How To Start Your Remote Business NOW [Interview with Doc Williams]
The time to start your remote business is now and the tools you need are here. Doc Williams walks through how AppSumo's tools can help build your business.
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In this post, we lay out actionable business ideas built on AppSumo tools that Doc Williams and Chris Schelzi discussed as part of AppSumo’s Remote Work Academy.
If you’re here, you’re likely in one of two groups:
👤 I’m new to running an online business
Looking for ways to build a business online fast? Then you need to know about AppSumo. AppSumo is THE store for entrepreneurs, offering lifetime deals on the software tools you need to work smarter, not harder. If this is you, this post will cover six tools in the AppSumo store (for a limited time) that can help you build a digital business.
👤 I’m already an online entrepreneur
If you’re an experienced service provider, freelancer, or agency owner, this conversation will really get your entrepreneurial juices flowing.
The tools in this post could help you hone your service offerings or streamline your workflow to automate tasks that are taking too much time. In this conversation, Doc and Chris discuss looking at your past handful of clients to see where you’re getting the majority of your revenue. An 80/20 analysis will help you identify which skill is taking only 20% of your time, but bringing you 80% of your profit.
But enough intro. Let’s see what these tools can do.
How to Start Your Remote Business Now
Here, Doc explores six different limited-time lifetime software deals and how you can build businesses on top of them.
As always, you can click on the name of the tool to check it out in-depth. On each product page, you can watch product intro videos, explore features, and read verified purchaser reviews.
1. Social Animal
Content marketing swiss army knife: find the right content and influencers fast
Social Animal remote business ideas: Social Animal is all about content insights. Use it to build a niche industry newsletter, membership site, or connect companies with influencers in their industry. Here’s how to use it:
✅ Create a really specific newsletter for your niche. This tool is perfect for this use case because it does all the work for you, sending you all the best niche-specific articles from across the web that you should include in your newsletter.
✅ Next, Social Animal’s influencer search helps you create a marketing strategy for Facebook: search pages, align with specific messaging, or reach out to influencers. This tool gives you the resources to find out who you need to contact to promote content.
✅ The tool also allows you to do competitor monitoring: you can go in and set up alerts for what’s happening with your competition’s content. Think of it as comparable to BuzzSumo or Quuu.
⚙️ Doc’s hack
It doesn’t come with the AppSumo deal, but you can sign up for Social Animal’s API, which would allow you to pull data from Social Animal’s databases. Say you wanted to launch a site that gave people insights on influencers. You could use the API call from Social Animal to give you all the data you need to build a search engine right into your website. An easy no-code tool for setting up APIs is Sheetsu, which uses Google Sheets as a serverless-server.
So just to reiterate, two business ideas you can build on this tool:
- Build a newsletter, email list, or membership site: Quickly find the niche content you need for a curated newsletter like The Hustle. Create a newsletter with a free tier and go up from there with paid monthly subscriptions for highly curated content. To scale, you have to position why it’s important for your subscribers to listen to you.
- Product- or industry-specific influencer search site: Use Social Animal’s data to connect people to the right influencers.
Automate the process of finding leads
FindThatLead remote business idea: Companies need highly-qualified leads. If you can deliver leads, you can now offer that as a service based on industry. We actually recently featured how Doc validated a business idea using FindThatLead. Here’s how to use it:
✅ Go to the prospecting tab where you can search for and find highly targeted leads for companies or startups. The cool thing is you can use this tool as both the backbone service—and for finding new clients for your service.
✅ Sort leads by location, job title, industry, company size. See the total estimated leads you’ll get for each change you make to query—before you run it. How many is ideal? It depends, but Doc typically looks for 1000-2000K total estimated leads. Results are ranked by the quality of the lead information, giving you an idea of how certain the information is. So this number will decrease somewhat as you target higher-quality leads.
✅ Run email campaigns from FindThatLead or export to CSV to drop into your CRM. You can also use other software to automatically connect with leads on LinkedIn and automate InMail messages.
✅ Most leads come from LinkedIn, but FindThatLead also has a Chrome extension that helps you find contact information on websites you visit. (Chris used it last week to land a surprise HUGE GUEST for AppSumo’s Remote Work Academy.)
For instance, Doc gave someone 50 leads for free, and they loved it so much they said, “Hey, we need to work together. How can we make that happen?”
This is about giving value. Do not be spammy. You’ve got to be specific and connect the dots for potential prospects. Be very human and nice about it: “I saw you on LinkedIn, I saw what’s going on, I saw how I can help in this kind of way, let me know because just we’re trying to support each other.” Doc usually starts with a completely free offer, no strings attached. He’s not pushy or aggressive about it.
Take customer phone calls remotely in an easy-to-use shared inbox
Ringblaze remote business ideas: If you’re a virtual assistant (VA), you can offer a service where you basically create your own customer support/calling center. Niche down, so you’re very industry-specific. Companies are going remote right now. They need a lot of help keeping up with customer calls and virtualized demand. Take all the messages, direct them where they need to go, put them into CRM, and send your client a daily or weekly report for all the leads.
Alternatively, you could consider offering off-hours emergency call support. This is a real pain point right now: Many smaller companies like plumbers or electricians need to segment calls by emergency and non-emergency. Use Ringblaze to manage emergency calls for many different service businesses. You could also offer a done-for-you service setting up these types of companies with Ringblaze (if, ahem, you don’t want to be the one to take emergency calls at 4 am). Here’s how it works:
✅Install the widget on your website, allowing customers to call you from the site. Add numbers on the backend to take calls wherever you—or your team—are based (i.e., this is very mobile-friendly).
✅Leads come into your dashboard, where you can take calls and set up various automations–including during call queue times. Track resolutions and metrics in the dashboard.
💡Doc’s tip: Download the Ringblaze mobile app to make call management even easier.
Fully manage and track the performance of projects and meetings
Adam.ai remote business ideas: Freelance project manager, meeting manager, or “minutes taker.” Adam.ai is a project management tool that gives you a bird’s eye view to see what’s happening across all your clients. Measure the effectiveness of meetings, decisions, and actions within teams or companies. Here’s how it works:
✅ Once you go into a certain client, you can see detailed metrics like milestones hit, number of meetings, decisions made, and actions taken. Then watch your progress over time and optimize accordingly. Adam.ai allows you to see all the data.
✅ Create and schedule meetings based on everyone’s availability. Keep track of attendees, agendas, notes, meeting recordings, plus actions and decisions.
✅ You can integrate Adam.ai with Zoom, Slack, Google Drive, Calendly, Asana, Trello, and Dropbox.
Use this tool as the backbone of a project-manager-as-a-service business. Alternatively, you could simply manage meetings as a service. Perhaps your offering is a meeting optimizer: attend a company’s Monday standups, keep minutes, and give reports to the CEO and all the managers. You can tell them what went well and what they need to work on.
Canva but with streamlined branding and auto-layouts
RelayThat remote business ideas: For non-designers, easily add creative to your service offerings. For graphic designers, you can create agency-level media + branding kits lightning-fast, plus quickly deliver tons of production-ready designs in minutes. Here’s how it works:
✅ With RelayThat, you can instantly resize and remix brand assets into agency-level designs. Build your own brand asset library or use the “Magic Import” feature to quickly build a library of reusable brand elements like logos, colors, photos, fonts, and more.
✅ Smart Layout gets to work and instantly generates dozens of production-ready designs from those assets. Drag-and-drop elements as needed to further customize.
✅ If you’re curious to learn more, Jeir, AppSumo’s Creative Lead, taught us how to use RelayThat.
Everyone should be on social right now, and you can offer a streamlined social creative package. For example, if you’re a copywriter who can write great copy, but you don’t want to deal with creatives, RelayThat would help you add creatives to your toolkit. If you’re a graphic designer, charge for a branding kit, or create specific assets—the bonus is, you can make and manage it all insanely fast with RelayThat.
💡Check out Doc’s questions to ask your clients to help you effectively build the right brand assets for them.
Convert, deliver, and manage your audio products online from one platform
Soundwise remote business idea: Sell digital audio products or courses—or run a done-for-you service to manage gated audio content for clients. Here’s how it works:
✅ Sell audio programs online: rent or set up various subscription models. You can also offer soundbites for free.
✅ Upload your audio files, add intro and exit audio files, contact subscribers through the dashboard, and see all your subscriber metrics.
Unlike Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, for example, Soundwise is a platform that helps you understand who your subscribers are and allow them to opt-in. Soundwise helps you control the data and narrative around your audio products. That way, you don’t have to guess at who’s subscribing or what they want from your content. If you want to sell audio content or help someone else do it, this tool is perfect.
BONUS: Ok, ok. Gotta include one more tool that Doc and Chris discussed: SendFox.
Building an email list? Try SendFox by AppSumo.
💡Doc’s tip: Use SendFox’s RSS feed to automatically pull a blog post into email form + send as a curated newsletter. (Our dirty secret: AppSumo did this with our emails for YEARS… until like 2 years ago. 🤫)
Work smarter, not harder
That’s a wrap! You can listen to the full conversation with Doc on YouTube or check out his new YouTube show Build With Me, where he walks you through how to use AppSumo tools to build successful online businesses.
Have you built a remote business on AppSumo tools? We want to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments below or tell us your story in the AppSumo FB group.
About Doc Williams
Doc Williams is the Founder and CEO of Brand Factory, Inc and host of AppSumo’s YouTube series Diving in With Doc.
Doc started in digital marketing over 10 years ago, working with top brands like ESPN, the USA Olympic Medical Team, and Vayner Media. As he worked with top brands, Doc kept coming back to the real problem he wanted to solve: helping people learn skills more effectively to help them build their dream businesses.
Want to make the most out of working from home? AppSumo is running a FREE live Remote Work Academy for the next few weeks! Register here.