November 10, 2008

- How to Increase Revenue and Make More Money From Your Blog

If you have a blog and want to increase your revenue. You've probably tried contextual advertising, such as Google's Adsense program. That can definitely generate some nice revenue from a blog. I have one blog that generates almost $1,000 in Adsense revenue. If you have a blog that's been plugging along for some time and just not earning you the money you think it should, or if you have a blog you've not really monetized yet, check out this report How To Increase Your Blog Revenue. It details a very simple strategy that can explode your blog's profits with no additional traffic. In addition, you can do this with very little additional time spent. It's pretty darn cheap, too. It's well worth a look if you're looking to make more profits from your blog.

August 29, 2008

- The Pachelbel Canon Guitar Insanity - YouTube Markteing on Steroids

Johann Pachelbel, a composer of the Baroque era, died in 1706. In 1706 the world’s entire population was some 600 million people. In 1954, Leo Fender designed the Fender Stratocaster, one of the most popular electric guitars ever made.

Neither of those two would have guessed that in 2007, a Korean guitarist would use Fender’s invention to play an electric guitar version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, his most famous piece of music. Soon playing Canon on an electric guitar became a cult phenomenon, especially by Asian guitar players.

The popularity of Canon, the electric guitar version, soon exploded far beyond cult status. YouTube videos of guitarists doing their renditions of Canon have been viewed by millions world wide. In fact, the aforementioned Korean, known as FunTwO, went on to TV appearances and fame after his YouTube performance of Canon, although he really tried to sidestep the whole thing.

At last count, the most popular video of his Canon performance had been viewed by just shy of 50 million people on YouTube alone. Other videos showing the same performance have received upwards of 5 million views. Other guitarists playing this piece have also been seen by between 1 and 5 million people.

The insane growth in popularity of a simple guitar video demonstrates the amazing power of YouTube, and other so called Web 2.0 sites like Flickr, FaceBook, and  Digg. The power of users to contribute content and have others rate it, share it, and comment on it has created a media tidal wave that’s only beginning.

Pachelbel probably would have never imagined his composition would have been played by a Korean teenager, on a yet to be invented instrument. The mere idea that it would be subsequently viewed by what amounts to 12% of the world’s population when it was written would have probably caused him to collapse.

Pachelbel’s Canon on guitar is just one of the many videos and web sites that has exploded when the right people got a hold of it. If something strike a chord, as this guitar video clearly did, there’s no way of telling where it will go.

The “Canon Explosion” illustrates the potential of Web 2.0. When this amount of traffic is harnessed to a business, the potential is endless. It can be used to drive traffic, build a list, and ultimately deliver huge profits. While YouTube videos with 50 million viewers are obviously a best case scenario, many marketers have done very well with the medium and other 2.0 applications.

A compelling video with only 20,000 – 50,000 viewers can generate huge revenue and profits if that’s the goal. Getting continued views and generating revenue from them requires the same as with any marketing effort; compelling, valuable content. The more value you give the viewer, the more likely they’ll be to visit your site, sign up for your newsletter, and buy your products.

The even more powerful effect of quality content and strong value is the ability of your videos to go viral. Once they start getting passed around, your exposure will grow like those weeds you’re neglecting in your yard as you read this. That’s the real power behind YouTube and web 2.0 marketing in general, The go on and on, reaching far beond the creator’s expectations, just like those notes from FunTwO’s Strat.

 

August 28, 2008

- The Secret to Joint Ventures or The Best JV of All Time

One of the most powerful techniques for growing your Internet marketing business is the joint venture, usually abbreviated JV. In a joint venture, you partner with another business or entrepreneur, each partner in the JV contributing something that will dramatically increase the success of the venture. It is such a powerful technique that many Internet marketing careers have relied on it for their success.

 

One of the most common joint venture techniques used by Internet marketers is to develop a product, typically some form of info product, and then partner with second Internet marketer to sell to the second marketer’s list. In this way the first marketer can sell to a much larger, but still highly targeted audience. As an added bonus, the first marketer also borrows the credibility of the second, and by so doing is able to substantially increase their conversion ratio.

 

You should know the story of one of the most successful JVs of all time. A small, virtually unknown company led by one man with almost nothing but a vision, silver tongue, and a ton of guts, pulled off a JV with an industry leader that changed the world as we know it. In so doing, they created a whole new product category that pervades every nook and cranny of civilization. The product they created revolutionized almost every aspect of life in one way or another.

 

In the span of a few short years, the little company catapulted to international prominence and actually overtook its’ JV partner in almost every category, including market capitalization, gross revenue and cash reserves. The man became rich beyond his wildest dreams.

 

One of the keys to success in any business is building value for the consumer. These companies created incredible value. Another is knowing your customer and what they want. The architect of this JV knew what consumers wanted even better than they, themselves did. You related the importance of being a solution provider. This JV found solutions to problems people didn’t even know they had. They showed consumers and businesses alike a better way, then made them rely on their product so much no one could ever return to the old way of doing things.

 

The little guy did a spectacular job of leveraging the industry leader’s credibility into his vision of success. The little guy was Bill Gates, the unknown company, Microsoft, and the industry leader, IBM. The PC they created coupled with the marketing genius of Gates truly revolutionized the world. Microsoft made the software and IBM, the PC. Microsoft now has 79,000 employees, has a market cap of over $321 billion, and made a gross profit of over $11 billion last quarter. They get my vote for the best JV of all time.

August 27, 2008

- How to Work Online From Home

Here is exactly how to work online from home. You need to follow the following steps, which are, truth be told, much the same as beginning an offline business. There are just certain things you can do when working online that are either far less expensive, much faster to do, or both when you're working online than when you have a traditional business.

 

How to Work Online from Home – Step 1

Find your target market. The importance of this step cannot be understated. One of the key mistakes made by Internet marketing beginners, and too many business beginners of all types, is that they find a product or service they like and decide to market it. That's great, but if you like mud hut remodeling, your market is going to be small, poor, and without Internet connections. Not a good choice for your online business.

 

If you want to work online from home and be successful at it, you must first research the market. That means find a market that is hungry, better yet, starving, for something, then feed them exactly what they want. That is the largest secret to success in business, weather online or off. After your preliminary research you want to determine one other thing; how much competition is there in your market? While you can make large amounts of money in any hungry market, choosing an under served market is much better, especially if you're just beginning your work from home journey. Once you've found your target market you can proceed to step 2.

 

How to Work Online From Home – Step 2

Once you have a hungry target market you can begin step number 2; find something to sell them. You can choose a product or service, physical or virtual. You really have a few key decisions to make in this step.

      Do you want to market a product or service?

      The advantages of a product are that once it's created it can be sold by the creator or any one the creator gives selling rights to for as long as the marketing is successful. The disadvantage is that it has to be created, and if physical, stored and distributed.

      The advantage of a service is that it doesn't have to be created. The vendor (you, the online business owner) can simply begin providing the service to clients. Examples of popular services that people that work on line from home online provide are web development, search engine optimization (SEO), marketing, business and/or marketing consulting, copywriting, and accounting / financial planning.

 

  1. Do you want to develop your own product or market someone else's?

      Pros of developing your own product -

      Your own product will give you complete control of every aspect of it, including pricing strategy, advertising and marketing strategy, and the content and function of the product itself.

      Your own product will allow you to retain as much of the profit as you want. You can keep it all or trade some of it away as an incentive for others to market your product. There are many examples of successful marketers giving lucrative commissions if they are selling digital or virtual products. In fact this strategy, affiliate marketing, is one of the proven paths to online marketing success (from either side).

      You own it in its entirety. This is the most important aspect of creating your own product. All the other advantages flow from this.

      You build the customer list, potentially one of the most valuable parts of your business, especially if you decide selling is part of your exit strategy.

      You have the ability to begin with very limited start up costs, but typically there will be some marketing costs.

      Cons of developing your own product -

      It takes time to develop your own product

      You may not have the expertise or writing skill to develop your own product

      You have to deal with customer support issues, such as customer service calls, returns, and refunds. This can be expensive and time consuming, depending upon the type of product you develop. There are ways to mitigate much of this, such as automating much of the CS process and overdelivering content to minimize returns, but such things can never be completely eliminated.

      If it's a physical product(s) you have warehousing, inventory, and fulfillment issues to deal with.

      Some of the disadvantages of developing your own product can be mitigated by outsourcing if the funds for doing so are available. For example, you can outsource the actual product creation if you've found a hungry market but lack the expertise to develop a quality product fill their needs. This will result in a quicker time to market and a high quality product.

      Pros of marketing someone else's product – Basically the advantages and disadvantages are the reverse of selling your own product / service.

      You have no support issues because you actually don't sell the product(s) yourself, you simply refer customers to the vendors website and are paid a commission on any sales your referrals generate.

      You have the ability to begin with very limited start up costs, but as with selling your own product, you can spend significant marketing funds.

      Cons of marketing someone else's product -

      You have no control over the product you're marketing. Although there are many advantages to just being able to begin marketing without any product development costs or time, the disadvantage of having no control over the products is a major disadvantage.

 

Imagine spending weeks or months developing and fine tuning your marketing efforts (You have to develop your website(s), advertising, get backlinks to your site, publicity, and any other supporting content, test everything, test it some more, and get any marketing agreements in place that you may have supporting your efforts) only to have the vendor either change the payout (these rarely change for the better), drop their affiliate program, or drop you as an affiliate. Ask any affiliate marketer. This happens all the time, for a variety of reasons.

 

How to Work Online From Home – Step 3

After you've made the decision about what you'll be marketing when you wok online from home, you can move on to step 3, how to market your product and / or service. It is essential you make an actual marketing plan. This is rarely done by most beginning marketers, who tend to treat online marketing as a hobby, rather than an actual business. Part of this is due to the fact that few beginners have any formal business training. In addition, many beginning marketers just think they'll use their online business to earn a few extra buck and supplement the income from their day job.

 

This kind of thinking is a huge mistake. With a bit of planning and some vision, your online business can easily relieve you from the daily commute and limited income of your current job, but that will be much less likely if it's not treated as a real business. So the bottom line is that you need to develop an actual marketing plan. You can alter it as circumstances change and your business develops, but the important thing is tat you make that marketing plan and address the following questions:

      What will you be marketing?

      Who will you market it to?

      How will you market it to them?

      Will you advertise? If so, how. You have several choices for online advertising. Many people use pay per click (PPC) advertising. It's fast, and has the potential to drive large quantities of qualified prospects to your website in a hurry. You can advertise on many well targeted web sites and you'll only pay when someone clicks on your add and goes to your website (hence the term pay per click). Its is not as easy as it sounds however and many beginning, and in some cases more advanced, marketers have lost their shirts and their advertising budgets in a hurry by stumbling blindly into a PPC campaign.

      You can also use banner advertising, where an attractive banner is placed on a website with visitors that you'd like to attract. The disadvantage is that many people have become ad blind and you may not get much good traffic from your efforts. The advantage is that is can be relatively inexpensive. If you get no traffic however, it is actually very expensive on a per visitor basis.

      Will you use an affiliate strategy?

      This can be the cornerstone of your success. You'll forgo some profit on the front end, but you will have a large and active sales staff out there selling your product for you. It doesn't take much to see how a few strong affiliates can generate significant numbers for you.

 

One of the major advantages is that even though they send you the customer, the customer buys your product and is actually your customer, so you will have them on your greatest asset, your customer list. Once they're part of your list, you can market to them for years in some cases. In many cases the value of the customer on the back end is far higher than the initial sale.

 

That’s why so many Online marketers say “The money’s in the list.”, and they’re right. You’ll have the ability to market new products to your existing customers, which, if they loved your first product, should be an easy sale.

 

How to Work Online From Home – Step 4

This is the most tedious step in developing your online business. It’s no coincidence that “testing” and “tedium” both begin with the letter ‘T’. Although testing can be boring and dreary, it can easily be the difference between your success and failure online. It’s one of the huge advantages that an online business has over a traditional business. You can easily test between two different ad headlines for example, and have meaningful results in a few hours or days. In an offline business that could take weeks or months, and you may still not get the accuracy that you’d get from using online testing methods.

 

There are so many variables that you need to test it can easily be overwhelming, especially for beginners. You can get significantly different results from headline changes, ad copy changes, colors, web content changes, different product names, pricing, different payment systems that you accept, and so on. Sometimes there can be little difference, but other times a seemingly minor change can make more than a few percentage points difference. Add a few of these “minor” changes up and you can easily see 50% - 100% increases in sales. You can also significantly lower your ad spend and raise ad efficiency by through testing. If you weren’t doing structured testing you’d either not make any positive changes, or not know exactly why you were seeing improved results.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of How to Work Online From Home.

 

 

 

August 06, 2008

- Online Business Resources - The Most Important Sites For Internet Marketing Success

Online Business Resources

Floundering On the Net??
You just need some help……Check out these.
The sites, blogs, and forums, you need to help you make it big online.

 
Web 2.0:
You can use these user generated content and social bookmarking sites to generate a ton of traffic and a presence online.
http://www.technorati.com/

http://www.stumbleupon.com

http://digg.com/

http://www.mixx.com/

http://www.propeller.com/

http://www.reddit.com/

http://delicious.com/

http://answers.yahoo.com/

 

Blogs:
Tons of info about making money online, Internet marketing, search engine optimization, and growing your business.
http://liveanotherday.com/blog/

http://www.problogger.net/

http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/

http://www.doshdosh.com 

Blog Carnival Index:
http://blogcarnival.com/bc/

 

Ad Networks (for web publishers):
Host pay per click ads on your site. When people click on the ads, you get paid.
http://www.google.com/adsense

http://chitika.com/index.php

 

Ad Networks (for advertisers):

Pay per click advertising networks. Drive traffic to your site, you pay only when your ad is clicked on.
http://sem.smallbusiness.yahoo.com/searchenginemarketing/

http://adwords.google.com/select/Login

http://chitika.com/index.php

https://adcenter.microsoft.com/

 

Forums:
You can learn more than you’ll ever need to know about marketing in general, and online specifically, from these forums -
http://www.warriorforum.com/

http://www.bestwarriorthreads.com/

http://www.abestweb.com/

http://www.clickbanksuccessforum.com/

http://forums.digitalpoint.com/

http://www.associateprograms.com/discus/index.php

 

Tools:
Keyword optimization tools and site analytics. Actionable information is one of the keys to success. Here’s how to get it. Remember, testing, testing, testing.
http://www.sitemeter.com/

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?defaultView=2

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/gtrends/

http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/

 

Affiliate Networks:
Sell other company’s stuff, or refer a lead online, and get paid a commission.
http://www.pepperjamnetwork.com

http://www.linkshare.com/

http://www.shareasale.com

http://www.kolimbo.com

http://www.cj.com/

https://www.clickbank.com/index.html

http://www.performics.com/

 

Article Directories:
Get your articles published – you get links – not just from the directories themselves, but from every sire owner and e-zine publisher who uses one of your articles.
 http://ezinearticles.com/
 http://www.goarticles.com/
 http://www.articledashboard.com/
 http://searchwarp.com/
 http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html
 http://www.articlesbase.com/
 http://www.buzzle.com/

 http://www.articlealley.com

 http://www.articlesfactory.com/

 http://www.articlecity.com
 

Another Site You Shouldn’t Miss

http://www.webmasterworld.com/

 

This by no means a compete list. Far from it, but it's sure enough to get started. Here's t your home based business success. 

- How to Get Free Traffic, Boost Credibility, and Supercharge Your Small Business Marketing

How to get free traffic is one of the questions I'm asked the most by those starting out in their home based businesses. After all, if customers aren't coming through your door, weather you have a homebased business or a multinational corporation, you're not making any money. Another common question homebased business owners ask is “How can I increase my credibility?” Although there are now thousands of home based businesses in every major city in the country, gaining credibility is still something that many homebased business owners are worried about.

What if I could tell you how to supercharge your home based business marketing, get more free traffic and increase your business' credibility all at the same time? What if I also told you that none of this, not the increased traffic, the boost in cred, or the new customers banging down your door, would cost you a penny?

Would you be interested? I bet you would, because once you master this skill, the question of how to make money from your home based business will be answered once and for all. Did you know that there are thousands of hard working people whose job it is to help people find your business and learn more about it? Really! That's their job. They come to work, (or work from their home office) every day with the goal of helping you to grow your business.

Well actually that's not what their stated goal is, but it's the effect of what they do. Who is this army of professionals that are standing by, at the ready, waiting to help you succeed in your home based or small business?

They are publishers, reporters, bloggers, and anchors. One thing they need, unfailingly, each and every day, is fresh, new content. They will willingly write about you, your employees, your products, your industry, and your business if you give them a reason to do so. That's right, these people's job is to write about things, and in many cases your business, or something related to it, can be the object of their efforts.

Think of the monumentous job it is to produce fresh, new content for your newspaper, magazine, blog, e-zine, or TV program. It's not easy, and if you can help make their job easier by giving them good stories, than you'll be rewarded; well rewarded. The skill you must master to help these people, and by extension your business, is the skill of publicity.

Publicity is like free advertising, but better, far better. Why? Publicity is seen by the public (your customers) as coming from an unbiased source, the news and media. In other words, publicity has credibility. It has credibility that advertising can never match, not in a million years. With advertising, no matter how compelling the headline, or how good the ad copy, people are well aware they're being sold something. The beauty of publicity is that the sales pitch can be just as strong, yet far fewer people ever raise their “ad blocker” defenses against it. They know that it's news or valuable information, after all, and they should soak it up like a sponge. They do, and your message right along with it.

The other huge advantage of publicity is that, as I alluded to earlier, it's free. That's right you don't have to pay for this wonderous marketing tool. In fact sometimes you can even get paid for it! Really! I've made thousands of dollars over the last few years writing feature articles for consumer magazines about products and services that some of my business offered.

Not only does it increase awareness, interest and understanding of the products and services, but in most cases you get a nice little blurb explaining why you're so qualified to be spouting off about the item in question. You get to put the name and location of your company, the contact information and something about your background. Talk about pure marketing gold!!

Now you're positioned as The authority figure in the minds of the publication's readers. Who do you think they're going to turn to when they have a question, need advice, the services you offer or want to buy the type of products your company offers? That's right, they're going to go to the person who's article they just read. You provided value to them, they will return the favor. It works so well that I've had many people ask “How much did you have to pay for that?” They were amazed to discover that not only did I not have to pay the magazine for featuring the story, the magazine actually paid me to write it (and very nicely, too).

Weather you're spreading the news about a new product, service, opening a new office, hiring a key employee, unveiling your new website, or explaining a new process, there is a magazine, news outlet, special interest publication, or trade journal that is only too happy to help you do it. That is their job, remember? Your job as a business owner is to take advantage of that to help grow your business.

How can you do that? You need to discover the wonders of press releases, articles, and interviews. A well worded and timed press release can be worth far more than a picture or a thousand words, although either of those is nice too. Why do think the book tour was invented. Have you noticed the staple of the afternoon news magazine show in major TV markets is someone who just wrote a book?

There's a great reason for that. From the TV station's perspective, people are interested in what they have to say, so it it helps ratings. From the author's perspective, well you don't have to be no missile scientist to figure out how being on live TV in all the major markets helps the book's author, do you.

Almost anything can be a newsworthy event if it's presented correctly. Did you just promote someone from the community into a management role? Well, you can get that in the business section of your local paper. Are you introducing a new product? Depending upon the type of product, it's uniqueness and your market, that screams magazine article, or at should at least rate a paragraph or two. Are you holding or sponsoring a charity event, supporting local law enforcement, or helping out neighborhood schools? Properly structured, it can be a newsworthy event to someone, somewhere.

The point is that almost anything your business is involved in can be a news event or publicity worthy in some respect. If it's not, you can always create a publicity event around some aspect of your business. One skill you'll need to master is the press release. After all, you need to trumpet the fact to those that can help you the most, and the press release is one of the preferred formats to do just that.

I'll go more into this in a future post, including how to write press releases that will get read, and acted upon, rather than tossed, and who to send them to. Send your press release to the wrong person, at the wrong place, and you just wasted your time.

Stay tuned for more on how you can use this amazing power to increase your traffic, boost your credibility and supercharge your small business marketing. Until next time.....

July 11, 2008

A New (Old) Free Search Engine Optimization Keyword Tool

If you’re after targeted traffic to your website, you’re going to need some search engine optimization to rise above other sites in the search engine rankings. There are many factors that influence the diabolical little algorithms that determine if and where you’ll rank for the search terms of your choice.

One of the most important is choosing the right keyword phrase to get ranked for. You want a keyword phrase that targets your desired visitors, but in most cases you’ll want to stay away from the terms that have millions of other sites competing for them. You want to try and dominate the smaller niche terms.

To find the desired terms you’ll need a keyword tool to tell you what people are actually searching for when they use the search engines. It should tell you the phrase and how many searches it gets every month on Google, Yahoo, or MSN Live Search. There are many of these tools out there, both free, subscription based and requiring a 1 time fee.

 For years Google has had a fairly nice keyword tool. It gave you graphs that ranked the number of searches from 1 through 5. The problem has been that the Google tool doesn’t really tell you how many searches were done, just the comparative ranking against other keywords. That’s just not enough information if you’re trying to do some search engine optimization.

Proper optimization requires you to optimize on-page factors such as the title. The page title can make all the difference in the world, as I explained in my post on How to Choose a Title to Increase Targeted Traffic that I posted a few months ago. You want to actually write a post or create a web page that addresses the exact question people are asking, in the exact way that they asked it.

In order to do that, you either need to ask everyone that’s ever searched for things related to your site or blog, or you can use a keyword tool, such as I mentioned above. As I indicated Google’s free keyword tool had a major limitation in that it merely gave an idea of the relative amount of searches performed, not the actual number.

That has all changed now. Yesterday Google revised their free keyword tool (see it here) to include not only the actual number of searches performed for a specific keyword or phrase, but the average number performed over the past year, a graphical trend meter for the previous year, how much relative advertiser competition there is for the terms or keywords, and which month actually had the largest number of searches for the keywords. It does all this in addition to doing the same keyword suggestion functions as it did in the past. The best part is that this powerful bit of keyword and search engine marketing help is all free (not that Google really needs the money).

First, determine which phrases have the highest number of searches. Then you can find an idea of the amount of competition that you’ll face when you try to get high search engine rankings for the terms with the following simple technique. Just enter the phrase you want to rank for in quotes into the Google search box. The number of results you get from the Google search gives you a good idea of how many competitors you’ll face when trying to get ranked for a particular search term.

Typically you’ll face stiff competition when trying to get ranked for general terms with large numbers of searches. The key is to choose terms with a smaller number of searches, but very low competition.

As an example, the term ‘cars’ has 83 million searches a month in Google. While it would be nice to get even a small piece of that 83 million, you’ll have some problems. One is that the term is very broad. If you ranked well for the term cars, you’ll get people looking for cars, car sales, car insurance, used cars, new cars, car mechanics, car parts, car magazines, etc. You would probably do better to focus on exactly what you’re selling that’s car related, and concentrate on getting good rankings for terms related to that.

If you wanted to be a portal, you may get a good amount of traffic at some point with a term as broad as ‘cars’, but a number of well established sites already rank well for that. They have several advantages; they are well aged, have many good content pages, and tons of backlinks from other well regarded sites (Google reports cars.com has 195,000 backlinks, and they typically under-report backlinks). Currently, the number 1 rank for the term ‘cars’ is cars.com. There are 861 million other web sites besides cars.com that already rank in some manner for the term ‘cars’. You’d be number 861 million and 1.

Instead of directly taking all of them on directly, you would do better to focus on something which still had a fair amount of traffic, but still related to what you’re selling. The closer you can target the keyword to the interest of your visitors, (and more importantly buyers, not info seekers) the more money you’ll make with your marketing efforts.

For example, if you have a home based business brokering used sports cars, you’d want to target the specific types of used cars you have an interest in selling. If you have an affiliate website that deals in car insurance for high risk drivers, you’d want to target terms relating to those drivers that were actively seeking insurance.

For the first example, the term ‘used sports cars for sale’ has only 544 competitor sites. Now that’s more like it! If you do some things well, you should be able to rank well for that term fairly easily. It gets a much lower number of searches, only 590 per month, but those people are looking for exactly what you have to offer.

Other very closely related terms, such as ‘used sports car for sale’ (170 / month), and can bring additional traffic. Brokering specific cars can be very lucrative, so you can make good money from such narrowly targeted traffic.

In the other example, auto insurance is still too broad, even though it has 20 million searches a month. Ditto car insurance (9 million). Think more niche oriented. The term ‘high risk auto insurance’ is much better, with only 170,000 competing returns, but that’s still pretty tough for a new site.  You’ll face even more competition with the term ‘high risk car insurance’ (265,000 sites, with only 2,400 searches for the term).

‘High point car insurance’ fares better, with 4,400 searches and 81,000 sites to beat.  ‘Auto insurance for high risk drivers’ shows only 2,280 returns, but has 110 searches per month. The good news is that you’d probably get ranked for closely related terms such as ‘auto insurance for high risk’ (320 searches). Eventually you could get good traffic from other related terms as well.

There are two strategies; niche domination, and large market skimming. You’re either trying to be the largest, highest converting fish in a small pond, or a smaller (but hopefully still fairly high converting) fish in a massive pond. You can work wonders with either approach, and Google has just made you job a bit easier, especially if you have a small budget.

Until next time, may you experience home based business success! Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 26, 2008

- The Steps to Starting an Internet Business - Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 in my series on starting an Internet business. In the previous post I looked at 2 extremely important steps, finding products to sell and driving traffic. Slip up on either of those steps and you'll not be quitting your day job any time soon. Weather you're putting the mop in the bucket one more time, or attending your next board meeting, that's probably not in your plan. To get your out of the daily grind, and into a whole different sort of grind (but a very satisfying and exciting one), here are the next steps to take as you start and grow your Internet business:

Steps to Starting an Internet Business # 7 – Analyze

One of the keys in any business is to determine where your business is coming from, how you can be more effective at marketing to this group of consumers, and what other markets you can tap in order to grow your business. In order to do these things, you'll need to do the next step in the plan; analyze the results of your marketing. There are several key metrics used by most Internet marketers for analytical purposes.

Unique Visitors –
The number of unique visitors to your web site. Not to be confused with hits or page views.

Page Views –
The number of times a page was accessed (not the same thing as 'hits', which is the number of times files were accessed. A single web page can be made up of dozens of different files)

Referral -
The last page looked at by a visitor before they came to your site. Now we're getting somewhere. This is the kind of information you need to go over with a fine toothed comb in order to maximize your marketing efforts. Are there new traffic sources that you were unaware of? Are your current marketing efforts bearing any fruit?

Conversion Rate -
Conversion is the percentage of visitors to one of your websites or web pages that took the desired action. That can be buying something, signing up for your news letter, filling out a lead form, or any other thing that you want them to do. If you'd like them to stand on their head in front of the mirror, and you have such a great sales page that they actually do it, count that as a conversion. The conversion for your site(s) and every sales page, product, or offer within it will be different. In addition, the conversion rate will be usually be different depending on the traffic source. The more information you have regarding the conversion rate for every page, offer, and product on your site, the better you can calculate CPM.

CPM - Cost per 1,000 visitors.
Obviously this is one of the most important metrics when you're analyzing your traffic. If you know the amount of revenue generated by a visitor to your site, you'll know how much you can pay to acquire a new one and still generate a profit. The thing to be aware of is that traffic from different sources will usually generate different CPM figures.

For example, traffic to your sales page from your forum may generate more or less revenue than traffic from PPC advertising, article marketing, or blog posts. This is because different traffic will have different conversion figures and different acquisition costs. The more granularity you can get when determining your CPM, the better, so make sure you know not only where your traffic is coming from.

Location - Where is your traffic coming from?
This is very important, and more important with some types of sites than others. If you have a geographically oriented site such as a local real estate information website, is most of your traffic coming from the area that you're targeting? If not you may have a large number of visitors but relatively few conversions. That can lead you in one of two directions; you can refine your marketing to bring more traffic from the area that you're trying to target, or you can change the scope of your offerings to more effectively convert the traffic you're getting.

Browser / resolution - While this may seem techy and unimportant to many marketers, it's actually very important. You need to be sure that your site is properly displaying in all the browsers that your visitors use, and especially the more popular ones. The same is true with screen resolution. You want your page to be optimized for the more popular resolutions used by your visitors. If you originally made your page to appeal to visitors running 800 x 600 monitors, you're probably losing sales to those running 1,440 x 900, or 1280 x 1024 monitors because some of site's features just won't be displayed correctly. Going forward, keep in mind that most of the new monitors are wide screen in either 1280 x 800, 1440 x 900, 1680 x 1050, or 1920 x 1200 resolutions. Make sure your site displays well in these resolutions so it's ready for the future.

Duration - How long are visitors staying on your site? If you have a site with a 4-page sales letter and the average duration is 30 seconds, the reason your site isn't converting well is that no one's reading your sales letter. You better hire a copywriter and revise the thing, because it's most likely crap. It's the same with any type of site. You can tell an awful lot about how well your site is holding a visitor's interest by how long they stick around.

Average Views - This also called depth, and it's the number of pages a visitor to your site views, or how deep into your site they go, when they are there. If you have a 1 page sales letter site, well, that number is always going to be 1, but it lets you know if visitors are just hitting the page they entered on, then clicking away, or are they seeing more of your content.

There are more analytics, which I'll get to in a future post, but the upshot is that you absolutely need to know as much information about your visitors and customers as possible in order to maximize your marketing effectiveness. There are many packages you can use but I like Sitemeter and Google analytics, both of which are free or have free versions that are very good. Other well regarded analytics used by marketers include Quantcast, Weblog Expert, and Compete. Most web hosting companies also have analytics of some sort you can use. Whichever package you choose, make sure you analyze, so you maximize your site's profits and minimize your efforts.

June 22, 2008

- The Steps to Starting an Internet Business – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the steps to starting an Internet business. In the first post, I covered the initial 4 steps you’d need to begin your Internet entrepreneurial career. In case you hadn’t thought about it yet, one of the biggest plusses of an Internet business is that if you’re successful you won’t have to fill your gas tanks with $4.50 swill for the drive to work everyday. You’ll be ahead right from the start!

Here are the next steps you’ll need to take on your journey toward Internet business success.

Steps to Starting an Internet Business # 5 – In the previous step you found a niche to market to. In this step you’ll determine exactly what you’ll be marketing to your (if you did your research right) hungry niche. You have a few choices. You can either:

A - Find products you can market as an affiliate. Affiliate marketing for those of you that are just looking into the whole Internet business thing, is when a company will pay you money when someone takes a specific action based upon your referral. They can buy a company’s product or sign up for their service by going through a link in your ad or from your website. You can also generate affiliate revenue by referring qualified leads to a company. How you make affiliate revenue is determined by what the company that pays you is looking for; sales or leads.

B -Develop your own product. For most people in the beginning that means writing software, a script, or an e-book that you can sell via download. As you progress you can also create info products that also incorporate physical media, such as books, pamphlets, CDs, or DVDs. In most cases you’ll be rewarded for the extra effort and expense it takes to create, package and distribute the physical products by being able to command much higher prices for them. The hard costs are not that high, so you will make much higher profits. Be advised that if you create crap, you will quickly get a (well deserved) reputation for creating crap and your customer list will dry up.

C - A 3rd option to profit from your niche is selling products that are drop shipped. If your research indicates that products in your niche are able to be sold for a nice profit, you may want to fid what’s known as a drop shipper. A drop shipper will take an order from you and ship the product directly to your customer. Many drop shippers will even include a packing list from your company, complete with your logo and address, so as far as your customer’s concerned, their order came from you. The obvious benefit is that you’ll not need to stock or fulfill any product. Keep in mind that you will still need to handle returns.
 
One way you can mitigate that risk is to choose products that are unlikely to break and come in few varieties. This will minimize the chance that a customer gets the wrong item. Items such as consumer electronics definitely break or cause customer confusion. I was in a warehouse a few years back and one of my vendors had taken back pallets of TiVOs because the customers either couldn’t hook them up correctly or weren’t properly informed that the device required a monthly service fee. Trust me, you don’t want to be in this position, it gets expensive in a hurry.

D - A 4th way you can market to your niche is to just create your website, make it full of good, quality content, and put Adsense or some other contextual ads on it. When people click on these ads you’ll be paid a small amount. Typically this is used as more of an icing on the cake than primary revenue stream, though. You’ll have to generate substantial traffic in the right niche before you can make very much money from this business model. If you are getting that much traffic, you can usually more effectively monetize it through other means, such as affiliate marketing or selling visitors you own product(s).
 

No matter what you determine will be your marketing method of choice for your online business, or if you do as many marketers do and sue a combination of methods, you’ll eventually have to move on to:

Steps to Starting an Internet Business # 6 - Driving traffic
This is obviously a supremely important step, because nothing else matters if no one shows up. You’ve got 2 main choices, pay for your traffic or get it free. Most marketers try to excel in both choices.

Getting traffic free is a combination of getting good search engine results and getting linked to by other sites, e-zines and blogs. The links to your site, known as backlinks, are doubly important because not only do the links drive traffic to your site, but they are one of the most important factors used by search engines (especially Google) when ranking your pages. You can get links through a number of strategies including article marketing, asking, joint ventures (JVs) with other marketers, guest posting on other blogs, blog carnivals, commenting on blogs, forum post signature links (these are “nofollow”ed so they give you traffic, but are not used in calculating your search engine rankings), and of course ‘Web 2.0’. The web 2.0 methods are using social sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Digg, del.icious, propeller, Mixx, Yahoo answers, StumbleUpon, reddit, and flikr.

I’m sure I missed some, but you get the point. These are extremely effective at getting you brand exposure and driving traffic. In some niches, the traffic from site as Stumble Upon and Digg doesn’t convert as well into sales as with other sources of traffic, but in some cases there’s so much of it, it doesn’t matter.

The other way of getting free traffic is to get good results in the search engines when people search for words or terms relevant to what you’re selling or offering. As I mentioned you’ll need links in to your site to help get good rankings. The more authoritative the site the link comes from and the farther up the page the link is placed (all else being equal) the more it is worth in terms of search engine ranking. You also want to carefully optimize your keywords and their use throughout your web pages and blog posts, especially the titles, title tags, meta tags and page / post content. I’ve done several posts on getting targeted traffic.

Your other traffic generation strategy is to pay for your traffic. You can do this in several ways, but the most common are to use pay per click advertising (PPC) such as Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture) or Google Adwords, or to pay for your links to be placed on sites that would drive the kind of targeted traffic you’re looking for. You can use either paid text links or banner ads.

A few years ago paid text links were all the rage because of their positive effect on search engine rankings in addition to the traffic they generated, but they don’t seem to be as popular for this purpose now, as the search engines seem to have revised their algorithms. In any case, paid text links are definitely not my area of expertise.

If you choose to do PPC advertising I strongly advise you to learn as much as possible about what you’re doing because while this can be one of the most powerful wealth generating strategies on the Internet, and you can turn it on and off at will, you can also lose more money that you can possibly imagine, in record time, if you’re not careful. Get some good books on the subject, such as Perry Marshal’s Google Adwords, and definitely go to the AdWordsExcellence site.

One of the most important changes to have come down the pike with regard to Adwords in recent years is that Google looks at the quality of your landing page. It need to give a good user experience and relate exactly to the keyword in your ad otherwise your quality score will suffer, and your cost per click will go through the roof. The other thing is make sure your ad is relevant and your headline is extremely compelling because one of the other key things that Google uses to determine how much you’ll be charges is the click through rate. The better the click through rate the less you’ll pay per click.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this series on the steps to starting an Internet business.

June 11, 2008

Home Business Carnival Featured Posts

I've had posts featured in a number of business and finance blog carnivals recently. Here are links to some of these carnivals -

How to Make Money Doing What You Love - Issue #4

Blog to Earn - Friday Edition

Internet Business Blog Carnival #14

Featured my post Free Blog Traffic - How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog

Carnival of Business and Entrepreneurship 23 

Carnival of Sales and Management Success - May 31st Ed 

Internet Business Blog Carnival - 16th Edition 

Featured my post  Creating a Customer Loyalty Strategy – How to Reach Your Business Profitability Goal

Working at Home Blog Carnival #84 

Making Money Online Business Ideas - May 7th Ed 

Featured my post Increase Targeted Web Site Traffic – It’s All in a Name 

 Thanks to all of them - There are some great posts in these carnivals. Give them a visit. You never know what you'll discover; you may find the next idea to explode your business!