The Online Rules of Successful Companies: The Fool-Proof Guide to Building Profits

Overview

In this book, Robin "Roblimo" Miller introduces specific rules for systematically building the profitability of virtually any business online, and shows how to use these rules to maximum advantage, whatever you sell-products, services, information, or advertising.

Miller is exceptionally well placed to write this book: He is Editor-in-Chief of OSDN (Open Source Development Network), the parent organization of hugely popular sites like Slashdot and Freshmeat-businesses that have ...

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Overview

In this book, Robin "Roblimo" Miller introduces specific rules for systematically building the profitability of virtually any business online, and shows how to use these rules to maximum advantage, whatever you sell-products, services, information, or advertising.

Miller is exceptionally well placed to write this book: He is Editor-in-Chief of OSDN (Open Source Development Network), the parent organization of hugely popular sites like Slashdot and Freshmeat-businesses that have been profitable virtually from day one. Drawing on his own experience and the hard lessons learned by thousands of companies, he has delivered a practical, streetwise guide to cutting your costs and raising your revenues until you're making a healthy, sustainable profit.

Miller shows how to avoid disastrous mistakes; how to accomplish more with less; how to anticipate trends without wasting scarce resources; and how to use the Internet to support all your business activities, both online and off. This book is not about technology or "e-commerce": It is about business success.

* The rules of profitable business online
What works now-and what never works
* Driving costs out of your online business
Reducing the cost of hosting, software, coding, and more
* Using your site to support your offline business
Dirt-cheap ways to increase your in-store traffic and profits
* The do's and don'ts of email, chat, and community
Connecting with your customers-one-on-one
* The myth of the "abandoned shopping cart"
What you can-and can't-learn from iwithout the expense
And expensive techniques that are utterly worthless

Foreword by Rich Jaroslavsky, former technology editor, The Wall Street Journal

The streetwise guide to online profits.

  • Increase your online revenues and reduce your costs-one step at a time
  • Build business-focused Web sites that work
  • Use email and chat to build profits without alienating customers
  • Information layering: clearing away the clutter that keeps people from buying
  • Practical solutions for brick-and-mortar companies, Internet companies, and click-and-mortar hybrids
  • By Robin "Roblimo" Miller, leader of one of the Internet's most successful businesses

Why have so many companies lost a fortune on the Internet, accomplishing nothing—while others have made far smaller investments and earned millions? In The Online Rules of Successful Companies: The Fool-Proof Guide to Building Profits, leading Internet entrepreneur Robin "Roblimo" Miller illuminates the crucial rules that make the difference between success and failure online.

Miller's successful Internet ventures have ranged from the legendary Slashdot community to one of the world's first profitable online limousine services. In this book, he offers no-nonsense advice for building your online profits in the only way possible: by driving revenue up and costs down.

Discover how to make sure your Internet presence supports your entire business, both online and off. Learn which low-cost site promotion techniques work-and which expensive techniques don't. See your site as customers see it, and fix the Learn how to use email, chat, and "community" features to support your site-and how not to. From low-cost software to effective advertising, Miller shows you what's working for thousands of companies online-and how to make it work for you.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130668424
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 10/8/2002
  • Series: Financial Times Prentice Hall Books
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Miller
Robin Miller

A food writer and nutritionist, Robin Miller is a contributing editor for Health and Cooking Light magazines. She also develops recipes for the American Heart Association, the American Institute for Cancer Research, Weight Watchers, and Reynolds. Robin also answers nutrition-related questions posted to HealthAtoZ in the section "Ask the Expert." Robin has a master's degree in Food and Nutrition from New York University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Ch. 1 What Makes the Interest So Powerful? 1
Ch. 2 Building a Web Site that Works 17
Ch. 3 Profitable Ecommerce 39
Ch. 4 Promotional Web Sites for Offline Businesses 65
Ch. 5 News and Discussion Web Sites 79
Ch. 6 Email and Chat As Profit Builders 103
Ch. 7 Site Promotion and Advertising 129
Ch. 8 Cost Control and Futureproofing 151
Resources 173
Index 177
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Preface

Introduction

The basic thesis of this book is very simple and old-fashioned: that the best—indeed, the only—way to make money on the Internet is to take in more than you spend.

For some reason, between the time the Internet first opened up to commercial activity in 1994 and the end of the 20th Century, thousands of so-called visionaries decided this hoary business rule didn't apply online. An awful lot of supposedly hard-headed investors and entrepreneurs bought into this delusion and paid dearly for their insanity. Billions of dollars were poured into dubious schemes. Sound management practices were ignored. Money was thrown around as if there was an endless stream of it cascading down, like rain in a thunderstorm, on Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Prairie, Silicon Harbor, Silicon Swamp, Silicon Coast, Silicon Whatever. All over the world, city fathers and mothers decided that getting "Silicon" into a place name guaranteed endless investments and high-paying jobs; that everyone touched by the Internet was going to be so rich that they wouldn't notice a few dollars one way or the other if bonds were floated and taxes were raised to pay for the infrastructure needed to turn this place or that place into an Internet Mecca full of high-rent lofts and offices all tied together by millions of strands of fiberoptic cable.

Even at the height of this madness a few of us wondered how long the investor-driven money shower would last, and prepared for the day when, inevitably, it would end. We were laughed at for our conservative business plans and cost-cutting—even stingy—management methods, but we are the ones who still have Internet jobsand businesses and will probably have them for the rest of our working lives, while the high-rollers who thought we were silly a few years ago are now sending us their resumes.

Every Game Has Rules

The practices and tactics I advocate in The Online Rules of Successful Companies certainly can't guarantee success, but if you apply them correctly you will have a much better chance of making money on the Internet than you'll have if you don't follow them. Most of the basic "rules" in this book apply to any size company, anywhere in the world, whether the Internet itself is its

central profit focus or it is a business that operated successfully for decades or even centuries before the word "online" became part of our vocabularies.

It doesn't matter whether you are an individual entrepreneur working from home or an executive for a multinational corporation; it is as easy for a large company to put up a bad site as it is for a small company to put up a good one. Any size business can overspend on its Internet presence or have unrealistic expectations for it, and any size business can use the Internet as a tool to reach more customers, at lower cost, than it can reach through any other communications medium ever developed—if it uses the Internet correctly.

I have worked hard to avoid programming jargon in this book. It is about the business of the Internet, not its technical aspects. I mention terms like "bandwidth" and "information layering" when they are appropriate, but their meanings should be obvious from context for almost anyone who has ever browsed a Web site or sent and received email.

On the other side of the coin, programmers and Web developers who don't have a lot of business knowledge shouldn't be intimidated by this book, either. Most of the business advice in The Online Rules of Successful Companies is nothing but old-fashioned common sense applied to a new medium, and shouldn't be hard to understand—even though a lot of people seem to have trouble realizing that business on the Internet is still business, that advertising on the Internet is still advertising, and that the basic rules of customer service apply online the same way they apply in a "brick-and-mortar" store where clerks wait on customers in person.

Learn From the Past

When the Internet was a brand-new business tool, we were all experimenting, trying to figure out how to use it. Everyone made plenty of mistakes. I made my share, and I freely admit it.

Things are different now. We have had time to watch some Internet businesses succeed and others fail. We have a pretty good idea of what makes one site easy to use and another one hard to navigate. We are all still experimenting and learning—and making mistakes—but we are no longer blindly trying to make money online without any real idea of how to do it. We no longer need to grope in the dark.

That is the point of this book: that we finally have enough Internet business history, positive and negative, behind us that if we study that history and let it guide us, instead of praying that the Internet Fairy will touch us with her Magic Money Wand, we can sit down and consciously, rationally build profits online by emulating the best habits and behaviors of effective Internet companies, while avoiding the mistakes made by the many ineffective ones that started back in the 20th century and didn't make it into the 21st.

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