The Internet Online Business Conundrum (a rather long posting)
I have finally got my fledgling online, internet enterprise off the ground but it was a chore. My new website, www.retirementmapping.com will focus on the creation and marketing of high quality “digital information” focused on the 5 or 6 most common problem areas or worries for people contemplating retirement or already retired. I am becoming increasingly pleased with my relatively refined business plan (essentially an “email direct marketing model”) because this business model is considerably more complicated and sophisticated than I had ever expected.
Why another posting on this subject?
The primary reason for this posting is to summarize some of my early observations for the benefit of others but also to provide a clear record of my expectations for later evaluation. One year from today I want a reliable standard against to measure success/failure.
A complex business model establishes some significant barriers to entry and success. There exist many relatively simple internet business models which require much less skill however generally “other people” will have to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of product creation and marketing and of course they will also earn most of the profits. You will have to play by their rules and work more like a commissioned salesman than as an entrepreneur. This article is for the “true entrepreneur”.
20 Important Skills and Characteristics
Here is my take on some of the most important skills and personality characteristics required for success in an email direct marketing business such as the one I have set up:
1. A high level of personal persistence, dedication and drive matched by a well thought out, strategic business plan.
2. A highly focused niche area backed by considerable personal knowledge and expertise to establish subscriber credibility, believability and trust.
3. An ability to write well and rather quickly not to mention having something interesting to say. I use Scribener, Dragon and a Sony digital recorder for my early drafting.
4. An ability to edit prudently because writing and editing are entirely different skill sets.
5. A web site based on the “blog model” (probably WordPress) to build a large dedicated subscriber list (your most important asset) with high quality postings at least 2 or 3 times a week including guest postings on related sites.
6. The primary objective should be to build a high quality subscriber “opt-in list” of perhaps 100,000 members as quickly as possible which is today considered the threshold for a “serious online business”. You build your list one subscriber at a time.
7. probably a minimum of four hours dedicated time every day to run/manage the business.
8. A relatively high level of computer skill is required to understand and integrate about 20-25 essential software programs including 10 plug-ins for WordPress.
9. WordPress is currently the web package of choice because it is free, sophisticated and incredibly flexible. It might take the average person several months to master it but you can use it to do almost anything.
10. A strong “branding strategy” is necessary for visual and message consistency for your digital information such as email newsletters, consulting services, free reports, e-books, affiliated products, webinars, and online courses.
11. A solid understanding is required of the current best internet marketing practices. You can learn most of these techniques by reviewing 5 or so of the top rated books on Amazon but then of course you have to apply the principles to your new business.
12. Good marketing depends on continuous learning and particularly “testing”. This skill set combines curiosity and imagination backed by a sophisticated “auto-responder” program.
13. Your auto-responder software will rapidly become the backbone of your business. Choose it very carefully. I finally decided to go with arpReach as opposed to aWeber, GetResponse or MailChimp even though it meant changing my hosting account to HostGator from GoDaddy.
14. Good marketing practices to attract new subscribers depend to a great extent on social networking and sharing. You will probably need to set up personal linked accounts with Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook and interact frequently with your “fans”.
15. This business model does not require a great deal of capital to get started. If you already have a good computer you might need less than $1000. You can delay some of the software purchases until later.
16. Incredible curiosity is a very useful attribute when working in the direct email marketing field. Continuous testing is absolutely essential to refine your messages to maximize opt in rates and to maximize results from your writing and related information products.
17. One requires a high level of organization to research, write and publish new posts, e-books, webinars online learning classes and the like. There is a constant need to set firm deadlines that are achievable.
18. A good sense of humor and modesty can help a lot. Self-deprecating humor is usually best. Don’t fly off the handle at some critical comment to your latest posting. Being a social networking animal can be an advantage here.
19. Set up some realistic expectations (in terms of number of email registrants needed, number of new digital products, profit targets, conversion targets) within a finite time frame. Where do you wish to be in 12 or 24 months.
20. Once these expectations are up on your cork board you will be reminded on a daily basis as to the level of effort needed to achieve these objectives.