Starting a business in Ireland is a brave decision to take in the current fiscal and economic climate. However entrepreneurs are a resilient and driven bunch and once you decide to start your own business it is difficult to shake off the bug.
Digital Marketing for Your New Business
Not too long ago you would have had to factor a significant marketing/advertising budget into your business plan. Some sort of advertising spends in newspapers, magazines, radio, or television would have been a necessity.
The good news nowadays is that smart digital marketing can provide a fantastic return on your marketing efforts at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising spend. Search engine marketing, social media marketing, pay per click, podcasting, video marketing through channels like YouTube, blogging, and various other cost effective guerrilla marketing tactics offer huge opportunities to smart small business owners.
However it is important that you are not bamboozled by all of these new marketing opportunities. Establishing a clear digital marketing strategy at the outset which is ideal for your particular business is vital.
Nobody knows your business like you do and there is no “one size fits all” strategy in marketing your business through digital channels. Each start up business is like a human being with an individual character and will require an individual and tailored approach into your target market(s).
And it is not a scientific process. It will involve trial and error, tweaking, changes both major and minor and an evolving learning curve. It will require an emphasis on one or a combination of the various digital marketing opportunities available. What works best for your business will only become clear over time as you monitor the results of your marketing efforts. So, where do you start?
At a minimum I would recommend
- A website/blog
- Video marketing
- Social media marketing with the emphasis on the website and video marketing initially.
The success of starting a business in Ireland in 2012 can be significantly enhanced with a content rich website which solves the problems of your target market together with cost effective video marketing on your own YouTube channel. The start-up costs for this strategy is miniscule if you do it right.
Once you have a clear idea of what your website is trying to achieve and the type of useful information or product demonstrations or education your videos will cover you will have an effective and scalable digital marketing strategy. This strategy can and should be tweaked and enhanced as your business grows and you monitor feedback and engagement with your website, YouTube channel, and whatever social media sites are best for your business.
Many people have contacted me to ask about making money online. The common and recurring questions include:
- is it possible to make money online
- how to go about making money online
- I would love to set up an online business or home business etc.
The truth of the matter is that it possible but very difficult. As a starting point you will need to acquire certain basic skills which are essential if you want to start a home or online business. These skills include (at a minimum)
- Being able to create a website (s)
- Understanding how to generate traffic
- Understanding the psychology of doing business online and increasing conversions
- Search engine optimisation to ensure that your site ranks well in the search engines.
In this piece however I want to bring to your attention some of the less savoury practices and scams which are commonplace in the internet marketing space. The scams are too numerous to cover in one article but a look at some of the resources listed below will give you an idea of what to look out for and perhaps some food for thought.
The Warrior Forum
The Warrior Forum is the leading online website or forum for people who dream of starting their own online business and to which these dreamers are drawn like moths to a flame. But it is also the principle arena in which scammers operate to exploit new people to the industry and is packed with “products” which purport to show you how to make a killing on the internet.
The irony here is that most people who are actually making money online are those who sell products showing newbies how to make money on the internet. Not everyone on the Warrior Forum are scammers-not by a long shot.
But you do need to be very careful about whom you believe and trust and approach the wild claims of success with a considerable degree of caution.
So as an antidote and to get a fuller picture of internet marketing as portrayed on the Warrior Forum you should also spend some time reading on these resources and tread cautiously:
It is possible to start a successful online business but the truth of the matter is that the failure rate is very high-higher, I suspect, than with traditional startups because “online business” has lower barriers to entry with very checks and balances that you might face in the offline world such as persuading financiers, business name registration, incorporating a limited company, having a partnership agreement drafted, and so on.
So read and research widely before parting with your money or spending a lot of time following any “system” promising “push button” profits. The truth is that making money online is difficult requiring a lot of hard work, discipline and some basic but essential skills like building and promoting traffic generating websites.
Starting a business on line is the dream of many people, especially in recession hit Ireland in 2012.
There are significant opportunities to start your own online or internet based business and this piece looks at two significant business opportunities offered by two of the biggest and most successful companies on the planet-Amazon.com and Google.com.
The two business models required for starting an online business with Google and Amazon are quite different and it is important to understand the difference at the outset.
Before taking a closer look at these two online business opportunities know this: regardless of how successful or otherwise you are in starting an online business you can rest assured that you will be paid quickly and on time.
Because you will be in partnership with two of the largest online businesses on the face of the planet.
The Google Adsense advertising programme allows you as a website owner or “publisher” in Google Adsense parlance to place advertising on your website. This advertising is served up by Google, you simply need to place the appropriate code on your site, and you get paid for each time someone validly clicks on an ad block on your site.
The ability with which Google can serve up relevant, timely advertisements to visitors on your website ensures that you have a great chance of winning advertisement revenue.
Critical factors in your success as an Adsense publisher will be
- Publishing lots of relevant, consistently themed content on your website
- Attracting lots of traffic with a well laid out, well search optimises website
- Adhering strictly to Google Adsense terms of service and rules
- Picking the right and most lucrative markets and industries in which to create your website and online business.
Amazon affiliate marketing
The Amazon affiliate programme is different and needs to be approached differently from the perspective of building your website if the Amazon programme is the approach you intend taking.
Becoming an Amazon affiliate is easy-you simply need a website and sign up as an affiliate with them and you get paid a commission for each visitor you send from your site to Amazon who purchases a product there. It does not matter what the visitor buys as long as he/she has come from your site in the last 24 hours.
Amazon is a very experienced, respected and trusted online retailer who has poured huge resources into their online selling platform at Amazon.com and they are incredibly good at converting visitors into buyers.
I know that some online business owners turn up their noses at what they perceive to be small returns from both of these companies. However if you are capable of building one profitable website when starting a business on line then you can simply scale up by outsourcing the creation of further websites to gradually increase your online income.
So, when you are assessing online business opportunities you would be foolish not to consider what Google and Amazon have to offer.
Do be realistic with your expectations as just like with any business there is a learning curve to be gone through. The great thing about starting a business on line though is that you can get started very quickly and easily with very little cost (except your time) and test and tweak as you go along.
You should of course always consider the amount of time spent on any business as the two biggest investments you can make when starting a business are time and money. If you currently don’t have much of the latter then creating an online business is well worth exploring further, especially with Amazon and Google.
Starting an online business is the dream of many. And it is possible to start a business online relatively easily.
Whether it will be profitable or not however is a different matter.
To succeed online with a start up business there are some fundamental skills that you will need to acquire including
- Learning how to build a website-this need not involve any huge technological skills on your part as there are many ways nowadays to quickly and easily get a website online. For example with popular and easy to use content management systems like WordPress, Typepad.com, Blogger.com, Weebly.com, and others)
- Learning how to attract traffic to your site-organic/free traffic from the search engines is critical as paying for all of your traffic is simply not sustainable in the long run.
- Understanding the psychology of selling online-this is also a critical component of succeeding online as all the traffic in the world will be of no benefit if you cannot convert it to sales or sign ups/subscriptions to your site.
There are many ways to do business on line and it is possible to start an online business with virtually no cost. However it is an advantage to have some capital, even a small amount at the beginning, to make things easier and to ensure you can kickstart the process by having your own domain name, hosting account, and even the opportunity to outsource some of the initial work.
This should be a very attractive proposition for anyone in Ireland who wishes to start their own online or home business for the simple reason that you are not restricted by the normal geographical and population boundaries which restrict you when you live on a small island with a population which is roughly the same as a good size city in neighbouring countries.
Business On Line-Some Options
There are numerous ways to start your own online business and make a good living from it.
It is important at the outset to recognise that I am talking about starting a real business selling real products to real customers whose needs you will fulfill.
Here are 7 ways to consider which you could use to start your online business:
1. Affiliate Marketing (selling other people’s products)
2. Creating and selling your own product
3. Content publishing with Adsense publishing
4. Starting an online store
5. Selling products on Ebay
6. Freelance work including writing, coding etc.
7. E-learning-providing online teaching/training
Affiliate marketing involves selling other people’s products for which you get paid a commission.
It is a simple and virtually cost free business model which works very well provided you are prepared to work hard and provided you acquire some basic skills and tools which primarily include the ability to set up a website and attract visitors.
You can attract visitors and generate sales by 2 methods-1)Free traffic, 2) Paid traffic.
To build a long term sustainable business model you should concentrate all of your marketing efforts on free traffic through good search engine optimisation of your sites.
Here is a closer look at affiliate marketing and what it entails.
Creating Your Own Online Product
This entails creating your own information product which can be a good short report or ebook which will be downloadable instantly for your customer who pays online through Google or Paypal or credit card.
Or it can be a video series or mp4s which can be downloaded instantly and of course you can also burn cds or dvds and sell your product as a “physical product”.
Content publishing involves publishing content ie writing blog posts and information and using Google adsense as a method of monetization. This simply involves signing up with Google as a publisher and placing Google Adsense blocks on your site;when visitors click on an ad you get paid for each click.
This outlines the framework in which you can start and run a successful business on line and surpass the boundaries imposed by living on a small island on the periphery of Europe with a small population.
Don’t be deluded or fooled into thinking it is easy-it’s not. Just because it is easy to get started does not mean it is easy to make money online and the vast majority of people don’t succeed.
One of the principal reasons for this is that they confuse the ease with which you can get started with the hard graft in building a real online business…which involves time and hard work.
However starting any business is not easy and if you are prepared to learn the necessary skills, work hard and ..well apply the same principles as you would employ in “offline business” there are great opportunities.
You might also be interested in learning from Picasso..
No article about starting a business online would be complete with a mention of the many “get rich quick” schemes that you will no doubt have come across on the internet. Many people, through desperation and for other reasons, will try to convince you that there are easy ways to succeed online.
Regrettably there are not and you can learn more about some of the scams and scammers in this article.
Finally my experience is that to succeed online you need to learn
1. how to get organic traffic to your website
2. how to convert that traffic into leads and sales.
You would be well advised to keep these 2 fundamentals in the forefront of your mind at all times as it is easy to lose sight of the big picture with promises of easy and fast get rich quick claims.
Pablo Picasso, the genius artist, once said that “good artists copy; great artists steal”.
Nowhere is this more appropriate than in online business.
Copying or stealing the successful ideas of others and making them better by tweaking and improvising and testing can be a great way to build an online business.
There are many ways to start your own business because of the huge number of online business opportunities-lets take a look at 6.
1) Affiliate marketing
One of the simplest ways to start your own business is to set up a blog or website and derive income from it by becoming an affiliate.
There are numerous ways to monetize your site and one of the most popular is through affiliate marketing which involves you selling somebody else’s product for which you will be paid a commission for each sale.
You can sign up to be an affiliate of major online sellers such as Amazon or Ebay and sell physical products from your site which will be shipped out by Amazon or Ebay and which you will never handle.
But you will receive commission for each sale and this can range from 6% at Amazon up to 75% at Clickbank which is a provider and marketplace for downloadable products such as computer programs or ebooks.
An ebook is simply a pdf book which you can download instantly from the seller’s website.
2) Google Adsense publishing
Another source of online income is through the Google Adsense program. Essentially you firstly sign up for the Google Adsense programme and you are then officially an Adsense publisher. When you are approved for this after signing up you simply derive an income each time somebody clicks on an Adsense block which you place on your site and which Google serves up every time a searcher visits your site.
Provided your site is optimized from an SEO viewpoint and there is a constant theme to your site the Google ads which are shown on your page should be relevant to the content on the page and increase the likelihood of a high click through rate and a good income for the site owner.
What is involved in being an Adsense publisher is that you place little pieces of computer code on your website on behalf of Google. This piece of code allows Google to serve up advertisements on your website for it’s advertisers.
You then, as the site owner and Adsense publisher, get paid each time somebody clicks on an advertisement. What you get paid will be a percentage (thought to be 60%) of what the advertiser is paying to Google for running it’s pay per click ads.
The key to this home business opportunity is that you need to be able to build a website and generate lots of traffic to it. Clearly the more traffic you get to your site, the more income you will make by your visitors clicking on relevant ads.
This site and the Irish Independent newspaper for example run Adsense ads to generate revenue.
The huge advantage of this business opportunity is the low barrier to entry-you simply need a basic website to start and sign up with Google.
The challenge with Google Adsense is to generate sufficient traffic to your site(s) to grow your income.(Learn more about the Google Adsense publishing programme)
3) Create your own product
Another online business opportunity is to sell your own product(s) and these could be ebooks which you write yourself. Or your product could be a video training series delivered online or a combination of these formats.
As long as your product provides good information for the reader/viewer and addresses some problem that your reader has this can be a lucrative business model and everyone has some experience or information to share which other people will find useful.
The profits can be large simply because you only create your product once and thereafter the purchaser is simply directed to a download page for immediate access to your ebook or video series.
The same business plan template can be applied across niches and industries once you understand the basics of running your own business because in every industry your small or large business will involve selling something to someone and managing staff, generating sales etc.
4) Freelance work including writing, coding and other services
There are many great sites, and some not so good, which allow you to offer and sell your services as a writer, computer programmer or coder, graphic designer and so forth.
Some of the better sites include
There are many other similar sites (for example odesk.com) which can be easily found with a simple Google search.
Projects will range from short jobs such as writing articles for other website owners to larger, ongoing projects such as blogging on a constant basis for the project poster to graphic design work and so forth.
Check out the sites above and you will see a huge range of opportunities.
The benefits of this type of home business opportunity are the number of sites and plethora of work to be done.
The difficulty sometimes is it can take a while to get established and to earn what you are really worth. Additionally you will be competing with virtual workers from less advance economies whose average wage may be much less than yours and who can make it very competitive for you from a pricing perspective.
However if you excel at your craft, whether that is writing or coding or graphic design, you will achieve the results in the long run.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you were starting a “regular” business offline you may well face similar difficulties.
The benefit of starting your business online and working from home is the low barrier to entry and the ability to fit your work around your everyday life and not the other way around.
Everybody has used Ebay at one time or another. Whether it was to buy a gift for a family member for a birthday or to sell an old, unwanted child buggy or stroller it is very likely that you already have come into contact with Ebay.
Ebay is a powerful selling platform which offers the opportunity to set up your own store/shop and start selling immediately. You choose what you are going to sell and you decide the price and Ebay will deliver the traffic.
You will need to run your Ebay home business very much as a business though and not treat it as a hobby. So you will need to consider what to sell, getting your merchandise at the right price, listing your goods well and attractively, selling fees, postage and packaging and more.
The opportunity is certainly there; you do need to spend some time preparing professionally and ensuring that you are sourcing goods which will see you get a real return.
You can of course test a wide range of products in the first place to see what sells well for you and what are the pitfalls. You cannot be in a rush to make money quickly as just like any business the longest journey starts with a single step (a small profit) and you need to commit for the long haul.
The advantage of Ebay is the selling platform provided, the traffic on Ebay, the ease of setting up shop (no coding required) and the brand recognition.
The big task you will have to face is sourcing good products which can deliver a profit after all of your costs, including listing fees and shipping.
This last opportunity involves you selling your own knowledge and providing training online through video, ebooks, mp3s or a combination of all three.
Most people have some skill or knowledge or experience that others would be interested in learning.
An example of this might be ,“social media marketing for business executives”.
If you have knowledge in this area and can put together a nice video series or downloadable book showing the business executive how to use the popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn then you might well be on to a winner.
Regardless of your skill or training, there are abundant opportunities to acquire the knowledge and teach others-it saves them the hassle of searching the internet themselves and saves them the time it takes to do so. You only need to do this once and put together a nice programme which is useful, unique, and genuinely helpful to whatever market you choose to target.
So put your thinking cap on and consider what knowledge, skill, or experience that you can share with others.
Starting a business on line is easy; making good money with your business is more problematic. Don’t confuse the ease with which you can start with your ultimate success but starting a successful home business does offer some significant opportunities.
I will shortly be publishing a comprehensive guide to starting and running a business online-if you want to be notified in advance of it’s availability and get the 1st three chapters for free please sign up in the form below.