Monthly Archives: August 2005

It really is only ‘early days’ in the Internet Gold Rush…

One of the questions that I am getting more and more used to hearing lately is:

‘Is it too late for me to start an online business?  Have I missed the boat and have all of the best opportunities been and gone?’

My reply is always along the lines of, ‘Absolutely not – there is still a wealth of opportunity online and even if you start your online business tomorrow, you are still well ahead of the majority of people’.

I genuinely believe that this is the case but I know that many people do feel that they may have missed the boat and that there is nothing more that can be done online that isn’t already being done by someone else.  If you are one of those people, read on…

I attended a corporate function last week – non Internet related – and had the chance to talk with a large number of UK business men and women.  These people ranged from people running their own ‘one man band’ type business right up to the owners of large-scale operations employing hundreds of staff and turning over millions of pounds each year.  Several of the attendees were entrepreneurs that had built up and sold companies worth, quite literally, tens of millions.  Overall, a very wide spread of experience, success and ability but the one thing that tied everyone together was that they were all running a business of one kind or another.

Now, as you would expect, when meeting with new people for the first time (and particularly in a situation such as the one above), one of the main topics of conversation was what everyone did for a living.  As I have indicated in previous newsletters, this is a question that I really dislike being asked as I find it so hard to explain.

Needless to say though, I found myself having to do exactly that to numerous people, all of whom looked at me with a blank expression as I tried to tell them, in simple terms, how I generate an income from nothing more than a PC and the Internet.

This is nothing new and I am well used to it by now (in fact I am beginning to think that it would be easier just to say I work in finance as I once did!) but what amazed me most was that not one of the people I spoke to had any clue about what I was talking about. 

Despite being among a group of what I would consider to be a fair representation of the UK business community, not one of them had any real idea about how to use the Internet to increase their business.

Of course, many of the people I spoke to had websites but ALL of them told me that the only real purpose their website served was to provide a small amount of information about their business and their contact details!

None of them allowed customers to order from their website (although most of the businesses in question would suit this method of sales)…

None of them were collecting email addresses from visitors with the aim of carrying out follow-up marketing (although this would be appropriate for all of the businesses in question)…

None of the businesses were using email in any way as a form of marketing, despite the obvious cost advantages over the postal service…

I could go on but I think you get the point.

On the flipside, every single one of the people that I spoke to had used the Internet to purchase goods!  I find this absolutely amazing.

Now of course, the people that I spoke to are in a slightly different situation to many online entrepreneurs in that they already run successful offline businesses.  However, if this is a fair representation of how entrepreneurs view the Internet in terms of a business tool, it stands to reason that the ‘ordinary man in the street’ will be even less likely to see the Internet as something that he can use to earn a full or part time income.

The entrepreneurs I spoke to were genuinely surprised that it was possible to earn a full time income online, they were even more surprised when I gave them an indication of how much it is possible to earn.  I am sure that a couple of them almost fell over when I then told them that the day to day maintenance of many online businesses takes just an hour or so per day since software can be used to handle so much of the workload!

I therefore reiterate the point that I made at the start of this newsletter – the Internet Gold rush is surely only just beginning and the very fact that you are reading this article puts you way ahead of the vast majority of the rest of the World.  Don’t sit there wondering whether it is too late – get started on your online business today.

And if you were one of the entrepreneurs that I spoke to last week (you know who you are and I know that several of you have already subscribed to this newsletter!), welcome and enjoy – you too are now one step ahead of your competition.

Become an affiliate later rather than sooner…

I attended a presentation a couple of weeks ago given by Internet marketer, Michael Green.  Michael runs the ‘How To Corp’ and has created numerous information products covering a wide range of topics. 

There were a number of very interesting points that came out of the presentation but I wanted to ‘steal’ one of them as the topic of this newsletter.  I am sure Michael won’t mind.

The point in question is a simple one but one which is regularly overlooked by people just starting out in Internet marketing and that is to get into affiliate marketing later rather than sooner.

Many people jump at the chance of selling someone else’s product as an affiliate as there are many obvious advantages:

No need to create a product of your own
No involvement in the delivery or support of the product
Minimal contact with customers
No need to have your own website

At first glance, affiliate marketing can appear to be the ideal business opportunity and in many ways, it is.  However, if you are new to Internet marketing and have no website, no email list and no traffic, affiliate marketing will almost certainly be a lot of hard work. 

The key to being a successful affiliate is to be able to drive reasonable levels of traffic to a sales page that is relevant to the traffic in question.  If you don’t have any existing traffic or a mailing list, the chances are that you are going to have to pay for this traffic (at least initially).  Whilst this can be very effective (Greg Heslin covers the topic very well in his eBook, Google Adwords 123, it can also take time to get right and will be costing money in the process.

Therefore, to go back to the original statement, getting involved in affiliate marketing is definitely a good idea but if you start to work as an affiliate once you have built up your own website, traffic and mailing list, you will find that it is far more rewarding.

To illustrate this further, when I first started writing this newsletter, I would often throw in the odd affiliate link but they rarely resulted in any sales.  The reason for this was simple – I hardly had any subscribers on the mailing list!  Over the years, as my list has grown and as subscribers have ‘got to know me’ and I have gained more trust, my affiliate sales have increased.

Looking at it from another angle, I find that my most successful affiliates are those that have an established website or mailing list.  Of course, this makes perfect sense since there is already existing traffic to sell to and often no effort is required other than adding a hyperlink to a web page or giving a product a mention in mailshot.

Once you have an existing website and customers/subscribers, you will also start to build credibility in your chosen field/industry.  This means that your customers are more likely to trust your recommendations and actually purchase something if you promote it as being a great product.

In the early days of my Internet marketing career, I would regularly try and promote products that were about making money online.  I wasn’t very successful with these promotions and one of the main reasons was that I wasn’t personally making much money online.  Once I started to become more successful and my customers/subscribers were able to see that I did actually know what I was talking about, they were far more willing to purchase these types of products from me or on my recommendation.

Therefore, in summary, get your own website/product/newsletter/whatever up and running first and then concentrate on adding additional value to your product range by promoting relevant affiliate products.

If you choose to go down the road of only selling products as an affiliate, remember that this is perfectly possible to do but it will take time, hard work and a fair bit of patience.

Of course, the other benefit in selling your own product is that you don’t have to share the sales proceeds.