Monthly Archives: February 2006

Is it me or is the Internet making potential entrepreneurs lazy?

We all know that it is possible for an online business to generate significant income that, ultimately, can be earned with minimal input from the business owner.  This is due to the fact that so many processes can be automated on the Internet thus saving the need for an individual to carry out these tasks.

BUT no online business is going to generate a worthwhile income without at least some hard work – usually several months worth at the bare minimum.

I often refer to myself as a lazy Internet marketer because I know that there are many things I could be doing to further improve my businesses but often prefer not to.  My problem is that I can always find something better to be doing than working!  But it wasn’t always this way and in the early years of my online career I worked some serious hours to get things up and running – certainly a lot more than I had ever worked in any job.

As many of you know, my offline career had been spent in the banking industry which meant that I was no computer expert and I had no particular Internet skills or abilities.  I therefore spent days reading and learning how to do the tasks that I wanted to do – how to build a web page, how to integrate payment facilities, how to send customers emails after they had purchased etc.  Whilst now there seems to be an online video or eBook about pretty much all Internet marketing topics, going back a few years, this wasn’t the case and I often only discovered how to do something by trial and error.

So why am I telling you this?

Well quite simply because of an email exchange that I had with someone this week which made me realize how lazy some people can be and how they genuinely expect to have an online business handed to them on a plate.

In a nutshell, this person purchased a product from me that came with resale rights – nothing unusual there.  I then got an email from them asking how to get the sales page for the product online.  Again, nothing unusual in that, it happens quite a lot.  I answered the question and there then followed what can only be described as a barrage of further questions asking how to set up a payment processor, how to deliver the product, how to integrate an autoresponder system into the processor (the buyer even asked what messages he should put in the autoresponder!), how to market the sales page and how to get the page into Google!

I have had similar requests in the past and obviously it is simply impossible to answer all of these questions in a single email (quite apart from the fact that it would take me an age).  I therefore answered some of the questions and referred the buyer to my forum and some other resources which I knew had the answers to the remaining questions (as well as a lot more free information).

So imagine my surprise when the response that I got back was basically along the lines of ‘You aren’t helping me here – I need step by step instructions as to how to do everything that I have asked you.’

The fact that I had provided links to resources that answered his questions was not enough.  Apparently he didn’t have the time to read through those resources and wanted me to summarize everything for him!!

Now, bear in mind that this guy spent less than $50 with me and you might begin to see where I am coming from.  Does anyone really think that $50 buys several hours of one to one consulting with ANYONE?  Why do people think that they shouldn’t have to put any effort into building a business? 

How can someone expect to generate a living online when they can’t even be bothered to spend a few hours learning how to do some of the most basic tasks?

You might think that you don’t need to know how to do some of the things involved with running an online business if you can get someone else to do them (even if you have to pay them) but there is no substitute for knowing exactly how your business works from the ground up.  If you follow step by step instructions from someone else, the chances are that you won’t really be taking note of what is happening, you won’t make mistakes and therefore you won’t LEARN.

I mentioned recently that I have just hired a web designer to build a new site for me.  This is the first time that I have ever done this and it did feel very weird at first.  The site in question is quite technically complicated – not so much the actual pages but the scripting behind the scenes that make it work.  Now, whilst my new web designer is very knowledgeable and capable of doing exactly what I want, the fact that I have a good understanding of how scripts/databases etc work and how it is possible to get things to happen on a website means that both of our jobs have been a lot easier than they might have been.  I was able to go to him and say, ‘I want it to do this and I think the best way of doing it is…’.  Now, I can’t write the scripts or software required but I do have a pretty good idea of the best way for someone else to write them.  How did I build up this knowledge?

Simple.  By sitting in front of my computer for hours working things out for myself and LEARNING.  Remember, your online business is more important to you than anyone else.  Regardless of how much someone tries to help you, if you want it to succeed, YOU are the one that needs to put the effort in.

Using a web designer instead of doing it yourself…

I built my first website approximately five years ago and since then, I have always designed and built my own sites.  This process has served me very well and over the years, my web building skills have advanced considerably (mostly through trial and error!).  I have always recommended to my customers and subscribers that they too learn how to build their own sites and this is for two reasons:

1.  It means that you know exactly what is going on with your site and how it actually ‘works’.  As you have built it piece by piece, you know, quite literally, every aspect of it.

2.  Doing the work yourself will save you a small fortune on web design costs.

During the past couple of weeks though, I have done something that I would have previously not even considered doing – I have started to talk to a professional web designer with a view to hiring him to build a new business website for me!!!

Why I hear you ask?

Well the answer is simple – because he can do a much better job of it than I can AND he will take on all of the stress that the project would have caused me.

I have an idea for a new online business (totally unrelated to Internet marketing/eBay or any of the other areas that I currently work in) and it needs a professional site with quite a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ functionality.  There is nothing like it around at present which means that the functions I require are fairly unique to this project.  I have spent some time talking to different programmers that I know around the World to see if they can pool their expertise and write different bits of the software required and link everything up through the website that I build but it was just getting too fiddly.

I was at the point where I was ready to toss the whole project out of the window when I took a step back and looked at things from a completely different angle.  What I really needed was one person (or team) to take on the entire project and simply provide me with the new website based on the brief I supply them with.

So that’s exactly what I have done.  I have a rough idea of what the site will cost and admittedly, it isn’t going to be the few hundred dollars that it would have cost me BUT the end result should be far more professional and will be produced to my exact specification.  Most importantly though, it takes away all the sleepless nights that I would have experienced as I went through the process of trying to get everything to work together.

With this in mind therefore, I would like to amend the advice that I have been giving out for the past few years…

Learn how to design and build your own business websites BUT when you have learned how to do this, DO consider hiring professionals and outsourcing some of this work as and where possible.

Why Aweber?

In my last newsletter, you will recall that I explained the reasons why I was changing the service that handles sending my newsletter emails every couple of weeks. I promised to let you know this week why I had chosen Aweber to host my mailing list from now on…

In fairness, there were quite a few reasons why I chose Aweber – easy to use, helpful support plus the fact that many ‘big-name’ Internet marketers have used this company for years (so they must be doing something right).  But the absolute top reason for me was simply that my research showed that using Aweber gives my emails the best chance of getting to the recipient without being blocked or filtered off somewhere.

Whenever you are sending emails to multiple recipients, you run the risk that somewhere along the line, your email will be identified as spam or junk mail and with ISPs getting more and more aggressive with their filtering tactics, the harder it is to get your messages through.

Aweber work hard to ensure that your emails are delivered and one of the most important things they do is maintain excellent relationships with the main ISPs.  Whenever someone subscribes to a list held at Aweber, they have to confirm their subscription (as you did when you subscribed to this newsletter).  This means that there is no way that someone could subscribe your email address without you agreeing to it.  The major ISPs know this and as such tend not to block emails from Aweber’s servers just because one person has complained.  They even have an agreement with AOL as to how spam complaints are handled which gives you an idea of how well thought of Aweber must be.

If you are thinking of starting a newsletter/mailing list or are having delivery problems with your current provider, I strongly recommend you take a look at the Aweber service.