The reality of marketing is that how much you sell or, more accurately, how much you make from selling relative to your marketing efforts is what counts. Traffic can only take you so far.
It's incredible to see how easily the most seasoned of marketers get swayed by search engine rankings and visitor analytics, when all that really matters is the bottom line. As content marketers, we're always strategizing the best way to deliver quality over quantity, and to provide value to readers, listeners, and viewers. Profit naturally follows because when someone helps you, you won't hesitate to return the favor; it's that simple.
It's important for us to emphasize that there are several technical elements to building and marketing a website that both attracts the right audience and converts well. However, as an Internet marketer focused on inbound marketing, your time and energy should be spent primarily on creating as opposed to researching (unless, of course, you have an entire team of marketers at your disposal). Whether free or paid, what you develop is your product, and that's what users are ultimately interested in.
For service sellers, it's difficult to visually demonstrate successfully-completed work. Testimonials, portfolios, and case studies can be falsified - and since people know this, they have a difficult time trusting these types of merchants for exactly this reason. This is why the freemium model works well with them.
You may have already heard through various marketing sources that individuals prefer associating themselves with people and companies they know, like, and trust. As a website publisher (selling pretty much anything, let alone services), free offerings have a way of accomplishing the lot, especially when delivered consistently. Call it Karma or whatever else you'd like, but know that it works.
We've heard countless marketers say, "When I have enough [money] or when I have more [time], I'll create [this] or [that] to share with the world". And many times, it's not with the intention of generating any sort of income, which is a good thing. Rather than spin your wheels using shady tactics or over-concentrating on the technical aspects of marketing, move to what drives you immediately.
The idea of making money online has become evasive for many. It's as though it's not possible without manipulating others, and to a certain degree they're right. But when you tackle the issues related to whatever it is you'd like to eventually create, you begin to see that it can't be done (or done repeatedly, rather) without any sort of continuous reward. True entrepreneurs know this.
Many times, a business owner will not profit at year's end (especially during the first few years of operation), because everyone else needed to. Their employees get paid a salary; their customers get more out of what they paid for, and you get squat; they purchase resources with what's left to grow the company (because growing is part of the vision for most entrepreneurs), and consider themselves lucky if they're able to pay next month's rent (both commercial and home). This applies to companies that generate millions as well.
From this perspective, it becomes clear that there is an urgency to be as profitable as possible, as early on as possible. But rather than succumb to a survival mode (pitching less-than-mediocre products and services, or being overly-salesy), professional marketers should be who they are, professional marketers. And a professional (and honest) marketer today can only be successful by giving, giving, and giving... while waiting out the tough times. After all, we are attempting to build a strong brand with longterm following, aren't we?