Offshore Outsourcing – Does it Work for an Online Business?

The exponential growth and availability of business opportunities has made the Internet an ideal place not only to provide a service, sell a product or start a business but also a place to save a lot of money by using these services. Offshore outsourcing can allow a company to offer its products for less money than its competitors.

Offshore outsourcing is a way to hire an external organization in a different country to perform some or most of the functions of a business. The development and manufacturing is usually done in the home country of the business and by outsourcing to a different country, the costs of running that business are reduced, allowing for a better profit margin. But, is it really worth it?

While many Internet business owners want to cut costs wherever they can, it’s important to remember cutting costs is NOT the most important factor. While not all offshore service providers fit this description, many don’t possess the quality of work an online business owner is looking for. There can be many reasons for this:

1. Language barriers can cause many problems for the business owner.

2. Business concepts or practices may not be grasped by the company performing the work. This is usually because things are done differently in their country.

3. Time zone differences can be a pain to work with if they are too far apart.

4. Currency issues. Many times you save money when you pay someone in a country whose currency is different than your own, but not always. If you don’t have a payment outlet that automatically converts, it is time consuming to figure out the current conversion rate if you aren’t used to how it’s done.

5. Depending on the company, can you really feel good knowing that you’re paying someone pennies (sometimes literally) to complete work for you.

6. Many offshore companies will not do small tasks, which sometimes is all that needs to be done for an online business.

Let me first be clear about something. By offshore outsourcing we’re not talking about freelancers who live in other countries, but instead the big companies who employ workers (who sometimes work for very little pay) to complete the work you need done.

Some common outsourced tasks for online business owners include content creation and writing of various sorts which is why hiring someone from a different country to do the work can be difficult. When you write for your website, you want to write for your readers and if the writer you hire doesn’t do this correctly, you’ll spend a lot of time making corrections or editing their writing. Not a good thing when you’re trying to focus your time on other important areas of your business but can’t because you’re spending too much time going back over someone else’s work.

That being said there are Internet marketers and other online business owners who have found success with outsourcing to offshore companies. As with any other business decision you need to think long and hard before you make a choice as to whether or not to outsource your work to an offshore company.

The main factor behind this practice is the need to cut costs. However, as I mentioned before, quality and customer satisfaction are more important than cost reduction in the long run.

Is Linkbait Bad or Good?

Many marketers subscribe to a vague idea that “linkbait” is something to be avoided. Said the young male owner of a wildly popular blog recently: “What’s `linkbai’t? I always get it mixed up with `jailbait’. I end up imagining a hottie in a skimpy tank top.”

But even though he was being facetious during the course of an admittedly lively discussion, there is a disreputable air about the term `linkbait’. And no wonder… What it actually refers to is the practice placing a piece of writing on your blog specifically designed to attract a furor of comments and backlinks.

But hold on… Isn’t that every blogger’s dream?

Yes… but it all boils down to that not-so-small matter of relevancy – the intangible but very real hallmark of “good” blog, with a solid reputation.

Just as there are many shades of grey in between black and white, however, so it is with linkbait. Some documents and posts blogs feature are akin to the Toronto Sun’s skimpily-clad “Sunshine Girl” – strictly there to make the Sun’s predominantly male demographic buy the paper.

Shady or Perfectly Legal?

Linkbait is nothing more or less than written content that attracts a buzz, comments and, above all, links. Whether or not linkbait is good or bad, shady or perfectly ethical depends on two things:

1. The blog’s main purpose and intent

2. The linkbait post or product’s target and the poster’s intent

Types of posts or content that seem to attract much linking:

– Definitive guides with high value content
– Controversial opinion pieces (often taking the opposite of a popular, universal view
– “Exposure” type pieces
– Inflammatory pieces designed to scar someone’s (or some organization’s) good name
– Blatantly dishonest pieces, designed strictly to titillate and grab links
– Provocative or crude sexual content

As you can instantly see, the first two types of what some call “linkbait” aren’t on the shady side at all. A definitive guide with high value content is worthy of reward (in the form of links): And as for controversial viewpoints, not only do we have freedom of speech in North America, but intelligent, reasoned controversy stops people growing complacent and stale.

If the controversy is offered with dishonest motives, strictly to create links, it becomes less praiseworthy and its motives highly suspect; but still, only the poster himself knows his original intent.

The Downright Ugly

“Exposure” type pieces are sure-fire “bait”, as well as negative in focus. While this usually attracts passionate reader interest, both pro and con, it’s a risky maneuver; one which can result in a sharp loss of subscribers after the initial reader obsession… Or, possibly, a lawsuit.

Inflammatory pieces are the baser end of the “controversy” scale. Blatantly dishonest pieces can be likened to tabloid headlines (and there’s a lesson or two to be learned there, no matter how much one may dislike them). And as for provocative sexual content, well, only Google seems to be allowed to put it on the web and not have their page rank plummet, from what I saw recently of a Google ad that appeared on my friend’s 16-year-old daughter’s totally innocent but Adsense-optimized blog.

The point is, you’re playing with fire if you yield to the temptations of the shady side of linkbait. Amid all that is changing in the online world these days – and it’s changing fast and furiously – there is still one component that can draw a steady stream of backlinks more reliably, in the long run, than any other strategy…

Highly original, valuable, personally-written content.

Consistency is the Key to Blogging

When creating your business blog, consistency is the key to keeping readers coming back time and again. Your readers will come to know you by your brand, your writing style and even the colors and fonts you use. Therefore, maintaining consistency throughout your blog is something you want to make a practice of.

Before creating your blog, if you haven’t done so already, think about what colors and font styles you are going to use. You want your business blog to flow with your business website, so using colors and styles from there would be your best option. If you don’t have a website for your business, then use colors and styles in your logo or from something that customers will recognize as your business. Also, if you have a logo for your business, be sure to use it on your business blog.

If you already have a business blog up and running, but feel it is “noisy” or there are too many colors and font choices, choose 2 to 3 colors to use throughout and then choose only one or two font styles at the most. Having too many colors and fonts can appear cluttered and your readers will soon lose interest because they will feel overwhelmed by all the busy-ness.

Consistency is not only in the appearance of your blog, but in the content as well. When you are creating posts for your business blog, they need to be geared toward your products, services and your business. Your writing style should always be consistent. Its okay to put some personal flair in your posts, but the main content should be professional.

If you use a ghostwriter to write your blog content, be sure to use only one or two, otherwise you may end up with too many writing styles and your readers may pick up on the fact you use ghostwriters. There is nothing wrong with using a ghostwriter, just be sure they are consistent and produce the kind of content you would if you were actually doing the writing.

When you are consistent on your business blog, your customers will come to trust you because consistency shows reliability and when your readers know they can rely on you, they will buy from you.

Pros and Cons of Launching Your Own Affiliate Program

While most would have you believe that launching your own affiliate program is a great
idea, it is important to remember that there are always two sides to every story, especially
in business. It’s true that affiliate marketing can prove to be extremely lucrative for your
business; however, before you jump in, make sure you are aware of the pros and the cons
of launching your own affiliate program.

Pro #1: Reach a larger audience.
With a team of affiliate marketers, you are guaranteed to reach more potential customers
than you ever would be able to reach on your own. An affiliate program allows you to
gain visibility and reach a larger targeted market through by enlisting the man-power you
need to grow your business.

Con #1: Relegate control.
It can be difficult for many business owners to entrust their livelihood to others.
However, while it may go against every fiber of your being to give up even an ounce of
control, you will have to do so in order to maximize your profit earning potential.

Pro #2: More time for business.
With affiliate marketers promoting your business for you, you will have more time to
focus on what’s really important, like coming up with new ideas, designing new offers
for your customers, inventing new products and deciding what to do with all of the extra
money coming in.

Con #2: Another thing to manage.
Yes, it’s a great help to have a team out there selling your business so that you don’t have
to, but an affiliate program is just something else to worry about, and that is not what you
need. But, on the good side, if you spend the time necessary to create a quality, organized
and well-built program from the beginning, your team will require little management and
basically run itself, especially if you have purchased a robust affiliate management
software program that does most of the work for you.

Pro #3: Increased profits.
As your affiliate program grows, so will your business. The larger your team, the more
visibility you will gain, the more customers you will have and the more money you will
make! Sound simple? It really is, if you are willing to take the chance.

Con #3: More money, more problems.
It is true that the more money you have coming in will mean the more money you have to
keep track of. However, again, a really good affiliate manager will help ensure your team
is paid the right amount, on time and maintain important affiliate commission
information for both you and your affiliate marketers.

So you see, even though there are pros and cons to launching your own affiliate program,
there is a bright side to every angle. If you are willing to take on a little extra work,
entrust a qualified team to market your business, and accept the increased responsibility
that comes with making an exponential profit, then launching your own affiliate program
might be just the risk your business needs to take.

What Does A Successful Joint Venture Partnership look like?

You’ve found a partner who is compatible to you and your business. You work well with him and you are ready to launch into the next phase of business planning. You pause. You realize that before you take your next step it might benefit you to know what a successful joint venture relationship looks like. To begin with you should expect to share all responsibilities. Your customer reach should increase as well as your profit but your partner should reap those same rewards. Finally, you will notice a marked increase in your productivity because you have a partner to stay accountable toward.

First and foremost a successful partnership involves shared responsibility. This means that the workload is evenly distributed among the partners. No one person gets stuck with all the dirty work. You can agree to do all the graphics if you prefer but you shouldn’t be expected to do it all, especially if your partner is just as capable of creating outstanding graphics.

A symbiotic partnership will look like a committed relationship. Each person will see to it that the other is treated fairly and with respect. Forgiveness and understanding will be the keys to longevity in the relationship. Competition will be non existent and trust will outweigh suspicion.

Second, your potential customer reach should be expanding past your normal reach. You should be reaching not only your readers and customers but also the readers and customers of your partner. This grows your business twice as fast in the same amount of time.

Each will be promoting the other in various means. Press releases will be sent to notify the public of your partnership. Interviews will be given and eBooks written. Everything you do for this venture will ultimately be for the joint goal of success.

Nothing builds productivity more than accountability. Knowing that you have to report your progress to someone pushes you to complete a project on time. Sure, you are in business for yourself but any successful solopreneur will tell you it is the support of their team that drives their success.

Built in evaluations and reviews will help you stay on target. Evaluate how your businesses compliment each other periodically. Partnerships are rarely long-term relationships. You might outgrow each other or your businesses might change direction.

Last but certainly not least, a successful partnership will be profitable for all. You might divide the profits directly in half or you might choose to split it by a fixed percentage. It depends on what is being done and what each partner is offering.

Having a written contract that explains each part of the partnership as well as what is expected of each party will ensure that all involved are protected.

A great partnership, just like a great relationship, is cultivated over time. Commit to getting to know each other. Develop trust. Partnering with someone who is like-minded both in their personal ethics and their business ethics will produce the most beneficial business venture.

Why You Should Launch Your Own Affiliate Program

What if there was a way to reach more potential customers in a shorter amount of time?
And what if you could spend more time focusing on your actual business rather than
trying to market it? What if you could make more money by spending less? Well, there is
a way, you can and you will!

By launching your own affiliate marketing program you will have the opportunity to
reach a greater audience and grow your customer base through a well-equipped team of
affiliate marketers. You can’t possibly reach your entire market on your own, but you can
certainly reach a greater percentage through the help of affiliate marketers who work for
you. Their goal is to sell your business and your product while you focus your efforts on
what’s really important like creating your product, maintaining client relationships and
building relationships with industry peers.

An affiliate marketing program is a cost-effective, reliable way for your business to
achieve exponential growth that can only occur when you have a dedicated team working
for you. And the best part is, it requires little to no investment at all. You will need to
purchase a quality affiliate management program, but other than initial start-up costs
(which are minimal) you only stand to make money. A well managed, well executed
affiliate marketing program is not only a great business tool, it is a great way to bring in
additional revenue and grow your business beyond what you have ever imagined.

Seven Ways To Generate Incoming Links

Content, as you might already know, if the first item search engine spiders look for when they’re cataloging and indexing web pages. The second item they look for are links coming into and out of your website. The links coming into your site have more weight than the ones leaving your site, which is what makes generating incoming links a very important search engine strategy.

Here are seven ways to generate incoming links.

#1 Write and publish quality content. People, other website owners, link to relevant content. If you write and publish tons of quality content, you’ll receive tons of incoming links.

#2 Online directories. While there are many directories that charge for a listing, there are also several that will list your company’s site for free.

#3 Write articles for other sites, article marketing. Writing articles and publishing them on other sites including article marketing sites, is a great method for getting inbound links.

#4 Write press releases and submit them to online press release websites. Be sure to include your website link at the end of the press release so media representatives can contact you, but also so you have an incoming link and interested visitors can find your website.

#5 Reciprocal links. Some reciprocal links are good as long as they’re coming from relevant websites. The trick is to balance reciprocal links with one-way links. Mix up your linking tactics so it looks natural to Google.

#6 Blog. Blogging is a spectacular way to generate fresh content and guest blogging on relevant blogs works a lot like article marketing, you generate links to your site in each blog post you write. You can also include links back to each of your web pages and allow your readers to reprint your blog posts as long as they keep the links in place.

#7 Participate in social networking. Posting tweets, and Facebook posts create incoming links to your website. In addition, when you comment on forums and other blog posts you also create incoming links via your signature.

As you’re creating and implementing your search engine optimization strategies, take the time to consider and include these linking tactics. While you may not be able to complete them all at the same time, instead focus on one tactic at a time adding to your SEO strategy as you grow.

7 Ways to Make Your Readers Eager to Link

The biggest reason blog readers don’t leave comments – or click away before they’ve even finished your blog post or article – is because you haven’t given them any new ideas to chew on… or any reason.

Your readers are also investors, and investors need to be convinced the venture they’re going spend their hard-earned time on is worth it.

If you’re like me, however, there are definitely times when you feel as if you’ve said it all a million times. There’s nothing left to blog about that excites you. It’s just another chore that has to be performed.

Here are 7 ways I jolt myself out of Writer’s Blahh, when I’m feeling too dull to blog. And I discovered – quite by accident – it’s also a great way to give your readers a genuine reason to leave their linkback!

1. Climb the fence and switch sides. For example, if you always blog about the necessity of keyword research, find all the reasons keyword research doesn’t do the trick – and blog about that!

2. Take a shortcut. One of my favorite shortcuts is to visit Scribd.com, and read something interesting – and timely – from their “Trending” section. The beauty of this lies in the fact that what’s being trended is popularity and user driven – which means it’s currently on people’s minds. And if what you’ve read that’s so interesting doesn’t relate to your niche, I guarantee that if you write your own posts at all, it will still most likely spark an idea – a tangent, perhaps; but something related to your readership, and a new, fresh thought for you.

3. Reverse-engineer a “family story”. But first, think of your family favorites. Which one resonates with you? What principle does it deal with, and why do you care enough to write? Answer this question – then briefly illustrate it with the anecdote. People are more likely to identify with a story than a lecture – and so are you!

4. Relax. Not every post is going to generate tons of links. Some are like the foundations of a building: They’re laying the groundwork for the second post… or the third… It’s more important to be real and keep your focus on your reader. Ask yourself: “Why does this relate to him?” – make it a habit as much as writing from a relaxed viewpoint.

5. Piggyback-post. The most effective way to do this is to take a hot topic currently under blog discussion, and summarize 4 or 5 top arguments on other blogs, crediting the authors. Not only can this provoke an immediate linkback from the (top-level) author in question, people will find it more authoritative (if you’re relatively new to the game) than your personal opinion… and the hot topic has already been identified for you.

6. Look for the Gaps. Just as you would when assessing the competition’s products prior to creating your own, look for the “gaps” your competitors are leaving in their post

7. Read Authority Blog Comments. Sometimes you can get great ideas for new blogging subjects in reader comments – particularly when it’s a hot topic. And using the “keywords” their comments generate is a great way to invite traffic over to your “house”.

So there you have it – 7 ways to engage your next blog visitor. Try it for yourself – and see if these tactics don’t generate the side benefit of links!

Your Target Market Doesn’t Need to Know Your Personal Business

When it comes to social media most of us have either purposely or accidentally combined our personal and business on one social media account. Sometimes it can be a good idea to combine the two but only for very specific types of businesses. With the newer technology and the ability to block, segment, and differentiate what our followers and friends see of our activity on social media it’s easier than ever to keep your personal business private.

You may not realize that you have a right to keep your personal life separate from your business. But you do. It can be awkward when a business associate tracks down your personal Facebook page and asks to “friend” you but you know that you probably disagree on at least one of the three items that shouldn’t be discussed in mixed company: Religion, Politics, and Baby Poop. But you’ll be doing yourself and your business a huge favor.

Simply tell your business associates, when and if it comes up, that you like to keep personal and business separate, and that they won’t get important business updates without following or “liking” your business account. Then give them the link to your business account profile. It’s more than likely they will completely understand and even praise your decision. They’ll see how important business is to you.

Having separate accounts or using the technology to segment your audience can give you amazing freedom. You’ll be able to be yourself on your personal social media accounts, and you’ll be able to better focus on business with your separate business social media accounts. No worries about differences of opinions or accidentally offending someone.

Having separate accounts will give you the option to outsource some of the social media interaction and updates that you need to engage in as a business. It’s also good to take time off from work and if your accounts are intermingled when you’re trying to take time off work it will be difficult when everything is together.

Keeping your accounts separate will allow you to honor your own privacy as well as that of your friends and family too. Often people do not set up their social media correctly and do not realize that “friends of friends” can often see their private information to include telephone numbers, birthdays, and more. Plus sometimes your family and friends will tag you in something they think is funny that your business partners don’t find quite as funny.

Aside from the obvious personal issues above, another reason why you want to keep your personal business separated is that if you build a brand for your business separate from yourself and your name, you can build it bigger outside of yourself and even sell the business easier later, when and if you decide to retire or move on. Selling a business that is a separate entity from your personality is a lot more lucrative. A business named after yourself, or that completely relies on your name isn’t a very salable business and you wouldn’t want to transfer over your personal accounts to someone anyway.

Just remember, you have every right to keep your personal life separate from your business life. Anyone who is offended that you don’t want to “friend” them on your personal social media accounts needs a lesson in online business etiquette.

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