Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Money making idea for Blogger users - plant your garden and weed.

Plant your blog garden and weed out the lookie-loo's which sprout.

You may have built up considerable PageRank through Blogger and other online blogs. But - the money is in having your own blog and bringing traffic to your own site. So having a WordPress blog makes sense (as SEO expert Dr. Andy Williams covers).

What to do?

Blog away on Word Press and then put the summary or enticing come-on snippet up on your Blogger page with all the links that are vital. You then follow the "rules" of blogging (short, pithy, frequent) and bring social media traffic to the site where you want them.

At that point, you start weeding the buyers and shoppers from the lookers/lurkers. Offer subscriptions, particularly paid subscriptions - probably at least one of each - in addition to outright offers and some sort of Auctiva deal about what auctions you are currently running.

You need seed for your garden - and then you can weed out the unprofitable ones.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some notes on eBay auctions and sales

Some notes of note - what I've found out recently from eBay.

You may have noticed a gap in my posts. Because I've been busy working on eBay selling stuff.

General strategy I've been using is to create and sell info products. Either my own or public domain books which align to my books.

These sell pretty well in general on eBay, but there is a learning curve to making these happen.

Analysis tools you are going to need:
  1. Get a copy of HammerTap - not the old "Deep Analysis" which is still floating around. This is a subscription service.
  2. Buy a lifetime subscription to Worldwide Brands to find your drop ship and wholesale suppliers. They do their own analysis and so this also then helps you.
  3. Auctiva has a tool called "Sellathon", which looks to be an interesting tool, giving you logs of who's looking at what and for how long. So you can then figure if its price or sales pitch driving them off. (I haven't gotten this yet, beyond the free trial, but am leaning in this direction - it's another monthly investment, while I don't have real returns from my earlier credit card dings.)
I did finally get (paid for, not found as a "free bonus") a very good PDF called "Simple Market Research", written by an un-named someone who used to work for Worldwide Brands as a researcher. It's simply written and very sensible. Here's a summary of useful tips:
  • Don't buy anything before you research first. Save up your money meanwhile to invest where you need to. Also means: keep your day job, but save for your dream job.
  • Real wholesalers and dropshippers don't charge monthly fees. Such fees mean these also-rans' business model is based on subscribers, not low prices and volume business. You are paying for the experience. (Worldwide Brands charges you a one-time hefty fee for access to their database - and then work to upsell you to other services, fair enough. This also keeps out the freebie-seekers, who aren't serious about really using their tools.)
  • You work from the dropshipper toward the sale, not "what's hot" and then back to who can supply you this product at a profit. What you are doing is finding a dropshipper in a viable area (lots of sales overall) and then figure if what they are offering actually moves well and you can make a profit at it.
  • Work from potential profit backwards, not from what you "love" to make money at. Reason being that you are selling, not buying. Successful selling is from a detached viewpoint - meaning the world won't cave in on you if no one buys your creation. Straight merchandising. ("Simple Market Research" has a free software tool which can help you figure out profit based on what the market is bringing and eBay fees, etc.) Lots of research to do here.
So you use the tools above to find what you can sell and what will make you profits.

Simple Market Research (SMR) has more on this area, in terms of selecting niches. You're going to have to roll up your sleeves and figure this out - working in areas you know to begin with, but also being willing to take on areas and become a mini-expert in them. (Like one guy found out all about portable air conditioners when he couldn't find decent data on them online. Now he sells them via affiliate links.)

I differ from SMR in that I say don't spend money on advertising to get your traffic unless you know this area (and are a bit of a nerd for this type of thing - some people aren't wired that way and can't get it to work for them). There is tons of ways to promote, especially through social media (which gets you top rankings on Google) without having to continually pay for people to come to your site. Less overhead, better traffic. eBay is one such promotion tool. Put loss leaders up on eBay and then get them over to your site, as well as sending them emails from your autoresponder.

Means you're going to have an ecommerce site sooner or later. You can make money on eBay, but the real deal is being able to cross-sell and up-sell that new client and turn them into returning clients. When they look for something in (niche) they look to you first.

Simple Steps to Finding a Profitable Product to Sell

1. Find an itch to scratch - like the air conditioner scene above, look for something that you need or you think people need.
2. Find a supplier for it - use Worldwide Brands to see if there is a wholesaler that can supply it. Save that supplier to your list (requires you buy their service).
3. Repeat 1-2 above until you have a list of probable suppliers for stuff you are interested in.
4. Take key items and look them up on HammerTap (another subscription) to see how their action sales agree with Worldwide Brands (who gives you analysis data which isn't just based on auctions).
5. Keep notes as you go - you are narrowing down the broad scene into just a few you can get started with. (When you auction more than 14 items at once, there's some sort of critical mass which takes over and your overall sales go up.)
6. Sign up with those dropshipping wholesalers to find out their prices.
7. Compare these with HammerTap to find out if you can sell these profitably. Means you are going to have to get all the eBay fees estimated, including final value fees, PayPal fees, plus any dropship fees that wholesaler has. You don't sell something that won't bring you any profit. Loss leaders are a form of promotion - we aren't there yet.
8. Now you can develop all the keywords you need for these, and build your sales page, etc.

This differs in sequence from SMR, in that I don't think that you need to find out a great deal about keywords unless you can prove that your product is going to make you money. Most of his use of keywords segues right into PPC advertising. I'd use keywords to write your sales copy and titles of your promo/web pages.

Simple sequence:
A. Find something that you can sell at a profit for someone else.
B. Figure out how to promote it.
C. Set it up to sell on a continuing basis.
D. Review sales and promotion; tweak to make more profitable.
E. Repeat A-D above and fill your ecommerce site with winners.

A) also means affiliates, not just wholesalers and dropshippers.
B) includes promoting through eBay itself, as well as social media and (ugh) PPC.
C) means you're going to have an ecommerce site and maybe even a brick-and-mortar storefront.
D) says you're going to find all about logs and metrics and analytics - plus be humble about your writing ability
E) means you're going to be an uproarious success.

As I can, I'll update these notes. One day, they'll probably become a book, but since the competition is so severe in this area, it's going to take far more homework before I commit much time to it. Right now, this research can help us both out.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Making Money on eBay - Online Marketing continues

The trick to making money on eBay is to continue your online marketing regardless.

Long time, no blog.

When we last left our hero, he was head-down/bum-up figuring out eBay and selling on this.

Some basics distilled during this:
  1. eBay is a silo and they don't want you selling outside their site. Simple.
  2. The big money is being able to sell outside your eBay site. (Although you can make millions yearly selling on eBay itself.)
  3. eBay, then, is great for test marketing and perfecting your sales pitch -- at least to shoppers and buyers.
Now, the bloom is off the rose with my work at Bright Builders. Had considerable problem with their "BrightLister" program. Found a free service from Auctiva which will schedule my sales and also host my images for free. Bright Builders has some excellent resources on their subscription site. But their main scene is selling you ecommerce hosting.

After BrightLister quit working (it was multiple scheduling for me so that I was adding to my own competition), I also found that their pricing is just average for the industry. I can get my domain names cheaper and hook them up myself. If you are a geek like me, then you know how to do all this ecommerce stuff without having to pay someone $30-60 per month on top of their training fee.

And you do get a version of HammerTap - which is the key vital tool to the whole thing. HammerTap alone is nearly that cost above. However, if you're already paying for the other, then you don't need to pay twice. It is the BrightLister failure which really set me down this line.

That training fee is what's keeping me going. Essentially, it comes down to having access to their training site and also biweekly conferences. You might say that the amount of conferences - about 12 - come to nearly $500 per 15-minute period.

Worth it if you don't know anything, and frustrating if you do.

Jury is still out on what to do with all this.

But I am really motivated to pay off that training fee and all my other bills.

Turns out I only need a few sales every week to replace my 20-hour week day job. Something like $30 per day - which would be 6 sales of $5 items. Today I've gotten four so far.

Plan is to get around 18-24 regular sellers, which would then get me around $1K per week. This pays off my bills within this year. I then convert over to a corporation and save my taxes for the year. More money, more problems...

Now that is about 90 CD's per week - but I'll be getting these dropshipped and only need to send off that many emails per week, just a few hours' work. Not bad. If I spend 20 hours per week sending emails, then I'm 5xing my income and having to work at something I like (better) and not have to break my back or put up with all sorts of inane nonsense during that time.

So - even despite the above, it's working - I'm on my way...

- - - -

Update: 10/18/08

What Bright Builders (brightbuilders.com) promised never materialized. Their training has some roots in Napoleon Hill, but the missed the one point he covers in Law of Success - which is to over-deliver and ensure the value of your contribution out is greater than the income you derive from that service.

I was surprised that after 24 weeks, my training was over and I was no closer to making that $6K back than when I started.

A full rundown of how you can get that same training and tools they offer for free is found in more detail at http://tinyurl.com/666jlr