You may have noticed that people around you are making money—with some making a living—from their online businesses. From blogshops selling clothes to private tutors getting clients from mobile apps, people are earning cash by leveraging innumerable business possibilities. Is there a formal description of this phenomenon?

Yes, there is one. It is called the “Long Tail Effect.” Before we delve into its specifics, let’s address the question on your mind right now: Why is it likened to a “long tail?”

That is because the graph associated with this phenomenon resembles a creature with a long tail (yay, pareidolia). Of the following images, the first is an archetypal version of the graph, while the second is a visual explication of the graph’s resemblance to creatures with long tails:

Sales-Distribution-Curve Figure 1: Sales Distribution Curve

Coined by Chris Anderson (former editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine) in his 2004 article, the Long Tail describes the shape of the lower end of the sales distribution curve—as represented by the shaded portion of the graph in Figure 1. The main takeaway from this graph is that the “long tail” occupies an area roughly equivalent to the area occupied by the vertical “head” that comprises of bestsellers. In other words, there is bestseller-quantity wealth hidden in the seemingly nondescript “long tail”.

So, what makes up the Long Tail? While the “head” consists of a handful of fortune-making bestsellers, the Long Tail consists of innumerable, non-popular (not necessarily unpopular) products that sell few

Returning to the part about bestseller-quantity wealth, this means that if you could somehow aggregate the sales of all products in the Long Tail, you would make a fortune roughly equivalent to the wealth generated from the sales of the relatively few bestselling products in the “head.” This is what happens with companies such as Amazon and Netflix; these aggregators and sellers of content/products make roughly the same amount of money—or more—from the sales of their obscure content/products as they do from the sales of their handful of bestsellers.

Of course, not everyone will find an aggregator like Amazon or Netflix (and go on to become a multimillionaire or billionaire). How does the Long Tail Effect benefit individual, ordinary persons then? How does it help you market for yourself?

As always, the answer is to search for a sweet spot somewhere in the middle of two extremes. In the Long Tail’s context, the two extremes are the bestsellers and the super-obscure sellers. As an ordinary person, you should generally aim for the area labeled “Broad Range of ‘Average Performers’” in Figure 1. The rationale is as follows: Your product/service becoming a bestseller is unlikely, while being in a low-selling niche will ensnare you in urban poverty—so making your offering average in popularity/demand is the most realistic measure you can take.

Remember those people around you who are making money (or even a living) from their online businesses? Those who make a living have products that lie at the very least in the Long Tail’s middle area. If you also have an online business, but you are not making a living like them, then perhaps you require 2Stallionsdigital marketing expertise. We can help you market online better; we can elevate your offering from the wasteland of obscurity to the wellspring of average-or-more popularity.

Contact us here to begin your 2Stallions partnership. With years of experience across diverse industries under our digital marketing belts, we can analyze your business needs accurately, and provide you suitable solutions.

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