There are lots of ways to make Internet work for you. Although selling a product online is most obvious business model, it certainly isn't only way.
This interview, with British voice-over artist, Peter Twist, shows how he has harnessed Internet's potential. Not only is he selling products, but he is also selling himself, his services and those of his colleagues.
Truly a man who understands power of multiple streams of income.
BizE-zine: Peter, who are you and what is your background?
PT: My name is Peter Twist, I'm 41 and I live partly in London UK and partly in Monaco.
My bread and butter is as a voice-over for TV and Radio in UK and abroad. As I work for myself it has been easy to work this and Internet alongside each other.
I am probably one of best-known "unknown" voices: guy who promotes Classic FM Magazine and sometimes tells you what's on TV on Saturday night. I occasionally do work for clients in US as well.
BizE-zine: When did you discover power of Internet?
PT: I first got involved about 8 years ago. I went online by joining CompuServe with a 2.5k modem! I initially set up a web site to promote my voice-over work. In this business you spend a lot of time giving prospective clients details about yourself and demo tapes. Being lazy I put it all on web site with streaming audio files and told people to go there.
BizE-zine: Did it work?
PT: Putting my voice-over information on Internet did work. It saved me having to send out CDs and tapes. It was also fairly easy to get a good search engine ranking for 'voice-over' or 'voice talent' so I did get a lot of referrals from web.
If it was a choice between me and another voice who was sending stuff to prospective clients by snail mail, it gave me edge.
At about same time, 8 years ago, voice-over world had a major upheaval. ISDN telephone lines came in. I went from driving around 60,000 miles a year to all major radio stations in UK, to building a studio at home and talking down an ISDN line.
So I was already beginning to experience benefits of technology even before Internet started to grow.
BizE-zine: What was your next Internet development as far as voice-over work was concerned?
PT: Now that all voices were at home waiting for work, radio stations and production companies began asking for weekly faxes listing a voice-over's availability. Fairly soon they were getting up to 200 faxes per week. Every time they needed a voice, they would have to trawl through these faxes to find out whether or not voice was available, and of course that availability would change so producer would have to telephone voice artist too.
So where does Internet come in? I thought to myself how much better it would be to go to a web site and see list of voices and whether or not they were available on that day.
At time, only really big companies could afford their own programmers to write specialist software like this, so I began idea using Microsoft Front Page. Each day around 50 voice artists would email me and I would update site. Phew, hard work! Also, if I put 'no' instead of 'yes' for their availability I was in big trouble! A few voices did ask whether they could update their own pages, but it wasn't possible unless I invested around $30,000 in software development.
Eventually, about 9 months ago, I finally managed to find and adapt some web-based software that allowed all voice-overs to log in, and change their own details. There are currently around 35 voice-overs on site and around 100-150 producers access it on a daily basis.
The key is not massive amounts of traffic; it's finding and filling a niche. The site is paid for by voices, it generates around $15,000 per year. That may not sound like much but consider that it's renewable, regular income, and I don't have any ongoing labor: voices do all work!
BizE-zine: You got started by selling yourself and your colleagues, but what happened next?
PT: Next I did what everyone seems to do - I tried to sell other people's products.
I followed all strategies for advertising and promotion but saw that there were many more people who were better at it than me and had more patience. So, after about three months, (I have no patience at all!), I decided to take other route, produce my own product and let good marketers sell it.
I just kept seeing same products being sold over and over again, and it was always marketers with best mailing lists (their own opt-in lists) who sucked up all sales because they had already established themselves. You really have to hand it to those marketers who push stuff day after day and never give up.
BizE-zine: Let's get philosophical for a moment. You already had a successful offline business - what need did Internet marketing fulfill in your life?
PT: I was attracted to Internet mainly because I could see potential audience and ability it gave you to work at your own pace, at times that suited you.
I had always envied writers (novel & song) who could live anywhere, and, if they were successful, live off royalties.
Yet, I could see that for every successful novel and songwriter there were thousands of others who weren't. In large part s seemed to be because other people control their destiny. If your face doesn't fit, you have no chance.
The Internet creates a level playing field; you get a chance to let buying public decide whether or not they like you.
I love "unknown territory" of Internet, it's relatively inexpensive to test and you get results, good or bad within hours.
BizE-zine: You are very much a 'have a go' person, Peter. What checks and balances do you apply to your ideas prior to jumping in?
PT: Whatever project I've thought up, I always like to look at end result and then work out how to get there. If you analyzed any new venture and all things that could go wrong, you would never begin anything!
BizE-zine: So how did your business develop?
PT: I thought this web-based stuff was really something so I looked for other niches that would benefit and I thought of auto dealers, real estate businesses and travel agents. I have started off with auto dealers and have begun selling sites like one here: http://www.hendymotorsales.co.uk
All these guys need is a digital camera and a connection to Internet and no specialized software.
Because I have my own servers I make money by setting up domains and renting web space to people.
BizE-zine: Then, as if you didn't have enough going on, you created your own info products to sell. How did that come about?
PT: I really like to help other people and have always been a fan of Brian Tracy and Anthony Robbins who are great motivational speakers. I love listening again and again to their tapes and CDs. To me it is better than just reading a book - I find it much more enjoyable.