In layman terms, internet marketing (also known as digital and online marketing) is a set of tools, methods, and strategies to make money online. There are dozens, if not hundreds of approaches to that, so I decided to make a beginner’s guide to internet marketing to serve you as an introductory overview of the whole thing.
Invest 10 minutes of your time into reading this article, and I promise you’ll have a lot of valuable knowledge to use right away—and finally start making money online, like thousands of other entrepreneurs. Let’s go!
(Hint: it’s more simple than it sounds, so get ready for the excitement)
All in all, the only way to make any kind of money is to sell something (or help someone else do it).
It can be a physical product (clothes, shoes, gadgets, etc.), a digital one (like eBooks, online courses, music, and videos), or just a service such as a consultation or private coaching. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Now, the main point here is that you don’t necessarily have to have a product of your own. The interaction chain goes always like this:
Creator/manufacturer Promoter Distributor Customer
To make money online, you have to be a creator, a promoter, a distributor, or both.
Gets most of the fame and profits
Has a huge audience, strong presence, and influence
Creating something of top-quality requires enormous investments in terms of money, time, and efforts (a great eBook costs a minimum of $1000, and takes as much as several months to be finished)
High risks. If the created product does not “click” with the customer, the investments are wasted.
Low initial investments. You can start promoting someone else’s product using a website that costs around $40 or even just use a free page on any social media platform.
Low risks. If the product you promote doesn’t make a blast, that’s no problem—just start promoting something else. Rinse, repeat, success is imminent if you keep doing it.
The promoter’s profits are as high as 4 to 10% (in most cases) of the creator’s revenue.
Little to no fame. Usually has a weaker presence and smaller audience.
Don’t get me wrong, potentially the promoter can make huge money—but the creator will always be making more. It’s all a matter of what you are willing to risk and how much can you afford to invest.
We won’t be digging too deep into the distributor’s role, as in most cases they are already taken by such giants as Amazon, eBay, physical shops (Walmart, etc.), and require investments often greater than those of the creator.
For beginners, I would recommend starting with the promoter’s role (affiliate marketing, in other words). This allows to minimize your initial risks AND give you the experience needed to understand how the internet works in terms of making money. If you try it out and see it’s right for you – great, you can even try to create something of your own and get even more profits! If not, you don’t lose much and can quit the game at any moment. It’s a win-win decision, so why not try it out?
Core components: website, brand, content, traffic.
Cost: starts from around $40
Time: less than an hour, if you know how
Function: establishing web presence, defining brand, showcasing products, funneling traffic to the distributor’s/creator’s sales pages
If you want to make money on the internet, everything starts with a website. This is your home base, your center of operations, the fundament of your web presence. The primary function of your website is to showcase the products you are promoting, thus driving traffic to the creator’s website (or to his official distributor).
Cost: incalculable; everything you invest into your online business contributes to establishing your brand
Time: a recognizable brand usually takes months, if not years, to be created
Function: branding sets you aside from your competitors and serves as a way to connect with your audience
Marketers argue on the very definition of this word, but I would say that a brand is a recognizable and widely-known entity (either physical or not). If you can clearly define who a certain person or company is and what are they famous for—that’s a brand. Bradd Pitt is a brand, Metallica is a brand, Coca-Cola is a brand.
If you want to achieve success in business, no matter which role you assume in the interaction chain you assume, you have to build a brand. You have to set yourself aside from your competitors and clearly define what makes you BETTER or DIFFERENT. If you manage to do that, people will come to you, hear your message, and follow your advice (which would direct them to buy something from someone and result in profits for you). Which brings us directly to the point of how to establish a brand, and the answer is really simple: content.
Cost: depends on the kind of content you create and whether you do it yourself or hire someone to take care of that
Time: depends on the kind of content and frequency of creation
Function: strengthens your connection with your audience, persuades them to follow your advice and purchase what you recommend
If your brand is the WHO of your business (your personality), your content is the WHAT and WHY (what should the customer buy and why would he want to do that). This is the ultimate point before the purchase. If your content is engaging and persuasive enough, people will heed its message and purchase what you promote. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It really is, as long as you have the people to read or watch your content. In other words, all of the previously mentioned steps are worth nothing if your traffic amounts to a big and fat zero. There’s no point in singing in an empty room, no matter how well you do it.
Traffic: how do you get it?
It’s safe to say that the most important part of internet marketing is building traffic. How do you bring people to your website? How do you establish your web presence? That’s a very, VERY long talk, but let’s do a brief overview of the available methods.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Each day, billions of searches are made over the internet, and the websites that are on the top of the search results pages are the ones that get clicked most. SEO is a set of principles and tools used to make your website rank higher than your competitors, thus earning you more clicks and traffic! Fundamentally, SEO is free – you just need to learn how to create SEO-friendly content.
Backlinks. When another website, app, or even social media account links to your website, you get traffic from both this resource’s visitors AND rank higher on search engines, as the latter tend to believe that if a website is good it should have links to it. Although getting backlinks can be a tricky matter, you can often get those for free by connecting with similar minds and influencers. For example, you could find a blog dedicated to something close to your niche and ask for permission to write a guest post for them (in which you’d include a link to your website).
Social media marketing (SMM). This includes everything you do on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) to promote your brand. Although paid tools and boosters are available, SMM is free to a great extent: all you have to do is start a page and regularly refresh it with content that would resonate with your audience.
Email marketing. If your website allows your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, you basically have their permission to send them emails directly. Use this opportunity to establish a sincere and wholehearted connection with them, which you could later use to bring them back to your website, read new content, and maybe purchase some of the products you try to promote.
Pay-per-click ads (PPC ads). You see them by the dozens all around the internet, on almost any website you visit: ads! If a person sees the ad, finds it engaging and clicks on it—you get a visitor and pay a certain amount of money. All the rest is defined by how good your website and content is.
Search engine marketing (SEM). Roughly the same as PPC, but directly in the search result pages. Have you ever noticed how sometimes when you search for something the first results have a tiny label saying “Ad” on it? That’s a paid link and works just like a pay-per-click advertisement.
Ideally, you should have a clearly defined strategy involving several ways of getting traffic, preferably from free and paid sources. This can save you a lot of time and help to build a significant audience around your brand in a matter of months (instead of the usual years). But, of course, that asks for a whole new guide. 🙂
The Bottom Line
I know this sounds overwhelming. I’ve been in your shoes.
When I just started my first online business, I’ve been lucky enough to find a world-class training resource that showed me the way from square zero to consistent passive income, although I had no previous experience with internet marketing whatsoever.
If you are determined to achieve success in this, I would recommend you to check out this resource as well. It’s called Wealthy Affiliate, and here’s what you’ll get from it:
- Join the world’s largest community of internet entrepreneurs (800,000 and counting) who are always happy to answer your questions and offer valuable advice.
- You’ll learn how to find a profitable business idea related to your passion or hobby.
- You will build a fully working website in minutes.
- Get access to dozens of video guides on how to create top-notch content and attract readers that convert into buyers.
- Learn the fundamentals of SEO, SMM, email marketing, and paid campaigns to skyrocket your traffic and outrun competitors.
The path ahead is by no means easy, but with Wealthy Affiliate, it is simple and clear.
If you have what it takes in you, there’s no better resource than this one.
Seize your chance: the time to shine is now.