1001 Newbie - Friendly Tips by Bob McElwain - HTML preview

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How Do You Define Success?

Many  people  have  selective  hearing.  That  is,  they  hear  only  what  they  are listening for. When such people tune in to the notion of getting rich on the Web, they  can't  seem  to  hear  anything  else.  They  are  deaf  to  the  news  of  dot-com failures in mass. Deaf to the certain doom that lies at the end of any path claimed to be quick or easy. And deaf to any mention of how tough it is to succeed in business anywhere, online or offline.

If you have fallen into this trap, there are only two options. Continue on your chosen  path  and  fail.  Or  redefine  what  success  means  to  you,  then  begin working to achieve it.

Getting Rich Is Unlikely

It is no easier to become wealthy online than offline. The only advantage to beginning a business online, rather than offline, is in the lower startup costs. The rest of it is work, learning, then implementing what you learn.

What  are  your  chances  of  opening  a  new  business  in  your  home  town  and becoming  a  millionaire?  Unless  you  have  very  special  talents  and  skills,  it's unlikely. The chances of doing so on a website are no better.

Would Making A Living Suit You?

Do  you  have  what  it  takes  to  open  a  business  on  main  street  and  earn  a comfortable living? If  you lack essential information, are you willing to take the time to hunt it up? If there are things you do not know, are you willing to learn them? If you lack needed skills, are you prepared to develop them?

One  who  can  answer  a  resounding,  "Yes,"  to  the  above  questions,  can succeed. Online or offline. Until you can shout this right out loud to your family, friends,  neighbors,  and  even  strangers  on  the  street,  any  effort  to  build  a successful website will break your heart. And waste a ton of your time. And more than a few bucks.

One Path

If you want to succeed on the Web, you must first come to grips with what you mean by success. If your definition can be simplified to making a good living  with the opportunity to make more, then all is quite doable. And one of the best ways to start is to begin part time and grow your business as you learn.

Getting Real

Whether you have started a business or are still only thinking about doing so, you may find it informative to check out some successful sites. Successful, that is, according to the definition of their owners.

Common Elements

While the following sites may appear quite different from one another, they have much in common.

* Nobody  is  making  a  million  bucks  a  year;  this  was  not  the  goal.  Rather they are making a living (their definition) and are in an excellent position to increase their income.

* The site designs are quite simple; very few fancy graphics are to be found.

* Each site is well focused.

* Each site is loaded with content.

* Some   face   stern   competition;   others   have   carved   their   niche   and conquered it.

You will probably note ways in which each site can be improved. But this is true of any site, large or small. And it's true of yours. And mine.


Features   hot   peppers,   sauces,   and   such.   A   great   example   of   niche marketing.  Not  many  are  into  hot  in  this  fashion,  but  those  who  are  search constantly  for  more  and  hotter.  Note  there  are  a  some  such  people  in  your community. Every nursery stocks pepper seedlings in the spring, labeled, "HOT!" This site tapped into this wide, if thinly spread interest. Something impractical in even a major city, but easy to do on the Web.


A super smooth catalog site. They resell TV direct sales merchandise. Their growth has come through the site and all business is transacted on it. Beyond what you see there is undoubtedly at least one person who spends a good part of  each  day  with  routine  business  chores,  solving  problems,  dealing  with customer complaints, and above all searching for even better deals for existing customers.


This company began as a marginally successful local wild flower seed company in Wisconsin. They grew significantly when the owner took the business online, expanded the product line, and reached out to a national (and to some extent, international) audience. In reply to a message, Deb Edlhuber said, "It [the site] has totally amazed me and continues to grow."


Malcolm  Simmonds  launched  his  first  site  in  late  1997,  selling  herbal products, which he had been making and selling offline since the early 80's. He learned HTML and did the entire site himself. Within a year, it had paid for itself. Since then, he has expanded and enriched the site enormously, increasing his profits in the process. While looking ahead to even further increases, he is doing quite nicely now. All this in addition to his continuing success offline.


Dan Poynter had a successful self-publishing company going before he launched his website. What used to be a travel/phone/direct mail company is now strictly a web-based company. In a reply to a message, Dan said, "This morning I checked the order-email account and found we sold 21 reports overnight.The customers benefited because they received the reports instantly (on a Sunday) and did not have to pay for shipping or sales tax. Para Publishing benefited because we did not have to print, inventory, wrap, ship, or place postage on the reports. This is truly a win-win situation made possible by the Internet."


This site was built by a mother-daughter team. They first learned the brick and mortar catalog business, then expanded to the Web. The site is now a profitable component of their business. Click to visit my site for their delightful story, "Net Lessons from the Monster Girls" by Rob Spiegle.

Wrapping Up

A while back, a visitor asked, "Do you know of a small site that is successful?" I referred him to one of the above. A short while later, he replied, "You gotta be kidding. That's nothing!"

If you visit any of the above sites and find "nothing," then you probably need to  know  more  about  business  and  the  web  in  order  to  build  a  winning  site. Revaluate  your  definition  of  success,  learn  what  is  needed,  then  take  another look. These sites are successful. That is, successful in the eyes of their owners. And in the eyes of their customers. What else matters?