This story is designed as much as a reminder to myself of the paths that I explored on the way to finding a modicum of success in developing successful Internet businesses as it is a useful ( I hope) guide to others about to start.
Firstly I must explain what it is not: It is not a definitive and comprehensive explanation of how to succeed with an Internet based business. I too am still learning how to succeed in this tricky business. There are many ways that this may be accomplished- most of which I either do not understand or which I do not know about. I am not an expert or GURU as some like to call themselves. I cannot guarantee that my preferred practices will make you a millionaire simply because they have not made me one either ( yet)!
What little knowledge I do offer here I hope might inspire others in a positive way for that is one aim of this story. If it all comes over as terribly naive or worse incorrect then I apologize now, unreservedly. I am not going to pretend I have all the answers nor am I going to steal ideas from other peoples E books or blogs to try to convince you that I do. No. I am about to give you my actual experience, right or wrong, good or bad, regarding how I have set up my own moderately profitable Internet business.
BACKGROUND: why set up a business?
Most of my working life I have spent in education as a teacher. I went into the profession for all the right reasons and for over 25 years I believe I have done my level best to inspire others with the knowledge and skills that I acquired myself. A vocational approach to work that has proved to be mainly wonderful, often challenging, sometimes frustrating but never financially rewarding. A good wage for an honest days work but not much more. Please do not misunderstand me.
Teaching others can be the most rewarding thing you can do and when appreciation is shown for your efforts whether by pupil, parent or colleague it can be uplifting. Financially however it has its limits just as most people find in any job working for others. However we live in a day and age where many do very little for huge returns and others like myself a lot more for a lot less. I am in fact not bitter or resentful about that as I balance in my mind the fact that I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing something good to help others. However I decided to look at ways to supplement my earnings in alternative ways that I could be equally proud of.
SUPPLEMENTARY INCOME : different strategies.
Whilst maintaining my day job I looked into a variety of outlets to bolster my income. I considered all sorts of options from the sublime to the ridiculous. From opening real and virtual shops, to private tuition, to dog walking, to babysitting, to more ambitious projects that would have required large investments, professional advice and support and a lot of luck.
I was not prepared however to gamble with my life or more accurately my family’s expected standard of living by doing this nor for the simpler options was I prepared to give up too much precious time in order to generate more money. Despite this my initial thoughts led me to assessing skills and knowledge that I already possessed. I am interested in the arts, photography, sports, fishing etc. Nothing unique there but I did go as far as to develop fairly advanced business ideas involving pro designed letter headings, logos and other materials for a) a photography business and b) a graphic design business and had completed fairly extensive market research to ensure that they could be successful.
All of this had taken a lot of time. It then dawned on me that it was this very TIME factor that mattered the most – not the acquisition of huge sums of money and I reigned in those business plans and finally scrapped them entirely. What I wanted was a supplementary income from a scheme or plan that was neither time consuming to run or difficult to maintain. A simple, consistent way to add to my earnings that would allow me to enjoy my leisure time more and allow me perhaps to retire earlier. To achieve a better balance between work and play with the prospect of having enough money in the bank to enable an improved standard of living. After all it is how we use our leisure time that defines most of us as personalities. Our ability to interact with friends, family, neighbors is all reliant upon having sufficient resources but particularly in having the freedom to do it.
Most people reading this are like me in that they want to work. Without work we become lazy, lacking in purpose and develop self serving attitudes. However we often feel that we are worth more than we actually get. Generally speaking this is a situation you cannot resolve easily or without a large slice of luck. I do not believe that I am going to get that big win on the lottery and with this in mind I became even more determined to find another channel for an additional income.
INTERNET MARKETING: the solution?
My first experience of the weird and wonderful world of Internet marketing left me full of cynicism. I had during my research for money making opportunities come across thousands of schemes that offered the solution, the answer to my prayers. It was obvious that most of these just had to be scams. I always thought that if they were making so much money themselves then why were they hassling me. And for most of them I would be right to have made that assumption.
On further investigation however I came to a different conclusion for for a few of these schemes. If a well thought out business plan actively relied on my slice of their business to survive then it might just be worth investigating further. Was there a company out there that needed new ‘investors’… not necessarily of the monetary kind but who needed your support to enhance there own business?
After a lot of investigation I discovered that there are indeed groups of people out there who positively needed others to support their ideas in order to generate yet more wealth for themselves. That is the role the affiliate marketeer has to play. By attaching oneself to a product or service, promoting it on behalf of others through advertising and other methods and gaining commission from others buying it seemed like a pretty good idea. As long as the products had some integrity so that you actually believed in them and as long as you can get them viewed by a wide enough audience then here was the opportunity that I was looking for. A simple money making scheme that required little of my free time to setup and which would develop over time as it established itself. Money for nothing. Or so it seemed!
INITIAL MARKETING PLOYS: mainly failures
I am pretty sure that there are thousands out there who arrived at this point full of confidence and expectation. They had done their research, selected an affiliate group and set out to develop a website fully expecting the money to fall into their laps from the skies. I was certainly one of them and I was to be disappointed just as many others would have been. My first website was ill focused. It was plastered with affiliate links, eBay links and had its own virtual shop but it had no clear theme and certainly no style. In short it was simply not believable or interesting enough to hold the attention of the visitor. This coupled with my failure to market it well and my inability to be able to edit it without having to contact the hosting company meant that I had few purchases recorded.
Whilst I later mastered AdWords and AdSense enough to illicit a healthy cost per click ratio my conversion rate remained poor and that was the fault of the home page which lacked cohesion and believability. Visitors left as fast as they arrived. My reaction to this was not good. I panicked, blamed the wrong things and almost gave up entirely.
I decided when I finally came to my senses to research marketing techniques more thoroughly and most importantly to sort out the content and the layout on my next venture with more care in order to promote a longer stay for the average visitor.
FOCUSED MARKETING : higher success rate.
Focused marketing employing a range of techniques was something I had not fully realized the potential of. Building traffic, I presume, is the ultimate goal of the Internet sales businessman no matter what some may say. If only a few people visit your site sales will obviously be affected. A simple Google search on the term marketing will return millions of opinions, solutions and scams. If you have the money you can pay an S.E.O. specialist to increase traffic through improving your position in the search ranks. You can develop ( if you can ) a killer advert in AdWords combined with low cost popular keywords ( again if you can) which will drive traffic to your site. I was never entirely successful at this I admit and it cost me more in ads than it created in sales. But they did generate interest.
What worked best for me was a combination of using other pay per click companies ( for higher, cheaper click rates), exchanging links with high traffic sites, submitting articles such as this one to Ezine publishers and emailing subscribers with new offers. Yes this took some time to set up but most of it is now automated so I have not lost site of my initial goals to protect my free time AND more importantly sales have improved.
Whilst a more focused approach to marketing is important my main aim with websites now is to build up the content and to update that content regularly.
CONTENT: the real ace in the pack.
One of my most important realizations came when I read some of the articles written by Steve Pavlina (with whom I have no connection). His site has no gimmicks or pyrotechnics to hold the viewer ( and no products either ! ). He has just one thing – really well written and interesting articles that he adds to on a regular basis. I chose to use this approach as my model for the future as I build up my own sites. Without feature rich content that is written in a personal way and which offers sensible ideas and solutions to a variety of problems connected to the products on sale is the real secret in my opinion to successful Internet sales. Pavlina’s articles can be quite awe inspiring in their ability to make you consider your own development on so many different levels. I say this in the full knowledge that my own sites do not yet have anywhere near enough of it but I do know that is the right thing to do and I fully intend to expand this element wherever I can to generate the maximum value and interest for the visitor of my sites. If a visitor likes what he/ she reads they will return. The more they return the more likely they are to purchase. Its as simple as that.
SUMMARIES AND FINDINGS: what the future holds.
Who knows what the future will hold with regard to Internet sales. The Internet itself is changing on a daily basis. Google still appears to be the champion but will that last? What I do believe will be important will be to recognize the key changes as they happen and to react to them. People’s needs will change the way the web operates in that the Internet generally (though not always) reflects the demands and interests of the public. Sometimes the Internet will engineer a way of thinking or create something from nowhere that generates huge interest within the public itself.
There was a time before search engines, Ebay and iPods. Their time will end too and as a marketeer you have to move with it. Just do not ask me how! If I knew the answer to that or could predict it in some way I would not be writing this article I would be sunning myself on an exotic island with a bevy of beautiful women in tow! ( apologies to my wife).
Seriously I am currently content to keep this little venture ticking over in the healthy way that it currently is, build up more interest and try to sell things that will genuinely make a difference to them in a positive way.
MY PRODUCTS :affiliate linked
I chose a variety of products to promote on my websites. They are virtual products so there is no need to carry stock. No packing to do. No postage charges. My first website itself was bought from an affiliate product itself and it was their excellent package that inspired me to develop my own. All the tools were right there on the desktop ( no need to understand HTML ) to develop an individual site ready to trade that is mainly automated ( but which can easily be personalized ) and which has excellent support from its creators. They even provided optional hosting so you can brand your site with your own domain name, logo etc. There are probably many alternative companies out there offering similar services and I intend to research these for future projects. I would like to have even more control and a future goal is to develop the html knowledge to give me complete webmaster autonomy. I will report on my html experience in a future article. However, the system that I first bought into provided me with a great start.
Currently the automation provided gives me some security. The products appear like magic once you have vetted and selected them. I chose to select products that helped others primarily to take the plunge, just as I have done, to start there own Internet businesses. Most of the products are focused on achieving that goal for the buyers.
Some of my products relate to health issues: both body and mind -as I wanted to avoid developing a website which was solely business oriented and which placed money acquisition into a more rounded context of a philosophy of self improvement. For example one system available looks more deeply at the habits we develop that hinder or promote successful attitudes to personal development. It really gets you to analyze your own behavior and suggests ways that you can change it for the positive development of your life. Really thought provoking stuff that really can change you into a more proactive and confident person. Another key is to develop sites that caters for a particular niche. Articles and reviews can then be added which support them but they must be accurate, honest and informative. Such sites have a more cohesive, memorable image and this of course simplifies the marketing too.
Seeing that first sale come through though really does takes some beating when it first happens.
My own sites continue to develop, they continue to make money – not huge amounts but a steady stream that keeps me positive and which inspires me to write articles like this. I still have a so much to learn and I continue to experiment with different marketing methods. Whilst the cynical may suggest that this story is itself just another marketing ploy, I can reassure you that it is not solely intended as such. I intend to expand my number of websites, make them less product oriented and develop more content based information that will prove of real use to any visitors. When this has been achieved I will scale down the advertising even more to only the most appropriate of products. I hope that this will enable a more targeted and user friendly experience. Now where can I find those html tutorials that I need?
Writing this article is for me an affirmation that my businesses are continuing to develop and that they can and will be successful for some time to come. It reminds me of my motives for developing websites in the first instance and reassures me that even a small part of them may be of use to others. I realize that I have a great deal to learn myself and that I have only scratched the surface of this subject. I am, however, a distance along the path now and hopefully in the right direction too!
I HOPE ESPECIALLY THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WITHIN THIS ARTICLE THAT MAY HELP YOU TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN SUCCESSFUL WEB BASED BUSINESS AND THAT IF YOU DO THAT IT LEADS YOU TO GREATER FREEDOM, INCREASED PROSPERITY AND INNER FULFILLMENT.
- Birth of a Sales Tool: LinkedIn Meets eBay
- Is Benny Snell a Heisman contender? UK just launched a website to promote him.
- Sunday Stories: “99 Red Balloons” By Bark M.
- Sunday Stories: “Turnaround” by Jack Baruth
- Our Daily Saab: Lurid Crime Stories And An Unwelcome Bank Wire
- Sunday Story: “From Zero To Eternity” By Bark M.
- INDIA SALES ANALYSIS CY2015: Two-Wheelers
- Trevor Story Took One Opportunity, and Has Led the Rockies to Another
- Sunday Stories: “A Father’s Obligation” by Thomas Kreutzer
- Sunday Story: The Reluctant Baller
Affiliate Business Story - How I Am Slowly Learning To Make Sales From My Websites have 2923 words, post on ezinearticles.com at August 18, 2007. This is cached page on ReZone. If you want remove this page, please contact us.