Let me give you some advice I made over the last 15 years in online business which certainly will destroy some of the money making ideas which the net is flooded with.
1. Don’t do evil
Google is right, in both ways, in punishing others from trying to cheat on them and in not working for the Chinese despots.
Grey or black hats will never win the long run. They may make a fast buck from clicking on their own ads, buying links or stealing traffic with other techniques. But sooner or later they will lose, the thousands of engineers at Google, Bing and Yahoo will beat them.
Do you really think Google is stupid?
You know what will happen if you try to sneak your way through for a free ride? They will track you down all of the sudden and your reputation will be down the drain for a very long time. Once caught in the act you will have to give up your domains, your server (as your whole IP will be punished) your accounts and your identity.
Cheating and lying after all can be very stressing. You have to remember your tricks, your stolen identities, your hundreds of password. Working the non-evil way is simply less stressing. It let’s you concentrate on your business, your customers and your competitors.
2. It’s a long run
Like life itself, business for sure is a long run. Some guys might made a fortune from a (foresight) simple idea which they sold after 3 days to a competitor. But the vast majority of entrepreneurs in every business will have to work hard, very hard. If you are not willing and able to work at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the next three years you will never make it.
You should really love what you do, otherwise you won’t survive the fall backs. Without a passion for what you do you will take every downturn personal. If you don’t feel a real passion you should stick to your 9-to-5. After all it’s not that bad to have a regular pay check. Don’t lie to yourself in what your are capable and what not.
3. Find a real market
This is important. From what I found out in the last 12 months: Niche Markets and Niche Marketing are a myth.
There are two ways to make money in sales: You sell something really expensive (House, Yacht, Ferrari) to one person or you sell something inexpensive to many people. This is the idea of the „Long Tail“ in sales. The problem is that people working niches are sitting on the lowest level of the marketing hierarchy. So they only sell inexpensive goods to very few people.
An example: Assuming an average click price (the price you get when somebody visits your page and clicks on an ad) is 0,20 Dollar and the an average click through rate of 2% (how many of the people who visit your site actually click on an ad), you would need 250.000 unique page views to gain an income of just 1.000 Dollar. That makes 1 Million views for 4.000 Dollar. Seeing this figures someone must be very optimistic to even thinking about to make a living with this. And I doubt very much that the amounts are more with other typical multilevel products („How to“-PDF, Spam services, Auto-Blog-Robots and the like)
The only guys making money from it (and compared to their affords it’s still very little money) are the once who sell you the shovels, the once who sit on top of the hierarchy. Even in the gold rush only the sellers of shovels made big money. The same is with people selling you the next worthless PDF document in multi level marketing. Ever seen the long, very long same looking scroll down selling papers with fake customer testimonials? You know what I mean.
If you want to make money you have to concentrate on already working Bricks and Mortgage business and find ways to leverage it with online tools. That’s all.
It’s not Hocus Pocus. You will not be the one to invent the next Twitter. After all, Twitter is making zero money until now. How long will you survive with no money?
Trust your guts, if you have one. You will never make a living of trying to sell goods that people in reality don’t need. Ask yourself, have you ever bought one of your products yourself in the past? And I am not referring to worthless SEO products, they are crap in any ways.
Skip the romantic ideas of the next Real McCoy.
I know what I am talking about. In the last couple of months I was able to drive thousands of unique new visitors to different websites a day. And all I got from it was about 1-2 Dollars Adsense click revenue from it a day. Aside that no leads, no sales, nada. Every bump makes more money from refund bottles. I didn’t study economics for that!
4. SEO is not a business, it’s a support
I know guys who spend countless hours in researching the newest hacks for beating the Google engine. Believe me, this is futile. If your offline, real life business is wacky or a dead born horse, it won’t help you if you invest time (which is always money) in SEO. I know males like to fine tune every nuts and bolts of their gimmicks. Get real, get away from that.
Concentrate on your real business, the one that pays your bills. No matter how boring it may be. Write sale letters, find better wholesalers, detect new channels of distribution (online or offline), collaborate with partners to save marketing costs. This drives your success.
SEO is too much alike stock market trading. After all no one really knows what leads to success. If someone really knows, do you think he would tell you the way to go? And then if there is a 100% bullet proof receipt everyone would use it, hence every little advance would soon melt off. Better concentrate on your core business.
5. Set your targets
All right, maybe this should have come earlier. But it’s never too late.
To be successful you have to set and measure your targets. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? I bet that most of you reading this have never even taken this serious. Meaning not only thinking about the target of becoming rich and famous with your business, but sitting down with a pen and paper and writing your targets down.
Do you have targets for live and business? Targets on private, intellectual or health related issues? Do you have short or long running targets? No?
Let me give you some advice on that. Your targets ought to be S.M.A.R.T.:
Specific – Define your targets to the point. Find 1000 new relevant followers on twitter. Write an 500 word article on my business every week. Talk to 1 new wholesaler every month personally. Phone your best 10% customers every 3 months and ask them for their opinions on your business.
Measurable – To control your success your targets must be quantifiable. It’s as simply as that. Don’t say „I want to earn more at the end of the year“. Say „I want to increase my sales by 50% compared to last year. Don’t say „I want to attract more new customers“. Say „I want to find 10 new unique customers through social media contact till the end of this week.“
Attainable – To be practical give yourself attainable targets. Those targets are the long runners. „I want to sell my business in 10 years for a capital monthly income of $ 2000.“ or „I want to be the most sucessfull solo real estate agent in my area 5 years from now. Your ratget should be challenging but never out of reach.
Realistic – Separate your realistic targets from the attainable. Realistic targets means measured by the tools, sets and assets you have now. This doesn’t mean you will never achieve new goals. But then they refer to to attainable targets. I have to confess, it’s not easy to divide the attainable targets from the realistic once. But I had to stick to SMART schema somehow.
Timely – The last one. As Keynes said: „On the long run we are all dead.“ Means that you can achieve every goal if you wait long enough. To measure your targets it’s inevitable to set deadline. „… until the end of January“, „… until end of fiscal year“, „.. three days before beginning of the new sales campaign.“ And don’t you ever let yourself into temptation to postpone your timeline. People find excuses for everything. If you don’t hit the spot by time it simply means you have not achieved the goal.
And now. NOW! sit down, take a pen and paper and define your targets. 3 for today, 3 until shorter reference and 3 for your long running goals.
[Reference on this chapter goes to Tamar Weinberg ]
6. Control control control
Once you set your targets you have to control them.
And like with the time line you must stick to your settings. When you’d define a success being 10% rise of sales, than 8% is not.
When you fail in reaching your targets, you have to analyze why. Even if it were circumstances out of your reach, you should have foreseen them. That is what clever management is about, to take the unexpected into account.
Long running targets of course must be controlled by milestones so you don’t get surprised and still have time to turn the steering wheel into the right direction. Remember the bigger the target the longer it takes for the ship to react to your actions.
And always be truthful to yourself. If you are not going to make it than leave it. It’s not a shame to resign, it’s a shame to run into ruin just because you love your unsuccessful business too much and you don’t have the heart to sound the death knell.
7. Know your customer
Nothing is as easy nowadays as knowing your customers. With your ear inside the social media stream and Google Analytics only a click away, you should not have any problems at all to identify your customers general needs and concerns and the their experiences with your product or services.
Use the tools to get and stay connected.
But take your time, don’t rush. Learn the language inside your community, don’t lie, react.
And don’t spam! Don’t flood the net with useless stuff, please don’t. Don’t write yet another article on how great article writing is. We all know that already, stupid!
8. Don’t exaggerate
Remember how we all hated the big loud mouthed kids at school? It hasn’t changed. No one likes people how obviously lie to their customers about the performance. And no one likes companies which are too stupid to realize that. Do you like companies which exaggerate? I don’t.
9. Know your competitors
This is an important part of analyzing the market
Who is the leader, what do they do? How do they communicate? What are there prices and services? Do they have special promotions? What makes the top three competitors unique to the rest? Do you know that? Do you think you can cope? Do you think you can beat them? If not, stop and find something else.
Visit your competitors websites, read there sales letters. Collect their RSS-feeds. Read in their community. Read about them in the web. Do they have strong and defending fans or do you think there buyers are not that loyal?
Do yo have the nerve and capital to face all that?
For god’s sake make yourself visible in the web. A good product is nothing without people knowing about. Be smart, use Guerillia tactics. Think new, think fresh. Or ask (apay) others to think for you. Be funny. Be honest. Post your letters. Have a company blog. Let your visitors be part of the product development process. Use feedback to polish you products. Canalize discussion. Focus on the most wanted and needed features. And most of all identify bugs and product errors.
Again: be honest.
Nothing is more valuable as the input of an angry customer. But don’t provoke it on purpose, of course.
As stated before, building a reputation that helps selling your products, that bonds your customers, that even turns some of them into evangelists, takes time.