For most people starting out in the process of building an online business the number 1 priority is to start generating some income. And this is understandable – the sooner that you start generating income, the sooner your business idea can be seen as a viable idea.
But to secure the long-term future of your business you’ve got to do more than build your income levels – you’ve got to build business assets. For most online businesses, there are two major business assets that you should be building from Day 1. Asset Number 1 is your List. And Asset Number 2 is your Content. Let’s have a closer look at them.
Asset Number 1: Your List
Your ‘list’ is quite literally that; a list of people who have given you their email address, along with permission to send them periodic emails. Usually website visitors give you their email address in exchange for a valuable piece of information – say a report, or an eBook, or a video.
The reason your list is a business asset is because these people have given you their email address because they are interested in what YOU have to say in your chosen market or niche.
Having a list is a great tool for an online business. You can use your list to generate content ideas; you can use your list to generate product ideas. And of course, you can actually create and sell products directly to your list.
Why Is Having Your Own List Such A Great Asset?
The main reason that having your own list is a great asset for your business is that it’s yours. The only person who controls that list is you – if you frequent any of the marketing forums you’ll hear wails and moans several times a year when Google changes its algorithm, and those marketers who rely on Google to send them traffic see their visitor count slow to a trickle.
Or you’ll often hear people slagging Google off because their AdWords account has been banned. Or their YouTube account has been flagged and suspended. Or I’ve seen affiliate marketers who rely on driving traffic to a product that works well for them, only for the product owner to decide he’s not going to sell that product anymore. And overnight their income level is slashed.
But if you have your own list, it’s not as devastating if say your YouTube account gets banned. Or if Google’s algorithm changes and you suddenly drop from Page 1 of Google to page 10. Sure these things hurt – but you can build alternate sources of traffic to drive people to your website.
And whilst you’re doing that, you can still be emailing your list and selling them your products. And still generating an income.
And how you would attract people to your list, and how you would generate income from your list, relies mainly on asset number 2 – content.
Asset Number 2: Content
Along with building a list, generating quality content is one of the best activities you can undertake for your online business. You can use content for blog posts, articles, reports, eBooks, interviews, videos and courses. Some of that content can be used to attract new people to your list – like articles and blog posts and videos.
Some of that content can be used to build your relationship with your list – by giving exclusive free content to your list.
And some of that content can be used to generate income for your business – by selling eBooks, or teaching Courses. There are hundreds of different ways to generate income earning content – which ways YOU use will depend on your personality, your audience and your business model.
Why Content Is A Great Business Asset
The reason content is a great business asset can be spelled out in one word: leverage.
And this applies both to content you give away for free to attract people to your business (and your list). And the content you create to form part of products that you sell.
If you create articles or videos or podcasts that are designed to attract website visitors, they will continue to do that for as long as you leave them out there on the old Interwebz.
And it’s the same for products that you create. Once you’ve created them, they are there to be sold over and over again. If they start getting dated, you can just update them and re-release them. And the more products you create, the more leverage you create.
Can You Create An Online Business Without Building A List Or Creating Content?
The short answer is: Yes, you can. Whenever I’m asked that question I usually answer with my own question: why the **** would you want to?
Because if you don’t build a list, and you don’t create your own content, you’re competing with a gazillion newbies who are all trying out the ‘get rich quick’ method of throwing up a 6 page WordPress site that links to an affiliate product and trying to drive traffic to it.
What happens if the Affiliate Product gets withdrawn? What happens to the traffic once it’s clicked on the affiliate link on your website and gone to the product website?
What happens if your primary traffic generation strategy gets tanked overnight?
Building an online business in this manner is short term in approach, and runs a permanent risk of something going wrong.
Whereas building a list and creating quality content become business assets that feed each other. Stuck for something to write – email your list and ask them what their 5 biggest problems are. Stuck for a product to create – email your list and ask them what their biggest problem is, solve it for them and sell it to your list as a report or an eBook or a series of videos.
And once you’ve sold that product to your list, you can find other people like you and strike a deal to sell that product to THEIR list (for an affiliate share of the sales of course). But doing that kind of deal not only generates new buyers for your product; it also generates new people for your list. And one day – if your list strategy is well developed – you can convert them into clients too.
If you’re serious about a long-term online business, you need to get serious about building your list and creating content. There’s no guarantee of success in online business – but building a list and creating content are as near to certainties as you get in this world.
I’d just like to end this article with a note about lists and list management. There are several List Management companies out there – Aweber is the company I use and who look after the management of my list. I have heard of people having their lists ‘suspended’ – and that would be a catastrophic action.
So always make sure you have regular back ups of your list.
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