Finding More Things to Blog About

As you probably know blogging is one of the primary ways to promote the links for your business for free, as well as to generate free, targeted traffic from the search engines. If you are someone without much money to work with then you really should be making good use of your blog if nothing else. There is no way around it, if you want a business you need to promote it online. Sure you can do other free things that have little or no effect, like traffic exchanges, and a few other things that are a waste of time for the most part. Why not spend the time to do it right in a professional way?

latest news

If you are using your blog consistently to write business articles, posting ghostwritten or PLR articles, or featuring articles by various authors, sometimes you might wonder what else you can do to create some variety. Blogging about news stories is one of the most exciting and controversial applications that bloggers have discovered. Everyone is interested in the news or they should be. One thing that makes the blogosphere so active is the fact that it is possible to update a blog instantly as there are updates to the story – unlike a newspaper story.

Although currently this kind of real time reporting seems to be in the social network world, blogs are not going away anytime soon. There are a number of very famous, very much read professional blogs that focus on current events. The news on blogs tends to be more current than the newspaper that only gets published once per day. Besides, the fun part is being able to give your own opinion or react to various comments, etc. for all the world to see. (be careful about hate speech, etc ., though). As well, apart from the law, if your blog is usually used for your business then you don’t want to alienate anybody.

With that said there is no greater threat to freedom of speech than the chronically politically correct police who will find a reason to hate you for whatever you say that doesn’t agree with their agenda or bias. So you have to find a balance. ‘To thine own self be true’, but if you have super radical feelings then maybe you should have another blog that is not linked to your business where you can express yourself.

Of course with the advent of phone cameras your news blog can really be dramatic either if you are there yourself or you can use documents and images from the public domain. Again protect yourself from possible lawsuits by not using anything that is copyrighted. With a little creativity, with or without your opinion, you might really pick up some traffic and even followers. The best way to go is to quote directly and document the link you are quoting from to protect yourself as well as to give credence to what is being said.

How Not to Waste Your Home Business Money

One of the most foolish things that people are induced to do is ‘buy leads’. A really good motto is ‘never buy leads again’, and the mantra for that is ‘buying leads is like pouring money down a black hole’ (aka the drain).

do it right

It is so tempting because buying leads is one of those things that would seem to be able to cut years off the time it takes to build a list and get some action going. That is if it weren’t such a scam. The reason that many autoresponders and email services do not allow ‘purchased leads’ is due to the fact that they are rife with spam complaints (spam is highly illegal and businesses are held accountable).

It doesn’t seem to matter if the leads cost 1-cent or 1-dollar, or whether they are purported to be ‘premium’ leads (which can mean they are surveyed) – it is the same reaction: ‘Who?’ The email addresses and/or phone numbers may have been regurgitated for years and years.

Maybe somebody may have requested information about home business 5 or 10 years ago, but they certainly do not remember by this time and so it is likely the most favorable reaction to you contacting them will be ‘Who?’ (It can be worse if they have been hounded to death by people contacting them over and over for all those years).

Phone calls seem to have less legal regulation than email as with or without ‘do not call’ lists and etc., the phone is always ringing off the hook with unsolicited calls from ‘telemarketers’ and lately even some online companies have resorted to ‘robotic’ (automated) calling systems (which are highly illegal).

The best way to get real leads is to have lead capture portals where people are invited to opt-in to receive email from you or request a phone call from you. This can be a web form on your website, or it can be a web page aka ‘squeeze page’ that does nothing but invite people to sign up to receive something (in exchange for providing their email address). It is implied that this is legal permission for you to contact them.

This can take a lot longer to build a list the legal, free way, unless you are highly consistent and aggressive in your marketing and advertising so that you attract attention to your site. You should be doing business this way anyway because the point is to get direct sales and then in the meantime to build your list. Or second best build your list and somebody on the list may transact a sale in the future.

You should be able to document these ‘opt-ins’ because even in this ideal situation of ‘ethical, permission-based email marketing’ there will be people who ‘forget’ they opted in and may complain. That is why you should always use a professional autoresponder program that records the time and date and IP address (physical location) of people opting in.

Being accused of spam more than a few times can mean serious trouble for you and your business. Your autoresponder may cancel your account (without refund), even your host could cancel your hosting and probably in extreme cases of 1000s of complaints, the domain may be suspended or actually reclaimed by the domain registrar. So was it worth it to speed it up? Not likely.

Affiliate Marketing on the Internet

Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? It is quite possible you are. A real easy, fast way to find out is by becoming an affiliate of a company that is already in business and already has everything set up and running. All you have to do is become engaged and participate. More than likely the program even provides some level of training in Internet marketing to help you get started.

U R an entrepreneur

Affiliate marketing programs work by rewarding affiliates for promoting (advertising and marketing) products and services that are technically the property of the affiliate program. The affiliates are paid on a commission basis when they manage to attract new customers for the affiliate program. The program is benefitted by the sale that was generated by the affiliate. It is an even exchange that can work well for everyone concerned.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most successful online business opportunities for many reasons including the simplicity and efficiency, and that it does work extremely well for both parties involved. The affiliate marketing industry is a cost effective way for small and large companies to expand the scope of their influence. They wisely realize that instead of being restricted to one website and a paid staff to do the advertising and marketing, they can really thrive by having a whole army of affiliates on hundreds of sites who are only paid if they are actually able to generate a sale.

Fortunately at the same time, the affiliate industry is also producing a substantial source of income for millions of people trying to start a businesses online from home. Affiliates have been reaping the profits that the popularity of the industry provides. There are a number of online companies with decades-long histories. Of course ‘new’ is always ‘hot’ but when it comes to stability and security you probably want to look at programs that have a track record. A nice mix of both might work well.

Again, because it is so easy to get started and learn how to, if affiliates are willing to work diligently there is no limit to what they can earn. Besides, an affiliate is a free agent and as such they don’t have to limit themselves to only one program. The affiliate can represent as many programs, services and products as they wish. They build their ‘portfolio’ slowly over time and pick and choose what they want.

Of course the very nature of promoting multiple businesses would seem to require a lot of duplication of efforts. The really ‘super’ affiliates would probably create some sort of website where they could combine all of their opportunities into one business and promote them all together. In fact it works very well to have ‘funnel’ programs or programs that may lead to joining others. There are just unlimited possibilities for the online entrepreneur to create new ideas as they go forth!

The Significance of Good Website Design

Your website is representing your business and as such should be friendly, professional and easy to navigate. It is your online business in the same sense that a storefront would be for an offline ‘brick and mortar’ business. Since your online business is ‘digital’ or ‘virtual’ it is literally all that people know of your business. Since people cannot see you physically they do tend to judge you by why they can see or by your cover.

less is more

There is a saying, ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’. This is particularly true in the fast-paced world of the Internet when ‘clickers’ and ‘surfers’ may only give you a split second to grab their attention and they are gone, if not. They may never find their way back to your website. You may have lost an important customer.

It is really horrific to see that some people will take professionally designed themes and formats and just completely ruin them in an effort to be ‘original’. The idea of being unique is certainly a good one, however if you don’t know what you are doing, it is pretty stupid to deface or disfigure your website just because you want so badly to be different. Try to be logical. Find out how to make it BETTER, not just DIFFERENT and then do it. Until then just leave it alone.

With many sites being created on the WordPress platform, people just go nuts with the plugins and gimmicks. Again they deface their sites and make them difficult to navigate just because they are having so much fun playing with plugins. You should really find out what exactly the plugin does and if it is something that is necessary then try it out.

Try one at a time. See if it causes any problems with your theme or format (they often do)– if yes, deactivate, if not keep it if it does something useful. If you are going to add a bunch of plugins then be sure you keep them up-to-date. Out-of-date plugins are a primary breach that hackers exploit when they want to deface your site.

You seriously don’t want too many ‘bells and whistles’ that make it difficult to navigate your website, or to make any sense out of anything. For example those irritating pop-ups usually remind one of bugs that fly in your face and you need to swat them away to see what you are doing. While you should have a lead capture mechanism – a page or a form for people to opt-in to a newsletter, for example, having a form that is super-imposed over your website is just a waste. A stupid idea.

Many people don’t realize they can get rid of the pest without signing up to view your site. So basically if you get a visitor that does not want to sign up for your newsletter because they have not had a chance to see what your website is about or what you have, then you lose them. But what great fun you had putting that pop-up on your site. What a waste of traffic. You are shooting yourself in the foot. You may feel real clever but what is so smart about driving your prospects away? Get rid of it and take the advice of professional web designers – less is more.

Augmenting Affiliate Marketing with Back-End Sales

Affiliate marketing benefits everyone involved. It’s almost amazing what a perfect exchange the whole arrangement represents. The merchant or affiliate program steps up and develops a product and membership system, they design promotional web pages for use by their affiliates, provide customer support and accounting for both the affiliate and the affiliate’s referrals, and pay commissions to boot! What the merchant gets is that with the help of his affiliates, he will produce sales without spending a lot of money for advertising and promotion.

more money

It seems entirely appropriate that the program charge a reasonable membership fee and that each time the affiliate refers a visitor to the website, the merchant will earn income. Of course the affiliate will earn money for the referral without having invested much. The commission may not seem huge, but the point is when you have not had to invest a lot of time and money into product development, etc., it is easier to realize a profit.

With the goal always being to earn as much money as possible, both the affiliate and the merchant should be considering the practice of back end selling in their business. Back-End selling is a very productive mechanism and the truth is it can even represent the majority of the profit made from the sale. Back-End selling is the ‘optional’ offer that is proposed either at the tail end or after the initial sale. This might be, a ‘Wait, don’t go! There is More!’ message – even a ‘P.S.’ to offer something maybe with the premise that because you bought A we are offering you a special deal for B if you take advantage of it right now. Continue reading “Augmenting Affiliate Marketing with Back-End Sales”

How to Drive Traffic to your Internet Business

You always read how it is all about your list. ‘The money is in the list”, etc. While that is true, traffic is equally important because more than likely unless you are buying leads (bad idea) to build your list, the way you will build your list is from the traffic you are able to generate.

traffic is key!

It’s all a process – you have to drive the traffic to the site where you have some mechanism to capture the lead for your list. The usual way is with an opt-in form where people are invited to subscribe to a newsletter. You may also see strategies to give you something for free in exchange for your email address or if you subscribe to the newsletter. Again though all dependent on them being there.

Besides this you should also employ the use of a ‘squeeze page,’ which Is a web page that does nothing other than invite them to subscribe to your newsletter (and be on your list). It provides little more than the invite plus a box to input the email address and name. You can promote this on its’ own in various ways. Idea is they don’t get lost on your website and ‘forget’ to opt-in to your list, because they are directed to respond only.

Further, traffic is more relevant than a list because the purpose of everything is a direct sale. The only reason to build a list is because it is prospective customers. The object is still a sale. The list isn’t worth a dime unless the names on it have a pulse and take action at some point to represent income for you.

Traffic is the most essential element in having a successful Internet based business. So the number one priority after ensuring that you have a great product to sell and a friendly, ‘well lit’ website, should be generating traffic to convert sales and build your list.

There are many ways you can go, depending on whether you are going free or can pay for some help. You should always plan on doing as many things as you possibly can and doing them consistently to keep building momentum. For example you can always afford free whether you are new, down on your luck or whatever. As long as you are willing to work at keyword research and blogging (writing) you can start generating traffic for free and if you keep it up the traffic will keep on.

Use your blog on a regular basis to post content with relevant keywords or keyword phrases to your website’s content. You could write your own content or you could hire someone to do it for you. Search engines look for certain keywords that are either already in their index or that they will add, based in part on how many people search using those words. Having the right keyword and keyword phrase is a high requirement in ranking high in search engine results (being on the first few pages).

In addition, if you come by a little money a good idea at least periodically is to use programs like Google Adwords advertising. It is a bit expensive but if you really pay attention and use caution with your budget, you should be able to buy a little traffic this way. Related to this and maybe a way to pick up a little change in so doing, is to use the twin to Adwords, Adsense.

Successful search engine advertising methods have reaped great rewards (traffic & sales) for many companies. Lots of businesses use these advertising. Every penny is worth it with using Google and other search engine advertising. If you’ve got it ($) flaunt it!

Internet Marketing Tools – Web Hosting

Just like many things in our society the big fish eat the little fish. We end up with near monopolies because the little fish just can’t compete with the sharks. The problem with monopolies is that we have to sometimes use sub-standard services because we no longer have a choice. It’s the “Big Box” or no box.

reliable!

Many times these ‘mergers’ do not consider the impact on customers or customer service. Of course they care nothing about employees, that’s a given. Often times they will lay off the experienced employees and replace them with lower paid and unskilled people who really don’t do a good job at customer service because they are not trained and probably never will be.}

When it comes to web hosting unfortunately this can be much more serious than usual. Essentially if your website is ‘down’ (not displayed) then you are not able to conduct business during that time. Your potential customers are finding other websites that do work properly and conducting their business there.

You may have to wait forever either on the phone or live chat to get through to customer service. They will ask a bunch of questions but mostly have no idea what to do to help you. If you are lucky they will escalate it to technical support. Problem now is that it can take days for them to get to fixing it since they are understaffed, especially in the area where there is any real technical skill.

So you will eventually get your site back and you will grovel and be glad just because the nightmare and aggravation is over. You probably won’t even consider how you have been treated as less than important. Life goes on.

It is very important to get a hosting company that is reliable (high rate of ‘up’ time) and that has decent and timely customer and technical support. So the first thing would be not to be too attached to the idea of having the free or cheapest source for hosting.

However, the scenario above is actually true, is the current environment and is NOT the cheap or free source – it WAS a highly respected hosting company until the last few ‘mergers’ have left it in the bargain basement (without the reduction in price, in fact it has been increased). In the current environment it may not be possible to have both reliability and timely customer service – so opt for reliability – and again that would not likely be from the free or cheap source. Get the best you can and hope they will wise up.

There is little more you can do than watch this closely. Check your website all the time – daily to be sure it is running and if not don’t wait for the tooth fairy. First clear your browser cache to be sure it is really down right now. If it is get on the chat client or phone and find out what is happening. (Bring your lunch because you will be waiting a long time – average 15-30 minutes). Report the problem and then really keep track of how long it takes them to fix the problem.

If you find yourself on more than one occasion being treated like a second-class citizen then you should really consider moving your hosting to another company who cares about your business. It’s a hassle but the new hosting company will very likely help you transfer your files.

Don’t Let Your Home Based Business Be a Time Trap

The reasons people express for wanting to work from home are many and varied, but most home based business owners cite the ability to set their own hours as a major factor in their decision to work at home. However, many people that have work at home businesses often fall into a trap that flies directly in the face of their stated desire for time flexibility.

escape from the office!

The strong growth in home based business activity continues and according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, fifty-two percent of ALL small businesses are home-based. Some home based business owners have been known to become “workaholics” because their office is so accessible. Don’t become a slave to your business…get out of your home office regularly to renew and revitalize yourself.

Close the door to your office or otherwise remove yourself from your designated “work area” and go into your “home” area to live your personal life. If your business involves the use of the telephone and you find it difficult to ignore a ringing phone in the office, simply turn the ringer off and turn the volume on the answering machine way down. If your business is Internet based, just turn off your computer (or at least get away from the monitor and keyboard).

As a work at home business entrepreneur, you certainly aren’t required to be available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week just because your business is located in your home. After all, your office or workspace is just an area in your home…it’s not your home itself! Working and living under the same roof has a host of advantages, but it can present some challenges (in addition to the workaholic syndrome mentioned, above) and stress factors.

Here are four ways to create a less stressful home business environment:

-Remember why you wanted to become involved with a home-based business (i.e. more time for family, work schedule flexibility, etc.)

-Have discussions with your family members and get their input about the working arrangements and the amount of time they want with you.

-Use good time management techniques. Keep a list of tasks by order of importance. There are many low cost and effective “day planners” or “organizers” readily available today.

-ALWAYS take a little time to “smell the roses”.

-While not experiencing the negatives common to a corporate office working environment, the home-based business owner may occasionally experience stresses and frustrations that are unique to working at home.Networking with other home-based and small business owners provides an opportunity to connect with others who may be experiencing the same stresses/frustrations that you are. Sharing stressful and/or frustrating issues with someone else in the same situation can relieve your stress and may bring you good advice from a different point of view.

Work At Home – Free Programs

Millions of people are looking for ways to create additional income to help pay the bills. Others want to get rid of their day job and work from the comfort of home. There are hundreds of work at home programs to choose from. Some are free to join and others charge a minimal fee. If you do your research before jumping in it should be relatively easy to find a program that can work for you.

free wah programs

The major difference between paid work from home programs and free programs is the organized information you receive. If you are very familiar with the Internet and have a lot of time to spend researching programs and reading forums, then it is a bit more likely you can start you work at home endeavor for free.

If you are short on time more than money, it may be worth it to invest a few dollars in yourself to find out what you need to know. For example, minimal charge (normally less than $50.00) is well worth the money charged. Time is money. Here are a few things you get with the paid programs:

* Research programs
* Step-by-step guidance on how to perform the tasks required
* Advice on how to avoid the normal pitfalls of the market place
* Organized, understandable approach to working from home
* Customer support: that will respond timely when you ask questions or when you need help

The time you save will more than pay for the minimal expense of these programs by far. Having said that, here are a few of the reasons people wanted to start for free:

* No money to spend. Unable to pay their bills currently
* Have been scammed before
* New to work at home and would like to try something before spending any money
* Not sure if they had the necessary skill to do what was required

If you will do your research you will find many programs that are free to join. You can be successful going this route, but it will take more time. Many people have time, but no money so this could be a perfect fit for you. What do you have to lose? There are many programs on the Internet that offer some guidance, which is a big help when starting out. An organized approach will give you a much better chance for success. What you don’t want to do is to spend a lot of time and get nothing in return.

It is very important to find companies that match your income goals, skill sets and comfort level, because your chances of success increase when doing so. Many people will join 3 – 5 free programs then keep working the ones they like best. Others will work 2 – 3 on a continuing basis so that they can create multiple income streams.

One thing is for sure you can’t make any additional money working from home if you don’t try. Give yourself a chance.

The Proof of the Pudding is in the e-Mail

E-mails can be very intriguing. The first e-mail can make you extremely curious to know more, especially if it says briefly and succinctly something really tantalizing yet mysterious, such as an offer to ‘make you several thousand dollars in only two months’.

email money

No doubt you will receive quite a few of these communications each and every week and you will either pursue this by responding to ask for more information directly or clicking a link to get more details – or you will say ‘no thanks, this isn’t something I would be interested in’.

On the one hand people may like emails that are long and give as many details (and selling points) as possible, but then on the other hand, when it is short and sweet it may prompt a reply just out of curiosity if nothing else. The next message you receive may invite you to a webinar or phone call, etc. that will explain more and further entice you.

One good question you should ask the sender in your initial reply, is ‘Have you made this money yourself?’ Which brings us onto the point of ‘where is the proof’? Although there are some amazing ideas, it is important to find out if it is just a theory or ‘pipe dream’ or if it is actually a reality. It really should be a rule that you make ideas work for you and then if they do work, you can then recommend them to others.

However, by extension if you are an affiliate and can’t honestly say you have already seen this idea in action/received the money, then you can still propose the idea to others if you are quoting and using documentation of the program’s owner’s proof of success. You should make the distinction clear if asked and if you are inexperienced or do not have a reputation yet, always use the documentation that is usually provided to you by the program.

Proof is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that simply must be included in order to succeed. Proof can be provided for example, by an honest testimonial or review. In the same sense presenting a problem and then offering a solution along with proof it works, is an excellent way to structure your e-mail marketing and advertising.

In that same vein, showing statistics from any studies or surveys that have been done and of course saying who/what/where it was done, is another powerful way to create trust in what you are claiming.

Yet another example would be to pose a series of questions and answers. Maybe you have made notes on the various reasons people believe they can’t do something – lack of experience, lack of time, money, etc. In this method you again show a solution or negate their concerns where people have fears that are preventing them from moving forward.