John T. Jones, Ph.D. Buhl, Idaho
I have been either selling or promoting products on the Internet for many years. Eight years ago I joined a community with a mutual interest in Internet marketing, specifically affiliate marketing. You know this community as Wealthy Affiliate. My Internet success Coach is not one individual, but the owners and the top moneymakers at Wealthy Affiliate who are always willing to help others. (No matter how long you been in business, you always need the help of others.)
I have always been more interested in selling products on the Internet rather than promoting other people’s products. It is the same way with my son and several of my grandchildren. The advantage of selling products, products that you have control over, is that your business will usually not be swept out from underneath your feet.
Many of my friends make good incomes with affiliate marketing. May I list a few things that I think are wrong with affiliate marketing:
1. The product is not yours so you do not have absolute control over it.
2. You are regulated by an affiliate program. Sometimes affiliate programs are removed by the vendor and the affiliates are left hanging high and dry. This doesn’t happen that often, but it does happen.
3. All relations with the customer are controlled by the vendor and not by the affiliate marketer. The blunt fact is that the vendor takes your customer. The vendor will pay you a high commission to grab your customer to whom he will sell over and over again.
If you are in affiliate marketing I suggest that:
A. You don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Many affiliate marketers have a fairly large number of niche market sites. (A niche market is part of a larger market which can lead to higher profits.) It goes without saying that you should have relationships with a number of different vendors.
B. Be patient. It takes time to establish your market when you are an affiliate marketer. It’s almost imperative that you have a mailing list gathered from visitors to your site. (You might have to bribe them to get them to sign up for your newsletter or mailing list.)
C. Your customer will not be able to touch your product. If he or she goes into a store, she can pick up the product, smell it, even taste it, and she can buying it against the wall if she wants to. You absolutely must be the eyes, ears, nose and fingers of your customer. Therefore you must know your product extremely well and you must display it by excellent photography from a number of different views to your customer. It is far better to own the product if you’re trying to promote. Then you can recommend it firsthand and even worn your customer if the product has any shortcomings. In other words, you must be the expert. I can’t over emphasize that one fact.
D. Join Wealthy Affiliate so that you always get updates and the help you need.
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
I said that my family sells products. I used to sell a lot more products than I do now because I dropped several product lines. I was a distributor for money-making books (technically, I still am). I sold books that I owned. I sold flagpoles and flagpole accessories. But I’m an old man, and I no longer sell products to any great degree and I don’t have to package them up and ship them off.
My son is a veterinarian but he supplemented his income since he has 15 children many of which are still in college or school. You can take a look at his business. It is: http://www.homegrownherbalist.net
Two my granddaughters in business together. They design and make their own products and they have about a dozen employees. They make and sell baby hats.
Another of my granddaughters is in business with a friend. They import special materials from China and manufacture baby-changing mats from them. She is going to start a new business on her own but she is not revealed to me what it is.
All three of my granddaughters are married with children. Two of them still have husbands that are in college. They provide the total income for their families. One of them bought a new car the other day. I often can you do that when you’re in college or supporting a spouse college? They do make very good incomes.
How Can I Sell Products That I Don’t Manufacture Myself?
That is what I did. In one of my book businesses, I sold the books and they were drop shipped by my friend in New York who wrote the books. (I have written a number of books and novels myself. You can find them under Taylor Jones or John T Jones, PhD.)
I also had my own book supply from which I sold many books. I do keep inventory on these books and make sure that they were properly stored to prevent any damage. I got an order, had to find the book and pack it up and ship it. I sold through the Alibris.com and Amazon.com who handled the transactions.
You Can Be a Distributor
I was a distributor for a flagpole company. I dealt with the customer and I handled everything but the shipping of the product. The product was shipped by the manufacturer directly to the customer. This is called drop shipping and many companies will drop ship products for you.
You Can Sell Locally Manufactured Products
Even if you live in a small community, you will be surprised about how many products are actually produced there. If you contact those who are creating products, you might be able to sell them directly yourself by purchasing wholesale and selling retail. They might even drop ship for you or manufacturer to your specification. Just remember that you should have in the forefront of your cranium that you want to control of your own products and it would be a great idea to produce them yourself.
Amazon Fulfillment Program
You can import product at low cost from China and other countries. You can have these products shipped directly to you or directly to Amazon. It is your job to write the sales pages at Amazon and to get people to review your products so that others will purchase them. Everything else is handled by Amazon and you can become well-to-do in a short time.
So, if you are like some of my friends, and become well-to-do rapidly, you probably can become bankrupt rapidly. There are risk involved. There can be problems in guaranteeing the quality of the products you are selling. They might even be lost at sea. Amazon might get angry with you and kick you off their site. My friends that are in this business are very experienced marketers. I don’t suggest this process for the uninitiated.
You Really Can’t Get Anywhere If You Don’t Take Some Risk
If you’re going into a risky business such as Amazon’s Fulfillment Program, then do your homework. Get advice from business people. Study what is going on in the marketplace. Learn the ins and outs of Amazon. Hire a professional photographer to take pics of your products from every angle. You might even want to hire a copywriter who will be able to sell your products much more efficiently than you can yourself.
Many Home and Storefront Businesses Are Converted To Internet Businesses
I know a number of people who have taken a home or manufacturing business or a storefront business onto the Internet. I have helped a number of them do this. Friends of mine in the Midwest were selling doll parts from their home. They had a mailing list. When they created a website and told their customers about the site, their business quadrupled overnight.
My son sold Irish flutes and whistles from his home. He is a veterinarian but for the reasons I explained earlier, he needs extra income. I helped him put up a website and he emailed his large email list that he had the site. The information literally flew around the world. He made new contacts worldwide and pretty soon was representing all of the Irish flute makers. He recently switched to the herb business and sold: http://www.Irishflutestore.com
In earlier days, a young man who had an interest in juggling started an Internet business from scratch. He built a store on the net and had almost instant success.
It’s All about Passion
Why would I say that? Because if you don’t have passion about what you are doing, you will soon lay off and stop doing it. This is a major reason for failure on the Internet.
If you get to strung out, chasing one dog and then another, you soon will lose interest in dogs.
It’s that all important passion for what you are doing that brings success. That is one reason that hobbies make good niche markets. You’re already fired up!
If you have some particular interest that you would get up early in the morning to pursue our go to bed late at night to make it last longer, that can bring you success on the Internet.
I know a pair of ladies who went into business together on the Internet. They did not make any money the first year but they stuck with it and were in the money the second year. Some Internet businesses become profitable after a few months. I think a lot more become profitable after a few years if at all. (It is difficult to find out how much affiliate marketers make. Most fail!)
The fact of the matter is that most Internet businesses fail. To have the persistence that is needed and the desire to learn continually. Technology changes in marketing changes can frustrate Internet business owners. Sometimes you have to realize that you can’t do everything and that you need a hand. Many cannot keep up with the writing required. The simple solution is to have somebody else write for you. (I do this at times.)
Why spend two hours designing a banner or a logo when you can have someone on fiverr do it for five dollars? How valable is your time and where should you be spending it?
You Have To Keep That Day Job
That’s the problem! You have to keep working to feed your family and make the car payments. That means you have a limited time to pursue your Internet business. But let’s take a look at that.
Suppose you get up in the morning one hour earlier and you go to bed one hour later. You spend four hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday working on your business, that could be two hours in the morning and two hours at night.
What have we gained other than a lack of sleep? We gained 10 hours during the week and we gained eight hours on the weekend. To be at half time, or 20 hours, we need two more hours. Where do we get that?
If you have a portable computer, or the availability of a computer during your breaks and lunch periods, you can easily grab two hours during the week. Now your objective is to create twice the income in those 20 hours that you do in 40 hours on your day job.
Now what can you do?
You can quit your day job!
You will now be working 40 hours a week in your new activity but you soon should be earning as much as you would in 80 hours on your day job. Many folks I know are doing just that even with affiliate marketing.
With increased income, many folks who are earning a living on the Internet have time for travel. However, they don’t stop working. They take a computer with them so they can work wherever they are. They are working for two reasons. First, they must mind their business, and second, they love their business.
One of my friends and his bride-to-be recently flew from Taiwan to be married in Hawaii and another friend and his wife visited them in Hawaii and attended the wedding. What paid for all of this travel? They are both affiliate marketers.
One of my friends who is now deeply involved in the Amazon Fulfillment Program earned $500,000 through affiliate marketing while he was in college. This completely relieved the burden from his single-parent mother. I think that is about what he heard in his first six months in the Amazon fulfillment program selling yoga mats and such.
He’s a bloomin’ genius and I’ve tried to get him out of being so Internet oriented but he has some restaurants that he has opened up because he is a health food nut and wants to keep others healthy I expect him to expand until he owns General Motors. At least that is what I keep telling him..
When he was in college, making money on the Internet was easy. You could use PPC marketing which gave you instant traffic. Google has pretty much destroyed that practice because they hate affiliate marketers but continually take their money.
The owners of Wealthy Affiliate earned their way through college individually through affiliate marketing. Kyle earned enough money after only six months to support himself. After one year, he went full-time. Later he joined with Carson to create Wealthy Affiliate University, the premier affiliate training site on the Internet. Recently, they added lifetime free membership to their program.
Back when you could do such things, a young man in the New Zealand put a banner on a website which produce $50 each month so he created a lot of websites and hired English majors to write the content for them. He rented an old multi-story home to house his staff and he soon was making more money than his father was in his full-time government job as a professional analyst. He founded Affilorama, a training site with much free information.
Stay Away from the Gurus
Don’t Let the Gurus turn you up side down and shake the coins out of your pocket.
There are a lot of would-be trainers on the Internet who are simply scam artists. They have what is called the sales funnel. They give you a free gift, a worthless e-book, charge $24 for the next one, say you need one more which they sell you for $69 and then a program with lots of videotapes which cost $269, and then offer you consulting to make you rich.
You don’t you don’t come up rich! You come up broke or deeply in debt from maxing out your credit cards.
You Can Start a Business Locally
To start a business locally, a storefront or a franchise business, start with your local Chamber of Commerce. They will put you in contact with training programs and local institutions such as banks and clubs and with local universities and colleges.
If you take a free business startup course and at your local college or at a library are at a bank, there is a very good chance that the teacher will be a retired businessman who is contributing his time to helping others get in the business.
Go to SBA.gov and take advantage of their free programs. One important thing that you must do is to create a business plan. You can do this at SBA.org.
Don’t worry about your initial business plan being perfect. It is a living document and you will change it many times. An industry I always wrote a five year plan which I updated as I went along and completely rewrote every five years.
Maybe A Franchise Is the Thing for You
If you purchase a franchise, that is if you can raise the money to purchase a franchise and have the initial investment available for property and such, then the franchiser will guide you completely through the process and get you operating. You will find that there is a little faucet stuck into your business where the franchiser can suck off some of your profits.
When I moved to Ames Iowa in 1966, the first thing I noticed was that there was no McDonald’s. But I was a poor engineering professor and thought that I could not get into such a franchise. I would need the $50,000 franchise fee plus the capital to get going. What I didn’t know was that I could have done it.
I left Ames in 1974. About two or three years before I left, my neighbor went down to the bank and said that he wanted to start a McDonald’s franchise. They coughed up the money and he was in business.
I was too dumb to do that. He may have had a guaranteed SBA loan from the bank. I never asked him. When I was in Iowa, I did some engineering consulting with a firm who was operating on only the funds from an SBA guaranty Bank loan. I was paid by the bank directly.
Unfortunately the new owners didn’t know how to run a business and they went kaput. If they had done the one thing that I had told which was to hire an experienced manager to run the day to day affairs of the business, they would’ve been very successful because they knew exactly how to market the business.
It’s So Time-Consuming
One thing that entrepreneurs are known for is the long hours that they work. They are not only starting a business but they are keeping up to date on technologies and business practices to keep their business vibrant.
One rule of thumb might be, if you are not completely enveloped by your business, you are not an entrepreneur.
You May Not Be Cut from the Right Mold
Some people are just not cut out for business. They cannot stay focused for a long time on the same idea. Albert Einstein said that the reason he was successful was that he was able to think about the same problem for decades (not his words and I’m too lazy to look it up).
Some just don’t grasp technology and business practices and they keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We can learn from our mistakes, but repeating them is not part of that process. In fact, we must make mistakes to move ahead.
More Thinking, Less Action
Especially at the first of any new business endeavor, getting contact with people who are in business and think out a plan to make that business succeed. This is the most important thing that you can do. Don’t just jump into some guru’s pocket.
If you are looking for a niche market to develop, then you must become part of that market. Hopefully, you will already be part of market. Bury yourself in the market by taking magazines and reading books.
That building down by the fire station that has a sign in front that says Podunk Library has lots of books and tapes that you can borrow. A good part of starting a business is reading. Your library will even let you read their magazines and the Wall Street Journal (maybe).
Changing Your Habits
It’s amazing how good we humanoids are at wasting time. If you’re devoted to your new business, you’ll need to abandon some of your favorite television program and texting with your friends. You can’t neglect your family, but you can organize your time better to make sure that the time that you are spending with your family is useful.
The Meanderings of an Old Man
I’m sure that you’re tired of me wandering this way and that in my trek to help you get into business. I just want you to avoid some of the pitfalls that I and many others have fallen into.
But work smart!
John T. Jones,Ph.D.
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