Resources for starting a for-profit website
April 30, 2009 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm a freelancer who mostly lives by writing web content on a wide variety of topics for very low pay. By doing this for some time, I've learned quite a bit about SEO, social marketing, and so on. I also know a bit about web design and the technical skills required. So, I'm thinking it would be really nice to go into business for myself instead of making a small percentage of the revenue that my content generates...but the one aspect of this that I really don't know anything about is the business aspect. For example, figuring out how likely it is that this plan could be feasible at all, and what my overall strategy should be.

The particular reason I'm asking this question here is that there is actually so very much information on this topic out there, and most of that information is trying to sell me something. I don't mind buying a book or something, but I'd love some resource recommendations from disinterested third parties, especially if you've ever done something like this.
posted by lgyre to Work & Money (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, why don't you start a blog and try it? If you can write well (and do the SEO, social marketing stuff well) it should do well, but it will take a while.
posted by delmoi at 11:21 AM on April 30, 2009

I'm don't have a specific answer but the costs/effort of trying are pretty low so I'm seconding delmoi. (I'm also interested in how you do what you do so I've emailed you with some offtopic questions via your profile email -- hope that's valid ).
posted by southof40 at 2:44 PM on April 30, 2009

Hi lgyre! I think you're starting off on the right foot - asking whether an idea is feasible is, believe it or not, something a lot of first-time business owners fail to do.

The main things I would recommend you research are:
1. The competition. There are a lot of people out there doing SEO, web marketing, social media marketing etc. You need to work out what is special or different about what you can offer. My philosophy is that if you can make your clients' lives demonstrably simpler and/or faster and/or cheaper (pick at least two) then you have a chance of making it work.

2. The pricing model. You could work on a fixed price basis, working from your costs to survive, plus a profit margin, plus a contingency amount (usually 10-20%). You could work on a Time and Materials basis (T&M) where you charge an hourly rate for as long as the client is willing to employ you. You could work on a Shared Risk-Reward basis, where you offer very cheap initial pricing (that revenue sacrifice is your risk) but higher upside tied to the success of your work (this is the reward part). Or a hybrid of all the above.

3. Your marketing. How will you get your message out there? As delmoi mentioned, a blog is a great part of this. Think about twittering, getting a website built (different to a blog, although a blog can be part of the website), creating a facebook fan page and offline networking. And work the hell out of these channels.

A good url worth reading is: Tactical Tips for Startup Marketing.

A great book worth picking up is New Business Road Test, by John Mullins.

If you have any specific questions, or want to explore ideas, email me at neil [at] fourthirds [dot] com.

Good luck!
posted by mooders at 3:01 PM on April 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

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