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5 Tips For Running A Successful Online Business

There are a couple of key things to look at when starting an online business. I’m not here to give you “hidden secrets,” just a few fundamental tips to get you started. Basically there are five major factors to look at provided you have the products and/or resources.1. Enjoy what you are doing! It will make all the difference in the world if you actually enjoy what you are offering your customers. A large number of online businesses are started purely for profit and nothing else. This is usually shown in their business practice. The quality of your work will be much greater provided you enjoy the subject. Online or on a black porn street, your business should be run with an underlying interest in the product or service.2. Site design is the first thing a prospective customer sees!! I have seen some horrible designs. If you think putting some text up, a couple links and a logo on a page is enough, you will likely fail before you even realize. You will also notice a lot of companies have a generic template that can be found online at templetemonster or any other template site. Avoid these. It is very hard to develop a company image when you look like 134,000 other companies. I suggest you put a bit of effort and creativity into a well designed “professional” looking home page for your company. The bottom line is a new customer will not even consider buying anything from you, if they feel you are an armature no matter how great your services are or how cheap your products might be.3. Develop your website as a total package to your customers. Don’t just present your products and leave it at that. Offer tutorials, articles, support forums etc. These additional services not only provide additional content for you customers, but if developed correctly, will bring additional traffic to your site which will potentially lead to more sales.4. Find your niche. Take the hosting business for example. The hosting business as a whole is a huge industry which is very competitive. Your best chance at success is to simply find a market and develop your business to cater to that specific niche. An excellent example of this is http://elite-hosts.org/ who offer hosting and development to those who operate online forums. It’s easier to be a big fish in a little pond than to risk having your message drowned out by too much competition.5. You MUST understand how search engines work. Over 90% of your business will likely come directly from search engine results. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to optimize your site for search engines. You could have the greatest deals in the entire world, but if no one knows about them then your efforts are wasted. Do a search on Google for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You will find tons of great information on how to create a website that is both user friendly and search engine friendly. There are also countless numbers of companies and freelancers out there who offer SEO services. Just be cautious of their offers and do your research first. Remember, NO ONE can guarantee top placement in major search engines, no matter what they say.Maybe in the early 90’s the idea of “if you build it they will come” might have been true. But in the year 2005 the internet is a far more competitive and complex place To be successful today, you have to develop a business plan which works from all angels. If you can develop an online business that you enjoy operating, which has a professional design, some extra content, search engine friendly and which targets a specific niche, you will have a far greater chance at success. Of course there are many other factors to consider as well, but if you can master these five fundamentals, everything else should fall into place.

“Work From Home Mothers – Family Strategy”

I am typing on the computer, trying to keep up with the flood of emails and programs that require my attention, when my 19 month old comes to me for the fourth time this morning calling ‘potty!’ I rush upstairs to the bathroom when I here the doorbell…my friends children have arrived as usual, since I care for them four days a week while their mother takes off for an adult world I hardly recognize. It is 7:20 am.Breakfast follows, I set them up and dash to the computer again to finish what I started, but then the four year olds are fighting and the one year old has dumped her applesauce on the carpet. I determine that office environments were created for a reason. It’s 7:35 am.Since I am paid to care for these children, I cannot devote much time to my other business during the days they are in my home. But that does not stop me from feeding my own children peanut buttered bread for breakfast and sitting them in front of the TV from 6:00am until 12:00 on my ‘day off’.As you can see, or know from experience, working from home in any capacity is a change to your family’s life no matter what the business. But as much as I would love to dote on my own children and spend hours baking and coloring and folding laundry (RIGHT!), I, like many mothers, have been faced with the choice of returning to the typical ‘working world’ and passing my children into someone else’s care, or juggling to bring in an income while caring for them myself.Our strategy has been for me to develop an online business while maintaining an income we can survive on by babysitting. The babysitting is temporary, and not my first choice, but I do love the children I care for, and now that we’ve all adjusted I am going to miss them terribly when we move on.However, I knew the babysitting was not the long term solution, and I ache for the independence I read about with internet based business. So I plug away early morning, nap times and evenings after the children are in bed. This is how we move towards a simpler life. Eventually, my kids and my husband will have me pretty much to themselves. I know that working will always interfere with living, but this is a solution that I can accept.My main learning, or coping strategy, is to do things in blocks. Writing an article is one block. Reading and responding to emails is another. Feeding the children, taking them for a walk, or planning an afternoon out (which is what I do with mine every day off), all combine to make this work-from-home mother’s work day move forward.Should my children be classified as part of my work? No, absolutely I do not view it that way. This is the fabulousness of working from home. Stressful as it may be at times, I am choosing a life that allows me to step out of my office (so to speak) and cuddle on the couch with four little darlings (well, some of the time!). I can shake off the frustration of figuring out HTML code by having coffee with my neighbor. This is a life worth choosing.So to all you work-from-home mothers (and fathers too), perhaps balance isn’t always possible, but keeping priorities is. You can decide that the children must quietly watch a video while you make a phone call or finish your project, and know that you are not putting them in second place. Why? Because you are there. And as long as you know when to put the office ‘away’ and be there for your children, you are giving them a life that, while busy and not always easy, it is a life that you are a bigger part of.To all of you who take on the important task of raising your children, while making a living, my congratulations and encouragement!—This article is free to reprint as long as all links and authors credits remain intact. Courtesy copy of publication would be appreciated.

Find The Right Work Home Business Resource

A work home business resource can be a time and money saver for someone thinking of starting a home business. Working on your own presents challenges that some new business owners don’t expect. In an employment setting, all the talent needed to successfully run a business has been already hired and trained. But in starting a business from scratch, you need to rely on others outside your business to perform important business functions. Work home business resources are available to help you get your business on a solid foundation.Work home business resources are available to help you decide what type of business you are legally going to form. Is your business going to be a sole proprietorship, a partnership with someone else, or do you wish to be a corporation? A corporation is a legal entity created under law by the state government in which the corporation will do business. A corporation can enter into contracts, be sued, and do the other things necessary to conduct business. They pay taxes differently than individuals and in many cases; this is an advantage. Incorporation can be a complicated process. Don’t try to incorporate by yourself. A work home business resource such as a good lawyer can may this process easier.For basic bookkeeping and financial considerations, seeking an accountant is a good work home business resource. There are also web-based accounting services you can use to help you set up your books and record sales for tax purposes. Some of the online work home business resources in accounting you can use are: eLedger, QuickBooks for the Web, and ePeachtree. Basic services that these businesses provide includes double-entry general ledgers, invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable and financial reportingAnother work home business resource that can help you establish good promotional work is a professional in sales and marketing. The expert advice you can receive from a marketing professional is well work the added expense. The success of your business depends almost entirely on its quality and value. If no one knows about your business, they will never get to use it. Check with advertising companies and web site and find out more about advising opportunities and advice you can receive. On the Internet, many articles are available for free. The Internet itself is an excellent work home business resource.

A Presidential Debate

Talk about a controversial topic!The recent debates were someth mobile porn ing else.The interesting thing is this, if you’re like me, you’d probably already decided who you were gonna vote for, long before election day ever came.And then, as you watched the debates, the guy who ain’t gettin your vote tended to get you a little riled up.Yesterday afternoon I was reading an article that really got me going.Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out where in the heck this guy was coming from, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.Here’s the content I’m referring to, in his own words.= = =There is no need for my readers to get more out of life by doing less.To start with, this is a ridiculous concept. We all know that the more you put into anything, the more you get out of it. For instance, if Bridget Jones had not put that blue string in the pot, all she would have had was soup.I say, cram your agenda. Cram. Cram. Cram. Put as much as you can into life, so you can gets lots out of it. Never mind wasting your time eating, sleeping or showering…OK, maybe showering, but get as much done as you can today. You would not want to die with windows unwashed now, would you?= = =Now…I don’t know how you feel, but let me tell you my thoughts.I used to be a serious workaholic. I spent seven years fishing in Alaska prior to owning my own business, which I began in 1996.So trust me, I know what it’s like to cram your schedule full.I also know what it’s like to work your fingers to the bone, putting in long hours for very little pay while you get your business off the ground.The whole time you’re holding out hope that you’ll figure everything out and things will improve soon.But meanwhile, you know the statistics.You know that most businesses fail within the first few years.And the fact is, in the back of your mind, you keep wondering if yours will succeed.Now, lest you think I’m getting off tack, I tell you this to make an important point.Working hard has absolutely no correlation with how successful you are (although I firmly believe it affects your health, in a negative way.And working hard has absolutely no correlation with how much money you make.Most people would tend to argue this fact with me, and who can blame them.I used to think there was a link myself.Why else would I work so damned hard?But here’s the truth…I now work only a fraction of the time I used to, yet I make more money than I ever have in my life.Now don’t get me wrong, I do put in my time, and yes I have to be disciplined.But the fact is, many days I now quit working around 2 in the afternoon.I no longer work weekends.I take more time off to enjoy life.I take no less than 8 trips each year, because I love traveling.And as a result, I’m a much happier and healthier person because I have so much less stress in my life.So here’s my theory…The concept of getting more out of life by doing less is far from ridiculous.It’s too bad more people don’t understand the theory.I have to admit, I wish I’d picked up on it long ago. But even at that, I sure am glad I understand it now.I’ll be sharing more with you in the coming weeks and months, and who knows, I might just show you a thing or two that will drastically improve your life, and your health.

Home Based Business Money Saving Tips

One of the first ways you can save on your home based business expenses is to buy used furniture and equipment. Some great places to look for used office furniture and equipment is in the classified section of your local newspaper, consignment furniture stores, flea markets, online auctions and bankruptcy sales. Other good places to check into for home based business furniture and equipment are new furniture stores because they often take trade-ins or have repossessed furniture that they’re willing to sell at greatly reduced prices. Of course you would never want to sacrifice the quality and safety of your home based business equipment, so be sure, especially if buying online, that the dealers are reputable ones.Another way you can reduce your home based business expenses is to team up with other small businesses and home based businesses to increase your purchasing power. Many companies give terrific discounts on items bought in bulk. This is especially true for items like paper where in exchange for large orders you not only get a discount, but also often get the shipping for free. There are many types of home business supplies that you can get big savings on when buying this way. When making bulk purchasing arrangements with other small businesses and home based businesses, spell out the terms of who’ll be placing the order, how delivery will be made and any other details–and put them in writing.It’s also a good idea to join professional associations connected to your home based business. Many on these offer a wide variety of benefits to their members. Often you can get group insurance through a professional association at a fraction of what it would cost you on your own. Many times you can also get large discounts for using suppliers that these organizations have contracts with. Being a member of professional organizations and groups is also a great way to network and get new clients. Also, going to the meetings is a wonderful way to offset the isolation that many home based business owners feel and to pick up some new ideas for your business as well.Whenever possible, buy home based business supplies wholesale. Also, join discount and warehouse clubs. This is another good way to get office supplies for your home based business at huge savings. Also, check into any possible commercial discounts that may be available that you don’t know about. Never pay retail unless you absolutely have to. And don’t limit yourself to offline suppliers. Many online companies offer tremendous savings and are definitely worth checking into.Finally, do some comparison shopping on everything you use for your home based business. You may think you don’t have time, but the amount of money you can save is well worth the time it takes. Compare cell phone plans, insurance companies, shipping services and Internet providers. When you find a good deal, jump on it–but don’t settle for it. Just because a certain insurance company gives you the best rate today doesn’t mean it will still be the best in six months or a year. Remember your home based business isn’t the only business that has to compete to get customers, and all types of companies are changing their plans and reducing their charges constantly. So make it a habit to compare rates every six to twelve months, and switch anytime you can get a significant reduction because every penny you save is a penny you can count as profit.Charles Fuchshttp://www.charlesfuchs.comhttp://charlesfuchs.blogspot.comI grant permission to publish this article, electronically or in print, as long as the bylines are included, with a live link, and the article is not changed in any way.

Internet Is Not Just For Techies

This is a smaller secondary headline – White Rock mother of four stays home and prospers on the Net with websites for Babies and PetsIf you thought the Internet was just for techies, Arlene Martell, a mother of four, who runs two profitable websites from her beautiful White Rock home, would like to talk to you.In discussing her success as an affiliated publisher for several major U.S. companies, the White Rock housewife is boldly predicting that e-commerce from home will become a major new trend as many more companies will begin seeking remote workers wishing to make extra money with their computers.Arlene’s husband, James, who recently authored a training manual for website owners (http://www.jamesmartell.com), taught her the basic skills she needed to launch her first site for babies. This site, which was launched only a few months ago, now brings in an extra $1,000 U.S. into the family budget from sales made on behalf of relevant merchant links she places on her sites so that visitors can easily find them.Arlene says, “these links are not banner ads, but simple text links that drive qualified traffic to my affiliated merchants who pay me a commission for every sale.”She goes on to say, “many are not aware that large companies, such as The Disney Store, A&E Television and even the Denver Broncos now pay lucrative commissions for website referrals in a new industry called pay-for-performance advertising, also known as affiliate programs.”Industry experts agree that this pay-for-performance concept started with Amazon.Com, who in 1997 began compensating webmasters around the world for book sales by setting a cookie on each visitor’s browser that identified the associated publisher so that a commission could be paid if a sale were made.This unique business relationship neatly solves the problem of driving eyeballs to websites’ of merchandiser’s, because of the vast number of independent publishers and webmasters worldwide, like Arlene, who will generate targeted traffic on a pay-for-performance basis, thereby eliminating the high cost of advertising.Arlene says, “When I first got started I had a pretty good idea of how well I could do because I had watched my husband, James, become very successful as an affiliate for some major U.S. companies, such as American Express, DIRECTV and Capital One Visa, but I was surprised at how quickly my site has taken off and at how large some of my sales have been.” She goes on to say. “The other day I had a $545 sale for a baby crib. And the best thing is that all I did was provide a link through to the merchant who handled everything from there.”Many experts agree that as a consequence of converging factors such as, growing consumer confidence in making online purchases, the need for many companies to downsize brick and mortar operations and the emergence of commission networks who act as go-betweens for merchants and affiliates, it has never been easier or more profitable to retail online, or for work at home moms with basic computer skills to start a lucrative, web-based enterprise by representing some very well established companies.“My first attempt with affiliate programs was made easy because of Commission Junction, http://www.cj.com out of Carlsbad, CA, an industry leader in providing third party functionality for affiliates and merchants by acting as a trusted third party in managing the network, tracking and reporting on activity and handling monthly commission payments,” Mrs. Martell says.Arlene says, “I’ve joined several baby and pet oriented affiliate programs through the Commission Junction network of advertisers and their online reporting and tracking functionality is second to none.”“Commission Junction has exceeded our expectations as a cost-effective marketing channel,” states Kari King, Affiliate Program Manager at eBay.com,” We chose Commission Junction not only because they have an established network of quality publishers, but because their service and technology are scalable as our program grows.”Mrs. Martell adds, “there is tremendous confidence in dealing with CJ merchants, because CJ has demonstrated great efficiency in handling all of the collection and processing required to ensure fair and timely commission payments. And I can go online any time of the day to check my stats. I love that nearly as much as getting checks in the mail, which come in almost every day for either my husband, who has thirty commercial sites, or myself.Arlene adds, “I love bringing in extra money so I can shop for the little extras we need as a family and it really is great to be around my four kids, Adam, Shelby, Justin and Victoria.”“Plus, since James is also working from his office down the hall, we can easily schedule impromptu family activities. For example, the other day, our youngest, Victoria, arrived home to announce, we are going to the beach. And, you know what, that’s what we did.” she said.“After getting a taste of financial freedom with affiliate programs from the comfort of my own home on my personal computer, and avoiding the stresses of long commutes and stifling work environments, I would never work in a typical office again,” she said.

Really, Work at Home?

Why would anyone really want to work at home? I sure wouldn’t unless the plan for only for a short while. If you have a real job and you do it at home the interruptions, self discipline grind, the irrelevant phone calls tied in with those soap opera’s normally wipe out most people that try. Shouldn’t we be thinking about a plan that would get us out of the rat race forever and do that kind of work at home?Residual income is the real solution if you don’t have enough money at work generating a full income for you. Doing work and selling it off to make money at home is only a temporary solution. Home networking is the key issue.We get tired and old. There’s an ole saying “yesterday I was like you and tomorrow you’ll be like me” time is short so let’s get free of the working from repetitive long term work. To make money at home isn’t difficult; the key is to find a home based business opportunity that establishes an income that goes on even when you’re not working and without any employee’s. Now you’ve got something.Multiplying yourself through others is the path to major income and a residual income. Yes you still work but not under constant pressure and rigidity. We want to have time to explore our full potential’s in life, spent real meaningful time with our family and friends.Whether you’re a wholesale distributor, network marketer, or doing affiliate marketing your choice should have on the top of the list a compensation plan that rewards you for building a retailing and wholesaling network.Surely you understand that you as person can only do so much, you need to multiply and leverage yourself and time through others and you don’t need a bunch of employee’s with all the headaches and associated expenses to do that. So, if you’re going to work at home build an on going income not just more work.

Best Home Based Businesses: Four Soul Searching Steps: Step One

Have you been searching for one of the best home based businesses? Do you yearn to give up your day job and find a way to work at home? More and more people are turning to the internet to find a way to build their own internet home based business. Imagine! What would it be like if you had fulfilling, interesting work that you could do from home, and that would give you a comfortable income? Whether you’d simply like the freedom of being able to work in your pajamas, or spend more time with your children, you too could be one of the lucky few who develop their own internet home based business.How could you turn that dream into reality? Well, there are two main paths to creating an internet business:
Sell products and services provided by other people

Create your own products and services to sell
In this article we will focus on the second path — selling your own products and services. But how will you know what to sell? What skills, products, or services could you offer to potential customers? Finding out what to offer to your customers is a process of self-discovery.Begin with these four main steps to come up with the ideal concept for you:
Discover what you love,
Brainstorm ideas,
Assess those ideas,
Research those ideas. This article is a four part series that covers the above steps. To view Parts 1, 3, and 4 please do an Author search on Ezine Articles for Chrystal Chantel. Today we will focus on Step: One, Discover what you love. Follow the steps carefully and you too will be able to develop one of the best home based businesses.“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.”~John Dewey~In creating one of the best home based businesses, you will need to be careful what you create. Are you going to create a business that turns into another job like the one you want to leave? Only now you’re the one in charge? Are you going to create a job full of things you have to do but don’t particularly want to? You do have alternatives. You could choose to create not a job, but a career, or even a vocation: a form of work where you love going to work, where you really enjoy what you do every day.“There is work that is work and there is play that is play; there is play that is work and work that is play. And in only one of these lie happiness.”~Gelett Burgess~So let’s explore what you love to do. What are your interests, and your passions. How do you like to spend your spare time? In this first step we need to find out what really interests you, what you could do for hours and enjoy every minute of it. This step is key not just for your own personal happiness. This point will go to the very heart of the success of your new business. A wise self-employment teacher once told me:“Find out what you love to do and then find a way to create that into a business. When you engage in your favorite activities, this will give you the persistence to go the extra mile, to carry on when things get discouraging. Furthermore, your enthusiasm will be infectious and this energy will draw people to you.”So to create your business around what you love to do is good business sense! The best home based businesses will be centered around activities you love and will build on your strengths and talents. Now let’s brainstorm. Ask yourself the following questions. You may also like to get a friend or family member to ask you these questions and to add what they have noticed. Sometimes they can point out things that you may take for granted.
How do you spend your milf porn spare time?
What skills or abilities do people compliment you on?
What are you good at? What skills and talents do you use in your present or previous jobs?
What job or jobs did you like the best and why? What were you doing in those jobs? What abilities were you using?
What skills or talents would you like to become good at?
What did you dream of doing as a child or teenager?
What activities cartoon porn do you enjoy the most?
If you could plan the ideal day how would you spend your time? These questions are critical if you wish to create one of the best home based businesses that really fit you. Imagine having work that is ideally suited to your interests, your passions, and your skills! I would like to help you create a business where work becomes a form of self-expression, for when you do what you love, then work becomes play, and your chances of being successful at it are greatly increased.Write the above questions down and carry them around with you. In quiet moments ask yourself the questions and jot down the answers. Give yourself time to reflect; you may be surprised what comes to mind. Give yourself at least three or four days or a week to do this step.In the next article we will move on to Step Two: Brainstorm Your Business Ideas. When you have finished the four-part process you will be well on your way to creating one of the best home based businesses. You will be able to create a company that is uniquely suited to you and that will bring you both profit and happiness! Take your time with this process and then see you in Step Two.© Copyright Chrystal Chantel, All Rights Reserved.Build Your Dream Business [http://www.build-your-dream-business.net/]I grant permission to publish this article, electronically or in print, as long as All the bylines are included, with Live Links, and the article is not changed in any way.

Why Your Website Visitor Leaves Without Buying

I recently wrote up a list of all the things I have ever done, or currently do, on the internet. WOW. I will spare you, it’s huge. I can sit down in a comfortable chair, turn on my computer, and pretty soon I’m flitting from site to site, on a mission until something flashy catches my eye, or an article looks interesting, or a game download looks like fun, or a forum has some usable information…Pretty soon hours have gone by, and have I accomplished my original task?…maybe…but it’s been fun and enlightening and danggg I forgot to bookmark that site…where was that…and off I go again, thanks to Go To and Google.So that is what you are up against when someone visits your site. First of all, how did she find you? Via a reciprocal link? Search engine? Your byline at the end of an article you wrote? These are the things you have to work on to get her there in the first place.It’s been reworked over and over how to write “sticky” website text, that makes your visitors “stick around”. I’m going to just mention a few of the things you shouldn’t do, based on my own surfing habits.Include links that take the visitor OFF your site at your own risk. In other words, you’d better have a really good reason to do so. Such as with SFI, sending them to your Veriuni Store, that’s branded with your affiliate ID and leads them to either purchase from you or sign up as your sponsored affiliate.But if a link takes me off to Amazon.com for example, I’m history. Soon I’m looking at someone’s list of recommended books, then I remember that I’ve been meaning to look for a good deal on a Dell laptop, then it’s a gift for my mom, and I’ve totally forgotten the page that sent me here.The only possible exception that I can think of is a link on my site to a product that complements my own, maybe makes my own more functional or complete. If I’m canvassing for new affiliate prospects, I might want to offer a web design tool or an autoresponder. If I’m selling chairs, I might want to offer cushions or pillows. Just be very focused on what you want your client to do (the click to buy your product or sign up for your opportunity) and make sure every other link supports that.The GOOD place for affiliate links such as in the Amazon.com example, are in a pop-under window. The visitor has already done all she’s going to do, left your site, voila the window with one last try at selling something is uncovered. Send her off to a relevant site after a relevant product, you still might make a sale.What else not to do? Don’t pressure your visitors. Don’t hard sell them. That’s one of the reasons why surfers don’t click on Google Ads or website banners as much as good linking text. The text appears directly in context with what they have chose to read because it is interesting. The ads and banners are associated with selling, which has associations with coercion.If anything, today’s surfer expects courtesy, variety, information, more value for less money, and the freedom to make her own choices in her own time.It’s your job to make her like, trust and value her relationship with you and to give her what she expects and MORE. Then she’ll WANT to buy.

Getting Dollars In Your Mailbox With Your Own Direct Mail Business

Welcome to the World of Mail Order!Hundreds, even thousands, of dollars can come to you through the mail, every day, when you build up a successful mail-order business, and we’re going to show you how to do it! You don’t need complicated equipment, a lot of capital, or an expensive office to start with. But you do need determination, a place to work (your home will do fine for a beginning), and a good product.Before you begin to sell anything, take a moment to think about the possibilities of mail order. In order to hit the real jackpot in terms of money, your mail order business, whatever it is that you will eventually sell, must be well planned, timely, and draw lots of repeat business. You are going to have to look at what other mail order operators are selling, to see what kinds of products sell well, week after week, in the kinds of publications that you too are thinking of running ads in. And don’t forget to check back issue of these same publications check out which ads stopped running, which products flopped!Remember that the better prepared you are before you actually place your first ad, the better able you will be to cope with buying, selling, shipping and all the other new responsibilities you will have. But don’t let all this talk of responsibility scare you away – mail order is still one of the least complicated ways to get set on the road to financial independence, and possibly great wealth!Let’s Tackle First Things First!If you’re contemplating starting a mail-order business, the first thing you have to decide is what you’re going to sell. both as to general category, and then specifically. Your wife’s home-made candy; your own greenhouse-raised plants; a small useful “novelty” item; racing tips; or what? Try and ask yourself a few questions about what you intend to sell. Is it exclusive? Or can your prospective customers get the same thing more easily right at their neighborhood store? Is it really appealing, can you point out something (or many things) about it that make it something the customer’s just gotta have? And does it have a really sufficient mark-up (of which more hereafter).More mail-order failures can be traced to the lack of the right product than any other source. Sure it’s important to promote it right, write appealing copy, be efficient in shipping, follow up the sale, etc, etc., but if you haven’t got what the people want, nothing else will help.So don’t blunder into the business, plan it out. Think about whether you have some special expertise which you can bring to bear in the selection of what you’re going to sell. Always try to fill a need. Try to appeal to basic human instincts, acquisitiveness, curiosity, avarice, sexuality, greed, and so on. But appeal subtly, on the subconscious level, don’t let’em know you know what makes’em tick. You’ve got to be a sort of amateur psychologist, to have a high percentage of successful items, or else you must just somehow sense what will sell.Two Great Ideas You Can Use!If you haven’t a specific field in mind, here are two suggestions for you. The first is to sell information, or to put it another way, “sell paper”. Think up some information you think many people would like to know, and try and assemble it for them in a handy form, using your own knowledge, or research you can do in books at your public library. For instance, a list of hotels, by city and state, which agree to accept guests with pets – something very useful to animal-livers traveling with their dogs and getting turned away by the majority of motels they try to stop at.The second is how you can find the one really special, really “cute” and exciting item that you can promote the hell out of and (we hope) sell tens of thousands of. In this area of mail-order, fortunes can be made overnight, if you “know how to pick ‘em”. It’s a knack, a “feel”, and it’s usually inborn, and not a product of training. You may have it, and not know it! If you are one of those people who can sense the needs or desires of a large group, then before long you may locate an item that can bring you real money!How you can find your own special “hot item” before the public has even seen it anywhere is by attending trade shows, given every year, and sometimes twice a year, in major cities. New York, Chicago and San Francisco are the biggest centers, but local ones appear also in Miami, Houston, New Orleans, and many other cities.You can find out about these shows by calling your local convention bureau or exhibition hall, and enquiring about their schedule for the year. Very big hotels with exhibition facilities sometimes host them too. Or you can write to major exhibition managers and get their schedule for the next twelve months or more.Ad or Brochure – Which Way for You?To start a mail-order business, we would suggest placing small display ads at first, rather than creating expensive mailing pieces and sending them out to a rented list. To create, print, insert and mail brochures is a costly and very skilled affair, and is not usually undertaken by beginners. Also it is generally necessary that the item(s) offered be relatively high-priced to assure a profitable rate of return – what with today’s high cost of postage, not to mention paper and printing. A single $1.95 item, no matter how saleable, could never be profitable in a mailing – by the time you add up the cost of printing and postage you find there is nothing left for you! But if it is well-chosen, it could be a smash hit in a small ad, and make a lot of money for you, because, of course, if it works for you in one magazine very well, the chances are very good (though not certain) that it will be at least profitable, even if not as profitable, in other media.Markup, Markup, You Gotta Have the Markup!Other than an unsuitable product, or one that people just don’t want, the biggest other mistake you must avoid is having insufficient markup. You cannot afford to buy the same product that a retailer does, and expect to survive. Many retailers can do perfectly well with an average markup of 100% over cost, that is they buy the merchandise at 50% of its retail price, or, to look at it another way, they sell at twice the net cost to them (this is a very rough approximation, retailers’ margins vary all over the lot depending on the line of business they’re in; for instance, grocery supermarkets operate on far less gross markup than that).But you cannot exist in mail-order with a two-times-cost mark-up (potentially you might be be able to with a very high-ticket item sellingfor $500, but we’re not concerned with that here). You need at least a three-times cost multiple, and, if you can get it, four-, five-, six- or even ten-times is far far better. The higher your markup – the greater your chance of success. Your costs are far higher than a retailer’s. Advertising space cost is your biggest expense, and then you have to handle each order individually, pack it for shipping, provide a carton, take it to the post office, etc., as well as pay your general overhead expenses. Always remember that the higher the multiple, the smaller the number of items you have to sell to make an ad profitable.Now to Prepare Your First AdYou’ve chosen your “perfect product” for your first mail-order offering, and decided on the price you’re asking, and now you are faced with making an ad! Unless you are a writer/artist, this is a formidable obstacle. But it can be surmounted. We don’t suggest you call a big advertising agency. In short, they don’t want you (you won’t be spending enough), and you don’t want them (you wouldn’t be able to afford their production charges!). If you’re handy with words, try writing the ad after all the usual 1″, 2″ or 3″ mailorder ad only contains 50 or 100 words of copy (look at what others are doing in your favorite magazine) – and show it to some friends to get some criticism and ideas. If you get a thumbs-down reaction from your test audience, (or if you don’t really feel that you want to tackle the writing in the first place), locate a copywriter to help you through the classified columns of your local newspaper. Place a very short minimum-space ad, something like this:COPYWRITER. Small mail-order co. needs occasional ads written, freelance basis. Call 123-4567.in the “Help Wanted” section. You’ll get plenty of calls, and this will enable you to select someone with whom you’re compatible, and who won’t charge you an arm and a leg!Appearance and Presentation Are All-Important!The “look” of your ad is very important. Don’t neglect it. Not only the picture of the product, whether that be a photograph or a drawing, but also the layout, choice and weight of typefaces used, and so on. Unless you are an expert, don’t try doing it yourself . . you need a professional. It is simple to find one. Just proceed as above for the copywriter, but place an ad for an art director. He will take your basic thoughts, and transform them almost magically, into a really “pro”-looking ad. He’ll be able to “spec” the type for you, and recommend a typesetter who can set it for you (or he may quote you a flat price for preparing the ad which includes the type).I hope there’s enough here to have whetted your appetite for a go at the fascinating world of mail-order. If you want additional information, consult a full-length book on the subject.Good luck!Copyright 2004 by DeAnna Spencer