Important Internet Marketing Lessons
Internet marketing can be a tough business in which to succeed if you don't have adequate education. Here are some critical things to know when you are just getting started.
The Internet Marketing Lessons Beginners Need
Internet marketing is a vast topic. Volumes have been written about it and many college courses specifically address it's many nuances and methods. However, there are millions of us who have come upon this endeavor less prepared than we should be. Many having never read a book or even an article on the topic, much less having any formal training. I was definitely among that throng of individuals who had no formal internet marketing lessons or instruction.
I started my internet marketing adventure four years ago. I was convinced to try my hand at affiliate marketing. With my usual attitude of "nothing ventured, nothing gained", I started out. I built a website and started a blog. No one paid any attention. I learned a little bit about keywords as well as some very basic HTML to improve my pages, but no one really saw them. I bought books that schooled me in a number of promotion methods that were outdated. I spent hours in traffic exchanges, posting in free ad networks, and writing newsletters and ads for Yahoo opt-in e-mail lists, all because some guru told me it's what I should do.
After nearly a year, I realized nothing was going to happen and I decided it was time to start using my head. Over the next two years, I learned a great deal. I can't share everything I've come to understand on this page obviously, but what I can do, is share the three most critical internet marketing lessons I learned. The three basic ideas I wish I had known when I first started.
Photo by John A. Ward
Don't Go It Alone
When I first signed up as an affiliate marketer for a service, I was given some basic information on internet marketing. All of it was outdated, although I didn't know that at the time. Things change quickly on the internet and keeping abreast of those changes is important. Competition is much higher than it was five or six years ago, so that alone changes the level of committment that's necessary to achieve success.
Clearly, like any new business venture, it's important to educate yourself by seeking out internet marketing lessons through books or courses to get a good foundation before starting off willy-nilly. However, the first thing I had to learn about internet marketing was that reading up on the topic isn't enough. You need to go a step further; either get a mentor or join a community that can guide you, stimulate ideas, respond to questions, or just simply model good practices for you to see.
There are a number of communities out there now that can provide a step-by-step program for a fee. They offer their expertise, train you, and even give you the opportunity to establish a peer group to help you through the process as you all strive for the same end goal. This is an invaluable experience in some cases.
Being the skeptical person that I am, I was hesitant to join many of these programs although I'm sure some of them are very worthwhile. I took a different route. In my online journey, I came across communities such as Hubpages and Squidoo. These communities aren't specifically designed to develop internet marketers, but indeed they perform this service in many ways. What they offer is the ability to create online content for free, and to earn revenue in the process. As a by-product, contributors begin interacting, leaders emerge, and learning begins to take place.
The value of a community goes well beyond learning how to become a better internet marketer. As friendships are forged, they often expand into other online endeavors. Idea sharing and cross promotion on blogs, social bookmarking sites, and elsewhere can increase your visibility, establish your reputation, help drive traffic, and potentially build backlinks. Even if you don't become involved in a community such as the ones I've described, becoming involved in forums related to your topic area can be critical. Participating by making valuable contributions is important and it's how relationships evolve. Commenting and following other bloggers in your topic area is another possibility and it allows collaboration and the ability to more easily develop a following.
The first internet marketing lesson then, is that if you want to be successful online, at least in a reasonable amount of time, is to join with and interact with others, to contribute, and to seek out those who have similar goals.
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Discover the Most Critical Skill
Once you get people to visit the website or webpage that you've built, you often want them to buy. Therefore, it can be important to understand how to "sell". However, I don't really consider selling to be the most critical skill in internet marketing. The second internet marketing lesson I learned is that writing is the most critical skill and it's how you will spend the majority of your time. Yes, that's right; writing.
The internet is useful for its content. We use it for its information; unique, useful, and fresh. Whether we want if for entertainment, for learning, for news, or whatever, the content is what brings people to the internet and what keeps them there. If you want Google to show your pages when people search, your content needs to be good. It can't be copied and it can't be the same as a million other pages, if you want it to be noticed. If you want people to read it and come back, it needs to be free from grammar and spelling errors, it needs to be short and to the point, and it needs to be either useful or entertaining.
You will find your time going into writing content for your website, for your blog, for articles to promote your website or blog, for other webpages to generate traffic or additional revenue, and so forth. You will need to write, and write, and write. Much of this writing will not be sales copy or direct promotion, but instead, it should offer value or usefulness for the reader. You will write to develop a reputation for your expertise, to develop a following, and to establish backlinks to your site or blog to drive your pages up in searches. You will write because it's the primary way of getting found and recognized on the internet. If you don't write well, you'll have to work on it or hire someone else to do it.
Photo by Tnarik
As an affiliate marketer, I can say that success online looks a bit different than what I originally thought it would look like. I imagine that it's also a bit different for writers and others.
When I was recruited into affiliate marketing, I was told that I could make nice sums of money for selling a particular service. I set out to do just that. Certainly having a single, very specific niche is a good thing when you are trying to promote something on the internet. However, as time passed I realized that I was overlooking a lot of the potential revenue. I had been so focused on selling XYZ that I had been passing up all kinds of additional income that was just sitting there waiting to be collected. The third internet marketing lesson I learned was that internet success doesn't depend soley on selling a product or service but on developing multiple streams of income along the way.
A natural first step is to make use of Google AdSense. Allowing Google to place relevant ads on pages where you have unique content is one way of getting just a bit of extra income out of the work you've already done. You can also sell ad space or text links on your webpages but only if you aren't overly concerned about how Google will rank those pages, as Google sometimes penalizes pages with paid links.
Certainly too, you can generate a bit of extra revenue by submitting articles to sites that will pay you for your content. Remember all of that content you will be writing to establish your reputation, build backlinks, and so forth? Well, some of the sites where you submit that content will also provide some additional revenue in the process. Content sites like Bukisa, Qassia, Assoicated Content, Google Knol, eHow, and others are among those that give you additional income for your work, through AdSense revenue sharing or direct payments. Sites like Squidoo, Wizzley, and Hubpages give you this opportunity, as well as the option of adding Amazon and other products for more income.
Some social bookmarking sites will also pay you AdSense revenue for the content you've created. This is work you've already done to promote your site, products, or services so there's little in the way of additional effort. Sites such as RedGage and Tagfoot are among these.
Another stream of income can include paid writing assignments. Many individuals and businesses look for people to create content or to write blogs for their sites. I've been contacted by publishers after they noticed some of my work which is posted on ezine sites, but there are also a number of freelance writing sites that you can find online to point you in the right direction.
These ideas of course just scratch the surface as far as the possibilities. But the idea remains the same; don't overlook other sources of income that present themselves to you along the way as you strive for internet success.