Create Your Own Website - In Three Simple Steps!

How a Brick-and-Mortar shop can get funding to go online.

You’re ready to take your business online but…
Here’s the problem: You’ve got a good product or service, but your brick-and-mortar shop is not bringing in the bucks. You know need a boost by adding an online store, but you can’t come up with the capital to get it started.

There are economical ways to get websites up and running, including designing it yourself and taking advantage of free software and online products, but the truth is that most businesses do require some overhead to go online. There are expenses such as manufacturing, inventory and storage, and you may need to pay for advertising to draw traffic toward your site. You may also need to create an online catalog, which can cost tens of thousands.

You’re ready to go to the bank, but…
Banks are conservative at any time, but with the busted economy getting a business loan to expand on a struggling business is… well… not going to happen.

Yes, of course you can get down on your knees and pray, but that’s not what I’m talking about. In the world of internet business an ANGEL is actually a private investor. ANGELS are banks or venture capitalists. They’re private investors who often work in small groups and they put up money for small businesses, most often internet ventures.

ANGELS are unique in that they tend to bridge the gap between small personal loans, like from family members, and the massive capital investing of venture capitalists. They lend directly to the entrepreneur (you) and hold a stake in your business. Generally they’re willing to hold out as a long term investment and don’t demand interest only monthly repayments.

ANGELS aren’t charity organizations, they’re in it to make money. They silent-partner with business owners to generate income without the labor that a business owner must invest. They’ve seen enough internet businesses go bust to perform due-diligence before making an investment. You’ll be expected to:

  • Give up a substantial percentage of ownership to them.
  • Present a highly developed business plan.
  • Demonstrate your experience and product quality.
  • Come up with an exit strategy—and end date to when you expect to buy yourself out of the partnership.

Often, the key to getting into the door of an ANGEL or group of ANGELS is to share something in common with them. It could be as simple as getting the word out with church members or the local Chamber of Commerce. Look to classified ads for investors, or post your own ad. I found my ANGEL by posting a Craigslist ad.

There are online avenues for finding ANGELS as well. Try:

  • Investor’s Circle
  • Go Big Network
  • Network of Business Angels and Investors

If you believe that going online will give it the jump start you’ve been desperately hoping for, there is likely an ANGEL that will stand behind you. Giving up a share now may seem painful, but remind yourself that your ANGEL wouldn’t be offering you the capital if he didn’t think he could profit from it. What you give up now will very likely lead to financial freedom in the not-so-distant future.

Choosing A Shopping Cart For Your Website

The shopping cart you use on your website might not seem like one of your most important decisions, but it’s the critical link between what you’re offering and who you’re selling it to.

When choosing your cart, it’s best to go with the experts—online business owners who’ve already done the homework and chosen the most important features for you.

The following are the top 10 picks from a variety of online product and service providers:

1: Import and Export capability. You need to be able to automatically import entire lists of inventory from a spreadsheet unless you want to hand enter every item by its product number. Just as important is the ability to export products out of the shopping cart.

2: Administrative and customization control. You, the business owner, don’t want anyone else messing with controls such as passwords and custom options like colors, fonts and numbers of items that appear on a display.

3: Multiple Image capability. The images of your products are the only way for your customers to window shop or test drive. Sales multiply in line with the amount of quality images that are provided.

4: A Save Setting. Don’t ever let your customers slip away. If they’ve made even a tentative choice you want to make sure that they can leave it and come back later. Time and again, customers have expressed how happy they are to be able to “sit back and think” without going through the entire shopping process again.

5: An Order View. The perfect customer is the one that stays on your site and makes multiple order. The best way to keep them doing this is to let them keep an eye on what’s already in the shopping cart. A shopping cart that stays open on the page the customer is viewing and lets them keep track of costs they’re racking up.

6: Compatibility with accounting software. Your shopping cart should be able to export information to whatever accounting program you use. This cuts accounting workloads in HALF and keeps inventory counts under control.

7: Data storage. Stored billing and shipping info is a convenience for most customers. More importantly (for you) customers who use this option intend to return for future business. This gives you a good way to track revenue and predict future sales.

8: 24-hour Helpline. Your online store is running 24/7. If there’s a glitch in your shopping cart you need it fixed a.s.a.p. One failed sale because of the shopping cart will likely mean the customer will never return.

9: On-site search tool. A versatile search tool will help your customers find what they want, even when they’re not sure of what they’re looking for.

10: Email capability. You’ve got the email addresses in the order forms. With the right shopping cart you can auto-send e-newsletters and special offers to your customers.

There are many other options for shopping carts you can use when creating a website, but making sure you get at least those 10 top features will land you with a system that will satisfy your needs as your online business expands. Whether you use an expensive service or pick up your own software program, think ahead to future needs, and don’t settle what just works for a small start-up.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

Can you make money online, through affiliate programs…

Major brand names and big-box retailers don’t seem like they need a lot of help advertising. But the most successful major businesses have found an amazing way of advertising that cuts their costs drastically. It’s called affiliate marketing.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing works like this: You launch a website. You get a company’s logo or banner placed on your web page—this is a link to their website. Somebody visits your website. Somebody notices the company’s link and clicks on it. They make a purchase from that link. You get a commission.

You haven’t done anything except provide the link. Easy money, right?

Here’s the basic setup:

  1. You find a product or service that’s in line with what you offer. For instance, if your website supports the yoga classes you offer, you could look for health supplements and homeopathic services. If you offer french cooking recipes you might look for gourmet chef small appliances or knives.
  2. Get a signed agreement with the company you’ll affiliate with.
  3. Add links to your web pages.
  4. Push site visitors toward those links through suggestions and recommendations.
  5. Collect commissions when your visitors visit the links and make purchases.

It sounds easy but it’s not.

First, you’ve got to talk affiliates into believing that they can make sales through your website. That means developing a website that generates traffic, and the sort of traffic that will be enticed by your affiliate links.

Second, and this is linked to the first, you’ve got to generate traffic. That in itself can be a full-time job. You’ve got to provide something of value and then back it up with user-friendly content. Your site visitors have to be “grabbed” long enough for them to notice the links, and they have to trust your recommendations enough to click on them.

Third, unless you’re looking for fly-by-night profits you’ve got to screen your affiliates. It’s dangerous to promote a company with a poor reputation and poor performance. Your site visitors won’t blame the company, they’ll blame YOU for recommending the company.

Fourth, quantity does NOT exceed quality. Get greedy and crowd your pages with affiliate links and you’ll drive traffic away from your site. Stick to one, at the most, 2 affiliate links per page to ensure that your site visitors respect your links and take the time to check them out.

Fifth, you’ve got to really promote your website to get the traffic you need. This means developing an email list and marketing your business on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and FlickR.

Sixth, your website needs to be constantly updated, and you need to monitor your affiliate income. You have to be ready to drop dead links and try to pick up more lively ones. This means doing your research and then convincing the top affiliate programs that you’re worthy of promoting their products.

Whether your main focus is on pushing your product or service, or you intend to generate income mainly through affiliate sales, this is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme. It actually takes a lot of work to turn affiliate marketing into profits. The key is how successful your website is. If you can get visitors to trust you and stop long enough to consider the links you provide, you’re going to make money.

Online Video Profits

How creating your own videos can put money in your pocket.

What draws people to the internet?

The reason most people go online is to GET INFORMATION. For many people time and attention spans limit what they’re willing to look through. Information needs to be presented in the most effective, to-the-point, easy to access format. For many people, this means video.

Online informational videos vs e-books.

E-books are a great way to get self-published and to sell information online. For many online visitors, however, videos are a quicker way to get the information they need. Many find videos easier to understand and quicker to learn from. Informational videos have these advantages:

  • Personalization. Videos allow you to “look your visitor in the eye” and speak one on one with them. You have the advantage of speaking expressively and demonstrating your trustworthiness.
  • Demonstration. With a video you can to walk your visitor through steps in a process. Replacing an instruction guide with “hands on” teaching, this is the preferred choice for many.
  • Speed and ease of publishing. It takes less time and effort to talk about something or create a physical demonstration than it does to write about it and go through the editing and publishing processes.

Is there a downside to informational videos?

An e-book is more likely to be accepted as a product that commands a price tag. Most expect to be able to pull up videos from Youtube for free, or find them as free inserts on other web pages.

How is money generated through informational videos?

There’s several ways your video can earn you income.

  • Selling a product you promote. A video can be your most powerful and economical advertising medium. You can use it as your how-to-use guide, but it can also be used to demonstrate the amazing things your product can do or produce.
  • Advertising revenue. You don’t even have to approach advertisers. Youtube will provide the ad and place it at the top of your video. You’ll earn 70% of the commission that’s generated from your views.
  • Embedded URLs that lead viewers to your website. A video can allow you to embed your website link in an inoffensive way that automatically drives traffic to you site.
  • Affiliate support. You can use videos to promote what your affiliated vendors are selling. You can also embed your affiliate links or advertising either in your video or alongside it.
  • Selling to educational sites. If you’ve got something to teach, you may hook up with a site that pays for educational videos.

With any other type of online message, your success will be based on delivering what your audience wants to see. In the case of the internet viewer that means a relevant, engaging message that gets straight the point and is clear and easy to understand. Dragging out your message to keep people viewing is likely going to have an opposite effect, so keep your videos brief and to the point.