When I was putting together my article “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business”, I came up with a long list of things that could have been included. I didn’t want to write a 30 mistakes article, though, and figured you didn’t want to read one that long, either. After the positive feedback I got from that article, I thought I would pick out a few of the better ones that I set aside the first time and offer those, as well. Thus, I present you with 5 More Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business.
5 More Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business
- The Shotgun Approach
- Starting the Wrong Business
- Not Pacing Yourself
- Giving Away the Goose, Instead of the Eggs
- Underestimating the Challenge
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get going.
The Shotgun Approach
This is one I see fairly often. Someone sets up a website, intent on building a passive income from affiliate marketing. They head over the Clickbank, or Amazon, and sign up for an affiliate account. Next, the start posting links to every product that jumps out them.
If there’s no rhyme, or reason, to the products you choose, you are going to struggle to generate any income. Clickbank carries a lot of options, but not all of them are going to apply to your niche. And you need a niche, just to be clear.
Throwing out random products like a shotgun blast gives the wrong impression. People will visit your site (maybe), but they won’t understand who you are, or what you’re trying to do. If you want to survive and, eventually thrive, in the online marketing jungle, you need to carve out your own little corner and do that thing to the best of your ability. Trying to go toe to toe with the big dogs is only going to get you knocked out.
If you think Clickbank has a lot of options for affiliates, what about Amazon? Don’t get me wrong, these are both good websites for affiliate marketers to make money from. In your case, though, you need to promote only the products that make sense in your niche. Amazon may be able to provide something for everyone, but you’re not Amazon.
Even if you are successful at your business, odds are against you ever being like Amazon. It is worth remembering, though, that even Amazon started out focusing on one thing. Do you remember? In the beginning, they were a book retailer. That was their niche. Find your own and stick with it. If you do you get lucky and your success starts snowballing, you can worry then about how to expand into different areas.
Starting the Wrong Business
There are multiple ways this could happen. A common one is that people will research what the hottest, best-selling trend is right now and that’s the niche they choose. Now, there are some pros out there that have mastered this approach. They can strike while the iron is hot and get big results quick, before moving on the next trend. For the majority of us, that isn’t feasible.
If the latest trend happens to be something that you are passionate and knowledgeable about, that’s great. Maybe it is the niche for you and you will be able to start seeing profits sooner, rather than later. In most cases, though, you are better off pursuing something that interests you than something that you hope will make you rich. Let me explain why.
First, I’m going to share a blunt truth. Odds are against you getting rich from internet marketing. It’s just true. I’m not saying that to discourage you, because I do believe internet marketing is a great opportunity for an independent business. What I’m saying is, there is a lot of territory between broke and rich. If you do your homework and put in the effort, you can make a living online. You may make a comfortable living, which is entirely possible without being rich (what qualifies as rich, anyway?).
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that you’re not going to get rich, but you will be able to make a living at this. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something that you enjoy? It goes beyond that, though.
Someone gave me the same advice once that I’m giving you. They worked in finance. They were pretty good at it and made a fairly nice living for himself. Unfortunately, considering he’d been doing it for decades, he never liked the finance business. He loved history. He spent much of his leisure time reading history books. On the weekend, he would visit the state archive library to do historical research. When I say he was into history, I mean he was into history. That was his passion. It should have been his niche.
That guy explained to me once the same thing I’ve been explaining to you here. As he put it, “can you can imagine how much money I might have made, if I’d been getting paid for all the time and effort, I’ve been into studying history? I might not have been rich, but I bet I would have gotten a lot closer to it than I am now.” He didn’t have to wonder if he could have invested such time and energy in it. He knew he could, because had already had. The problem is, he wasn’t getting paid for it.
Go ahead, give online marketing a try, but please, pick the right business.
Not Pacing Yourself
If you’re pursuing something you enjoy, obviously it will be a more pleasant experience than following after something that doesn’t interest you beyond the money. Still, it’s possible to burn yourself out.
Try to pace yourself. Set goals, but also set a schedule. Have a plan for how much you want to accomplish. Resist the urge to work in obsessive bursts that last for a day, or two, before you crash. You might feel productive, staying up until 2 AM all week, knocking out articles, getting your website looking great and all the other things on your to-do list.
What happens the next week when you have neither the energy, or the interest, to turn your laptop on. You are physically and mentally worn out. When your productivity plummets, there’s a good chance you will be worse off than you would have been had you simply worked at a productive, but reasonable, pace. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race.
Giving Away the Goose, Instead of the Eggs
This one is a little trickier to get a handle on. You’ve seen and everyone else in this industry say that content is king. You need to write great articles and as many of them as you can manage. The more high-quality content, the more potential for traffic and the more chance of closing sales.
If you’re going to manage all of that with high-quality content, it stands to reason that you need to be providing genuinely valuable information to your readers. Making a lot of vague promises and never delivering on usable knowledge isn’t a good, long-term game plan. Visitors will know you’re hustling them and they’ll go elsewhere. You have to deliver the goods.
Where things get tricky is in knowing where to draw the line. You can’t give away the whole thing, or that’s not a business. That’s a charity. If a farmer is in the egg business, he can’t give away the goose. That’s where the eggs come from.
You see, you need to offer real value to your target audience, but you still have to have a means to make money. That will look different for different people. I’ve been writing articles for this site about the marketing mix. There are useful insights in those articles. People pay universities to teach them about this stuff.
In my case, I’m going to have a hard time making any money off the marketing mix information. You can just read the articles right here. Now, I suppose I could write an e-book with more in-depth and advanced information in it and sell that. Maybe that would work, but I’m probably not going to do that. Instead, it would be better for me to just hold back a different subject – something I have written much about on my site. I can write my e-book about that.
Alternatively, I could create an online course that tackles an important subject. On a text driven site like this, the online course would be some different, some added value my readers wouldn’t otherwise get by only reading my articles. Some of them might be willing to pay for that. In that model, I keep my visitors coming in for the useful, but free, articles and those who want something more are more likely to pay for it. Everyone wins.
Underestimating the Challenge
This is something I touch on, to one degree or another, in a lot of my writing. Folks, if you’re interested in get-rich-quick schemes, you should probably go ahead and leave. This isn’t the place for you. I don’t promote get-rich-quick schemes, because I don’t believe in them. They’re like unicorns. They sound cool and wish they were real, but I’ve never seen any evidence to make me think they are.
If you want to earn a living online, offline, or any other line, you’re going to have to do the work. If you were working for someone else, they aren’t going to pay you for doing nothing. If you’re self-employed, your customers aren’t going to pay you for doing nothing, either. Life just doesn’t work that way, no matter how much we wish it did.
If you are new to marketing, business management, the mechanics of building websites and all the little things that I can’t even think of at the moment, you are going to have a lot to learn. The learning curve will be steeper for some than others, but no one is going to magically know everything they need to know.
Building a successful business is always a challenge. Approach it with that in mind and you will avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches. Even the most successful people have good days and bad days. Sometimes they make money, sometimes they lose money.
Develop A Balanced View
The internet is special to the extent that it provides an accessible means to start a business that is, typically, much lower in overhead than opening a traditional storefront business. It is not special in as much as the same principles of marketing and business that apply in the rest of the world somehow don’t apply in the online world. Things may look different in this virtual landscape, but the fundamentals are much the same.
If you haven’t already, check out my original 10 Mistakes to Avoid article. Don’t be discouraged, though. You can balance it out afterwards with 10 Inspiring Reasons to Be an Internet Marketer. This thing is doable.
One Last Thing
When you get ready to take the plunge, if you want a workable framework to help you get off on the right foot, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend the Wealthy Affiliate program. It packs a lot of punch even for seasoned marketers, but I honestly think its greatest value is to someone starting from scratch.
Wealthy Affiliate is free to join. You can either keep a free membership, or upgrade to a paid one if you feel like taking that next step. This isn’t a pressure sale here, or anything like that. In fact, I recommend you read my Wealthy Affiliate review before giving it your full consideration. If it seems like it might be the right fit for you, signing up from my affiliate link means that I will be your mentor once you’re onboard. If not, that doesn’t hurt my feelings and you are welcome to keep visiting this site as I continue to roll out new articles and content.