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Confessions of an Internet Marketing Failure

So why should you read what I have to say when I admit to failure at internet marketing? Maybe because I learned a lot from failing at internet marketing and am finally making money doing things I love–online. And I’m willing to share some of the things I’ve learned.

Try #1: NetNuggetz

I began publishing NetNuggetz Newsletter in the late 90’s.  The focus was on free business resources. I subscribed to over 100 ezines to get leads on free biz resources and published a list of 25 free business tools every week. Using free promotion, I grew my list by about 6000% in the first few months. My articles were reprinted all over the Internet, I got emails from subscribers thanking me, and at one point was described as “arguably one of the best Internet marketers out there.” In my stubborn quest to advance the pure Cause of Free, I refused to monetize my site. In my ignorance of How Things Worked, I listed a lot of free links that sent business to affiliates–great free pr for them, not so great for me.

Try #2: Free Christian Resource Center

This was a membership site designed to share free Christian resources–every free online Bible I could find, Bible studies, Sunday school crafts, sermons, etc. Once again, people appreciated the free resources, but didn’t seem to want to pay for the premium content.

Try #3: Free Christian Crafts

One thing I noticed about the Free Christian Resource Center site statistics was that most of my traffic was coming from people looking for Christian crafts.

The grand total revenue from all three sites was less than $50–2 Clickbank commissions from an ezine ad after I figured out how to join an affiliate program and a “virtual assist” job doing an article submission for another writer.

Then Reality attacked with a vengeance. Within a 6-month period of time, both my parents passed away, a hurricane hit our winter place in Florida, and I revisited parenthood with custody of two troubled teenage grandsons. The temporary custody turned permanent and hubby decided we needed to move to Florida full time.

Once we got down here, I needed a steady paycheck (teenage boys like to eat. A lot.) So I went back to work part time and set aside my dreams of online business for the time being.

I’m no longer able to work. In fact, I spent most of 2011 in a nursing home. While there, I reclaimed an old hobby–crochet. And did a booming business selling hats, purses, dolls and novelty items to staff, visitors, and residents.

So one of the first things I did when I got home was start a blog promoting my crochet gifts and patterns. I really enjoy needlecrafts and blogging and now have three blogs–one for crochet and knit, one for Christian gifts, and one for freelance writing.

Things I’ve learned:

1. There are plenty of free online tools to use to build and promote your business. But don’t be so determined to use freebies that you miss the benefit of a  tool or service that can pay for itself in increased business.

2. Quantity might seem to be important, but quality content is even more important.

3. Site statistics will tell you exactly what your visitors are looking for (and what keywords the Googlebot picked up on).

4. Find your niche. Fine-tune it. Give it time to grow.

Does it work? In my first 2 weeks, I brought in several times the grand total from before. On March 2, my crochet blog had 7 visitors. On March 3, it had 7,013.  I still believe in providing value through freebies–in moderation. I’m still reluctant to do too much “monetizing” with outgoing link ads, banners, or popups. And I still believe the internet is a great frontier with plenty of opportunities for everyone.

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This article may be freely reprinted as long as it is unedited and resource box is included.

Judy Cox is a freelance writer and needlecrafter. Grab some free content or request a quote on custom original content at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

 

Pigs in the Creek

Here lately I’ve been hearing a lot of criticism of our esteemed President. While there are times I wish I could elbow the man and ask “WHAT were you thinking???Were you thinking at all????” I also recognize the fact that our current President didn’t create the economic mess in this country. Years of Republican policies and unbridled greed across the board have created a situation all the founding fathers together would have a hard time overcoming.

I got an email earlier that quoted an “old hillbilly saying” that said “you can’t clean up the water until you get the pigs out of the creek.” which went on to criticize the President. I thought about that, and it isn’t quite applicable for one simple reason: in this case there is one very visible and public animal in the creek that is getting blamed for all the pollution while there are several hundred more upstream drawing six-figure salaries and benefits the rest of us will never be entitled to, laughing all the way to their next $100-a-plate dinner while we sit at home eating macaroni and cheese.

I’m reminded of two brothers that used to hang out with my mischievous son. They were masters at the art of diverting attention away from their misdeeds by ratting on him.

And I’m beginning to think that our President is nothing more than a scapegoat—carefully chosen to not only divert attention away from the politicians and corporations that got us into this mess but to advance a few other agendas on the way. Such as “See? It’s not our fault he doubled the national debt.”—No, you just created the situation to make increasing debt the only way to survive. (Kind of like the situation most Americans are in, living on credit because we can’t afford to live within our meager paychecks!) And “See? An African-American isn’t smart enough to be President?”–(How do we tell the difference between stupid things a leader says because he’s stupid and stupid things a leader says because that’s the script he was given by his advisors?)

Will I vote for the man again? Probably not. But I don’t see a lot of viable alternatives, either. The only way I see our country return to its former greatness requires such drastic change that it will probably never happen.

Starting at the family level, we all need to start living within our means. That means earning more or spending less. (Ideally, doing a combination of the two.) We need to demand accountability from our schools, our citizens, and our politicians. If it isn’t fair to expect a billionaire to pay a percentage of his income in taxes, how is it fair to expect a struggling family to pay a percentage of their income in taxes? We need to quit giving American corporations our blessing to outsource production to cheap labor in third world countries and institute financial penalties that will “encourage” them to keep the jobs here. We need to take a hard look at medical “service” providers and demand to know why a child’s vaccination that can be done in a Third World country for “your donation that wouldn’t cost more than a cup of coffee” costs us (or our health insurers) $75.

We need to realize that “trickle down” economics doesn’t work when everybody upstream is diverting most of the flow into their own pockets. Too many facets of our economy are nothing more than a pyramid scheme destined to ultimately collapse.

If our elected leaders’ salaries were based on the median income of their constituents, how fast would economic development become a priority? If our elected leaders earned $7.25 an hour and were paid only for the time they were actually working, how much would they earn?

One of my favorite movies tells the story of a little church caught in a struggle between two powerful families in a small town, each supporting the head of the family for mayor. For years, the town suffered poor leadership and constant bickering. The breakthrough came when the wise pastor found a qualified candidate who didn’t belong to either family.

Maybe it’s time to get rid of both corrupt families and bring in a qualified outsider. Voting for a third party candidate would let both established parties know how the voters feel about “business as usual” in a much more powerful statement than simply refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Of course, it feels like “wasting” a vote on someone who can’t possibly get elected. Is it possible for a re-elected Obama to pull an economic rabbit out of his hat? Or will America turn to the Republican party for more of the same leadership that brought us to the brink of economic disaster? What happens next?

“Fasten your seatbelt. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride”–Bette Davis

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This content may be freely reprinted, unedited, with resource box.

Judy Cox is a freelance writer and publisher of a free content blog at

https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

Why I’m Not Worried About Duplicate Content

A lot of people are going to great lengths to avoid the “duplicate content penalty”.  Those efforts have brought us the (sometimes amusing, always sad) phenomenon of article spinning. Or, as another “original content” provider might put it:

Many persons are traveling a long distance to prevent penalty for duplicate content. Their tries have returned to  us the development of spinning an article.

I’m not competitive (much). And I’m not too concerned about someone “spinning” my articles.The (computerized) Thesaurus tool might say that “development” is a synonym for “phenomenon” but which paragraph would you rather read? The articles I offer here are free to reprint and I don’t worry about a “duplicate content penalty”. Here’s why:

No website will ever duplicate this one for more than 24 hours, because I’m adding fresh content daily. These articles will always appear here first, along with some behind-the-scenes insight into the writing and marketing process. (Or how a crazy old lady’s mind works. You’ve been warned!)

There’s even a lot of confusion about the exact nature of the “duplicate content penalty”. Article banks like EzineArticles.com offer free reprints but their site isn’t deleted for “:duplicate content”. The penalty was instituted to deter content scraping and encourage original content.

If I run a reference site for, say, crochet tutorials, I can link or reprint to other people’s tutorials (properly attributed, with permission). But as a knowledgeable internet marketer, I know I need more than just a collection of copies–even if I have the best and most well-organized collection. What makes my site unique for the human visitor to keep coming back? Original content, added frequently.

How am I supposed to make any money giving away my work? I’m hoping to attract the attention of publishers willing to pay for quality original custom content. It’s a model that’s worked since the early days of the Internet.

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(This article is free to reprint, unedited, with resource box below)

Judy Cox is a freelance writer providing quality original content on a variety of topics. Grab some freebies and read article samples at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com .

Writer vs. Copyscape

Once again I’ve been informed by a client that Copyscape “identified plagiarized material” in an original article I wrote. Since every article I write is 100% original (and I find it difficult to imagine another writer coming up with exactly the same words I would use) I don’t worry much about Copyscape.

Unless, of course, I’m doing an assignment through Freelancer.com. I’m finding that a lot of times I end up working for a third world subcontractor who depends too much on Copyscape and not enough on common sense.

After checking the flagged text, I emailed the client and pointed out that the flagged material was: 1. a direct quote 2. from a recognized expert in the field 3. properly identified and attributed as a quote and 4. therefore NOT “plagiarism”. He emailed me back, saying, ok, he would leave it as is for his client to approve or not.

I’ve had Copyscape flag common phrases (such as “red, white and blue”) before and often it’s easier to rewrite the phrase, especially for a client who speaks English as a second language. To me, it reduces the quality of the article and makes it read awkwardly.

Copyscape and similar tools were designed to improve the quality of online content, just as search algorithms were designed to return relevant results.

. “Quality” may not always be formally “correct” in terms of following Established Rules of Grammar. (Sometimes a sentence fragment is more effective than a proper sentence, and I have been known to deliberately fragment a sentence for effect.)

We just need to remember that the ultimate audience for our content is human.

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(This article is free to reprint as long as it is unedited and resource box below is included)

Judy Cox is a freelance writer specializing in blog posts and articles on a wide variety of topics. Grab some freebies and read article samples at http://publisherpotpourri.worpress.com .

 

When Life Gives you Lemons

I think almost everyone knows the rest of the popular cliche–Make Lemonade! There’s only one problem. A lot of people would be more than willing to use their free lemons to make lemonade–if only Somebody would ALSO Give them some water, sugar, a pitcher to mix it in, a spoon to stir it with, a glass to drink it from–oh, and could you spare a bit of ice?

And let just ONE of those essential components be missing and POOR ME! EVERYBODY ELSE gets all the Breaks and I get Nothing!

AWWWWW.

Know what happens next? They trade their handful of lemons for a bag of sour grapes and run around spreading bitterness. Or they throw their bag of lemons into a corner to rot away. Or bemoan the fact that the guy across the street is doing a booming business selling “easy” lemonade that he made from a powdered mix.

Of course, you COULD study the problem and find a way to solve it. If the problem is a lack of Tools, you might improvise. Make it in a bowl instead of a pitcher–will it make a difference once you pour it into a glass?

You can stir it with a knife–or a clean stick, even. (You’d never guess we were a camping family, would ya!)

If the problem is a shortage of Ingredients,changethe recipe a bit. Make a quart instead of a gallon. Or find somebody that HAS the ingredients you LACK and split the profits.

(How’s that for an over-the-back-fence ancestral version of Joint Venturing?)

Don’t have a recipe? Find one! There’s thousands of them online, more in libraries, and an endless supply of “People-to-ask”–Mom, Aunt Gertrude, the lady next door . . . .

Or figure one out for yourself–some of my family’s favorite treats arrived via “dump in and taste” recipes.

What do lemonade recipes have to do with internet marketing, you ask?

Too many people are envious of the “powdered mix” entrepreneurs, too eager to find the “easy” way, and totally clueless of one simple fact: Once they bother to make the “real” lemonade–and promote it properly– the guy with the powdered mix is toast.

Over the years, you’ve acquired an assortment of Tools, a supply of Materials, a collection of Recipes and other Resources. Some might be as common as a pitcher and a spoon.

But the whole assortment–and what you do with it when the lemons arrive–is uniquely yours.

You don’t even have to stop at “lemonade”.

Lemon meringue pie, anyone?

 

Judy (Wogoman) Cox is a freelance writer and blogger. For free content, visit

https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com

How to Sell Christmas Ornaments in February

The first thought that comes to mind when you hear the term “web marketing” is selling goods and services online. There are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs on the Internet, and no shortage of gurus to tell you how it’s done–for a modest fee, of course.

But today I’d like to point out another type of “web” marketing: developing a “web” of markets for your product in 3 easy steps.

Step 1 is to choose your product and make sure you’ll be able to fill orders. Don’t neglect this step–For a small business, especially, credibility is a must. DON”T PREPARE EXCUSES FOR LATE DELIVERY–prepare plans to assure IMMEDIATE delivery. “Web” marketing can give you explosive growth in a very short time. Here’s why . . .

First of all, traditional marketing is “linear:” Your product travels in a straight line to your market. One example would be crocheted angel Christmas tree ornaments. Product: angel ornament. Market: People decorating Christmas trees. One market at a time. Bound by the limitations of that defined market.

Who decorates Christmas trees in February? An eager marketer may eventually realize that “angel collectors” could be an even better (but still “linear”) market. After all, collectors buy year-round…

But why stop there? Take the next step. Get a blank sheet of paper. In the center of the page, write a brief description of your product. (Or better yet, glue a picture of your product). Draw a series of 10 or so lines radiating out from the “product”–like the spokes of a wheel. Take your time and begin listing potential markets for your product.

For the angel ornaments, the spokes might include:

1) Christmas tree ornament

2) Angel collectors

3) General craft and gift shops

4) Specialty gift shops–museum, etc.

5) Package ties

6) Suncatchers

7) Crochet shops

8) Bible bookmarks

9) “White Christmas”

10) Party favors

11)Angel letter gifts

12) angel wind chimes (add bells for sound)

13) angel mobiles for babies (guardian angels)

14) angels with flowered edgings on their robes “garden angels”

Hey, I live on a busy street.. I could get some free advertising by hanging some larger garden angels in my trees–plant all white flowers on the West side of the house–place an angel statue–have an “angel garden”.  Maybe even design some angels with “pockets” for bird seed . . . (and when that’s done, send a press release to the local paper . . .)

Look at every aspect of the product–color, size, possible uses. Take your time on this step. Think about it. Don’t limit yourself to the Internet. Now, to finish the “web” motif, begin making connections–both on and offline.

Both online and offline yellow pages can lead you to hundreds of wholesale buyers–and some retail buyers, too. (It’s just easier and faster to connect online.)

Let one aspect “feed” to another. When the reporter shows up to take pictures of the angel garden, give him the URL of your website. And after the article appears, scan it and get permission from the paper to post it on the website.

Focus on one “spoke” at a time. Exchange links. Don’t stop with websites. Look for e-zines, discussion lists, chats, and forums. A custom sig file for each spoke–or group of spokes–can pique interest. If your ISP allows different screen names, try varying that, too.

Be creative, but be aware of your market, too. (“The Happy Hooker” might attract some attention from fellow crafters and party favor sites,while drawing flames from the Bible bookmark set).

Consider starting your own webring–the list above suggests several themes, like “White Christmas” or “angel garden” or even “Christmas in February”..

Take notes on the sites you visit. If you find an obscure little “snowflake” site, drop the webmaster an email with the URL of the “White Christmas” site you visited last week.

The same technique can work for services. “Virtual Assisting” is a hot field right now, but the best clients go to the entrepreneur who has taken the time and care to approach them with more than a “dear sir” form letter. Targeting realtors? (I have this great direct mailer that takes a lighthearted look at FSBO’s) Designing web sites for attorneys? Take a crash course in your state’s attorney advertising restrictions–most people aren’t aware such regulations exist. A telemarketer with “taps” has a lot more than a friendly voice. What inside information do you possess that can multiply the value of your services? The jargon of the market–the unique problems of the market–the uncommon “extras” of the market.

The same “night person” tendencies that drove you away from “8 to 5” can bring you premium pricing if you market “moonlight secretarial services” and target business travelers . . .(or partner with a morning person and have “the only 24-hour secretarial service in town”.) Once again, write down everything that pops into your head–you can edit it later.

Instead of targeting a single “general” market, target several “special” markets–one at a time, but always looking for potential “connections”.

As you move through your “web” one idea will lead to another. New spokes will appear, new connections.

You can make money.

You can make friends.

You can sell Christmas ornaments in February.

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Judy (Wogoman) Cox is a freelance writer and blogger. Stop by https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com for free content!

The New Economy

When I was little, things were simple. My Daddy was a card-carrying member of the UAW. Every contract brought a better paycheck and better benefits. Daddy worked at the same company for 30 years, and retired to Florida with a paid off home, good credit, and money in the bank.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….I married a card-carrying member of the UAW. Like me, Gary was an only child, and we wanted a big family. Our first daughter’s birth cost $249.
At first, every contract brought a better paycheck and better benefits. The last pair of glasses I bought for myself cost $38 (including eye exam). Eighteen months later, with our new vision insurance, I got new glasses (which cost $200, plus the eye exam). A similar thing happened when we got dental insurance. All of a sudden, a $20 office visit was $160. The hospital bill for our last baby was over $10,000–paid by insurance.
As a child of the fifties, I was taught to trust the government, believe in the American dream, and give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay. Cash was always preferable to credit, and money in the bank would help you cope with any emergency. We had an insurance man for life, home, and auto insurance, and health insurance from work. Life was good.
Somewhere between then and now, things changed.  Cash became suspect, and credit became all-important. In some neighborhoods, the insurance settlement is the new lottery jackpot.
All I ever wanted was the same–or slightly better–standard of living than what I grew up with.  Instead, I’ve spent most of my life scrambling to get by, sometimes working two or three jobs. I could always find a job when I truly needed one–until now.
The rules have changed. Everybody is trying to get a bigger piece of the pie, and the crumbs that trickle down aren’t enough to survive on.  Our young people can’t find work, so they stay home, supported by aging parents or even grandparents, barely getting by.
And the behemoth that is big government and big business cannot accommodate the drastic changes that are needed to turn this thing around in time to avert a crisis. We are in the early stages of crisis, and still pretending everything will be okay as long as the plastic is approved and the minimum payment stays low enough. After all, if we keep paying our bills on time, we can get the limit raised, and when we retire we can sell our home for ten times what we paid, and…wait a minute, what do you mean I paid ten times what it’s worth now?
The big question is “what are we going to do about it?” An even bigger question is “what can we do about it?”
Judy Cox supplements her Social Security by freelance writing online. Visit her blog at https://publisherpotpourri.wordpress.com