My Interest in Digital Marketing: 5 Reasons Why Diving Head First into the Internet was the Best Decision I Ever Made

1. Passive income

As an avid outdoorsman, lofty topics such as environmentalism, conservation, and ecological restoration concern me. In particular, “sustainability” peaked my interest during undergrad, but not because of it’s sexy appeal to green-minded folk, but rather on account of the general lack of literal sustainability in the many systems that surround us daily, including industrial agriculture, healthcare, and Social Security. They all seem to be running out, not building up.

According to Bill Mollison, co-foudner of the ethical design-science called Permaculture, a sustainable system is:

“…any system which over its lifetime, produces enough to have created and maintained itself.”

According to this definition, an employment model that trades hours for dollars (wage) is the least sustainable because, unlike a salary, it goes away in times of an employee’s absence.

I first heard about “passive income” from one of the thought leaders in the Permaculture community, Paul Wheaton, an ex-software developer turned epic gardner. After several frustrating attempts to get real answers concerning organic lawn care, he took the time to compile his own research in a comprehensive article about organic lawn care. He described that this single article, armed with modest Google AdSense, generated about $60 per year, but most importantly, it did it PASSIVELY. No effort was required to sustain that income stream. He explained that he could have sold this article to a magazine for a one-time fee of $200 at best, but the $60/year recurring income option would eventually out-earn the alternative method in just a few years ($60/year X 4 years = $240), plus, by self-publishing, he retained exclusive rights to the article and could edit it at his pleasure!

To make a long story much shorter, he inspired me to take bold action. I’ve made it one of my 2015 resolutions to increase the “sustainability” of my income by establishing at least three passive income streams online. My first project is to do some marketing for my parents’ kitchen and bathroom remodeling business: NuStone Transformations. Since recently dissociating from a popular nation-wide remodeling franchise, their business has suffered noticeably. They suspect that with a new URL and without the marketing clout of their prior well-known business association, less customers are able to find them online. Thus, my first passive income project was born: to boost their traffic and sales!

The methods:

  • Increase traffic to their site with multiple proven SEO methods.
    • Quality content publishing.
    • Social media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, Google+).
    • On site SEO (plugins/ layout/ keywords).
    • Local ads.
  • Increase conversions to an email list through a custom lead page.
    • Offer a Free PDF buyer’s guide as a lead magnet.
    • HTML/CSS template from LeadPages integrated with an email autoresponder from Aweber to deliver the PDF.
  • Increase Sales.
    • Potential clients will view NuStone Transformations as an authority in the industry.
    • Follow up contact via email and phone calls will increase sales conversions.

The stakes:

  • I negotiated a 1% commission on sales generated by my lead page. The average contract for their business is ~$7,000.
  • I conservatively estimate that my lead page will convert at least 1 lead per month into a sale.
  • 12 sales/year X $7,000 (avg. sale) = $84,000 gross revenue generated for my client.
  • My “passive” commission (1% gross sales) would be $840/year, indefinitely!

As of 12/17/14, this passive income project is still under construction, however, I am determined to initiate the minimum viable product (MVP) before the new year!

 Summary:

As a freelancer, I can use digital marketing to increase the traffic, conversions, and business of my clients. With quantifiable results, I can justify my own commission on the work I did and increase the sustainability of my own income!

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2. Trading a /real/ estate for digital real estate

Graduating into the economic recession really blew- it still does. With two college degrees I’ve stayed afloat (barely) by donating to plasma centers and working just-above minimum wage jobs plus overtime to survive week to week. As of right now, home and/or property ownership seems like a distant ephemeral carrot in a dream I once had.

Why do I want real estate?

  • It’s a platform; a place to do things.
  • It’s a space for storing resources.
  • It’s an asset that appreciates in value.
  • It’s a place to reside.

After listening to a podcast about buying and selling online properties for up to seven figures: [How to Buy a Website with Chris Guthrie], it became apparent that the line between physical and digital property was not as defined as I once thought. Let’s look at the aspects of a web property:

  • It’s a platform; a place to do things.
  • It’s a space for storing (digital) resources.
  • It’s an asset that (can) appreciate in value.
  • It’s a place to reside.

Egad! I could become a (digital) property owner TODAY, at a fraction of the cost of physical property. So Instead of wallow in my landlessness, I realized that for only a few dollars a month to a solid hosting company like iPage, I could have access to gigabytes of server space, yes- “space!” At the time of this realization, I took stock of all my web properties:

Websites I manage:

http://legendsofoglethorpe.com

http://nustonetransformations.com

Blogs I manage:

http://plowshareoglethorpe.wordpress.com

http://sustainablelifefitness.com

Sites I own:

http://piedmonttea.com

Like I mentioned before, as someone who’s interested in environmentalism and wellness, I’d like to have the physical space to grow my own healthy organic food. One crop that I am particularly interested in growing is tea (Camellia sinensis); it’s a healthy alternative to other sugary beverages, it contains low levels of caffeine and cancer-figting antioxidants, and it grows very well in Georgia! Visit my tea site for more info. 

 Shorty after this epiphany, I purchased:

http://tyghwalters.com

This is the domain on which this very digital article resides. I intend to use it as a central hub to which all of my current and future digital endeavors are connected. It’s already serving as a landing page for my physical business card:

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So, digital properties are fantastic alternatives (not replacements) to expensive lots and houses, and I plan to acquire more of them down the road, but what good is a property in a poor location? For a website, a poor location might mean that it has low visibility; it’s difficult to find. Conversely, sites that are more visible usually see higher organic traffic via search engine queries like Google and Bing. Sites that are valued at six or seven figures usually have excellent visibility with thousands of visitors per day, and as a result of that traffic, they generate consistent and large revenue on account of being monetized. So how does a site get in front of some traffic? Hmmm…

 Summary:

Websites are a very low-cost, unconventional form of property/ space that can serve many of the same purposes as physical property does!

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3. “Location, location, location”: Page #1 of Google = $$$

Unlike physical land, a website’s location is fluid, that is if the proper steps are taken. The beauty of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is that an otherwise obscure website or webpage can be pulled up from the murky depths to the supremely visible first page of Google. A graph published in 2013 by Chitika illustrates the skewed distribution of organic search engine traffic to the first page of a Google search query (positions #1-#10) (See Below).

As you can see, around 95% of traffic is distributed to only 10 positions! By harnessing the power of SEO and digital marketing, one can ensure that the value of a digital property will appreciate. Alterations to a site or page that are deemed “favorable” by search engine algorithms will be promoted higher up the page ranks. There exists many tactics to “trick” search engines into artificially ranking sites higher than they should be, but periodic updates to ranking algorithms are aimed at reducing these “false positives”.

Digital marketing makes cream rise to the top

Web properties that focus on publishing high quality content for the genuine betterment of their audience and stakeholders remain less susceptible to these otherwise detrimental algorithm updates. Filtering the web to permit quality content to see the light of day is the goal of any search engine; to provide the searcher with exactly what they are looking for! Like SEO, digital marketing will drive more traffic to a site which likely results in more backlinks, more shares, more likes, and even more traffic in an upward spiral.

With the number of electronic and mobile devices worldwide on a meteoric rise, companies that do not interact with their audience in the digital realm via Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, etc., are missing out, big time! Simply put, marketing via the internet is an invaluable opportunity to grow a business by getting in front of millions more customers.

 Summary:

SEO and digital marketing can cause a digital property to rise upward in the ranks and maybe even to the 1st page of Google for a particular keyword query, where a disproportionate amount of search engine traffic goes, increasing the earning potential and value of the digital property itself.


4. A scalable business in a “flat” world

In unfortunate retrospect, I took only one business course during undergrad. The main selection of reading material was “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas L. Friedman. What I remember most is how new technology and globalization, amongst other factors, are creating a “flat” world; a global environment with fewer limitations and restrictions, a “level playing field” if you will. With this new field has come novel opportunities. For instance, last quarter (Dec ’14) Facebook surpassed 1.2 billion active users! Wow, that is roughly 17% of the 7,000,000,000+ earth-dwellers who use the same web application.

With such a large number of people congregating online and interacting within the same social media networks, the potential audience for a blog or business continues to skyrocket at an alarming rate, and as that audience multiplies, so does the potential for a business to increase in scale, rapidly.

Brick & mortar vs. digital businesses

SCALABILITY LIMITATION #1: PRODUCTION

Another limitation confronting many businesses that produce physical products is the amount of goods able to be manufactured. Referencing my aforementioned desire to grow organic food on a small farm, there is an obvious limit to the amount of product any farm can generate based on aspects like acreage, labor, season, weather, time, etc. Even the most efficient farm utilizing the most cutting-edge methods will eventually maximize their crop production.

Conversely, businesses that sell digital products, like software or info products, have virtually no limit on the number of products they can produce and distribute. A digital product is manufactured only one time, and once it is finalized, it can be duplicated for nearly infinity times! What an advantage digital business have!

SCALABILITY LIMITATION #2: DISTRIBUTION

Brick & mortar businesses that sell physical products, like restaurants, depend on people actually frequenting the location from which they operate. Even the best restaurant can only serve so many people in one day, based on occupancy restrictions and the time it takes for parties to finish their meals. A restaurant cannot feasibly deliver their products to many customers outside of their physical location; they are limited by the very walls they inhabit.

Conversely, businesses providing remote services or digital products are positioned to distribute their products at light speed via fiber optic cables to anyone of the billions of people with an internet connection.

 Summary:

The ability for a business to grow (scalability) depends on the inherent nature of that business. Companies that offer digital products and services have the advantage, and can scale up much easier than traditional companies. Digital marketing is one of the keys to interacting with millions and scaling upward.


5. The mobile customer is the digital entrepreneur’s best friend.

As a free-born American citizen, the rights to the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are paramount. However, the 9 to 5 grind sometimes puts a damper on the liberty and happiness parts. No disrespect to those un- or under-employed around the world, but the commitment and responsibility of a traditional job displaces the opportunity for the full expression of other more enjoyable activities such as travel, leisure, and recreation. It was my favorite author, Henry David Thoreau who wrote:

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book.”

Surely, in the highly advanced era we coexist in, to secure an ever broadening “margin” should be realistically attainable, right? After all, robotic mechanization, industrialization, and artificial intelligences are now better equipped to succeed at the mundane, repetitive tasks than their fallible human counterparts. “The American dream” may be enigmatic as ever, yet its definition, pursuit, and realization may be the only three endeavors worth dedicating my life to.

Mobility is freedom

According to Cisco Visual Networking Index, mobile data traffic grew 81% in 2013, and there exists now over 7 billion mobile devices, just about one per earthling. In the enterprising mind, each one of these devices is a portal to make a real personal connection, to build a dedicated audience, and to make perhaps billions of financial transactions.

Digital marketing not only reaches those perched in front of desktop or laptop machines, but it continues to hit even more potential customers instantly, in their smart-phone lined pockets!

In order to harness more and wider passive income streams, to more effectively appreciate digital properties, and to have the greatest potential to scale a business venture exponentially, a business and/ or entrepreneur must be prepared to interact in the ballooning mobile market.

Diving into the internet was the best decision I ever made because in it, I found the opportunity to express my varied crazy ideas, passions, and goals, and to cultivate the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Internet business allows the chance to step out from under the corporate hierarchy and determine my own future and successes. As a relative newbie to internet business and digital marketing, I relish the opportunity to interact with billions of people across hundreds of countries, and move closer to the freedom that a stable financial future can provide.

 Summary:

The future of digital marketing and online business appears to be shifting quickly towards a mobile platform. Adapt or perish…

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If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment below. I’d love to start a conversation with you! 🙂

Tygh Walters