Launch Your Online Information Business

Something great about copywriting is that, once you have the skill down, you can make extra money selling your own information products. That’s what another copywriter and I started doing last year when we launched our own website.

I want to share with you our steps, but I won’t lie. This topic is way too extensive and has too many variables to fit nicely in a blog entry—it’s really the subject for an entire book. So, here’s the deal I’ll make with you: I’ll point out a few things I think would be useful for you to know.

Then, let’s exchange comments. I want you to submit any questions that come up after you read my entry. I’ll come back here to give you my answer.

Now, here’s the very basic lowdown on what you’ll need to start your online business:

1. Study Your Competition:

To research our competitors, my partner and I used keywords to search for online businesses with a slant similar to ours. To find out how well those websites were doing, we checked their stats.

Those are available for free at Alexa.com. Type the business’ domain name in the box that says, “Find sites about” (omit “http://www.”). You’ll get how many sites are linking to the one you’re researching (indicates popularity/reputation); how long visitors spend browsing that site on average; and which keywords triggered search engines to direct people to that site.

Plus, you’ll also see how that site ranks with Alexa. The best rankings will be 100,000 or lower. But pay attention to any with a score of about 400,000 or less. Now you can tell which of your competitors are doing the best business online.

Study those sites. Don’t focus on content only. Look at the colors, logo, how the menu tabs are organized, and sign up for any freebies the site offers. Also, check out the sites that don’t seem to be progressing. Can you figure out what makes the difference?

2. Choose Your Name, Domain and Tagline:

  • Choose a name that describes what you do. Avoid your own name. For instance, even if I didn’t have a partner, I wouldn’t have called my business “Isabel” because: 1) It doesn’t spark one’s curiosity; 2) It doesn’t hint at what I’m selling 3) It’s not a unique name.

  • Next, check with GoDaddy.com to see whether your business name is available as a domain name. Ten dollars will get you a domain for a year, but I read that if you reserve it for five years, search engines will take your site more seriously.

    Apparently, scam websites change their business names a lot as part of their schemes. So, they reserve domain names for the shortest amount of time possible. You can distinguish yourself from these sites by reserving yours for five years.

    If your business name isn’t available, spend some time tweaking it a bit. We ran into that. To solve the problem, my partner and I added one word to our business name. In our case, it worked well.

  • Then you need a tagline, a short description of the key benefit you offer that will appear next to your business name. For instance, AWAI’s tagline says, “Your Journey to a Wealthier, Happier, and Infinitely More Fulfilling Life Starts Here, TODAY!”

    Again, take some time browsing websites you like to get ideas. Use a tagline that grabbed your attention as a template for yours. Don’t worry about being caught plagiarizing—it won’t happen. As you revise it, your tagline will take a shape of its own. By the end, it will sound completely different from the one you used as a template. It’s just easier to start with someone else’s idea as your steppingstone.

3. Your Website Design:

I know you can get inexpensive website templates and have your site designed in a day. My partner and I looked at that option very seriously since it meant saving a lot of money. In our case, it didn’t feel appropriate to go with a template. Fortunately, a friend of mine offered to design a logo and website for less than $500. No question about it, we were very lucky. We could have spent several thousand dollars on site design alone.

But here’s the thing. The online image you choose determines how prospects respond to you, especially when you haven’t built a reputation, yet. Weigh all the pros and cons of a unique design versus a template. Don’t just look at cost. Besides, you’ll eventually get your investment back plus more.

4. Create Your Information Products:

Don’t take your website live until you have something to sell. And always—but especially because your business is new—make sure it’s top quality.

My partner and I wrote an e-book. Then, we hired a graphic artist to design the cover. In addition, we contracted an editor to make it tight and the best representation of our work.

Remember this is the product that will get you your first testimonial and that will also introduce you to your market. It has to be your absolute best.

Besides, to entice visitors to give you their names and e-mail addresses, have audios and written reports available as bonuses. Three months after we launched our site, my partner and I also started offering free teleconferences once a month. That’s super easy to set up and really fun to host.

Use a service like FreeConference.com that offers free teleconferencing services. The only cost is the long-distance call. For $9 a month, they’ll also record the call and send the link to you a couple of hours later. You can download it to your computer and send it to those who signed up for the teleconference. So, even if they couldn’t be on the call live, they still get to hear what you had to say—and maybe even forward it to their buddies.

Teleconferences are a great and affordable way of warming up to your market and building credibility. But also, if you get your participants’ consent, you can later burn those teleconferences onto CDs and market them as one of your audio programs.

Now, to finish up, I just want to briefly mention some legal and financial issues you should also consider:

  • Check with City Hall whether you’ll need a business license in order to operate your company.
  • Make sure to register your business with your Secretary of State.
  • Consult with the U. S. Small Business Administration (http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbdc/index.html) about the best business designation for you (e. g., LLC and sole proprietor). Ask whether you’ll need a federal tax id.
  • Create an operating budget.

That’s it in a tiny nutshell. Now, it’s your turn to ask me your questions.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: May 20, 2009

4 Responses to “Launch Your Online Information Business”

  1. Good article with some nice ideas. Check around, as there are free conference calling services who offer recording for free (there are many). Also, webinars are generally more effective and draw larger audiences.

    And don't forget list building! You can start building a list with a free video or special report, build relationships with your prospects, and then sell them products later.

    Sid

  2. Check out InstantConference -- 150 person line, free recording.
    GoToWebinar is the best (IMO). Was $99/month. I think they're running a special. You can get a 30-day trial. Best part is their auto-reminder messages for people who register.

    Sid


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