Common Sense Advice For Internet Marketing Newbies

By Ernest O’Dell

You’re sitting there at your computer, staring off into blank space, wondering, “I’ve recently lost my job, and I have this computer and a high speed connection to the Internet… and I want to try my hand at making some money on the World Wide Web.”

I can hardly fault you for dreaming big dreams, as I basically asked myself the same question back in 1994 when I was “between jobs.” I had just finished a contract at the Sun Oil Company refinery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was waiting to go on another contract in Iowa. Being between jobs, or between contracts, was boring, and I felt like I needed something to do.

Fifteen years ago, I had some mixed blessings as I was “winging it” when the Internet was still young and restless. I had a new laptop with a 6.0GB drive, 256kb memory, and an AOL account. I thought I was “hot stuff.”

It was like the “Wild, Wild West” and it still is…

… but, a lot has changed since then.

Back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the geek population was a lot smaller and we thought we were on the “cutting edge” with 28.8bps dial-up modems, running a pirated copy of Mustang BBS on a Tandy 8086 with two 5-1/4 floppy drives and a 64K hard drive.

“Hacker” was a professional handle until some smart-ass kid at Cornell University got busted for spawning a virus on the ARPANET and MILNET systems. Needless to say, the government wasn’t too happy with him, and new laws had to be legislated to come up “with the times.”

Today, hackers are still to be found, but they’re not considered professional anymore… they’re usually associated with spammers and considered more a nuisance and a pain in the proverbial arse than anything else.

Today, you can find a lot of junk on the Internet about “getting rich” on the World Wide Web, but about 99.999% of it is just that: junk. You can find webmaster forums (you ask yourself, “What the hell is a webmaster?”), blogs, e-books and YouTube videos offering to assist you in achieving your dreams.

Most of the time it is just another scam artist waiting to relieve you of more of your hard earned money. Just because you read it somewhere on a Google search doesn’t make it a fact, when the fact is this: YOU must do your “due diligence” and check things out.

Here’s a few hard facts about the Internet:

  • Yes, you can make some money on the Internet. And yes, you can—if you know what the hell you’re doing—make a butt-load of money on the Internet.
  • NO—the Internet is NOT a “business” in ANY sense of the word. It is ONLY another medium of communications and you must go through a “learning curve” like you did when you learned how to use the telephone, television, fax or radio. Granted: the learning curve is a little more steep than the phone, but not impossible; nor is it rocket science.
  • It takes a little—to a lot—of work on your part to make money on the Internet. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then get with someone successful—who is actually making a few million—and learn from them. They would even be well worth paying them to tutor (or mentor) you. If you don’t get with someone successful, then go get a job. If you already have one: don’t quit.
  • If you come across someone claiming to be a “guru” — RUN!
  • If you think you can start something on the Internet and have it up and running, making you a gazillion dollars in 30 days, while you’re “sleeping in late” and working in your pajamas, then don’t quit your day-job. (Didn’t I already say something like that?)
  • Last, but not least, what works for one person might not work for you. Just “because” someone wrote a 597 page report on “it” (whatever “it” was) doesn’t necessarily mean it will work… for you, or for anyone else.

After sorting through about 1.5 billion Google results for “making money on the Internet,” you quickly discover several of those aforementioned webmaster forums. Then you decide that the quickest way to get that mansion on the hill is to create your own network of websites and begin promoting online trading and herbal products, or the “latest—greatest” Forex scam.

Of course, the only thing you know about online trading and herbal products is what you read in the forums. The problem becomes painfully obvious that you don’t know what you’re doing, after you lose a couple thousand dollars over the course of a few months. Eventually you abandon the idea after your spouse busts your chops about your dumb-ass “hair-brained” idea.

Solution? You must know your niche market. If you try to discuss the finer points of investing in stocks and bonds—armed only with the knowledge you got from the forums—then your lack of knowledge will become painfully obvious to everyone else, and you’ll soon become the laughing stock of the “Internet Marketing” community.

I know a few: I’ve found some over the last 15 or so years, and trust me, they’re no longer around. Those who do—in fact—know what they’re doing, are still around. I can name them by name, and they will be around for another 10-20 years… or more.

What this boils down to is this: if you want a constant stream of visitors—and eventually, paying customers—you will need to come up with

* an original idea
* an original product
* an original service
* original content…

…or all the above.

The only way you can do this is to know your subject. As we say here in Texas, “You gotta know what you’re talking about!”

If you’re going to write and market a cookbook, then you better know how to cook (and perhaps, bake), or your cookbook is going to be a flop. If you’re going to write a book about gardening, then you ought to know some basics about gardening and horticulture, or your market is going to dry up faster than a West Texas drought in a sandstorm.

Another problem I see people making is getting in over their heads. They have yet to build their first website, and if they have done so, it looks like crap. But, they read an ebook somewhere that told them how to build 40 sites and get them indexed on all the search engines in the world then sit back and wait for the money to come in like a flood to your bank account… or your PayPal account. Yeah… RIGHT!

Only problem is… they keep checking their bank (and their PayPal) accounts, and they’re still overdrawn. Duh! (As Dr. Phil would ask you, “How’s that been workin’ for ya?”)

It should now be obvious that a venture like this is dismal, and as the old adage states, you must crawl before you walk… or run. You must learn how to FTP files to a server before you go out and purchase a bunch of domain names. When you become comfortable with your first domain (and website design), THEN… you can begin expanding.

Finally, consider the market you’re trying to “tap” into…

…if it’s saturated because every Tom, Dick and Harry is doing it, then you might want to keep your credit card in your pocket. But, if you can come up with something that’s original, and nobody else is doing it, then you might want to “brainstorm” the idea with your mentor or Master Mind group. Just because the market is saturated doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea isn’t “do-able.”

Suppose the “flavor of the month” is acai berry, Forex, mesothelioma, or debt consolidation…

…you have to assume that you can discuss it intelligently, or you’ll look pretty foolish trying to discuss it with someone who does. Several weeks ago I would have told you that you might appear like a jack-ass, but my mentor told me I shouldn’t be so blunt, and more professional.

If you’re promoting the latest “fad” then you must take into consideration that about 200,000 other newbies are promoting the same BS buzz word in their keywords, or in their AdWords campaigns. You’re not going to “stand out” in the crowd.

Do something a little different: tweak your business model. You were born to stand out from the herd.

And, since you are at “entry level” with your new fad, you’re probably going to do like everybody else and look for the cheapest hosting available—just like all the other schleps are doing. Don’t do it! Look for dependability and pay for it. You’ll be glad you did. And if you decide to go with a “discount” host, and their servers go down on you, you’ll lose LOTS of business and you’ll regret “pinching peniies.”

Unfortunately, this is the same route that hundreds of thousands of others are doing—including big businesses—and the web hosting companies don’t care. They’re just collecting their fees whether your site works or not. If you don’t know what you’re doing with their technology, they don’t care. It’s not their problem.

If you have your site hosted on a shared IP, and have a domain hosting acai or Forex, there are going to be hundreds—if not hundreds of thousands—of others doing the same thing. If you share an IP with other sites promoting the same products, and you get your content from the same RSS feeds, then you’re going to get lost in the index because… you don’t stand out!

So, in the final analysis, it’s all about original content and knowing your niche.

Finding Your Market

There are a few ways to discover if your topic will hold great potential or not… or if it will only provide annoying frustration for your visitors.


Try a simple search on any of the major search engines for your topic and pay attention to the number of hits returned, the quality (ranking) of the websites near the top of the search page and the following two pages (20 links) of search results. This will give you a good idea of the market penetration/saturation for that topic, or the lack thereof.


Conduct a search for your topic on social networking sites such as Facebook, Technorati, MyBlogLog, etc.
You can also set up a recurring subscription on to provide you with a keyword search on Twitter. It will be emailed to you once every day. (NOTE: the keyword alerts on Twitter from SocialOomph can get pretty big, around 1.0 MB or more. But they contain a wealth of information if you’re the analytical type.)

This will give you a good idea of how many “experts” you find in your topic—how many exist and the type of content that is on their sites.

Finally: if you’re truly knowledgeable about a particular topic, then go ahead and do it. Even a saturated market has room for the best and brightest.

If you’re knowledgeable about a particular topic or market, then write some articles, reports, “white papers.” or even a book. It will position you as an expert in your field and people will be more prone to listening to what you have to say.

If you’re not knowledgeable about your topic and you write a flurry of crap about it… trust me: it will show.

About The Author: Ernest O’Dell is the CEO of DMS Group Publishing, Public Relations, Media Communications and Marketing. He is the author of Guerrilla Real Estate Marketing and the soon to be released Covert Operations Manual For Internet Marketing Success.

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