I’ve been talking a lot about various online business related topics lately, but there’s one basic thing I haven’t touched upon yet. And that is the actual answer to the question of: where is the money made in an online business and what are some standard online business models?
There’s no one correct answer here. Many businesses make money in many different ways, yet still some general patterns can be found, and that is what I’m going to try to do in this new series.
First up is making money by offering services and consulting.
Just a note. I’m not an expert, and I have no business education, so I’m talking from my own experience. That being said, I always try to explain these matters the best I can.
Offering services or consulting may not sound like a base for online business models because the online part is not mentioned anywhere, so bear with me.
The main idea here is to use your website or blog as a tool for attracting customers. The website is not the money lure, it’s the people lure. So once you have a fairly popular website (in your niche) you can use it as a platform for offering your services.
Elements of this online business model
Not every online business’s website should look the same. Depending on your business model specific elements need to be put in place to support your money making strategy.
1. About and Hire Me pages
If you’re offering services this is the most important page on your site. At some point people will want to find out more about you and the things you do. Your About page is where you can share your story and list the services you’re offering.
Some people like to combine the About and Hire Me pages. Some like to keep them separate. Both approaches have their pros and cons.
For instance, if you combine the pages, you’ll have one place where whoever’s interested can go and find out something about you, and in addition they’re exposed to the semi-marketing message about your offerings. So even if they were not interested in hiring you at first, now they maybe are.
On the other hand, when you keep the pages separate you can place the links to both of them in your main menu bar, and provide a clear direction for people interested in learning more about you.
When it comes to the contents of these pages, make sure to provide a clear message and focus on the benefits of hiring you, instead of just listing your services as bullet points.
The feature-benefit relation has been widely discussed on the internet. One sentence explanation might be that: features are what you do, benefits are what those features mean to the client – the ultimate outcome.
For example, a plumber does not fix the pipes, what they actually do is stop water from dripping and annoying you.
All posts and articles you publish on your site should always combine into something that supports you as an expert, or at least positions you as someone worth to hire.
First of all, focus on topics clearly and closely related to the services you’re offering. Write about what you do, and provide some useful hints and advice regarding your field of expertise.
You shouldn’t be afraid of providing too much free information. Thinking that you can’t say too much for free because no one would need to hire you anymore is a mindset of scarcity. Don’t fall for it.
On the contrary, free is what convinces people to take action, especially for most online business models. Every musician and performing artist knows this. Whenever they release a new album there’s always this one leading song that’s airing on the radio all the time – for free, yet there are still thousands of people willing to buy the whole album.
So to sum it up, make sure to provide good advice closely related to your field. Being honest will create your brand and position you in the marketplace.
3. Useful but incomplete
There’s one more thing I want to say about the content on your site. For some people and some types of services the idea of writing something that’s useful but incomplete works exceptionally well.
The approach focuses on providing a piece of content that’s immediately actionable. Something that can be used to create some tangible results, but at the same time it creates a number of unknowns, questions, and doubts.
So in the end, whoever implements your advice will get the results, but at the same time they’ll have a good reason to contact you for additional advice, or at least to continue reading your articles.
Traffic is the most important thing for every website. If you have no traffic you won’t be able to make any money.
Some time ago I combined a list of 9,200,000+ Traffic Sources for Your Blog or Website, feel free to check it out to get the full scope of possibilities.
This kind of online business models works rather well with SEO and advertising (for example, on AdWords – check out my post on Google AdWords tips).
That’s due to the fact that people often look for the exact services you’re offering. When you get a good rank on Google or advertise for some popular keywords you’re placing yourself on the perfect spot to grab the client at an exact moment when they’re actively searching for you.
Moreover, the game of SEO and AdWords gets a lot easier if you have a site with lots of useful content on it.
When it comes to advertising, however, driving traffic to your home page might not be the best idea. Even driving it to your Hire Me page might not be the best idea. The Quality Score rules of Google can be really problematic for online businesses. Most of the cases creating a custom landing page for your advertising campaign is a superior approach.
OK, I hope we have this first business model covered. Feel free to comment and share your insights on this topic. Is there something else I should have mentioned here?