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    e-Commerce business
       October 20th, 2006

    I am certain that it is not so simple to do your full time living from affiliate marketing. It is probably easier for those who started it back in the 90’s or at the start of 2000’s. I started it in 2005 and should admit it is not an easy way to earn money.

    You need other ways to generate income. And after some consideration I made up my mind to turn back to e-commerce. I have got some good experience of running my own e-commerce business 4-5 years back in combination with eBay business. Then eBay has got too crowded and the earnings dried out. So, I have dropped that sort of activity.

    A month ago I have got a nice offer to buy a 50% share of the top online bookstore in my country (it used to be the top online bookstore outlet, but now it is #2) –

    50% share will enable me to get 50% of the net income. The owner updated me of some difficulties the store is faced at the moment. The former management team was to blame, but the time will show if it is true.

    The staff of the online company is 4 in-house employees plus quite a few freelancers and part-time staff. I have a nice Amazon history book that might help me with my new project.

    I think this new venture will take most of my time in the coming 2-4 months to get the store running properly. But I think the idea is worthy – the internet is growing fast here, people get used to buying things online and it is a nice opportunity to take a niche in e-commerce.

    I have a plan to make it a multi product online store (will add music and movies) selling items worldwide. And it is necessary to become online bookstore #1 in my country again.

    Summary: Affiliate marketing is a great business model – you have no products to buy and store, no products to ship and service, no unhappy customers. It is a time consuming task, but this sort of business can be managed from any place in the world. It is a fact that the scene is so much crowded that it is a hard task to make a full time earning from this.

    Added to that, I am quite a new player into this field with no established online property. When you sell books or other items you offer some products which are in a higher demand than your affiliate marketing services.  And one can feel more secure hoping that your e-commerce business is lasting. I am not so sure of affiliate marketing with those changes in search engines algorithms and that level of competition. So, e-commerce business seems a nice way to diversify.

    And what about affiliate marketing? It is in my plan. But I will considerably cut time I spend on this activity.

    Need the latest books in Russian? Do not hesitate to contact me.

    [tags]ecommerce, seo, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, make money online, home based job, earn your living online[/tags]

    Independent contractors: building relations
       October 18th, 2006

    Independent contractors: building relations  With the growth of your website and amount of your online projects you will need some help. You can hire full time employees, but it is not common practice with Internet marketing (I refer to independent web entrepreneurs, not companies). As a rule, website publishers hire contractors. Yes, training your independent contractors is important, but there are other aspects of your relations with them. I have a sort of the system of cooperating with my contractors.

    All described stages are an ongoing process. Some contractors disappear, new hired – yes, it is quite different to manage remote staff compared to full time employees in the office.

    Where to search:

    You have two options – search for local contractors or go to the freelance websites and outsource your work overseas. Both approaches have some advantages.

    - Hiring local staff – better communication, no language/ time zone/ mentality barriers.
    - Outsourcing overseas – get your work done cheaper.

    Hiring process:

    - Have a list of your requirements. A sample: questions to ask when hiring a web developer
    - Talk over the phone and get a general impression about the man
    - Meet in person, interview
    - Ask for references
    - Ask to complete some simple trial tasks

    Independent contractor management:

    - Assign time for daily management of your contractors (I do it in the morning): completed work reviewed and tested, new tasks e-mailed, new training articles supplied, etc
    - Communication ONLY through e-mail, phone and monthly in-person meetings (if there is no some emergency). Tried Instant Messengers – a great way to waste contractor’s and your time.
    - The contractors send me their daily reports. It is a must.

    Payment issues:

    - All new independent contractors are hired for a trial period of two months.
    - Some contractors work for a fixed amount of money plus a bonus depending on the results of their efforts.
    - Developers are another story. Each task or project is appraised separately.

    Summary: Is the described system perfect? Certainly, not. But it works fine with me and it enables me to control the situation. I know what is going on with every project; I analyze the stats and can make changes on the fly. I have time to think, to start new projects and to shut down the inefficient ones.

    With time, your copywriters and online marketers become more experienced and need less and less attention on your part. The websites operating on autopilot – that is my goal. It is not likely to work with web developers. But there should be a way also – for instance, if you start a new website similar to the one in your portfolio (from coding point) you can tell your web developer to do the same with the new website.

    [tags]contractors, independent contractors, coders, designers, copywriters, seo, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, make money online, home based job, earn your living online[/tags]

    How to become a leader in your niche
       October 9th, 2006

    I agree it is next to impossible for a small business owner or independent web publisher to be a leader in a big niche. How can you compete with large media holdings? For instance, I can’t imagine myself as an owner of a photo website competing with that belongs to Yahoo!

    But if you follow this logic it means there is no place for small business in the online and offline world, but it is (luckily) not the fact of our life. I guess our primary task is to search for niches that are small enough for large companies and big enough for us.

    Our next step is to attempt to become a leader of that ’small big’ niche. I have greatly enjoyed the reading of How to be a leader in your field and I would like to draw some parallels with online business. Just pay attention to what a leader does:

    Every profession has leaders. In a formal sense, the elected officers of a professional society are the leaders of that profession. Because a profession is fundamentally about knowledge, however, the true leaders of a profession are the thought leaders: the individuals who synthesize the thinking of the profession’s members and articulate directions for the future. Sometimes a profession will elect its thought leaders to official positions. But often the thought leaders prefer to lead through writing and speaking, cutting-edge projects, conference organizing, and dialogue.

    Leadership means both talking and listening, both vision and consensus. A leader builds a web of relationships within the profession and articulates the themes that are emerging in the thinking of the profession as a whole.

    Pick an issue, an issue to research – another good advice. My websites miss this very thing. For instance, is a website on online business from the point of view of an individual trying to build a profitable network of websites, but at this time I do not work on a fairly specific issue in this industry. What is understood under an issue (followed by a list of tips how to discover that issue):

    You need an issue that the profession as a whole is not really thinking about, but which is going to be the center of attention in five years.

    The issue could be technical, strategic, managerial, policy-related, or all of the above. It could be a problem or an opportunity or both. It could be a new method or a whole new area of practice. It should be fairly specific, though, and should directly address the day-to-day work of people in some segment of the profession.

    Summary: You should have at least one issue you are developing in this way. The idea is to help your niche to discover problems and opportunities. In this way you will get new knowledge and skills and build your network.

    With time, you can switch to another issue if the previous one is covered or you spot new directions that are of greater interest to you personally.

    This approach should help you to be among your niche leaders. The deep knowledge of one or two ‘hot’ niche issues will help you to compete with bigger companies.

    [tags]how to be a leader, leader, niches, seo, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, make money online, home based job, earn your living online[/tags]


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