Monthly Archives: October 2003

How back pain gave me a simple idea…

Like many people, I suffer from back pain and therefore I visit an osteopath every once in a while to get everything ‘put back in line’.

I visited my osteopath this week and while he crunched and pulled at my back and limbs, we had a chat about the Internet and websites etc.  He explained that he was considering creating a small website to let local people know a bit more about his business – nothing fancy, one or two pages at most.

Knowing that I worked online, he questioned me as to how you actually build a website and how you get from your computer to the Internet?  So being the helpful chap that I am, I started to try and explain the process from start to finish.

Now, this is not an easy thing to do in a short period of time and in the end, it occurred to me that, to be honest, there isn’t really any need for a small businessman such as my osteopath to learn how to design websites or learn FTP etc.  After all, he only wants a one or two page site…

I therefore decided that in half of the time it would take me to explain how to get a website online, I could do it for him myself – after all, if you know what you are doing, a two page website is only a couple of hours work at most.  So I told my osteopath to draw a picture of what he would like his website to look like and write down what he would like to appear on the site and I would create the site for him.  In return, he could give me a few osteopathy sessions at no charge – everyone’s a winner.

This situation got me thinking, how many people are there that are in exactly the same position as my osteopath in that they want a very simple site just to give their business a presence online?  There must be thousands and thousands.  They don’t want to employ a professional web designer as the costs would be too great and they don’t want to learn how to do it themselves but they would be willing to pay someone $50 – $100 to put them online.  With a few days spent learning how to design simple websites, almost anyone could provide this service to their local business community.

True it is the bottom end of web design but if you can build a two page site in a couple of hours and earn $100, that’s a pretty good hourly rate.  You are also in an ideal position to sell additional services such as hosting, logo design, regular updates etc.

I am sure that with a bit of effort, it would not be difficult to earn a few hundred dollars a month on a very part-time basis working in the way that I have outlined above.

The moral of this story? 

If you have an osteopath, then go and offer to build him/her a website – my guy charges £60 ($100) an hour so if we trade two hours of web design time for two hours of osteopathic treatment, I have saved myself £120 ($200) and been relieved of a painful back!!

Email etiquette

When dealing with people/businesses on the Internet, it will benefit you to remember the following tips.  They are all based on my own experiences but I am sure they apply to every online business:

***  When replying to emails, include a copy of any previous emails, don’t just send a new one.  I can receive 50 emails a day that need a reply and simply cannot remember every single ‘conversation’ with every single person.

***  If you have a problem/complaint, then of course, email for assistance.  But be polite – don’t start off with an abusive email (you can send that later on if you don’t get the help you require!).

***  Simple words like ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ take a second to type and mean so much.  If you want someone to give you fre^e advice, then use these words – you are more likely to get what you want.

***  If someone takes the time to give you fre^e advice, then take the time to thank them.  I get emails everyday asking for assistance on all manner of topics – selling on eBay, buying from wholesalers, setting up a website etc.  I don’t get paid for giving my advice and it is amazing how many people can’t even be bothered to say ‘thank-you’ after I have helped them.

***  Allow 24 hours for a response to your email before sending a second one chasing a reply.  Not every business has 24 hour email support.  For example, I reply to most emails within 2 hours but I do have to sleep and sometimes I even turn my PC off for a few hours!

***  Remember that the email system is not 100% reliable – sometimes emails just don’t make it to the recipient.  If someone says ‘I didn’t receive your email’, they may well be telling the truth, so give them a second chance before losing your cool.

***   And finally, if your enquiry relates to a particular product always include details of which product you are referring to.  For example, I sell over 20 different digital products from 7 websites but regularly get emails that simply state ‘I have paid for my eBook but didn’t get it’.  Which eBook?  How did you pay?  What is your name?  When did you buy it?  What email address did you use when you made the purchase?  C’mon, gimme a clue!

If you run a web business, I am sure the above points will hit home.  If you don’t run a web business, please bear them in mind for when you are dealing with someone that does.

Christmas – lets make some money!

I know that it is several weeks away but if you want to make some money online for Christmas, now is the time to start thinking about it.  In my opinion, the easiest way to earn some extra cash between now and December 25th is by selling on online auctions such as eBay.com.

Every year there are Christmas ‘fad’ products – the products that everyone wants and that sell on eBay like there is no tomorrow.  Let me give you some examples:

A couple of years ago (in the UK at least), novelty jet flame lighters were all the rage.  These were selling online for £5 – £10 yet the wholesale price was just £1.00.  Hundreds and hundreds were sold in the four week period before Xmas – they were cheap and perfect ‘stocking fillers’.

Last year, the fad was for those tiny remote control cars – again, cheap to buy (the trade price was around £6/£$4), yet they were selling for up to £20/$30 and again, hundreds were sold on eBay and other online auctions.

Every year it is the same, so here is my quick-step guide to cashing in on the Xmas rush!

1.  Research – you need to try and figure out what is going to be a big seller this Christmas.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the main product – anything that has been released recently, with mass appeal and of a ‘stocking filler’ nature has a good chance of selling.  I find that ‘gadget-type’ products sell especially well.  Ideal selling price should be around £10/£20 or $15/$30.  You can do your research in two ways, either spend time calling or visiting wholesalers to see what they think may be the big sellers or wait until things start to happen online and watch the products that start to appear as eBay Home Page Featured Auctions.

2.  Price Check – Once you have decided on a product or two, check on eBay and on the Internet generally to see what sort of price you need to be able to sell at in order to make a decent profit.  If you get really lucky, you may find that no one else is selling your product on eBay as yet – this is great and means you can pretty much set whatever price you like (within reason of course).

3.  Purchase – When you know the price you want to sell at, you can work out what you are willing to spend purchasing the product/s.  Call around a number of wholesalers to get the best deal and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or price matching. 

4.  Listing – Although there are many online auctions to choose from, eBay is probably the better site to start off with as there are so many buyers.  With these ‘impulse purchase’ type products, I recommend using a Home Page Featured Auction as this is the best way to get good exposure.  It will cost more but if you get the product right, you will sell more too.

5.  Shipping – If you have made the right choice on product, the orders will come rolling in and now it is just a case of collecting the payments and shipping the goods.  These affordable items can sell in huge numbers so make sure you arrange a way of tracking orders/packing/shipping etc to ensure you don’t get in a mess – it is easily done believe me!

6.  Repeat – Once you have sold your first batch of stock, if you think the market can take it, repeat the above.  You may have to drop your price as other sellers start to copy you but often with these products there is plenty of room to reduce the price whilst still making a healthy return.  Take the lighters that I mentioned above – these were initially selling for £10 ($16) but eventually you could buy them for £2.50 ($4).  Even at this low price, the seller was still more than doubling their money.

The above process may seem fairly simplified but it honestly doesn’t need to be much more complicated.  The hard bit is finding the right product but this isn’t impossible and like most things, it just takes a bit of work.

Happy Trading!