Get itMy first foray into internet marketing came around four years ago after I read a book outlining the basics of building simple websites to be populated with affiliate offers. After that, all I’d need to do was sprinkle a bit of SEO gold dust over everything, sit back and watch the money roll in.

No sooner had I finished reading it than I assumed it would be no more than a matter of months (if that) before I’d be striding confidently into my boss’s office and flinging my resignation letter on his desk before spending the rest of the day contemplating which paradise island I’d like to grow my laptop empire from.

The reality, I’m sure you’ll have guessed, was quite different, and while the model talked of in the book did bring in a bit of money, it proved to be nowhere near the cash explosion I’d anticipated, but maybe things would have been a little different if I’d known a few more key things from the start that I know now. I’ve narrowed them down to the following ten…

1. Choose Your Route.
Are you going down the affiliate marketing route? Or how about digital product creation? Perhaps you favour email marketing, or selling and shipping physical products. Maybe you simply want to start by earning money providing services to others (think article writing via, or designing ebook covers on Whatever you consider, work out what best fits your lifestyle and personality then take things from there.

2. Understand Your Target. 
Say you’re in the particular niche, but you’re not yet an expert in the subject. If that’s the case, learn about your potential customers by reading the forums and becoming a positive contributor to them. Buy some magazines. Get an idea of the demographic of your market. What’s the typical age range? Are they male or female? Oh, and learn the vernacular. If certain terms or slang words are in vogue, use them in your blog posts (or emails, or Facebook page comments, or forum posts) and gain the trust of the people you’d like to turn into customers.

3. Set A Budget
Doing this will help in a number of ways. Here are two:
First, setting a strict monthly budget will help you see your internet marketing as a business that requires accountability.
Secondly, it’ll help you stick to a path you’ve chosen. One of the things I found difficult at the start was choosing a model and sticking with it. If building small websites using WordPress and then driving traffic via SEO is your strength, using a percentage of your budget in achieving that aim will help you grow your business in the long term. Without a budget, it’s all too easy to become distracted and flit from one model to another, never settling on – or seeing through – one thing before moving onto the next.

4. Find Your Own Voice
Having a coach – or one or two trusted voices you rely on – is a wonderful thing in any pursuit – but don’t simply mimic everything they do. Say you’re a bass player and you’re forming a band. You’re a massive fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and you love Flea. You wouldn’t just try to become Flea Mk 2, because there’s only one Flea. You’d take elements of Flea, add a hefty dollop of your own personality and style to come up with something new.
It’s the same in internet marketing. Find a voice that’s both unique to you and that you’re comfortable with. If you do this, honestly, you’ll naturally gravitate towards the path of best fit more often than not, and your customers will love you for it.

5. Set Time Aside Each Week.
We have 168 hours in our week. Take a look at where you can find just 6, 7, or 8 of those to work on your business, designate a set time to do that, and stick to it. Do whatever it takes – tear yourself away from Candy Crush Saga; have an extra night in a week; take an evening where you don’t sit channel-hopping. Get that time back each week and very soon what might start off as a chore will become a way of life, and your business will benefit hugely.

6.Harness Your Strengths.
There is so much to internet marketing that it would be virtually impossible to become an expert at every element of it. If your strength is in writing, write. If it’s in product creation, create. If it’s in coding, code. You get the idea.
Use a proportion of your budget to either outsource or buy the elements that you’re not so good at so you don’t get weighed down and give up.

7. Take Action.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but it really is essential to actually do something to move your business forward. There’s little point simply buying product after product, reading them all and then letting them collect digital dust on your hard drive for the next few months. At some point, make a decision on the road you’re going down, stick to it and get to work.

8. Stop Tweaking.
If you’re writing a free product for a squeeze page to entice people on to your email list, say, get it out there as soon as you can. The time to polish your prose or ensure the pictures are perfect is later. No matter how long you spend working on something, it’ll count for nothing until you get it in front of some eyeballs. Make that a priority. You can tweak it later on.

9. Build An Email List.
The internet is a vast old place, but if there’s one thing I learned from my first foray into internet marketing (a long-defunct affiliate marketing and Adsense site) it’s that once you’ve got some traffic, you’d do well to keep it. Get signed up with an autoresponder such as Getresponse or Aweber (or Mailchimp if you want to go down the freebie route) and start to build a list. That way you can get offers in front of those people rather than risk losing them forever. Oh, and don’t just sell, sell, sell to them, either – offer valuable content as well as offers and people will actually look forward to what you have to say rather than resent you for clogging up their inbox.

10. Test Everything
If you have a website, put some Google Analytics code on it and see which parts of your site are working and which aren’t. If you have a squeeze page, put a tracking pixel on it and see how well it converts (I’d aim for 50% or over if you can). If you have an email list, work out the types of title that work and those that leave readers cold. Do this and over time you’ll get it down to a fine art and, most importantly, you really will turn your business into something that replaces your salary.

This is a guest post written by Michael Hall, creator of free product 30 Wonderful Web Tools.

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