Often, knowing where to start internet marketing seems like one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make.
There are so many options and so many conflicting ideas, all of which seem to have convincing proof or arguments that their way is the only correct way.
There are so many things to consider before you even start that it’s no wonder a lot of people stall at the first hurdle.
Start by picking a direction
Remember that no amount of research can tell you what will actually happen in the real world. It can give you pointers in the right direction but it can’t tell you what will happen because research (in common with everyone I’ve ever met) doesn’t have a working crystal ball.
So pick a place to start:
- Made for AdSense sites are a popular place – in theory, they sound easy. Put up a website, get some traffic to it, put Google’s adverts on the site using the code they give you and get paid part of what they advertiser pays Google. Of course, there’s a lot more to these sites than that and most of them don’t attract enough traffic to make it worth the effort – partly because a lot of the places that you can get traffic from don’t like this type of site.
- Using free websites such as Blogger, WordPress.com (not the self hosted version on your own domain), Weebly, etc. These can provide a good set of support sites but since they’re not under your control you shouldn’t rely on them for your internet marketing income. Rules can and do change, sites disappear or change ownership, pages that you’ve put time and effort into that were acceptable when you created them are suddenly not acceptable, if you go down the free website route you’re not building a business.
- Selling stuff on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc. This is often neglected but can be a fast way to start. These sites have the really big advantage that they’re well known. People go to them to search for things. “All” you have to do is put your products up on them and make sales. There’s lots of things to learn along the way but if you’ve got access to products that are in demand and that you can source cheaply enough then this can be a quick way to start earning some money on the internet.
- Selling services on sites like iWriter, Freelancer, etc. Another easy way to start. Sign up for the sites and compete for the work that comes up. iWriter is probably a better place to start providing you can write decent English: once you click to write an article, it’s held for you for a set amount of time and so long as your writing meets the approval of the person asking for the article, you’ll get paid. Sites like Freelancer require you to bid for projects and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be chosen. But if you’ve got a skill that’s slightly different then it can work nicely.
- Selling services and other things on sites like Fiverr. Fiverr gets searched a lot and there are all sorts of weird and wonderful things available. You could use software to create nice looking whiteboard videos, sell articles, do silly things and much more. Search their site for inspiration!
- Creating an affiliate website. This is similar to creating a made for AdSense site except that commissions are (hopefully) higher than you’d get from just sharing advertising revenue with Google. You get paid every time someone makes a purchase after clicking a link on your site or sometimes even if they simply tap in their email address and a few other details (usually called pay per lead or pay per action) if that’s the deal you’ve decided to promote. Some of my most profitable sites are affiliate websites – done properly, they can make a very good income but, like any website, they take time to show up in the search results and earn money.
- Creating a product of your own and selling it from your website and via affiliates. This can be lucrative if you judge the market right and follow what the market wants (always a good idea). Probably best to do once you understand more about how the various pieces of the jigsaw fit together and once you’ve started building a responsive list.
- Probably quite a few other ways that I haven’t listed here.
Remember that these aren’t mutually exclusive. For instance, you can sell affiliate products on a site that also sells your own products. Or you can have an eBay business, a Fiverr business, your own website selling affiliate products, another website selling your own products (in the same or different niche). And so on.
You can even have different personas for different products. I use several pen names – partly so that I don’t expose all my niches, partly because a different personality is needed for different products.
That list is one of the reasons people stall when it comes to starting internet marketing.
It can mean overwhelm.
And it can mean questioning whether or not you’ve made the right choice. To which the answer is that no-one can tell you ahead of time, You need to start in order to work out whether or not something will work.
The good news is that so long as the advice you’re following is reasonably up to date and isn’t too scammy then it will probably work.
Some things almost certainly won’t work:
- RSS feeds are so “yesterday’s news” that even Google pensioned off it’s RSS reader.
- Automated sites in any shape or form mostly don’t work unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money on custom programming, dedicated servers and other kit. As a rule of thumb if the script is under about $1,000 (one off or spread over a year) then chances are it’s too mainstream to make money for any length of time and Google’s computers will almost certainly have detected it and will be working towards eliminating its effectiveness.
- Trying to fool Google with ancient techniques such as hidden text, presenting different pages to Google versus humans, bulk forum signatures, thousands or millions of links, automatically accepted blog comments or articles created at the press of a button.
- Spinning articles in the vain hope that the regurgitated rubbish that’s created will pass any kind of test and be treated as unique.
- Pretending other people’s content is your own – whether it’s legal (public domain or appropriate Creative Commons) stuff or whether it’s using PLR (private label rights) products on the web without editing them or whether it’s dodgier that you’d rather not mention to anyone in polite conversation.
- Faking Facebook likes or YouTube views or similar “tricks”. Computers are good at figuring out when this is happening and they’re good at banning your account without telling you. Some sites like Craigslist will even “ghost” your efforts so unless you check the final page you won’t know that no-one can see your work.
- Article marketing the “old fashioned” way. Articles are still powerful but most article directories have been penalised by Google for the low quality standards they exercised making the traffic they send minimal. Yes, I still get traffic from articles I wrote years ago but it’s an order of magnitude less than I used to get. Instead, I submit the occasional guest post and use document sharing sites and Web 2.0 sites instead. It’s evolved and you need to keep on top of this.
- Digg and other similar bookmark sharing sites that were all the rage a few years back.
- Probably quite a few other techniques that rear their head every now and then in internet marketing forums and Facebook groups.
Choose a direction
Once you’ve chosen a direction, go for it like a dog with a bone.
Keep at it for sufficient time to allow you to figure out whether or not it’s likely to work. That means weeks or months not days or hours or minutes. If you’re just starting out, I suggest aiming for an hour a day to give yourself a decent chance of making something work.
Don’t worry about a theme (design) yet – it will only be you looking at the site for a while.
Concentrate on creating content for your new website.
Written content is best – aim for a decent quantity of words per post. Anything from 500 to over 2,000 words per post/page (WordPress confusing has two names for web pages) is good.
If you find that a struggle, write lists. A heading with a paragraph or two below it, followed by more of the same.
If a post takes you more than an hour to create, so be it.
Write with the site visitor in mind – not you, not Google, someone who’s actually interested in the subject. And allow your personality to come through in your writing – the closer your pages read to being something that was written to a friend, the better.
Brag about each post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and (if appropriate) LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
After you’ve written and published several pages on your site, do a little bit of promotion:
- Make your next article a document and put it on a site like Scribd or SlideShare
- Create a video, post it on YouTube and point people back to your site
- Contribute useful information to a forum that covers your niche
- Put up a post on a Web 2.0 site
- If your niche is photogenic, contribute to Pinterest or Instagram. If it isn’t, figure out if you can make it photogenic with infographics, mind maps, etc.
- If appropriate, comment intelligently on a relevant, relatively high profile, blog or site and use the appropriate space on the comment form to link back to your site.
- If appropriate, register your site with Google Local and the Bing equivalent.
- Maybe add your site to a handful of relevant directories but don’t spend much time or money on this. Maybe consider using a service to submit your site to a number of directories but it’s questionable how much influence they have nowadays.
- Consider creating a Facebook page providing you’re going to keep it updated regularly.
- Do the same for Twitter, Google+, etc.
Get in a routine
We’re creatures of habit and that includes our internet marketing.
The more you can make your internet marketing a routine, the more likely it is to get done.
There are many schools of thought on how long it takes us to get into or out of a routine or habit. Anything from 14 to around 66 days depending on which report you want to believe.
That means initially you’ll probably need to remind yourself to do your internet marketing. Set an alarm on your phone, put up PostIt notes in places to remind you, whatever it takes to make your internet marketing a habit.
Earlier in the day is good – it gives life less of a chance to get in the way and gives you less chance to procrastinate and pretend that you’ll catch up tomorrow.
Whatever amount of time you’ve set aside for your internet marketing, stay focused during it.
That means no distractions – no checking emails or texts, no peeking at Facebook or Twitter, no watching “just one more” video on YouTube.
You’ll be amazed how much you get done when you do that. Even as little as 10 minutes of focused activity on your internet marketing can mean that you accomplish a lot. Ideally more time than that but if that’s all you can spare from your schedule then it’s much better than nothing. And even those small amounts add up. 10 minutes a day is around an hour a week. Plus there’s a good chance you’ll over-run your allotted time and that also mounts up.
If it helps you stay focused, create your own internet marketing blueprint – a road map that you can follow.
It’s often useful to use real paper and ink for that kind of thing. It may seem slightly odd at first, especially if you’re used to typing everything, but it’s a lot more satisfying to obliterate an item from a written list once you’ve completed it than it is to shift a cell in a spreadsheet from the “to do” column to the “done column”. It also gives you visual confirmation that you’re making progress.
Get help if needed
The internet is a big place. That means it’s easy to get lost or flounder around. But it also means that help is on hand for almost anything you could ever want.
Whether that’s internet marketing or scaling up a database to an almost unbelievable size or anything else that you’re stuck on.
You can usually find an answer – or often several conflicting answers – to almost any question.
Of course, that involves time doing your research or asking questions in forums or Facebook groups. And often it means knowing the right question to ask before you can get the answer you need.
Another option is personalised help – there are lots of people around (myself included) who can help you on various aspects of your internet marketing.
But make sure that you at least start – that way you’ll be further ahead than if you’re just dreaming!