Copyright 2006 Donovan Baldwin
You know, I have been an internet marketer for almost ten years now. I have reached a point where I actually support myself, and quite well, I might add, from my internet businesses.
It wasn't always so. I made a lot of dumb, and sometimes ignorant (the two are not the same) mistakes along the way. Somehow, I managed to learn enough about internet marketing to get successful at it in spite of myself. However, in the process, I paid for a lot of junk and wasted my time on a lot of things that didn't work. I usually refer to this as "accidental tuition".
As a result, I get a little irked when someone approaches me, or posts a message on a forum, saying or implying that they want to get into or have found an internet business that "makes money" or "guarantees" success. I have found that a successful internet business is just like the brick-and-mortar kind. It takes dedication, motivation, inspiration, hard work...and sometimes blind luck.
A successful internet marketing strategy is just like its non-internet business counterpart. It is made up of several factors, and does not simply consist of putting a guy on the sidewalk with a sign on a stick, or building a website and submitting it to search engines. Most people would not expect the sign on the stick to work marketing miracles, but, probably in internet ignorance, they tend to believe the website + search engine = success scenario.
Many who read this article think that way, at least until they read what I wrote in the paragraph above this one. Despite the negativity of the previous paragraph, however, I am not trying to discourage anyone from forming an internet business or diving into the internet marketing pool. It's fun in here, and the more the merrier! I DO want to dispel unrealistic expectations of what is involved in running an internet business in general, and what is involved in internet marketing in particular.
A point I am gradually sneaking up on is that, like many things in life, successful internet marketing may not be as simple as it looks. Nor will one single strategy work for every internet business at all times. It will be necessary to learn many things and some, which may seem simple and basic, may need to be modified to meet the needs of each unique internet business. The bright side is that many techniques are tried and true and will probably serve anyone well, although they might work better for one business than another.
Internet marketing itself can seem relatively simple. You start with a good product or service, create quality marketing vehicles (most important being the website), and then you lead people to the website. In fact, that's all that internet marketing is about...getting interested people to your website.
How do you do that? Well, that's where things get complicated. You can use Pay-Per-Click search engines, search engine optimization, opt-in mailing lists, free gifts, business cards, flyers, contests, rewards! The list is bounded only by your imagination.
There are four basic ways to acquire the mass of background information you need for a successful internet marketing strategy:
1. Go through the internet university of hard knocks, like I, and so many others, have. The tuition is high, and it will probably take you a few years to get your diploma.
2. Go into research. That is, read everything you can find on the internet, running an internet business, and internet marketing. This too will take a long period of time, and you will still probably have to go out of pocket as you test your learning at various points.
3. Find a mentor. There are people on the internet who have been successful and who share this information with others. Quite often, even they charge a fee, but your opportunity for success might be higher. However, it is difficult to find someone to be your mentor. They are running their own businesses.
4. Take an internet marketing course. If you can find the right course, even though you will have to pay for the course, the information you can glean can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars as you wade into the fast running stream of internet business opportunities. I have taken three of these courses myself, and wish I had known of their existence when I first started trying to make money on the internet. I could have save thousands of dollars and hours of time, and an immeasurable amount of frustration.
Simply taking an internet marketing course will not guarantee you success, of course. In fact, you will begin to realize how many ways you can fail! However, you will learn important lessons that you can use to create a successful internet business. I do NOT recommend trying to learn it on your own.