Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Moving My Home Office

For the last two years, I have been living with and taking care of my Grandmother. She'll be 93 this summer, and she's had a very happy and successful life. She is still healthy and strong, but is suffering from a progressive case of dimentia.

Some days are better than others, of course. We've shared a lot of stories and laughs, and good meals... and we've both had our share of frustrations, too. All said and done, I am glad I had the opportunity to help her through this time, and to have her as such a big part of my life again. I am glad my children had the chance to know her... and some day I will tell them stories of how she was when she was younger - and what she meant to me when I was growing up.

Her condition is steadily getting worse, and so my father has decided that it is time to make other arrangements. The decisions came about rather quickly, after a particularly hard month - but now that they are made I think it is a relief for everyone involved.

I will be moving across town to a comfortable little brick house with a large back yard in a nice quiet neighborhood. It's an area I've had my eye on for awhile, knowing that I needed to be aware of my options when this time came... and it's a place that I think the kids will really enjoy.

I am very emotional about it all - about leaving Grandmother, and making the move... and all of the choices that are being made in the process. Albert and I won't get to live as close as we have been (across town now, instead of across the yard)... and the children are leaving neighborhood friends - to make new ones. Not to mention the fact that my role as a caretaker has become a very big part of my daily life and routine...

Change can be hard. But I think this is going to be a very positive change for the children and I.

I hope it is for Grandmother as well.

I'll be moving my office over the next couple of weeks - taking things slow, and taking the time to make it a smooth adjustment for all of us. I'll be back to work full time very soon... but in the meantime, I'll be as involved as I can - just know that I am taking a bit of time off to get adjusted ;)

Promoting a Blog

There was a great post by Chris made on my discussion forum this morning about blog promotion:

Marketing Your Blog

It's a great checklist!

Feel free to add your own tips, as well ;)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

2 Years Online... And Growing :)

Today marks 2 years that the Self-Starters Weekly Tips site has been online. The site, newsletter and forum was launched on that domain on March 26th of 2003.

I remember when I first got the idea for the SSWT site. At the time I was publishing SSWT as a newsletter through Web Service Network (my web development site). I stayed quite busy with my web dev services, as I'd been doing that for several years... but my focus and passion were with the newsletter more and more.

I originally started in the web dev industry because I truly enjoyed helping others develop their business ideas and market their products & services. Prior to that I held computer training classes in the city, and also offered on-site computer training... moving towards online business training & services was a natural progression.

In web dev, you basically get paid to develop a website. Over and over I ran into clients who wanted it done this way or that way - that stifled any creativity or experienced reasoning I might offer. Not only that, but they would come straight back to me when their results didnt meet up with their expectations... and not too kindly, I should add.

It became very frustrating, entirely too restrictive... and very much like a J-O-B. The people on the other end of my newsletter, on the other hand, were very motivated do-it-yourself'ers who had a passion and a creative streak that made them very fun to work with.

I do still offer web dev services to a very select group of clients, and enjoy that work very much. But I have to admit that the newsletter (which I have now been publishing for almost 4 years) gets a huge amount of my focus and attention.

When the idea came to me to separate the two, and to launch a website dedicated to my newsletter and it's loyal readers... it was like an epiphany (more like a big fat "DUH" lol). I was excited about the plan, charged with positive energy, and confident that it would take off and do very very well.

Going into year 3, I've just revamped the entire site and am working on it daily. What started out as a small 5 or 6 page archive/networking site for a group of readers... has turned into a huge marketing resource and very active community (with thousands of pages indexed in the major search engines).

I am revising all of the content, updating the resources, and putting a lot of research and time into the long-term marketing plans for this site. After years of feedback, Q&A and consultations... I am taking it all into consideration in my quest to develop the most comprehensive resource for the do-it-yourself group.

As for the Web Service Network site - and my services, I am carefully considering my next move. I have a plan forming in the back of my mind, and am just going to let it take root and grow on me until I am ready to take action on it. There are plenty of options, a lot of profit potential... so I'll probably move back to that project by the end of the year.

In the meantime, my focus stays on SSWT (and it's more in-depth sidekick: TIID) - and also on a new article database that I plan to launch by summer of '05.

But for today, I'm going to celebrate this special anniversary and that my thoughts, teachings and assistance have been appreciated... and have been the launching pad for the growth of a very friendly and incredibly resourceful business community.

As a way of showing my appreciation to active members, those that continue to help this site grow and thrive, I am going to give away 20 copies of Wake Up... Live the Life You Love! - a best-selling anthology that I was involved with last year.

To be fair, the drawing for these 20 books will be held from a group of 100 active forum members. Meaning the 100 members who have posted most recently. If you would like to make sure you're in that drawing, join us at the SSWT Forum and get involved with a current discussion ;)

I'll see you there!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I've Turned Into A Dell Addict

I think the first promo I saw was on TV. Yes, thinking back, that was it - it was a commercial during a movie I was watching one weekend a few months back. It was a good one, too - I couldnt get it out of my mind and ended up getting online to order a Dell system within 48 hours.

I needed one anyway, and the deal was just too good to pass up. I say I needed one. I think I needed one. I have a desktop already - but it sort of "growls" now. It was one I had custom built several years ago. It's a good one, but one you always save-save-save on because you have this nagging feeling in the back of your mind that the hard drive may crash any minute...

I also have a laptop - only about a year old, an HP. It's a great little system, wireless networking & wireless DSL. Very functional - have gotten a lot of use out of that one (daily, for over a year now).

Then there's the two other computers - both of which the kids use. Sort of - I think they get very little use now that the X-box has moved in (beside the PS2 & Dreamcast that are collecting dust these days). Those two systems are older (older than mine that "growls")... I keep thinking I am going to just get rid of them altogether, but I havent decided yet whether to dump them or sell them cheap or part them out... or what?

Um, there's "stuff" too. Like the free printers I got with the Dell system and with the HP laptop. Those are still in the box. I'm not sure what's in the other boxes... (I should probably look - there's really no telling)

And here I sit... Mastercard in hand. Dell is running another one of those specials I would be insane not to buy into. This time it is a complete system w/free color printer for $349. And, um, you can get free shipping (saves around 100 bucks) if you buy two :) LOL

I cant deny it - I watch their email promos like they are bank statements, or something. I'm on their mailing list, of course, because I bought that system a few months back... and I always like to see what kind of deals they are offering when they send an email.

I'm thinking buy 2... then donate the two older systems to goodwill, sell the 4 printers (because I'll get 2 more - and I'm loyal to my HP LaserJet), and part out the growler. What do you think? I could probably sell the printers & parts on ebay...

I cant decide if this is smart thinking... or if I'm addicted to Dell Deals!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

PageRank & Link Strategy

What a long day. The children both had dentist appointments with their new dentist, who is out of town, so we spent the majority of the day on the road and in his office. Knowing I'd have a bit of waiting time... I grabbed my SEO Binder and took it with me.

I decided to read PageRank Uncovered, which is a 55 page technical paper on Google PageRank. To be honest with you, I learned a lot. I've never really paid that much attention to PR, considering that the toolbar doesnt give us an accurate number and that we are told to focus more on the quality of a page for our visitors than for the search engines...

That said, there is merit in understanding PageRank - how it works, how to "manipulate" it, what it means (exactly)... also how it relates to your Link Strategy (or should). PageRank itself is not just a 'vanity number', but rather a part of the complex algorithm used to determine the ranking or placement for any particular page in the Google search results.

Of course, it's true that TBPR (toolbar PageRank) is not accurate, and shouldnt be used (solely) as a means for choosing link partners... or as the criteria for any other decision a site owner must make. But it does have it's place.

Two suggestions were made in this paper, things every site owner should do - One was to get listed in the Yahoo! Directory, the other was to get listed at dmoz. I realized I had never submitted my primary website to dmoz, so I'm planning to do that this evening. As for Yahoo - is it worth the $299 a year to be listed? Will it affect my rankings in either Yahoo or Google to the extent that it's worth the price? I dont know... but would love to hear from someone that does ;)

They also went into "leaking" PageRank *out* of your site, and how you can minimize that... and also the types of Inbound Links to seek that will be most beneficial for your site (or specifically, for the pages you gain links to). It was good stuff.

One of the more interesting points was where they talked about large content sites (a large number of pages) versus smaller sites (fewer pages). Having more pages means that you have more internal links - which (and I hope I am saying this right) means that the majority of your PageRank is likely to stay within your own site (leaking to your own internal pages) rather than out to other pages that you link to (outside of your domain).

So, for example, a page that reviews one book and links to the authors website... but also has internal navigation on it - - is better (for you) than a page that has 20 or 30 outbound links on it and less internal links (for example, only one link back to your home page).

If you'd like to read PageRank Uncovered, you can find it here - along with quite a few other interesting guides & reports: Link Building References.

(I'm paraphrasing here): The best practice is creating more & more content pages. Not too long, not too short. Pages that you link to internally, and that also gain inbound links from other relevant sites due to their quality & topic.

That's not the first time we've heard that, right? Content, content, content. That's what it's all about, it seems.

And so, on that note - I'm off to write... because after this insanely long day, the children have just left for church and Grandmother is off to bed - - and I have a hot pot of coffee waiting for me to enjoy during this block of (ahhh!) quiet time :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Search Engine Strategy Continued...

In my last post about Search Engine Strategy, I said "Honestly, when you're talking about thousands of web pages, it's a lot to keep up with!". I've spent the last couple of days getting it all organized, and I have to say... it really is A LOT to manage and keep up with - especially when you're looking at a large number of pages across multiple web sites.

I'm back to square one here. You may remember that I've been over this before - looking for that perfect piece of software to help me manage and track everything. I downloaded the trial version of Web Position Gold the other day, to see if perhaps that would do the job.

Honestly, it was a pretty cool program. You can put in any URL (specific web page), the keyword phrase you are optimizing that page for, and choose the queries that you want to run. For example I had it check Google, Yahoo & MSN for rankings and it returned a report that showed me where that page ranked in each engine for the specific phrase.

It also has a Page Critic built in, which will tell you what that page needs in order to rank higher in a specific engine. I asked it what it would take for the main page of my sswt site to rank higher in Yahoo for the term "learn internet marketing" and it gave me "Suggestions for making your page conform closer to the statistical averages for top ranking pages". It gave me everything from word count to keyword prominence to the link popularity score.

Obviously I would have to enter in every single page that I want to track, but then I could set up a "scheduler" so that it would run the report(s) once a month, or once a week.

The only thing holding me back is Google's guidelines, which specifically say: "Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."

So there you have it... Back to square one ;)

I decided instead to create a spreadsheet in Excel so that I could keep up with all of the pages, their rankings (month to month), the number of inbound links and any notes per page (things I may want to track, analyze over time, etc).

This seems like a lot of work, right? I mean, it could take days to enter in all of the info... and then be a monster to keep up with (even if I only analyzed it once a month). But how do you know what to fix or improve... if you dont know what you have, and what it's position is?

Keep plugging onward full speed half hazard... or spend the time (or money) tracking & monitoring? Good question. And what if you spend months tracking, improving, etc... and the next big 'update' dumps you upside down?

All of this ties into the Link Strategy of course. Which pages should you focus on, when it comes to gaining high quality inbound links - how many links do you need and how important is it for that particular page, etc.

I said "half hazard", but what I have been doing is basically just going down the list of web pages I have online and checking their ranking manually, using Yahoo to analyze the backward links, and then focus on gaining links for that particular page... then move on to the next page. It's just sort of a continuous cycle where I go down through the list and then start at the top again.

How else would you do it? How else do you do it?

I printed out the SEO Book, by the way - so I'll go through that and see if there are any suggestions that may be helpful. I put together a new binder, specifically for all of my SEO info & guides, and am going to go back over Michael Wong's Search Engine Optimization Guide as well. I'll keep you posted ;)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Search Engine Strategy

I was reading over Brad Fallon's Stomping the Search Engines newsletter from earlier this week, and he recommended the SEO Elite program. I remembered seeing that program over on Andre's blog, so I shot him a quick email to ask him a few questions...

After we talked, I decided to grab both the SEO Book (by Aaron Wall) and SEO Elite. It got me re-motivated about my search engine marketing strategies and I decided to dig in and put some serious focus and energy into it.

I am adding Aaron's SEO Book to my collection (which includes Michael Wong's guide, Karon Thackston's SEO Copywriting book, Perry Marshall's guide on Adwords, and several others). Most of them are in smaller binders, or combined with other info that I was studying or reviewing at the time I got them... so I am reorganizing all of my guides and plan to sit down and go over it and really analyze my strategy - see where I can make improvements, and test out some new theories.

The sales page for SEO Elite was 28 pages long (but one I read all the way through - twice), lots of benefits, and it looks like it's going to cut out a lot of the things that I have been doing manually in regards to my Link Strategy.

Basically it helps you to analyze your competition in the search results (using a wide variety of criteria - both "on the page" and "off the page" details), and points out the absolute best potential link partners for any given keyword or niche. It even gives you their contact information, and you can email them from within the program - very convenient.

My search engine strategy includes both free and paid listings across all of my websites, and for a handful of affiliate programs (using landing pages). I've decided to put the majority of my marketing hours into the search engines this year simply because I have found it to be the easiest and most profitable way to set up an unlimited number of sources for passive income. In fact, the search engines are already responsible for the majority of my current income - so it only makes sense to put some time into cranking things up a notch.

So here's the plan -

First, I am going to revamp and restart my pay-per-click campaigns on Google Adwords. I had quite a few affiliate campaigns running when Google changed their affiliate policy awhile back, and never really made a 'full recovery'. I started this morning by updating my most profitable campaign with a new landing page, and plan to split-test it against another to see which performs best.

I also dumped several of my campaigns that were just "easy double-your-money" direct affiliate link campaigns, and replaced them with more complex campaigns that lead to specific pages on my own websites. I also took a good look at those pages, and made a few changes for better conversions.

Adwords has been a great source for passive income over the last year, so I am excited about digging back into this and also expanding my campaigns to run on Overture, FindWhat and a few other pay-per-click engines. I admit that I am not familiar with most of them (outside of Adwords) so this will be interesting, challenging and fun!

Speaking of Pay-Per-Click, Aaron Wall covers it in the SEO Book and you can download an excerpt covering the pay per click search engine market for free. I grabbed it and uploaded it here: http://www.selfstartersweeklytips.com/free-ppc-tips.pdf , if you would like to look over it too. Some great tips, and he covers both Adwords and Overture.

As for my 'free listings' in the search engines, or SEO plans, I am going to sit down and analyze my rankings, my stats, and my Link Strategy. Over the last week, I have been dabbling with a page or two at a time - checking rank, making tweaks, calculating conversions, etc. Honestly, when you're talking about thousands of web pages, it's a lot to keep up with!

If you don't stay right on top of it all - and I havent, to tell you the truth - then you just end up with a lot of pages out there everywhere that are performing 'okay'. Sure I'm making sales on a daily basis across the board, and a decent income from it (passively), but I know that I can dramatically increase my long-term income by investing a few weeks into analyzing and updating my sites (and specifically, my "money pages").

So that's the plan. I'm going to dig in with both hands, analyze everything, and tweak until it's running at maximum income potential :-)

I have to say, I'm very excited about the recent news & announcements regarding the major search engines. Specifically Yahoo/Overture's plans to launch contextual advertising for content publishers (similar to Google's Adsense program) as well as MSN's plans to launch their own PPC (pay per click) program. Competition between the major search engines means more options for webmasters & publishers. I love it :-)

Here are a couple of free resources on search engine marketing: Aaron Wall's blog & Cricket's Yahoo Group . Both of these are great, so if you arent already following them I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nick Usborne Agrees...

After yesterday's post, Email Marketing - Alive & Kicking, I received an email from Lois. She forwarded me a copy of Nick Usborne's Excess Voice ezine, which was so good I decided to reprint his article here:

RSS Instead of Newsletters? At Your Peril.
by Nick Usborne

I have been reading a lot about how companies are enthusiastically embracing RSS as a wonderful alternative to email newsletters.

I can understand their enthusiasm, in part. After all, legitimate commercial email and newsletters are being decimated by spam filters. In addition to which, consumers are growing weary of having to distinguish between what is spam and what is not.

There are additional benefits to making newsletters available by RSS. RSS means your subject line never disappears below the fold of an email window. With RSS the newsletter is always there, ready and waiting for when your reader is ready to take a look. With RSS your archives can be just a click away...providing easy and immediate access to previous issues.

>> What's the downsides?

There are a few things that are lost when your newsletter becomes a feed.

1. First, you lose control of the timing.

You can decide on when an email newsletter is delivered. With RSS, it is the recipient who decides when to read your feed, if at all.

I know, even with an email newsletter we can't make people read our content the moment it arrives. But anyone who tracks open rates and open times will tell you that a significant proportion of those opens occur in the first 12 to 24 hours.

This means you can write about time-sensitive issues or promotions. You can be topical. You can talk about today and tomorrow. You can direct people to offers or invitations that will expire in 24 hours or 48 hours.

With RSS you run the risk of losing that sense of immediacy, of being there in the reader's mind in the here and now.

2. Second, you lose the personal touch.

Many of the best newsletters carry a personal voice and character. It may be the voice of an editor, or the voice of the writer.

And yes, elements of voice are lost in the transition between the inbox and a browser.

Here's why. An email inbox is where we read emails from friends and family. It is often where we read comments and contributions from participants in discussion lists and groups. It is where we hear the voice of the writer.

The best email newsletters take advantage of the personal potential of an email inbox. We look forward to hearing the voices of our favorite newsletter writers and editors.

Your email inbox is a place where individual character and voice can be heard, where it can be genuine.

But when you deliver your newsletter via a feed, and people read your newsletter in their browser, much of that is lost.

Is this an absolute? No, I can't claim that it's impossible to share a genuine voice in a browser window. But it is harder.

Look at it this way.

It is easiest to write with a personal, genuine voice in a text-only newsletter. (Friends and family generally write in text, not in HTML with graphics and clickable images.)

It is harder to maintain that sense of a personal connection when you deliver your email newsletter in an HTML format.

And it is harder still when that newsletter is delivered not into your personal email inbox, but into your browser.

Step by step, you are shifting from an environment of personal communication to an environment driven by commercial messages and language.

3. You never get to say hello...

This is a variation on or combination of the first two points. This point is about timing, and about place.

Email newsletters give you an intangible benefit simply because they appear in someone's inbox at a particular moment. The potential to connect one-on-one is at its greatest. The sense of now is real and immediate.

That sense of now is a very powerful thing. If you have tracked response rates, comparing an offer delivered by email to an offer delivered through a web page, you will have likely shared my experience in seeing a boost in response rates and conversion rates when the offer is made through a newsletter.

Why? Because you are supporting the offer with your own voice, and that voice has more power because it is here and now, delivered within the personal environment of an email inbox.

>> Concluding thoughts.

Online we are constantly faced with new technologies and new ways of delivering messages.
Just be sure to understand the true attributes of each new technology, RSS included.

Understand the strengths and weaknesses.

If you choose to use RSS, use it for its strengths.

If RSS cannot deliver the strengths you have established through your email newsletter, don't put aside the newsletter.

You can still do both... send out your newsletter by email, and also make it available as a feed.

Free Webcast today (Tue March 15th) with Craig Perrine (The List Profit Coach) on How To Build a Responsive List ;)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Email Marketing - Alive & Kicking

I've heard the phrase "email marketing is dead" over and over, and quite honestly... it makes me cringe every time. Email marketing is far from dead. The phrase is used more as a marketing tactic for RSS & Blog tools/guides/etc than it is as a truth. (Ironically, I still get regular emails from these folks LOL)

RSS & blogging are excellent marketing tools, mind you - I just dont believe that they take the place of Email Marketing. In fact, I think Email & RSS compliment each other quite well!

All of this really came back to the top of my mind while I was reviewing Craig Perrine's List Profit Secrets course over the weekend. It's another high-dollar course ($997) that is being released later this week.

It crossed my mind that Craig certainly wouldnt release a high ticket item on a topic that is "dead". I'll take that as proof that I'm not alone in my thinking ;)

Craig's course is huge - and I was pleased to see that the affiliate commission was not set at a ridiculous 50%. That immediately raised the value in the back of my mind, and was one of many notes I made while I was going through the material.

I particularly liked the Quick Start Guide (one of several manuals/guides included in the course). Anything with the word "quick" in it is right up my alley :) LOL

In this guide, Craig goes over these 3 key points:

- Choose a market, and determine if there is a good chance of building a list and making money with it

- Setting up your tools & systems

- Turn your list into a steady stream of profit

I really liked the Swipe Files too, and the fact that Craig goes over them in videos (camtasia style) so you can really "get inside his head" on the specific strategies that he used. It sparked a lot of great ideas that I'd like to test out in the coming months with my own lists.

It was all very good, honestly, and I was glad to get my hands on a copy prior to the release. While I feel like I have a good handle on the lists that I manage... I know that there is room for major improvement, too.

You can learn more about Craig by downloading the "Craig Perrine Letter". He is partnered with Nitro Marketing, which is where I heard about him and about his List Profit Secrets Course.

Also, there's a Free Webcast tomorrow (Tue March 15th) with Craig on How To Build a Responsive List. I plan to attend, myself - Definitely listen in if you get a chance. Anyone who has done the research and taken the time to develop a thousand-dollar-course is worth listening to... especially when there's no cost involved!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ketchup Day

Actually, it's "catch-up day", but when my daughter was 5 she would cock her head to the side and say "Ketchup Day?"... with a big grin. To appease her, I'd always make something that went well with ketchup (which, at 5, was almost anything LOL).

Anyway, Catch-up Day is my day of the week to catch up on all of the things I set to the side while I was working on priority tasks. It's not a set day of the week - just a time when I am caught up and ready to dig in to the things I didnt let distract me while I was "working". Today is that day for me.

It was a busy week as usual here. Not just with work, but also with parent/teacher conferences and dentist appointments and the likes. The dentist was fun, by the way. I took both children on Friday so they got to 'skip school' for the day as their appointment was at 11am and out of town (2 hour drive, round trip).

On the trip we talked about things that we remembered. I started with the day that each of them were born, and then we talked about the places that we lived and the funny things that we remembered about each year. It was a nice ride, and I really enjoyed spending that time with my kids.

Their appointments went well and they seemed to like their new dentist. Afterwards we went out for lunch - then grabbed an ice cream on the way home. It was the most time I've spent with the two of them together in awhile, and I think we all had a nice day together.

When we returned, I got back to work (& Grandma) and they made plans for the night and were gone (sleepovers). It made for a quiet morning on this beautiful Saturday - perfect for a "catch up" day :)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Make It Work

It seems like the weekend went by fast. I say that, but a lot got accomplished too. We got the car cleaned out and washed, went shopping, got groceries, enjoyed some time out and a nice lunch on Saturday afternoon, did a little housework - and even caught up on some work late Saturday night. The kids were out of town for the weekend too, so there were two trips to drop them off and pick them back up.

Time just flies, and there's always a lot to do. I'm sitting here having my morning coffee... looking over the list I just jotted down for the day ahead. Some personal, some business. I have a doctors appt to make for Grandmother, and have to call a new dentist for the children (note: I need to make an appt with mine, too).

I also have court today - but hopefully that will go quick. I was pulled over a few weeks ago (Feb 18th) because my tags had expired... in October (oops!). *blush* I thought they sent a reminder letter on that?! LOL

Life is just busy, and there's a lot to keep up with. I cant even imagine trying to manage it all and raise two kids... and try to keep a 9-to-5 job at the same time. I would have been fired ten times over by now LOL. I dont know how other single parents do it - and I know there are a lot of them out there...

For me, "work" and "life" all just mix together into one big to-do list. Many things even overlap (like folding laundry while I'm making phone calls) - but the main thing that keeps it all moving in the right direction is that I prioritize. I dont try to separate it out... I just throw it all in the pot together and then figure out the best approach from there.

As for task lists, I keep one big one - an ongoing list that I mark things off of and add things to. Things I want, need, need to do, have to get done, should do, ideas, etc. And then I keep a smaller list on a notepad in front of my monitor of "things I am going to get done today".

And that's the goal every morning when I wake up - to get through that small list. Which is prioritized too. Things that dont get marked off are top priority the following morning. And if I happen to get through them all, then I can choose something off of the larger list to work on in any extra time that I have.

It's a good system - or at least it works for me. And making it work means I have freedom and creativity with my career, the choice to continue working from home, time to spend with my family, and many (many!) more options in life that I ever would have had any other way.

That's the key to starting or maintaining an at-home business: just make it work. Whatever it takes. It's worth it. I've been through some insane situations that would have made great 'excuses'. I've taken on a lot more than most people would ever consider - and accomplished it. So whatever your situation, and whatever your goals, just know that it can be done! ;)

Consider every struggle an investment in yourself. And all of the good times... your rewards.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sushi Smiley

Ha! I love it!

Did they make this one for me, or what? ;)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

This Month's Business 2.0

I took the day "off" today and got out of the house. The weather was beautiful, and both of the kids were gone for the weekend, so it turned out to be a perfect day to just get out and clear my mind!

I did a little shopping this morning, washed the car, and then Albert and I joined a friend for lunch at our favorite Sushi bar. We went out for ice cream afterwards, which was the perfect ending to a great day out :-)

While we were riding home I grabbed my March 2005 issue of Business 2.0 and was just flipping through. They have a great article this month about cashing in on real estate - but what stopped me in my tracks was the story on Gary Heavin, founder of Curves (a womens fitness chain).

Here was the question asked:
How do you boost revenue once you've saturated the market?

The answer: Getting people to spend more at existing stores ;)

Now that makes perfect sense - and it's right in line with what we already know about marketing: that the upsell, backend sales, and follow-ups can increase your profit potential tremendously!

But are we really capitalizing - to the fullest extent - on this incredibly simple marketing strategy? How many people are out there working themselves silly trying to bring in more traffic, more subscribers, more buyers... and barely even paying attention to the goldmine they are already sitting on (the traffic/subscribers/buyers they already have) !

If you use PayPal as your primary payment processing system, then you should definitely check out The Customer Manager. Aaron is giving this program away at a ridiculously low price (under 50 bucks) - and it would work wonders for anybody selling primarily online and through PayPal (especially ebay'ers!).

There are other methods too, depending on what your 'system' is - but the point is to sit down and map out a plan for following up with your current visitors & customers. Today! ;)

(and that's it from me - I'm back to my day off ... *grin*)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Local Groups

I've been thinking that it would be great to get together with other local online business owners and internet marketers - specifically across the state of Tennessee (which is where I am located).

I've had the opportunity to meet several "locals" online lately - and I'm quite sure there are plenty more out there lurking in the shadows ;)

I'm thinking casual, book a conference room at a comfortable restaurant - maybe Ruby Tuesdays, Red Lobster, O'Charleys... that kind of thing. A simple 'wear jeans and bring your spouse along' type of get-together.

No charge, outside of the price of your meal - and no formalities. Just a good time, out with like-minded people, and an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with each other. Just like "after hours" at the big events & seminars... without the seminars ;)

So what do you think? Do you want to help me brainstorm the ways I can pull it together - or do you think it'll never fly? I imagine it may start out small - 2 to 3 couples or a group of 5 maybe... and just grow from there.

Dinner out with friends & peers once a month sounds like a grand idea to me! I'd love to hear your thoughts. If there were a few locals in your industry getting together for dinner & drinks once a month - would you find yourself going?

Listen in Today!

I'll be joining Lois Carter Fay, of MarketingIdeaShop.com, this afternoon (2pm EST) in a live teleseminar titled:

"Creating Passive Income: How to Work Less and Make More!"

- Learn what Passive Income IS, and what it isn't
- Hear successful examples that you can copy
- Find out how one tiny change can increase your income dramatically!
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- Find out how you can begin right away, without disrupting your current schedule or business model.

By the end of this year you can triple your income, and find yourself working less hours - with less stress. Find out exactly what Passive Income IS, and how you can begin working it into your business model right away... no matter what type of business you are in!

Sign up and join us live! If you cant attend, be sure you sign up to receive the recording, and a free copy of my upcoming Passive Income Guide ;)