Successful small-business on the web
Tim North, http://www.scribe.com.au
Stripped of all the hype and hard sell, it's still realistic for the average small business to expect to make money by selling products or services on the web.
Don't expect it to be easy, though. Making money on the web is (and always was) hard work. This article discusses how to avoid the many pitfalls that await you.
Choose your field of battle
If you're looking to make money from the web, there are four main offerings that you can provide:
1. You can sell physical products like books, videos or CDs. Clients visiting your web site order these online using credit cards. You then post out the products.
2. You can sell online products like software, e-books or subscription-based newsletters. Clients can purchase these online using credit cards and then immediately download them.
3. You can advertise in-person services in which you meet face- to-face with your clients. Such services include accountancy, plumbing, gardening etc. Clients then pay in-person, not online.
4. You can advertise online services for which you don't need to meet the client, but can deal entirely via e-mail; e.g. proofreading.
The first step to making money on the web thus requires you to choose which of these offerings you plan to provide. You may decide to specialize in a single one, or you may try to cover all four.
Find a niche
It's almost certain that whatever product or service you're going to sell, a lot of other people are selling it too.
A remedy for this situation is to specialize.
Find a niche that's little covered. For example, if you wanted to sell music, you might specialize in Australian music or even Australian country music.
By doing so, you're lessening the size of your audience, of course, but you're also lessening the number of people you're competing with.
The trick is to find a niche that will have a large enough audience to sustain you yet is specific enough that you have few competitors.
Having decided what products and services you want to sell – and researched how much competition you'll have -- there are still a few major hurdles remaining:
1. If you're going to be selling online, you'll need to be able to accept credit card payments.
2. You'll need to be able to set up a web site.
3. You'll need to be able to market it effectively.
Good luck and best wishes with your new venture.