Internet SuccessHey internet peeps!  My first blog post on this site… it’s always fun breaking in something new.  Unless it’s a treadmill, because that involves actual running to break it in.

In just a second here, I’ll give you my 4 steps to get started in your internet career – I just like the symmetry of my first post being written about you getting started online.  But before that…

Let me tell you why you should read what I have to say and what’s the point of this blog.

About 3 years ago, I started in internet marketing (for the extra juicy details, check out the “About Me” page), and I wrote over 300 posts for my wife on her blog Who-Is-Erin-Smith.com.  We built that site up (I did the marketing and writing, she did all the stuff where her face or voice would show up) to about 12,000 unique visitors per month.  Nothin’ crazy, but we had some internet success and made money doing it.

Now, I’ve decided to build up this site (basically as a work side project) without spending a dime.  Ever.  Foreva neva?  The hosting is free, I won’t buy images, and I won’t pay for marketing.

Call it a case study, but the point is to get as much traffic as I can, and make some money doing it.  I guess the point is to prove that it can be done without spending even one penny.

Ok… you’ve been patient long enough.  Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

If you’ve had your head out of the sand the last 5 – 10 years, you’ve probably realized that business is shifting to the internet.  Brick-and-mortars are losing market share to the online community, and more consumers shop on their couches than ever before.

You need to get you some of that!

Whether you have an existing product that you want to sell online, or you want to make some dough blogging about your passion, I’m here to help.

In fact, here are 4 steps to help you get started in your internet success:

4 Steps to Internet Success

#1. Pick a Topic

Now, I think blogging is a great way to make money.  If you’re too macho to blog, just call it a business website and write ‘articles’ instead of ‘blog posts’.  Hey, I’ve done that before.

So decide on what you’re going to blog – er, “write articles” about.  This is easy if you already have a product.  If you build swimming pools for people, you can write articles all about swimming pools!  You could post pics of cool swimming pools you’ve designed, write about new pool technology, or just educate people on how to get started building their own swimming pool.

If you don’t have a business already, choosing a topic might be a little harder.  I’ve read in the past that you should do all kinds of research to decide what niche you want to enter.  I dunno…  I just use a little common sense and go with it.

Pick something that you think would have a loyal readership and something that you’re knowledgeable about.  I would stay away from topics where you don’t have an icicle’s chance in Hades of competing for.

A good example is that my wife is a vet tech.  She’s wanted to start a blog about her experiences with animals at the clinic.  In my mind, this is the perfect topic.  She has tons of funny experiences, she has great pictures, and she can give helpful advice to people about their animals.

If you are creative and utilize a few good marketing techniques, you can shine in almost any market.

#2. Who is your Target Market?

Here’s a giant key to your internet success – you have to be able to define your target market as specifically and thoroughly as you can.

For someone just getting up and running, this is an easy step to skip.  But… this is also a step that will set you apart from your competition!

Let’s run with my wife’s example about writing about her veterinary experiences and animal health.   Here are a few points I could think of that would define her market

- Animal lovers (dogs and cats mostly, but some lizards, snakes, rodents, etc.)

- Love cute pics of animals

- Pet owners

- Pets are considered family members

- Like to laugh (not serious)

- Virtually any age group, but probably at least 15+ (people who’ll spend money)

And I could think of more if I spent some real time figuring it out… the point is, now that I have an idea of who I’m targeting, it makes it much easier to write posts, find people on social media, and make the overall tone and feel of my site appropriate to my market.

#3.  What is Your Marketing Plan?

Starting your website without knowing your marketing plan is like trying to fish without a fishing pole.  You’re there, and you know there’s fish, but you have no way to get them into the boat.

There are many paid ways to get your online traffic jump-started, but if you have the time, free strategies are perfect ways to build up momentum over time.  When you stop a paid strategy, often times the traffic stops.  Free strategies work by slowly building a presence online until it spills over and you get avalanches of traffic.

Are you going to use social media?  Which sites?  Do you want to do guest blogging?  Are you going to build up an email list?  Do Podcasts?  Videos?  Do some research and outline a detailed plan for you to follow on a daily basis.

#4.  Monetizing Plan

The last aspect of your marketing plan is also the fun part – finally making some cash!  You might have to get a little creative here, and what you choose definitely depends on the industry you’re in.

There’s always the good ol’ fallback of AdSense to make a little money, but there are better ways to make bigger chunks of cash.  For example, with the vet tech blog, my wife would love to put together videos of their animals as a keepsake.  She would use a service called Animoto (they let you purchase reseller rights) and then sell videos for $49 a pop.

Another idea is to find affiliate programs that let you sign up, sell their products, and make a commission.  A neat little trick is to head over to Google, and type in something like “animal + affiliate” and tons of programs come up that my wife could sign up to sell their products.

Of course, you could also create your own products, but that will come later  :)

Now… get brainstorming, get planning, and don’t scrimp on any of these steps.  Great planning followed by consistent implementation will give you the lift you need over the competition.

Take care!

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