying here on the blog for some time now about the fact that Internet entrepreneurship is worthwhile.
But how do you get into this market? Is it safe? How can you stand out from your competitors?
For starters, we need to dispel one of the myths we mentioned in this article’s introduction: there are no magic formulas to “make money on the Internet while you sleep”.
However, if you’re willing to study hard about the market and offer quality services to your future customers, you can generate a passive income, which is added to your account even when you’re not sitting in front of the computer.
Would you like a few reasons to believe that?
You don’t need any previous knowledge in order to get started
In order to start your digital business, you don’t need to go through a selection, have technical programming knowledge or take specific courses, although it’s always recommended that you invest in learning, right?
The activity can coexist with your profession or personal obligations
You can start your digital business while you’re still studying, or in parallel to your current profession.
In certain markets, as is the case with affiliate marketing, platforms usually only require that you be of age in order to join the program.
Digital products and sales are very well accepted by the public
Consumers no longer have a resistance to digital products and online transactions. In fact, many of them even prefer such formats to traditional means.
Others prefer an optimized combination. This is the case of readers who like to own physical books, but who also purchase e-books due to the ease of reading on gadgets and even on their smartphones.
No initial infrastructure or fixed costs are required
You can also add to this list the fact that you don’t need a large physical infrastructure for the development of your digital business. In fact, you can work from anywhere in the world.
You can become an authority on the subject
Selling a product, generating content about it, connecting with people who need such solutions, all this will provide you with further market and audience knowledge and therefore, establish your authority.
What do you need to become a digital entrepreneur?
Initially, you’ll only need a computer with internet access to get started. But in addition to the equipment, certain characteristics are essential for you to stand out from the competition.
The word “curiosity” seems to have a negative connotation as if every curious person shows excessive interest in other people’s lives. Well, the origin of the word has nothing to do with that!
Curiosity is nothing more than the natural ability to ask questions and the desire to know more about a specific subject.
Have you ever noticed that when children start talking, they ask questions about everything? They just want to understand the world around them, and sometimes we, as adults, go into automatic mode, especially at work, and we forget to ask ourselves why we are performing certain tasks.
So, to become an online entrepreneur, you’ll need to cultivate your curiosity because it is only by researching a lot about the market and the behavior of consumers that you’ll find gaps to operate in and offer a solution that truly adds value to people’s lives.
Willingness to study or specialize
It is common for people to study for a while and think they already know everything about that subject, ignoring that knowledge and tools are constantly changing, especially on the internet.
In other words, if you are very curious but don’t like to study, digital entrepreneurship is not for you.
It doesn’t mean that you should spend hours of your day working on your computer. As with everything else in life, it’s necessary to find the balance between learning more and using this knowledge to implement change.
To get started, read at least one hour of news about your market daily. Over time, you will feel the need to specialize in a theme that impacts your business the most.
Desire to help people
“Entrepreneurship is much more associated with identifying problems and opportunities to improve an idea that causes positive impressions than being innovative and creating something that no one has ever seen before.”
You probably have read that sentence in our post about working from home, and it makes perfect sense!
Think of an app such as Uber, for example. There’s nothing innovative about a taxi, right?
But if you’re familiar with the subject, you know that their services are not only about taking people somewhere by car; it’s about offering a more accessible and practical transportation option.
It’s a simple solution that had a major positive impact. From now on, that’s where you should focus your efforts.
The benefits of digital entrepreneurship
The main advantage is that you can manage your business from anywhere in the world, provided that you have access to the internet. With this kind of mobility, other advantages arise, such as:
Spending more time with your family
Answer honestly: How many times have you missed or been late for someone’s birthday because you were working or because you got stuck in traffic?
In digital entrepreneurship, this can happen, but it will happen less because you can work from home if you prefer.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have a routine, nor that you can spend all day playing video games with your kids. Still, digital entrepreneurship will certainly provide you with more freedom to adjust your schedules and spend more time with your family.
At the beginning of your business, you’ll need to work hard to conquer your space in the market, especially if you manage the business alone. But working hard doesn’t mean working all day long because no one is productive all the time.
When you are a digital entrepreneur, you define your schedule, work during the hours when you are more efficient, and even postpone an appointment because of an unforeseen event, which is much more difficult when you work from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
If you only need a computer with internet access to get started, you will save a lot by not having to lease a space for your company and all the expenses with utilities, taxes, etc.
Of course, the amount spent will vary according to your business model, but it is certainly cheaper to start an online business than to have a physical establishment.
This clearly shows that doing business online is the best way to reach more people globally.
In a physical business, you would have your operations limited by geographic barriers, but as a digital entrepreneur with a well-defined marketing strategy, you can reach out to various parts of the country and get more people to learn about your product.
Scaling a business means increasing the volume of production and sales without increasing investments and the fixed cost for the same proportion.
Once again, this will depend on your business model, but it is undeniable that it is “easier” to scale an online venture than a physical store.
Thinking about an everyday example: Online courses, as you probably already know, are educational materials produced to be consumed online.
After you have developed your material and made it available online, anyone who pays for it will be able to access it without you having to record the lessons again. This type of product will never be out of stock unless you decide to delete it.
It’s very different from teaching in a classroom, in which you would have to be where the students are and be restricted to where you live. With this example, it is easier to understand the concept of scaling, right?
How to choose the best niche in the digital market
Since entrepreneurship is a form of working or earning extra income, it is pertinent that it be associated with subjects that interest you, since at first, your activities will be performed during your free time.
Furthermore, affinity with the subject and having knowledge about it will make it easier to follow the trends and, of course, take advantage of them and stand out from the competition.
So, here are a few tips on how to choose the right niche market for you.
List your skills and talents
Here at Hotmart, we believe that everyone can become an expert in a given subject, as long as they are willing to do so.
But if we could give one piece of advice, it would be: choose something that you enjoy doing and, preferably, that you already know. This way, the process of creating your business won’t be only intuitive, but also more enjoyable.
Therefore, the first step in choosing your niche is to make a list of the topics you master the most.
What are your hobbies?
In which type of activities do you excel?
What type of subject do your friends keep asking you to teach?
What would you do if you had to choose only one activity to perform for the rest of your life?
Answering the above questions can provide important clues about the niche you should choose.
Evaluate supply and demand
Once you’ve figured out what you do best, it is time to understand if there’s a demand for it. In a nutshell, if you were to create a business in this segment, would you have enough customers to make a living from it?
You’ll need to use online tools, such as Google, SEMrush, and others in order to understand the real demand for that product or service.
One tip that helps a lot is to search for a certain keywordand check how many ads appear in Google. This can be an indicator that it’s a popular term and therefore, has a broader consumer market.
Keep an eye on the trends
Have you ever noticed that how we dress changes a lot throughout the year? Whether because of the season or cultural influences from other countries, we’re always wearing certain clothes and leaving others in the closet.
As in fashion, there are certain subjects that are passing trends, such as news stories and memes; and others that always pique people’s interest, regardless of when they are covered, such as food and health, for example.
In order to undertake online, it’s important to identify topics that aren’t seasonal, so you can make sure that you’ll have a demand for your product or service throughout the year. A good tool to do this is Google Trends, which shows the evolution of demand for a topic during the period being analyzed.
You can also visit websites and blogs related to your market and check which subjects are recurrent or have more engagement from the visitors.
Find out who the authorities on the subject are
Becoming an authority on the subject is one of your goals, but until then, you’ll need to meet what the market and your target audience considers a benchmark.
So, identify who the authorities in your niche are, and analyze their behavior, their educational background, the communication channels they use, how they stay up to date, etc. Use such professionals as your benchmark for success.
Don’t try to do everything at once
Having many markets to work with seems like a good strategy. After all, there are more customers to attract. But this also implies more advertising efforts, more competitors, and a positioning that goes against your attempt to become an authority in a given subject.
So, instead of becoming an affiliate or a producer selling any digital product, specialize in an area, such as gastronomy, weight loss, or exam preparation courses, for example.
Profitability in digital entrepreneurship
Very well, after choosing the niche market and preparing your strategies to become a benchmark, it’s time to scale your earnings, i.e., to sell more on the Internet.
There are many ways to monetize your online business, whether it’s by selling ads in blog spaces and on social media, promoting your own products, or even joining an affiliate program.
In this case, for every click, view, or sale converted from your domain, a percentage is transferred to you.
Among the most common and advantageous forms of monetization are:
Ads and banners on blogs
Sponsorship of posts, columns, or videos on YouTube channels
Orders in the applications
Subscriptions to a service or content channel
Crowdfunding for the funding of content
Monetization has three key elements: traffic, engagement, and brand purpose.
In the case of traffic, its contribution is associated with the volume of clicks and views. But, since other forms of monetization also prioritize interaction and engagement, the brand’s purpose and the authority of the professional also come into play.
They are those responsible for encouraging the visiting public to click or buy a certain product. After all, it comes with the quality stamp of the person who is promoting it. This makes sense, right?
Career possibilities for those who want to be online entrepreneurs
Here on the blog, we have several specific posts about digital entrepreneurship models so we won’t focus too much on this topic. Our idea is just to show you that there are many types of digital businesees, even for those who have never worked with online sales.
Producers are those who create content to be consumed online. This material can be in various formats, such as eBooks, video lessons, and podcasts. To become a Producer, you just need to have knowledge that is useful for others and the desire to share it.
Affiliates are professionals that promote third-party products in exchange for commissions for each sale made. This profession is highly recommended for those who already have online influence, but don’t wish to create their own content, as is the case of digital products, nor manage inventory, as is the case of physical products.
E-commerce designates a type of commerce that is carried out online. Unlike the digital products we mentioned earlier, products sold in virtual stores are not consumed on the Internet, but rather delivered to consumers’ homes.
This is an example of a market that has been increasingly growing, following the changes in purchasing habits around the world.
Startups are businesses that can start online and eventually migrate to a physical environment if the entrepreneur feels the need.
First of all, for a startup to be successful, it needs to identify a recurring problem and propose a solution.
This solution should also be simple to understand and put into practice. Otherwise, people won’t be interested in using it.
As a startup owner, you can also develop a variety of products, such as software, applications, and services. This will depend a lot on the type of problem you want to solve and who are your potential customers.
Digital influencers are considered by many to be the profession of the moment because they have no age limit or market niches. You can have a blog or YouTube channel about makeup, for example, and develop partnerships with brands that are interested in reaching your audience.
In addition to brand partnerships, these professionals can make money by running ads using Google AdSense. In this monetization strategy, the number of views you have on your page or videos is more important than the number of followers.
Interestingly enough, entrepreneurship and innovation are two different concepts, but they’re often associated with the same goal, right?
Entrepreneurship means starting your own business, while innovation consists in creating something completely different, or that has values and differentials that make a product or service unique.
For those who wish to undertake in the digital world, innovation is critical, after all, the internet allows entrepreneurs to create experiences that are more relevant, as well as enabling the use of automation to facilitate their processes.
Let’s check out a few of them!
Affiliate marketing platforms
If you want to be a digital content producer, you can promote it on affiliate marketing platforms.
In this case, affiliates who have blogs, YouTube channels, or even paid media knowledge, do the promotion work for you.
The big advantage is that their authority and the traffic generated are combined, and boost your digital product sales.
The use of software for marketing automation
Did you know that a considerable part of sales can be converted with e-mail marketing? This is because these tools allow entrepreneurs to further segment their audience that already interacts with them.
And, in order to increase the volume and efficiency of this e-mailing, the use of email marketing automation tools is ideal.
In addition to sending emails and helping segment potential customers, they also offer performance reports that show which actions were successful or not. After evaluating the performance, all you have to do is correct the course.
Consulting and thematic events
Have you ever thought about having a YouTube channel or even creating thematic events in real life? This might be an innovative idea; after all, they can attract a target audience with specific interests and needs.
In other words, this is a way of capturing new customers and, at the same time, strengthening your name in the market. The innovation, of course, will be up to your creativity!
By taking advantage of monetization solutions, this idea can provide you with even more returns.
Digital Entrepreneurship: Moving into action
No matter how much you prepare, there will always be knowledge that you only obtain by doing.
Even so, you need to follow a few steps in order to ensure that your business doesn’t end before it even begins. In this topic, we show you a few points that concern all entrepreneurs, regardless of the type of activity you choose to pursue.
1. Create a financial plan
As we mentioned in the text, having an online business is a lot cheaper than having a physical store, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t need to save money beforehand.
Consider that you are leaving the traditional job market and labor benefits to invest in an idea that you‘re not sure will work out yet.
So if you don’t have any money saved or an investor to invest in your idea, we suggest you pay more attention to the management of your money from now on.
Ideally, you should save the amount necessary for your fixed expenses for at least a year. If you have a family, you should also talk to all of them, present your idea, and explain that it will necessary to adjust your budget. This way, everyone will be on the same page and avoid unnecessary spending.
You can find some great financial management tips in this post.
2. Identify your strengths
To be a digital entrepreneur, you need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. To do so, there is a very good tool known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
It is a simple template that you can outline by hand or on the computer.
To create one, draw a table divided into four parts, with two rows and two columns. In the first column, list the aspects that will have a positive impact, and in the second, those that may hinder the development of your new business, as shown below.
As hard as it may seem, this is a very important exercise, as it helps you better visualize where you fit into the market and how you should position yourself to be different from your competition.
3. Choose your niche and the type of product you will offer
Niches are segments with specific characteristics and needs within a broader market of operation.
Products for curly hair are a niche of hair products, which are part of the cosmetics market, which is part of the beauty market.
To find the ideal niche for you:
List your skills and talents
Here at Hotmart, we believe that everyone can become an expert on a subject if they are willing to do so.
But if we could give any advice, it would be: choose something that you enjoy doing and preferably something that you already have some knowledge. In this manner, the process of creating the enterprise isn’t only more intuitive, but is more enjoyable.
Soe, the first step to choosing your niche is to make a list of the topics that you master the most. Try to answer the following questions:
What are your hobbies?
In which type of activities do you stand out?
What type of subject do your friends ask you to teach them?
What would you do if you had to choose a single activity to perform for the rest of your life?
Evaluate supply and demand
Once you figure out what you do best, it’s time to understand if there is a demand for it. In short: if you started a business in this segment, would you have enough customers to make a living?
You’ll need to use online tools such as Google, SEMRush, or others to understand the real demand for the product or service.
One helpful tip is to search for a particular keyword and check the number of ads that appear on Google. This can be an indicator that this term is in high demand and may have a broader consumer market.
Stay tuned to the trends
Have you ever noticed that the way we dress changes a lot during the year? We chose certain outfits and put others away in our closets depending on the weather, location or cultural influences.
As with fashion, certain subjects are trendy, such as news and memes, and others that always arouse people’s interest, regardless of when we talk about them, such as food and health, for example.
To enterprise online, it is important to identify themes that aren’t seasonal, so you ensure that you’ll have a demand for your product or service all year round. A good tool to do this is Google Trends, which shows the evolution of searches for such a theme over the analyzed period.
You can also visit websites and blogs targeted to your market and check which subjects are most recurring or engage visitors more.
4. Analyze the market and your competitors
It is not uncommon to read texts online comparing the business world to war, and competitors to enemies that need to be defeated, regardless of the method you are going to adopt.
Although this is an exaggerated analysis, it isn’t about doing everything, but about doing what is right, we agree that knowing your competition well is the best way to gain a competitive edge over them and offer truly unique products.
Those who wish to work in the fitness niche will find that there are several websites on the subject, with very different proposals: focused on exercises, clothing, and equipment or food.
If entrepreneurs decide to evaluate all these sites, they will invest a lot of time and effort to compete with companies that often don’t even relate to your target audience. Therefore, focus on sites and channels that are relevant to the audience you are targeting.
After filtering your top competitors, note the kind of content these pages share and how they communicate with their consumers on social media.
It’s worth remembering that this process of analyzing competitors is merely to identify best practices, not to copy what others are doing, okay?
5. Get your own domain
Once you have completed all the analytical steps, it’s time to roll up your sleeves!
To get started, you’ll need to purchase a domain for your web page. This step is very important both for those who want to create a virtual store and for those entrepreneurs who will produce content.
Before acquiring the rights to a domain, you need to choose a name that synthesizes your business idea. This name should be short and easy to write, so users can easily find your page or recommend it to friends.
To know if the name you’ve chosen is already being used, go to register.com or godaddy.com. The search is free and takes no more than a few seconds.
We explain the process of purchasing a domain in our post on how to start a blog .
If you plan to work with digital products, we have good news: you don’t have to purchase a domain because there are specific platforms to make your product available, such as Hotmart.
In addition to generating a super-complete sales page, Hotmart has its own form of payment and other features for Producers and Affiliates to stay in touch with their respective audiences.
Can you execute this idea better than your competitors?
Is your idea easy to understand?
If you were in the consumer’s place, would you buy your product?
If you answered No toany of the questions, you might want to review your planto find opportunities for improvement.
After this step, you can create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), which is basically a simpler version of your website, product, or service, with the minimum features required to operate. Beta versions of applications are examples of MVPs.
In order to validate your MVP, promote surveys, ask for help from a market expert, and perform A/B testing.
Based on the feedback received, you’ll be able to make the necessary improvements and launch a product that is more in line with market demands, i.e., your chances of success will be greater.
7. Promote your business
You’ve performed all tests, validated your strategic plan,and have found the time to dedicate to your new venture, so it’s time to promote your solution to people and sell it.
A good promotion strategy is supported by three key aspects:
The consumer’s profile
You need to find the right audience for your business, and deliver useful content to them when they need it. Moreover, in order to want to pay for it, these people need to see value in the product or service you’re offering.
Be on social media (but only on those that make sense to your audience!)
Does this mean that you’ll be able to reach everyone online? No, and you shouldn’t! Remember that your communication should be targeted only to the persona you mapped out for your business during the planning stage.
From the moment you create a profile on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube, make sure you produce specific content for these channels, taking into account the format required by each network and how people consume the content, so that your communication doesn’t become irrelevant.
On Instagram, for example, no one wants to read long texts (there’s even a character limit for posts!). People are looking for attractive images and short, objective videos.
On LinkedIn and other business-oriented networks, a technical and complete text might be more valuable.
Contact via e-mail
An email list is one of the most valuable assets for entrepreneurs, because the people on this list have given their permission for you to contact them.
But these users can also turn against you if you deliver bad content that is incompatible with their needs.
In order to have an effective email strategy, you will need to segment your list, dividing your leads according to their stage in the buyer’s journey.
And one last important tip: never buy a ready-made mailing list. This might seem like the fastest way, but you’ll only waste time, effort and money with people who have no interest in what you offer.
Of course, there are many other steps involved in sending e-mail marketing, but if you follow these tips, you’ll already have a head start regarding other entrepreneurs.
Ads are the fastest way to impact your potential buyers, but just like the previous tools, they will only have an effect if you target your audience correctly, and create attractive content that is the combination of an objective text with a good image or design.
Content marketingis so critical to anyone who wants to be an online entrepreneur that it deserves an entire post dedicated to the subject.
Basically, this methodology consists of creating quality content for your leadsand followers, answering as many questions as possible, until these users feel at ease about becoming customers.
You can do this by email, by having a blog, by recording videos, or by creating rich materials.
Why is content marketing so highly valued?
First, because you can put it into practice without spending anything, just the time it takes to produce the content. Second, because it brings long-lasting results.
Although ads increase your visibility instantly, which is tempting, content marketing will help you build a long-term relationship with your potential customers.
These customers can become promoters of your brand, which will attract more people to your page, creating a positive cycle for your business.
It isn’t always easy to give up on the financial security that a job provides to try your hand at becoming an entrepreneur. But if you perform a quick search on Google, you’ll find that there are several success stories among businesses that are 100% online.
With that in mind, we have put together a few cases of successful online entrepreneurship to inspire you!
Paula Abreu – Personal development coach
Ever since she was a child, Paula wanted to be a writer, but because of pressure from family and friends, she studied and got a degree in Law, an area in which she worked for more than 15 years.
The change only came in 2012, when Paula was fired from the company where she was working. Determined not to go back to the Law, she saw her dismissal as an opportunity to create her own business and make money doing something she really liked.
The book, “Escolha a sua vida” (Choose Your Life)was merely the first step in the coaching career that Paula currently pursues, with a focus on the Internet.
She is currently the first woman in Brazil to launch an online product with sales of over 7 figures.
Tips on how to succeed in digital entrepreneurship
By this point in the post, you’re probably feeling very inspired and you have ideas bubbling up for a digital business segment.
Therefore, we provide you with a few tips to help your project succeed. Check them out below:
Have an entrepreneurial attitude. Even if it’s a side business to generate extra income, your state of mind can do wonders for your creativity and motivation to make your sales take off, as well as to be committed to your customers
Plan and set goals according to the focus of your project. If the idea is to make a living as an Affiliate from sales alone, evaluate what your ideal performance and results would be for the coming months and years – and, of course, regularly monitor whether you’re on the right track.
Develop your sales and marketing knowledge, as they change constantly. In other words, always study new advertising tools, performance indicators, notions of content optimization, monetization, etc.
Don’t become discouraged and evaluate the lessons learned from failures and the mistakes you make.
Try to network with other entrepreneurs who can exchange knowledge, create partnerships, and inspire you. Networking is key in the business world, including digital businesses.
An alternative to generate income
As we’ve shown in this post, digital entrepreneurship can be a good alternative for those who want to open their own business, but don’t have much money to invest in the beginning.
Besides the reduced costs, the market has a great potential to generate income due to changes in buying habits, and is still relatively new; therefore, there are many segments that still haven’t been completely explored.
It is worth noting that although accessible, digital entrepreneurship requires a lot of dedication and study, especially at the beginning of your business, until it gains traction with consumers and you become a reference in the subject. So be patient and don’t get discouraged with the first results!
As we also discussed in this post, planning and studying the market in which you will operate, can eliminate certain pitfalls along the way, such as investments, however small, that are poorly made.
You need to remember that, whether in terms of digital entrepreneurship or in any other kind of business, your time commitment is also an important investment, you see?
This post was originally published in January 2018 and has since been updated to convey more complete, accurate information.
Hotmart is a complete digital distribution platform, built with solutions for those who wish to buy, promote, or sell online courses, videos, subscriptions, ebooks, and much more.
If you want to start your business from scratch, give new life to an old idea, push your career in a different direction, or just learn a new skill, Hotmart is for you. Here, you’ll get the solutions you need to start living your passions.