Internet Marketing Explained (from 30,000 feet)

Internet Marketing from 30,000 feetOk… so this blog post isn’t going to get into all the details of Internet Marketing – we will get to that soon. I need to give you some background information first – since I don’t know where everybody is starting at – if this stuff is old news to you, bear with me… we will get deep into it all very soon.

First off, a little bit about me. I built my first website way back in 1997. It was a lot harder back then – I was on AOL. Had a super-slow connection. And had to code it all by hand. It was a simple Georgia Tech fan site. But I was hooked on this internet thing. Fast forward 15 years and I have been providing for my family for years with internet marketing. I do this in a variety of ways – several of which I will explain below. My websites and web business pays for everything. You can have that too.

The good thing is that these days making the blogs and websites is SOOO much easier than it used to be. Learning the technology is not that difficult and the platforms like wordpress will do all the heavy lifting for you. And its cheap. You can start a website that makes millions (but probably thousands) for under twenty bucks. All you need are good ideas and the motivation to do the work and stick to it.

But… before we get into the nuts and bolts of building websites and marketing them, I need to give you an overview of the many ways that you can make money online.

This isn’t everything… but it does cover the main topics.

The first thing to talk about is the main “business models” that people follow online… What I mean by this is the overall methodology. Here they are in no particular order:

Blogging for dollarsBlogging – Blogging has become mainstream these days and there are lots of people making their living from their blog. Lots of sub-categories in this space. Hobby bloggers, mommy bloggers, productivity bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, news bloggers, fashion bloggers and lots more. There are literally millions of blogs out there.

We will talk about many of them for sure and learn some lessons from the ones who are doing well. The nice thing about blogging is that you are able to build an audience of readers who know, like and trust you and will be open to purchasing things on your recommendation.

You can do a traditional written blog, a video blog or even a podcast. The other nice thing about blogging for money is that there are literally millions of topics to choose from – there is no doubt that you can start a blog and earn a comfortable living (meaning $50k or so a year). There are plenty of monetization options for bloggers too. You can sell your own products, sell advertising, contextual ads, promote affiliate products and get consulting gigs just to name a few.

There are some negatives to blogging though.

It takes time. You have to build an audience …and that takes time. Also, there are lots of people trying to do it. There are literally millions of blogs out there – so yours has to stand out. How do you do that? Well it has to be good. Really, it has to be way better than good. Lots of people make good blogs and nobody takes note. Yours has to be epic. But don’t worry, it wont have to be epic at first.

Another challenge for blogging is that you really need to tend the blog. It means you have to put up new (epic) content on a regular basis. And you can’t just let it sit forever without updating or paying attention. So, blogging is not passive. But it can certainly set you up for passive income if you do it right.

Ultimately blogging is a GREAT way to make money online – if you have the time and patience to build it up. And don’t worry if you’re not a great writer… that is a learned skill and you can become a good writer pretty quickly. We will talk about this more later.

Ecommerce - When you think ecommerce, you can sum it up with one word…. AMAZON!

Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods online. These goods can be affiliate products where you just get a small commission for selling them. Drop shipped products where you are an authorized seller for the manufacturer and make a better profit than affiliates. Next is small warehousing where you actually take inventory yourself and ship it out to the customer. This is a big step but can lead to even better profit margins. And lastly, you can warehouse and ship your own products.

Ecommerce is great for lots of reasons. One of the best reasons being the ability to sell physical products online. Often when someone buys a course or ebook, it takes some pretty heavy handed selling to get them to pull the trigger and buy. Well, if they are looking for a part for their boat and the only place they can get it is online, then the first website that has it at a decent price is gonna make a sale. No sales copy really needed.

The challenge with ecommerce are the margins and the fact that many times you are competing with “real companies” who have whole departments dedicated to marketing their business on the web. So, it can be very competitive – but if you get a site to the top then it doesn’t matter if you are just a one man show or a big company – the visitor doesn’t really care!

So, it is a good deal especially if you have a physical product already. But even if you don’t, you can affiliate with a site like Amazon and sell anything in their catalog – which is over 100,000 items. There are lots of great ways to do ecommerce and I cut my teeth on it back in the day – and I have been paid big bucks back in the day to consult some of the biggest ecommerce players in the world about their sites and marketing strategies.

In general though, ecommerce is a big site with lots of products for sale.

Niche Marketing – Niche marketing is very popular. It is the process of making small sites that are laser targeted to a specific topic (niche). You have no doubt seen sites like this all over the web.

They are about a very narrow topic and try to rank at the top of the search engines for that topic. The sites could be monetized by advertising, adsense, amazon products or information products.

These sites were first made popular back in the 2004-2006 time period when google adsense was being exploited by tons of marketers who were making sites that were very small (like one page) that were geared towards just getting adsense clicks. These were called MFA (Made For Adsense) sites and ultimately they were found out by google and were shut down. At the peak, I knew a couple of guys who had as many at 10,000 websites each. And they were just trying to get each site to make $1-$5 a month.

These sites can be lucrative, but there are several pitfalls that we will go over later – not the least of which is the fact that many people do them in the cheapest and crappiest way – and they don’t help anyone. If you have ever been to a site that has an article that doesn’t make any sense or seems like it was written by a 4 year old – then that was a poorly done niche site.

There is a way to do a good job with them, but most don’t take the time to do it right. I will show you how.

Information Marketing – Do you know how to do something that most people don’t know how to do? Then you might want to write an ebook about it. I have several ebooks that I sell. Many of them are things that I just happened to know something about – and the ebooks were an offshoot of that.

There are lots of people who make big money selling ebooks – even more now that the kindle has become so popular.

Information marketing is more than ebooks though. It can be video courses on things like programming and stuff like the ones you can buy at appsumo.com or it can be information that people buy for their job – like many of the services online that sell foreclosure lists to realtors.

The major advantage of information is that there isn’t a hard cost associated with the product like there is with a physical product like a TV. If you are buying a physical product then every single unit has a cost associated with it – whereas with information products the first time you make it there is substantial investment of time and energy – but once it is done, then every time you sell it… it is pure profit.

Authority/Content Model – The authority site model is the idea of making a site about a topic that is meant to be an authority on that topic online. This type of site can cross over into the blogging category and into the niche site category too.

So, if you are really into something… let’s say you love wine. You could make a website that is all about wine. You could do a page or two about every single bottle of wine available – giving your expert advice, etc… that site would end up being thousands of pages and would get a lot of visitors – because it would eventually become an authority on the topic.

Lead Generation – Lead Gen is a big business. There are lots of companies that their whole business is generating leads for industries. Ever heard of Lending Tree? They are a lead gen company. Their slogan, “when banks compete, you win” was made because they sell their leads to 4 banks – and they wanted a way to explain all the phone calls you would be getting after filling out a form on their site. Lead gen is an advanced topic and one we may tackle down the road – but because of the competitive nature of this biz, I would recommend getting started somewhere a little less cut throat.

Service Business – There are lots of service businesses that revolve around the net.

You can be a social media manager – basically run social media for companies. Run their facebook pages, their twitter accounts, foursquare, etc…

You can be a web design business – making sites for companies.

SEO company – helping them rank #1 in google.

PPC management – manage SEM and paid marketing for companies.

Mobile marketing – do SMS and mobile marketing for local businesses.

There are lots and lots of opportunities here… We will get into it for sure as I think that this is a great opportunity for building a real business.

Software – This is what it sounds like. Lots of people and companies make big money selling software – these days Iphone apps and games fall into this category too.

Big learning curve here. Need some money to invest to make this work too. It is easier than ever before though – you can get an iphone app made for a couple grand if you know where to look.

Membership/Continuity – This can be anything from a private website community all the way to an “of the month” club. I used to have a continuity program for people who were into horse racing… we made a report every day about the races and people would pay us monthly for it. This is a great business – but it takes a lot of time and energy to keep it going as you need to have great content – like race analysis. And that takes a lot of work.

 

The next topic we need to cover is monetization. (This is how you actually make the money)

 

1. Affiliate Marketing – This is where you refer a sale to a company and they pay you a commission. So, for instance, you have a blog about wine… You start getting lots of traffic. But you don’t have a wine store! What do you do?

Well, you sign up as an affiliate for a site like wine.com. Then every bottle that you sell through your site makes you a little commission. So, for instance you sell a twenty dollar bottle and they are paying a 20% affiliate commission, then you make four dollars commission off of the sale. There are TONS of websites making small commissions like this.

One of the biggest affiliate programs out there is AMAZON’s affiliate program. They pay between 4% to 8.5% commission off of sales – on a sliding scale based off of the number of units you sell each month. It’s a lower commission rate but many people are fine with it because they feel that people buy more readily from amazon since it is probably the most trusted retailer online today.

2. Contextual Advertising – this is mainly google adsense… What is google adsense you say? Have you ever seen the little block of links on a website that are somewhere around the text on the page and it says “ads by google” on there? Well that is adsense. Here’s how it works… There are advertisers who are paying google for clicks. Then there are people who have the rankings. Google lets the people put those links on their website and google shares the revenue from clicks with the website owner.

Adsense often times is not the most lucrative way to monetize your traffic. But it is the simplest and you can make great money with it. So, many people concentrate more on making more sites and driving more traffic to those sites than they do to monetization strategies – and so they just put adsense up there on the sites because they make enough money to make them happy.

There are other contextual ad networks out there like adbrite but the amount of advertisers and money is much less… so they are not nearly as popular or profitable.

3. Selling Adspace – If you get a good site going and have some traffic coming to it – there are people who might want to put a link or banner on your site. They will pay you for it too!

That is what selling adspace is about. Letting others buy a link to their site – on your site. There are lots of businesses who make big money with this – sites like Lawyers.com are just adspace sellers. Lawyers all over the country pay money to have their firms listed on lawyers.com. It is a good model but there are steps you have to take first – like getting lots of traffic to the site :)

4. Selling Your Products - Do you have an ebook that you wrote? Do you have your own store or business already? Or a service? Then you can use the web to sell your stuff. That is one of the best uses of the web is to augment and add to your offline sales – or you can make the web your whole focus.

5. Site Flipping – Site flipping is making sites to sell them. Sort of like the people who renovate houses and sell them. Except you can do the same thing with websites. The site will need to have traffic, earnings or an intrinsic value (like a great domain) to be able to sell it for any decent amount of money. But there are people who make hundreds of sites each month and work on them and sell them just for $100 to $500 apiece. It is often not about trying to make the million dollar site but just making one that you can sell for $200.

I know I probably missed some stuff… If I did then I am sure we will get to it in due time!

And hopefully all this doesn’t scare you off!

The World is Yours...But i felt like I needed to give you a little bit of a “lay of the land” type blog post to get started so that everybody has an idea of what these terms mean… Before you start your internet world domination plan :-)

So, now… Ask me any questions you have in the comments section and we can get a good discussion going on the different models and monetization methods in the comments below.

Also, last couple things… If you want to get updates beyond email – then click like on the facebook box in the sidebar… Also, you can click on the rss feed up above. Do you guys have rss readers? Or would it help if i did a blog post explaining things like that and how to use them too?

Look forward to chatting in the comments!

Cheers,

Kevin

DANNY April 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Myself, not tech-savied at all. Have an interest and will look forward to learning from the begginers pg. such as rss feeds? and ?gravatars means what? I will find my way back into facebook soon then be on vacation for a month. Don’t loose me, I am ready to get somethin cookin here!

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Ia April 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

This is something I would love to learn more about, but I’m not very tech-savied, so what’s “rss feed”?

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Kevin April 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hey Ia… I will do a blog post to explain some of the “tech” like rss feeds, gravatars and other fun stuff! So, look for it soon!

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June G. April 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm

That is really interesting. I have joined your rss feed. I hope to learn a lot from your blog.

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Tabitha April 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Hey Kevin,
Thanks for the inspiration. I have a blog that I’ve let sit for years now. I hope I can get it started again with your help and of course make some money from it. It’s about gardening. Can any idea be interesting even if it seems bland? How do I make epic posts about gardening?

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Kevin April 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Hey Tabitha… You’re welcome! Some of the most successful little blogs online are about weird little subjects. I know a lady who makes six figures online and her business is all about Dressage (a form of horse dancing)! So, epic content is in the eye of the beholder.

So, if someone is really into gardens then I am sure that there is something that they really would like to read more about – and if you can give them that then you will be creating epic content. We will talk a lot about this topic for sure here on the blog. So stay tuned!

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Kevin April 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

By the way, the link to our facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/selffundedlife

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