Among all of your New Year's Resolutions, there is one that you should pay special attention to.
No, it isn't lose 35 lbs or stop eating Twinkies (my other goal for 2010), the goal I'm talking about is you taking your Online Business to new heights in 2010. Whether your goal is to make a million dollars online or you just want to make enough to cover your car payment, you should write it down, put together a plan and start working.
Don't make excuses, there are plenty of ways to do something great online this year and make money doing it but they pretty much all involve the same strategies and tools. Whether you're a blogger, affiliate marketer or have your own products — here are the strategies you absolutely need to learn and use in 2010 if you want to ignite explosive growth in your Online Business:
My Top 10 Online Business Building Strategies for 2010:
- Give, Give, Give and Give More to Your Audience! — This is really the key to all success online — the more value you provide to your audience, the more your business will grow. By this, I don't mean to completely “give the farm away” — people will generally just take advantage of you if you do that. I mean that you should give some of your best stuff away for free and go way overboard to provide value for things you charge money for.
- Simplify … EVERYTHING — Don't think about what you can add to your business — but what you can eliminate from it. The simpler your products are, the happier your customers will be and the simpler your website is, the more conversions you'll get. The best way I've found to simplify a website is to identify the 1 or 2 actions that you want your users to take, get rid of everything else distracting your users and then re-design your pages so that those 1 or 2 actions appear in a clear, centralized location on your site.
- Listen — You'll never know what your audience wants unless you listen to them. I read all my emails, blog comments, forum posts and entries over on WPMingle — and I try to answer as many of them as I can. The reason? Well, first of all, I really enjoy interacting with my audience, but I also get my best ideas from this valuable feedback. You need to be careful with this one though … about 1-2% of any audience can typically be classified as very vocal crazy people 🙂 … so don't let these people with strong opinions necessarily determine how you drive your business. Instead, try to look for trends in your user's requests — if you get 1 request for something then that's one thing but if you get 100 requests for something else then you probably should do something about it.
- Create and Sell Your Own Products — I was at a conference of bloggers a few months ago where the panel asked people in the audience to raise their hands if they had 50K or more visitors to their sites — about 10 people raised their hands. Then the panel asked this group how many of them were making $1,000 a month or more on their sites — only 2 hands stayed up! WHAT!? This completely floored me! I have a fraction of the traffic that these “big” bloggers have but they are only making a fraction of the money I'm making every month. Why? I promote my own products. If you want to make some “real” money online in 2010 then the best and fastest way to do this is by creating your own product to promote.
- Become an Affiliate for Products You Already Use — Unless you already have a massive amount of traffic on your site, traditional Google Adsense advertising can be a waste of time. Revenue from promoting products and services can be much more lucrative for low to medium traffic sites. Most products and services these days have affiliate programs you can enroll in and make money every time someone referred by you makes a purchase. I would recommend using the following criteria to choose an affiliate product to promote: Do I use and love this product? Does this product offer a decent affiliate commission (I don't generally promote products actively unless they pay out at least $25-30 per sale)? Does this product convert for my audience (you generally have to just test this one out — but some products will convert better than others depending on the audience).
- Organize & Automate — I love Online Businesses so much because of this fact — you can structure your business to deliver products and services by way of completely automated processes. Setting up a system like this is much easier than you might imagine. There are many off the shelf software solutions and services that allow you to set systems like this up in a very short amount of time.
- Yes, YOU NEED TO BLOG! — If your goal is to be invisible to Google and don't want anyone coming to your website then a static, unchanging, brochure style website is great — but if you actually want to use your blog to help you build your business then you need a blog. A blog will give you an avenue to speak directly with your audience and really give you a forum for building your brand.
- Become a Master of Non-Google SEO — What is non-Google SEO you say? By this, I mean concentrating on optimizing your presence on sites other than Google. You need to start thinking of YouTube, Flickr, and many other domain specific websites as specialized search engines that can bring your website attention. Often times these sites have simpler algorithms that will enable you to move up your rankings faster and more effectively.
- Start tapping into the power of Pay-Per Click Advertising — SEO with Google can take some time, depending on your domain it could take months and at the end of the day, you don't always have control over where your site shows up with Google. This is not true with Pay Per Click (PPC) — with Google PPC you can setup a campaign and within minutes you can have targeted traffic coming to your website. Just make sure your keywords, ads and landing pages contain similar ideas & keywords and that your landing page converts — remember you're paying for traffic and so if people aren't buying, you can start burning money really fast. If you start with a low dollar amount though and keep a close eye on it then you can always turn it off if your traffic isn't converting.
- Be Consistent — The more consistent you are when it comes to delivering your product and putting content on your site, the more your online presence will grow and your credibility will increase.
I'm going through and refining my business this week to work on these things throughout the year and I challenge you to do the same. I hope you'll feel free to leave me a comment if you know of any other strategies that can help us grow our businesses in 2010.