Online Business Ideas for the Over 50 Crowd

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The idea of running an online business may seem like a formidable task to the over 50 crowd who are unfamiliar with many technical aspects of the Internet.

Some baby boomers have had trouble learning the language of computers and the ‘net. After all, there are so many technical terms which may be totally unfamiliar to them, but are part of most people’s everyday language.

Many seniors may lack confidence in themselves to learn such an intimidating new skillset, but with the proper support, they usually begin to enjoy the process and want to learn more.

The good news is that nowadays, unlimited support is available for people over 50 who want to learn more about computers and the Internet. Plus, many tasks can be outsourced if you’re not ready to tackle them.

If you or a loved one is in this demographic, the best thing to do before jumping into a business online is to try out some new tools such as Youtube, Skype and Facebook.

These provide easy and fun ways to stay in touch with friends and family. Once you get the hang of these you may just warm up to the idea of spending some time learning more about technology and the business-related opportunities the Internet offers.

Learning the definition of terms such as URL address or web browsing may seem like learning a new language, but begin slowly and progress to the next level as you feel more comfortable.

Starting and Running a Business for Under $30 a Month

More retirees are choosing to supplement their retirement incomes with an online business rather than enduring the astronomical costs of an offline business. The cost is low and they can set their own hours and be their own boss.

Unlike a traditional offline business, the requirements of an online business are as simple as having an idea and developing a blog and website.

All you need are a computer and an Internet connection and some knowledge of both and you’re ready to go. There are so many types of online business which utilize the skills and experiences that seniors likely have that it can be fairly easy to find a niche that will be profitable and even fun and rewarding.

And it’s cheap!

Most people in the over 50 camp simply cannot believe that you can start a business online for less than $30 a month. Especially because starting a business before the birth of the Internet usually was a multi-thousand dollar venture.

But it’s true. That’s all you’re going to pay to start your new online business.

The remainder of tasks for your new business can be done by you – unless you choose to outsource some of the work (such as writing content). I outsource all the time at for just $5-$10 a pop, on everything from social media to design and more.

And hey, if you don’t want to outsource, you can simply enlist the help of children and grandchildren whenever you get stuck.

But before you get started know this…

More than anything else, starting an online business requires discipline. If you’re used to working for a boss, you may find it difficult to set your own hours and work at your own pace – but with patience and fortitude, you can make it work.

You also have to remember that there is a lot of competition in online businesses. Your consumers will be looking for quality and value and your job is to convince them that your product is what they need.

That can be accomplished with research of your niche and offering the highest quality products you can possible provide. Never cut corners when it comes to quality and always take the high road when it comes to your customers.

Keep upgrading and updating your website and blog. Spending a some time and even money as needed to polish your website and create interesting content will drive traffic to your site and the result will be more sales and profit.

Types of Businesses You Can Launch Online

No matter what your skills or preference, there is likely an online business that will appeal to you. If you’re just out of retirement, it’s especially enticing to start another career or build your own business with very little startup costs and the pleasure of being your own boss.

The types of businesses from which you can choose are many and varied. Consider your skills and experience and check out such businesses as affiliate marketing, writing or recording info products, coaching or selling content (PLR).

If you’re into arts and crafts, check out If you like to buy and sell, consider using Ebay. (I sell golf clubs all the time on Ebay and it is a breeze!)

There are also ways to become a virtual assistant to a company or person or you could begin creating graphics for eBooks and other specialties. If you have a knack for writing, you may want to consider writing reports for businesses or writing blog posts for online business owners.

Free online tools are available and easy to implement and can be very powerful as a way to get you started. One of the top online demands for services on the Internet in 2016 include freelance writing.

As a freelance writer, you would write articles and content and possibly propose creative ideas for future work. Most large businesses and websites prefer to outsource their writing tasks on an as-need basis, so there are enough freelance writing jobs for most everyone.

You may want to consider becoming a virtual assistant if you have experience in managing an office or projects. As a virtual assistant, you would help businesses and people stay organized and help them complete administrative tasks. Keep in mind that your list of tasks may vary according to your client’s needs.

The growth of the Internet has made it possible for people to have a home-based business. This is the perfect scenario for retired seniors, those with disabilities that make it difficult to commute to a job or to those who desire to create their own businesses and leave a legacy they can be proud of.



Can You Make Money from Affiliate Marketing? If so How?

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Before I start, I would like to make one thing clear:

I do not believe in easy money and there are no magical tips in this article that will help you get rich overnight. So if you are after easy money then this article is not for you.

This article mainly covers the following topics:

  • What affiliate marketing is and the different types of affiliate marketing
  • The advantages of being an affiliate marketer
  • Some tips and good practices to become a successful affiliate marketer

So, can you really make money from affiliate programs? Well yes and no; there is money in affiliate marketing but if YOU can make money from it or not depends on a lot of other factors such as your commitment, experience, site traffic etc.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

According to Wikipedia

“Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts”

Basically, you as a publisher will be rewarded when you help a business by promoting their products or services. So for example, if you sign up for Tips and Ticks HQ’s affiliate program and promote it’s products then you will get a commission when the visitor you send from your site makes a purchase.

Affiliate marketing is probably one of the quickest and cheapest (not the easiest) ways to start making money online as you don’t have to create any products yourself. You simply link up a buyer and a seller, and you take a commission on the sale that has been referred by you.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

When you join an Affiliate program and choose the products that you want to sell, sellers provide you with a unique affiliate code that you can use to refer traffic to the target site. Most affiliate programs will offer ready made text links, banners and other forms of creative copies whereby you only have to copy the code and place it on your website to start referring traffic. When interested visitors click on these links from your site they get redirected to the product site and if they purchase a product or subscribe to a service you as the referrer make a commission.

The sellers can track your performance through your affiliate ID and the affiliate softwares (eg. WP Affiliate Platform) that they use. You also have complete, real time access to all sales and commissions stats.

You don’t need to sell products all the time to make a commission. Different affiliate programs can use different payment terms such as:

  • Pay per Sale: In this program a merchant pays you a percentage of the sale price when the purchase is completed.
  • Pay per Click: In this program you get paid based on the number of visitors you redirect to the Merchant’s website from your affiliate site, whether or not a sale is made.
  • Pay per Lead: You get paid once the referred visitors provide their contact information on the target site by filling out a simple contact form.

Why be an Affiliate Marketer?

Affiliate marketing is considered to be one of the world’s fastest growing and best internet marketing techniques to earn money online and I will explain why:

  • Cost effective: Marketing on the internet is cheap and you don’t have to worry about the production cost as the product is already developed by the seller. You don’t need a physical business location or hire employees either.
  • Global Market: Online marketing gives you the opportunity to reach people all over the world easily.
  • No Fees: You don’t need to pay anything to join affiliate programs.
  • No Storage No Shipping: You don’t need to worry about storage, packing or shipment of the product. They are all taken care of by the seller.
  • No customer support: You don’t need to provide any customer support or deal with consumer complaints as the Seller does that for you.
  • Passive income: A regular job can give you a fixed income as long as you continue to work. Depending on your marketing skill Affiliate marketing can create a steady flow of income even when you are not in front of your computer.
  • Work from home: If you make enough money then you don’t have to worry about going to work at the same time every day or getting stuck in traffic. You can work in the comfort of your own home.

Tips on Becoming a Successful Affiliate Marketer

After reading all the benefits of affiliate marketing if you think you will be rich over night by selling affiliate products online then you are wrong. Affiliate marketing is definitely an excellent way to make money online but it’s highly competitive too. In order to be successful in Affiliate marketing you need to know the market needs, learn how to promote products, what works and what doesn’t. The following are a few tricks on becoming successful in affiliate marketing that I have learnt over time.

1. Only Choose a Handful of Good Products

The first mistake a lot of affiliate marketers make is that they register with too many different affiliate programs and try to promote everything. Pursuing affiliate marketing down this path can become very overwhelming and you won’t be able to promote any product properly. All you need in order to be successful is a handful of good products to promote. Try to understand the market needs and look for products that align correctly with the topic of your site.

2. Use Several Traffic Sources to Promote Products

Most affiliate marketers put up the ads only on their sites. There is nothing wrong with this approach but know that there are many other traffic sources that you can tap into and promote the products simultaneously. The more targeted traffic you can send to the sales page the more your chances are of making money.

Google Adwords can be used to drive targeted traffic to a sales page. You simply make an ad in your adwords account then use your affiliate link in the target page URL of the ad. Obviously, you will have to continuously measure the conversions and see if the campaign cost is less than the campaign profit in order to keep the campaign running but I am sure you get the idea.

3. Test, Measure and Track Your Affiliate Campaign

It is a very good idea to use different product promotion strategies so you can figure out what is working and what is not. Try to do split testing and measure the performance of each campaign then take actions accordingly. Changing a few things here and there can increase your profit dramatically. Make sure to place the banner ads on different areas of your site’s pages. Some positions will make the ads more noticeable than others.

Most affiliate programs will give you basic stats that you may need but there is nothing stopping you from using your own conversion tracking software too. There are many conversions tracking sofware out there that you can use to track your affiliate campaign.

4. Research the Demand of the Product

If you try to sell a product that is in low demand then chances are that you are not going to get many sales no matter how hard you try. So it is a good idea to spend a bit of time researching and finding out if a product that you are thinking of promoting is a product that your audience needs. If your site gets decent traffic then you can conduct an online survey and easily get input from your visitors.

5. Stay Current with New Methods and Techniques

Affiliate marketing is a very competitive field and people are always coming up with new techniques. Try to stay current with these new techniques and market trends otherwise you will fall behind.

6. Choose the Right Merchant

When you promote a product you also promote the person or the company who is behind the product so try to choose wisely. You don’t want your visitors to go and buy a product following your advice then come back unhappy. Do you think that this visitor will come back to your site and take your advice again? Most likely no; this can hurt your credibility in the long run. Usually, websites/company that offer good customer service will have better customer satisfaction so try to stick with promoting their products.

7. Use Helpful Tools

If you are serious about affiliate marketing then try to find tools that will help you be more efficient. There are many helpful tools out there. If you are using a WordPress powered site then consider getting a plugin similar to the Affiliate Link Manager.

Don’t just hope and pray that visitors will buy; setup everything correctly and make it happen! If you think that visitors will click on your affiliate links and buy just because you placed dozens of affiliate links on your website then you are wrong! You need to have a structured plan in place. Affiliate marketing is a business so you will have a much better chance of succeeding if you treat it like one.




Advice For Selecting A MLM Home Business Opportunity

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Looking for a MLM home business opportunity to start your own business? Working at home can give the freedom you want and the income that you deserve. By working from home you can be there for your children, cook dinner, and still get in a few hours of work before bed. A work at home business can be very attractive but you must be careful to select one that works for you.

When selecting a MLM home business opportunity for your own, look for one that has being in business for a number of years. Many scams are often fly-by-night operations. That doesn’t mean avoid younger companies, but look carefully before you take a leap of faith. Make sure that they have a good training program in place, a fair compensation plan worked out, and their products have been time tested.

When comparing MLM home business opportunities, think of yourself first. Choose a business that fits your interests and talents; don’t think you can be molded to fit theirs. Examine what you want, to fit your knowledge and background. Many times your life experiences can add greatly to a company’s offerings to create a perfect blend. Take time to select the opportunity that is right for you.
Many who become involved in a MLM home business opportunity start out on a part time basis. This is wise advice for everyone considering the jump into self-employment. Keeping your day job will insure adequate income to meet your household and buy you enough time to get the business established. Also, by keeping your current ties in the business world, you can attract them as customers to your new endeavor.

MLM home business opportunities are waiting for your first chance to grab them. Just remember if something is too good to be trueComputer Technology Articles, it probably is. Many companies offer pie-in-the-sky dreams with little else. Keep your wits when looking at MLM home business opportunities and you will land with your feet on the ground.

“Discover How A Brain-Damaged And Formerly Suicidal Man Rakes In A 6-Figure Income From Home, And How By Following His Simple System You Can Begin Earning Extra Income Too!” 



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Top Eight Local Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

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As a small business owner, you might think that large companies have an easier time marketing themselves. After all, they have a huge budget and an entire department to develop and implement marketing campaigns.

 Well, what they don’t have is the local advantage that you do. After all, you actually know your customers, which means you know how to market your business locally better than the big guys do.

If you’re looking for some ideas about online local marketing, here are the top eight local marketing ideas for small business:

1. Get Listed Online

Double-check that you are listed in all of the big online directories, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and the most popular online review sites, such as Yelp and Foursquare. Don’t forget about your local chamber of commerce, either.

2. Ask for Reviews

Because search results appear by the companies with the best social clout, it’s important to not only ask for reviews but also make it easy for customers to review you. Be sure to provide links to review sites on your website and in your email marketing to make reviewing even easier for your customers.

3. Highlight Your Contact Information

Your business name, street address, and local phone number—not a toll-free 800 number—should be prominently displayed on your website and appear consistently online. Search engines check for consistency in that information.

4. Participate in Local Events

Sponsor or participate in local community events or host your own. You’ll get publicity in local newspapers and on social media as people share and talk about the event.

5. Optimize Your Site for Mobile

Your mobile site should be easy to read and navigate. In addition, make sure you are listed on Google Maps and Facebook Places so you can take advantage of the fact that 40% of local searches are for small businesses.

6. Use a Loyalty Reward Program

If you use it consistently, a loyalty program is a truly valuable way to continually engage with customers. There are many platforms out there for small business owners. For example, Belly turns smart phones into loyalty cards, and Swipelysends rewards to debit and credit cards.

7. Stay Active on Social Media

Small businesses can gain at least 25% of new customers via social media, which is great because search engines look for and reward social activity. Many small businesses use social media to collect feedback from customers, provide customer service, and build loyalty.

8. Share Promotions

Instead of just sharing Groupon vouchers, discounts, and promotions in email, share them online and via text. Seventy-three percent of consumers look for Groupons and other discounts online, 59% of customers visit a business specifically to use a Groupon or other coupon, and 90% of consumers read texts from businesses within three minutes of receiving the text on their phone.




19 Great Local Marketing Ideas For Your Small Business

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These ideas can help you drive more sales – be forewarned!

Building a successful business is all about marketing and positioning your products and services in front of the right audience. If potential customers don’t know about your product, they will never become actual customers. If your sales team doesn’t have the right lead-flow, you’ll never grow your business.


Here are 19 easy ways to publicize your business and bring in more sales opportunities.

1. Host a Marketing Forum.
Invite other small business owners to share marketing ideas that have and haven’t worked in your area. (If you love shaking hands, consider creating a in your local area as “your” event.

2. Participate in Trade Shows.
These are great ways to meet other business owners and potential customers. Search Google for trade shows and events for your market.

3. Build and Maintain a Business Referral Network.
Find other business owners at trade shows and industry events, and meet with them often. Make sure to use a video, podcast and special page to provide value up front.

4. Give Referrals Often!
If you send customers to other businesses, they will return the favor.

5. Hand Out Flyers/Cards for Other Businesses.
Again, your colleagues will return the favor. Think about partnerships in your local market. If you can connect other businesses, you win.

6. Send Handwritten Letters.
Make your best customers feel appreciated, and they’ll keep coming back. If nothing else, send a postcard. (

7. Set Up Suggestion Boxes.
Use a physical suggestion box in your store or office, an online forum, or both.

8Get Attractive Business Cards, and Use Them!
Have several cards with you at all times. Make sure to have a call to action and special URL that visitors will benefit from. TIP: Don’t hand out business cards willy-nilly, try to connect first.

9Use Postcards.
They’re cheaper than letters and anyone who handles the mail will see them. Try as above.

10Write Editorials.
Buying advertising space is great, but nothing builds publicity better than an actual article in a local publication. Contact your local newspaper, share your idea and how it helps the community.

11Hang Posters/Flyers at Local Establishments.
Of course, always get permission first. Best place is to leave them at the front counter of the office building or local merchant. Do the same for them.

12Community Involvement.
Volunteer at local non-profit events. Encourage your employees to do the same.

Sponsor a local sports team, a charity or an annual event.

14Host a Contest.
Whether it relates to your business or not, a local contest gets your name out in the community. You can do this online, and Facebook may be good place to start. (

15Public Speaking.
Contact local schools, rotary clubs and community organizations. Never pass up a chance to tell people about your business. Here’s how to get a speaking spot. (If you are a Los Angeles based SEO consultant, please reach out).

16Use Your Voice Mail.
Missing a call doesn’t have to mean missing a customer. Make sure anyone who calls you will hear something about your product. Add a call to action while they wait. (Visit this page/video, etc)

17Use Google My Business (Dashboard).
Google has collected web data for millions of local businesses. Claim yours, get + keep it updated, and pay attention to what people are saying. Consider implementing a local SEO review system.

18Use Social Media.
Remember, people don’t log in to Facebook to buy things! Social media is all about creating relationships, not closing sales. (However, running ads that provide value will eventually lead to sales)

19 Always Be Personally Accessible.
If people know they can always come to you with concerns, they will return to your business …again and again.





How Affiliate Marketing Can Work for Entrepreneurs

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Some of today’s best affiliate marketers are bloggers and other social-media personalities who have a large following. In the typical affiliate marketing arrangement, an entrepreneur enters into an agreement with an influential Internet personality or someone else willing to represent a product.

The affiliate marketer promotes this product through links, banners, testimonials or other content.

Instead of forking out cash in advance for website links that promote a business, “the marketer provides a commission to affiliates for every transaction that results from these links,” Shawn Collins and Frank Fiore wrote in Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants. The arrangement is a win for both sides since “it helps marketers acquire new customers and increase revenues, while affiliates can generate revenues.”

Affiliate marketing is “an agreement where one firm (the marketer) compensates another firm (the affiliate) for generating transactions from its users,” Simon Goldschmidt, Sven Junghagen and Uri Harris explained in Strategic Affiliate Marketing.

Affiliate-marketing programs can provide a substantial upside to an entrepreneur through their ability to involve a cadre of influencers, someone who has an above-average impact on a specific field and can sawy their social-media following.

There’s nothing wrong with affiliates scoring a commission in exchange for a promotion involving the placement of links, banner ads and similar forms of advertisement. From time to time, an affiliate marketing might highlight a product through a review or testimonial. The entrepreneur must ensure that the agreement with the affiliate provides appropriate disclosure to he audience.

Entrepreneurs should consider the following when establishing an affiliate program:

Related: Top 10 Ways to Make Money Online — With Integrity

1. Watch out for online store glitches.
Stephanie Robbins, CEO of affiliate-marketing firm Robbins Interactive, told me in October on KCAA Radio’s Money Talk that affiliate marketing programs work well when an entrepreneur has set up an online store. She cautioned, though, that the quickest way for an entrepreneur to lose valuable affiliates is from technical glitches that cause lost sales and result in lost revenues for affiliates.

The beauty of a well-developed affiliate program is its integration with an online store. While entrepreneurs can develop homegrown affiliate systems, they might find it worthwhile to explore options available through third-party affiliate programs such as those offered by CJ Affiliate, Rakuten, Shareasale and Avantlink.

“You need to be able to put the technology in place so that you can reimburse and reward your affiliates as appropriate,” Robbins said.

2. Set an appropriate price.
Affiliate-marketing programs pay a percentage of each sale generated from the affiliate’s activities. Driving traffic to an online store can involve tie-ins as simple as placing a hyperlink or banner on a website to posting comprehensive and well-thought out online articles covering a product’s features and benefits.

Influential affiliates with large online followings on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can have many products potentially available for them to represent. As such, the commission per conversion (from site visitor to paying client) is important.

Robbins encouraged entrepreneurs to rely on affiliate marketing for products selling in the $60 to $100 range. This price point is optimal as a significant volume of sales can be generated with a reasonable commission. Lower dollar amounts provide nominal affiliate revenue and higher priced items do not sell as readily — which might prompt an influencer to decline entering into an agreement.

Related: How to Go ‘Cha-Ching’ With an Affiliate Program

3. Partner with the right marketers.
Successful affiliates work hard to create influence. Affiliates typically won’t become involved with products if they don’t inspire a conversation.

Affiliates have their niches. Entrepreneurs should target and make arrangements only with affiliates who operate within their industry. For example, an entrepreneur selling high-end culinary utensils and hardware should seek affiliates who are foodies, restaurant owners, industry consultants and others involved in related fields. These affiliates may maintain blogs, websites, social media pages and accounts where they share information and links about the product.

Entrepreneurs must be prepared to establish significant revenue-sharing agreements if they wish to engage with top affiliate marketers.

Years ago some observers advised entrepreneurs to seek out influential bloggers with strong followings and offer a product or some other noncash benefit in exchange for a mention or link. This worked for a while. But not any longer.

“So many people think that if we give these bloggers free product they will be completely happy,” Robbins said. “These are businesspeople now. They know the value that they are bringing to the client. And they want to be compensated for it.”

4. Provide transparency and honesty.
Lack of proper disclosure can damage the reputation of an affiliate and an entrepreneur as well break rules established by the Federal Trade Commission. Entrepreneurs should monitor affiliates in cases where they make statements about the product in reviews and articles.

“In order to limit its potential liability, the advertiser should ensure that the advertising service provides guidance and training to its bloggers concerning the need to ensure that statements they make are truthful and substantiated,” states the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. “The advertiser should also monitor bloggers who are being paid to promote its products and take steps necessary to halt the continued publication of deceptive representations when they are discovered.”




5 Small Business Marketing Ideas for 2016

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In order to help us with marketing and web design for small businesses, we employ a full time psychic. Ok, we’re kidding, he’s only part-time. Always being on the cutting edge, we invest significant time as a “backup.” So whether your marketing objectives for 2016 are to increase sales, build brand awareness or grow market share, make sure your small business makes informed marketing decisions in 2016.

1. Go Beyond SEO for Lead Generation and Website Traffic

We are huge proponents of search engine optimization. However many small businesses have come to believe that SEO and the end-all and be-all of online marketing. But just like when managing a financial portfolio, it is important to diversify your marketing strategy. You may choose to allocate a significant chunk of your marketing budget to SEO, but if that is your only strategy, you may be giving your competitors an advantage.

Here are a few things you can do to get more website traffic and generate more leads:

  • Dabble in online advertising. If you haven’t yet, you should consider investing money on online advertising for your small business. Although many business owners are resistant to this strategy, it’s critical to remember that like all marketing efforts, online advertising should be assessed as a function of its ROI.
  • Remember when we didn’t have the Internet? Many businesses forget about marketing offline. There are many strategies for promoting your business in the (gasp) real world. This will help you connect with your clients on a personal level which is often missing these days.

We will continue to tell our clients to invest in their website’s SEO by:

  • Developing strategic and relevant content
  • Re-evaluating existing SEO Strategies to account for Google (and other search engines) algorithm changes
  • Avoiding seo-scams and black-hat SEO practices

Make a Concerted Effort to Get Online Reviews

Don’t believe that online reviews are important to your business? Although it may be hard to believe, 88% of consumers trust online reviews at much as they do a personal recommendation. Want more? Check this out:

  • 72% of consumers trust a local business more based on positive online reviews
  • 88% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business

Many small businesses ignore this aspect of marketing for fear of bad reviews. However, it’s critical to acknowledge the fact that potential clients will read online reviews, and those online reviews will impact their decision. Hopefully we convinced you that acquiring online reviews is important.

How to get online reviews:

  • Set up profiles on multiple review websites. There are many review websites out there, and you should identify the ones that are most relevant to your business: Google Local, Yelp, Angie’s List, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Ask Your Customers. Believe it or not, the best way to get more online reviews is to simply ask your current customers. When you get the next email or phone review, just mention how much you’d appreciate an online review.
  • Make leaving online reviews as easy as possible. Customers who have had a good experience are less likely to go out of their way to leave a review than those who have had a bad experience. You need to do as much of the work for them as possible and provide direct links.

Small Business Web Design is Queen of the Hill

As the old cliché goes, “content is king.” It is imperative that your website is packed with relevant content designed for both website visitors and search engines.

But what good is having great content with poor presentation? Having the right content will help you drive more traffic to your website, but that is not your only objective. Once you get someone to your website you need to convert them into a lead. The conversion process is driven by the integration of content with web design and calls to action.

Here are a few tips on integrating content with web design:

  • It’s all about intent. Combining content and web design begins in the planning stage and continues through design and development. It’s critical that your web design company understands this and intentionally allocates real estate for each piece of content on your website. Otherwise, you’ll continue to “patch” things in here and there and the results will reflect this thoughtlessness to your potential clients.
  • Use effective calls to action (CTA). An effective call to action can be the difference between converting a visitor into a lead and losing them. Remember, a good call to action should remove or reduce risk, be simple and concise, and encourage immediate action.

Put User Experience Front And Center

With so many choices available for online users, small businesses must focus on providing optimal user experience. Rather than just an afterthought, web designers and web developers ought to give some thought to the overall design, navigation and usability.

Here are few tips on improving user experience:

  • Test and Monitor. There are many approaches that can be taken to accomplish this task, but regardless of the method, an integral part of optimization is property testing and monitoring performance. For example, we implement A/B testing in our web design to see which CTA works best.
  • Develop using responsive web design (a quick overview of responsive web design). Usability is one of the foundations of user experience. Your website must be easy to view, read and navigate on any and every device. Forget mobile websites. You must now serve customers on a variety of devices ranging from giant desktop monitors, to laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Responsive websites are the only way to go.
  • Track, track and track some more then analyze. Are your users seeing the content you wish for them to see? Are they getting to the important information within your website? The only way to know is to track AND ANALYZE. Note that simply having Google Analytics installed does you no good if you’re not putting all that info to good use.
  • Don’t overwhelm your visitors with data entry. Sure, you want as much personal information as possible about every visitor. But the number of visitors who will fill out a form is directly related to the amount of information for which you ask. Basically, it’s better to start small and then follow up.

What Matters is ROI

ROI (return on investment) is the measure of the returns (or profit) that is earned from an investment. Simply put, “what did I get for my money?” When it comes to marketing calculating ROI can be complex. Why? Because there are many forms of “returns” (sales, increased brand awareness, etc.) Business owners looking to make the most of their marketing dollars must identify appropriate metrics and make sure their marketing efforts measure to their satisfaction.

Here are a few tips on improving your marketing ROI:

  • “Forecast” instead of “backcast”. We always make a point of measuring user behavior as it gives you insight into current and past customer behavior. However, it is critical that you do not rely 100% onwhat used to work (“backcasting”) and invest some energy into “forcasting,” what may change with the times. How? Gather data from your sales force and interview clients. Why? To gain valuable information about changes in the marketplace.
  • Look at the whole picture. Businesses focus their attention on one channel and forget that consumers frequently transition between mediums before making buying decisions. At the end of the day its important to keep in mind that all marketing elements (website, social media and online reviews) potentially impact your capacity for customer acquisition.
  • Understanding the payoff curve. If you spend $100 on Google Adwords resulting in $1000 in profit, does that mean that spending $200 will yield $2000? Maybe, maybe not. Smart marketers understand that like many other elements, marketing ROI does not follow a linear pattern. Each effort must be assessed and reassessed as changes are implemented to assure optimal performance.
  • What about my brand? Sometimes, when when we are too focused on hard metrics, we can miss what is right in front of our eyes. It is imperative that marketers assign a value to brand equity when measuring the return of each element in the complete marketing strategy.

The Time is Now

Don’t let another year go by without improving your marketing strategy. If you have any questions about the 5 small business marketing ideas listed above, looking to design or redesign your website, or need help from a Cleveland web design and marketing company, please contact us.

Your Turn

  • Are you planning on utilizing any of these strategies?
  • What are marketing strategies will use to promote your business?




5 Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners

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This post is written by Rob Lauer, an online entrepreneur, affiliate marketer and writer who discusses technology and strategies for making more money.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to monetize online content. While there are many true stories of Internet entrepreneurs amassing small fortunes by delivering high-converting referral leads to affiliate businesses, this relatively straightforward concept isn’t always as simple to execute as it appears.

To make the journey that little bit easier, here are five fundamental tips for prospective affiliate marketers:

1. Choose Your Niche

A common misstep of those new to affiliate marketing is to target a broad swath of the most popular and lucrative products and services, making it nearly impossible to generate enough relevant, sustainable traffic to consistently compete. You can get more traction when starting out by formulating your strategy around the type of content you are interested in and capable of producing, and then cultivating a comprehensive plan for promoting relatable, in-demand products within your niche.

In a world of increasingly effective search engine algorithms that have helped make quality content king of the Internet, the way to achieve long-term success is to become a trusted source of information and insight on topics that are a natural fit to refer to on an affiliate basis.

2. Generate Valuable Content

An effective affiliate campaign shifts away from basic pay-per-click strategies by placing the focus on marketing content (rather than specific products) to a qualified targeted audience. The path to forging productive relationships online is through consistently delivering content loaded with information that your readers, viewers, listeners find relevant and engaging. It’s what first attracts an audience to your channel, compels them to keep coming back, and establishes a level of authority that helps consumers feel comfortable taking action on your affiliate links.

By giving your visitors information that supplies actionable takeaways and prepares them to make more informed purchasing decisions, you become a resource they will value, return to often, and share with their network of friends.

3. Cross-Channel Promote

While an essential component to a successful content strategy for affiliate marketing is to utilize online copywriting and SEO best practices to attract search traffic, few will be successful without the basic semblance of a cross-channel marketing campaign. The healthy flow of qualified traffic is the fuel that powers the affiliate marketing machine, and the best way to expand your reach, increase exposure, and forge deeper connections is through multi-channel engagement.

From building a communications list for direct email marketing, to promoting your content via social channels and online media outreach, the idea is to get all of your actions and efforts working in unison to build your audience and promote your brand.

4. Understand Your Legal Obligations

Modern marketers are compelled to pay close attention to legal guidelines that govern the way they conduct their business online. When it comes to affiliate marketing in particular, there are very specific areas of compliance that must be understood and adhered to in order to safely steer clear of federal violations.

While anyone participating in an affiliate program (whether by simply linking to Amazon or providing comprehensive product mentions endorsements) should be thoroughly acquainted with the most current FTC regulations, it’s crucial to start by understanding that any entity involved in a compensated affiliate relationship must make full disclosure.

Smart affiliate marketers not only embrace the role regulations play in protecting the American consumer from misleading advertising, but also the opportunity disclosure provides for winning the trust and support of an audience. Let your visitors know that if they click on an affiliate link that it makes your website money, and also that you only give a positive review for products and brands that you would endorse for free.

5. Utilize Software Tools to Unlock Efficiency

By all accounts, it is the small details that ultimately tilt the scales of difficulty in running an affiliate marketing program. Entrepreneurs and online publishers just getting started should understand how software solutions such as Skimlinks not only reduce the workload of running campaigns by automating time-consuming details, but also provide insight and accuracy in efficiently monetizing your content.

Skimlinks instantly converts existing product and merchant links within your content into affiliate links, and it also locates and converts natural product references into links where your readers can purchase applicable items.

By connecting with a solution that helps link the right products to your website, blog, or even social media posts and supplies all the tools you need to track, analyze and optimize your affiliate relationships, you can turn on lucrative streams of revenue with seamless precision.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing is an effective money-making strategy for countless online entities – however, as straightforward as it is in theory, success is rarely as easy as it looks. By choosing a sustainable long-term strategy, devoting resources to quality content production and promotion, understanding legal obligations, and optimizing with software solutions, you can position your affiliate marketing program on the path to success.

What additional affiliate marketing tips can you suggest?




Homegrown: 5 Local Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses

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For many small business owners, home is not just “where the heart is.” It’s where the money is, too.

Thanks to a trifecta of trends, local marketing strategies offer today’s entrepreneur more opportunities than ever. More consumers are mobile, more brands are re-focusing on relationship marketing and more location-based technology is making it easier to connect the two.

If you are looking to draw in more customers and establish loyalty for generations to come, your local marketing efforts must be prioritized.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, though, by the various tactics the digital landscape offers. Get started with the following tips.

1. Monitor review and news sites.

With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, monitoring what’s being said about you on review sites and in local media is very important.

In addition to building relationships with local news outlets, read and respond (when appropriate and in a professional manner) to reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon and other sites that are relevant to your industry.

While organically earned media and third-party reviews are best, you’ll find that some businesses encourage reviews via in-store signage, their website, and social media channels. Every review site offers different guidelines on this practice. Research each site to learn about their stance on review requests and best practices for managing your business profile.

As you earn media coverage and customer reviews, consider linking to these mentions and review profiles from your own website. Reviews are often a key factor in a customer’s purchase decision and an easy way to build an online record of the consistent good service or products your business provides.

2. Build and maintain a referral program.

Tap into the power of customer referrals by establishing a referral program for your business. Referral programs, like most incentives, provide customers with discounts to bring more business in the door.

Because your customers know their social circle very well, this word-of-mouth marketing tactic is an excellent way to target new audiences.

To set up your program for success, ensure that your customers are aware of its existence. Make the program easy to locate/navigate to from the home page on your website. If a customer makes a purchase, consider presenting the program after the sale to incentivize future purchases.

Developing a referral program does take time and research – provide proper motivation by making sure the rewards you give match what your customers want.

3. Optimize your local search listings.

Time is of the essence for today’s shoppers, and local search directories make it easier to research businesses on the go.

Check your business’s local search results to make sure the information is complete and up-to-date. You can also register your business with local search directories like Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo’s Aabaco Small Business Localworks.

Provide information that will help customers connect with you, including your physical and web addresses, phone number, business email address, and photos. Optimizing your overall web presence is also important. Check out our recent blog post, SEO and Discoverability: Similar, But Not the Same for more content discoverability tips.

4. Host a contest.

Local contests and sweepstakes have long been used to grow businesses’ fan base and encourage audience engagement. However, they now can help you learn a bit more about current and prospective customers – including what marketing channels brought them to your content and what products they previously purchased/are interested in.

Set your contest up for success by having clearly-defined goals, guidelines and methods for measuring/announcing the results. And if you use a service or social platform to help host and promote the contest, be sure to understand all terms of service before proceeding.

5. Cross promote with other local businesses.

When planning your marketing, don’t overlook your relationships with other businesses in your community. Combining your efforts with another local business is a budget-friendly way to reach more customers.

For instance, consider offering a special promotion for customers who frequent a different (non-competitor) business. If your business is located next to a sandwich shop, offer a 10% discount to the sandwich shop while they offer their customers a similar discount for your store. Because many store locations are in close proximity, it can be a win-win for both retailers.

Getting the word out about your brand is key to gaining a strong foothold in your community and growing your customer base. It takes planning to identify who your audience is, where you can best reach them, and what sort of messaging they’re looking for.




9 Success Habits of Wealthy People That Cost Nothing

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Have you ever you wondered how certain people have gotten so successful? Sure you have. A great idea, motivation, persistence, and a little luck helps, but most successful people share certain habits. Here are nine habits that have helped place them on the top:

1. They meditate.

Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, told The Huffington Post in 2013 that “Meditation, more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had.” Dalio, however, is not alone. Oprah, Rupert Murdoch, Russell Simmons, Arianna Huffington, Bill Ford and Padmasree Warrior have all attributed mediation as a huge component to their success.

Taking care of your body and mind by relaxing, exercising, healthy eating and getting enough sleep are all ways to improve your chances of success.

2. They wake up early.

President Obama, Richard Branson, Jack Dorsey, Larry Schultz, Tim Cook and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns are known to be early risers. How has this attributed to their success? Because early risers are able to start their days ahead of everyone else by responding to others, exercising and finding some personal time, early risers also tend to be happier and are more proactive.

3. They network.

Successful people realize the importance of networking. In fact, research has found that networking can lead to people performing better at work and increases the chance of landing a job. Networking helps our successful people be more innovative. According to Dale Carnegie’s classic “How To Win Friends & influence People,” successful people rarely complain or criticize. They are sincere and try to be empathetic.

4. Keep themselves busy.

Successful people are rarely idle. Achievers like LBJ and Robert Moses were known to work 60-65 hours per work. Elon Musk works a whooping 80-100 hours per week and has said, “That’s the type of work ethic an entrepreneur needs to have.”

5. They know when to say “no.”

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett

Successful people realize that by saying “no” to negativity, extra work and activities that waste time, they can focus on increasing their productivity. If they say “yes” to everyone or everything, they’ll be too distracted and will not accomplish tasks that have to be done.

6.They don’t watch TV, they read

According to Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals,” 67 percent of rich people only watch TV for one hour or less per day. Corley also found only 6 percent of the wealthy watch reality shows, while 78 percent of the poor do.

Additionally, 86 percent of the wealthy love to read with an impressive 88 percent claiming that they read for self-improvement for 30 minutes or more per day.

7. They write to-do lists the night before.

Successful people are known for writing their to-do-lists the night before so that they are able to set priorities for the following day. They number their lists as well to identify which tasks are the most important.

8. They set goals and visualize.

Joel Brown interviewed a number of high achievers for Entrepreneur and found that “Ninety-five percent of the successful achievers I have interviewed practice writing down their goals, plans, or visions for success on a regular basis.” Successful people do this the night before, or first thing in the morning so that they are prepared to tackle the challenges that await them.”

9. They manage their money.

Successful people have gotten where they are because they were able to manage their finances well. This means that they invest their money wisely, look for new opportunities and set aside emergency funds. They are more generous and willing to donate to those who need help. Here are 101 ways that I’ve put together to save money like well-off people. In addition, I’ve found that my marriage has become 10x better with enough savings in the bank for a year of expenses. That saved us when my last business venture failed.

There is an old saying that luck and preparation always meet opportunity. The most successful people set themselves up for success by preparing all the time. Successful people expect luck will find them, and it usually does.