physical elements of a website
Credit: Lance Carlson

This is, in a nutshell a proposal for a viable and sustainable internet business that in many cases needs no inventory, does no marketing in the usual sense, is perfectly legal, and uses current trends in internet marketing and social culture to survive and indeed thrive. It is based on a tried and true business model that we all know. Where making several thousands of dollars per month is very probable and it can be started at a public library computer for less than $350. Oh and did I mention that is if you purchase podcasting equipment. Sound interesting?

Let us start!

Selecting a Niche: The market research and your keyword research are not really separate subjects as they are done together. They have to be because they are very related and affect each others outcomes. Let us start by what you think that you want to do. Let us say that you like to make little blue frogs with glasses out of ceramics and want to sell them online. Great this is a good start Now I am going to ask you a couple of really hard questions but you need to be very honest with yourself in answering. #1. What do you want to get out of this? #2 is this vehicle one that can get you to that point? Internet is a wonderful place even for something like ceramic blue frogs with glasses there is probably a market. Is there enough of a market to get you to the place you want to go? If your goals are not huge I would venture to guess that you could make some money selling frogs. If you want to make a very nice living I might have to tell you to search for a larger market. The reason we looked at the niche selection is that it is intertwined with the research we are about to do. The research involved for both selecting your keywords (in your niche) and the viability of your particular selected niche as a business needs to be extremely meticulous.

The Research: You can find out how to perform basic keyword research in many places on the internet. I don't really have enough space to cover that here but suffice it to say that there is no other task that you can perform that will either positively or negatively affect the outcome of this project than keyword and marketing research. There are a number of paid sites that will help you with your keyword research but you can use Google's keyword tool also and it is free. It was originally designed to aid in the development of add word campaigns, it is free and performs just fine. Once you have selected a few keywords that apply to your niche you should plug them into a search engine to see what you get. Your goal here is to climb as high up the Google search results for your selected keywords or phrases as you can get. If there is a fair amount of competition that is a very good thing in that you know people are making money in your selected niche. Now it is time to evaluate this competition some. There are several tools that will analyze websites I use SEO Quake. It is an add on for Google Chrome and Firefox. What is does is it checks website on several levels using different metrics. During this initial check look primarily at the Page Rank. This is a measure created by Larry Page that works or did work at Google. It is a scale 0-9 that measures certain things about a website that Google uses to check a sites validity in their eyes. If you want to go head to head with the competition that is on this front page look for for at least 3-5 listings with a PR of 0-2. This is an initial measurement but a good SEO program as combined with a robust social media push you may be able to out rank them.

This plan is  tried and true that I will present to you today and we are touched by it in one form or another almost everyday. Think about one of Dallas's news television stations. The local newspaper is owned by one of them and a radio station or two in differing markets are as well. Each station has a blog talking about the other entities and you can find advertisements in the paper talking about what will be on tonight on channel 11. It isn't difficult to find them on Twitter of Facebook and every now and then you can find their on-air personalities giving goofy stuff away at the State Fair.

The plan is to emulate as nearly as possible the broadcasting network of big city television stations. Where they use the station as a center piece you will be using your website and adding a blog. Now this is if you decide that you want to sell your ceramic frogs and that you need more exposure to go beyond your current sale of 20 frogs per day. A blog does several things. First of all it helps establish you as an an expert in your field. It also allows you to reach out to your customer and become more that just someone that sells frogs for a living. It actually allows you to become socially involved with your clients and this seems to be where e-commerce is heading. If you wanted to add to this other measures to increase your traffic you can as well. One of these would be social media marketing or using tools such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to increase your visibility to more people but also to a more targeted group. Social media can also establish you as the go-to person when it comes to your particular subject matter. Sharing your own information is great and it helps introduce others to it but also others can start to see you as the guru of gurus. Whether or not you you use social marketing is up to you but do keep in mind it is another level on which you can connect through graphic or through verbal means. Podcasting is another medium under which you can be known. A good podcast placed on Itunes will get you a following. Throw in a newsletter and maybe once you are known a speaking engagement for the “Young Entrepreneurs” would be in order. YouTube is a medium frequently used by both the professionals and amateurs alike.

Whether you develop your personal skills or you portion some of it out to contractors is up to you.

The Host The Site and Your URL: You have now spent a week or more finding just the right keywords to ensure your company’s survival and indeed its march forward, into making you a formidable presence on the internet. Now we can move forward and put it together. The task of selecting a host and a domain name. I am going to give you a few options here and give you the good and the bad about each. Then you need to make a decision based on what you know to be your actual situation and what you need out of this. There are actually 3 portions to your presence online. #1 your domain name, is a domain name. It is what someone would type in to go directly to your site based on what They think is a logical question or set of words. The problem with that is that at first nobody knows you are there and can't just type in your URL. What needs to happen is that based on your keywords provide a description or a well, thought out name using your best keywords. A snappy phrase, short, descriptive, memorable and applicable to what your site and business is all about. I should have a pretty good idea of what it is about before I go click to go to your site. Your domain name can be and probably should be purchased from the place that will eventually host your site. You can think of a host as providing a space on a street on the internet for you and your domain as being your street address. So let us put it together and select our domain and host. When you select your domain name it must not be already purchased by someone else. If you found one that you really love and it is already owned it may be up for sale. This is another way to make money on the net if you have a whole bunch of time, money and patience. They call this squatting and it is highly speculative. It isn't a profession of high respect however by those of us looking for the perfect site name. Your domain is not a high cost venture as it probably costs and average of $10/yr.

Probably the first thing you should do though is to select a host. There are many plans and prices out there to choose from. I have listed 4 of them here and I use all 4 of them. The reason I say this is that you can buy from a domain from 1 host and actually transfer your domain to another . There is a waiting period of I think 60 days before you can transfer and it is a bit of a pain to do so. The only time I have ever done this is when I first opened a Wordpress blog and hosted it with them. This is a free hosting for your site. It does not look very professional though as a site would having its own domain name. Now if that is all you can afford right now by all means do it just to get started but transfer it as soon as possible. There is another part to hosting with Wordpress and that is that it does not allow “plug ins” which are small pieces of software added to your site to extend the functionality of your site. If, however you have your site on one of the many hosts out there (I will talk about 4) There is a this is a monster benefit available to you. The plug ins can be automatically installed as well.

There are many good hosts out there.  Perform a search when looking for one or ask a trusted friend.  Much will depend on your needs.  For a beginner do not pay mor than about $10/month.

The Site Itself: The third part is the actual site or the template that resides at your domain with your host. This can be a wonderful site that may cost you 3-5000 K or just simply a Wordpress site. My sites are all Wordpress sites. They are not upgraded templates. I have fancied them up a little however. Now you can spend the extra money to have a site set up but in many cases the access to the site is restricted somewhat by the person that is “maintaining” your site. If you spend just a little time learning a few of the operations in Wordpress you can work your own site and keep it up to date without going through your webmaster, and that saves time and money.

Wordpress is a perfectly understood standard in the blogging world.

So now you have done it. You have your domain on a host of your choice with your website template that you can get into and edit at any time you want all at a cost of about $120. Per year.

From here you can set up your Frog store and of course you will want to start driving traffic with your blog and by other means. Or maybe you want to skip the frogs and work with some affiliate marketing, some advertising and some very reproducible informational products. How to CDs, e-books, a membership site, courses, coaching... This is what I do. I become an expert and teach others to do something.

Your First Blog: So you finally made the post and now it is time to just drop it onto the site and forget it ...right? Whoa there partner (a little Texan to please the wife) There are a bunch of things that you need to do so let us get started here.

  • The first just has to do with having someone check it out for readability and the occasional brain cramp and they might as well throw in a pound or two of spell and grammar checking. I know you write well but even someone with a PhD in English will get a case of the “I can't types” every now and then. I don't think anyone is going to hammer you for a typo every now and then but let's face it too many typpos in a post and people really start to become concerned about where your IQ is headed, no matter how great your material is. (The typo in typo was a joke).

  • When you start a post you should have a keyword or two in mind when you are writing the post. It sounds much more natural to place them in as you write instead of trying to make them fit in afterward. The keywords you are targeting for that post should be in the title of the post and some people put in a secondary title at an level that further describes the post and maybe adds a little comic relief at the same time. That secondary title should not be the same as the main title. The keyword should also reside in the first couple of lines and then scattered out through the post but I think that about 3% of the entire post in terms of number of words should be your keywords

    What about internal links? Yes, by all means please do. Place in a link or two or FIVE to other places on your site that will help expound on your point. An example would be in this post if I had spoken about the use of keywords in my podcast I may link the word keywords to that episode of the podcast.

    .When you are putting your post into Word press or whatever CMS (I use wordpress) you are invited to put in both tags and a category or two. My main pages are each both a keyword and category. My tags are mostly keywords. I will put in the category of the page I am on and a couple more APPLICABLE keyword/categories. Then 2 or 3 tags.

Legal Wranglings: You are up and running with your new site and getting ready to tackle the social networks and maybe a little later try some podcasting. By the way the other $180. that we did not spend out of the $350 is for some decent podcasting equipment.

There is the matter of site security. At the very least keeping people from getting your client's personal and financial information. This can be taken care of through your merchant account or by going strictly through a sight like Pay Pal for all of your dealings. They can encrypt the sites transactions and make it all very easy for you.

There is also the issue of you making money. You didn't think that was an issue but with every little trickle in there is invariably a trickle out and part of that is for the tax man. If you are fairly well versed at finance on the level you will be operating you may choose to do it yourself or I have a book keeper that takes care of this monthly for me (and she charges about $100 a month ) and I get to keep my sanity. I also have a CPA do my taxes and keeps me on the straight and narrow. It took awhile before I got tothis level and probably should have hired this out before I did but that will be a decision you will have to make depending on your comfort levels. On the legal side... this again is a call that you have to make depending on many issues. Are you a local merchant? Do you cross state lines? International lines. Do you produce everything or do you purchase photographs and other intellectual properties. There are companies that deal strictly with internet based companies as far as legalities are concerned.

In closing I do want to say that there is so much that I can't go over here because of the lack of space and indeed time. If you are looking towards starting a viable internet business Please look me up and we can help you do so. There are many other facets of this we have left to explore all depending on where you want to take this basic idea an explore how this template can be adapted to your business. There is podcasting and the social media as well. There are many ways in which you can convey an idea and as technology advances there will be more. Find your niche, evaluate your competition, do your due diligence, and do it better than it is being done and you will succeed in internet marketing on a shoestring.