Planning For Web Success: It’s Not Easy But It Is Possible
Spend a little time searching the web and you’ll find a gazillion books, courses, seminars, webinars, newsletters and other digital dross about “How to Make a Million $$$ on the Web.” The only people making any money are the people who sell this stuff.
They make it sound easy to build a profitable web business, but wake-up-call time: building a profitable, web-based business takes hard work, long hours and, most importantly, careful planning.
Sure, your neighbor brags about the dough she’s raking in on her maintenance-free web site, or your brother-in-law just bought a fancy car on his PPC earnings. People do earn money on the web, but it isn’t luck or good karma.
It’s planning for success and if you’re just starting to think about taking the digital dive in to the shark tank, consider these questions and, oh yeah, develop the answers before you spend a penny on your vision.
How competitive is the market?
You plan to build a web site that sells hand-woven baskets. Cool.
Type in “hand woven baskets” into Google’s search box. This morning, the search engine delivered 668,000 search engine results for the keywords hand woven baskets. That’s a lot of competition and they have a head start on you – they’re already on line!
Visit the top ranked sites on Google and compare their offerings to yours. Are they less expensive? Do they offer a wider selection? Do they have multiple payment gateways? Your web site has to be at least as good as your top competitors or those guys are going to eat your lunch.
Do you have a marketing budget?
It doesn’t cost a lot to sign up with a quality web host and get everything you need to build, run and grow a web-based business. In fact, make sure the web hosting provider you select offers:
- free domain registration
- a free bag of web site templates
- a free shopping cart and checkout
- lots of server-side security (that’s where your on-line business resides)
- 24/7 tech and customer support
- an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use administrator’s console
You should be able to find a host that delivers the whole nine yards for pocket change each month.
It doesn’t cost a lot to design, build and launch a web site.
However, lots of web dreamers forget that they may have the best product in the galaxy but if no one visits the web site, they aren’t going to develop a robust revenue stream. In fact, they’ll go down in flames.
It does cost money to effectively market your web business. Sure, you can use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Plurk and other community sites to get some free pixels but you’re also going to market your site through other means including:
- pay-per-click (PPC) programs (you pay every time someone clicks on your paid link that appears on search engine results pages or SERPs)
- pay-per-performance (PPP) same click through deal only you pay when the click through performs the most desired action, whatever that may be
- banner ads
- email blasts
- press releases
- directory listings
- paid hosted content
There are a lot of ways to market a web site so in your initial planning stage, budget 40% of your capital for building a functional site and 60% for marketing that site. Marketing is the key component in web success – even more important than an attractive web site according to studies. Web users have to know you’re there or you don’t sell a thing.
Do you know how the W3 market functions?
Do you know how a search engine ranks web sites? Do you understand conversion ratios, downstream clicks and bounce rate? If not, time to go to school.
There’s tons of free information (don’t pay for it, you can get it free) on SEO (search engine optimization) blogs, web sites and sources like Wikipedia. It’s important to learn all you can about the market into which you are about to enter. You don’t have to know every little detail on day one but learning how search engines sort web sites, for example, is an on-going process so find some good, reliable sources of marketing information, bookmark those blogs and web sites, visit and visit often.
Do you understand the needs and wants of your target market?
Your target market is called your demographic – the people you’re trying to reach. Examples? People over 60, pregnant moms, entrepreneurs, prospective patients or clients, people with disposable income, people who want to develop disposable income – who’s in the center of your marketing bull’s eye and what do they want or need?
Again, you can learn a lot from the competition. Visit the high ranking sites competing for the same demographic. What sales approach do they use? Learn from the leaders – then do it better.
Do you have the time to run a business?
An on-line business takes time. It takes time to process orders, provide customer support and continue to market your web site. If you work a long day, do you have the time (and energy) to come home to your second job – your web-based business? Think about it for a long time. It ain’t easy to succeed on the web.
Second, do you have the time to give your business the chance to grow? A lot of new site owners jump in, feet first, thinking they’ll see a positive cash flow on day one. On day one, no one knows you’re there except family and friends – and they aren’t buying, they’re marveling at YOUR web site selling hand-woven baskets.
It can take months to build a web site to profitability. If you’re expecting your newly-launched site to make the mortgage payment next month, you better hope lightening strikes because it’ll take time to build a base of repeat buyers and an expanding base of new buyers all seeking your baskets.
What human resources do you have?
If your kid is a computer whiz he can help build your web site. If your brother has a successful site, ask for some free consultation over dinner.
And don’t forget your web hosting company. Look for a company that offers free client support – patient support with expertise in ecommerce. The best hosting companies recognize that their success depends on your success. If your web biz is successful you’ll stay with the web host who helped you get started, the web host that spent hours helping you hook up your free shopping cart, the web host that provides everything you need to build and run a web business at no additional cost.
The fact is, your web hosting company is your on-line business partner. So, choose a web hosting service that provides everything – EVERYTHING including human resources – to increase your chances for business success.
A lot of people are turning to the world wide web to find business success and a lot of these would-be entrepreneurs simply aren’t prepared to conduct business in the fastest growing marketplace in history. The sales copy doesn’t push the right buttons when visitors arrive on site. The text on the web site is hard to read. Too many keywords is a negative ranking factor with search engines. Your competition undercuts your prices.
If you don’t plan for success right from the start, success is more likely to elude you. So, answer these questions and start developing a written plan for success.
No, web success isn’t easy even though there are lots of expensive resources that “GUARANTEE” web success overnight. It isn’t going to happen. But with hard work, learning how the digital marketplace functions, with financial resources to market your site and with a good support network provided by friends and your web host…
…your chances for web success increase. Ready to go?
Start planning today.