The Confidence Game:
You could "become" a Ugandan Prime Minister and offer Americans a reward for setting up a bank account that you could transfer your millions into preparatory of your escape from the country. Given how long this scam has been floating around the internet, I'm very confident that someone is making money though its exploitation.
You could "sell" reports on how to make millions from unsuspecting newcomers to the internet. This mail fraud scheme even predates the internet, I remember running into it in 1980 when we had to ship out pieces of paper, and I'm quite confident it had been around before I ran into it judging by the condition of the photocopy that I got back then.
Penis enlargement, Breast enhancements, Herbal Viagra, Envelope stuffing, and a whole host of other schemes are being used every day to bilk honestly earned funds from naive folks that think it's okay to make a bunch of money for nothing. How is this different than the thug that steals your wallet at gunpoint, the thief that robs your car or home, the employee that embezzles money from your company, or the politician that siphons off tax money to fund drug runners in Bolivia? Not one whit. Not an iota. So just say no, if it sounds too good to be true, that's probably because it IS too good to be true or honest.
I know I've spent an awful lot of time pounding on what you SHOULDN'T do with your web presence, and that's an occupational hazard. I field calls every day from excited clients that run into one of the above traps and are totally convinced they're going to retire to Cancun next week when their ship comes in. Or worse, I find out they've implemented one of the above without my counsel (usually because they know better and are afraid to ask me :) and I have to go through a bunch of contortions to get them fixed again. I didn't get into explaining the ramifications involved, some of them are pretty serious. The scale of potential consequences runs from losing your ISP (Internet Service Provider) on up to prison time.
But let's move on to the real reason I wrote this essay. . .
Your own domain is an amazing tool for enhancing your existing business, or just launching a bright idea you think could become a business.
Why isn't that a violation of my SPAM tirade? Because these are folks that you have a professional relationship with and they are NOT going to resent you reminding them that you are still here to serve them. Quite the contrary, if you make your announcements personable and interesting, they will enjoy and appreciate hearing from you. Should you pull them off the list if they grumble? Absolutely, that only makes good business sense.
Should you be afraid to promote to them in case they might grumble? Absolutely not, no more than you should stop advertising in the Yellow Pages or the newspaper or send out paper bulk mail.
Just like any other tool, you have to work it to get the results.
Replace the Printing Press:
Not a chance, no way, no how. Your website cannot replace envelopes, letterhead, business cards or brochures. How to get to your website should definitely be printed on all of those items, but you're still going to have to maintain adequate stocks of printed materials and continue all of the other successful marketing ploys you've discovered. Billboards, bulk mail, radio and TV spots, Bus ads, newspaper inserts, whatever you've been doing before you should continue doing, just add your website's URL (Universal Resource Locator) to all of them.
The signature line on your outgoing e-mail should contain a link to your website too.
Information on the Internet:
Part of the "horrible chore" category would include:
Having to download and install Flash or a movie player.
Or having to load up a different browser (on another computer with a different Operating System) because your favorite isn't supported.
Extravagant use of huge graphic files, or using an HTML editor that writes horribly bloated code, thus making modem users wait minutes for the pages to load.
Website Speed by PMA Consulting
Complicated, confusing or *worse* non-existent navigation aids (links around the website).
Navigation Tricks by BigNoseBird.com
Magnetize your website:
With your metatags in place so the Spyders can find and index you, you still need to do some more work to get the internauts coming by. The most powerful way (which is also the most work) is to join and contribute to UseNet newsgroups that are interested in your subject. By doing that you "become" an expert in your field and gain respect among your peers. Ensuring that your website's URL is in your signature line for each article that you post to the UseNet will dramatically increase the amount of traffic that comes to your site. In this practice you'll also find yourself answering the same questions to new members of the newsgroup, once you have to do it twice, you'll discover the value of immortalizing your words on your website and just sending a link to that page in the newsgroup.
Google (by far and away the most respected of all the Search Engines today) indexes Usenet articles and someone looking for information that you covered in your's will find the link to your website for years after you make that submission.
What's so magic about links?
Speciifically, Google thrives on links. The developers at Google decided that the best guage of a website's popularity would be the number of independent links there are on the internet into your site. That's how you "float" to the top of their searches, and it's also the way you get "word of mouth" in the new E-conomy. Contact your vendors' webmasters and arrange for reciprocal links on their website, reciprocal means you'll put a link on your site to them as well. Cultivate connections from your Usenet contacts and get reciprocal links going with the folks you find there. Get creative, pretend you're in a Virtual Community and meet other folks that you can link to and from, have fun with it.
All the fun of swapping links with other webmasters is going to bring you head-on into this whole copyright infringement arena. When it comes to websites, content is king. The longer you play this game, the truer this statement will become. Just as an example, I've got over six hours invested in this page, and I'm just getting started on a very important part of this essay. I'm writing this for you, in the hopes that you'll be able to glean some value from it. Please accept that value with my heartfelt gratitude, it justifies all the energy I've put into this work. Absolutely share this link with others that would find value in it.
Do not, however, take this work and put it on your website with your name on it. I consider that theft, and I'm pretty confident that feeling is universal among writers because there's a huge volume of pontification, presidence, and legislation wrapped around this concept of "Intellectual Property" as a result. Play nice. Give credit where it's due. It's not really that hard, most writers--and that includes webmasters--have a "Legal Stuff" page on their site explaining how they want their content to be respected. Each copyrighted page will have a link to that page, just read it. If you don't find a "Legal Stuff" page, simply send e-mail to "webmaster@site-I-happen-to-be-browsing-right-now" and ask if you can reprint his/her stuff. As a matter of fact, it's a very courteous habit to drop the author a line when you run into something that has helped you anyway. We all love to hear from the folks that are reading our work and enjoying it.
Personally, I give permission for reprint all the time, my only requirements being that I be given credit for the work and that a link to my site (the original work being quoted) be included to prevent "Out of context" misunderstandings from cropping up. When I reprint other's work, I print out the e-mail response from the author on paper and file it. I also cut and paste that e-mail permission text into a comment line in my HTML that makes up the page. And, of course, I put in a link to the author's original work on their site. Don't be afraid to give it a try, you'll find that with the exception of large soulless mega-corporations, the response will be surprisingly pleasant.