Archive for the ‘create website content’ Tag

What About Business Plan and Funding


At this juncture some people ask me about creating a full business plan to get a complete “picture” of what is needed to succeed.  My approach is simple. If you plan (or need) to raise capital to launch your venture then, absolutely, you will need a full Business Plan (and, as a matter of fact, much more).

However if you want to launch a web venture that you will keep relatively small-scale until you see how it “respond” to your initial marketing campaign, then I do not recommend that you spend the time needed to develop a full-scale Business Plan.  After all a complete business plan will probably run 50-75 pages and will take considerable time and research to accomplish.

Is this something that you want to do at this early stage? Possibly, but I would not recommend it unless you absolutely need funds to launch your business, and considering the state of funding in this country today, you better have a very unique idea that will show revenues very quickly.

My approach is that unless you need very complex programing and marketing expenditures that will cost you a bundle spend your time focusing on creating a small-scale business and growing it until such time when it has some clients and some revenues.  Then your chances to succeed in raising capital will be greatly improved.  Trust me on that one, I’ve been trying to raise capital for a start-up for several months and even though I bring quite a bit of experience in this field it hasn’t help.  Bottom line is that, today, the climate is not good for an early stage ventures.  Investors are still hanging on to their money and want to see revenues before considering if they should invest or not.

Finally, creating a complete Business Plans and raising capital is something that I cover during the group and one-on-one sessions since these are very personal and very intensive processes that require a lot of attention and take quite a bit or research and time.

In conclusion I did not overlook full-blown Business Plans or Fund Raising.  Rather, in this manual, my only goal is to give entrepreneurs what I consider to be the absolute minimum they will need to do in order to insure their success on the Net.  And this starts by rolling your sleeves and getting down to proving your concept and make it work, be it a small scale one.

Coming up Saturday Part 5: Choose your Domain Name

You can also read the entire document “Plan Your Internet Success” on my web site at jtouboul.com

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Plan Your Internet Success – Part 3 – Research Your Competition and Learn


3. Research your Competition and Learn

The best and easiest way to do this is search through Google, Bing, and Yahoo! or via directories for competitors using the keywords that you found. Take a look at the companies listed on the first two pages, including those found in the sponsor boxes. Review what they do well and not so well, including the “look and feel,” presentation, style, content, navigation, etc.  Make a checklist of what to do to improve or what not to do when you come across competitors that are not doing it right. Print out the pages of the ones that you find interesting and make notes that will help you remember why you liked the pages or what you did not like.

See how they rank by using services like Quantcast (http://www.quantcast.com/) to measure their success on the Net. If you are checking ranking with Alexa, be very careful since Alexa can be skewed very easily and may not reflect reality.

Another simple way to do this is to input the company’s URL on Google or Yahoo! and check the number of links they show; remember, the more, the better. Keep these links in mind for later and make a note of the sites that have the most. These Web sites may be businesses with which you may want to have your own links as you get established.

Resources: Search:

http://www.Google.com

http://www.Bing.com

http://www.Yahoo.com

Resources – Business:

http://www.hoovers.com/free/

http://www.ryze.com/postaddprocess.php

http://www.corptech.com/

http://www.digitallook.com/

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news-small-business-marketing.html

Finally, never underestimate your competition, especially on the Internet. You have no idea what their resources may be and how well they can reach their target audience, no matter how trivial their copy, or how poor their Web site may look to you.

The complete manuscript is available at http://www.jtouboul.com

Plan Your Internet Success – Part 2 – Search for Keywords


Search for Keywords

Assuming that you have located an area of business that you’d like to pursue, the next step (before doing anything – forget domain name or Web site style and background color) is to make sure that there is a market on the Internet for this business.

There are three very distinct reasons for looking at keywords to decide if your choice is a good one and how to explore related opportunities and potential difficulty.

1) Use keyword searches to gauge the number of searches that were conducted daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

This is done for obvious reasons, since it will allow you to estimate how many people are interested in the keywords or key terms associated with your business.  You obviously do not want to build a business around keywords (and by that I mean product and/or services) that nobody is looking for on the Net.

Alternatively, never let a keyword popularity dictate the kind of business you should be in. For example, would you want to create an X-rated or sex Web site simply because this is one of the most commonly searched keywords on the Internet.

Your objective is to look for keywords that fit your business and make sure that the number of searches is solid.

2) Look for keywords that are very popular and that can relate in some fashion to your own business.

Here is a “live” example of why you should not let a keyword or key term dictate the type of business you want: As I am writing this manuscript, I looked at AOL for its most searched terms (they call it “Hot Terms” at http://hot.aol.com/) and I came up with the following:

John Hughes

Steven Tyler

Rielle Hunter

‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Sharon Stone

Hugh Hefner

Anna Paquin

Rihanna

‘G.I. Joe’

Unemployment

Most of those are related to episodes in some well known person’s life and are going to last for a very short time.  For example, John Hughes had just died when I was writing this, hence his name is at the top of the list (note that less than a week later his name was gone from the top and disappeared all together from AOL searches).

I can probably conclude the same of the other names and as I reviewed the AOL “Hot Searches” three months later, I noted that none of the searches listed here are on AOL top searches.

However, there is also something to be learned from these keywords.  For example, and to illustrate the concept of niche, can you make something out of the keyword “unemployment?”  Absolutely, and especially in this economy. However, there are already hundreds of Web sites that are offering resources and solutions for people looking for jobs, and some of them are quite dominant. Think of Monster and Hot Jobs to name only two.

However, is there a unique angle on unemployment that you could explore? What does an unemployed person do? Search for a job of course, but this person also may be looking for ways to generate revenues using his or her skills. Unemployed people may be looking to save on their grocery bills, reduce their car payment, find a cheaper place to live, get individual insurance, get a degree, —fill the blank—

What is important is to recognize a possible opportunity when you look at keywords that fit into your realm of interest or within the business you are trying to build. Again, taking the example of cars, people who are buying cars not only will be interested in insurance, but also in gas coupons, child seats, video players and other electronic gadgets to keep the kids happy, seat covers and more. The same applies to unemployed people who will be looking to buy their own computer after losing their job; they may also be interested in becoming members of a job board, in need of coupons to save additional money and any other resource that may help them through a rough time, financially-speaking.

The bottom line is that you must open your mind to all possibilities no matter how much of a stretch they may seem to be at first.  And if you explore enough and look carefully at all options, you may find an area of interest in many unrelated businesses that you may be able to explore for your own. Moreover, you can find all of this by simply looking at keywords.

3) Use these same keyword searches to evaluate the competition (and price) that you will have to deal with if you were to bid on Google or one of the major search engines.

One of the critical issues with keywords is to find the best possible keywords or key terms for your business with the least possible competition. This is done in order to ensure that you will be prepared to know how much a campaign on search engines will cost you. Furthermore, it is very important to identify keywords, as well as key phrases, by popularity, by competing offers and by searches in order to have an overview of what you are getting into.

Note:  That being said, the type of keyword you will use for your meta tags (code that will allow search engine to identify and classify your Web site – see SEO) and for an SEM campaign (buying keywords on AdWords, for example) will be very different.

Resources:

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

http://www.google.com/sktool/

http://searchenginewatch.com/2156041

http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/?keywords=seo

http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/login.html

While the first resource (wordtracker.com) will give you an idea of the volume of search and similar terms, adwords.google.com can give you a good idea of what to expect to pay for these keywords and key terms.

Finally, once you have a Web site, I would recommend that you open a Google AdWords account (adwords.google.com) and set aside a small budget for testing your idea and your creatives as well as landing pages on your Web site. However, for now, there is no need for that as you are still in the process of building your business on the Net.

The complete manuscript is available at http://www.jtouboul.com

Plan Your Internet Success – Part 1 – FIND YOUR NICHE


1. Find an Area of Business where an Opportunity Exists and Define your Niche

The first thing that we will be looking at is the type of business you should be doing.

This is an area where many gurus claim to have the secret to make a lot of money very fast (even when you are asleep or when you’re on vacation in Bermuda). However, if they know something you or I do not, I would be very surprised. Furthermore, why would anyone who knows the secret to getting rich fast sell it to you or me for $9.99 or even $999? In pure business terms, selling something worth millions for a mere $9.99 makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Bottom line: to succeed you must do some work and come up with an idea for a business in which you are interested. Hopefully, it will be original but, more importantly, something that you want to do because you care about it, not simply because someone told you that you can make money doing it. I’ve been around for many years and I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life, but I have never come across something that was easy and allowed me to make money doing nothing. Business is not being on vacation in the Bermuda…it’s hard work and you need to be prepared for that reality.

Whatever you do, do not spend your money buying some “get rich quick” scheme. Doing this is like going to Vegas with lots of bells and whistles with only one outcome: you will lose your money (and I’m not sure you’ll even get bells and whistles with gurus)!

The reality is that there are hundreds of opportunities in this world at any given time. A good example of this is real estate, where agents get lots of leads when the economy is booming and people are on a buying spree for houses; meaning they’ll need a realtor, financing, insurance, trade workers for remodeling, etc. In a down economy, these same people will be looking to re-finance, and will be in need of cheaper insurance, as well as assistance with foreclosures, while others will look to buy foreclosures because they are better off. In short, it’s all a matter of timing and intuition, as well as what you will see me mention many times in this publication: “common sense.”

These areas of business are called verticals and to help you explore and find a vertical you may like, professionally speaking. I listed some resources below.

Resources:
http://www.ryze.com/
http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/
http://www.lib.washington.edu/subject/Communications/business/gen.htm
http://www.hoovers.com/free/
http://www.ryze.com/postaddprocess.php
http://www.alibaba.com/
http://www.angeldeals.com/
http://www.atomz.com/
http://www.caycon.com/resources.php
http://buyusa.com/page/my_gtn/splash.asp
http://www.corptech.com/
http://www.harte-hanks.com/cgi-bin/inetcgi/hh/index.jsp
http://www.jayde.com/

I suggest that you look at what kind of businesses are being launched or simply discussed. Trends come and go, and some are very quick to go, so you want to be careful about not getting sucked into something that will fizzle tomorrow. But more importantly, find something that you feel comfortable with. Don’t get involved in areas that are of no interest to you or that you would not want to be involved in simply because someone tells you that there is a lot of money to be made. Believe me, no matter how good it sounds, it is never easy, especially if you do not know the business.

Once you’ve done your research and found something that you’d like to pursue, drill down to the very specifics of this business. Go online and into chat rooms specific to your industry. Listen to what people are saying in the chat rooms and talk to those who have been working in your particular industry. Learn from the failure of these people and, as much as you can, learn from the success stories that you will read.
When you are satisfied that you’ve found something you’d like to get involved in, try to find a unique angle, a very personal way to target the audience that you are going after. In other words, try to find a core (niche) audience within this vertical and find a product or service that matches their expectations.

For example, let’s say that you want to generate leads for car dealers. That’s a business idea that has its merits, but defining what kind of cars would be even better. For example, would you want to have leads of people who are looking for SUVs, minivans, full-size cars or sports cars? Those are all very different demographic targets and trying to catch them all under one lead generating document would be very difficult. As a result, I suggest that you look for a core audience (or niche), where there is more potential.
These niches are much more specialized and targeted and, as such, limited; something that will result in fewer leads (for example, if, at any moment, 1000 people are shopping for a car, probably fewer than 10 percent, or under 100 people, would be looking to buy a sports car – if you were targeting sports cars shoppers, your potential for prospects would be only that number of buyers). However, targeting a niche market has tremendous advantages, especially on the Internet. It allows you to be very specific when you are creating advertisement or landing page for your Web site.

In other words, marketing a service or product to a niche audience can be a lot more cost efficient than targeting a broad audience.

Furthermore, the Internet allows you to create a multitude of pages and campaigns, each targeted at a specific niche, and, as a result, you could simultaneously or over time develop multiple niches within the same vertical.

What is important when developing different niches is to test them to get a “feel” for what works and what doesn’t. Based on the results of these tests, you would then increase marketing efforts or not, and move on to another niche market.

Keep in mind that the Internet is like a gigantic mall, where you can open specialized shops in record time and with minimum investment. So my question is “Why not do exactly that?” One note of caution, educate yourself on the niche you go after and never spend too much money developing your Web site or marketing it. However, and again, above all, don’t try to sell something you don’t know anything about or you don’t care for. Don’t try to sell vitamins if you don’t care about vitamins or know nothing about them. I guarantee that your chances of success would be extremely limited.

The complete manuscript is available at http://www.jtouboul.com

Plan Your Internet Success – Introduction


OK… I decided to remove the various installments of “Plan to Success” that I had published so far because they were a bit messy and I had to re-write quite a bit of it.

As a result I decided to re-release the part that I had published a couple of months ago under a new title: “Plan Your Internet Success” and will do so once a week until I have all the parts of the manuscript available on PRWEB.

On that note here is the preface and introduction:

Preface

Being passionate about the Internet for a good 15 years now, and the revolution that it brought along, I’ve come across a great number of books, reports, e-books, lessons, lectures, seminars, etc. that have all claimed to be the last thing you’ll need to learn about successfully making money online. No matter how good it sounds, when I read the caption on the back of the book or review the Table of Contents or list of seminar topics, inevitably, these books end up in a place where they will be forgotten. And the reasons are simple: they’re too long, too vague, outdated, or simply stupid; and often, all of the above.

I’ve also seen these web sites created by pseudo Internet gurus who claim to deliver instant glories once you purchase their e-book for $9.99. Often, the home page displays this author’s Ferrari or Porsche and an amazing house in the background. And, more recently, they incorporate a YouTube video with this enthusiastic guy explaining how he’s going to tell you all his secrets for… you guessed it… $9.99. Of all the garbage that I’ve seen on the Net (and there’s a lot of it), this is the thing that makes me mad, because this collection of easily attainable information from a simple search on the Net is nothing more than abusing people’s naïveté and hopes, which result in bitter disappointment. By the way it does not stop at $9.99, since the gurus will probably try to up-sell you with all kinds of junk in the form of software that is often available for free).

As a result, I’ve had the desire to write a free “How To” e-book designed to help folks who want to make a few dollars on the Net put together a plan of action for success (or at the very minimum have a chance to succeed). I’ve put this idea on the backburner for quite some time and grinding my teeth each time I come across one of those silly e-books mentioned above. However, these days, with the economy slowing down and people struggling even more to make ends meet, I decided that the time was right.

I looked around at what is available to find the right format and came across something called, “The Marketing Helper.” It’s a huge collection of articles that offer advice on pretty much anything and everything (the ultimate collection of Internet marketing information). Incidentally, the publishers also try to up-sell you on additional services by sending you offers and getting some payout when someone clicks on the ads or take some kind of action. However, this collection of articles is unbelievably long (all combined it probably would fill a 500+ page e-book), and this is exactly what I was trying to avoid. Reviewing it, I also realized that it would be good to offer something that is organized in stages, starting from the idea of an online business to and development, all the way to profitability. As such, a sequential version of how to become successful on the Net, starting with a simple introduction and getting to more complex development stages with milestones, would be ideal.

With that in mind, I set out to write two volumes of what I call “Plan Your Internet Success!” that contain the basic information to set up a business online in Volume 1, along with another manuscript (Volume 2) in the form of a work-book to solve their own their own, and often unique, situation, and make their business profitable.

The result of this undertaking is what I offer in the following pages, and that represents the first installment of the two-volume series.

This e-book is FREE to use (feels good writing that) for anyone who downloads it, but under absolutely no circumstances is it for sale by anyone. And to eliminate any possibility that this document could be used for profit, I decided to make it available in PDF form and restrict its use to one person per copy. If you want to share this document with someone else, there is not much I can do about it but I will not provide any support. Instead, I would rather you send it to those whom you think may be interested to the registration link and let them download it themselves.

The Web page to do this is “http://www.planyourinternetsuccess.com” and the registration is very basic.

Introduction

Plan Your Internet Success! Volume 1 establishes the basic steps that any Internet entrepreneur must take to ensure that his or her vision will succeed. The idea behind this plan also is to make this manuscript a “living document”, and as new steps, ideas, and resources are added, to send them in the form of updates to all registered users (that is also why it is critical for you to download this manuscript individually and not pass it on or share it).

Furthermore, this manuscript is divided in parts and sections, with each section serving as a continuation of the previous one and each part constituting a new topic. Furthermore, each section explains specific steps that are needed and explores the area of business discussed, along with resources that will help the user search for applications and solutions that are of direct use to them.

Finally, this volume is designed to help most anyone start an online business. It covers basic information, like finding a vertical where you want to be, to creating a Web site/business to launching your business. It will explore various opportunities for promoting and advertising your business, and explain how to put it all together to create the right conditions for your business to generate revenues.

Content of the Manuscript

Overview of the Manuscript and Organization

1. Find a Niche or Area of Business Where an Opportunity Exists
2. Search for Keywords
3. Research your Competition and Learn
4. Pass your First Test
5. Choose your Domain Name
6. Design and Create a Web Site
7. Content for Web Sites
8. Select an ISP
9. Optimize your Web Site
10. Press Releases
11. How to Use Social Media
12. How to Use eZines and Blogs
13. Paid and Free Listings
14. Advertising and AdWords
14A. Complement for AdWords – Critical Notes
15. Classified Ads
16. Banner Ads
17. Links Exchange
18. FFAs
19. How to Put it All Together
20. Create Affiliate Accounts
21. The Beauty and Pitfalls of Arbitrage
22. The Search for Advertisers and Higher Payout
22. Lead Generation
Additional Resources
Congratulations – You’ve Finished! What’s Next?

This manuscript, will also be available on my site at jtouboul.com.