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Chapter 21. Internet Marketing > 50 Ways to Make a Successful Online Publishing...

50 Ways to Make a Successful Online Publishing Business

  1. Be prepared to work. Don't depend on someone else to do the job for you. Starting something successful on the Internet today is a tough job for anyone. You can't be in it for the short run; building a name and subscriber base will take time.

  2. Be sure you bite off only as much as you can chew. Start small, and develop over time. In the beginning, you'll have tons of energy for your e-publication, but that enthusiasm will probably dissipate in less than six months.

  3. Do your technical homework. Although you don't need to be a computer expert to manage an email publication, it would be wise if you had some practical experience on the Internet beforehand. Talk to other Internet-savvy friends; they might be willing to help and could offer suggestions.

  4. Target your audience. If you like boating, why not make a boating e-publication? If you like pasta, why not make a pasta recipe e-publication? If you like antiques, why not...? You get the point. Above all, be as specific as possible. The more precise the topic, the greater the chance of subscriber interest.

  5. Write about what you know and what you like. If you don't know a thing about eighteenth-century homemade Amish swimwear, do yourself a favor and don't write about it.

  6. Keep your content relevant. Even if the topic happens to be the latest craze, you'll find yourself in a daze within a few issues. If you stray from your primary objectives too often, your audience is likely to question their subscriptions.

  7. You can't be in it for the short run. Email publications, although novel, aren't a quick moneymaker. You must build a subscriber base and work with other online entities to become a recognized name.

  8. Let your friends know. Once you've decided you're going to create an email publication, contact your closest friends and let them know. Some of them couldn't care less, but others will support and applaud your efforts.

  9. Think of an original name. “Bob's Cooking Tips” doesn't sound as catchy as “Pots & Pans.” Steer clear of overused terms such as “Net,” “Cyber,” “Tech,” or “Compu.” Don't be afraid to have fun with the name.

  10. Try to do something new. People are more apt to pay attention to something that hasn't been done before. Do it first, and people will remember you. Don't copy someone else's idea; you can take and build upon what you see, but if it doesn't scream “original,” you might as well not even bother.

  11. Remember to have fun with your publication. I realize that might not sound like much of a tip at this point, but hey, if your heart isn't into this, you're not going to give it all you've got, and your subscribers will pick that up immediately.

  12. Don't fear competition—welcome it. You'll have a devout following of subscribers before long. It won't matter that similar e-zines are out there. If yours is good, your subscribers shouldn't leave you.

  13. Listen to your subscribers. If 90% of them don't like something, knock it off. If a majority of them love something, think about doing more of it. If they're not reading what you're writing, try a new approach. You're not going to get anywhere without loyal and happy subscribers.

  14. Don't get discouraged. The average start-up email publication reaches 2,000 people. Don't be depressed if you don't make it to this mark. You can't expect to have a million subscribers at the drop of a hat. Be proud of your accomplishments, and don't let anyone depress you with larger stats or larger subscriber numbers.

  15. Don't spam! That is, don't cross-post to unrelated newsgroups, don't send unsolicited email messages to someone you don't know, don't purchase questionable email databases, and so on. Enough people out there are giving legitimate email publications a bad name.

  16. Don't purchase email databases from list brokers. Purchasing lists sounds like the easy way out, but it is also an easy way to tarnish your reputation.

  17. Advertise your email publication in other email publications. In my experience, it beats banner advertisement. You can be more descriptive with a text ad. Plus, people who subscribe to one email publication are likely to subscribe to another one. An email message is easier to read than a Web page; subscribers read an email publication at their leisure. Once it is in their Inboxes, they don't have to mess with being connected to the Internet anymore.

  18. Educate your advertisers. When people ask how many impressions your Web site receives, tell them how many subscribers you have instead and why they would be more interested in advertising in your e-publication than on your Web site.

  19. Focus on your e-publication. Although it is wise to accompany your email publication with some sort of Web page or site, you should use it only to advertise your e-publication's offerings. People often forget about the sites they visit, but once they're signed on to your e-pub, you've got a guaranteed audience (unless they unsubscribe).

  20. Keep your audience focused on your e-publication. Make sure people know that your site advertises an emailed publication, not a webzine. Put the subscription form as close to the top on the front page as possible, and draw special attention to it.

  21. Contact people who have related resources on the Web. If your email publication is about skateboarding, find all the skateboarding sites (big or small), and let them know about what you're doing. They could be helpful in spreading the word about your new publication.

  22. Advertise to defray costs. In the beginning, you should be able to get by without advertising income, but if you get a domain name (whatever.com), you'll need to find a virtual host to carry your site, and that service costs money. Depending on your topic, you might be able to find some “small spenders” who will be willing to plop down a couple of bucks to get the word out about their product or service.

  23. Make a graphical logo for your site. A standard logo on a Web page is 88 pixels wide by 31 pixels high. A graphic catches Web surfers' eyes.

  24. Network with other sites. When you mention a Web site in your email publication, contact someone from that site on the chance that he or she will want to announce that the site appeared in your email publication.

  25. Give yourself credibility. It's a good idea to add a small description (annotation) or add a personal accolade to accompany any link. It gives you more credibility.

  26. If subscribers like what they see, they'll tell their friends. There's no better advertisement than word of mouth. If you had to choose between 10 products and your friend recommended one of them, you'd probably go with that one.

  27. Count on your email publication reaching more people than those who are subscribed. Many people print e-publications out and pass them around the office. That isn't a bad thing, either. At least you know that people are talking about what you're doing.

  28. Get links to your Web site and email publication on topically related Web sites. If you had a car-related e-publication, you'd want your link on as many car-related pages as possible, for example. Links will drive more subscribers to your mailing list.

  29. If people see enough links to you, they'll eventually check you out. Surfers become familiar with a certain name, and they begin to trust it. Some will come to you just because they keep seeing your button or link all over the place. They'll think, “Well, gee...If I keep seeing it everywhere, it must be good.”

  30. Find out where people who subscribe are hearing about your publication. If you're discovering subscriptions coming from a certain site or other email publication, see whether you can do something in conjunction with it.

  31. Choose your allies intelligently. You don't want to get a bad name for yourself right out of the starting gate. If you feel that a site's content isn't as good as it could possibly be, you don't have to work with its owners. Everything will reflect back on your name and publication.

  32. Pursue joint promotions. If you find a publication that complements yours, inquire about joint promotion opportunities.

  33. Be careful with banners. Be careful about using banners on your site or in your HTML newsletter without researching them first. Some banner advertising schemes sound great, but unless you have a ton of traffic, chances are you're not going to gain any money by using them. And be sure not to place more than one banner in a row on your site if you want your visitors to see you as a “professional” site. Nothing looks worse than a page with five banners in a row. The page takes forever to load, and the banners don't improve the quality of your Web page or newsletter.

  34. Everywhere you go, talk about your publication. Every subscriber counts.

  35. Encourage subscribers to refer others. Don't be afraid to ask your subscribers to recommend your e-zine to their friends, family members, co-workers, supervisors, and so on. You don't want to beat them over the head with it, but a constant reminder is effective in getting more “quality” subscribers.

  36. Keep the line between advertising and editorial clearly drawn. You'll lose your readers' trust if they can't tell the difference.

  37. Don't concentrate too much on promoting your online services offline. You'll get more bang for your buck if you promote and advertise online.

  38. Keep costs low. Don't employ more people than necessary. It's true that (for the most part) you need to spend money to make money, but you can keep your costs extremely low when e-publishing.

  39. Use a simple email program to distribute the e-publication in the beginning. Try to find one that will suppress other subscribers' addresses (using a BCC feature). Broadcasting someone's email address to others is very bad manners.

  40. Avoid subscription fees if you can. You can choose to charge a subscription fee, but I would strongly advise against it. The Internet's climate isn't ready for “pay” e-pubs yet. If you're going to charge for subscriptions, be sure you have a free version available, too. Remember how easy it is for an individual to pass along messages to an infinite number of others. It would be very difficult to keep control over that. If you really want to generate funds, try advertising.

  41. Start with a free Web page. Plenty of services online host free Web pages. Or set up one with your current Internet account. Try GeoCities (http://geocities.yahoo.com) if you're looking for a service that will give you the right tools as you develop your online presence.

  42. Make sure you let your Internet Service Provider know that you're doing an email publication. This way, if someone whines about you sending junk email, the service provider already knows.

  43. Use list services. If your mailing list is small (5,000 subscribers or fewer), consider using a free mailing-list service. Once you get into the 10,000-subscriber range, consider going to a dedicated list service (which will most likely cost you a few pennies). You're entering the realm of “professional” at that point. Suits and ties are still optional.

  44. Treat your subscribers fairly, and don't be afraid to receive and implement feedback. Yes, you'll get negative comments from time to time, but that's going to happen. Not everyone will be happy with your service. The subscribers aren't always right, but they do have valid points and ideas that can only help your readership grow. Give subscribers credit if they offer some content to your publication.

  45. Never share your list information (aside from total subscriber count) with anyone else. If your subscribers start appearing on junk email lists after they subscribe to your email publication, who do you think they're going to blame? Besides, there's little money to be made by selling name lists smaller than a million anymore.

  46. Give people an easy way to unsubscribe. People's expectations might not match your email publication's content; they'll feel trapped and offended if you don't offer them an easy way out.

  47. Answer email personally and as soon as possible. Answering every message takes time, but people enjoy knowing that you're not a computer. If you keep your replies personal, they'll feel a bond with you and be less apt to drop the subscription.

  48. Keep your subscription database clean. When an address bounces, remove it. When a user needs to change their address, make sure it gets done. Certain list software packages work better than others with list management, so not everything needs to be done by hand.

  49. Maintain quality control. People won't take you seriously unless you take yourself seriously first. If you want to run with the big boys, find a virtual host with a fast connection, purchase a Web domain, and hire a designer if you can't design your way out of a wet paper bag.

  50. Edit your stuff! Go through each issue with a fine-tooth comb; check spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so on. If you're a good writer, people will love you. There's nothing better than an excellent writing style that keeps people entertained.



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