Following on from Part 1 of our guide to Internet Marketing for Newbies, here is the eagerly awaited Part 2! Read on for (almost) everything wanted to know but were afraid to ask about making money online with internet marketing..
Producing content for your blog or website is another fundamental task for all internet marketers. Content may include articles, photographs, video, audio and others or a combination of those. For most people the article is the main form of content and such articles can be in the form of news, opinion, product reviews etc. It is important to do keyword research which will provide you with article topics (the keywords) which people are actually searching for so that you will get targeted traffic from the search engines.
In general there are two types of content site commonly created by internet marketers – Microniche and Authority..
- Microniche sites are small, perhaps as little as five highly optimized pages and sometimes even less, which are designed to promote one product, or one tightly focused niche which might have more than one product. Income from such a site might be from affiliate sales or from Google ads and getting such highly targeted traffic helps increase conversion rates (ie. The rate visitors turn into buyers or ad clickers).
- Authority sites target a much broader niche and contain many more pages and articles, typically 100 content pages at the very least and continually updated to add more articles so eventually they could have hundreds or even thousands of pages. Such a site can target many long tail keywords which combined will bring in a lot more traffic but of course they require much more work and time to build and maintain. Google tends to favour such large and frequently updated, content rich sites which provide a quality experience for visitors they may send and so these are a good choice for marketers prepared for the long haul.
Whichever type of content site you go for, producing content is certainly a chore – writing articles every day is no easy task however with the proper keyword research and writing techniques it becomes much simpler. One tactic many people work with is to use speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking which allows you to just speak into the microphone and it then automatically converts it to text. All you need to do then is a quick scan to fix any errors and you’re done – a 500 word article can be written in 10 minutes or less as long as you know the subject you are talking/writing about.
If writing articles, even with Dragon, is just not something you want to do or have time for or if you want to scale up your content generation beyond what one person can manage, then do not worry as there are other ways – you can outsource the whole article writing process for a very modest fee.
Reasonable quality articles of around 500 words can be got for as little as $5 however it is important that you check them thoroughly not just for correct grammar and spelling but also for originality to make sure they haven’t been ripped off from somewhere else. Copyscape is a popular web service which checks articles for plagiarism and you can also just paste a few snippets into Google for another quick check. Also make sure to provide detailed instructions to any writer you hire – they are not mind readers so if you don’t explain exactly what you want them to do and what you do not want, you may get back articles which you cannot use for the purpose you had planned.
A website without traffic is like a pub with no beer – traffic is the lifeblood of internet marketers and needless to say the more you have the more money you will make, with certain caveats. Not all traffic is created equal and you need to concentrate on getting good quality, targeted traffic or in other words people who are specifically interested in what your site is selling and who also come from a part of the world where they can actually buy what you sell. There are all sorts of ways to generate traffic but here are a couple of the most commonly used methods..
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website to maximize traffic from search engines such as Google (in fact mostly Google these days) and consists of both on-page SEO (producing content and optimizing the pages and internal links) and off-page SEO which consists of getting lots of links, called backlinks, from other sites which lead to your site. Google rewards sites which have many backlinks and they will appear higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages) – this of course results in many people trying to game the system and so called Blackhat SEO techniques are often employed. Conversely Google is continually updating their ranking algorithm and filters to combat dubious backlinking tactics so the goalposts are forever moving and even sites that only used so called Whitehat SEO often get penalized inadvertently.
- Buying – the quickest way to get traffic is simply to buy it and the most popular place to buy traffic is from Google Adwords. You just create some ads (text or graphic) and they appear on Google or on other sites displaying Google adverts. It is a great way to get traffic and only pay for actual clicks, called PPC, although you can also pay for views if you prefer. Throw in some retargeting and you’re laughing all the way to the bank. However buying traffic is also a high risk method and a very quick way to lose your money if your site is not optimized for maximum conversions. You need to be very careful while learning how to buy traffic and do lots of testing until you are sure you can actually make a profit. Fortunately Google and a number of other ad networks offer vouchers for new advertisers which provide for example $100 worth of clicks and this is what you can use to do your testing before spending real money.
Traffic is only one part of the puzzle, to complete the picture you need income sources or in other words something to sell or promote on your site.
- Affiliate Programs – perhaps the biggest and best known example of an affiliate program online is Amazon.com which pays affiliates (ie. You) a commission for sales made by visitors sent from your site to Amazon. The commission with Amazon is quite low, as little as 4%, however since Amazon is a trusted brand, people are more likely to buy from them so conversions are higher. They also have an enormous variety of products which you can promote so you can always find something that fits the subject of your web site (or build a site specifically for a certain Amazon product) so it is a good affiliate program to join. There are however countless other affiliate programs out there including big networks such as Clickbank.
- Advertising Networks – instead of trying to make money on commissions from affiliate sales you can instead just stick some ads on your site and get paid for each click or view and then you don’t care too much about making a sale, just getting your visitors to view and click on the ads will make you money. The most popular ad network these days is Google Adsense and using that it is very easy to make money if you have decent traffic – however you have to comply with their very strict regulations or risk having your account banned and losing your money.
- Direct Advertising – this method is good if you have a lot of traffic and have the time to seek out advertisers yourself. You effectively cut out the middle man (such as Google) and sell ad space directly to advertisers and so you could potentially make more money but of course it is more work.
- Own Products – instead of advertising products for someone else you can create your own products to sell. Your product could be as simple as an ebook (digital products), or a service (graphic design for example), or even a physical product. The advantage of this is of course you can earn a lot more for each sale. For digital products you can sell through Clickbank which makes it very easy and also provides you with your own affiliate program so you could get others promoting your products for a commission meaning you get free advertising and only pay out when there is an actual sale.
You can and perhaps should use more than one of the above methods – diversify and spread the risk and create more opportunities to make money. However don’t try to do too much at the same time – work on one thing, refine it, test it and optimize conversions then move on to another. You will find many money making methods on the internet and many of them do actually work to some extent but you should always try to put your own unique spin on any method – don’t just copy it like thousands of other people and expect it to still work.. improve it, make it your own, experiment and test your ideas and additions to the method until you find something which works for you.
In order to maximize your income you need to know what is going on with your traffic – where does it come from? Which type of visitors are clicking on ads or buying things? Which promotional methods produce the most traffic or the best converting traffic? Which affiliate programs perform best for your traffic? etc etc. For all this you need good detailed traffic analytics. Fortunately getting all this data is easy since you can use Google Analytics for free – just paste a bit of code onto all your web pages and Google will collect and analyze your traffic and provide you with detailed stats breakdowns and nice charts. An alternative to Google Analytics is to install Piwik which is a free and open source analytics application which provides much of the functionality of Google’s offering while being entirely under your control. Piwik can track multiple sites and is a very powerful system, well worth using if you can install it somewhere.
Work Smarter Not Harder
It is important to fully understand the basics of internet marketing and the best way to do that is to simply do it yourself – look for a suitable niche, buy a domain, setup a hosting account and install wordpress there then create content and optimize the pages for the search engines and build backlinks in various ways and perhaps dabble in PPC traffic buying. It takes some time but it is not difficult and when you have done it all once and so understand the whole process much better, you are in a better position to be able to work smarter next time – use automation tools and outsourcing of time consuming tasks instead of doing it all yourself manually.
I must stress however that you do not need to buy expensive tools or hire outsourced workers, it is perfectly possible to do it all manually yourself and make money, it just might take longer. On the other hand when you don’t do it manually you have to be very careful that your outsourcers are doing the job properly or that the software you bought is not getting you penalized by Google because you inadvertently broke some rules – there is still much to learn when taking the ‘work smarter’ path so don’t get carried away and think it will be some magic bullet because it isn’t.
Ultimately most internet marketing boils down to the following basic steps which can be done in varying order depending on your preferences or other factors..
- Choose a niche – decide what subject or product to build a site around. This can be something you know about already or it can be based on keyword and trend research which turns up something with potentially high interest and not too much competition.
- Find or create products – if you chose a niche around a product already then this part is easy, otherwise just look for affiliate products which closely fit the niche you have chosen. Alternatively just put Google ads on your site and let them deal with targeting issues.
- Register a domain – go to Namecheap and register a catchy name, perhaps including the keyword or just something completely made up but catchy and brandable.
- Choose a good shared host to start with – here are some good ones: hostgator, dreamhost. Any one of those will do the job nicely and leave you to get on with the business of making money without worrying about the technical side of hosting.
- Get traffic – work on your SEO, buy some PPC ads, make social connections, etc. Mix and match and diversify your traffic (and income) sources so if one fails your business doesn’t collapse.
- Work smarter – once you actually know what needs to be done and how to do it, don’t waste time doing things manually when there are good tools available or outsourcing options you can use. Outsource and automate so you can scale up faster.
One of the main reasons for failure in internet marketing is simply giving up too soon. Many people have unrealistic expectations and think they can “get rich quick” then when they find that the money is not rolling in after a few days or even a few weeks they get disillusioned and give up, thinking that this whole internet marketing thing is a scam. The reality is it can often take many months of work before seeing any real money – creating content every day, working on various promotional methods to build traffic, testing and retesting and optimizing to maximize conversions and more.. all this takes time. Of course you can shortcut the process to some extent by buying traffic and outsourcing many tasks but the risks are high if you do not know what you are doing so it is better to take it slow and steady and learn how everything works before spending a lot of money.
Don’t quit too soon – stick with it!