4 Tips For Starting A Profitable Online Venture
by Justin B Handley
|Table of Contents|
|Choosing a Web Host|
If you have tried to investigate setting up a profitable online business, I'm sure that you've come across hundreds of people offering you advice on how to do it (at a cost, that is). Well, this little article is designed to give you the basics that you will need to get started in an easy and profitable way in any business that you want. All you need to do is follow the four steps below. They are not entirely complete, they will not give you ALL of the information that you will ever need to succeed online, but they will provide you with a blueprint on which to base your online venture. To start with, you need a place to put your site.
1. Choosing a Web Host
Choosing a web host is an essential first step for an online business. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a web host, and if you don't start in the right place you are eventually going to waste both time and money upgrading your package, or even having to move to a new host because you find that your needs aren't supported with your current host.
You need to consider:
- How big is your site going to be? Is it Amazon.com or just a one pager?
- How many people are going to be viewing your site - if you are planning
on marketing the heck out of it and getting a million hits a day you
probably need to think about bandwidth.
- How much support will you need? You can find cheaper web hosts if you are
willing to go into the internet world with little to no real support, but
I have always found it more effective to pay for a host who will be there
when I need help.
- What kind of programming will you use, what platform do you need it on?
My personal favorite hosting provider is http://www.globalwebhost.com - not only do they provide rock solid hosting (and trust me, I've been through 8 hosting companies in two years) they also have top notch customer service. Still have questions about what your hosting needs might be, get answers for free from them at http://www.globalwebhost.com/support.html
2. Finding a Designer (The In House / Out of House Question)
Finding a quality web designer is of great importance, as much of the success or failure of your site depends on the design. Are you thinking of doing the site yourself, or having someone you know (or an employee of your company) do your site for you? Would you rather outsource the whole thing? These are important questions, and you need to consider the following.
- If you want to do it in house do you have designers who are good enough?
Trying to save money by doing it yourself is only a good idea if you are a
good designer. Especially if you are trying to do a direct marketing site
(people come to your site with the purpose of buying) it is probably a
good idea to get a professional marketer to help design the site - so if
you aren't one, outsourcing is the way!
- Cost - designers charge varying amounts, and budget is an important
consideration. Make sure that it is very clear what you are getting before
you get started, and that what you need can be completed within your
- Human versus Machine - there are now some top quality web builders out there that make it easy for you to get your site up in no time. These are generally a little cheaper up front but charge more in fees and hosting in the long term. They can be a good solution, but if you want a fully custom look - important if you are ever going to be doing image or branding campaigns, it is probably best to go with a human designed site.
One of my favorite designers is Derek Raines - he's an 18 year old kid who has put together a collection of websites for himself that are grossing around $300,000 per year - not bad. You can get a quote for design services from him you can check out his site at http://www.ecomdevel.com/
So, you've finished your beautiful website, added all the little bells and whistles, and you're ready to make massive sales. You even hired search optimization specialists and have great search engine placement and a ton of traffic coming through, but no one is buying. What happened?
Most likely, like many other online business owners, you forgot to test and optimize your site. This step is often overlooked and is the most important factor to a website's success. What does it mean?
Well, when you are trying to sell something online, what you are doing is usually direct marketing. Someone comes to your site, looks at your product, and decides whether or not they will buy it. Marketing is a science, and there are things that sell and things that don't. There are tons of free to download e-books online that will tell you a thing or two about how to make your site really sell.
To optimize a site, what you do is start advertising in small increments. If you have a specific target market, find an ezine in that market and purchase a solo ad. Run a great ad copy, and watch your response (this will usually cost between $30 and $150, start small). If you get 1000 visitors to your site from the ad, which is targeted, and no one buys, revise your site and try again.
If you are selling a general product (sunglasses, those little web cams, something everyone wants) you can probably buy guaranteed traffic to get the same testing results (I like http://www.webadsdirect.com - they allow targeting by area and category, run campaigns quickly for fast testing, and have very competitive pricing) This is much cheaper, but again will only work well for general products. Don't try to sell medical equipment or business machines using guaranteed traffic.
Ideally you want to repeat this process until you are getting a 1-2% response rate - meaning for every 100 people who see your site, one or two of them buy your product. Then you're ready for the big time.
If you are having trouble with this step, you can feel free to email me for a free website consultation at email@example.com with the subject line "Free Website Consultation" and I'll take a look and give you some great tips on optimizing for direct marketing.
Once you are pulling a one to two percent response on the visitors to your site, all that is left to do is advertise and you are virtually guaranteed profit.
Before you buy advertising, you want to do the math. Say that you generate $15 pure profit from each sale you make (if you sell more than one product you should come up with an average profit per sale) If your site converts at 1%, that means that for every 100 visitors you make $15. So the question is, how much are you willing to spend of that profit on making the sale?
If you run an ezine ad for $100 that goes out to 7500 people, you can assume that 1% will actually click through to your site, and 1% of those will buy. That means that in the end you make about one sale. If you generate $15 profit per sale, this is not worth your time.
But, if you could buy guaranteed traffic that was targeted enough to convert sales (and you can) for $5 per 1,000 visitors, then a 1% conversion would mean 10 sales, and you would profit $145 after paying for the ad - this is worth it.
So your goal is to find the advertising that will drive customers to your site at a price that is compensated for by the sale (corporations selling things like manufacturing equipment and making thousands per sale often spend $500 to $800 or more just to get one qualified lead to their site, you just have to do the math) Once you've found the advertising medium that is profitable for your site, simply run as many ads as you can, wait for the response to come in, and then reinvest your profits into doing it again. And there you have it - if you've actually followed the steps I gave you have a virtually guaranteed profit machine (yea, I know, easier said than done!)
Well, again, a great source of targeted guaranteed visitors can be found at http://www.webadsdirect.com - they really go above and beyond in terms of the targeting and quality of the visitors they deliver.
If you have a product that appeals to the masses, bulk email can be a great way to get the word out. Good lists can be found at http://www.bulkgroup.com.
Don't have much cash to put up front? (Warning - free advertising comes at the expense of your time) Check out http://www.freeadvertisingresource.com.
There are a ton of advertising sources out there, these are just a few that I've used with a good bit of success. You have to be careful as there are as many scam artists as there are honest people, so I recommend always starting small with a company, tracking your success, and then moving to bigger ad buys once credibility is established.
I hope that this article helps you on your way to online success. One last thing - there is really one main factor that determines whether or not your business succeeds or fails. That is you. If you are serious about making money online, it can be done. Put on your blinders, ignore all the offers that will teach you how to make millions with no work, and put some effort into growing your own business. You can do it with this article alone, I promise.
Copyright © 2002 Justin B Handley
About the Author
|Justin Handley is CEO of Narasopa Marketing and Design. Starting his own web design and advertising business out of his home four years ago, he now owns and runs 8 profitable online businesses and has moved his focus to helping others do the same. http://www.adversa.com|
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