5 Reasons Your Online Biz Is Failing

It is a common misconception that you just need to build a website, set up some auto tweets, write some articles about the same shit someone else already wrote and you will be sitting at the pool drinking fru-fru drinks with little umbrellas in them. WRONG!

It takes a lot of hard work, long hours, discipline, and half a brain (maybe even three quarters) to make an online business successful. Here some common reasons I see online businesses fall on a daily basis, there are more reasons, but I feel like these are important ones to look at:

1. You Are Cheap

Let’s face it, if you are too cheap to get real hosting or buy a domain name how do you think you will survive the other parts of building an online business. Despite popular belief, it takes an investment to create a successful online business.

My first blog was on a free platform (WordPress.com) and it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to make this work, and I needed to invest some money in it.

Most free platforms limit you to what you can do (it is their site!), they essentially own your content, and can shut you down at any given moment (I have seen Google shut down Blogger sites for no real reason). The same holds true for Facebook Fan pages.

Look at it as an investment, not a fee. You are investing in your future, and in a business!

Would you try to open a shoe store with no money invested in products, leasing a retail location, employees, displays, advertising, etc….?

If you start to think more about it as a real business (brick and mortar even), then maybe you can see the reason it is important to invest in it.

Here are a few “investments” you should be considering if you aren’t already using them.

Editor’s Note: The first 2 are Affiliate Links to products and services I myself use. ^Dino
  • Hosting: Get it from a reputable company like Host Gator so you can be sure your site is always up.
  • Theme: Get a premium theme, again from someone reputable, like Woothemes. I use Headlines theme for this blog.
  • Education: Don’t be afraid to spend money to educate yourself, join a mastermind group, buy publications, get consulting, etc… You can spend a couple of years learning this like I did, or you can spend a little money and learn in a fraction of the time.
  • Logo: Get a good logo PLEASE! It is so obvious when people (like myself) try to do graphics when they aren’t good at it! You might be surprised what you can get for $5 on Fiverr, or for $30-$50 on Elance or other sites. Either way, get a good logo because your “brand” depends on it!
  • Design: It is totally ok to “start” with a standard theme without many modifications, but at some point you will need to upgrade to something with your own voice, your own spin on it. Be prepared to spend some cash to get a good design if you are not a coding junkie.

2. You are an Addict!

Yep, I said it because I have been there! I am a self confessed blog and social media addict.

I recently quit blogging altogether other than the occasional guest post just to keep the shakes at bay. Social media is still a huge timesuck, but I digress.

My suggestions:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend lurking on other blogs and commenting. I am not saying that commenting is all bad, but if that’s all you spend your time doing then you are probably going to fail unless you write a blog specifically about commenting on blogs!
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Don’t leave Tweetdeck or Hootsuite (whichever app you use) open all day, you will never get anything done! Setup times to use social media, or set up rewards for completing something more productive like creating a good opt in form!

The bottom line is, if all you spend your time doing is reading, writing, and socializing, when are you able to actually grow your business?

3. You Have Nothing Original To Share

This is another one I see people all too often struggle with. They find a successful blogger and just regurgitate that blogger’s content. I am not talking about having a different opinion and writing about why you feel differently (linking to the source), but just re-writing a popular blogger’s content is a sure fire way to failure.

Don’t misunderstand me, not every piece of content needs to be original, but it should at the very least have your own voice to it. If you look at what the people that are making a living doing this (and I am NOT talking about make money online niches), they are providing real solutions to real problems!

If you are just going to be a “copycat” you probably won’t find much success and will fizzle out.

4. Use Your Knowledge and Expertise

Let’s face real facts here, if you haven’t made a full time income online, how in the world can you teach someone else to do it!

Look at the real pros, they ALL came from other backgrounds like photography, tech, or architecture for example. They were making a living online before they tried to teach others. And trust me when I tell you this, MMO and Blog about Blogging are very crowded niches and can be very hard to make a living in!

If you are an auto mechanic, consider writing a do it yourself mechanic blog. If you are a contractor, write about home improvements. If you are a pet groomer, write about pets.

Most important: If you have never worked on cars, DON’T write a blog about fixing them! That goes for social media and make money online blogs too, how can you tell/teach others when you yourself don’t even have the knowledge and experience?

5. You Have No Product

Do you realize how much traffic you need to get on your second rate make money online site to make any real money on affiliates and/or ads????? A lot more than you will probably EVER get.

Come up with a real business plan and some real products for your online business!

I used to be a fence contractor, I promoted that business through blogging and social media. When I sold that business and decided to become a full time online marketer, I stuck with the same industry and built a website dedicated to selling high end fence products.

I built a relationship with the manufacturer and convinced them to drop ship products and give me wholesale pricing so I could offer their products on my website. Why is this such a great strategy?

  1. It’s not my product. I don’t have to produce anything I am using someone else’ products.
  2. It’s high end. The products I offer, most sales are over $3k.
  3. High markup. Most sales I get 20-25% markup.
  4. I get paid up front. I get paid first, the customer pays me, I pay the manufacturer and keep my portion. It is NOT an affiliate sale where I have to wait to get paid.
  5. I never touch the product. The manufacturer ships the products directly to the customer for me, I never see it!

What does all that mean? It basically meant I made over $30k in my first 6mos on that website. GET A PRODUCT!

Conclusion:

I know the title to this article can sound a little negative, but it is the truth. I watch so many people come and go trying to copy what big bloggers are doing. Don’t. Instead, find your own way, use what experience and knowledge you already have to get into a niche that you can profit from. Try to find a local niche even, a need that may need to be met.

Online businesses are really not much different than offline business. It takes hard work, dedication, investment, and sacrifices to make it work. If you think that any of my offline businesses succeeded because I sat at the pool all day you are sadly mistaken. I worked my ass off to make them successful, and the same is needed for an online business!

  • What are you an expert in?
  • What product are you selling?
  • Do you harbor any original thoughts that could use fresh air?

Share them in the comments below.

Keith Bloemendaal

Keith is a social media manager for local businesses in Carolina Beach, NC. He is a seasoned email marketer, web/blog developer, biz promoter and more. He is working on a hobby site for photography where he takes, edits, and uploads images to the site using only his Droid.

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  • http://expatlifecoach.com John Falchetto

    Keith, 
    I have been working online for a year now and all I can say is amen! You nailed them all and my favorite is #5. Even for those selling services you need to package it as a product :)

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      That is probably one of the toughest points people fail to tackle, even if it is an ad based site use a newsletter as a product to drive traffic….

  • http://twitter.com/BetsyKCross Betsy Cross

    #2 absolutely! Thank goodness school started! Now I have a time limit and a focus. 

    • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

      We need to put you on our shoulders and carry you in the right direction. But I see you kicking and screaming all the way. [grin]

      Big hug to you Betsy!

  • http://twitter.com/BetsyKCross Betsy Cross

    #2 absolutely! Thank goodness school started! Now I have a time limit and a focus. 

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    A practical, business-minded approach, Keith.

    I have a local business opportunity that fits Keith’s picture, but I’m not personally interested in it. If anyone is ready to do it Keith’s way, looking for an opportunity, and able to make the investment, get in touch with me: stan(dot)faryna(at)faryna(dot)com.

  • http://www.balancedworklife.com/blog Bryce Christiansen

    Great point Dino,

    I probably comment too much myself.  However it has done wonders for finding new readers and helping me to become part of some great blogs.  I agree though.  Spending too much time commenting will leave you out of time to do the other important tasks.

    Thanks for the reminder,

    Bryce

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

    • http://androidphotoart.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I think a good balance of commenting, especially for a new site trying to promote, is a positive thing….

  • http://alphaefficiency.com Bojan Djordjevic

    Guilty as charged on accusation number 5, it takes me too long to write my book.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Keith,

    This is a very true statement:” The bottom line is, if all you spend your time doing is reading, writing, and socializing, when are you able to actually grow your business?” Yes, yes & yes!
    Great post – interesting things to ponder.
    Peggy

  • http://expatdoctormom.com/ Expat Doctor Mom

    Thanks Keith!

    Fortunately, I didn’t go into my website blindly and set the goal for my first year really to brand myself.  It is working.  I have not developed products yet but this is my next phase and what I am lacking. I wanted to see what the needs were. I had considered having a paid forum… NOT!  It would have been taxing to staff all by myself as the community couldn’t have answered the questions entirely on their own.  They are seeking expertise.

    Best,
    Rajka

    • http://socialweb101.com Keith Bloemendaal

      I recently listened to a podcast over on Ending The Grind where Penelope Trunk gives Steve from Ending the Grind a smack right in the face about his indecision and lack of just doing something (warning: foul language). I suggest ANYONE lacking a direction listen to this podcast all the way through! 

      http://www.endingthegrind.com/etg-podcast-22-penelope-trunk-calls-bullshit/

      Hope Dino doesn’t mind the link ;-) 

  • http://hypertransitory.com/ John Garrett

    Keith you nailed it, here. I was trying to explain to a friend of mine that he needed to invest his time AND money into his efforts before he could reasonably expect to get to the level he was shooting for.

    He told me he “didn’t want to spend any money until he was sure it was going to work”.

    Hmmm. Unfortunately there was no convincing him. I hope this post helps to push some of those on the edge into the game!

    • http://socialweb101.com Keith Bloemendaal

      This is the main problem with online businesses in my view, people don’t understand that they need to think of it just like starting a brick and mortar biz and you wouldn’t (couldn’t) start one without a modest investment. If you go into it thinking it’s a “real” business and you need a plan and money (yes, it takes money to make money) then you have a much better chance of succeeding.