The Three Main Components of Any Internet Business

Internet business can take any form and still need three main components. Without them there is no business. You can still make money with one or two, but to build a business that can become your rewarding career you’ll need all three components. These are only the basics though. Still you need more resources, tools, skills, and mentality in order to succeed as a strategic entrepreneur.

These three components are: a website, traffic to this website, and a list.

1. A Website: Despite what others might tell you, or the fact that it’s possible to make some money on the Internet without a website, you can not build an Internet business without a website. The website is the store front in some cases, like when you are selling your own or other people products. It could be your property that you rent (advertising space) or flip for quick profit as a virtual estate (as opposed to real estate). No matter what, you need the website. Even brick and mortar businesses that operate mainly off-line need websites. On the website you’ll have all the means to sell, presell, upsell, downsell, close, and serve your customers.

You can also use your website to get your customers to help you spread the word about your business to their contacts. A free website or a blog can do the job, but you are leaving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table to save a few bucks. A website is an asset that you can sell for big lumps of cash if you need to, but only if you own it in the first place. A free website is not yours, it’s someone esle’s.

2. Traffic to that Website: A website without traffic is as good as none. If no body sees the website no one will take any of the actions that make you money. There are two main ways to get traffic to your website: you can buy the traffic, or generate it. Buying traffic is the first option for serious businesses because it’s predictable.

By predictable I mean that you know that you need a certain number of visitors to make a certain amount of money. So, you can buy just as much traffic as you need to make as much money. The downside is that the traffic comes to your website only when you pay for it. If you need more traffic tomorrow, and you will, you’ll have to pay for it again. Generated traffic, on the other hand, is considered perpetual (or residual) traffic. By generated traffic I mean organic search engine (through search engine optimization) and social traffic, and by perpetual and residual I mean that you work for the traffic today and get traffic for this amount of work for a long time, and every amount of work you add to generate this traffic adds up to the amount of traffic you’ll be getting every single day on the long run.

Of course there are other factors to consider. A good business practice is to get traffic to your website from both ways, and to diversify the traffic sources within each category. For example, don’t rely totally on Adwords while you know that Google is so moody that you could lose Adwrods traffic overnight. The same for generated organic traffic; diversify.

3. A List: Also known as “virtual ATM machine”. Make collecting your website visitors emails your top priority. Give something cool for free and ask for email to send it to. Keep sending them cool stuff for free to train them on opening your emails. The more cool free stuff you send them the more authority you’ll give yourself and the more eager they will be to open your emails. The result is a loyal responsive list. This is the kind of list that can make you money on demand. All what you need to do to make money is to have something to sell, whether yours or as an affiliate, and recommend it to your list in an email. This IS money on demand.

SEO, Social, Banners, and PPC

In the last article I predicted more training courses to emerge about how to drive organic and social traffic to your website, and the decline of the focus on PPC. While this was partially true, banners (aka. media buy) has also been taught in different courses about traffic that came after Ryan’s anti-Google perpetual traffic course. Just to state a fact and clear my position regarding PPC, PPC still works and it will be crazy to drop it from your plans to drive traffic to your sites.

In this article I’ll explain why you need to give some of your time and/or resources to each of the above methods.

PPC is not all about Adwords, there is MSN PPC that reaches searchers on both Bing and Yahoo!. Together they account for 31% of all searches on the Internet. That’s almost one third of all the search traffic and it will be crazy to ignore it.

On both Google and MSN PPC platforms there are some rules that you need to consider in order to get your campaigns to be profitable. First it’s not a good idea to direct link on Google and MSN. With the increasing competition and the elevating bids in all niches, there is little to be made per click. The best strategy is to increase your life value of each visitor to your website, and that’s by building a relationship with them on your OWN site through your newsletter.

Direct linking still works on other PPC sources because they are still cheaper, although fraudulent clicks occur more frequently than on Adwords and Adcenter. That’s only after you spend some money to test and weed out traffic sources that don’t convert.

Media buys, or banners, are still working. As I mentioned in the past particle, the banner that looks like a banner is useless. The eyes are trained on ignoring those rectangles with graphics in them. What works now is those banners that look like pictures inserted in the text, and text-only banners. There also other banners that are graphical and interactive, like those with really funny or weird graphics (multiple ways to see the same picture). It’s also worth mentioning that banners inventory is way bigger than all PPC clicks combined.

There is also PPV (pay per view) that works in some niches when you target certain demographics, but like PPC, the competition is getting higher and it’s getting harder to make profit with direct linking. Again it’s time to build lists with PPV traffic.

The above paid sources of traffic are supposed to be the main focus of serious businesses because it’s the only way to precisely predict how much traffic you’ll get and consequently how much money you can make. This is necessary if you are running a business, not enjoying a hobby.

SEO and social traffic have their own advantage: it’s perpetual. Say you write an article or upload a video on social media now and it starts sending you traffic shortly. As long as the article is there the traffic keeps coming (theoretically). So the time or money you spend on writing articles or posting on social media is a long term investment.

This type of traffic, let’s collectively call it “non-ad” traffic, is the only traffic that works with sites that depend heavily on advertising revenue, like Adsense.

So to clear up FOMT’s position, it’s not wise to rely on only one source of traffic. Paid traffic is important so that you know what to expect and do your calculations more precisely. Organic traffic is also important as a cushion for protection from the ever changing rules of PPC sources. Also, variation of paid traffic sources protect from losing your source of income if one source disappears or changes rules. The same for organic traffic; social and SEO traffic cushion your business from falling apart when a search engine changes the algorithms or social media change their rules.

The Death of PPC?

When a giant like Google slaps those who’d been feeding it since it started making money with Adwords and Content Ads (Adsense) it means one of two things: either they are losing ground to other search engines due to the low quality of user experience with paid ads, or they’ve found a huge source of income that Adwords revenue dwarfs next to it.

I have my reasons to believe that it’s both. The millions of annual spending of individual affiliate marketers are not stable, and are declining anyway (as will be explained in a minute). Compare that with fixed advertising budgets from big brands whose advertising aims mostly at branding and not at  making direct sales.

Due to the shrinking of profit margin expected from direct sales generated through Adwords more and more affiliate marketers are dropping the ball, and others are shifting their advertising budgets to other more reliable and profitable sources. And this very same shrinking is caused by Google itself. Here is how:

To get lower cost per click with Adwords you need a higher quality score, which in turn depends on several factors including the click through rate on your ad. Recently, the average Google searcher started to pay little to no attention to the sponsored links. This only means lower click through rates and consequently higher cost per click due to the low quality score caused and given by Google!

That only means one thing; the battle for the next several months will be in the SEO zone, where every one wants to get as many organic clicks as possible because this is where the average Google users shifted their attention to.

The first half of 2010 witnessed the release of tens of high ticket, as well as low ticket, paid traffic guides and courses. The target of those courses was the ex-Google Adwords users who lost their accounts in the late 2009 slap. Makes sense?

Now as it became obvious that Google is losing the PPC battle due to the natural development of user behavior (which is pretty predictable and I don’t know how in the world a giant like Google, with 50+ PhDs and a huge army of grad students, is not prepared for it) I expect tens of SEO courses and services, both in the high and low ticket zones, to dominate the marketing arena at least until the end of 2010.

The question is: Since PPC traffic is declining and SEO is unreliable (changes with Google’s moody algorithms), what is the reliable alternative?

PPV (pay per view traffic generated by adware) is also declining, not only in available inventory, but also in quality and profitability. So, this is not the answer.

Face Book PPC was really hot early this year, but not anymore. The attention is shifting back away from that ad zone and the competition is eating the profits of average affiliate marketers. They still can make it do better at Face Book by changing the ads display positions so that the user doesn’t get trained on ignoring a certain area on the screen.

Twitter doesn’t have an advertising platform yet. I have no idea when it will come to live, but unless they act now they’re missing a huge opportunity to fill a black-whole-sized gap in the advertising space.

Good ol’ banners died for a while, but advertising agencies figure out a way to partially revive it. The regular user is used to two kinds of banners more than the others: the 468×60 (like the on at the top right hand corner of this website) and the vertical 120×600 and 160×600.

On the other hand, squares 250×250 and rectangles 300×250 are more perceived as a picture than as adverts, especially when they are embedded within the text. This kind of banners still gets some attention and I expect it to keep getting that much attention as long as people are interested in pictures that could save them the time to read the whole thing.

Finally, my view of the way to revive PPC advertising again is only by embedding sponsored ads within the organic search results, or changing the search results page layout so that the ads are not shown where they are used to be ignored. This could give PPC another push for a while, maybe to the end of 2010 if implemented immediately.

Specialization or Diversification?

Carrying on any type of business comes with a certain amount of risk depending on the nature of that business. But no matter how secure your business looks and how stable your market sounds, the risk is there.

For this reason you might have heard a lot of business coaches, or from your instructors in the business school, that you need to diversify your business and never to “put all your eggs in the same basket”.

Sounds wise, no doubt. But it also means a lot of distraction if you are going to do business in 3 or more different markets. In order to succeed in any business you need to focus.

How would you focus and diversify your business at the same time?

This is a controversial dilemma, but I’ll try to put my own experience in this article. If I were to go back in time this is how I would do it:

First I’ll study the market and pick up 3-5 business models in totally different markets. Then I’d put a business plan for myself so that I get to start each business at a certain time in the near future. Based on information interviews with other business owners in each one of these models I would have put a time table for starting each of project once the previous one has gained momentum as planned.

My goal would be to get each project to be able to support my business as a stand alone project (as if the others don’t exist). Then I would pick the one I have more passion for and take to the next level.

This way I would have achieved the diversification to reduce my risk focusing on each project at a time, and specialized when appropriate in the one field that I would like to end my career in.

Iceland Volcano Can Make You Rich

It’s almost one week now since the first eruption of the Iceland volcano. Smoke and ash clouds have been costing airlines tons of money (in the $20 million/day range). Both airlines and passengers (including the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harbor) are canceling their flights to Europe due to the ash clouds.

I truly feel sorry for those trapped in the airports waiting for their governments to make other arrangements to get them back home, and for developing countries that are loosing millions of their originally tiny income from exports to Europe.

But as a marketer this is what I see:

Developing countries like Kenya exports flowers and fresh vegetables to Europe. For Kenya in particular, these exports account for more than 20% of the Kenyan GDP. Due to the current situation the Kenyan loss is estimated as $3 millions/day.

That’s a product that has already been produced, cannot be delivered to the buyers, and at the same time can not be stored or it’ll lose value.

What would you do as a marketer?

Exactly, find another market.

And that’s not a big deal of effort. If you can’t go North .. go South.

These fresh products were being delivered to Europe by air anyway. So, if you are in the import/export business and can see the opportunity you can make a few phone calls to prepare the market in some of the southern countries like Australia, or even other African and Arab countries and arrange for exporting these same products to them. In most Arabic countries there is no agriculture, or at least not enough to feed themselves (that’s why they import their food from Europe and the Americas). It will even be cheaper for them.

And don’t worry about the quality. These products were prepared to be imported by European countries. They had to pass the European standards check, which makes them good for all other nations.

This will solve a big problem for most of the affected parties, except for Europeans, but they have a bigger problem to worry about.

Yahoo! Kills Yahoo! Publisher Network

One of the highest quality and at the same time the cheapest of paid traffic that I’ve ever had in my whole online marketing career was from Yahoo! content network. If you are not familiar with it, it is Yahoo!’s version of Google’s Adsense program. It was only open for US residents, that’s way it wasn’t as popular as Adsense.

On an unexpected move from Yahoo! they announced discontinuing their publisher program by April 30th, and is advising their current clients to replace their ads with Chitika.

Yahoo! recommending Chitika is really a surprise, considering the partnership Yahoo! has with MSN, which also has a similar program. Besides, many people have been complaining about what basically can be due to the bad management of Chitika that made it look like a scam when it started back in 2005.

Chitika is a monetizing option for webmasters who have sites about products reviews, but only if they can not monetize their website traffic with affiliate links. I myslef would never publish a third party advertising on a website where I review products because it makes more sense and more money to monetize such reviews with affiliate links.

Anyway, Yahoo! is killing it’s publisher network that has been, and still is, a beta version. What concerns us now is the alternative for this wonderful traffic source and a monetization method for webmasters who can’t have a Google Adsense.

Try MIVA’s targeted, cost effective Pay-Per-Click advertising solutions. it is one of the best alternatives for advertisers in some niches. It also offers a pay-per-call, which is the perfect solution for call centers and MLMers who are still doing it on a one-on-one basis (which is good for their credibility and conversion compared to totally automated sytems).

For publishers from the US (and the UK) it is one of the best alternatives to Yahoo! Publishers Network because it is not only good for product review sites (like Chitika), but also in a variety of niches and site types.

Adbrite: Ok, I used this one in the past as an advertiser and wasn’t quite happy with my results. I eventually figured out a way to make it work for me, but that was after I found my way through Yahoo! content network which was superior to it and I didn’t have to use it anymore.

As an advertiser, you can pick which site to show your ads, which is a feature I’ve only found on Google’s network. This is by the way the only way to make your PPC ads on Adbrite profitable (by avoiding huge volume sites like ebay and dictionary like sites).

As a publisher, I must say it’s a really good alternative. It actually has some superiority to other similar publisher programs. For example, you can stay in control of what is published on your website. You can approve or disapprove ads based on any chriteria you want. For example you can disapprove low revenue ads, inappropriate ads, competitive ads … etc.

What I don’t recommend is Bidvertiser. The company has a black history for both advertisers and publishers. As advertisers if you are not tracking your ads (which is a killing mistake) you will be charged for clicks that never happened. And as a publisher most probably you’ll never get paid. I know it happened with me (as an advertiser and as a publisher) and it happened with hundreds of other publishers who might be really generating fraud clicks, but from my experience it doesn’t matter with Bidvertiser. And you don’t get any answers to your questions from any one over there in Tel Aviv. For me, Bidvertiser is a SCAM, so stay away from it.

The #1 Ingredient In The Long Term Success Recipe

Ted and Robin are both Internet marketers. They both follow the same strategies and techniques. They both build lists, buy advertising, sell on the front end, back end, offer an upsell and a downsell, and follow up with autoresponder series to promote affiliate products.

Although they do every thing similarly, after 5 years Ted is very successful while Robin is still struggling with his unresponsive list, building a list after another to refresh, and doesn’t seem to be able to take himself out of the equation.

The difference is that Robin promotes everything and anything to his list, and is only thinking about how to get them to open the emails and buy from my link. Ted on the other hand is picky on what he promotes to his list. He tries it first either by himself or by his staff, makes sure it provides and delivers a real value, and will help make his subscribers’ lives easier.

Not only that. Ted also provides value in all of his emails to his list. Even in his promotional emails, Ted provides valuable information on how whatever he is promoting now will help them, how to implement it into their lives, and how to avoid being scammed by other competitive offers around … etc.

The result is that Ted’s list is very responsive and is making him money on demand, while Robin’s list is unsubscribing/ignoring his emails and he doesn’t seem to be able to maintain the most valuable source of income that no body can take away from him: HIS LIST.

The difference is that Ted respects his list and treats them the way he likes to be treated, while Robin treats his list as a money machine with no human dimensions involved.

Ted acquired the credibility and respect of his list by providing value all of the time, while Robin lost them both.

The #1 ingredient in Ted’s success is VALUE. Provide value, and in return you’ll get all what you want.

Which one would you like to be: a Ted or a Robin?

Brand Names Are Taking Over

During the first quarter of 2010 it was obvious that the biggest names in affiliate networks are flirting with brand names. And although these networks are criticizing the Google slap and it’s impact on the affiliate marketing industry, they are doing the same.

Small affiliate marketers are now having their accounts terminated or suspended for low volume. This means that small affiliates are now facing the challenge of either growing into big boys or losing their business. This challenge is time sensitive. And affiliate marketers who are just starting and those who lost their Adword accounts are supposed to find an efficient way to grow their business according to a plan.

The picture is not different on the other side of the coin. Small advertisers are now facing the challenge of being crashed by the big brand names. Some networks,  like hydra, is now moving on this new trend: brand names. If you don’t have a well known brand name your offers are facing the threat of elimination.

Which brings us to the point of this article. Branding is the key to succeed in 2010. And it works for both advertisers and affiliates.

What I expect to see during the rest of 2010 is as follows:

1. Advertisers will be spending more on branding their names. This will open the door for new positions in those small companies that will focus only on media placement and getting their name in front of as many people as they can, for as long as they can. Fly-by-night businesses will be having hard time getting their offers accepted to rotate on big affiliate networks, and as a result scams artists will be very busy finding a way around the new situation.

2. Affiliate marketers will also try to brand their names, or turn their small home “commission-based-sales” businesses into registered marketing companies with their own trademarks. This will put the marketers in a position that they will have to be picky on what to promote in order to maintain a good reputation for their trademarks.

3. The very limited liability of affilaite marketers will be a history due to the new FTC regulations, and the branding trend they have to take in order to succeed.

4. The small affiliate networks that deal with small advertisers will have a lot of work to do due to the increasing demand from the small advertisers who can not, or are not willing to, brand themselves, and due to the termination/suspension of low-volume affiliate marketers by the big networks. It’s pretty obvious that the quality of offers on these networks will be questionable and this will push their affiliates to work hard on protecting their anonymity.

As have been seen before in the offline world, small business will shrink, or be forced to the back alley, while big brands will be expanding. Good for the consumer, good for the super affiliates, good for the affiliate networks either way, and bad for the scam artists. New and low-volume affiliate marketers have to take it seriously from now on.

Employment Vs. Slavery

Not everyone can be a business person. For some, being employed is much more important than freedom and making more money.

The way I see jobs is not going to appeal to most people, because for me a job is a modern disguise for slavery. In your job you trade your time and freedom willingly (as if you have the choice) until you retire, for  money that is hardly enough to pay for your shelter, food, and other needs. On the other hand, slaves trade their time and freedom against your will for the same things; shelter, food, and other basic needs.

If you disagree with me, as most people do, search for the answer of this question: Was there employment, as we know it now, when there was slavery? You’ll find the they never coexisted.

Jobs and employment have been invented very recently by capitalists to replace slavery. Before that there were professionals who could be hired per task, not for years or life to end up paying half of what they make as taxes, and 80% of their 401K or RRSP (whatever they call where you are) revenue to the bank while taking 100% of the risk and paying 100% of the invested capital!

Anyway. If you still think a job is more secure than a business, there are companies specialized in home-job placement. Their clients are big names, like Apple, IZOD, Microsoft, Calvin Kleim, and Compaq.

==> Click here to get the list and apply.

 

But please, consider owning a business. Consider the job as a way to survive until you switch smoothly from being employed to being an employer. You’ll see the world from a completely different perspective as an employer.

The “Not So Secret” of Super Affiliates

If you have been around doing affiliate marketing for a while you must have noticed that there are some names that are always at the top of the list of super affiliates. And since you have been around for quite a while you must be at the same time on some of the lists of those super affiliates.

Whenever a new product is about to be released you’ll get emails from those top super affiliates giving you heads up about the new product, warming you up and preparing your mind set to be in the buying mode. And when it’s time for the launch you’ll receive an email (or several ones) telling you about their bonus for you in case you buy through their affiliate link. Sometimes, actually most of the time, the bonuses value is way beyound the commission that you’ll earn from buying that product through your own affiliate link, and difinitely more than what you are going to pay for the actual product.

That makes it look like a better deal for you to buy through the super affiliate’s link than when you buy directly from the seller or through another affiliate link (including your own link if you are allowed to).

And that IS the “not so secret” of the super affilaites. Build a targeted list, keep in contact with your list with bonuses and free information (keep moving the free line), and give incentives for them to buy through your affilaite link.

The real secret though is how to engineer this process. You’ll need to prepare a list building system that is engineered to funnel in a certain demography, subniche … whatever your target is. But first you’ll need to study this market and be aware of the past and the forcasted trends, the products that serve this market, and evaluate your share “to be” from this market and how to get it.

There are resources that will help you with engineering your list building system. In addition to the basics (the hosting, autoresponder or list management system, tracking software etc …) you’ll also need to have at your disposal a stock, or a source of, master resale rights products that you can use as bonuses (in case you don’t have your own products).

If you find this process intimidating it is recommended to get yourself a coach who knows the ins and outs of this business and can hold you accountable for your business building tasks as scheduled.

Unforunately I have too much on my plate to think about coaching, besides I don’t see my previous students doing any good (perhaps because I am not harsh enough or easy going). But don’t hesitate to ask any questions using the comment feature below.

The good news is that there are super affiliates out there who are willing to share with you their secrets, for a fee of course. And those super affiliates are the only ones you can trust in this environment of deceptive misguidance (to rob you off your money and minimize the competition). And at the top of list is Jennifer Ledbetter (aka potpie girl). In her private training she teaches how to use free resources to generate cash as an affiliate. She also teaches how to expand on a successful free campaign into a serious source of income they professionals do.

Her methods are time proven and have been generating cash for me since 2009.

Click here to get a free taste of her training.