Watch Me Launch! Lessons About Internet Business Learned the Hard Way
To clarify a few things for those of you following along on this techno-primitive experiment in living one's radically-accelerated dreams, this particular launch isn't my first time at the Internet rodeo.
However, the last time I attempted a launch, I ended up kissing the other end of the horse.
In the past two years I’ve spent several thousand dollars and countless months of my time on website development, social media consulting and marketing - and got virtually nothing in return.
Now I want to share some reasons why my first attempts at launching an Internet business didn't bear fruit. There are lots of factors involved, but two are prominent. First, I didn't have the level of support I have now with Petie at my back and my current consultant riding shotgun. Second, I just didn't know how much I really didn’t know.
Ok, so what else is new? This is what life is about - learning and growing, and learning and growing some more. There's a lot of failure that accompanies personal growth; failure is kind of the manure, as it were, of personal transformation (please don’t quote me on that, I have many wiser quotes I’d like to see circulated around with my name attached).
Despite the cheery (although smelly) face that puts on failure, it hurts when it's happening and worse, it can cost you money, time and even relationships. You have to prepare yourself for the inevitable fact that you're going to make mistakes when you embark upon any journey into a strange land. And with the Internet being one of the strangest of those strange lands, it becomes a question of minimizing your exposure through careful trip planning.
For example, before I moved to a hut in a Nahua Indian fishing village, I researched every possible poisonous insect and critter, and then went to a doctor and bought medications for everything from malaria to dysentery. Literally a thousand dollars later, I still had to face the unexpected stuff when I arrived in the village, like bats roosting in my cabana and iguanas leaping out of palm trees (I have videos of this on youtube!). But I was covered for the really important stuff and when I found myself ill, that $1,000 became the best investment I ever made.
Preparation is truly the best medicine, in life and in business.
So what went wrong with my original attempts at launching?
Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and I realize now that I failed at my original attempts partly because I believed what I was told by so many “experts” selling me their goods and services. I believed that if I just found that missing element that was preventing me from succeeding - the one “they” would provide to me for only $XityX per month for XityX months - it would all magically come together.
I was wrong.
I checked out training courses for SEO, list building, Social Media, website development, apps for twitter, launch blueprints and Facebook instructions. I hired "consultants" who led me down a slow path to nowhere for a monthly fee without actually doing any work to grow my business. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It was exhausting!
I'm no Daisy-Duke in the business world, so what gives? I owned and operated my own artist’s guild for over a decade before doing this. How could I have made these stupid and costly mistakes?
Like so many others trying to enter the Internet business arena, I bought into the "buy-it-and-they-will-come" mentality that has been perpetuated by the hard-sell “Internet Gurus” onto a giant marketplace of not-yet-savvy small business entrepreneurs. Each expert or consultant had a different perspective on what I needed to grow my business (and aw, shucks, a product for sale that would solve my problems).
I bought some. None of them really helped.
There are thousands of slick Internet gurus out there selling everything from traffic-generating software to product launch blueprints. And to be fair, some of these products and strategies have made millions for those who created them and some of their fortunate followers. Many of them are indeed “real” products, but for the average Joe these products do virtually nothing.
Why don't the products from so many Internet gurus actually work?
Think of growing your Internet business like driving a car; if you are blind and you buy a Ferrari, how much further are you going to go, and how much faster will you get there, than you would if you bought a Volkswagen bug?
I’ve learned that there are dozens of “slices” to this giant pizza in the sky that is Internet marketing. Hundreds of gurus out there want to sell you a slice - their slice. The problem is, without all of the slices, you’re Internet sales site won’t deliver. A successful Internet business requires the whole pizza, with all of the individual component parts or slices working together.
The slickest gurus make money because they have all of the slices of the pizza in place. They are working with a whole pizza, and yet they are only selling you one slice! And what’s worse, the friends of your guru are selling other slices of the pizza, and they are all making an affiliate commission out of selling you one of the individual slices. So there you are, buying one slice at a time, and then discovering you need this other slice...and another, and another, and another. And as long as you are kept busy focusing on the slice at hand, you aren’t aware of the larger picture - which is where the money is being made.
What (some unethical) Internet gurus aren’t telling you is this:
To succeed in today’s Internet marketplace you have to know what is happening strategically within that marketplace and how that marketplace functions - and then you have to have the physical infrastructure in place to allow you to get the job done.
Imagine that you have a fancy pizza oven and Joe over here has a walk-in refrigerator and Sally has a dough mixer; and all of you are trying to make and sell pizza. Can you see why it’s not working?
To sell pizza you have to know something about the pizza industry - you don’t just need a fancy pizza oven or a walk-in refrigerator or a dough mixer. A salesman could come every day and sell you some new thing for your store and you would still not have a successful pizza business.
To succeed you have to have a store that contains everything needed, and you have to know what to do inside the store to make the pizza, and you have to know how to get people from outside to come into the store (and to come back for more). You need vendors and marketers and advertising and a business plan. In other words, you have to learn the pizza business to be successful at selling pizza.
So what's the answer for launching your new business?
Start putting major effort into learning your whole business - not just in fixing the oven or the fridge or the mixer. The parts are important but they alone don't make up the whole.
We’ve been led to believe that if we buy a website and write a blog and post some ads on google and sign up for Facebook, we should be able to grow our business. So when that doesn’t happen, we go looking for gurus and experts to show us what we’re missing. We don’t have traffic, so we go out and buy a super-duper traffic generating software - and maybe traffic actually shows up. Unfortunately, it’s traffic that cares nothing about our product or service, so that shoots a blank. And it just goes on from there.
We've been brainwashed into thinking you can have someone build you a website and run a few Google and Facebook ads, and without knowing anything about doing Internet business, the money will just start rolling in. I can say that because that was me. I truly believed that if I hired other people who knew stuff, I wouldn't have to know it. Yikes! Maybe that's true with fixing your toilet, or outsourcing certain technical tasks related to your business (accounting and taxes come to mind). But letting someone else know more about your actual business than you do? No way!
Here’s the deal. Successful stock brokers get up every day and follow the stock market; they read the trade pages, study various forms of financial software, go to work for large companies and hammer out their skills on their dime. They do what it takes to get that education.
We need to be educated too, but finding the right educators amongst a sharkfest of slick sales sites and smarmy gurus is daunting. I've learned how long it can take to learn your way around the Internet business "I‘hood" and you can lose precious time and lots of money trying to get that education. So I'm naming the names of the people I've found out there that deliver the goods. You saw some of them in my last posts; I'll keep them coming.
Just so you know, I purchased training courses from some of these consultants (at full price I might add), which is how I came to know about them. I learned about others in my travels and exploits through the I’hood or through recommendations from friends. Many of the resources I’m talking about don't know I'm blogging or making videos about my experiences with them.
While I do plan on sharing the factual aspects of what I learn about launching my business as we go forward together, I'm still going to whine about what's driving me crazy and talk about my life here in the village with Petie; maybe I'll even mix up the business stuff with the personal, just to keep you guessing. Why not? That's how I'm living it, why wouldn't that be how I write about it?
Here’s what I focused on this past holiday week:
4 hours: 1 new blog post for BlogHer (I was thrilled and humbled by the response to my featured post, thanks so much for your support!)
12 hours: Editing 5 Campus Coach blog posts I received, and then publishing them on the 100 Golden Keys University campus blog
14 hours: Facebook interactions with the amazing new friends/pages I’ve discovered via my Secrets of the 100 Golden Keys Facebook page, which gifted me with over 800 “Likes” in just 3 weeks. Who knew you could really grow to love so many people and pages on Facebook? This is a lovely surprise - what I thought would be work is now a pleasure.
2 hours studying Don Crowther’s beginning modules to refresh (once you know what you’re doing, it pays to go back and study the basics again, this time with more knowledge)
2 hours studying Jon Morrow’s blogging classes again.
1 hour checking out Mynders & Deb how-to Camtasia videos (cool stuff!)
2 hours reading CopyBlogger, my “Grays Anatomy” of blogging. If you don’t subscribe to them yet, do it now! They have ridiculously smart industry information and it’s all free - and there’s not an ounce of smarm to be found there. Jon Morrow, the guy whose guest blogging class I am taking, is actually an Associate Editor there.
2 hours creating new graphics for Facebook and evaluating the “insights” section on my Facebook pages. The demographic trend was fascinating, I’m getting lots of traffic from outside of the US. I’ll have to delve further into that in my next post because it reveals a lot.
10 hours on my 100 Golden Keys University site working inside of the HubSpot platform to add metatags, research keywords, analyze traffic.
Oh yeah, and I had Christmas Eve and Christmas day off, which was lovely. Although there are lots of hours logged this week, I did a good chunk of this work in bed in the morning while watching movies and having coffee and croissants with Petie, and in the evening while watching movies and eating popcorn with Petie. Needless to say, Petie and I spent a lot of time lazing around with our computers and eating. I’m going to definitely have to do some jogging real soon. Tomorrow maybe. Ok, after New Year’s.
My "Cool Pick" for this post is HubSpot’s free Certification Program
HubSpot is one of the top inbound marketing platforms available for launching a sales website (to learn more, check it out on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HubSpot).
I launched my own site (100 Golden Keys University at www.100GoldenKeys.com) on the HubSpot platform and I am thrilled with the streamlined functionality that lets me manage everything from one integrated dashboard. I hired a fantastic consultant (Jason Rudland of Get Me In Google!) to build my site and get me started, and with his training over the past few months I can now perform most of the tasks related to running my site. That is so liberating!
But here's the really good part, for you.
HubSpot has a Free Certification Program comprised of industry experts from every possible area, from blogging to SEO. I’ve started their certification training myself, and if you have an online business now, are launching one soon, or want to find a job in the Internet business arena, this free world-class education is priceless!
If you have any interest in the field of Internet marketing, even if you aren’t a techie, HubSpot has the potential to create a job for you. Using their platform you can build a custom website, populate it for your client, and then help them launch and even run their business.
If you want to know how strongly I feel about HubSpot, this should say it all. I’m taking their free certification program now and if this venture I’m currently undertaking doesn’t pan out, I’ll be out there helping others create beautiful websites, writing their marketing materials, fine-tuning their pages with top-ranking key words, optimizing their pages for maximum SEO, linking them into Facebook and launching their Facebook business Pages, and then analyzing and reporting their results - all using the HubSpot platform that I’m learning and loving right now. So I guess you could say that learning HubSpot for my business is my Plan A, and using HubSpot as the basis of a business is my Plan B.
And no, I’m not getting any money for promoting them. Shucks!
If you want to know more about HubSpot and their free certification program, here’s the link: http://inboundmarketing.com/university. You can also get their free 2012 Facebook Marketing ebook and an amazing assortment of other free educational materials. It’s truly a remarkable find.
So subscribe already! I need all the help and support I can get here!
Mia Pratt, Author “The Secrets of the 100 Golden Keys” and founder 100 Golden Keys University at www.100GoldenKeys.com