Starting Out in Internet Marketing?

2010 April 15

The question posed after I watched a video by Ed Dale was: “How would you advise someone about to start out in the internet marketing niche?” Given my interest in management, the ideas of Deming came to mind immediately. So what follows is a slightly expanded version of what I posted after viewing the video.

There have been a number of variants proffered on the internet about the general question of “starting from scratch” by several leading figures from the internet marketing community in recent months. The bottom line is about earning cash by getting people (traffic) to visit a web page where they will buy something (product or service) or give information about themselves (eg, name and email address).

I have been dipping in and out of internet marketing for a while now. It’s like the Wild West in the 21st Century. The expression “A fool and his money are soon parted” is worth remembering. Loads of opportunities are out there but the “rules” keep changing. There are many internet marketers pushing the boundaries in various niches and as soon as “gold” is discovered it is almost too late. What is certain is that several thousands of people are earning a very liveable income through their abilities online. But be aware that many of the “gurus” claim that some 95% of people will not make it online. So armed with this warning, where do you start?

This is part of the problem that is exacerbated by information overload as you try to begin to establish what internet marketing is all about. The other part of the problem is not starting to try out what you have been learning ie, not taking any action, because you are afraid of being ripped off or are a technophobe. See my blogs on Internet Marketing for Newbies.

So the advice I offer (based on Deming) and I need to follow this myself is:
1. Act as in decide / create your vision of the future (something to keep you motivated)
2. Plan as in define the gap between your desired future and where you are now and then work out how you will get there ie your route map
3. Do as in focus and implement your plan – do not get distracted
4. Check – every plan needs some check points to monitor progress AND ask “is it working?”
5. Repeat 1 – 4. If it is working maybe slight alterations are needed for 2 and then move to 3 and 4. If it is not working then modify 1 and move onwards until you arrive at something that works.

Distractions, Disillusionment and Disappointment but now back on Track for IM!

2010 February 26
by TonyGill

If you have been curious enough to be following Tony’s Challenge, then you must be really wondering what this guy is up to. He sets himself quite a challenge and then apparently disappears. So what happened during the past four months? The short answer: I lost my focus and did nothing. Read on… You may find that this is a mirror reflecting your own actions.

The recession is seriously hurting. The day job vaporised. Theoretically, I should be now full time venturing into the virtual world and creating the dream that many internet marketers talk about. But first there were the distractions. When you run your own show, you have bureaucracy to deal with: like preparing accounts and importantly making tax submissions etc. It’s a boring and time consuming job but it has to be done. When cash flow is tight, you do it and not some paid accountant.

And yes there are those jobs around the house that really need to be done sooner rather than later. Cash is in short supply so you do it yourself.  I have done my share of DIY in the past but cannot claim to be an expert. So the rule of thumb that I have recently learnt for the nth time is that whatever time you think you will take – double it!

Disillusionment: I have been on the periphery of internet marketing (IM) for nearly three years. During all this time I have been soaking up a lot, paying for many programs, but, and this is important, not really applying it in a consistent way. As a consequence, I have been learning about many interesting paths to wealth but never realising this wealth. Yes I have setup several websites and blogs but if you have little traffic and even less conversion of that traffic you do not have a viable business. I have yet to cover my costs.

To break out of this “Catch 22” you are advised to take on a paid mentor. They do not come cheap – think of $5,000 at the starting point and if you want a really established person, you need a significant amount more than this. It takes time to find out who the true internet marketing gurus are – these are the people to follow for a while. But then you need to take some action and Get Things Done as David Allen would encourage you to do.

Disappointment: There are several paths to wealth on the internet. Some are fast (eg PPV/CPA) while others (eg blogging) will produce a trickle initially which over time can turn into a stream of cash. If you are not fully knowledgeable and confident you can lose a lot of money trying the fast route. But the Pareto Effect (the 80/20 rule) works big time in internet marketing. The figure I have heard over time is that more than 90% of people who try internet marketing will fail! And probably less than 1% will make millions online. But this is a challenge many of us cannot resist. So we keep trying.

Hope & getting back on track: Right now I am grateful to my ever loving wife who is currently the sole bread winner. However, this is not sustainable so I need to get back on track without further delay. In refocusing, I need to do at least the following:

  • Prioritise and project manage (myself)
  • Establish and maintain my social networking presence
  • Rethink, improve and add to my current web “real estate”
  • Commit at least six hours per day to this enterprise (I am excluding admin and all other non earning tasks from this time).

It is interesting how many of the gurus say you need to outsource. However, while you are still at the start of climbing the internet marketing mountain, this is exactly the time when you do not have the spare cash to outsource. So you need to swap time for cash and do it yourself in this early phase. I will keep you posted on progress.

Tony's Challenge – Start thinking again

2009 August 13
by Tony Gill

The mind starts racing when a 15 year old tells you that there is no excuse for not making money on the internet. If you think that you do not have the time, knowledge or money, start thinking again. Go and view his challenge to you at http://lemonarian.com/ldc-tv-episode-3-no-excuses-ever

Well it is nearly two weeks into my challenge – let us call this Tony’s Challenge – and I expected to be well on my way by now. I knew what I wanted to do online and how I was going to do it. As I have said before I have been tinkering around the edges of Internet Marketing for just about two years. My plan is to work on two fronts: article writing and affiliate marketing using PPC (pay per click) and CPM (essentially clicks per action) advertising to promote affiliate products. And as a consequence, I should build a list of subscribers. This is fairly classic Internet Marketing stuff. So there are no surprises. It is all about how you do it – your mind & skill set.

Then along comes The Thirty Day Challenge. It was almost totally out of the blue for me. It is the result of my curious or inquisitive nature which depending on your view point is either a strength or a weakness. Traditionally, one is told to stay focussed and get on with the task at hand. So you have guessed it – I have added the Thirty Day Challenge to my work load. Spending no more than 30 minutes exploring the website, I quickly came to the conclusion that I could probably improve my skill set by taking on the Thirty Day Challenge (30DC). Since I started on Day 2 (2nd August) of the 30DC, I would comfortably be able to spend an hour or so per day either reinforcing what I already know or indeed acquiring further skills. Then I discovered that there are 24 boxes of pre-season material to take on board. So as a consequence, I am a good 10 days behind in Tony’s Challenge. The 30DC has no direct monetary costs other than registering for a domain name and web hosting during the course of the challenge which are yours to keep till you decide to drop them. And by the end of the 30DC challenge you should have at least earned $1. Take a look at the 30DC at http://thirtydaychallenge.com/

So as you have read, I had to Start Thinking Again. And what am I struggling with right now? For all those marketers out there – online or offline – the question is not surprising. Finding a niche to supply with a suitable product and make a profit after covering all my costs. I have some ideas but the competition looks very keen in the ones that I have been exploring. However, as we all know in the online world, learning without action is a waste of time and of your life. Watch this space!

Can I rise to Tony's Challenge?

2009 July 31
by Tony Gill
Something has to change! Things cannot continue as they are. For the past two years, I have been tinkering around the edges of Internet Marketing (IM). During this time I have done a lot of exploring and often hear of “gurus” earning $1 million plus per year. I am intrigued. Who is to be believed? What is to be believed? There is a lot of misinformation out there always covered by the usual caveats. If it was that easy to make money online, why do I often hear the figure touted that some 90% of people attempting online marketing fail! Up to now I am one of these failures.

In all this time I have earned just over $1000 and probably spent more than three times this amount on different offers and affiliate programs. Yes I have learnt from webinars and painful experience. However, I will blame nobody other than myself for my lack of performance to date. Of course, trying to do a regular job alongside IM does tend to make you lose focus and motivation. My time invested was limited although many suggest that you do not need to spend more than an hour a day. I guess that I have been somewhat like a butterfly in my approach. Also in spite of much learning, there is some “unlearning” that needs to take place due to initial misinformation or the consequences of rapid technological change. For instance, the “Google slap” comes to mind in the latter case.

That was then and this is Now … Tony’s  Challenge

I suspect that the present economic downturn has changed things considerably. More people are considering an online opportunity out of necessity. Additionally, I see the emergence of more sophisticated and articulate “gurus” joining the ranks of the original Internet Marketers (IMers). This is great because as the competition increases I am seeing more competitive and professional product offerings and services. And during the last three months there has been some excellent free webinars available to newbies (or noobies as some prefer) and the more experienced IMers.

For many, the problem is where to start. At a generic level, there seems to be three ways of making money online: emailing your list; PPC/CPA activities; and affiliate programs. (If you are not sure what these terms mean see my 10 part series Internet Marketing For Newbies.) Depending on whom you listen to may determine your entry point to IM. Many will say that your list determines how well you will do. This is partially true. At the beginning you do not have a list! So you need to start somewhere. Of course, all of this assumes that you have something that customers want to buy.

The promise of IM is Freedom. That is financial independence so that you do not have to work full time any longer. Freedom is Time to do what you want to, when you want to with no financial constraints. That is what I want. So I have set myself a challenge. In IM terms Tony’s  Challenge is modest: between 1st August 2009 and 31st July 2010, I must achieve net earnings of $100,000; in the process I must build my list up to at least 12,000 people; and I must be active on social networks. For instance, when I was thinking about the challenge I wanted to set myself, on Twitter I was following 10, had 38 followers and 12 updates. I need to put a couple of zeros behind these numbers and also get up on other key social networking sites. And to achieve this I am going full time!

I would like you to follow my progress. This will both motivate me to keep trying but also tell you what is working. I will be doing a summary report on progress in my blog at least twice per month and writing a monthly newsletter. Please do leave a comment on my blog. It is only in my monthly newsletter that I will be revealing more detailed actions that I have been taking. This will discuss what works and what does not work for me. And yes, I do have a strategy in place and a pretty good idea on what I am going to do. I need to focus on my action plan.

Have you heard about the Revolution?

2009 July 23
by Tony Gill
In April 2009 James Ward bought the EDC business from Craig Garcia. The EDC programs have been absorbed into the LGN Revolution brand.
 
I suspect that the economic crisis had an impact on the EDC Programs with their premium pricing. James Ward no doubt recognized this and the highest level program is now under $1000. Combining the assets of EDC with those of LGN Revolution presents an appealing offer. The information based eBooks and CDs together with software are available electronically. However, enterprising affiliates can package these into physical products that can be sold in numerous place – but think Ebay. Additionally, there are some very tempting travel vouchers.
 
In such transitions, technology is the constraint. Consolidating two separate online businesses with differing front and back offices takes time. James Ward and his team have worked hard to relaunch in July 2009. Everything is up and running. Welcome to the LGN Revolution!
What’s in it for potential affiliates? A source of products for sale, personal use or give-aways and a recruitment program that pays handsomely. So have I moved my membership from EDC Diamond to LGN Revolution Elite? You bet. And now you have two ways to engage with potential recruits and customers: the Affiliate Program; and the Storefront.
 
Things move very fast online. Craig Garcia and his wife Giovana have developed a strong following in the training and coaching arena. Innovation is the name of the game! Online entrepreneurs have to be alert to changes and immediately adapt. If you don’t, you soon get left behind and that probably explains the high failure rates in Internet Marketing. You have to treat it as a business and be organized, plan and act. All this takes time and if you do not invest the time you cannot expect to succeed.

 

 

So you would like to run an Online Business or already do but … 10

2008 October 25
by Tony Gill

In my last blog, I introduced the topic of web sites. Web sites and sales pages are your virtual showroom for your online business. This is where your potential customers come to see if you have something that they need. They got there because you have attracted prospects to your pages using a number of tactics including the fact that search engines should find your sites. Now I would like to touch on the topic of search engine optimisation (seo). It’s a big topic so all I plan to do in this email is make you aware of it. 

The bottom line of seo is to get your web page ranked on page 1 of the organic listings when people search on a phrase or word that is important in your chosen niche. As an example, in one of the niches that I operate in wearing a consultancy hat, the term “management cybernetics” is crucial. I have just done a Google search and the term has my company site www.phrontis.com listed third in the rankings for page 1. If you carry out many of the activities discussed in the nine preceding emails then they will have an impact on your search ranking. 

So what will help you get a good ranking? There are many factors that work in combination with each other. Firstly, the web page must be clearly focused on a particular customer niche and use key words and phrases as part of the page content that are consistent with that niche. Good quality content is essential in the longer term! Good Headings and sub-headings will also help in ranking. You also have to give thought to the content required for tags and meta-tags. (Tags, part of the underlying web page background structure, have not been discussed in this introductory set of emails but they are important and will be covered in other briefings or blogs.)  

Once your web page is optimised for search engines, you then need to look at connectivity – what and who connects to your web pages. Provided that the links are relevant, the more links to your web page(s) that you have the better. That is where your blogs can help; and these blogs and variations of them posted elsewhere will certainly help. So will the free ads and paid for ads help to improve the page ranking because of the links to your web page. A further benefit can come from the Social Networking sites linking back to your site provided that you respect the etiquette of the individual site. Do not become a social spammer – you will be ignored if you do. 

Well I hope that this final blog has brought all of the activities of online business together for you and given you a better appreciation of what internet marketers get up to. Remember this is a very quick introductory overview – there is a lot to learn if you are new to online business and want to do most of the work yourself.

So you would like to run an Online Business or already do but … 9

2008 October 24
by Tony Gill

In my previous blog, I introduced the topic of email marketing systems. As you may recall these systems capture the details of your leads into an opt-in/opt-out database that becomes your list and to which you can send offers or other helpful material as a way of maintaining your relationships with these prospects. Now I would like to consider the topic of web sites. 

Do I need a web site? Well it depends. If you currently run an online business the chances are that you already have a web site that describes or promotes your products or services. If are an affiliate marketer (have joined an internet marketing program or sell other peoples’ products and services thereby earning a commission) then you no doubt have access to a web site and a sales page. Here are two examples of this: to see my program web site visit http://Phrontis.lgnrevolution.com  ; to see one of my sales pages visit  http://phrontis.aonetimeoffer.com/CompleteWeb.aspx 

If you are totally new to internet marketing or setting up an online business then, assuming that you have developed a business plan, you absolutely have to have a web site. You need this immediately if you have a product or service to sell. If you start by joining an internet marketing program while you learn what it’s all about then you can delay having your own web site and rely on the resources of the program that you have joined. But the time will come when you need a web site to start selling “yourself” by marking yourself out as a trusted authority and as someone who has the knowledge and ability to help others. It is best to know this at the start so that you incorporate this into your planning and self-development cycle. 

So what does establishing a web site entail? Well, you need to: 

  find an internet service provider (ISP) who can host your site; 

  select a domain name and register it , that is your URL or web address example www.netwealthmaker.com ; 

  decide either to engage a web developer or do-it-yourself – the latter option does seem daunting at first but it can be done; 

  agree or decide on the design / appearance of your web site; 

  develop content for the web pages and be sure to include a lead capture system; 

  upload it to your site and test each page to ensure that it behaves in the way that your expected it to.  

My sales page web link above includes all you are likely to need to establish a web presence in terms of software products. Note that especially if you are going to do-it-yourself, make sure that you choose an ISP that is readily available by telephone. In this case be careful not to select the cheapest ISP cost plan – you will need your ISP’s help over the phone.

So you would like to run an Online Business or already do but … 8

2008 October 23
by Tony Gill

In my blog yesterday, I talked about using f.r.ee advertisements as a way to drive customers to you web site or sales pages. Today I will introduce email marketing software often mistakenly known as autoresponders. Mistakenly because most email marketing programs are a lot more than autoresponders. 

But first, why should you need email software? Is this not just another unnecessary expense? Well imagine that you have been doing all the good work of list building and you have 100 or more subscribers on your list. Using your own email software may be possible when your subscriber list is small but when you are seen to be mailing the same email to several hundred or more you are likely to encounter difficulties from ISPs (internet service providers). You could well be accused of spamming. And current anti-spamming legislation in North America and increasingly elsewhere means you need to exercise caution if you do not want a lawsuit on your hands. Managing unsubscribe requests starts to become a major headache as your list grows in size. You need to be able to offer your subscribers the possibility to both opt-in to your list and to opt-out of your list. 

There are several emailing software programs that you can subscribe to as an entrepreneur or small business. For the larger organizations there may well be a case for running your email software system in-house provided you have the necessary technology with backup in place, people to support the technology and access to appropriate legal advice. 

So what should you be looking for in selecting your email software system? Email deliverability is vital for your success. A trusted source is more likely to get delivered because they are known to be operating within the law and do not tolerate spammers. You may have noted that when I used the word free I typed it as fr.e.e or variations of this. I did this deliberately to show some of the tricks that spammers use to get their email delivered. This will not always work. Most ISPs use anti-spam systems to reduce unsolicited email for their customers. That is why the chance to opt-in / opt-out is so important. With this you are able to prove that your subscriber elected to join your list. And when the subscriber wishes to unsubscribe from the list, s/he can go to the bottom of the email and click on the unsubscribe link and it is done immediately.

Additionally, you should be able to: send out newsletters as a mass email without any problem; create sign-up forms that are located on your website or sales page; carryout email web analytics; and automatically send out emails for whatever purpose (eg, a welcome to my subscriber list with perhaps more information or a free gift) as soon as someone has subscribed to your list or taken some other requested action – aka an autoresponder. There are a number of email marketing systems to choose from but the one I recommend and use is aweber since they have been operating for 10 years and really know what they are doing plus they offer excellent training and support. See for yourself at http://www.aweber.com/?303811  

So you would like to run an Online Business or already do but … 7

2008 October 22
by Tony Gill

Previously I talked about using paid advertisements as a way of driving customers to your web site or sales pages. Now I will introduce some f.r.ee web sites where you can place your “not paid for” advertisement.

The principles for writing the advertisements remain the same as that for paid ads (explained in my blog yesterday) but you need to follow the guidelines for each of the sites. In many cases you are permitted to have a greater word count. Some of the sites restrict the number of times you can place the same advert (eg, Craig’s List) anywhere on their site. 

Following good marketing practice you need to tailor your ad to the niche you intend to operate in. Many of the sites expect you to select a category to place your ad in. In time, search engines will find your ad but do not expect any high placements in the organic links. 

Writing ads takes a lot of creative energy and time but they can deliver results if you are persistent. Many of the no cost ad sites do offer a premium (ie, paid) service where they commit to giving you greater visibility. Depending on what niche you operate in, it may be worth giving it a try once you have seen the results of the f.r.e.e service. The cost will certainly be lower than Google, Yahoo or MSN but you definitely will not get the same expose that these mainstream operators give. 

So where can you place your fr.e.e ad? As you might guess there are many places on the internet. I did a quick search using the phrase “place free ads online”. This yielded 1.9 million links on Google. You could narrow your search by including your market niche in the search phrase. For instance “place free ads online antique books”. Whatever you do it makes sense to only use the sites that come up in the first few pages of your search. Some sites that I have used are: http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites and http://www.backpage.com/classifieds/index. In the UK you may wish to consider http://www.friday-ad.co.uk/.

If you are using Social Networking sites you may also be able to post ads there.

So you would like to run an Online Business or already do but … 6

2008 October 21
by Tony Gill

In my last blog, I talked about recognised ways of driving customers to you web site or sales pages. I touched on some obvious offline methods and introduced the importance of blogging as a key online way to get traffic to your sites.

But yesterday I omitted to mention how to start a blog. Visit http://wordpress.com/ where you can signup for a blogging site without cost. If you can use an email or word processing software package you will soon learn how to blog. Yes this will give you a basic blog but at least it is a start.

Another way to drive traffic to your site is by placing advertisements on specific sites. Here you have the possibility of paid or free advertising. If you are time poor it is best to used paid ads; if you are time rich and probably cash poor then you will place free ads. I will cover free ads tomorrow.

There are many sites where you can place paid ads on. Yahoo, MSN and Google immediately come to mind. There are many others but it is best left for you to discover these as you begin to really understand your specific online niche and what sites others in it are using. For today I will stay with Google since at least 2 out of every 3 online searches are undertaken using Google. So, if you make an effort to learn how to use Google, the others will be quite similar. Visit http://www.google.com/ and click on Advertising Programs. Once on the Advertising Programs page, read the instructions for setting up an account – you will need to give your credit card details. If you do setup an advertising campaign, ensure that you set your daily maximum spend to a level that you are comfortable with or you may face some unexpected large amounts on your credit card bill.

Typically, your advert has four lines. The first will (hopefully for you) contain the key word or phrase that someone has typed into their search. The second and third lines contain a few words and phrases that indicate what the site visitor will find on your page. The forth line gives the site address where you can be found – your URL. If the searcher clicks on either the first or fourth lines they will be taken to your page.

Now do a Google search using a word or phrase about something you would like to promote. Look at the sponsored (or paid) links on the top and right hand side of the page. This is where your advert will appear. While Google does offer help in finding useful key words or phrases (the important words or phrases that people will use to search on) you may be intimidated initially. On the page where you have just done a search, the adverts on pages 1 and 2 give good clues as to what works (at a price). The adverts are not copyright and are in the public domain so you may attempt some creative swiping. And do not forget to use your own URL! Of course the more popular a word or phrase is the more you will pay for it.

Follow the rest of the instructions that Google give to setup your account and place your advertisement. Soon you should expect to see some activity either through your list growing, sales or whatever you were offering visitors to your page. It is always a good idea to visit your account page at Google (or wherever you choose to go) and check your stats.