Tuesday, May 25, 2010

“How to Set up your own Online Business: 11 FREE or LOW Cost Services you'll need to know about.”

Whoever said you need thousands of dollars to start your own web based business didn't know what they were talking about. If you know where to look your business can be on the web for very little money, and in some cases free. weed

1) Domain Names:  If you want your own domain name like http://www.sallysshop.com, you may expect to pay anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00 a year to own it.  Some of the cheaper ones are:

http://www.nameBargain.com- My personal fav.

2) Free Web Hosting:  If you've been thinking of launching a website but don't want to pay the $20 to $40.00 a month typically charged or hosting it, you don't have to. With a little research, you'll find plenty of places that will host your site free.

Before you get too excited let me tell you the drawback: Most free hosts place a banner at the top of your pages for giving you this courtesy. But believe it or not, I have found web hosts that won't charge you a dime and won't force you to display those pesky banners. Some of them also will take the banners away for a small yearly fee which is nothing compared to paying a host monthly.

Some of the best ones are:

http://www.netfirms.com  Requires banners, but you can
remove them for $60.00 a year.

http://www.crosswinds.net Free hosting, no banners required
http://www.doteasy.com/ Free Domain Hosting, no banners

If you sell product and need a shopping cart, check some of these:


3) Product or Service to Sell:
Let's face it -- if you don't have something to sell on your website, it won't earn you any money. The best-selling items online seem to be information products and software, because they can be paid for and downloaded immediately. If you sell a product, you need to factor in  shipping expenses -- both local and international.

If you don't have your own product to sell, no problem. Many Internet companies will be happy to have you sign up and start selling their products for them. They get increased sales and you get a commission on everything you sell. Online these are called "affiliate" or "associate programs." While most are free to join, you should resist the temptation to
sign up with too many. Stick with one common theme when deciding on what to sell. In other words, don't resell software and dog biscuits on the same website (unless your site is targeted to veterinarians and the software deals with patient records). You need consistency, so pick a theme and stick with it.

To find associate programs to join check out:


4) Fax Number: Don't buy a fax machine; now you can get your own virtual fax number These online companies will give you your own  fax number that will send your faxes directly to your email inbox ("e-faxing"). If you travel a lot and need to receive faxes from the office this service is a godsend. Easy to sign up.....and use.


5) Logo: If you're going to have an online business, you really should come up with a logo. A logo will help to brand your company online. After awhile, folks will come to associate your logo with your products and services.
At least, that's the main idea. So what if you can't even draw a stick figure? There are plenty of online sites where you can design your logo or absolutely free:


6) Refer a Friend: People love recommending good things to their friends and family. So why not give them the chance to tell someone about your website? This is an easy feature to add to your site. Once you sign up with your chosen service, you paste a few lines of HTML code they give you onto your page and you're done.This is a form of viral marketing, and it works great.


7) Newsletter/Blog:  If you're going to have a website you must publish an ezine or blog. Yep, sorry, hate to break it to you, but if you want to bring people back to your site and remind them of your existence you need to offer an ezine. Luckily, you don't need to set up a tricky list server; use one of the services below.

Yahoo Groups http://groups.yahoo.com/


8) Autoresponders: Remember fax-on-demand? Well, autoresponders work like that but come directly to your email box instead of your fax machine. You'll find many uses for them: from listing your products or services with current pricing, to offering back issues of your ezine. You can even use them to set up a scheduled training course on any topic you choose.

You'll find plenty of free autoresponders if you take a look, like:


9) Promotional Items: Once your website is built you'll need a few items on hand to help promote it.

a) Press Release- Keep it short & newsworthy, 4/5 paragraphs tops
b) Descriptions of your Site- Long and short for search engines and directories
c) Banners- animated & static, 468X60 and maybe a button banner
d) Classified Ads- Write a few short ads, 4 or 5 lines, 60 to 65
characters wide to use for online advertising in ezines and blogs.
e) Signature Lines: write a few good signature lines and use them on every piece of email that you send out and at the bottom of published articles.  Try to include something free in it.

Business cards can be made inexpensively at http://www.vistaprint.com

10) Toll Free Number:  If you don't want to add another phone line in your house for your new business, don't! There are many companies online who are just waiting to give you your own toll free phone number. Many of them can be configured to ring on your land line, or transferred to your cell phone if you prefer. You can even set the hours and times you want the calls to transfer to your other  phone number, all done seamlessly. Many of these types of services will also notify you by email when you have a message waiting in your box.

Google Voice http://www.google.com/voice

11) Ability to Accept Credit Cards; No merchant account, no problem! Let's face it, if you want people to order from your site you need to make it easy for them to pay you and that means accepting online payments. Merchant accounts can be costly to set up, especially for a new Internet business. Good thing there are plenty of  third party processors you can use who will take a small percentage of each sale in exchange for giving you this service:

http://www.ccnow.com  Must be a tangible product not a service
http://www.propay.com Low rates, and your email address appears
on the customer's cc statement not the processor.
http://www.clickbank.com Rates aren't bad and allows you to take out of country payments.

Another easy way to accept online payment is PayPal http://www.paypal.com  Free to register and cheap; an easy way to send or receive money.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Don't put off starting your online business one more day because you think you can't afford it. You can. By implementing these 11 suggestions into your new business, you'll have a site that not only makes the sale, but doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to own.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Should I be obsessing about load times?

By now you've heard that Google is taking your page load time into consideration when it comes to ranking. But just how important is it? Listen in as Matt Cutts gives us a glimpse inside Google's thought process with this new criteria.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Top 10 Tips for Using Twitter"

By Merle http://MerlesWorld.com

When it comes to social media, no one “gets it” as well as Twitter. According to Econsultancy, as of Jan 2010, Twitter has 75 million user accounts, with about 15 million of that total being active users.twitter1 (2) Seehttp://tinyurl.com/yetgcru . That's a lot of people sending a lot of Tweets. This micro-blogging service makes it easy for small businesses and entrepreneurs to stay in touch with those who choose to follow them, and stay updated on new products, services, special offers, industry news and more. It's a win-win for both the Tweeter, and their followers.

When it comes to using Twitter, there's a right way and a wrong way to use it. Your messages must be kept short, under 140 characters, and they need to be helpful or informative. Don't carry on about what you ate for breakfast, or the fact that you just brushed your teeth. People will unfollow you faster than they can hit the button, even if you do have good oral habits.

I've been using Twitter for a long time now and here's what I've found works best when participating in this close knit community of few words.

1) Regular Postings: Now I'm not saying you need to post every day, although that would be nice. You do need to make an appearance on a regular basis. It's like school - you need to show up to pass. Be a contributor that your followers get to really know and look forward to your Tweets. If you’re the type of person who needs to plan ahead, you can always use a service that allows you to schedule tweets in advance, such as http://www.socialoomph.com/

2) Retweet: If you see Tweets posted by other users that you think your followers would like, then retweet them. It only takes one click, and you'll also be creating goodwill with other Twitter users at the same time. If you'd like, you can add a personal thought or comment before sending it. Also, make it easy for others to retweet your posts by adding RT buttons to your website or blog. It's easy with http://tweetmeme.com/about/retweet_button

3) Be Helpful: Keep in mind Twitter is a form of social Media, so social interaction is key. It's not all about you. Whenever an opportunity arises to answer a question, participate in a survey, or help solve a problem, do so. In this way you're participating in the community. This also will help your brand and image when others know they can count on you for support or feedback.

4) Don't Be A Follow CopyCat: Don't follow everyone who follows you. This is probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to Twitter. So many people turn this feature on to auto follow those who follow them. Why would you  want to do this? I'd prefer that those I follow are people and topics I've hand-selected that interest me, and not a mish-mash of followers who may be ranting about things I have no interest in. Be selective in who you follow or your Twitter stream could quickly fill up with junk or spam. For quality people to follow, see-http://followontwitterlists.com/

5) What to Tweet: Make sure that the tweets you post are helpful and/or informative. Late breaking news pertaining to your industry, as well as any specials or sales you may have going on are always good topics. If you find something you think your followers would like, especially if it's free or a bargain, share the love. Plus, if your tweets are good, it will encourage others to retweet them. For ideas see- http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/07/what-to-tweet.html

6) Comment: Particpate in the community by commenting on other people's tweets. If you can answer a question, do so. It never hurts and people really will appreciate it when you take the time to comment on what they  have to say. It lets them know that others are actually listening to what they have to say in the "Twitterverse".

7) Say Thank You: When someone takes the time to retweet one of your tweets, make sure to reply to them with a "thank you". Manners rule online as well as off, and they'll like the fact that you noticed the retweet and took the time to show some gratitude.  It may even inspire them to retweet more of your tweets in the future.

8) Be Personal: Again, I don't need to know what you ate for dinner, but every now and then you should show your human side with a creative thought, quote, or other statement. Let people know you're "real" and not just a lean mean business machine. You want to tread lightly in this area. Too personal is overkill, but a little can help in establishing a connection with your followers.

9) Post Pictures/Video: Remember, Twitter is not just for text. It's easy to post short videos, and pictures too. It's nice to mix it up a little and share content in other formats as well. Here are some resources http://freenuts.com/video-sharing-websites-for-twitter/

10) Talk About More Than Yourself: It's not all about you, so please don't make all your tweets one big marketing message, such as only tweeting about your latest press release, blog posting, or article that was published. No one will want to follow you if you're one big commercial. Yes, some of this is fine in moderation, but you need to walk a fine line and mix it up with other helpful, interesting topics.

Now it's time to start putting these tips into action. Social media is all about participating and listening to what others have to say. It's all about creating and sharing information and becoming part of the community. If you approach Twitter in this fashion, you'll not only have a lot more fun, but your followers will like and respect you -and if that doesn't strengthen your brand, nothing will.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"How to Set Up Your Own Personal Brand with Google Profiles"

By Merle http://MerlesWorld.com

How would you like to have the top ranking in Google for a particulargoogle-512 key-phrase? There are a lot of people who spend hours every week on search engine optimization, who would consider a front page listing on Google's search results as  having their prayers answered. What if I told you it's possible? Do I have your attention now? By creating a Google Profile for your name, that front page ranking is all but guaranteed.

If you haven't heard of "Google's Profile" service, it's a page that's all about you. Created by you, it's sort of like a “mini-resume”. So when someone goes to Google and searches your name, (and sooner or later they will), profile summaries are shown at the bottom of the search results page.To view the full profile, you simply click on the included link.

Now if you have a very common name say, Bob Smith, you may have some competition. Google shows up to four profile links on each page. Now, if you had parents with a little creativity and have an uncommon name, your profile should be the only one displayed on the search results page.

So why would you want to create a profile? Understand that Google does not give these pages any extra boost in ranking, but this is an excellent way to brand yourself and to control what others read about you online. It's your own personal identity, and now you're in charge of the information that's revealed.

The first step in creating your own profile is having a Google account. You'll find simple instructions here http://tinyurl.com/lyrfky .If you already have one, log  into Google Profiles at http://www.google.com/profiles

All of Google's services require a Google account to use them, so it's something you'll use over and over.  Now if your Google account is linked to your Gmail account, this will end up being your profile's URL. If you don't have a Gmail account yet, you'll be allowed to select a username to use in your custom URL. Be very careful here, as once a URL is selected it cannot be changed. A custom URL looks like this http://www.google.co/profiles/username

So what types of information can you include in your profile? Glad you asked. It can include as much or as little as you want. Here are some of your choices:

1) Contact Info
2) Current Location
3) Work Info
4) Embed Photos from Picasa or FlickR
5) About You Bio Page
6) Links to Your Blogs/Websites
7) Links to Social Networks Used
8) School Info

If you're also a "Google Buzz" user, whenever you post, it will also be displayed on your Google Profile page under the "Buzz Tab". Another nice feature is the  ability to receive emails from other Google account users without publicly displaying your email address. This feature is found under "Edit Profile". google

If you'd like your profile to display a really slick"verified name badge" ,there's an extra step involved. It's not necessary or mandatory, but by doing it viewers will know the profile they're looking at is really you
and not some "poser".

To verify your Profile, you'll need to use Google's Knol Service http://knol.google.com/k . Once logged in, look under "preferences" from "my profile" and click on the "name verification". There are two options given in order to verify your identity. The first is to type in a credit card number ,and the other your social security number and address. Again, this step is not mandatory and you can set up a Google Profile just
fine without doing it. The choice is yours.

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes out of your busy day to set up your own Google Profile. Look,people will search for you on Google, it could be a possible employer, an old friend trying to find you, or even a new client who's interested in your products and/or services. Why not make it easy for them to find out a little more about you?  By having a personal profile, it ensures they're getting factual information that you want them to see. Everyone is a brand on the Internet, even you. Time to take charge of it.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

“Main Article: How to Avoid The Big Mistakes”

By Marlon Sanders http://www.marlonsanders.com/

Today I'm going to talk to you about how not to LOSE money.And how to get more of it while doing the same.There's a skill in a non-Internetzozo marketing arena I'm learning. And like any new skill, you're not worried about getting all the nuances to start with. What you want is to avoid the BIG mistakes.  In this article, I'm going to help you avoid the BIG ones. I really hope you read this and think about it. It'll save you months if not years of wasted time and effort.

Big mistake #1:  Never doing anything

This sounds obvious. But it's an EASY trap to fall into because you keep learning, learning and learning. It's easy to fall prey to the fear of making mistakes and the fear of being criticized.  A lot of people never sell big ticket products because they're afraid of being criticized. You know, if you sell a $27 ebook, no one is going to get too upset if they think it sucks. But if you sell something for a G, and people think it sucks, yeah, they'll complain. But you can't let that fear hold you back.  Just try to produce good products.

It's true that if you do something and it doesn't work you could feel like your "dream" will never happen. But it's 100% it'll never happen if you never do anything. Instead of seeing your results as your own personal ability being judged, see your activities as performing marketing tests.  More on this attitude in a second. Law 1:  Do something.

Big mistake #2:  Trying to sell to everybody

It's like trying to catch bass in the ocean.  You're probably going to have more success catching bass in a lake. Think of it as fishing in ponds or lakes.  Over here you have bass.  Over here you have something else.

You have to find a LAKE to fish in.Now, I don't fish. So it's not a perfect analogy. But you get the idea. You can look at it as shopping malls. A shopping mall in one part of town is going to have different stores than one in another part of town, right? You don't put the Neiman's or Nordstrom's (high end stores) in the low rent part of town. The point of targeting a specific group of people is it's easier to know what they want and be specific about how you provide that.

Look at marketing like this.  You have a specific group of people and you are performing a marketing experiment to find out IF these people will actually spend money to solve a problem or get a defined result. It's a test. It's an experiment.  You do your research to find out what they are already spending money on. Then you find the next link in the chain as I've taught in other courses.  Then you launch your test out there and see the results. The results are NOT a statement about you nor your marketing. They're the results of a test. Law 2:  Find a pond to fish in.

Big mistake #3:  Spending all your money on one high-
end coaching program without really investigating it.

I see people spend all their piggy bank money on one high-end program or coaching program without really investigating the feedback on the Internet about it. Be REALLY cautious about spending all your piggy bank on one program that promises the world -- EVEN if your favorite "guru" endorses or promotes it.

In marketing, you do reciprocal mailings for friends. It's almost impossible to avoid.  Or you owe someone a favor. Now, I personally do about 100X less of these than  anyone else.  It's cost me a great deal of money to NOT do these. But I've always tried to put my concerns for my customers first.  But even at that, on occasion I owe a favor to a friend.  And I work hard to only promote good products when I do that.

But do your research no matter who endorses it ... IFit's a very significant chunk of your piggy bank. If it's discretionary money, don't sweat it so much.

For me personally, it was a VERY big breakthrough in 1992 (or somewhere in there) when I spent $5,000 for Jay Abraham's Marketing Protege program.  Nowadays many of the things I learned are common knowledge -- USP, lifetime value of a customer, endorsed mailings. But at the time, NO ONE taught these things. And I learned an enormous amount very quickly, even though the program wasn't structured and was more a hodgepodge.

Then again, that's a bit how Jay's mind works.  And I'm  kinda that way too. So it all worked for me. At the time, $5,000 was a lot of money to me. So I kinda spent my piggy bank.  So I'm not against big ticket purchases.

But some people just buy junk from a high-powered telephone sales pitch and do almost no research on it.... all because the person on the phone says they are calling on behalf of XYZ guru.

Fact is, some marketers sell their leads to telephone sales rooms that call and sell very large ticket coaching programs. You should know that.  I don't do it. But some people do. A lot of these phone rooms are in Utah.  In the biz, it's known as selling your leads to Utah and everyone knows what that means.

There may be good programs there also.  I don't know all of them.  I know that in SOME of the programs, the "coaches" have a noteboook with 50 programs in it.  And they do coaching for all kinds of programs from real estate to Internet marketing. So you can imagine how useful the coaching is. They usually start selling at $10,000 and then just keep going lower till people say yes.  By the same token, I know of one company like this where the marketer goes in and personally trains the coaches then does monthly follow up with them. So I'm not saying as a blanket statement they're all bad.

All I'm saying is be smart. Don't be stupid.  Do your research no matter WHO endorses the product.  At the same time, I see people agonize over a $97 product. You know, come on.  Keep this in perspective.  No one product is going to change your life in all likelihood. Success is the result of an accumulation of know how and skills. Law 3:  Do your research.

Big Mistake #4:  Not building a list

Someone commented on my blog just the other day.  "Marlon, I'm finally taking your advice and building a list." They probably bought someone else's program that somehow finally convinced them. I'm just telling you.  If you want to be in the Game 5 or 10 years from now being successful then build a list or lists. The model works.  It has worked for 100+ years and will continue to work. Law 4:  Build a list

Big Mistake #5:  Searching for the one system that sounds the
easiest with the least possible work and effort.

Everyone I know who succeeds expends effort to do so including myself.
However, once you get your systems tested and in place, they truly CAN run more or less on autopilot with minimal input and monitoring for substantial periods of time.

Then you may have to create new systems or re-tweak. Sometimes there are fundamental shifts in the market that require a new set of systems to be created and installed. The axe I have to grind is with consumers who search and search for someone who promises them the world with little  effort.

Some people believe this nonsense.  They actually believe you can obtain huge results almost by pushing a button or expending very little effort.  If that's you, stop it. Success is the result of the accumulation of skills and know how and the implementation of the same.  Ultimately, you find one formula that works for you through trial and error. And the money comes when you then repeat that formula over and over in the same market or in various markets.  That's where money comes from.

It takes experimentation on your part to refine that formula. And if every month you're trying a brand new formula you'll never get there. You get a formula and work with it, tweak it, refine it until you get it to work. So you find a group of people who buy a lot of stuff over and over.

You see what they are buying right now. You create something like it but add your own spin and USP or solve a problem or two with the existing products or systems. Then you throw it out there and see if the market confirms that your observations were correct. If not, your test failed.  You either tweak that product again or take another stab at it. I personally like to look for under served people or topics. So here's a group of people who buy lots and lots of stuff but on this one topic, idea or product, there's a lack of supply.

I like to BE the supply to a lack.  True marketing is serving.  You serve people who are under served.  You become the supply for lack. There are always gaps in the market.  Wants that are unfulfilled. But this is only one way to look at it. Others see wants as things that are NEVER satisfied. So if people buy one thing to fulfill a want, they'll buy another and another.

Law 5:  Get a formula and tweak it

Big Mistake #6:  Not really focusing and getting lead generation
systems in place and down pat

All businesses boil down to generating new customers and making sales.
So you gotta get really, really, really good at that process. Become an expert in it. For Internet marketing this means:

a.  Knowing where your customers hang out at.
b.  Hanging out there with them.
c.  Watching what they talk about and looking for unmet wants
d.  Filling those unmet wants or under-served products
e.  Having a system for continually putting more and more and
more of those people on your list by giving them a really great
reason to get ON your list and STAY on your list.
f.  Sending out emails that provide value and sometimes sell

Your whole entire business hinges on your ability to find the people who buy lots of stuff then find some way to get 'em on your list so you can send 'em emails. Don't like getting people on a list and sending them emails?

Then you're on the wrong list baby! That's what I do. Go find someone else.
Law 5:  Get really good at filling your pipeline with new blood

Big Mistake #7:  Thinking you have to have the perfect product
before you can sell it

Listen, by the time your product is perfect, the market has changed and it won't sell anymore anyway. Joe Vitale said, "Money loves speed." Provide value?  Yes.  Provide more value than people pay for? Absolutely. Provide perfect products and value?  No. Now, the bar of what people expect keeps moving higher and higher.  That's how business works.  So you always have to get better. But that's ok because you learn as you go.

Big Mistake #8:  Never getting good at selling

Business as I've said is about finding potential customers and giving them really compelling reasons for buying from you today. You get them on a list and then you sell 'em or serve 'em. Those two ARE the same thing. Selling = serving unmet wants and needs. You may not like to sell.  You may not be good at selling. Get over it. You gotta sell. Now, you can do it by writing stuff.  Reports, sales letters, whatever. You can do it by doing teleseminars or webinars. You can do it by sign language. But somehow.  Someway.

You gotta sell. Stated in more socially acceptable terms, you gotta give people reasons to buy from you. Whatever.  Nothing happens until someone gives you money in exchange for something they want. Law 8: Get good at selling

Big Mistake #9:  Hopping on the band wagon

Sometimes you gotta hop on the band wagon. Sometimes it's a mistake.
In general, it's better to be ON the wagon before the band get there.  Because by the time the band gets there it's too late. This is especially true with search engine optimization methods otherwise known as seo.

By the time the perfect, user friendly course comes out with all the methods made dirt easy, those things are probably less effective. The money is made early on in most arenas.  You get to the diamond mine BEFORE everyone else finds out about it. This is admittedly double talk and an art.  On the one hand, I like proven business models like list building and I don't like fads that die fast. On the other hand, if you're too late to the party, it's OVER. So it's an art to know what to jump in early on and what to avoid.

What I DO know is that, in general, by the time everyone is talking about it and you have all the social proof that makes you feel comfortable and by the time all the software is perfect and hassle free and by the time there are cheap coaching programs on it and by the time all those nasty kinks and bugs are worked out and by the time it's super simple and easy to learn and do -- by THAT time it's TOO late.

Stop complaining about software that has glitches or isn't perfectly easy to use and processes that aren't all 100% perfectly laid out. Because by the time all that happens everyone else has figured it out also and the party is so freaking over it isn't funny. The money is made early. Money loves speed. If you sit around and debate on it, research it, think about it, mull it over -- it's too late.

By the same token, don't bet the farm on a fad. Which sounds like double talk.  And that's why judgment is involved. Which is GOOD! Once it's a "machine," the party is over. Why? This is a basic, fundamental understanding of the law of supply and demand.  When the supply equals demand, the profit is GONE. Law 9:  Joe Vitale was right. Money loves speed.

Big Mistake #10: Doing all the technical stuff yourself

Outsource your customer service as soon as you can. Find a good technical person (freelancer or part timer) as soon as you can. Find a webmaster and graphic designer as soon as you can. Law 10: Focus on marketing.


Marlon Sanders helps people with hopes and dreams figure
out how to turn those into reality by selling stuff on
the Internet.  http://www.marlonsanders.com/

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