Starting With Solid Foundations in Internet Marketing
For the purposes of this article though, we are going to broadly categorize readers into two groups:
- Those with an existing business they want to promote
- Those wanting to set up an online business or make money directly through internet marketing
And for now, we’re going to concentrate on the second group.
If you already have a business, this is still worth reading but if you’re in a rush to get to the good stuff, skip through to the section on website creation.
Choosing a Niche
If your plan is to build an entirely online business and to make money either directly from a blog, or perhaps by selling digital products, then the first thing you need to do is to choose a ‘niche’. The term niche in this context essentially refers to a subject matter, an industry and an audience. In other words, a niche can be ‘health’ or it can be ‘knitting’.
This is what your blog is going to be about, it is what the products you sell should be about and it will determine precisely who your business is marketed at.
Choosing your niche is one of the most important steps in creating a successful online business and the reason for this is that it will directly impact the amount of competition as well as the size of your audience.
If your subject is ‘health’ then you’re going to be going up against millions of other websites and this is going to make your life very difficult indeed. When you write a blog post on ‘how to get abs’, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get that to the top of Google seeing as there are so many other blog posts on getting abs.
Likewise, if you post in a fitness forum and mention your ebook, then it’s not going to stand out or be interesting because there are so many others.
Conversely though, you also need to avoid choosing a niche that is too narrow. If the niche you choose is ‘earwigs as pets’, then it will only be a matter of time before you have marketed to the majority of that audience and there is no one left to buy from you.
Another important consideration when choosing a niche is what you can offer the audience and how much they are likely to spend.
When creating a product, it is always useful to think in terms of the value proposition. This basically refers to what your product is offering to the buyer and what gives it its value, which should be much greater than the face value.
When you sell an ebook on getting fit for instance, the value proposition comes from the fact that your buyer will hopefully be much fitter after reading your book and applying the knowledge they learn. You’re not really selling a book at all, but rather a sexy, toned body.
You’re selling confidence, you’re selling energy first thing in the morning and you’re selling physical attractiveness to the opposite sex.
People are willing to pay a lot for those things and thus you can afford to charge more for your ebook. On the other hand, if you have a book on cats, then you can only charge people for learning a bit more about their pets – which isn’t something people are willing to pay as much for.
It’s also important to have a very clear target audience in mind.
Draw up a buyer persona and think about the exact kind of person who would be interested in your product.
Do they have enough disposable income? And do you know where you can reach them in order to market your product?
So Then, How Do You Pick a Niche?
If that all sounds a bit confusing, then the best way to pick a niche is often to find a very big and popular niche with a strong value proposition (fitness, finance, business, dating) and then to ‘narrow down’ to find a specific section within that niche.
- Fitness for the over 50s
- Fitness for nerds (‘NerdFitness.com’ is a highly popular website)
- Fitness for X condition
- Fitness for martial artists
- Online business for students
- Making money online for stay-at-home Mums
Try and think of something that is original as possible, while at the same time making sure that there’s a big audience there and that you can solve a specific need. At the same time, try and choose a niche that you genuinely have an interest in and some knowledge about.
This will help you to write better blog posts and will ensure that you don’t get bored of your business over time.This is actually one of the most important tips – so don’t be motivated by money alone or you’re likely to find your business lacks staying power.
Finally, think about any connections you might already have and any contacts.
If you happen to know the editor of Gardening Magazine, then making a business in the gardening niche just makes sense.
Likewise, if you’re a prominent member of a big forum dealing with health, then this is a very logical niche to choose as you’ll be able to post about your blog there and hopefully get a big reaction.
In short: try to have an entire business plan ready before you even begin writing. Know your strategy, know your end game and let your niche dictate all that.
Creating a Stunning Website
The next thing you need to do, is to create a stunning website. This is highly important, as your website is what’s going to create the first impressions for your visitors and give them the confidence to buy from you.
This makes all the difference.
Think about your own experience: whether you’re looking online for a place to eat, for a specific product to buy or a blog to read if the website is well designed, then the chances are that you’ll feel comfortable there. If the font is large and crisp, then it will be pleasant for people to read.
If the logo is well designed and high definition, then it will create trust for your brand. If the navigation is simple and fluid, then visitors will be able to find their way around the site.
And if the ‘Buy Now’ button looks official and secure, then people will be much more comfortable entering their payment details.
How many times have you loaded up a website to get some information, or to order food, only to be immediately put off by the dated design and leave?
Don’t let this be the experience that your visitors have of your website: make sure that it looks clean and professional and don’t accept anything that is less impressive than the very top players in your niche. If you want to be taken seriously, then that is what it takes.So how do you go about creating such a website?
The good news is that these days, it’s very easy with WordPress.
WordPress is of course a content management system and site building tool. Install it on your server (this is usually available through the tools provided by your hosting provider, or you can download the files from WordPress.com) and then you’ll be able to login to a backend and choose a theme and layout while adding posts and features easily.
WordPress is by far the most popular tool today for building websites and it powers many of the biggest brands on the net – including the likes of some BBC sites, Forbes, Wired, The Four Hour Blog and much more.
It is also free and it has a huge number of different features, support from a massive online community and nearly endless customizability.
In other words, there is no reason not to use WordPress – it is a tried and tested commodity and it makes things quicker and faster for you while still resulting in a highly professional looking end product. Once you have installed WordPress, you should then look into adding a professional-looking theme.
Thankfully, these can also be added very simply by looking at the themes available through WordPress itself, or by buying them from various theme stores.
One good one is ThemeForest.com.
A professional-looking theme with good customization options will generally set you back about $40 and this is a very worthwhile investment as it can make your site considerably more professional looking, help it to stay responsive so that it fits the size of the display it’s being viewed on and generally ensure that it is polished and able to compete with those top players.
You also need a great logo, which will help you to brand your business and will give you more marketing options.
A good logo needs to be unique, it needs to encapsulate what your business is all about (try to communicate the value proposition if you can) and it needs to be crisp and high definition to look professional.
If you create your logo yourself, then it is very important that you use vector files via software like Adobe Illustrator in order to make it look the part.
Better yet though is to outsource this job to someone else. Consider using 99Designs, or perhaps Fiverr.com.