Is Internet Marketing Obsolete?
I was at an Internet marketing forum today and saw that someone had posted a question asking if it’s too late to become successful in making money online. This individual noted that there are now more than one billion Websites on the Internet and that the competition for everything seems to be fierce. They were suggesting, perhaps, that it’s now too late for someone to start a career in affiliate marketing and that the “glory days” when one could make money online without a lot of effort are over.
They went on to ask if anyone just starting out should even bother trying, since the likelihood of failure in Internet marketing is great and that the rewards likely aren’t as great as they might have been a few years ago. In my book, that’s a bit of a pessimistic viewpoint, but it’s true that it is harder to make money online today than it was a decade ago. But it’s also true that it’s going to be harder to make money ten years from now than it is today. Let’s take a look at how some things have changed over the years and what it means for potential affiliate marketers today.
Internet Marketing Changes
The basic goal of anyone in Internet marketing is to get people to buy something, either directly from you or through your affiliate link so that you can make money. This hasn’t changed in the past decade and it isn’t likely to change in the future. People still buy things, and people will continue to want to buy things. So the mechanism by which you can potentially earn money in Internet marketing hasn’t changed, and isn’t going to. A few other things have changed, however:
It’s tougher to rank in Google – Ten years ago, you could usually build a site that consisted of a home page, an about us page, a contact page, and a privacy page and get that page to rank for whatever it was you were trying to sell. I used to build multiple single-page sites a week, each designed to review and presell a Clickbank product. Many of those sites ranked on the first page of Google. I also used to build sites to promote products for sale on eBay, and at one point, I had 1500 eBay sites. Most of those sites had no content at all, aside from the eBay listings themselves. Many of those sites ranked on the first page of Google.
As you well know, Google has long since eliminated sites like those from their listings. They haven’t moved them down; they’ve actually removed those sites from their search engine altogether. Of course, a search for any of those terms for which my sites used to rank still brings up Websites, so it’s not as though it’s impossible to rank for these terms, it’s just no longer possible to rank easily and quickly with small, content-free Websites. People still search, however, and people are still interested in buying, so I don’t see some sort of dire warning against building Websites that can rank in Google. Today, however, you’re going to have to work a bit more to succeed in Internet marketing and you’re going to have to add more content and content that’s better in quality.
It’s also true that Google has gotten a bit picker in terms of what they’ll accept in advertising in their Adwords program and they’ve gotten pickier in terms of the sites that they’ll allow to run Adsense ads. I used to make a lot of money with Adsense, but three years ago, Google canceled my account, without warning or explanation. This has happened to a lot of people and it is frustrating. But there are other places to advertise, such as Bing and Facebook and both of them can reach large audiences and both of them charge less money than Google does. So the days of paid advertising aren’t over, either.
If you really want to be successful in Internet marketing, you should build a niche site. About fifteen years ago, I built a site around a popular seasonal product. This was something that I actually sold at retail on my site and physically shipped to my customers. The product was a vintage one that’s somewhat hard to find in stores anywhere, but it’s a product that’s relatively common on eBay. So I would buy the product on eBay, clean it up, include a photocopy of the instructions for the item, and sell it on my site at a 100%-300% markup that included free shipping.
Sixty days after I put the site online, I had the #1 position on Google for that item’s most popular keyword. I kept that #1 position for ten years. The only reason I don’t have that position today is that a huge increase in shipping costs made it hard to turn a profit, as the item was light in weight but huge in size. Were I still selling that product today, I’d likely still have the #1 position in Google, because to this day, no one else is selling that product on their Website.
What this means for you is that there are still plenty of opportunities in Internet marketing to find niche products like that and build stores around them. People love specialty stores and they’ll gladly pay a huge premium to buy items from a specialist or someone they perceive as being an authority. You’ll also find that people hate buying from eBay and will often pay more money if they can buy from someone else. The product can be any vintage item that’s hard to find in person but common on eBay. I’ll give another example of something I used to sell well – Jefferson Clocks, such as the one shown here. They’re popular, they’re easy to find on eBay and broken ones are often available very cheaply on eBay. It turns out that they’re very easy to repair, and parts are still available. I’d buy them, clean them, repair, them and sell them for a lot of money.
There are lots of opportunities like that. Find a niche you like and go sell.
The Future of Internet Marketing
Internet marketing isn’t dead, and I’m not sure that it’s any harder to make money online today than it was in 2005. The market, and how you go about marketing, changes over time, but that’s always been true. Change is inevitable, but it isn’t necessarily a career-killer. Just find a new niche, or find a new angle and move on. People will always want to buy things, and people will always find a way to sell to them. These days, Internet marketing still thrives. And remember this – ten years from now, people are going to be talking about how easy it was “back then” to make money online. It’s easier now than it’s ever going to be, so why not get started?