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Old 30th June 2008, 05:38 AM   #1
garrybennett
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Question Building My Online Business

Hi All,

I was wondering if any of you had ideas on how to expand my online business.

Just to give you a little information about my business, it is a local community website for every town in Ireland: www.mytown.ie
The reason I built the site is because I found that many towns in Ireland have little or no web presence. I initially thought about building a website for my local town - but then thought 'why not build a site for every town in the Ireland'. This is what I have done. When the user goes to mytown.ie and selects their town the site will bring back specific information for that town (eg. weather, maps, news, attractions, etc.). There is plenty of data entry work to be done in order to get specific content for each of the 100 towns that are listed, but I am getting there!

Obviously I need to generate revenue in order to keep the site running, and there are two sources of income on the site Banner Advertising and Paid Business Listings. Eventually I would like to get some direct deals for Banner Advertising, but for the moment I am going with Google Adsense.
The main source of revenue will be Paid Business listings. For the sake of relevant content for users, I am listing businesses for free initially with the minimum amount of information (Name, Address, Phone Number). If a business wants to get more exposure on the site they can go for a paid listing allowing them to feature description, logo, website and email link and their business gets featured first in their category. I also offer a Premium Listing which gives the business their own web page on mytown.ie which can feature images, descriptions, enquiry form, map, etc. This page is simply a template in which they fill the blanks.
So this is the commercial model that I am using to generate revenue. The challenge with this is how to get business to pay to appear on the site.

My main source of traffic to the site is through search engines, as the site is built to be SEO friendly. I would love to do some marketing but I really need to get some revenue before I can spend on marketing. I know this is a bit of a vicious circle as without marketing it is difficult to attract users/clients and without revenue generated from clients I cannot put money into marketing. I do not want to take the risk of borrowing to run a marketing campaign so I am looking for other solutions.

I have done some press releases with local newspapers and am continuing with that as it is a free source of publicity. I am also contacting local radio stations about the possibility of getting mentioned.

I am sure there are lots of other ways that I can attract clients, and that is what I am hoping you can help me with. All ideas welcome!

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Old 30th June 2008, 11:49 AM   #2
ginac84
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If you want to get some low-cost/free marketing up and running, I would highly recommend social media/networking. Pick a few networking sites where your core audience hangs out (what are the most popular social networking sites in Ireland right now? Where would people that would use this site most hang out online?) and create a profile. Reach out to potential users via messages, blogs, and forum posts (like this one!).

Start a blog about your site and promote your posts via digg, StumbleUpon, and other similar sites so you get more exposure. You can also partner with other bloggers that write about similar sites and they could do a nice write-up for you in exchange for a link on your page or something like that.

It never hurts to give the social media stuff a shot since you've got nothing to lose. Let me know how it goes!

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Old 13th July 2008, 10:22 PM   #3
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Digg and the other social sites do get a lot of exposure. I have noticed that many forums use scripts to submit to the social sites automatically.

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Old 15th July 2008, 01:03 AM   #4
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I agree on what they suggest...but not only submit to the social network, also you have to communicate to them in order to have a good impression.

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Old 28th July 2008, 11:35 AM   #5
BusinessBurrito
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Garry,

Have you thought about article writing? I just started this myself, so I don't have any statistics to give you, but I have been hearing that this is a great way to generate traffic to your site. You submit your articles gratis, but in exchange, when a webmaster picks one up, he/she has to give you credit. So your name and website address gets in front of all the webmaster(s)' traffic.

I have submitted three articles so far to EzineArticles.com. I also hear Article City is a good site to submit.

Good luck!

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Old 31st July 2008, 06:06 AM   #6
Chelsea Elm
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Hi Gerry

I just checked your site and it looks great:-) I agree with others about writing articles. Many people have found them very useful. Good luck with the web site, again its a great idea:-)

X C

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Old 31st July 2008, 09:14 AM   #7
chesa7
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What a great idea, Gerry -- your site looks great -- and a huge undertaking! I wonder if there is a way to take advantage of the travel angle -- can it be marketed as a resource tool to travel agencies, travel sites, etc. as a travelers guide to the towns in Ireland?

good luck,
Laura

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Old 1st August 2008, 09:55 PM   #8
KerryJS
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Hi Gerry, a one-stop Ireland tour. Well done.

Maybe some of these suggestions can help:

email travel agents. Use a 3-stage plan:
1. email a press release with site link
2. a week later email and ask if they've had a look at the site, can they suggest anything that might improve it for their clients and would they recommend it to their clients
3. 2 weeks later an email letting them know of any up and coming events in a range of towns.

Then set out a short list of five or six short info paragraphs you can send them each month or so telling them of things coming up, or new towns now on the site, that they might find useful.

This way you generate interest from not only the travel agents, but they'll let their clients know too. Give it time to filter through, most places don't get back on the first contact, or second...keep at it, traffic generation and marketing all have time-lag issues to deal with. and Good Luck!

Kerry

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Old 11th October 2008, 02:45 AM   #9
acwebguru
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I have read out your plan for online business and really i am very exited to learn it because i have got lots of information from it.

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Old 12th October 2008, 04:13 PM   #10
IV Studios
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Considering the lack of web presence these towns -- and presumably the businesses in them -- have, I'd suggest a postcard campaign. I know you don't want to spend much money but if you're trying to 'introduce' the internet to these folks, trying to reach them with email blasts etc., isn't going to be very effective.

For budget-sake, you need to make sure it's a really great postcard -- designed well, and informative without being overwhelming, again, most of your potential advertisers probably aren't particularly web savvy and a good many of them won't have websites, so it'll be a difficult sell. You need to convince them that the internet is viable for driving real foot traffic to their doors.

Make sure you offer "an introductory rate" -- a trial of sorts -- so they feel more like you're offering them an opportunity to try something new instead of launching into a marketing effort that they may see no value or potential in.

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