10 Surprising New Ways to Make Being Online Profitable

—or, How History May Be Stopping Your Web Site From Earning Money

by Dr. Joe Vitale

Let me guess: I bet you have a web site and I bet it isn’t making the money you expected.


The most common complaint I hear from clients is either, “I have a web site and no one visits it” or “I have a web site and no one buys anything from it.”

And then I hear these clients make the sweeping conclusion, “The Internet doesn’t work.”

Saying the Net doesn’t work is like saying advertising doesn’t work. Advertising most certainly works IF YOUR AD IS RIGHT. Far too many people write an ad, place it, get no calls, and then declare that advertising doesn’t work anymore. They don’t stop to consider that the problem may be with their ad, not with advertising in general. (For quick proof that advertising works, see my article on Dr. Frank Robinson)

I’ve also seen people write their own sales letters, send them out, and watch as nothing happens. Then they moan, “Direct mail doesn’t work.” Not true. Direct mail can make you rich. But if you send out a weak sales letter, or send a good letter to the wrong list of prospects, the only result you can expect is no result.

In other words, when people try marketing and get little results, they tend to blame the media when they should blame their message.

The Net may be the same. Just because you have a web site that isn’t atracting traffic or making sales doesn’t mean the Net itself “doesn’t work.” Many people are making money online. But the Net is new. Most of us still haven’t found the secret code to unlock its’ treasures.

But that’s only part of the problem.

Let me explain:

Because of all the research I did to write my book, The Seven Lost Secrets of Success, on 1920s advertising genius Bruce Barton, and because of all the research I performed to write my forthcoming book on P.T. Barnum, There’s A Customer Born Every Minute (available November, 1997), I’m in a unique position. I’ve been able to see how people in the past tried to use new technology to market their businesses. What I’ve noticed is that we tend to apply known methods to unknown media.

For example, when radio came around in the 1920s, no one knew what to do with it. A few daring souls treated it like a vocal newspaper: They read stock reports over it. They took the known (newspapers) and applied it to the unknown (radio).

The same thing happened in the 1950s when television began to get popular. Many radio stars went on TV. Some made it (Jack Benny), some didn’t (Fred Allen). Again, we applied the known (radio), to the unknown (TV).

Now we have the Internet and we don’t know what to do with it. We put our ads, brochures, radio and TV spots on our web sites, and we hope for the best. We are again applying the known to the unknown. In most cases, that isn’t working. And that’s why so many people are complaining that their web sites aren’t producing anything for them.

So what can you do? How can you make the best use of this new media? Here are my ten suggestions for making being online a profitable experience:

1. You must have a web site. There’s no way around this today. You need a site if only for added credibility. Last weekend I attended a marathon seminar with 17,000 other people. One of the speakers was Dr. Ted Broer, a nutrition expert. I liked what he said and wanted to know more about him, his products, and his services. When I got back here to my computer, I went online, typed his name into one of the search engines and—nothing! Broer does not have a single web site on the Net. Right there he lost all credibility. He may be an expert, but without a web site he appeared to be just another vitamin promoter.

You must have a web site for marketing. For most of us, the Net is great for marketing but lousy for sales. I think fewer people would complain about poor online sales if they didn’t expect a gold rush in cyberspace. If you hadn’t heard all the hype about people making millions of dollars online, would you be disappointed if your site just generated a few sales now and then? Look at it this way: You have to have business cards, but do you expect direct sales from your cards? Not likely. You have to have brochures, but do you expect direct sales from your brochures? I hope not. Again, you need your web site for credibility, as a marketing tool, not as your only sales tool.

2. You must give people a reason to visit your site. Why in the world should anyone take the time to see your web site? If you have your picture there, or your brochure, or a cute saying, who cares??!? People only care about themselves. If you don’t give them an appealing reason to zip over to your site, why complain if they don’t visit it?

The Net still has a “gift culture” mentality. They expect freebies. What they appreciate more than anything else is information. I load my own site with special reports, book excerpts, and original articles on marketing, selling, advertising and publicity. All of this information is free. It’s the bait I lay out to reel in prospects. When they read my articles, they learn about my books and services. If they like what they read, they may buy my books and services. But if I didn’t give this information out, I couldn’t really expect anyone to visit my site. Why would they?

3. You must give people options to buy. If you don’t list your products and services at your site, with different ways to make purchases, you will miss sales. Remember that people are still extremely nervous about buying anything online. Be sure to give a toll-free number, street address, FAX number, etc. I often hear of a product online, but then drive to a local store to buy it. That sale doesn’t count as a web site sale, but if the web site didn’t tell me about the product, there would have been no sale. Start thinking your web site has to support sales, not necessarily make them.

4. You must constantly change your site. You may get people to visit your site once, but how will you get them to return? There are millions of sites for them to visit. I keep adding new articles and special reports to my site, at the rate of about one a week. Again, these reports are free. And adding new ones keeps people interested in coming back next week. If you don’t change your site, why expect anyone to return to it?

5. You must stop worrying about registering with search engines.Everyone with a web site frantically tries to get registered with every search engine around. As a result, they waste time and money on every offer to “register your site for $49” that comes their way. Forget it. There are only six to twelve search engines that really count, and virtually all of them use spiders, or robots, that go out and find your site. You can and should manually register your site with Yahoo, Lycos, Alta Vista, etc., but you don’t even need to do that. They will eventually find you. Focus more of your energy on creating a web site worth visiting.

6. You must use your sig file to promote your web site. As everyone online should know by now, your “sig file” is that 4 to 8 line paragraph at the end of every one of your email messages. The Net allows you to promote yourself in your sig. It’s your opportunity to list your web address and give people a reason to visit it. Since your email messages travel the net, get seen by potentially thousands of people, and are usually archived at giant databases like http://www.dejanews.com where they can be retrieved, you never know who will see one of your messages or when. If your sig has your url in it, you just promoted your web site to them.

7. You must print your web site url on everything. That meanseverything. Every ad you run, commercial you air, business card you hand out—everything!—should have your web site address on it. Use the off line world to promote your online presence.

8. You must participate online. Join email discussion groups where your target prospects gather. Do a search at http://www.liszt.com to find the groups for you. Lurk to get a feel for the nature of the group, and then post relevant responses to the list. As you do, you will be promoting yourself and your business. And if your sig has your url in it, every time you post a message, you will be promoting your web site.

9. You must particpate with other web sites online. We call it networking and co-op marketing off-line. You can do the same thing online. Find web sites that serve the same market you do and join forces with them. Maybe advertise on their site. Maybe exchange links. Create online allies to help you make money online.

10. You must experiment. Again, the Net is new. Most of us are applying everything we have ever learned about marketing to this new media. We have to think out of the box, stretch our minds, and create new ways of doing business online. We have to be willing to take risks and try new ideas. Some of this may cost money. Or time. But as Flip Wilson said, “You can’t expect to hit the jackpot if you don’t put a few nickels in the machine.”