It’s fun to envision the rewards of running a successful business, and rewards can be quite motivational. Sometimes, however, the rewards don’t justify the workload, and that’s why many small internet business owners tend to close up shop before ever really getting started. Most of the work lays in building social contacts and putting yourself out there, but the internet makes it easy!
If you’re just starting out in the world of online marketing, I highly recommend taking the time to surf competitor sites and get a feel for what’s successful. Or if you’re targeting a niche audience, try to find online groups they gravitate towards so you can learn relevant internet culture. It’s amazing how you can capitalize on the inside jokes or “memes” of various user-based online communities.
Finding the Right Information
I recommend listening to podcasts that have a radio style format but focus on subjects like internet marketing such as the “Coffee Talk” podcast hosted by founder of The School of Internet Marketing, James Martell. You can gain a wealth of information that will point you in all the right directions on forming a strategy.
Take the time to educate yourself! I’ve prepared 7 very helpful tips for any small business owner trying to delve into online marketing.
Adapting Your Business Plan to the Wild Wild West
- Learn WordPress – Calm down, it’s not Drupal, it’s not even HTML. You don’t need to buy a book for this one. Numerous websites, such as www.expand2web.com are dedicated to teaching WordPress to beginners, because it’s the easiest and most customizable blog hosting site. A WordPress site is a great launching pad for a new business because you can easily set up plugins to put your publishing on scheduled auto-pilot, giving you more free time to focus on networking.
- Avoid SEO Sharks – It’s important to remember that there’s no magic bullet for getting Google rankings, and that people make bigger promises than they can deliver. It all boils down to consistency and quality of the original content you’re posting, and not how many thousands of spammed backlinks someone can get for you. Feed your website with 100% organic traffic!
- Canvas the Neighborhood – Successful entrepreneurs like Sacramento based Dr. Jeri Anderson, who generates most of her chiropractic clients from online traffic, spent time turfing the streets with flyers and going door-to-door before they ever even launched a website. Word of mouth is invaluable and you can spread the word to all your “neighbors” on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to get the ball rolling and the support you need.
- Don’t Pay for Results – It’s tempting to buy into products or services that guarantee results, and we’ve always heard the old adage “you’ve got to spend money to make money”. In the online world, however, it’s not entirely necessary for a small business to splurge money on things like paid search engine results. You should aim for the top 5 of the natural results instead, and focus on putting out quality content and getting backlinks to increase search engine rankings.
- Optimize Your Time – Find ways to multitask to get the most out of your time. Carry a recorder with you so you can dictate ideas during your morning jog. Not enough time to read SEO articles? Feed them through a screen-reader and save it as an .mp3 for your iPod, or better yet, download podcasts like ‘Coffee Talk’, hosted by James Martell, founder of www.theschoolofinternetmarketing.com, for those half-hour long drives to work.
- Decide on Outsourcing – If you don’t consider yourself a writer or simply can’t take on the extra workload, decide if you’re going to outsource article writing so that you can work it into the budget early on.
Elance is a fantastic website for outsourcing article projects and you’ll have no shortage of highly capable writers to pick from. You can award projects in batches of 5 – 10 articles so that you have an even spread of original content throughout the week, and pay in milestones or a lump sum.
- Be Consistent with Original Content – Most important of all, and probably the best real SEO “trick” besides keywords, is to simply be diligent in posting fresh content. Even if you don’t have a big audience, even if you’re only getting two comments per article, Google is your biggest fan! For example, since Sacramento based entrepreneur Dr. Jeri Anderson is in the chiropractic business, she can be found under many combinations of “whiplash” and “lower back pain” because of articles that center around these diagnoses and then link back to her in some way.
There’s Treasure if you Look For It
Just remember that there’s no shortage of information out there. Make time in your schedule, even if you have to cram it in, to listen to an SEO podcast or read some articles on how to make a website for ideas on how to present your business properly online. It’s really impossible to get stuck in a rut as long as you feed yourself with new information regularly!
Rick Mercado is a successful freelance writer in his early thirties with dreams of learning to pilot a helicopter, so he can give his wife an aerial tour of the Canadian east coast where they live. As an outdoors enthusiast, he wishes he could escape his home office more often, which is why he often sets up camp at a local coffee house.