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Social Media Marketing for Dummies – An Alternative

I’m writing about an addition or alternative to the book Social Media Marketing for Dummies, that you might find as helpful as I have. It goes without saying that the Social Media Marketing for Dummies book is excellent, they always are. However, what I really

Looking for a Job or a Business?

Who Does NOT Want To Start An Online Business? Sometimes I am guilty of assuming that everyone wants to start an online business (if only!) when actually they are looking for a job. In fairness to myself, my mailing list is clearly labelled “Start Your

Using Internet Marketing Training Course

Bit of a rant today, but the positive message is how I used some training to fix something that made me cross! As an aside: We’ve probably all bought online courses before. It’s one thing to buy them, but USING Internet Marketing Training Courses we’ve

Hosting and Auto-Responder Package

I have been working with my son Russ to set up an additional income stream for him, working online, helping small businesses set up a blog on a combined hosting and auto-responder package. Our site is SystemicsLtd.com – this is the bespoke software company I

Disaster Recovery Plan

Regular readers may have noticed that I have been blogging a lot less frequently of late. What a trial this last few weeks has been! My disaster recovery plan has been tested to the limit, together with my patience. The Disaster…. The unusual bad health

Internet Marketing Support Group

One of the services I have mentioned briefly before, is my membership of the Internet Marketing Review support group. I have been a member for so long now that I almost take it for granted, but I shouldn’t as it is such an essential part

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

WhatIsAffiliateMarketing

Image produced by PPL Productions

Affiliate marketing is a great way to start an online business with minimal risk.

To learn how to make a profit from Affiliate Marketing click here.

The stages are:

  • Choose a niche – popular niches are Health and Weight Loss, Wealth (and Making Money), Romance, Pets, Hobbies
  • You may even be advised to find an sub-niche, if your product has wide appeal. For instance not just “Dogs”, but “Puppy training for spaniels” so that you can better target your clients
  • Find a product in that niche – make sure your product author will give you plenty of promotional materials to help you make sales. One of the stumbling block for many would-be entrepreneurs is that they can’t produce good promotional banners, videos, squeeze pages, marketing copy
  • Join as a affiliate – this will probably be free
  • Receive a personalized link to promote the product
  • Drive targeted traffic to your offer
  • Acquire a lead / sale. Be sure to capture the prospect’s contact details in your OWN contact data-base in case they don’t buy the product first time. If you have their details you can then follow up with the same product again – or perhaps they would respond better to a similar offer?
  • For this you will need an auto-responder.
  • Receive your payment!
  • Rinse and repeat – with a different product

What is the best type of product?

The auto-responder I use is the perfect example of an affiliate marketing product, because it’s an essential service to any online marketer and bills a monthly fee. Once your customer has built a list using his / her auto-responder they are very unlikely to leave. It’s just too much hassle.

So, if you chose a company that treats them right, you can have a customer for life.

Just a few regular monthly customers can mount up to a very nice repeat commission check, all for work you did once that pays you over and over again. Click here to learn more.

Need Help With Affiliate Marketing?

At its simplest, affiliate marketing can bring cash into your bank without no website, no product, not even your own idea. Or…. you can learn far more powerful tips that the experts use.

Can you set aside 1-3 hours every week to complete a simple task? For step by step training on affiliate marketing click here

Review of Copy and Profit Blueprint

Review of Copy and Profit BlueprintThis article presents a review of Copy and Profit Blueprint, a course I bought from Neil Stafford, owner of The Internet Marketing Review. Neil has been producing quality information marketing products for over 12 years now, in the Internet Marketing niche, and also in many other diverse and interesting niches. He practices what he teaches!

NB I bought this course from Neil BEFORE I started my coaching with him. The quality of this course was one of the reasons I continued on to the coaching program with him.

What reminded me to do this review is my experience using the course that I wrote about a few days ago, when I had to make some quick changes to one of my online businesses.

Who Is “Copy and Profit Blueprint” Aimed At?

This is a comprehensive course that will benefit anyone who wants to produce and sell information products online.

It is advertised as “Beginner Friendly” and it is definitely detailed enough that complete beginners will be able to get their own product online right from scratch.

However anyone who already has a product online will also benefit, because I defy anyone to read this mammoth work and not pick up extra ideas and tips. If you’re in this latter category I bet you’ll find yourself wishing you had this course when you started out. I know I did.

But the good news is that the course includes plenty of things you can do to improve the profitability of any existing business – so you’re sure to pick up many new ideas. Of course there’s nothing to stop you following the advice in the course to create and market as many new information products as you like to complement an earlier offering. In fact this is a very sound strategy if you really want to sky-rocket your earnings.

What Will You Learn?

The course contains 3 blueprints:

  1. How to create your own information product to sell – 95 pages
  2. How to build a list of eager beaver subscribers to buy your products – 94 pages
  3. How to drive traffic to your site to get subscribers and sales – 98 pages

PLUS eight additional “Quick Profit Bonuses”.

Rather than me tap my fingers to the bone on the keyboard, the easiest way for you to find out the contents of the blueprints and bonuses is just to flip over to the Copy and Profit Blueprint website where you’ll immediately see in-depth descriptions of what you will learn.

Don’t imagine that these are light-weight courses! Each module could stand alone as a course in its own right. In fact Blueprint One was originally sold “standalone” for £97. It has now been updated and is “just” the first of the three blueprints.

Initial Impressions and Presentation

WhoIsNeilStaffordThe course is attractively laid out and presented well. There are instructions for navigating your way through the dashboard, with a welcome video from Neil.

It’s produced as pdfs that you can download and save for future reference. Neil suggests that you print the course (and in fact this is what I did – because I like to make margin notes, use highlighter and put sticky tabs on pages), but make sure you have a good supply of paper and a big ring binder to put it in!

When I say 90-odd pages per blueprint, this isn’t one of those courses where huge fonts and double spacing are used. (Do those authors think their customers are stupid?) It is genuinely packed with content in a sensible and readable typeface.

How To Use The Course

According to the “Bing” online dictionary, a blueprint is “a plan of action or a guide to doing something”. Note the inclusion of “action” and “doing”. You will benefit most from this course if you actually work through it and implement the steps as you go, rather than just reading it – which could leave you over-whelmed by the sheer volume of information.

Let’s just look at blueprint 1 (product creation). Using just ONE of the methods suggested I brain-stormed ideas for a new information product and in a couple of hours I had come up with an outline of 20 bullet points. Then the next afternoon I fleshed them out, ready to produce the product.

The initial work – idea generation – is done and, having created the product (which you can sub-contract out) you’re ready to move onto the important phase of finding prospects and turning them into customers. All of which is covered in great detail.

What Could Have Been Better?

After my first “read” I wanted to return to check some points of interest, but was disappointed to find there was no index. There is so much content packed into each module that it’s difficult to keep track of everything. Not to be defeated I grabbed a pen and paper and made my own by quickly leafing through the course again. If I’d had my wits about me I would have typed my index into a Word or Excel document for easier reference!

What Support Is There?

If you have problems downloading your product, lost passwords or similar, Neil’s company has a well staffed help desk and I’ve always had prompt replies to any queries I’ve raised.

However if you’re hoping to ask questions about your product developmentand get feedback from Neil or one of his team, this isn’t included. That’s a deliberate policy to keep the price down and accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

If you think you would benefit from a place to ask questions and get a wide range of topics, the perfect complement for the Copy and Profit Blueprint is The Internet Marketing Review Support Group where you will get interaction with other members on the safe as you are, and the personal attention that CAPB doesn’t provide.

Don’t like it at all? You have 45 days to evaluate it and if you feel Neil hasn’t delivered on his promises to you, just email to ask for a refund.

Value For Money?

Even if you’re only looking at the volume of information presented, this is a winner.

If you look further and try to put a value to any single one of the many ideas, tips and tricks that you’ll learn….. well, any one of them could generate you hundreds of extra sales. Multiply that by the number of different approaches you’ll learn, and you’ll quickly see that it’s impossible to quantify the value that this course could add to your business over the next months and years.

penguin-update-webMake no mistake – while Penguins and Pandas come and go, and social networks change their rules with alarming frequency – the basics of presenting information, attracting prospects, and sales psychology are ever-green.

The information in this course will be as valuable in years to come as it is today. Click here, or the image below to check out the wealth of information that’s available to you for one affordable price.

UPDATE July 2014:  I can’t promise it will still be there, but I just checked the site again and if you read through and look for it there’s a Fast Mover DiscountClick here.

copyandprofithdr

PS This is a highly addictive course – you’ll refer to it again and again, and pick up something new every time!

 

Using Internet Marketing Training Course

Review of Copy and Profit Blueprint
Bit of a rant today, but the positive message is how I used some training to fix something that made me cross!

As an aside: We’ve probably all bought online courses before. It’s one thing to buy them, but USING Internet Marketing Training Courses we’ve bought often gets forgotten after the first flush of enthusiasm. And there’s little wonder if you don’t have success with a course you haven’t applied!

Regular readers may remember that I am working with Neil Stafford as my coach, and one of the courses we have access to in our training is Copy and Profit Blueprint.

I’m part-way through reviewing it, so watch this space for my forthcoming review.

Another “Challenge” Hits Me!

I’m enjoying working with Neil in the limited time I have available, however, as always seems to happen to me, life gave me a business side-swipe again last week:-(

I have been very proud of the fact that I one of the first online systems I set up makes me regular sales, world-wide, in the complementary health market-place. Most of my clients are outside the UK.

I’ve done my best to provide a good service and have had regular repeat clients, especially from certain countries.

Banned From Worldwide Trading

So imagine my irritation to find that I am now banned from selling this service in those countries. Why? Because, despite selling at RRP (Recommended Retail Price) my price is lower than suppliers in other countries, so clients in those countries were buying from me, instead of from the more expensive suppliers in their own country. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

Is that my fault / problem?

Well, apparently it is and “they’re bigger than I am”, so I have to “roll over and conform” or lose my supplier. So much for free trade and eCommerce!

I was tempted to just change my supplier and sell a different product, but the one I sell is the one I believe is the best on the market.

Yet with a single email “head office” has wiped out the value of my customer list – I’m no longer allowed to sell to most of them. And they rendered useless, work I have been doing for three or four years now.

Giving Up?

I was so upset that my first reaction was just to shut down the website or put it up for sale.

I took the problem to Neil, my coach, and he suggested I change my site to sell an affiliate product instead, rather than waste the traffic and work. This sounded like a good idea, but when I hunted round for affiliate programs for the same service I hit the problems below:

  1. Those selling the same product ALSO had the same country specific ban
  2. One affiliate program selling a similar product by a different supplier didn’t pay commission on this product, only on supplements
  3. They also didn’t guarantee other products (e.g. supplements) would be delivered world-wide for the price on the site because of import duties etc

Reviewing the Original Online Business Model

If I’m honest, the original business model has a bit of a problem…. it’s not entirely automated and relies on me being available to receive a physical sample from a client and send it to a laboratory in the USA. This isn’t always convenient, and if I’m away I have to pay an assistant to check for the arrival of samples and post them off.

This isn’t worth the cost for the few orders I get from the reduced number of countries I am now permitted to trade in. Most of my clients are in the “banned countries”.

Also, the “back-end” sales (of supplements recommended by this service) have dropped off because clients now order direct from head-office and rarely bother to include my name to receive commissions. There is no “proper” affiliate program running for this company.

So there was SOME merit to the giving up option.

But it annoyed me enormously that all the work I have done would be wasted, or someone else would get the benefit of it, and probably offer me a derisory amount of money for the site.

A Better Solution

What I needed was to sell an information-only product that could be delivered with no intervention from me. But it was SUCH an unusual service that I haven’t come across an information product, so that seemed another non-starter.

Until I remembered that I had actually written one of my own :-)

The pre-ban-service gave away a free eBook (26 pages long) which encouraged people to buy the test and got them onto my “list”.

Originally I was selling this eBook for a few dollars, and then, a couple of years ago, I was “taught” to give it away free so that it would do the job of selling people on the service.

What if I were to start charging for the eBook again…..?

  • It’s a lower price for people to pay than ordering the test outright, so they may be more likely to send a small sum of money as a test purchase
  • In the eBook I can explain the country ban and direct people to their local (more expensive!) suppliers. I try not to be too scathing!
  • If eBook purchasers are in countries I AM permitted to sell to, I reduce the cost of the test by the price of the eBook that clients have already bought

As an aside, I have altered my sales pages to make absolutely sure anyone (who reads them) knows they have ordered a downloadable PDF eBook rather than a physical book, as one irate customer recently thought.

Using Internet Marketing Training Course

So I applied the information in the Copy and Profit Blueprint course to do all this, and have now changed my sites to SELL the 26 page book that I used to give away free, and I give away a shorter “Report” that “pre-sells” the eBook.

The single paragraph above, of course, doesn’t actually do justice to the whole process, which is explained in great detail in the course, with brain-storming tips and marketing ideas.

So USING this Internet Marketing Training Course (plus an afternoon’s work) has saved me from “giving away” a site and product I had worked hard on for several years.

Looking for a Job or a Business?

Who Does NOT Want To Start An Online Business?

Sometimes I am guilty of assuming that everyone wants to start an online business (if only!) when actually they are looking for a job.

In fairness to myself, my mailing list is clearly labelled “Start Your Own Online Business”, so if they sign up for it, is it any surprise that I will be emailing about Internet business tips and ideas? Obviously supplemented by the usual “Comment on life as an Internet Marketer”.

No, this article isn’t to say that people have been complaining about my emails. It’s more reflecting on the fact that very few people DO anything. I have paid for professionally written emails and titles, plus two different auto-responders that claim to offer excellent deliverability.

Yet open-rates are dismally low, and action rates even lower! And that’s being honest.

So Why Is No-one Interested?

I have three possible theories:

  1. People are so blitzed by emails for ways to start an online business that they’re “blind to them”
  2. They have tried a few, been burned, and given up
  3. People do NOT want to start an online business, they just need some instant cash, and would be more likely to get it from a job!

Number 1 – I can sympathize with, and every so often I have a blitz and unsubscribe from a batch of email lists – marking as JUNK those that don’t have a proper unsubscribe link.

Number 2 – Well, you have two choices. You can give up and get off the lists; seriously, there’s some quite reasonable stuff on TV – so they tell me. Or do something different. I think it was Einstein who said:

Of course, if you read on you’ll find my suggestion for “something different….”:-)

Number 3 - I think this is the most common reason. People find themselves with an emergency cash flow problem from: loss of job, big bill to pay, pension shortage…. whatever.

magic-compSo they think “Blimey, now what, how will I pay the mortgage”?

And then they think…. “I know, I’ll start an online business (sub-text… and be rich by the end of the month)”. As if by magic!

In my opinion the problem these people have is that they don’t need a business – they need a job, because they need money and they need it now – not in the year + it takes to grow a reliable online income!

When you are completely flat broke is NOT a good time to start an online business. If you have a little money to invest in your online business, possibly, but flat broke NO!

Start a gardening or car-cleaning business (using tools you already have and knocking on doors) maybe…., but if you have no cash whatsoever to put into domain, hosting, training or advertising I think you’ll struggle badly* with an Internet business. *I actually think it’s impossible, but I don’t want to appear TOO negative.

Make a Fast Income Online?

So when people tell me they want fast income, I tell them to put their efforts into getting a JOB instead, because income online is not fast – despite the hype you’ll hear. If it was, everyone would be driving fast cars and living the life of Riley (whoever he was).

That is NOT what they want me to say, but it is meant kindly, because making a sustainable income online is not a fast way to wealth – or even just to security. A few years ago you could sling up an affiliate website, throw a few dollars at it in PPC advertising and – if you were lucky – make a decent return. Try that these days and – unless you’re very savvy – your budget will have gone in a puff of smoke. A slightly different kind of magic to what you were hoping for!

So Have I Got An Answer?

Well, I have a credible suggestion for people who really need a job (for extra cash quickly), but think they want a business. They can have both with Drop Ship Domination. Start with DSD the “Job” and use the income from that to build a business – IF you really want a business.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a job in the conventional sense at all. You will be self-employed, liable for your own taxes, no benefits, no guaranteed income, no holiday or sickness pay. Well – all the features of a business really. The difference is that YOU will determine your level of income. If you put in the hours, follow the training provided and attend the getting started hangouts, you can make a good income. I’m in a Facebook group and see people doing it all the time. It’s for distributors only, so these aren’t posts prove the income to outsiders!

Yes, there’s a catch – it involves work, but so does any job. And if you think a business doesn’t involved work……  ask any successful entrepreneur if they got where they are now without working for their results! (Then run….)

What is Drop Ship Domination?

DSD the “job” involves finding products to sell on Site A (eBay), sourcing them from Site B (various) at enough of a price to make a profit and getting them “drop-shipped” from the supplier at site B to the customer at Site A.

Then “rinse and repeat” as they say.

Does it take effort to find these “deals”?  Of course it does! Are there people who are putting that effort in and turning a profit? You bet there are. Below is a trade my sponsor made (posted with his permission). $65 for 20 minutes work – and he’ll probably spend 2 minutes re-listing the item and make the same profit again.

dsd-results

DSD has turned out to be like a JOB for many hard-working people who saw what was on offer and ran with it! BUT, they are choosing the hours, venues and times they work – not a boss.

Every-day people are KILLING IT with DSD sales, when they treat it like a job and put the time and effort in!  80% are in profitruss-sales in their first month.

In a smaller way my son has been doing some buying and selling too (see image on the right), and so have I.

I used the DSD training to generate eBay profits of about £300 – which has has more than covered the monthly subscription for the tools and training.

However, I already have an offline business that is like a “job” to me, so, having seen the concept proven, I don’t have the time to devote to the “job” side of DSD.

The business side I AM interested in, and – due to developments I heard about at a UK meeting last Sunday – I will be scaling that up in the autumn, when I’ve completed some commitments in my off-line business.

Looking for a Job?

If you have time to make the DSD “job” work, and just $19.95 a month to pay for the tools and training and support, give it a try; watch short video here.

PS They even include cash-back offers so you can claim back enough money to cover that $19.95 to get you started!

How To Attract An Audience

While some people enjoy blogging for pleasure, most of my readers are also using their blog for promotional purposes – and after just a few weeks they will start wondering how to attract an audience for their articles.

Eventually you may decide you need to use paid traffic, but in the early days, while you’re building your blog content, here are some tried and tested methods presented in the form of an infographic.

01-5WaysAttractAudience

There’s not a lot I can add to such a comprehensive source of statistics!

Except just to remind you that your “actions to focus on” – as I see them are:

  • Mobile Marketing – is your blog theme responsive? (Ready to view on tablets and mobile phones)
  • Email – are you building your list consistently? This should be your number one focus from day one of your business.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Although you need to bear this in mind, write for human readers rather than search engines. If you write for search engines the danger is that your writing will ready badly and any human readers will quickly leave. The search engines won’t love you either!
  • Blogging – This will bring visitors in time, but be prepared for a wait. If people are kind enough to comment on your post, reply to them and return the compliment by checking out their post.
  • Guest Blogging – Excellent way to find new readers.
  • Video Marketing – Search engines, and readers, like videos. Your visitors will probably stay on your blog longer to watch the videos – which is a factor which will improve your status in Google’s eyes (allegedly!) They may enjoy the video so much that they share it. This is something I’ve not been good at – but it occurs to me that I can use videos from YouTube – so watch out for some personal favorites over the weeks to some.

Which of these activities have you found most helpful?

Are there any you’d like to share? Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions below.

Feeling Blessed Today

work-planbSometimes, when you’re slogging away at the keyboard, while everyone else is watching Wimbledon, or the World Cup (if they’re still “in it”!), or just chilling, you can be forgiven for wondering if it’s really necessary.

Yes, that extra income from starting an online business would be really useful – but…… the regular income is ticking along fine, you’re comfortable enough. Perhaps you should be satisfied with whatever you’re lucky enough to have in life?

Then out of the blue a sidewise swipe slap across the face reminds you just WHY it’s always worth having a Plan B.

Mum… I Just Got Back From Hospital…

Earlier in the week I was sitting tapping away on the keyboard, minding my own business when the phone rang and it was my younger son – pretty shaky – which is unlike him. He was bearing the scary news that he had badly gashed his arm in a work accident, and had just got back home from hospital.

He is self-employed and his occupation is such that a damaged arm could end his whole career/business. Here in the UK there’s no sick pay if you’re self-employed, and he could hardly sue his “boss” (himself LOL) for compensation.

Thankfully “someone up there” was looking after him, as, despite him needing 10 stitches and 5 injections, there seems to be no lasting damage to his tendons and muscles. However I think he’ll have a nasty scar to remind him to take things a lot more steadily in future. (Plus interminable nagging thoughtful reminders from his frazzled wife and mum.)

It’s when something like this happens that I am reminded exactly WHY I work extra hours when I could be slobbing in front of the TV instead.

I suspect my usual readership on this blog are fully aware of this, and most are already beavering away – so I’m largely preaching to the converted here – but in case you need motivation to “keep going”, or if you’ve just stumbled across this post by chance…….

Why You Might Need a Plan B

I firmly believe everyone should have a Plan B in place, in case our main source of income suddenly dries up.

It needn’t be caused by a work accident – Matt’s accident just triggered the thought for this article. Your challenge could be caused by

  • Pension failure
  • Redundancy
  • Death or incapacitation of someone who helps pay the monthly bills
  • A sports injury or
  • Broken bone from falling on some mud in your own garden – like I foolishly did a year ago while rushing about like a headless chicken! Happily the bones didn’t break :-)

I’m already working on my Plan B, and so are most of my regular blog visitors. Are you?

If not, are you SO confident of the future that you feel no need to think about alternatives? If you are, I’m genuinely pleased for you and congratulate you for “having all your ducks in a row” – is that a UK-ism?

However, if you feel that you, or someone you know, could benefit from some forward planning to get an alternative (or additional) income I strongly encourage you to take action right away. There are many ethical ways to start an online business, some of them explained on this blog, some on the posts of fellow bloggers who comment on my other articles.

Pick something you can do alongside whatever your main source of income is. Don’t “give up the day-job” – that would be crazy. But take a little time every day to build your Plan B. Even one hour a day is better than nothing.

I hope you won’t need it in “emergency mode”, but starting an online home business can also lead to a very nice additional income, for more of the good things in life.

Working With Neil Stafford

neilstaffordIn an earlier post I hinted that I had found a new focus for my business, but I didn’t want to say too much until the details were tied up. “It” was all finalized a couple of weeks ago at a two-day conference in a London hotel.

I am now pleased to announce that, going forward, I will be working with Neil Stafford as my coach. Neil is a well respected Internet Marketing publisher and trainer based here in the UK. He is an in-demand speaker at many UK and international events.

Neil and I actually first got to know each other about 15 years ago when we both wrote for the same business networking magazine. It was an extremely popular print-based monthly publication run by Shirley, an early business mentor, and one of the nicest ladies I’ve come across in the Home Business world.

desert-island-webShe ran an honest and extremely successful business. Then one day she took us all by surprise, by announcing she was closing down her magazine and took herself off to (I believe) a Greek island somewhere, never to be heard of again – well – not by Neil and I!

I hope Shirley is enjoying a happy and relaxed lifestyle “somewhere” because I have a lot to thank her for – including introducing me to Neil!

Over the intervening years Neil’s and my paths followed different routes – I took my complementary therapy business online, then entrepreneurship took a bit of a break for the usual family challenges that take over when bringing up two sons. Now having safely delivered them into the care of two lovely ladies (one each LOL) I have been finding my way back into online business.

KTS Publishing

Neil on the other hand went on to build up a huge online publishing empire (KTS Publishing), with a formidable number of impressive Internet Marketing courses and training programs to his name. He also practices what he teaches, as he has cornered the market in some fascinating “non-IM” niches, so his methods really work.

imrstackfrontcoverFrom time to time over the intervening years our paths have crossed. Sometimes at Internet Marketing conferences, and other times when I have purchased his training courses. We have always kept loosely in touch as I am a long-term member of Neil’s Internet Marketing Review help and support group. Unusually, for an Internet based community, Neil also produces a “members only” print publication.

Recently I heard that Neil was looking to work more closely with, and coach, a few individuals to expand his, and our businesses. I applied, and was delighted to be among the few to be selected. And I do mean few – I’ve been “selected” before, only to discover that the “few” meant “few hundred”. Not with Neil. When he makes a promise he honours it and has a reputation for over-delivery and reliability.

Going Forward

To start with I will be getting familiar with Neil’s products and reviewing them, although some I already know from previous purchases. Going forward he will be coaching me in developing and taking to market my own Internet Marketing products – something I’ve always shied away from in the past! I still find the thought of that “scary” but, perhaps it’s time to stretch that confidence zone a little.

What Will Change Here?

Not a lot to be honest. My usual posts will be supplemented by reviews of some of Neil’s products, and progress reports of my own products – to keep me accountable and on my toes,

I am not an employee of KTS, so I’m free to promote other products as well as Neil’s. These will still include the tools I have found helpful in my online business and the combined auto-responder and hosting starter pack “Host Then Profit” from GVO. And if I see a short-coming in the KTS products I review, I will disclose it. Neil wants it that way too.

Looking forward to learning, and sharing, lots in my journey working with Neil Stafford. Busy time ahead!

Handling A PayPal Dispute

handling a paypal disputeScary thing happened to me this week – I got a PayPal Dispute from a client for one of my complementary health products and handling a PayPal dispute is something new I had to learn about.

I’ve been selling this particular product online for about ten years and the process has developed from being very basic to “automated enough that it seems to work fine”.

If that sounds a bit wishy-washy, it’s just that I am an honest enough to realize that it’s not perfect, but most clients get through it without problems and those who have a question either pick up the phone or email me!

Not this lady – let’s call her Mary, not her real name. She placed her order and paid three weeks ago and I heard nothing more from her – which isn’t unusual (I’ll tell you why below).

To give a little background, this is my Hair Analysis product, and the process is:

  • Client sees website and has the opportunity to download a free ebook to explain the benefits of Hair Mineral Analysis.
  • Hopefully interested enough to send in money to pay for the test. (Otherwise receives blog posts and follow-ups if they subscribed to my list to get the free ebook.)
  • I acknowledge receipt of payment, tell them how to send in the hair sample and set the expectation that their results will be returned to them within three weeks. It’s usually faster, but the lab that does the testing is in the USA and obviously the hair goes by snail-mail, although everything else is done by email.

What Can Go Wrong?

Sometimes a client buys direct from my website without getting the free ebook that puts them onto my list for the follow-up emails that remind them to send in their hair sample. In fact because it’s an unusual service this happens more often than them receiving the ebook.

How I Handle This

To “fix” this when I see any payment come in, whether the client is on my “list” or not, I always follow up manually with a personal email, more or less repeating what goes out to clients in the auto-responder.

  • Thanks for payment.
  • Here’s the ebook pdf that includes instructions on what to do next.
  • If you have any questions here is a PRIVATE email to use so, that client emails don’t get lost in general day-to-day rubbish emails.
  • Invitation to subscribe to my “follow-up tracker” (list) if they haven’t already done so. This sends out a reminder to send in their hair sample about a week after payment.
  • Your results will be delivered within three weeks by email.

This has worked fine and brings in a steady stream of sales, especially since I added in the 3-month reminder that it’s time for their repeat test:-) I must be doing something right because I get people ordering re-rests, AND for friends and family, so most people are impressed with the service.

What Happened to Mary?

Mary went through the “buy direct from website route” – as most people do – and received the personal follow-up. I was vaguely aware that I hadn’t received her hair sample but that is NOT unusual, because the ebook advises that if clients have had recent hair treatment, such as coloring, they should wait up to six weeks before sending the hair sample so that the hair they send is untreated. (If she had joined my list, as I suggested in my email, she would have received a reminder too.)

So all of a sudden three weeks after receiving the payment I got an email from Mary to the private address, announcing that as she hadn’t heard anything from me she wanted to cancel and get her money back – oh and by the way she’d raised a PayPal dispute just to be sure. “Hope that’s OK with you”.

The irony of it all was that she sent this complaint as a REPLY to my email delivering the ebook, the “next steps” and the private email address for problems!

So I replied pretty calmly, pointing out that she had replied using the same email she claimed not to have received, expanding the salient points from my original email (conveniently already included!) into BIG green text, and expressing sadness that she had chosen to raise a PayPal dispute before contacting me first via the email she was now using.

In The PayPal Resolution Center

Then I headed off to investigate what to do about a PayPal dispute because I’ve never had one before. There to my horror I found that she had sent this appalling email to PayPal saying that I hadn’t delivered the goods or contacted her and I was unprofessional and “not legit”.

Of course I freaked out completely and replied that it was totally ridiculous because…. and reiterated all that I have explained above.

I also pointed out that on the same day I had received a payment from a client in Singapore and he had gone through the whole process, including posting his hair sample to the UK, the hair sample then going onto the USA, and he had received his test results, in the promised three weeks. (Mary and I are both in the UK!)

A Happy Resolution?

Well, Mary sent an apology and said she hadn’t realized how serious a PayPal dispute could be. She said she’d now read everything I’d sent her and was happy to go ahead if I was – and she wouldn’t cause any more problems! Never one to lose a customer I just replied to the effect of: “Let’s put this behind us and start again. Close the dispute, say you misunderstood, send in your hair sample and be careful to send enough hair so we have no more delays.”

Mary has closed the dispute, thank goodness, but I still haven’t had the hair sample!

What Did I Learn From Handling A PayPal Dispute?

My procedure has evolved and improved over several years because I always adapt it by adding in “what went wrong” with any previous transaction. So I have now amended that personal email to spell out in great detail that they are receiving an ebook not a physical product.

As most of my clients are overseas this doesn’t surprise them. Because Mary was in the UK I guess she expected a physical book to drop through the door. I shouldn’t have assumed that everyone was familiar enough with a pdf link to know it’s an ebook.

In the past I tried sending people a direct subscribe invitation to my “list” so that they would get the reminder emails, but most ignored them, so it seemed better to include the invitation in the personal “thanks for payment” email. This of course, does rely on people reading that email. (I promise it’s not long, and it’s broken up into short paragraphs!)

Someone told me that in PayPal there’s a way to add people to your list automatically and put them into your auto-responder. Obviously that’s another job to add to the “to-do list”.

Luckily many years worth of clients have used the service without problems, so I hope that handling a PayPal dispute won’t be anything I have to do again.

If you have any more suggestions as to what I could have done better, or have your own experiences, please include them in the comments below.

 

What Father’s Day Means To Me

Mum_n_DadToday is Father’s Day, so a sentimental post from me.  I hope all families will be spending time together, and not on the computer!

Both my parents are very special and wonderful people, but I think often there is that slightly closer bond between a Dad and his daughter.

My work ethic, and enjoyment of work, is down to both my parents. Dad in particular.

I was brought up in the family business and hard work was just the way life was. We had a post-office, newsagency, confectionery and fancy-goods shop on the sea-front of a Northern sea-side town called Bridlington. It was quiet during the winter months, but in the summer it was all hands to the deck.

The Daily Routine of Our Business

By “quiet” I mean that my Dad’s working day was “only” 6am (when he took in the newspapers for delivery) to 6pm (when he closed after the “home from work” trade).

Things hotted up in the summer months when the town was teaming with visitors. Our shop was right opposite the Spa Theatre and Ballroom, so their customers needed somewhere to buy their sweets on the way in, and their ciggies on the way out. And we were more than willing to provide that service. So the working day extended from 6am until 10pm.

Sometimes longer if we were trying to out-do the competitor down the road. He stood no chance against my Dad and me. We were a formidable team and wouldn’t give in, sometimes slogging it out until 10:30pm just because we wouldn’t close before him. Once the shop closed we would take the dog for a walk, chat over the events of the day and paddle in the sea to bathe our aching feet.

Career Progression in Our Business

By the age of about five I was old enough “join the family business” and my job was counting pennies and putting them into piles of 12 (in those days) ready for banking.

As soon as I was old enough to see over the counter, I was taught how to “serve” the customers. A word that seems to have dropped out of modern retail ethic. Sometimes my Dad would interrupt his breakfast to deliver a 3p newspaper that had been lost in transit.

Soon I progressed to being in charge of my own department – stock control and ordering for the ice-cream fridge and the candy-floss machine. The former was a great success, the latter a failure – the spun sugar flew all over the shop and it had to go :-(

The height of pride (for me and my parents) was when I was able to “balance” the post-office at the end of each week. This meant accounting to the penny – and I do mean to the penny – for all the transactions through the week. I forget the sums involved but that was a busy post-office with pensioners and Mums queuing to the door to collect their weekly allowances. “Balancing” was the job of the sub-postmaster or the most senior assistant. But by the age of 12 I was trusted to do it unsupervised.

Sounds a Bit Grim?

If this sounds like a boring and “slavery-like” existence for a child and teenager, there’s nothing further from the truth. I remember those days as the happiest of my life. It was fun learning about competition, hard graft and team work.

The rewards were good – in those days my parents were earning more than the Prime Minister and in the winter we lived a high old life, with the best cars in the street. I learned to drive in a Jaguar, which perhaps wasn’t one of my Dad’s better decisions, but we had a laugh as it had to be hauled out of a ditch and he said “For goodness sake don’t tell your Mum”. (In case you wonder where Mum was in all this Father-Daughter team-work, she was busy bringing up my younger sister.)

My Parents’ Sacrifice

When I left school it would have been so easy for my parents to welcome me into the shop as a ready-trained full-time manager and put their feet up. Which is what I begged them to do.

But they were far-sighted enough to notice the first supermarkets starting to stock newspapers, cigarettes and all their staple goods. They realized that the day of the small retailer was over, and insisted I got a career of my own.

Was It All Worth It?

The work ethic and ambition I learned from the sheer enjoyment of my early years has stayed with me for the rest of my life. Although very different from working in the shop, I love what I do and do my best to “serve” all my customers in the way I learned from my parents. They made me what I am and I thank them for it. They taught me how to make your business fun as well as profitable. Taking pleasure from successes and rising above the inevitable failures.

And now….

I’m off to ring my Dad for Father’s Day.

Beating PC Problems

I seem to have more than my fair share of PC problems, and this last three months has been probably the worst I’ve had, transferring from an aging Windows XP machine to Windows 7.

In fairness, the requirements for my off-line business make my PC requirements very complex because within my PC I have to have a virtual machine running Ubuntu (a different operating system) so that I can connect to a client and a developer can connect into my PC.

This all got too much for my XP machine, so I bought a new Windows 7 machine that my eldest son Russ set up for me with the Ubuntu and networking connections working a treat. Problem was, most of the programs I wanted to transfer from my XP machine to the W7 machine just wouldn’t install.

I’ve had tremendous help from support teams literally all over the world and finally got working the 3 program I wanted to run. I won’t mention their names as “not working” because the fault was in my machine not their software.

However I will give a special mention to the Kudani support team who really went above and beyond the call of duty to help me get their software installed on the offending machine.

“Something” had encrypted my hard disk so that installs didn’t work. No idea how or what and as long as it doesn’t happen again that’s all I care.

The biggest thanks go to my son Russ who spent SIX hours on Skype and logged into my PC from Spain, unraveling things for me, and finally using CIPHER from the DOS command prompt to fix it. His patience was exemplary – although he did at one point declare that he couldn’t imagine what I’d done (neither could I!) and I was “Not fit to have a computer” :-)  I was beginning to agree with him!

What’s That Got To Do With The World Cup?

worldcup2014-250x250Not a lot really :-) Except that one of the programs I was struggling to get working on the new machine was a graphics creation and manipulation tool and when I finally got it going I wanted to create a personalized image that would show my son it was working and a “Good Luck England” logo seemed appropriate at the time of writing (June 2014). So here it is!

The other connection is that I knew once the World Cup started Russ wouldn’t want to be fighting my PC problems, he’d want to spend all his spare time watching football, so I had a deadline to beat!

If you’re interested in the tools that I consider so essential to my online business that I have fought tooth and nail to get them loaded, click here.

Buy with confidence – they installed first time once the machine was cleaned up of its gremlins.

Football – Love it or Hate it?

So deadline met and PC problems apparently fixed, Russ can watch his football without his Mum pestering him. He won’t be alone LOL. Over the next few weeks people all over the world will fall into one of three groups:

  1. Love it and following every match they can – Russ
  2. Following at “top level” and supporting their own country – me
  3. Hate it and avoiding at all costs – many of my friends

Whichever category you fall into you can plan your movements and TV for the next month by clicking here for the best World Cup Calendar I found online.

Hate Football?

As a slight aside, defending the value of football to family life, I will say that in the teenage years when my sons felt they had little in common with their Dad and I, it was one family activity that brought us all together and fighting for the same cause!

Whichever group you (and your team) fall into, I wish you an enjoyable month.

From: Joy Healey

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