Is Online Marketing a Scam?
“I have been “burned” three times and am very motivated, but also very skeptical.”
“What is the SIMPLEST, EASIEST, FOLLOW THE LEADER, SIMPLE BUSINESS TO START UP ON THE INTERNET AND ACTUALLY MAKE SOME MONEY???????? I DO NOT BELIEVE THERE IS SUCH A THING!!!!!!”
“…tired of all the Guru BS overpriced overhyped programs and tools; want to create profits within days/ couple of weeks instead of months later…”
I remember asking myself this same question back when I paid $47 for my first ebook in February of 2006. “If it is so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?” In those days, the ads of making $500/day instantly were plentiful and I admit I was a bit skeptical when joining, but I thought “for $47, if I could make a fraction of what these guys claim, it would be well worth it”.
In fact, I bought this book when my wife was away in Australia for two weeks. When she returned, I told her all about affiliate marketing and making money online…and she laughed her pretty lil’ a** off!
“You’ve been scammed!”, was her response.
Of course, she doesn’t laugh at me now (especially since she works for me!).
For the first few months, I spent a few hundred dollars on Adwords and tried plenty of “free websites” and other quick hit ways of making money. It wasn’t until I started to understand the fundamentals of the internet that I started to ignore the gimmicks and focus on concepts of making money (including things like building traffic, testing keywords, researching marketing, understanding optins and conversion).
I made my first sale as an affiliate at about day 75. If was for Proactiv solution (you know, the anti-acne cream). It was for $7.43. I paid over $80 in Adwords and my landing page was nothing more than a regurgitated sales letter with awful design, minimal call-to-action and a whole lot of fluff.
I lost over $72 doing this, but it made me realize that this was not a scam and there was SO MUCH room for improvement. So I improved everything, kept learning and kept trying new things.
TheWebReviewer.com alone brings in well over 6-figures in affiliate commissions. I don’t do any black hat stuff and there are no tricks to it. I just picked away at it: Focused on creating good (and REAL) content and reviews, continue to test keywords and products and I’m always trying new techniques and strategies to build traffic (and ultimately getting that traffic to convert into sales!)
Of course, I go well beyond TheWebReviewer these days, but that is what I am most known for (and really, what I am most proud of). Making money online is NOT a scam, but it is not as simple as a “free website”, a “business in a box”, or “Google Cash in 4 Simple Lines of Text”.
How Do I Know If a Product is a Scam?
“is there any jobs that don’t need money to start”
“how to know that a job advertised for a cost is not a scam?”
“1. Why are a lot of business opportunities so complicated or just junk. 2.Why do most companies have no good companies numbers or emails or never get back to you. 3. Why are most business opportunities scams or no good or just pure junk.”
“why is it soo hard to find legitimite money making plans that let you make a honest buck without getting the shaft?”
“Hey matt, all those quick money making scam going on these days, where can i find real money making program”
So how do you know whether a product is a “scam” or not. Honestly, I have read a LOT of programs, eBooks and techniques in my life and the truth is, like I said above, that these products are not really scams…they just may embellish the truth a bit.
First, why would someone want to share such a “great money making idea” with the public for $27? One reason is that it USED to work, but it doesn’t work as well now. Google Cash or “Type-At-Home” is an example of that. The testimonials and earnings disclaimers are usually huge (and usually accurate, too!). The problem is that they did this 2 years ago when it was novel. Now it has had its day and creating a book about it seems like a logical step for those who can SHOW the proof.
Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
“Process at Home”, for example is a bunch of BS. Here, is a bunch of over-hyped copy making the buyer think they are going to be processing rebates from Nordstrom, etc. Nope! This is just a bait and switch for affiliate marketing. (The term “process” is used very liberally here.) Still, the product CAN produce cash, but the products are not exactly what the customer thinks they are buying.
So what do you do?
1) Trying products is still fine! Just make sure they have a good, solid return policy. Most products offer this (and if they do not, be weary!). Losing $10 is no real big deal, but if it is $200 and no refund policy, I would be skeptical! (And remember that buying from places like Clickbank provides you with a lot of protection and refundability, too)
2) Focus on your needs! Too many people are always buying just for the next “greatest thing”. I used to do this, but it usually never panned out and resulted in me steering away from things that I SHOULD be doing. If you are having SEO problems, YOU find an SEO book. If you have a PPC problem, find a PPC book. Letting them come to you can result in a lot of decent products with a lot of decent ideas, but ultimately no path for you to do anything.
3) Start off learning the fundamentals! TheWebReviewer goes over a lot of products and programs from everything like Affiliate Marketing to eCommerce to Domain Brokering, etc. Personally (here is my little plug!), trying Tru-Guru for the $4.95 for the 15 days is a pretty good way to start. I structure the videos a lot to teach the fundamentals first (and it is a Clickbank product, too, so you have some protection…and you can always promote it yourself, too! 75% commission!). Click here to learn more about Tru-Guru!
(enough of my shameless plugs for now!)
Why Is There So Many Internet Marketing Products?
“Internet millionaires have come and gone, what would be the best approach, and direction to go in, that would yield profits from a market whose time has already come and gone.”
“Why is there so many online home base business opps right now??”
This is a good lesson about market research: Sell what is hot! If there are a lot of people selling or promoting a product (or market) online, it probably means people are making money on it!
The home business niche has been (and will be) a hot niche for awhile. The problem with a niche like this is breaking into it can be difficult (and this one is perhaps one of the most difficult, as you can see with all of the products!).
But there is a lesson here: just because others are doing it should not deter you whatsoever! It only means that it is profitable. Competition is healthy.
Another question you may have is: “Are home based business people (like myself in this case) the only ones making money online?” - i.e., is this just another form of multi-level marketing?
Answer: Absolutely not! I fell into this niche because I loved it (and I knew it was profitable!). But because of that, I also knew that building it would be an uphill battle. Since then, I have created other, smaller niche sites and I have found it to be much easier to break into and less work to maintain. The volume may not be as high, but the time to test these niches, create effective Adwords campaigns, get terms ranked in the Search Engines and the social aspects of it have been much easier to manage. (Home business has a bit of a black cloud over it!)
My best advice when picking out a niche for yourself:
1) choose something that interests you
2) choose one that is already successful (and in most cases, one that solves some sort of “problem”)
How Do I Start with Little or No Investment?
“Can a part time, newbie, really make money?”
“I’m strapped for cash so what is the cheapest way to get started with no or very little money?”
“I have no money to start with up-front. I have no credit cards. That is the reason I need something to do online to make money. I realize that everything requires some investment, but what about when you don’t have it? “
“If I have only $250.00 per month budget starting out, and about 12 to 15 hours a week, what’s the best way for a complete newbie to turn this into income (with an internet business) that can be re-invested to grow an online business?”
“How can the average 10-12 hour a day working man with no extra money, really and truly get started making money through the internet.”
“Where does the know nothing beginer begin, in on line business?”
“If you were just starting out which would you set up first (after some general education)… a blog or a review site?”
“If you had to start over from scratch today with limited funds, what would you do? What makes you the most ROI in a hurry?”
“With the economy going in the tank and getting worse every day now….where would you focus any new website marketing efforts”
“Matt, If you had to start all over today from scratch, what would you do?”
“If I wanted to spend one hour a day (without spending much or any money) on a certain niche what would be the best way to spend the time”
“I’ve bought so many products that I am so confused how to start”
“How to simply do it ?”
How do you start? This was a very popular question, as you can see! And not only how do you start, but how can you start in a cost effective manner?
Believe it or not, the answer is quite simple!
1) Find a niche or product that you are interested in and there is a current market online (as we discussed in the last section).
2) THIS IS THE KEY: CREATE CONTENT!
There are a number of ways to do this, but the simplest and cheapest is starting your own blog. You can get this up and running in less than 5 minutes using a pre-built blogging platform such as Blogger.com.
If you can write an email, you can use Blogger! It is free, too.
Personally, if you have a little bit to spare, I would recommend starting with your own domain name and Wordpress blog. This costs about $5/month and the set-up is amazingly simple.
(Again, a shameless affiliate link plug here: I work with a company (StartLogic) that only charges $5.95/month hosting and the domain is free. I personally can provide you with the 10 minutes step-by-step instructions on how to set-up it or you can contact my help desk and we’ll do it for you for free. Check out this offer here: StartLogic Wordpress Offer)
Another place that is great to start creating content is HubPages (similar to Squidoo, but I think they are a little better, personally!). Don’t forget to write articles and post them to places like EzineArticles, too.
My whole point here is to start getting things online. The world wide web is based on content. People looking for it. People trying to find it! One article or one post or one hubpage is not going to get you far. Be consistent and make it a daily habit of writing at least one post or article per day.
This is really how I created TheWebReviewer. While I still worked my 9-5 job, I would spend every lunch break during work writing one article. This resulted in lots of traffic from the search engines (free), the article websites (free) and the social networks (free)!
This won’t happen overnight, but by just having content out there, you WILL get traffic; quality traffic! And with quality traffic comes money! (It will be your job to convert that traffic into sales…and that, too, usually doesn’t cost anything either!)
3) Start being social! Twitter and Facebook are continuing to blow up! As Seth Godin preaches: Build Your Tribe! If you can get people to start following you (and more importantly, LISTENING!), there will be close to NOTHING you can’t sell them online.
The moral here: start being a presence online. You need the respect of both the search engines and the community before you can really start making a lot of money (and luckily, this usually costs nothing to achieve!).
Affiliate Marketing? Your Own Product? Advertising?
“Which is better for making money on the internet, affiliate marketing, or selling your own product?”
I do like both affiliate marketing and having your own product.
Affiliate marketing is great because it really requires no assets and no fulfillment. This is purely marketing. When I worked a 9-5 job, I really did not have the time to create or manage products. It is a very low risk venture. Send people to a 3rd party website and if that person buys something, you make a commission. No shipping. No customer service.
Having your own product requires you to have or create a product! This may be simpler than you think, though. If you are thinking of physical products, you can always dropship products for little to no initial costs (pay as they buy). This, of course, can cost you in profit. Still, it can be managed during off-hours. There are, of course, the customer service issues, too (but these can be handled off-hours, too, in many cases…or it can be outsourced).
Making your own product (like an information product) can be simpler than you think, too. This can be an ebook, a video or even an audio recording. If you are an expert in anything, you can write and sell information about it. (And realize that you can be an expert in just about anything…as long as you know more than most other people, you are an expert!). Technology allows us to do this very inexpensively, too.
Having your own products usually results in higher profits and by using affiliates, you can have others help sell it, too.
My take: being a successful affiliate marketer has made me a good product creator and marketer. Ultimately, having your own product is key, but at first, focusing on the marketing, the content and your brand is key. The risk is lower with affiliate marketing and you CAN make a living doing it…and once you figure that out, you already have potential customers to sell your own product to, as well.
Are Review Sites Biased?
“Why is it the more I look up reviews on these money making sites, there are usually equal reviews for and against. It really is confusing”
Hell yes! And I hate to say this, especially since I run TheWebReviewer. Personally, I have tried it both ways:
1) Over-hyped, Pitchy Reviews - Remember the goal is usually to get people to buy through your affiliate link. And I have tried this over-hyped review stuff before. It DID bring in sales, but it didn’t create me very many friends. Reputation is important online, especially if you wish to build it for many years.
Many review sites are nothing more than regurgitated sales copy. I bet most of these “reviewers” have never seen the product. Some people can see through this (and leave the page) and other people buy into it and buy the product (but if the product stinks, it is usually the reviewer who is to blame). Not good for building a reputation.
2) Honest, In-depth Reviews - This is where I turned TheWebReviewer and it was one of my best business decisions. My goal in the review is to provide the perspective buyer the most information, detail and opinion as possible. Of course, if I do really like the product, the review is a bit hyped. (It increases conversion and still makes a visitor want to revisit my site, assuming they liked it, too).
If the product is average, I state it.
At the end, I do lose potential “buyers” by trying to “keep it real”, but my visitor loyalty is extremely high these days. That is most important to me!
(Saying all of that, this is NOT the business plan of most review sites online!)
Why Do My Competitors Do Better Than Me?
“I have : web videos, I have good products, I have newsletters, auto responders, I have free courses, free gifts, good copy….but still…I am not getting near the hits/sign-ups/sales as everybody else touts they are getting and reckon is possible. Why? I have: web sites, web videos, videos on youtube, google,megavideo and more, good copy, free gifts, opt-in emails, free courses, good products……and still….not the sales everybody else tells me it’s possible and so easy and everyone is making a killing. Some even have inferior products.”
Try not to judge your website by what others are doing (but don’t ignore them either!). I used to do this and it was really counter-productive. Most people will tell you very inflated numbers about their websites. If you are relying on data from sites like Alexa or Google PageRank, you really don’t have a clue what type of traffic and authority it is.
I remember about 1 year into this, there was a competitor that was showing almost 10,000 unique visitors per day and they were claiming $100s of thousands of dollars in sales. He was right, but I was making a lot more than him! (I found this out later.) He was spending a fortune on Adwords and “paid traffic” companies (sending him real junk traffic!). At the end, he was barely breaking even. I wasn’t.
You need to establish your numbers: Your ROI (return on investment). Figure out how much each visitor is worth to you and how much you can pay for that customer. Build from there.
And that being said, you will have competitors that kick-butt, too. If so, try to figure out where their traffic is coming from.
(And one last Trump card in this whole matter…traffic can sometimes be based on WHO you know, not what you are doing! JVs and partners can really take you far!)
How Do I Get Traffic to My Site?
“What is the quickest way to generate targeted traffic to my website?”
“…Ebay store established, niche decided upon. How do I drive business to the store?”
“How do you get targeted traffic to any site?”
This is one of the “golden questions” to internet marketing! If there was an easy answer to it, we would all be making a killing online.
Website traffic usually is generated in three ways:
1) You Pay for It - In my experience, the quickest and highest quality traffic you can pay for is simple Pay-Per-Click (primarily Google Adwords, Yahoo Marketing Solutions, and MSN Adcenter). I’ll talk about this more in another question, but it is good, targeted traffic folks! Don’t poo-poo it too soon! Advertising and banner ads can be effective, too (they are not as simple to manage, though).
2) You Generate It - This can be done with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to generate free traffic in the search engines. Article marketing is another way to get people to find you and your website. Social marketing is a great way not only to generate traffic, but increase your conversions, as well. I use all of these effectively and it produces more than 50% of my traffic to a majority of my websites. This can take time and effort, but most of this can be done for free. (If you have the financial resources, this can be outsourced, to some extent).
3) Have others give it to you - but other people are usually not going to send you traffic without compensation. Join an affiliate network or even a CPA Network (Warning! CPA networks can bring in a LOT of traffic but can be rather costly!). Partnering up with others in your niche is a great (and extremely effective!) way of getting traffic to your site. Make sure, though, that you can offer your partners enough to make it worth their while!
How Do I Get Free Listings On Google?
“How easy it is to put your website on the top of natural listing on google?”
“…struggle finding the right sites to build inbound links from…”
SEO or Search Engine Optimization!
Getting your website to appear in the search engines takes a lot more effort than placing a keywords meta-tag on your website (in fact, a keywords meta-tag really does absolutely NOTHING for you!).
I am just finishing up a 10 part series called the SEO Exciter Series, which I plan to release at the end of March 2009. SEO Exciter is now available: Go fo Free SEO Tips. This will go over a lot of the on-page and off-page strategies I have used to rank for some of the most competivite keywords in the online business. Stay tuned!
(And to give you a quick hint on backlinks, I do focus a lot of my effort on article marketing!!!)
Why Can’t I Make Google Adwords Work?
“I’ve been doing pay per click over 3 months not breaking ever but is there a way to make big money with it?”
“What is your opinion on direct linking PPC campaigns”
“Is PPC really doable for the average person?”
“I guess I do not understand how to select key words and how to bid on them or bid as an affiliate”
Google Adwords DOES work, believe it or not! I have been lucky enough to look over dozens of different (failing) Adwords accounts over the past few years and there are a few things that I almost ALWAYS see. Let me go over them a little bit here:
1) Wrong Keywords! - Too many people focus on what I call the “broad” keywords. These are high volume keywords that usually have very little quality to them. They also just happen to be very competitive keywords, too. Therefore, you end up paying a lot of money for very little quality.
2) Overbidding - I know the feeling when you create an Adwords campaign and you find little to no impressions whatsoever. The other case is that Google may rate the quality of your ad either OK or poor and ultimately require a higher bid amount. Just because Google tells you to do it does not make it a good idea! (That also goes with what they “suggest” as your opening bid prices and their “campaign optimizer”). Believe it or not, but you are smarter than Google (I hope!). If Google wants a lot for your ad, it usually means that you have not optimized your ad or your landing page properly for that keyword. Work on those FIRST before raising your budget. (Your budget is there for a reason…if you can’t afford the price, don’t pay it, just work to make it less!)
3) Testing - You MUST be doing some testing on your keywords if you are even going to make money using Adwords. Set up Google Analytics (it is free within Google Adwords). Not all keywords are profitable. By properly testing, you can identify the profitable terms while culling out the non-profitable ones. One of the main reasons why people don’t make money using Google Adwords is because they are paying for keywords that are simply not profitable. Cut out the fat, increase your profits.
These are just 3 main things that I have seen. I do go over a lot about Pay-Per-Click and Google Adwords Strategy in Tru-Guru.
I’ve Been Doing This for Months…and Still Nothing!
“I have been trying to become an affiliate marketer for over 6 months now and I only have one measly sale!”
“…nothing prepared me for the mind-numbing frustration that I have experienced in the past 2 years trying to make just a little bit of spare cash online.”
Without seeing exactly what you are up to, it is tough to make an assessment of what is going on. Still, perseverance is important. Just “trying” is important and learning from your failures and mistakes is the next important step. Like I said previously, I went 3 months with really nothing, but I can now look back at it and tell you exactly what I did wrong.
Be sure to attack your problems!
Are you not getting enough traffic? If so, then fix it!
Are you ranking for the terms you want to? If not, start an SEO campaign.
Do you not know your “money” keywords? If not, use Google Adwords and Google Analytics to test it (even if it costs you money!)
Do you get traffic, but no conversion? Start split testing your website (Google Adwords’s Website Optimizer works great for A/B and multivariate tests).
First you need to identify the problems and then you need to hunt out a solution. (And buying another “get rich quick” eBook or problem is not the solution, UNLESS it addresses that specific problem!)
My Top 3 Tools
“…if you could pick 3 “must have” tools to buy - what would they be?”
1) GetResponse / Aweber - I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the opt-in! Every teleseminar, webinar, conference, etc. that I participate in, I ALWAYS stress this! For about $15/month, you can have a full autoresponder/email broadcasting system that you really only need to set up once and it manages itself from there. The ROI (return on investment) for this tool unmeasurable (more than 6-figures for me). I personally have used GetResponse, but Aweber is essentially the same (and more popular) thing!
2) Techsmith Camtasia & SnagIt Bundle - I probably use these two tools more than anything (other than my browser) online. Camtasia is a screen recording tool that I use to create my instructionals. It is a GREAT way to get yourself started in video without having to show your face (I was scared about that, too!). I have a cheap $50 headset and Camatasia, and I have used it to create products, drive traffic from YouTube and other video sites, and just to create content. It is super easy to use and it generates incredible content.
3) Traffic Geyser - This one I have just recently started to use, but it has been my god-send! I use traffic geyser to initially syndicate my videos and have them bookmarked. It does produce some incredible traffic for my websites. Beyond the video syndication (which it is known for), it does a whole lot more, too. I use it to create RSS feeds of my videos (and it even stores my content under their Amazon S3 account). This integrates well with podcasting sites, including iTunes (again, more traffic!). They also have these great lead generation templates that you can use to create quick squeeze pages. I used to use the free tools (like TubeMogul), but this is SO worth the price! I use this almost daily! (You can get a full 30-day trial of Traffic Geyser exclusively through TheWebReviewer. Get it at the Traffic Geyser Review).
(Note: Video is becoming very important to the internet, as you can see above!)
Worldwide Brands - Actually, this would be my number 1 recommendation to anyone selling physical products online, hands-down. It provides you with the resources to resource products, source products (like dropshipping products), education, Amazon and eStore (through Yahoo! Stores) offers, merchanting and more. It is a lifetime membership, too. Even if you are NOT planning on doing eCommerce, I find the resource invaluable for research, education, and more! I must-buy for eCommerce/eBay people, a highly recommended to all others. (Save $20 with this Worldwide Brands Coupon!)
Dreamweaver CS3 - For those of you technically willing to do your own design (I don’t recommend it for most!), I love Dreamweaver and I have used it for all of my website design.
InfusionSoft - I just started using this to manage my websites, my lists, my sales, and my marketing. It is quite affordable (at $300/month) for what you get. For the newbie, it is probably overkill, but once you start growing, it is well worth a look!
Microsoft Powerpoint - I hate to even include this, but I use Powerpoint for almost everything (including some of my graphic design!).
Mentoring and Coaching?
“Do you have a mentor?”
Over the past few years, I have had my share of mentors and coaches along the way. Now, I belong to a handful of mastermind groups, but understand that having a guide is an invaluable resource. You can waste a lot of time and money by trying to doing everything yourself. I wouldn’t be here today if it was not for a handful of people and coaches who lead me on the right path. (Remember, failing is a good thing…as long as you learn from it! Failing fast and learning fast is the best way to do it…that is what a coach will facilitate).
If you are serious about getting a coach, send me a ticket at my support desk (http://www.tru-support.com) and I can put you in touch with a group that I highly recommend.
“I have one question that nobody can seem to be able to give me an answer. The latest move on the net is with videos. What is the point of it, if one cannot get to see them or hear them? and all they keep doing is uploading? I have had very few sites that they operate perfectly, but most do not get past three minutes. I have all the requirements needed, the latest of everything, settings are all in place, been there, and yet, the problem is still there. I have two sites that depend on it, and neither will get back to me.”
I know this is a rather specific question, but it is an important one! Video is growing big. The only probably is keeping everything compatible with everything else. I struggle with this constantly with Tru-Guru. There are trade-offs here:
Compatibility - You want your videos to be able to play on as many computers as possible without a plug-in. I would stay away from streaming WMV files (because they are based on PCs) and Quicktime files (because they are based on Macs). AVI files are universal, but their compression is rather poor (if it is compressed at all). That results in very high download times. Your best bet is still Flash because it is so universal on both PC and Mac Platforms. MP4 (which is a derivative of Quicktime) can now be played in newer Flash players, too.
Hosting - Do you want to host it or have a video site host it? YouTube is a great way of posting your videos and it is very easy to embed in your website. The robustness of these videos are top-notch, but with that, you may loose some (or a lot!) of quality. YouTube has improved by offering High Quality and High Definition uploads, but it is still not as good as if you do it yourself. Plus, YouTube (and most other video sites) brand the player and embed advertising, which you may not want on your site.
I recommend to use YouTube for most of your public video distribution. It is simple, robust, and doesn’t stress out your servers. (Plus, you get the added traffic from YouTube itself).
If you do want to customize your own videos, I would stick with Flash. (Camtasia actually export in MP4 right now and even creates the code and video container for you with their Camtasia Theater program).
And to answer you question about why your video is stopping? I would try to upgrade your version of Flash. I have seen this phenomenon a lot with the old flash players. Try that and see if it works!