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Running An Online Business Without A Website

© 2018 Elena Fawkner

A common question I get from website visitors and ezine
subscribers is "do I have to have a website to run an online
business?".  The answer is a resounding "no ... but it's easier if
you do".  If you're absolutely aghast at the idea of creating and
running your own website, not to worry.  Here's how you can
create, run and market an online business using nothing but
your email program and ISP!


The first thing you need is a product that can be promoted and/or
distributed online in a text-based environment, i.e. email.  Don't
have a product of your own?  Then start out by promoting affiliate
programs.  If you're new to online marketing and don't know what
affiliate programs are, read this article:
http://www.ahbbo.com/affiliate.html .  To find good affiliate programs
visit http://www.associateprograms.com .  This is an excellent
resource.  If you want to see what affiliate programs are working for
me, visit my site at http://www.ahbbo.com .  Virtually all of the
banners you see throughout the site are the affiliate programs I'm a
member of.

Many affiliate programs will include a free website that you can
promote without having to do anything to create it or maintain it. 
All you do is sign up for the affiliate program(s) of your choice and
direct your prospects to your affiliate website which then does the
selling for you.  Other programs just have you direct prospects to
the product owner's website using a website address that includes
special coding so that prospect is identified as having been
referred by you and you get the commission on the sale.

Of course, there's nothing to stop you creating a product of your
own.  Information products are huge sellers on the 'net.  Create
your own e-Book, write your own software.  Make sure it's
something that can be adequately described and communicated
in email, though.  It's no good starting out wanting to promote
something exclusively via email when you really need a website
so people can "see" what you're talking about. 

Of course, if you're selling your own product, you need to get set
up to receive payment.  Being able to accept payment by credit
card is a must.  Don't rush off and spend mega-bucks on your
own merchant account just yet though.  Wait until your business
is turning a profit before going to that sort of expense.  Start out
using a third party credit card processing service.  I use Clickbank. 
The service is excellent, they just take a small commission from
the payments made by your customers and send you a check
every two weeks like clockwork.  You can check out Clickbank
for yourself at http://www.clickbank.com .  There are other third
party credit card processors out there too but I haven't used them
so I don't know whether they're good, bad or indifferent.

As for online checks, I am yet to find a reliable merchant.  The
one that I was using went belly-up a few months ago leaving me
unpaid.  Finding the right online check merchant seems to be a
case of figuring out which is the best of a bad lot.  Frankly, I don't
think it's worth the risk.  The number of people wanting to pay by
online check is minuscule in my experience and they're usually
just as happy to send you a paper check if, for some reason,
they're opposed to using a credit card.

OK, so let's assume you have something you're ready to promote
online.  Let's look at how you can use email to run your business
and get those sales.


The very first thing you need to do is to get set up to build a list of
your email contacts.  This is kind of like pulling yourself up by your
bootstraps when you're first starting out since how do you build a
list when you don't have any email addresses to add to it yet?  The
answer, by the way, is NOT to send unsolicited email to every email
address you can find.  Not only is that a colossal waste of time,
your ISP will soon start receiving complaints and you'll find your
fledgling online business is grounded before it even has the chance
to leave the nest.

By implementing the techniques described below, you'll soon start
generating interest in your product/service.  When you start
receiving email from people asking for more information, add their
address to your list of email contacts.  NO-ONE should be added to
your list who hasn't first made contact with you.  Anyone who later
asks to be removed from your list must be removed immediately and
without question.


An excellent way of building a list of email addresses is to offer
something in exchange for other people's email addresses. The
single most effective method out there at this time is to publish your
own newsletter on a subject or theme relevant to the product or
service you are selling.  If you're selling an informational product on
internet marketing, then your newsletter should be related to internet
marketing.  Beware, however, that "internet marketing" is an
extremely crowded market and, to be blunt, they all look pretty
much the same to me.  To effectively compete in this particular
market you really need to be able to offer something different from
the same-old, same-old.  And if you're just starting out, that may
be a tough assignment.

So, try and stick to what you know both for the subject matter
of your newsletter and your product or service as well.  Nothing
sells as well as someone who knows what they're talking about
and can back it up with solid experience and know-how.  Believe
me, you'll save yourself a lot of time, money and grief if you don't
try and reinvent the wheel.  If you're a CPA, create a product or
service (or promote someone else's) related to your field of
expertise.  Same thing if you're an at-home mom.  There are plenty
of others in exactly the same position who would love to hear your
words of wisdom.

Once you're publishing your own newsletter, it's then just a matter
of promoting it.  There are many, many places to list your
newsletter online.  Just do a search for "ezine directories" or
"newsletter directories" and you'll get a list as long as your arm.

You can also "purchase" subscribers.  One service I have found
particularly effective is worldwidelists.com .  If you want
to build your subscriber base FAST, I recommend them.

Your newsletter itself is a great place to tout your product or
service but make sure it's not just one big ad.  You need to produce
consistent, quality content if you expect people to stick around long
enough to get to know you, let alone think of doing business with


Placing classified ads will be one of your marketing staples.  The
best place to advertise is in your own and other people's ezines
(newsletters).  Again, there are directories of ezines that accept paid
advertising.  Just do a search for "ezine advertising" or "newsletter
advertising" or similar and you'll find them.

The reason why ezines are such an effective place to advertise is
that the publisher has done the hard work of drawing together a
group of people specifically interested in the subject matter of that
ezine.  So look for ezines that target the same audience as you do. 
You'll find that the really general ezines give you less bang for your
buck than the more specific.  For example, you'll find that the
response you get from an ad placed in a general "internet marketing"
ezine will not be as good as a more specific ezine targeted
to work-at-home moms looking for ways to make money from their
computers.  That's because the ezine's audience for the latter is
more targeted than the former.  So be selective when choosing
ezines.  You may pay a bit more for the more targeted ezine but
your profits will be disproportionately higher.

You can also place free classified ads all over the web.  In my
experience these are a complete waste of time and only achieve to
get your email address harvested by spammers thereby guaranteeing
an endless flood of rubbish to your inbox that you'll never get rid of.


When you publish your own ezine, you'll start writing articles.  Don't
just rest there, though.  After you've published your article to your
own group, make it available for other publishers to run in their
ezines as well!  Add a resource box at the end that tells people how
they can subscribe to your ezine.  There are many places to submit
your article to.  Again, make use of that trusty search engine to find


You can also rent lists of email addresses for direct marketing
purposes.  Be EXTREMELY careful here.  All email lists are not
created equal.  There are many, many unscrupulous people out there
using email address harvesting software trawling the 'net and gobbling
up every single email address they can find.  Then, they whack them
all onto a CD and tout the CD as "5,000,000 email addresses, $9.95". 
The sales pitch usually goes on to say that the owners of all these
addresses volunteered their email address for the specific purpose of
receiving email from advertisers.  Please.  Stay away from these
shysters.  You will buy yourself no end of problems and most likely
get yourself shot down by your ISP for spamming.

Instead, if you want to rent a true opt-in mailing list, go to
somewhere like http://www.postmasterdirect.com .  This is one area
where you definitely get what you pay for.


Another way to raise your profile is to contribute to discussion
lists and newsgroups.  Now, this does NOT mean you post your
ad to these groups.  In fact, most have strict acceptable-use
policies that expressly prohibit solicitation.  But every message
you contribute includes your signature file - that SHORT, 3 or 4
line blurb at the end that says who you are and how you can
be contacted.  Contributing to discussion lists and newsgroups
on a regular basis (spasmodic contributions won't do it) will
deliver a surprising amount of enquiry from prospects.


Finally, after implementing all of the above strategies, you will
start accumulating a sizeable list of email addresses of people
who have requested, in one form of another, information from
you.  This is your "list".  Once you have a list, you have a
ready-made pool of targeted prospects for your product or

So, at the same time as you're continuing to implement the
above strategies (this never ends, by the way), you should also
direct mail your list.  Don't abuse the privilege, however.  Start
emailing your list every day and you'll soon find that your list
members start leaving in droves (you should always include a
way for members to be removed from your list in every mailing
you send).  So be judicious in not only what you send to your list
but when and how often. 

When people start buying from you, put their names in a separate,
second list (as well as leaving it in the original list).  This second
list is your list of buyers.  Once someone has bought from you
once, they are MUCH more likely to do so again.  So take
special care of this group.  Make special offers to them to
reward them for their previous custom and loyalty.

So, there you have it, a handful of ways to run and market an
online business without a website.  It most definitely can be
done, but don't write off the idea of creating your own website
down the track to leverage your marketing efforts.

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