Taking Your Business to the Next Level
One of the biggest problems in running an Internet business seems to be in taking it to the next level. By that I mean that many sites eventually get to the point where they make some money, but profits and sales level off, and the owner can’t figure out what to do to get rich from the site.
As an example, I currently have this problem with my CheapFlowers.com website. It got to the point 4-5 years ago where it started making a profit for me (around $5000/month), but I can’t ever seem to get it to have more than the same 50-100 orders per day. If CheapFlowers.com were my only business, I would just be making a living from it, which is good, but not good enough for most entrepreneurs. Yes, I can advertise it to get more sales, but I at best break even on the ads, and usually lose money. What drives me crazy is that the way I have the site setup it could easily handle 500 orders a day (or even 5000), and almost everything is automated so it would involve no extra work for me, and I would not incur any additional expenses. Those extra 400 orders would be pure profit (I make around $10 per order), so instead of making $5000/month I would make over $100,000/month profit from it.
I used to have the same problem when I ran my GetVitamins.com website for 5 years (I eventually shut it down). Vitamins are a huge business online, so you would think a site would have a lot of growth potential, but I could never get past the 10-20 orders a day level. I tried adding a lot more products, but that did not help. I tried adding more product photos, but that made no difference. I made changes to the shopping cart and text on the site, but nothing changed. I was making around $2000/month profits from the site before I closed it, but running it was a lot of work. I was doing the customer service for it myself, and that was taking up a lot of my time. There were constant inventory problems and shipping problems and website problem, and since it did not seem to have the potential to grow, I decided to close it and move on to other business ventures.
A friend of mine has been running an online vitamin store at AdvNut.com for almost 15 years and he has had pretty much the same problem as I did. His sales grow slowly year after year, and his store has a loyal following, but he has not been able to go big with it. It is his only business and he runs it full time. He makes a good living from it, but the stress and pressure and hassles of running the business sometimes make him wish he was doing something else. He is an entrepreneur at heart, and wants to get rich, not just make a living.
I am involved in partnerships with FindRentals.com and BargainPrinting.com, where other people do all the marketing and promotion and advertising, and both these sites have that same growth problem. It took many years to get them to the level they are at now, but the real profits would come pouring in if sales were to double or triple. Just like with my sites, these sites are all setup to handle a lot more business, and much of it would be pure profit, they just can’t figure out what to do to achieve it.
I am not sure what the answer to all of this is. I have not found any way to significantly boost traffic to my most important sites (such as Dumb.com and Adoptme.com), or any way to get more orders for CheapFlowers.com. I have tried press releases, viral videos, link trades, search engine optimization, online advertising, offline advertising, adding unique content, and anything else I can think of.
The main 2 areas I had big success in were both situations where the industries I was in went to the next level, and I went along for the ride. I bought domain names in the 1990s, and they made almost no money back then. But, in the 2000s the domain market exploded, so my portfolio of domains suddenly became a big business. Bored.com took the leap from being a small site to a big success partially due to the huge growth of the Internet since I started the site in 1997, which led the number of visitors to increase substantially each year, and partially because in the early 2000s the online ad market took off causing ad rates on Bored.com to skyrocket. So in addition to having a lot more visitors, I was making much more money from these visitors. Both of these factors were a much bigger influence on the success of the site than all the various things I did to promote Bored.com or add great content to it.
There are of course lots of sites that do all these same things and do take things to the next level, so maybe I am just not good at that aspect of my business, or maybe a lot of it is random luck. The only advice I can give is to keep trying, and that the more websites you have, the more chance you have that for whatever reason one of them will take off.