How To Start A Successful Internet Business

Selling stuff via the Internet (commonly known as Internet marketing) is a great business to be in! Billions of dollars are spent online each year by consumers and that number is growing bigger every year.

Maybe you’re eager to get into the IM scene and start an Internet business for yourself, but before you jump in, there are a few things you need know about.

And these are four most important online business fundamentals you need to know, in my opinion.

– How a business works
– How to sell (receive money) and deliver a product online
– How to get web visitors to see your offer
– How to grow your business

I’m going to try to answer these 4 big questions for you to give you an outline of what an online internet marketing business is made of.

1. How A Simple Online Business Works

In my short internet marketing career since starting in 2006, I have learned a lot about what makes an online business profitable and what makes a business un-profitable.

These are the 4 main things that make up the guts of a good solid online business:

1) You need a product or service you sell
2) You need a killer sales message (USP-Unique Selling Proposition)
3) You need a way to get paid
4) You need a way to deliver the product or service to the customer

That’s basically it – a simple online business structure described in a nutshell. Pretty simple right?

Other basic principles (or ethics) to make a successful business to take note of are: The customer is always right. Customer service with a smile goes a very long way & under-promising and over-delivering on your offer goes even further.

2. How To Sell, Collect Money & Deliver Your Stuff

The engines that runs all the selling and product delivery for your business is typically a website. Unfortunately, for a lot of newcomers to the internet, setting up a website is where most get lost and give up.

Websites can be as complex as the Starship Enterprise or as basic as a bicycle in terms of functionality.

As long as it does the few basic functions of displaying your sales pitch and then collecting the money you ask for your product or service, that’s all you really need.

A sales message doesn’t have to be any amazing masterpieces to work either. A good sales letter can be nothing more than a short description of your offer with instructions on how your customer can get it.

Which brings them to the next part – an online merchant account to take orders via credit card, debit card etc. It’s not everyone’s favorite, but I recommend www.Paypal.com to manage online payments. It still is a popular choice for many online business owners.

After your customer goes through the order process, they then need to be able to download or sign up for access to your product. For this, you need is a separate “thankyou page” where your customers are forwarded to after payment.

On this thankyou page, you can have your download link if you sell downloadable products, or a form to collect their name, email, shipping address etc. if you’re selling a physical product. Services like Paypal can redirect your customer to any page you specify for you.

Luckily, there are website systems you can set up to manage this type of e-commerce website. I have been using the RAP script for quite some time with great results. It offers all the functionality I need and more to sell my digital products online with security and automation.

3. Getting Customers

Once you have your online “store front” ready to take orders, you now need people coming to your site. This flow of visitors is called TRAFFIC!

The best advice I can give for traffic generation is this: USE THE RIGHT BAIT IN THE RIGHT LAKE!

In other words, you need seek out where those people who want your product are hanging out and don’t waste your time anywhere else.

If people are searching on ebay looking for what you sell, advertise it on ebay.

If people are searching Google for what you are selling, get your website ranking high in Google with SEO (search engine optimization) and so on.

The wrong way to go about traffic generation is to buy a bunch of cold, un-targeted leads just because you think 10,000,000 random email addresses for $100 is a bargain.

Go where the right crowd for your offer is. Seek out where your TARGET market spends time online and go after them with your advertising!

4. Plan For Long Term Success

For real success, we need to be in this business for the long shot. We need to have a long term vision and plan it.

The truth is, it takes time to build a real business. If you are too worried about making money now, you might give up before you get anywhere.

Everyone starts at the beginning and works their way up. It can take more time for some – and less time for others. It’s a combination of learning and doing and being patient while doing both.

But the most important thing to do is to actually start doing what you learn. That’s why I created the Newbie Start Up Guide, so as to help beginners take the short cuts to getting up and running online with a simple internet business.

Internet marketing is a constant learning experience. For me, my long term plan is to grow my business bigger and better while learning as much as I can. I try to be constantly thinking of and creating new products and offers to fit my customers needs to help them achieve success with their online ventures too.

To achieve this, it means thinking ahead, setting goals and working towards them with the big picture in mind. That with a positive attitude and determination, it’s almost impossible to fail with your online business.

Stu Sensei

New Office Let’s Me Work In Style And Comfort

I decided 2010 is going to be a breakthrough year for me; one where I’ll step up my game and get more serious about taking my business online to the next level.

One of thing I was opened to since reading HomePreneur by Jimmy D Brown, is that in order to excel at business, especially a home based business, your work space is one very important aspect home based entrepreneurs often overlook that affects your work productivity.

When I first got started with my Info-product business in 2006, I had just the basics; a low powered PC (tiny processor, 256MB ram, 80GB hard disk) running Windows XP in Japanese! with a tiny 15″ monitor, sitting on a tiny desk with a tiny chair…but I did have my internet connection.

The great thing about Japan is the Internet speed here. It’s one of, if not THE fastest broadband providers on the planet.

That setup was enough to get a fair amount done, but over time, things just naturally got too small. My little 80GB hard disk was filling up fast with a ton of large software apps like Photoshop, Camtasia, Skype, Open Office Suite, Microsoft Office etc. Not to mention all my files that I downloaded or created, were weighing my poor machine down.

At the end of 2009, I knew I couldn’t make the progress I wanted for my business with my setup the way it was so I bit the bullet and made it a point to do a whole office space make-over with a new desk, new chair, and best of all, new PC!

I got my new high-back executive chair and desk at the local second-hand shop for 9000 yen (about $100US) which was an absolute bargain! The PC I ordered online from the DELL website.

The specs are as follows for all you tech savvy geeks out there. Dell Studio Desktop, 20″ monitor, Windows 7 Ultimate (English OS), Intel Core 2 Quad processor (6MB cache, 2.66Ghz), 4GB RAM, 500GB Sata HDD, wireless keyboard and mouse (which I’m still getting used to) and the list goes on.

The price for this was just a smidge over 9,3000 yen (about $1050US) which is comparatively cheap. I don’t care too much about price, because I see it as an investment.

This will help me get more done with more ease, in less time. After all, my PC is my major tool I use for my business so it needs to be sharp…I don’t want to be waiting around for a program or file to load.

You’ll also notice how I keep a desk diary on the desk. In that I write my to-do list and other notes I need to remember. Some things you can’t see in the photos are a calendar right above my monitor on the wall and a small whiteboard on the wall to the left.

These help me keep organized so I can get things done and not waste my time when I sit down to work.

Now, I’m all set up for a killer 2010. I’ll be able to fly through my work in comfort. I’m not saying you need to spend $1000+ on new computer stuff for your business too, remember I was using a $700 second hand computer for almost 4 years! But if you can afford it, it sure helps.

Stu Sensei

4 Steps To Better To-Do Lists

A successful business is an organized business. As you know, working from home as an entrepreneur, there is a lot to organize and do everyday to run and grow our businesses successfully.

But despite all the things you have to do, you probably have days where at the end of it, you think to yourself….“I got jack squat work done today!”

Sometimes there are just so many things to do that we run around like we’re on fire and don’t get any productive work done.

We’re all over the shop, doing little bits over here and little bits over there but never getting any real solid work done.

That’s where a “To-Do” list becomes a life (and time) saver.

A “To-Do” list gives us direction and helps us focus on the most important tasks of the day.

Have you ever used a “To-do” list? If not, why not?

If you are, then you’ll know how this simple little system can have big payoffs.

Here are my tips for using “To-Do” lists in for my home internet business.

Step 1. All you need to make the most basic to-do list is a scrap piece of paper and a pen.

But you probably won’t want scrap paper littering your desk. Instead, invest in a whiteboard you hang on your wall or a weekly planner you keep on your desk, like me.

Some people might use software or have a “to-do” list file on their computer, but I find that a real thing I can look at anytime is much better.

Step 2. Then you write down all the things you want or need to do.

They can be things you need to do today, tomorrow or this week. Write them down in any order for now.

When you can see all the things to do in front of you, you can free up space in your head. it might sound silly, but that’s how I feel.

I can see what I have to do at a glance so I don’t have to think about it constantly. I know which tasks are most important too, but sometimes I will circle or highlight ones that are a high priority.

Step 3. Then, keep it nearby. Don’t forget about it. When you get distracted, look at the list.

You might not want to do some of the tasks. If they seem too daunting, break them down into smaller tasks.

When you think of a new task to do, write it on the list.

Step 4. When you complete a task, put a line through it.

This is when you feel a little warm feeling of accomplishment and a little less weight off your shoulders.

When you have your work set out in front of you, and not all jumbled in your head, it makes getting work done a heck of a lot easier.

If you’re not already using a To-Do list, try it and see how much more productive you can be with your time.

Stu Sensei

6 Steps To Concrete Your Success In 2010

I love how the new year always brings a special refreshed feeling of energy, determination and ideas for making the new year better than the last.

I’m really excited about 2010, and you should be too!

Each one of us has a spotless 365 days ahead of us — now 361 days left — to plan and achieve the goals for a better life, better business, better health for ourselves and those around us.

The future is glistening white and the choice is 100% up to you what you want to do with yours.

Life, much like business, is a constant journey of discovery and learning. We should never stop, because there is always something new around every corner.

I love this quote because it reminds me that we are in control of our future…

“The choices we make and the chances we take, determine our destiny.” – Author Unknown

Sometimes the choices we make take us down the wrong track…mistakes are hard to avoid, but the important thing is to quickly recognize the mistake and get back on the right path.

There are many principles for success in life and business and I want to share a few I always live by and I encourage you to adopt any you like into your life and business.

1. A Positive Mind Set – You Can Do It! It all starts with this. If your mind set is not positive, you can’t move forward. Negativity will always hold you back. Your limitations are only bound by your imagination, so don’t hold back, anything is possible when you set your mind and body to it.

2. A Precise Step-by-Step Plan – As the famous proverb goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A plan gives us a guide to follow. It gives us clarity. The more detailed and precise it is, the easier and faster you can achieve it.

3. Taking Action – Procrastination is a big success stopper for the majority of business owners and entrepreneurs. You need to avoid distraction and set aside time to focus and work your plan. Don’t forget to set deadlines on each action plan and to also plan to give yourself rewards along the way.

4. Develop Skills – We are in business because we can help people in certain areas we have skill in. We should be ever trying to develop our skills or attain more so we can keep helping people and in turn help ourselves. Often, it’s the teacher who learns the most.

5. Give More Than Expected – A huge principle for success in business and life is to remove greed and really over-deliver. Provide great value for money and quality products and services that will change peopel’s lives for the better. This is one of my favorite quites from Zig Ziglar:

“You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

6. Never Give Up – Success is guaranteed if you never stop. Just keep going towards your goal and never divert from the road leading to it. It may take longer than expected, but every little thing you do counts and takes you closer to achieving your dreams.

And remember, happiness is a journey not a destination. I’m looking forward to enjoying and growing everyday of this new year with you!

To a fantastically happy, healthy and successful 2010,
Stuart Stirling

Comment To Get a Free Link Back To Your Blog

Want to get a free link from my blog back to your blog, twitter profile or any page with an RSS feed?

Just leave a comment on my blog and a link to your latest post or Tweet will instantly appear.. plus it won’t cost you a penny!

This cool function works because I’ve got the Comment Luv plugin installed.

Watch the video below to see how Comment Luv works to give you a free link on my website.

So the steps are…

1. Fill in ALL the fields like you would usually (name, email, website/webpage url, your comment, etc.)

2. Check the CommentLuv box and wait for your link to appear (if the checkbox is unchecked)

3. Hit the submit comment button and get your free backlink!

The cool thing is that if you add a url with an RSS feed (i.e. your blog or your Twitter or Facebook profile), your links will automatically point to your last post.

Let me know what you think about this cool plugin or about my blog here by leaving a comment and you’ll get a free link back to your site!

(NOTE: links in comments are “nofollow” links to help prevent spam comments)

Stuart Stirling

IMPORTANT: Make sure your link is appearing before you submit your comment. You may have to un-check and check the check-box again to get it to appear.

p.s. After commenting, please share this on Twitter so your followers can see the post with your comment and start the snowball effect! More exposure for all of us that way!

How To Breathe Sales Back To Your Tired Ebook

Do you have an ebook that you worked hard on and sold like hotcakes at launch, but is now dying a slow painful death?

I did, and I’m going to share a few tips on how I brought life back to it and get the sales going again!

After a great and powerful launch back in 2007, sales and conversions of one of my best selling reports on starting an internet business – Crush Your Job were way down almost to a grinding hault.

The report is choc-full packed with timeless online business building strategies and methods that will never grow old so I wasn’t about to see it die yet.

I think this type of thing happens all the time to ebook publishers – the sales boom when the product is new and then after a few months, (sometimes weeks) sales disappear into thin air almost like a magic trick!

It sucks when that happens…because what about all the hard work that went into creating the product, setting up the site, getting affiliates and then launching it?

If you have an ebook or a product that you think is too good to let die and want to put some spark back into it, like I did with Crush Your Job, here are some of the things you can try that brought it back to life:

Step 1. Freshen Up The Ebook Content

Although Crush Your Job content will be useful for a long time, I (and James Brown the co-author) decided to tidy it up.

There wasn’t much to freshen up, but if your ebook is full of links to other websites, it’s a good idea check to see if the sites are still up.

Also, if you are teaching some kind of “how to” method, make sure it is still relevant and still works!

Step 2. New Website Graphics

The old graphics on Crush Your Job really didn’t do the product justice. They seemed to be fine 2 years ago, but you know how styles of graphics can get old real fast!

If you didn’t know already, people do judge a book by it’s cover…especially if they don’t know you.

Good NEW graphics make it look new and fresh again. I got my mate Dee at minisiteguru.com to make a new set of graphics for a little over $100. Great investment…and the site looks a million bucks!

Step 3. Freshen Up The Sales Letter

My copywriting skills are much sharper now than 2 years ago, so I spent about 30 minutes editing the copy.

The most significant change I made to help conversions was write a new headline. I tested this one against the old one for the first few days of “relaunch” and saw the new headline get 3 times better conversions!

Step 4. Run An Affiliate Contest

In effort to spark the site back up, I invited affiliates to help promote the site with a mini “re-launch” and ran an affiliate contest to reward affiliates.

I wrote up just a simple page with details about the contest. The date it starts, the date it ends, the prizes and then the link to the affiliate sign up page. I also added reminder blurbs on the affiliate tools page about the contest, and contacted affiliates regularly throughout the contest.

Affiliate ContestI ran it for 5 days and offered $100 to the affiliate who made most sales in the first 72 hours and then another $100 to the most sales referring affiliate over the whole 5 day contest.

Once I got some affiliate on board, I just sat back and watched the sales start back up again!

The Result From My “Crush Your Job” Re-launch Case Study

After the 5 days, I had over 100 new customers with confirmed email addresses, a dozen happy affiliates who got instant commissions (thanks to the RAP script) and a few dollars in my pocket after covering all the costs!

Was it worth it? Definitely!

Sure I didn’t make a fortune out of the re-launch, but it was a heck of a lot easier than creating and launching a new product, plus I was able to save one of the best online business guides from a fiery death and get it in more people’s hands who want help to quit their job and make a living online!

Actually, as I write this, the sales are still coming!

Stu “Sensei” Stirling

ps. What do you think? Doable for your “oldie but a goodie” ebook too?

3 Social Marketing Tips for Internet Marketers

i love to shareAs internet marketers, we are constantly looking for ways to increase our website traffic but we should also be striving to increase our following….which will increase our traffic in the long run anyway 🙂

The most successful marketers have a following, a crowd of raving fans who drop everything to hear what they have to say and buy anything they recommend.

Social marketing comes plays a massive role in building a loyal following and a reputation. The ability to make friends and share content with ease in real time lets people see what kind of people we really are.

My favorites are Facebook and Twitter – feel free to add me as your friend and follow me. Youtube is great too but I don’t have too many videos to share at the moment. That’s something I want to work on in the near future.

Using social media like Facebook is a great tool to build a good reputation if you do it right, but you can damage your reputation if you aren’t careful and abuse the power of being able to “share” content and links at any time to a crowd of potential customers.

Here are a few basic rules to follow when using social marketing to build your following and NOT piss people off.

1. Be human….not a spammy robot. You probably want to make money fast and posting heartless ad after ad seems like the logical way, but it is not the way to reach people. People can see straight through ads and will shun you instantly. Instead, show people that you are real.

2. Use it to build your brand.
Like my previous post where I talked about using a personal blog to brand you or your company, your social profiles are branding tools too. If you’re always posting junk you will quickly become known as someone who posts junk…and soon no one will bother to look at your stuff. How you act and what you post reflects you and your brand, so use social media to strengthen it.

3. 90% fun, 10% business. The whole idea with social media IMO is to have fun….even if we are using it for our business. It’s there so we can share what we are doing and see what others are doing in real life. The reality is that no one wants to see ALL ads..they want to see what we are doing with our life. You’ll attract many more eyeballs to a picture of your microwave dinner than to a spammy link.

I think a good ratio is 90/10. So for 9 times out of 10, upload photos, post related quotes, (clean…unless you can afford to post dirty) jokes, popular news trends, helpful selfless info and the BIGGEST one, make conversation with others. Sure throw in a link to a product or your website here and there, but keep them moderate.

Like this post? Leave a comment below! Or share any more tips you have about how to use social marketing for internet business.

Cheers,
Stuart Stirling