Top 5 Crucial Internet Marketing Tips for 2010 – Are You Prepared?

Can you believe that it’s already 2010? I’ve been involved with Internet marketing and SEO for over 7 years now and each year has always been more exciting than the previous one. 2010 is looking to be no different.
There are so many opportunities online to make money and make a difference. If you ever wanted to get started in this space, now’s the time.

I know that I’m a few weeks late, but I want to use this post to reflect on the past year in terms of what I learned about online business building and marketing. I’ll outline my top 5 learnings from 2009 and share my Internet marketing predictions and tips for the new year. Cheers!

1. Time is always against you – focus, hustle, and outsource
As I pile on new projects and campaigns on my plate, I’m learning more and more that time is always against you. There’s only so much you can do in a 24 hour day, so those who manage their time wisely and use it most effectively are going to win.

My biggest tip? Don’t spread yourself thin with too many projects and sites. You may think you’re doing yourself a favor with “diversification”, but in this case, it’s better to put your eggs in one basket. That way you’ll be able to focus all of your attention to growing one or a few sites to reach critical mass. Otherwise, you’ll likely see no results whatsoever.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to spend money on outsourcing some of your work! Some people insist on doing everything themselves, but remember, time is more valuable than money. You can always make $100 back, but you’ll never be able to the get the past 10 minutes of your life back. Outsource whenever possible so you can focus on the activities that yield the greatest ROI.

2. The early mover advantage is growing
Back in May ‘08 I wrote that the window of opportunity is shrinking for independent publishers online. A lot has happened since then, but my theory still holds true. Webmasters who started their sites back in 2000 have a huge advantage over their more recent competitors. Not only are they given preference by the search engines simply based on age, but they’re more likely to have accumulated high quality links, social mentions, and stronger branding over time.

In some super competitive niches, it’s almost coming to a point where new sites with small or medium-sized budgets have absolutely no chance of competing. Even smaller less competitive niches are getting saturated very quickly.

The solution? Don’t delay any longer. Focus your attention on just a couple branded sites and build them out like there’s no tomorrow. You’ll want to start by focusing on and dominating a smaller sub-niche.

3. Buying established sites is a great shortcut strategy
In the summer of ‘09, I had my first experience buying an established site (a personal finance blog) in the 5-figures range. I’ve always wanted to get involved in this industry, and buying an existing site with good traffic and positive cash flow offered a great opportunity. Not only was I able to get a large head start in the personal finance industry but the cash flow allowed me to invest monthly profits back into the site for further growth. It’s a great strategy especially since growing a new site these days is increasingly difficult (as I mentioned in my previous point #2).

Monitor online site marketplaces like Flippa, Digital Point Forums, and eBay on a regular basis. You may be able to pick up a distressed site for relatively cheap – especially in this economy. People are more willing to part with their sites to gain cash quick.

4. Ad-based business models aren’t reliable – build out your own products
If there’s anything the recession has taught you, it’s that you shouldn’t rely on advertising to make up the majority of your site’s revenue. I’ve written before that blogging for ads is dead and I think this is a trend that will continue moving forward. If you have a large site that gets a ton of page views, then sure monetizing through advertising can be very lucrative. But for 90% of sites out there, making a significant amount of money through advertising isn’t really feasible. Plus, an ad-based business model forces you to be at the mercy of sponsors. Who wants that?

A much better way to make money online is to create your own products – whether they be e-books, DVDs, subscriptions, or an actual physical item. It’s definitely not easy, but the rewards are greater and much more steady even for small sites.
It’s fine to start monetizing through ads, but I think all online publishers should work towards some sort of paid model. With the web being polluted with free low-quality content everyday, readers will increasingly begin looking for better paid sites to cut through the clutter. You’ll want to be in a position of authority with your products ready to go when this happens.

5. You need creative & aggressive marketing strategies to stand out
As I mentioned, the competition online is getting stiffer and web surfers now have more options online than ever before. So why should they go to your site to fulfill their needs? You can say that you have better content, better features, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to marketing. Yes, I agree that content is important, but what’s equally important, if not more, is getting people to actually see your content and come back again and again.

Of course, for promotions like this you need the content to back it up and get people to come back when it’s all over. Even so, big promotions are great for giving your site a boost and actively putting your site in front of your target audience.
The most important thing is to keep hustling and working smart in the new year to see success. Consistency and persistence are always rewarded.