There are ways in which being an online merchant is similar to being a brick-and-mortar merchant. However, there are many more ways in which running a successful home Internet Business is nothing like running a traditional shop. If you are starting out as an online entrepreneur, and especially if you are expanding your brick-and-mortar business into the online environment, do not get trapped in a Business Model that may work in a shop, but will not work on the Web.
You may have heard that online journalism is in trouble. Stuck in an outdated business Model, online newspapers struggle to make enough ad revenue to pay production and overhead costs. Since they give their product away free, they depend more-or-less entirely on this ad revenue to sustain themselves. Moreover, it is not working.
Newspapers sell information at a cost. As the Web grew and the perception spread that “information is free”, newspapers were caught in a bind. Journalists know that information is not free. It costs a lot of time, labor, and money to gather, compile, and produce. However, once their medium shifted from print to the online environment, they lost control of their product.
However, Web users believe that things are free; and that, certainly, anything on the Internet should be free. Newspapers and other print media have to search for a new business model. In what seems like a step backward, the Wall Street Journal has reverted to a paid-subscription model.
Nevertheless, the legacy of “free” information remains—as you probably well know yourself. Everything you need to know to run your online business is available free online. Affiliate marketing tips, low cost web hosting, creating a website –everything. People give information away in the name of drawing you to their website, where they hope you will find something else you would like to buy. It is a business model that works very well.
So what about you? What do you have to give away free to anyone who visits your website? In addition, how much are you willing to part with without any guarantee of payment?
Often, it is information. After all, it is “free”, right? You do not have to pay any shipping nor handling, and delivery to your potential customer is instant. That is why it is such a popular choice among online merchants. Free eBooks about the subject at hand, blogs, newsletters, and other content are the easiest and most cost-effective giveaways you have to work with.
An important point, though, is to make sure that what you are providing is content, not advertising. Just as news agencies and other e-content providers offer you the real thing, so must you offer something for real to your prospective customers.
This content can include just about anything you could think of: spirited discussions about the different qualities, styles, and uses of your products; their history and development; facts and stories about the cultures from which they come; ideas and musings about the lifestyles they help create; and more.
One can easily produce this content as a blog. That is because, unlike newsletters or other more direct content you may have with clients, you do not need their email addresses and opt-ins to show they your blog. It is there on the Web for anyone to find. Keep them interesting, and people may come back for more.