Over the years that I’ve worked on the web, building sites, creating blogs, building traffic, making products, publishing eBooks and selling information, there is one question that always crops up from clients, friends and colleagues; how can I make money on the web?
Today I’m going to detail my business model to you; one that works whether your business is offline or online, but this is especially pointed at those of you who want to develop a significant web based business.
What will we cover?…well let me tell you what you aren’t about to read just in case you are close to switching channels here:
We are NOT going to talk about:
1. How you need to find a niche that you aren’t already aware of or have experience of.
2. how to do keyword research; because that is mind numbingly boring and assumes that you are doing this for all the wrong reasons; which of course you are not
3. how to find info products on clickbank to sell to your “eager” public; how insulting is it to be drawn in by a good article on someone’s blog only to find out they are selling you untested and sub-standard info products that they haven’t tried themselves (no insult to clickbank intended here; there are some great products on there)
4. how to make products in 5 minutes that you can sell for $millions
5. How to make 6 or 7 figure income on autopilot while you laze on the beach in the Maldives.
We are going to look at building a business using a unique and powerful model; one that works and has always worked and in fact is probably the only way to build a profitable long term business with repeat customers.
By the way if you were looking for the stuff in the list above, just Google “how can I make money on the internet” and you will be bombarded with “Opportunities”.
So what will be covering here?
1. defining your Niche
2. finding your Audience
3. promoting your Expertise
4. building your Products
5. selling to your Customers
6. growing your Business
So what is the essence of this model? The answer is simple:
Lets start by looking at point 2 on that last list; Audience
Audience is a funny word to use in business isn’t it? Well let me explain:
The reason that I am no fan of the stuff we looked at earlier; you know, make $millions on auto-pilot etc. is that it doesn’t work and it forces you to learn stuff that is alien to you and doesn’t line up with the goal of building a profitable on line business.
Setting out with the intention of making money is the wrong way to go about any business.
All successful business is driven by helping people; short-cuts and scams don’t lead to a long term, engaging business you can be proud of.
Farming is easier than hunting; think of me for a minute as a used car salesman and I sell you a defective car or one that is totally unsuitable for you; you won’t come back to me in 2 years for another one…I’m hunting for one time only buyers all of the time.
If I sell you a car that is suited to your life and I deal with problems effectively, I follow up regularly with you, I let you know what’s going on with me; I nurture our “valuable” relationship in other words; I am farming and I can “harvest” your cash for another car in two years from now and then again after that; but only if I look after my “crop”.
If I’m hunting for one off suckers in your town this year; I am almost bound to have to move on somewhere else once I’ve hunted down all of the available prey or maybe even the prey turns on the hunter and runs me out of the territory.
The web isn’t a market in itself it is simply a route to market, that can be used to build and grow your business; it’s not a magic bullet for instant profits. All of the usual rules of business apply here as they would in a physical bricks and mortar business on the high street. That means you have to find something you enjoy doing and that other people need, market it to them, sell them something and then build their trust in you so that they become a long term repeat customer if possible. The power of the web, the thing that makes this different is that you can reach a huge audience for almost no cost; something that only the largest companies can do in the physical world.
Your Audience lies at the heart of your online business success.
This is a fundamental shift in thinking for a lot of people; it was for me until I suddenly “got it” one day.
The web allows you to reach a huge audience for little or no cost; so is that the same as building a huge customer list? …Partly.
Is the web then a field leveller? a tool that allows you, working from your kitchen table to compete with massive multinational companies? A lot of internet “marketers” would have you believe this and of course this is again “partly” true as are a lot of things.
However, starting off your web enterprise with this viewpoint is not a good idea in my opinion. It needs to start with a much more fundamental and introspective study of you as a person; what are you great at? what inspires you?…and who is out there who needs and expert like you to guide them?
this all points to you building a rapport with an Audience.
If you are thinking of starting a web business for yourself then why on earth would you start one that becomes a boring job eventually; why wouldn’t you take this opportunity to build yourself something that is inspirational to you and others and that feels good to work on? This in my mind is the key to the most successful enterprises on the web;
People doing stuff they love to do and helping others in the process.
You the Expert
The amazing thing about this business revolution we are all part of is that your audience is already waiting to hear from you.
So how do you start?
You become an expert; let me re-phrase- you channel your existing expertise and use that to build your online business.
Back to the car lot for a minute: everyone in town isn’t a customer; there are after all other car outlets…but…the entire population of your town is your audience.
Good news is passed around by word of mouth;
“Hey…if you are looking for a good used car get over to Honest John’s Cars…look at mine its great. OK after I got it home I discovered a problem with the clutch; but John came over, gave me a loan car and had my car back the next day with a new clutch…fantastic service!”
“After my bad experience with Crazy Mac last year I was really scared to buy another used car, but John has restored my faith in humanity”
Bad news of course travels faster than the speed of light!
So I am not ready to buy a car yet, but now I know about Honest John; maybe I’ll drop by, have a look or maybe I’ll just tell someone what you said about the service; good news spreads and sticks.
Your Audience then…awaits you, so how are you going to locate them in the vastness of the web and then how are you going to help them and then how are you going to coral them into your gang and then how are you going to sell them something and then what else will they buy after that??????
Think about Honest John’s Cars for a minute; he’s sticking around, he’s doing whatever it takes to keep you happy; he’s probably just as crazy as Mac in the end though, because replacing clutches for free and handing out loan cars is an expensive game to be in. On the web your costs are low or zero so you can afford to pile on the value to your audience till they creak under the weight of the value you give them.
Home, home on the web!
There are a lot of ways, many of them free for you to communicate on the web with your audience and powerful ways for them to communicate with each other and spread your word for you.
So first thing is to set yourself up as an expert…how?
You need a blog. Don’t worry about the mixed up terminology of website versus blog, they are essentially the same. View the source code on almost any website you follow and 8 out of 10 of them will be WordPress based sites/blogs. Don’t worry about the mechanics of this; that’s why I’m here!
A blog is simply a way for you to spread the word, to share your expertise with your audience. It should become your “home” on the web and you should avoid getting bogged down in the mechanics of it completely to concentrate all your effort on “content”.
So what are you going to do with this blog?
You could usefully start by writing one solid article about your views on your own area of expertise and then maybe aim to deliver 5 or maybe even 10 solid pieces of work like this over the next year; the aim of which is to set out your philosophy, the essence of “your take” on your industry, art or interest. These should be substantial pieces of work of at least 1500 words or they might be videos, music tracks or graphics or whatever is most appropriate to your audience. You can consider these to be the foundations of your business.
Then add more posts on a regular basis; what’s regular? Depends how much you have to say, but weekly is probably ok, twice or three times weekly is better; but only if you have something useful to say!
Use these frequent posts to highlight new issues, develop ideas, tell your news. They should refer and link back as often as necessary to your foundation articles (remember these are your guiding thoughts on what you do)
Seth Godin, is a favourite author of mine; he is a genius at internet and offline marketing and recently has focussed a lot of his time and effort on helping people like you and me to get work done; to create our art if you like. He and others have recognised that the biggest problem you have in getting your web business started is…YOU…told you it was all about you didn’t I?
Two of Seth Godin’s key principles of business (and must read books) are:
1. Assembling a Tribe (your Audience). Check out the book Tribes
2. Permission Marketing. Also a must read book.
He recently pointed out the absurd nature of business in the past where artists like Bob Dylan and the Beatles sold millions and millions of records but didn’t know who they sold them to!
How many albums could they have sold if they had been able to regularly communicate with their audience at a personal level?
Building a list of people who are interested in your work then is a fundamental part of your strategy. You are essentially getting their permission to keep up the conversation by email and market relevant stuff to them. They can leave anytime so make sure they are aware of what they are signing up for.
Spread the Word
Now having a blog about your interest, art or business is cool, but you need people to drop by before they can join your audience or tribe. Fortunately there are a multitude of places you can go looking for them; places you can go to evangelise about your philosophy and pick up weary souls who have fallen by the wayside, blind to your existence; now you’ve arrived everything is going to be fine.
These souls can be found hanging around corners on facebook, twitter, youtube etc etc; so you need a strategy for getting information to these outposts on the web. These will drive traffic back to your “home” or blog where they can absorb your wisdom and sign up for more of the mind soothing info you have in abundance.
Social media can and does suck up a lot of a lot of people’s time and energy so you need to make sure you are not a victim of this and have a clever link up to all of the outposts you want to use from your blog; remember the blog is home, that’s where all the best stuff is, that’s where the tribe should meet.
What Can I Sell them?
Easy answer here is: Ask them!
OK it’s not quite as straight forward as that of course.
The answer is again YOU…your expertise, your way of sorting things; this all assumes that you are not selling a physical product like bespoke carpentry or reliable, honest plumbing services or indeed great used cars all of which can easily be sold using this same model…just more locally and with a different mix of offline and online elements.
You could distil your philosophy in a book or eBook; the Amazon Kindle platform is catching light now and is a really easy and fast way to get published. By the way “self publishing” is no longer “vanity publishing” it’s just cutting out the middle men who didn’t always understand your point of view anyway.
You can sell affiliate products; Oh we are back to clickbank are we? Well we can be if you find something compelling and useful to sell on there why not; one proviso though: DON’T sell anything you haven’t tried yourself and don’t sell anything inferior just to have something to sell; your tribe will be on the next rain out of town! More likely you are going to promote the work of others you respect and have experience of and that has given you great benefit; don’t send any of your gang to Crazy Mac’s, or they won’t be your gang any more!
Other affiliate income avenues are simply promoting services or products you already use or like; blatant example coming, look away if you are squeamish: I use AWeber for my list building and email marketing; they are the best by far in m y opinion and you can get started for $1 here.
You can sell membership to a premium content area of your blog or even a separate site of you want. I’m going to cover how to do this in a new post soon.
So to wrap this up for today:
1. get a blog; look here for guidance and help from yours truly
2. set up social media accounts and link to your home blog
3. build a following
4. deliver great advice, content and information for free: over deliver massively and be a great guy or gal
5. create a product or products and/or promote those of others
6. Review, revamp and re-cycle
Over the next week or so I will be walking you through each of these points in detail.