Everyone and their brother wants to be an internet marketer these days. And can you blame them? They’ve been sold the dream of sitting on palm-lined coasts with a computer on their lap and a margarita in hand. Now, there are a lot of reasons that dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but the point is it’s a dream that sizzles, and for that reason, people are anxious to start and don’t tend to plan all that much.

I like someone who’s willing to stop dreaming and dig their hands in, but to enter any business without a well-thought out plan is dangerous. It’s extremely naive. And there’s a real power to putting ink to the paper first.

brainstorm

Source: flickr.com/photos/lucamascaro

What Your Plan Doesn’t Need to Be

Your plan for your internet marketing business doesn’t have to be a fully-drafted business plan. Not at all. You’re not taking this to the bank or wasting your time on formalities that don’t matter.

The beauty of ecommerce is that you can get started without a lot of investment or run-around, so let’s keep it simple. All you need to come up with a good plan of action is a couple pieces of paper and a pen or pencil.

Create mind-maps, lists, free-flow writing, use mind-mapping software if you want…doesn’t really matter. Just use whatever works best for you and formulate a fully-circle business concept.

Three Bases You Should Always Cover

How extensive your plan is will really be up to you and will often depend on the type of business you’re working with.

There are three stones, however, that you shouldn’t ever leave unturned.

1. How Will Your Site Be Monetized?

For a basic ecommerce site, this isn’t a huge issue, as you’ll likely be selling a product. But at least do some research to find out where you’ll source the product and how; you want to make sure you’re method of monetization is at least viable.

Bloggers, on the other hand, are the ones with the real issue in this department. All to often, a new blogger decides they want to blog about something and figures they’ll find a way to monetize later. Big mistake.

You’re not going into business just so you can spill brain vomit across the web – knowing how you will monetize your site tells you exactly how the layout should work, what you should be writing about, and which direction you want to lead your audience.

2. How Will You Market Your Site?

Your site won’t do much good just sitting out there on the web; you need a plan for getting eyeballs there. SEO is becoming a steeper hill to climb but still viable. Social marketing has promise. Guest posting can yield some great results. There’s paid advertising as well – online or in print.

But whatever it is, it can’t be left to decide on later. Without marketing, your business doesn’t exist. So figure out how you’ll turn on that faucet of buying customers.

3. How Will Your Site Be Different and Why Does it Matter?

Setting yourself apart is crucial in today’s online world. A lot of beginners just pick a vague subject they like, such as travel or personal development, and start adding to the cesspool of wasted space these pointless sites already take up online.

Nobody’s reading and nobody cares. How will you make them care? What will you bring to the table that’s unique?

The Brainstorming Aftermath

Brainstorming is a great exercise, but often it’s greatest rewards come afterward. Once you’ve got your outline or doodles in hand, set it down for a minute. Mull over it for a day or two, or if possible, walk way from it completely and don’t think about it until some time has passed.

After that, you should be able to come to it with a fresh perspective and may notice some holes – solving “problems” is a major part of being an entrepreneur, so that’s great. Get to work.

Clean it Up

Obviously optional, but I like to be nice and organized, so once I’ve got my admittedly vague plan in mind, I rewrite or redraw it, organized, neat, and clean. Tack it on the wall behind your computer.

Now you’re headed down a track instead of just flailing your arms, and it’s right there in front of you every second.

A Note On the Evolution of Plans

Don’t forget that your plan is written on paper – not etched into stone. As you gain experience, things will go wrong, hard lessons will force themselves on you, and you’ll spot new opportunities.

A plan should always be changing, and a business that does not evolve will always eventually die.

Do you have a plan? A special method for organizing your concept so that you stay focused from start to finish? Share in the comments below.