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Grow Your Internet Business With an Ecourse

Aug 17, 2007
The secret of growing your internet business: Create a website that's more than a calling card. Use your website to create a list of qualified subscribers who agree to accept your email messages. Ideally, build trust by sending them messages regularly, typically through an ezine or podcast.

But as a new internet business, you might have just 5 names. Don't get discouraged. Many millionaire marketers joke about beginning with a list that included their mother and their cat.

But what do you do with those 5 names? Creating a good ezine takes a lot of work.

A few years ago you could send out an ezine every month or two. Now there's so much clutter you need to have your name in front of readers every week or two.

So you're facing a big chunk of time every single week, whether you're reaching 5 readers or 5 thousand. What can you do while waiting for your list to grow?

The answer: Create an e-course.

An e-course is a series of short "lessons" sent to subscribers, one at a time, over a period of days, weeks or months. You send them through autoresponders, using the same program you use or ezines and other e-mailings.

Website visitors sign up through an opt-in program, giving you their names and emails. Most important, they give you permission to send them a series of messages.

When designing your ecourse, you need to decide how many messages or "lessons" to include and how often you will send them.

How many? Typically marketers send 5 to 7 messages for one ecourse. If you send more, readers may begin to tune out. What began as a novelty can become a nuisance.

Readers are busy. So they'll send your course to a special folder, with good intentions to read "later." As your lessons pile up, readers begin to think, "I have a lot of reading to do! When will I get time?" They may even trash your messages without reading or decide to unsubscribe. Now they're gone forever.

With 5 to 7 lessons, you keep their workload manageable.

Fewer than 5? You probably won't have time to build a connection with your readers. Advertisers say you need to connect 5 to 7 times before readers remember you.

One marketer created an e-course with 87 lessons, sent one day at a time. She was promoting a high-end product so it made sense to target readers who would actually appreciate so many emails. And she delivered extremely high-quality content.

How often? Typically website owners send messages every day or every other day. When you leave larger gaps, your readers may forget who you are.

Readers who stay with your course till the end are probably seriously interested in your topic (or are seriously compulsive about finishing what they start).

To motivate readers to stay with you, create messages that follow this checklist.

(1) Length 350-500 words. Readers are more likely to come to the end of a shorter message than a longer one. You can always include a link to a page on your website.

(2) One specific tip. Give readers a single takeaway point in each message.

(3) One exercise. Include a thought-provoking question or assignment that will challenge your reader. As readers get involved, they want to learn more - and that means calling you.

(4) One action item. Invite readers to learn more by subscribing to an ezine or following a link to a sales page.

(5) Valuable content. Each message should include content not easily obtained elsewhere. Avoid mentioning prices or details of an offer. Instead, direct readers to a sales page for follow-up.

Of course, each message also includes your resource box: your one-sentence elevator pitch, your basic contact information and a low-key call to action. Your call to action might be "Subscribe to my ezine."

Leverage your ecourse. Expand each message into an article for your article marketing program. Post your messages into your blog (you might revise for an edgier tone with more examples). Keep a file of messages for the day you're ready to create your first ebook.

Once you reach 100 or 300 ecourse readers, you invite them to subscribe to an ezine or podcast. Once you reach 1000, you can begin to call on your list for teleclasses and special offers.

Now you've taken the first steps to grow your Internet business - painlessly.
About the Author
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., helps service professionals transform their websites from Internet presence to Internet profits. Fr^e download: 7 Best-Kept Secrets of Websites That Attract Clients http://www.yourcontentstrategist.com/subscribe.html
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