Author: Bob Osgoodby

No this isn't an article by Stephen King, but a true synopsis of what can happen to newbies who want to go in business on the Net. Misery equates to how much money you spent vs. the amount you earned. The only thing that differs is the intensity.

Slight Misery - people who invested little or nothing and  received the same in return. They joined AOL, and immediately found their mailbox was overflowing with spam (junk email). They read some of the mail and, believing what they read, bought into a program for $20. They sat back and waited, and waited, and waited and nothing happened.

Losing heart, they quit the program and dropped AOL after the free trial period. They now send their email to Aunt Martha, which is all they really wanted to do from the "get-go", using a free ISP such as "World Spy".

More Misery - these people believed many of the offers that wound up in their mailbox, and bought into a few. They then started their free advertising campaign. When that didn't pay off, they started investing in paid advertising. Here a banner, there a banner, everywhere a banner, banner - they quickly learned the reality of banner ads. But with no long term commitment, they folded their tents, cut their losses, and disappeared into the night.

Real Misery - these are the tenacious ones - they failed at level one and two, but believed the hype and invested in an online store. They're like the guy who rented a huge vacant brick and mortar building, and then started to think about what he was going to sell. After an awful lot of work and many bucks later, they found out that just having a store isn't the key to success on the Internet. 

So what's the scoop? Is everyone doomed to failure?

Of course not - there are a lot of people making money on the web. But you have to find your "niche". Unless you have very "deep pockets", like anything, you have to know what you are doing.

If your area of expertise is ornithology, why not consider a web site for bird watchers. With some timely articles that are updated on a regular basis, and a store where you sell items of interest, you just might attract a following.

Does that mean you immediately commit to a store and get a merchant account so your customers can pay for their orders - NO. Start your web site, and advertise it heavily. One of the better bets is ezines and newsletters that target the audience you wish to reach. Try to build a following on your website - consider your own newsletter.

If you are able to get a respectable number of visitors to your web site, or subscribers to your newsletter, you just might have a shot at your online store succeeding. Remember, "Content is King". If you provide good content, you will have return visitors. Return visitors are potential future customers.

Offer freebies, run contests, have guest columnists contribute; these all enhance your site. But forget some of the hype you will run across. This does not happen overnight. Once established, will you make money while you sleep - you betcha.

Like any business, you will need a war chest. How much? If you're going to be selling a product, you'll need an inventory. But don't be like the person who bought into Equinox (see who has $5,000 worth of junk in their garage they can't sell.

Look for a distributor who will sell in small lots. Sure they will charge a bit more, and you will earn a bit less, but you're not in over your head. If the product moves, you can then afford to buy larger lots at a lower price.

You should then know pretty quickly if it is going to work. If it is positive at that point, move to your next level. Open your online store, get merchant status so you can accept credit cards, and move forward.

Above all, use "due diligence" in any venture you take, and you just might avoid the "misery" of failure.