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How to Make a Living Working From Home - Skip McGraths Auction

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“Simple, low cost, low risk
online businesses you can start
and run from home”
How to Make a Living
Working From Home
Skip McGrath
VISION-ONE PRESS
1004 Commercial Avenue
Anacortes, WA 98221
[email protected]
www.SkipMcGrath.com
How to Make a Living
Working from Home
BY SKIP MCGRATH
Simple, low cost, low risk online businesses
you can start and run from home
Copyright В© 2010 by Skip McGrath and VISION-ONE PRESS.
The Legal Stuff
All rights reserved. The author and publisher own all rights to this publication. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, or by any means, mechanical or
electronic, including photocopying or recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, or
transmitted by email or other Internet medium, without explicit written permission from the author and
publisher. While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, the publisher
and author assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter
contained herein. For more information, address Vision-One Press 1004 Commercial Ave, # 223, Anacortes, WA
98221.
International Standard Book Number: 978-0-9816633-8-8
First Edition: September 2010
This publication is not intended for use as a source of any advice such as legal, financial, medical, or accounting.
The publisher wishes to stress that that information contained herein may be subject to varying international,
federal, state, and/or local laws or regulations.
The purchaser or reader of this publication assumes all responsibility for the use of the materials and information
herein. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including international, federal, state, and local
governing professional licensing, business practices, advertise and all other aspects of doing business in any
jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the purchaser or reader. The author and publisher are not affiliated with
eBay, PayPal, Amazon, Craigslist or any other sites that are linked within these pages and we do not guarantee
the performance of effectiveness of said sites.
Neither the author nor publisher assume any responsibility or liability whatsoever on behalf of any purchaser or
reader of these materials. No express or implied guarantees of income are made when purchasing or reading this
book. Any perceived slight of any person or organization is completely unintentional. Statements about how
much money you can make or the author or others have made are for example only. We have no idea how much
the average person using these methods has made and therefore you should assume it is zero.
Trademarks and business names used in this book are the property of those companies and are used under the
fair use doctrine and no ownership or rights are claimed.
All websites and URLs mentioned in this book were current at the time of publication. However, websites are
modified, removed, and URLs change. The author and publisher are not responsible for any content on any
website mentioned in this book other than their own.
Preface
The recent financial crisis and the resulting recession have resulted in millions
of Americans losing their job or having their hours cut back. Government
statistics release in January 2010 show that over ten million Americans are
now out-of-work or working at a part-time job. Over four million of these
Americans have given up actively looking for work.
During the year ended 2009, however, The IRS reported that over 1.2 million
people filed a Schedule C, Business Profit & Loss form for the first time. That
means that at least 1.2 million people started a new business or became selfemployed during 2009. The IRS expects this number to grow substantially
during 2010. Entrepreneur Magazine estimates that over 2 million new people
will become self-employed during 2010.
My name is Skip McGrath. My wife Karen and I have been running various
online businesses since 1999. At first we did them part-time. When we started
our first online business—selling on eBay—Karen was working as a travel
agent and I was working in international marketing for a Fortune 100
company in Seattle. After a year selling on eBay, we were doing so well that
Karen quit her job and worked at home full time. Two years later, I left my job
(and a 1 ВЅ hour commute) to join her at home full time. We have never
regretted it or looked back.
Within another year, we expanded beyond eBay to selling on Amazon,
Craigslist and from several websites we started. Besides selling physical
products we have sold information products and made money with affiliate
marketing, education and seminars and I have written several books about
selling on eBay, Yahoo, Amazon and running your own website business. If
you type my name into the search box on Amazon, you can see a list of the
books I have written over the past 6 years.
At first my books focused on eBay. For the past several years, however, I have
aimed my books, videos, information products and seminars at the entire
home business market.
There are plenty of books, websites, seminars and services aimed at
Americans who would like to learn how to make money working from home.
But when we looked at the topic of helping people make extra money, what
we saw were a lot of scams aimed at a vulnerable segment of the population
–those folks who were in dire financial need.
We reasoned that there was a good market for someone to provide
trustworthy information, advice and education to what is a growing market—
those folks who are out of work, or those who need a way to make some
extra money.
Our Promise to You
We are committed to providing trustworthy content that has been tried and
proven, and comes from reliable sources. All of our guides purchased online
from the Skipmcgrath.com website come with a NO QUESTIONS ASKED
money back guarantee.
If you purchase a printed book, simply return it to us and we will refund your
full purchase price. If you bought an eBook, simply send us an email to
[email protected], provide your payment information (name,
email address, etc.) and we will refund your payment within two business
days.
If you purchase a book from a bookstore, Amazon or other source, please see
their refund and return policies and instructions as those are beyond our
control.
As you can imagine keeping books up to date is more expensive than
traditional publishing—and this is why our books often cost more that those
you would buy from a bookstore or Amazon.com. But what good are books
that are two years old and the techniques just don’t work anymore? And
remember, unlike a book you buy in a bookstore, our books come with a
money-back guarantee.
Our eBooks are delivered in Adobe PDF format. If you would like to print out a
copy, simply open your copy, and select File > Print. If you would like to use
less paper and save some trees, set your printer options for 2-sided printing.
It should cost about $1 worth of paper and ink to print out this book.
If you take this book to a commercial printing shop such as Kinkos or Office
Depot, they will often require permission to print a copyrighted document
such as this. If this happens to you just show them the Commercial Print Shop
Notice below:
Commercial Printing Shops:
Customers may print one copy for their personal use.
If you need explicit permission, please email [email protected]
A free gift for you:
As you go through this book, you will see links to other books of mine that I
have recommended. All of these books are available on SkipMcGrath.com.
If you decide to purchase any of my books on SkipMcGrath.com, please use
the following coupon code when you check out: 30TYGFT99
These coupons sometime expire if they get too much use. If that happens to
you, just email me at [email protected] with the email address
you used to purchase this book and I will send you an up to date code.
Contents
Chapter 1: Avoiding Scams — Online Businesses That Don’t Work ............. 12
Chapter 2: Setting Up and Organizing Your Business.................................... 20
Sales Tax Number .............................................................................................................22
Federal Tax ID Number ..................................................................................................22
Business Telephone and Fax ...........................................................................................23
Record Keeping .................................................................................................................24
Chapter 3: eBay Niche Product Business ...................................................... 26
Finding Out What Sells on eBay ....................................................................................29
Drop shipping on eBay .....................................................................................................31
Sourcing Used or Vintage Products for eBay .............................................................34
Putting It All Together .....................................................................................................35
Recommended Reading and Other Resources ..........................................................36
Chapter 4: Selling Used Books Online........................................................... 37
Where to Buy Books........................................................................................................46
How to Get Started..........................................................................................................47
Book Scouting.....................................................................................................................49
Chapter 5: Creating Content-Rich Google AdSense Niche Websites ............. 51
What Do AdWords Cost and How Much Can You Make? ...................................58
Resources ............................................................................................................................63
Learning Tools ....................................................................................................................65
Chapter 6: Creating eBay & Amazon Affiliate Niche Websites ..................... 66
How Much Can You Make? ............................................................................................67
How and What eBay Pays You ......................................................................................67
How Do You Get Paid? ...................................................................................................67
How Do You Send Traffic to eBay?..............................................................................67
Tips for Driving Traffic to eBay .....................................................................................70
Option 1: Performance Fee Structure .........................................................................74
Option 2: Classic Fee Structure ....................................................................................75
Chapter 7: Creating Your Own Niche Product Website ................................ 77
What Denotes a Niche Market? ....................................................................................78
Choosing a Website Builder ...........................................................................................85
PayPal ....................................................................................................................................86
Google Cash .......................................................................................................................87
Merchant Credit Cards ....................................................................................................87
1ShoppingCart ....................................................................................................................87
Getting Inbound Links ......................................................................................................93
Finding Keywords That Work .......................................................................................93
Chapter 8: Creating and Selling Information Products ................................. 98
Offer a Money-Back Guarantee .................................................................................. 102
Produce a Quality Product .......................................................................................... 102
Don’t Write Checks You Can’t Cash ....................................................................... 102
Physical Products ............................................................................................................ 103
Electronic Delivery ......................................................................................................... 105
Chapter 9: Bringing It All Together ............................................................. 107
BONUS: Other Ways to Earn Affiliate Income............................................. 112
Introduction
I often skip over the introductions to books, but please read this entire
introduction as it contains some really important information to help you
succeed.
How to Make a Living Working from Home is one of a series of books aimed at
helping people make money with an online business. My free monthly
newsletter is filled with business tips and news about new products and
services. Please sign up at www.skipmcgrath.com. I will not rent, sell, or share
your name or email address.
The one question I am most-often asked is “how much money can I make?”
That is the hardest question to answer because it depends on you—your
talent, your experience, how well you can follow and interpret directions,
what your goals are, and how much time you devote to your business.
I have readers who are thrilled because they are making an extra $500 a
month—and others who need to make $2,000 or $3,000 a month and more. I
also have readers and customers who really work at some of these small
online businesses and make many thousands of dollars a month—but in all
honesty they are the exceptions. In the past the average person was just
looking for some extra income and didn’t want to work long hours. But today
there are folks who need to replace their income and they are will to work at
it full time.
Our goal with this book is to introduce you to some popular and, what we
believe are, easy-to-start online businesses. All of them will require some
modest investment of time and money, but none of them are high-risk or will
require you to invest thousands of dollars.
All of the businesses we recommend are scalable. That means you can start
small and stay small if that is what you want. However, if you want to devote
more time, money, and effort, these business opportunities have the ability to
earn some serious money—exactly how much is really up to you.
9
Another thing you will realize as you dive into these concepts is that you will
need to learn more than we can teach you here. It would be impossible to
create a detailed training manual for all of these businesses in one book. The
purpose of this book is to show you a wide range of business possibilities and
the techniques to get started in each of them. Then, when you need it, you
can look into the training materials I recommend to take you further in each
business. Getting a taste first saves you from wasting money on detailed
training manuals in each business before you know which one you want to do.
Now, you are probably saying, “Great Skip, wrote a book so you could get me
to buy other books.” That is one way of looking at it, but I have tried very hard
to give you enough information to get started without doing that.
Please Read the Whole Book
Many of the businesses we mention have common features. So it is very
important to read about each business before moving on to the next one as
there is information that we did not want to repeat. For example, there is a
discussion about content and niche marketing in Chapter 3 that is important
to the businesses mentioned in later chapters.
Let me say a few words about the other products, resources, and services I
recommend. Some of the resources I recommend are free, or very low cost;
others may require an additional investment. In some cases (not all) I have an
affiliate relationship with the product I recommend and may earn a
commission when you purchase it. I want to assure you, however, that I am
very careful about the products and services I recommend.
As someone with a large customer base and newsletter list, people with
something to sell approach me every week. Often these are tools or other
services and programs aimed at helping people make money. If something
interests me, I examine the product and then decide if it is legitimate, easy to
do, and will work for my reader base. If not—I reject it. I can say with
confidence that I reject over 80 percent of the offers I am presented with.
10
My personal screening device for these sorts of opportunities is: If I would not
recommend it to my sister or my mother, then I won’t recommend it to you. I
am very selective.
One of the online businesses I recommend in this book is setting up an
affiliate marketing website. And one of the first things I teach you is to never
recommend a product or service you can’t, or won’t, stand behind. I follow
that same policy.
So, enough said—let’s get started and see if we can find an online business
that suits you and will put some money in your pocket.
11
Chapter 1: Avoiding Scams —
Online Businesses That Don’t Work
Before we get started discovering some potential online businesses that do
work, I want to spend a moment on those that don’t. If you perform a Google
search for terms such as make money from home, make money online, or
start a home business, you will come across listings and advertisements for all
types of businesses. Some of them will be legitimate opportunities, some of
them will be complex schemes that can work if you have the skills, but many
of them will be out and out scams.
I know many of the companies that are scams, but I can’t list them by name.
As soon as I do that, they sue me. I could probably win the lawsuit because
the truth is a winning defense, but it can cost as much as $50,000 to defend
yourself in Federal District Court which is where these folks usually file their
harassing lawsuits.
So I will confine myself to describing the type of business or business model.
You should be able to recognize these types of scams and unrealistic business
opportunities when you see them.
Shortly before finishing this book, I happened to be up late one night and
came across a popular infomercial that claimed you could order their CD set
for $39 and start making over $10,000 a week on the Internet with their
premade, ready-to-go, internet business. I knew it was probably a scam, but
$39 wasn’t a lot of money and I was curious to see what they were claiming.
Well the CD was a lode of garbage. It was basically a sales pitch to buy their
other products which were websites all set up ready to go loaded with
products. The problem is no one can find these websites and the products on
them are way overpriced. Then the phone calls started. What they were really
getting for their $39 was a sales lead. I was getting calls from high-pressure
telemarketers trying to sell me on a $10,000 seminar that would show me
“the real way to make instant millions on the Internet.”
12
Let’s take a look at some of the popular scams prevalent on the Internet. I
suspect some of you may have already seen some of these—I just hope you
weren’t a victim.
Drop Ship Pre-Made Websites or Ready-Made eBay Drop ship
Businesses
Pre-made websites are one of the most common—and totally worthless—
online business opportunities. Many of them are advertised on radio or TV or
by inviting you to a free seminar.
There are about a dozen companies, perhaps more, who claim to have
“virtual warehouses” loaded with millions of products you can drop ship. Drop
shipping is a legitimate online business method that involves selling an item to
your customer before purchasing it from the distributor. You wait until you
sell a product from your website, on eBay, or Amazon, then you place an
order and pay your wholesale vendor his price (you keep the difference) and
he ships the product directly to your customer on your behalf. It means you
don’t have to buy and store lots of inventory to sell a product.
This does work—I do it all the time. But my wholesale suppliers are the actual
manufacturers or the master importers of the products I sell. I have a long
established relationship and an open line of credit with them.
The various online companies that claim to have these millions of products
are nothing more than middlemen. They tend to make their money by
charging you a sign-up or membership fee. Some of them require investments
in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
When you place an order, they turn around and order it from a distributor
who ships it to your customer. For this service most of them charge a monthly
membership fee, a markup over the distributor’s price, and an additional drop
ship fee. By the time you get done, your cost is pretty close to retail and you
can’t make any money.
13
To prove my point, I have actually joined several of these companies and tried
to list their products on eBay. Invariably once my listing is up, I see the
identical product from several other sellers where their selling price is close to
my so-called wholesale cost.
Many of these companies offer to sell you a pre-made website loaded with
products. These are a complete waste of time and money. The products are
often fake or counterfeit and/or priced too high to sell. (To protect
themselves these sites even have fine print in their agreement saying some of
the goods may be fake but they are not responsible.)
The larger problem is that no one can ever find your website. You see, Google
and Yahoo look for formula websites that contain duplicate content and place
them at the very end of search results if they give any placement at all. The
only way to get traffic to these websites is to purchase pay-per-click
advertising (I will discuss pay-per-click advertising later). When you do this
any small profits you might have made go up in smoke.
The worst of these companies ask you to fill out an online information form
and set up a phone call with you. Then a high-pressure telemarketer calls you
and attempts to sell you a $5,000 (or more) program. These companies also
market over the radio. You will hear a radio commercial to attend a free
seminar at a local hotel where you can learn how to make money selling on
eBay. When you get there you basically get a two-hour pitch to sign up for
one of these services. If you sign up they get your money and you get a
worthless website and out-of-date training material. If you don’t sign up, they
sell your name and contact information to other telemarketing firms who sell
business opportunities. Basically you are placed on what the people in this
trade call their Opportunity Seeker Sucker’s List.
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
Multi-Level marketing (also known as Network Marketing) companies run the
gamut from legitimate businesses like Avon, Pampered Chef, and Tupperware
all the way to pyramid schemes and pure scams.
14
If the MLM business opportunity is all about finding new recruits rather than
selling products or services, beware: the Federal Trade Commission may
consider it to be a pyramid scheme and not only can you lose all your money,
but as a participant you can be charged with fraud, too!
These companies have now come to the World Wide Web. Many of them
claim to be associated with eBay (I was actually stung by one of these once) or
other well-known companies. If a MLM company is legitimate it is based on
selling products, and you can make money with it (although only a very small
percentage of people actually do). Most of the legitimate companies are offline such as Tupperware, Avon, and other companies that do in-home parties
and that sort of thing. Even Donald Trump has gotten into the game. He
recently started the Trump Network to perform network marketing of food
and cosmetic products.
I have yet to see any legitimate MLM companies that operate via the Internet.
They may be out there, but I haven’t found them yet.
Stuffing Envelopes
This is one of the oldest work-at-home scams. It predates the Internet but has
moved from direct mail solicitation to come-ons via the Internet or even email
spam.
There are several variations; typically, you are promised to be paid $1-2 for
every envelope you stuff. All you have to do is send money and you're
guaranteed “1,000 envelopes a week that you can stuff...with postage and
addresses already affixed!" Yeah, right!
When you send your money, you get a short manual with flyer templates that
you're supposed to put up around town, advertising yet another harebrained
work-at-home scheme.
And the pre-addressed, pre-paid envelopes? Well, when people see those
flyers, all they have to do is send you $2 in a pre-addressed, pre-paid
15
envelope. Then you stuff that envelope with another flyer and send it to
them. How stupid is that?
Getting Paid to Do Surveys
The most common survey site scam is a promise to send you surveys and
instead, you get bombarded with special offers and ads.
It's an easy way for unscrupulous people to generate a large mailing list. They
may even sell your email address to others. Because of this, it's a good idea to
use a free email service, such as Yahoo or Gmail, for your email account for
survey sites. They have excellent junk filters, plus they can handle a lot of
mail.
I have signed up with at least one of these scams. I have never received a
survey from them, only lots of what I consider to be junk mail. Even though I
signed up at the site, I didn't expect to be receiving "special offers" in my
inbox every day—I was just expecting to receive surveys.
There are also websites that sell you an eBook or a set of DVDs telling you
how to make money doing paid surveys. So far, every site I have looked at did
not show one way to actually get paid to do a survey.
There are some legitimate survey directories where you can do surveys and
earn discounts, points or coupons, and occasionally the companies will send
you sample products, but I have yet to have one ever send me any cash.
Craft or Product Assembly
This scam claims they will pay you for piece work to assemble toys, dolls, or
other craft projects at home with the promise of high per-piece rates. All you
have to do is pay a fee up-front for the starter kit, which includes instructions
and parts.
Sounds good? Well, once you finish assembling your first batch of crafts, the
company will tell you that they "don't meet our specifications," or “we have a
full inventory right now.”
16
These companies make money selling the starter kits. So, you're left with a
ton of assembled crafts (usually cheap crappy stuff) and no one to sell them
to.
Medical Billing
In this scam, you pay $299-$999 for everything you need to start your own
medical billing service from home. These companies promise state-of-the-art
medical billing software, as well as a list of potential clients in your area
(which they get from the yellow pages).
What you're not told is that most medical clinics process their own bills, or
outsource to certified processing firms—not individuals. Some medical firms
will work with individuals but these are usually experienced people who used
to work in their office or at a local clinic or hospital. The so-called “medical
billing software” is usually out of date and not compliant with Medicare or
large insurance companies.
Of course, even though they promise all types of guarantees; good luck trying
to get a refund.
Email Processing
This is a twist on the classic “envelope stuffing scam.” For a low price (usually
about $100) you can become “a highly-paid email processor working from the
comfort of your own home.”
What do you suppose an email processor does? If you have visions of
forwarding or editing emails, forget it. What you get for your money are
instructions on spamming the same ad you responded to in newsgroups and
Web forums. Not only does this not work, it can get you in trouble with the
new can-spam laws.
Companies Looking for Home-workers
In this one, you pay a small fee—typically up to $25—for a list of companies
looking for home-workers just like you.
17
The only problem is that the list is usually a generic list of companies, most
who don't take home-workers, or companies that may have accepted homeworkers in the past.
Data Entry
If you use the Internet a lot, then odds are you're probably a good typist. How
better to capitalize on it than making money by typing or doing data entry
from home.
Here's how it works: After sending the fee to the scammer for “more
information,” you receive a disk and printed information that tells you to
place home typist ads and sell copies of the same list to people who reply to
you.
You can, however, make good money doing data entry from home, but you
don’t need one of these kits. Here is a Free Article about how to make money
performing data entry services for local businesses.
So be very careful when you look at offers to start an online business from
home. I am always leery of any offer that promises thousands of dollars in
instant profits or schemes that say you can earn good money working only a
couple of hours a week. The old saying, “If something sounds too good to be
true, it probably is,” really applies when looking at online business
opportunities.
Here are some resources for spotting scams:
п‚· Chris Malta Runs a great website that reviews scams and teaches all
about some of the popular scams and how to avoid them at
ChrisMalta.com
п‚· Rip Off Report at www.ripoffreport.com has been accused of being a
scam, so be careful about getting any information from there. The
owner has been investigated by the FBI for extortion. According to
news reports, he has allowed people to place inaccurate reports
18
(including doing it himself) and refused to let companies defend
themselves unless they paid him large amounts of money.
п‚· A better place to read up on business opportunities is Internet
Marketing Report Card. They will even pay you for doing reviews. Not
a lot of money, but you can make a few extra bucks a week.
п‚· If you want more reliable information on a particular company, the
best website is the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
п‚· McBilly Tech is a blog that reports on scams.
п‚· Another great resource for preventing scams or getting help if you
have been scammed is Consumer Fraud Reporting.org.
п‚· IC3 is the US Government Internet crime complaint center. You can
learn about scams and file a report at www.ic3.gov.
19
Chapter 2: Setting Up and Organizing
Your Business
I know you probably haven’t figured out what business you are going to start
yet, but there are some things I want to cover that will apply to almost any
business you decide to do.
Resources and Tools
Obviously one of the things you will need for any online home business is a
home computer. Fortunately you do not need the latest, fastest computer.
Most of what you will be doing is creating document files, uploading to
websites, surfing the web, and emailing. The only exception is if you are going
to be involved in video production. Video is memory and processor intensive
and if you plan to create, edit, or burn videos to DVDs then I would get a little
faster computer.
With any computer you buy, it always pays to invest in some extra memory as
the manufacturer never max it out. Your computer will run at the fastest
speed your total package can handle, so if you have a fast processor but only
256MB of memory, your computer will be slow. Equally, you may have 4GB of
memory, but if your processor is slow, it’s not going to make a huge
difference. The space on your hard drive is also a factor, but unless you plan
to keep a lot of videos and other large files on your computer, most newer
computers will have plenty of hard drive space (most are in the 120GB and up
range). Plus you can always buy an external hard drive for under $100 to hold
files you don’t use a lot (I do this for archiving family photographs).
Probably the most important thing is comfort and efficiency. If you run an
online business you will be spending a fair few hours in front of the computer,
so it pays to invest in a large screen monitor, a proper computer desk with a
comfortable keyboard slider, and a comfortable chair. If you use a laptop, you
might look into a docking station or replicator that allows you to plug in a full
sized monitor and keyboard.
20
Now, none of this (except the computer) is essential when you first start out,
but it’s wise to aim to have a good set up as soon as you can afford it.
Next is your Internet connection. Few people are not on some form of highspeed Internet now. But if you do not have DSL, Cable, etc. you should
seriously consider investing in it. Having a high-speed Internet connection will
save you time and enable you to make more money.
Business Name and Address
Some of the businesses you start will require you to register or reveal your
name and address. As most people operating out of their home don’t want to
do this, I suggest you look into getting a private mailbox.
Most towns in the US, including many small towns like mine, have a Mailbox
Business or UPS store. These outfits offer a commercial address where you
can receive mail in your own name or your business name. Charges for these
services typically run between $10 and $15 month.
This is a very good investment to protect your privacy. If your business
involves selling any type of merchandise, you will save money on shipping as
UPS and other services charge less to ship to a commercial address than a
residential address. Plus, this is a better option than a USPS Post Office box
because most carriers won’t deliver to P.O. Boxes, so if that’s all you have,
you and your suppliers are limited to using the United States Postal Service.
Business Licenses and Taxes
There are a few municipalities in the US that require people operating a
business out of their home to get a local business license, but this is still pretty
rare. The exception is if you operate any type of business where customers
come to your house. But with most online businesses this is not the case. In
95 percent of communities you will not have to worry about any local
business license, although you may want to check with your local chamber of
commerce or licensing office who will know if this is an issue for you.
21
Sales Tax Number
If you are involved in selling merchandise of any kind then you will need a
sales tax number from your state. Many states have a website where you can
apply online. The Multi-State Tax Commission has links to where you can
apply for a sales tax number for all 50 states.
Now here is what you need to know about sales tax—you only have to collect
and pay sales tax on sales made in your state. For example, I live in
Washington State and I sell goods on my website all over the country.
Whenever I ship a product to a Washington state address, I must collect sales
tax from the buyer and remit that tax to the State of Washington. But when I
ship a product to New York, California, or any other state, then I do not
charge sales tax and I do not have to pay it to those states. As you can imagine
the other states don’t like this and there are movements to force online
sellers to collect taxes for all the states, but so far none of these have passed
Congress.
The other reason for having a sales tax number is that most legitimate
wholesale companies will not deal with you unless you have one. If you have a
sales tax number, you fax a copy of your sales tax certificate to the wholesale
supplier and then they will sell you the products at the wholesale price and
will not charge you sales tax. This also works when you buy products for your
business from local companies such as office supply stores and the warehouse
clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club.
Federal Tax ID Number
A federal tax ID number, also known as an EIN number is nothing more than a
number the IRS assigns you to use when you pay your business taxes. It takes
the place of your Social Security Number. You can use your SSN if you want,
but I don’t recommend this. For one thing you don’t want to be putting your
personal SSN number out there to a lot of people. Also, various vendors and
wholesale companies will require you to have an EIN number as well as a sales
tax ID number to do business with them. Lastly, if you get a federal EIN
number, then you can open a commercial checking account with your bank
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and get business credit in that business name. You can get an EIN number
online from www.irs.gov. It is free and only takes about 5 minutes.
Business Telephone and Fax
I suggest you get a separate cell phone or regular phone for your business
that you answer in the name of your business. Most of the online businesses I
recommend are not very phone intensive, but when you do use the phone
you want to sound like a business. It’s not very professional when a wholesale
company you are trying to get a quote from calls you back and your four-year
old daughter answers the phone. She may be cute—but the supplier will
immediately assume you are not professional business.
If you don’t want to invest in a cell phone, look into the various online phone
services. I use Skype. It only costs about a penny a minute.
The other thing you will need is a fax machine, or a PC with a fax program. A
lot of the business world still uses fax. Some wholesale companies will require
you to fax a copy of your sales tax certificate or purchase orders. Many
printers are also scanners and fax machines so this is a good option if you are
limited on space.
Business Organization
There are basically two types of business organizations that small in-the-home
businesses use: Sole Proprietorship (SP) or personal corporations (S-Corp or
LLC).
When you start your business you are automatically a sole proprietorship
(SP). If you are married and live in a community property state then both you
and your spouse are considered to own the business jointly. When you do
your taxes, you fill out a Schedule C Business Profit & Loss form, which is just a
list of your business income and expenses and any profit or loss you made.
When you file your tax return, you will pay tax on the profit amount (less your
business expenses).
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If your home business is going to be very part time, and you plan to make less
than $1000 a month, I suggest you just stick with a Sole Proprietorship. But if
your business will make more than that—or if you are in a business that could
have any type of liability you can be sued for—then you may want to form a
corporation or LLC. A corporation has two advantages—better tax treatment
and liability protection.
There are several tax benefits available to owners of corporations (and LLCs)
that are not available to sole proprietors. The other issue is liability. If
someone were to sue you about something related to your business they
would have to sue the corporation or LLC. This way they could not get at your
personal assets such as your home and your retirement funds or other
income.
If you would like to form a corporation or LLC, or if you just want to learn
more about them, check out MyCorporation.com They are a reliable and well
respected company where you can set up a corporation or LLC for much less
than your attorney or CPA would charge.
Record Keeping
You will need to keep good records so you can file your taxes at the end of the
year. If your business is very simple and small, you can just keep a record of
your income and business expenses on an Excel spreadsheet or even in a
ledger book. But once you have a lot of business transactions, you can simplify
your life greatly by using a program like QuickBooks. QuickBooks is easy to
learn and, best of all, at the end of the year you just print out an income
statement and a balance sheet and mail that to your accountant. That is
pretty much all he or she needs to file your taxes.
If you really want to work at this, most community colleges give adult
education classes in QuickBooks. One of my friends did this and I now hire her
to come in twice a month and do my books. I pay her $30 hour and she has
about a dozen clients like me. She works about 25 hours a week and makes
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around $750 a week. She told me that she is turning clients down because she
just doesn’t want to work anymore than she is already.
Some of the businesses I discuss will require extra resources specific to those
business models, but the things I covered here will suffice for most of what
you do.
You are probably thinking, “Boy, this is starting to get expensive.” Yes, there is
a little investment involved but there is no reason you need to do all of this at
once. You can just start with the most important things and add the rest as
you get going and start to make some money. But eventually you will want to
get most of these things in place to help insure your success.
So let’s get started looking at some potential businesses.
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Chapter 3: eBay Niche Product Business
My wife and I got our start in online marketing running a successful eBay
business. We started back in 1999 selling products we had left over from an
antique shop that we closed when we moved west.
In those days eBay was very easy. Today the landscape has changed. Today,
eBay favors the large sellers but there are still good opportunities for small
sellers—you just have to work smarter.
Selling any type of goods (or service) is the oldest business in the world. The
only thing different about it today is that you can now do it online. You don’t
have to open a physical store, invest thousands of dollars in inventory, hire
employees, pay for insurance, and so on. All you really need to get started is a
digital camera and a decent computer with an Internet connection.
eBay is probably the easiest way to start this kind of business because you
have a built-in market of 85 million active members who visit eBay and look
for items. Incidentally, “active” means the member has bid, bought, or sold on
eBay in the last 12 months. On any given day eBay gets about 10 million
people visiting the site looking for all types of merchandise.
Yes, there is more competition on eBay today than there was a few years ago,
but there are also more members and more people coming to the site all the
time. From its current level of 85 million worldwide members, eBay expects
that to keep growing at least 5 percent per year. Five percent growth is about
4 million new members a year.
If you are going to learn how to sell on eBay, the first thing you need to decide
is what to sell. Forget famous name brand products like Rolex watches, Apple
iPods and iPhones, Prada handbags, computers, BluRay players, and most
consumer electronics products. These markets are highly competitive,
dominated by large sellers with deep pockets, and the products are very
difficult to source profitably in small quantities.
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Instead, look for a small, specialized niche (or corner of the market) that you
can work in. Finding the right niche can be the secret to huge profits on eBay.
Karen and I currently work in about four different niche markets on eBay, but
we had to try about 10 to find the ones that worked for us. So don’t be
discouraged if your first idea doesn’t pan out—just move on to the next one.
Personally I think the best niches are for handmade, vintage, collectible, or
used products. These areas are much less competitive and the profit margins
are much higher. Plus, there are hundreds of niches.
One of my friends makes over $3000 a month selling old postcards. She gets
them at garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, flea markets, and small local
auctions. She can buy a box of a few hundred old postcards at a small local
auction for $20 or $30. She will end up throwing half of them away, but the
other half will often contain cards she can sell for as much as $10, $20 or even
$50 each. She tells me her average markup, including the cost of the cards she
throws away, is over 1000 percent.
Another fellow I know specializes in old photographic equipment and vintage
(pre-1980) electronics such as tape decks, hi-fi equipment, old radios, HAM
radio gear, and so on. He spends every weekend at garage sales finding the
stuff and then about 20 hours a week during the week taking the photos and
listing the goods on eBay. He often clears $1000-$1500 in a good week.
Another gentleman I met started out collecting cuff links. He now has a huge
online business and does over $100,000 a year in sales.
Those are just three examples out of the hundreds of niche markets for used
items. Almost anything sells—old books, eyeglasses, fishing gear, old golf
clubs, virtually any type of collectible, art, antiques, and so on. Here is a look
at some of the categories in the collectible area of eBay. Just click on the links
to see them on eBay:
http://collectibles.ebay.com/_W0QQ_trksidZp3907Q2em21
http://pottery-glass.ebay.com/_W0QQ_trksidZp3907Q2em21
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http://sports-cards.ebay.com/_W0QQ_trksidZp3907Q2em21
There are over 700 subcategories in these three main categories alone.
I don’t have the space in this book to show you how to list an item on eBay,
however it is a fairly simple process and easy to learn. Basically you take
photo of the item, write a title (like the headline in a classified ad), and then
write a description of the product. But, although it’s easy, getting this right is
an art and takes some learning and practice.
There are tons of books on the market that can teach you how to sell on eBay.
I am biased towards mine, but there are good books by other people as well.
The main thing you want to do is look at the book's publication date. eBay is
rapidly changing and evolving. Any two-year old book (including my own) will
be way out of date and contain lots of inaccurate information.
One of the books I publish is The Complete eBay Marketing System. This is my
flagship product and I update it every year so it always contains the most
current information. You can order it from my website at
www.skipmcgrath.com.
Determining Your eBay Strategy
The first thing you need to figure out is what you are going to sell. As I pointed
out above, unless you have thousands of dollars to invest in merchandise,
forget about any type of hot-selling or brand name consumer product.
In recent years eBay has changed their fee structure and policies to favor
large professional sellers of new merchandise. However if you are selling a
new product in a small, narrow niche, or if you are selling any type of used
product, there is still plenty of opportunity to make nice profits on eBay. As I
got older, and got more into writing books, I scaled my eBay business back
quite a bit. At one point I was selling over $25,000 a month on eBay—but
between Karen and I, we were working 70 hours a week. As we got older, that
got old very fast. Now I only sell around $10,000 a month and I sell high-
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priced items so it doesn’t take that many sales to hit that number—and a lot
less hours.
This brings me to the first strategic decision you have to make. Part of figuring
out what to sell is finding a product with a high price point or average selling
price.
Think about this a moment: If you are selling something on eBay with an
average selling price of $8, then you have to sell 125 units a month to gross
$1000 in sales. After your product cost and fees you are left with maybe $300
in profits. But you have to list, sell, collect the money, ship, and communicate
with 125 people.
Now let’s say you are selling something with an average selling price of $75.
With the higher price you only have to list, sell and ship 13 or 14 items to
gross the same $1000 in sales or $300 in profits. You can even go higher. Two
of the products I sell on eBay sell in the range of $200 to $300 each and I sell
several dozen of these each month.
So the two ways to sell are:
 Sell low priced items in high volume—that means a lot of work.
п‚· Sell fewer items but at a higher price. This equals more money for
fewer hours spent in front of the computer.
The other issue is the size and weight of the products. Give some serious
thought to this. Do you really want to sell something that weighs 40 pounds
and is a pain to store and ship? Or would you rather ship something that
weighs a pound or two?
Finding Out What Sells on eBay
There are several tools to figure out what sells on eBay and how much it sells
for. One is free but limited, and the other costs a little money but is much
more powerful.
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The free tool is the eBay Completed Listings
search feature. Whenever you type something
into the eBay search engine you get a listing of
all the auctions for the keywords you searched.
Once you complete a search, look at the left
side of the page and you will see a check box
that says Completed listings. Click this box and
the page will refresh to show all the listings that
have ended in the past 30 days.
This is the information you need. Seeing
ongoing auctions tells you nothing. But with this
tool you can see how many items sold, what
they actually sold for, and the headlines and
keywords the sellers used. You can also click on
the successful auctions and see what the seller
did in the way of photos and descriptions.
Here is a completed listings search results page:
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Looking at ongoing auctions doesn’t show you very much. Here, in the
completed listings, you can see what products actually sold for. As you can
see, all of these items sold except the second one. The items that sold
successfully have the price displayed in green. Those in red did not sell.
The other tool is a monthly subscription research tool called Hammertap.
Hammertap shows you everything that has sold on eBay, how many sold, the
average prices, the best keywords to use, the best days and time to end your
auctions, and more. Completed listings only show 30 days of results and you
have to sort through them all yourself. Hammertap gives you 90 days of
results and sorts them for you which saves you a lot of time. Hammertap has
a special discount offer and free trial for my readers. Just go to
www.hammertap.com/skipmcgrath.
Drop shipping on eBay
I briefly mentioned the concept of drop shipping in the first chapter on scams
to avoid. Drop shipping itself is not a scam but there are many companies who
offer a drop ship service who are either outright scams or have products and
services that just don’t work for eBay. I will talk about how to find real
dropshippers below.
Drop Shipping is one way to sell and ship larger and/or more expensive
products without dealing with the storage or shipping issues. The key to drop
shipping successfully (and profitably) is to work directly with a manufacturer,
importer, or master distributor of a product. The many companies that
advertise online services that do this for you are mostly middlemen—they
suck up most of the real profit leaving very little for you.
There is one online source for finding drop shippers that is legitimate. The
company is called World Wide Brands. It is a bit expensive, but they are
reliable. This is very much a situation of you get what you pay for—and they
do offer a money-back guarantee if you are not happy. I spoke with them and
I was able to negotiate a small discount for my readers. If you go to
www.worldwidebrands.com/skipmcgrath you will find a link that will give you
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the current discount offer. If you want to learn about it before you buy, then
click on the link to watch the video before you purchase. As I said, World
Wide Brands is a little expensive, but this is a one-time lifetime fee. Over time
it will work out to be very inexpensive.
There are several ways to find manufacturers who will drop ship for you. The
easiest way is to contact them directly. Let’s say you are on the web and come
across an interesting product. Try to determine who the manufacturer is.
Sometimes you may have to actually purchase the product to do this.
Once you have the product or the manufacturer’s name, simply contact them
(preferably via telephone), introduce yourself as an online retailer, and ask if
they, or one of their distributors, offer a drop ship program.
I recently started selling a BBQ grill called the Freedom Tailgate Grill. I first
saw the product at a home show. The retailer wouldn’t give me the
manufacturer’s contact info so I went home and researched it on the web. I
found the importer who connected me with one of his distributors who had a
drop ship program.
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This grill sells for around $300 with shipping and I make a very nice profit on
each one. It is not a well-known brand like Weber or Jenn Air, but it sells very
well because it has a mount that plugs into the trailer hitch of a car or truck. I
sell these to the RV and football-tailgating crowd. They also make a version
for boats that I sell to the boating market.
One of the best places to find suppliers who will drop ship is at wholesale
trade shows. Manufacturers and importers display their products at trade
shows looking to attract resellers like you.
If you want to find trade shows, just Google the term “wholesale trade show”
and you will find several sites that list wholesale trade shows all over the
country. Not every supplier at these trade shows will drop ship, but many of
them will. Typically drop shippable products will be items that are physically
large or expensive. Manufacturers don’t want to bother drop shipping a $10
product because they can easily sell those in bulk. But more expensive
products tend to lend themselves to drop shipping.
You can also find other products to purchase and ship yourself. If you want to
do this, look for products with the following criteria:
 Small, lightweight and easy to ship. Non-fragile and doesn’t require
expensive special packaging.
п‚· High value. You can set your limit anywhere you want but I tend to look
for products that will sell for $75 or more.
п‚· Check the quality and ask about the suppliers return policy if you get
defective goods.
 Try and find unique or smaller niche products that aren’t being sold by
hundreds of other sellers.
Follow these guidelines and you should be able to find some profitable
products to sell. One of the things I like about trade shows is that very few
eBay sellers attend them so you can often find stuff that others don’t have.
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Also this is where new products show up first. You will often find products at a
trade show months before they show up in stores or online.
Sourcing Used or Vintage Products for eBay
There is really no such thing as a wholesale supplier for any kind of used
merchandise. Basically, used merchandise (including art, antiques, and
collectibles) is sourced anywhere you can find it. Of course the leading source
is garage sales. Don’t laugh. There are thousands of eBay sellers who make
their living sourcing products from garage sales. One of them is Lynn Dralle,
whose nickname is The Queen of Auctions. Lynn sells mostly china and silver
flatware patterns that she picks up at yard sales. At any one time, Lynn will
have up to a thousand pieces listed in her eBay store. While this seems to
violate the tactic about selling higher priced items in lower volumes, Lynn is
younger than I am and she still has the energy to do this. Plus, she is a fulltime seller. But I am using her as an example to show that you can really make
money doing this.
There are a couple of older gentlemen in my area that source almost all of
their products from garage sales, estate sales, and small town auctions. One
of them clears over $3,000 a month selling used golf equipment and the other
sells fishing lures. I am not sure exactly how much he makes, but he always
seems to have a lot of listings and a good sell through rate when I look at his
auctions.
Another way to source vintage items is by advertising. In fact this is what most
of the pros do. Just take out a small ad in your local papers or the throwaway
papers like the Little Nickel or the Penny Saver. The trick is to keep
advertising. Running one ad will rarely get you results, but if people see the ad
all the time you will get calls. I used to (and sometimes still do) sell used nonfiction books on eBay. This is another very profitable business. I would place a
small classified in my local papers that said:
Turn your old books into cash. I buy books in GOOD CONDITION
on art, photography, nautical and maritime subjects, local history,
sports and science. Call 360-555-5555
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If I ran this ad once it rarely got any calls, but once it appeared for three or
four weeks in a row it really started working.
No matter what you collect you can do this. The fellow I mentioned earlier
who sells fishing lures gets about half of his inventory by advertising.
So to review, the best place to find used goods of any type is from local sales
(garage sales, estate sales, etc.), small local auctions, flea markets, swap
meets, storage locker auctions, and by advertising.
Putting It All Together
eBay is a great little business for someone working from home. You can scale
the business to any size you want. Realistically, it probably takes a minimum
of 15-20 hours a week to run even a small business that would make $1,000
to $2,000 a month. If you want to make more than that, then you would be
looking at additional hours. I have heard these stories about people who can
show you how to make $10,000 a month on eBay working an hour a day and I
can tell you that is all bunk!
This is a great part-time business if you just want to supplement your income.
If you want to work more you can and yes you can build this into a large and
very profitable business, but be prepared to work long hours. I know an awful
lot of eBay professionals—many who make $10,000 a month and even much
more. But they don’t do that working 20 hours a week. So it really depends on
how much you want to work.
The other thing you need to be aware of is that this can be a frustrating
business to start. To succeed takes patience, practice, and most of all not
giving up. You will make mistakes and you will experience setbacks and
frustrations. But all of these are manageable. When something goes wrong,
just take a short break, relax, and realize it’s not the end of the world. Then go
back relaxed and determined to fix whatever went wrong and just keep going.
If you keep working at it, you will be amazed that suddenly one day
everything will fall into place and start working. That is a really neat feeling.
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Recommended Reading and Other Resources
п‚· The Complete eBay Marketing System by Skip McGrath available from
www.skipmcgrath.com.
п‚· Three Weeks to eBay Profits (Sterling, 2009), by Skip McGrath, available
from Amazon.com or your local book store.
п‚· The Complete Idiots Guide to eBay (Alpha, 2010) by Lissa McGrath and
Skip McGrath available from Amazon.com or your local book store.
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Chapter 4: Selling Used Books Online
If you love reading and love books this can be a really fun—and highly
profitable—business. If you don’t love and respect books, forget it. There is
something about the world of book selling that just doesn’t work for people
who look at it purely as a business and a book as just another piece of
merchandise.
Books are an especially interesting market. Let’s face it, the baby boomer
generation reads a lot more than our kids today. When my son was a
freshman in high school, he came home after his first day complaining that
the English teacher said they would have to read five books this year and
write a book report on three of them. When I was in high school, I think we
read close to 12 books during the year and we had to do a book report every
month.
I have been selling used books on and off over the past 10 years and one of
the things I have noticed is that the people who buy them tend to be older. I
seldom sell a book to someone who is really young (the exception is textbooks
have a huge online market). With boomers retiring and having more time to
read—yet now living on a fixed income—the market for used books will likely
continue to expand.
The used book business in the United States is a $5 billion a year business. If
you add in the other English speaking countries (UK, Canada, Australia, etc.) it
goes up to over $7 billion. Over $2.5 billion worth of used books are sold each
year on just three sites—eBay, Half.com (owned by eBay), and Amazon.com.
And the number grows every year.
The Internet has had a huge impact on the used book business. In the past, if
you wanted to be in this business you were either a book scout or you had to
open a used bookstore. There were, and still are, a handful of rare and
expensive book dealers who operate from their homes via direct mail and
catalogs, but these people tend to be specialists.
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Selling books on eBay, Amazon, and other Internet sites is actually very easy.
You can start with about $100–200 worth of inventory. If you learn how to
buy correctly, earning gross profits of 60-90 percent is not that difficult (I have
earned over 1000 percent markup on many books I have sold).
Here is an example: Just a few weeks before writing this chapter I found a
book at my local thrift shop, The Super Yachts, Volume One, from 1988 that I
purchased for $5. I was shocked when it sold it on eBay for just over $400.
Since then I have seen that same book sell for as high as $500.
When I sold the book I learned from the buyer that the reason this book was
so expensive was because there was a fire at the warehouse where the books
and the plates were kept. There were only a couple thousand copies that got
to market before the fire destroyed the rest of the 30,000 that had been
printed.
Some books can really surprise you. Earlier this year I bought a copy of Tying
Dry Flies: The Complete Dry Fly Instruction and Pattern Manual by Randall
Kaufmann at a garage sale for $1. Now I knew that books on fly-fishing and fly
tying went for good money. I was hoping to get a least $25 to $50. I put it on
eBay with a starting price of $19.99 and was shocked when the auction ended
at $379!
Now you won’t make finds like these every day, but you will make them if you
are diligent and keep working at it.
As I pointed out, selling books online (and to local used book dealers) is a very
easy business to start. The techniques are not hard to learn and you are part
of a growing market. Forrester Research reports that online book sales
exceeded $6.2 billion in 2008 and almost half of that total was used books.
What Type of Books Should I Sell?
Selling fiction, first editions, and literature is a specialty that takes a lot more
study, knowledge, work, and risk. I am not saying you shouldn’t sell fiction or
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literature. If you are knowledgeable about authors, first editions, and
collector values in that area and have a love for fiction then go ahead.
If you do choose to go into fiction, your market is essentially collectors who
are very fussy. About the only fiction books you can make money on are first
editions. Just identifying a first edition takes a lot of skill. You will also
probably want to specialize as the world of book collecting is so large and
each genre is so specialized that no one can know everything.
If you do decide to enter the world of selling fiction and literature, you can
apply most of the information in this book to your business, but you will want
to read and study up on the specific issues related to these types of books.
Probably the best one is Book Finds, How to Find, Buy and Sell Used and Rare
Books by Ina Ellis (look for the third edition).
Even if you’re not specializing in fiction, as you are out buying books, you may
want to keep your eyes open for early novels from famous authors. A good
reference book like The Official Price Guide to Collecting Books should be kept
in the trunk of your car for those occasions when you do come across
something. This way you can always check it.
Sometimes you will get very lucky. I once bought a box of old Hardy Boys
novels at a garage sale. I normally don’t buy fiction but I knew people liked
the old Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels. I paid $40 for a box of 12 Hardy
Boys books. Most of them were in pretty good condition. I ended up selling
the books individually on eBay at prices between $20 and $30 each, with one
of the books bringing $49. That is a pretty nice markup.
Which Non-Fiction Books Sell
The best books to buy are the ones that will sell. I know that sounds silly to
say, but it is really at the heart of this business. So let’s look at what sells and
what doesn’t.
There are serious collectors of non-fiction books, but the largest market is
people looking for the information contained in the books. As with any
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collectible, condition is very important, but this is less true for non-fiction
than for fiction. But when you do run into those expensive collectible books
then condition assumes more importance. I will discuss this in detail later.
By far, the easiest books to find and to sell are How To books. The more
specialized or unique the How To skill is, the higher the price you will get for
the book. For example, a book on how to play golf might sell in the $2–$10
range. But a book on how to make hats recently sold on eBay for over $60. On
the same day a popular, fairly easy to find book on glass blowing was selling
on eBay for $40 when common how-to books on subjects like real estate were
going for under $10. In general, the more specialized the book, the more it
will command. How to books on arts and crafts tend to be especially good
sellers and command higher prices.
Other categories of non-fiction books that are steady sellers include:
п‚· Art and art history books.
п‚· Books about antiques and collectibles.
п‚· Recent antique and collectible price guides (less than 2 years old) or
very old price guides (over 30 years old).
п‚· Transportation: cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, ships, planes, trains,
etc.
 Any specialized historical subject—nautical, civil war, cowboys and the
old west, American Indians, history of The Middle East, etc.
п‚· World War I and II.
п‚· Almost any pre-1960 book on weapons.
п‚· Almost any book about the Civil War.
п‚· Early armor and weapons.
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п‚· Any science book by Isaac Asimov.
п‚· Aviation and space travel.
п‚· Nautical and maritime history.
п‚· Books about treasure hunting.
п‚· Older books on missiles and rocketry.
п‚· Early books on computers (pre-1975) and pre-1990 computer
instruction manuals. (Apples and early Mac’s do better than PCs).
п‚· Sports (except biographies). Baseball and golf sell better than football,
but almost any early (pre-1960) book on sports will do well.
 Fishing—especially fly fishing and deep sea fishing
п‚· Auto racing. (Books about Grand Prix and Sports car racing do better
than drag racing or NASCAR.)
п‚· Early (pre-1980) books about hot rods, including early Hot Rod
magazines.
п‚· Auto-Repair manuals for any car over 20 years old. Foreign car manuals
are the most valuable. The more collectible or desirable an older car is,
the more valuable its manual is. Some of these can sell for hundreds of
dollars.
п‚· Horseracing and almost anything to do with horses.
п‚· How to draw, paint, sculpt, etc.
п‚· Books with old maps and prints in them (typically these are pre 1940).
п‚· Books with art prints in them (Audubon, Currier & Ives, Mark Escher,
etc.).
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п‚· Pre-1940 magazines with prints in them.
п‚· Pre-1960 books on law, mathematics, physics, chemistry and medicine.
п‚· Local or specific area/event history (History of Union County, History of
San Francisco, The Great Chicago Fire, The Alaska Gold Rush, etc.).
п‚· Native American and ethnic arts and histories.
п‚· Photographic collections (Helmut Newton, Ansell Adams, Annie
Liebovitz, etc.).
п‚· Books with picturesque views of the early days in America.
п‚· Early atlases.
п‚· Books of old birth and/or burial records.
п‚· History and genealogy of famous family names (Brown, Wilkes, Lee,
Jefferson, etc.) and of locally important families.
п‚· Early Bibles, religious texts, and hymnals.
п‚· Early (pre-1950) books on psychology, and psychiatry.
п‚· Early or classic self-help books and really current self-help books.
п‚· Illustrated books about biology, botany, and animals.
п‚· History of theater, movies, dance, and music.
 Books about Ballet –the more photos the better.
п‚· Books about Jazz and folk music and the early days of rock and roll.
п‚· Pre-1970 music songbooks (including sheet music).
п‚· Cookbooks (the specialized ones or those by famous chefs sell best).
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 Children’s books (those with pop-ups that are not torn or damaged
bring huge money). Be careful on Children’s books to check condition.
п‚· Large print editions of popular books (make sure the regular print
edition is selling at a decent price. If it is, the large print edition will
usually sell for 20 to 50 percent more).
As I pointed out earlier, the more specialized the subject the more a book can
bring. Here are some examples of books on really unique or specialized
subjects and the kind of money they have sold for at the time of this writing:
Calculus, Early Transcendentals by C. H. Edwards
$2,100.00
CHESS LIFE 1956-2006 Chess Review 1957, 60 B. Fischer
$1999.00
Asimov’s Guide to Science
$ 800.00
Children of alcoholic mothers by Aronson, Marita
$475.00
Weston Practical Agriculture and Gardening
$699.25
Data Book on Mechanical Properties of Living Cells, Tissues,
and Organs by Abe
$510.00
Plastic Surgery (8-Volume Set) by McCarthy, Joseph G.
$466.67
Ferrari – Racing Cars [Hardcover] by Lehbrink, Hartmut
$450.00
Microneurosurgical Atlas by Sugita, Kenichiro
$550.00
The Art of Seeing and Painting by Hensche
$407.00
Impact and Explosion: Analysis and Design by Bangash, M.Y.H. $400.00
Technology of Anodizing Aluminum [Hardcover] by Brace, A W $344.00
See what I mean when I say specialized. You may think you will never run into
or will have trouble finding books like these, but you can. The first three were
43
bought at garage sales, and the rest of them came from thrift shops and
library sales.
Books to Avoid
Another name for this section could be Never Buy These Books. It is not that
these books will never sell, but they are harder to sell and you will most often
end up donating them to a thrift shop.
п‚· Damaged, mildewed, musty-smelling books or books with missing
covers.
п‚· Biographies unless they are about historical figures who have been
dead at least 100 years. For example, a biography of Benjamin Franklin
or the artist Degas could be worth big money, whereas a biography of
Gerald Ford or Barbara Streisand is worth very little and would take
forever to sell.
п‚· Sets like the Time Life or Readers Digest unless the set is complete and
in excellent condition—even then, these are slow sellers. But they can
sell for good money when they do. One exception is the Time Life set
on Cowboys. That is always in demand.
п‚· Any book club edition of a book.
п‚· Fad diet or self help books. (Note: classic diet and self-help books can
be steady sellers, but many of them are fad books.)
п‚· Highly popular books less than 20 years old that sold in the millions.
Some examples might be The Millionaire Next Door, The 7 Secrets of
Highly Successful People. There were so many of these books sold that
the used book market is overstocked with them.
п‚· Tourist Photo Books (large fancy books containing photography that
are sold to tourists such as The Coast of Maine, Aerial Photographs of
The California Coast, etc.).
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п‚· Readers Digest condensed books.
п‚· Fiction unless it is a first edition in excellent condition with the dust
jacket.
п‚· Ex Libras (books that came out of a lending library).
п‚· Outdated textbooks unless they are very old (pre-1950).
п‚· Outdated computer books, again unless they are early (pre-1980).
п‚· Post 1950 Encyclopedias.
п‚· Large heavy books that are difficult to ship.
п‚· Romance novels.
In general you only want to buy books in good condition. The only exception
to this is a very rare book and even here you want to be careful.
The other thing to watch out for is the dust jacket. In general, books with dust
jackets are worth far more than those without. The condition of the dust
jacket is also important. A dust jacket with even a small tear will detract from
a book’s value.
How and Where to Sell Your Books
There are a number of Internet sites where you can list books. The Big Three
are eBay (including Half.com), Amazon, and Abe Books.
I wish I could tell you exactly which books sell best on which site, but I can’t. I
have tried to figure this out for a long time and every time I think I know, it
turns out to be wrong. I have placed a really in-demand book on Amazon and
it sits there for a month or more, but when I place it on eBay, it sells
overnight. The same thing has happened in reverse. However, the one
consistent thing I have learned is that you tend to get higher prices on eBay
for most books.
45
In my experience, books with narrow or technical subjects do better and sell
faster on eBay. More general books seem to go faster on Amazon.com.
This could be a supply and demand issue. Some buyers check all of the sites
when looking for a book, but many buyers will buy on the first site they go to
when they find what they want. My research and experience has taught me
that the supply of any given book on eBay is almost always less than the
supply on Amazon. Therefore you typically have less competition on eBay and
your books tend to sell faster and at a higher price—however this isn’t always
the case. That is why I list a book twice on eBay then move it to Amazon if it
doesn’t sell. I can leave it on Amazon as long as I want, because they have no
listing fees.
The advantage of selling on eBay versus Amazon is how the sites display the
search results. If you go to Amazon, you type in a title and it will list a new one
from Amazon first. Then there is a link where you can see the other books
listed. When you click on the list, the books are listed in order of price lowest
to highest, but there are also “premium” listings at the top from big stores
that pay for that placement.
On eBay, the biggest factor in the Best Match placement is when the auction
ends. Auctions ending sooner will typically show up higher. Also buyers can
search by new or used, price highest first, price lowest first and so on. In my
experience my books get more visibility on eBay than on Amazon, however,
my books do sell on Amazon too. That is why you need to experiment. In time
you will get a feeling for which is the best place to sell a certain book.
I don’t have enough room in this book to cover this subject in great detail. If
this business interests you, then you might consider investing in How to Make
Money Selling Used Books on eBay, Amazon and the Internet. You don’t really
need an additional book just to get started. This is actually a pretty easy
business to learn on your own, but you may find it helpful if you want to get a
faster start.
Where to Buy Books
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Here is a list of some of the places and ways I find books:
п‚· Garage sales
п‚· Estate sales
 Library sales (don’t buy the ex-Libras books)
п‚· Thrift shops
п‚· Used book stores
п‚· Remainder (clearance) shelves a big bookstores
п‚· Book fairs
п‚· Classified advertising
I use all of these but my favorites are garage sales, thrift shops, and taking out
small classified ads in local papers and cheap throwaway papers (Little Nickel).
Remember what I said about condition. When you are out looking for book,
try to buy books with no tears in the dust jacket or cover, no marks or tears,
binding in good condition, and no stains, mildew, or other damage.
How to Get Started
The best way to start this business is simply to start. Look on your own
bookshelves first. Every once in a while I go through my books just to clear out
old ones. The last time I did that, I generated over $120 just selling books I
didn’t want or need anymore.
Books don’t cost all that much if you buy them from library sales, garage
sales, and thrift shops. You can start a pretty nice business with less than
$100. If it turns out you bought the wrong books (books that don’t sell), it’s
not the end of the world. Some of the books will sell—I have never heard of
anyone who got completely skunked, but I have met people who struggled for
47
a few weeks until they figured out what to buy and sell. But this is a pretty
low-risk business and you can, and should, start small.
Don’t go out your first weekend and buy 200 books. Start with 20 or 30 books
and buy more as you sell the ones you have. You won’t make a fortune
overnight, but over time you should start to see a steady income. The key is to
grow your inventory of books slowly and surely. Over time you will get better
and better at picking books and your inventory will begin to turn over rapidly
and you will really start to make money.
Here is an email I received from a reader who bought my book on selling used
books. I am showing it to you so you can see that anyone really can do this:
When I said I was going to sell used books online people laughed at me
but my husband kept encouraging me. Friends & family that were
laughing aren't laughing now as I am starting to make money. Your
book was very easy to read. Having the will and determination and
knowing how to ignore the negative makes me more determine to be
successful.
I am not yet where I would like to be, but I am further at this point than
I ever imagined. Those who want to read your book, I have told them
where to buy it. What is the saying? He who laughs last... I just can't
remember the whole saying, but I am laughing and smiling and
enjoying.
Thanks Again, Margo D. Lithonia, GA
How much you can make is really up to you. How much do you want to work?
It’s pretty easy to make a few hundred extra dollars a month working a few
hours a week. If you wanted to work about 20 hours a week you should be
able to make a thousand dollars a month, or more.
The other factor is specialization. Avoid this until you learn the ropes, but
there is some really good money to be made by specializing. This way you will
48
build up a customer list and over time you can sell directly to them without
paying eBay or Amazon fees. And books on specialized topics tend to go for
much more money. I know one woman who sells nothing but older
cookbooks. She works about 20 hours a week. She now has a mailing list of
2000 customers and brings in a steady $2000-$3000 per month. She has hired
her teenage granddaughter who comes in three days a week after school and
does all of her packing and shipping.
Book Scouting
Book scouting is a slang term for people who look for books and sell or trade
them to used bookstores. If you want to deal in more expensive books (so you
don’t have to sell tons of books to make good money), then you should learn
how to be a book scout. You can make really good money doing this with just
a couple hours of work a week.
The secret to book scouting is learning what your local used bookstores are
looking for and then finding those kinds of books. If you sell a book to a used
bookstore they will typically pay you 20 to 25 percent of what they think the
book will sell for if you want cash. But, if you are willing to take trade credit
they will give you as much as 50 percent. Unless you desperately need the
cash, always take the trade credit.
I can go garage sale shopping for a few hours and spend $25 buying books
that I can get around $100 trade credit (and sometimes more) for. Then I take
the trade credit and buy a couple expensive books from the dealer that I
know will sell for good money on eBay or Amazon. This way I can make the
same amount of money by only listing and shipping a few books instead of
dozens.
I cover this topic in great detail in How To Make Good Money Selling Used
Books on eBay, Amazon and the Internet and there is a special bonus report
on book scouting that comes with purchase of the book.
Additional Resources
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Book Finds: How to Find, Buy and Sell Used and Rare Books by Ina Ellis
This book is mostly about buying and selling fiction and literature, but there is
tons of good information in it that will help you sell non-fiction books. Be sure
and look for the 3rd Edition if you buy a used copy.
The Home Based Book Store by Steve Weber
Some of the internet information in here is slightly out of date but there is still
a lot of helpful info.
Selling on the River by Steve Lindhorst
This book is all about selling on Amazon—not just about books. But if you are
going to list your books on Amazon then this is a good resource.
Scan Lister is a tool to list books on Half.com quickly and easily.
www.bookscoutpro.com gives you real time book prices on your cell phone or
PDA. And Media Scouter at www.mediascouter.com has an application for $5
month that turns any Droid telephone into an Amazon book scouting scanner.
50
Chapter 5: Creating Content-Rich Google
AdSense Niche Websites
Have you even been searching for something on the web and when you come
to a page, you see little ads for products related to what you were searching
for? Here are some ads on one of my websites where I offer information and
products about outdoor grilling.
The people who place those ads pay a fee to Google every time someone
clicks on them. If these ads appear on your website or blog, then Google pays
you a part of what they charge the advertiser.
The ads that come up depend on how in-demand the keywords you type are.
A keyword for my website such as firepit barbecue grills is not very expensive.
Google is probably charging these advertisers about 20Вў per click. But a really
commonly searched keyword (or key-phrase) such as digital photo tips or free
credit report can be very expensive to the advertiser, going for 50Вў per click or
even more. There are some keywords that go for as much as $7 per click.
If you have a website where Google charges 50Вў per click, Google could pay
you as much as 60 percent of that amount every time someone clicks on an
ad on your website. Believe me this can really add up. There are thousands of
people creating websites just for this purpose who get monthly checks from
Google for thousands of dollars. Some really big guys get checks for $50,000
or more per month. They are full-time experts with staffs of people working
for them. But there are plenty of individuals working from home who get very
nice checks of between $1000 and $10,000 per month.
Before we get into how Google AdSense works and how you can make money
from it, let’s talk about the website part of this business.
51
Often when I talk to people about “creating a website,” their eyes glaze over.
You can see them thinking “I can’t create a website. That is way too
complicated.” Or, “What me, create a website? You’ve got to be kidding.”
A few years ago that used to be true, but today there are literally millions of
people who have created websites, web stores, and blogs who have no
technical training whatsoever. There are dozens of companies offering do-ityourself website creation where you just follow simple instructions, point,
click, and type. These are known in the industry as template-built websites.
A template-built website company provides you with hundreds of designs,
colors, and themes to choose from. After you sign up, you first pick out a
layout from several choices they show you. Then you pick your theme, and
lastly your color scheme.
For example, in layout you will be shown a choice of several designs. Some
will have the navigation links on the left, and others will have them across the
top. Some will be all one full-page column, others may offer several columns.
After you choose a layout, then you pick a theme. These are usually related to
product categories, hobbies, lifestyles, sports, cars, and boats—whatever you
can think of. Some of the larger website design companies have literally
hundreds of themes to choose from.
Here are six examples of theme and color combinations from Register.com. As
you can see, you can end up with a pretty professional-looking website.
52
Once you’ve selected your theme, color, and style, all you have to do is write
the text and upload any photos you have. You start by creating your home
page. Depending on which company or system you use, you will be taken to a
page where you enter your titles, subtitles, and type your text into the boxes
provided.
You will see an HTML Editor. Don’t let those words frighten you. This is simply
a form that converts your formatted text into a special code (called HTML)
which is what the website reads. You just type in the text and format it with
highlight, italics, bold, or underline just like you do when you are writing a
document in Microsoft Word. When you are finished, you click Save and the
system will convert all of your text into HTML code. Now all you have to do is
hit the upload button and your website is published to the world. No special
software, training, or tools are needed.
If you already know how to create a document in Microsoft Word, then you
have all the knowledge and experience you need to create a website using
one of these systems. Still, most of the companies offer training and support
folks to help you just in case you need assistance.
53
Now you’ve created your home page, you can click on New Page and start
creating other pages.
If you are building a website to sell products, at this point you would simply
click a button to select a shopping cart, connect it to your credit card
processor or PayPal, and start uploading photos and descriptions of your
products. I will cover more about this in Chapter 7, but for now all we want to
do is create a website with information content that people will search for.
Creating Content-Rich Websites
Now we get to the heart of the matter. Hundreds of millions of people search
the web every day looking for information. They look for everything. It can be
as simple as someone who finds moles in their garden and goes on the web
looking for methods or products to eradicate them; or as complex as a PhD
student researching scientific information for her thesis. Shopping for
products to purchase on the web is a multi-billion dollar business that is
growing every day. But many of these same buyers first search for
information and recommendations about these products. This is where you
have an opportunity to make money.
The best place to start is with what you know. Everyone has some knowledge
or information they can share, or something they know about that they can
research and compile information on. It doesn’t have to be detailed technical
information. There are thousands of websites with cooking recipes or
information and tips about gardening, health, golfing or fishing, buying a car,
taking better photos, tips for buying or selling a home—literally anything you
can think of. We all know something. One guy I know learned how to get rid
of moles in his garden and built a website about that. He now gets over 500
unique visitors a day and earns over $1,000 a month from Google AdSense
and affiliate banner ads.
In the first chapter on avoiding scams, I mentioned resource site McBilly Tech.
If you look at it, you will see his affiliate banners and Google AdSense Ads.
54
One of the products I sell on the web is a digital photo light tent to help
people who sell on eBay and the web take great product photos. Now I could
have set up a website about my products—in fact I did. But I also created
about 25 pages of content about digital photography. This helps me in two
ways:
п‚· When people are searching for information about digital photography
they come across my website and hopefully are exposed to my
products and buy them. This way I get a lot of people who may not
have know there was such a product as a digital photo light tent so
they never would have searched for it.
п‚· The other thing that happens is that when my pages of digital photo
tips and information come up, people are exposed to my Google Ads
that are related to digital photography. When they click on those ads, I
make money.
The first image in this chapter showed how ads appear horizontally on my
firepit grill website. On some websites you can have the ads appear in
columns down the side. This is what the ads look like on my photo light tent
website, www.ezauctiontools.com:
55
You can see the ads in the right hand column. So how much do I make from
this? Well the last time I looked, the ad in the number one position if
someone searches the keyword digital photo is going for $1.05 per click.
Google pays different percentages for different ads and keywords, but in
general I make about 60Вў every time someone clicks on the ad in the top
position and a little less for the ones below it.
Last month this particular website earned me just over $400 from Google
AdSense. Now that is not a fortune, but remember I have six websites. Some
months I have received checks from Google totaling $1900. I could make
more, but remember my websites are about selling products—this amounts
to extra income. Still, this adds up to over $20,000 in extra income per year.
There is a gentleman here in the Seattle area where I live who retired from
Boeing Aircraft a couple of years ago. He has a website where he gives out
advice and information about power tools. He doesn’t sell any tools—he just
provides information. I saw a story about him in USA Today last year and he
reports that his income from Google Advertising is now just over $100,000 per
year. And he does all of it from a laptop in a spare bedroom.
How Does Google AdSense Work?
Google AdSense works with a program called Google AdWords. To help
understand this let’s look at it from the standpoint of an advertiser—the
people who pay for those keyword ads.
A website owner looking for extra traffic to their site can purchase small text
or image ads through Google AdWords. These appear on both the Google
search results page and also on websites with related content.
I have a website at www.skipmcgrath.com where I sell eBay books and
training courses. So if someone is looking for this information they might do a
search for terms such as:
п‚· make money on eBay
56
п‚· eBay business
п‚· sell on eBay
When someone types these terms into
Google they get a list of search results. My
website does pretty well for these terms,
but I also buy ads using Google Adwords
that appear in the Sponsored Results at the top of the Google search results
(shown on the left).
Currently I am paying about 60Вў each time someone clicks on this ad and
visits my website.
Now, let’s say someone writes a blog about selling on eBay and clicks on the
search result. If this person belongs to Google AdSense, then my ad may also
appear on their blog. So if someone searches a term such as “sell on eBay”
and this blog comes up there is a good chance that my ad will appear because
of the related context. If someone clicks on the ad, I will be charged 60Вў, and
the person who owns the blog will earn part of that as a commission just for
the ad appearing there.
Let’s review so you don’t get confused:
п‚· Google AdWords is the program where advertisers (like me) create the
ads and pay Google whenever someone clicks on an ad and visits their
website.
п‚· Google AdSense is the program where website or blog owners sign up
and tell Google it is okay for them to put other people’s ads on their
website (or blog). Then Google shares the ad revenue from the clicks
with them.
The real key to all of this is what is known as content-related ad serving.
Google looks at the content of your website and then looks in their system for
ads that relate to the content on your page. If you had a website about travel,
57
and one of your pages had an article about selecting a good suitcase, Google
would put ads on your page from companies who sell luggage. This makes
perfect sense. If someone is on your website reading about luggage, you don’t
want them to see ads for buying homemade sausages—you want them to see
ads that relate to luggage or travel. This is what content-related advertising is
all about.
So if your website is about luggage, Google will serve up ads from companies
like Samsonite. If your website or blog is about food, cooking, or recipes,
Google will serve up ads from companies such as Omaha Steaks, Cuisinart,
and Sur La Table. When people click on these ads you make money. The best
part about this program is that the people don’t have to buy anything. You get
paid even if they just look at a web page.
What Do AdWords Cost and How Much Can You Make?
Advertisers bid on keywords and keyword terms (phrases). The higher they
bid, the higher their placement on the page will be.
Most words on Google cost between 10Вў and $1.00. But there are a few
highly-searched keywords that go for huge money. Mesothelioma, structured
settlement, and vioxx attorney go for up to $100 per click. Here is a list of
some other expensive keywords:
Term
Top Bid
note buyers
$18
2nd
Bid
$16
donate a car
$17
$14
investment fraud
$15
$15
content management
$15
$10
home equity loans
$14
$12
cash advance, payday loan
$14
$13
asbestos lawyer
$33
$12
cord blood
$41
$12
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California refinance
$13
$12
refinance
$12
$9
cerebral palsy
$12
$12
search engine marketing
$12
$12
California mortgage
$11
$10
criminal attorney
$11
$10
help desk
$11
$10
conference calling
$10
$9
debt consolidation
$10
$9
tax attorney
$10
$9
student loan consolidation
$10
$9
As you can see, these are highly competitive keywords—many are bought by
law firms who specialize in suing for some of these conditions and diseases.
Now you might be thinking that you should create a website that talks about
one of these subjects so you can earn big money for each click. Well, if you
know something about Mesothelioma or student loan consolidation that is a
good idea. But if you don’t, you will be spending weeks or months learning
about these subjects and then more time creating content that people will
search for.
Also, as you can imagine, these top paying keywords attract large
sophisticated operators and the competition is intense. You would be much
better picking a subject where the keywords are not as pricy, so you will have
much less competition. True, you will earn less per click, but it will be much
easier to create a website that people can find. And believe me those 10Вў and
15Вў clicks can add up pretty fast.
Creating Content
There is a saying among web marketers that Content is King. What this means
is that people searching the web are looking for information, and web search
59
engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and AOL are designed to ferret out the
content people are searching and deliver it to them.
Search engines do this by scanning web pages and looking for keywords. This
isn’t 100 percent accurate, but in general the more matching keywords (or
keyword phrases) you have on a page, the more likely a search engine will
show your page in the results. There are many other factors as well. Search
engines, such as Google, keep their exact search algorithm a closely guarded
secret so that smart web marketers cannot game the system.
Imagine if you knew exactly what Google was looking for—you could create
websites that would come up in the number one position in any search. But,
in general, the more related content you have to the subject matter being
searched, the more likely your website will be found.
However, if you think that you can just put a list of keywords on a page—you
are wrong. Google and the other search engines are wise to that trick. They
actually have sophisticated programs that look for related content in context.
The best advice I can give you is to forget about any trickery—just write good
content about your subject. If you are creating a “foodie” website, then create
lots of recipes and lots of reviews about cookware, cooking, ingredients,
spices, and tools. Or go really specialized and just concentrate on one of
these. For example there is one fellow who writes about nothing but spices at
www.theepicentre.com/Spices/spiceref.html.
He describes each spice, the history, where it comes from, and how to store
and use it. You will see the Google ads down the right hand side of his pages.
His website probably took a lot of time to create, but it now has hundreds of
pages and gets thousands of page views each day. He has a Google page rank
of 5 out of 10 which is excellent. Even 3 out of 10 is very good and you can
earn a lot of money with a page ranked that high. What is really cool is that
this person probably loves and knows a lot about spices. He is getting paid
very well to do something he enjoys. That is always better that just thinking
up some subject to make money with.
60
Here is a look at his site. Notice the Google Ads relate to food. He also has an
ad for an Amazon Book and an affiliate link banner for Indian Curry. His
website has a Google Page Rank of 5/10 which is excellent. He probably gets
about 4000 unique visitors a day.
Where to Find Content
If you have knowledge on a certain topic, and you can write reasonably well,
then the easiest way to create content is to write it yourself. If you are not a
writer, don’t despair—there is plenty of free content on available on the web.
If you go to Google and type free articles into the search box, you will come
up with a list of dozens of websites where people write articles and place
them for free use. The gimmick is that each article contains a link to the
author’s website where he or she is probably trying to sell something. But that
is actually okay, as the links are not that prominent (usually at the end of the
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article) and when the pages come up your Google AdSense ads will be
displayed for readers to click on.
Unless your topic is very unusual, it is pretty easy to find up to 20 or 30
articles. Each of these articles could become a page on your website (the
more pages of good content the better, so don’t put multiple articles on the
same page). On some popular topics you could easily find 50 articles or more.
When you find an article, all you have to do is copy the article and paste it
into your website HTML editor. Then hit Save and Upload and you are
published. This is a really fast way to build a website quickly.
There are two other types of content you should consider. Besides words,
search engines also look for images and videos.
You can shoot short videos and upload them to YouTube. Then take the link
from YouTube and embed the video into your web page. Be sure and name
the video with the keywords that relate to your page—for example, How-ToGrill-Best-Hamburger.
Naming Pages to Help Google Find You
Every website has a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). This is the address of
your website. It does help to have important keywords in your URL but every
page on your website consists of your basic URL plus the words to identify
that page. The same goes for your images. This sounds a little complicated but
it’s not. Here are some examples:
Basic Website URL: www.mycookingrecipes.com
Specific page URL:
www.mycookingrecipes.com/grill_best_hamburger
Image URL:
www.mycookingrecipes.com/images/grill_hamberger.gif
If your website had a page with a recipe to make the best grilled hamburger,
then the second URL is how you name your page. If you put an image on that
page be sure and use the same keywords in the image title too. This helps
Google and other search engines find you. Having relevant keywords in your
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page URL will improve your position in search. Notice the lines between each
word. You can use either underscores or dashes.
Most website builders make this very easy. Typically when you create a page,
the builder will first ask you for the name of the page and it will automatically
append the name to your URL.
How to Get Started Building Your Website
As I noted in other chapters, there is not enough room in this book to teach
you every detail you need, but there are literally tons of books on the market
on this subject. Just make sure you are buying something recent. This is a
topic that changes rapidly. Almost any printed book on this subject will be out
of date the day it comes out.
Resources
Here are some links to a few eBooks and training programs that can help you
get started.
The first thing you will need is a template website builder. There are literally
dozens of companies on the market that provide this service.
I have worked with the Internet Marketing Center for several years. This year
they launched a great program called Be Biz. The Be Biz program gives you a
website and training to go with it as well as hosting, SEO, shopping cart and
everything you need to start an internet business. Here is a review of the
program:
BeBiz is a simple "point and click" tool that quickly and easily guides you
through every step of creating your own successful Internet business, from
square one.
BeBiz's automatic "wizard-based" system has been designed so that anyone
can start a successful Internet business, even if you have no business
experience, limited technical skills, and no idea what you should sell online.
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When you use BeBiz to start your Internet business, you can:
п‚· Avoid the costly and time-consuming mistakes that most beginners
make getting started.
п‚· Start earning money almost immediately, then build on your early
success to generate a secure, independent income.
п‚· Use the skills and knowledge you acquire building your first business to
create multiple profitable websites.
п‚· Enjoy success online, even if you have no technical abilities or previous
business experience.
п‚· Start building your business TODAY, even if you have no idea what to
sell, or any ideas for a market or business.
BeBiz is the ONLY tool online that's built on a proven step-by-step process for
starting a moneymaking business:
1. Identify lucrative markets eager to buy whatever you offer them, then
find hot products to sell.
2. Find hot products to sell on your website that your market will LOVE.
3. Instantly create a professional-looking website that's designed to sell.
4. Easily create compelling sales copy that will turn the maximum number
of visitors into paying customers.
5. Start accepting payments on your website instantly.
Then, once your site is live, and you're getting traffic and making sales, you
can continue to use BeBiz to manage your entire business, virtually hands
free! Click to read more about Be Biz.
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Another option is to use a website builder rather than a template. With this
system you get cheap websites from someone like GoDaddy.com or
Hostmysite.com and then use a website building tool to create a completely
custom website. The one I recommend is called XsitePro is very simple to use
and is built for raw amateurs. It is easy to learn and they have great service
and support.
Learning Tools
There is a young guy named Chris Carpenter whose training product Google
Cash is very complete and has all the step-by-step instructions you need.
Warning—his website is pretty hard sell, but don’t let this deter you, as his
product really is pretty good.
These next two programs are basically short cuts to building websites. I’ve not
used them, but I have read some pretty good reviews about them and a lot of
people use them to create quick and easy content websites: Content Website
Builder and SiteBuilder Elite.
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Chapter 6: Creating eBay & Amazon
Affiliate Niche Websites
Many people don’t know that eBay and Amazon have affiliate programs. If
you don’t have any experience with affiliate programs, they are very simple
and there is no cost to join. There are thousands of companies who will pay
you if you send traffic to their website and those people end up buying
something.
It’s not just eBay. Companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Omaha Steaks, and large
computer stores such as PC Mall and Mac Mall have affiliate programs. All of
these companies will pay you a commission if you send people to their
websites who end up making a purchase.
eBay Affiliate Program
eBay calls their program the eBay Partner Network. It is simple, free and easy
to join. Go to www.ebaypartnernetwork.com, click Apply Now and just follow
the instructions. You can join for any country, but if you are in the US or
Canada, I would just join those at first. You can always add other countries
later.
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How Much Can You Make?
eBay claims that their top affiliates make over $100,000 per month. But that is
a very small handful of people. However, there are thousands of affiliates
making between $500 and $5,000 per month. You are not going to do that in
your first few months. When I got started I was only making $40-$100 per
month for the first few months. But after a while my income really started to
climb. The eBay affiliate program is a very part time effort for me. I never put
a lot of work into it, but I have received checks as high as $1600 per month. It
is not that hard to do and if I spent more time doing it I could easily increase
that amount.
How and What eBay Pays You
You get paid using the Quality Click Pricing (QCP) payout system. This basically
looks at the “quality” of the referrals you typically send to eBay and adjusts
the amount you get paid accordingly. So, it’s not a flat-rate affiliate program
like most. But, the amount you get paid per click (called EPC) is fixed each day.
The quality of the traffic is assessed using a number of different factors,
including revenue from sales and the long term value of new users, but also
eBay advertising and PayPal revenue and other user behavior factors.
Essentially, the more incremental revenue your traffic generates for eBay, the
more you’ll be paid per click.
How Do You Get Paid?
Getting paid is very straightforward. eBay pays monthly around the 25th of
each month. eBay offers two methods of payment—you can choose either
Direct Deposit or PayPal. Both options are free and you don’t pay a fee to
receive the funds if you have a premier/business PayPal account.
How Do You Send Traffic to eBay?
The best way is with a website, but blogs work well too. When I first started
selling on eBay about 10 years ago, it was pretty difficult to set up a website.
These days it is quite simple. There are dozens of companies who offer
websites based on pre-designed templates (see Chapter 6). If you can point,
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click, and type you can set up a website in less than an hour. You can also do
this with a blog. Take a look at my bestselling book on blogging, How to Make
Money Blogging from Home. Use the coupon code 10TYGFT35 to get a $10
discount. My coupon codes sometime expire once they have been used too
much, so just email us for a new code at [email protected] if that
occurs.
As I pointed out in Chapter 6, to get traffic to your website you need to create
content that people search for. So how does this work with eBay? I’ll use
digital cameras as an example, but this could be done with almost any
product.
Let’s assume your hobby is photography. Because you are a hobbyist you
probably know a lot about digital cameras. There are thousands of digital
cameras sold on eBay every week. Your first step is to set up a website (or a
blog) where you talk about digital photography and cameras. Now I will
assume you get traffic to your website and that these are people looking for
digital cameras. This is pretty common—I have a 72 year old friend who writes
a blog about photography and posts her photos on it. It is a pretty small blog
as blogs go, but she gets dozens of comments and emails from readers each
month asking her opinion on various cameras, lens, and other equipment.
Once you have your blog or website setup and getting traffic, eBay has lots of
tools to help you send that traffic to eBay:
п‚· Text links. Generate a text link right to a specific listing or to a category
of listings.
п‚· Search box. Put a search box on your website or blog where users can
search for items on eBay.
п‚· Creatives. One of the simplest methods of advertising eBay is by
placing the instantly recognizable eBay logo onto your website. eBay
Partner Network will also always ensure you have the highest
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performing “creatives” to maximize the amount of commission you
receive.
п‚· Editor Kit. Add relevant, real-time eBay listings to your websites in just
seconds with the Editor Kit. This tool has been proven to produce much
higher click through rates than traditional banners.
п‚· RSS Feed Generator. The RSS Feed Generator is an easy way for
affiliates to generate RSS feeds showing dynamic eBay content that
include trackable links to items. The RSS Feed Generator has been
embedded into eBay Advanced Search and allows affiliates to create
feeds that meet predefined search criteria.
Don’t worry if this all sounds terribly complicated—it really isn’t. The eBay
Partner Network site has lots of free training material that takes you through
how to do this. It gives simple step-by-step instructions.
This is what an eBay partner banner looks like. The
products in this case are my digital photography light tents
and I place this banner on blog posts where I write about
photography. Of course this helps sell my products, but I
could put banners of any photo products here and would
earn a commission when someone clicks on the link and
joins eBay or buys something.
There is one third-party service worth mentioning. It is
called Build a Niche Store (or BANS). BANS is a paid service
that helps you set up pre-made websites on any niche
market you can think of. Using their system you can
literally set up a website a day.
The truth is that these websites don’t get a ton of traffic, but if you have 20 or
more of them, the traffic adds up. It takes about an hour to set up a site once
you get the hang of it. I have spoken to some users who get this down to
about 30 minutes with some practice. If you worked just a couple of hours a
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day for a month, you could have 30 niche websites up and running and you
would start seeing some income after the second month.
Some of their users are earning commission in excess of $1000 per month
after just three or four months. So you may want to check this out. Click here
to read about Build a Niche Store. The folks that sell this are good honest
people and if you can’t make it work for you, they offer a money-back
guarantee. They also offer pretty good support for new users.
Lastly, keep watching my website, newsletter, and blog for news about a new
book coming out soon specifically on this topic.
Tips for Driving Traffic to eBay
You can have a huge influence on the quality of the traffic you send to eBay.
The business model you choose, the user experience on your site, how you
drive traffic to your websites, and the landing page to which you direct your
visitors, all have an impact. To maximize your commissions, you can optimize
your sites to ensure they are always driving the highest quality traffic possible.
eBay conducted a survey of their top affiliates and asked them for tips to
driving traffic to eBay. Some of them may be a bit advanced, but I wanted to
list all of them as eBay has data showing they all work.
п‚·
п‚·
Pick the right business model
—
The sites which work best are those that get people interested
in buying and tend to be more product-oriented. For example,
sites where you can read reviews, compare prices, find great
deals or niche content sites.
—
The sources of traffic to your site should be of high quality,
whether paid for or organic, so if you buy traffic to your site,
ensure that is well targeted.
Create a good user experience
—
Develop relevant copy and update it regularly.
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п‚·
п‚·
—
Encourage user-generated content, such as product reviews.
—
Integrate eBay listings into your site, as this generally performs
better than static creatives or text links by themselves, unless
text links are embedded into relevant content.
—
Use the data you have about your visitors' demographics and
interests to showcase the most relevant listings.
—
Always inform a user they are going to eBay.
—
Do not offer your visitors an incentive to click on an eBay link.
Landing page optimization
—
Use the geo-targeting functionality to ensure your traffic is
directed to the most relevant eBay site.
—
Consider which landing page on eBay you direct your traffic to
carefully, as the eBay homepage is not always the best option.
For example, if your content is about model cars, try linking to a
model car search results page.
—
Use Advanced Search options to further target your landing
pages.
Continually optimize
—
Try to give each placement or site a different campaign id, so
you can monitor the metrics for each.
—
Use EPC data to focus on campaigns that are performing well
and optimize those that are of lower quality.
—
When testing new approaches, remember to set up a new
campaign and start with a small volume of traffic, so you can
check that the quality of that traffic is improving.
Next I am going to talk about the Amazon Affiliate program—but these tips
from eBay work with eBay, Amazon and in fact almost any affiliate program.
So you may want to note this page so you can come back to it later.
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The Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon calls their program the Amazon Associates Program. You can find a
link to it right on the Amazon home page. Just go to www.amazon.com and
look at the very bottom of the home page and you will see this:
Look in the middle column where it says Join Associates (circled) and click on
that link. That will take you to a page that looks like this:
I am not going to spend too much time showing you how to sign up and
create links and banners because frankly Amazon’s instructions and online
training are excellent and really easy to follow.
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The best thing to do is click on the blue medallion that says Get Started Tour.
That will give you a good overview of the program.
The biggest difference between the eBay and Amazon program is that eBay
pays you for clicks, whereas Amazon only pays you if something sells. But
that is okay because Amazon is so successful at selling products that the ratio
of people clicking through to those who buy is really high.
And, Amazon has some really cool tools to help you sell. Some of these
include:
п‚·
You can put an Amazon Search box right on your website or blog.
When someone used it to search and then buys something you get
paid.
п‚·
You can review products or books and put an image of the product or
book and the same thing happens. They click, they buy, and you get
paid.
п‚·
You can set up an Amazon A-Store. This is a dedicated web page that
features products you review. Here is a link to two A-Stores I have on
Amazon. One reviews books and the other one reviews cameras I
recommend for eBay:
http://astore.amazon.com/skips-ebay-recommended-cameras09-20
http://astore.amazon.com/skipmcgratsau-20
п‚·
Amazon has over a dozen widgets including things like mp3 players,
Deals widget, slideshow and more. All of these provide interactive fun
shopping and can really earn you money.
Amazon Earnings Plan
Amazon offer Associates a choice between two compensation plans, the
Classic Fee Structure and the Performance Fee Structure. You may select
either structure at any time during the month. At the end of the month, your
most recent selection will be used to calculate your fees for the whole month.
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You will remain enrolled in the plan for the following month unless you
choose otherwise.
Option 1: Performance Fee Structure
When you join the program you are automatically enrolled in the
Performance Fee Structure. The Performance structure allows you to earn
higher fees when you generate a sufficient volume of referrals that result in
sales at Amazon.com during a month. The higher your referrals, the greater
your earnings.
Under the Performance Fee Structure, your advertising rate (Amazon’s term
for “commission”) ranges from 4 to 15 percent, and is based on the total
number of qualifying shipped items from both Amazon and third-party sellers.
The same rate will apply equally to both Amazon and third-party items and
will apply to all referred items shipped during the month. Please refer to the
referral rate tier charts below for additional details.
Fixed Advertising Fee Rates for Specific Product Categories:
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Volume-Based Advertising Fee Rates for General Products:
Option 2: Classic Fee Structure
This is Amazon’s fixed-referral-rate plan. You earn a 4 percent commission on
items offered by Amazon or by third parties.
Note: Personal computers (both desktops and laptops) have advertising fees
capped at $25, and Amazon Video On Demand as well as Amazonmp3
products are capped at $1.50 per item.
Personally I like the performance program. On most products, you can
increase your earnings by increasing the volume. Here is how that works for
me:
Every once in a while I will mention one of my A-Stores in my newsletter or
feature it in my blog. The last time I did a blog post about the best camera for
eBay and featured a link to my store, I sold 37 cameras over the rest of that
month. This raised my commission from 4 percent to 6.5 percent.
Since the total value of cameras sold was just over $10,000 that extra
commission amounted to about $250 that month for a total of $650. That’s
not too bad for just one blog post. But remember, blog posts are indexed and
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that one post still generates the occasional sale. (Here is a link to the post if
you want to read it: http://blog.skipmcgrath.com/2010/08/what-is-the-bestdigital-camera-for-ebay-sellers/).
As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, many other companies
besides eBay and Amazon have affiliate programs. Once you master affiliate
marketing, there is no end to the amount of money you can make. There is
even a trade show for Affiliate marketers. It is held every year—one year on
the east coast and the next on the west coast. If you get into affiliate
marketing you really should attend as their training seminars are excellent
and you get to rub shoulders and learn from the top affiliate marketers in the
industry. The meeting is called Affiliate Summit.
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Chapter 7: Creating Your Own Niche
Product Website
As I pointed out in Chapter 6, creating a website has become very simple.
There are dozens of companies who offer an online website builder with all of
the ecommerce bells and whistles: Built-in product catalog, easy image
uploading, bulk file uploading, pre-designed graphics and templates, shopping
cart, shipping calculators, and everything you need to get started.
Well, there is one thing they don’t provide—products.
That is where you come in. Before even thinking about a website, you first
need a product to sell. This is the single hardest decision you will make. Make
it wrong and you will waste a lot of time and money. Just like selling on eBay,
the secret here is to find a niche—a unique product or corner of the
marketplace where there is a market, but very little competition.
POWER TIP
There are some website services that do offer pre-made websites
pre-loaded with products that they will drop ship for you. You often
see these advertised on TV and in free seminars. These are mostly
scams. Search engines don’t like these websites because the content
is the same for many websites. So, they rank you far lower.
Therefore, you don’t get the visibility, so you don’t get the traffic.
Also, the prices they offer you for the products are not typically
enough to make much after credit card processing fees, etc. Most
people who buy into these programs lose all of their investment, so I
advise against it.
There are literally millions of websites and more being created every day, so
this might seem like an impossible dream—but it’s not. There are also millions
of people selling successfully on the web and more coming every day. And the
web, as big as it is, still has lots of room to grow. The Internet today accounts
for only 16 percent of all retail sales. This number is growing steadily. Market
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analysts forecast that by 2012, the Internet will account for over 24 percent of
all retail sales and 55 percent of all retail non-food sales. That translates to
billions of dollars. Yes, the big guys will get most of that. But, even a tiny
percentage left over for the little guys translates to hundreds of millions of
dollars in sales.
So the market is there—almost everything is being sold on the Internet; you
just have to find the right product.
Start With What You Know to Find Your Niche
Owning an online business can be profitable, but it can also be fun if you are
doing something you like. Why would you want to spend hours researching
and finding a profitable product to sell if it was something you have no
interest in?
What Denotes a Niche Market?
A category is not a niche. For example, if you sell golf equipment you would
be selling clubs, balls bags, and all of the other golfing equipment and
paraphernalia. If, however, you only sold golfing shoes, then that is a niche.
Digital cameras used to be considered a niche, but today the digital camera
market on the Internet is so large that you would have to sell only one brand
of cameras, such as Canon or Nikon, to be considered a niche in the camera
market. But even those brands are so large that this would be a difficult niche.
So you might want to take it one step further and only sell underwater
cameras. Now you are getting closer to a true niche market.
If you are selling products that are part of a wide market, then you need to
focus on one specific type of product within that market. The other option is
to just find a highly specialized or unusual product. Some examples are sports
equipment for little played sports or activities, such as lacrosse, ping pong,
curling, or ice fishing.
Recently I came across a website for Cigar Box Guitars called Daddy Mojo.
Check it out. This is an excellent example of a highly profitable niche, and this
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guy is doing something he loves. Just Google the term cigar box guitars and
you will see dozens of people selling them. Yet this is still a great niche as all
of them are different.
Basically everything is “nicheable.” No, that is not a real word, but you get the
point. Look at any product or market and you will find a subset that appeal to
people. One example is the cell phone market. It would be very difficult to
enter that market. You would be up against some big players and it would be
very hard for people to find you. But one lady noticed that her
granddaughters were all using cell phone holders in bright iridescent colors.
She found a source and started selling them on eBay and later expanded to a
website. The items are very profitable, selling at a nice markup, and she now
has a great sideline business that nets about $3000 a month.
Benefits of Niche Marketing
There are two primary benefits of niche marketing:
п‚· Sourcing
п‚· Selling
Let's look at sourcing first.
The more time you spend in a market or product category, the more you will
learn about the sources of supply for that market. The more you know about
a product the better you will be able to buy it.
When my wife and I were in the antique business, we used to sell a broad line
of 18th and 19th century American antiques. However, within that, we
specialized in the niche of early American woodworking tools. After a couple
of years we developed an expertise and a “feel” for the products. We could
recognize makers, spot reproductions, and knew what tools were in high
demand from collectors that would command high prices. Once we developed
the expertise, our profits shot though the roof.
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Remember the adage on pricing: You make money when you buy not when
you sell. Well we became very savvy buyers—well able to spot bargains. Also,
as word spread that we specialized in old woodworking tools, people with
things to sell started seeking us out. At one point we were the largest old tool
dealer in our state and routinely bought tools that we could sell at markups of
200 percent to as much as 500 percent. When you decide to specialize in a
niche of any kind the first thing you need to do is become expert in that area.
Learn and read everything you can about it. Study the history of the product.
Get to know the companies that manufacture the product and their
distributors. The more you know the better you can buy.
The other benefit of niche marketing is selling.
The very fact that you are selling in a narrow market segment means you will
have less competition and therefore you can command higher margins. The
other factor is that people prefer to buy from someone who is knowledgeable
and who specializes in the product they are looking for.
One of the websites I run sells digital photo light tents
(www.ezauctiontools.com). These are pop-up fabric light tents designed to
help people with very little photographic experience take great photos for
their eBay and website business. There are lots of general photographic
companies with websites who also sell light tents. But when you go to those
sites all you see is a product listing and description.
People come to my site because I specialize in them. They can ask me
questions, read my FAQs and digital photo tips, and I actually answer my
email when they have a question. Companies like Ritz Photo, B&H Photo, and
others who also sell competitive tents do millions of dollars a year in total
business—yet I doubt if their sales of light tents are a tiny fraction of their
total sales and I doubt if they are as large as my sales.
I get lots of questions from potential buyers. If you are selling something and
you get a question, as an expert or a specialist you will be able to answer the
question with authority and detail that will give the buyer instant confidence
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and more than likely result in a sale. But if I were to email Ritz Photo with a
question about how to use a light tent, the person who answered would
probably not be an expert and their answer would be very general.
The other selling advantage of niche marketing is the ability to accurately and
knowledgably describe products on your website. The added knowledge you
have from being a specialist allows you to include more detail and “insider”
information that large general sellers cannot. People love information and the
more you provide the more they reward you for it.
How to Find Your Niche
As I pointed out above, start with your passions, your hobbies, and your
interests. If you are a woodworker, there are plenty of niche markets related
to that. The same goes for any hobby or passion you may have: quilters, glass
collectors, avid readers, motorcycles or cars, sporting enthusiasts—whatever
your interest, you can turn it into a business.
You can also look to your life experience. What have you done for a living that
gave you knowledge and skills that you can turn into a product?
Here is an example one of my readers wrote to me about. She worked for 30
years as a dental hygienist but she also loved animals. When she retired she
started on eBay and then set up a website selling dental hygiene kits for dogs
and cats. She now has a very nice business. She is not getting wealthy, but she
has added about $1500 a month to her retirement income and she is putting
100 percent of that towards paying off her house early.
Another lady with a new grandson, found a little pushbike at a garage sale.
They are wooden balance bikes for toddlers. She gave it to her grandson and
he loved it. So she started doing some research, found a couple of
manufacturers and set up a website selling them. Again, she isn’t getting
wealthy, but she is selling about $4,000 a month with a nice profit margin.
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Figuring Out Your Niche
As I said earlier, a niche is nothing more than a unique corner of the
marketplace. A lot of beginning sellers look at the hot consumer products and
think that is where the money is. There is a lot of money in the latest fashions,
consumer electronics, toys, and games but there is also a ton of competition.
Even Wal-Mart has a large online store for these products. Consequently,
when there is a lot of competition you have three major factors working
against you:
п‚· Large competitors can buy in large volumes and get better wholesale
pricing. They will always be able to undersell you.
п‚· The more competitive a product is, the lower your profit margins.
п‚· When people search for popular or hot products, it is very difficult for a
small website to be found by the search engines as Google serves up
the larger sites first such as Wal-Mart, Amazon, and the big shopping
engines.
You can work in major product lines, but you have to specialize. Take the
example of the lady who is selling the wooden balance bikes. The general
bicycle market would be very difficult to break into. There are dozens of major
online sellers and virtually every bike shop in America also has a website. But
by specializing in one type of bike she attracts the traffic from people
searching terms such as kids push bike, push bike, wooden balance bike, etc.
Also, since she is only carrying one type of inventory, she can buy in larger
volumes and therefore get better pricing from the manufacturer or
distributor. And, since those manufacturers tend to also be small companies
they are usually easy and eager to work with you.
Another fellow I met sells nothing but corkscrews. His website lists over 500
corkscrews—nothing else. People seek him out because he is an expert. And
his website comes up very high in searches because he has tons of content
about corkscrews. He said he was never going to get wealthy but he loves
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what he does, works less than 20 hours a week, and earns about $2500 a
month doing it. Since he is retired and on Social Security that more than
doubles his retirement income.
A niche doesn’t have to be about a special product. It can also be about a
method of doing business. Costco and Sam’s Club sell a wide variety of food
and consumer goods that you can find elsewhere—what they specialize in is
selling in larger quantities at lower prices. Here are some other things you can
look at to help you determine your niche:
п‚· Price: for bargain-hunters, people who are more concerned with price
than the mainstream shopper.
п‚· Performance or Quality: for people interested in a higher grade of the
same product than the mainstream shopper.
п‚· Quantity: for people who are interested in buying larger commodities
than the mainstream shopper—or products in very small quantities
that are usually sold in larger quantities.
п‚· Packaging: Instead of selling products and accessories individually, you
can package them into sets.
п‚· Personalization: There are a lot of products that can be personalized
with people’s names or initials, or customized in some other way.
п‚· Special Needs: For people who have particular requirements that the
mainstream shopper doesn't have. (For example, one seller has a
website that sells cookware for one-armed people. He has a line of
mixing bowls with suction cups so you can stir with one hand and don’t
have to hold it with two hands.)
п‚· Special Application: For people who are looking for products all based
around a specific or unusual task.
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п‚· Exclusivity: For people who want something the mainstream shopper
don't have access to. (This could include almost any craft item.)
п‚· Handmade or Homemade Items: There are plenty of people looking
for items not sold by the big mega-marts, or people who want some
type of personalization.
Once you have an idea it is time to do some research. The simplest way to
research your niche is to go on the web and start searching. Try typing
different keywords into Google or Yahoo to see what comes up. Look for
competitors and look at their websites. See if you can spot any opportunities
or markets they are not addressing.
If you are looking at a certain product and see lots of general websites but
few specialized ones, then that is a good place to start. For example, there are
thousands of websites that sell all types of cookware and knives, but actually
very few that only sell high quality chef’s knives. This is true of almost any
specialty product. There are tons of websites that sell specialty products
among their other products but very few that actually specialize in one
specific product. This is where your market is.
POWER TIP
When I find a new product, I like to test it on eBay first. Generally, if
something sells on eBay it will sell on a website. When you list and
item on eBay, try selling in both the auction format and the fixed price
format. Don’t worry if eBay doesn’t bring top dollar. As long as it
brings a profit, you can usually sell it from a website for about 10-20
percent more.
Setting Up Your Website
Once you have your product and a source of supply, it’s time to set up your
website. As I mentioned in the beginning there are several online services that
allow you to set up a website for very little money and without any technical
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skills. You will need some patience however. When you sign up for one of
these services, don’t be in a hurry—the World Wide Web will still be there
tomorrow. Take the time to read the instructions, the help files, and the FAQs.
Taking the time at the beginning will actually save you time as you go on and
you won’t find yourself redoing stuff.
Choosing a Website Builder
When you are selecting a builder, avoid the free or very cheap ones. You are
going to pay between $20 and $100 a month (depending on features and
support) for a complete ecommerce web builder with a shopping cart.
Here is a list of some companies that offer web builders:
Amazon has a pretty neat solution to build a web store. It has the added
advantage that your products can also be seen on Amazon.com and it comes
with a lot of neat features that Amazon buyers are used to seeing such as
reviews and product recommendations. On the downside, it is very expensive.
A basic store is $59.95 a month and Web store plus, which allows you to sell
on Amazon as well, is $99.95 month. You pay a 7 percent commission on both
of these.
Be Biz I already mentioned earlier. I have sent dozens of my readers to this
program over the past couple of years and got nothing but great comments
and feedback.
Homestead offers a pretty good builder that is easy to learn. A basic site is
only $4.95 but that does not include a shopping cart. Their Gold package is
$19.99 month and the top package that includes unlimited telephone support
is $49.99.
Register offers a decent ecommerce web builder for only $19.95 per month
and their support is pretty good. You can take PayPal or credit cards. If you
look back to Chapter 5 you can see some examples of websites you can create
with Register.com.
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CityMax is a Canadian company out of Vancouver, BC. They offer a decent
web builder—very easy to use and learn. I don’t know how they are now, but
when I dealt with them a couple of years ago, their support wasn’t that great.
On the other hand they do have thousands of satisfied customers.
SiteBuildIt is not a template-based website design company—it is a system to
build your own customized website. This is a complete service with all the
training you need to not only build your site (no technical knowledge needed)
but they also show you how to promote your site and get traffic. Ken Envoy
who runs SiteBuildIt has an almost cult-like following as people just love him
and his products.
The other great website builder is XsitePro. This site also has thousands of
fans and followers who swear by it. They are especially good for building
small niche websites.
Getting Paid
If you are going to sell on the web you will need a payment system. In the
early days this meant you needed a merchant credit card account. Many web
operators still operate this way. But today there are some other options.
PayPal
When you think of PayPal people automatically think about eBay, the
company that owns PayPal and that most eBay buyers and sellers use to pay
for transactions. But PayPal is also used by over 500,000 websites to accept
credit card transactions. PayPal has its own shopping cart system you can
download to a website you build or you can integrate PayPal with any of the
web builder companies mentioned above. All of them allow you to set PayPal
as your payment system with just a few easy clicks.
If you don’t already have a PayPal account you should get one ASAP and it is
easy to set up. Just go to www.paypal.com and click on the button to open an
account. Be sure to follow the steps to verify your bank account. You can
open the account instantly with a credit card, but it will take a couple of days
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to follow all the steps to verify your account. Once your account is all set up,
simple go to the web builder system you are using and select PayPal as your
processing agent for credit cards.
Your buyers don’t need a PayPal account to pay you. When someone clicks on
your shopping cart to check out, they will be redirected to a secure page on
PayPal where they can enter their credit card information.
Through Bill Me Later (now owned by PayPal) your customers can either pay
with a credit card, or the system will set up credit payments for them. You are
still paid immediately as all of the credit risk is on PayPal.
Google Cash
I don’t have any personal experience with Google Cash, however the service is
very popular and growing very fast. The problem is that it does not integrate
with many shopping carts. There are ways offered by Google Cash to accept
payments on your website even if they don’t integrate, but these require a
little more technical savvy than many users have.
Merchant Credit Cards
Most major banks (Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.) and many
larger regional banks offer merchant credit card processing. They are pretty
easy to set up, however fees really vary among banks so it pays to shop
around. You pay a monthly fee, a per-transaction fee (2–5 percent), and some
other service fees. In general, I have found PayPal to be cheaper. And since I
have several websites I can use PayPal for all of them, whereas credit card
companies require you to have a separate account—with separate monthly
fees—for each website. There are some exceptions to this rule, but you will
find this to be true in most cases.
1ShoppingCart
There is one other payment system worth mentioning. 1ShoppingCart is a
hybrid between a merchant credit card account and a payment system like
PayPal. With this system you sign up for a simple website builder without a
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shopping cart. Then 1ShoppingCart provides both the cart and the payment
system. This sounds complicated, but what is really neat is that the folks at
1ShoppingCart take you by the hand and walk you through the process. A big
advantage of this system is that you can also sell digital products (i.e. that the
buyer downloads rather than you mail) and they have a built-in affiliate
system.
Given all of the above choices, if you are a beginner with only basic skills, you
will find PayPal the simplest and cheapest to use. But if you have more skills
or over time as you gain more skills, you might want to give 1ShoppingCart a
look as their systems and support are very good and can actually help you
drive business to your site.
Getting the Eyeballs
Getting the eyeballs is an expression that Internet marketers use to denote
getting people to visit your website. If you are going to be successful selling
on the Internet, then you need to get traffic to your site. It doesn’t matter
how beautiful or how perfect your website is or how great your products
are—if no one finds your website you won’t sell anything.
If you remember what you learned in chapters 5 and 6, the first rule about
getting traffic is to create quality content that people are searching for. This is
also true of product websites. One of the advantages the little guy or gal has
over the big guys is that large retail websites are product intensive—not
content intensive. The big guys get most of their traffic from paid advertising,
shopping engines, and because they are so popular in page rank. So when
someone searches a general term such as chef knife, the big sites will come up
high in the results.
But, people often search specialized keyword phrases or words and phrases
that are longer such as chef knife with carrying case. So if your website was
selling chef’s knives with carrying cases and you had those words in your
content, then your website would come up alongside or even ahead of many
of the larger sites.
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Search engines also look for content besides simple product listings. So using
the prior example, if you had a page on your website that compared portable
chef knife sets for caterers and used words like portable, carrying case, chef
knife set, knives for caterers and so on, they the search engines would find
that content and display it.
The biggest mistake small website owners make is trying to optimize the
keywords on their site for the most popular keywords. Here is an example.
Let’s assume you make and sell jewelry. Going one step further you sell
lampwork glass beaded jewelry.
If you search a term such as jewelry, you will get results that look like this:
You can see that you get results from large selling sites and the big shopping
engines. Now let’s search the terms: buy handmade lampwork jewelry online.
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Notice the difference? Look at how many small independent websites now
come up on Google. You are probably thinking that people don’t search a long
term like buy handmade lampwork jewelry online, but you would be wrong.
Yes, more people do start out searching a term such as jewelry, but once they
see the results, unless they are looking to buy from Zales or trying to find a
diamond ring from Blue Nile, then they usually keep searching. A term such as
jewelry may get 10,000 searches a day whereas the longer term may only get
a few hundred searches a month. But that is okay because if you sell the
product people are looking for you are getting the best of the search results.
I sell wood burning fire pits on my website at www.firepit-grills.com. If you
search the term firepit, I come up on the 3rd page of Google. But if you search
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wood burning fire pits or outdoor patio firepit grills, then I come up as two of
the top five results.
Does this work? It must because I sell a few dozen firepits from this website
every month and I don’t purchase any keyword advertising. Google ranks my
website a 3 out of 10 (10 is the highest). That doesn’t sound very high, but it is
very respectable for a small independent website.
Now all of my traffic doesn’t come from that one keyword phrase. If you look
at www.firepit-grills.com you will see that I have lots of other content. Look at
the navigation links on the left of the page and click on some of those pages.
You will see that I have recipes, grilling instructions, and other content related
to my product. All of that content is rich with keywords that are bait for
search engines. This website had 11,000 unique visitors and 24,000 page
views in the last 30 days.
Let me show you another example: I have another website where I sell the
line of EZ Cube light tents. The website is at www.ezauctiontools.com. If you
look on the site you will see that I have pages and pages of searchable content
about many aspects of digital photography. Basically anyone who owns a
digital camera and needs to take photos to put their products on eBay,
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Amazon, or a website is a potential customer. So what I tried to do is create
lots of content that people searching all sorts of terms will find—even if I
don’t sell that product.
One of the terms I have in my content relates to light boxes. Now I don’t sell
light boxes, but someone searching for one is the kind of person who may also
be in the market for a digital light tent. So I have the word light box in several
places on my site and content that compares my light tent to a light box. This
brings a lot of traffic to my site from people looking for a light box that would
never think to search the term light tent.
The best way to create content is to write it yourself. This is easier if you are
selling in a niche that you know something about. If you are struggling to
come up with content, try these ideas. Just insert your product in the blanks:
Ten tips for buying
_______________________
What to look for in a
______________________
Secrets to
______________________________
How I do
_______________________________
The best ___________________for your money
How to find
Where to find
_____________________________
___________________________
Compare ____________ with a
_______________
If you still can’t come up with something, then you can turn to the tons of free
content available on the web (as explained in Chapter 6). One problem with
pre-written articles is that they may not contain all of the keywords you want
to use. Since you cannot change the article, the answer is to write a short
introduction to the article (about a paragraph or so) and use the important
keywords you want in the introduction. You can also insert sidebars with your
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comments throughout the article with other important keywords. That way
Google or Yahoo will see those keywords as content on the same page.
Getting Inbound Links
One of the ways search engines rank websites is by their popularity with other
websites. The more websites you can get to link to your website, the better
your site will come up in the search results. Here are four tips to create
inbound links and to generate traffic to your site.
п‚· You probably know some people who have websites or blogs. Ask your
friends, family and others you know if they would put a link to your
website on theirs.
п‚· Start your own blog and link to your website. You can get a free blog at
www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com. Both of these sites have
tons of free training material to help you set up your blog and get
traffic to it.
п‚· Put videos on the various free video websites such as YouTube. Use the
name of your website as the title of the video. There are over a dozen
popular video sites. Be sure to put your videos on as many as you can.
Just give each one a slightly different title but make sure to use your
website URL as part of the title.
п‚· Write press releases. There are about a dozen free press release
websites where you can create a press release and send it out to the
world. Some of the larger ones are www.prweb.com, www.pr.com, and
www.free-press-release.com. If the release has the name of your
website and a link to it, these will be indexed by the search engines and
they will show as inbound links to your site.
Finding Keywords That Work
When I discussed creating content above, I pointed out the importance of
using keyword phrases that people search for. So how do you find these
keyword terms?
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There are several services that do this. Two of the most popular are
Wordtracker and Keyword Analyzer.
Wordtracker offers a free trial that gives you a few free searches. Keyword
Analyzer is a little pricy but a far better tool in the long run.
Let’s take a moment to demonstrate what I was talking about earlier—the
kind of keywords people search for and how you can find them and integrate
them into your content. Let’s do a search for the term Fishing reel.
The screenshot above (left) shows the top results. As you can see these terms
are highly searched every day. If you were selling one of the products listed
you would certainly want these words in your content. But now look at some
of the lower results in the screenshot next to it on the right. Notice that the
terms get more specific and not all are related to product names. You start
seeing terms such as left handed fishing reels, antique fishing reels, used
fishing reels, etc.
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As we get lower down
the list (see left), we see
even more niche terms
such as wood fishing
reels, airbrush fishing
reels, best saltwater and
custom painted fishing
reels.
So, even if you were
selling a popular fishing
reel like Zebco or
Shakespeare, you would want to target the narrow or more niche terms as
well. Remember the trick is to get traffic away from the big guys who are
always going to come up on top in the popular search terms.
Let’s say you were selling deeply discounted (or off-brand) new fishing reels
and you had a good article about used fishing reels. A searcher finds your
article but while he is on your site he sees the good deals on your off-brand
reels, he might buy one instead of a used reel.
Also, just the extra traffic you get from people looking at content on all of
these niche areas will increase your site’s rankings and help you come up
better in search engine results. This is a real advantage for little guys like you
and me because the big companies never do it. If you go to any of the large
retailer websites, there is pretty much no content except the product listings.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising
I spoke about Google AdWords advertising earlier. If you recall, this is a
program where advertisers (that’s you) bid on keywords to get small
advertisements to display on Google search results pages and on other
websites that show Google AdWords. One way to get traffic to your website is
to purchase ads on the Google network. The problem is that this can get very
expensive.
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You pay by the click. Every time someone clicks on your ad and visits your
website, you pay a fee depending on how popular the keyword is. Looking
back at our Wordtracker list, the top keywords such as fishing reels or Penn
fishing reels are going to be very expensive—as much as 75 cents per click
because a lot of companies bid on these words. But if you look lower on the
list, those keyword terms are much cheaper—as little as 5 or 10 cents per
click. And there are other places to buy this type of advertising. There is a
network called Miva.com and another called 7search.com where you can
purchase many of the top keywords that Google charges 75 cents for, at as
little as 5 or 10 cents per click. Facebook also just introduced a keyword
advertising program that is starting to get a lot of attention because it is much
cheaper than Google.
The first thing you have to learn about keyword advertising is to set a daily
budget and track it. Whenever I start a new keyword campaign, I start with a
$10 a day budget. Once the service racks up $10 in charges they stop serving
up ads. I track it every day to see if I am getting sales. If I spend $10 to get 50
clicks and those clicks generate two sales worth $100 each then I know I am
on the right track and I increase my budget. But if I am not seeing the sales, I
go back into the system, change my ads or my keywords and try again. This
way I never spend more than $30 or $40 to see if a campaign is working.
If you are going to get involved in pay-per-click marketing there is a lot to
learn. Although there are plenty of people selling books on the subject, there
is actually a ton of free training material right on Google and Yahoo. It is free
to open an account. Once you do, read all of the training materials before you
start. It will look a little intimidating at first but it really is pretty simple once
you dive into it.
Having said all that, I recommend you leave pay-per-click keyword marketing
alone until you do two things:
п‚· Use the techniques above to create content and get free traffic to your
website.
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п‚· Make sure your product catalog and shopping cart are working and you
are converting visitors into sales.
This second item is critical. There is no use spending money bringing traffic to
your website if no one buys anything. Remember the point is to sell. You can
have the prettiest, most informative website in the world, but if people just
enjoy visiting it and don’t buy anything, then what is the point? So pay
attention to your product catalog, your photos, and your product
descriptions. Make sure you give the potential buyers a sense of confidence
and safety and don’t forget to ask for the order.
Resources
The best training course on internet marketing comes from The Internet
Marketing Center. Their course consists of two large printed volumes with
DVD videos that will teach you every aspect of setting up and marketing a
website. It is aimed at complete beginners. The Internet Marketing Course is a
bit pricy, but well worth the investment. And, if it doesn’t work out for you, it
comes with a money-back guarantee.
The other good program is the one I mentioned earlier, SiteSell—part of the
SiteBuild It program.
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Chapter 8: Creating and Selling
Information Products
When you bought this book you purchased an information product. The term
“information product” has a bad connotation in many people’s minds. They
think of cheap 99-cent eBooks, or get-rich-quick schemes related to real
estate or selling on the Internet. But in reality, there are many quite
legitimate information products.
In my best-selling training system, How to Create and Sell Information
Products, I list some of the best selling information products that are selling
on eBay. Here is the list. Yes, there are a few related to making money, but
there are many great how-to and other products and systems that help
people.
п‚· How To Make Money With a Home Based Photo Studio (DVD)
п‚· How to Make Money With Your Digital Camera
п‚· Thirty Quilt Patterns and my own Easy Quilting Method
п‚· How to Design and Install Beautiful Garden Ponds (DVD)
п‚· Pinewood Derby Plans and Race Winning Secrets
п‚· How to Make $1500 a Week Tinting Windows
п‚· How to Find a Seagoing Job in the Marine Industry
п‚· How to Start a Home Based Antique Photography Business!
Earn $50,000.00/yr Creating Antique Glamour Portraits!
п‚· How to Change a Tire and Change Your Own Oil (DVD)
п‚· How to Change Your Car's Oil (DVD)
Save $300 a year doing your own oil changes
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п‚· Start a Gourmet Designer Vinegar and Oil Business from Home
Plans, supplies, recipes, and everything to make money
п‚· Learn How to Tattoo (DVD and Designs)
п‚· 42 Authentic Easy and Quick Italian Recipes
п‚· How to Make Wine and Spirits at Home (CD/e-Book)
п‚· How to Publish and Sell Your Own Recipes Online
п‚· Lose Ten Pounds in Ten Days Without Pills or Exercise
п‚· How to Adopt a Child from Overseas
п‚· Math Made Easy for Kids (DVD or VHS)
п‚· How to Write Sales Letters That Sell
п‚· Unique Digital Background Video Tutorials & FREE ITEM!
п‚· Learn How to License Your Invention or Idea
п‚· How to Make and Sell Wire Jewelry at Shows (DVD)
п‚· How to Get a Book to be an Amazon Bestseller
п‚· Earn $300 a Day Sharpening Knives, Saws, and Scissors
Information products include more than eBooks. Here is a list of some of the
popular types of information products:
п‚· Both eBooks and printed books
п‚· Access to web pages where the information is stored
п‚· Membership in private websites where members can access a
continuing stream of information
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п‚· Videos (DVD or streaming video viewed on a web page with RealPlayer
or Windows Media Player)
п‚· Audio files on tape or CD
п‚· Pod Casts
п‚· DVDs or CDs that are mailed out to the buyer
п‚· Software programs
п‚· High-quality digital photographs that can be printed and framed
п‚· Combinations of printed and electronic material (DVD and a workbook)
п‚· Original music, art, and photography delivered digitally in MP3 format
Why Is Information the Perfect Product?
Here are a few reasons why information can be the perfect product to sell:
п‚· You control the product. You own it, you set the price, and you never
run out of something to sell.
п‚· Information products are inexpensive, easy to create, and can last for
years.
п‚· You can deliver many information products automatically. If you use
this method, you can sit in your hotel room in the Bahamas while you
take and deliver orders from your laptop.
п‚· If you sell physical products, such as printed books, CDs, or DVDs, there
are services that will produce these and drop ship them for you as well.
п‚· No competition. Every item you create is unique and you own the
copyright.
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 You set the price based on the value the product delivers—not the cost
to produce. One lady is selling her DVD of quilt patterns for $19.95 +
$1.90 shipping. Her cost: $1.30 each. That is a 1500% markup.
The Real Secret to Making Money with Information Products
The biggest mistake people make is trying to make money off something they
know nothing about. The real secret to making money with an information
product is to create something on a topic you know something about. I get
emails all the time from readers asking, “What kind of info product should I
create?” The answer to that question depends on you. What knowledge do
you have that other people would pay to learn? What can you teach people?
That is the ultimate secret to creating information products that sell.
People are looking for benefits that solve a problem, reduce their fears, or
enhance their life in some way. Some of these include:
п‚· Make more money
п‚· Save time
п‚· Look beautiful
п‚· Be happier
п‚· Prevent disease
п‚· Be my own boss
п‚· Lose weight
п‚· Be more respected
п‚· Keep hair (or grow hair)
п‚· Learn a new skill
п‚· Look more beautiful
п‚· Attract men
п‚· Keep my children safe
п‚· Attract women
п‚· Secure my retirement
п‚· Accomplish something with
less work
п‚· Save money
п‚· Look smarter
п‚· Live Longer
п‚· Feel better
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Rules for Selling Information Products Successfully
If you are going to create and sell information products successfully you have
to follow several conventions that have been proven over the years.
Offer a Money-Back Guarantee
I offer a money-back guarantee on everything I sell. I have tried selling
information products and not doing this, but my sales suffered. Yes, you will
get the occasional return and when selling an eBook or an electronically
delivered product–and some people are out-and-out scammers. They will buy
your product, get the eBook and ask for a refund before they even read it. But
you will still sell a lot more products and ultimately make more money by
offering a money-back guarantee. (My philosophy on these scammers is like a
retail store owner. He realizes that no matter how good his security is, he will
still have some shoplifting loss, so he just prices that into his business.)
Produce a Quality Product
When someone pays for your knowledge or information they aren’t really
buying the information you are selling, they are buying the benefits it will
produce. They expect a certain level of quality. If you are selling a written
product make sure the spelling and grammar are correct. None of us are
perfect. You will make the occasional typo or error—but if your book is full of
them you will get a lot of unhappy customers and return requests.
Don’t Write Checks You Can’t Cash
After you create your product you will have to write a sales letter to sell it.
Make sure your sales letters are honest and don’t promise anything you
don’t—or can’t deliver. Not only will your business suffer, you will have
trouble sleeping at night. If you promise something in your sales material
make sure you deliver it in your product.
Delivering Your Product
Once you create your information product you have to sell it and deliver it.
There are two ways to deliver products: electronically or physically. An
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electronic product can be delivered via download from a website or sent as an
attachment in an email. Physical products are mailed to your customer (such
as printed books, CD or DVD eBooks or video courses).
If you are going to sell on eBay you will need a physical product to deliver as
eBay no longer permits electronic delivery of products sold on their site. I
used to sell electronically delivered products on eBay and thought this was a
real disaster for my business what they banned it, but it didn’t turn out that
way. I now sell physical versions of my products on eBay. I am selling more
products at a higher price and making more money than when I just sold
electronic versions of my products.
Physical Products
I use a company called ViaTech Publishing (www.viatechpub.com) for my
printed books. They have five printing plants around the country and one in
the U.K. to serve the European market. They offer print on demand (POD)
services. When I get an order for a book, I enter the order with the customer’s
name and address into their website form. They print and ship the book
directly to my customer and bill me for the cost at the end of the month. The
one disadvantage is that there is no automatic fulfillment (i.e. you have to
manually enter your customer’s information).
There are two other companies that will produce your product and drop ship
it for you: Lulu offers the most complete service. Here is a list of some of what
they do:
Pre-Publishing
п‚· Editing
п‚· Basic Formatting
п‚· Custom Formatting
п‚· Custom Cover
п‚· Premium Cover
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п‚· Deluxe Cover
п‚· Book Scanning
Marketing & Distribution
п‚· ISBNs
п‚· Book Reviews
п‚· Library Visibility
п‚· Publishing Coach
п‚· Online Marketing
п‚· Website Design
п‚· Pro Press Release
п‚· Excerpt Promotion
Free Marketing Tools
п‚· Widgets
п‚· Storefronts
п‚· Web Buttons and Banners
п‚· Google Book Search
п‚· Press Releases
п‚· Lulu Marketplace
п‚· Optimized Search
п‚· Social Networking
п‚· Writing Communities
Another service that is gaining a lot of followers, and is integrated a little
better with eBay, is Kunaki. Kunaki is more for CDs and DVDs. The last time I
looked they didn’t offer printed products.
Here is some of what Kunaki does:
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п‚· Retail quality DVD and CD production. Full-color, glossy, fully
assembled, cellophane-wrapped, retail-ready products with free UPC
bar codes. They manufacture to retail specifications letting you sell
your CDs and DVDs at CD-Baby, Amazon, and other retail outlets.
п‚· No commitments. No minimums or contracts and no setup, mastering,
or hidden charges.
п‚· Free review copy of your product.
п‚· Design, configure, and manufacture in one day. Use the software
provided by Kunaki to design your disc, case, and inserts, and select
your contents.
п‚· Order what you need when you need it. Order one or 300 units.
Order more when you need them. Kunaki will drop-ship to any address
(for a fee). Just-in-time production means risk-free, zero warehousing
costs.
 Publish at no cost to you. Kunaki’s automated factory accepts creditcard orders on your behalf. They manufacture and ship your product to
your customers within minutes. They report sales with customer
names/addresses and send you a check each month for an amount
equal to the quantity sold multiplied by the price you charge.
Electronic Delivery
There are several services that offer electronic delivery but the 800 pound
Gorilla is a company called ClickBank. ClickBank has it all. They collect your
money, handle refunds, deliver your product, and they have over 70,000
affiliates that can promote and sell your product.
The other option that most people use is simply their own website. You set up
a website with a sales page and a delivery page where people can download
your product upon purchase. If you use PayPal to collect your payments, it is
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very simple to have PayPal redirect the buyers to your download page once
they pay.
Resources
As I pointed out in the beginning of this book, I can’t possibly teach you the
details of every business, but I have two good resources to recommend.
If you want to sell eBooks and other information products, including videos
and audio files, and want to learn about the public domain industry, I offer a
training course for $47 at my own website, www.skipmcgrath.com. The link to
the Information Product course is: www.skipmcgrath.com/products/infoproduct.shtml.
If you are going to produce your products on Kunaki and sell them on eBay,
there is a great service called Auction Acrobat that will allow you to automate
the whole process so you can sell and deliver products while you sleep or
even if you are on vacation. It is called Auction Acrobat. They offer a special
deal for my readers at: www.AuctionAcrobat.com/skip.ag.php.
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Chapter 9: Bringing It All Together
This is where the rubber hits the road. If you want to start an online business
then you have to actually start your online business. Take a little time to do
some planning and research, but set a date to start and set aside a few hours
a week to work on your business.
We have looked at several great businesses, but now you have to choose one
to start. You may have realized by now that you can actually incorporate
several of these businesses into one another. For example, let’s say you start
out selling used books on eBay and Amazon then you decide to set up a
website. Once you have the website you can place Google AdSense ads and
affiliate banners on the pages to make additional money. You could even join
the eBay affiliate program and put product search boxes on your pages.
You can start many of these businesses very small and take your time, or if
you need to start earning some money quickly you can dive right in. But one
piece of critical advice I can give you is to focus and do one thing at a time.
Scattering your efforts by trying to do everything at once is a recipe for
disaster.
But most importantly you have to start. One of the sad facts of life is that I
know a lot of people buy books like this and then never do anything but think
and plan. They never get around to executing. Others start, then get
frustrated and quit. You should realize going in that not everything you do will
work out perfectly, you will make mistakes, have setbacks, and some of the
things I wrote about will seem intimidating and frustrating. If you realize this
going in, you will be in the right frame of mind to handle those setbacks and
frustrations when they occur—because they will.
I am not claiming that absolutely anyone can do any (or all) of the businesses I
have outlined—but I do believe that the vast majority of people with average
or above average intelligence, and some basic computer skills, can do these
businesses profitably if they take their time, apply themselves, and don’t give
up when things go wrong.
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I started my first online business when I was 54 years old. My computer skills
were minimal and frankly aren’t that much better today. I had several
setbacks and failures and tried several things where I lost money—but I kept
at it. The key is that I didn’t take any huge risks that could sink me. All of these
businesses will take some investment but, compared to starting most
businesses, these are very small investments—there is nothing in here that
could sink you financially if you fail.
As you spend time on the Internet you will come across a lot of supposed
business opportunities that sound really great. Just be wary. If they sound too
good, or too easy, they are probably a scam.
I recently spoke to one lady who has been retired for the past five years. She
had a little blog that she did for fun but she was managing to make about
$100 a month in extra money from the banners and ads on her blog. One day
she was contacted by a salesman who convinced her they could re-create her
blog for her, provide her with tons of free content, set up the advertising
links, and she would start earning thousands of dollars a month. And then,
once she did that, they would act as her agent and sell her blog for hundreds
of thousands of dollars. All she had to do was work on it one hour per week.
She fell for this and it was a total scam. They did nothing but send her
hundreds of articles she could have gotten off of the free article sites. They
charged her $5,000 to redesign her blog and submit it to search engines and
$1,000 per month for the content. Then they talked her into spending another
$5,000 for them to market the blog. Within a year they wiped out a big chunk
of her retirement savings and her income never got above $200 a month.
So, please be careful when looking at online business and marketing
opportunities, particularly if they want a lot of money. Almost anyone can
stand the loss of a few hundred dollars, but most of us could not survive
losses in the thousands of dollars—so be very-very wary of any claim or
program that requires large amounts of money.
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As I told you at the beginning of this book—it would be impossible to write a
complete instruction manual for every one of these businesses in this one
volume. What I have tried to do meet three goals:
п‚· Give you enough information to convince you that you can make
money with these businesses.
п‚· Give you enough information to make a decision if one or more of
these business interests you.
п‚· Give you enough information to get started earning money from each
business and some reasonably priced resources that will take you to
the next step.
This is a better way to go than stumbling around trying to figure out which
businesses are real and which ones are scams, and taking risks buying
programs and training for something that may not really be doable by most
folks.
Yes, you will have to spend some additional money on these resources if you
really want to be successful, but nothing I recommend will cost you thousands
of dollars. Most of the resources and training materials I recommend are
under $100 and all but one or two come with a money-back guarantee.
Anything you do will take some real work. You may have to invest a lot of time
at the beginning to learn how to use the various tools and set up your
business. But, the beauty of running an online business is that once you do
that work, it takes very little maintenance and time to keep it going. Some of
the folks I know who do variations of the online businesses we covered in this
manual earn good extra money and they only work four or five hours a week
at it. But they invested 100 hours or more to get started. Now you don’t have
to do that whole 100 hours (or whatever it takes) all in one week. You can
spread that out over two, three or even six or eight weeks—but you will have
to do it eventually if you really want to be successful.
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I see people all the time who get excited by some online business opportunity
and dive right into it. Yes, it is important to start—you don’t want to
procrastinate. But, it is also important to take your time and set some
reasonable goals.
It helps to have an action plan. Here are some steps to follow to get you
started. I suggest you print this out and use is as a guide and a checklist:
пЃ± After you have read the entire manual pick one of the businesses that
you would like to start.
пЃ± Spend some time reading and examining the various tools and
resources I recommend and choose which ones (if any) you think you
will use—but don’t make a decision or buy any of them yet.
пЃ± Look at your calendar and work out a plan. Decide how many hours per
week you can devote to this effort and block off those times in your
calendar.
пЃ± Do any of the pre-work you will need to get started such as signing up
for a website builder, registering on eBay, getting a PayPal account,
setting up any special email accounts, and so on.
пЃ± If you are going to sell products, start doing some research to
determine what to sell and where and how you will source it.
пЃ± Determine a budget and stick to it.
пЃ± Now once you have done all of these steps and have a plan, go ahead
and start your business.
пЃ± Revisit your calendar and set up specific days and times you will work
on your business.
пЃ± Most importantly monitor your progress. Keep a record of what you
are spending and how much money is coming in. Be sure a keep all
receipts and records of anything you buy and any money you spend as
110
all of these are deductible business expenses and you will need them at
tax time.
 Surround yourself with positive people and don’t listen to those who
will tell you that you are doomed to fail. There are plenty of wellmeaning people out there who don’t know what they are talking about
and will try and convince you that you can’t do this or that.
This last one is very important. Believe me I know. When I quit my full-time
job to concentrate on our eBay business, my wife’s brother was convinced we
would fail. He was constantly worried that we would lose our home and have
to come and live with him. A year later I bought a new car and we took a
vacation to the Bahamas. He wouldn’t believe us when we told him we paid
cash.
We have been running our business successfully for ten years now and he still
doesn’t believe it. (I think he secretly thinks that I must have won the lotto or
something and just didn’t tell him.) My wife’s brother is older and better
educated than I am, and I respect his opinions on many things. But had I
listened to him, I would still be working in the corporate world and spending
two hours a day in traffic.
So with that I will leave you. I wish you great success and good luck with
whatever you decide to do.
Skip McGrath
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BONUS: Other Ways to Earn Affiliate
Income
This bonus chapter brings together everything else you have learned up to
now. It is another way to use a lot of online tools and services to make
money—but without actually selling or stocking any products.
If you recall the earlier discussion on affiliate marketing, this is a way for you
to earn income by doing nothing more than referring business or sending
traffic to other online merchants. Most people have no idea how large
affiliate marketing is and how widely it is practiced.
There are dozens of companies called affiliate management networks that
provide affiliate management service to companies looking for affiliates. One
of the largest, Commission Junction, has over 3,000 companies that use their
service including some of the largest banks and credit card companies and
other well known companies such as Capitol One, Lending Tree, Omaha
Steaks, LifeLock, PC Mall, Mac Mall, Symantec, Weight Watchers, and
priceline.com—plus hundreds, if not thousands, of others. Here is how these
programs work:
1. You create an account with Commission Junction (or other affiliate
management companies) and log in. Once you are in, you select the
tab that says Search Advertiser. This gives you a list of advertisers.
2. When you see an advertiser that interests you, you click on their name
and you will then see a list of banners and text links that are available
to you.
3. Select a banner or text link and a box will open with a snippet of HTML
code.
4. Copy this code into your website or blog and the banner and the text
link will appear.
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5. When one of your visitors clicks on the banner or link, they will be
taken to a sales page for the product they clicked on.
6. If they purchase, you earn a commission.
7. At the end of the month, Commission Junction calculates your earnings
and mails you a check.
Now that is the simple explanation, but as you can imagine there is a bit more
to it than that—but those are details that you can easily learn. All of the
various affiliate management sites have extensive training materials on their
site to help you.
Obviously, if you have a website that is getting traffic that is the logical place
to promote your affiliated products. Then there are blogs. If you can write a
blog on a given topic, and if you post often enough, then you will get traffic. If
you get traffic you can post banners on your blog, or write reviews, or add
text links to drive traffic to your affiliate links. Incidentally, search engines
appear to really like WordPress blogs.
Free video sites are another way to generate traffic. Google and other search
engines index videos quite high. Making a short video on a topic and putting
your website title in the video is a great way to drive traffic to your website or
to a specific page where you have your affiliate links.
Social Networking Sites
The newest “big thing” is social networking. These sites (MySpace, Facebook,
Twitter, etc.) are not just for high-school kids—many large businesses and
small in-the-home businesses are now using them. They are all slightly
different, and their focus is different. But the advantage of all of them is you
can update them very easily.
You can use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. in the same way as your blog.
You can promote your affiliate products within your posts. Plus, you can link
back to your own website and the products you sell directly.
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Peter Shankman runs the site www.helpareporter.com (HARO) which
connects writers and journalists with experts in whatever topic they are
looking for. There are over 100,000 members and growing. He sends out a
newsletter three times a day, but on his Twitter page
http://twitter.com/skydiver he posts real-time urgent queries from writers
that need to go out before his next edition. He gets a LOT of traffic, and
people “follow” him on there, which means they get a notification whenever
he updates it.
Shankman is the CEO of The Geek Factory, a PR company in New York. He is
an expert on how to use social networking to further your business, and he
has speaking engagements across the country. If you see his name at a local
event, it’s certainly worth going to hear him. Many of his speeches are online
now too.
Of course, he has his website linked on all of his pages, and on there he
promotes his book and his PR company. Plus, the HARO service that he
manages is directly linked to his field. Because of how many people read
HARO, he can command good advertising prices to “sponsor” a HARO edition
(currently $1500 each).
Incidentally, HARO is a great tool for free PR. You get three emails daily with
queries from writers from all kinds of publications. Some are TV, some major
papers (like the New York Times), others are online publications, books, etc.
Respond only to queries that you are an expert for and specifically match
what the writer is looking for. But, this can get you free PR in a number of
high-profile publications. Most writers are looking for quotes and will mention
your website and name in the article/book. That is certainly worthwhile for a
two minute scan of the queries each day.
Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are all pretty easy to learn. Remember the
goal is to send traffic to your affiliate links, but if you do this too blatantly
people will see through it and ignore your material. So once again the key is to
provide good content and service your readers. Don’t try too hard. If people
like what you have and do, they will click on the links you recommend.
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