Sunday, 20th January 2013
THE TRUTH BEHIND RUNNING A WEB BUSINESS – A friend was moaning the other day about his lot in life and how the daily 9 to 5 was one long stream of monotony followed by a respite at the weekends, and even then, on occasion, the respite was interrupted with weekend overtime at the office.
There are many people who would dearly love nothing more than to break away from regular employment and venture into the world of self-employment and one of the easiest ways, so it is perceived, is to start an online business. This is exactly what my friend is thinking and so, as a seasoned online entrepreneur I gave him a little advice, which I am about to pass on to you.
All Or Nothing
When it comes to starting a business many people take the leap and walk away from their job and throw themselves headlong into their new venture. This is not the most sensible thing to do.
A website takes time to develop, in terms of getting visitors to the site, and therefore it is a wise idea if you hang onto your 9 to 5 and work on your website part time. Losing that regular monthly income is, in most cases, simply not practical – there are bills to pay and even running a website costs money. Think carefully about continuing with your current employment until you get to a point where your website is generating an equal sum, or more, to that of your salary.
Primary Types of Website
There are primarily three genres of website:
Information – generally these are article websites providing people information on a particular subject; or even a range of subjects.
Commerce – this involves the online retailing of products and this can be for anything you like, from toys, clothing, foodstuff and anything else you physically supply.
Service – these types of online businesses are designed to provide information to a service that you supply, for instance Public Relations, Marketing, Electrical / Plumbing Services – in fact anything where you supply a service to the customer.
Which one of these you choose will generally depend on your area of expertise or interest. Note carefully that both A and B are the most time consuming and requires you to constantly update your web pages in order to provide your visitors with new and interesting information or products.
It’s More Work than You Imagine
If you have never run a website before then you might be thinking it is a relatively easy thing to do. If you decided on either A or B above as your business model I can assure you that running such an online business takes dedication and lots of hard work. As an example, running Meebal.com takes on average of 14 hours a day and it’s a 7 day a week occupation. In fact I cannot remember the last time I took a day off work.
What many people fail to realize is that you will almost certainly be working alone in a room and therefore isolated from human contact. This is NOT the same as your 9 to 5 where you get to interact with people all day long – this is a lonely job and one that many people simply cannot handle.
There’s an old saying; ‘It’s lonely at the top.’ And this phrase will certainly play a huge role in your online business, unless of course you have the funds to start a business with premises and a body of staff. The reality however, for most online entrepreneurs, is that they work alone, for long hours, with very little form of human contact.
Remember this… while your friends are out enjoying themselves you will be stuck in your room with your computer working on your website.
Can You Work for Nothing?
We all like to think that our websites will spring to life and make us billionaires. Unfortunately of all the millions of websites online only a handful of these ever really make it to this level.
You really need to face reality and think about the size of your market – that is how many people are actually going to be interested in what you sell, or what information you provide, or what service you have to offer.
Going back to the A, B and C of website genres it is A that is the most difficult, however, with the right content you are able to tap into a vast audience. Why is A so difficult?
With B and C it is much easier to create a turnover of revenue but A often involves selling advertising space. You can of course, as I do with Meebal.com plug in Google Adsense, however the revenue from this is almost non-existent until you can attract a very large audience and even then many users now use Ad Blocking Software, so your potential source of revenue is totally eradicated from these users.
The question you need to ask yourself is how long you can survive without any income? You will not doubt appreciate now why retaining your 9 to 5 is a good idea, while you develop your website and its visitors until it does indeed generate sufficient cash to cover your monthly living expenses and those of your web business.
How Long Does It Take to Start Making Money?
That my friend is the $64 million question. There is no real answer to this and much of it depends upon how much effort and money you put into your online business.
Yes, it’s that dirty word … money! You can, as I did, start off with a very minimal budget and many online businesses start this way. You will need money to pay for a domain name, hosting service and of course a website design (unless you build it yourself). Apart from that it is possible to run an online business without any more money, other than paying for your internet connection and web hosting service, which is not a huge expense.
The difficulty with the ‘Shoe String’ budget is that it can take months, or even years, before you attract sufficient site visitors that will generate you an income.
Should I Spend Money On Marketing
If you are fortunate enough to have a marketing budget then you need to tread very carefully. There are tens of thousands of website services offering all manner of online marketing, some that can work extremely well, while others that could in fact put you out of business.
One of the first areas many new website owners look to is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you do your research you will quickly discover that Google Search can be one of your biggest suppliers of free visitors, however, Google has some very strict guidelines regarding indexing your website and ranking it – the higher your rank the more people you are likely to get – see Google Guidelines
Once your website has been active for a couple of months you will begin to see your email Inbox begin to fill up with offers of SEO services. You need to do two things with these emails, firstly add them to your Junk Box and secondly delete them – DO NOT reply to them otherwise your email address will be sold on to other services and before you know it your email system will be overloaded with junk.
Almost all SEO services will promise you a No.1 Position in Google and with this millions of visitors. If it was this easy everyone would be doing it and so ignore any SEO services that promises this type of positioning. Why? Yes, I thought you might ask that, let me explain…
Google Search is used by people typing in Keywords and or Keyprhases, for example
HDMI TV – that’s basically a keyword
Sony HDMI 55” TV – that’s basically a key phrase
The chances of you hitting No.1 spot on Google search for the keyword is akin to winning the lottery, unlikely but not impossible.
The chances of you hitting the No.1 spot in Google for the key phrase is more likely as it is more specific and if you have a page with this information on it, then Google may provide you with a ranking for it.
The trick with most SEO services is the promise of a No1. Spot and these are generally for key phrases, or what is referred to as ‘Long Tail Keywords’. These are often very long such as:
Buying a Sony HDMI 55” TV with Wall Brackets and Stand
Two things to note here:
Anyone with no knowledge of SEO could create a page with this information on it and reach No.1 in Google Search.
It is unlikely that you will ever see much in the way of traffic for such a key phrase.
Now you know why some SEO services will offer you the ability to get No.1 in Google, because they will convince you that their analysis of your website suggests you target certain key phrases – what they won’t tell you is that these often receive little, or if indeed any, traffic from these key phrases.
When it comes to splashing out cash for marketing your website, always follow the rule – “If it sounds too good to be true then it has to be false.”
Finally, whatever marketing you decide to engage in, research the marketing thoroughly and make sure you find out exactly who you are doing business with – there are many websites out there that help you discover if the service is a scam. Remember you are in a sea of bits and bytes and these waters are infested with sharks.
Love What You Do!
As I said at the beginning, many people dream of starting their own online business in order to break away from the monotony of working a 9 to 5 that they simply do not find rewarding; either on a personal level or a financial level.
Again, be prepared to work far more hours, in isolation, than you are accustomed to and whatever type of online business you decided to operate, make sure you LOVE what you do or you will end up realizing that you’ve merely swapped a monotonous 9 to 5 for a monotonous 7 to 11 that doesn’t even pay you.
If you have any questions, please leave these in the comments box below and I will endeavor to answer these.