Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

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Making money on the Internet 101

Posted by markharrison on August 28, 2006

As I’ve been putting together my new training course, it’s come to me that, actually, making money on the Internet is fairly straightforward.

Most people get the detail right, but focus on that so much, they miss the big picture. (For example, have a look on Google to see why you should use CSS instead of Tables… and then go and look at Google’s homepage!)

The outline is simple though. So Heh, Sparky, here’s the deal:

1: Research your niche. This is not tricky, with tools like Overture out there, but at the end of the day, you’re looking for a niche that has three characteristics:

1a: People want to know about it

1b: The web isn’t already flooded with sites that you can’t outcompete

1c: It’s something that people might be willing to pay for

If you’re pushed for time, concentrate on 1a – provided there’s a strong demand, then there’s room for multiple players. Just ask Pepsi.

2: Set up a “feeder site”. All your site wants to do at this stage is gather names and (email) addresses. The end game is to get name, address and credit card details (legitimately, OK!), but it’s easier to get the first two first, and then worry about getting the third once they trust you. All you really need at this stage is a few pages of content, and a very clear “sign up here” box. The best way to get people to sign up is to offer something of value in exchange – that can be a “free report” or “free mini-course”, or whatever. Just something that gets them to opt-in to your sending them more information.

3: Start driving some traffic to your site. This is where the buzz-words come in, and the expensive consultants make (I don’t say “earn”) their money. Adwords – Search Engine Optimisation – Campaign Management – PR – Live events – Mindshare…. yadda, yadda, yadda. Again, the best way to drive traffic is to have some meaningful content, and let a few people know it’s there (don’t be shy about asking them to link to you.) Alternatively, if you want to speed things up – spend money (Google Adwords is a good toe-in-the-water way).

4: After they’re getting something free, try to (gently) sell them something cheap. The purpose of this sale is NOT to make you money, but to show them that you can deliver good value in a product that costs about 10 pounds / 10 Euros / 10 dollars. I normally make audio CDs available – I’m up front about the fact that the same material is avaialble free of charge as MP3 downloads – it increases trust to make this clear, and some people like to spend money on a physical product.

5: After they’ve bought something cheap, seek their feedback on it… then try to sell them something mid-range. In my case, I sell a £100 “home-study course”, that includes a few hundred pages of content, plus some audio material on CD, and a CD-ROM. I prefer shipping physical product to electronic downloads, because if they want a refund, they need to post back something bulky!

It’s worth offering a choice at this point also. As well as the £100 home-study course, there’s a £350 instructor-led training course that covers much the same material. Like the CD vs. MP3 stuff above, it’s good to offer the same material in different formats at different price points.

Depending on your niche, you may like to stop here (or restart from point 1 creating a second stream of income.) However, some markets lend themselves to:
6: After they’ve bought something mid-range, offer them something high-end. I do this with clients for my corporate programmes – I’ll become a director of their companies, and do a day or two a month for £1,000 a day, plus stock options. This is rather higher than the consultancy rates I got as an IT contractor… the advantage of having established myself as a “trusted guru” in steps 1-5. The £1,000 a day weeds out the time-wasters, and hopefully some of those stock options will be worth something within a couple of years.

Obviously, there’s a lot of subtlety in each of the steps, and I can (and do!) bang on about each for hours… but I find that most people aren’t having trouble with the subtlety, they’re having trouble with the big picture.


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