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Becoming "Real" Online

(c) 2002 by Cheryl Williams Levey,

The Internet has created an incredible opportunity for current or potential business owners. But there are factors and issues to consider to be effective online.

How Are Online Businesses Like Traditional Ones?
First, forget the idea that the internet can make you rich overnight without any effort. It takes time, effort, and money to become successful online. Gee, isn't that true in a traditional business as well? What other similarities do online and traditional businesses have? Well, you need a plan. You need to develop your business and marketing plans and you need to determine how much time and money you can invest initially and monthly. Speaking of marketing, like with traditional businesses, you need to advertise, advertise, advertise. You need to define, specifically, exactly what you will offer, be it product or service, and you need to define, specifically, exactly who your customers will be. Then you need to slant most of your marketing efforts toward that audience. All of these things are true whether online or off.

You Have A Website?
Also, if you have a website for whatever purpose, no one will know it exists unless you advertise it. There are literally billions of web pages out in cyberspace now, and yours will be a drop in the ocean unless you spend some serious time and effort making sure people can find you. Simply having a site online is just not enough. No one will visit you electronically if they don't know you are there. And they won't know you are there unless you tell them.

How do you know how to tell people? There are all kinds of ways, but some caution needs to be used to both preserve your personal and business integrity and to brand you as an expert in your field--which over time will help you gain more customers and get more business. The important thing to remember is to be a "real" person, because people can see right through insincerity and can hit the delete key faster than you can blink. It's better to be sincere in your efforts than it is to try to hard sell or push anyone, because, think about it: Do you like to be pushed or bullied into anything? Remember to always think in terms of what your audience, individually, is thinking and how you would like to be treated.

Here are just a few of the FREE ways to get noticed, but there are more and I'd love to hear your thoughts, options, comments, etc about this:

Build An Email Opt-In List
First, on your website, offer free reports or newsletters (like this one), or whatever you want based on what kind of business you have, in exchange for people's email addresses. This is called an opt-in list and gives you permission to email information to them. DO NOT gather up emails from everywhere you can and send them stuff. That's spamming and can get you booted from your ISP and completely destroy any credibility you might have been able to build. You can also buy contact information, called leads, from several different lead generation companies. These leads are typically generated from people answering ads asking if they are interested in receiving information on business opportunities. Build your list and send information about business in general and about your opportunity regularly. This does not mean every day. Once a week or every month or whatever. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how often you'd like to be solicited--on top of all the other emails you get every day, and act accordingly.

Visit Forums and Chat Rooms

Choose some forums and visit them regularly. And not to just tell about your business. In fact, it might be better to not talk about your business at all, but rather offer advice, information and answer questions when you can about different aspects of having an online business. Over time, people will get to "know" you and look to you for advice as an expert. Don't hit them with your business, but always include your URL in your signature line and lots of people will check you out that way.

Submit Your Site To Search Engines
Be sure to check rules for submissions, but periodically submit each page of your site to search engines like Yahoo, AltaVista, DirectHit, Google and Excite.

Find Similar Businesses and Swap Links
I know that sounds counterproductive, but just think about it a while and you'll understand the beauty of this. People who end up on the other site will see the link to your site and you will benefit from their curiousity when they click through to your site. Yes, it works both ways, but just think about how many potential customers or partners you could attract.

These are just a few of the many options for marketing online. Please feel free to send me additional input on what works for you!


Cheryl Williams Levey owns, a site
dedicated to showing you how to save time and money
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