Outsourcing your online business – The value of investment

In today’s world of remote technology and fast broadband, a business owner can actually outsource an entire business. To some this idea may be frightening, but to others it has been the ticket to freedom from a boss or a job. Internet marketers and online business owners who leverage technology to their advantage are the ones who understand that for every contractor they bring into their team, they are investing in their business. Every task that can be successfully outsourced to an expert can bring a huge return on investment (ROI) in terms of time gained for yourself and your family. In addition, there will be a monetary ROI for each and every service provider with whom you contract.

Think of it this way. If you can earn 160.00 per hour, doing what it is you do that brings in money to your business, but you’re spending time doing tasks that can be accomplished for $25.00 or even $100 dollars an hour, you’re not investing your money or your time wisely. Why not spend more time doing whatever it is that you do that earns $160.00 per hour, and less time doing what can be done less expensively by someone else. Not to mention that when you outsource to someone who is an expert the job will be done faster and better without you!

In business, this is called — maximizing your efficiencies. If you’re a fabulous life coach imagine how many more clients you can take on if you’re not entering data, editing websites or sales pages, or editing content for article marketing. If you run a successful online business of any kind, you can probably make a list of activities that you could outsource to others that will cost less than your hourly rate. If so, you can use the time more efficiently by doing more of whatever it is that you do best and let others do what they do best. You’ll create a more powerful and profitable business if you view bring on contractors as an investment in your business rather than an expense.

For example, your hourly rate is $160.00 for doing what you do. You hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of posting all blog posts and article marketing articles for you for 10 hours a month. Now this is off your plate. Now you have 10 more hours a month to earn $160.00 – $25.00 per hour, this is a net increase of $135.00 per hour for 10 hours, which can increase your monthly gross income by $1350.00.

That’s an excellent return on investment and can’t be beat in any other way. Even if it takes you an hour a month to communicate with your VA you’ll still be ahead by over $1000.00 per month. The truth is, the monetary increase will become greater the longer your VA works with you. When people do the same task over and over again they will become faster and faster at accomplishing the tasks, so over time that 10 hours of work that you contract with a VA can become worth more than you might imagine depending upon how good the VA is at their work.

Five warnings about offering online services

If your main business is an Internet marketing business that’s goal is to earn passive income tomorrow, through the work you’ve done today, offering services to others can be a great way to generate income that you can use for your business. However, trading hours for dollars, while easy and convenient due to the fast pay off, is very limited. By its very nature, hourly work is limited due to the fact that time is limited. There are only so many hours in the day. In order not to get sidetracked away from your main business heed these warnings.

1. Charge Enough — If you decide to offer services to others while you build your actual Internet business, it is important that you know how much to charge. Charge enough that you won’t feel resentful about doing the tasks, and enough that the money will make a difference for your life and business. Remember that you really don’t have 40 hours a week to bill. You are probably lucky to have five billable hours a week because you’re trying to build your real business too.

2. Be Dependable — If you’re going to offer a service, by all means, stick by your word and give the people what they are paying for. They don’t care, or need to know, that you care more about building your passive income than providing this service to them. All they need to know is that you are dependable, and that you provide a good service for a fair price.

3. Limit Offerings — Don’t compete against yourself by offering clients services that put them in a position to compete with you. Offer services to those who offer complementary information and products to yours. For instance, if your expertise online is offering information products to Child Care Providers the last thing you should do is offer ghostwriting to those who are offering the same type of products. Save your talent for your niche for yourself. In addition to limiting the subject matter, limit the actual amount of time you offer services. Leave time for your own business.

4. Take Breaks — When providing services, it can get very hard to take a break. Time is money, and therefore you must force yourself to take breaks during the day. Get off the computer and walk around. Ideally, you should get off the computer every hour for at least ten minutes to do some sort of exercise. If you don’t, you will get burned out and have nothing left for your own business. If you need to set a timer. One tip from a work-at home-mom is to get up every hour and do house work really fast, for ten minutes. You’ll be healthier, and you’ll have a cleaner house!

5. Remember Why — Never forget why you decided to provide a service! You want to provide this service in the short term so that you can generate cash for your real online business endeavor. It’s very easy to get turned on by the money you can make as a service provider to the point that you forget that you were building a passive income empire before you started. Leave time for yourself and remember why you must!

6 Tips to Ensure Your Live Event Goes Off Without a Hitch

If you really want to make your mark in the business world, it’s important to start hosting events. You can have both online and offline events. Live events are a great way to meet the people you’ve been doing business with over the years online, and to capture new leads from enthusiastic people who prefer live interaction over webinars.

Having live events is a little more complicated in some ways than having an online event, but it’s a great way to give your business a boost of excitement. Don’t worry, you don’t need to do it all alone, you can invite other speakers, and share the stage. This is a great way to get more attendees too.

Choose The Right Event Tools — Giving your guests a reliable way to sign up and pay for your event is crucial to your success. There are numerous payment processors but be sure to choose the right tool for your event. One tool that you can use to take payments and get people registered as well as promote on social media is EventZilla.com.

Pick The Right Venue — The place you host your live event is very important. You need to know your audience, understand what type of creature comforts that they need to enjoy the event. In addition, you need to know your audience’s budget so that you don’t price them out of the event, or insult them with poor accommodations.

Choose a Theme — Make sure that you know what your speakers will say at your event. It’s important that everyone stay on theme and that no one comes off too much like a used car salesman. If possible, ask for their speech notes and give pointers about how to stay on the theme of the event.

Ensure WiFi is Available — At a live event, everyone still wants to be online. They want to be able to blog about the event, Tweet about the event, and upload pictures to Facebook during the event. While some people may think this is rude to do during an event, you want your guests to do this so that you can get free buzz for your next event.

Start On Time — When someone pays for a live event they expect the leaders to stick to the agenda. Everyone’s time is valuable, yours, your speakers, and the guests. When you start and end on time, it will make it easier for people to be able to plan their day and they’ll be more likely to come to future events.

Practice — Before the event find a way to have a run through of the order of events and make sure all the technology works properly. Nothing is worse than figuring out that you can’t access your PowerPoint presentation at the last minute when you have 100 paying attendees looking at you.

Live events are a terrific way to boost either online or offline businesses. In fact, live events can be another stream of revenue. Not only that, it can be a large portion of your revenue stream. Plus, they are fun. You get to meet new people, and people you’ve known online for years, and go to a new city and experience new and exciting things.

Online Contest Apps to Build your Lists and Create Buzz

When you’ve decided on a contest to help build your list and create buzz in your business, it is helpful to know about different apps that can help you make it a breeze. Today, with cloud based computing, and easy Internet access it’s simple to find and use applications that make online contests simple for the most technically challenged.

Blazon Social — This is an online suite that gives a business tools to perform professional looking and professional acting online contests. You can do anything from photo contests to video contests to essay contests. It’s up to you. You can also create a free account in order to see if you like it.

Wizehive — This contest manager allows you to run photo contests, video contests and essay contests just like the others. You can also integrate with social media, collect leads and more. The set up makes it easy for your entrant and for voters too. The pricing is based on a per day price, and they also have a pro account with additional services including handling your email and branding. Can get a little pricy, but if you have the right target audience you can also make money from your contests by charging an entry fee.

Strutta — Use this application to run promotional contests, that also can be photos, videos, audio or text via your social media accounts. You can also, where legal run sweepstakes contests. They offer an abundance of cool apps for your Facebook page such as a custom welcome page, a media gallery and even a coupon generator. Voting is simple, and collecting a lot of leads is professional. The pricing starts at $99.00 a month and they do have a free trial option.

cub.io — This online platform lets you create contests fast, you can sign up free without a credit card to try it out. It offers awesome features like incentivized sharing, free templates, even ready to go layouts for contests. You can, of course use your custom URL for your contests as well as see all your analytics easily.

ContestFactory — Huge clients use this online application to create fabulous contests that get results. They’re a full service company so this is for a serious company that wants a lot of leads. They handle all the legal stuff, and even help you get prizes for your contest via sponsorships. If you want to run contests for others they have a white label option so that you can use their system to do what they do for others.

shoutlet — This online cloud based system enables you to conduct contests that aren’t just on social media like Facebook. It also allows for all analytics, lets you collaborate with others, and so much more that I don’t have room to list. Pricing is not listed, and you must request a demo to find out more.

Don’t let this list become a block or daunting thing. This is just a few of the literally hundreds of online contest promotion tools you can use. You can also use your normal website, along with Youtube.com, and your own Facebook page to conduct a perfectly legitimate and prosperous online contest to build your email list and create a lot of buzz for your business. The important thing is to get started today.

Branding with StumbleUpon

Are you working at branding yourself or your business? If so, consider adding StumbleUpon to your arsenal of strategies.

Within StumbleUpon, branding yourself is the first step. It will help create a strong authority status and make you not only recognizable but a “goto” person your subscribers can feel is firmly on their side.

But branding isn’t going to happen unless you have a clear target. Decide who you want to be known as on StumbleUpon; and what for. And thoroughly research your potential audience.

The real trick, however, is not to spread yourself too thin. It’s better to be known for one thing you do really well than for your average performance in several areas.

12 Tips for Tailoring Your Branding to StumbleUpon

Once you’ve got these two areas – who you are and what on StumbleUpon – firmly fixed, it’s time to implement your StumbleUpon branding strategy.

Make sure…

– Your profile reflects your brand

– You stumble each entry on your blog (but not all at once!)

– You stand out from the crowd: Speak with your own unique “voice”

– Be friends with fellow Stumblers. Review their pages and sites – but keep it honest and real. (Never do this just to “collect” friends!)

– Visit and stumble only quality sites. Don’t mix business with personal, if the personal doesn’t enhance the business

– Read reviews to see what people are really thinking and feeling about a site or issue

– Stumble your “competitors” favorites to find out what gaps they’ve left you

– Factor backlink creation into your branding strategy

– Guest post on your Stumble buddies’ blogs.

– Stumble your Stumble friends’ posts

– Be consistent in your Stumble life

– Stumble your guest posts!

Once you’ve decided on a course of action for your StumbleUpon branding strategy, do your best to stick to it. After all, consistency is the most important key to branding. (Think how disoriented you’d feel if Coca-Cola suddenly started producing bright green cans with a rocket ship as their mascot, instead of a polar bear!)

Don’t forget to tie your Facebook and Twitter strategy in with StumbleUpon too… And if you’re a LinkedIn user, make sure your profile and information on that site reflects the image you’re portraying in your other social sites.

Remember that in branding yourself, the most important thing is to create and nurture your own strong, separate – and consistent – identity.

Now sit back and ask yourself – what do you want to be known for?

Backend Sales Strategies are Like Riding a Bike Once You Learn, You Never Look Back

Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Remember the many fears you faced? Falling off… Crashing into something… Failing. But, I bet what you remember in even greater detail is the incredible feeling of success that you felt when your parent finally let go. You were free! No more training wheels and no more fear. You were on your way.

Backend sales can be described in a similar way. Oftentimes, internet marketers and online business owners are fearful of the follow-up. They do not want to seem overbearing or pushy. So, rather than capitalize on opportunity, they fall flat on their face with fear. They lose a potential additional sale, and revenue, because of their fear to offend.

But what if you could eliminate that fear rather than become a victim of it? What if you could sell to your customers without actually appearing to do so? And what if they actually liked it?

With backend sales, you have to take off the training wheels. You know your business, you know your product, and you know your customer base. Now its time to put all of that knowledge to use, because once you do, you won’t ever look back.

There are many options to explore when deciding which backend sales strategies you will employ.

For instance, you can populate your shopping cart with items of interest. Or, you can send a follow-up communication to all of your customers each time they make a purchase.

But what’s most important is that you are doing something to take advantage of this opportunity.

Backend sales are quite possibly some of the most lucrative, most reliable sales you will ever make because they are sales you are making to customers who already know you.

These customers are already your bread and butter, so why not expand on that? Sure, new customers are great. In fact, new customers are essential to the growth of your business.

But you will never get anywhere if you don’t take care of the customers you already have. Customers like to feel appreciated, valued and everyone always likes a good deal.

So, if you incentivize your offerings, they are most likely to take the bait.

After you have taken the training wheels off and decide to ride into success, your backend sales strategy will basically run itself.

You see, once its in place, you will have to simply manage the data, not babysit each client. That is why it is so important to invest in a quality e-commerce solution that will provide you with a reliable auto responder and robust database system.

So, take that leap of faith. Trust in the quality of your products. Help your business succeed and focus on selling on the backend. Once you do, you won’t ever look back.

Business Networking Advice: Know Who You Are and Sell It

Before you go to your next networking social you might take these snippets of advice. First, interview yourself. Get to know who you are so that you will connect with the right people. Second, get into your customer’s shoes. Why should they hire you? Finally, be prepared with your own question for the customer.

Interviewing yourself is an exercise that will benefit you immensely in networking. A couple of questions to ask yourself are what are your strengths? What would your last client say about you? And what is one of your weaknesses?

How will knowing the answers to these questions help you? First, it will highlight what your key benefits are to your client. Knowing what you offer, why you offer it and how you offer it under pressure is important.

10 Words to use for describing your strengths:
* self-starter
* creative
* motivated
* decisive
* organized
* adaptable
* responsible
* productive
* persistent
* resourceful

Now that you know who you are take the time to get to know your ideal customer. Who are they? Are they college age or middle age? Are they female or male? What type of job do they have? Why do they need your service or product? What qualities would their ideal company have?

When you compare your interview with that of your ideal customer’s – do they match up? If they do, you are on the right track. If they don’t, you either don’t know your ideal customer well enough or you are marketing the wrong product. Knowing your similarities or differences before a networking event is valuable because you can take the time to alter or enhance your product or service.

The last step before attending your next network gathering is to prepare your own set of questions for your contacts. This is how you find out whether they are a fit for you. Remember, just because it is a networking event doesn’t mean you have to do business with everyone you meet. Be highly selective in the people you choose to do business with because your brand is at stake.

Some questions you might ask of network contacts are: if you have a very successful 2012, what would that look like? Or what keeps you up at night? Knowing the answers to these two questions will tell you a lot about a person. First it will tell you how they interpret success and finally, it will tell you how they interpret their weaknesses. Knowing these two things will prepare you for a possible business relationship.

Networking isn’t difficult; you just need to know what you want in a business relationship and go after it. Don’t settle for just anyone as a client. Although the reason you are in business is to make a living don’t let that cloud your business sense. Only if you can communicate and meet each other’s goals can you truly develop a lasting partnership.

How StumbleUpon Community Groups Can Help You Succeed

When you join StumbleUpon, make no mistake: You’re joining a community. You stumble other users’ sites, recommend sites, images or videos you like and make a strong effort to keep your Stumbling focused.

Why, then, do so many people miss the opportunity to take their StumbleUpon experience to the next logical step by making themselves part of a StumbleUpon Community Group?

The first thing you can do is make the StumbleUpon forum part of your routine. If the official StumbleUpon blog is the first place you’ll find news, the forum is the first place you’ll find answers to StumbleUpon questions, or solutions for problems…. or be able to submit a question yourself. (Naturally, they do encourage you to search the FAQ or Help section before asking your Question, but it’s a comfort when you can’t find an answer – perhaps for something to do with the brand new iPad app – to be able to ask it straight away in the forum.)

The “Get Satisfaction” Forum is also broken into well-organized segments within its front page, to help you easily find answers in your category. No fumbling around through confusing layer after layer of forum posts.

The segments are:

– Frequently Asked Questions

– Ideas Under Consideration

– Common Problems

– Recent Praise

There’s also a button beside each query that says either “Solved” or “Needs Solution”, as well as showing how many answers have been received. At the bottom of each segment, there are instant status tabs: “Common”, “Solved”, “Being Worked On” and other similar status indicators. The community greets new members, and lists its products and services, including toolbar versions for different browsers that are now available.

StumbleUpon Community Rules

Of course, like any online community, it has its rules. They’re the basic, common-sense ones about no spamming, flaming or publishing private content without permission. No personal insults or profanity. (Perhaps the most interesting rule in posting to the forum is “No off-topic or useless posting”: Off-topic I can see – but what is their definition of “useless”?)

Sign Up Required

The only minor annoyance is having to specifically sign up for the Forum – but that’s easily done in a few seconds. Your welcome email also gives you the standard option to have new replies to your posts emailed to you… and one more useful feature.

It also allows you to check a box that authorizes Get Satisfaction to send you a daily email about anyone new who has added you as a contact. This allows you to thank them, stumble their sites or just check out their profile.

You can add products and companies you like or are interested in under a specific “Add Product or Company” tab. And your Dashboard is also where you can register your App, if you’re a developer.

Your Settings page is also a valuable promotional tool. You can customize it with a thumbnail, use your real name or nickname, make it geographically relevant by adding your location, and provide your Twitter ID, Flickr ID and blog or website URL.

Go check out the StumbleUpon forum today at: http://getsatisfaction.com/stumbleupon

Developing An Effective Keyword List

When considering the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the success of your website often depends on it. That is why it takes crucial planning and careful execution of the best, most appropriate keywords in order to improve your ranking and effectively capture the attention of your target market.

Coming up with a list of the perfect keywords, or combination of words, takes time. Some website owners often think this is the easiest step in the SEO process. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, this step should be the most difficult. Why? Because, sure anyone can come up with a list of keywords related to your business. But not everyone knows exactly what your customers are looking for.

When creating your list of keywords, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and actually think like them, rather than try to sell to them. In other words, as a business owner, you may have a tendency to use buzzwords (like “niche” or “conversion”). But your customers may not be as familiar with those terms, or simply apply more commonly used words to the same concepts (like “group” or “sales”).

The trick is to come up with a list of keywords that not only apply to your business, but actually work. You may start with a list of 100 words, but in order to drive customers to your site, you will have to cut it down. A great tip is to take a look at some competitors’ sites. Try to get a feel for what keywords they are focusing on and how you might be able to improve upon and top them.

And don’t limit yourself to single keywords. SEO is about the recognition of single and mutli-word phrases. For example, if you are in the telecommunications business, you wouldn’t only optimize for words like “calling”, “telephone” or “wireless”. Instead, you might focus on keyword phrases like “call centers”, “wireless communication” or “home telephone services”.

The good news is, you won’t be alone in your SEO efforts. There are many useful tools available to help you develop the best, most effective and easy to rank keywords possible. Google, in particular, provides a tool that allows you to research how often keywords are searched. What you want to avoid are keywords that impossible to top.

For example, a very broad word like “cellphone” is searched over 2.2 Million times a month (according to Google AdWords keyword tool). This makes it nearly impossible for your site to come up within the first few pages of a search engine because the competition is so fierce. But a phrase like “cellphone service” is searched 14,800 times a month, making it easier to compete for a high ranking spot. Therefore, if you are in the cellphone industry, be it sales, service, accessories or otherwise, you will want to optimize for phrases and keywords that are searched often but not so often you lose your ability to be found.

Get More Traffic to Your Blog With Keyword Phrases

While there are still many bloggers who just blog because they like to write and express their ideas online, most people want someone to read it. If you want someone to read your blog, you need traffic. And you don’t just want a little traffic, you want as many people as possible to share your blog with. The best way to reach these people is through the search engines. And the best way to show up in the search engine results is to optimize each of your blog posts for a specific keyword phrase.

Step 1: Find a keyword phrase

Don’t just sit down and write about any subject that enters your head. If you really want to appeal to people, you need to write about things that they want answers to. Start by finding a good keyword phrase to use in your post. This means it should be a phrase that a decent number of people are searching for, but which has a relatively low number of competing websites. Keywords tools such as Market Samurai and Wordtracker will help you identify these phrases.

Step 2: Create your post outline

Once you know what you want to write about, you can start to outline your post. Make sure your title contains your keyword and that your post itself will deliver on the promise of that title. Some people like to also include their keyword in at least one of their header tags (H1,H2), but you need to make sure that you won’t have so many instances of your phrase that Google sees you as a spammer.

Step 3: Write high quality content

With a good outline in place, you should be able to sit down and write your post quickly. At this point, don’t even think about your keyword phrase, except to make sure that you’re sticking to your topic. You’re writing for people first and search engines second. Once you’re done writing, go back and make sure that you do have the keyword phrase 2 to 3 times in your post, depending on the post length. The last think you want to do is “stuff” your article with a specific keyword. If you find you’ve done that by accident, just go back and vary the phrase a bit or use other words as a substitution.

Step 4: Add images

Always add at least one image to your blog post. It should be something relevant to the content, naturally, but it should also have your keyword in the alt image tag and image description. You’ll be able to see the places to input these when you click on the button to edit the image in WordPress. Another reason to add a description and tag is that Google can read text, but it cannot read images. By adding a description and alt image tag, you’ve give the search engine something to read.

Step 5: Add links

By creating links within your post to other posts in your site, you create a natural structure that the search engines love. At the same time you add value for you readers by pointing them to other information that they’ll benefit from. However, you shouldn’t limit your links to internal ones. That looks suspicious to Google and could even get you pushed down in search results. Link to one or two other sites that add value for your reader and they may even link back to you, bringing in even more traffic.

If you really want people to read your blog content, you should always try to start with a keyword phrase that your target readers are looking for. Longtail keywords are the best and they will help you be more specific about what you write. In addition, by using a keyword in the title of the post and strategically throughout it, you’ll be far more likely to rank highly in the search engine results.