Online business mistakes are a given. We all make them, and we learn from them as we grow. Some of them will slow you down, some of them will cost you money, and some of them could destroy your internet venture altogether.
Here are a few which you really want to avoid at all costs:
1. Not having a plan.
There is an old saying…
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Fair enough, you don’t need a 100-page business plan before you start. You do however need to know what you want to do, whether it is likely to work or not, and a rough plan to get there. As you continue working, the plan will evolve – but there has to be one, and you have to stick to it.
Not doing that is probably the worst possible online business mistake you could make.
2. Not paying attention to the money
Many people who teach internet marketing will tell you to do what you love, and the money will follow. Yes and no. Yes, you are more likely to succeed at doing something you love. But no, that alone is no guarantee that you will make money.
As part of your planning, pay attention to the possibilities for monetizing your site or blog. Depending on the content you want to create, you should have some idea of the audience you will attract. What can you offer them that will be a good fit? The better the fit, the more likely they will be to buy from you.
Also, many new bloggers start their online businesses with the misconception that “it isn’t about the money”. It might not be JUST about the money, but if you ignore it completely, it’s not a business. It’s a hobby.
Fair enough, even some brick and mortar businesses take a long time to become profitable – but it is always the end goal, and all efforts are aimed at working towards it.
3. Getting your priorities wrong
Let’s face it…
When you start your online business, it’s exciting. It brings a great deal of satisfaction to see how your site or blog, and your social takes shape out of thin air. Unfortunately, it also means that you are more likely to spend time on the activities that are satisfying.
When you start a new internet marketing project, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. Before you know it, you spend hour and hours to find the right theme or template, searching for plugin or scripts, and fiddling to make everything look perfect.
Yes, your blog or website will be a “work in progress”. There will probably always be something about it which you would like to improve – but letting that distract you from the essence of your online business is a mistake.
Focus on the tasks at hand first – like creating content, setting up your mailing list, promoting yourself on social media, etc. If you really want to fiddle with your site or blog, set aside a block of time for it – but preferably on a weekend, or after you have completed your tasks for the week.
4. Spreading yourself too thin
Regardless of the niche, you are working in, chances are that there will be several social networks that you can use for promotion. Unfortunately, all of these require spending time – and there are only so many hours in a day.
If you try to engage on too many different networks, you are likely to limit the amount of time that you have available to spend on any one of them. In addition to that, you will be trying to master all of them at once as well, which means that you will be on a slow learning curve.
Instead, focus on one or two social networks that you feel comfortable with, and WORK them. Learn as much as you can about them. That way, you will not only be able to spend more time in one place, but your time will also be spent more efficiently.
Once you get to the point where you have mastered the networks you are on, and people are gravitating towards you because of your visibility, you can decide whether it is worthwhile to expand your social presence – or not.
5. Giving away too much
There are two sides to the proverbial coin…
On the one hand, that which you give away (content and optin freebie) has to have value. If not, it won’t attract anyone. After all, if your content sucks, who will bother to sign up to your list?
On the other hand, if you give away too much, they won’t need to sign up or buy anything from you.
The challenge lies in finding the right balance.
But here’s a thought: The higher the value of that which you give away, the easier it becomes to sell high ticket items. It’s called “pushing the free line”. However, if that which you give away is “everything” (even if it is in bits and pieces), why would anyone need to buy from you?
That which you give away is BAIT. Don’t “feed the fish”, just get them to take a bite – but it has to be enticing.
6. Picking the wrong price point
Picking the wrong price point is a common mistake in doing business online. Some people believe that selling cheaper products is easier, while others believe that high ticket items are the way to go.
In reality, though, it’s a little more complex than that. You have to consider your audience demographics, your niche, and the amount of credibility you have (or don’t). On the other hand, you have to consider effort versus reward.
Don’t think of it in terms of how easy it is to sell – think of it in terms of how many dollars you can generate with the effort you put into it. Also, think about the option of scaling it later on – the cheaper the product(s) you are selling, the more difficult it will be to use paid traffic profitably.
7. Having unrealistic expectations
Yes, some people start new blogs or websites, and they turn a profit within three months. But if you consider the fact that most blogs don’t make any real money in their first year, you have to ask why some people do it faster.
Is it perhaps because they had a decent budget to start off with? Is it perhaps because they already had the knowledge, and had the time to apply it (no daytime job)? Or did they perhaps have some connections in the online business world – like maybe a buddy or two who has a huge following on a social network?
The reality is that the internet is crowded. There are also a LOT of scammers out there. Over time, internet users have become more critical and skeptical. It takes time to earn the trust of strangers. The only way to do that is through branding – which relies on consistency in all regards (content, quality, social engagement).
Note: If you stick around for long enough, most of the people who started along with you will be gone. And by that time, those who have yet to establish their credibility online won’t be any competition.
Hang in there.
8. Not learning continuously
The internet is constantly evolving. On the one hand, new techniques are constantly being developed – but many of them are simply fads.
On the other hand, it is only logical that more and more people doing the same thing will eventually render it ineffective – especially on social media.
If you stop learning and stop evolving, you will stick to the same methods you started out with. Fair enough, some things are timeless – such as building relationships, keeping friction to a minimum (making it easy for customers and prospects), and providing value.
A lot of what you come across will also turn out to be fads – so don’t automatically chase after every new “golden nugget”. If it looks like it could work for you, test it, and if it works for you, keep it.
Over time, you will find that your methods of promotion will evolve – and it will keep your business healthy and thriving.
9. Not being consistent
One huge mistake that new internet marketers make in their online businesses is not being consistent. Keep in mind that, as an internet marketer or blogger, you are presenting yourself as a brand. If you aren’t consistent, you won’t come across as being trustworthy.
Fair enough, not all of us have schedules that allow us to be online for hours every day. If you can’t spend a lot of time on any given day, try to do just one post on each social network you work on. If that isn’t always possible, schedule them ahead – using a tool like Buffer.
The same goes for your content – if your work schedule is unpredictable, try to write your blog posts before their due date and schedule them. It is better to post less frequently than to post irregularly.
Think of it like this: When someone buys something from you, they are risking their hard earned cash to buy something you offered or recommended. In many cases, it won’t be something cheap.
If you don’t make the effort “be there” consistently, it becomes obvious that your online business a side-line. This means – to them – that it probably isn’t that important.
And if your business isn’t important, how can your customers be assured that they will be?
10. Not being objective about your results
From time to time, you will need to take a good hard look at what you have done, and what you have achieved. Reflecting on your efforts and your results will allow you to see what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to pay attention to.
If you don’t, you will be “flying blind” – which means that you could very well be spinning your wheels and going nowhere without even knowing it.
11. Not setting your goals in detail
In any business, there are short term, medium term, and long-term goals. If you are setting goals, and actively working towards them, you are probably setting yourself up for failure.
Yes, your short terms goals may be purely financial – but if they only revolve around how much money you make, you could end up throwing in the towel on a project that could still be saved.
Instead, set goals on what you want to achieve in terms of content creation and social activity. As long as you stick to those short-term goals, and review your efforts from time to time (to see what you can improve), your venture will simply keep growing.
Once the subscribers (or later, the money) starts coming in, and you have more data to work with, you will have a better idea of what is needed to reach your financial goals.
For instance – if you get to say, 500 visitors per day after a year, and you make say, $1,000 per month…
And your goal is to make $3,000 per month…
Then you know you will need to either get 1,500 visitors per day, or drastically improve the value of each visitor (better conversion rates, and making more money from each subscriber in total).
The point is this: Set the right goal at the right time. Then break it down into mini-goals – right down to daily tasks. As long as you keep working towards sensible goals, success becomes almost inevitable.
Instead of saying “I want to make $2,000 per month in a year from now”, rather say “in order to make $2,000 per month in a year from now, I need to have ‘x’ blog posts in three months, ‘y’ social followers in 6 months, and ‘z’ subscribers in 12 months.
If you don’t, you will simply be carrying on, hoping that you will eventually see the results you want to see. And the longer it takes to get to your “dream figure”, the higher the probabilities of you simply throwing in the towel.
Having an internet business isn’t any different from any other business. Fair enough, it costs less to start it up and to keep it going. But in terms of the basic business principles that make it profitable, there is no distinction between the two.
The fact that you spend less money to get it started may mean that you stand to lose less if it fails…
But if you make any of these online business mistakes, you could be throwing away a small fortune.
After all, who knows how big your internet business could grow if you do it right, and keep at it?
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