When I first got into the online advertising business, I was looking for the magical combination that would put my website into the top search engine rankings, propel me to the forefront of the minds of folks looking to purchase my product, and generally make me rich beyond my wildest imaginations!
After being in the business for this long, I'm able to look back on my old self with this kind of thinking and shake my head.
If you're reading this article and you've come this far, you're probably looking for the magic answer yourself. You've probably read a few dozen or a couple hundred articles just like this one about pay-per-click advertising, maximizing return on investment, keyword stuffing, black-hat seo tactics, text-link banner exchanges, and the list goes on.
Well, I'm here to tell you that I have the one be all end all answer and I'm sharing it with the entire world!
The hard truth is that there is no magic secret to online advertising. No one method will generate the biggest amount of cash/exposure for every website or business imaginable - it's all a matter of trial and error, time and talent.
That's a pretty lame answer, I know. It would have been much cooler for me to tell you that buying tiny classified ads in your local paper played a crucial part in your success and riches. Well, I'm sorry. For the few of you that have been down this road before and are starting to get it, you'll hear a ring of truth in my words. The sooner you stop looking for a quick fix to make your message stick, the better.
For what it's worth, these are my thoughts.
1) The internet has only been alive for a few short years, and in that time it has changed dramatically many times over. Remember in 1995 when everyone first discovered the cool little animated envelope .gif that you would click on to send them email? Where was your online bill-pay, instant messaging, and dynamically generated page content then? And only a few short years later you can see how far we've come and use that as a measure for how far we can go.
The point is that the internet, like other forms of media, is a rapidly evolving monster. What works for online advertisers today might be completely ineffectual only a few months from now. That's why the best advertisers are constantly researching and creating their own unique marketing strategies. The trick is to find out what works for you, and to make sure that you revisit it from time to time to tune it up as the market changes.
2) You Have to Spend Money to Make Money. It's a tired line, but it's that way because everyone says it. Don't be afraid to add fuel to your advertising fire and take it to another level. Try investing (note that I said investing and not spending) five, ten, or fifty thousand dollars in advertising. If you don't jump out a window the first time you do it, you may walk away with a big smile and a little pocket money!
The hard part about investing a big chunk of money is coming up with it in the first place. If you already have $50,000 laying around for advertising and are just looking for a place to put it, give me a call. If you're not that lucky, try looking at the Small Business Administration for ideas on how to get a small business loan.
If you don't want to go farther than your mailbox, examine some of those credit checks your bank keeps sending you in the mail. A lot of people take advantage of their fairly reasonable interest rates to fund projects.
3) Presentation is Key. You'll find that excellent writing skills and good marketing go hand in hand. As you improve on one, the other is bound to follow. Knowing how to write, and how to write well will give you an extraordinary advantage of the majority of individuals vying for your customers' attention. I don't know about you, but I get a lot of spam for people wanting to sell me their "good, cheap, A+ #1 $$$ rolex watch, discount Viagra, H0t s1utz, etc."
Needless to say, I have never purchased anything from them and most likely, neither have you. If you have, please drop me a line and let me know how it worked out. I'm always wondering how many of those are a scam.
The emails and circulars that I do purchase from come from GoDaddy, buy.com, Google and a host of other professional companies that take a few minutes to earn my trust with good punctuation, grammar, and quality content.
If you don't have a talent for writing (and you know who you are) you have two choices:
Get better - easier said than done. Like the majority of things, writing is one part talent and nine parts hard work. Take some classes, do peer editing suggestions, or send it to me look over (first ten-thousand submissions only).
Or, get someone else to do it - leaving more time for you at the rudder. I like this option not simply because it's a time saver for me, but also because the work generally comes out better than anything I could have done. This article is an excellent example. I provided a detailed outline, some good anecdotes, and the strategies above. I then took an a few minutes to edit bits and pieces to make it what you see. Not bad for half an hour's work.
If you can't write it yourself please feel free to hire a pro. You could always check Freelance.com for potential writers. They come at different prices of course. Hopefully those that cost you a little fortune with just have to be worth it.
OK. That's all I've got for now. Stay tuned for more advice on how to get started with online advertising. Please remember though that how far you go is up to you. There is no substitute for your own work and effort in succeeding in this business.