A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Why Your Business Isn't Doing As Well As It Could Be

I have spent the past month reading basically every Internet marketing idea and writing idea I could find. I subscribed to ProBlogger and started reading sites of those who make a lot of money online, such as Steve Pavlina and Jeremy Schoemaker.

The reality is that most bloggers and writers don’t make a lot of money online. Most make only a few cents a day. I know the same is true with web hosting companies — most hosting companies don’t make enough to even justify that the owner quit his or her day job. From being in the web hosting industry so long, I knew what most web hosting company owners didn’t do right. That probably should be a blog post of its own, but here is the top “no-no”: Most companies focus on themselves instead of their customers.

I will give you a quick example. Let’s say I have one sentence to write, and with that single sentence, I have to convince you to buy a product. Which sentence would convince you to buy the product I am selling?

  • “Web hosting from a company you can trust”
  • “Web hosting – we will help your business make more money on the Internet, guaranteed, or your money back.”

I don’t know about you, but the second one got my attention. Help me make more money on the Internet, guaranteed? Or my money back? Sounds like a no-lose proposition! Yet the first one (or variants of it) is much more common. In fact, “web hosting from a company you can trust” (that exact phrase!) has 142 results on Google. Why? Because everybody loves to talk about themselves.

Stop focusing on YOU!

Most companies are so focused on themselves (and Simpli, my web hosting company, wasn’t perfect in that regard either!) that they completely forget to talk about what the customer needs. Do you think “a company you can trust” is really about your customer? Think again! Even though it has the word “you” in it, it’s all about your company, and not at all about your customer. Rule #1 of running a business: Put your customers first!

Another thing I like about the second phrase is it opens a lot more doors. You can sell shopping carts, autoresponders, mailing list management software, time management software, search engine optimization services, and merchant accounts to a customer who clicks on the second link.

What’s the person who clicks on the first link looking for? Honestly — probably a low price, and they might have been burned in the past from another hosting company, making them somewhat suspicious of web hosting. The customer who clicks on the second link and derives value from your product will spend thousands of dollars a year more with you. Why? Because you are 100% focused on helping them, and your reputation (and income) is on the line with their success.

If I were to start another web hosting company today, that’s how I would market it. Fortunately for you, I am much more interested in writing about business success right now, so you get free blog posts from me instead. 😉

What does that have to do with blogging?

How does the above, which I like to call “Marketing Psychology 101”, apply to blogging and writing? Writing is just like any other business. You define a target market and sell to it. However, unlike traditional sales and marketing, most bloggers don’t sell a product. They write, build up a site, drive traffic to it, and place ads on the site. Sometimes the ads are for their own products. For instance, recently, The Simple Dollar, a personal finance site I read, started offering downloadable PDFs of some of the site’s content for a couple bucks. I paid for the Building a Better Blog series. Why? So I could read it on a recent plane trip. I did, and it had some great advice on how to figure out your target audience and write to them.

However, far more frequently, bloggers put ads on their site for other companies’ products. While there’s nothing wrong with this, I feel that it’s bad to pursue as your entire money-making strategy. What do I mean by that? I feel a mix of other companies’ products and your products are the best way to go, but one of the things I decided is that I definitely want to make at least half of my blog’s money via my own content.

I decided I really didn’t want to put a lot of ads on erica.biz (this site.) This is my personal site, and I don’t want to feel pressure to write x number of times per week or to feel like I’m selling myself to a bunch of companies. Plus, I like the clean design of the site as it stands now. I may put a few ads on here in the future, but they won’t be a primary income source. That means I have to create a new site to gain income.

I am going to prove this works…

Today I registered hardworkingmillionaire.com. After reading so many “Internet marketing gurus” talk about silly things like multi-level marketing (AKA “pyramid schemes”) and other scams, I decided to create a website that will go step-by-step into teaching you how to make a million dollars a year by doing what you love. No scams and no get-rich-quick schemes. I am simply going to take you from the basics (your passions) to creating a successful business based on those passions. I recently sold my business, so I have the time to devote to that, and it will also tie in nicely to my interviews with successful entrepreneurs and writers that I will be posting on InspiringInnovators.com. The best part is there will be loads of free content — writing, videos, audio, and PDF — and yet it will still be making over $10,000 a month within its first year. How will I do it? I promise to keep you informed every step of the way, with complete numbers. Just subscribe to my blog and I will send you an update as things progress. No spam, and no crap, I promise.

I look forward to working with you to help you become a Hard-Working Millionaire!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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