Part 12_101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home

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Part 12_101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home

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  1. 292 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home 99. Wedding Products OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS MODEL People take planning for a wedding seriously. There is a ton of organizing to be done and items to be bought. The many related costs for a wedding can add up, and in an effort to keep the whole lovely event within a budget that doesn’t break the bank, many go online searching for the best buys available. It saves them time and money, so putting a wedding products business online is a great idea. You can generate revenue for the wedding products Web site by selling wedding products directly from your Web site and having them gift-wrapped if need be or delivered to the correct address at the convenience of the customer. You can offer anything from invitations and wine glasses to wedding dresses and veils. You should concentrate on servicing clients within your geographic reach because this will allow you to provide a personalized service with plenty of local resources such as links to all the churches, caterers, halls, hotels, and other related services. You should include a gift registry on the site where guests can check what has already been bought for the happy couple and find sugges- tions of what they might like or need. The possibilities for this business can go far if you use your imagination to explore all the services within your power to make a wedding go smoothly and make these services available online on your site! SKILLS NEEDED Knowledge of online promotional techniques would be an asset when oper- ating this type of business. The wedding resources within your local area need to be researched and provided on your site. You should know the latest wedding trends and be familiar with different cultural traditions when it comes to marriage. Knowledge of wedding planning would also be a primary benefit. You will need basic Web publishing skills to update and manage your Web site. COST TO START THIS BUSINESS If you launch this type of business, you will initially have to pay for the devel- opment, design, and hosting of your Web site, computer hardware, computer software, a scanner, a printer, and possibly a digital camera. You will also have to pay for the electronic storefront. This enables you to easily display and sell your wedding paraphernalia. Other costs that you will incur are related to the promotion of your Web site. Estimated cost is $5,000 to $20,000 to start.
  2. 101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts 293 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES NEEDED One person with wedding product, planning, and organization experience can operate this business at the outset. If you acquire a significant client base and save people money, your business will grow from referrals, so you may want to hire an assistant later on to manage orders and distribution. INTERNATIONAL POTENTIAL This business has low international potential. If you are selling wedding prod- ucts online, chances are the customers will want to do business with someone in the area, and the reason they choose to do it online will be for convenience and discounted pricing. E-BUSINESS MODEL/PAYMENT PROCESSING METHOD E-business level 2 or 3 would be most appropriate for this type of business. For more information, see Part 1. IMPORTANT BUSINESS ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED The site must be kept current. When items are discontinued or are out of stock, this must be updated on the Web site. Since you are promoting your products to an online audience, it is extremely important for you to generate as much traf- fic as possible to your site. There are multiple ways for you to do this; however, it is essential that you allocate a significant amount of time to online promotion of the site. ONLINE MARKETING TECHNIQUES • Developing a comprehensive affiliate/associate program would not only increase the awareness of your wedding product site, it would also send referral business to your site. • Launching a strategic banner advertising campaign on Web sites fre- quented by your target market would be a great way to increase traffic to your site. Sites that you could place banner ads on include family- oriented sites and noncompeting wedding-related sites. Sites targeted toward party or event planning and sites that particularly target fe- males would also be appropriate. • You could hold a weekly or monthly contest on your site for a free wedding product. You could ask people if they would like to be notified of the winner via e-mail. This would encourage them to return to your
  3. 294 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home site and re-enter your contest, thus re-exposing them to your wedding products. • Develop as many links as possible from Web sites, directories, and meta- indexes frequented by your target market. There are thousands of wed- ding-related Web sites online. These are the sites that your target market will visit if they are planning a wedding; thus it is extremely important that your site generate links from these sites. • You could develop a Featured Product page on your site. You could change this product every week. People will continue to return to your site to see what the featured product is. You could even ask people if they would like to be notified of your featured product via e-mail. This would be a great way to encourage repeat traffic. • Optimize your site for organic search engine placement. • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines. • Develop a wedding registry on your site so brides can inform their wed- ding guests, via your site, about their preferred gifts. This will increase traffic to your site. • Develop a viral marketing strategy where people can “Tell a Friend about This Product” via a link on your site. This will spread the word about your site. For a more detailed description of these techniques, along with many other effective online marketing methods, I recommend the companion book 101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site. You can also find tons of free resources at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.html. ADDITIONAL INCOME You can earn additional income by setting up a referral service with wedding- related businesses such as limousine drivers, DJs, and caterers. If you promote their services on your Web site and they receive business because of it, you can collect referral fees from each person or business that provides their products or services and generates revenue.
  4. 101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts 295 Figure 2.19. Wedding Star is a dynamite online wedding planning and gift registry Web site. ONLINE EXAMPLES Wedding Star http://www.weddingstar.com Wedding Star (Figure 2.19) provides a large database of wedding-related prod- ucts and services excellent for helping families and friends organize a wedding. WedNet http://www.wednet.com This site is the ultimate resource for planning a successful wedding. Their in- depth database of wedding vendors can help everyone throw a beautiful and successful wedding. 100. Weight Loss Service OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS MODEL Weight is an issue for millions of people all over North America. The condition is so widespread that some health professionals have named it an epidemic or
  5. 296 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home disease. Being overweight is a source of shame for many, and often people feel helpless and not in control of their own bodies. This sounds morbid, but the good news is that it’s curable through proper eating habits and exercise. The advantages of providing a weight loss coaching and resource center on the Internet is that anyone with online access can get help; people do not need to leave their home or take time out from work, but they can consult your Web site 24/7 for most of the information they seek. Also, they can get consulting in private and spare themselves the sometimes embarrassing experience of attend- ing walk-in clinics. The site should answer many questions that people who want to lose weight need answers to. The content should be motivational and realistic. Your clients who experience success should be featured on the site and mentor others by sharing their strengths and stories of how they gathered the will power to get their weight under control and stay that way. The way to earn revenue in this business is by charging a fee for one-on-one and group consulting and regime planning, which can happen in various ways online such as e-mail, chat, voice chat, real-time audio, and real-time video sessions. Other ways of consulting are telephone and face-to-face for clients within your geographic reach. Another way to gain revenue in this business is by joining affiliate programs for weight loss-related products such as fitness wear, books, videos, motiva- tional tapes, exercise equipment, and health foods. SKILLS NEEDED To successfully operate a weight loss resource and consulting business online, you should have some credentials as a personal trainer, dietician, health and wellness advisor, or fitness instructor of some kind. You should be active and healthy in your own lifestyle. It could help if you had a personal story of weight loss so that your clients are comfortable with your advice because it comes from experience. You will need clear communication skills and basic Web publishing skills to communicate clearly with your customers and update your Web site. COST TO START THIS BUSINESS The cost to initially set up a weight loss center will range from $5,000 to $15,000. These costs include a computer, appropriate software, and a printer. You will need an imaging program such as Adobe Photoshop, and it would help to have a digital camera or scanner so you can put before, after, and “in the process” images on the personalized pages to display the progress and motivate your clients. You will also have to have your Web site designed, developed, and hosted. Other initial costs to consider relate to the advertising of your Web site.
  6. 101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts 297 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES NEEDED TO START It is possible to run this business with one qualified person, and in the begin- ning this can be operated on a part-time basis while you keep your regular job. INTERNATIONAL POTENTIAL Through your Web site you are providing online counseling and information. Your business will exist primarily in the domain of cyberspace. For many people in today’s busy world, the Internet is a new private and anonymous place to access personal services that have never before been available in such a conve- nient medium. Some clients may prefer to have a weight loss consultant who lives in their geographic area, and some may not care if they know you face-to- face or not. The language barrier is one obstacle to consider if you are inter- ested in running a truly international business; however, there are translation services available to you. If you are selling books, equipment, or medical prod- ucts, then shipping and tariffs will limit your distribution to an extent. E-BUSINESS MODEL/PAYMENT PROCESSING METHOD Depending on what your services are and how many clients you have, the e-business model you choose can upgrade from level 1 to 2 or 3 as the business grows. You may accept payment in the form of check or money order at the outset because you will have a one-on-one relationship with each customer, so the experience will be quite personalized and the need for online credit card payment is not necessary. The option to join affiliate programs and therefore avoid e-store management and simply gain commissions from those sales is also available. If you decide to sell products from your site, you may choose to move to an online storefront and level 3. For more information, see Part 1. IMPORTANT BUSINESS ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED Fierce competition can be expected from bricks-and-mortar operations such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig that have established an international pres- ence in the weight loss field. Fortunately, their Web sites are simply marketing and communication outlets to back up their physical locations. Remember that weight loss consultation is a pseudomedical field, so please do not attempt this business unless you are qualified to provide this kind of advice. The signs you must be aware of are of a serious nature. For example, people could get sick if they lose too much weight too quickly, or they could be diabetic or need emotional counseling due to an eating disorder. Everyone does not lose weight at the same pace or in the same way. You should have a thor- ough questionnaire and legal agreement for your clients to sign so both of you are protected and understand each other.
  7. 298 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home Your pricing should be competitive and reflective of the amount of time you dedicate to each customer’s individual counseling sessions. ONLINE MARKETING TECHNIQUES • Write articles communicating your theories about effective weight loss plans throughout advice columns in weight loss- or health-related e-zines, newsletters, and newsgroups. • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines. • Get linked from online advertising directories. • Create a mail list and send out your newsletter or e-zine about weight loss tips, breaking news, and low-calorie recipes for people to try. • Develop a comprehensive and rewarding permission marketing strat- egy whereby clients can easily tell a friend about your services and in return receive a discount on a product being sold from or recommended by your site. For a more detailed description of these techniques, along with many other effective online marketing methods, I recommend the companion book 101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site. You can also find tons of free resources at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.html. ADDITIONAL INCOME Extra income can come from targeted banner advertising if your traffic is high. One way to ensure this is by providing plenty of resources and content on your site for users, making them stick around on your pages and providing more time for banner impressions and rotations. Another facet for extra income is providing personal training and coaching to customers in your local area. Finally, if you are good with slogans, you could sell motivational T-shirts or other customized items. ONLINE EXAMPLES Total Body Fitness http://www.tbfinc.com A weight loss consultant for men and women based in Houston, Texas, who provides consulting for anyone through her Web site.
  8. 101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts 299 Herbal Life Independent Distributors http://www.loseit.com This site sells Herbalife weight loss pills. 101. Who’s Who Directory OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS Prestige and honor are things everyone likes to have, no matter what walk of life they come from. You can start a Who’s Who directory on the Internet to recognize those individuals who have accomplished much with their careers and in their community. There are many Who’s Who directories already on the Internet. Some focus on individual communities; others focus on people who have high achievements in a particular industry. How does this business generate revenue? It’s simple. When individuals visit your Web site and see the prestige that others have received from being listed on your site, they will be willing to pay to be listed also. If you host an industry-specific Who’s Who directory, you would be surprised how many in- dustry professionals will contact you to be listed on your site. You obviously wouldn’t charge an obscene price for a listing on your site. Most Who’s Who directories charge anywhere from $10 to $100 for a listing. Your Who’s Who listings could include the individuals’ names, their achieve- ments, and where they are from. You could then charge an additional fee to list in-depth biographies on the individuals, photographs, links to personal or busi- ness Web sites, and previous awards and recognitions that the individuals have received. SKILLS NEEDED Since this type of business requires that your site receive a high number of Web site visitors, knowledge of online marketing techniques would be an asset. If you are targeting individuals in a particular industry, it would be an asset to possess knowledge of the industry and what is involved in being successful in that particular industry. COST TO START THIS BUSINESS Initially you will have to pay for the development, design, and hosting of your Web site, computer hardware, computer software, a scanner (to scan your cli- ents’ photographs if they don’t have a digital copy), and a printer. If you cur- rently have some of these items, your initial start-up costs will be considerably lower. If you plan to set up a mailing list for your Who’s Who site, you will have
  9. 300 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start From Home to purchase mailing list software to help you organize and maintain it. Other costs that you will incur are related to the promotion of your Web site. Esti- mated cost is $3,000 to $10,000 to start. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES NEEDED TO START This type of business requires approximately one part-time employee. This busi- ness is one that can be worked on in the evenings. You could fulfill all requests during the evenings and communicate with potential clients via e-mail; thus you don’t have to worry about being in an office. INTERNATIONAL POTENTIAL This business has strong international potential, particularly if you target the Who’s Who of a specific industry. E-BUSINESS MODEL/PAYMENT PROCESSING METHOD E-business level 1 would be most appropriate for this type of business. For more information on this, see Part 1. IMPORTANT BUSINESS ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED If you are trying to keep your Who’s Who directory extremely elite, make sure you don’t let members pay to join who are not remotely qualified to be on the list. If you let just anyone pay to join your directory, your site will become saturated with people who are not worthy of being listed. This could discour- age some industry professionals from purchasing listings on your site. Since the success of your Who’s Who directory relies heavily on the number of Web site visitors that you receive, you will have to dedicate a significant amount of time to the online promotion of your site. You should participate in as many different online marketing media as possible to promote your site. ONLINE MARKETING TECHNIQUES • Participating in newsgroups and discussion forums related to your tar- get market would be a great way to generate traffic to your Web site. If you are targeting specific industries, you could participate in newsgroups related to those particular industries. For example, if you were target- ing Internet Technology (IT) professionals, you would want to partici- pate in newsgroups related to IT. • You should develop a newsletter that can be distributed weekly or monthly that will update visitors about new additions to your Web site, specials, and news about your Who’s Who directory.
  10. 101 Profiles of Top Internet Business Concepts 301 • You can ask people if they would like to be notified via e-mail whenever a new listing is added to your site. This would be a great way to encour- age repeat traffic to your Web site. • You could have a Featured Listing section on your site, where you choose a particular person who you feel has excelled in his or her field. People will return to your site constantly to see who is the new featured listing. Again, you could ask people if they would like to be notified via e-mail when you make updates to your Featured Listings page. This will re- mind them to return to your site to see who is listed. • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines. • Develop as many links as possible from Web sites, directories, and meta- indexes related to your target market. There are hundreds of Who’s Who directories and meta-indexes on the Internet that would be appro- priate for your site. This would generate targeted exposure for your online business. For a more detailed description of these techniques, along with many other effective online marketing methods, I recommend the companion book 101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site. You can also find tons of free resources at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.html. ADDITIONAL INCOME An additional way to generate revenue for your Who’s Who site is to sell an- nual or quarterly publications of your Who’s Who listings. This would be of interest to many industry professionals who are researching competitors or are simply interested in finding out more about what’s happening in their industry. ONLINE EXAMPLES Marquis Who’s Who on the Web http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/executable/login.aspx This is a dynamite Who’s Who directory that includes over 1.3 million leaders and archives. Who’s Who on the Web http://vl.fmnet.info/whos-who An Internet directory featuring “The Best of the Web” of people involved in various catagories. Basic listings on this site are free.

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