“I feel I’m able to serve my customer by knowing what she or he wants. One of the ways I’m able to do this is through my website, and email: people give me great ideas, tell me what they want, what they don’t want. It’s really instrumental, and helps me stay in touch with people.” –Kathy Ireland
There are millions upon millions, if not billions, of websites and blogs out there on the internet these days. Needless to say that there is quite a bit of “noise” out there. Everyone is vying for attention and major corporations are beginning to realize the power of the internet – more so the power of blogs as marketing venues. This online business world can seem a little intimidating if you are a newbie. How do you make your way around this virtual world? How do you get your business noticed? More importantly, how do you survive once your online business is up and running?
Through my experience of launching a myriad of websites, I’ve discovered exactly what an online internet entrepreneur must do to sustain longevity:
1. Find a mentor. I never fully realized the power of a mentor until recently. A mentor can help you get through those rough patches when you feel like it’s time to just throw in the towel. A mentor keeps you motivated and we all need that once in awhile, believe me! Your mentor doesn’t even have to be someone you personally know or have met. Just find someone who expresses the same values and business ethics that you do. Find someone who fuels your energy and makes you want to keep on going.
2. Network with like-minded people. Now, there’s a right way and a wrong way to network. I’ve been reading all kinds of information and tips on social networking and one of the things people encourage you to do is visit other blogs and leave comments. Well, this is good advice, but how many times have you visited someone’s blog, left a comment, and then left their blog never to return? I used to experience something similar to this when I attended local networking events. People would shake your hand, introduce themselves, hand over their card and then be gone forever.
If you discover someone’s blog that has a great deal of interesting things to say, then by all means leave comments on their blog (notice I said “comments” – that’s plural!), subscribe to their RSS feed, become their friend on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., or offer to do a guest post on their blog – anything to show that you like what they have to offer. Meanwhile you’re establishing your own credibility and letting people know that you are trustworthy and have an interest in helping others.
3. Keep up with the latest online communities. We’re all social creatures, so let’s face it, social networking websites are here to stay. I’m not saying that you have to become a member of every one of the social networking sites, but at least be aware of these online communities where people are going to share information. Some of these places could be where your target market is hanging out!
4. Learn how to write for the web. Blogs are becoming the content of choice when people come online to find information. Bottom line is, content is what people are drawn to and is the driving force of the internet, so it’s important to have some decent writing skills and learn a little copywriting. If you’re an internet entrepreneur, you want to sell things, right? How do you expect to sell anything if you don’t know what to say? What makes people push that “Buy now” button?
Of course, writing can be outsourced to someone more skilled than you are, but it’s still good to know the basics, especially if you want to maintain a blog. Two of my favorite copywriting websites to visit for tips is Michel Fortin’s blog (http://www.michelfortin.com/) and the Copyblogger blog (http://www.copyblogger.com).
5. Have patience. Have patience. Have patience. I can’t stress this enough! An online business is just like having an offline business in terms of getting people to buy from you. You have to invest the time to market and build a website that is worth visiting. Just because the online business world moves at a fast pace, that doesn’t mean that traffic will flood into your business right away!
There’s this big misconception especially among those just starting out that “if you build it they will come”. I agree with John Chow in his post titled “If You Build It They Won’t Come” when he says, “Nothing happens without traffic”.
Bonus tip: Just remember that building and maintaining an online business is a journey. If your intention is one of helping others succeed with your business, it’s inevitable that you will succeed. The most important thing is that you have fun doing it!