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Internet Schooling? 4 Things to Model

From Degrees4Moms.com

From Degrees4Moms.com

Working on Gary Glew’s “Life College” project got me thinking about people who are successfully coaching and teaching over the internet. Glew wants to create an instructional program for young adults who need help transitioning into fully independent life. This would include things like learning about asking for raises, filing taxes, and managing rent. It’s a pretty unique program. I haven’t stumbled upon any other that does that. But we can still learn a ton about best practice from others in the internet-teaching sphere.

I love looking at patterns, and I found 4 key ones to model while researching this area. We’ll talk about each of them, and how they might apply to Glew’s project as an example of finding ways to model established strategies in a new business.

1) Successful teaching sites openly feature their biggest customers. Almost every site I looked at had images of big customers’ logos on a banner somewhere. For Glew’s project, we could have a banner with the logos of the colleges who have bought or participated in the program.

2) Successful teaching sites are categorical. They clearly define what ‘courses’ or types of information they offer. Kahn Academy is a great example of this. They separate their subjects into math, science, the arts, economics, and computing, and then go into clear sub-topics within those.

3) They produce their content in multiple formats. The most successful teaching sites use a variety of platforms, from videos, to podcasts, to blog posts. This could be helpful for Glew’s project if we decide we want to create a ‘Freemium’ model, for example letting people read blog posts and listen to podcasts for free, but charging for video content.

4) They have a call to action on the first page of the website. This is usually an opt-in to subscribe for a mailing list with an incentive. For example, Glew could put up an opt-in with the incentive that if you subscribe, you get 2 free videos of your choice to start with.

I didn’t realize how huge and varied the online teaching space is, but there are definitely a lot of people doing it the right way. I can’t wait to see how this space expands in the future.

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YouTubers have Business Models? 6 Things We Can Learn

From MidiaResearch.com

From MidiaResearch.com

In another blog post, I mentioned the amazing success YouTubers have had–over 40 make more than a million dollars every year. I said it was important to learn from the achievements of people outside the traditional business sphere (as well as within) to really get a full view of what people like to see on the internet. When I started looking into what made YouTube stars successful, I was surprised at how clear some of the patterns were.

YouTubers have been wildly successful across a wide variety of content, from makeup tutorials (Michelle Phan, $3M), to cooking tutorials (Rosanna Pansino, $2.5M), to prank videos (Roman Atwood, $2.5M), to talk shows (Rhett and Link, $4.5M), to gaming accounts (Felix Kjelberg, $12M).

So what are some of the common ties?

1) Across the board, successful YouTubers are very clear about what kind of content they produce. It’s almost a niche mindset. They choose a category and stick to it, whether that’s gaming or cooking.

2) They find a way to stand out within their category. This can involve creating segments exclusive to their account. For example, Rhett and Link have an ongoing “Will It?” segment where they test whether weird ingredients work together to create a new version of a standard food. No other YouTuber does that. It’s little things like that which help differentiate them.

3) They have a schedule of when they’re going to put content out, and make sure their audience knows it. Jenna Marbles, a comedy YouTuber with 15 million subscribers, sticks to putting out a video every Wednesday. One of my favorite YouTube accounts, Blimey Cow, uploads their main videos on Mondays, and call the series “Messy Mondays.” They have a consistent, clear schedule and stick to it.

4) Their videos look good, aesthetically. Every single YouTuber I looked at when writing this blog used a professional camera with a quality microphone. This model can translate to the importance of having well-designed websites and apps.

5) They have a ‘call to action’ in every video. It’s amazing how consistent successful YouTube accounts are in calling upon people to “thumbs up, comment, and subscribe”. Some even add incentives, or have a clip they replay at the end of each video to remind people to do so. YouTuber Rclbeauty101 (7M subscribers) holds sweepstakes for things like MacBook Airs and tablets, where the only thing you have to do to enter is be subscribed.

6) They form partnerships. Whether it’s promoting a product at the end of their video or joining together with another YouTuber for a video, the most successful accounts seek out partnerships.

I was amazed by how closely YouTube success models mirror traditional business success models. It’s super cool to see patterns like this appearing across so many different platforms.

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Learning from All Sides of the Interent

From MarketTran.com

From MarketTran.com

I love learning about internet-based companies, but while researching I realized how many people have internet-based careers without actually having a traditional business. For example, Ben Shapiro, one of my favorite political commentators, uses the internet as a platform for his podcast, show, and columns even though he doesn’t have a full-on company. It got me thinking about how multi-faceted the internet is. There are so many opportunities, you don’t even have to have a traditional company to get into the internet space. You can have a YouTube-based show, a blog, a podcast on iTunes, a website, and a social media presence, all completely dedicated to your personal brand. A lot of people make millions of dollars a year just off of one of these internet-based opportunities. For example, in 2015, over 40 YouTubers made over a million dollars for the year.

I think the opportunities outside of traditional internet-based businesses can teach us two important things about traditional internet companies: 1) The internet is truly a flourishing and growing content driver.  2) While it’s important to have discretion with how you expand your business on the internet, you don’t have to choose just one platform. You can expand to any and all platforms that effectively help your company’s growth.

It’s important to keep in mind everyone who’s succeeding in the internet space, and look at what they’re doing right, not just traditional companies.

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Allow For Experimentation In Your Internet B-Plan

Every internet entrepreneur is use to experimentation, because that is the language of the web: ready, fire, aim. REPEAT. Well, I contend that this should be the same mentality/plan that you implement/have for your SEO plan on your website.

In the realm of search engine optimization you offer hear terms like Googlebot, spiders, indexing and other jargon referencing search engines. This can appear complicated, but the reality is that SEO is as much about science as it is plain old experimentation.

Let me explain.

Every business has a different method to marketing and sales. For instance, a consumer goods company may create and publish a 30 second advertisements on popular T.V. channels in order to broadcast their newest product. Whereas, a mid-size industrial company may go for a direct sales approach to push new product. Each company may try new marketing and sales methods to see what works and what does not, but they will not abandon their core strategy’s of T.V. commercials or direct sales.

SEO is similar.

SEO’s main tactic for increased traffic is consistently publishing engaging content for users, as well as linking with other influencers.  But an equally important strategy is experimentation. TRY NEW THINGS. Attempt to engage users in a different way in order to boost traffic. Be sure to record your experiments so that your process can be repeated

Let me list a few examples of ways you can experiment during your internet enterprise

1. Post content onto different social media platforms. (at different times of the day)

2. Contact and co-author posts with other influencers

3. Make your site responsive.

4. Create a 30 day interactive contest.

5. Have a friend use your site and give you advice.

6. Create a free open forum on your site

If you have other experiments, be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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First Steps in Starting an Internet Based Company

Now that our class has delivered our ideas and narrowed them down, it comes time to focus on applying these ideas in a business sense.  The process of actually starting an internet based company can be a difficult one and is quite easy to get lost along the way.  For me at least I had no idea where to begin during the launching process and had to refer to an article by Yaro Starak on 3 easy steps to starting an internet business.

Starak’s first step in the article was to focus on driving traffic to your site.  I guess for this to be applicable you need to have a site already built so at times this could be the second step, but for the sake of time we will assume a site already exists.  To drive attention to your business’s website you will have to focus on the different aspects of search engine optimization.  This generally includes focusing on providing valuable content to your customers.  Other ways of gaining traffic include implementing a paid campaign, where you pay for click.

The second step is to use the traffic gained to make a sale.  Although sales in the beginning of your business might not be where you want, it is important to propose value in your front end product.  This initial value will build a strong relationship with your customers and increase the rate at which they return and buy again.  Once value is perceived in your brand and product, it allows for an increase in profits leading to the last step.

The third step is to increase you margins.  By achieving perceived value in your product, you justify an increase in price.  With this increase in price, your business will increase profits and become even more successful.  Another implementation associated with increased margins is related to diversification and offering extended expert services.  Being seen as valuable will increase credibility providing opportunities to sell you knowledge linked to your product and brand.

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Can Blogging Really Be Profitable?

Can blogging really be profitable?

The answer to that is yes.  Blogging can absolutely be profitable.  In fact, a current trend is for stay-at-home moms to blog for profit, and many are actually making almost as much, if not more, than their working husbands.  It’s incredibly difficult to tell the exact statistics on this, however, because there are no laws that make bloggers disclose their profits to the public, only that they have to state that they were given a product for free to review, if that is the case.  Most bloggers, then, are unwilling to say just how much their making, or how many readers they have, for fear of making losing popularity.

In reality, though, there are many ways to make profit through a blog, especially if you consider receiving items for free to review to be profit.  Companies are often willing to send out free samples of their products to bloggers who ask, so long as they have a good amount of regular readers, and ad revenue can be profitable as well.  Mom bloggers create incredible publicity for companies whose products they write about, and tech/business bloggers also generate a lot of traffic for the products that they review.

AdSense by Google is often used by bloggers, and makes the process of getting ads to place on your blog hardly even a process, though it doesn’t guarantee a huge amount of profit.  The more traffic on your blog when using AdSense, the more money that you make, which means that low traffic flow and limited readership are directly related to limited profits.

The last major form of blog monetization is affiliate sales.  Basically, you get a commission every time someone buys a product through your referral.  You get a personalized URL or code to put on your blog or other social media accounts, and you get money each time someone follows your link to make a purchase.  Amazon has a very popular affiliate program.  Again, though, affiliate marketing is only highly profitable with a high traffic flow through your blog.

So, yes, blogging can be profitable if you use the right mediums and publicity, however, you have to generate a fairly large following first.  In my next post I’ll discuss some ways to gain the size readership that will make your blog successful.

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