Well, the site I had abandoned as a no-go as advised by the 30DC process produced a sale yesterday. This is a momentous occasion because it is the first commission I have ever earned from Internet Marketing.
It is only £1.57, so cannot be considered significant financially, but it is very significant psychologically, because it is the first time in all my months of effort in online marketing that money has flowed in that direction!
So, having not touched Pushchair Stroller, my thirty day challenge site, since the “no-go” decision, I am now wondering what I should do with it. There have been 110 unique visitors in over a month, which is pathetic, of which about 50 have clicked the offer, and 1 has converted. So the ratios are fine – just the TRAFFIC that is missing!!! And of course that lack of traffic was the thing that caused me to decide the site was a no-go because it is highly ranked so there is nowhere to go to get more traffic. It’s still a dud site, but it’s encouraging that the click-through rate and the conversion rate are nice, which shows that I got some of it right and just need to apply the same process to different micro-niches that will get more traffic. Yes they WILL! I have two more sites up already, and two more that I have just registered domains for. Therefore soon I will have four micro-niches on test, sort of overlapping time-wise. I am just hoping for more traffic on these.
Right, no time to sit back – back to my link-building, content creation, article writing and keying pages into Traffic Bug (don’t ask..)
Oh, you may be wondering how this is going to fit into the big plan of my self-employment. The answer is that I am giving it everything I have got until it works and I start to earn at least part of what I need each month, from Internet Marketing.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the last week or so.
During August, I have been honing my Internet Marketing skills by following something called the Thirty Day Challenge, which is a free course designed to give you the tools and expertise needed to make “your first dollar” on the internet. It as certainly been a very interesting course and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone starting out in the world of Internet Marketing. It is also a good refresher course for those more experienced folk, because it brings you up-to-date with techniques that are changing all the time. Oh and yes, it really is FREE! The payback for the man behind it, Ed Dale and his team is that there is a paid advanced course, well more like ongoing coaching, that you can subscribe to afterwards – and even that is priced very reasonably – I got in with a special offer at 30 U.S. dollars a month.
For me personally, the 30DC as it is known was a great confidence booster. Having said that, I have yet to earn my “first dollar”. I built a test website as instructed, but unfortunately the keyword I chose was a dodgy one as I now know. Let me explain:
I found a keyword with 800 hits a day and a low number of competing web sites – it met the criteria so I used it for the challenge, building my site and doing the article writing, marketing and everything else. In no time, the blog was at number 1 in Google – a great start! Unfortunately, the 800-a-day visitors never came. One or two a day came to the site if I was lucky. So what happened?
Well, with more knowledge now, I dug deeper into the keyword, which was “pushchair stroller” by the way. I was suspicious all along that “pushchair” is a UK term and “stroller” is a U.S . term, but I thought well if Gooogle says 800 people a day are searching for this, who am I to argue? Unfortunately, I underestimated the fact that one word of the phrase was used by only Americans and one word only by Brits. When I dug deeper I found that only 50 a day use the exact term “pushchair stroller”, not 800!
Unfortunately, I did not check this “exact match” as the Thirty Day Challenge did not mention it. Oh well..
Since then, I have built another two sites and I am shortly about to embark on number three. As of now, site number two has few visitors and is languishing at number 80 in Google and that’s phrase-matched – but it is early days. Site number three was indexed yesterday. I am just yearning for some traffic and for that first sale – it will be such a confidence boost.
Wish me luck!
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.
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.
I have just read a load of articles from a SEO blog describing a whole dung heap of really dodgy practices for promoting web sites in search engine results. Really, I thought I knew a bit, but this was awful and left a really bad taste.
A massive great blog post relating how someone built an Internet Marketing empire out of a load of database-driven, spam and useless web sites, literally thousands of them, all being used as linking sites to a smaller number of monetised sites. I am NOT going to give the address because I don’t want to be associated with it in any way whatsoever, and neither do I want to give it a shred of extra publicity.
Basically, what I object to is the fact that the majority of these web sites are useless, add no value to any reader, are junk. I wonder how Google is tackling this type of internet empire-building lout? I also wonder what effect these people are having on all those who are using genuine, approved of, moral and fair techniques to promote their work?
I am still trying to decide (some would say prevaricating) on whether to start a few internet marketing web sites. What I have read today can at best be described as discouraging. I must now find something fluffy and positive to balance it out.
I am still struggling to wade through the very murky water of affiliate scheme information on the web. There is just so much of it. So many worthless products to read about and dismiss, so many “ebooks”, so much junk. And so much real business being done, behind the scenes almost hidden by the smokescreen of rubbish.
So my challenge is to line up my efforts with those companies who are selling real products and interested in doing proper, old-fashioned business but on the internet as opposed to the High Street, reputable companies, companies I am happy to partner with. Or I could choose a hidden niche of industry that is under-represented on the web yet in demand. Who knows – as of now I am firming up my ideas and hope then to decide whether affiliate marketing in this sense is something I want to get into.
I am thinking about how to set up my next monetised website now. I have spent a few months learning about internet marketing in a big way, and I have set up a trial site called world-of-honey.com which was basically an experiment to see if I could, from scratch, attract some visitors to content that I hoped would be interesting. I got some good results, considering it was my first attempt at a content-rich website from scratch, averaging about 40 visitors per day after about six weeks.
Anyway, the trial is over and I am not going to pursue that one much more. Now, I want to go for it for real, choosing a “real” theme for my next internet marketing website that will generate some income.
It seems to me that I have two choices. Both involve creating great, content-rich websites that are original and add real value for the readers. But they are very different in concept. One is the traditional internet marketing affiliate-style website. Now, when I say affiliate I DON’T mean those rubbish ebook selling websites, but rather the genuine on-line content-rich sales-generating sites of professional on-line publishers, using products of reputable manufacturers who work with, say Commission Junction. I did not monetise my trial website so I don’t know how that would have gone, and in any case I did not market it for long so the visitors were not enough to make it good, so if I went down this route it’s all new territory when it comes to monetisation.
The other approach is not to use affiliate schemes but to work directly with local or regional businesses who have a potentially national customer base but only local marketing or maybe a website that is like so many SME websites of businesses whose traditional customers are local. It is perfectly possible to take a really niche product and use internet marketing to roll it out nationally so that a local business gets national coverage. I don’t know how to do this apart from creating a website and seeing how it went. A big gamble, because this would involve a lot of work to get it noticed and even then when I approach the company they may just say “no”. I will need to reduce the risk by making some tentative enquiries to see if they are open to getting business from introducers, and I would also need to make sure they don’t have some sort of exclusivity deal with another internet marketer.
So what to do? As of now, I am undecided.
The other question is whether it is best to go for less clicks and less competition (as in a very narrow niche) or more clicks and more competition ( as in selling, say, digital cameras or something popular). I have read that it can be good to go for the popular things and then add a load of long tail keywords into your web pages, so that you effectively catch people who search for “digital camera with good battery life” or whatever. I don’t understand how this is different for choosing a theme that has a short keyword phrase but a lower search volume each month.
So many questions!