Starting an Internet business can be daunting — there are many moving parts and you have to learn a lot on the fly.
But strategy is just as important as the tools you use for success. If you’re not sure where to start and what you’ll need, let’s just put it out there right away:
PDFs. This is the most flexible document format that you’ll use in all parts of your business. If you’re ready to get more clients, streamline your process, bring in more money, generate passive income and keep your team members in the loop on your projects, you’re in the right place.
We’ve created a full guide for you to supercharge your business this year. Let’s get started.
The first aspect to getting clients is creating a stellar proposal. Now, you could cobble together a document in Word or Pages but what if your client doesn’t have these programs?
And what if you can’t control the design of it? What if you need to create a proposal that also accepts signatures, so that you’re not wasting your time with back and forth conversations, asking your client if they accept your proposal?
Enter, the PDF.
Here’s what a sample proposal may look like.
Once you’ve decided on the design, you can easily edit the template to send multiple proposals to multiple clients at once. Edit specific text field using Zone PDF’s editing tool and customize the various sections of your proposal: the scope, the specific tasks, or the payment terms.
And once you’ve completed preparing the form, simply send it out! If the file is oversized, use Zone PDFs compression tool to cut down on file size or consider splitting off a few images using the split tool.
Using the PDF format to create and send invoices is just plain smart — but it’s also super professional.
You can use PDFs to create invoices with multiple columns and unit costs, taxes and total costs, just like you would a spreadsheet. The difference is that it’s viewable anywhere, on any device.
The great thing about using a PDF is that you can put your company’s logo and designs to brand the invoice..
You can also create fillable boxes to pop in the client’s address, your address and hook it up to invoicing software so you can see if a client has viewed the PDF invoice.
Get Valuable Customer Insight Through Surveys
What’s the best way to write great blog posts, create content that actually serves your users, addresses their pain points and makes them want to buy your product or service?
Easy: you have to know what they want.
But, short of having a crystal ball, this is hard to do — you’re not a mind-reader.
PDF forms can really help you in this aspect. The way that other successful Internet businesses create products that fly off the digital shelves is by doing market research: asking their users what they want, creating the product and then testing it to refine it before actually putting out the final version.
Yep, good and old fashioned, right?
The method may be tried-and-true but the technology has scaled up. Now, instead of focus groups or paper surveys, businesses can use PDF forms that have been created for easy sending, filling and receiving.
Generate Passive Income Through E-Courses
If you’ve been in the Internet sphere for a while, you’ve likely heard of the Holy Grail of “Passive Income”.
Yes, you see everyone doing it. And they’re all sharing their income numbers and trying to convince you to get on the Passive Income train! Okay, you’re a believer: but how exactly do you get started?
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with this one: just follow the cue of those already doing it!
Let’s take a look at popular online solopreneur Regina Anaejionu of “ByRegina.com”.
How ByRegina Uses PDFs to Create Passive Income
Regina is smart. She uses a format that she knows is:
- Easily downloadable by anyone, anywhere in the world
- She can design according to her brand and help make it useful by including fields her users can fill electronically or choose to print out
She keeps a free version of the PDF and a more complex, longer “workbook”, also a PDF, that can be purchased and instantly delivered for a small price.
When you land on her homepage, the first thing you see is an opt-in that allows you to download a PDF workbook in exchange for your email.
Her users get a neat workbook they can use and create value in their business with.
Regina builds a healthy, engaged subscriber list that she can then re-market her small courses, bigger one-on-one packages to and keep them updated. It’s a win-win situation.
She can also use her list to set up a funnel in her email marketing provider (like Mailchimp or ConvertKit) that will automatically lead from this free download to a small purchase — all without her having to lift a finger.
It’s the best way to generate passive income.
Pop In Those Content Upgrades!
Regina delivers a ton of valuable content within her actual blog posts as well. They’re long and meaty and range from how-to’s to step-by-step tutorials.
She uses content upgrades — which are downloadable resources — in this case, a PDF “worksheet” — to give her readers even more utility.
Moving from “Free” to “Paid”
Think of the free downloadable opt-in on her home page and the content upgrades as Regina’s attempt to connect with her audience and bring them a ton of value before asking them to purchase anything.
Yes, she’s also priming them to “download” and actually try her products up-front, before ever offering a product purchase. This way, users can see if they really like her worksheets and find them useful.
This step-by-step escalation, moving from free to paid, also makes them more likely to click to purchase because they now trust her and they’re used to “downloading” her PDFs.
When users are ready to buy from her, Regina uses an e-commerce platform that delivers courses, downloadables and resources that are paid. The platform is Gumroad, which allows users to set up a login and both purchase and access their purchases right on the platform.
Once they’ve purchased, they can choose to use Gumroad’s own reader or they can download in PDF format and start taking action right away!
The reason her courses and worksheets are so successful, however, is that Regina uses formats that everyone can use and view: YouTube for video, audio downloads and PDFs for workbooks.
Collaborate with Remote Team Members with Zone PDF
If you’re working in the cloud, chances are, you’re also working across networks. Whether your team is a collective of freelancers, a full-time group with a lot of space for telecommuting or a healthy mix of permanent and contract staff, collaborating over multiple projects on the go has become the norm.
And, working with shared documents for clients means that there has to be some kind of version control or an ability to pair-program, make design changes or edit a piece of content in real time.
Luckily, we’ve got just the hack for you and your roster of floating heads.
1. Log on to Google Drive
No surprise here: the handy PDF format coupled with the powerful Google Drive makes for a great version control strategy!
2. Next, open up your files in Drive
Pro-Tip: Looking for your files forever? Hit the “tile” icon to go from list to tiled squares. It’s easier to spot your files if you change the view so they appear as tiles rather than a list.
3. Open your PDF file
Once you’ve downloaded the file, head to Zone PDF and upload it to make changes that your team has decided on. Once you’ve entered in all the new information, you can also use Zone PDF to split off specific pages.
4. Make changes, save and re-upload to the Google Drive folder
Download the edit PDF documents and keep the name the same. Take the saved PDF file (with new changes), click and drag from its location on your computer back into the same place you stored it on Google Drive.
5. Smart version control will allow team members to track changes to the PDF format!
Once you’ve uploaded the new version, you’ll see that the upload dialog box has some notes.
You have the choice to either keep two separate versions (and Drive will rename the second one automatically for you!) or you can choose to keep the new file as a second version of the previous file.
This way, your team members can see any edits and changes you’ve made to the file and where it’s been changed from the original.
The flexible PDF format is the one powerful tool you must have in your arsenal to make your Internet business run like clockwork. If you’ve already use PDFs, consider all aspects of your business workflow and ask yourself: how can I streamline this?
And, if you haven’t streamlined these areas using the versatile PDF, you’ve got some homework to do!
Guest article written by: Anka Zielinska is a freelancer. She works as business consultant and online marketing expert at ZonePDF – free online PDF tool. She loves all about technologies. In her spare time she is a dedicated triathlete.