October 30, 2008
I’ve demonstrated multiple times that adding a photo to a site has been proven to increase the conversion rate. In addition it draws attention and keeps visitors on your pages (yes I should use photos on this blog more often as well for the same reasons).
Where do you find photos you can use?
You can of course take your own photos. Those would be free to use.
That’s not always practical though. It can take a lot of time to get the right subject, lighting, and background. So what about using photos from others.
While some might feel otherwise, you can’t simply grab and use any photo you find. Unless specifically stated otherwise, those photos are copyrighted. You have to have permission to use them in your projects.
Please note I’m not covering non-business use as that would be another subject since the majority of my readers do run for-profit businesses.
You need royalty free photos. If you produce videos, you may also want some royalty free music and stock footage for elements of the video.
Royalty free doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a charge to use. It simply means you only pay the fee once and can use the item however you’ve been licensed to use it. For example, if you purchase a photo from http://www.istockphoto.com to put on your website, you don’t have to pay based on how many people view your site. You simply pay them one fee for use of the photo for as long as you want to use it.
You can find royalty free photos, music, and videos both for free…and for a fee (there are a lot more photos available for free than audio or video).
Here are some references to get you started.
For free photos, check out: http://www.sxc.hu
They have 350,000 stock photos you can use. On their image license agreement, they state you can use the photos on websites, multimedia presentations, video, and promotional materials. You need permission if you plan to distribute photos in any type of website templates or reproductions you plan to sell.
Here are two sites that let you search for photos:
http://www.compfight.com allows you to search through flickr for items. Checkmark to look for “commercial use” right beside the “Creative Commons” near the top of the page. Please note you need to individually check each photo that you may choose for your use rights.
http://everystockphoto.com – Click on “advanced search” to the right of the page. Then there is a dropdown menu for “license.” You can see that you’re able to search all types of licenses, some where you have to give attribution such as in the credits of a video and others are completely public domain.
What about music and video?
A good place to start looking is Wikimedia Commons at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.
You’ll often find you’re better off spending a little money to get the licenses you want.
For example, I feel everyone should have an account at http://www.istockphoto.com. You buy credits. Then you search and find whatever you need for projects you’re working on (photo or video stock footage). You’ll see a lot of images I use on my different web sales letters came directly from iStockPhoto.
For music, check out http://www.audiomicro.com. Very similar setup to iStockphoto, but it is audio instead. Great for finding music for your video productions.
Another site popular among video creators is http://digitaljuice.com. At the time of this writing they’re having a special on their stock footage DVDs (making them a very good price). I own a couple of stock footage DVD packages and I also own some of the royalty free music from them.
Good prices on video right now – http://www.digitaljuice.com/products/product_volumes.asp?pvid=10
Audio Files – http://www.digitaljuice.com/products/product_volumes.asp?pvid=8
Then finally don’t forget about eBay for purchasing royalty free music and stock footage. I wouldn’t use them for any photos as you’re better off with the above sites, but music and videos can get pricey.
Do a search for “buyout music” or “stock footage” from eBay’s main search. Here are a couple of links from my own searches:
There is no reason why your websites, products, and videos can’t look professionally designed with all these tools available to you.
October 27, 2008
Recently a coaching client asked me if I felt it is ethical to do a forced continuity?
My answer is most definitely as long as the continuity is made clear on the page. If you’ve clearly explained that the person will be billed monthly until they cancel, then there isn’t a problem with it at all.
Note: Forced continuity simply means that if you buy a specific product you are automatically added to monthly recurring billing of some type. It could be a physical product or it could be digitally delivered such as a membership site.
I know why they asked the question.
It’s because there has been such an uproar over “hidden continuity” in internet circles lately.
Hidden continuity is when you’re added to monthly billing without it being made clear on the sales page. For example, there are many “Free CD” offers out there. On these offers you pay for the shipping of the CD (in the pricing for most of them the actual CD cost is included as well). Then you’re automatically added to some type of monthly continuity program.
Up to this point there isn’t a problem. The problem is that the ONLY mention of the continuity billing is in one of the free bonuses. You don’t see mention of it on the order form. You don’t see any mention on it anywhere near the order link on the sales page.
If you don’t read every single word of the letter…specifically all the bonuses…you won’t know about the monthly billing.
For example, recently I came across a site that sold a “free CD” with these exact words, “Yours Absolutely Free, Without Commitments, or Obligations.”
The only mention of any continuity is in one of the bonuses. There is no other mention of this continuity anywhere else you can find. The only reason I found it is because I was looking hard for it since someone else gave me it as an example of the “hidden continuity.”
If I wasn’t specifically looking hard for it, reading the whole letter 3 times, I would have never found it.
Yet, the statement, “Yours Absolutely Free, Without Commitments, or Obligations” appeared on the page at least 7 times that I counted.
I wonder what they would consider a “commitment” or “obligation.” Monthly billing is a commitment in my book. It didn’t say “no long term committments.” It said “no committments.”
I’m sure if I asked them they would say they tested this and the current form produces the absolute best conversion percentage. I wouldn’t doubt that one bit. It’s not a question of conversion.
It’s a question of fraud in that case. I’m not a lawyer so can’t say anything on the legalities of that method, but that’s not what we’re discussing here. The FTC does have a section of their site about continuity plans.
The say the plan must be presented “clearly and conspicuously” which I guess could be interpreted in different ways.
What we are discussing is you can use forced continuity ethically in your business to increase your profits and produce better results for your clients. I commented to one other marketer this week that his CD offer needed a mention on the order form about the continuity…which he quickly added in.
Continuity plans are a BIG benefit to your business if you’re not using them (just use them ethically). In fact, every business I work with, we try to get at least one if not multiple continuity plans in place.
What do you have in your business?
It could be as simple as doing an interview with an expert each month (which you send out in mp3 format or on CD). Or you could do a report each week you send out by email (similar to how Jimmy Brown does Membernaire.com). Or you could set up a membership using WordPress to manage your content and Amember.com to protect it (very good membership script that’s been around for years).
If you don’t have a continuity program, get one setup in your market. Just don’t “hide” the details!
October 23, 2008
You may have noticed I don’t participate in the highly hyped up product launches in the internet marketing field.
Is this because I’m against product launches?
No. Not at all. I do mini-launches of my own products in this field. And I’ve participated in helping others do product launches in other niches.
The only reason I don’t participate in the internet marketing ones is most of the ones I’ve seen have been so hyped up as the “end-all” solution to all your business needs. Just give me $2,000 and all your problems are solved.
Sure…and they also have some gorgeous swampland to sell you.
It’s a serious issue of hypercopyitis which often seems to work in this market.
Here’s my biggest complaint about the last few I took a look at. They included really popular videos or PDF files that everyone claimed was incredible content. I read through the PDFs (I personally don’t watch many longer videos) and didn’t find any content at all.
All I found was a sales pitch in disguise. You have this same issue in some of the conferences as there are numerous products out there that teach you how to create speeches that contain zero real content. They’re just a hidden sales pitch all throughout.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong at all with selling. There is nothing wrong with the entire PDF being a sales letter. What I don’t like is the fact that 100+ people announced how incredibly ground breaking the content was.
I wouldn’t care if all you sent me were sales pitches. So what? There is an unsubscribe button if I want. It’s my choice. Just don’t tell me it was an ecourse that would actually help me achieve specific end results.
OK. I’m done ranting…for now.
I’m not against product launches. Yes, you should tease people with what you’re going to be releasing. Share excerpts from it. Tell them what’s coming. Line up JV partners to help you make it a big event.
In fact, all of your products should have at least a mini-launch:
1. Contact some of your best affiliates (or potential best affiliates) letting them know what’s coming.
2. Send them over a prepublication copy of your product.
3. Let your audience know when it will be released (emails, blogs, etc.).
4. Create pre-content including audio interviews, videos, PDFs, blog posts, etc. to distribute.
5. Do a giveaway promotion for the product on your site to get people talking about it and selling themselves.
6. Set a limited number available (and often a limited time also). If you want to keep the product available later then add bonuses that are limited to a specific number of customers.
7. Run multiple emails before the day, on the day, and after to keep in contact with your list. This is NOT the day to be shy and afraid of unsubscribes. The biggest sales often accompany the most unsubscribes.
I could keep adding to this points, but I’m sure you’re getting the idea. Make the whole process a big event to take action now.
Obviously the big key is getting others to take part in the promotion alongside you. Build up those relationships over time in your market instead of waiting till it’s time to do the promotion. Check out Your First JV.
October 21, 2008
Do you want to succeed in an online business?
If so, you need to read this article, print it out, and post it to your desk.
No I’m not telling you about some incredible new life changing product you must have to succeed. You don’t have to join my coaching program. You don’t have to buy a copy of every single one of my products for both you and your neighbor.
Although of course both of the above would help.
They’re just not 100% essential to success.
The 3 C’s below are 100% essential. You’re not going to make it online without them no matter who’s system you buy or what advice you follow. You can’t BUY your way out of them.
Succeeding online takes commitment. Any business does. You’re going to have days where things go wrong…no matter how long you’ve been at this business.
For example, you might have the day where your shopping cart goes down during your big teleconference (it happened to me). Or maybe you’ll misspell the link on your own email (yep I did that too). Or perhaps it could be your merchant account puts your money on hold because of too many orders (my hand is raised).
Or it could be something else…such as the extremely intelligent idea you thought of that no one ever came up with before didn’t work out like you expected. And you did all your research to proving there wasn’t a single Adwords ad or product like yours on the market. Yes I did that too…TWICE. Only later to realize the reason no one was in the market was because NOBODY was buying.
The ad you run may not work. When you first start with Adwords you’ll probably lose a little money (key element there is “little” – ALWAYS make sure you set up a daily budget you’re willing to lose).
No matter what problems come up, you have to committed to making this business work…no matter what.
Even though I talk about working less, that may not be the answer for you when you’re first starting out. My first year I worked a lot more as do most people starting out. It takes time to get your systems in place. You’re simply making sure to work at automating and outsourcing as much of your business as possible.
Be consistent in your growth and promotion of your business. I see online entrepreneurs do it all the time online. They get started with a bang doing everything possible to grow their business.
When it doesn’t grow as fast as they like in the beginning, they start getting discouraged. Or it even happens the other way around also. They achieve a measure of success, and they STOP doing the things which got them there in the first place.
Let’s take email marketing. They start building a list. They make their very first offer to their little list of 100 subscribers. They make one sale. The list grows to 200 and they send out another offer making more sales this time. They keep growing as they hit 1,000 and then 2,000 subscribers.
Someone sends them a nasty letter that they shouldn’t be promoting to their list. They get all bent out of shape and stop mailing them any offers. Two months later they wonder why their list is making any sales. They backed off of what was already working for them (and growing).
Or they get started with a blog. They’re running regular articles, getting indexed in the search engines, and driving some traffic. It doesn’t happen as quickly as they like. A new product launch comes out and they immediately change their entire focus to something completely different. Now they’re going to be the Adwords king/queen. Next month another product comes out and co-registration looks so much easier.
They stop being consistent in the plan they’re following. Every internet business requires you to do consistent promotion and growth. If you’re running any type of publishing business (like mine) you have to consistently create new products, write sales copy, and promote. If you don’t, your business starts decreasing.
If you’re participating in social media, you have to consistently take part. If you run Adwords campaigns, you have to keep an eye on them every week (even when they’re running great).
Make a list of activities your business MUST have done every week and every month to keep growing. Now organize those activities into the top priorities which require your participation for the moment. Then figure out which activities can be outsourced to others consistently.
It can be as simple as creating checklists to run your business, and then using them every single week.
Both of the above often come back to confidence. One of my coaching clients asked me what was one of the most difficult things I ran into as a business coach.
My response, “It’s hard for me to get someone with zero confidence to succeed. It’s one of the hardest things I ever do as a coach. Confidence in your ability to succeed in spite of what difficulties may come is probably the biggest indicator of success I see.”
You have to get your head on straight.
If you’re thoroughly confident that the current recession is going to destroy your business, you’re probably right. But if you believe you can overcome that and make your business even more profitable over the next year, you’re also right.
A lot of times the reason someone jumps from program to program or idea to idea is because they’re lacking in this confidence issue. And after you boil through all their excuses, the real answer comes out, “I’m afraid _______.”
Yep, FEAR. It doesn’t matter what you fill in the blank above with. It’s still their fear that’s holding them back. Why does it take people so long to publish their first product? Fear. Why does it take them so long to start contacting JV partners? Fear. Or to make it even more personal. Why does it take me so long at times to start a new project? Yep, it’s fear. I admit it. I deal with it just like you do…even after doing this for 12 years.
Make a list right now of where fear has held you back in your business. What is it stopping you from doing when you get really honest with yourself? Then make the commitment to start confronting those fears and doing it ANYWAY.
Fear comes up when you send that different email. It comes up when you try a new kind of advertising. It comes up just as you’re about to launch any new product. Recognize it for what it is. Don’t allow excuses to come in. Then, just do it anyway.
October 21, 2008
I get quite a few requests for interviews. And what seems to surprise many people is I often say Yes.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. As long as you have an audience or you have a good plan to create an audience, you interviewing me is free publicity. It’s free sales.
And if you’re an affiliate for one of my products, it’s in your best interest to get that interview in the hands of as many people as possible. The more people who listen to it, the more sales you make.
In a recent post I talked about Ben Settle’s Winning Affiliate Strategy. In that article I was talking about it from an affiliate standpoint. You can produce content rich audios to make sales for affiliate programs.
Today I’m talking about it from the product owner’s perspective.
As mentioned above I’m willing to do interviews for affiliates because it creates sales with no risk on my part. Of course this does have to be balanced against the amount of time I want to work. This is why I said I do a lot of interviews, but didn’t say anything about teleconferences (or webinars).
Audio interviews can be scheduled for any time of the day (I do most of them in the early afternoon Tuesday through Thursday).
Teleconferences are much more restrictive. The most common time is late in the evening when I’m already tired (which is part of the reason you don’t see me agreeing to a lot of these). If you schedule a weekend teleconference, I don’t want to do it since I don’t like working weekends (I can put up with a seminar a few times a year max).
That’s my reason for not participating in a lot of them. Yet, you’ll find that sometimes the absolute best way to make sales is through teleconferences. They have a specific time you have to attend. You can run a special for the attendees only that is limited in time. It’s almost a perfect selling environment while you sit comfortably at home (it’s just the timeframe most people want to run doesn’t fit my Internet Lifestyle).
I have a plan for a few coming up that will take place during the normal daytime business hours (even if that does cut out some of the market it fits MY Lifestyle).
Remember, those teleconferences and webinars can be recorded. So you can have the best selling environment combined with a recording you can continue to use in your promotion.
If you’re selling any type of higher ticket item, it is definitely worth your while to consider how you can start applying these types of audios (interviews and teleconferences) to your selling mix…including providing special events for any of your super-affiliates.
For small teleconferences (150 or less participants), you can even rent the lines for free through companies such as Instant Conference. If you’re wondering how to record interviews, you could use the same service so you don’t have to deal with all the recording equipment.
If you’re interested in interviewing me, contact me through my support system http://www.mymarketingcoach.com/support. Make sure to include the subject you want to discuss, when the best times for you are (remember I like weekday afternoons), and how this will be marketed (is it a product or a freebie and what is your audience). In other words, sell me a little on why the interview will produce good sales.
If you’re interested in using interviews as a major element in your product development, check out this product I did with Fred Gleeck called the Ultimate Interview Product Solution.
How would you use all this content you create (from interviews, teleconferences, or webinars)?
1. Provide it as content on your blog.
2. Put together product packages like the above product solution.
3. Create an email followup series where each email points to another audio subscribers can download
(great way to build long term relationships with your subscribers).
4. Create a continuity program with access to your interviews.
5. Create self-liquidating lead offers (where you price the product very low in order to generate a lot of customer leads for the backend sale of the main item).
October 9, 2008
You’ve probably heard the online saying, “Content is King.”
That’s actually a little debatable, because without a little marketing no one will find it.
I want to introduce you to another key element of your business.
Continuity is King.
Whenever I take time out to examine my profits compared to my time investment it always seems like continuity programs end up the winners. For example, when I sold much of my business in 2004, one element I kept was my private label to http://www.netofficetoolbox.com.
Why did I keep that when I was willing to sell off other elements of my business?
Simple. It’s continuity income with no input from me. When someone subscribes to that site, they stay a member for years…paying every month. All the customer service is handled by 1Shoppingcart. So it’s very hands free income that comes in every month.
That of course is the best kind of continuity income…money that comes in each month without you having to do anything else for it.
I also have other forms of continuity income that do require input on my side. For example my Monthly Mentor Club print newsletter which comes out every month.
This newsletter takes around 2 days total to produce each month (not too big of an investment). And I refuse to outsource any of the writing for it. Yet it produces thousands of dollars in profit for my business every month.
The beauty is that some customers have been members since the very first month it came out.
I sell it once and members stay for months (or even years). Every day I get noticed in my email about people’s credit cards being processed. Compare that to other low cost products I sell such as Indirect Persuasion. If I don’t do a promotion for that one time product (or an affiliate does a promotion), then sales aren’t made.
Which one do you think I prefer to spend the majority of my selling attention on?
That’s right. Continuity is king. As we move towards 2009 you’re going to see me concentrating more and more on the Monthly Mentor Club. In fact I have a few surprises for all the members coming up as I expand on the site and add in the “gold” membership option.
You may be wondering what the October issue is about? Continuity of course.
On October 10th at 9 AM Eastern, I’ll be uploading the October print newsletter issue for mailing. Make sure you subscribe before then to get this month’s issue.
Here is a copy of the first page of the newsletter.
I have to apologize to you, my reader. I’ve been looking at my back issues. While I’ve covered a ton of information designed to help you improve your profits online, I’ve been neglecting one of the most
Of course I’ve mentioned it before, but I really haven’t given it the proper focus.
My business sells ebooks. My business sells CDs and DVDs. I even sell full home study kits.
But my favorite income stream is continuity income.
This is consistent money that comes in month after month. On day one you already have a specific amount of money scheduled to come in. Even if you don’t sell a single new customer this month, you still have more than enough money coming in.
Right now in my business I have multiple forms of continuity income.
For example, this print newsletter you’re reading right now is one form of continuity income. I charge monthly for it. You sign up once and you continue to receive it each month unless you cancel.
I also have the Netofficetoolbox.com site which is a private label of 1ShoppingCart. When I sold off
other portions of my internet marketing business (including even my email list) in 2004, I kept my private label. Why?
Simple. It’s reliable consistent monthly income that I don’t do anything for. While I actually have to
write this monthly newsletter (nope I don’t outsource the writing of this newsletter at all), all the customer support and processing for the 1shoppingcart site is handled by their company. I don’t do squat for it.
Each month I get a check in the mail from them for the clients I’ve referred over the years. The best
part…is that once someone starts using the system and they’ve integrated their business into it, they rarely cancel their account.
Think about what this means.
It means I saw more value in the continuity program than even the email list. The email list takes regular follow-up to make valuable while this system shares the money with me month after month even though I didn’t refer a single new client to the service for 2 years.
Besides the above two forms of continuity, I also have my monthly coaching clients (all coaching clients sign up for a monthly program) and partial ownership in a couple of other membership sites.
What kinds of continuity income do you currently have coming in?
Since I consider you my clients, even though you’re not private clients, I want to set a goal for you to create at least 1 form of continuity income within the next 60 days…and have at least 2 continuity incomes in 2009.
What type of program? I’m not going to require a specific type of program because everyone’s market is a little different. During the rest of this issue I’m going to go over some of the different forms of monthly income and how to choose the right one for your situation.
Of course, like usual, you can expect little tips and tricks to boost your monthly income all throughout the issue.
Subscribe here before Oct 10th at 9 AM to get this month’s print issue…
October 6, 2008
If you spend too much time reading the news, it would be easy to get depressed. I don’t have cable, but I do read the top online news stories. It seems like every single one of them is about how bad the economy is, why we must have a bailout, and how unemployment is increasing.
Gas is expensive. Mortgages are collapsing. Inflation is sure to rise.
It seems everything is doom and gloom.
Yes, people are hurting. The economy goes through cycles and too many have expected growth to last forever without any hiccups along the way.
How is this going to affect your online business?
Depending on what you sell, it may not affect you at all….or it possibly could increase your profits.
John Jantsch wrote a great post on his blog about how Small Business is the Economic Bailout.
While large businesses have cut 170,000 jobs in the last six months, small businesses have created 200,000 new jobs.
The vast majority of my readers are in the small business category. So those bleak financial pictures you’re been seeing don’t apply to you. Sure you may have a little more trouble if your online business model relies on borrowing cheap capital, but again the majority of my readers don’t take out large business loans to keep their internet business moving.
A few quick points:
1. Price Competition – When money is in short supply, you start looking for ways to save while living the same basic lifestyle. This means you turn to lower cost solutions. In many cases, that’s exactly what the internet provides. With the lower overhead of online businesses you’re going to see many of them start pointing to their lower costs compared to local stores.
2. Unreliable Jobs – If jobs become less reliable, people are more likely to turn to the internet for home based work. This means all those of you who sell something related to work at home or producing a positive ROI for small businesses are in a good position. In bad periods, business opportunities increase instead of decreasing.
3. Affluent Marketplace – Customers who purchase online are more affluent on average than those offline. It’s a good time to ask yourself though whether you’re selling to those with or without money. Take a look at this blog article: Recession Proofing the Affluent Market. Their advice is to add savings and value instead of cutting rates (good advice).
Basically, it’s going to be your choice as a small business whether you decide to participate in the recession or not.
You might find sales of some of your products decreasing. OK. Move with it. Wherever sales are decreasing, you’ll be able to find somewhere else where sales are increasing.
I have a product where sales have been declining over the past two months. So what? I have others where sales are booming.
This just gives you another reason not to base your entire business off of one product or service. If you’re in the position where you see some of your sales decreasing, ask yourself, “What are people buying?” People may not be buying what you’re selling, but they are buying something. Get in front of that hungry market.
If you’re in competitive advertising markets you might even get a nice little secondary effect. If your competitors start worrying about a recession (and decide to participate in it), they’ll cut back on their advertising…giving you lower cost advertising sources!
All in all, now is not the time to cut back.
It’s simply time to examine all the aspects of your business.
- How can you produce more leads at lower cost?
- Are you following up with your customers at every step in the process?
- Where can you add value and other additional sales to your funnel?
- What else are your customers buying?
- What is your competition doing that you could model?
October 2, 2008
I have been working online since 1996.
In that time I’ve helped thousands of entrepreneurs succeed online through coaching, products, and other people’s seminars (Yes, I should hold my own workshops also).
This past weekend I had the chance to go to Eben Pagan’s Green Room event in Chicago. This was his “networking” event for those who were invited only. Since it was within driving distance I just went up for all day Saturday and drove home the same night.
While there I spoke to several people who are extremely successful online that took the opportunity to find and thank me for how I helped them when they were just getting started online.
I don’t know if there is anything that’s more fun than this. Yes, you can get other benefits in an internet business in addition to the money (knowing you’ve really helped people is one of those).
I had a little RCA small wonder with me (miniature video camera that plugs into an USB port). So I quickly asked these two guys to share their comments with my audience.
And before anyone mentions it, yes, I know the audio sucks on these videos. There was a LOT of background noise (you currently hear honking in the background of Jeff’s video) as you couldn’t see a thing inside the meeting (it was too dark in there).
If you wanted a similar tiny video camera, I’d probably recommend the Flip Video Ultra instead of the one I have (I’ve had it for a while now).