Before you go any further in building a web presence, you need to answer an obvious question: “What do I need a web presence for?” This also includes the answer to: “What am I going to do with my website after I publish it?”.You may not realise it but answering these questions about your existing or upcoming web presence would clarify a lot about whom your target audience is and what your message and content should be. You may be surprised by the fact that your viewers are actually coming to your site for a reason you didn’t even think about while developing your site or your marketing message.

What do I need a web presence for?

Just because you want to find your name with Google
Getting yourself out there is probably the lowest investment you will make. Having an URL on your business card also makes a good impression and allows people to see a bit of you and discover how you think, even if it’s only a marketing image of you, and make an impression about yourself as your website acts like your most detailed business card.

Create a constantly available interface (Provide information)
Let everybody know who you are. Provide information about your organization, business, products, goals, history, ideas and person. Anything that others may be looking for in you is the subject of a web site providing constant availability of your message and an entry point to exploring more about your message.

Promote your products
Providing information about your products and/or services, FAQ lists and contact information for visitors to ask questions and get answers, helps businesses even if the product itself is not sellable online. Many businesses provide information about the products or services they are selling from a physical store.

Promote your interests, hobbies, ideas, activities, groups you belong to
You are not out there for the gold but because you have a passion (backpacking, basketball and swimming, cooking…). You can share this with millions of people and you most likely need a BLOG.

Write your own column or provide Information
Information is a valuable commodity. You can make it widely available with a blog or an information specific web site or you can sell it to “members only” or “subscribers” in an easy to provide electronic format.

Get people in your store
Provide information about products and services as well as opening hours, a few representative pictures and location information, maybe allow printing a discount coupon, and people will be walking into your store more often.

Make some money, affiliate marketing
You don’t have your own products or services but you can still create sales by affiliating your web presence to an existing online store like the one I have at Amazon or the affiliation to a hosting service like 1and1. Buying from a real store is still generating the most sales, but the internet gains ground every year in an accelerating rhythm.

If you sell something, take the money
There are quite a few online money services you can subscribe to and you are instantly capable of accepting credit cards and provide a virtual shopping basket. Most of the companies providing Credit Card services give you the shopping basket that you easily integrate in your website. You can provide an easy to complete checkout point and get the money fast.

Create presentations and demos of your software or e-book
Create presentations of your products or the software you develop. Provide a few chapters of your book in electronic format (usually PDF) or publish your weekly flyer online.

Provide technical and customer support
Customers always appreciate a company or a vendor that stands behind its products. Provide FAQ’s and Knowledge base articles. User Manuals and User Stories, a discussion forum and a support email address can greatly reduce the number of time-consuming support calls you receive.

Live Large, Retire Rich
Certainly you may hear that the internet is the new El Dorado. It’s definitely NOT Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road and it’s not a gold mine either. It is, however, possible to make nice profits in the cyber world. Most of the money is made through sales. You can sell services and products, information, ads, digital products (photos, videos) and cyber real-estate (space on the web site).
This is a real arena and competition is fierce. You need to do your research before you start selling online, especially if you’re selling your own product. There are a few standard marketing questions you have to answer here, like:
Is there a market for your product or information?
Can you sell your product online (buy-download or buy-ship sale)?
With a continuous attention to promoting your space online and a constant Search Engine Optimisation you can make a nice profit online.

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