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15 Must-have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Every Online Business

When it comes to online business, having a solid framework of processes is key. That's where Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) come into play—they're the backbone of a well-organized operation.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, SOPs are a business necessity, yet so many business owners and bloggers fail to properly document how their business operates.

This is a recipe for disaster! If you ever get sick and need help, want to hire out some of your business tasks, or don't do certain tasks often, you will want to have your process documented. Having something documented, even if it's messy, is better than nothing.

What are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?

So, what exactly are these SOPs that everyone's talking about? It stands for Standard Operating Procedure and think of it as your business's playbook. It's a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to perform specific tasks or processes within your business.

Your business workflow chart is like your business roadmap, and your SOPs are the directions leading you through the twists and turns of your business operations (roadmap). It takes the guesswork out of tasks, ensuring consistency and efficiency in everything you do and keeping your online business organized! Check out this post that compares workflows to SOPs to learn more.

Why Are SOPs Important?

As a women solopreneur, having well-crafted SOPs means you have clear, documented procedures, for your business processes. It's like having a dependable co-pilot, guiding you through each task with precision and clarity.

Creating SOPs empowers you to delegate tasks, maintain quality standards, and even free up some precious brain space. Whether it's onboarding new clients or managing your finances, SOPs are the secret weapon that keeps your business running smoothly.

15 Must-Have Procedures for Every Online Business

OK, so we've discussed what SOPs are and why they're so important. Now you're thinking, OK Lindsay, but really, I only have a small online business, how many SOPs can I really need? That's a great question, let's take a look at the 15 SOPs you should have in any online business.

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1. Client Onboarding Process

This procedure is going to outline the steps for welcoming new clients, gathering necessary information, and setting expectations. It's incredibly important that you have a standard system in place for welcoming new clients into your business.

This SOP will ensure consistency among clients, ensure all information is gathered and/or sent to the prospective client, payment terms are set, and many other important tasks.

If you offer services in your business, here is a 7-Step Onboarding Process with Templates that you can use to assist in getting this SOP set up.

2. Product Creation

In these standard operating procedures (SOPs) you'll want to detail the process for ideation, creation, editing, and listing your products. These processes can be one of the most time-consuming tasks in your day and you'll want to have them documented for easy reference.

This is a great example: Are you a digital creator? If so, do you buy images and clipart from a site like Creative Fabrica? Or do you create your images on Midjourney? Do you keep these images saved in respective folders labelled with where you got them from?

PRO TIP: You should keep your images saved in folders labelled with the site you got them from. The terms of use are different for each site and you must know how you can use the images or clipart, etc.

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3. Email Marketing Campaign

Email Marketing SOPs will provide a step-by-step guide for planning, designing, scheduling, and tracking email marketing campaigns. This is also extremely important because every Email Service Provider (ESP) is going to operate differently and knowing how the program works is incredibly important.

If you don't have an ESP yet, here is a great article Emilee at Emilee Mason Co. wrote comparing Flodesk and MailerLite. I chose to use MailerLite based on her article and I'm loving it so far!

4. Social Media Management

Social Media Management standard operating procedures (SOPs) are going to document the process for content scheduling, engagement, and tracking on various social media platforms.

You should consider keeping a separate SOP for each social media platform that you use. That way, if you decide to stop using one, you can just toss that SOP versus having to update a large all-inclusive SOP just to remove a section.

5. Lead Generation and Followup

These standard operating procedures (SOPs) will describe the steps for acquiring leads, segmenting them, and following up with relevant information or offers. You may have several SOPs for lead generation as you may have several different tactics that you're using.

There is also the chance that you don't have to document anything special for this as perhaps you're lead generators are free products and you have that SOP documented under product creation or product launches (like a freebie) for example.

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6. Product Launch Procedure

These SOPs are going to outline the steps for launching a new product or service, including pre-launch, launch day, and post-launch activities.

You've created this amazing new product, so now what? Where are you selling it? Are you using Payhip? TpT? Etsy? What are the steps for uploading your new product? What format do you use as a name? How do you SEO your title and description? So many more questions, but you get the idea. Write it down.

7. Customer Support and Help Desk

This standard operating procedure (SOP) is going to provide instructions for handling customer inquiries, troubleshooting issues, and escalating issues as needed.

How do customers get ahold of you? What is your response time (this should be noted somewhere so people KNOW when they email you, that you're not going to respond in say an hour)? Do you respond to DM's? Do you have a FAQ that you'll direct them to first?

Write it down and make it very clear to clients, customers, and anyone who may want to get a hold of you.

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8. Financial Management and Bookkeeping

These standard operating procedures (SOPs) will detail the process for invoicing, expense tracking, budgeting, and financial reporting. This is so important. Don't skimp out on this!

How do you bill people? What payment companies are you using (Paypal, etc.)? What are your monthly expenses? Do you have any annual expenses and when are they? Can you afford this awesome blogging tool that you really want?

Now, if you're one of those people who hear the words “finances” and “bookkeeping” and your eyes glaze over, no worries! I got you! Check out Simply Accounting with Cheryl. She's going to help you make cents (see what I did there 😂) of all things financial.

9. Website Maintenance and Updates

Website Maintenance SOPs are going to list tasks related to keeping your website updated, including plugin updates, content additions, and security checks. So many people ignore this part. They blog and add products to sell, but don't think about maintaining their website – the very portal for their whole business.

When I was setting up my websites (I have two), I connected with this amazing woman Diane who runs WordPress Basics Guide. She helped me set up all my updates, what plug-ins were good, and even the design features. I can't recommend her enough!

10. Sales Process

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for your sales process is going to define the steps from lead qualification to closing a sale, including follow-up procedures, if applicable.

Let's assume you're a Virtual Assistant and you provide office services (active income). Your sales process and SOPs should include things such as connecting with clients, learning their needs and processes, setting up payment schedules etc. You will also refer to your Onboarding SOP if you have one, or include it here with the Sales Process SOP.

Now let's assume you're a Blogger, and your income is mostly passive. You sell digital items and courses (premade), etc. Your Sales Process SOP is going to look vastly different because you're not working directly with a client, learning their individual needs per se. You are creating an item once and selling it multiple times.

If making passive income sounds interesting and you want to learn more, please check out my mentor, Sadie Smiley. She is a blogger who teaches people how to blog and earn passive income. Her site is called Passive Income Pathways. Trust me, you will want to read her stuff! This woman knows how to make money, both passive and active! In fact, I even wrote a blog post reviewing how much I love Passive Income Pathways.

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11. Blog Post Workflow

This standard operating procedure (SOP) is going to break down the steps involved in creating a blog post, from ideation to publishing. If you have been doing this forever you may think that it is an easy task, but it's still extremely important to have a well-documented Blog Post SOP.

What if you hire a Virtual Assistant to assist with writing your blog posts? While they may know how to write a blog post, you need to tell them how you want the posts done, how you want them SEO'd, the types of photos, where to get them, when the posts should be published, etc.

Are you in need of a virtual assistant or interested in becoming one yourself? Check out my friend Lynn's Facebook Group, How to Be a Virtual Assistant. Her group is growing super fast with all the great information she provides.

12. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This SOP is going to provide a guide on optimizing content for search engines, including keyword research, on-page SEO, and backlink strategies. You may find that you don't want a separate SOP for this and it could just be part of your Blog Post workflow. Or you may decide to have a whole SOP or multiple SOPs just for SEO; SEO for your digital product listings in Etsy, TpT, and blogging. Whatever works best for your business.

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13. Backup and Data Recovery

This SOP will detail how data is backed up regularly and how to recover it in case of any loss. If you're a blogger, your hosting company may actually back up your information for you, but you'll need to check into that.

Even if your hosting company does back up your site, you will need to document when are the backups done. Where are they saved? How long are they saved for?

It's great to know that your stuff is being backed up, but you need to know how to find it if needed.

14. Affiliate Marketing Process (if applicable)

If your business involves affiliate marketing, document the steps for partner selection, promotion, and tracking. You'll need to document who is the affiliate, what they pay, what your URL is, how you get paid, and how often, among many other things. It's so important to keep track of your income streams. Don't leave it to chance.

15. Performance Metrics and Reporting

This SOP is going to explain how key performance indicators (KPIs) are tracked and reported to measure the business's success. This could be your sales on Etsy. How many sales this month vs the previous months, vs the same time last year, etc.

Tracking metrics is going to help you determine if you're company is progressing, staying the same, or maybe that new system that you put in place isn't really cutting it. Without documented metrics and KPIs, you're only really guessing if your strategies are paying off.

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The Bottom Line

I hope that this has shown you the importance of developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all the processes within your business. I have noted 15 SOPs you should have, but you don't necessarily need to have a separate SOP for each process above.

You do need to have all 15 topics, if applicable, covered somewhere in your business's SOPs, though. For example, you might group your SEO procedure into your Blog Post Workflow SOP, and that's perfectly fine.

Of course, you might have multiple SOP's for certain processes, like product creation. If you create products in Google Docs and Canva – the procedure will be different for each, so you may have 2 or more.

The takeaway: There is no right or wrong answer to how many SOPs you should have. As long as you've covered all the processes within your business, you are winning!

So, what is the first SOP you're going to create? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you.


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Creator and CEO of Organize Your Online Biz, Lindsay Trca

Hi, I'm Lindsay!

A blogger dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs in the online business world. With over 15 years of experience in process documentation and SOP creation, I specialize in streamlining workflows, organizing workspaces, and optimizing digital tools for maximum efficiency. Join me as we transform your business operations with practical insights and budget-friendly solutions.

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5 Comments

  1. This is so helpful!! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to start using those templates I signed up for!

    1. I am so glad that you found the content useful! I would love to hear how the SOP creation went.

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