Internets = srs.biz. Parody motivator.

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It has taken me a little while to recover from the weekend, because it was a particularly good one. My daughter made an absolutely fabulous castle shaped cake, complete with turrets, and we went to see the Green Hornet, though probably it’s best to say as little about that as possible. As a finale, my son quite excelled himself when it came to our regular session of Dungeons and Dragons.

It wasn’t easy, since the bad guy, the revolting Surgeon King, had enhanced his evil creation. Number 76B  now has six arms, every one of them a sword wielding menace. But we got through, and the surprise was, it was because we got help from an unlikely source. A character who was not what he seemed.

And that turned into a full scale discussion about our whole journey from the UK to the USA, and the things which had not turned out to be what we expected.  One of them was ebusiness.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that e-business is not what they expected, and I’d have to agree. When I started my nightgown business I fondly imagined Id spend most of my life thinking about fabrics and designs, when in fact the main concerns are traffic and conversion. And that’s saying nothing at all about the amount of writing that’s involved.

So, for those who are still starting on the e-business journey, here’s an idea of what you can expect.

When you decide to go into business online, you may have no idea what sort of business you are interested in. If that’s the case, your first job is research. You’ll find more ways to make money than you can possibly imagine (and just as many people willing to take money to show you how to do it) but experts agree that when you’re starting up, and probably still have a day job, the best thing to do is start a webstore, selling physical products online.

You need very little money to invest, and you don’t need much technical skill. It is unlikely that one store will make a you fortune, but it should make you money within a reasonable time (1 year to 18 months, though it can be sooner) and when it does, you can look at schemes which require more investment (or time or money) or you can simply open another store and do it again.

You first task is to find a niche, something you can feel good about selling and either know about or feel happy to learn about. Something lots of people want to buy, but not too many other people are selling. Something with a good profit margin, related magazines and a possibility of repeat sales is ideal. Then you can really get started, and it’s all about research and making choices.

  • Find a domain name and register it
  • Research the different possible shopping carts.
  • Choose one.
  • Start building your webstore
  • Start building a blog
  • Open a  twitter account
  • Get a facebook page
  • And, while you’re doing all that, find a company who are willing to drop ship the product for you.

Drop shippers are a special type of wholesaler who allow you to buy from them only when you have sold to your own customer. You hold no stock and the drop shipper ships direct to the customer. Of course you don’t make as much profit as you would using more traditional methods, but you don’t have to risk money on stock, either. You can always move to traditional retail once your webstore is successful.

You have no idea what you’re doing, so you have to learn, and you learn as quickly as you can.

Once you’ve sorted out the products, you load them into the shop and off you go! You’re in business.

Only you’re not, because the Internet is a REALLY big place and your store is really tiny.  Unless you have lots of money to spend on advertising, you have to set to and start promoting your store. It’s out there, but no-one is visiting, you have no ‘traffic’.

And that’s when you realize that Internet business isn’t what you expected it to be.

You spend a lot more time writing articles and submitting them, tweaking your website and twittering, than you thought. And if you don’t like writing, it can seem like you’re in hell. But you’re not.

Because one day, as long as you don’t give up, you get that first sale. And you realize that all the head scratching, the learning, the long hours, the forcing yourself to do things you didn’t want to do and never expected to do,  has actually produced a result.

You keep going, promoting your store in every way you can, and the sales begin to increase, and soon there is money to reinvest, to get an assistant to do a couple of those things you don’t enjoy, and maybe even run the whole store. Because you went through the whole process yourself, you know exactly what an assistant needs to do. And so you take the next step.

You find another niche.
And you do it all again.

Because by now the goal is in sight. You know how it’s done, you can do it again, and again if need be. And when the store makes enough profit you have what everyone dreams of; freedom from the 9-5, financial security, a job you can’t be fired from.

But it won’t have been what you expected when you started.

Has your e-business turned out as you expected? Does the description above surprise you or disagree with your experience?

Leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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Motivation: Money.

On February 16, 2011, in Something To Write About, by lesley

We’ve all seen the comedy sketch where the actor, pretending to be a ketchup bottle, stops everyone mid-scene because he can’t find his motivation. We all laugh, finding motivation is funny.

But one of the wonderful things about the recent series of webinars has been the questions you have sent in, and one thing that’s pretty clear is that motivation is a big problem for people starting out in the internet business. Much more so than we thought.

I’m not just talking about fear of failure here, that’s something quite different. I’m talking about finding the mental attitude that gets you to work after work , to add yet more tasks to a hectic life, to play less and produce more; all things you have to do when you’re still working a nine to five job, but trying hard to escape.

Because it is hard work, whatever the other internet gurus tell you, so how can you find the right motivation?

It’s always interesting when scientific research and the gurus of academia catch up to what you and I have always known – in this case I found an interesting post on Yaro Starak’s blog which pointed out the new research shows – guess what?

Material reward is not enough.

There is more to life than money.

I suspect that this view depends very much on your current situation. If you’ve no job, no income and a family to support, it seems there is little more to life than the desperate need for everything money can buy – making money a superb motivator. Maybe  money can’t buy you happiness, but it can help you feel miserable in great comfort.

But move on from that – and people do, does the situation remain the same?

The question I get asked most often is ‘How do I find stuff to write about? My business is XXX and I really don’t like it much or know much about it.’

And that’s the webstore problem in a nutshell.

You can wrap it up in any fancy terminology you like, but most people start an online business because they want money. They may call it financial independence, but it boils down to the same thing. They choose a business model and a product for entirely financial reasons.

And as a motivation, that works. For a while. But then it gets to be a chore. You have no interest in the subject, you spend hours trying to learn stuff, and as a result you are very very open to those who tell you they can do it all for you, if you just part with a few thousands of dollars.

Or you give up before you get to success. Yes, some gurus will admit that it really isn’t that hard, i’ts just that most people give up too soon.

Now I’m not trying to say that money isn’t useful, or important, or that you should ignore financial concerns when you plan your ebiz. Far from it.

But really it doesn’t have to be a chore. The old adage about doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, can be true.

Humans aren’t about stuff. They’re about feelings and concepts; about love, and beauty and feeling fulfilled.

Yes, I know it sounds corny but remember another saying –  that a man on his deathbed never regrets missing time at the office.  So what if it is corny – this is Valentines week and I can mention the L word if I want.

Now the good news! An internet business can be the key to a new life which provides everything you need, and no, I’m still not talking about money here.

I’m talking about

  • a way to express yourself
  • a way to be creative
  • a way to be fulfilled
  • a way to have fun

and

  • a way to be free

but you have to choose wisely – don’t do something you don’t want to do, just because you think it’s a route to easy money.

Research your products and ideas around things you like, in fact, start with things you are passionate about. If you can’t find the right thing,  look for something you can get passionate about. Something you love which solves a problem for other people.

Yes, you will have to do things you don’t enjoy at first, but it’s temporary. Once you have made some money you can outsource the tasks you hate and concentrate on those you love.

There’s nothing wrong with money unless you lose site of the fact that it’s not money you want – it’s a means to an end, and so is doing business on the internet.

What’s your motivation?

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Alas and Alack; The Bear Is Dead.

On February 14, 2011, in Article Marketing, by lesley
It was a fraught weekend. After crossing the stones of desolation we trekked across the southern wastelands – entirely barren apart from a cave system we discovered. Inside we were able to piece together a stone which showed the rise of Ethermaw, a formidable dragon, whose battle with his peers, over a thousand years before, had laid waste to half a continent.

Despite the knowledge we gained, we were ambushed by slob goblins as we rushed to cross the narrow landbridge between the wasteland and Kuk, the Southern continent. The Bear, with the rest of his team, held off the attackers while we made our escape, and although I tried hard to rescue him with my magic spear, lengua afilado, he failed to grasp it in time, and was swept away.

It was a sad moment, and as I’ve mentioned before, we like to have a sound track for our adventures. Here’s the theme we played to honour The Bear.

Now you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with you. Not everyone finds it easy to relate to Dungeons and Dragons, but believe me there is a point to this.

I believe firmly in article marketing. As a method of web site promotion it works for many reasons, but an increasing number of people are telling they don’t want to do it in case their articles are stolen.

Seriously. And I suppose you don’t want to access the internet in case you find there’s porn out there.

In other words, yes of course your articles will be stolen. Unless they’re rubbish, or about something noone is interested in.

I can remember when I had the odd worry about that, but now, frankly I’m more worried when they’re not, ‘cos it means they’re not very good.

Last year I wrote an article making business predictions about 2010. Nothing Earth shattering, but it is one of my more popular articles and it has been in the ezine index for over a year now. Yesterday I checked with google and found the first few lines on almost 60 websites. There are far more if I look for just the title, people lift the article and put it through a spinner to produce some of the funniest prose you are likely to find. Believe me you don’t WANT your name and web address attached to that.

Most peculiar is the fact that ezine shows that particular article hasn’t been republished at all, yet you can find it word for word on a number of other sites, some even include my name, but alas, no backlink. (I would name names here, but I don’t want to give them a link they don’t deserve)

Yes, this is irritating, but does it mean that article marketing doesn’t work? No.

I have lots ofl articles in the ezine directory which have been published, the legitimate way, many times. And each one provides one or even two links back to my site.

Those that have never been published by anyone, still provide links back to my site from the ezine directory.

If you do find that you can’t live with the situation don’t get worked up about it. There is a procedure you can follow. Here’s a link to an article which will tell you how to do it – guess where I found it?

Ezinearticles.com.

So don’t be like The Bear and miss your opportunity. Grab it with both hands, get those articles out  there, boost your ranking, drive some traffic and wherever you can, promote the use of article spinners. The more people who steal your stuff, spin it into rubbish and publish, the better it is for those who write good content, because then we really will stand out from the crowd.

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Designer Vera Wang at Ralph Lauren's 40th Anni...

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No, you haven’t arrived at the wrong blog.  This article caught my eye because its a great example of a headline about a trending topic. And that’s a technique we can all use.

Do go ahead and read the article. You don’t have to care about royal weddings, or in fact any kind of wedding, just read the article and see just how much it has to do with THE royal wedding which is coming up in April of this year.

EXCLUSIVE: Vera Wangs Wedding Gown Suggestions for Kate Middleton.

Done that?

Right. There is one sentence. A quote from Ms Wang saying that the dress should should have ‘pomp and circumstance’

The rest of the article is all about a new line of wedding gowns, but I’m guessing the headline got a lot more publicity than one which said

‘Vera Wang Launches New Line of Wedding Gowns’

and although Ms Wang is not designing the royal dress and in fact has not designed any of the royal dresses, and has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the royal wedding, she is now in the ‘royal’ debate.

It’s an object lesson in how to use trending events to create articles and blog posts which will catch the eye.

And there are lots coming up.

There’s the Royal Wedding, the 2012 Olympics, and of course the expected end of the world.

If you’re looking for something a little bit sooner, and perhaps a little less drastic – new film releases can also be a way to catch the eye – you can find out what’s coming up at http://www.film-releases.com/film-release-schedule-2011.php

So link your product to an up coming event, or a celebrity and bring in some more traffic – and in our celebrity obsessed world you might even convert some more visitors while you’re about it.

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Silk Roses

Writing articles is easy. Writing a blog isn’t that hard. Tweets are short, hubs and lenses, well, they’re pretty much like articles. Press releases are something you get the hang of once you know how they’re done, so really, content creation is  a bit of a breeze. All except for one thing.

Articles, tweets, blogs, hubs, PR’s and lenses are all designed to bring traffic to your site, but that’s not enough. If you want to make money from the your webstore, you need to convert visitors into customers. The last link in the content chain is your sales pitch and the weird thing is that this is often the aspect of ebusiness which attracts the least attention.

Every product page in your webstore is a sales page but what does that mean? If you follow the example of the internet gurus, you’d need an eye catching headline

A few disjointed lines, probably in red

Some testimonials from customers anxious to report how your product changed their life.

and paragraph after paragraph designed to overcome your resistance to the sales process.

BUT

no price – just an add to cart button of enormous proportions.

Of course no-one in their right mind would write a product page that way.

So what should you do?

The usual advice is exceptionally  general.

Concentrate on the benefits of the product, rather than its features.
Use words and pictures to show how the product fits into, and improves, your customer’s life.

And there it usually stops. Some gurus then insist the product description must come before the ‘buy’ button, while it seems just as many say it must come after.

Some experts say the description should be detailed, others that simple bullet points are best.

The truth is that most of the ‘guru’s spend their time selling courses and information and not physical products, and even if they do, they don’t sell the same physical products as you.  Surprise surprise, not all markets are the same.

it’s time to do some research
and apply some common sense

Visit some other stores and look closely at their product pages. Go shopping. Find out what annoys you and what you find helpful.

Above all, remember that this product page is quite likely the only page of your website your customers has ever seen.

Try to provide all the information the customer needs in order to make the decision to buy. Try to think of all the questions a buyer might ask and make sure all of it is available, preferably without having to click at all. If you do have information the customer has to to click to get (like a size chart) have it appear in a separate window, not on a separate page.

As a minimum you need to explain how the product solves your customers problem, and in order to do it briefly you need to apply what is known as the Trifecta Neuro-Affective Principle.

See the problem from your customers point of view. Build your sales text around three points

  • Relate to the customer
  • Redefine the problem with reference to the solution offered
  • Address the most common objection(s) to purchase

Most product pages concentrate on the second point, ignore the first and rely on other web site pages and graphics to address the third.

Here’s a possible example. Lets say you sell artificial floral arrangements and you have determined that your customers value these because they beautify their home without providing any maintenance problems, but they are often concerned that shipping costs will be high.  You might put a shiny graphic on your page saying ‘free shipping’ but you need to be sure your customer knows it applies to him/her.

You can get straight to the point with a headline which connects with the customers because it addresses those points and uses emotional trigger words like beautiful and elegant.

This beautiful arrangement of roses and peonies will add elegance to your home without the maintenance of fresh flowers and at a fraction of the cost.

  • Ready arranged so you don’t have to. No drooping flowers, dropped leaves or water marks on the furniture, just bright beautiful flowers every day.
  • This arrangement is 15 inches high by 21 inches wide, in a quality porcelain vase and is very realistic.  Your friends will never know your flowers are artificial.
  • Free shipping makes even the largest arrangement affordable.

or you could write this, which I copied from a similar website.

Rose and Peony Silk Flower arrangement

  • 15″H x 21″W
  • Crackled Finish Porcelain
  • Designer Silk Stems


I know which one would persuade me to buy.

How about you? What do you think is the most difficult part of writing a product description?

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