Friday, February 27, 2009

Small Business Marketing Insight Tip #8 - How much is enough ecommerce leverage?

(photocredit: annia316)

How much do you really need? Depends...

Marketing is a numbers scene. Really. Look, I've told you about the Bell Curve and Leverage. They work together.

You're going to need several hundred products offered at a price which will give you, on average, your targetted weekly income. Figure about 300-500 products, selling for $10-$30 or more.

Reason? Bell Curve. About 3-5% of your customers will buy. About 20% of those products will be producing the bulk of your sales.

500 products - 25 (5%) might sell in a given week (although 2% is more common). That will net you $200-$500 per week, @ $20/product.

Seriously. Do the math.

Does this shoot you in the get-rich-quick foot? You bet it does. How long does it take to set up several hundred products? Weeks, if not months. Do most people do this? No.

What are the exceptions to this?
  • Selling very high-end products to an exclusive clientele. (Radiological measuring devices to researchers.) Only have to sell one every year. But you have to really, really know your customers. Also means your operating budget runs by swings - as do your taxes if you happen to sell more than one in any fiscal year.
  • Having a loyal clientele which you service very, very closely. Like MAC buyers.
What do those two exceptions have in common? Having all your eggs in one basket and watching that basket very carefully.

But if you are just starting out - the trick is to build up a large inventory and track these to make sure you don't have duds in them.

What you must do at every chance is to get subscribers and take very good care of them as clients - not customers.

The numbers game tells you what the average herd/tribe "customer" reacts. But what you want to do is to get these turned into clients and have them buy on a repeating basis.

Let's look at these numbers again, saying that you have 2% turned into subscribers every week:
  1. First week - 3% buy, 2% are now subscribing regulars.
  2. Second week - 3% buy, plus the 2% from the week before = 5%. Another 2% added as clients.
  3. Third week - 3% buy, plus the 4% = 7%. You now add another 2% as clients.
  4. And so on.
So, your income in week one is, say, $300. Week two - $500. Week three - $700.

Does this work out exactly like that? No. But having recurring customers does make your income go up - and is the only reason that people really get more than 2-5% on any offering, any sales page.

There is the odd "fluke" where a person gets 50% conversion from a single product - but what did that person do? He found a niche of clients who buy anything having to do with a certain product or brand. He tapped into an already converted body of clients - which someone else did all the work to create. Fads are made of this. What kills a fad? Lots of salespeople climbing in and poorly servicing the existing clients.

Too simple? Maybe.

My own research into people who don't make it in Internet Marketing and small business tends to show this simple pattern. Would you shop in a store if it only stocked one type of bread, one brand of cereal and one fruit? Big store - three products. Nope - stores know this, especially the Big-Box boys, like Wal-Mart.

Does the reverse work? Sure - a great bicycle store has what? Lots and lots of different brands of bicycles AND a great bicycle repairman - plus a policy that if you bought it here, repair parts are at cost and labor is free. (And would you like a ringing bell and larger tires to go with that?)

So, starting out, what do you need to do? Get tons of products, great sales pages for each one, everyone tied to their appropriate niche keywords. Make sure that people can subscribe to your site in a dozen ways, especially through email. And then really, really service that client you have and bend over backwards to make sure they are completely satisfied with what they have gotten from you in the past.

But the guys who expect to get rich quick are doing what? Putting up some expensive PPC ads for just a few products and quitting after they don't sell well. You can lose your shirt on eBay just in their fees - if you don't know what you are doing. But the guys who have made it to Power Seller status (which is a measly $1K per month - not enough to live on) are selling hundreds of items - not just a few. They can't sell a hundred of one item every week at any decent price. (But telemarketer scammers know this and sell eBay training to people who can't make that training work - and oh, yes, these scammers tell people to buy a lot of PPC ads...)

To be successful on eBay, you have to offer hundreds of items and expect that, by averages, you will get maybe 30-50% successful auctions every week. After fees and other expenses, you should eventually start to make a living off eBay. But track your other costs - how long does it take to track, return email, package, ship, give feedback on a couple hundred diverse items? That's right - if you're lucky, you'll get them all done in time to start the next week. You'll have to have time to research existing items and always hunt for new ones. Expensive in terms of time and money overheads.

In short, making a living on eBay is just as much hard work as it is anywhere else.

The people who don't want to work hard don't make it. They need the government subsidies and factory jobs - lots of structure. Entrepreneurs are driven to succeed by fulfilling their own burning desires - they are doing what they really want to be doing in life. And so they become their own boss and sell their products to the people who work in factories and get paid for spending their lives there.

Only 3% make it. That's the way its set up. And the way it's always been, no matter what type of government, what party is in charge, dictatorship, democracy, anarchy. The only thing different is that people can make a lot more money in a free-market economy. More people don't become outrageously successful, but the overall standard and quality of living is much higher.

Bell Curve. Leverage.

Use them and win.

And - oh, yes - Follow your Bliss.

- - - -

Disagree? Post your comment, please. I'd love to hear from you.

- - - -
Update - a few minutes later:

Oh - found a hole in this math. If you have one customer - they have to look at all 500 items. Won't happen.

This is figuring that you have 100 customers looking at each of your 500 products.

Obviously, if you only have a handful of viewers, you'll have 3% of a handful of conversions - maybe one a month. 12 sales a year won't pay your bandwidth.

That's why PPC works, somewhat. It can get people to your site - and has a much wider audience than you could find on your own.

But, say you put a video up for each product on YouTube, or a presentation up on slideshare (even better). Means you can get hundreds of people looking at your stuff.

That's why eBay is used by scammers to get people hooked. Millions of potential customers searching for stuff - they are mostly pre-sold already. Easy to get started. However, the people fail when they build their own site and they find that they can't 1) get people to their site in any volume, and 2) get any decent percentage of those few to convert.

The scam training says to a) get your buyers to come to your site to buy there (which ebay really discourages), or b) set up an (expensive) eBay storefront.

The one success I've seen is to sell a CD on eBay which sends the person online and gets their email with a free subscription to a "members only" site - and that follows the above scenario I laid out. Get your customers converted over to subscribers. And use eBay as a lead generation site. The more of these CD's you sell (this was burned on a local machine with a paste-on label and mailed regular first class - all for $14, an overhead of maybe a buck-fifty. And if they had offerered me more than just what-goes-for-average service I might have kept up subscribing to their emails.)

[And note, the scammers don't tell you how to get subscribers to your email autoresponder. Or anything about RSS subscriptions or social media subscribers...]

And that is the crux of Internet Marketing. It's a numbers game - and those who are in the top positions of the search engines get the bulk of the traffic. The other option is to pay high eBay and PPC fees so people will come and buy your stuff. Your choice - spend more time getting top SERPs or pay more money to get their faster.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Small Business Marketing Insight Tip #7 - Wordpress, SEO, and technical hocus-pocus

(photo credit: augustinrouchon)
All things build in Wordpress SEO marketing - especially for small businesses.

(Warning: technical search engine optimization verbiage ahead - not for the faint at heart...)

Your blog has to have good content, but it also reflects your business plan. Like the Russian nested dolls (matryoshka's), everything builds around the earlier one.

This is one thing that has kept me from really building out my own sites, that I kept finding another doll inside the one I was working with. Right now, I think I'm close to the smallest possible one.

Now: follow this chain of thought -
  • Each product line you have - and we are talking mostly info products, although this is applicable widely - should have it's own mail-list (autoresponder series, or A/R).
  • These product lines build into your product funnel. Cross-sales and up-sales. "Would you like fries with that?" and "Supersize your order?"
  • As well, if you can set up mini-sites for each product line, that drives both SEO/linklove and keeps product lines distinct.
However, if you have a single Wordpress-driven site (and this is currently the best and easiest way to build sites), you have a common template for all pages. Means you can only promote a single A/R opt-in - or nothing.

The solution is to do custom templates and set up every category as a subdomain.

This essentially gives you a mini-site, since (for the time being) Google classifies each subdomain as it's own domain. Of course, they are all on the same IP address, so you won't get the real linklove you deserve - but organizationally, this starts to un-nest those dolls... Here's how it works:
  1. Get a plug-in to make your categories into subdomains (there are several out there - I'm still evaluating them).
  2. Set a custom template for each one. Means you can put an opt-in form for that product on that set of pages.
  3. Your category pages then talk about a specific product line - in my case, it's best seller famous authors who have written self-improvement books. (At that link, you may find I haven't implemented this yet - life itself is a work in progress, and this blog is to brief you on the news as I find it - excuses, excuses. )
Now, this doesn't mean you can't have a static landing page. Just write a static page with your sales pitch and then set it to be a daughter page (junior) to another page on the site. (I'm not a big fan of landing pages, since I tell people how they work on my marketing sites. I then have to be far more honest and less hype-driven. Once you know how sales pages work, they are ineffective - but there is always the Collier method...)

Your external articles, remote blogs, other video content - all these can now link to your subdomain - or within that to a specific post. Or they can link to a specific static page, which then links to that subdomain (which might even get you more linklove).

The idea is to make it as simple as possible for your viewers and for the search engines.

Search engines see:

Because you set your Wordpress Blog to lay out the category and post title in the permalinks - and your categories become the subdomain.

With me so far? OK, so I need to do a complete write up on this at some point with sequences and everything - and as I re-release the Online Millionaire Plan (under different title, same brand), I'll get this out to you. (And as you subscribe to this blog, you can be the first to know...)

But your categories are your main keywords, right? How do you know that you have the right categories before you make them into subdomains?

Next point: supercharging your keyword lists with RankTracker

(That link above tells you briefly how and why to use RankTracker - and I really probably owe you a video on this.)

I was messing around a couple of days ago and found how to pick your categories when you're looking for keywords.

Simply, I was wanting to see how usable two keywords were. However, they gave me tons of new stuff. And within that new stuff were more categories I could use.

Essentially, you look up your keywords in the Google Adwords KeywordExternalTool, then get these text files and drop them into RankTracker. This program then finds your KEI - you then take anything above 100 and run it through Suggest->WordTracker and find the related high KEI terms. Copy/paste these into a spreadsheet and sort - at least that was the earlier method.

Now: watch closely...
  • Taking that whole set of keywords once you're finished finding keywords with the WordTracker step - now, take out your low KEI and low traffic keywords. Save your work.
  • Copy/paste the whole long link into your spreadsheet (I use OpenOffice - your mileage may vary.)
  • At this point, you can search within OpenOffice for keywords ("find all") and then assign a background color to that series of KW. Makes your spreadsheet look very nice and easy to see relative values of keywords to each other - even if they are disrelated. But hang on there...
  • Sort by competition and insert a row between everything above 3mil. Color it something distinctive. Now sort everything above that color bar by KEI, first by number of keywords in ascending order and then by KEI in descending order. What you wind up with is high KEI terms which have too much competition. (You have the spreadsheet do both sorts at once, so your 1-word KW's show up in KEI order above you 2-word KW's, etc.)
  • Now, take each of those terms at it's base ("biblical" and "bible" have "bibl" as a base, "christian" and "christ" have "christ" as a base) and search for these in RankTracker. This gives you all related terms which a search engine will also find.
  • Copy/paste your search results into a second sheet on the spreadsheet - one after the one you put the entire list on. Rename it with the keyword base you just searched for.
  • Do this for all the top KEI single-term keywords you found. Each base term gets its own page on the spreadsheet - just add more until you have everything you want.
  • Then sort out the pages by competition, then by KEI and you'll have what you want. (See the note below on this sequence if this is new to you.)

And you now have your publishing sequence. Work from the top down with articles and blog posts, etc. and you'll then take over that high KEI single term keyword as you take over the smaller niches.


Where you find a high KEI search term that has few subordinate long-tail niches, you can skip it. Example: "Spirituality" search gives "healing", which gives "crystals". Related terms also gives you "crystal meth", "Crystal Gunn" (porn star) and "crystal balls". While crystal ranks high, if you take this down to only healing-related keyword phrases, you have little to work with. If you want to talk about crystal balls, there's a lot to talk about. Otherwise, no. "Bible" on the other hand, is massive with ripe keyword phrase niches. (But it's been around some 4,000 years...)

So your base terms (tidied up for your viewers - add the 'e' back to Bible) become your categories. Your long-tail niche keywords are the basis for your post names. As your categories become your subdomains - Google then thinks this particular (subdomain) site is all about Bibles, since every post on it discusses some other aspect about Bibles. And linklove is spread all around, since you will have pagerank just for that subdomain - while your crosslinks then share it with your ecommerce site.

And as you do your keyword searches, you'll find more categories - which can simply be added to your site, and they can be turned into subdomains, etc. etc.

That's a bit thick above, but when you do it for yourself, it becomes very clear. (Yes, I need to do a video on this, don't I? Well, as I can get to it, I will - look for the revamped Online Millionaire Plan coming to an embedded YouTube video near you...)

The point is that now you don't have to guess at what categories to use. You simply go after the top keywords by publishing effective content, properly optimized, which takes over the long-tail niche phrases. These then start ranking you higher for the high-competition, shorter keywords.

And since your subdomain is (currently) given the importance of a site, you are now creating a niche site just for that exact keyword. Google will love you for this one.

With separate templates for each subdomain, you can tweak up these subdomains to actually look like different sites - like mini-sites - and have them all crosslink neatly.

(And if you really wanted to take this right on out, you'd set up WordPress MU for a multi-user environment - and then you'd really have separate mini-sites for each product. But your maintenence costs - in terms of time - really expands with this idea. By having everything on one blog, you can then simply add more content without having to log into each blog, etc. I guess you could do it as an administrator...)

Subdomains with custom templates look to be the most elegant application at this point.
  • Linklove - Google treats these as separate domains, each cross-linking, so greater trusted authority for each.
  • Segregated product lines - so you can actually maintain several diverse lines without conflict. Someone who knows all about Dogs isn't expected to know much about Bibles.
  • Customized user experience, so you can tweak each subdomain template to get better conversions without changing your main template.

But you still have to surf each subdomain as a newby user and see that the way you have your template makes sense for that subject area - "sense" is what the viewer expects to find.

- - - -

Setting up your spreadsheet to make the best of your keywords from RankTracker.

Here's the sequence:
  1. You have your spreadsheet and RankTracker open, with your keywords searched the way you like them.
  2. In RankTracker, delete any keywords less than 2.0 in KEI and less than 20 in traffic. Don't delete anything else.
  3. Now, copy and paste the entire KW list into your spreadsheet (the registered/paid version of RankTracker allows you to do this...)
  4. Sort your whole list on the spreadsheet by competition, ascending (biggest toward the bottom).
  5. Insert a (colored) row between everything above 4 million.
  6. Select and sort only that bottom section by KEI, descending (biggest toward the top).
  7. Sort everything above that bar by traffic, descending.
  8. Insert a row at less than 100, and then color it.
  9. Sort this middle section by KEI, descending.
  10. Now, sort the top section by KEI, descending.
What do these sections mean?
  • Bottom section gives you your top keywords to take over.
  • Top section gives you the sequence of content to publish to do that.
  • Middle section is full of "less profitable niches" as traffic is lower - so you have to write more content to get the same amount of total traffic. But competition is waaaay lower, so...
Why these arbitrary numbers?
  • About 1 percent of sites are properly/accidentally optimized. By taking 3 million competing , you will wind up (roughly) with 30K pages to compete with (WordTracker says that's a niche). Analyzing the top 10 out of these sites will give you what you need to do to compete with/out-create them effectively.
  • You want at least 100 per day coming to your site. But the smaller traffic niches also usually have much lower competition - so if you can crank out pages, you'll be able to do five times the pages and have many times greater response. (Some niches actually have no sites optimized for them - easy pickings.)
  • If it doesn't have KEI above 2.0 or better, it's not worth your time. Some say 3.0 - but I've found that this throws out some hot sub-niches and can really limit your ideas for content.
  • You can pick any numbers you want, though. Try them out and you'll see what works best for you.
- - - -

OK? Well, I've got to run - a lot of content to produce on top of everything I'd already scoped out.

If you have a better idea or just think this is crock - feel free to comment...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hot Search Engine Keyword Niche Tip - Getting keywords from news

Getting hot keyword niches from the news

Just a fast one for you. I outlined a way to get hot keywords from the news before.

But this was limited, since I haven't found a good keyword extraction tool. Most give you gobble-de-gook, which you then have to sort through.

Today, I tried a different approach:
  1. On a top website (I tried US News and World Report), look for their most visited and most emailed stories.
  2. Scrape these and drop into Google's Adword KeywordExternalTool.
  3. Now you have the synonyms which are a gold mine.
  4. Get the text file and drop into RankTracker to find the KEI.
  5. Take off the low KEI (>2.0) and high competition (>3 or 4 million).
  6. What's left is the top niches of the week.
I wound up with about 8 decent keywords (out of 190+ that Google gave me).

However, when you run these through Web1Marketing's Keyword Competition Estimator for exact phrase, intitle, and inanchor - you wind up finding that these terms may or may not be really all that hot.

Exact competition for three of them still wound up with over 120K in competition -and this is real competition.

Next step, if you have a product or a pressing interest, would then be to take those 8 terms and through them through Google's tool again to find the sub niches. And you can do them one at a time, since you only get 200 terms each time you try.

Then, take the sub niches and promote to them - which will eventually get you top standing in these 8 high KEI terms we just found.

Now for my use, this is just fine - since I'll then use these phrases as inspiration for cartoons. But I'd be better off also going that route, because social media can get buried as well. And this digresses.

But really for me, I'd probably do something like log into FriendFeed and take their most popular stories of the week and run those titles through Google/Ranktracker/Web1Marketing - because these are a bit more real than the news. (Propeller or NewsVine look most promising at this point - as some of this other doesn't look to be all that useful. Haven't tested it, though.)

Anyway, it's interesting to see what the Google Adwords Tool can do...

Moving On - Life after Small Business Online Marketing

(photo credit: mikebaird)
Even small business online marketing can come to an end.

So happy and sad now - it's time to move along.

That last post of mine really struck a cord with me. Like it did the first time.

"What would you be doing in life if you didn't really have to be doing something someone else wanted you to be doing?" is another phrase for it.

If you live life through thinking that you "owe" it to someone to do something or other, then the shoe is on the wrong foot. Sure, you do things always just to be helpful and make sure people are finding the best ways for themselves.

But if the help you're giving doesn't really ring your own gong - who are you doing it for?

Another one: What really winds up your own clock?

What have you always wanted to be, do, or accomplish, or achieve?

What activities do you work at which always cheer you up?

What activities do you do which always cheer others up around you - and keep them that way?

What are your own unique skill-sets which set you apart?

And - is there one reply which fits all of these above questions?

If there is - then how could you do this for the rest of your life? Would you find yourself completely happy doing it from here on out?

Now, if these above questions strike a chord - then refer to that earlier post on finding your own passion/purpose/lifestream and go right out and start taking the steps to do this.

That's what I'm going to do.

So this blog now will start dropping from my priorities - as I've really already said everything you need to get going with - if you just read these 169 posts, along with the 55 post of An Online Millionaire Plan - the blog and the few volumes of An Online Millionaire Plan - the book series.

I've laid out more there than anyone else has in one spot, believe me.

And here's the offer, if you find this stuff useful and want to use this stuff to create your own brand of marketing - contact me via Things can be worked out. I've done everything I needed to on this and just want to turn it all over. Sure, I thought that I could help a lot of people out by laying out how this could be done and help them find new jobs and so on - but really, my own medicine tastes best.

What am I off to do?

Actually, besides farming, I'm going to draw cartoons and write childrens' stories. My idea of fun.

Sure, I've got a lot of studying to do now, but heck, that's nothing new. The bulk of my work (how people think, plus how to get them to buy your stuff) is behind me. Now it's really down hill.

Wish me luck - I've already done the same for you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Small Business Marketing Insight Tip #6 - The reason you're here and what keeps you going

(photo credit: piccadillywilson)
What passion or purpose drives you to succeed in your small business?

Whatever keeps you up at night, what you think about every spare moment, what makes you smile at odd hours - this is the "burning desire" (as Napoleon Hill put it) that actually makes your success. Ignoring, combating, or resisting this line of thought actually causes the stress in your life, affects your health, makes your life miserable.

No, it's not your spouse, your in-laws, your current boss, or the government tax bureau that is causing you all the anxiety and lack of sleep.

You just need to get on with what you should have been doing all the time.

And you know what this is. No "down deep" about it. It's what's been nagging you in both good times and bad. Think about it even slightly - and you'll see that there is something you'd really like to be doing.

A cousin of mine once said to me, "If you didn't have to do anything at all for anybody, what would you do for a living?"

Oddly, I wound up doing just that - some 30 years later. But I quit listening to the "now I'm supposed to's" coming from everyone and their brother/sister/uncle/aunt. I started just doing what I wanted to do. It meant quitting my job, relocating half-way across the country, taking up a new life in my home town and a series of entry-level jobs, getting several degrees (at least until I found out it wouldn't get my anything but stuck in another rut-job) - until I finally got the freelance job of my dream, which I'm doing right now. Plenty of time to figure out and implement a plan to make the fortune I've always wanted and deserved - but never took the necessary steps to achieve.

You can, too.

No, you don't have to be as drastic as I was. I tell people to keep their day jobs now. Just figure out where you want to really be and start taking all that extra time you currently spend watching TV - and start your own business, the one you've really wanted. You might even be doing it as a hobby right now.

  1. Whatever it is, work out a simple plan to really operate it as a business.
  2. Draw up a schedule you can stick to - those are your business hours, even if it's only at night or only on the weekend, or a mix of both.
  3. Set up an area which is only used for that business. Basement, garage, den - whatever. Don't do anything else except business there. Don't allow anyone to use it for anything else.
  4. Work up metrics you can keep that will track your progress toward your goal. Just like you have to do at your day job - or if you're retired, like you used to have to keep. These you'll keep for yourself - they'll mean a whole lot more, too.
  5. That means you are going to have to set some annual and quarterly goals for yourself. The metrics will show you if you are getting close to that dream of yours.
  6. Now, get that product you can make or create or sell for someone else - and get busy getting your production created and sold. Even if on eBay. Get some income coming in.
  7. Then work up what you have to do in order to keep this going and expand it so you can actually make a living at it. Be realistic. You'll have to decide what to give up temporarily or altogether in order to create the success you've always wanted.
  8. But ensure you save time out of that schedule for yourself and your family. This isn't another drudgery. It's a new life. So keep your new life livable.
  9. And keep these plans to yourself - unless your spouse is going to help you in the business and you both share the same dream together. Ignore the catcalls at work. Just go on with that great, calm, cheerful expectancy that everything is working out just as it should. (Like the old phrase, "Smile, it makes them wonder what you've been up to.")


Great. See you at the top...

PS. And if you are already working at that dream job, or have your own business and are a going success - Fantastic. Now, how about helping someone else kick over their traces and start living their own dream?

Small Business Marketing Mix: How to get your startup profitable

(photo credit: emdot)
Marketing Mix: How to get your startup small business (more) profitable.

I've covered before how to leverage your product income, as well as the real basics to economics. But unfortunately, I can't find these links for you.

Let's recap (quickly):
I. Economics consists of four inter-related functions, not just two as is taught -
  1. Supply
  2. Demand
  3. Information
  4. Service
  • Supply means having a valuable product, but also covers how much competition you have - if you are selling a commodity product (and so have to compete on price as well.)
  • Demand - is anyone actually looking for your product and how much can they afford to pay for it.
  • Information - are you actively promoting this product so people can find you?
  • Service - are you delivering high quality, or schlock?

These inter-relate: More promotion will increase demand. Low-quality will decrease demand - and if you are selling tainted peanut butter, can decrease supply as well. Non- or slow-delivery will decrease demand for your product. Information: An incorrect price (too high or too low) can affect demand.

Lately, I found there are some other terms floating around, which also describe and actually combine economics and leverage - called Marketing Mix. While I have to do another post to actually define this in non-gobbledygook language, you can see that these four economic principles above are actually a very workable description of how to set up your own marketing mix.

II. Income Leverage - Most marketing is based on simple math - and is a numbers game. Some relevant facts:
Your profit (or any retailer) is dependent on a simple formula:
Leveraged Sales - Overhead
- or -
(Products x Sales x Outlets) - Overhead

  • Products: Number of products you are offering.
  • Sales: Number of sales you get per week or per day.
  • Outlets: Do you only have one website?
  • Overhead: Cost of doing business (payroll, webhosting, taxes).
  • When you are selling one product per week on one site, you have a leverage of 1.
  • If you increase the volume of that products sales to 100 per week on that website, you have a leverage of 100.
  • When you routinely sell 20 products 100 times per week - this increases to 2,000.
  • If you get 100 affiliates selling your product, your leverage is now 200,000.
Now subtract your overhead and you'll see that a brick-and-mortar store selling one product per week will have to sell a very expensive product to cover it's costs. This would be a high-end luxury car, or an expensive dress or suit. If you are selling one product on the web, you only have to cover your item cost, shipping, plus your web host. Online is obviously cheaper.

Sell an info product which is instantly delivered and is created digitally when it is sold - and your overhead is mostly just your web host cost.

However, when you use affiliates to sell your stuff and give away 50% of your sales price as a commission, then you are trading half your profit on those sales - which you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. So if you sell 2,000 info products yourself at $20 each, that's $40,000 profit. If you get 100 affiliates to sell them at half price, you just increased your profit by $200,000. But you didn't have to do anything except set up your affiliate sales to pay their commission after you delivered the product. $160,000 increase in profit over doing it all yourself.

Now, here's the Marketing Mix.

That post on the bell curve above covers why you want to move over to subscribers. Your conversion rate goes up from an average 2-3% upwards to above 50% or more.

This means that every time you add a new product to your shopping cart (and promote it to your list), you aren't just increasing your leverage value by 1 or 1,000 - you are also increasing it by a percentage of the number of people on your list. So the new formula becomes:
([Products x Sales x Outlets] x Subscribed Clients) - Overhead = Profit

And guess what - your affiliate sales outlets also have lists. So if you tell them about your new product (and send them one so they can see how good it is), then this can take your profits into a completely new range.

Assuming 50% of the subscribers buy - and say cumulative you have about 100,000 subscribed clients between you and your affiliates - so take a new $20 product and figure that on release day, you'll have about $20 x 50,000 = $100,000+ profit in about 24-48 hours.

And now you see how Rich Sheflin, Jack Humphrey, and some of these big-name marketing guys can rake in the dough by simply releasing a new product 5 or 6 times per year. All info products and mostly sheer profit. The rest of the time, they sell their "velvet rope" subscriptions so people can have "exclusive" access to their new products (and almost guarantee they will buy them at a "discount" in advance of the sales date). Humphrey used to sell a subscription to over 3,000 people at around $90 per month. A clean $3.24M income - and he worked hard to make sure those people got good value for that money, plus was able to afford a small crew working to provide that value. (A couple of $50,000 yearly salaried programmers wouldn't take too much of a bite out, would it? Or give them a percentage of the profit instead - keeps them looking to see how they could improve things to increase monthly, quarterly, and annual profit...)

Do the numbers on that: $100,000 6 times a year = $600K. Add in the subscriber monthly fees - and you get nearly $4 million in gross income per year. Overhead might run a quarter of that or less, so you have about $3mil profit every year. Not that this happens overnight, but certainly it is possible - as outlined above.

Now, there are a lot more details to this. And I hope to go into these in later posts, time and inspiration permitting...

III. Putting this into use for yourself or your company:

For the small business owner, or someone considering a start up, this means a couple of things to increase your profits:
  1. Keep adding quality products every week (that's 50 or so additional products per year!)
  2. Continue promotions and add to these so more people can find your site.
  3. Get all possible new and existing customers to sign up for your mailing list.
  4. Get your new products up on affiliate sites as quickly as possible.

Good Hunting - and good profits!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Natural SEO Tips - Keyword selection the easy way

(photo credit: .Bala)
Getting on your Natural SEO highway with easy keyword selection

Natural SEO really means finding what people are looking for/talking about and then putting an offer in front of them that's a real solution or improvement to their situation. Highways go somewhere - but with a map or not, you have to pick where you are going to travel before you get in the car and start driving.

I've covered before about using Ranktracker to find you top keywords cheaply and quickly.

In that method, I tell you to search for your keywords and then dump them into a spreadsheet so you can organize them better.

Just to recap how you organize these in that spreadsheet:
  1. Remove anything with a KEI (Keyword Efficiency Index) less than 2.0 or traffic less than 20.
  2. Sort by competition (low at top to high at bottom)and insert a row at about 3 million.
  3. Now, sort the fields above by traffic (high to low) and then insert a row at about 100.
  4. You now have three sections to your spreadsheet. Sort each of these separately by KEI, high to low.
This refines what I've laid out earlier.

Your first section is your prime search engine marketing niches. Not too much competition (in real terms, about 1 percent of your traffic on average is going to be anywhere near effectively optimized - and with social media promotion, you can quickly rise to the top of a 30K field) and sufficient traffic to make it worth your while.

Second section is the small niches which might add up to decent traffic at some point. You'll see here that the competition for these is much, much smaller. But if you have 20 visitors per keyword, you are going to need to keep up at least 5 niches in order to accumulate 100 visitors weekly. The trade off for lower competition is you have to invest more content.

Third section is the high KEI, high competition terms. Too much traffic to make headway with directly. But you target these by taking the smaller niches on one, by one.

How this works:

Once you've done many, many researches using Google Adwords KeywordExternalTool and RankTracker, you've now saved a lot of various terms for your product. All these keywords are somehow applicable to what you're targeting as a product. Take all these terms from these various spreadsheets and copy just the terms, pasting them back into RankTracker.

Do a new KEI update. Take anything over 100 and run through WordTracker Suggest (inside RankTracker) for any related terms. Now, weed out the obviously inapplicable terms while you still have them in RankTracker (I really have to do a video to show you how easy this is) and then copy the whole data set over into a new spreadsheet (or a new page on that spreadsheet).

Organize them into the three sections above.

Using your "Find" function, go down to the bottom section and start looking for the one- and two-term keywords with high KEI (and too much competition) - put that term into your Find and "Find All" occurances of that term. This will highlight all your niche phrases that contain that keyword. Here you can turn all these cells some light pastel color background to set them apart. (I'm doing this in OpenOffice, your mileage may vary in MSWord.)

Do the same for what you see as base keywords which are showing up in the two sections above. You'll probably have three to five base keywords which repeat several times in the sections above them.

Why you are selecting these is to figure out which niches you are going to write content for first. As you write killer link-bait for each of these long-tail niches and swamp the competition for that niche, you then start rising much higher for that Short Head keyword with all the competition sites.

This of course means that you are keeping in all the other basics of SEO, such as including your keyword phrase in title, headings, alt tags, and links.

Using these tools can actually start laying out how to approach your marketing - and make it easy in the process. Because you can basically ignore the items (at least for now) in that list which are great KEI, but don't add up to taking over a Short Head keyword.

How I found this was because I didn't feel I really had enough descriptive keywords for the product I was about to launch. But I had lots of spreadsheets laying around my hard-drive - so I gathered these up and ran them through the above sequences. By pushing all my keyword lists into one location, I could then talk about the same subject through different viewpoint - each content piece now designed to take over a niche keyword. (When do you quit writing on a specific long tail keyword phrase? When you run out of content, or your articles start taking more than one place in the SERPs, ie. you have achieved the top of that competition slot.)

Now I can lay out my publishing schedule and start creating the link-bait. (Means the next step will be to adjust my feed aggregators in order to get the precise data I need to create that content.)

You only probably have to do this once. But I imagine you will want to run this list through about once per quarter to make sure the KEI is steady - and to take advantage of seasonal swings. If you can find trends (Google Trends, Google Insight) for these long tail keyword phrases, consider yourself lucky. My experience is that they mostly won't show up, except for base keywords.

(And if you wanted to get real fancy, you'd copy these spreadsheets into a database so that you could start checking trends on these long-tail keywords - because they have such low traffic and competition that Google isn't going to show these very clearly, if at all. But databases are real left-brained and we don't need to go there to get started simply.)

Hope this helps you on your Natural SEO keyword highway.

And if you have a better route, or an easier way to find these - comment away...

Small Business Marketing Insight Tip #5 - How to get started at all.

(photocredit: kapungo)
Starting a Small Business Online:
You have to start by picking out a basket to put your eggs in.

Trite (but true) aphorisms:
  • One always learns from his mistakes.
  • And as well, hindsight is 20-20.
  • Thirdly, what you don't take care of in the beginning can set you back to the beginning.
Or you'll seem to think that. But it's not time to get depressed about things. Take stock of your resources and you'll find that you've been learning all the time. And are now in a much better condition to get really going. This next time will be faster.

I recently found myself back at doing what I should have done to begin with. However, I didn't know it at the time. The reason my sales aren't taking off is that I never set up a proper back end (terminal), followed by a regular runway, and using a definite flight plan.

The steps are simply in this sequence:
  1. A proper back end first consists of having something valuable to offer.
  2. Next, you set up a way to exchange for this - either affiliate sales, or dropshipping, or ecommerce.
  3. Then, you promote this all over the place. So people can find your valuable offer and take you up on it.
  4. And all of this is before you quit your day job.
Nothing new, perhaps. But here is something - and take this to heart:

You settle on one valuable item and
get that really moving before
you expand to another.

Sure, if it doesn't work out, then fine - start researching and picking out another. Now that you know what reasearch you need to do, the second one will be easier.

Practically, pick out your basket - one basket - and then get some eggs into it. And watch those eggs real closely

But the basket comes before the eggs (figuring that the chicken is around there somewhere - but let's not go there...) Basket first.

A. What is something valuable that you can offer to people who will exchange something with you for them?

Now, go and find out all about that item and what people think about it. Find your keywords, find your delivery methods, find out the demographics who will buy or subscribe to it. Get all this nailed down.

B. Next, figure out your delivery system. If this is an info product, figure out how you can offer it online and deliver it at very low cost - usually, this is an ecommerce site of some sort. If someone else already has that product, maybe you promote and sell it as an affiliate. Or you sel it directly and they dropship it for you. Or you buy in bulk, warehouse, and ship it yourself.

C. Third is to figure out how to promote it. Nowadays, this is best done through social media - a blog, usually - and also posted to the winds through bookmarking sites, etc. Some people tell you to use PPC (not me) to get started. And I recently found an article where the author recommended it as a temporary jump-start to get things going. (I don't tell people starting out to advertise as you can lose your budget very quickly with no results - and the best advertisement is by getting word of mouth through excellent products and delivery.)

D. Now, once you have successfully sold and delivered goods which are making you money - then expand into another (niche) line of work, another (niche) product. You use what you learned from the first time and expand. You keep producing and delivering products from the first one, but now you have some more income and probably some more time to invest in ramping up another product. This can be an additional product in the same niche, or a new product line in a new niche area. (Preferably related to the first, either in main subject, or in delivery mode - so you can use the existing shopping cart and blogs to start promoting these new products.)

Make the second line as or more successful than the first, and then start up a third. Research first, always.

As you continue to do this, life becomes simpler and more profitable.

But again: basket first, then eggs - and then to market.

- - - -

Here's the special news for all those stalwart readers who have made it this far:

I'm restarting the Online Millionaire Plan and reworking it from the bottom up. Meaning that I'm going to take all the many volumes of work I've already done so far and verifying the tests and results. And then re-release new versions with new materials. The emphasis will be on practical application for this new economic scene we just inherited. How to start or expand a small business online on a very small (tiny) budget. Step by step. I figure with all the mis-steps I've already taken, and the tons of data I've already poured through, this should be pretty valuable and useful. Emphasis will be on each step, tying it back into the overall.

And now I know how to really give value as we go, so I'll tell you the tips and secrets uncovered during this line of work.

Stay tuned to - as this is where I'll give the core data - a lot of my peripheral blogs will be changing as I do. But I'll also tell you why and how to apply it on your own.

Good Hunting!!

Getting more marketing value from an "old" site.

(photo credit: flem007_uk)

Keeping an old site isn't a mistake - throwing it away is.

For a few years, I've been blogging about an Online Millionaire Plan. Problem is, very few people are actually searching for this term. So, as a niche - it sucks. People search for "online" and "millionaire" and "plan" - but not "online millionaire", "millionaire plan", or "online plan".

However, I've managed to use this as a depository for all types of stuff which do work as I've continued to research my way out of a hole called the 9-5 job/broke-in-retirement lifestyle. And this stuff plainly works.

There's the domain name and a mini-site built up for it - as well as a series of books on Lulu.
And I was about to re-market it under another name and even give it away to someone else as an incentive for their startup. However, they backed out - and also, I realized I had invested ample link love into that domain name/mini-site. So it would be silly to trash it.

Instead, the solution: make that name a trademark brand (what, actually, is a Pilsbury or a Swanson, or a Kellogg's?) And then re-label every book with a decent niche title. Simple. Sure, redo the packaging, redo the site content - but don't throw it away.

You see, I can drive business to that site, or from that site over to my main blog by using what I've discovered on keywords and social media. And while posting all these notes to Blogger blogs hasn't helped my own set up so much, I can repurpose all of those hundreds of posts - update them and social market through them. Meanwhile, I update the basic sequence of these books and upgrade them.

That example is simply how you take the old sow's ear and make it into a "Sow's Ear(TM)" silk purse.

So - look something over carefully before you decide to ditch it. After all, Monopoly was started in the Depression and has been able to remake itself by licensing the basic trademarks - and produce an incredible new income stream. All some 70 years later....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Marketing Insight Tip #4 - Bell Curve for Small Business

(photo credit: J. Phil)

How to use the Bell Curve in your small business marketing

Hope the graphic above isn't too overwhelming. It just points out the wide variety of applications for the bell curve. It's that way because this oddball curvey line describes a natural phenomenon which all businesses encounter and only a few really know and use.

Recently, I was reminded of this by some huckster I was still getting email from. He said that "this guy" was the best in writing sales letters and articles. So I checked his "this guy" out. The claim to fame was that his sales letters and landing pages routinely had a 2% conversion rate.

What he was saying was that he could write an average page and get average results consistently. Any sales page is supposed to get that type of result, almost regardless of how it's written. 2% conversion is what spam is based on. Volume contact, volume conversion - but the same percentage.

Let me introduce some numbers here:
96% - general public who are in some other niche market and who somehow found your site.
80% / 20% - attributed to an economist named Pareto, this combination tells you where the bulk (80%) of your sales are coming from and what percentage of your subscribers (20%) are making these purchases. It also tells you that most of your problems in your marketing are coming from a small percentage of areas.
3-5% - the number of people you can expect to have the best results with any line of service - these are the "rave results" you hear about (unless the guy is selling internet marketing, and has a bunch of hypesters on his page giving testimonials).

If you center these numbers along a curve, you'll see the 96%/80% in the center, with the 20% split to both sides, the 3-5% on the extreme edges. That's the Bell Curve. Now, if you set these up all from right to left, you get an exponential drop, 96-80-20-5-3%. This is the curve used to explain the Long Tail. Same numbers, different graphic.

Applications for these are numerous.

Narrow down to your top 20% of your products and put 80% your marketing emphasis on these. Don't discontinue the others, unless they fall into the category of causing 80% of your problems. Focus on your bread-winning efforts - what is really bringing home the bacon. Pay attention only to the essential core of your business. Clean up the rest as needful, but never spend more than 20% of your week at these. Set those others up on near-automatic and let them run. If your metrics show they suddenly become popular, then elevate them to your 80% area. If they are consistently causing you returns/refunds, ditch them without sorrow.

Big Box:
When you concentrate on a narrow area, you have better success than using a shotgun approach. This is the secret to Long Tail marketing, and the failure of corporate businesses who try to be everything for all customers. Wal-Mart knows this. They don't carry stuff which doesn't sell and sell well. You can't get products which are either high-end (which sell far fewer, but at a higher profit margin) or extremely cheap (no profit margin unless you are a bulk reseller.)

You'll find some representative (20%?) products for most (80%?) of what you want. Sam Walton figured out long ago that you could sell a lot more for slightly less and so improve your profit margins tremendously. If you want a particular type of screw or hinge, go to a hardware store - what Wal-Mart carries are general wood screws and common butt and strap hinges to repair average jobs around the average American house or garage. You won't find fine woodworking hinges here.

Where the small business outperforms the big box stores is in the exact niche. By finding and marketing to a specific set of people who want a particular and exact types of products, you will then be able to service these more precisely and will be rewarded with their loyalty. Corporations often confuse this one when they get "big".

I used to work for Brookstone - in their warehouse. I'd see the catalog and note that they no longer had unique tools in it - stuff that you dreamed about getting for your own shop. They only had stuff which was in other catalogs: radio-electronics, special mattresses, massage chairs. When they replaced their CEO, I wrote him a note about this. His reply was that they could no longer compete with Big Boxes and so had themed their products around home improvement. Huh?

Look, they built their brand on having unique tools for guys. And this is why their Father Day sales were great. When they expanded, they decided to go into competition with Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, etc. In other words, they decided to go Big Box. Meanwhile Duluth and other catalogs started servicing their original customers with unique tools and products. Why are they having trouble in this economy? Because they aren't selling anything essential. And any guy can tell you, having the right tool at the right time is essential - and everyone appreciates a gift. Brookstone abandoned it's successful policy and is reaping the whirlwind.

Long Tail Niches: This is where small businesses shine. Gary Vaynerchuk took his family liquor store and expanded it to a dynasty of selling wine to people online. He did it through education - infotainment. Go to his site and you'll see how he does it. (And better yet, he'll tell you how he does it.) Simple concept, brilliantly executed. Lots of people can buy different types of wine if they know which one to get for what use. The trick is that people don't know - and so make some regular videos that inform people about this area and your sales increase.

By concentrating on just wine and education, he was able to expand his family liquor store to an international success. For any small business, this means that suddenly you're not nailed down to only having the local people near your store able to access your products - you can ship these anywhere in the world. For small businesses to sell to niche consumers everywhere on the planet - this is a no-brainer. The Internet is the great equalizer - if you know how to use it.

Back to where we started. Look, it's a statistical phenomenon, proved over and over. Out of 100 pitches, 2-3 people will buy. Spam and telemarketing took off because they were able to lower the overhead (cost of doing business) and increased the volume dramatically. So sales picked up - dramatically. Unless you are doing something really wrong (like links that don't work), then you are going to have this type of percentage.

What you are concerned with is not so much initial conversions, but repeat traffic. These are subscribers. People who know you and your brand and keep coming back for more. When you see people say they have a "7% conversion rate", know that they have some repeat business in there. When you see "17% conversion" you know they are missing some prime "velvet-rope" opportunities - where they should be selling exclusive access to part of their site just for repeat customers.

I know this route - from working for an international corporation which dealt in self-help books, tapes, and counseling. There's been an external analysis of their production (not paid for by that corporation or connected to them) which found that about 70-80% of their initial course completions left after the first service. (That's a 2-3 day course, given for a couple of hours a day when the person can fit it in after work or during the day. Cheap - about $50, plus course materials.) Now, another 10% left in the first year. By year three, they lost about 97% of the people who had walked in their door for one reason or another. But they made their weekly millions off the 3% which was left. Those generally spent between $50K and $100K over the next 5 years. Each. They were put into more and more exclusive areas and paid more and more. By the time they got to the top, they had each personally invested millions (literally) in services and materials to that corporation. All on a "velvet rope" subscriber basis.

That corporation didn't really need the bulk of their prospects that walked in the front door. They just became extremely efficient for the few who had the money that corporation needed. Now, I don't think they've really done this analysis themselves, or they'd see how their marketing (something along the lines of your money is going to saving this planet as we expand internationally) is really false. And they'd also see that they are throwing away more than they're making. But it keeps the few continuing to buy in. And to that corporation, perhaps, marketing (and their millions in weekly income) is all that counts.

How you can put this to use:
OK, I've gone on too long in this area for most readers. What I'm saying here is that
  • the small guy can do whatever the big guy is doing, with the leverage of the Internet.
  • Just make sure that you are getting a broad exposure (cast a wide net) while concentrating on a smallish niche which is profitable.
  • And cherish your repeat clients.

Warren Buffet says (who is actually quoting Andrew Carnegie, who got it from someone else): "You can put all your eggs in one basket - you just have to watch that basket real closely."

Good luck - and good hunting!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Setting up ecommerce for your small business marketing - having all the pieces before you start.

(photocredit: Mahalie)

Ecommerce SEO is like a jigsaw puzzle -
you have to make sure you have all the pieces before you start.

I've been working with my chosen ecommerce engine - Zen Cart - for some weeks now, just getting it so it looks nice and runs the way I want it. No, it's not released yet - hidden behind a static page.

Here's the criteria for an ecommerce site:
  • Runs fast
  • Easy to customize
  • Huge community support
The next one: Free. I've been telling people to use cPanel hosting for years just because of these points above. You get free blogs and ecommerce engines you can install.

I chose ZenCart out of all of these, because it works just like that, right out of the box.

However, it lacks a few thinks which you are going to have to fix - like any site these days:
  • SEO permalinks
  • Google Analytics
  • Google SiteMap
(Of course, you want to get a good theme, but that is too personal to go into here.)

The good thing is that there are modules for these three above:
What you are doing with these is making your ecommerce site easy for Google (and other search engines) to work with. Needless to say, Zen Cart out of the box doesn't do these things. (Maybe a later version...) And so, if you are putting stuff into your ecommerce, you might as well be throwing it down a black hole unless you also tweak your Zen Cart to be search engine friendly.

[Now, I'm also checking out Google Checkout module and a beta version of Google Base module - but these are for another post.]

The point here is to get your site and your shopping cart set up so the search engines can find and rank you quickly.

I wanted to put these all in a single place so that anyone could simply update their ZenCart and "steal a march" on their potential competition.

Happy SERPs and profits!

How you can get instant top search engine positions - why remote outpost content repurposing works

Top Search Engine Real Estate On Sale for Fresh Content
I've been able to get near-instant top Search Engine positions - and hold them - but I wouldn't use this technique broadly until I understood why - and that secret was only disclosed to me recently.

The story goes like this:
I've laid out the complete theory of social-outpost-publishing, in and among some other data.

The short version:
  1. Write a blog post.
  2. Post it as an article, preferably on
  3. Convert it to a podcast and post to
  4. Create a Powerpoint and post to
  5. Combine with podcast and create a slidecast on
  6. Create a video from the podcast and slideshow and post to YouTube
  7. Take all these links and create a Squidoo lens
  8. Update your blog post with these links
  9. Release a press release telling all about it and include the above content links.
I created and posted a video which proved this, on a non-vital keyword - and checking recently found that the site I had pointed to was still in the top four on Google months later.

But I wouldn't use it broadly until I understood why. (Having a piece of the puzzle doesn't solve the whole jigsaw mess on the table.)

This post by SEO Book now gives the complete clue to its success:

(graphics credit: SEO Book - visit and subscribe to this great resource!)

Look in the bottom right-hand corner - "Recommendations, Links/endorsements, Signals of quality"

As they put it:
You typically have to create some number of social interactions to leave the trail of signals of quality to make Google want to trust a site enough to put it in front of a large traffic stream, especially if you are starting a brand new site and are trying to operate within Google's guidelines. As Bob Massa says "search engines follow people."
All of the above places to post are social sites - or getting that way. Blogs, videos, podcasts - all social. Even press releases and articles (though not commonly thought of in this light.)

You'll also notice that the sites posted to above are all heavy hitters with tons of pages on them.

What you are doing with this social outpost theory is posting inbound links on huge sites which all use the same link/keyword and post back to your little, unknown site. And so Google first finds these social sites and then finds your little site. What stays up is the little site, not necessarily the social sites.

Michael Campbell explained it some year ago with how people could use Digg to get their site ranking - but again, never said why it worked, just that it did.

Here's why -
  1. "Search Engines follow people."
  2. Large sites are given more authority ranking by Google.
That's why when you re-purpose content and post it to these big boys, you'll have a completely different result than posting the same content on your own blog. Because they are known and big, and you aren't. Linking from big sites to yours - all with the same inbound link - is a simple SEO tactic. And only with social media did this become possible. (Of course I did it because it saved bandwidth and prevented the "Digg effect".)

Why do your social posts disappear off Google? Because they themselves have to be "voted up" by the public. Until they do, they don't have authority. They'll show up to begin with, but later on, they'll be lower down the results. Like Alice's Cheshire Cat - all that's left is the smile.

But your site will be up there because of the links into it - which means authority sites "approve" of what you are doing.

I could go on and on with examples - but the above gives you the gist of things.

You can try this (as I'm about to relaunch quite a few project I've had simmering on back burners) but ensure that you have your backend ready first (a Word Press blog and ZenCart ecommerce engine - both SEO optimized for the keywords you are using).

Then test out the whole thing with information products - all given away as ethical bribes to get them subscribing to your autoresponder list.

Luck with this - Good Hunting!

- - - -

And if you think you could do better, if you have a better explanation - let me know...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marketing Insight Tip #3 - Create a profitable ebook in an afternoon using NoteTab and OpenOffice

(photo credit: wonderlane)

How to make an ebook from PLR using OpenOffice and NoteTab
Hello - this is a pretty mundane one. But thought you might like a short post.

There are two tools which are both indispensable and free (don't you love it when that happens?)
I use NoteTab as it has an incredible amount of built-in scripts to reformat your text any way you need it. (Like Making A Title Into Just The Caps.)

OpenOffice does just about everything else - and far better than any other office suite I've tried - especially MSWord.

Sequence here:
  1. Get your PLR out - you'll have a bunch of independent articles in either .doc format or .txt
  2. Convert everything to .txt with Open Office
  3. Drop these into OpenOffice and then save as text.
  4. Fix up in NoteTab as needed.
  5. Open the text file in OpenOffice (haven't we just been here?)
  6. Fix it up with formating and export to PDF.
Why this convoluted way?

Because NoteTab has better text editing tools than Open Office.

I've been working around with various other assembly programs (such as converting to PDF, combining them all in NoteTab first) and this is the fastest.

Reason: OpenOffice can take a drag and drop text file (doesn't do as well with .doc files) and put them in as Sections. You then save the whole file as a .txt file and you get only the text in that exact order. Saves tons of time.

Then, you can fix up the odd-ball titles with NoteTab, as well as search and replacing for excess linebreaks.

Now, when you re-open that file in OpenOffice, you simply use your H1, H2, etc. headers to format the pages the way you like them. And also put in page breaks. Just generally spice it up, do a spell-check, drop in some ads for other products you offer, etc.

Then export it to PDF and you've got an easy ebook all in an afternoon, depending on how fast you can edit (your mileage may vary).

That's how easy it really is.

You don't have to re-edit the PLR, unless you want to, since you have the Private License Rights to do anything you want with them. The duplicative content rule is for web pages and articles. An ebook is as good as the content in it.

- - - -

When you plug this sequence in with your keyword research, then you can quickly come up with a new ebook to give away or offer through your ecommerce site. Often, you can find a neat niche with nice demand/supply (traffic/competition) ratios, look up and buy PLR articles, create an ebook as above, then create your marketing campaign with your blog and shopping cart.

The viral part of this is that you can see some keyword keep coming up in the news - search your harddrive or the web for PLR which covers that keyword, then you have an instant ebook which you can then set up for sale on Amazon (via Mobibooks) for free - and then invite traffic over to that ebook via your blogging. (Or post it on at the same time.) You take advantage of the rising trend for that particular keyword and get into the hand of people who need the information quickly. Of course, you want to keep track of trends, probably using Google Trends or Google Insight...

Of course, once you have the ebook done, you can always excerpt article from it and offer these as an introductory mini-course - selling the complete ebook these were excerpted from... Imagine if you did all of the above - you'd have a huge mail list virtually overnight!

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And if you have a faster way to do this, let me know. I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Marketing Insight Tip #2 - Getting people to register for their free downloads

(photo credit: danielbroche)
Getting People to Register for their Free Downloads

This just hit me like the proverbial brick. Problem with free downloads is the amount of bandwidth they take - and there isn't usually any return for these. Not monetarily, anyway. And let's face it, we are in the business of offering valuable solutions to problems that they will give something valuable in return... Usually, this is money, but it can also be something like - an email address.

Now a person will usually give away something to get an email address, and then will spend extra to deliver an email series to that address, with the idea of offering them materials which they will then purchase.

While writing a new small business marketing series, I found myself with a ton of great ebooks which can only be given away. Now if I just put these on my website, I'd probably have that link given away to all sorts of people - who I don't know and can't contact except by the IP address they used.

The simple solution is to put them on your ecommerce engine as a free download. My ZenCart installation requires they give their email address in order to login. Voila! Exchange has occurred. And I'd really like them to give that address away to any of their friends, wouldn't I? Meanwhile, they are also ableto simply look around and see if there is anything else they like.

Of course, even a free ebook will get a review on my blog - and that review also return links to that product page, doesn't it? Linklove - can't beat it.

And now you have, in those short paragraphs above, a simple way to invest in free downloads.

(ZenCart also has a nice newsletter email function, though I have to check it out more... One complaint about email could shut down your server. So I'll stick to exporting these addresses and offering them an opt-in via my GetResponse autoresponder.)

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Any better ideas? Let me know. The comment space is open to all (who register, of course.) ;P


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finding Long Tail Keywords for New Business Ideas

(photo credit: Nino.Smile)
How to Find Keywords for Long Tail New Business Ideas

Couldn't resist this X-Files image as we are on our quest for finding not just keywords, but quality content you can repurpose and republish. (Hey - I only count three hands - Mulder?!?)

I've talked about using Google Alerts and piping these to Google Reader for the content you want to find. And also how to use RankTracker to find the Long-Tail keywords for your selected niches (or vice-versa).

Now, I've additionally said in several places how you take your long-tail keywords and then start moving up the food chain toward shorter keyword phrases. When you rank for related niches, the common words in these phrases get you accumulative link love.

OK - I just found out today how to use Google to not only find you niche-related content, but to help you search within that existing content for other keywords.

What happened was - I've had a number of RSS feeds accumulating in my Google Reader (I don't really have time to view them all or even keep up - another organizing point, perhaps). And I just got into checking out a new niche, which I didn't have a Google Alert set up for.

(What's interesting is that - as you might know from my other blogs - I've mostly been aggregating self improvement articles and stuff in my Google Reader, nothing much to do with business or this latest small niche.)

I just put in a main keyword into Google Reader and searched it - voila! More articles and posts than I could even digest simply. But they "shouldn't have been there"?

What does this mean? Two things:
  1. Like a Venn diagram, you'll have intersections on your keywords. Accumulate a bunch of feeds having to do with self improvement and some of these will also touch on telemarketing. People who post about self improvement also might grouse about phone scams.

  2. Secondly, you need to set your aggregators for the Short Head keywords - the ones with good KEI, but ones you aren't going to target directly. Like "business" or "marketing" or "books" - you might be working on "small business marketing books" but not those others. Your aggregators pull in all these data and store it on Google's servers. Now you then just go and start searching on your own reader for the really long-tail, very profitable KEI search terms. (And no, you never mess with keywords that don't have good KEI - life is too short.)

The great part is that searching your Google Reader is much faster than Google Search. And the base it's using is much smaller and already pre-digested.

Means you have more time to concentrate on creating more content for your chosen niche.

Thought you'd like that idea.

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Got any better way to do this - or another application? Let me know...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2 easy, time-consuming steps to edit articles and avoid duplicate content penalties

(photo credit: tanakawho)

2 Easy steps to Non-Duplicate your Articles and posts
(warning this takes time - lots of it)

As I do some freelance web design (mostly rebuilding others' botched attempts), I infrequently run into having to convert text and make it non-duplicative to avoid Google penalties.

Last week, I spent most of a day trying to find decent programs for this. The usual approach is to semi-automate it, so that you wind up with trashy text that makes no sense. The reason this survives is because there are a percentage of people who believe in "get rich quick" type of actions. Their problem is that they want to submit articles to a bunch of article directories all at once, but have these each be different so they all show up in Google.

Their method is to use a few synonyms for common modifiers and nouns. When you crank these out on automatic with no editing, people won't click through on these and the editors of those article directories will reject them (and all the good directories are still human-reviewed.) Not to mention the problem is that the real reason you are putting up articles so people click through to your site - not just to get search engines to find you. You want quality content every single time, just not the same identical content.

Here's the real solution: WordFlood 1.2 In this, you can go through and edit each word with multiple possibilities - and even add your own modifiers or nouns, and also edit the text completely if you want. The video on that linked page shows you how to do it. And if you like version 1.2, you can always buy 2.0 - which is even better.

The trick is to save your modified version as a second copy.

Here's the non-duplicative recipe:
  1. Separate each paragraph in the original with an empty line in between.
  2. Make two versions in addition to the original, as mentioned above.
  3. Open all three up on your desktop (helps if you have more than one monitor), plus a blank fourth one. Use a simple text editor, not a resource-heavy word processor - you want straight text output.
  4. Take the first paragraph from the original version, the second paragraph from the second version, the third one from the third - and then go on down the page, copy and pasting paragraphs in original order from the different versions, all into that blank fourth document.
  5. When you end up, give it a completely new title.
  6. Now that fourth one is a completely new version based on the first three.
You have to keep the paragraph structure the same, but you can add or take out sentences to make those versions each flow and make sense. (And if you want, you can mix up the paragraph sequence on that final copy - it just has to still make sense and invite reader action.)

At this point, you have the original and three other versions of that article - and none should give you penalties (Google, by report, won't penalize if you have 40% of the original changed.) I've seen the exact same article show up on various article directories as long as the template was changed. (Of course this is a great solution for PLR articles.)

But our use isn't article submission, it's making good web page copy. That's why I showed you this system.

If you do want to automate it further, I'd suggest a free program which is just a spreadsheet, actually. But it works right there at your own computer with nothing better than OpenOffice or (shudder) MSWord. And the unlocked version allows you to see the code so you can modify it anyway you want (just one formula runs the whole spreadsheet). It's not all that pretty, but it works - and is very fast.

Example -
I've been working as freelance for a guy who wrote his own CMS system on the idea of taking on a lot of basement repair franchises. (This quickly expanded into all sorts of sites, however. Nothing succeeds like success.)

The basic layout of these basement sites generally have just a few subjects: wet basements, cracked walls, sagging floors, mold, bowed walls, crawl spaces. So after we've done a few of these, I have quite a set of old and new content which tends to repeat itself. Most of these guys are using the same products, so that makes it even more redundant.

To make myself a speed demon at execution ( I get paid by the site, not by the hour), I'll set up a set of folders with these various articles in them - according to type.
  1. Now, copy that spreadsheet and all over your original article versions into each of these folders - according to subject.
  2. Then make your three versions above - using Word Flood - and copy each paragraph of those three versions into that spreadsheet.
  3. The spreadsheet uses a random function to take these paragraphs from each, just like you manually did above.
  4. Just copy the output into your text editor, give it a final look-over, change the title - and then copy/paste it into your web editor and add some images. Format to taste, rinse and repeat.

Once you've done all the hard work once, you can then reap the rewards of a speed-demon setup thereafter. Time invested isn't time wasted - as long as you aren't doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

It doesn't mean you shortcut anything else, but if you are stretched for copy, this is a simple way to do it. And once you've spent all that time getting it set up, don't re-invent the wheel every time you need more copy... been there, done that.

Of course, this builds as you go. So make sure you back everything up against hard-drive failure.

Good luck with this...