Well, last night I registered a clutch of domains – all the same stem but with several different endings. This is the first step in what I really hope will be a long term successful internet marketing project for me. I’m not giving anything away yet, because really there is nothing much to tell, but what I can say is that, unlike the test sites I have set up recently, this one is something that I am really interested in. It’s a niche, not a micro-niche, but one that I intend to develop gradually over time into a great authority web site.
Listen to me – I am almost talking like an internet marketer these days – yet I have not a penny of income from that activity yet! I wonder if the internet will play a key part in my busines strategy for the next few years – as of now, it certainly looks that way, and I am certainly putting loads of effort into learning my craft in this field.
Watch this space for more news of my internet marketing adventures.
I just realised that where I am at in my potential internet marketing career, in terms of human evolution, is the primordial soup stage. Everything is still fluid. Nothing is decided. I could develop into an intelligent human being, or I could evolve into a rat! In internet marketing terms, this means I could become an ethical performance marketer, adding real value to the products that I promote online. Or I could become one of the underbelly, promoting worthless e-books filled with information that could be found for free with a few clicks of the mouse, or worse still, filled with instructions on how to promote the e-book to others, a sort of e-pyramid scheme.
Let me tell you that I would rather be penniless than do anything that I consider unethical. I don’t want to be selling someone a dream that I know can never come true. I don’t want to sell information that is easily available for free. OK, this last one is a grey area I admit. After all, you may have a great guide to building something or other that has all of the technical information all in one place and, fair enough, if that saves someone time in searching through a great many web pages, then you have provided some value.
The difficulty I am facing right now is that the rats in the industry have a big presence and it really is hard to know whom to believe. But however hard it gets, how ever long it takes for me to form a true picture of this industry and how it works, I know one thing – when I come out of the primordial soup of the beginner’s stage of my internet marketing career, I will evolve into an ethical human being rather than a rat.
I was thinking about the issue of competitors and how it is so easy to talk yourself out of going it alone by using the old competition argument. Let me explain:
OK, so textbook self-employment advice is that to lower risk you should (initially at least) go for an existing market or an existing product or service. Great, so in my case that means, to start with at least, finding a product to sell on-line – a product that has at least one affiliate scheme attached, and sell that product to a market that already exists – the great big internet-browsing world in my case (well the U.S. anyway, as that is the biggest market so I reckon the best to start with).
The problem is that, common to anyone setting up a business to bring an existing product to an existing market, whether on-line or off-line, whether here in 2009 or back in 1609, the problem is that the would-be entrepreneur, i.e. me, has a great opportunity to talk himself out of the whole enterprise with a killer argument – “if there are already people providing this product to these customers in this marketplace, how the heck am I going to elbow my way in and make a living?”
Internet Marketing is what I am trying to make work here, and this argument really does apply to Internet Marketing as much as anywhere else. More so, I would say, because the competition from all over the world is presented to each and every customer, potentially, after a few clicks of the mouse.
So how do I defeat this really negative voice in my head that says “Look, this product has been sold on the internet for some time, by experienced operators. How are you going to get a look in?” Well, I think that I have to step back a little. First of all, it is all too easy to assume that markets are saturated with competition on the internet. Actually, many of them are, but many are not. The internet is still VERY new, in world trade terms. On-line trading has been here, effectively, for 10 years out of, let’s see, how many thousands of years of trading? The niches are NOT all saturated. There is still room. It’s still a bit Wild West out there. Secondly, there are new customers coming onto the internet right now, still. On-line trading is still growing fast. This means that markets that are currently not economic to chase after because there are not enough customers, could become more economic to chase, so the market is expanding and I may be the first to discover that a niche has suddenly become worth pursuing. Thirdly, new products are coming out all the time, and with each one a new market to chase after.
What I have to do is concentrate hard on finding the correct niches to test. I have learned over the last few weeks that testing a niche is basically about getting 100 visitors – over whatever period but preferably promptly – so you can assess how many of them click through to your merchant’s site. Sales are a bonus at this stage as the numbers are low. However, it is no good doing this testing on a niche where you have no chance of success, so I am concentrating on evaluating niches. It’s about finding a way into a market, and you can do that by finding search terms that people use to find and buy a product, terms that other competitors have not used in producing their websites. I am using Market Samurai, a specialist tool, to assess keywords for this reason.
I think that because it is so easy to get into Internet Marketing, so easy to set up a website and advertise products, it is also so easy to forget that the same business rules apply as in the off-line world. It’s just that on the internet, you are not sitting in your empty restaurant, watching the cars drive past, while your neighbour’s restaurant is full, wondering how you are going to pay the next loan repayment, wondering what on earth made you think you should spend so many thousands of pounds on a business on a hunch it might work, wondering how long it would take to get out of it and how much you would lose. No, on the internet, you can get into a business within days and out within minutes, at very little cost. This stark difference means that it is easy to forget that an internet business is a business to which the same trading principles apply. Just because you are not physically surrounded by your enterprise does not mean it is any less real or that it should be treated any less lightly. After all, the effects of success or failure will be the same – you will either be able to pay those real world household bills, or you will not.
Unlike many would-be Internet Marketers, I am only too aware of the above, and I treat it all very much like a real business. I am afraid, yes, I think that is right, I am afraid of the competition. I can see them laughing at me. Real people, coming round to my house, saying “you thought you could set up a little website and sell these products – and actually make a living!!! HAHAHAHA!!!!” This I need to change. I need to get in there and get on with it. I need to find niches where there is room (actually, niches is a great word for this – a little space for the new guy to squeeze in!). Most of all, I need to have even more confidence in ME. I have been in I.T. for ages. I have a degree in it. I have been on the internet since it started. I have been on PCs since they first appeared. I have a trading thing in my head. I just keep bashing myself, limiting myself, with this negative talk about bloody competitors. It’s got to stop. There are thousands of people working away in Internet Marketing making a lot of money thank-you-very-much. There is nothing too special about them. They’re just getting on and doing it. And I have to do it too.
Slowly, slowly I am losing a deep-seated feeling of guilt that has been with me during my first months of working for myself, not having a “job”.
I was brought up in a climate where having a “secure job” was the primary career aim for most people. It was ground into be throughout my childhood and early adulthood, and even though I am committed to my new life, the guilt was very prominent every single day.
If I went out during the “working day” – never mind that I had started work at the PC at 6:30am – I still felt guilty about taking “time off” when “normal” people were working. I wondered what people would think of me, seeing me out and about during the day in my casual clothes.
I know – it’s all so stupid – but the long-ingrained teaching that I ought to have a “proper job”, and that only layabouts hang around town in the day time in their casual clothes – it caused me such guilt which has only now started to diminish after all these months.
Now, the guilt is still there, but hardly at all. I KNOW that this is what I want and this is what I am going to do whatever the consequences, because it is just so ME. It’s a great feeling.
As part of my new life, I am exploring and experimenting with some internet marketing. One of the “in” things to do if you are marketing something on-line (at the moment anyway) is to write articles. So lately I have written some articles as a bit of an experiment to see if I can attract some readers. One question that has arisen is the matter of pen names.
Let’s say I want to market a product that is new to me. If someone were to search for me on the internet to find out about me, they would soon know that the product was not my current area of expertise because my name would not be associated with that niche. More than this, say I am a bit of an all-round internet marketer and over time I market a number of varied products, anyone can see this if they search for my name. I could appear to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. If I build a false persona around a pen name, the argument goes, that pen name would soon be seen as a specialist in that field. It would also, it is said, protect my privacy.
I have a bit of a problem with this. Like most people, I have concerns about identity theft and general privacy, but many of these concerns were born in the off-line world and actually I think that anyone can find out a lot about me if they want to, whatever I do. My problem though is one of integrity. “Ijumped” into the world of self employment with the wholehearted intention of doing business ethically, or not at all. Having considered all of the arguments, using a pen name for me is not about leading people to believe I am an expert in a given niche. No, for me using a pen name is about MISleading people to believe I am an expert in a given niche. The distinction is an important one. I don’t want to sell things by misrepresenting myself. I don’t want to do business that way.
For this reason, I will take the consequences of using my REAL name when I write.