ecommerce

What exactly is eCommerce?

Business is rapidly catching up to the technology that’s been created for it. A popular term today is eCommerce. “What’s it all about and why should I care?”, you may be asking yourself.

In its simplest terms, eCommerce is just conducting business online. Such business can be transacted in many ways. Think about conducting business in the physical world. You make deposits at the bank, visit the grocery store to make purchases, and go to the gas station to buy gas. Each of these activities denotes a commercial transaction.

Transactions between businesses are also common. They exchange services and lease or buy equipment. Instead of asking for an upfront payment, a business normally sends invoices to be paid later.

Commerce in the virtual world is conducted in much the same way by using various technologies. eCommerce has become popular for a number of reasons:

  • Convenience
  • Speed of transactions
  • Large numbers of businesses and consumers using eCommerce methods

A business is only as successful as the number of customers it attracts. With the huge number of people using the internet these days, businesses have discovered new avenues for increasing their sales. As with anything new, the customer’s trust has to be earned. How to accomplish that helps determine how an online business is set up.

ECommerce provides for the livelihood of businesses that operate strictly online. Depending on what their product line is, eCommerce can expand the markets for a physical business globally. Because of the internet, an entirely new group of consumers is available with infinite niche possibilities.

All of this can result in many headaches before you get to the point where you are earning money. Although selling online can be seen as simple in concept, the production side can be a bit tougher.  Knowing the little things can make the difference between having an enterprise that’s successful and one that does nothing.

Before you embark on your eCommerce ship, there are a number of decisions you must make.  Important things here are planning and strategy.  Fortunately, there are a great many resources available to get you started in the right direction.

Use whatever resources you have at your disposal. They can be of help with everything you need – selecting products to market, setting up your site, and marketing.

Different Kinds of eCommerce Sites You Can Create

Are you interested in eCommerce? It is not only the wave of ‘now’ but of the future as well.  Technology enables businesses to conduct business online which provides yet another way of doing business.

You may be asking, “What can I do with an eCommerce site?” Surprisingly, it’s not just for sales. Depending upon where your business is based, it can be used for many different purposes which we will discuss below:

Virtual Storefronts – When you shop online, these are the sites that you see selling merchandise. With a site like this, everything can be done in one place. It definitely gives new meaning to the term “one-stop shopping.  Shopping in a virtual store is in many ways similar to shopping in a physical one.

By using menus, customers can choose product categories and narrow down their searches. After items are selected, they are placed in a virtual basket or cart. Once shopping has been completed, the customers can checkout and get confirmation of their purchase.

With a virtual storefront, you can sell many types of products. Your only limitation is what you can deliver to your client in a way that you still make a profit for your business.

Information Sites – The goal here is to make the sale but not on the website itself.  Informational sites are often used by companies with physical stores to advertise their products online. This kind of site is also used by large corporations to gain interest in their products.

Finding information is one of the main reasons people surf the internet. Suppose you wanted to buy a car but didn’t want to spend all day driving around and using up gas.  Instead, you can get assistance in making your car purchasing decisions by visiting internet sites that provide information on cars.

These websites provide content on the various products they sell. Site visitors are able to view photos and/or videos of the products as well as a description, pricing, and location information.

Marketplaces – just think of eBay. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably know all about eBay. If you are in an eCommerce setting, sellers and buyers are brought together by a middleman. Sale items can be bought through a bidding process as is done on eBay or purchased directly.

Here, there are several businesses working at the same time in the same area, thus competition. However, since you are working in a virtual setting, there is much room for expansion as your business continues to grow. The best part is that much of what you need to get ready for your eCommerce business is already laid out for you.

Something to think about: Know the type of site you want to start out with. By utilizing any of the types of sites listed above, online businesses can broaden their appeal and be visible to many more customers.

Creating an eCommerce Website

Once you decide that doing business online is right for you then the job of creating your online presence begins. Creating a site for eCommerce is similar to creating a website in general. So let’s get started!

The first thing you have to do is to decide what type of website you are creating. Will you have a storefront that is virtual? Will this be strictly an informational or content type of site? Are you putting the two together? You may want to consider a marketplace type of structure.  In the end, it’s up to you!

The Basics

A domain name represents who you are online and says something about your business. If an offline brand is already established, then the domain name is usually the same as the company name. If your business is strictly online, it can be anything you want. Think about some names for your new venture. Do a search on the internet to determine if any of your name choices are taken.

People will find you once you have a name.  If you want the pages of your website and content to be ranked in search engines results, you will need to register your site with search engines.  You should use related to your business within your content and throughout your site.

Whom will you get to host your website?  When selecting a web host, pick one that offers additional services like templates and site maintenance, for example. Try and get as much space as you can for information storage and page creation for the price you pay.

Setting up a Virtual Storefront

For eCommerce sites that sell products, there is a process in getting ready for business.  You’ll first need to set up your virtual storefront. This is where you will display your products for customers to look at. In order to satisfy potential customers, you will want to provide as much information as possible.

Very few customers will make a decision based on the description alone. You are better off using your own images of your products on your site instead of stock photos. To enable rapid viewing, the photos will need to be compressed.

In addition to products, storefronts need a way for you to keep tabs on your items. Shopping carts and baskets now come into play.

It is the same here just like with a regular store – payment types must be specified and verified. You will find software and internet resources available to make all of this possible for your eCommerce business.

Creating the website is just the beginning. Once you get your website started, you can add other features as you go along to make your site a place where everyone will want to transact business.

ePayments: Which to Choose

Online businesses use their sites as information destinations and also to sell their products. In order for customers to make a purchase, they need to know what types of payment are accepted. You have many choices in eCommerce.

When you enter a store, the first thing you want to know is, “Will they accept my currency?”  In the United States, most places will accept credit cards with the most popular being Visa, American Express, and MasterCard.  Local businesses accept credit cards, checks, or cash.

One of the first questions you must answer is where your business will be conducted? If your business is open to international buyers, you will want to consider their payments closely so that you do not end up alienating them. Here are some of the more popular forms of payment.

Credit Card Payments

As we said, many people accept plastic. You can display this prominently on your checkout page if you desire to do so.  If you are using credit cards, remember that fraud does occur.  If you have customers who are unsatisfied or fraudulent customers, you could end up with charge backs.

In order to accept credit card payments, you will need to create a merchant account with a bank.  For a fee, the bank will process payments between your bank and the customer’s bank.  Before you decide which bank to use, compare bank policies on transaction fees and charge backs.

The use of credit cards is a type of B2C transaction.  What this means is that the transaction takes place between the customer and the business.

Third Party Payments

Payments that use a third party to complete the transaction are typically P2P, meaning person to person. Here is how it works.  When a sale is made, the money is transferred from the buyer’s account into the merchant’s account by a third party.  PayPal is a popular example.

PayPal accounts can be set up by anyone for free. You will need an email address linked to the account plus a bank account to link to in case your PayPal account has low funds. This is a common type of account for most folks doing business in marketplace type settings}.

Personal financial information does not need to be shared in order to have money transferred.  The business owner can have confidence that the funds are there and that the products being sold are paid for as the transaction is handled in real time.  When using PayPal, merchants have options to set up their merchant account. In order for international buyers to receive payment into their account, currency exchange is offered in their native currency.

One consideration when doing business online is the type of payment. In order to provide you with the greatest amount of confidence and the least amount of hassle, accept forms of payment that are widely used and known.  Not everyone believes the check is in the mail.

Buying Shopping Cart Software

If your eCommerce site will be used to run a virtual store, your customers will need to be able to select the items they want as they continue to shop. They obviously need a shopping cart.  If you want to learn how to enhance your online business, learn more about buying shopping cart software.

What do we mean by ’shopping cart’ software?  It is represented by a basket icon or shopping cart usually found at the top of your product pages. It provides the customers with confidence that they can buy as many items as they want and have them placed somewhere safe until they are ready to checkout and buy.

An online shopping cart is similar in many ways to the one you use in the grocery store. Before getting to the checkout, you can put whatever you want in it, remove unwanted items, and keep a running tally on the untaxed cost.

If you want to add a shopping cart into your store, you will need the proper software. There are a large number of shopping carts available so you need to look around.

Features of Shopping Cart Software

When it comes to buying software, you want to get what you pay for. There is quite a bit involved in setting up an online shop.  Software can be frightening to many people.

-          Select an easy to install software package.  Wizards used to guide you through each step are something you should look for.  Even if no store existed before, you can still integrate shopping carts into your website.

-          Select a package that’s search engine friendly. Customers need to be able to find you and learn about your products.  With all of your product descriptions, use optimized keywords.  If your images can be viewed as either thumbnails or as larger images, they will attract more customers.

-          Shopping carts can be designed to look different.  You can showcase your own style by utilizing software that enables you to customize your store and shopping cart.  Buttons to help you navigate through the store along with pull down menus would be included.

You will need to pay to buy this software.  Depending upon what you need, the price can vary anywhere from just over $100 to over $1,000. If you are a small business with very few products, then the most expensive shopping cart would not be feasible.

Shopping cart software programs are set up to meet the many needs of the merchant. In addition to the features discussed above, software programs help you to:

  • Create and input coupon codes
  • Manage inventory
  • Track shipments
  • Keep a customer address book
  • Web hosting
  • Set up a merchant account/gateway
  • Create reports
  • Establish secure payment network

There are many considerations for shopping cart software. Select the one that works best for you at the lowest fee possible.

Payment Gateways: Cash or Charge?

You want the customers who see your virtual storefront to be inspired to buy from you. Once they decide to make a purchase, they need to have a way to make their payments. That is where payment gateways are needed.

A gateway is similar to a conduit allowing information to get from one place to another. With eCommerce, the use of a gateway allows for verification of credit cards and the transaction of business. If you plan to accept payments, you will need a payment gateway.

If you are going to deal with credit cards, you will need a merchant account.  You can open a merchant account at any bank you choose.  Once a credit card transaction has been verified, this is where the money will be transferred.

Online, you will find many companies that operate as payment gateways to enable you to accept credit card payments. You can independently choose the payment gateway that’s right for you. Companies that can offer more than one service presents yet another option.  Many shopping cart software packages will include both merchant account and gateway options.

First Things First

You need a merchant bank account and a payment gateway account to get you started. Before selecting a bank for the merchant account, make sure they accept payments from the gateway account that you will be using.  The payment gateway account enables you to process payments between your site and your merchant account.

Business owners who sell online and accept credit cards also have an internet merchant account.  The payment gateway transfers the funds here but they don’t remain. As a merchant, you can designate another bank account for business and have the funds transferred there.

The Nuts and Bolts of how it Works

Here is a basic representation of how this process works.  While several steps are involved, everything happens quickly.

1.     The customer goes to your website and selects products to buy. Once they’ve decided to checkout, they are taken to a payment page where they can verify their order and the type of payment they are using.

2.      When a customer makes a payment, their funds are sent to the payment gateway you have decided to use. The transaction is forwarded to your banks’ processor through the payment gateway.

3.      Next, the transaction proceeds to the credit card network. The transaction is then forwarded by that network to the bank that issued the credit card to the customer.

4.      If the customer has enough credit to make the purchase, then the transaction is approved. Next, it moves back through the system taking the same way it came in.

5.      Both you and the customer receive payment notification details once the notification of approval reaches the payment gateway again.

Payment gateways make it easy to process credit card transactions. Once this is set up, you can focus on other parts of your eCommerce business.

Site Navigation: Finding Your Products

Don’t you hate looking for a product to buy and getting routed through several web pages before you even see a picture of the product?  So does everyone else. If your goal is for your visitors to become customers then creating an easy to navigate eCommerce site is essential.

Navigation

Think of navigating on a ship or airplane. The navigational system lets you know that you are heading in the right direction and gets you to your destination. When you are off-course, it lets you know that as well.

You can navigate your website by using site maps.  A site map will show where useful information on the site can be found. Included are topic headings and links to those pages.  A customer can find the specific place they want to be on the site by visiting the site’s site map.

One rule that many website owners use is that is should take you fewer than three clicks to reach any destination on your site.  Customers who have to click three times or more will find another site where this is not the case.  Sites that are hard to navigate lose lots of business before anyone ever sees their product.

Customers should be able to get from your homepage to your product page quickly. You will want to customize your website to create a customer friendly website.  When a cursor passes over a link that is clickable, it will change color or turn into a hand symbol.  Before going live, you should test all your links and pages.

Landing Pages

When you advertise on other sites, you include links to your site. If you want to showcase your products, it is better to link to a landing page as opposed to your homepage. With a landing page, the customer is taken straight to where the product is located. A landing page takes the customer to where the products can be viewed in your storefront for a particular category of products. By clicking, the customer can read a description or buy the product.

Your landing page can be chock full of information. It can contain content that describes a certain product. There is also a button to click on and view it in the virtual storefront. If you want to use your eCommerce business as a vehicle for building email lists then you can include a form on our landing page for capturing customer information.

If your products can be found easily they are more likely to generate sales.  Link your web pages together to make this more likely to happen.

eCommerce Security: What You Need to Know

The Internet has opened up a new chapter in business commerce. It has shown criminals an entirely new way to steal your information and ruin your life. Consumers today are very much aware of the sites they visit and the information they input.

Protecting Yourself

To build a client base, you will want to build a list of some sort.  To connect with more potential customers, you need to employ list building as a strategy. You can create both direct marketing campaigns as well as email campaigns.  You are much better off creating your own list of potential customers as opposed to buying one.

In order to help generate that list, business owners use opt-ins. Visitors should be asked for their email addresses in exchange for additional information, coupons, newsletters, or other freebies.  You will want to have a disclaimer statement at the bottom of your opt-in pages. This statement gives your customers assurance that their information won’t be shared with a third party. If it is to be shared, you will need to specify which information and for what purpose.

Types of Security

There are different types of security measures that you can take to protect your virtual storefront. The customer’s information has to be kept private, not vulnerable to tampering or altering, and authenticated and received properly. Whichever types you decide to use, put a digital representation of the authentication on our checkout page. It’s similar to hanging up a certificate behind the counter in a physical store.

To authenticate the sender and receiver of information, digital signatures are used. You can ask for a password to use as a digital signature when making transactions. You’ve probably seen some boxes with mixed up numbers and letters where they ask you to replicate it in a box. This process can be used in verifying who you are.

Remember the storefront’s digital certificate? By using that certificate, customers are able to verify that you are really who you say you are. This will protect you from bogus merchants who want your money.

The definition of SSL is secure socket layer. You have probably seen those initials or the open or closed lock symbol on a website page. To view certificates and to learn how the site is encrypted, just click on the lock. Behind the scenes, public and private keys are used to encrypt information. The private key is used for decryption while the public key is used for encryption. Many layers of security come into play from your server to the payment gateway to the issuer of the credit card.

Unwanted intrusions can be blocked by firewalls. Most folks have one on their own computer. If you want to prevent others from tampering with your customer’s confidential information that you store on your server, then you will need a firewall.

Security is a necessary part of keeping your business information safe and providing good customer service.  At your disposal, you have the technology needed to keep customer data safe from predators.

Merchant Accounts: Storing Your Money

Do you have a bank account?  Most folks do. This is where you keep your money instead of in a mattress. As a business owner, you need to designate certain accounts to hold the revenue that you will generate through credit card purchases.

There are many people out there looking to defraud others. This is recognized by the credit card industry and they require merchant accounts for any business that is going to process credit cards. It can either be online or offline. In a physical store, the credit cards manually processed either by the clerk or the customer. In this article, we will be discussing merchant accounts for eCommerce businesses.

In the eCommerce industry, any merchant that takes credit cards utilizes a payment gateway to conduct their transactions.  Each transaction is logges and automatically handled through this service account.

A merchant account is unlike your regular checking or savings account. The account is only used for credit card payments.  There are several options for selecting a merchant account.  Choose based on the fee schedules and extra services provided to you for choosing their bank.

Internet businesses use another account that is called an internet merchant account. This account is designed to temporarily hold funds derived from credit card transactions. The money is transferred from this account to your merchant account based on a schedule that you have agreed upon.

Along the way you will encounter fees that you will need to pay.  One example would be the fees for holding a merchant bank account just like with any other account. You’ll have monthly maintenance fees as well as a one time fee. There is a per transaction fee for every transaction they process. Fees apply when you add the internet merchant account for eCommerce.

A gateway payment service account is subject to fees. As a subscriber, you will have monthly maintenance fees as well as a one time fee when you sign up. In addition, the gateway will set transaction fees.

Be prudent when you are selecting any of these services for your eCommerce business. Do not be afraid to ask questions and be sure to do your homework. The banks an service providers need to list their fee schedules so you know exactly what you are paying for and if the value is there. If a financial institution withholds this information, you would be wise to choose another institution.

Whether you’re doing business online or offline, there is a cost. It is important to know where your money is going. You should be able to track your transactions by using reliable merchant accounts and through gateway payment services.

Selling Digital Products

When you think of selling products online, most people envision getting a big box delivered by the postman to their door. Many things other than physical products are sold by online businesses. One of the hottest commodities in the eCommerce market are digital products.

If you are going to sell physical products then your website will require lots of preparation.  To make the products visible, you can use photos, market them in other places, make landing pages, and create a shopping cart process that will meet the needs you your customers. When it comes to digital products, this process is different.

There are two ways in which digital products can be received – downloaded to the customer’s computer or by mail. You will find that most online business decide to offer downloads as they do not require inventory other than your initial files and are easy for the subscriber to receive.

But, it’s important to know how to get the products securely to your customers without getting scammed yourself. Here are some thoughts dealing with that:

Payment Methods

The issue of e-payments is still an issue with digital products. Just like with any other product, customers pay when they make the purchase. If you want to accept credit card payments, you will need:

  • Internet Merchant Account
  • Merchant Bank Account
  • Payment Gateway Account

A payment receipt still needs to be generated for your records and also for the customer if something should go wrong with the download. The credit card company can still do charge backs for digital products.

For digital products, using a third party, person to person (P2P), payment system is popular. This is the way PayPal functions. All you need in order to create an account is an email address to associated with the that account and a bank account to use for verification. Payments on your site are transacted by typing in an email address. The customer is taken to their Pay Pal account and can sign in securely there. After they arrive there, they verify that they really want to make the transaction. Once this is completed, they are returned to the product website for confirmation.

Getting Digital Products to Customers

Your digital products can be stored in a password-protected directory on your site.  This prevents just anyone from having access. Upon payment, the customer will receive details as to how to download their digital product. Tell your customers not to share the link with others.

If this seems like too much work, you can use digital download systems that will do everything for you for a monthly fee. Examples of this include PayLoadz (www.payloadz.com) and ClickBank (www.clickbank.com).

Digital products are very ‘hot’ right now.  One of the benefits of having an eCommerce business that sells digital products is low overhead and more profit. To be successful, utilize a system that gets the products to your customers and their payments to you quickly.

I hope this eCommerce overview has been helpful}!  For more content rich information, visit my website  and download some free reports.

Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC

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article-writing2Choosing Your Article Topics

What will you write about in your articles? That is the big questions most people who want to break into article writing have when they begin. The field is wide open when it comes to what information you offer on the Internet.

The first thing to consider is what you like to write about. All of us have hobbies and likes as well as dislikes. You can write about these things from your perspective. Write enough articles and you might qualify as an expert in your area within online communities.

The Reason for the Articles

Why are you writing the articles? If you are starting a blog and want to draw attention to your site, you’ll want to choose topics that will be interesting to fellow readers on the Internet. Surf the Web and research what topics are hot right now. Some topics that are always popular: fashion, celebrity news, new products and services and health issues. These categories will help you to generate a list of possible article topics.

When writing to draw traffic and attention to you, it is important to write articles about a topic that people are talking about. There may not be a lot of articles on the Internet about pygmy animals, but if there is not an interest in the subject, your articles will go belly up in no time.

Are You Creative?

There is very little that is new under the sun. You may have to write about topics that have been written before but put a new spin on it. Using your unique voice and basic examples, you can recycle a topic to your advantage.

Brainstorm your topics. Start by looking at your interests. Then, move on to your job for ideas. Finally, what is your family up to? All of these people and interests make a good base for your article writing.

What are you curious about? Maybe you wanted to know why the sky is blue. Take some time and look up information about the sky and its color on the Internet or at your local library. Now, you can write an article that people will want to read. Whatever fascinates you can turn into a new avenue to find article topics.

Use Your Experiences

Each life has a story to tell. Your stories may be interesting to others. Use both positive and negative situations as a tool create how-to articles and give advice on a variety of topics.

What are you going to write about in your articles? The possibilities are infinite if you keep an open mind and use all of the resources at your disposal.

Researching Your Article Topics

Before you can write you need to know something about your topic. Even if you have had some experience in the area, there is no harm in getting extra information from other sources to craft a well-written article. This is where research comes in.

Everybody doesn’t know how to conduct research. It is more than just typing a few words in the search engine of your choice. That is just the first step. Researching an article topic is like mining for a diamond in the rough. You may find a few on the surface, but the larger ones are found deeper in the earth.

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

1.      Ask questions. Let’s say that the subject of your article is about making the perfect apple pie. You’ll want to know the ingredients. That’s simple. But what kinds of apples are good for making an apple pie? What’s the history of the apple pie? These questions lead you to more information for your articles.

2.      Talk to others. People’s experiences lend credibility to your articles. Interview family, friends and professionals who know something about your article topic. If you are doing a series of articles on health-related topics, talk to your doctor and ask questions whose answers would interest your readers. Don’t forget to quote your source in the article.

3.      Go to the library. While a lot of information can be found on the Internet, there is still no substitute for cracking open a book. Your local library has books on a variety of subjects as well as old newspapers, film reels, videos and more to help you research your topic.

4.      Watch television. Too much television isn’t good for you but in this case it can help you out with your project. There are dozens of channels that show documentaries on everything from cooking to World War I to how the pyramids were built. With a documentary, all of the research has been done for you so all you have to do is sit comfortably and soak up the information they provide.

5.       Look for other resources. Don’t limit yourself to one area of research for your article topics. Attend conferences that relate to the subject. Visit your local museum, zoo (if your topic is animals) or join a local group with interests related to your topic. All of these avenues can provide a rich cache of information to fill a ton of articles.

Before you sit down to write the article, you have to find information on your topic. One way to find information is the Internet. But, there is a whole world of other choices for research that you may not have considered.

Product Reviews: Blog and Make Money

When you want to buy a new product, it is logical to ask someone you trust what they know about the product. For the article writer, one way to get noticed and create traffic is to write product reviews for your products and others.

One key to successful affiliate marketing is to promote your products. As an affiliate, your job is to promote products that you believe in for someone else. You may have links on your site to these affiliate products but no one is going to click without further information about the products.

As a writer, you are a valuable part of this process. Product reviews are well read on the Internet. It is faster than phoning a friend sometimes and you can get opinions from several different people about their likes and dislikes. If you want to make money with your blog, this is one way to do it.

A snippet about this product or that won’t cut it. You need a structured article that answers all of the questions buyers like you might have. Here are a few pointers for writing eye-catching product reviews.

1.      Mention the product in the title. Some people think of titles like, “The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That’s great, but without pointing specifically to a brand of mop, this article will be passed over for one that does. Instead you can say, “Swiffer WetJet: The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That mentions the product up front and a little extra to bait the hook.

2.      Capture their attention in the first paragraph. What can you say about the Swiffer WetJet? Hit the high points in the first paragraph so your readers will know what will be discussed further down in the article. Mention the product again and what it has done for you.

3.      List the pros and cons of the product. Readers can spot a sham product review in a minute. If it is just a glorified testimonial with no substance, you will lose readers for future product reviews. Be honest about the product. Some people may not consider the cons as important as the pros but they have the right to decide for themselves without you hedging your bets.

4.      List tips for improved use of the product. Maybe you know that the Swiffer WetJet works best if the Swiffer Sweeper is used first to get up as much dirt and grime off the floor. Let readers know that. You could sell them on another product. The point here is that tips like this let the reader know that you have actually used the product and are familiar with it. A little snippet doesn’t show any of that.

Product reviews can make you money through affiliate programs or promoting your own products. For a dynamite review, include the information mentioned in the four pointers above.

The Opening Paragraph: Get Their Attention

You’ve just written a fantastic title. It reads like a hook that would get anyone interested in your article. Now that you have that title, the first paragraph has to be equally as dynamic to hold the reader’s attention.

The first paragraph of your article does many things. First of all it tells the reader what you will be talking about. Second, it tells the reader why they should be interested. Third, it does both of these things in such a way that the reader can’t help but keep their eyes glued to the screen until the last word is read.

We are assuming that your paragraph will contain at least three sentences. Three to four sentences is good for your opening paragraph. You don’t want to give away too much, but just enough to peak your reader’s interest.

What is your article about?

The first paragraph makes a statement. Let’s say that you were writing about the safety of airplanes. You have written a compelling title or headline for your article. Now, you have to say something that tells the reader where you are going with your title.

“You are ten times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident than in a plane crash.” That sounds like a good first sentence for your opening paragraph. This line conveys two things: 1) Planes do crash, and 2) Planes don’t crash as often as some would like you to believe. With one sentence, you have stated your position and what you are going to be talking about within the article.

Why should the reader care about what you have to say?

You are going to be talking about airplane crashes according to the above scenario. Well, we know that airplanes crash. Why is it such a big deal to your readers? That is what you are going to explain in the second sentence.

“Airline pilots go through extensive training to learn to fly a plane, while automobile drivers are not always as competent when they hit the road with a license.” Now, you have told people why they should be interested in the first sentence. Air travel has its issues but you can be assured of the training of your pilot. Other drivers on the road pose a bigger danger to you than the airplane.

The reason why the readers need to care is a thought-provoking point. You want to draw the reader into your way of thinking. With a compelling argument, even someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with your point will keep reading to find out what you have to say in support of your position.

Your opening paragraph is the introduction to your article. It needs to tell the reader everything they need to know about your article. How well you state this fact will determine if they continue reading or click on something else.

Write What You Know

You have a talent for the written word that you want to share with others through article writing. But, what can you write about that will interest others? Begin your writing journey where a lot of people begin: write what you know.

Have you ever been given a topic to write on that you knew little or nothing about? It was tough to put pen to paper or fingers to computer keys because you had no earthly idea what to write. If you want to write for a living and make good money at it, you don’t want to start out this way.

An easier start is to write about subjects that you are familiar with. Many online businesses rise out of hobbies and interests that people have a passion for. When you can write intelligently about a topic, readers are more likely to understand and accept what you are saying.

How do you know what you know? Start with a few questions:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What things don’t I like to do?
  • What hobbies do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my talents?

All of these questions lead to the formation of a list of topics that can begin your article writing career. You can write for others on assignment or you can strike out on your own and create a blog or online business using your list as a base.

What’s next? Now that you know what you like, find out all that you can about the topic. Become intimate with your topic. Readers are looking for writers who can be a resource for them. That is what you want also – to be their main “go to” person on a particular subject.

You might love making origami animals but what else do you know about origami? Readers who are interested in origami will want to know the history of the art, how to create various objects and where to purchase their products. It is your job as the writer to provide them with this information. The more that you know, the further you will go and the more money you can make with your chosen article topic.

Writing what you know about has many advantages:

  • You can establish yourself as an expert and write for other sites
  • Your informative articles can lead to increased sales on your website
  • You can convincingly promote affiliate products

Honing your writing skills with familiar subjects builds a base of credibility in the article writing industry. This can lead to a business that is both profitable and a joy to operate.

Finding a Voice to Fit the Writing Market

Each writer has a particular way of writing that appeals to certain readers. Which “voice” will bring you the success that you want in the writing business? Find a voice that is both comfortable and successful by writing on a variety of subjects.

Have you been offended by something that you read before? Was it what the writer said or the way that they said it? The opinion may have been innocent enough but the way it was presented didn’t score any points with the reader.

Each writer has a style or “voice” that makes their writing unique. Different people are attracted to different types of styles. Will your style work for the area of the writing market that you want to influence?

It is hard to pinpoint a writing voice unless you write something. When writers are taught to write, they are usually given formulas to follow:

  • Have four sentences per paragraph
  • Start with a topic sentence
  • Follow your topic sentence with supporting sentences
  • Finish your paragraph with a leading sentence for the next paragraph

These formulas are meant to guide you into the basics of writing. Your work will be matter-of-fact which is okay for school. Try that in the real world and you will be sent a Dear John letter from your potential publisher.

What type of voice do you have?

Let’s see: some writers are funny, serious, teaching, sarcastic, stilted or carefree. There are many shades of each of these. This characterizes the style of writing. Within that style, you have a voice which dictates how your words will come across to others.

Here’s another way of looking at it. You can be funny but will that be relaxed funny where your voice is more conversational. Your voice can also be instructional with a few funny points thrown in. They don’t sound the same to the reader. The first is more like you are talking to a friend. The second is how you would talk in a classroom.

Learn to adapt your voice to different settings

Your voice is who you are as a writer. Whether you are asked to write a humorous piece, an editorial, a news story or a how-to article, your voice is present in each one of these styles. A writer who has found their voice will have an easier time of getting the point across in the appropriate style.

Adapting your voice comes into play more so when you are writing for others. As a writer under contract, you will provide articles in the fashion that upholds the general feel of the main publication. Within those guidelines, your voice will make your work unique.

Writers find their voice by writing. Read over a few of your pieces or, better yet, let others read them and see what they think. Pinpointing your voice is the first step in becoming comfortable within your writing life.

Editing and the Perfectly Written Article

As an article writer, you will be editing your own work before you submit it. It will go through another round of editing with the powers-that-be but if you write for your website or blog, you are the final word for changes. Learn when and how to edit your articles.

Editing is what is done after you have written your first draft of the article. Yes, even articles have a first draft. It is a shorter piece of writing compared to a novel, but the first draft is not the final one.

When you begin to write your articles, the idea is to use the information you have gathered to compose an article on a certain topic. Writing the first draft is fun like coloring outside the lines. Nothing is out of bounds for you. Getting all of your witticisms and thoughts on the page is more important than grammar at this point.

That shocks some people. For Type A personalities, it is hard to resist using the red pen (or the markup screen in Microsoft Word) as you write each and every word. But, you must learn to hide that pen and throw caution to the wind. Unless you do, you’ll miss a sentence or paragraph that would have enhanced your article because it was axed as a thought before it reached the page.

After you have drained every last drop of inspiration for the article then you can bring out the scissors. There is an art to editing as well. You don’t want to cut too much out and lose the main point of the article. Editing haphazardly leads to disjointed sentences that don’t follow a train of thought the reader can get behind.

Editing Stages

1.      Check the grammar. This is the easiest way to begin. If you are writing on the computer, then you can use Spellchecker. Remember, the computer doesn’t catch everything and can sometimes make mistakes. It is rare but it does happen. For instance, maybe you typed the wrong work in the sentence. Say you typed sun instead of son. If the word makes sense from a grammatical standpoint, the Spellchecker won’t flag it. It is important to go behind and read the article again.

2.      Read the article out loud. Some words or sentences sound different to you when you read out loud. You can spot areas where your thought falters.

3.      Cut out the fifty cent words. There are many times when you will have a word limit. Now it’s time to cut out sentences that can be slimmed down to a word or two. Go one paragraph at a time and be sure it still makes sense after the deletions.

Editing is an important part of writing but it has its time and place. Keep the editing hat locked up tight until your writing hat has made good use of your creativity.

Capturing Your Writing Ideas (even on the train)

Writers get their ideas from a variety of places. Many come from real life situations. But, it’s not always easy to put those ideas into hardcopy form especially when you are on the move. Here are some tips to keep those great ideas from getting away.

It would be nice if you could spend all day with pen and pencil in hand waiting for the ideas to flow in your direction. You could try it but you might find your lights cut off or your car repossessed because you haven’t paid the bills. Besides, life doesn’t work that way – for any of us.

Ideas come from the obscurest of situations and they can happen at any time and in any place. You think of a brilliant article topic, but standing on a crowded subway train or driving down the road is hardly the time to pull out your tools of the trade. We can fix that for you though.

Don’t Leave Your Writing Ideas to the Ether

1.      Carry a notepad and pen with you. It can be a small notepad that can easily slip into the pocket of your jeans or the front compartment of your purse. In the elevator, when the guy with the look of death sneezes, you can write down that you want to write an article on elevator etiquette. You can right in shorthand if you know it as long as you get it down. That little notepad (and a flashlight) comes in handy around two o’clock in the morning when it’s dark and you get a burst of inspiration.

2.      Use a voice recorder. On the crowded train or driving, it is easier to voice your ideas into a tape recorder, an mp3 player or your cell phone if it has a voice recorder. It can be used anywhere. Don’t worry about the people staring at you. You’re being creative.

3.      Send a text message. When you have no pen or paper, send your idea to yourself via text message. Sure, you’ll get charged for the text, but you’ll also have the idea you didn’t want to forget.

Writing ideas don’t often materialize when we are prepared to write them down. You’ll need to carry a few things with you to make sure you are prepared for the rogue idea that slides into your brain on the Number 9 train or sitting at the intersection of First and Main.

How to Write a Successful Article

There is a knack to writing a successful article. If it was simple, every article would be a hit. Fine tune your article to reach its intended target each and every time with amazing results.

The Basics

If you break it down to the basics, each article has a general structure. You have the title. The title is used to grab the reader’s attention. When you read the Table of Contents in a magazine, you skim the titles of the articles to see if it peaks your interest. The title tells what the article is about but with a twist so the reader will turn to that page.

The article is divided into paragraphs. Paragraphs are kept within a certain sentence limit to make the information easier to read and absorb. A paragraph that had fifteen sentences is a big mouthful and will lose more than one reader.

The first paragraph is the introduction. It states the case for the article. If it leaves the reader scratching their head, they won’t continue to read.

The last paragraph sums up the main points of the article. An article without a conclusion ends abruptly and doesn’t reiterate what you want the reader to remember.

Skills You Didn’t Learn in School

Each article has a purpose. If you don’t know that purpose, your article won’t reach anyone. Know your target audience. If you are trying to reach gardeners, then the article shouldn’t be about cars. That’s an obvious point but some articles can be about gardening and still miss their target. Why? It could be lack of understanding of the topic or lack of the skill needed to convey your thoughts successfully to the audience.

Know your writing style and give it a convincing voice. Trying to write humorous articles when you haven’t a funny bone in your body will not work for someone trying to instruct potential comedians on breaking into stand-up comedy. You may need to pass on that assignment. Writing styles that are not compatible with your voice will come across as insincere to the reader. They need to hear and feel your passion through your work.

Make your writing format easy to read. Use bullet points and numbered ideas. Both of these techniques break up the look of the article and make it easier on the eyes. Readers can digest an article faster with changes in text like this. Also, they can skim the bullet points and numbered text to see if the article will meet their needs.

Use numbers in your title whenever possible. Which title will get more attention: How to Sew a Pillow or 5 Steps to the Perfect Pillow? Numbers let the reader know exactly what they are getting and in how many parts.

Are you looking to create articles that reach their audience each time? A successful article can drive traffic to your site or an affiliate site as well as increase your sales.

Avoiding Writer’s Block When Writing Articles

Writer’s block is a misnomer. If a writer had a block in front of them, they would have something to write about. But, all the same, it is hard to get the creative juices flowing from time to time. Here are a few ways that you can avoid this situation.

What is really going on when you can’t write? It could be a variety of things that are vying for your attention that are more exciting at the time than sitting down and pecking out a story on your computer. Writing looks like a lot of fun but it is actually hard work that begins with a great attitude.

1.      Psych yourself out. If you are tired, that will overrule any thoughts of writing. Get yourself in the mood to write by thinking about all of the benefits of getting your articles written right now. For one, you won’t be pushed for time later when you really want to have fun. What do you do when you finish a writing project? Maybe you go for ice cream or spend the entire day watching your favorite movies. Think about how much sooner you can do these things if you get to work right now.

2.      Set yourself up for success. Dedicate a section of your home to be your writing area. It could be the table in the dining room or a desk in the den. Wherever it is, design the workspace to be conducive to writing. Don’t do anything but write in that space. That way, when it is time to write, you have a place to go that inspires your writing genius.

3.      Accept imperfection. Do you think that all of the famous writers out there became so with their first draft? The first draft is always about getting all of your ideas down on paper. Don’t try to wear the editing hat and the writing hat at the same time. It stifles your work. Instead, be happy with run-on sentences, notes in the margins and grammatical errors. You can always clean it up later.

4.      Do more research. If you are having a tough time coming up with what to say, dive back into the research mode and find more information on your subject. The information you have is alright but maybe you are missing that one element that will make your article pop off the page with your readers. You can never do too much research anyway. It just gives you more to work with for future articles.

5.      Take a meditation break. Maybe you are anxious about writing your article. Will it be well received? Do I have what it takes to be a writer? All of these thoughts can cause you to end up with a blank creative slate. Take a minute to relax your mind before setting to work.

Are you hitting the proverbial brick wall when you sit down to write? Try these ideas to get those articles written even when you don’t think that you can do it.

Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC



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niche-marketingNiche marketing is often difficult to understand because it goes against the grain of what you may have been taught about marketing. Many people are under the assumption that the more people you can reach with your product or service, the better your chances of making a sale. In all actuality, this type of thinking wastes a lot of time and energy and rarely generates the return you’re hoping to achieve.

You want to narrow your market down as specifically as possible to a small “niche” of potential customers. Then focus your efforts on getting them to buy. Why waster your time selling to those who have no interest in what you have to offer and therefore, have no intention of every purchasing from you?

To help you understand niche marketing further and how it can benefit you and lead to bigger success, here are some examples.

Virtual Assistants

A great example of niche marketing is virtual assistant businesses. A virtual assistant service is a niche because they market to a specified group of people wanting and needing their administrative and technical services without the need to hire an in-house employee.

While virtual assistance is a niche market in its own right, in order to be more successful VAs should consider narrowing their niche down even further. Tapering down the services offered to an even smaller list is extremely beneficial to service providers such as VAs. Most virtual assistants find the most success when a niche is clearly defined and only a few services, as opposed to a wide array of them, are performed.

For instance, a virtual assistant may offer specialized services to real estate agents, coaches, Internet marketers, etc. If the VA really wants to see results she could go even further with her niche and offer ghostwriting services, content management services, proofreading and editing, or something else. The key is to specialize in one or two things your target customer is in need of and become the expert in that area.

Internet Marketers

There are literally millions of potential customers an Internet marketer can cater to. However, just like the virtual assistant, the biggest success will come when an Internet marketer narrows down his or her target market. Here are some common niches these marketers provide information to.

  • Newbie Internet Marketers
  • Moms
  • Moms in Online Business
  • Bloggers
  • Info Product Creators
  • Article Marketers
  • Content Site Owners

Keep in mind even these groups can be broken down further to create a tighter, more defined niche market.

Another way to help further define niche is to contrast it to the masses. Mass marketing is just that, marketing to the masses…millions of people. A niche, on the other hand, is a small, defined group of people.

One example is pets. While they are a niche, they are a very large niche. However, you can narrow the large niche into a smaller, more defined niche by specifying cats, dogs, birds and so on. You can take it a step even further and narrow each of these niches down to a specific breed of dogs, cats or birds.

As you can see in the examples above, by narrowing your market you’re able to focus on the type of work you want to do and enjoy. Zoning in on a niche makes it easier to maintain a concentrated marketing focus instead of trying to service everyone in every area of business.

Remember the old saying “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” This is true no more than in niche marketing.

How Internet Marketing Software Can Help You Find and Reach Your Market

Many people who once did things “for fun only” are now looking for ways to turn their hobby into a money making business. They are quickly learning how niche marketing can help boost their new found business into success. Finally, people are beginning to take niche marketing and online marketers, for that matter, seriously. I say it’s about time.

For the once hobbyist turned online business owner, conducting the necessary research to help define their niche market doesn’t come naturally. One of the reasons for this is because for years they were taught appealing to the masses was the way to go in order to be successful. Enter software developers and marketing companies.

It’s now easier than ever for even the most novice Internet business owner to learn the ins and outs of conducting market research in a quick and easy manner. Internet marketing software is being developed quite frequently to help with all aspects of starting and running a profitable business online, and niche market information is not left out by any means.

Areas where software can help with defining and catering to your niche market include:

Keyword Research – Some programs work by performing keyword searches for the most popular words or phrases people are searching for on the Internet. If you were to actually do this type of research manually, you would spend tons of time and probably never get your business off the ground. Keyword research software and programs do the ‘dirty work’ for you.

Protection – Another advantage of using software to help start or grow your niche marketing business is by offering protection for your website. With so many people beginning to realize the effectiveness of niche marketing now, content often gets copied off of websites or blogs. Some companies include added protection for your niche blog or website within their program.

Email Marketing Campaigns – If you plan to create an email list for your business (which I highly recommend) you’ll need a program to help automate, test, track and make this process easier. There are various programs out there including Aweber.com, WahmCart.com and more that provide various levels to suit your email marketing needs. Be sure to take your time in deciding which one is right for you.

Link Building Software – Creating links back to your website from others is extremely important in getting your business out there. However, if you’re not creating them in places your niche market will look, they aren’t going to be doing you as much good. Again, you’ll be playing to the masses when you could focus your efforts on a more specific market and reap better results.

Information Management & Organization – There are many programs out there (some of which are even free) that you can use to easily organize your website’s content. One that many marketers find very useful for many purposes is the WordPress platform. What was once just a blogging platform can now be used to create websites with multiple contributors, arrange content by type or information and more.

Finding the perfect marketing software that’s right for you creating your own niche business may take a little research because not all marketing software is equal and one program may not have all the features you desire. One Internet marketing software program may offer keyword research capabilities and nothing more. Another one may help you define your niche and offer other tools to help develop your niche. A little effort and determination is all you’ll need to find the program that suits your business needs best.

As with any type of software, make sure you’re getting what you pay for. There are a lot of hyped up marketers out there that promise and never deliver or only partially deliver. So do some legwork first and try to find software you can try before you buy or that comes with a money back guarantee.

How to Find Your Perfect Niche

In the world of niche marketing, the possibilities are endless when it comes to finding a niche that’s right for you. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you some tips to help you find a niche you’ll love. After all, if you love what you do it’s easier to stay focused and continue to promote and profit from for years to come.

Time to Dump Your Thoughts – Let’s Brainstorm!

The first step you need to take in order to find your perfect niche is to sit down and brainstorm. With a piece of paper in hand or on your computer, start writing down everything you love to do or things you’re passionate about. To get the wheels spinning, I’m going to give you some ideas that may hit home or spark an idea of your own.

  • Bowling
  • Fishing
  • Golfing
  • Cooking
  • Parenting
  • Reading
  • Scrapbooking
  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Volleyball
  • Horseshoeing
  • Nursing
  • Make-Up

As you can probably see, the possibilities are endless. So, from this list, I’m going to teach you how to find a niche that’s right for you.

Continuing with the brainstorming, I’m going to choose make-up as my passion; this is just an example, but it will show you how to break down your passion into a niche that’s ideal for you.

Sub-Niching for Greater Results

Make-up is obviously a very large niche so instead of focusing on one big item – let’s niche down.  Here are some possible smaller niches that fall within the make-up niche:

  • Make-up for actors and actresses
  • Make-up for your eyes only
  • Halloween make-up
  • Make-up for the acne prone
  • Make-up as you age
  • Make-up for teens
  • Make-up for darker complexions
  • Make-up for red-heads

This list is only a very tiny one. There are literally thousands of sub-niches I could go into when it comes to make-up or almost any other niche.

Now out of one of those smaller niches, the next step in how to find a niche that’s perfect for you is to think about which one you love the most or which one you have the most knowledge about. Since niche marketing is an extremely focused type of marketing, you definitely need a passion for what you’re doing as well as lots of knowledge. Those things will keep you going when you find yourself unmotivated or wanting to throw in the towel. Trust me; there will come a time this happens no matter what topic you’re working with.

Once You’ve Found Your Perfect Fit

After you determine which niche is perfect for you, think about how you’ll market your niche for the most effective results.

Let’s use make-up for darker complexions as an example. Where is a good place to find people with darker complexions? Tanning booths and hair salons are just a few places that come to mind. You would then look at advertising your product on those types of websites, stores, forums, etc.

Remember, with niche marketing your target audience should be very specific and well researched in order to achieve the highest success and make the most of your time and effort.

How to Use Niche Marketing Articles to Boost Your Business

All types of article marketing take effort, time and know how. The main purpose of any marketing is to eventually lead your readers into wanting to know more about you, your business or to purchase your product or service. Because niche marketing is directed to such a defined market, you need to know how to write your articles so they are the most effective use of your resources. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Tip 1: Determine Your Intent

You must first determine what it is you want your article to accomplish. By this I don’t mean make sales because ultimately everyone who uses article marketing wants this. Instead think of the action you want your readers to take immediately after they finish reading the article.

Here are a few examples to get your juices flowing:

  • Interaction with You – Do you want your readers to comment on the article, give you feedback, etc.?
  • Lead Readers to Your Website for More Information – Do you want your readers to visit your website to learn more?
  • Get Yourself Noticed – Do you want to develop trust with your readers?

Tip 2: Decide on a Topic

This may be the hardest part of the article writing process. You want to determine exactly what it is you need to write about. In order to come up with a topic that your target market will want to know more about, you’ll need to know your market first. Do your research. Visit some forums, message boards, social networking sites to determine what it is your potential customer or client needs from you.

Tip 3: Grab Your Reader’s Attention – QUICK!

You want your customers to find your article on the Internet. This means your articles need to be keyword searchable by the search engines. Using certain keywords throughout your article so that it’s picked up by the search engines when your potential customers type that keyword into their search engine.

Important Tip Regarding Keywords: Don’t overdo your keyword placement. It’s best to have the keywords in the title of the article as well as strewn about naturally in the body. Remember – “naturally.” If you stuff your article with unnecessary keywords over and over it can actually do more harm than good.

When people are searching for information on the web they scan articles before they ever even begin to read the details. Here is an example of how to catch their attention with your article titles. Once you do this, keeping them reading will come easier.

Your niche is indoor plant automatic watering systems. Your target market is plant owners going on vacation. The first thing your reader will see is the title of your article so make it one that will grab their attention and tell them what your article is about. Here’s an example:

“Rest Easy While You’re on Vacation and Let [Name of Product] Water your Plants.”

As you can see, using key words like “rest easy” and “water your plants” catches their eye because chances are they’ll be worried about their plants getting watered and not dying while they’re gone.

Another catchy title: “Save Money! Let [Name of Product] Water Your Plants While You’re on Vacation.”

“Saving money” is always an eye catcher and “watering your plants” peaks the interest of your potential customer.

Tip 4: Stay Focused

After you’ve captured your audience’s attention with a killer title, now comes the hard part. You have to keep their interest by providing them with quality information they can use. This is accomplished by defining a clear focus for your article and sticking with it. Here are a few things to avoid when writing an article for your market.

  • Veering off into something unrelated to the topic of your article.
  • Get too wordy.
  • Filling the article with information that’s simply being restated in a different way.

Keeping your article short enough to hold a reader’s interest but informative enough to develop trust and a want to know more is the ultimate goal of any article for article marketing purposes. State your case, show them your knowledge on the subject and invite them to know more.

Using articles to assist in your niche marketing efforts is a great way to reach your specific audience, give them information they need, develop relationships and increase your profit online. Keep the tips above in mind with each and every article you write and you’ll put yourself ahead of the curve.

Increase Your Chances of Business Success by Developing a Niche Marketing Strategy

Developing a niche marketing strategy may sound foreign to some business owners. This is probably because we tend to think the more people we can reach with our product, the higher the chances we have to sell our product or services. Now while this may sound good, it actually defeats your marketing efforts and can result in lost money.

To help you better understand how you can increase your chances of business success by developing a niche marketing strategy, let me explain the concept further. Let’s use the example of expensive skin care products.

You may think that marketing your product to every single woman is going to help sell more products. This in fact is in correct. You’ll spend many hours and lots of money marketing to an enormous group of people who don’t have the kind of money necessary to purchase your skin care products. Wouldn’t that time and money be better spent on those who CAN afford it?

When you spend less hours and time marketing to women in the corporate world or in the professional world (to give you a few examples) who have the money to spend on your skin care product, you’re chances of selling to them increase dramatically.

This is what is known as niche marketing. You find your little niche and focus your marketing efforts on that group of people. As you can see in the above example, your chances of business success increase dramatically by developing a niche marketing strategy to reach the people who want and need your product. Not to mention, if you can spend less time and make more money it’s bound to be positive, right?

The key to developing a niche marketing strategy is to find the people who have the money to buy your product, need your product and are willing to buy it. You may have to do a little research at first in order to find these people, but once you do, you’ll be able to market directly to them, increasing your chances of increased profits.

Now, you might be asking yourself “That’s great but what if my product will work for a larger audience? Why limit myself?”

You may be right. Your product may be something you can offer various groups (niches) of people. If so, that’s wonderful, but I still suggest you focus on the niche that has the highest probability of purchasing from you first. Here’s why.

Once you’ve made some money using your niche marketing strategy, then you can begin marketing to a larger group of people followed by an even larger group. After a while, you might find yourself marketing to the entire country and then the world, but now you can do it on a budget you can afford without sacrificing all of your time and money.

So, next time you think that niche marketing isn’t going to help lead you down the path to business success, think again. Just like anything else, start small and work your way up for the best results. You’ll be glad you did in the end.

Make Money with Niche Affiliate Marketing

If you are interested in niche marketing and how to turn your hobby or passion into a successful business, you need to know what niche affiliate marketing is and how it works. First, let’s talk about what affiliate marketing is and then we’ll go over what niche affiliate marketing is.

Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell

Affiliate marketing is basically promoting products or services for another person or company. Many business owners, authors and speakers have various products they offer online. When you sign up to become an affiliate marketer for them, every time you refer a sale from your blog or website, you get a commission.

Obviously you need to do some good endorsement of the products or services you’re promoting on your site in order to generate sales. You can’t just slap some products links and banners up and expect people to click on them. This rarely works.

Niche Marketing & Affiliate Marketing Working Hand in Hand

With that in mind, let’s talk about niche affiliate marketing and how it differs from just affiliate marketing. Niche affiliate marketing is the promotion of affiliate products or services targeted to reach a specific audience. Therefore, in order to reach that audience your site and the products you promote need to all be in the same niche for the best results.

When your potential customers plug specific keyword into the search engine and come to your site, the ads and promotions you have should also be geared toward your specific niche. It won’t do any good to have fishing lures on a site that’s all about bowling. The visitors who come to your bowling site are looking for information about bowling, not fishing lures.

However, if your niche is fishing boats, an ad that promotes fishing boat accessories makes much more sense and your visitors are more likely to click on it. After they get done reading your content and determining you know your stuff (because you are positioning yourself as the expert and giving them quality and useful information, right?) they may just click on your affiliate link or graphic to go shop for items they need for their own boat.

Of course the content on your site has to be trustworthy and reliable, as well as your blog or site needs to look well made, professional and inviting for visitors to stick around long enough to see your niche affiliate marketing banners and links. If you seem unreliable or unprofessional your visitors aren’t going to trust the products you promote either.

The potential for niche affiliate marketing is great when there is thought, research and effort put into it. Remember, it’s all about finding and appealing to the perfect potential customer.

Niche Definition – Helping You Understand Niche Marketing

When it comes to the Internet there are a lot of terms frequently used and many times you may find yourself having no idea what those terms mean or how they apply to marketing online. One such word is “niche.” Some of us may know what a niche is in terms of biology or even the corporate world. You might say “She found her niche in nursing.” While this is a correct definition of niche in everyday use, it’s not quite accurate regarding the world of Internet marketing.

In the world of Internet marketing the definition of niche takes on a whole new meaning. Having a clear meaning will help you focus and market to those people who are interested in and wanting to purchase your product or service, which will increase the success of your online business.

Here is how Wikipedia defines niche as it pertains to the online world. “A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing on.”

While that may seem a bit unclear to some still, basically it tells you a niche is a smaller portion of a larger piece. In this case a market.

So, just how do you go about defining your niche so that you can focus and reach your target market? Begin with a large market and narrow it down into all possible smaller niche markets.

Take for instance work at home moms (WAHM). There is a whole huge world of moms out there that work from home, either online, in direct sales or running some other type of business. While that is a niche, that is a very large niche and you’re not going to be able to target individual work at home moms very well.

However, by breaking down the niche even further, you will begin to see the different sub-niches possible in the work at home mom arena. Some examples are:

  • WAHMs with newborns
  • WAHMs who are also homeschoolers
  • Virtual Assistants WAHMs
  • Direct Sales WAHMs
  • WAHMs who help other WAHMs be successful

The list can go on and on. There are probably thousands of different sub-niches under the work at home mom umbrella. The point is that you can increase your chances of success by focusing in on a specific area of your niche. You may have heard this called “niching down” by some marketers. In other words, you choose a broad market and niche down to find your perfect customer who is more likely to respond to your offers.

As you can see, finding the right niche for you will be determined by how well you are able to define your niche to reach the target market of people you wish to promote your products or services to. The more detailed and specific your niche, the more success you will have.

Three Steps to Help You Identify Your Niche

You want to be a niche marketer but you’re not sure which niche is right for you? Here are some steps to help you identify your niche.

1.      Brainstorm: write down all the things you have a passion for or a hobby you love.

2.      Narrow broader terms with smaller, more specified terms.

3.      Take the more specified terms and narrow them down to an even smaller possible niche.

Now obviously that’s not all there is to helping you identify your niche. You will need to think about and do some research on the various possibilities of niches to see if there is a market for your passion.

You’ll also need to check out your competitors and see if there are products you can sell related to your passion. Chances are there are, but you also need to make sure there is a large enough market to build a long standing successful business from. Trendy and passing fads come and go and if you choose a niche that falls into either of these categories, you’ll soon be out of business, so try to steer away from those topics or at least use them to supplement a more sturdy and stable business subject.

When writing out the steps to help you identify your niche, you’ll want to do some keyword researching to see if it’s a topic people are looking for on the Internet. You can do this a number of ways including buying software that does it for you or performing the search yourself. There are a couple of online tools you can use as well to help you identify your niche and conduct a keyword search. They are WordTracker (http://www.wordtracker.com) and Google’s Keyword Search Tool (http://www.google.com/sktool/).

Once you’ve identified a niche you think you can find success with, do a regular search online to see how many other people are working in this same niche. If there are millions, you may want to reconsider. If there are only a few hundred or so, you’ve probably got a great product you’re your niche market. Keep in mind, if there are little to no interest in a product, you may want to consider rethinking your idea.

Remember, large businesses don’t have time to focus on one product or a small group of targeted customers. If your niche is too small, you may not have enough interest from consumers to stay in business long. So use the steps above, identify your niche market, do some research and in before you know it you’ll have a successful business in niche marketing.

What are the Advantages of Niche Marketing?

Perhaps you’ve heard of niche marketing and may even understand what it is. But, you’re not quite sure of the advantages of niche marketing and how it can work for you. In this article, I’m going to explain a little about what niche marketing is for those who don’t quite understand it. Through the explanation I’ll be able to better show you the advantages of niche marketing.

Niche marketing is the opposite of mass marketing. Most of us know that mass marketing is marketing to the largest amount of people in all situations and lifestyles and from all backgrounds. Niche marketing is the opposite of that because your focus is on a much smaller group of people who are interested, need and who actually want your product.

Now, you’re probably asking, “Why would I want to focus on a smaller group of people when I’ve learned that the more people who see my product the better my chances of making a sale?” I understand your thinking, so in the next couple of paragraphs I’m going to help you understand why this marketing tactic works and the advantages of niche marketing over mass marketing.

Want Not Waste Not

Niche marketing works because you’re focusing all your effort reaching those people who have the money to buy your product or service, who are interested in what you have to sell and who need your products or services.

Why waste time, money and efforts on people who are not interested and most likely never will be in what you have to say and offer? Remember, it’s about working the least amount of time and making the most amount of money.

Saves Time

When you advertise to people who have no interest in what you have to offer, you’re throwing money down the drain. Not only are you wasting money, but your precious time. Remember, time is money in business. So even if you spend nothing on advertising you do spend time getting the word out. You’ll spend less time and money in your marketing efforts when you niche down.

Make More Moola

Finally, there’s the added benefit of making more sales to people who actually want what you have to offer. So, not only will you be saving money on marketing campaigns, your chances of making a sell increases dramatically.

Soon, you’ll be selling so many of your products, you’ll have to consider increasing your staff and may even want to narrow your niche down further so that you can enjoy living life instead of working so hard all the time.

What is a Niche?

What is a niche? This is a question commonly asked, especially among those new to Internet marketing. So, to put it simply, a niche in the marketing sense is a specified group of people with a common interest. For instance, you may be interested in or have a lot of knowledge about boats and boating. While that is a broad, general niche, when it comes to niche marketing it really helps to narrow the field down even further, to reach an even more specified group of people.

Think of how you could narrow down boating to reach a tighter group of people within the boating niche. There are the various types of boats, boating products such as special waxes and cleaners, boating attire and boating gear. You can narrow your niche down even further within those categories and sell one product from it.

Another good example to help answer the question, “What is a niche?” is the food industry. While the food industry is obviously huge, there are thousands, if not millions, of products you could sell to a more defined niche.

Niche marketing is marketing to a specified group of people. Some of you may be asking, “Why would I want to target such a seemingly small group of people?”

There are a few reasons actually. First, while it may seem like you’re marketing to a much smaller group of people, you’re actually not. What you’re doing is focusing on, and therefore specializing in, a specific product or service.

Being a niche marketer works well because larger businesses don’t bother focusing on one or two specific products. If you do your research before settling on a niche, you should be able to find a niche that not very many other people are reaching with a specific product. This helps set you up as the go to person without having to compete with those larger companies.

So, now that we’ve answered, “What is a niche?” let’s talk about choosing a niche that’s right for you. When niche marketing, it helps to build a business or sell something you’re passionate about. Because you’ll be focused and considered an expert, you also need to have a lot of knowledge about your specific product or service. Think about something you love to do, such as a hobby first. Then think about how you can narrow it down to a more specific group of responsive people. You may need to do some additional research to gain all the knowledge you can, but it will pay off.

Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC

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Off-line Promotion

If you sell physical products or have a storefront, this section is definitely for you. Even if you consider your business to be strictly online, there are a few golden nuggets here that you’ll want to pay close attention to.

Off-line promotion is something that many online marketers forget about and neglect. The truth is that there are many people out there who would enjoy being on your list, and who will be very responsive to doing so. However, if you never take the time to reach them — you won’t!

Tip #71 — Include Opt-In Forms with Shipments

As you ship packages you should include a postcard or form that makes it easy for your customers to join your list. They can send this form back to you, and you can enter their e-mail address manually. Another option is to explain the advantages of being on your list and direct them to a website where they can go sign up themselves.

This is a great strategy because you know that the people who are receiving a shipment are proven customers. That means there are a lot more likely to be responsive.

Of course a better alternative would be to invest in a shopping cart that has an autoresponder built in. That way your customers can automatically be added to your email lists.

Tip #72 — Visit Tradeshows

The chances are good that there are tradeshows related to your niche in your area. If you go to these you can find people who would be interested in joining your list. People are more likely to trust a face-to-face interaction than an online one. These contacts can turn into lifetime customers for you.

In fact, this tip works well whether you have physical products or you focus your energies strictly online.

Tip #73 — Advertise in Magazines

Many people are surprised to find how inexpensive it is to advertise in  targeted magazines. You can often pay a lot less than the advertised price in the magazine. All you need to do is ask the ad team what kind of special deal they can give you.

It’s often easiest to find smaller magazines that have a very targeted audience. Write your ad copy to explain that you’re giving something away for free, or talk about a special promotion you’re having. Once again, it doesn’t matter whether you focus your energies online or off-line, this strategy can work for you.

Tip #74 — Send Postcards

This strategy is not quite as targeted as including an opt-in form on postcards with shipments, but it can still work. You can send postcards to lists of people that you have purchased, or in targeted geographic areas. These postcards should focus on the benefits of signing up for your list and visiting your website. This can be a very time-consuming and costly experience, so make sure you’re going to see a return on your investment by doing a small test first.

Tip #75 — Display Your Domain Everywhere You Can

This is a great strategy that can really help to brand yourself. You want to include your domain and logo on every package, letter, flier, etc. The more people see your domain name, the more likely they are to visit. As you know, the more people you get to visit, the more sign ups you’ll get.
Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC
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Many beginning marketers start their online career with affiliate marketing.  This is a great way to begin establishing a base line income. Many marketers, however, do not know what to do to generate income once they have signed up as an affiliate to promote a particular product.  In order to earn more commissions each month, then there are four things you need to do:

  • Strategy #1 – Generate more traffic. The first thing you can do in order to increase the size of your commission checks is to actually get MORE people to click on your affiliate link and arrive at your affiliate site. Certainly this is doable. You simply do more marketing. You spend more money on advertising, write more ezine articles, publish more newsletters, create more viral eBooks, etc. You do whatever it takes to get more visitors to your affiliate page.
  • Strategy #2 – Increase conversion rates. While this one has a great deal to do with the affiliate program itself – i.e., How good their sales letter is, their follow-up system, freebies, etc, there are some things that YOU can do to increase the number of visitors who actually buy. Chief among them is to offer an incentive to those who buy through your affiliate link.
  • Strategy #3 – Earn more profit per sale. This one is typically out of your control. What it would involve is either (a) Raising the price of the product or service you are promoting, or (b) Raising your commission per sale. Both of these are generally up

to affiliate program managers, or the owner of the products and services you are promoting. If you find that you are producing quite a few sales, or have a lot to bring to the table as an affiliate, you may want to approach the affiliate program owner and ask for a HIGHER commission per sale

  • Strategy #4 – Sell more to each customer. The idea is to get the same customer to consume more products or services, thus earning you more commissions. It is MUCH easier to sell MORE to existing customers than it is to find new customers. Learn that now. Existing customers are AVAILABLE and they are WARM as they have already made a purchase. New customers are OUT THERE SOMEWHERE but you have got to find them and they are COLD because you have got to convince them to buy. Which do you think will be easier to do business with? Your current customers, of course!

Obviously, the MORE of these strategies that you apply the greater the size of your commission checks each month. Certainly THREE of the FOUR strategies are under your control. The key is strategy #4, simply because it MAXIMIZES all of the others. It takes WHATEVER amount of visitors you generate and WHATEVER number of those folks who become customers and WHATEVER your profit per sale and it MULTIPLIES it over and over and over again.

The Real Affiliate Secret

One of the best ways to make Strategy # 4 work for you is to focus on promoting affiliate programs that bill monthly and pay commissions monthly. That way, you continue to earn profits from the same customer base.  This produces residual income.

Residual income is any income that is derived from existing customers making additional purchases every month. For example: If a customer orders a web hosting package through your affiliate link, they pay a MONTHLY fee for that hosting service, and you earn a MONTHLY commission for your referral as long as the customer’s account remains active.

With REGULAR sales, the customer needs to click in order for you to generate profits.  With “RESIDUAL” sales, the customer needs to click in order to cancel their subscription and to STOP you from generating income.  Big difference!  Not only should you promote membership sites as an affiliate, but you should consider starting your own site as well.

By implementing the four strategies discussed above and by creating residual income through the promotion of membership sites, your affiliate income will continue to grow.

Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC

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Homepreneur Habits: How to Run a Successful Home Business

Homepreneur Habits: How to Run a Successful Home Business

Product Review of Jimmy D. Brown’s Homepreneur Habits: How To Run A Successful Home Business

By Jim Stott
Magical Marketing, LLC

Product Description: A Standard Operating Procedures Manual for Home Business Owners

Who This Product is Intended For: Anyone that wants to run a successful home-based business but is overwhelmed by where to start and how to run a business effectively.

Uses: This report shares ways to set up and operate your office so you can more easily maintain your business. It will also help you establish a workable schedule. You’ll learn how to you implement systems that work for your individual business.

In this report, you’ll also find photos of Jimmy D. Brown’s office which I found fascinating. I now know what his desk looks like, what kind of white board he uses, and what tools he finds essential to running an almost 7 figure business online.

Pros: It includes easy-to-understand language and uses photos to illustrate points. You’ll find systems that can easily be tailored to specific situations and implemented with ease. Jimmy shares real-world examples as well as includes a bonus FAQ section.

Cons: None I could identify.

Personal Opinion: Homepreneur Habits is THE report that shows you how to set up and run your home based business. From the beginning, this report takes you through and shows you through words & pictures the “hows” and “whys” of setting up a home office for ease and comfort.

Then Jimmy goes a step beyond and shares how to set up a weekly work routine, day-by-day in such a way that makes it obvious that implementing a schedule is not only a do-able, but a preferable and profitable, way to work.

Grab your copy here: ht

http://www.magicalmarketingllc.com/homepreneur.htm

Jimmy D. Brown

Jimmy D. Brown

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