The Free Lunch and Other Myths about Internet Marketing
© 2014 Elena Fawkner
I have a page at my website that contains a list of home
business ideas (and links to detailed articles about some of
them). On that page, I invite visitors who have an idea
that isn't listed on that page to submit it to me for inclusion.
Nine times out of ten, the "ideas" that are submitted are
nothing more than ads for various online business
opportunities and not true business "ideas" at all.
This evening I received one such email. No greeting, no
thank you, just a terse one liner "to be added to your ideas
page" and an URL. I responded that this was not an "idea"
(which, had the person bothered to spend any time at all
at the page in question, she would have realized) but an ad
for her business opportunity, and that if she wanted her ad
on my site, she could damn well pay for it like anyone else (I
was a little more diplomatic than that but you get the gist).
Hot on the heels of this type of approach is the owner
of an affiliate program for a product which would be of
marginal interest (if that) to a tiny number of my ezine
subscribers, offering me a fabulous "joint venture" opportunity
whereby all I have to do is send a solo mailing to my list
(worth $260) in exchange for making maybe $12 on each of
three sales. Whoopee. Invariably, these people know the
demographic of my database intimately since, according to
them, all my readers have been searching high and low for
just such a solution to all their problems and *I* can be the
one to give it to them!
Please. Contrary to what these people obviously think, I did
NOT just fall off the back of a turnip truck so, to whom it
may concern, go grow your own list or pay to advertise to
mine. Those are your choices. This is a business, not a
charity for the bone idle.
These are by no means isolated examples.
Those of you running an online business probably have a list of
examples like these as long as your arm. Why do people not
understand that you get what you pay for in this world? I'll
tell you why. The proliferation of "secret" sites that promise
to reveal to you, for only a "$60 lifetime membership!" all
the "tips and tricks" you need to know to market your online
business on the 'net "without spending a dime!" and all the
"insider secrets" marketing courses promising the same thing.
If you're laboring under the impression that it's possible to
market your business without spending money, here's some
1. There ARE places to advertise your business for free,
sort of. They don't come with no strings attached though.
For example, although you can submit your site for free to
the classifieds sites and FFA pages that are absolutely
everywhere, be prepared for a deluge of email in response.
And I'm not talking about requests for more information!
Typically, people visit these sites to get your email address
so they can send THEIR business opportunity to YOU.
2. Some of the search engines are still free. Many have
moved to a paid submission model though and, even if they
do still offer a free submission service, those listings are not
a priority and tend to be added to the index when the
engines get around to it. Better to spend a few bucks for
a submission and get listed before the next summer Olympics.
3. You can write articles and submit them to newsletter
publishers and relevant websites. That's actually a good
way to get your message across so long as the article has
real meat to it and doesn't mention your opportunity or
product (leave that for the resource box). Although it
needn't cost you money, it does cost you time and effort and
you may well get a better return by simply paying $65 for an
4. You can start your own newsletter and develop your
own opt-in subscriber list. Unless you're prepared to pay
for subscribers (around 15 cents per subscriber is about
the average) it's going to take a LONG time to grow your
list to a decent size. Contrary to what some people will
tell you, you will not grow a 'sticky' subscriber base of
5,000 within a month. Oh, you can grow a list of that
size alright using some of the various approaches being
offered but it won't be a targeted list and it won't be
a sticky list (i.e., subscribers won't stick around). With
these programs you'll also find that a lot of subscribers
are in it to generate their own subscribers and really
aren't interested in subscribing to your newsletter. They
do so only because it's a condition of being in the program.
Often these people will use free email addresses that they
never check, let alone actually read the contents of.
5. One of the best advertising mediums out there is
ezine advertising (which is why I receive so many of these
bogus "joint venture" proposals). Understand though that
the person writing and publishing an ezine that accepts paid
advertising from third parties is running a *business*. True,
some publishers will accept free ads from subscribers but
they are usually just starting out and offering free ads is a
good way to generate new subscribers. As a result, their
subscriber numbers are pretty low (only a few hundred or a
couple of thousand at best) and so the result will probably
be disappointing unless it's an extremely targeted list. So,
if you want to get your message to a large, targeted group
of prospects, ezine advertising is your best bet. But be
prepared to pay.
Contrary to what many people apparently believe, running
an online business is hard work. It's not a simple matter
of slapping up a website, posting a few free classified ads,
submitting your URL to the free search engines and then
turning your computer on in the morning to find an inbox
overflowing with orders that came in overnight while you
were sleeping. This is a MYTH perpetuated by the authors
(and VERY hard-working authors, I might add) of those
so-called "secret sites" memberships and "insider secrets"
marketing courses. They make their money by selling you
the FANTASY that it's possible to make money online
without working (or that you don't have to spend money to
Running an online business requires an enormous time
commitment initially just to create a useful website and just
as much (if not more) of a commitment to maintain it, create
new content, develop products, publish a newsletter and
basically do all the marketing things that ANY business must
do to grow, whether online or off.
So, next time you're looking for ways to market your product
or opportunity without spending a dime, think about who you're
approaching. If it's a free classified ad site, fine. But if it's
someone just like you trying to make a living with a business
of their own, ask yourself: What's in it for them to promote your
product for free?
Consider how you would feel if you had invested two years of
blood, sweat and tears building a business in your town only
to have people walk into your office expecting you to help
them market your product for free. It just ain't gonna happen
unless there's something in it for them. The same is true online.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that someone's online
business is just a hobby and that they're there for the sole
purpose of helping you make a success of your business. They're
not. They may be helpful, they may offer advice and
encouragement but, when all is said and done, they're in business,
just like you. Bottom line: you have to pay your way in this life
and that includes online.
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Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online.
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Friday, 17-Jan-2020 23:26:53 CST