Facing the Realities of Running an Online Marketing
If you’ve been involved with trying to start an online business, then I’m guessing you’ve already faced bumps along the road and have second guessed why you should continue on. If you haven’t, then hopefully this post can be helpful for you in having a better picture of some of the realities of starting an online business.
Can I Call It a Real “Business”?
First of all, the idea of trying to start an online “business” is a burden unlike none other. It carries more weight to it then just having a side hobby that you do in your spare time. As you may already know, a real business requires commitment, time, hard work, time, perseverance, time and oh yeah time. It takes a while for any business to go from concept to a proof of concept and along the way having to fight through a ton of discouragement. One of the biggest burdens would have to be trying to convince others even your family that an online business can be a real business and a real source of income. You seem to never have an answer for when they ask, “so how much did you make today”?
Having to remind yourself that you’re running a real “business” can get old very quickly. You had the right mindset when you first begin, however as soon as you face difficulties and setbacks, you can begin start treating the whole thing like it’s just a hobby or an idea. Sometimes days, weeks, or even months can go by where you really haven’t had any progress in moving things forward. This is the point when reality sets in and complete utter discouragement from all angles seems to hit you.
Forgive me for starting this post out with such a downer, however after 8 months of trail and error of trying to start an online business, I’ve come to several realistic conclusions.
Here are the realities that I have faced:
Reality #1 – Online Marketing Is Hard Work
This is probably a no brainer for a seasoned marketer. When you first get started, everything seems so exciting. You are already so familiar with the internet and the idea that you can use it to create extra income seems so easy. You convince yourself that it’s possible, fight through all the skepticism, and finally give it a shot quickly to realize it’s a ton of work.
I thought that my previous experience of building websites through Dreamweaver and working with html would prepare me for any online work. I quickly found out that it is more than just creating a website. You are actually creating the front end of a real business store where people will potentially come by like real customers and make purchases based on your services, products, and reviews.
I reached a point where it was very intimidating to actually post a semi-finished website knowing it could be rejected by the masses. It’s like opening up a store and no one coming by. I was not ready for that initial failure. The anxiety of it all kept me in this re-evaluting phase of trying to improve the quality of my site and trying to make it as professional and noteworthy as possible before launching. However, after weeks of agony, I finally realized just how much work went into just getting started online and how draining it was on this whole of an internet business.
Online marketing is hard work. It is a real job with real long hours with little to show for return when you first begin. If you’re serious about trying to create income through the internet you’ll be in for a rude awakening of how hard it really is. Be prepared for the amount of work that will be needed up front. Your greatest investment will be your time and the burden of using your time for unpaid work will weigh heavy on you as time goes on especially in the beginning months. If you’ve already experienced with the work or in the process right now, then I want to encourage to not give up and be proud of the work you have done so far. It’s hard work but it can be worth it more if you don’t give up and not to base your success completely on how much return you make from it.
Reality #2 – It Often Feels Like Wasting Time and Money
Just like any business, there is an upfront investment required on your part to get started. The two great parts of that investment will be your time and money. There are both paid and free methods in marketing online. Paid methods will require a large amount of investment into paid traffic. Free methods will require large amounts of your time to build sites and create content. Although both methods use up a lot of personal resources, the biggest resource I feel like it uses up is money.
Over the past 8 months, I have tried it all from paid ads to free content creation reviews and posts. With little to show for results at times, it can be a daunting feeling to know that the more you put in, the less you may get in return. It’s a mind game really. You have to control how you think and it takes a lot of practice to train your mind to think of each investment of time and money to be a step towards growing your online business. This is what the gurus teach and they make it sound so easy. It’s funny I began to grow bitter towards a few gurus I was following and blaming them for my lack of results. In reality, blaming is natural but gets no where. It’s just a conduit to vent my frustrations.
Some Thoughts on Paid Traffic
As you advertise online, you definitely need capital for investing in high quality traffic. There are two main points to remember. One, it will take a ‘larger than you thought’ budget to find that high quality traffic. And two, traffic is expensive. You may spend your budget on tools, software, or themes however, the highest expense when you first start off will have to be in paid traffic.
Paying for traffic will depend upon your products and the affiliate programs that you are part of. Having been part of a large direct marketing sales company like MOBE, paid traffic is a must if you want to produce results. There may be a lot of different opinions about this since there are members within the company who earn over six-figures without having to spend a dime on traffic. However, not for the newbie. You need to spend money on traffic. You need spend BIG money on traffic. Don’t be fooled by the $5 a day idea that many promote to help you ease the growing pains of spending $100’s or even $1,000’s on paid traffic. Keep in mind $5/day = $35/week = $140/month = $1680/year. This doesn’t sound like a lot does it. Well keep in mind that it is for one campaign and you will have to run multiple campaigns in order to make any kind of real results. Having ten different campaigns running at the same time at a $5/day budget, that will result in a $1,400 per month ad spend cost or $16,800 for the year.
What direct marketing sales companies will keep telling you is that, yes spending over $10,000 a year on paid ads seems like a lot but look at the “potential earnings” of $10,000 per high level sale. If you make one sale a month for a year, that’s 12 sales at $10,000 each making you $120,000 for the year. Keep in mind the word “potential earnings”. It’s never definite since it’s a business opportunity you are running paid ads for and not all campaigns will be “potentially” successful.
After a recent affiliate contest was launched, I quickly decided to take action and run multiple campaigns and to scale them based on performance. Here is a screenshot of my ad expenses for several campaigns for a live event offered by MOBE called the IM Freedom Workshop. These ads were run as Facebook:
I got some incredible CPC (cost per clicks) however, my results were only gaining 2 optins with absolutely ZERO conversions. I know what you’re thinking. You targeted the wrong people. Your ad got clicks but were not optimized for conversions. You set up the wrong budget for your ads. The analysis can go on and on.
The campaigns involved promoting a free live event where I would be rewarded only on registrations and so it was more like a CPA (cost per acquisition) campaign. I thought I had a killer ad since there so many unique clicks. As you can see my “killer” ad was a killer alright. It killed my budget -_-. I spent $239.92 in order to get 2 people to optin. That’s a $119.96 per potential client. That’s 2 people out of 1,553 unique clicks that checked out my ad. It wasn’t a huge campaign since some Mobe consultants run their campaigns into the $1,000’s for ad spend.
The good news at that point was that if those two people had gone to the event and bought into other products that were upsold to them, then I’d make commissions started from $120 up to $1,250. However, here’s the kicker, they didn’t even show up to the event. The companies tracking allows me to know all of that valuable information.
Initially spending $240 to get two potential clients which can result is a possible $240 or 100% ROI (return on investment) was not a bad thing. However, they never went to the event and were not good potential leads. I immediately stopped all campaigns due to lack of budget. Some may argue that, that’s the reality of ad spend on paid advertisement. Also that $240 is nothing compared to what others spend. And that’s all so very true. Maybe I got out too early and didn’t give my ads a fair chance. However, I did pass a three day testing phase and with the event dates coming up, I decided not to continue spending my budget.
Gurus will tell you to not think of it as a loss but a gain of a great learning experience. Well, I feel so happy to have learned what it means to make a failed $240 investment. Did I gain anything? Of course! The experience and further detailed refinement of my Facebook ad skills. However, the reality of the situation still remains. Paid ads will cost you $$$$$ before you really figure out what works for you. It’s not impossible, it’s just honestly expensive.
Going back to my Reality #2 about losing money.
Be prepared for up front loss with your time and money. If you have another day job, I do not advice quitting it all to pursue online marketing without testing your marketing strategies and campaigns. Also, it important to set aside a budget for advertising. Make it reasonable and stick to it. This will keep you from second guessing and worrying about how much is going in. A set budget is less stressful to deal with.
One Final Word of Encouragement.
Yes you may feel like you’re losing your time and money. However, you are truly gaining a high ticket learning experience that will mature you as an online marketer. You can spend hours learning from gurus however implementing what you learn on your own is where the real learning begins. If you hit a winning campaign role with it until you make a significant return. If you’re more into content creation marketing like blogging, spend time and give it time to see potential results.
Reality #3 – Marketers Need to Learn SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is a form of affiliate marketing. Infact, I’ve come to discover that it is the most powerful way to do affiliate marketing.
You have to keep in mind how people search for the answers to their problems. Everyday we all see ads everywhere through posters, billboards, newspapers, magazines, tv, and of course online. They all speak the same message, “look here, you need this, buy this”. It’s a direct marketing strategy that gets offers in front of as many people as possible to entice them to buy into something. Although there are genuine products out there, this form of marketing can sometimes be very manipulative and deceiving. I choose these two descriptions carefully.
Many ads may not directly manipulate someone into buying their product, it can however manipulate their intended search for a solution. For example, they wanted to find a solution through method A but ended up being presented with method B. The client ends up being convinced and gets the solution from method B but still has a void of unsatisfied results from their original search of method A. Please don’t let me loose you through my odd mathematical formula here. The point I’m trying to make is that direct marketing is not always client friendly.
When people who are just browsing causally online, their state of being is not always in a “buying mode” However, whenever people want to find a particular solution to a problem or want to check on a review of a product, they are 9 times out of 10 more willing to buy. This is here where SEO is a powerful marketing tool that complements well with affiliate marketing.
Benefits of Learning SEO
Learning SEO will greatly increase the potential for your site, blog, or video post to rank higher on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. These search engines are designed to follow a series of search algorithms that will automatically match the content that is available online to the search engine keywords that a potential client uses in their search. It sounds simple but the technology behind is very powerful and constantly changing and evolving over time.
It’s great to post paid ads and scale it to get in front as many people as possible to produce a wider range of results. However, the challenge is that those who do see the ads and click through may not always be the right people for your product. No matter how targeted your ads may be, it can be a hit or miss. That is why large direct marketing sales companies like MOBE use the help of affiliates to spread out their potential reach through different markets and the use of personalized ads which can connect better with a potential clients. In short, it helps to attract the right clients for their products.
The advantage of SEO is that it gets your content directly in front of the potential clients based upon their specific keyword searches. The challenge with SEO is that it does require a little more technical skills when it comes to knowing how to optimize a website or blog posts. By technical skills, I am more referring to the ability to use keyword research tools, plugins, and various software programs that will help produce the right data which will be then used to optimize your content to rank higher in search engines.
There is also a time factor for SEO. To get ranked high in search engines, it does take time for the algorithms to work through your content data. Ongoing analysis will place your content accordingly based upon the number of particular keywords that connects your site with search engine results. The point is that SEO will take longer to work. However, it can work if done correctly and with attention to detail.
Creating content does not require a large upfront investment like paid advertisement however, using the various tools for your research may need it. There are several free options out there but keep in mind they are limited.
Final Thoughts on SEO
SEO can get your content in front of the “right” people who are more prepared to buy than just throwing up as many ads as possible. Especially with an online business, it is important and a huge time and money saver if you target the right people. Paid ads can be well targeted but there is a cost of a higher budget and not getting enough of the right people in front of your ad. SEO can also be well targeted but will cost a lot of time for research, content production and results.
Concluding Thoughts on the Reality of Online Business
So what is the reality of it all? This whole post seems so unorganized with several rabbit trails of unnecessary information that can be saved for another post. What real realities are you talking about that we don’t already know?
The realities of online marketing is that it will demand a lot out of you. It’s all on you. Regardless if you have a team or outsource your work, it’s still all on you to make the business work. You already know that it’s going to be hard work, that you may lose time and money along the way, and that learning specific skills will get you further ahead. You already know that it can be a real business with real income potential as time goes on. You also know how frustrating it can be and how discouraged you can feel when you want nothing seems to work no matter how hard you try.
Well, I wanted to leave you with this final encouragement. The realities you are facing today will only bring stability to your business over time. You’re facing those realities as a business owner, online entrepreneur, and someone who wants to take matters into their own hands to design a better life. And lastly, the greatest reality of your online business is YOU. I can only wish you the best as you continue to shape and form your future around the current realities of your business today.
Thank you for your time. Here’s a quick video that sums up a lot of what I wrote here.