Membership Sites Take Work

It seems that everyone is singing the praises of membership websites these days. Creating a membership site online is a great way to create passive income without being tied to your computer day in and day out. That’s not to say these types of websites don’t take work – quite the contrary actually.

While membership site ownership takes a lot of the hassle of working for an hourly wage in a service business or for someone else, you still have to put in some leg work. A membership site owner could easily say that’s all they do, however there is so much more involved in the process if you want your site to be successful.

Let’s take a very popular membership site idea seen more and more on the Internet these days – PLR Memberships. These memberships sell content in various forms such as articles, blog posts, sales pages, and more to Internet marketers and other website owners. The most common PLR membership is a monthly one where members receive new content each and every month.

Many mistakenly think the owner of a PLR membership site simply sits back and rakes in the payments each month. Not quite. Here’s just part of what all the owner is responsible for on a monthly basis.

• Plan ahead as to what members will be receiving months ahead of when they will actually get it.
• Write or have writers create the PLR content for each month.
• Review the content and edit as needed.
• Upload the content to the website.
• Notify members of the content’s availability.
• Handle any customer service issues (of which there WILL be).
• Handle all payments, refund requests and other billing disputes.
• Continually market the membership (you do want it to grow don’t you?)
• Constantly thinking of ways to improve membership to stay ahead of the competition.

Like I said, that’s just a partial list of what all is involved in running a successful membership site. If you think you can create a membership site, throw some content up and sit back and spend your checks as they come in, unfortunately this is NOT the case. Marketing a membership site alone can be time consuming to say the least, if not planned out and done correctly.

If you’re thinking of starting your own membership site, I encourage you to take the time to really find out what all is involved. Think your plan through before jumping in with both feet. You’ll be glad you did – no matter which way you choose to go once you’ve looked at all the steps necessary to not only create but grow your business.

Avoiding Interruptions and Time Suckers

Being a business owner is a wonderful experience that enables the business owner to take control of their destiny. But, business owners often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and they have to find ways to balance business ownership, earning a living, and regular life. There are so many issues that can pop up each day that interrupt your otherwise smooth day. You might even participate in some interrupters and time suckers willingly without even realizing it. In spite of the dream of business ownership being met, the days go so fast it’s hard to tell what end is up and you start wondering whether that leisurely life you dreamed of exists.

In order to avoid time suckers it is important to:

Create a Plan — Every business owner needs to have a plan in order to manage their time. It’s one of the biggest secrets of time management that business owners many times avoid. They just go through each day without any idea of how it should end. You need a plan that spells out your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly projects and goals. Write out each project with each task that goes with it and a time line so that you can see the plan in black and white.

Create a Schedule — Once you have a plan it is important to create a solid schedule using a calendar or project management system. This is not to say that it’s not adjustable or breakable, but for the most part, treat it like it’s ironclad. If you worked for someone else, you would go into work with a clear idea of what your day will be like, and what tasks you’ll perform. It is important to do this with your own business too. If you have created your time-line appropriately, you can easily see at a glance what you need to do for the next hour, week, month and year. Don’t forget to schedule in time with friends and family too. If you don’t, you are more likely to suffer from irritating interruptions and time sucking situations.

Avoid Distractions — Whether it’s the radio, the television, your cell phone or other technology, it’s important to avoid distractions when you are working. Your friends and family should not feel free to drop by anytime they want to, for chatting for unlimited periods of time. Remember, playing Farmville on Facebook is not the same as using social media to market your business. Other than making allowances for true emergencies, turn email off, social media off, and have a special emergency number for true life altering emergences.

Stop Multitasking — Yes, I realize that is easier said than done, but multitasking is overrated. It’s not efficient, and it just simply doesn’t work. While someone like a receptionist may need the ability to do a few things at once, the need our society places on the ability to multitask is wrongheaded. Most just done in a multitasking environment simply aren’t up to par. If you’re engaged in any type of creative work, bookkeeping, or other tasks that require your full attention it is important to give it all your focus. It is surprising how much work you can get done when you give the work your undivided attention. Without interruptions what used to take 3 hours might take only an hour, that is the ultimate in time management!

6 YouTube Video Formats Explained

The easy answer to the question, “just how many video formats are there, anyway”, is a glib: “Probably more than either of us realize!”

However, that’s not exactly helpful to those new to video marketing and video making, so here are 5 YouTube compatible formats – with some clues to the differences between them…

.WMV

“WMV” stands for “Windows Media Format”, and is Microsoft’s standard video file format. It is highly versatile, with its main advantage lying in its video compression abilities, which allows it to function at varying bandwidths. If you use Windows Movie Maker, you can easily output your files as WMV files. (Notice, however, that among all the file types that YouTube accepts, the standard Windows Movie Maker .MSWMM file format is not one of those “on the list”).

.MOV

The MAC version of .WMV. Works best with QuickTime, if you’re going to download and play. You’ll find many .MOV files on YouTube.

MPEG 4 (MP4)

The advantages of the .MP4 file format lies in the way it discards any non-essential information, reducing file size to the minimum.

MP4 format is most often used with PSP’s and iPods.

.3GP

Yes, Virginia – you can upload this popular mobile phone format! But be aware that you can lose quality when transferring .3GP files to YouTube.

.FLV

Adobe Flash format. Flash movies work well on YouTube – but to play .FLV files, you’ll need a Flash Player such as Adobe or Applian installed on your computer. (Run your spyware program after downloading the latest Adobe Flash Player. The last two times I’ve upgraded, I’ve immediately been hit by an Adobe spyware program, according to my anti-virus.)

.MKV

Written in open-format Extensible Binary Meta Language, Matroska is quick to point out it is XML-based, and not a video compression codec. Free to use, it aims to become “the open source alternative to existing containers such as AVI, ASF, MOV, RM, MP4, MPG”.

You will need to be familiar with all these types of video file extensions, in order to make the most of your video marketing – but mercifully, of course, you don’t need to know how to use them all.

Just knowing what they are can make a difference to how you choose your hardware and software.

Putting Together the Pieces of Your Membership Site

A membership site can be a great way to start creating some serious income. They can be a bit work intensive on the front end, but once its up and going, you’ll find it practically runs itself.

There are a few components you need for a membership service. As with any service, you should shop around and find one with the features you want at a price you can afford. In order to get a membership site rolling, you need to consider three things: your script, your payments and your autoresponder service.

Scripting Software

The easiest way to develop a membership site that meets the needs of your clients is to find a scripting service with the functions you want. There are dozens of these types of services available, so here are two tips to keep in mind.

1. Shop around – Look for as many features as you can find in one script. You may not find one with everything you want, but if you do your research, you can certainly find some great deals. Membership sites are hot and that means scripting services are enjoying heavy competition. Like any type of sales, competition means benefits and deals for the buyer. You may be able to find free trials of a scripting service – which might be a great deal – but remember that switching services can be a real chore, so be reasonably certain your first choice is the best choice. The cheapest route may not be the best route, but the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best either, so do your research.

2. Look for reviews of the various membership scripts you’re considering. Find out what others think of the service before you choose one. Look at some of the sites you like and check around for the scripting software company. You’ll likely discover the scripting service information available – although it may be in the fine print somewhere.

Payments on Your Site

Obviously, you can’t make any money from your membership site without a payment processor. Many scripting software services include a payment processor, but if yours does not, you need to set one up right away. You can choose whether to accept credit cards, checking account payments, debit cards or other online payment services. Most sites accept a variety of credit cards as well as PayPal. PayPal is a very common payment processor that allows users to make online payments without needing to share their financial details with merchants. Many people are familiar with PayPal and will expect to be able to use this feature.

Autoresponders

A third component you need for your membership site is an autoresponder to handle your mailing list. Autoresponders let you capture email addresses as well as names and other information you might need. You can then load up your email messages to the autoresponder at your chosen service and have them delivered automatically, regardless of when a member joins or how long they remain. They will receive your messages in the order you load them. You can create several different mailing lists with your autoresponder service, including separate lists for different levels of membership, as well as a newsletter, if you choose.

These three pieces are all critical to a successful membership site. Once you’ve made these decisions, you are well on your way to creating your own site and a new stream of income.

Backend Sales Secrets

Backend sales don’t happen on their own… or do they? The key is to strategically devise a plan that places your products in the hands of the consumer. And we are talking more than just basic sales techniques here. We are talking the right products for the right customers, which is a far cry from the point and shoot marketing approach of old.

Rather than send a direct mail campaign via snail mail, and hope for the best, backend sales strategies and secrets are much more useful, targeted and effective. So how do you make it work? The secret to any good backend sales strategy is to not only recognize what the customer wants, but to in turn, fulfill that need.

If Customer A has a history of purchasing products about shoes, then they will most likely purchase additional products about shoes. If Customer B has purchased products on multiple topics that fall under one umbrella – for example, affiliate marketing, viral marketing and social marketing, all very closely related – you will want to be sure to showcase products along the same vein each and every time they visit your site.

So is you who has to recognize these trends? Well, yes. But not directly. Be sure to invest in a quality auto-responder with strong data collecting and database capabilities that you can rely on to send the right message to the right customer. If you do, your backend sales strategy will require some monitoring, but it will inevitably run itself. And you will reap the rewards.

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!

5 Content Marketing Tips

There are a lot of different ways to get your product, service or website in front of potential customers online. Marketing with content is one of the most effective ways to do it. Here are 5 tips to making your content marketing stand out from the rest and work in your favor.

1. Varying Media Types – Don’t just rely on one specific style of delivery for your content. While articles are very useful and the most common form of content marketing, using video, audio and holding teleseminars are all equally appealing options to readers. Some of these take a little longer to create, but they all have their advantages. Using multiple forms of content delivery makes it easier to reach a larger audience.

2. Social Networking – Social networking sites such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Digg are perfect vehicles to create your business networking contacts. You can link up with people who are interested in your service and even create partnerships with other people to increase your exposure.

3. Referral Programs – Use your clients or customers to help bring in more people through referral programs. You can offer a reward for the people they bring in or make it a contest for whoever brings in the most over a certain period of time.

4. Affiliate Programs – Set up an affiliate program so you can have other website and blog owners online market your content for you, while also referring people to your products or service. The ability to earn a commission on any sales they send your way is a must for this type of program. This costs you nothing unless the affiliate sends you a sale, but drives people who are interested in what you have to offer to your site and increases the chances for a sale.

5. SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the means to better placement of your website at the top of online search results. This is a fantastic way to position your content in those search results directly related to your product. The more keywords you are linked to, the more likely people will find your content through online searches. There are free tools available to help you streamline your keyword efficiency.

Using one or all of these marketing techniques, will bring the customers to your website and have them already interested in what you have to offer.

3 Quick And Dirty SEO Tips

Looking for a quick and easy way to give your website a boost in the search engine results? Here are 3 straightforward and easy tips to get the job done.

1. Add new content regularly

While that may seem obvious, it is really the best way to improve search engine results. There are a number of ways to add content including a blog, reviews, testimonials, articles and so on. Forums are also a great way to have new content added to your site by others.

2. Choose the right keywords

Select specific keyword phrases that are relevant to the webpage you are optimizing rather than general terms. Specific keyword phrases will be searched less frequently, however you will receive more targeted traffic and a higher page ranking for these phrases.

3. Linking

To achieve a high search engine ranking it is important to have other sites linking to your site. These can be one way links, or reciprocal links, where you link to another site in return for them linking to you. Internal linking also helps build the prominence of pages within your website.

Of all the types of links, one-way links have the most weight. To obtain more one-way links, writing quality content is the singular best way to motivate others to link to you. Additionally, posting on social networking sites, and linking to your site, and posting on blogs are other ways you can take control of building links to your website and web pages.

When it comes to improving your search engine ranking there are a lot of little things you can do to boost your page results however the three most important and the strategies you cannot survive without are obtaining links, choosing the right keywords and of course publishing quality content on a regular and consistent basis.

Viral Marketing and Pre-Launching Your Information Product

Viral marketing is one of the least expensive forms of marketing. It can also be one of the most effective means of marketing an information product even in the pre-launch state. Viral marketing is a type of marketing which has replaced the older style word of mouth marketing strategies. Viral marketing is essentially the same thing but the difference is merely the manner in which the message is passed.

With viral marketing, the delivery method is by internet rather than traditional word of mouth. There are a number of means by which this can occur. The basis however is the same, information being passed on from person to person. This can be done through links, emails, blogs, videos and podcasts.

Social networks are one of the first places to start when looking into the benefits of viral marketing for your pre-launch. Video networking sites are an extension and specialization of these social networks and if you are using video it is recommended that these sites be considered as well. Social networking sites work based on finding friends or building a list of friends based off common interests.

The interests become keywords and can help individuals to find people that have similar interests. The same goes for businesses. Businesses can make use of these social networks by getting in contact with their customers and supplying information on new products and services to them.

These customers each have a network of people they are friends with, and it is through this list that the information is passed on to the network. Each person in that network also has a network and so on. This is how the message is passed from person to person.

The same goes for videos. When tagging a video on a video network site it is important to know the types of tags or keywords used by people who are searching the sites. A little research is in order to find out this information. Once you have it and tag your video appropriately, anyone looking for information or videos on those keywords will pull up your video.

Videos are often sorted by most recent addition or most closely related to the keyword. This means you have a good chance of getting a great deal of exposure if you tag properly. Advertising using the link to the video or embedding the video in a blog is another great way to gain exposure for both the product and your blog.

Your blog ties in with all these forms of social networking and video networking through links. By putting teasers such as “For more Information…” you can easily encourage people to click and find out more about the information product you are getting ready to launch. The more exposure you create for your info products in their pre-launch phase, the more successful that product is once it launches. The great thing about viral marketing is the fact that it does not cost anything to implement. You simply post and allow it to spread.

Three Tips to Optimize Your Content for the Search Engines

Content is the most powerful tool you have in your search engine optimization strategy. Relevant content, optimized for keywords, and published frequently can shoot your website to the top of the search engine results. That being said, there are a few strategies it helps to know when writing and optimizing your content.

#1 One page, one keyword.

Keep it simple and optimize each webpage for one primary keyword. You could include a couple of secondary keywords that might be extensions of the primary keyword. However, trying to incorporate too many keywords into one page diffuses the results.

#3 Use your keyword strategically.

There are a few prominent places to position your keyword so they’re recognized by the search engines. These locations include:

* Your headline,

* Any headings or subheadings in your content,

* And the first and last paragraph of your content.

#4 Let your words flow naturally.

Many beginners are tempted to place their keywords in every single sentence. That generally creates an article or page that’s extremely difficult to read. Instead, write your content and then go back and position your keywords using the strategy we just outlined. Make sure to sprinkle other relevant words throughout your content as well.

For example, if you’re writing about puppy housebreaking, you can also use the words potty training, or housetraining.

Having a keyword strategy for each piece of content you write and following the tips we’ve outlined will go a long way toward helping you reach the search engine results you desire. The bottom line, write quality and well focused content for your audience first and the search engines second. Because, after all, your audience is the key to profits and a successful website.