How Writers Can Do Online Business Development

Brad Smith

Founder at Grammar Gang
I'm the creator of Grammar Gang. My writing has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, TheNextWeb, and hundreds more.
Brad Smith

The first principle of online marketing for writers is that you need to be discoverable.

Which is a word I just made up, that means: being able to be discovered.

Your website traffic comes from other sources.

That could be other blogs, other social networks, search engines, or advertising.

Either way, you need to increase your reach and make it easier for more people to find you.

And online business development is one of the best tactic to getting more traffic, leads, and customers.

Look for the Right ‘Fit’

In the old days of traditional advertising, all anyone cared about was eyeballs.

Companies bought advertising based on circulation, impressions, and the number of eyeballs they could reach.

But guess what? Eyeballs don’t purchase anything. People do.

So it doesn’t matter how many eyeballs you can reach if no one buys anything.

My point?

When you’re looking to partner with another brand, their reach isn’t the most important factor. If you can partner with the right audience, then you’ll see much better results (at a lower cost).

So what does a ‘good fit’ look like?

  1. Similar customer psychographics: The demographics may or may not matter much. But their reasons for purchasing do.
  2. Similar brand attributes: Is your partner’s brand similar to yours? Is one of you a Ritz Carlton, and one of you a Holiday Inn?

Define the Value You Offer

You have to provide value to someone in order to get them to partner with you.

People are busy (and focused on their own problems). They’re not going to help you just because you asked nicely.

That means you have to give them something they don’t have.

Usually, that’s one of three things:

  1. Exposure: First and foremost, most companies care about your reach.
  2. Expertise: Knowledge (not information) and experience can also be an incredible asset. For example, let’s say you’ve figured out how to run a Facebook promotion. Then look for a complimentary brand who may have a huge offline presence, but weak Facebook presence, and offer to run a promotion with them where you handle all the details. Then you can get them to email their customers and promote it for you.
  3. Money: If you can’t supply the first two, then sometimes you need to foot the bill. But the good news is that you can gain the first two by sponsoring an event, or hiring a blogger. This will give you the exposure and expertise you need, while allowing other people to sweat the details.

Get Warm Introductions

Cold-calling people is inefficient. So, too, are cold emails.

It’s always better to have someone introduce you and vouch for your validity.

But sometimes you don’t have that luxury.

Getting to talk to the right person is crucial. Get around the gatekeepers, and talk directly with the people in position to make decisions.

So go through another channel.

You can use Twitter to talk directly with a company’s PR or communications people. Strike up a friendly conversation, and you can usually get these people to help you find the right person or department.

Partner with Up-and-Comers

Large brands are hard to partner with.

This is especially true if you’re smaller or just starting out.

So don’t even try.

Instead, look for the up-and-comers. These people never get approached for partnerships and are much more receptive to working together.

You can get better terms or exclusive access. And in a few years when these people become big, you’ll have a solid relationship that will pay-off handsomely.

Again, you don’t need to reach the largest audience possible. If you have a “good fit”, then your conversions will take care of themselves.

Bonus: The Golden Rule

Finally, don’t forget the Golden Rule.

Don’t do deals for the short-term.

Instead of focusing on building a product launch, focus on building a business first.

That means slowly growing an authentic fan base, not buying Fans and Followers.

That means building a high-quality email list, not buying bulk-spam lists.

That means acting like a farmer, instead of a hunter.

You have to plant your seeds, and tend to them over time. You have to be methodical, strategic, and consistent.

You can’t go out looking for the big kill everyday, praying for that instant gratification.

Before Michael was able to guest post on Tim’s influential blog, he’d actually known Tim for close to 10 years. He didn’t pitch him or send him a cold email. He developed a relationship over time, never asking for something in return. But when the time came, he was easily able to ask Tim for a favor.

And that favor paid off handsomely.

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