In online marketing, as with anything else worth doing, you need a plan before you can start doing anything physically. Without a plan, you will most surely fail. I’m sorry, but the truth can be harsh. How can you get to your destination (profitability) without knowing how to get there? I’ll be honest up front – I didn’t have a plan when I started – I would be in the big leagues now if I had. Of course, I’m in a working retirement, so I don’t have to make any money at all from doing this (other than paying for what I spend on it). My situation is somewhat unique, however, so you really need a plan.
Pick Your Passion
You don’t really need to pick a subject you know something about or are passionate about. It’s just a whole lot easier if you do. If you pick fishing for bass, for example, it’s going to be real hard to follow through with it if you’ve never gone fishing in your life.
You can always do something a bit more adventurous after you gain experience, but your first website should revolve around something you enjoy. I enjoy drinking coffee and tea, so I made a site for coffee and tea. It’s a very competitive “niche”, so it doesn’t do very well in the search engine rankings.
If you don’t have an account already, sign up for Google Adwords. No, I’m not telling you to advertise. You just need complete access to the keyword tool. Once you adjust the settings (United States, English, Local Monthly Searches) in the Advanced Filters and Options, you can start searching keywords for your subject of interest. I generally ignore anything that doesn’t have over 100,000 searches per month and anything with a CPC less than a dollar. On the other hand, you can go after the “low hanging fruit” if you want because there’s going to be a lot less competition for the main keywords. Related keywords, however, may end up being a little more competitive and pay more.
Before you proceed, you need to know if you have enough material to establish a blog for a website or if you’re going to be sticking to a static website. If you can’t get beyond two or three pages of information, a blog for your chosen subject isn’t a good idea. Once you get started, you need to focus on your subject. Each page of your website, or each post on your blog, needs to be focused on one idea at a time.
There is one thing you need to know about your subject matter ahead of time. Is it going to be information-based or is it going to be product-based? Affiliate marketing works better with product-based websites whereas information-based websites work better with other forms of marketing. Of course, some subjects fit into both categories, but you’ll have to figure that part out on your own.
A Computer and the Internet
You’re obviously reading this from some kind of computing device. To be efficient, however, you need to make sure you’re using a desktop or laptop computer (something with a real, not virtual, full-sized keyboard) with an Internet connection. If you live in an area like I do (all of Far East Asia actually), you don’t have to own a computer. You can do everything you need to do at an Internet cafe.
If you’re somewhere that doesn’t have an Internet cafe available, you can check around to see what businesses have “per hour” Internet connections available. I found an automotive service place when I lived in Phoenix and it was by accident, while waiting for some service to be completed.
Of course, if you don’t own a computer in which to type all your stuff in, then you’ll just have to do it twice – once on paper or something else and once on the website. When you’re paying by the hour, you don’t want to spend that time composing your prose.
Regardless of how you get online, you have to make sure your working environment is as distraction-free as possible. Sometimes an errant key press, from a either a cat or a kid, can ruin an hour’s worth of work. Avoid being near a TV or anything else that can take your mind off of what you’re doing.
If you’re short on cash, or dirt poor, you can start your website at one of the free services. If you’re going to use Blogger, for example, I sincerely hope you have enough money to pay for your own domain name and use it in conjunction with their service. It will be much easier to move your website and self-host (if you choose to do so) if you do so. Do not use the WordPress online service. There are too many restrictions. Even with Blogger, you have to be careful about saying certain things or the Blogger spam team will shut your blog down without hesitating. This is why I always recommend self-hosting.
Domain names are not expensive. For less than $20 per year, you can get a domain name at any domain registrar. It’s not easy getting a good domain name, however, unless you stay away from the .com, .net and .org top-level domains (TLD). Just don’t get a .info TLD, okay? Be very wary of anything that costs more than $20 per year because it probably isn’t worth the extra expense. Also avoid using a subdomain of a TLD that isn’t a subdomain of your own domain. The subdomain of “co.cc” was recently dropped from Google completely. Here’s some food for thought: I bought rtcx.net as a good, generic, short domain name so that I could put anything I want in front of it as a subdomain, instead of trying to get a domain name to match any subject I want to start a website for. It’s also a somewhat of a vanity domain name (my initials are RTC) because four letters was as short as I could get it.
There are more web hosts out there than I can shake a stick at. I really can’t recommend one over the other. Don’t host your website at the same place as your domain name or you could have problems later down the road in case the hosting service is less than desirable. You want to be able to move everything quickly, especially if downtime is going to cost you money (a lack of profits). Because I’m writing to a global audience, it would be arrogant to list web hosts in the United States. Some people have the ability to use them and others have to rely on web hosts within their own country. Regardless of all that, I welcome recommendations in the comments section. Don’t keyword spam your comments, though, or they won’t be accepted during moderation.
I’ll be honest. I’m only familiar with the self-hosted version of WordPress. Any decent web hosting service will have the latest version available. If not, they make it easy for you to install it yourself. There are other software packages that can do the same thing, but WordPress has more support from all angles than anything else I’ve ever seen or used.
WordPress can be used for blogs or completely static websites, it’s that flexible. As you can see if you go to the home page of this website, I’ve set it up to be a combination of static pages and a blog. Even so, there’s a lot you need to do to get it set up properly and I’ll get into that separately. Although all of this is a step-by-step guide, I don’t want to confuse you with too much information, too quickly.
The Right Mindset
Once you have everything set up and can access your website online, you’re almost ready to dive right in. There are still quite a few things I need to cover, so don’t jump in half-cocked.
At this stage in the game, the best thing I can tell you is to ignore the idea that you’re going to make any money. Why? Because it doesn’t happen overnight. Being in a constant state of disappointment is the easiest way to entice you to throw in the towel.
Work on your website like you’re an expert on the subject and try to have fun while doing it. When you start getting 100 or more visitors per day on a constant basis, it’s then time to take it to the next level.
Articles in the Online Marketing for Newbies Series
This is a list of all the articles in this series:
- Online Marketing for Newbies: A Step-by-Step Series
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Getting Started
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Your Target Audience
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Setting Up WordPress
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Writing an Article
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Links Out and Links In (Backlinks)
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Making Money
- Online Marketing for Newbies: Resources and Wrap-Up