What’s the deal with this internet marketing game?
Is it really something you can learn?
I was watching a current affairs show on TV recently and a discussion was going about climbing Mt Everest.
I can’t remember the context in great detail, but it involved a guest who was aiming to be the youngest person to complete the climb.
The tone of the discussion was pretty encouraging – ‘good on you’, ‘you’re an amazing example to young people’, ‘it’s going to be an extraordinary experience’ etc – but one of the members of the panel had actually climbed Everest and I thought his comments were interesting.
The teenage girl who was planning her climb was obviously more ambitious than experienced. I understand she’s been climbing for a while and has already achieved some pretty impressive stuff in her short life.
She had the whole Everest climb mapped out and was going through her expectations: A couple of days to this base camp, a couple of days to that base camp, a couple of hours on the top appreciating the view and the achievement.
That’s when the guy who had climbed Everest chimed in,
“I agree with your expectations regarding the progress of the climb, if you’re lucky, but I promise you this, when you get to the top you won’t care much about the view. You’ll be like, ‘cool, we’re here, now let’s get down before we die’.”
He said that most people who climb Everest spend about 60 seconds at the top – max – then turn around without a second thought. This is because the process of getting to the top is so exhausting and challenging (and dangerous) that all you want to do is get back to the bottom (alive) and recover. He said the appreciation of the achievement comes much later after you’ve had some good meals, breathed some air that actually has oxygen in it, thawed out and slept for a week.
I haven’t climbed Everest but I can relate to the experience of fully appreciating something only after time has passed. I’ve been in situation where I just haven’t felt like celebrating and getting excited about what I’ve achieved until after I’ve managed to recover from the excruciating effort of the achievement itself.
Learning internet marketing is hard. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes it takes a lot, lot longer to get to the top of one learning curve or the end of one goal than you expect. When this happens, by the time you get there you are just so relieved you don’t even care about the achievement itself very much (particularly if you’re only part way to your ultimate destination). The celebration and excitement come and they come hard, but not until later.
If you want to get an internet marketing business off the ground and thriving, there are a few steep learning curves ahead. Depending on your own skills and abilities, you might struggle with one or all of these. If you’re new to the game, expect to huff and puff as you climb and climb and climb. And expect that you’ll need to make the commitment.
There are three steep peaks everyone has to conquer when it comes to learning internet marketing. Then there’s one more big one…
The Internet Marketing Learning Curve
The three initial learning curves are developing:
- Technical skills
- Marketing skills
- Writing skills
Peak 1: Developing Competent Technical Skills
Anything you do online takes a certain degree of technical skills.
A lot of people who use the internet regularly will be familiar with some of these, particularly from the point of view of using them:
- domain names
- site navigation
- uploading and downloading
- subscribing to email lists
- etc (this is a MONSTER ‘etc’ – I haven’t even scratched the surface of the kind of tech stuff you’ll need to understand to be competent if you’re going to get serious).
But it can be very different when you’re on the other side and you’re learning to create these technical capabilities.
Most internet marketers will create websites of one kind of another and probably have an autoresponder series. You may want to set up an online store or just incorporate e-commerce facilities into a webpage. You may want to track traffic or leads, learn SEO, create banner ads, PPC campaigns, social media profiles, videos, webinars, podcasts, apps, optimize things for mobile devices and tablets, customize for different operating systems, use and/or create software
And the list goes on and on and on.
It can be daunting to say the least. It’s probably the #1 reason people give up before they’ve even started.
Over the years I’ve become competent in a lot of the things above and I’ve got a stack of things I still have to learn on my to-do list.
Learning to create and host my own websites has been where I’ve learned the hardest lessons.
I use WordPress, but even with the so-called easy-to-use functionalities of WP, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. And as with any website, you also have to learn about domain registration, hosting, FTP, database management and backing up your content (believe me, you don’t want to learn that one the hard way).
I’m now pretty confident building sites and have even learned a certain amount of HTML and PHP so I can be in control of the look and feel of them. I’m far from an expert, though.
Don’t be discouraged if you are just getting started and keep running up against roadblocks when you’re getting a site up and running or when you find you have to learn a new technical skill. Keep it simple to start with. Commit to constant learning. Practice. Spend time on the phone talking to help desks. And don’t be afraid to go on forums to get advice or find someone to outsource to. Sometimes it really pays to spend money on getting past an immediate technical hurdle and then trying to learn it after the fact for next time.
Peak 2: Developing Mad Marketing Skills
I see a lot of wannabe internet marketers with no marketing skills whatsoever. They don’t get the theory or the practice of it. They want to make money promoting their own products or affiliate products and think they can succeed just by getting a link in front of somebody – anybody.
It doesn’t work that way.
Not at the pointy end of the industry, anyway.
You could make a few bucks from anything if you’ve got traffic to play with. A scatter-gun approach always gets a few bits of shrapnel into the target. But this is a very inefficient way to do business and could get you into a lot of trouble (think: SPAM).
Good marketing skills are very valuable and like with technical ability, it isn’t easy to learn it all quickly. It can take time for anyone not familiar with sales and marketing to appreciate the fundamentals of data analysis, demographics, market segmentation, relationship building, branding, credibility, PR and advertising.
The good news is that there are thousands of books and resources dedicated to teaching marketing and some awesome coaches in the internet marketing world who specialize in it. You’ll learn a lot just by reading a lot initially and then get better and better with practice.
Peak 3: Writing Skills That Pay The Bills
Virtually every internet marketing business model (maybe with the exception of pure direct linking PPC/CPV type campaigns) will demand a lot of writing and good writing skills. This is particularly true if you’re creating your own info products, creating sales pages, using email or blogging. Even if you’re creating videos you’ll have to script to have a good finished product. Then there’s the promotional/support writing – articles, guest posts, contributions to forums and other blogs, social media updates, reports, and even responding to emails.
Unfortunately, while almost everyone can write one word after another and string a few sentences together, few people seem to be good at doing a lot of it or doing it well. Writing a lot of content every day takes a lot of discipline and the ability to call up inspiration repeatedly, often on a moment’s notice. Writing quality content also demands the ability to do good research and a knack for structure.
There are many specific writing skills that are particularly important for internet marketers – copywriting, storytelling, persuasive writing, motivational writing, critical writing, technical writing, conversational writing, script writing and article writing. Sometimes you have to write in one style for an hour then switch to a different style for the next hour.
Of course, to write well, you have to know how to spell and how to use grammar and punctuation properly.
I’m appalled at the poor quality of a lot of stuff I read online. I don’t understand how people don’t appreciate that bad writing is a massive turn off for anyone considering purchasing an info product. It amazes me that people who want to persuade someone to sign up to an email series or buy a 50 page eBook for $27 don’t make the effort to write a compelling (or sometimes even readable) invitation or sales page. Or just spellcheck!
The thing is, you probably have to be born with the ability to be a great writer, but that kind of ability isn’t really necessary. You just have to be good enough and I believe most people can learn to do that. To get to that level it takes practice more than anything. If you want to excel at it, you also have to read, and read, and read and read. Unfortunately, too many people just won’t turn off the TV long enough to do it.
The Summit: Razor Sharp Entrepreneurial Skills
Even if you’ve crushed the first 3 peaks, you’re still far from the summit.
The 3 peaks are just the preparation.
There’s a fourth peak that is part and parcel of any successful business enterprise. It’s hard to define, but if I was to call it anything, I’d say it was an entrepreneurial ‘spark’. It’s one thing to know how to create a functioning website, get an email series out, do SEO, and market products or services online. It’s another thing altogether do it in a way that generates a lot of income.
I’d estimate there are maybe 200,000 people actively trying to become internet marketers at any one time. A lot more are curious, but I’m not including them. They haven’t even started climbing the 3 peaks yet. Not seriously.
The 200,000 number is a pure estimate of course. I’ve picked that number because it’s an observation I’ve made as to the number of people who appear to be paying for membership sites, coaching programs or at least actively participating in forums in the internet marketing world.
Most of the curious never really start to learn internet marketing seriously. They buy a couple of products, browse some forums, maybe try setting up a blog, then decide it’s not for them.
Those who do give it a solid crack also come and go, but at least the try to overcome a few roadblocks.
Internet marketing isn’t for everyone.
Neither is business.
85% probably don’t make any kind of money.
95% probably don’t make the kind of money they could turn into a full-time business.
99% don’t make enough to be considered wealthy because of it.
The difference between understanding how internet marketing works on a theoretical level, being able to put a strategy together and get the practical application up and running, and then being able to succeed in making serious money is in the extent to which an individual has an entrepreneurial ‘spark’.
It’s the ability to appreciate which markets and niches you can really profit in and how to get a decent ROI on your efforts. It’s commitment to overcoming roadblocks and the savvy to know how to get around them. It’s imagination, innovation, confidence, resilience. It’s knowing what a market really wants and coming up with exciting products that demand attention. It’s forging productive and profitable partnerships with JVs. And it’s what Jay Abraham calls ‘preeminence’.
If making a truly solid income from internet marketing could be equated to climbing Mt Everest, then this is like climbing the entrepreneurial peak.
You can’t just wake up one day and decide you’re going to do it. It takes time to acclimatize to the pressure (if you want to climb Everest you have to spend 2-3 months at altitude or you’ll just pass before you get to the top. Even with acclimatization, experienced climbers have to deal with hallucinations from the lack of oxygen as they near the summit).
You can’t succeed overnight.
It takes knowledge, experience, planning, preparation and then a huge amount of effort to get there. The three peaks are the long, grueling days ascending from base camp and the fourth peak is the final treacherous climb to the summit.
Getting a successful internet marketing business up and running isn’t easy. From sea level it might not look like it would be so hard, but in reality you’re more than likely to struggle with the learning curves ahead. Even if you can create a site, get traffic and promote an offer, you still have a long way to go before the real income is coming in.
It all depends on commitment to attempt climbing all the way to the top.