About a month ago I wrote a post on this blog that a friend of mine shared to his audience on Facebook. I received a lot of online traffic from him sharing it, and I received some attention from the network marketing company that I work with as well. Specifically, I received an interview request for a series that they are doing on successful distributors. I was initially asked to prepare three talking points around creating an online presence. They decided to go in a different direction with the interview, but I prepared outline more with my blog in mind anyway, so here we go… How to Build on Online Presence.
Why build an online presence?
More important than the actual work of building an online presence is why you want to do it. Without knowing why you want to go to all of this effort you will probably never stick with it long enough to achieve it. It isn’t hard but it does take time.
The first benefit of being online is that the Internet never sleeps. As consumers, people can search the internet for any information they want at any time of the day or night. It’s always there, barring a power outage or issues with their ISP of course. As a provider, by using the internet I can create content that is permanently available to anyone looking for it. You can’t accomplish that with any other medium that I can think of.
I don’t know if it is the same everywhere around the world, but here in the US a lot of people research and order products online. It is more convenient because you can compare different brands and read customer reviews without having to take the time to drive somewhere to visit multiple stores. In some cases online retailers are forcing more traditional brick or mortar stores out of business. Amazon versus the other bookstores is a great example. The internet also allows people who live in more rural areas, like me, to have access to products that may not be otherwise be available where they live.
The internet is nearly world wide. You can communicate with people in just about any country as long as you speak a common language. Actually, with the help of tools like Google Translate you can converse with people who you don’t share a common language with. It’s truly amazing.
I am in network marketing so the more potential people I can reach, the better for my business. There are two activities that build my business, recruiting new team members and selling product to retail customers. My retail market is currently all of the US and Canada and my recruiting market reaches farther to include much of Europe and Central and South America as well. The internet allows me to be everywhere at the same time. I can write one piece of content and reach my entire potential market without the expense and time involved in traveling.
One of the key concepts of network marketing is duplication. Having your own online presence is duplication in the best sense. There is only one of you, so there is a limit to how many people you can talk to at one time. Your website on the other hand can potentially serve thousands of people at one time. Having a website is like having a huge team that works twenty-four hours a day without taking a share of your profit. It also acts as a filter so that you only spend time talking person-to-person with those who are already interested in what you have to offer.
How to Build an Online Presence
Now that you know why you want to build an online presence you are ready to get busy. So, where do you start? Facebook, Twitter and any of the other social media sites are great places to connect with people and build relationships but you need more than that. You need a place that you control where you can put your content so that everyone can come see it. You need your own website.
Your Own Website – You Are In Control
Your website is your home on the internet. It’s the place that you can decorate however you want and where you can say whatever you want. It is the one place on the internet that you control. That means that this is something that you will have to pay for. Fortunately it isn’t expensive and it isn’t all that hard either.
There are many free websites, places like WordPress.com or Blogger.com for example. The problem is that they have final control over your content. If they don’t like something that you have posted, they can take your website down without any warning. They are not usually all that friendly toward those who want to monetize their websites (that’s what they call it when you make money through your website) through affiliate marketing or network marketing. The same thing goes for Facebook, Twitter and the other social media sites. If it is free then you do not have the final say. Like I said, you will have to pay for it, but it isn’t expensive.
On your own website you can say whatever you want and sell any products that you like. There are rules of course just like with any marketing. You cannot violate copyrights or trademarks. You should not plagiarize. You can’t make claims that violate any FDA, FTC or other government agency’s rules. If you are in network marketing or affiliate marketing there may be rules from your vendor about any claims that you can make about their products or services. Beyond that, you can say and do whatever you want on your own website. It is yours and you are in control.
You also have the ability to make sure that your content will be picked up and indexed by the search engines. I’m not going to go much into search engine optimization (SEO) in this post beyond saying that on your own website you have the ability to make sure that certain HTML tags and attributes are set properly to catch the attention of the search engines. You have less ability to do that with free websites and almost none on the social media platforms.
To build an online presence you want to have one place where people can see who you are and read what you have to say without your message expiring. Anything that you share on social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. is pretty much gone after a period of time. For example, I was looking for an old Twitter post yesterday so I scrolled as far back in my feed as I could. It goes back three weeks. That’s it. On other platforms if it isn’t actually gone then it’s so thoroughly buried that it might as well be.
Your own website doesn’t have to have that problem. My websites have both static pages that are always available and a blog. Blog posts roll off of the main listing but they are all completely indexed for search and you can always refer to old posts by linking to them in your new content when it makes sense to. You can’t do that on other websites.
Managing Incoming Traffic
As I said, the content on your website can be permanent. That means that you can have a lot of incoming links from other websites, including from the social media platforms. This helps you to build up the ranking of your pages on the search engines so that other people searching for your information can find you and visit your pages. Since your content doesn’t expire, your visitors can bookmark your pages and know that the information will still be available when they come back. Despite the popularity of social media, I saw a statistic recently that said that better than 60% of website traffic still comes from the search engines.
Managing Outgoing Traffic
If you are selling a product through affiliate marketing or network marketing then you also have outgoing links that you need to maintain. Products change. They get updated and discontinued and new products get introduced that take the place of the old one. The links to those products can change each time something changes with the product or with the website that actually handles the sale.
Having your own website makes those outgoing links a lot easier to maintain because they are all in one place. Imagine all the work you would lose if you just used social media to promote your link to a product only to have the link change. You cannot go back and fix the links. Even if you did there is no way that you would be able to find all the places that you need to update. When you have a website, ideally you have one page on that site that links to the product, so all of the links you need to update are all on that one page. I speak from experience on this one.
Once you have your own website in place then you can use the social media platforms to promote it. There are so many to choose from. I personally use only Facebook and Twitter and I may add Pinterest in at some point. Other common choices are LinkedIn and Instagram. It doesn’t really matter what ones you choose to use. What does matter is that you are consistent, post regularly, and work to build relationships with your followers. That also means that you will not just post your product or service all the time. You will want to find other content that appeals to your target audience as well.
The temptation is to get on all of the social media websites at once and just start throwing content at them. The best recommendation that I have heard, at least from a business building perspective, is to start with just one and get it working for you before moving on to learn another. They each have their own character and best practices for business building that you need to figure out and that takes time.
Creating content on your website, sharing it out to social media, and building an audience can take a lot of your time. Fortunately there are ways that you can automate some of it. WordPress, and I’m sure other blogging platforms too, enables you to install plugins that automatically share your content with social media when you publish it. As of right now, my websites automatically share to Twitter and I manually share to Facebook.
Because of how Twitter works, your content is effectively gone in a few minutes unless someone specifically goes looking for you, so you want to share your content several times throughout the day and maybe over several days. There are many automation tools for Twitter that help you do that. Just keep in mind that you do actually have to spend time engaging with people too. Automation won’t build you a good audience all by itself.
The Hard Part – Perseverance and Persistance
You know why you’re building an online presence and you know how to get started. Now comes the hard part, actually sticking with it long enough for your efforts to pay off. In most cases you aren’t going to achieve anything significant overnight. When I’m working with someone I usually ask for at least a six month commitment. A year is better.
As I said, you aren’t going to build a significant web presence overnight. It takes time to create good content. It takes time to learn how to use and build a following on social media. It takes time to build up your search engine ranking. Time, quality content and engagement with your audience are the most important factors to building your success. That’s why I ask for at least six months. You will probably start seeing some success in less than that if you are consistent.
You need to create content on a regular basis, so set a schedule. If you look at other gurus you will find some that say you need to write on your website every day, some say that two or three times a week is enough, still others will tell you once a week or even less is sufficient. When you’re starting out, I would say that you need to post something at least twice a week, then once you have some content on your site you can drop down to once a week if you need to. Pick a day or days that you are going to put up new content and stick with those days every week so that your readers know when to expect it.
You know how much time you have available to work on your website. If you can only get content up once a week, then that is what you need to do. You will do much better introducing a good article once a week than you will rushing to put up trash three times a week. Life also happens. There will be times that you slip. It’s going to happen. The important thing is to deal with whatever you need to deal with then get back on schedule as soon as you can.
Mastermind With Others
There are many people on the internet doing what you are wanting to do. Along with engaging with others to sell your product or service, find people who are doing some of the things that you are doing so that you can learn from them. I have learned everything I know about blogging and building my business online from looking at what other people are doing and saying, and talking with them.
There are a lot of great bloggers who are sharing fantastic information about how to write a blog post, get it to rank with the search engine, engage your readers, share to social media the right way, etc. There is so much to learn and the best way is to learn it from the people who have already figured it out.
You also want to engage with them by leaving a comment on their posts. This serves many useful purposes. In most cases your comment will leave a link, maybe two, back to your website. You get your name out there so that other people can learn who you are and will recognize you when they see your blog and find you on social media. And most importantly you make new acquaintances and possibly create new friendships with people who will encourage you to keep going.
You can start engaging with a blogger, namely me, by leaving me a comment below. Was this post helpful? Did I leave anything out? If you would like to know more about what I do and why this is important to me please checkout out any of my old posts. This one is the one I mentioned at the beginning that earned me a lot of traffic.
I am working on creating a program to show you exactly how I built my network marketing business online. I will work just as well for an affiliate marketing business. It starts with my Online Marketing for Network Marketers e-book.