Get Free Stuff by Reviewing Products

Starting a product review website won’t have people clamoring for you to review their products, at least at first, but once you have a popular site believe it or not companies will want to give you their products and services free. That might sound wonderful, and it can be pretty awesome, but there is a price to pay for that “free” item.

High Expectations — The company or person who gives you their product or service to review, might expect to receive a good product review regardless how you really felt about the product or service. This puts you in a bad position from the start if you’re not upfront with the person giving you the product.

Poor Appearance — It can also make you look bad to your readers if they know you’re taking freebies from companies and individuals for whom you review products. Due to laws and regulations you have to disclose if you received any product or service free or at a discount before they read the product review, so yes, they will know. This might leave a bad taste in the mouth of those reading the reviews.

Tax issues — While everyone knows that every dollar you earn via your online endeavors is taxable, many people don’t realize that the value of the freebies they receive is also taxable. This can add up to quite a punch of out of pocket money at the end of the year if you’re not careful. Therefore, many of the free items, sometimes called swag, aren’t really free. You can thank the congress for removing this luxury from stars in 2006 when swag became taxable at fair market value. Much of the time you must pay taxes on these items especially if you receive a lot. The best course of action is to talk to your CPA about this situation. These items are not free and if you run a profitable review website where you receive a lot of freebies you will be found out.

Knowing these three issues involved with having a product review site what can you do? Well, knowing what you’re getting into helps. For the issue regarding expectations of companies and individuals when giving you a product to review you can require them to sign a statement that clarifies that you will give a true account of the product or service to the best of your ability that that no assumption of a good review is expected.

Posting a picture of the short statement before each product or service review where you were given the product or service free of charge will go a long way to not only create a sense of trust between you and your readers but also between the readers and the company. If the company is willing to sign a statement such as that, they must truly believe their product is great enough that they are not worried about a poor review.

Regarding taxes, be sure to consult with a tax professional because they will know best how to deal with these issues. Realizing that you also need to earn cash in addition to free items will help you determine what type of compensation you really deserve from companies and individuals who are expecting you to promote their products and services. Don’t under value your time and commitment to a product or service.

Successful Business Model — Recurring Revenue

If you’re a service provider you probably wonder how you can earn some income without trading hours for dollars. Well, the best way to do that is to add some kind of recurring income to your business model. Recurring revenue is the key to taking your business to the next level and ensuring your survival during times when you can’t work. The great thing is, the work you do today toward making recurring revenue a goal, is going to pay off for years to come.

In order to add a recurring revenue model make a list of all the things you now do for your clients that are regular and recurring. Brainstorm ways in which you can offer a monthly deal to your clients where you automatically do said tasks without them reminding you, and set them up on auto-pay or auto-billing via Freshbooks.com and PayPal. The beauty of this is you create a recurring revenue stream from things you already do, but maybe don’t do often enough or only do when the client thinks of telling you. This way it keeps tasks up to date and likely won’t take as long.

One idea behind recurring revenue is to do less work for more money. Trading hours for dollars can only make so much money because there are only so many hours in the day. So the next recurring revenue model you can add to your business involves your expertise. If you’re an expert in something, and if you do something every day for others you can classify yourself as an expert. As an expert there are various recurring income ideas that can be borne of your expertise such as:

eBooks — Write an eBook and sell it in a variety of ways from your own sales page, to selling it on Amazon via Kindle.

eCourses — Rewrite the eBook to be delivered in short bursts via an eCourse. You can make it a three month, six month, or any length you want and bill your members monthly to keep getting the new course.

Membership Sites — Turn your eCourses and eBooks and other lessons and tutorials into a membership website. It can include a message board, and other opportunities for paying members. If you could attract just 100 paying members and only charged $19.95 per month (and many membership sites are more than that) you can make almost $2000 a month just from this one website.

Group Coaching — Offer group coaching calls to your membership as an “up-sell”. For instance if regular membership is $19.95, offer the group coaching calls for an upgrade at $49.95 a month. Have the group coaching call via a system like Adobe Connect or even Skype.

Affiliate Sales — Make all this work automatically by allowing members only to become affiliates of your membership site and other individual products. People like exclusivity. You can encourage sales via the membership site and give them the tools to be successful creating their own recurring revenue model.

No matter what your normal business is, you can create any of the above, or all of the above, as a recurring business revenue model. Start today creating your recurring revenue model and soon enough you’ll not have to rely only on trading hours for dollars.

Simple Upsell Plans

Ask any business owner and they will tell you all about the importance of upselling and how it is the key to making money. The first order of business is to get the original purchase but once you have that sale in the bag, it is time to upsell that order. The most successful and easy upsells are those, which are simple, fast and attractive to the customer.

One of the most famous, and probably successful upsell phrases ever created is “Super Size It”. This single expression is an upselling gold mine and has made the company who came up with it additional millions each year. It’s so very simple and there’s no work involved on the side of the employee, it practically sells itself.

One technique is to create a bundle package of goods, which are all directly related to each other. Through this simple plan you need only create the bundle, place a price which is attractive to the customer, while still making you a profit, and advertise it either online with ads or have it placed in a prominent place in your shop. The key to this is the price of the bundle is less than if all parts were purchased separately.

When a customer asks about something in that particular bundle, you can point out that he or she can get a much better bang for their buck through the bundle. Many people will see this as a great bargain and purchase the bundle feeling that have saved money when, in fact, they just spent more money than they planned to spend when they entered your store.

This is a crux of upselling, why pay for one thing when you can buy 2 and almost twice the price. The important thing is not to let the customer see it that way by accenting how much they will save by making the larger purchase. People are funny like that; they will justify spending extra money if they feel they are somehow saving money in the process.

Another easy upsell plan is the buy one get on half off deal. Most markups on items are set so that, even being sold at half price, there is a profit made on the item. By offering buy one get one half off, you are essentially getting each customer to spend an additional 50% of the price of the item purchased and all you had to do was make a deal price.

Another simple upsell technique is the word “Sale”. When people hear or this word something happens in their brains and they feel the need to take advantage of the lower prices. We all know that saying you are having a sale is a play on words because everything in the store is on sale all of the time.

During a big sale there are even more opportunities for upselling because the customer feels they are already spending less per item so they will buy more and more things because they are “saving money”. All you have to do is strategically place matching items together and lower the price on items by a small percentage. The customers will upsell for you in this case.

The Top Reasons you want Recurring Revenues

Recurring revenues are the lifeblood of your business. It does not matter what business model you have right now, what matters is that you make recurring income each month that you can count on and that hopefully, grows with each passing month and year to come. When you can count on your income growing each month and year, you know you’ve done something right. The top reasons you want recurring revenue streams are:

Work Once — Most recurring revenue streams are work that you do once, and keep getting paid for later. Such as eBooks, niche websites, and affiliate marketing. All of these require you to do the work once, and then you can get paid months and years later for your efforts today. Nothing is more fun than seeing money in your PayPal account for something you did two years ago.

Passive Income — Many types of recurring revenue are what is called passive income. That doesn’t mean you don’t do any work, but it does mean that you can keep earning on the same item. For instance, if you have a niche website or blog, that has some affiliate products, and Google AdSense as the revenue streams it can become almost automatic. Once you get the traffic up to a certain point, if you leave it for say a two week vacation, or a six week period of time off due to birth, death or illness you’ll still make money on the site.

No Limits — Unlike trading hours for dollars there is truly no limit to the amount of money you can make with many recurring revenue streams. Once you write an eBook and start selling it, you can sell it as many times as you want to. You can’t sell as many hours of Virtual Assistant time as you want to, because there are simply only so many hours a day. The same can be said for Graphic Design or any type of service business. While you love doing it, there are built in limits.

Avoid Burnout — We all need to take breaks. In the current service provider business model there is no room to take a break. How would you like the freedom to close down your business every holiday? What about taking month long vacations during the summer? Heck, how about taking a trip to a warm climate when the weather gets too cold at home? The possibilities are endless and having a recurring revenue stream allows you to be more picky about taking on clients so that you can truly do what you love.

More Saleable — The more passive and recurring income you have the more you can sell your business for later if you choose to do so. If you learn to separate yourself from your business model a little bit then you can eventually sell the business so that you can retire or move o to the next opportunity as you wish. A business that is named right, and has recurring revenue is just more salable than a services business with a good client list, without.

Upselling Techniques

Upselling is a sales technique by which the customer is persuaded into making additional or a more expensive purchase based on the skill of the person conducting the sale. Upselling is something that is involved in every business model around and the possibilities for a business to make more money are limited only to the skill of the salespeople in the company.

The nature of business is to sell a service or product to a customer and if possible, persuade the customer to make additional purchases based on the original purchase. There are a number or different ways to approach upselling and they are a little different for each type of sale. These are each mainly associated with a particular business model.

The Add-On Upsell

This type of upsell involves, as with any upsell possibility, an original purchase however in this case the original purchase cannot be modified in and of itself. This is where the salesperson would suggest a specific item that compliments the original purchase. If, for example the item were a shirt, the salesperson would suggest a matching tie.

This type of upsell is mainly used in retail stores of almost any nature because of the inability to modify the original purchase, getting the customer to make additional purchases can greatly increase the profit margin of the company. This is also a viable way to create more sales online by suggesting additional items during the checkout process.

The Better Version Upsell

This is a technique mainly used in restaurants and bars to get the patron to make additional purchases or purchase a better version of what they ordered. One way to do this is by suggesting a steak as opposed to a hamburger thus upselling the burger to a higher costing steak.

This can also be done online by suggesting a better version of what the customer has in their shopping cart. For example, if the purchase made was a CD, the suggestion of a deluxe version of the same CD would be a better version upsell.

The Combo Upsell

When a customer makes a purchase there is sometimes the option of giving them a combination deal on the item they are purchasing. This is a particularly useful in media sales such as DVD’s and CD’s. When making a purchase of a DVD, a combo set of the original DVD as well as another of the same series or starring the same lead actor half price would be a combo upsell.

The combo upsell can be done is many business models, however, it tends to work best with media types of sales such as DVDs, CDs, and games. This can also be used when selling services such as an oil change where, for a little extra, you can get filters and wipers checked and changed as well.

Regardless of how the upsell is done, the skill of the salesperson is key to getting the customer to pay more money for something extra they may not have considered purchasing in the first place.

Making Video Marketing Work for You

You’ve decided to make a video this time, to help sell your product. If you’re nodding you’re head in agreement, I’ve got three words of advice: “Just do it!”

It doesn’t matter if you have the latest software or a top-of-the-line camcorder. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve made a video before. The truth is, teens and pre-teens are uploading home-made videos to YouTube every day – and getting views that would make many marketers drool with envy! There are 3 main keys to making a video that gets views:

1. Keep it real. Your honesty and enthusiasm are what will help sell your product – not whether or not you can out-direct Quentin Tarantino
2. Promote it. Create a buzz. You can bet that’s what the “kids” are doing – telling all their friends, announcing the video using YouTube’s “Share” feature, talking about it on Facebook, leaving comments on other similar or related videos in their YouTube group…
3. Make it interesting. It can be as flawed as all get out, production wise, but if it’s interesting – even if you have to stand on your head and juggle with your feet – it will get views.

(And if it’s interesting enough, it may go viral!)

Here are some solid tips to help you get started…

The Most Importing Tip For Making a Successful Video – First Time

1. Use a storyboard or rough script. If you’ve never made a video before, chances are, you’re going to either ramble on, using up precious seconds – and rambling will tip your video firmly over into the “boring” camp – or miss out vital information. Using a storyboard or rough script will help you:

• Stick to the point

• Include everything you need included

If you are a “visual” learner, use a story board – quick, scribbled thumbnail sketches (“stick people” are fine) showing each point in “frames” (think of it as a comic book page).

If you do better with lists, use a rough script. This is not the sort of script you read word for word – doing that would ensure you ended up with a “wooden”, deadly dull video. Rather, just a reminder of the key points you need to include (such as your call to action, and website URL).

Shoot your video, edit, upload to YouTube – and promote.

The important thing to remember in all of this is… yup, you got it: “Just do it.”

21 Best StumbleUpon Tips

So you’re getting started with StumbleUpon, and you’d like to make the most of your Stumbling experience. Good for you, for being concerned with starting off on the right foot. There are definitely things that you can do to increase your chances of becoming popular through stumbling. Let’s take a look at 21 of the best all-time tips:

1. Remember that your mission is to be yourself. So only stumble sites that you are genuinely interested in.

2. If your website or blog is all about photography, make your photos big enough to stun people with their detail, contrast and fascinating subject matter. Don’t worry about bandwidth.

3. If your website or blog is all about photography or art, keep the background colors neutral – let the images speak loudly for themselves.

4. If your website or blog is about information, make sure the visuals don’t distract. Focus on your headlines and first paragraphs instead.

5. Use the Related Posts plug-in to provide readers with more valuable content – from you.

6. Make sure you submit your own site pages, or new ones from others you’ve discovered, with accurate tags.

7. Send your own pages, via StumbleUpon, to your friends.

8. Submit your best work (i.e., specific pages, perhaps not highlighted on your site but buried deep within) to StumbleUpon

9. Don’t submit your own stuff daily – that’s a sure-fire way to send up a red flag and possibly get your site banned.

10. Be selective about who you add: Quantity is not better than quality.

11. Don’t befriend someone and then ignore them. Remember, all relationships need to be nurtured!

12. Thank people who compliment you or stumble your sites. Everyone appreciates courtesy.

13. Don’t neglect your other social marketing – but why not do it via StumbleUpon (it’s one-click easy!)

14. When checking out another Stumbler’s profile, pay attention to your Similarity Meter (located in the right-hand sidebar)

15. Use your “info” toolbar button to see site reviews – and leave your own

16. Subscribe to people who you are really compatible with via content – click the green “Subscribe” button in the upper right corner or send them a message

17. Create a StumbleUpon group and stumble each other’s best links.

18. Stumble people who stumble you – if you find their content valuable, give it a thumbs up (but don’t be indiscriminate!)

19. Review StumbleUpon profiles of those whose sites you’re interested in

20. Stumblers love dynamic photos. Occasionally include one (relevant to your blog subject, of course) – even if normally you focus only on text information.

21. Don’t forget to add a StumbleUpon button to your blog or website!

Finally remember that most of all, StumbleUpon is all about entertainment. Keep your heavy-duty business report for your LinkedIn contacts… and let StumbleUpon help you develop your “lighter” side. It’s a bit of an art form to learn to mix business with personal in a way that feels natural to both you and your reader – but letting that spark of personality shine through is ultimately your biggest social networking advantage.

Happy Stumbling!

How to Promote Your Mini Site for Free

Large website with big budgets often spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns. They plaster their URL on billboards across the nation, buy full-page spreads in magazines and spend small fortunes on pay per click advertising. How can a mini site run by your average Joe compete with that?

A better question might be, “Why should a mini site try to compete with that?” A mini site usually consists of one, or at most a few, pages. And it targets a very specific market niche. An ad in the New York Times would, in the overwhelming majority of cases, be overkill.

Promoting a mini site is doable on a mini budget. In fact, it is entirely possible to promote your mini site without spending a dime. Getting traffic may take a little more time and effort than if you spent big bucks, but your profit margin will be much higher.

Here are some free methods for promoting your mini site:

Do your own SEO. There is a small learning curve, but you can do it yourself. And once you get it right, your search engine placement will keep the traffic coming.
Submit articles to free reprint sites, such as EzineArticles.com. Include a link to your site in the resource box. The article must include the resource box whenever it is reprinted, so you’ll get links from anyone who uses your content.
Join forums that appeal to members of your target market. Participate in discussions, and include a link to your site in your signature.
Comment on blogs. Most will include a link to your site with your comment. This will help boost your search engine rankings and could result in click-through traffic.
Contact bloggers that reach your target market and ask to write a guest post for them. This is a great way to establish yourself as an expert and create interest in your site.
Write a special report, making sure to include a link to your site. Then contact others who sell information products and ask them if they would like to give it away as a bonus with their product.
Write a press release. Submit it to press release websites, online publications and bloggers.

You don’t have to spend obscene amounts of money to get the word out about your mini site. With some creativity, you can start getting traffic without spending a dime on advertising.

How to put your keywords to work

We all know what keywords are, how to find them and why they are important. But are you sure how to use them? Here are a few ways that you can apply keywords to your site in order to make them work for you and improve your ranking.

Optimize your content. Keywords will only be helpful to you if they appear organically within your site content. What does that mean? It means they must be part of your copy without seeming forced or out of place.

For example: Take the keyword phrase “terrible twos”.

Organic –> “The terrible twos can be extremely difficult to manage.”

Inorganic –> “A difficult toddler who has the terrible twos might be in the terrible twos stage.”

Believe it or not, search engines (particularly Google) are smart enough to recognize content that is inorganically loaded with keywords. Weaving keywords throughout your website content takes time, expertise and strong writing skills. If you are not equipped to do this, consider hiring a professional copywriter who is well versed in SEO and able to write quality keyword-driven content for your site.

Meta Tags. Meta tags are the information that is included in the header of your website on each page. Viewers to your website can not see meta tags, but they can be viewed in HTML. They provide information to browsers as well as search engines which ultimately impacts your rankings. If your meta tags are named correctly, they will help with your SEO efforts.

Meta keyword tags should always: include keywords that you have specifically chosen to optimize; be separated by commas, not spaces; only appear once; and are frequently updated and continually managed.

While keywords can be put to use in many ways, content and meta tags are a great place to start. Conquering these two aspects of keyword SEO is an essential piece to the puzzle and will help to ensure your SEO campaign is a success.

Using Graphics on Your Mini Site

Mini sites are not known for being flashy. And there’s a good reason for that. Too much flash and splash detracts from the message you’re trying to get across. And when your site is made up of only one or a few pages, your message must get through quickly.

But as we all know, a page full of plain old text isn’t particularly appealing. And even if formatting is used to make certain things stand out, a bright and prominent graphic does a much better job of drawing our attention. So even though graphics should be used sparingly on a mini site, it’s crucial to make sure that the graphics we do use are effective.

The first graphic people will see when they visit your mini site is your page header. It stands to reason that it should be attractive and captivating. It doesn’t have to be a complex work of art, but it should be brightly colored and include the name of your product. A few more words might be in order, but don’t go overboard. The headline will provide more detailed information about what you have to offer.

Most mini sites have a bulleted list somewhere on the page. They are bulleted because they contain important information, such as your product’s key benefits or what’s included with it. So attention-getting bullets in bright colors are good things to have.

And then there are your buttons and boxes. Boxes are used to bring things like testimonials and calls to action to the reader’s attention. The most commonly used button is the order button, and that should definitely stand out.

A mini site is not the place for a graphic design exhibition (unless, of course, you’re selling graphics). The graphics used should be prominent and professional looking, yet not so fancy that they take the visitor’s attention away from the text.