Monthly Archives: November 2002

Exclusive interview

Paul Tranter and Terry Johnson had been working in the information publishing business for several years before deciding to move over onto the Internet full-time at the beginning of this year.  Paul told The Online Trader,

“Our main reasons for moving to the Net were the ease of product delivery and cost effectiveness.  Marketing offline is far more expensive – it costs approximately $775 to mail out 1000 flyers, yet we can hit our entire 80,000 email database at the touch of a button for nothing!”

Between them, Paul and Terry now run several online businesses, all focused on selling digital information.  The main business is ‘The Vangard Alliance’ which promotes an extremely popular business and personal development plan called ‘The Omni-Science Principle’.

Initial expectations for the site were high but it was hard to get the ball rolling at first as Paul explains,

“We thought it would be a lot easier than it is to sell online – we thought we would just build a website and people would come… they didn’t!  Seth Godin (online marketing guru) sums it up best with his quote, ‘it took ten years to become an overnight success’”.

It is beginning to snowball now, but we have not hit our sales target for Vangard this year.  Much of our time has been devoted to lead generation and building traffic, as well as growing our customer database.  We now have all the elements in place to hit next year’s targets more easily”

In June 2002, the partners launched a new site, freenetleads.com and things began to pick up.

“The new site took off like a steam train and within 1 week melted the server – we upgraded and took 10 million hits in the first month!” says Paul

Freenetleads now boasts almost 40,000 operators and this figure is growing at a rate of 10,000 a month.

If two high-traffic websites weren’t enough to keep this pair busy, Paul and Terry also own two subscription databases – www.governmentauctionsuk.com and www.properties4auction.com,

Paul says, “Terry Dean has just written a book on paid-for databases and he can’t praise them highly enough.  They are the biggest thing on the Net right now and we plan to roll out our subscription template to other businesses in the near future.”

I asked Paul how successful the websites have been in financial terms, he told me,

“All the sites are making money now.  If we advertise a quality eBook to our Freeleads database, it can pull in $5,000 practically overnight.  Vangard is beginning to grow, with several hundred subscribers paying $40 per month.

The government auctions site is currently taking approximately $4,000 a month and this site is projected to clear over $150,000 next year.”

These are terrific results from businesses that have really only been online for a very short period of time.

In closing, I asked Paul if there was one thing that had made their Internet businesses work, he replied,

“Without a doubt the only thing that has made any of our businesses work is determination.  We never gave up without a result”.

Paul and Terry, thank-you for taking the time to answer my questions and congratulations on your success so far – may it continue long into the future.

Crash!

Something happened to me this week that COULD have turned into one of the most stressful experiences of my life – OK, slight exaggeration, but it wouldn’t have been good!  What happened?  My computer crashed.

When I say crashed, I mean it fell over in a big way – none of my Internet software would function, Internet Explorer was a goner, Outlook was lifeless and many other programs were terminally ill.  For someone that earns their living online, this was not a good situation to be in.

Now, I say that it COULD have been a stressful situation – the reason it wasn’t is because I use a program called Drive Image to back up my entire hard drive in one go (and that includes the operating system).  You can then reinstall everything at the press of a button – took me about 20 minutes to load over 5GB of software.

The reason I am telling you this is because I know how much time it would have taken me to install each of my software programs individually – about a day – and this could happen to you.

If you are working online, even just part-time, you should consider this software – it could save you hours of time.  Take a look at http://www.acronis.com/.

What’s your website ranking?

Anyone with a website will understand when I say that I love to watch my hits increasing every week/month/year, but did you know that there is another way of monitoring your website traffic AND that of your competitors?

www.alexa.com provides traffic rankings for the majority of websites in the world.  It works like this, Alexa has around 10 million users worldwide that have downloaded a free toolbar that integrates with Internet Explorer.  This software tracks each website that the user visits and allows Alexa to build up a database of the number of hits a particular site receives over a certain period of time.  Alexa then apply a calculation to the information and give the site in question a traffic ranking.

A new website will normally have a ranking of 3,000,000 or thereabouts (or nothing at all if no data is held) and as the traffic to the site increases, so the ranking reduces.  The closer to ‘1’ you get, the more hits you are receiving (In case you were wondering, Yahoo holds the top position).  You can also use Alexa to view the ranking of any website (your competitors?) at any time and if you download the toolbar yourself, each websites ranking will be displayed as you visit it – no need to go to the Alexa home page to look it up.

There are other benefits too – lets say you are thinking about making an online purchase but have never heard of the website that you are thinking about purchasing from.  If you knew what the Alexa ranking was, you would have an idea as to how popular the site was.  A ranking of 3,000,000 indicates that this is a fairly new site, or that it doesn’t receive that much traffic.  In contrast, a site that has a ranking of less than, say, 250,000 indicates a reasonably high level of traffic.  Now, this in itself may not be sufficient to persuade you that it is safe to buy (and I am not suggesting that it should), but knowing that the site is extremely popular may make you a bit more comfortable.

Alexa also maintain an archive of old websites called the ‘Wayback Machine’ – you can actually go and see what sites looked like 2 or 3 years ago!  Funnily enough, top sites such as Yahoo and eBay have changed very little over the years – just goes to prove the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

One final word, Alexa is not 100% accurate – there are numerous things that can affect their rankings and distort them, but it is probably the most accurate service of this type available and does work well in giving you a general indication (plus it is great to watch your rankings slowly reduce…)

Get your eBooks listed on Amazon.com

Since announcing that my eBooks were now available to buy on Amazon.com, I have received several emails from people asking how to get their own eBooks listed with the site.  It had originally been my intention to write an eBook on this very subject, but, if I am completely honest, I really haven’t got the time and I think I would struggle to fill a whole eBook with the information.

Therefore, for everyone that asked, here is the abbreviated version of how to get your eBook on the Amazon website:

The key to this process is a company called LightningSource (www.lightningsource.com).  LightningSource (LS) hold a library of eBooks and allow certain retailers to sell the contents of the library.  If you get your eBook into the library, then it will automatically be listed on Amazon.com – as I understand it, Amazon list everything that LS have on their records.

You will need to visit the LS website and open a new publishers account – if you published your own eBook, then you are the publisher.  The next stage is to print off and sign a few agreement forms and return them by post to LS.

Once your LS account is fully open, you can upload your eBooks to the LS site for checking and listing.  LS charge a flat fee per eBook uploaded – it is approximately $25.00.  You must submit your file in either Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Reader format and you will also need to provide a ‘marketing image’ or cover graphic.  It will also be necessary for you to obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for each eBook that you want to list.  The process for getting an ISBN is different from country to country, so try a search on Google.com for ‘ISBN issue’ to find your local issuing organization – alternatively, LS should be able to point you in the right direction.

Finally, LS will check your eBook file and email you to confirm that it has been listed on their site.  You can then expect to see it on Amazon within 7-14 days.

Payments are made by cheque/check every month, 90 days in arrears (less of course a fee to LS – details in their agreement doc’s)

And that’s it – how to get your eBooks on Amazon in 3 easy stages!

At last some new products…

I have been working on several new products and sites recently and two of them are now available:

SOMETHING FOR MY CUSTOMERS IN THE UK

I am always getting emails from people asking how to set up in business – not just on the Internet, but in general.  This prompted me to write my latest eBook, ‘The UK-Trader’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business’.

The guide covers just about everything you need to know about setting up a new business – online or offline.  It has taken several months to write and I am very pleased with the final result.

As previously promised, I would like to offer subscribers of this newsletter a special deal.  The normal price of the ‘UK-Trader’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business’ is going to be £8.99, but for a limited period of just 5 days, you can buy it for just £5.99 – that’s a discount of well over 30%.

Just click on the link below to read more about the guide and to purchase and download right away.

By the way, if you haven’t already got a copy of the ‘UK-Trader’s UK Wholesale Guide’, you can purchase both this and the new eBook above for a bargain price of £9.99!  Click on the link below for more details:

Remember to let me know what you think…

AND SOMETHING FOR THOSE IN THE USA

I have recently entered into a joint venture with a major US wholesaler and now have my own online wholesale website.  The site is packed with thousands of products at great prices.

Registration is free and you can order from as little as one case.  In addition, it is not necessary for you to have a business licence to order, so if you want to sell part-time online, that’s just fine.

Take a look at:

By the way, although the site was designed for US customers, the wholesaler will ship worldwide (subject to additional shipping charges).  Use the contact details on the above website for more details.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD?

I know, I know, not all of my customers are in the UK and US.  I have several other products and projects that I am working on and these all have worldwide appeal.  So, my apologies if the above new releases are not of interest to you, please hang in there as I will be making some more announcements shortly.

AN APOLOGY…

In my newsletter last week, I posted a link to one of the few good online marketing forum’s that was still free of charge.  By sheer coincidence (and bad luck), the day after I sent the newsletter out, I received an email from the owner of the forum announcing that with immediate effect, the forum could only be accessed through a paid for member site – exactly the opposite of what I had stated in my newsletter!  Please accept my apologies for this, I had absolutely no idea that this was being planned and I was as surprised as some of you were.  It just goes to show that the days of quality online freebies are disappearing fast.

Incidently, if anyone would be interested in me setting up a forum on one of my sites, please email me and let me know.  If I get a good response, I will consider doing this.  The theme would simply be ‘making money online’.

Until next time…