Monday, June 30, 2008

Affiliate Marketing: 5 Reasons why you need a blog

by Mark Voce

Every day thousands of blogs are created, you have no doubt seen them, you have perhaps used them, maybe you have your own blog already. But why are blogs so popular for affiliate programs. These are my top 5 reasons for using a blog for affiliate marketing.

1. Quick and easy to update

Blogs are fast and easy to update, in just a matter of seconds you can create a new post with a new article you have written, you can add your latest video from YouTube or upload your latest photos. You can do all this without having to worry about writing new web pages, messing around with code and uploading your new page. Your blog will handle all the technical bits and pieces for you.

2. Interaction with visitors

Blogs allow interaction between you and your visitors, if you write a post that your visitors find useful they can leave their comments. They will ask you questions and you can answer so it starts becoming a little like a chat site. The benefit is that other visitors can see these questions and comments, so if they have the same question they will find the answer. When selling a affiliate product nothing even come close to a testimonial from a satisfied customer on your blog. This level of interaction moves they website away from being your website and becomes your visitors website, more like a community with many returning visitors.

3. Search engine friendly

Blogs are very popular with search engines. Search engines love websites that have lots of updates and lots of content. The more good content you have the more popular you will be with the search engines, this make blogs ideal. You can add new content every day or at least a couple of times a week and its all quick and easy. Blogs can also be setup to ping other websites to notify them when you have made a update, this means other websites can link to yours if you have some relevant content.

4. Sell multiple products

On a blog you can sell multiple affiliate programs or products. You can offer recommendations, reviews, comparisons, behind the scenes coverage. You can say why you have used this product and what success it has given you. When choosing affiliate products to sell you need to ensure they all fit into the same niche. For example if you are interested in health and fitness do not sell product about affiliate marketing, you need to look like the specialist in your field. not someone who is just trying to make a quick buck by selling whatever they can get their hands on.

5. Expanding resource

A blog is a constantly expanding online resource. You are always expanding your content by adding new posts and new comments. Every time a visitors leaves a comment this is again adding to your content. On a traditional web page it is too common to replace old content with new so your quantity of content is not expanding. With regards to content you need to remember one simple phrase "Content is King", this means that the more content you have the better as it has more chance of getting picked up by the search engines.

I wish you the best of success.

About the Author

Mark Voce

Get a FREE Bonus Report and a 5 part mini course on affiliate marketing by going to GetAffiliateMillionsNow.com/bonus.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ecommerce website development

by melinamenny

In the last 5-8 years, ecommerce has become a household term. With its growing popularity, there is some confusion as to what eCommerce means. Does it mean an online form? Is an online registration a part of ecommerce? Or does it only mean payment of money online?

Ecommerce or electronic commerce is the transaction of business over the internet. It features electronic transactions and the transfer of rights or ownership to use a service or some goods. If you've ever booked a ticket online, or bought a book from Amazon or rented a DVD through the internet, you already know how a transaction progresses online.

The first component of an ecommerce transaction is the ecommerce website. Ecommerce websites act as virtual storefronts. This is where the customer 'sees' the product they are going to buy. Virtual storefronts are more complicated that ordinary website designs because they contain a number of ecommerce tools built into them. Some examples would be the ability to add items to your wish list, leave a review, ask questions or calculate the price.

When it was started way back in the 90's, ecommerce was extremely expensive and vendors often had to pay through their teeth for customized solutions. Today, that is no longer the case. A large number of sophisticated hosting providers offer turnkey solutions to vendors. Vendors can select the features they want, pay only for what the need and run highly successful businesses online even without knowing a single line of code, thanks to these services.

Today, ecommerce solutions come as a package. How sophisticated and detailed your package is depends on your service provider. Some offer low cost packages, where you have to design the storefront and plug the shopping cart into the design. More sophisticated service providers offer you a compete solution, with an appealing website and a seamlessly working backend. This helps you extend a pleasant shopping experience to your client. Such services offer you state-of-the-art templates, user-friendly shopping carts, quick and easy checkout and instantaneous results. This will make your customers shop with you again and again.

Before you select a service, check out whether the ecommerce website design they offer you is unique. You do not want to look like a carbon copy of your competitor. Also check out if the design can grow with your changing needs, so you don't have to change providers as your needs grow. That is why it is important to select a service provider who offers services like a free upgrade or 24/7 support.

Your website is the first point of contact between you and your clients. It is therefore necessary that the site looks professional, with clear navigational links and all the necessary whistles and bells that go towards making a rich and satisfying shopping experience. A reliable and cost effective service provider can help you get your sophisticated virtual store up and running in less than a day, even if you don't know the first thing about website designing or coding.

About the Author

Ecommerce website development - Flashecom.com provides robust ecommerce shopping cart solutions for shopping carts, computer sellers as well as consumers that will help you obtain your online goals.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finding Your Affiliate Marketing Niche

by Andy Crofford

Does the idea of working for yourself, being your own boss, have great appeal? Have you been considering the concept of affiliate marketing? If you answered yes to these two questions then by all means keep reading.

I have been working independently for fifteen years and I can tell you without reservation that being your own boss gives a sense of satisfaction like nothing I have experienced in my long and varied career. But be forewarned, once you have tasted the freedom of working for yourself there is no going back! Creating an independent professional life affords you the ability to work when and how you choose. Freedom!

But maybe, like so many others who would love to have their own business, you don't have the funds or the inclination to go it all on your own. There is an answer to this dilemma and that answer is affiliate marketing! You get the best of both worlds with affiliate marketing. You are your own boss, yet you have very little overhead and lots of support.

If you have been considering the concept of affiliate marketing, let me give you some good advice. Find a niche. Don't spread yourself thin, watering down your efforts by signing on with a bunch of affiliates and slapping banners and ads on your website or blog.

You will make little to no profit this way. Affiliate marketing, to be successful, requires focus and dedication, and finding a certain niche product or service allows you to concentrate all of your efforts on that one thing. This is one of the keys to affiliate marketing success.

As you can see, this makes finding the right affiliate program, the niche product or service you will represent, one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

You will notice that I didn't say, "sell," I said, "represent," because the key to success in affiliate marketing is dedication to the niche you have chosen. This will require much more than just selling.

As seasoned pros will attest, if you really dedicate yourself to the niche product or service you have chosen you may come to feel as if you and your product or service are often one and the same.

Enter the concept of branding. Branding is another key to your niche marketing affiliate success. However, you need not concern yourself with branding when you first start out. If you are totally behind the product or service you have chosen to represent then branding will be a natural result of your marketing and networking efforts.

The only thing you need to do at first in regard to branding is to create a marketing plan, a vision of how you will present yourself and your product or service. That is what branding is all about, customers and potential customers growing accustomed to your marketing endeavors, learning to recognize you and your product or service and building trust in both.

But that is for another article!

The product or service. I can't stress enough how important it is to find something you will not lose interest in, a niche product or service that you can get behind, that you believe in. What is the sense in choosing a niche you know or care nothing about? And what is the point in choosing a product or service that few people are searching for?

You are probably asking yourself right now, "Where do I find affiliate programs in a niche I am passionate about?" And "How do I know if the product or service I decide upon has the potential for a long term career and for profit?"

I have a couple of great answers listed below:

Google Hot Trends

Yahoo! Buzz Index

Google Zeitgeist

SEOmoz Top Searches List

Check these sites daily. This will enable you to see which niche products and service affiliate programs are working and what consumers are searching for. It will also help you learn about the newest programs as they come out.

Just make sure you do your homework before you pick a company to become affiliated with. Use the search functions at affiliate marketing forums, like Digital Point Forum or Five Star Affiliates Forum, ask questions, research.

Once you have made your choice and have signed up with an affiliate, after doing the things I have suggested, you will be well on your way to niche affiliate marketing success!

About the Author

Andy Crofford own BANS Hosting, a company that specializes in helping those new to affiliate marketing to get up and running with Build A Niche Store software.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What is a Domain Auction?

by Carolyn Clayton

Due to the growth of the Internet and the need of many, if not all businesses and individuals to have a website; domain names are now the hotness commodity around. Everyone who is anyone now wants a domain name for various reasons and purposes, from large corporations to private individuals. It seems that in the world we live in today everyone wants their presence to be known on the Internet.

The reason that more and more people are now recognising the advantage of having their own domain name is the realisation that the Internet is the new and best way to promote products and services, the best for marketing purposes and as a way of getting your website seen by everyone. The Internet and domain name opens your business up to a whole new audience that you wouldn't be able to reach without the Internet.

It can easily be said that obtaining a domain name is a relatively inexpensive way to market yourself, your product or business; however it is wise to remember that the most desirable domain names have already been taken but this doesn't mean you will never get the domain name that you want as all domain names have an expiry date; although domain names never actually fully expire on the date they say they will, meaning if you are hoping to purchase one that is due to expire it is important that you keep your eye on it.

When a domain name is due to expire it is up to the domain name owner to renew the name if they want to keep hold of it; however if the date of renewal passes the domain name then enters into what is known as 'expired status.' The name then remains this way for 40 days, during these 40 days all services on the site are shut off but the domain name owner still has time to renew the domain name. If you are trying to get hold of a domain name and the domain name enters into this expired status then it is a good first indicator that the domain name will probably not be renewed. After these 40 days are up the domain's status will change to what is known as the redemption period.

During the redemption period all of the information about the domain name, which is kept on the WHOIS website will begin to disappear. When a domain name enters into the redemption period it is a good bet to say that the owner has decided not to renew. Finally, after the redemption period, the domain's status will change to 'locked' as it enters the deletion phase. The deletion phase is five days long, and on the last day the name will officially drop from the ICANN database and will be available for registration by anybody.

When these domain names become available domain auctions become the perfect way for a seeker of a domain name to get the one they desire. These domain name auctions happen on general product auction sites or auction sites specifically for trading domain names. Expired domain names that have not been renewed are sold. However, people who no longer want to utilize a domain name they own may also sell to potential buyers.

If you are looking for a domain name then it is advised that you visit one of these domain name auctions as you are likely to find what you are looking for.

About the Author

Helen is the web master of Discount Domains, specialists in all aspects of Domain Auctions.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Create Superb Graphics for your Website

by Sandra Prior

You've planned your content, you've played with HTML and you've selected a color scheme. Now add some graphical spice.

As Internet connections get faster and cheaper, people are beginning to lose their prejudices about web sites that use a lot of graphics. Yet, there are those who will always browse with images turned off, but it is increasingly becoming the case that if you want people to look at your site, then it needs to look good.

There are exceptions, where content is so compelling that design doesn't matter. Just remember, however good a site looks, it is nothing without quality content.

Ready-Made Graphics

When you decide to add graphics to your site, you have 2 basic options. Either create your own images or make use of the numerous collections of royalty-free web graphics. These can come from many sources, the most popular being direct from the web. If you look at the web graphics section at Yahoo you'll find a varied selection of free images you can use for your site, including e-mail buttons, background images and horizontal rules. Other popular sources include the clip art collections that come with most graphics packages these days.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. First, the quality of these images can most charitably be described as "varied" some are pretty good, but some are downright awful. Second, you need to bear in mind that every other novice web designer has access to the very same selection of images, and it does tend to show. On the plus side, the graphics are almost always completely free and you don't need any artistic skills to use them.

Home-Made Graphics

If you want to create a unique web site, you have to create your own graphics - simple as that. There is an ever-increasing array of software to help you do this, ranging from freeware and shareware to full commercial products. Some of the better packages will cater for every need from start to finish. All you need provide is the talent and imagination.

JPEG Images

Before you start, you need to learn about the two image formats used on the web. First there is the JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). This achieves a high level of compression by separating the colors from the details and processing them separately. When they are recombined, you have a color picture. But this is more than you need to know. What is important is that this works very well for graphics with smooth color transitions and few sharp edges - typically photographic images - and looks terrible for line art and blocks of text. The result is that, when used appropriately, a jpeg image will achieve a very small file size alongside a picture with thousands of colors and little noticeable loss in quality.

GIF Images

The alternative is CompuServe's GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). A huge image has its colors restricted to its own palette, which can contain up to 256 colors. GIF compression works by looking for repeating patterns within an image - hence large areas of a single color will produce a very small file - but GIFs are also ideal for any line or text where it is vital to retain the image's detail.

GIFs can also be used to tailor an image to a computer that can only display 256 colors. By limiting an image to the standard palette of 256 web-safe colors, you can be almost certain it will appear the same in any browser. In practice, it is preferable to strike a balance between using web-safe colors and achieving the best image quality â€" then those users with better displays will not be restricted by the lowest common denominator.

The humble GIF has also a few tricks hidden up its sleeve. The first of these is the ability to set one of the colors in the palette to be transparent - which means that whatever this color appears on the image, the background of the web page will show through, allowing you to make the graphics blend in to a much greater extent.

You can also string a load of images together into one file to create an animated GIF. This means you can have animation on your page without requiring any extra plug-ins. Bear in mind that every frame added to an animation adds to the file's size, and unless used sparingly, animated GIFS can become very tiresome.

X Marks The Spot

The main use of graphics on any site is usually to form a navigation system. One way to achieve this is to make each option a separate image, but often it can be neater to have your buttons as a single graphic. You can then use an image map to link different areas to different pages. In the past, the only way to do this was to create a server-side image map - the co-ordinates of a mouse click would be sent to the server, which would then redirect you to a specific page. But now any reasonably up-to-date browser supports client-side maps - a few lines of code in the page itself define the hotspots, and the link goes direct to the target page, with no fuss.

PNG Images

Soon you'll be hearing about another image format â€" the Portable Network Graphic, or PNG. The file specification was designed with the web in mind, and is already supported by the next generation of browsers. The PNG performs much the same function as a GIF, with two main differences: PNG files are noticeably smaller than GIF, and they can use alpha transparency. In other words, the image can have varying degrees of transparency, so it will blend into any background. But don't throw away your old tools yet - GIFs will be around for some time to come.

About the Author

Sandra Prior runs her own websites at http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Affiliate Programs Is The Secret To Earning Online

by Tim Fulcher

To put it simply you need to be really careful about any affiliate program you might join

The reason is simple:

Most Affiliate Schemes Are Made For Merchants Not Affiliates

What I mean is that just about anyone can start their own affiliate program or use something like clickbank. The fact that there is an affiliate program for a product doesn't mean it will sell anything - i.e. most of the time its likely you will be wasting your time

Why Do Affiliate Programs Often Fail?

There are all sorts of reasons most affiliate programs fail to do anything for the affiliate. Most of the time it could be that you are trying to sell a product to someone who is already an affiliate for the same product. As a result they just swap your affiliate URL for their own. The affiliate product may be old, the sales copy may be poor etc. In the home business world there is a tendency for affiliate sales to be very strong in the first few months and then tail off to virtually nothing

The key to being successful is to "test" any affiliate product you are thinking of promoting, to see if it really will sell. If you are unable to generate any sales even after a significant amount of advertising, then don't just carry on promoting the product. Try and switch to something else, and carry on "testing" until you find an affiliate program where the product really does sell

Protecting Your Affiliate URL

Many affiliate programs are based on some kind of cookie system which means the script puts a cookie on the persons computer who is viewing the page. If for some reason the cookie is gone, when the person actually buys the product, then you will not get paid anything. This might happen if the person bookmarked the merchants URL instead of your affiliate URL or if they use an "evidence eiminator" program which automatically cleans their computer of temporary internet files and cookies etc

There are effective ways of protecting your affiliate url and placing it in another page on your own site, so that when people bookmark the page they are bookmarking your page, this way no one would know it is an affiliate URL at all, but you need to remember that affiliate URL's can mean you are generating sales but you are not getting paid anything - so do be careful

The Most Effective Affiliate Schemes

The most effective affiliate schemes I have found are those where people join for free i.e. where there is a membership requirement in order to buy anything. So say you want to advertise on Google - you first have to create your free membership account - then later when you have verified your email etc, then you can come back and start buying whatever it is you want. These are the kind of affiliate schemes which in my experience can be very effective. People are not thinking - "how do I get round this persons affiliate URL" - as its free they just go ahead and join. Once they are signed up the sales are tracked much more effectively because there is no need for a cookie - the sales are simply tracked through the membership details when the person joined. You then automatically get credit for the sales however long it is before the person actually buys the products

In Conclusion

It is vital when promoting your affiliate URL that you learn to protect your affiliate codes, otherwise people will spot that you are an affiliate, and they will move "heaven and earth" to make sure you don't get paid

In addition you should "test" different affiliate products, to find which ones actually sell. When you find an affiliate product that is selling, then pour all your advertising into that product

About the Author

Tim Fulcher is an independent writer and webmaster. To find more about how to be successful online visit one of his websites at:
www.ebiz4every1.com


www.traffic-exchange-mo nitoring.com


www.ProfitChargerHits.com

Friday, June 20, 2008

How to Make Sure You Don't Pay for a Sub-Standard Web Site

by Alastair Revell BSc(Hons) FIAP MBCS CITP

Introduction

There are two related tests that you should conduct before engaging a web designer to ascertain whether the work they do complies with the prevailing web standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The tests are simple and easy to conduct and use the W3C's own tools.

Web Page Construction

Web pages are constructed using hypertext mark-up language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS). HTML describes the content of a web page, while CSS stipulates how it should be displayed. (Not all web pages use CSS, but most now do.)

The two W3C tests check whether the HTML and the CSS components comply with the internationally recognised standards.

Web pages are viewed using web browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Just because a web page can be displayed in one of these web browsers does not mean that it is compliant. In fact, most web browsers are very good at guessing what the designer intended, even if they haven't abided by the rules!

The problem is that by deviating from these rules, the designer introduces a degree of subjectivity into the equation about how the page should actually be rendered. It would be much better if the design complied with the standards, so barring bugs in the browsers themselves, the page should look the same regardless of the browser being used.

Problems with Non-Compliance

It might be argued that it is rather academic whether a web page complies with the acknowledged standards if it displays as expected in the popular web browsers. However, you should think again before accepting this position.

Firstly, just because a non-compliant page renders in some browsers does not mean it will render in all browsers. This clearly means you run the risk that the web pages you have paid for will not render correctly for some people, excluding some of your potential audience, and perhaps damaging your brand at the same time.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions have implemented laws to make the web accessible to people with disabilities, such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in the United Kingdom. Failure to comply with these laws can have serious consequences.

The problem is that many of the specialist browsers that allow people with disabilities to access web pages rely on them being compliant. You could well run foul of these disability discrimination laws if your web pages are not accessible to people with disabilities because they do not comply with the standards. At least, if your pages are compliant, you are one step closer to ensuring they are accessible.

Another good reason for ensuring that your web pages are compliant is to ensure you get better search engine placement. People are not the only things to access your web pages. Web search engines also access them in order to index them.

Clearly, it helps these engines immensely if they can understand the pages, which can only reliably happen if they comply with the relevant standards. Consequently, if your pages do not comply properly, they may not be so favourably placed on the likes of Google and the other search engines.

In essence, by accepting non-compliant pages from your web designer, you reduce your target audience. You reduce your audience because your content is less likely to be indexed properly and you reduce your audience by potentially excluding some of them because they can't access your pages properly.

Worse still, in some jurisdictions, you may have to face the consequences of having unfairly discriminated against people with disabilities.

How Can I Test My Pages?

Hopefully, this article has persuaded you that you've got nothing to lose by insisting that your web pages are designed to be compliant with the standards.

It does seem sensible to select a web designer who appreciates the importance of these standards and who demonstrates their commitment to them by ensuring their own site complies.

The W3C provide two easy to use tools to test compliance with the various standards for HTML and CSS, which you can readily use to assess your designer's technical skill and to ensure that your site complies with the standards when it is delivered.

All you need to do is visit the tools' respective web pages (given below) and type in the address of a web page you want to test (or better still just copy and paste it from the browser's address bar). Simply then just click the "Check" button to run the tests. If the results come back green then the page complies. If it comes back red then there are compliance issues. The report will detail the errors.

Obviously, one or two errors per page may be down to careless slips, but large numbers of errors will clearly indicate that the designer isn't sticking to the standards.

I'll leave you to conclude what to make of those web designers who advertise that their sites comply when they manifestly don't and what to do if you find your site doesn't comply when you've been told it does!

W3C Markup Validation Service http://validator.w3.org/

W3C CSS Validation Service http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

About the Author

Alastair Revell is an experienced Chartered IT Professional and the Managing Consultant of Revell Research Systems, a management and technology consulting practice, specialising in IT and computer consultancy, based in Exeter in the United Kingdom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Viral Traffic Increasing With Video

by The Davinator

The onset of traditional marketing is gone. Applying viral traffic to multiply the legion of visitors to a site is upwardly enjoying more favor. The game is always on the move, and striving to be different to set yourself apart to possible visitors is becoming more complex. The web population is no longer impressed by marketing smoke and lights and gadgets.

It's definitely the time to start using video in your niche empire! Added sites for video volume are showing up day after day on the Internet.

People always wanting to defeat each other in coming up with enticing, clever videos that will influence an audience who will pass their creative video content along. Your career will bring desired results in a number of implementations with viral marketing. Whereas there is always companies with mighty performance budgets, you don't always be needing a wealth of money or equipment to go viral. That implies that even limited operations can reap the benefits of this. You can do a lot with just a web cam. It is feasible to have the equal influence with a home video as the larger players do with their overly abundant budgets and huge video gear.

Of course , there is an acquired profession to creating videos. Even small budget videos can result in a huge amount of time to get the best results possible. There happens to be people who choose to establish an accurate script. Others desire improvisation and casualness. It really depends on the person creating the video.

Whichever ways you might look at it, viral videos are getting huge in ingeniousness and acclaim, thus implying success for the people who are working with them. This shouldn't continue to be ignored much longer, this is crucial business. If your purpose is to be a major competitor in the future, your best solution will be to get into it now, before it completely spirals out of control.

It certainly will be time consuming to have your videos entered and placed over a wide assortment of the viewing public. If you don't have a network of distributors, you will definitely find it hard to get your videos noticed. There are numerous free services you can try out for your own use. Nonetheless, and this is important, you supposedly will not be nearly as successful as you would if you used a hired service. The most highly reputable video distribution channel for an online marketer is a company known as Traffic Geysor. If you seriously want to have people view your videos, these are definitely the people to work with. You will be completely blown away at the total amount of time you save.

One of the most cutting-edge methods of getting your your message to the world, in my opinion, is through viral marketing. You should see noticeable results if you put a very guided effort into your viral marketing strategies for your sites and services.

As with obtaining the proper training in any new skill, having success producing viral videos will take time and practice. The more you work at it, the greater your results will be. Some of your attempts will be greatly successful, others won't. But without a doubt, you need to establish viral avenues as a marketing technique!

About the Author

Davin Ogden is a accomplished affiliate marketer and viral marketing strategist. He teaches innovative viral techniques including the use of viral video traffic. Download a incredible report on Creating A Winning Mindset For Success now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hosted CMS and the University: A Winning Solution

by Bob Rose

In an era where digital content continues to grow at an exponential rate, organizations of all shapes and sizes struggle to manage and create content. Much like large corporations, Web sites play a vital role in the marketing and communications strategies of higher education institutions. As college and university Web sites grow more complex, it is crucial to have a site that is properly managed, easy to navigate, and powered by flexible, mature content management technology.

With the right Content Management System (CMS), universities can help optimize communication with students and faculties, enhance student recruitment and retention, and maintain relationships with alumni. Content management technology is already at the core of many higher education Web infrastructures; one of the most rapidly adopted technologies, in fact. A CMS can provide a number of benefits by facilitating the efficient creation and management of Web content (news and events, course catalogs, faculty profiles, and more) throughout the entire content lifecycle. This enables content to be published with greater speed and ease - making staff more productive, operations more efficient, and content more relevant and up-to-date.


CMS: Addressing Web Challenges

While the content itself might be different, the content needs of an educational institution are not very far removed from that of a corporation. A good university CMS must provide:

- The ability to maintain consistent branding across campus-wide sites.
- The ability to decentralize content management to enable individual departments and offices to manage content.
- The ability to empower non-technical users (i.e. administrators, faculty, and staff) to easily create and publish content through an intuitive interface.
- The ability to deliver timely, targeted, up-to-date information to various audiences such as prospective and enrolled students, alumni, faculty, staff, corporate partners, and the media.
- The ability to easily integrate with external applications including Course Management, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, and portals.


Typical challenges with university content management

- Dreamweaver culture
- A hodge-podge of sites
- Varied branding
- Varied accessibility levels and content
- Finding the right CMS/CMS vendor to deliver the right solution

A recent survey conducted by the University of California, Davis, brought forward some interesting facts. Highlights include:

- 60% of the institutional respondents are already using a CMS.
- Open source, custom developed and hosted solutions are more popular than traditional installed products.
- There is no clear leader in terms of which CMS product campuses are using.


Does the installed CMS do the job?

There are several reasons why a traditional CMS might not be the best fit for institutional requirements. Consider:

Budget
An installed CMS is usually very expensive because you have individual costs for the software, implementation and support. With the latter two typically costing two to three times the initial software investment, educational institutions seldom, if ever, have the budgets to afford them.

Implementation
Implementation of CMS architecture across campuses is generally haphazard, and the level of customization is either very low or nonexistent. Given the complexity of a traditional CMS, it is nearly impossible for institutions to use a CMS on more than a quarter of their Web sites.

Support and Training
Most educational institutions have very few staff (if any) supporting the CMS. There is also a large number and wide variety of non-technical users, reluctant to change or any formal training. Not many CMS vendors offer technical training to users, especially so for users who might have no technical knowledge whatsoever. These factors invariably put traditional CMS at the bottom of the requirements list at university campuses.

The case for a hosted CMS

In the academic environment, a CMS must not only be cost-effective, it must also be quick and painless to implement, manage, support, and run. It must be kept in mind that universities also have a greater diversity of users connecting with the Web site: students (current and prospective), faculty, staff, parents, the community at large, alumni, and so on.

With a hosted CMS, infrastructure burdens are minimized. There is no hardware to buy, or software to install; you simply access the application through a Web browser. Hosted solutions also provide a set of standard modules and design templates, customizable according to organizational needs. Non-technical users will appreciate the convenience of this; they can focus on the content and its presentation rather than the underlying technology.

Universities have a gamut of user types, and getting them involved early in the decision-making process is an important step in choosing a CMS. Given that hosted solutions make it much easier for users to actually adopt the system, success rates are predictably higher. Most CMS successes can also be attributed to a "CMS champion": someone really motivated about using the technology, and telling everyone else how easy it actually is to use. Finding this "champion" can be easier if the CMS is actually fast and simple to learn.

A large part of traditional CMS complexity is due to fact that these systems are designed for large transaction processing. With a hosted solution, the institution can have the option of using only the CMS components it actually needs. Hosted CMS can also be up and running much quicker, with lower training requirements. The vendor has dedicated staff deployed to handle technical issues, and the institution does not have to take on the burden of finding or employing support personnel.

Conclusion

It is important to understand the role of content management in higher education to help define and prioritize requirements consistent with system-wide objectives. From schools to colleges and universities the right CMS can have a powerful impact by enabling users at all levels.

However, it is equally important to choose a CMS with the best combination of flexibility, control, and ease-of-use for the successful operations of institutional Web sites. Together, a CMS and a sound content management strategy can combine to address the complex, everyday Web challenges of higher education.

About the Author

This article is contributed by Rob Rose - Vice President of Crownpeak. It is important to understand the role of content management in higher education to help define and prioritize requirements consistent with system-wide objectives. From schools to colleges and universities the right CMS can have a powerful impact by enabling users at all levels.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Making Money Selling Other People's Products

by Morris Trahan

A lot of people are now getting into online businesses and online marketing either to supplement their "real world" income or for it to become their primary source of income. Why? Because online marketing just provides them a lot of benefits!

First, you can reach just about anybody in the world who has Internet access if you market your products online. That means a wider market for you, which can translate to larger profits. Second, setting up an online business requires only a fraction of the cost required to set up an actual business establishment, which means a lot of savings for the business owner.

Another aspect that has attracted a lot of people towards online marketing is the fact that one doesn't have to have his own products to get started. In online marketing, one can start making a lot of money just by selling, or even by just trying to sell, other people's products. And getting started with this kind of marketing strategy is actually quite easy. All that one needs to do is to set up an agreement with an online retailer or merchant, and after everything is settled, one can immediately start making money by selling the merchant's or the retailer's products. Incidentally, the most popular and the fastest growing method of selling other people's products online is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, in its simplest definition, is a relationship between an online merchant or retailer, who has products to sell, and his affiliates, who are willing to promote the merchant's product on their website.

In a typical affiliate marketing set up, the merchant provides his affiliates with banners and text ads that links to his site. The affiliates will then get these ads posted on their website and they get paid whenever traffic or sales is directed to the merchant's website. Affiliates are often paid on commission basis, although other online merchants would opt to pay a fixed fee for the affiliate's compensation. Starting to make money online with affiliate marketing is relatively quick and easy. All that one has to do is to sign up as an affiliate for an online company that offers affiliate programs. An alternative method, and usually an easier one, is to sign up as a member of an affiliate network--a network that hosts a variety of affiliate programs for different online merchants or retailers. Signing up is usually free, although other companies and networks may require you to pay a particular fee. Such fees, however, are made as payment for additional services that the company may render, like providing you with tools and assistance to jumpstart your online business.

When you sign up with an affiliate marketing program, you are usually required to fill out a form containing information about yourself. Some affiliate programs may also require you to present the URL of your website and describe its contents. This will allow the retailers to verify that you actually have a website with contents that are relevant to their products. Some affiliate programs, however, won't require you to have a website. After filling out the form and all, you are then allowed to choose the affiliate programs you want to promote.

After signing up with an affiliate program and being an actual affiliate, you are now ready to start making a lot of money by selling other people's product online. How do you make money? There are actually a number of ways for you to earn money as an affiliate, and most of these ways depends on the type of affiliate marketing program you've gotten into.

Many affiliate marketing programs compensate their affiliates in either of three ways: pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-sale (PPS), or pay-per-lead (PPL). In pay-per-click affiliate marketing, the affiliate is paid whenever he directs traffic to the merchant's site. PPS and PPL affiliate marketing programs work rather differently. In PPS, the affiliate only gets paid when his referral converts into an actual sale. In typical PPS affiliate programs, the affiliate would usually get 15% to 20% commission for each conversion. PPL affiliate programs work the same way, although affiliates are paid a fixed fee whenever his referral converts into a lead for the company.

Some affiliate marketing programs are two-tier programs, wherein the affiliate is also allowed to recommend other affiliates to the merchant. In such affiliate programs, the affiliate would not only be paid for the traffic or sales that he would direct to the merchant's site but also for the traffic or sales directed by the affiliates who signed up with the program through his recommendation.

Yet another way of earning more profits with affiliate marketing is through residual affiliate programs. Residual affiliate programs are affiliate programs where the affiliate gets paid a number of times for as long as the merchant keeps the customer the affiliate has referred to his site. One form of residual program gets the affiliate paid a commission every time the referred customer purchases something on the merchant's site. Another form of residual affiliate program gets the affiliate paid a percentage every month for as long as the company keeps the referred customer.

With a lot of options available and a lot of ways to earn money, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly the most popular and the easiest way to make money by selling other people's products online. As to how much money one can get from affiliate marketing actually depends on the affiliate. A dedicated and hardworking affiliate would certainly get more from the program compared to those affiliates who would simply sign up and forget about the program later.

About the Author

To find the best home based business ideas and opportunities so you can work at home visit: http://www.homebase-recommends.com

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Does Your Website Content Say About You?

by Sherice Jacob

As much time as business website owners put into finding a good web designer, it's amazing how little time gets spent in actually creating the website content - also known as the sales copy. This is the content that will help the customer make a decision whether to take action - or leave.

It's one of the most important keys of any successful website, and yet it's often ignored or patched together at the last minute and rushed off to the web designer to add to the site. Unfortunately, this can leave a lasting impression on that company's target audience.

Look over your website's front page copy - as this is where most of your visitors will ultimately end up. See if any of the following mistakes appear in your site. You may be surprised at what you learn!

Welcome to XYZ Company Website - This was the most common headline for sites established back in the mid 90's, when just having a website showed that you were "ahead of the technology curve". These days, customers can use the web to comparison shop and do research - much of this research is aimed at which company to do business with.

That said, your very first headline should be one that draws them in and perks up their interest in what you have to offer. A good example is the headline of this article. You were curious enough to click and find out what your website content says about you. Having "Welcome to Our Company" on your front page signifies that your company is "behind the times" and gives the visitor no information to go on about why they should buy from you.

My, I and We - It's great that you want to tell customers what your company does. Unfortunately, they don't really care. They want to know what you can do for them, instead. Rather than focusing on what you can do for them, tailor your website content to emphasize the benefits to the reader.

You can do this as simply as writing sentences that start with things such as "You will learn...", or "You will find that..." and then ending them with a benefit to the customer, such as "how to improve your marriage in less than a week", or "you have a brighter, whiter smile".

Your readers will almost automatically imagine themselves better off as a result of your product or service - and this kind of "written visualization" will help them see that your offer is the logical choice to get the desired result.

Lack of a Compelling Headline - This ties into point #1 - but a compelling, action-oriented headline gives your customer the impulse to read further. That doesn't mean you should take your headline to the extreme and dress it up with bright red text, heaps of exclamation marks and CAPITAL LETTERS. Those are major copywriting "turn-offs" for a professional business and they show that you're unenthusiastic or bored with the product.

You know your product is the best - so why not share that enthusiasm with your reader? What is it that you enjoy or admire about the product? What can it do for the customer? Say it up front in your headline. That's what urges them to keep reading more.

Lots of Tech Specs - It's great that your product is powered by an X250Q fusion engine and 220ZX turbines. Unless your end user is intimately familiar with those products and specs - they'll simply leave confused. And they probably won't come back.

On the other hand, if you tell them that 1. They'll never have to buy gasoline again and 2. They get the kind of hauling and drive power they need to move those heavy loads - NOW you've got their attention! When you write your website content, after everything you believe is a benefit to the consumer, ask yourself, "So what?" Eventually it will boil down to the core reason why the customer needs it - and that's the gold you're looking for!

When you keep these copywriting suggestions in mind, you not only help make your website content stronger and more compelling for your reader, but you also instantly improve your product or service's credibility in their eyes. Give these tips a try and watch your conversions go up! All the best!

About the Author

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, you can find even more web design tips at http://www.iElectrify.com/resources/

Sherice Jacob holds an M.A. in Media Studies and has played an integral role in creating several successful web businesses - for herself and others. She currently manages a full service web design and internet marketing firm at http://www.iElectrify.com

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why a Niche Market?

by Daniel R Cox

One of the questions I usually get from new affiliate marketers is "Why should I concentrate on a niche market?" Often, the reasoning goes that if I can market a diversity of products, I can increase my chances of making money. This approach would seem to make sense. One only needs to look to the success of WalMart™ to understand that a diverse product base can be profitable.

However, in the highly competitive world of affiliate marketing, this approach simply doesn't work. Why? Primarily, as an online marketer, we are faced with two distinct disadvantages to a 'brick and mortar' store like WalMart™. The first is that our potential customers cannot touch and feel our product. For many, seeing is believing. The second is that in order to provide similar diversity of products online, our web pages would become overwhelmingly impossible to navigate. Customers would struggle to find what they are looking for. You can argue that Amazon.com doesn't have a problem. I would argue when you have the multi-million dollar budget that they work with, then you can do what they do.

For the independent affiliate marketer, niche marketing provides a competitive advantage by making it easy for the potential customer to find what it is they want to purchase. When someone is serious about a certain hobby or interest, if there is a specialty store for it, they generally will shop there. Why? Let's take a look.

Niche Market Advantages

Advantage #1 - Niche marketing weeds out unwanted products

While this may seem obvious, the impact is enormous. Think about it. When someone jumps online to purchase something, they usually have a clear idea of what it is they are looking for. At the very least, they can narrow down their search fairly quickly. For example, if someone is looking for a specific golf club, they will type in their search engine "golf clubs". In doing so, they have eliminated all other sports equipment. They will not find basketballs, baseballs, skis, surfboards, boats or anything that isn't related to "golf clubs". This is how people shop online. They know what they want and they go looking for it.

When you focus on a niche market, you are increasing your chances of earning money simply because you can offer a product or service to someone who is looking for your kind of product or service. Additionally, by focusing on the one market niche, you begin to learn what is available, what your competition looks like, and what is bad out there. You become better equipped to tailor your marketing efforts to overcome common objections in your niche. In short, you start to become an expert in your niche, which IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF NICHE MARKETING!

When people perceive you as an expert in your field (niche), then what you say, or recommend, carries more weight. Let me ask you this - if you were buying golf clubs, would you listen to Tiger Woods or Jay Leno? Me too.

Advantage #2 - Niche marketing offers a broader selection of higher quality products

If you go to the golfing section of WalMart™ or Target™, you'll usually find a section with five to ten choices of golf clubs, a number of different golf balls, a section on the gadgets and such, as well as gloves, caps and novelty items. If, however, you visit a Golfsmith™ or Roger Dunn Golf™ store, you will find a different level of selection. At my local Golfsmith™, there are no less than seventy-five different sets of new golf clubs being offered. From starter sets to pro-level, there are men's and women's, youth and teens, as well as, get this, a complete left handed section (for me!). You can't find left handed clubs in the general stores.

The strength of niche marketing is that it gathers a wider range of quality products, This, in turn, allows you a much broader choice of quality affiliate products to market. This is important because every market has its hot products. However, the are usually a larger number of products that will perform very well without being marketed by everyone and their brother, which is good for you!

Advantage #3 - Knowledgeable staff

Have you ever noticed that photographers generally staff camera stores? Or that golfers run the golf stores? When did you find a wrestler running a quilting supply shop? OK, it could happen, but I will tell you this - that wrestler will know a heck of a lot about quilting. Why? Because he's around it every day. He talks to people who are quilters and hears what they want and what problems they run into. He will share in other's successes and help his customers over come their challenges. Do you see the advantage of becoming an expert in your niche?

It's the nature of focus. The more we spend time doing something, the better at it we become. In short, we become experts. And as I said earlier, people listen to what the experts have to say.

So there you have it. Clearly, focusing on a niche market will provide you the targeted customers and vital know-how to compete in the affiliate marketplace. Focus, focus focus and give yourself the competitive edge.

About the Author

Daniel R Cox is a successful online affiliate marketer, writer and founder of ImperialBrand.net, the Affiliate Marketing Authority. Imperial Brand.net is an online source for information and resources for affiliate marketing success. For a limited time, you can claim the "Getting Started in Affiliate Marketing" ebook absolutely free at http://www.ImperialBrand.net

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tips When Finding A Domain Name

by Mike Selvon

If you have arrived at the stage where you have a business that you would like to present online, then you will need to build a website and take care of domain name registration. The domain name that you choose will be your unique website address and you will use it in your advertising and marketing to attract visitors to your site. Right now, because there are so many people starting internet businesses, it can be challenging to find the right domain for your site.

There are many domain registration companies that provide name registration services for domain names. The registrars all have access to and search through a centralized database that contains all of the records of current domain names.

This database includes basic information about who registered the domain, or hostname, and when the registration will expire. When registering a domain, the minimum period of time is one year, yet most registrars allow the domain to be registered for up to ten years.

Most people will choose a domain name that reflects the theme of their website that they plan to build. Their domain web hosting also uses that website address. Others prefer to register a domain that includes all or part of their name, making it very personal.

Choosing a domain or hostname, is an important part of starting a web-based business. The name you choose for your domain it is the main thing that people need to remember so that they can find your website and it is what you will be promoting through your advertising and marketing efforts.

In essence, the domain name for a website becomes the "brand" that is most visible through marketing strategies. As anyone who has been around marketing can attest to, branding is a very important and fundamental element in building a name and reputation for any kind of business entity. This is why it can be a challenge to find the perfect name for your site, and why there is so much competition to register names that are descriptive, short and memorable.

Once you have found a good hostname that is available and you have had it registered, be sure to keep your contact information current with the registrar that you used and make a note of the date that your registration will expire. If you have been able to secure a good name, then be careful not to let it expire.

If you don't renew it because you didn't receive the renewal email notice from the registrar, then someone else could easily come along and register your domain. When that happens, all of the marketing and advertising you have done will no longer benefit you and your website, but will go to the new owner of the domain.

After the domain name has been registered, the next thing you will need, if you don't have it already, is a domain web hosting package that will provide the server space where your site files will reside. Your new domain needs to be forwarded to the web servers of your hosting provider, then in short order your site will be live and ready to receive visitors.

About the Author

A free gift awaits you at our portal site, where you can enrich your knowledge further about the domain name. Your comment is much appreciated at our dedicated server hosting blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Does Your Web Design Contract Include These 5 Crucial Items?

by Sherice Jacob

Working with a qualified web designer can either be a fun and rewarding process - or a frustrating headache. All too often, I talk with business owners whose websites are left only "partially completed" (if they're even finished at all) - or are full of errors.

Their web designer insists they finished the job, and the client is to blame. The client is upset because the web designer didn't include or detail certain things - and they now feel like they've been ripped off. What do you do in a case like this?

A lot of these problems could have been avoided with the right kind of web design contract. This is a document that generally is written up by the web designer themselves which outlines several key items relating to the website development.

Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure your web design contract includes the following five vital areas.

1. The Work to Be Completed - What's involved in the creation of your website? For example, will the designer be furnishing graphics or will you be providing your own photos? This is the "meatiest" part of the contract and outlines, specifically, what work will be done.

2. Timeframe for Completion - How long will it take? It's a good idea to specify (or have your designer do this if you're not sure), "milestones" that will need to be completed before you'll release a portion of the payment to them.

For example, many designers request a 1/3 down-payment to gather materials (such as domain registration, hosting, stock photos and so on). Then the second 1/3 is done upon your approval of the web template they will be using throughout the site. Having milestones like this ensures steady progress on the site while giving the designer reasonable payment for their work as they complete it.

Timeframes also include a completion date. Not setting one (or asking the designer to set one that you both can agree on) means your project could go on forever!

3. Payment Details - How, When and How Much are the questions to be asked here. How will the designer be paid? (check, money order, Paypal...), when will they be paid and how much is due? Not specifying these terms could leave you with a hefty bill at the end of the job - for things that you were unaware of at the start!

4. Confidentiality and Copyright - Who owns the design once it's finished? Designers often relinquish the copyright of the design to the client - but like to reference it in their portfolio as an example of the work they can do. Oftentimes, working with a designer means you'll be giving them private or confidential company information. If necessary, ask the designer to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that states that they will not share the information you give to them as part of the project.

5. All The "Little" Extras - It's a good idea to cover all the "little" extras that can add up to a big design bill. Specifically, ask about things like ongoing support, software updates, and content management. Will the designer train you (or your staff) to make changes to the site yourselves, or will you be paying them a monthly (or hourly) fee to do it for you? There are pros and cons to both, so be sure you know the costs and benefits associated with each one. Discuss this with your designer if you're uncertain.

All in all, most web design contracts are simple and straightforward. And more often than not, you'll have nothing to worry about. Still, if conflicts should arise, you'll have a written document to go back to in case there are issues that can't be solved easily. Good luck!

About the Author

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, you can find even more web design tips at http://www.iElectrify.com/resources/

Sherice Jacob holds an M.A. in Media Studies and has played an integral role in creating several successful web businesses - for herself and others. She currently manages a full service web design and internet marketing firm at http://www.iElectrify.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The 4 P's Of Marketing And How To Apply Them To Affiliate Marketing.

by Mark Voce

It doesn't matter what type of affiliate product, or in fact any product, service of otherwise you are trying to sell. You can greatly increase your success if you follow the 4 P's of marketing.

1st P = Pain

When a customer buys a product it is driven by pain. They need the product to help them, it is an essential item that they require to go through their daily life. Obviously this can be translated very differently depending on the product in question.

For example buying a new car, the pain is not quite as clear, it could be psychological the customer thinks that they need a new car to match their lifestyle or to impress. The customer may require a different type of car such as a SUV or 4x4 as their needs have changed. But the low down fact is that their is a pain involved which leads to a purchase.

A much clearer example is a everyday product such as a kitchen clearer or detergent. The customers pain is that they cannot remove the unsightly dirt and grime from a household appliance.

2nd P = Process

This is the process by which you can fix or solve the customers problem. In the case of the kitchen cleaner problem you might be able to offer a cleaning product that will destroy all types of dirt and grime and leave the appliance looking like new, essentially you can help the customer and remove the pain.

You explain the process or workflow, you can provide the customer with basic essentials such as product descriptions, the benefits and features of the chosen product. A step by step guide to how the product works, what is the end result etc.

3rd P = Proof.

People are skeptical, they don't always trust everything they read or see. How do you combat this, easy, provide the customers with product reviews, testimonials from other customers, case studies and stories.

You need to give the customer some proof that they are not alone in this and other people have experienced the same problem and removed the pain using this product.

If you look at the leading online stores you will see countless comments and reviews for each product, these can include a star rating and a testimonial. This is great way to reassure potential customers that the product will do what they require.

4th P = Profit.

If you can identify the customers pain, provide them a process or workflow on how to remove that pain and finally prove to them that this will work. They will buy from you and you will make profit. Its as simple as that.

How to use this in affiliate marketing.

In the affiliate marketing world this is extremely important, you cannot just simply recommend a product to any customer. Unless the customer is currently in pain and needs that product they will not understand what this product is going to do for them and therefore why should they buy it. You need to target the best product to fix the customers problem. Hold their hand through the sales process and prove to them that this will solve their problems.

Real life examples.

You can use this principle to sell very general products, such as a internet marking course that takes a customer for zero to hero. They have maybe tried affiliate marketing before but have not made any money or even worse have lost money. They are in pain, they now that other people are making money from the internet why can't they.

The second example is a much more focused niche. A customer may be using a pay per click advertising method such Google Adwords, they are losing the battle against their competitors and are throwing bad money after bad. They need a specific product that will help them improve and remove the pain. If you can offer a solution to their problem and prove it will work you are going to make profit.

I wish you the best of success.

About the Author

Mark Voce

Get loads more affiliate marketing articles, tips, FREE e-books, videos, case studies, reports and exclusive interviews all showing you how to start living the internet dream at MakeEasyCashOnlineNow.com

Monday, June 9, 2008

Information Technology - Building Business For Small Website

by Akhil Shahani

While looking for any assistance or merchandise, the most common practice nowadays is to first browse the Internet. The popularity of the Internet has thus made it the largest promotional place to showcase assistance or merchandise needed by all. So, an online version has been included in many businesses which are offline in nature, and numerous innovative people have started businesses based on information technology, building business for small website.

IT is an area that has countless prospects for everyone. Besides becoming the address for many small businesses, IT is also a place from where you can choose from different types of jobs offered.

Given below is how information technology helps in building business for small websites:

1. Globalization - You can secure orders for your products from consumers living in different parts of the world. Thus, you product market is not limited to the city where you are based but outside it as well. This way your revenue will also increase with the increase in your clients.

2. Payment - Information Technology has been one of the biggest achievements of mankind so far. With IT you can sell your product and get paid for them online. The clients can use their credit cards or Paypal accounts to send money to you for your goods. This will help you increase your business as it is not necessary for you to meet your clients to get the payment and at the same time your clients also need not have to go to you to collect the goods.

3. Convenience - Shopping online is very convenient as we just have to sit back at home and shop. With IT, you can create your own websites and sell your products online conveniently.

4. Cost effective - You don't have to spend so much money on maintaining your business website as compared to renting an office. Websites are cost-effective and this leads to increased profit.

5. Audio and Video message - Information Technology can bring you all those benefits which you never thought was possible. This includes leaving an audio or video message for your clients or website visitors. You can make them understand your products better by leaving these messages. Thus, it can boost your sales.

6. Advertisement - Internet is one great place to advertise your products or services. You can promote your business successfully through internet and, that too, at a low cost.

7. Informative - Your website should contain all the information that a customer would like to know about a particular product. When you provide sufficient information about your product, the chances of securing an order would be high.

8. Entertainment - You can add some entertaining features in your website to entertain your present as well as potential clients. With the help of IT you can add numerous kind of entertainment. When your visitors are happy with your website and its contents then you may stand to gain some new clients for your product or services.

9. Gaining new clients - Through IT you can gain as well as retain clients. Your business webpage must be informative as well as attractive so that you can gain new clients and retain the exiting ones.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Akhil Shahani, a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed. If you like to work smart, check out http://www.SmartEntrepreneur.net . It's full of articles and resources to help you start and grow your business successfully. Please visit us & download our special "Freebie of The Month" at http://www.smartentrepreneur.net/freebie-of-the-month.html

Friday, June 6, 2008

Affiliate Marketing Facts and Tips

by Paul Barksdale

It truly amazes me how many people think that they can just sign up for an affiliate program and start cashing their checks. I guess it's not all their fault, with all the hype floating around in the air surrounding these programs.

So how are you supposed to make money as an affiliate?

What you should be looking for when joining an affiliate program...

First and foremost, you must get involved with a program you actually believe in. One that you are passionate about and are totally convinced that it will help people achieve whatever their goals may be when they join. If you jump on the band wagon of every new program that comes along, you will not only reduce your effectiveness you will also loose interest very quickly when you are not making money from it.

Most people trying to make money on-line tend to get in on a program based on all the hype surrounding it and really have no idea of what they want to accomplish by becoming a member. They just want to make tons of money like whoever is promoting it tells them they can, quit their day job and move to a secluded island and retire; which totally defeats the purpose of joining in the first place. Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it simply doesn't work that way.

Do your due diligence before you join; no excuses here...

Before you join, you must do your homework and know who is running it, and if possible, who your sponsor will be. A good successful sponsor can be like money in the bank. Try to find someone with a proven track record and do what they do. Don't try to re-invent the wheel. It's almost imperative that you have a mentor, someone who really cares that you are a member and one that you can contact for help on a regular basis.

Don't be shy, email or call them, ask questions and pick their brain about how the program is working for them. And yes, ask them how much money they have made with it. While they may not be totally truthful, and you shouldn't expect them to reveal exact dollars and cents, at least you will get a feel for who they are and what their goals are for being involved with it.

Map out your road to success; this is an absolute must...

Trying to succeed today with affiliate Internet marketing for most people is like taking a trip they've never been on and not looking at a road map before they begin. All they see or seem to care about is how much money they can make. When you don't have a plan to follow you ill go round and round in circles and end up back where you started. Which for most people is to jump on the next get rich quick, hyped up program they run across.

You must realize that all these programs you are joining are most likely written by expert copy writers whose sole job is to get you blinded and salivating over all the money that you think you're going to make when you join. What they fail to tell you, most of the time is, there's actually a lot of work involved before you start to make money. And this is where people get sided tracked a eventually loose their focus.

Take my advice when I say that a real legitimate money making program will take your time and effort to be successful. It's not all about joining up and thinking that the cash is going to start flowing in.

Conclusion

* Find a program you believe in and disregard all the bells and whistles. Get to the guts of the actual reason it exists and then determine if it's something you can really believe in. If the only reason you are signing up in the first place is to get rich quick, then don't even bother. You're wasting your time.

* Quit jumping on every program that comes along and find a legitimate one that you have done your homework on and can devote all your attention to for at least one year, minimum. Persistence and focus should be your key points. This gives you name recognition as well as brands you as someone who is serious.

* Find out who your sponsor will be if at all possible. Ask them to be your mentor. If they don't response to your email or phone call within a reasonable length of time, move on to another one.

* Plan your trip, and follow your plan. Set some goals and stick to them. Get serious with yourself, do some soul searching and find out if what you are getting involved with will really help others. One of your goals should be to get into a program that will allow you to really serve the members that will follow behind you and take into account that they were probably once where you were when you started.

If you will implement the guidelines above when you consider becoming an affiliate marketer you will find yourself getting involved for all the right reasons and realize that it's not all about just making money. It's about what you are giving back that means even more.

About the Author

Paul Barksdale has been involved with Internet Marketing and Affiliate programs for the last 10 years and has been very successful. He has been involved in many joint ventures but prefers to keep a low profile.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

5 Navigation Keys to Get Visitors to Take Action

by Kenn Schroder

Ever wonder why Google is the preferred search tool on the Web? Could it be because Google is simple? One search box; one search button... just type in a keyword or two, and go.

Many coaching websites, particularly those with more than 20 pages, are difficult to use and poorly organized. They lose visitors simply because they are hard to navigate.

And it's a shame if people leave your website without taking action. Your prospect list won't grow as fast, and you'll miss out on sales and client- acquisition opportunities.

The ideal navigation makes it easy and fast for prospective clients to hop around your website and perform tasks. And when it's easy, people do things - like buy products, sign up for teleclasses, and call you to explore working with you. The bottom line? Your business grows.

To smooth out your navigation and help visitors get the information they want, purchase your products and services and grow and succeed, here are 5 navigational pointers to get you started:

1. Organize your site from your visitor's perspective.


Your visitors - or, with hope, prospective clients - see your business from a different perspective than you do. They aren't looking to learn about coaching techniques, assessments or models. Instead, they're looking for answers to questions that pertain to their specific situation - such as, "Why should I be here?"; "How can you help me?" and "What should I do next?"

Thus, you need to organize your content, pages and links in a way that answers these questions and satisfies the unique requirements of your visitor. As a result, your website becomes intuitive and easy to use.

2. Have a consistent primary navigation.

Just as a book has a table of contents, every website should have "primary navigation" - the central, most obvious set of links that governs the website. This is usually found across the top or down the left of the page.

To ensure your primary navigation is consistent, keep it in the same location on each page, and be sure to use the same labels.

Consistency gives prospects the confidence to click around your website, knowing that if they get lost they can quickly and easily reorient themselves.

3. Minimize the number of links (effort) to find things.

It may sound obvious, but the faster and easier it is to find content and links on your website, the much, much, much better it is for you.

This doesn't mean you should link your home page to every single page. That would make the home page hard to look at. Instead, you should find out the top things that most of your visitors are looking for and make finding those things very easy.

For example, let's say you are a new coach and you do most of your promotion by networking. And, as part of your client-securing strategies, you recommend articles to prospects and invite them to download them from your website. Then, when it comes to linking, you should put "Articles" in your primary navigation (mentioned above) and put links to the top one or two recommended articles - right on the home page.

It's also vital to avoid over-organizing your content. For instance, if you've written 8 articles, you don't need three different categories in which to organize them. Simply create one page titled "Articles" and list them there.

Furthermore, keep in mind that as the number of clicks to find things on your website increases, the more time it takes for pages to load -- and the more chances there are for errors to occur. And the more errors that occur, the more chances there are for people to get stuck. That's NOT what you want; not by a long shot.

4. Keep visitors one step ahead.

Each page serves a purpose - whether it's to inform the visitor or to have them fill out a form. When a visitor is thus finished with each page, be sure to lead them on to the next logical one. Using words like: "Your next step" and cues such as arrows are very helpful.

For example, if a visitor has just finished signing up for your newsletter, make sure to send them to a recent article. After they read an article, invite them to check out your links page for other helpful websites.

Your website is an informational tool, and its job is to provide visitors with content and resources to help them.

5. Be mindful of your website - and business-related objectives.

Yes, it's crucial to organize your website from a visitor's perspective and make it easy for them to navigate. But it's also vital to ensure that the steps taken when using your site lead the visitor toward your business objectives.

Some examples include:
> Getting a prospect on your email list
> Registering for a teleclass
> Filling out an assessment

Thus, be sure to keep your business objectives in mind as part of the overall website organization. Help prospective clients get what they want while getting what YOU want - a win/win.

Here's a tip that could be worth thousands of dollars - seriously.

To insure your website is smooth and easy to use, try this: Sit down with a friend, ideally someone in your target audience, and watch him or her use your website. If you find yourself having to explain things, your website is probably not as easy to use as it should be.

Over the course of a year, the value you get from watching one person use your website can make a tremendous difference in your email sign-up rates, initial sessions and product sales. That can easily amount to thousands of dollars in business.

In other words, remember that on the Web, ease of use is vital when it comes to websites.

As a coach trying to convince prospects that you can help them, it's your duty to be a good leader. You want that message to shine through on your website. Make it easy to use and action-oriented, and you'll find yourself meeting - and even surpassing - your expectations.

About the Author

Kenn Schroder helps coaches who are struggling to attract clients. He provides web design, web marketing and search engine optimization to help you build a client-attracting coaching website. Get your FREE report and FREE newsletter to help you build a practice full of clients. http://www.CoachingSitesThatWork.com