Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blogging For Profit

By now you may be wondering how I could have been blogging for several months now, but have just written about setting up my blog. Easy to explain: I kept notes of my experiences and have been trying to get them all transferred into my blog. Looking forward to finally getting caught up in "real time". So, that's that!

One of the new "terms" I picked up from Honest Riches is to "monetize" a blog or website. With Blogger.com you can monetize your blog in two ways: AdSense by Google or sign up and incorporate banner and link advertising through affiliate programs.

My first choice is to implement AdSense advertising. If you are not familiar with the AdSense program, it is run by Google and to participate you enroll in the program. After you are accepted, you follow the directions and with Blogger, you use the easy to navigate options to ad the text and image ads to your site. It's automated so that the ads are chosen by Google and are targeted to be relevant to the content of the page they are appearing on. The "monetization" is created by revenue generated on either a per-click or per-impression basis. From what I've gathered, think in terms of less than pennies on the dollar. A low return, but again, all you are doing is letting the ads appear on your site.

At least by adding AdSense I have taken the first step towards "blogging for profit".

Sunday, December 7, 2008

HubPage is NOT A Blog? Who would have known!

Remember a few posts back when I said I had begun to feel like some of the concepts and terms Holly had written of in Honest Riches had started becoming more clear to me? Well, I had a lot more clarity about to come my way. HubPages.com is a wonderful site. A site I am very glad I joined. A site I'm greatly looking forward to using. What I realized, however, is that HubPages is a Web 2.0 site. A site that is created by the content the subscribers produce and post. Within the pages posted (which can be thought of as articles or stand-alone websites) the pages can link out to many places, such as, for example a website or A BLOG. But, so you don't end up with the same misconception I did, I still had not signed up for a blog host...even with all of this.

One thing I'm not is a quitter! By this point in the game, I'm sure it was well after midnight, but since I felt pretty safe that the 3rd time would be the charm, and I couldn't miss now, I forged ahead and set forth to sign up for Blogger.com. OK, so maybe the name "Blogger.com" or "Bloggspot.com" should have been like a beacon for me before now, but no time for regret, for I'm on a roll now.

All was fine in the sign-up process, until I had to create my account with Google. For some reason I could not get the "verification letters" to be accepted in the "verify you are a real person not a robot" box. I tried 5 or 6 times to no avail, then finally thought to clear my cookies. After a quick trip to Internet Options and a clearing of the cookies, I found sweet success with creating my Google Account- and in turn, SUCCESSFULLY CREATING A BLOG! Whew!

A Blogging Belly Flop

Well, I wanted to make a splash in the blogging experience pool, but instead, I did a belly flop. Here I thought I was signing up for a blog hosting site, but come to find out, PayPerPost.com is really a site where you can get paid for blogging about particular topics. But, to do that, you must have your own blog! Arggh! Of course, I don't realize all of this until I've spent all the time it took to sign up and get my account open.

By this time I was determined to create a blog before I called it a night, so I decided to turn back to Honest Riches where I compared and contrasted between the choices she offered on Web 2.0 sites and made a decision: I would sign-up with HubPages.com. Alright, I go through the registration process, get into the site and start looking around and reading some of the profiles, sort of to get an idea on how to set things up. Well, the more I look, then go back to Holly's book, then go back to the HubPages site, the more I think I need to find the tutorial and online help section, for I just was not understanding where the Blog section was and how it fit with the rest of what I was seeing on HubPages. No worries. I began to read.....

I Wanted To Blog...

Blog, Blog, Blog...I had heard this term for so long, but what it actually "was" sort of still evaded me. Hey, since when did having a lack of knowledge keep me from jumping in.

The way I actually began writing this blog started when I was looking over the free surveys offered to me on GetPaidTo.com, the paid survey site I began using. When I saw an offer for signing up to a site called PayPerPost.com. Well, I followed the link and decided to look the site over. The site looked legit, but before I filled out the info, I did a quick online search for reviews or feedback on PayPerPost.com. Finding nothing negative, I decided to "go for it"! I was so excited, for I was finally signing up for a blog!

I felt a bit uncertain since this blog site wasn't one that Holly had mentioned in Honest Riches, but even if it ended up that my first blog would be one that was just for practice, I was ready to stop standing still and move a little deeper into the water...heck, I felt like I was still standing on the edge, barely dipping my toe in the pool. I was ready to make a splash!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning some things from Honest Riches

Reading Honest Riches is like "getting a hipp education" to phrases that have become part of the common lingo of the world, but somehow eluded me, until now. I'm also learning that it really is possible to create an Internet Marketing business without a website....and in fact, static websites, as I know them, just may not be the very best way to get high search engine rankings. Who would have ever thought that?

When I was sharing with my husband some of the things I'm learning about, such as blogging for profit, social networking sites, Web 2.0 sites and forum listings, he said it not only sounded like I was learning some quality information, but, that I was enjoying learning it. He was right.

The first time I thought about getting ready to try my hand at blogging, I posted on a forum asking for opinions on who thought which blog sites were the best, and why. Unfortunately my thread did not generate any discussion. Not to worry, I came to the conclusion that when the time was right, I would make my decision based on the sites that Holly talks about in her book. (Little did I know how soon that would be.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honest Riches: The Study on How To Make Money On the Internet

Finally ordering Honest Riches felt like a really big step for me, for once I made the decision to purchase Holly Mann's book, I knew I had to make a commitment to myself that I would see reading the book through to the end. In the back of my mind were a few guilty memories of projects started in earnest, but left unfinished. Since I truly desire to find honest ways to make money online so I can work from home, honoring my commitment should not prove too difficult.

Ordering and downloading the Honest Riches was really easy. After the e-book was on my computer, I decided to go on and burn a couple of back-up copies for safe-keeping. In fact, since the newest version, Honest Riches 3, is 277 pages long, to have it in paper format for ease of reading was my next step. Since I had a spare 3-ring-binder on hand, I just used a manual hole punch and a simple notebook for my pages. Starting out, I decided to print off the book in blocks of about 40 pages, thinking I would read each allotment, then go back and print off the next block of pages. Each evening I would try to read the pages I printed earlier. The last thing I wanted to do is rush, but, the other last thing I wanted to do is wait!

Somewhere between 30 - 50 pages in, I realized I wish I had been taking notes, highlighting or even just making references and jotting down page numbers of points, tip and how-to's for future reference. Wanting to do this right, and with the best benefit I can, I grab some notebook paper and start reading Honest Riches from the beginning, again. ( I prefer taking hand written notes, but you could just as easily put your notes in a word processor document. ) If repetition and taking notes was how our teachers thought we learned best while in school, why not use those same techniques here? Now, if you try this, it's not so much to write down every detail, but rather an outline of the information you think you will want to refer back to….really simple outline of ideas, notes to look up websites, and page numbers. I think when these notes will really come in handy is when I start to put together my first site and need to know how to research and submit it to get ranking on the search engines, like Google and Yahoo. It's one thing to read it and have it make sense, but another to actually remember what to do the first time!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Goals Accomplished: Legitimate Survey Site & Ordered Honest Riches

In my last post I outlined some of my goals to get me back on track...I've done well with 2 out of 6 goals.

I researched and found a legitimate paid survey site to work with: GetPaidTo.com .

Now keep in mind, I am only doing online surveys to make a little "seed money" for my Internet Marketing start up expenses. My main objective is to utilize Holly Mann's Honest Riches so that I can actually learn how to make a "pipeline" business online. Usually, in working, people are doing the physical work themselves, like carrying buckets. They must carry buckets, of "water" to actually "get" the water...or, they must do the work in order to make the money. To have a pipeline, where the "water" flows freely, whether or not you are there, is what I am trying to do. I want to create income streams that flow with or without my being "on the spot". So, to make that happen, I've achieved the 2nd goal of my list: I ordered Holly Mann's Honest Riches.

Ordering was really simple. Once my order was confirmed, I was able to download the e-book right to my computer in a PDF file. Because I like the safety of backups, I burned a copy of the book to CD, then, because I prefer to have a paper copy of books, I printed the book out. No short task, for the book is nearly 300 pages long.

Remember I said I had done well with 2 out of 6 of my goals? Fact is, I'm not giving up. The goals I have accomplished are things I've really been trying to do, so with those under my belt, I'm more motivated to get the rest of myself in order with the other things.

As soon as I get into reading Honest Riches, I'll let you know how I'm doing and if I'm learning anything!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Internet Marketing Can Be Addictive!

Even though I'm not yet really "marketing" anything! There is so much to learn, so much to try, it is never ending…and because it is something I am enjoying, I don't want it to end. Just look around my house and desk at the evidence of "things left undone".

Part of this is totally "me". When I find something new that I am interested in learning or working on, I get pretty single-focused. And, you see, this competes with my natural preference of being somewhat organized and "scheduled" with my housework and deskwork. Realizing this upfront is probably a good thing, so hopefully I can "nip it in the bud". My incentive to buckle down and get caught up comes from wanting to get rid of that "knot" sitting in the middle of my stomach. You might be familiar with this. Think back to when you were school age and it was 6pm on Sunday night. If it was during the school year and I hadn't finished my homework or studies, I would always get that sinking feeling when the theme music for The Wonderful World of Disney television show would come on. Hearing that music signaled to me that the weekend was almost over and if I didn't get busy, my battleship would be in line to be sunk, come Monday morning!

Well, I may not be hearing the Disney theme music, but I am feeling that lump in my stomach, and I don't like it. As much as I want to do nothing except for Internet Marketing oriented tasks, it's time to "face the music" and set my priorities. No matter what, if I stay up until 3am every night working, there will still be more to do. So…how should I approach this? How do I divide my time so that I keep moving forward, yet get my discipline back to reign in the wildness of my home and office?

Ok, here is my plan:

Get back to what I know, first, and get a handle on my responsibilities. My dad once told me, when I was really behind in a course my freshman year of college, to knuckle down and get caught up, THEN, keep working and get a little bit ahead. I'm going to do that. Get caught up on my deskwork, bills and such, then get caught up on the housework and laundry.

Prioritize what needs to be done, in order, with regards to my Internet Marketing business so I can stop trying to do too many things at once, and ending up feeling guilty for not getting anything completed.

Focus on researching legitimate paid surveys to sign up with
Be more diligent in making timely blog posts
Order Honest Riches
Read Honest Riches

Make myself get back to exercising at least 3-4 times a week. All this sitting at the computer is starting to find it's way into the old muscles! Now this one is going to be easy, for I have a great collection of exercise DVD's and workout equipment.

Set a "stop working" time: Computer off at 11pm. (Since it's 10:37pm right now, I'd better wrap this up if I want to post it tonight!)


My conclusion is this: Excess in moderation is fine! There is nothing wrong with pouring myself into learning all I can about Internet Marketing, but, do it smart. I plan to be around a long time, so instead of running down the mountain at full speed, I'll take it a bit slower, and walk. I'll still get there, but in my own time!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Survey Says: Legitimate Paid Surveys Exist...But do they?

You know how I've said that during the time up until now I have been reading a lot in different online forums? Well, one topic that seems to be found in most "earn money at home forums" is the discussion on honest ways to make money online. I had remembered seeing a thread topic about "Legitimate Paid Surveys" and how some people were writing that you really could get paid for surveys. As it always seems, in the middle of what looks to be a good home based business opportunity, somewhere there is a monkey-wrench thrown in under the cloud of concern about the likelihood of "paid surveys scam".

I guess what bums me the most about any idea that sounds good, but is overshadowed by the potential of scam, is that instead of being able to just go forward with working the idea, time has to be spent doing research to determine the legitimacy of the idea. *Sigh* Alas, this is where I try to remember the old adage "Haste makes waste". I know that if I don't do the research, I could potentially waste my time, and worse, risk wasting some money and "business" happiness, if I do get "taken" by scam offers. Resigned to doing the research, I set off to see what I could find for "Paid Surveys Review". I found some, but for the most part, what each "paid to take surveys" user review consisted of was a list of links to paid survey sites with a brief account of the type of money making opportunities, being either surveys or offers, or both, and how great the site was. Nothing I found really made me feel like the reviewer had actually been a "user" of the sites. I mean, some of these reviews had over 50 get paid to take survey links. That's a lot of companies to sign up with! I'm not saying they were being untruthful, but, it did strike me as a bit questionable. Alright, I'll go ahead and say it…I was looking for something to give me the same feeling of confidence I felt when I found Holly's book, Honest Riches, and her website.

Not finding what I was looking for, I made the decision to select a handful of survey sites that had been mentioned in the majority of the GPT (Get Paid To) reviews and join them with the plan to try them out and take my own notes for research, then write my own review with the type of information I was unable to find online myself.

When I get the research completed and the review written, I'll come back to this post and put a link to it. Actually, this is kind of exciting…ok, so maybe I'm not researching Rocket Science, but, I'm finally doing something, um…sort of "tangible" for making some money online! (Or so I hope!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

7 Day's and Counting

Well, I had challenged myself to see what I could learn online about the things Holly would be teaching in her book along with trying to make some money over the next 7 days.

To get started trying to make some money, I decided to concentrate on two areas I knew something about, Half.com and consignment store selling. For those of you just joining my Diary, HERE is a link to an earlier entry telling about how I first became involved with selling books and Cd's online, first with EBay, then with Half.com. It actually felt good to be getting back to looking around the house and gathering up more books and Cd's to list for sale in my online store. Once I had completed this task, I continued to gather and sort through the larger items that I had originally intended to sell on EBay. Instead of getting back into the online auction program, I wanted to see how I would fare with selling through an IRL (in real life) consignment store. We are fortunate to live within the neighborhood of several of these stores so putting this part of my plan into action was very convenient. Another bonus for trying the consignment store? After they picked out the items they thought would sell, it was a breeze to take the remainder of things to donate to the charity shop where I received a receipt for Income Tax deductions. OK, so no actual $$$ yet, but, the foundation was getting set.

Getting a bit "itchy" to start learning, I decided to delve into seeing what all I could learn online. There are several forums for people interested in working from home and making money on the Internet, so I set about to reading as much as I could, and from the forums, I found links to independent articles and peoples websites and blogs, also packed with information and ideas. Once I started reading, my mind felt like a sponge, absorbing all these random bits and pieces of information, ideas, techniques and terminology, all about things I knew very little to nothing about. It was exciting because even though I was totally confused by all this new information, I was so inspired to keep reading. At one point a little switch turned on in my mind and I started brainstorming…which was really funny since I really had no idea what I was brainstorming about!

Now, this is where I will tell you to take note and consider doing, not as I did, but as I wish I had done. As I said before, I didn't know how I would use all this information I was picking up in the forums, articles, blogs and websites, but, I started jotting down notes, website addresses, and creative ideas on a little scratch pad that I grabbed in haste. There were actually several times that I had a thought, but my lone scratchpad was in the other room, and by the time I went to write it down, my thought was lost. My mind was in such a "free form" that the ideas were just flowing. Afraid that when my initial excitement subsided, the potential blast of creativity would also diminish, I wanted to take full advantage of this great moment in time.

What would I do differently? Instead of using a little scratchpad which resulted in my having page after page of random notes and website addresses, I would start organized instead of having to get organized. Just like when taking notes in school, having the proper supplies available is key. Everyone has the way they work "best". For me, I like combining handwritten notes with computer document files. What I eventually did was take all my random notes and determine how to categorize them.

I then purchased a writing tablet just for this purpose and began rewriting my notes into the tablet, by my categories such as:

Article ideas: For Reviews or Blogs
Items to incorporate in Articles
Blog site possibilities
Blog site theme ideas
Article submission sites
Forums
Web hosting options
Pay per Post sites
Domain name ideas
Affiliate Companies: Are there programs for the following products I am interested in? (my list then followed)
Money making ideas

In addition to purchasing the writing tablet, I purchased a small spiral, dedicated as a place to write my login name and passwords for various sites I was signing up for.

In the event that I had a brainstorm when I was away from my desk, I placed a small scratchpad and pen in my nightstand, by my sofa, and in the car…when I did find that I used the pad to capture an idea or thought, I made it a point to transfer the note into the appropriate category in my writing tablet as soon as possible. To get an idea of the types of products I'm referring to you can click here to see examples. In fact, it's through Amazon.com, so you can even buy if you need anything.

Though I am jumping ahead in the time line, I want to tell you of the program that I am using to write my blog entries, for if I had realized how great it is early on, I would have probably been using it alongside, or maybe even instead of, my writing tablet. It is my Microsoft Office OneNote computer program. For creative purposes, I really like the flexibility of this program, much more than Word or other word processing programs I've used. If you can picture having a notebook with dividers, where you can open up to a page and jot down a thought or quickly take notes, anywhere on the page, and have it automatically saved…then you have a tiny idea of how cool this program is. Anyway, if you want to see it for yourself, you can check it out here, it's the Microsoft Office Home and Student program with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

During the process of all of this research, note taking, brainstorming and organizing, I had read several times about something some people were doing to make "easy" money online, and I began contemplating if I should try it. Hmmm? After all, I was supposed to be trying to make a few dollars this week for my "expenses". I decided that I would approach this idea like everything else: do a little research along the way and make an informed decision, only taking action when I felt confident that it was the right thing to do. So, I did!

Friday, October 3, 2008

How Seeking Honesty Led Me To Honest Riches

Have you ever sat down to do a Google search on your computer, and when you finished and got up, were shocked to see how much time had passed? That's what happened to me when I started my search for a program that would teach me how to build an online business. It seemed to take forever. My results gave me a lot of sites that were close to what I was looking for, but usually they felt all hyped up and fake. A lot of my results led me to several blog sites and things called Ezine articles that promoted online courses. One such site even said that it was set up almost like a college course, which I liked. But then, when it said that it also gave you 15 personalized, hosted websites to help you make money online, I said "good-bye". In my mind if they are giving me 15 sites, then who says my sites are going to be any different from the other 15 sites another "student" has? And another. And, so on. This sounded like they were not really teaching how to build an online business, but more giving some basic information then supplying you with an online vehicle pre-destined to make THEM money, via you, the student. All said and done, I spent about 2 hours typing in variations on the phrase "course on how to build an online business". In doing all of this I learned something that I now use quite a lot. In one of my results I saw that a course was being reviewed, so I clicked on the link and was able to read a more refreshing perspective of the course I was considering, as compared to only what I had read on the courses product information page. I liked that. Getting an individuals thought's on the product. Just when I was about to head over to Amazon.com to try and find a book to order on this, I thought about adding the word "honest" to my search terms. When I hit enter and my new page of results appeared, I nearly could not believe my eyes. An official site called HONEST RICHES. The summary text below the main titled link read (this is a direct cut and paste of the text):

"How to Make Money Online. Resources, information, recommendations & HONEST legit advice and methods. What it takes, what is involved and how to do it"

Once I followed the link and read some of the product review, I was so excited. Everything I read sounded exactly like what I was seeking…a book that would teach me what I needed to learn, and how to apply it. Because of my earlier disappointments that I've written about in prior posts, I didn't buy right away. Using my handy little "review" trick, I searched all different ways to check out Honest Riches. I tried to find something bad about it, looking for a negative review, searching RipOffReport.com, even searching for some sites that rank and compare online products and programs. (I'd love to post links to some of the places I did my research, but in all my excitement, it never dawned on me to save any sites to My Favorites folder for later use.) After another couple of hours, I was convinced that Holly Mann's book was legit, popular and well received. It took all my discipline to hold off on buying the book right then. In fact, I made a vow to myself that I would actually wait 7 days before making any decision that would cost money. This was on August 3rd, 2008.

You might be wondering that if this book was so wonderful and exactly what I was looking for, then why on earth, after all the time and effort I had put in on everything, would I wait to buy the book and get started studying? Well, everything about the book felt right, to the point that I wasn't having to convince myself of anything just to feel ok about ordering the book. However, by waiting 7 days to give myself a "cooling off" period, I wanted to see if my excitement and commitment to wanting to start this learning process and then follow through with it, would be as high and determined at the end of the week.

During the self-imposed 7 day waiting period, I decided to challenge myself a little. First of all, I wanted to do as much reading online to get a better understanding of what might be involved in building an internet business, sort of like my own "introductory course" to what I expected Holly's book to be about. Second, I wanted to try and make some money, either online or offline, that I could put towards paying any of my "start-up" expenses I incurred with this new endeavor. Between all of these projects, I was hoping that the 7 days would fly by!

By Sunday night, still the same date of August 3rd, I knew that I was definitely going to purchase Holly's book, but, I had made a commitment to myself that I intended to keep. So for the next 7 days I would keep myself busy and see what all I could learn on my own and see how much money I could make to put towards building my new business!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What About Dropshipping?

In the last post, before the "Ike Interruption", I wrote about Looking to Yesterday to Find Tomorrow. Well, shortly after experiencing the "feeling good" that resulted from gaining a more clear perspective about who I was, where I had been, and where I wanted to go, I still couldn't help, at the same time, but to begin feeling a bit low and frustrated at my inability to connect with a way to make money on the internet. My husband was aware that I was trying to find my own niche, and one morning we started doing a little brain storming on this subject. Knowing I have a special love and connection to a certain "interest", we started discussing how I might focus on that area in a way I could build a business online. Now, we both agreed that the key that would best fit our lifestyle would be to find a way to not have to deal with physically pre-purchasing inventory, or, if avoidable, even personally being involved in the shipping of tangible products. So, our thoughts drifted towards the idea of dropshipping. In theory it sounded promising. Sell products, send orders to the wholesaler, and then have them to drop the order directly to the consumer. It could work. Hailing back to some of what I had learned in the Auctions For Income program, I headed to the computer to find what companies carried the specific types of products I would want to sell, and more importantly, which ones dropshipped.
 
To do my research, I began to check out the dropshipping companies I had bookmarked that had been suggested in the Auctions For Income course. A few had some products that fell under the category I was researching, but the quality and style was not at all what I had in mind. Also, the prices did not strike me as being anywhere close to what I thought would be wholesale. The more I looked, the more I began to suspect that many of these "dropshippers" suggested by the Auctions For Income program were probably people who had put together their own "dropshipping" store of products sold by other dropshippers…for not only did the higher prices make me think this, but also because the same products were showing up over and over from one vender to the other. Ok, so with my initial list of dropshipping companies exhausted (and removed from my computer bookmarks) the next step was to start looking at the specific products that I wanted to represent and see if I could deal directly with the manufacturer.

After a day of research and finding who to contact then sending e-mails to see if the companies did dropship, I began thinking about the fact that to do this, I would need to build a website. This website would have to be able to take orders, so I'd need a shopping cart program. The question of sales tax tugged at me…who would collect it and pay it? Where should I host my site? How will I drive traffic to this site? Oh yeah, how would I successfully build this wonderful website dedicated to my very special purpose when I'm not a web designer? Ok, no pressure. (Right!) About this same time my husband and I had been seeing a TV commercial advertising a company selling pre-constructed websites. They were promoted as "ready to go money-making sites". You would get some pre-built, and others you could fill with content of your choosing. Well, highly suspecting this offer would turn out to be nothing but a bunch of malarkey, I decided to finish off any speculations by calling the number. The pre-recorded message was such a hard sell "give us your credit card number now", without any live person to talk to or even a website to go to (yet remember, they are selling websites), I was very motivated to check them out on the internet and see if they had been reported to RipOffReport.com . Not only did I find they had already been reported, but I was able to find a few "scam" reviews of the company as well.
 
I really wasn't that bothered that the company came out to be as much a scam as we suspected it would be, but, I was a bit disheartened that I felt like I finally had an original idea (my special interest "niche") and really didn't know how I was going to do anything with it! Oh, and after checking my e-mails, I found that most of my ideal manufacturers did not dropship, though a few did. One even mentioned something called their "affiliate program", but since I had no idea what they were talking about I didn't dig into it any further. Before I contacted any more companies, I wanted to figure out how I would be able to build and promote my business. The last thing I wanted to do was create some good business contacts then let them grow cold because I was not prepared, educated or knowledgeable about how to proceed and actually do business.
 
Since my mind was "warmed up" to be searching online, I started researching for any and all pieces of information relating to building an online business or for work at home opportunities I could find. Oh my stars, what a minefield. Have you ever just sat down and searched online for terms like "work from home", “make money online", "how to make money online"? If you try it, you'd be wise to put yourself and your computer on high ground first, for you will be flooded with a sea of opportunities…mind you, I didn't say good opportunities. With all the results that reeked of hype, get rich quick schemes, and shady looking sites, I decided that a bit more fine tuning of what I wanted to find was in need. Instead of continuing to wade through all this waste water (just to stay in line with my little analogy I have going on!), I decided to go offline, and think. What did I want to achieve? What was it I was really searching for online? In order to keep myself from falling victim to a poor choice or worse yet, a scam, I had to have a well defined idea of what it was I was seeking to obtain at this point of trying to build my online business.

There were two points I was clear on:
1. I had a solid idea on what I wanted to build my business around.
2. I accepted that I had little to no knowledge on how to get started building my online business.

What I was seeking online:
1. I wanted a program that would teach me how to build an online business.
i. The program would have to offer me true knowledge, details, explanations, examples and instructions.
2. I wanted a program that was honest.


With my goals clearly defined, I set out to find my teacher.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How could an Internet Marketing Business help you survive a natural disaster like Hurricane Ike?

For years I have watched news coverage on natural disasters around the world. Images of the destruction and loss impacted me, but, in a removed way. The closest I had ever come to the effect of a hurricane personally was during Hurricane Irene, a Category 1 storm that popped up during a trip to Key West, Fl. That storm was an inconvenience to the Keys, but for the most part, business and tourism was able to resume within a day or so of the storm. My next exposure was from our prior business when we experienced evacuees of Hurricane's Ivan, Katrina, and Rita. Hearing the tales of how a normal 6 hour drive took 24 hours was surreal. Listening to person after person tell of how they packed up all the belongings they could before evacuating, painted a slight picture of what it must have been like for them. Watching a customer pace with worry, wondering if there would be anything left of his two car dealerships, made me realize that everything was at stake for these people. A place to call home, the possessions they held important, even the ability to create a living, hung on the fate of what the storm would do. The storms hit, the evacuees moved on, and thoughts on these things were replaced by new events and circumstances.

Last year when we moved to the Texas Gulf Coast, I started wondering a bit about the likelihood of a tropical storm or hurricane striking our area. There were a couple of times we had to pull in the balcony furniture and make sure we had bottled water, but, nothing more than a strong thunderstorm came through. This year has been different. We've had several times where the paths of the hurricanes were tracking close enough to our area on the coast that our response to the possible storms was more specific and defined. "Be prepared" was the message on TV, in the newspaper and on the radio. It's natural to take steps to prepare for the storm. But how can you be prepared for life after the storm? It doesn't matter where you live, how much money you have, or what type of career you have. Bad things happen. For eventually, a storm will hit, and when it does, lives will be interrupted. (Ok, I will add that the super rich and ultra successful have means and ways to deal with catastrophic loss that I don't have…Actually, that most people I know don't have. So when I write my opinion here, it applies more to the average person.)

The people in my community are dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane. But, anyone could find themselves facing catastrophic loss from causes like fire, flood, tornado or earthquake. I really started thinking about this last week after we had evacuated, post Ike. When the reports on TV started showing the specifics of what businesses had been damaged or completely ruined, I wondered what the owners would do? Would they rebuild, or call it quits? What about their employees? With the damage to the restaurants, stores and offices, it could be months before some are ready to open. That means it could be months before there is any income. That's pretty scary. A night or so later, as I sat in front of my computer, I realized something. If an Internet Business is built successfully, it works for you during the storms. If you have to flee from danger, the business is still safe. With the power out, you can still earn an income. If your home is damaged, you can still generate money. It's like a pipeline that pumps, whether you are present or not. Sure, I'm a long way from having the flow of income that will give my husband and myself financial security to survive even a light breeze, let alone a hurricane force storm. But, this experience has left me feeling more committed to forging ahead and finding the right combination of Internet Marketing products to create a successful business. For I want to be prepared, not only for the next storm of life, but for after the next storm of life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane IKE Interruption

As you may have read in my first posts, my husband and I tranplanted ourselves to the Texas Gulf Coast. Well, we now have experienced and near Cat 3 hurricane. Literally with the eye going over our apartment. I am making this entry from a hotel where we have had to vacate to. No water, no electricity, no phone, no ice, no refrigeration. No complaints, for God spared us any flooding and damage, save for a leak in the roof that caused the hard wired smoked detectors to start screaching at 2am in the middle of the hurricane, and not stop for 8 hours, only to restart after a rain on Sunday, and not stop. Who knew that DC current was so durable. No electricity, but, still...and the one detector where the leak was right around is on the 20 ft. high ceiling in the stairwell. No maintenece on site, no extension ladders, no abiity to block the screeching wail of the alarm. So, we took a break to clear our heads and see what to do next.

For any who read my blog, and who are going through storms of their own, I want to share a very special part of our experience. Perhaps this will give you inspiration for your own trials. Prior to the hurricane, we made the decision to "shelter in place" based on criteria given and the elevation of the property where we live. During the storm, there were times when the wind was screaming and howling and whipping around the sides of our apartment with such force and power that we wondered if the windows were going to implode or the roof was going to be ripped off. During this time, I would check the radio for updates or watch our battery operated TV for a clue as to where the storm was. But, only for a moment, about every hour or two. Instead of tracking the storm, my husband and I tried to rest. During the storm I prayed without ceasing. I invisioned my husband and I asleep in the bottom of a wooden boat, with God in the bow, and Jesus in the stern. I saw the sea raging around us, but still, we slept. I hear "Be not afraid". And I prayed. And I say this next with truth and sincerity of heart, that when the wind was so strong and the building was popping, the windows were rattling, I would ask Jesus to pray to His Father, as I prayed to my Father, to please, if it was His will, quiet the wind if just for a second. And every time, every single time, my prayer was answered with a pause in the wind. God was present with my husband and myself. He answered my prayer. Prayers were also asked for protection for all of the property. And an example of this prayer being answered was seen across the courtyard. A huge Oak tree had been in need of being taken down for over a year. This tree was just in front of another apartment. During the storm, the tree could have been blown and fallen in any direction. It could have easily crushed the roof over the front bedroom of the apartment. But, it did not. It was destroyed by the storm, but when it fell, it split in two, falling to either side, with not even the most remote damage to the building. Indeed, a prayer answered.

I can't explain the destruction and devastation felt by my comminity, and surrounding city. I can't explain anything. But I can say that I know that God and Jesus were in our boat. I can say that because when I asked, I heard the quiet answer of God, over the roar of Hurricane Ike.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Looking to Yesterday, to find Tomorrow

Have you ever had one of those "Oh, I see it now" moments? Like, when all of the sudden you have this understanding of how some of the seemingly unrelated events and experiences of your life, actually, happened for a reason. Well, it happened to me, and it's sort of a cool feeling. And, it's also a reassuring feeling, because, it further supports my belief that I am on the right track with building an Internet Marketing business.

This "epiphany" occurred when I was reflecting on a couple of "selling" ventures I tried several years ago. The first was when I was in college, and I was "recruited" to sell Mary Kay Cosmetics. I was drawn to the idea of joining Mary Kay and creating a business because of the independence it offered. Since I was in college, I pictured this opportunity being something I could fit in with my academic schedule. Well, that was my "idea". However, the reality was that from the very beginning I was uncomfortable. The idea of asking people to gather their friends and schedule a skin care class so I could try and sell the products to them and possibly sign up some recruits, was just plain torture for me. Needless to say I didn't earn a pink Cadillac. I didn't even earn a pink lipstick! In fact, I didn't sell enough cosmetics or skin care products to put a dent in my inventory. Guess what people received for birthday and Christmas for a few years? About ten or eleven years later, the next venture I tried was with the company Quixtar. I was more drawn to this program because I was really thinking I could build an internet based business without having to do F2F (face to face) sales. In retrospect the business model was similar to Mary Kay's, for though you are selling products, the main emphasis of the program is that you are trying to get recruits to sign up and create an earnings "down line". Again, to do this would require actually talking to people! Ok, the talking to people isn't what bothered me the most, but the selling to did. I don't like the feeling of being "sold to" and I really don't like the feeling of "selling people". You probably have guessed by now that when this business attempt came to an end, I didn't have to do any shopping for gift giving for a while, yet once again.

My point with all this is not that I have anything against the companies of Mary Kay Cosmetics or Quixtar, for I don't, but rather, that by my failing to find any success with building a business with these two ventures, I actually did find success. I learned something very important about myself. It was there all along, but I did not recognize it. Or if I did, I ignored it. I was not being true to myself, but I was letting other people convince me of what I would be good at doing. When I was younger, an organization I belonged to had the motto "To thine own self be true". I understand it now. It really is ok to be ok with who you are. When I look back over the 15 years that my husband and I spent developing and running our own business, I see that the times I was the most successful with our customers were when I was just being myself. When I would apply my own style to how I conducted business, it seemed that no matter what, I felt like I did everything better. In addition, when I look back over all of my adult work experiences, and reflect on what I did well, and, that I enjoyed, I see an outline that if I strive to follow and apply to my Internet business development, should give me great satisfaction and success.

Maybe in the past, the perfect "opportunity" did not exist for me, because at that time, it had not yet been created. Or if it had, perhaps I wasn't in the right place in my life to see it. I now know what I'm looking for, and I know that I'm on the right path. I can feel it. With a little more work, and a little more research, I'll find it. And this time, I'll know it when I see it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

PayPal: Another Triumph

PayPal was another stumbling block for me, before my EBay experience. Several years ago I tried to sign up to use PayPal, and for whatever reason, the attempt was not successful and I was not inclined to try their service again. Well, when I was setting up my EBay sellers account, I had to choose the option on how I was to receive my payments. In theory, PayPal seemed to be the most logical option to me, so, I decided to give it another try. And this time, it was successful!

Setting up the account took a few minutes, and required some detailed information, but nothing too complicated. Once I was set up and began using my account to receive payments to, I realized how convenient and useful PayPal was going to be. For anyone who has not used this service before, imagine a "clearinghouse" where merchants can send payment money to a sellers account. The seller receives the payments into their PayPal account, and then, when they choose, have the money direct-deposited into their personal bank account. One benefit is that instead of having a lot of deposits going into your bank account that you would have to reconcile at the end of the month, you decide how many deposits you want, and how often. (Assuming you have payments in your PayPal account to transfer!). In addition to this, there is the added ability to print out a monthly statement from PayPal for your account activity. I'm finding this a useful way to help organize my sales receipts, and having streamlined organization from the beginning of a project is something I really believe in.

Now, not every merchant uses PayPal for payment processing, but, since so many places do, it's great to have it. I couldn't see running an Internet business without it! If you want to know more, have a look around PayPal here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

EBay: Was it worth the wait?

Hmmm? Yes. But not for the reason I thought it would be. Initially, I really had imagined that every item I posted for auction would sell. For something. Even a tiny amount. (I told you I was a newbie!) However, out of 3 auctions, only the first one was successful, and that was selling a universally "in demand" product of anti-virus software. My 2nd and 3rd auctions were for shoes, and though similar items had shown some market demand, neither item drew any bids. After the last two auction efforts, I definitely took a step back and reflected on how much more time and money (a small fee for inserting the item into the auction) I wanted to "risk". Though I enjoyed the creative writing of the ads for the auctions, to do the research, take the photo, write the ad copy, figure out the shipping costs and post the auction was an investment of my time. If after 7 days that "investment" didn't result in a successful auction, it was time wasted. Of course, I always had the option to relist the item (for an additional fee) and try again. However, instead of trying anything else right away on EBay, I decided to look into their partner site: Half.com.

If you are not aware of Half.com, it is a marketplace that allows you to sell your books, cd's and DVD's. It differs from EBay in that it is not an auction, you do not have to pay a listing fee, and the item you list for sale stays online until it either sells or you decide to take it out of your inventory. When you list the item, you decide on the selling price. As far as the shipping, you do not set the fee, but are reimbursed by Half.com for a specified amount. Once the item sells you pay a very small commission. Having several books and CD's to sell, I thought "why not". Listing on Half.com seems so much easier with the format they provide as compared to listing on EBay. Actually, when I listed my first few items, because there were many of the same items already listed by others, I wondered how long it would be before I would sell anything. Surprisingly, not long! Within the first week of listing some books, I made a sale! After that item had been shipped, I listed a few more CD's and within another week or so, I made 2 more sales. Now, I'm not saying that I'm making sales everyday, but, I'm very satisfied with how Half.com works and will continue to list books, cd's and eventually DVD's to sell. If you are curious, you can see what I'm selling here. It's so easy to set up a "store" online, you might want to give it a try yourself!

With Half.com, I'm not only a seller, but a buyer as well! And at a bargain! While in a "discount" bookstore recently, I spied a title of a book that I was interested in. I jotted down the title and their sticker price, went home, looked it up on Half.com, and found a brand new, in the shrink wrap edition for $1.50 less (including shipping & handling), and ordered it!

So, to answer my title question, EBay was worth the wait. Had it not been for my "good but not great" experience on EBay, I probably would not have gone on to discover, what has turned out for me to be the successful selling opportunities of Half.com.

Some things work good for some. Other things work better for others.
But you never know, until you try, what's going to work best for you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Auctions For Income

Well, on June 9, 2008, my husband presented me with a surprise. Knowing how much I had wanted to try my hand at selling on EBay, but not knowing how to get started, he had purchased a program that promised to teach me just how to achieve these goals. The program was called Auctions For Income, and the kit consisted of several books, a quick start CD and a web address for assistance and coaching. I was really excited, and began looking over the information right away. The topics of the books ranged on how to get familiar with EBay, selling your personal household items, how and where to purchase items for resale, and even how to find drop-ship companies to buy products from. Oh, one book was devoted to finding items through foreclosure and government seizures. All the possibilities outlined in the books sounded interesting, but before getting into all that, the first thing I wanted to do was get going and sell at least one thing that I already owned!

Having this program was really helpful in that I had something I could look at in the book and follow along with while I was simultaneously seeing the same thing live on the EBay site. Sort of like a "tutor". Within a short time I had a better feeling for how to navigate and do research on EBay, look for past performance on auctions for products I was considering selling, strategy for setting prices and even how to research the "hot" items that were in demand. The tips on writing effective ad copy were helpful, as well as knowing that there are better times of day and days of the week to start and end the auction.

Within 6 days I was ready to post my first auction item! Wanting to make my first auction as likely to be a success as I could, the item I chose was of the type that research had shown had a really high likelihood of selling: Brand new Antivirus software. We had gotten the software with the purchase of another product, but did not need it, so, never opened it. It seems people are always on the lookout for this type of item, at a good price. My first auction was set to open June 15th and run for a week. Of course it was enticing to check out the listing and see how many views it had and how many bids, if any. It really did not surprise me that the bids were slow to start, for most people who have participated in auctions have figured out not to drive the price up with early bidding. When I saw that I had 2 people "watching" the product, I was pleased! On the last day of the auction, about 3 hours before the ending time, bidding began, and by the end there were 5 people bidding. The final sales price was a nice surprise, and setting up to receive payment through Pay Pal made receiving my money effortless. All in all, I felt gratified to have finally made the leap from wanting to sell on EBay to selling on EBay.

Nothing like being successful to get the ball rolling, so I decided on a 2nd item to set for auction and began the preparations. As far as the Auctions For Income program, I spent a little more time reading through the various books. The deeper I read, and the more I thought about what it would entail to really build up sources of products to sell in auction, I began questioning if following this program, beyond just selling some of my household items, was really for me. Having made that first bit of money online convinced me that I really wanted to find a way of creating a business using my computer online, but, I wasn't convinced that either Auctions for Income or EBay would be the main way I would do this.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Allure of EBay

It was September 1999 when my husband and I had our first experience with EBay, as buyers. At the time we were just getting involved with scuba diving and needing to build up our equipment. Well, how handy was it to just sit in front of the computer screen and discover all that we needed to outfit ourselves from head to toe! On top of the selection and great prices, there was the excitement of timing the push of the enter key at just the right moment to achieve the Winning Bid honor! It was all so easy. As a buyer. For some reason, making the transition from buyer to seller was daunting for us. After a while the phase of our EBay pursuits faded, and though off and on I mentioned that I would love to get rid of some of our "stuff" on EBay, I couldn't get past the "wanting" stage to the "doing" stage. I always said it was because we didn't have a convenient way to take and then post the necessary photos to use for listing online. But it was more than that.

Fast forward to spring 2008. By this time we had moved to the Gulf Coast and had down sized from 3000+/- sq. ft. to 1400 sq. ft. You know how when you move you think you have done a good job culling out your unwanted possessions, but then you realize, like a rough draft, it takes more than one attempt to finish the job completely? Spring cleaning had hit and I started going through some boxes we had put to the side and finding more and more things that we realized we needed less and less. Well, I started telling my husband that I wanted to get rid of this stuff and there was no reason we couldn't list it and sell it on EBay. By now we had a good digital camera. I figured everybody else was making money on EBay, so why not us? Well, time passed and I found myself still "stuck". Why couldn't I just get going and post our things online? Could it be that hard? What's the worst thing that could happen? Everyone else can do this, why can't I? Then I realized, it's because I didn't know how. Being a seller is different. You have to know how to do something before you can do it, and I didn't know to sell on EBay, nor where to learn.

And So We Begin

Not wanting my blog to be all full of flash forwards and flash backs, tonight I began working on an outline of what I have been doing as an Internet Marketing Newbie, up to this point. If the whole point of this blog is to be a record from the beginning, I figured I'd better start at the beginning!

Just a little more than a year ago, my husband and I had the joy of selling our business after having developed, created and run it for over 15 years. We scaled down, packed up, and moved from living on beautiful wooded waterfront acreage, to living in the balmy climate of the Gulf Coast. For all practical purposes we are now "retired". To clarify though, we're a couple of "not ready for the rocking chair" type of retirees. There is still plenty of living to do, places to discover, and new things to learn. Oh, and a lot of odds and ends that we have realized we can live without and want to get rid of.

During our short time being retired, we have enjoyed ourselves, and relished having the freedom to do what we want, when we want to. In fact, now that we have enjoyed our first year of time-off, we've started thinking of how we could make a little extra income. With the recent changes in the economy, it started us thinking. Of course you never know what tomorrow will bring, and with that, can you ever really feel that you are totally "prepared"? Completely through trying to add "a little bit more" to your nest egg? We both enjoy working on our computers and with our past business, feel comfortable being online. So, what could we do on our computers, online, working from home to create a bit of an income stream? Little did I know, my husband would come up with an idea that would start this whole ball rolling!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Internet Marketing: Just Starting Out

For me, when I start something new, something I know nothing about, but have a strong interest in, it can be exciting, confusing, intimidating and enthralling, all at the same time. Being brand new to Internet Marketing with the hopes of creating and growing multiple income streams has me feeling all of the above, and then some!
As I begin this new venture and personal journey, I imagine I'm not the only person, or the last person, trying to figure out how to develop an income from working online, so, why not chronicle my progress? Why not record from the beginning why I'm doing this. Map out what led me to this idea. Outline what I try. Explain what I learn. Share when I succeed, and even, when I fail. This will be a great way to see my own progress, but even more valuable, I intend this diary to be something that others can follow and learn from...maybe be encouraged by, inspired by and motivated by.
Who knows, my foray into Internet Marketing may be nothing more than a great education in how other people are making money on the internet, or it could turn out to be the perfect way to launch into a new and exciting stage of my life and discover how to combine my interest and callings with a way to make a living.
I'm ready to find out...