How to Market Your Business Online

Online entrepreneurs can earn a living by mastering the art of self-promotion.

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Mayi Carles
Mayi Carles

The booming online creative economy has created new opportunities for entrepreneurs: Selling your own ebook, or e-course, or other type of digital product is as easy as setting up a website and a PayPal account.

Marketing those products and services so potential customers know about them and buy them, though, is a more difficult challenge. Entrepreneurs can send Tweets, write blogs, and post Facebook messages, but it can be hard to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. Mayi Carles, an online entrepreneur based in Panama City, Panama, found a way to overcome those headwinds to turn her creative products into runaway successes. One of her products, Life Is Messy Planners, earned $75,000 in one year.

In her new ebook, 5K Sales in 365 Days, she tells readers how she did it, and gives tips that others can apply to their own online entrepreneurial pursuits. One of her key messages is the importance of showcasing your own personality, or unique approach. U.S. News spoke with Carles about her advice and what enables her to make a living from her online products. Excerpts:

Making 5,000 sales in one year sounds almost too good to be true … is it really possible for most people?

It all depends. I believe everything you want, you can make possible. The unachieved is whatever you haven’t desired passionately enough.

Yes, you create the world you dream by virtue of embracing your genuine mission, and setting short, medium, and T-Rex goals. And yes, that also means that if you believe the “You can’t do it” naysayers, that’s exactly what you’ll get. It’s up to you to transform “I can'ts” into “I dids.” It’s that simple and transcendental.

You made $75,000 in one year from your Life Is Messy Planners. How did you do it?

Well, I wish I could tell you I had an army of Oompa-Loompas bouncing around the studio, supporting my world-conquest aspirations. Instead, I had to rely on my obsessive-compulsive nature to discipline me through the ride. From light-bulb moment to launch, plus all the messiness in between, I’ve been militarily-diligent about checking off the teeny-tiny daily tasks on my to-do pad.

I know that small steps create giant leaps over time, so I pick manageable versus glamorous every time.

Do you have any advice on what types of products work best?

Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out where to start. My clients have too many things they want to create and getting past that stage can be a pickle. My advice? Take the path of least resistance. Start with the easiest stuff.

Too often, people get trapped in a lifetime of planning that never turns into action. Planning is vital, though worthless, without execution. Stop thinking too much and start. Anywhere. It’s not about endorsing shortcuts or making mediocrity cool, it’s about optimizing your forward momentum. 

The most successful products and services I’ve seen are the ones whose main purpose is to make a real contribution in the world regardless of conventional laws of success and failure. What works best is to give.

You suggest that people consider what they are most often thanked for… what is the answer for you?

“You are more than just a happy person to be around, you are downright fun”—that’s what I’m most thanked for–my contagious smile, unlimited energy, and enthusiasm for life. My freaky organizational kung-fu moves are a close second.

Do you need your own website, or can you use one of the existing e-commerce sites, such as Amazon or Etsy?

With how easy it is to get a website these days, there’s no excuse not to have your very own headquarters in the interwebs. It helps package and position you as a trusted superhero in the field.

Marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon are great complements, but they are no substitute for having your main hub.

Can you share any of your own mistakes?

Resistance is everywhere. All of my life I made myself believe that my biggest enemies in battle were the people closest to me and their expectations of who they thought I should be. But all along, the hairiest monster of all was myself—my fear of failure and my lack of confidence.

What do you think is the best way to get word out about a new product?

If you’re a superstar in the making and Oprah still doesn’t know you exist, the best way I know to catapult your masterpiece is to tap into other, more established outlets. Write killer content for reputable publications. And when you do, please make sure the real you shows up for the party.

Authenticity is your most prized commodity. Use it and rock it out.

Twitter: @alphaconsumer