Affiliate Marketing, Low Cost Web Hosting, Small Business, Website Building March 16th. 2010, 5:05am
There are ways in which being an online merchant is similar to being a brick-and-mortar merchant. But there are many more ways in which running a successful home Internet business is nothing like running a traditional shop. If you’re starting out as an online entrepreneur, and especially if you’re expanding your brick-and-mortar business into the online environment, don’t get trapped in a business model that may work in a shop, but won’t work on the Web.
You may have heard that online journalism is in trouble. Stuck in an outdated business model, online newspapers struggle to make enough ad revenue to pay production and overhead costs. Since they give their product away for free, they depend more-or-less entirely on this ad revenue to sustain themselves. And it’s not working.
Newspapers sell information, and, as the Web grew and the perception spread that “information is free”, newspapers were caught in a bind. Journalists know for a fact that information isn’t free. It costs a lot of time, labor, and money to gather, compile, and produce. But once their medium shifted from print to the online environment, they lost control of their product.
But Web users are left with the idea that things are free; and that, certainly, anything on the Internet should be free. Newspapers and other print media are left scrambling for a new business model. In what seems like a step backward, the Wall Street Journal has reverted to a paid-subscription model.
But the legacy of “free” information remains—as you probably well know yourself. Everything you need to know to run your online business is available for free online. Affiliate marketing tips, low cost web hosting, creating a website –everything. People give information away in the name of drawing you to their website, where they hope you’ll find something else you’d like to buy. It’s a business model that works very well.
So what about you? What have you got to give away free to anyone who visits your website? And how much are you willing to part with without any guarantee of getting paid at all?
Often, it’s information. After all, it’s “free”, right? You don’t have to pay any shipping nor handling, and delivery to your potential customer is instant. That’s why it’s such a popular choice among online merchants. Free ebooks about the subject at hand, blogs, newsletters, and other content are the easiest and most cost-effective giveaways you have to work with.
An important point, though, is to make sure that what you are providing is content, not advertising. Just as news agencies and other econtent providers offer you the real thing, so must you offer something for real to your prospective customers.
This content can include just about anything you could think of: spirited discussions about the different qualities, styles, and uses of your products; their history and development; facts and stories about the cultures from which they come; ideas and musings about the lifestyles they help create; and more.
This content is perhaps most easily produced as a blog. That’s because, unlike newsletters or other more direct content you may have with clients, you don’t need their email addresses and opt-ins to show they your blog. It’s there on the Web for anyone to find. Keep them interesting, and people may come back for more.