(When I speak of my own business as "little," by that I mean I have a business model based on working a minimum amount of hours with a maximum level of profit. I'm not intending to build an empire or manage a staff or become a millionaire. My goals – which may be unlike most people's – are to continue to generate a comfortable profit doing what I love, working a few hours a day. Your goals may be bigger than mine, why not!)
In any case, the Internet offers possibilities for everyone with good ideas. Here's what the Internet gurus will all tell you how to strike gold on the Web:
- First you have to be able to solve a problem that a group of people have (you have to have a "big fat idea").
- Next you have to be able to reach those people with the problem.
- Then you must attract their attention (content, video, audio, etc.)
- Build a relationship with readers so they know, like and trust you (KLT factor)
- Persuade them to take action (content marketing, calls to action)
- Deliver your solution seamlessly
- Follow up with them to ensure customer satisfaction and pave the way to more sales
- Soak, Rinse, repeat
It's 2009 and we've learned a few things in the last 10 years about Internet marketing and using content to attract, sell and profit online.
(Or have we? I'm rereading The Cluetrain Manifesto published 10 years ago, and am amazed we're still talking about and teaching the same concepts that were new then, as if they were new today! …but more about that in another post.)
The waves of people who discover the Internet and want to make money online keeps growing. Maybe it has something to do with Baby Boomers getting to an age where they start facing retirement but are too alert and active to really want to go out to pasture. Surely the economy is pushing people to look for ways to supplement incomes.
So it's 2009 and suddenly you realize you know enough about computers and software systems to take your entrepreneurial spirit online! Bravo! Then you go online and … you read a few blogs like Copyblogger… and YIKES! What the heck is Twitter?
If you don't get a little feeling of panic about what the Web is doing these days with all the social media sites and feel like you need to do some serious catching up, then you're not normal. It's crazy.
It's okay. There's nothing wrong with you and there's nothing you can't get up to speed about with a little research. However, the latest reports tell us that most online businesses must (at a minimum) master:
- Business blogging (content, content, content)
- Twitter (social networking)
- Search engine optimization & keyword utilization (organic or paid)
And that's on top of all you need to do about "your big fat idea," the one you were so excited about selling online.
Expecting to manage all this yourself is a little…insane.
You're going to have to find help. I don't advise you to go it alone. Sure, you can. The systems are so user-friendly these days that it's a no-brainer to set up a blog and start writing. But there's more to it than that. Much more.
Even blogging, for example, is time consuming. I used to tell my blog clients to post in 20-30 minutes a day, and that's including linking to other sites, adding a photo. I don't say that anymore.
Just look at this post. I set aside a full hour to write it, and that's past. It will be more like 2 hours before I'm finished linking and adding photos and editing it down to a reasonable length.
Even Brian Clark at Copyblogger stopped writing all his posts himself a couple of years ago. He brought on guest writers and now has a team of regular writers. For good reason.
Building and maintaining a blog is a lot of work. Every day you have to publish a piece of insightful content that brings value to your readers. You have to promote it, respond to comments and emails from readers.
Even if you're not a top blogger with thousands of readers, even if you're small potatoes like I am here with this blog, it takes time and energy. And although it pays off, it doesn't exactly pay, i.e. I don't get a paycheck for blogging.
And you must be blogging for your business if you want to be profitable. The solution is in getting qualified guest writers and partners to team up with. Where do you do that? Use the power of the Web. Use Twitter, use blogging, and use your networks.
To learn more about the Future of Online Content, I suggest you download The Outsourcing Conspiracy by Jon Morrow and Brian Clark. Then download their free chapters of Partnering Profits: How to succeed in Online Business using Joint Ventures, Creative Collaboration and Other Smart Partnering Strategies.
P.S. I'm looking for guest writers for this blog. If you have expertise in blogging about e-newsletters, business blogging, search engine copywriting and content marketing, please email me.
P.S.S. What have been your own experiences with taking a big fat idea online and trying to make a profit? Hit the comment link and share.