Moving a Business Online

Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

Do you have a business that has traditionally been offline? Wondering how you might transform your operations to an online existence? This is a question that many print magazine and newspapers – and other businesses – are asking, in hopes of solving the loss of readership and revenues.

Large (inter)national publications have an easier time of the conversion because they have a wider pool of advertisers. They still have to be innovative, but at least they’ll probably earn some revenues.

Local newspapers will find it difficult, as will other non-web businesses, especially if most of their revenue is earned locally. It’s not that online publishers cannot target ads to visitors from certain locales. Rather, local advertisers may not know or understand this, and thus may be unwilling to give the online medium a try.

If you are considering moving to an online presence, whether solely or to supplement your bricks-and-mortar existence, and whether or not you are a publisher, here are a few tips:

  1. Research.
    Some people might have you think otherwise, but not every business needs a website (and not every website needs a weblog.) Make sure you understand if your business has to be operated differently online.

  2. Switch gradually.
    Your research may show that your competitors are online and even earning reasonable extra revenues. But don’t ditch your terrestrial operations all of a sudden, thinking you’ll do fine being only online.

  3. Start now.
    Switching gradually means setting up a basic web presence first. Then improve on it gradually, with extra features and functionality as you are able. If most or all of your revenue is offline, you do not necessarily have to spend thousands of dollars setting up a slick, AJAXified website.

  4. Test the waters.
    Maybe your budget does not yet allow a full-blown ecommerce site or lots of advertising. Why not start by offering valuable information to your customers? What that is depends on your business, of course.

  5. Promote.
    Just building a website isn’t enough to draw visitors. I.e., if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You do have to promote your website, whether online or offline – which does not necessarily cost money.

This is only a very basic summary of the process for transitioning, though it should give you an overview.

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