So where do you start if you want to build a business online?
Do you look for something to sell? Do you put up a web site and just sell whatever you want? Do you write a book and advertise it on eBay? Do you gather a bunch of affiliate links and start promoting products?
Some of the confusion about where to start with Internet marketing seems to indicate that, even though there are many great sources of start-up help online, many are not really too concerned about learning “how to market” at the beginning.
Maybe they figure they’ll just jump into the fray and learn as they go … trial by fire … fake it ’til you make it … yada, yada, yada!
And possibly worst of all … they took the advice of some online guru that sold them a cookie cutter web site with product and all attached and were given the advice that “this is all that’s needed.”
Many don’t understand what is meant by or what it takes to do what experienced marketers call “niche research.”
In addition, I believe that web site “purpose” or mission is very critical in the beginning and may also unlock some of the keys regarding how you proceed in your business.
So first, let’s talk about web site purpose.
If you want to build a blog and share your ideas, thoughts, and conversations with the world, then it’s OK to get started with your platform. If you intend to commercialize your site, that may not be the first thing you should do at the outset. A marketing and traffic plan, at the beginning, will be very helpful and definitely you’ll want to develop your own . . . but that’s not where things start.
Niche research. That’s the place to begin, in my opinion.
If you’re contemplating a money-generating venture then starting out of the gate with a web site is probably premature. You may end up having to re-do, greatly modify, or start over from scratch if your site doesn’t “mesh” with or contribute to your optimal money making strategy.
For instance, you may decide that you want to sell physical goods (something like an Amazon store). Is it best to welcome your traffic to a blog page if this is your strategy? Probably not. But if your blog is already the main focal point of your web site, your typical options for your store are as a subdomain, a link off site, or a subfolder of your blog, none of which are optimal (in most cases) for an online retailer.
The same thing could be said about other types or purposes of web sites.
Niche research (in very simplified terms) is all about starting your business by finding market demand.
What is demand? It’s the economic term used to describe a hungry audience, figuring out what they want, and then determining how you’re going to position your business to meet that demand. In this scenario, waiting to put up a site so you have an appropriate domain name and selling platform makes perfect sense. Niche research doesn’t have to be difficult, lengthy, costly, or long and drawn out.
Your business might be best monetized with an affiliate site, a directory site, a membership site, a niche product site, or any number of other types of sites depending upon your purpose and strategy. With any of these types of sites you can still have a blog, but setting it up to be optimal in the integration with your selling mechanism requires some planning.
In summary, my feeling is that you should do some basic research first and have a plan that will help you to identify the best type of site for what you’re wanting to do. Then when you understand where you’re going and what vehicle (type of site and method of monetization) will best take you there – that’s the time to decide on setting up the site.
Your market research will also give you insight into understanding exactly what people in the niche are looking for. You may think you already know what will sell since you may already be a participant in your target niche.
I can’t tell you the number of products that have been created that no one cares about. Starting off by putting the time and effort into a product is sheer foolishness. You are not your market, and until you understand what the market is specifically asking for, putting effort into a web site just doesn’t make sense!
Starting out by building a web site, for similar reasons, is also a big gamble. Wait until you know what the niche prospects want and how you’re going to deliver your solution. Once all the questions about the “what” “why” and “how” have been answered – then is the time to begin thinking about the kind of web site you’ll create.
There are several posts on this blog giving the finer details of how to do market research.
I hope this makes sense.
To your online business success!