Tag Archive | "Entrepreneur"

Are Mobile Payment Solutions Really the Way of the Future for E-Commerce?

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Are Mobile Payment Solutions Really the Way of the Future for E-Commerce?


You may have seen a few pieces of online news about mobile payment solutions and wondered whether you should implement them on your website. Some articles even go as far as claiming that mobile payments are the way of the future and will revolutionize the online commerce industry. But is there any truth to these claims, or is it just marketing hype to get yet another “start up” run by a 19 year old entrepreneur from his basement off the ground?

When talking about mobile payment solutions, we first need to clear up one thing in order to avoid any potential confusion. There are actually two kinds of mobile payment options currently available in the online world. The first one is simply a type of mobile wallet that is linked to the customers credit card. The buyer can easily make transactions from their mobile phone without revealing their card information, but the purchase is still charged to their credit card as usual. The second kind involves charging the amount of the transaction to the buyer’s mobile phone bill or deducting it from their prepaid balance on their mobile account. The second one is the type that we will be addressing in this post.

First, let’s understand how the system works. The client wants to make a purchase online. They then enter their cell phone number into a secure form on an e-commerce site. They then receive a text message with information about the transaction (such as the cost) and will need to confirm they accept the charges, either by replying to the message or more commonly, by entering a code that is sent with the message onto the merchant’s website. They then have access to the product or service that they’ve ordered and the merchant will get paid by the payment processor later on, just like with a credit card transaction.

Sounds easy, right? The system is designed to allow for easy and smooth transactions with minimum risk to both the merchant and the customer. Using such a payment system has many advantages for both parties. It is good for buyers who don’t have a credit card or are reluctant to use theirs on an online commerce site, as it provides them with an alternative payment solution. It’s also a very good way to pay online for small purchases that are delivered directly to the buyer’s computer or for online services that don’t require any physical items to be shipped.

But should you run and implement this method of payment on your website immediately? The answer will depend on a few factors. As convenient as mobile payments may be, they are still far from being a perfect solution in all cases and it’s also important that merchants understand their potential disadvantages and not only look at the plus side. Tomorrow we will go into more details on the inner workings of mobile payments, which will be very helpful if you just started an e-commerce site and want to provide buyers with as many choices for payment as possible.

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Making Your Site Mobile Friendly

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Making Your Site Mobile Friendly


We’ve already covered the issue of mobile marketing numerous times in the past. You’ve probably seen just how important it is for your website to have a mobile version if you don’t want to be left behind and let the competition take your customers. You’ve also seen some statistics on how many mobile users there are in the world, what platforms they’re using (Android, iPhone, etc) and what they like to do when they’re online. But what about the practical aspect of it? Actually building a mobile friendly version of a website?

 

This is where many webmasters and internet marketers get stuck. They may recognize the large importance of having a mobile site up, but don’t really know how to make it happen. Many research some option, but then have trouble deciding which one would be the best for them to use in their case. Then of course there is the issue of cost. If your site is making several hundreds of dollars a day in profits, you may not think twice about spending $500, $1000, $2000 or more on getting a mobile version of your site designed professionally, complete with all the bells and whistles. But if you are a small time entrepreneur or a start up, with a business that’s just earning a few dollars a day in profits, you may be a bit hesitant to drop a huge chunk of coin on a mobile version of your site, especially if it may take months before you get any sort of tangible return on your investment.

 

There is, of course, a way to get a site going at low or no cost to you and that would be designing it yourself. But not every webmaster has the skill needed to create a complete mobile site from scratch. Also, this is a process that is seen as time consuming. So what are your options?

 

There are actually several of them, which are all either free or quite inexpensive. You also get to choose whether you will be creating a new website from the ground up, or you will simply be adapting your current site to better fit the smaller screen of a mobile device.

 

One word of advice is not to choose the first option that you see (here or in another resource), but rather, to compare the different systems and providers available to see what will fit your site and your business better. Remember that every website is unique. Therefore, you will need a mobile solution that will be well adapted to the type of content and services that you provide on your business website.

 

Tomorrow we will go into more details about the options available to webmasters who want to build a mobile version of their site. You will see, it’s actually a lot easier than it may seem at first and you can get the whole thing completed in one day.

 

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Simple Business Types You Can Start

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Simple Business Types You Can Start


Many individuals would like to have a simple business to start as an online entrepreneur. The advantage of the internet is that it gives you access to potential clients from all around the world without having to spend a fortune on advertising costs. There are thousands of different kinds of businesses that can be started online. But many would like something that is simple to do in order to earn some extra money. Here are a few examples of businesses that can be easily started depending on your skills:

  • Computer Support and Repair

Now practically anyone owns a computer. But the issue is, the majority of PC users don’t have the knowledge required to troubleshoot problems when they occur, nor do they have the time and patience required to look for a solution. This is where you can come in. The computer support and repair business model can take several forms. The most simple one to operate is a purely online type of business.

Here, you will provide remote technical assistance to users who are having problems with their PC. You can accomplish this by having the user install a remote desktop software, or use a plug in that is built into many commonly used programs such as Google Chrome or Skype. You can now gain remote access of the client’s computer and fix most kind of issues, as long as their PC can still boot normally and they can access the internet. You can set the pricing according to many different models, but for small, one man operations, this would usually be on a per incident basis. Advertising can be done through various ways, such as classified ads sites, social media, or placing ads in local newspapers.

Another thing that you can do is to offer your services as an independent technician to individuals and small businesses. Here you will troubleshoot and repair computer related problems by going to the clients location and fixing the problem. While there is usually some competition from larger support firms, especially in bigger cities, one of the advantages is that you can charge much less for each visit, thus earning you more business from those who can’t afford to pay such high prices.

This business model is not only limited to PCs, depending on your skills and available parts & equipment. For example, you could offer repairs and modification services for smart phones (replacing broken screens, jailbreaking, unlocking, recovering data, etc), tablets, gaming consoles, etc. Depending on how much time you’re willing to devote to your business and how much you advertise, this can be a good side job, or you can also turn it into a full time business, even renting out a physical location and hiring staff, etc. It all depends on what you want to accomplish and what your business objectives are.

Tomorrow we will look at some other small business types that you can start right from home and that you can use to earn some extra money online.

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Get More Sales This Holiday Season: Your Marketing Plan

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Get More Sales This Holiday Season: Your Marketing Plan


If your goal is to profit from the busy holiday shopping season as an online entrepreneur, then there are a few things that you would need to do. Of course, there are certain things that you must do on your site to get it ready. But what about the overall marketing strategy that you will be employing to get visitors to your website and turn them into profitable buyers for you? Again, there are ways to make this happen. Let’s take a look at some of the methods that you could use to do this.

  • Make a marketing plan for the season

In order to succeed and get the most benefits, you will need to create a well thought of marketing strategy. This means planning it right ahead of time. Yesterday, we have seen that you should start preparing your website in the beginning of November and the same holds true for your marketing strategies. So get ready to develop your marketing strategy early as well. It will require some thought, but with the resources available online, it is not as difficult as you think it is. Start writing down ideas on which marketing channels you will be using, as well as how you plan to attract your customers to your site.

  • Get your tools and marketing materials ready

Do you plan on using Adwords but didn’t yet create an account? Do you plan on getting on Twitter for the first time? Now would be the time to start creating accounts at these places. This will be one less thing that you will need to take care of before you kick off your holiday sales season. Then, there is preparing the ads themselves. Previously, we have seen that it is important to have good landing pages, especially when using pay per click advertisements.

But there are many methods of online and offline advertising and you need to get your materials ready for these as well. If you have a Facebook page, then it will be a very good idea for you to create some Christmas graphics to advertise your promotions. Same thing if you buy banner space, you will need to redesign your ads to reflect the holiday season as well as your current promotions.

  • Decide what kind of specials and promotions you will give for the season

This can be obviously a certain percentage off selected merchandise, but could be anything else that gives more value to your shoppers. For example, it could be free shipping for orders, a two for one special on certain of your items, free gift wrapping services, etc. Basically, think of a way of still being profitable, while attracting more customers to buy from YOU. Also it is never a bad idea to see what your competitors are offering, so that you can try to beat their offers or give something better to your own customers. You want them to buy from YOUR site, so you will need to make it worth it for them.

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Get More Sales This Holiday Season: Get Your Website Ready

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Get More Sales This Holiday Season: Get Your Website Ready


If you operate an e-commerce site, you may have seen that the holiday shopping season, which is rapidly approaching, is also one of the busiest times of the year for retailers. This applies to both physical stores as well as e-commerce websites. However, many online entrepreneurs wonder as to how you can really profit from all of the shopping activity that will happen during this season. Here is some useful advice that you can use to boost up your sales numbers and reach the goals that you’ve set:

 

  • Start preparing early

 

The beginning of the month of November would be a good time to prepare your website and your marketing strategy for the holiday season. Why? Have you seen that many stores put up Christmas decorations and start their holiday promotions in mid November? This also applies to the major e-commerce sites out there. Now there is no reason as to why you, as an online entrepreneur, should not do the same. Preparing early will ensure that your strategies will be sound and well thought of, as you will not feel a rush to put things in place at the last second.

 

  • Get reliable hosting and related services

 

During the busy shopping season for the holidays, if you prepare yourself right, you can expect to see more site visitors and more purchases being made. It is essential that your site can handle this increased traffic. Far too many webmasters learn this the hard way when they see their site crashing due to too many visitors.

 

This is often the case with those using shared web hosting. The trouble with this type of hosting is that even though it is cheap, it is not meant to accommodate heavy use, especially if you are running an e-commerce platform that takes up a lot of resources, such as Magento or OS Commerce. For this reason, it is preferred that you get a VPS hosting account or a dedicated server to run your website on instead. A VPS costs around $30 – $50 a month and a dedicated server, for higher traffic sites, can be found for $75 to $300 a month depending on configuration.

 

Other service providers, such as your payment processors, also need to be reliable and work well with your site. It is preferable to have a backup payment processor available as this will allow for continuity should your main one fail. For example, you could use both PayPal and MoneyBookers as payment options for your e-commerce site. Therefore, if the PayPal service gets knocked offline because they ticked off Anonymous again and got DDOSed, then your customers can use their credit cards with MoneyBookers instead. You definitely do not want to lose sales and money because your site wasn’t working right. Remember, if your site won’t work, visitors will probably leave and go somewhere else and you are leaving money on the table if that happens to you.

 

 

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Get the Right Tools for Online Marketers: Is The Chromebook a Good Choice?

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Get the Right Tools for Online Marketers: Is The Chromebook a Good Choice?


If you are an online entrepreneur or marketer, then you will probably be doing most of your work online. To get online, you will probably use a PC, or maybe another device such as a laptop, netbook, tablet or a smart phone. There has been a lot of talk lately about cloud computing and the benefits that it can bring to business users. However, is it time to switch to cloud based applications yet?

 

When we are talking about cloud computing, one should know what exactly this concept means. It is actually quite simple to understand. It means that your applications are running on a remote server online (on the “cloud”), as well as the majority of your files can be saved remotely. This has the advantage that your files will be accessible from anywhere and that your programs are actually running on the server, you are merely viewing them on your PC or other device.

 

One mobile computing device that has caused a lot of talk in the IT industry lately is the Google Chromebook. It is basically a netbook, a smaller version of a laptop, that runs on the Google Chrome OS. With it, all applications are hosted on Google’s cloud servers. Therefore, to do anything useful with it (except play Angry Birds, which can be downloaded to it and runs locally), you need to be online.

 

Now the problem is that the current set of applications available is quite limited. It is mostly designed for business users that want to browse the web, check their email and remotely connect to another server or use a remote desktop tool on a regular PC.

 

Now since most applications that are used by internet marketers, such as SEO tools, web design applications, graphics tools for creating logos and ads, etc. will not run on the Google Chrome OS, we can see that the device is quite useless for most online marketers.

 

There is also the issue of price. It is much more expensive than other netbooks, without bringing in any features that are significantly superior to them. Sure, the Google Chrome OS may be a simple interface if all you need to do is browse, but if you really love it, then there is another way to get it without needing to spend almost $500 on the Chromebook. There is actually an open source version of the same OS made by Google called the Chromium OS, which can be downloaded for free and installed on any desktop, laptop or netbook computer.

 

Many online marketers would find that getting a netbook would be an excellent way to catch up on work while outside their home, thanks to a very portable mini laptop. However currently, it would seem that the Chromebook does not really have anything that outperforms some of the other netbooks on the market today, which run Windows or Linux and sell as low as $150.

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Promoting Your New Web Store – Part 2

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Promoting Your New Web Store – Part 2


Previously, we have seen some good approaches to promoting your new web store. As an online entrepreneur, your next question would probably be: how do I make this all happen? Well, the concept of local promotion is not that difficult at all. It all starts with you, the owner. You would first promote to your friends and other people you know closely, then the promotion would spread to their friends, and then finally you would promote to the public in your area. After this, you can start promoting regionally, nationally and then globally.

 

  • Leveraging the Power of Social Media

 

If you are like billions of people around the world, then you probably have an account on Facebook and maybe one on Twitter. Here, you would start by creating a social media page on Facebook and Twitter for your website. You would then contact your friends by posting your business Facebook page on their wall. It is also possible to create a graphic ad featuring your website, upload it to your personal account and then tag your friends in the photo. Some of your friends may Like your page, or even make a purchase on your site if they need something that you are selling. Since your post will be on their wall, it is possible that their friends will see it and Like it too. The goal here is to create a viral effect that will spread to people.

 

  • Don’t Forget “Personal” Marketing

 

Even though we live in a world where many of our communications take place online and ads are often seen as impersonal and targeting a wide audience, you can also market your website to people that you know and that you think may benefit from your products. It would be a good idea to print out some business cards with your website and info about your business. These can be ordered cheaply online, or you can just print them yourself with business card paper that you can find for $1 at the Discount Dollar store and a cheap ink jet printer. Pass these around to your friends and people that you know. If you know of someone that would especially benefit from the products that you are selling, then promote your site to them in priority. For example, if you sell smart phones online and you have a friend who just accidentally dropped their iPhone in the toilet, then now would be a good time to market your products to them. If you maintain the stock yourself as opposed to drop shipping, you could just give them the item in person for a cash sale, saving them time on shipping the item and also saving you on shipping costs as well as on payment processor fees.

 

But running an e-commerce site isn’t like running some sleazy MLM program, is it? So you don’t have to promote only to the people you directly know. There are also some great local marketing methods that you can employ as well, which we will see tomorrow.

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Getting Your E-Commerce Website Off The Ground : Part 2

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Getting Your E-Commerce Website Off The Ground : Part 2


We’ve seen a few tips about choosing a provider that will help you create your e-commerce website. Some of the main elements involve comparing prices between various web development companies and checking the reputation of your provider. There are also a few other tips that will help you save some money on getting your web store up, especially if you don’t have much of a budget. Here are some of them:

  • Work with a freelancer as opposed to a professional web development company

If you just want to build a small site to begin your online money making efforts, then having your website designed by a freelancer as opposed to a professional design firm. While they could be very competent, web design firms that do e-commerce sites often charge very high prices, such as over $1000 for a website. Of course, not every new online entrepreneur could afford that. The alternative would be working with a freelancer, who could create a website for you for less than $100 in some cases. You can browse through the buy/sell section of many internet marketing forums, as well as take a look at freelancer sites like Odesk and Freelancer.com to find some people willing to do the task. One of the advantages of freelancing sites and forums is that checking the reputation of the service provider becomes much easier, as there is usually a feedback system as well as comments left on the thread by other clients.

  • Design some of the elements of the site yourself

If you are able to do so, then you should definitely create some of the elements on your site by yourself. For example, if you are good in graphic design, you could create your own logos, buttons and website background, and just send them over to the provider that is creating your website. This will allow your website to be completed much faster and will also save you some money, as there will be less work for the provider to do.

  • Avoid packages that include hosting

This is both for quality and price reasons. There are some e-commerce website providers that offer hosting solutions. However, these are often much more expensive than getting your own account at a web host. If you are going to build a small website, then you can find quality web hosting for around $5 – $8 per month. Many providers charge many times that and their web hosting is actually not too better in terms of quality, as they are simply using a reseller account on a web host like GoDaddy. After, if your site grows, you can get yourself a VPS hosting solution for around $30 to $50 a month. This will give you more reliability and flexibility than using a shared web hosting account. Also, managing the hosting yourself gives you more control over your website and makes it easier to make some advanced changes and troubleshoot problems if they occur, as opposed to letting a provider manage everything for you.

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Another Use Of Craigslist for Online Entrepreneurs

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Another Use Of Craigslist for Online Entrepreneurs


Previously, we have explored some ways that you can make some money off Craigslist by promoting an e-commerce site that you own, as well as providing services. These are some great uses of this free classified ads site. However, there are some other ways that you can use it to your advantage as an online entrepreneur. Here are some more ideas:

 

  • Find Temporary Staff to Help You With Your Projects

 

While you can definitely do this on internet marketing forums, you can also use Craigslist to build up your virtual team of staff members. There are a few advantages of doing so: first of all, the people who respond to your ad will usually have a genuine interest in earning a bit of money for small, part time jobs and will be less likely to be scammers. By getting some staff members on Craigslist, you will also be “creating jobs” for your local city, even if they are just temporary positions. Also, since these people are local, you are far more likely to find people who understand and can write in proper English, as they will be located in your city.

 

Let’s say you need some regular blog posts for your business blog. You can hire someone and pay them $10 a day or so to create 2 or 3 blog posts for you. Or, if you need someone who can create simple web pages cheaply, you can hire a web designer for $10 to $15 an hour, instead of paying a professional design firm 10 times that amount. There are many unemployed people or students who are looking for part time job opportunities on Craigslist and who would be quite happy to find a legitimate opportunity to work from home and earn a few extra dollars.

 

But unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are still spamming MLM offers or some other scam programs on Craigslist. For these reasons, avoid using the words “make money online” or “work from home” in your ad. It will often be seen as spam/scam by viewers and will be flagged down rather quickly. Be as descriptive and professional as possible to avoid this.

 

Here is an example of a bad ad:

 

Make money online! Looking for people who can work from home today! Email Bob for more details.

 

Here is a better one:

 

We are an online advertising firm looking to hire 2 workers for the creation of promotional content. Must have excellent written English skills. Knowledge of web hosting industry is an asset. Contact Bob @ Acme Inc. if you are interested in this position.

 

Many people ask if you can still use Craiglist for affiliate offers. The answer is yes, but there are a few things that you should do and other things to be avoided if you want to see any kind of results from this. We will take a look at other uses of Craiglist for online marketing tomorrow.

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Money Making Ideas : Micro Online Business

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Money Making Ideas : Micro Online Business


We have previously seen that there are many different categories of online business objectives. The main difference between them is the amount of money that could be made, as well as the amount of commitment (time and money) that the online entrepreneur will need to make.

Let’s first take a look at the micro online business model. Basically here, you will be making up to $500 a month and putting in 10 to 20 hours a week maximum, with little or no investment on your part.

This business model is basically service based. This essentially means that you will be offering some services to other webmasters, online entrepreneurs as well as business owners. What are some examples of services that you can offer, which will not demand too much time or effort from you? Here is a short list:

  • Article writing
  • Translation
  • Video transcription
  • Graphic design
  • Very basic web design
  • Writing reviews
  • Creating backlinks
  • Doing short online videos
  • etc…

Of course, this is not a complete list, there are many more services that you could offer, based on your skills and the demand that is on the market right now.

The main question is: where do you go to find projects that you can do? The top places are freelancing sites, where people from everywhere gather together to offer or request services. The most useful sites for easy tasks are:

Microworkers – www.microworkers.com

Amazon Mechanical Turk – www.mturk.com

Fiverr – www.fiverr.com

Internet marketing forums also have a section for freelance work. Here are some of the best ones:

Warrior Forum www.warriorforum.com

Digital Point www.digitalpoint.com

Black Hat World www.blackhatworld.com

However, do take note that if you want to find work on forums, you should first spend a few days making USEFUL posts to build up your reputation and get your name seen by the other members.

In these sites, you will find tens of thousands of different tasks that you can do. The pay isn’t especially great, however, if you work in an efficient way without distractions, you can make something approaching $10 to $15 an hour. The tasks could sometimes be quite repetitive and tedious, which is why most people do not spend more than one or two hours working on them per day. But still, you can make a few hundred dollars a month from these sites.

Always strive to do quality work, follow instructions accurately and complete the projects on time. Not only will this help boost your feedback on the sites, but will also allow you to make some useful contacts and potentially earn you some regular projects to do.

Here’s a tip: working with the same people on a regular basis is much better and will make the time you spend online much more productive and efficient. The reason: you will be spending a lot less time hunting for tasks to do and projects you can participate in and much more time actually doing work that will be profitable for you.

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