Be awesome at Online Business


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Be awesome at Online Business

  1. 1. Be awesome at online businessA handbook for succeeding on the web. By Paul Jarvis
  2. 2. Be awesome atonline businessA handbook for succeeding on the web.By Paul Jarvis
  3. 3. Copyright 2013 Paul Jarvis. All rights reserved.Paul Jarvis Author & DesignerCheri Hanson EditorLisa Lipka CopyeditorFeel free to take passages from this book and replicatethem online or in print, but link back to you want to use more than a few paragraphs, I built the Internet, so if you flat-outsteal, I’ll find out.I also (might) exist outside of this Web@pjrvs Twittersignup Mailing list
  4. 4. Designers have a dual duty;contractually to their clients andmorally to the later users andrecipients of their work.— Hans Höger
  5. 5. Introduction
  6. 6. I am not a web ninja, Internet Jedi or even a marketingguru. But I have done web design (without a fancy jobtitle) for fifteen years, helping hundreds of clients buildawesome online businesses that are used by millionsevery year.I’ve noticed that there’s a lack of understanding aboutwhat’s involved in creating, launching and maintaining anonline business.Simply having a website built isn’t a business plan, nor is itenough to succeed. If you’re opening a store in yourneighborhood, you can’t just hire an interior designer tomake the inside look perfect, open the doors, and thenwatch people with wallets full of money flock in to buythings from you (followed promptly by a money fight onyour private yacht).This lack of understanding is my fault as a web designerand an online strategy person. Well, not mine specifically,but the fault of my industry as a whole. Anyone who helpsothers build online businesses, in any way, hasn’t donethe best job of teaching people what’s involved, whatthey might be responsible for and what to do with theproject when our jobs are finished.That’s where this book comes in. I want to teach you whatyou need to do in order to succeed online. Hell, I want youto crush it. Not because I have some altruistic vision for aperfect online world (holding hands and singing kumbayaSAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 7
  7. 7. over Skype), but because it benefits everyone involved(including people like me) when you do well.I’ve gone into detail on the following pages about whatyou need to think about, plan for, actually do, and followthrough with to make your online business work for you.You’ll have a lot of homework, even if you’ve hired thebest people to build your site.If you’ve already got a website, I will help you learn somenew ideas that could lead to greater success andexposure.So read on friend—you’ve got an online business tolaunch (or re-launch).Paul JarvisSAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 8
  8. 8. Start here
  9. 9. Why does this book exist?Without getting all existential (why do any of us exist?maybe we’re just a figment of this book’s imagination?), Iwrote this book to help you succeed online. Seriously.And that means there’s lots of tough love and hard workinvolved.I’ve spent so much time looking at the websites I’ve builtand assessing what factors helped my clients to kick assonline. These super successful clients have a few keythings in common:1. They all have singular, clear and definable goals.2. They’ve hired professionals who know their shit inside and out—from web design to photography to content strategy–and lean on them for their expertise (instead of just telling them how to do their jobs).3. They don’t attempt to do it all themselves.4. They’re masters of their crafts, so they aren’t just passionate about what they do, they’re also damn good at it.5. They put the work in and know exactly what their audience wants and is willing to pay for. They spend time every single day maintaining relationships and building new ones in the online places that they know will net the best results.SAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 10
  10. 10. 6. They’re badass motherfuckers who people actually listen to, respect and get value from. The ‘making money’ part comes as a natural progression after accomplishing all those things.This book is also totally self-serving for every professionalinvolved in building other people’s online businesses. Weall look good when our clients do well. They tell others,they come back for more work, and sometimes theyinvite us to pool parties on their private yachts (thishasn’t actually happened to me, but one day...).Why should I listen to you?You don’t have to, and I encourage you to questioneverything. Nothing in this book is a golden rule or aconcrete system; if something like that existed, everywebsite would be a success. It’s more advice and ideas toponder. You can ignore or disregard what I’ve laid out if itdoesn’t make sense to you. Just think about it first (whichis really all I ask). I’ve built websites for a long time and I’vemeasurably helped clients to reach their goals. This bookis filled with what I’ve figured out from doing that work forwell over a decade.I’ve learned from both my own and my clients’ successes(do you really learn from mistakes?) and summed up theideas and tactics I’ve seen that actually work. But even atthe time of writing this, I’m still constantly learning,SAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 11
  11. 11. refining, exploring and researching everything I talkabout. The web evolves, and we all have to evolve with it,if we want to do well.What’s an online business?I hate to break it to you, but every business is an onlinebusiness. From a local vegan cupcake shop to a life coachto a professional kazoo player—every business exists insome way on the Internet. It can be as simple as abusiness listing on Google, to a full website and socialmedia presence. Even if you don’t think your businessexists online, it probably does—in the form of reviews orlistings on a search engine, social media site or businessassociation website. So the advice and notes in this bookapply to all businesses, not just super-nerdy tech onesthat exist only online and sell digital products.What if I already have an onlinebusiness?There’s always room for improvement, right? Audityourself and how your business works. Is it time for aredesign? A new project? More social media usage orblogging? Every topic in this book applies equally toexisting businesses as it does to new ones. The minuteyou stop adapting to meet changing business needs isSAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 12
  12. 12. the minute your business isn’t as successful as it couldbe.What’s a web designer?For the purpose of the book and using a single term forclarity, I’ve chosen web designer. It can be applied to asingle person or swapped out to mean web designcompany, agency or online collective. It should nevermean ‘my cousin who updated his Tumblr theme.’Web designers think about programming, best webpractices and functionality (plus, obviously, the visualstuff). If you think you can hire someone to design yourwebsite and later find some else to program it, you’releaving yourself open for massive problems. What if thedesign can’t be easily programmed? What if it technicallyjust won’t work in code? What if it can’t scale to mobiledevices or doesn’t fit how the ecommerce platformworks? Never separate design and programming on aweb project. Ever.You should look for a web designer that can either a) fullydesign and program your website or b) always works withthe same programmers to fill in the services they don’tprovide.SAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 13
  13. 13. Why is less actually more?Most people who know me know my penchant forminimalism (in web design, in furniture, in my lack of arobust wardrobe...). This isn’t just because Ifundamentally hate being a vapid consumer, but stemsmore from the time I’ve spent thinking about howcomplex all our lives have become.There’s so much noise competing for our focus andattention. We face constant distractions (fromadvertisements to notifications on our cell phonesanytime anyone ‘likes’ anything we’ve posted). The noiseis almost deafening.This book is filled with suggestions about how to do lessand focus more. But why is this important, and why is it agood business decision?One of the most valuable skills anyone can have is to takea complex concept and boil it down into easy-to-understand terms. It’s easy to have lots of words, lots ofproducts, lots of everything. But then how does anaudience figure out what they need?To stand out as an online business, you need to get yourmessage across quickly and clearly. This requires focus.Simplicity doesn’t mean removing features or services; itmeans distilling what’s most important and explainingyourself as concisely as possible. People won’tSAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 14
  14. 14. remember the 15 benefits of what you’re selling, but theywill remember one or two if they’re supremely beneficial.Even with this book, I’ve spent more time paring it downand removing unnecessary content than I have writingnew content. I cut over 6,000 words from the first draftto the final version, because I want this to be a quick readthat gets to the point, without any fluff.SAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 15
  15. 15. About theauthor
  16. 16. Paul Jarvis has created websites for awesome peoplesince the 90s. His clients know him as a straight-shooting, no-bullshit sort of fellow. All of them arereferences too—because he always does great work andalways keeps the business goals in mind.Hes a practicing yogi, touring musician, has a tattoo (ortwo) and a non-preachy vegan (yes they exist). Hecurrently lives in the woods, on an island with his wife Lisaand pet rats Ohna’ and Awe:ri. His adopted llama,Starman, lives in Seabeck, WA.SAMPLE - Be awesome at online business 17
  17. 17. Buy this book