Much like the days of our lives, business is increasingly conducted online as well. Indeed, it is difficult to isolate a discrete "internet industry" as companies of every stripe invest more and more in their online presence—TV networks offer online videos, retail giants run online stores, insurance companies sign up new members online, magazines "publish" exclusively online, and so on. Furthermore, the infrastructure that supports the internet is a mash-up of telecommunications and technology products, comprised as it is of fiber-optic cables, PCs, mobile phones, satellites, and wireless technology. One has to search far and wide to find an American business that has ignored the siren song of the internet, and the Web's seemingly unlimited real estate continues to provide aspiring entrepreneurs the space to build their dreams upon.
WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY
The internet is riding a big wave, and with the influx of new technologies that amp up mobile access and video capability, that wave isn't expected to crash against the rocks any time soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that internet industry will outrun the projected growth of the U.S. economy in the next several years, with 28 percent wage and salary growth from 2004 to 2014.
Startup companies, which crop up like weeds all over the internet, pose a particular conundrum to the job seeker; as evidenced by YouTube's trajectory from pet project to $1.6 billion company in just a few years, the Web offers great potential to cash in on a good idea. At the same time, small companies pose a risk of failure and even the best ideas can take a long time to find their market. Generally speaking, however, as the internet becomes more central to conducting business, there will be an ever-rising demand for workers to provide content for the Web, along with a demand for manpower to harness and organize the network.
Working the web
The internet supports a vast diversity of jobs, from the workers who install the networks along which information passes to the data entry clerks who key in that multitudinous information to the computer technicians who maintain the servers and connections that make up the Web. And that's just the infrastructure—just as beefed up content has come to the fore as an internet trend in recent years, so has the crowd that creates the content grown.
Content creation refers to the writers and web producers who create and update the information and material displayed on a web page to entice viewers into repeat site visits. That can include articles, interactive applications, and downloadable and web-streamed music and video. The business model of some content-centered web sites, such as theonion.com and drudgereport.com, depends entirely on money generated by advertising revenue. Other sites, such as online magazine (webzine) salon.com, offer internet surfers the opportunity to pay a subscription fee to avoid advertisements (either embedded or in "pop-up" form) while reading articles. The online content of established "old" media sites such as Newsweek or CNN contain advertisements but also serve as an elaborate means of branding, bolstering awareness of their traditional product. Regardless of how the business makes its money, content is key to obtaining and keeping an internet audience, and those who produce that content need a background in writing, marketing, or related communications fields.
Marketers work alongside both the sales force and content creators to develop original, cost-conscious and effective ways to promote a web site's content and services. Successful marketing campaigns begin and end with a single-minded focus on return on investment (ROI), looking to come out with more sales than money spent on marketing. As seen in examples above, marketing using new media has become increasingly complex, blurring the line between content and marketing, with faux blogs used to hype shows like Lost, consumer blogs dishing news about their favorite brands and TV reruns showing for free. All these various channels are harnessed by the marketer to further awareness of their company and ratchet up traffic on the company site. While those looking to get involved as marketers or content creators might not need to be directly involved in creating web pages, some familiarity with HTML or Photoshop can greatly enhance a jobseekers resume.
Web design is arguably content in its own right, as its visual appeal defines the site using it. In fact, web page creation is recognized as an art form among many circles. There is a high demand for designers trained in newer technologies such as Java programming and Macromedia's Flash programming languages, which facilitate the addition of streaming music and video to online media sites. Naturally, web designers are always learning about new technologies to keep their sites looking as of-the-moment as possible.
Who cares what you think? These guys.
One of the truly unique benefits of online media comes from its capacity to provide immediate feedback from consumers. Online media outlets constantly monitor traffic to different parts of their web sites, reader comments and surveys, and discussion boards to understand what portions of their services are popular and which are unappealing. Product researchers cull opinions from these disparate sources to get a read on consumers' reactions to a brand or gimmick. Unlike gauging often imprecise television ratings or radio listener audience size, web content providers can immediately read the amount of times content has been downloaded, gaining instant insight into a product's popularity.