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Beware The Newbie Syndrome

Hardly a week goes by when I don't get a call from an on-line beginner, a "newbie," who wants to consult with me on their business concept. Often, they haven't started building a website, so they've reached me at the perfect point in the process. Very often they're really excited by the possibilities that they see, and the ideas that they're generating.

I'm sure, at this point, all of the sage old-timers are sitting their nodding. We were the same way when we first started out. We somehow starting looking to the Internet as the answer to how we could earn some extra income or as a way to escape from our old JOB. When we started looking around the Internet at what was offered our heads started spinning.

To the newbie reading this, I'm no way making fun of you. I earn part of my living from teaching you, so I have the utmost respect for you. In fact, if you take a look at the obvious, big successes in "Internet Marketing" today, you will notice that many of them are relative newbies. Some, like Yanik Silver or Alex Mandossian, seem to have come from nowhere. Actually, both of these guys have very solid foundations in direct marketing, so when they hit the Internet they only needed to apply what they knew from the offline world.

What is noticeable is that many of us follow a set pattern when we start building our Internet empire. There is a "syndrome" that we all seem to get, and it has killed more than a few businesses. Let's look briefly at that syndrome.

The first symptom is the thought that we have discovered something new, or that we are the first one who has thought of a given idea. Notice I said "we," because I went through the syndrome myself :-)

As we notice all of the products or services that we can become affiliates for, we get the brilliant idea of creating a site that compares them all. We decide that we will educate the next batch of newbies about which ones are the best. So we get busy building a website that's like a supermarket, where the Internet marketer can find anything and everything.

This first symptom indicates that we haven't done enough research. If we do our research first, we'll see that there are already THOUSANDS of sites just like the one that we are thinking about creating. If we dig a little deeper, we'll also find the owners of these sites on discussion lists and forums asking how they can improve business. That should be your first warning sign that the "supermarket-type-site" is generally not the answer.

The next symptom one often observes is the newbie actually hears someone say, "Find a problem and provide a solution to it." A few then go back to the supermarket model since they're trying to solve the problem of helping other Internet marketers be successful. What's basically flawed in that idea is that they're trying to teach something they... usually, haven't learned yet.

A second problem with this approach is that they're choosing to compete with those who're already very entrenched and have often been marketing competing products for 5 or 6 years. Why go up against them Learn from them, and then approach the market from a different angle.

Others with symptom number two, dig a little deeper and recognize that there's a huge market for information products. They look at WordTracker or other keyword research tools and see that people are interested in golfing, fishing, kids, health, better romance, making or saving money, etc. So they decide to build a site on one of these topics. So far so good, but...

When they decide to develop that "golf" website they decide to target "everything golf." They jump right into the fray, build a huge site, and to get some immediate traffic, they start bidding on Overture, or Google, for the keyword "golf."

"What's wrong with that" you ask. A better approach would be to pick a tiny niche within the market and then cater to it. For example, maybe just create a site for golfers with physical handicaps and offer products to make it easier for them. Or maybe just focus on vacation packages to resorts with great golf courses. If you're going to use pay-per-clicks to drive initial traffic to the site, bid on obscure or less competitive 2-5 word phrases that are searched on, but which won't cost you a fortune per click.

Here' s the piece of the puzzle missed by many newbies and even some old-timers... You must have a website with a tested and proven, predictable conversion process. It does absolutely no good to drive tens of thousands of visitors to your site if they leave without buying. So take a good look at the whole experience offered by your site.

Begin by asking yourself, "What is the path a visitor takes as he lands on my homepage or landing page" What steps does the site lead him to take If the site doesn't lead your visitor down some path, don't waste your money on traffic generation until you fix that! Your visitor needs to be told what to do when he gets on your site. If he is confused, overwhelmed, or turned off by any aspect of your site, that's the problem that you need to fix first.

A third symptom that I see newbies display is that they get a fancy, self-replicated website with all of the bells and whistles. They are so impressed with this magnificent monstrosity that they just know anyone that they send to the site will be too. They are so impressed by the fact that the script running the site inserted their name or ID number that they want to show the world.

The cure for symptom number three is to sit back and ask yourself, "So what!" All that matters is that your visitor sees how this site is going to make his life better... and that should jump right out at him. If he has to spend 30 seconds watching a flash intro of the company icon, and reading about the company's president, he is probably just going to leave. DON'T make your visitors have to work to become your customer. DON'T waste your time promoting a site that forces them to work. It's too difficult.

There are many other symptoms of newbie syndrome. We don't have the time to go over all of them here. A final one that I will mention is just the idea that you've discovered an untapped market. When you come up with an idea for a product, and you see no real competitors, look carefully before you start to "fill that gap." Ask if there's really a market for what you have in mind. Often, others will have tried what you're thinking of and given up. You can often find remnants of their efforts as warning signs.

We've looked at a few symptoms of newbie syndrome, something that most of us go through. What's the cure or preventative It's doing thorough research. It's understanding the website conversion process. It's testing little things and then only rolling out a project when test results indicate that this is the prudent thing to do. Test small before spending a lot.

I strongly suggest that practically everyone I consult with read the ebook, "Small Changes: Big Profits," by Paul Hancox. It explains how making very small changes in your promotions, or to your website, can often make incredible differences. It also explains how to easily test and track everything. You can get a copy of this ebook at:

I mentioned earlier that some newbies succeed very fast and surpass many old-timers who been trying to build an online business for a long time. I've just revealed their secret weapon. They test and track everything.

If you don't track the results of all of the different things you're doing, you have no real way of knowing how well you're doing. Many old-timers know this, but STILL don't do it. You do it, and not only will you cure yourself of newbie syndrome, but you'll be able to see "measurably" that you are succeeding!

Copyright 2004, Willie Crawford Willie

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Willie Crawford has been teaching others how to build an on-line business since late 1996. Frequently featured in radio, magazine and newspaper articles and interviews, Willie teaches the average guy what the top marketers are doing but seldom talking about. Willie provides detailed how to information in his newsletter, through his personal coaching, and at his annual how to workshop. Subscribe to Willie's free course at:

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