Many people around the globe once thought the internet would be the greatest platform for the free, unhindered expression of opinions and ideas. A good number of them have become disappointed with the surge of net-taps and regulations aimed at stifling that expression.
Meanwhile, ordinary folks turning to the internet to build a business “for free”, or at least, on a shoe-string… have become similarly sidelined by the rising cost of doing business online. Many are even surprised to find that there is any cost at all!
The Free Platforms
Free platforms for running a business online are disappearing like dinosaurs, leaving some newcomers wondering if they really ever existed.
Remember when social sharing software was free? How about page editors, video uploading sites and even stock images?
And, oh yea… there was this social site called Facebook that people rushed to in order to advertise their products for… you guessed it… free.
Now, I’m only barely scratching the surface, here.
I’m sure that anybody who has been around for even a couple of years remembers the internet of the free.
Marketers loved it.
Social hounds craved it.
“Serious” professionals besmirched it.
Scholars abhored it.
Pay to Play
Today, a vast region of that land of the free has eroded into the sea, as if it never existed.
You want to know the hottest thing for marketers online today?
It’s grabbing your credit card, and rushing to Facebook to pay for ads like 49ers on a gold rush.
If you don’t know who the 49ers were, Google it. Searches are still free as of this writing. (Hint: we’re not talking about the football 49ers from San Francisco… most of your search results will probably end up there).
Facebook is far from free anymore.
It’s become big business, and corporations and high rollers are playing it like a fiddle.
Remember when people were first shocked that the big wigs paying for fancy SEO and backlinks were beginning to dominate organic search results?
I remember hearing a faint whimper when Facebook switched from totally free to totally pay to play.
But we acquiesced quickly.
Seems to be the way things go now.
What Does It Cost To Run and Online Business?
The better question is probably this: Why would I want to pay for an online business that I could have run for practically free only a few years ago.
The bad news is this.
If you want in on the game… you MUST pay to play now.
The good old days are over.
There are no more 8 bedroom houses overlooking the bay for $6,455.12 (yes, I have the commas and decimals in the right places, if anyone can remember that far back).
And if there were, the property taxes are no longer $150.
And there’s no more free Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Solo Ads, quality broadcast and syndication services, or any of the rest.
But, here’s the good news.
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
Imagine social sites where everybody just drops spammy links all over the place and then run to their Paypal accounts to collect their commissions.
Imagine emails from a guy who every single, stinkin’ day was trying to get you to buy another Clickbank product.
Imagine reading keyword rich blogs that might read like this: “make money real estate because real estate you will make money houses foreclosure lake lots discount tax repo under $100″… interesting? valuable content?
How about landing on page one of Google in a keyword competing again 200 other sites? Page one is nice, 3 visitors a day… not so exciting.
All these things have been internet realities at one time or another.
The good news is that there are so many more people to market to online, now. There are such sophisticated methods for targeting markets so you are really talking to people who WANT to hear what you’ve got to say, or even sell.
And the price you pay to play this game leaves all the spammers and scammers in the dark, because most of them have not intention of paying for anything.
It’s true, you now have to play the game with other professionals, and not so many sandlot sciffs.
But as a professional, because you have to put money on the table, you now have “skin in the game”. You are now invested, not only financially, but emotionally and psychologically.
When you pay to play, you are ready to cross over into the serious world of running an online business… not throwing everything you can think of at the wall (ie., the internet “public”) to see what might stick. When you pay to play, you’re going to be very careful what you throw, and who you throw it at. If nobody wants to catch it… you’re out of business.
What Does It Cost To Run and Online Business?
Oh, yea, back to that.
Well, let’s just say this.
In terms of dollars and cents, online business is no different than offline business.
The more you can invest, the bigger and faster your business can grow.
But online business is very different than offline business in terms of leverage.
Even though you must now pay to play, you can still have a decent business up and running for under $1,000. You can even do it for a few hundred dollars, but remember… if you get too adamant about the shoestring thing, you’d better be ready to invest an awful lot of sweat.
Now where in the offline world can you even think of starting a business that cheaply?
Even if you just decide to paint houses in the neighborhood, you need business cards, a phone, ladders, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, maybe even liability insurance, and probably some sort of vehicle. You think you can do all that for less that $1,000?
In my opinion, the internet offers the greatest opportunity for the least amount of capital investment that can be leveraged beyond your imagination if you do it right.
To do it right, you need to start by going beyond the idea of spending the least amount possible, and start getting a grip on where it’s important to invest, and where it’s frivolous.
In future posts, I’ll go into some of the places I believe you can invest wisely into an online business… and how to go about that.
Do you remember the free days of the internet? Do you pine for those good old days, or are you happy to see it elevated to a more professional level?
I’d love to have your comments below, and I thank you in advance for sharing this article on your social sites.