Monthly Archives: April 2011

What You Need to Start an eZine Publication

Starting your own eZine can be a lot easier than you think. This is because in the most basic necessity, all you really need to get started publishing your own paperless newsletter are wealth of content, auto responder with broadcast feature, and a website (which is optional).

Content. You can compile weeks of content ahead in advance and slowly dispense them to your subscribers. For example, you can compile 100 short tips in one day and dispense 10 tips once a week. In other words, you can compile 10 weeks worth of content in just one day!

Auto responder. Your auto responder is your asset. You need an auto responder to send your mails and eZine issues to your subscribers and store your data base of people subscribed to your newsletter. Some recommended auto responders include GetResponse.com and aWeber.com.

Website. You may be surprised that this is actually an optional component. In short, there are eZine publishers publishing their newsletters without a website! But of course, having your own website can offer you tremendous advantages, such as the ability to bring in more subscribers and having your newsletter indexed in the top Search Engines.

These are the things you need to get started on publishing your own eZine at its bare minimum. Do not underestimate the little you need, though, because several eZine publishers today succeed well with only an auto responder and contents, with or without a website. And you can, too!

Mistakes To Avoid When Using Web Templates

Website templates are very affordable and they save you a lot of effort and time when you want to create a new layout for your website. However, a lot of people make mistakes in the process of choosing and using a web template and end up with something that was unlike the image they had in mind. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid those mistakes.

The first obvious mistake you should be aware of is using a template that is very popular. If many people use the same template, your website will not appear unique at all and your credibility as a solid, different website will be tarnished. In other words, you will appear generic just like your next-door neighbours.

To whole point of using a web template is to save time and effort. You just change the title and appropriate details and you’re done. The biggest mistake one makes is to customize the template beyond recognisation. While that may be good in the sense that you’re creating a unique graphic, you’re defying the very purpose of using a web template — saving time and effort.

However, on the opposite side, if a template you purchase is suitable but some changes must be made to suit your site’s theme, then you will have to take some time to make the changes. For example, you can find a very nice template that suits your hobby site except the original designer has put an image of stamps in the header. You can find images of garden plants and spades to replace the stamps for your gardening hobby site. However, do only make the necessary changes and don’t redesign the whole template.

In some circumstances, some people simply make the wrong choice of templates. This is a very subjective issue but you have to be careful in selecting templates to suit your audience. Do not choose templates just because they are pretty, choose them because they serve your purpose.

What’s Your eBay Reputation Really Worth?

Your eBay reputation is everything you are on eBay – without it, you’re nothing. Your reputation is worth as much as every sale you will ever make.

If you’ve ever bought anything on eBay (and the chances are you have), then think about your own behaviour. Buying from a seller with a low feedback rating makes you feel a little nervous and insecure, while buying from a PowerSeller with their reputation in the thousands doesn’t require any thought or fear – it feels just like buying from a shop.

A Bad Reputation Will Lose You Sales.

In fact, a bad reputation will lose you almost all your sales. If someone leaves you negative feedback, you will feel the pain straight away, as that rating will go right at the top of your user page for everyone to see. Who’s going to want to do business with you when they’ve just read that you “took a month to deliver the item”, or that you had “bad communication and sent a damaged item”? The answer is no-one.

Your next few items will need to be very cheap things, just to push that negative down the page. You might have to spend days or even weeks selling cheap stuff to get enough positive feedback to make anyone deal with you again.

It’s even worse if you consistently let buyers leave negative feedback – once you get below 90% positive ratings, you might as well be invisible.

You Can’t Just Open a New Account.

Besides eBay’s rules about only having one account, there are far more downsides than that to getting a new account. You literally have to start all over again from scratch.

You won’t be able to use all the different eBay features. Your existing customers won’t be able to find you any more. Your auctions will finish at a lower price because of your low feedback rating. Opening a new account is like moving to a new town to get away from a few people who are spreading rumours about you: it’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

A Good Reputation Will Get You Sales.

When a PowerSeller tells me something, I tend to believe them. They can be selling a pretty unlikely item, but if they guarantee it is what they say it is, then I trust them – they’re not going to risk their reputation, after all. This is the power of a reputation: people know you want to keep it, and they know you’ll go to almost any lengths to do so.

This is true even to the point that I would sooner buy something for $20 from a seller I know I can trust than for $15 from someone with average feedback. It’s worth the extra money to feel like the seller knows what they’re doing, has all their systems in place and will get me the item quickly and efficiently.

You really will find selling on eBay so much easier, and there’s only way to get a good reputation: make sure you please your customers every time. But some customers can be, well, just a little difficult to please. In the next email, we ask: is the eBay customer always right?

The 3 Best eZine Formats

eZine publishers today use any one or more of the 3 most commonly used eZine formats which I am about to describe to you in this article.

Ultimately, you can decide which format is the best choice for you, though each winning format has its pros and cons.

The text eZine is the most commonly published. The advantage of this format is that other than writing, you do not require any special skill to use a Word or Notepad program.

While the HTML eZine format requires a certain degree of HTML skills on your part, you can add more sophisticated features to your eZine issues, making them more appealing to your subscriber thus increases your readership value, something that text eZines do not have.

You can decorate your eZine format, change your fonts, include pictures, and more. However, the drawback often faced by HTML eZines is that they often get trapped into spam filters before they reach their subscribers’ inboxes.

The third and least used among the 3 formats is the PDF eZine. Publishing your eZine in PDF format can consume a lot of time and effort on your part but often make up in quality readership

Due to the commitment, PDF eZines are usually published on a monthly basis. The great part, though, is that you can put in your affiliate links in your PDF eZine issue and allow your subscribers to pass the eZine issue around.

Given the choices, however, you do not have to necessarily choose strictly one eZine format, as some eZine publishers today do publish in more than one format.

Make It Easy To Buy From Your Site

Convincing your prospects to purchase from you is a hard job, but have you ever thought that you’re making the process twice as difficult for both parties if your prospects are convinced but don’t know how to buy from you? No matter how good you are at convincing your prospects, they won’t buy if they find the process cumbersome.

First, you will want to check that people can find your order form easily and hassle-free. You can write a clear, concise paragraph to direct your prospects to your order form so that you can minimize the chances of them getting lost. You can also reduce the chances of losing prospects by putting a prominent link to your order page from every other page on your site.

Also, do you offer multiple payment options? Some people may feel comfortable paying via Paypal, some may only want to pay with their credit card and others might want to send a cheque. The more options you offer, the better your chances of covering your prospects’ desired payment method. After all, it wouldn’t make any sense to sell hard to a prospect only to find that they won’t be able to pay you when they want to.

On the other hand, you will want to prove that you are a credible merchant. Is your order form secured using encryption technology? You would want to look into SSL for this. You can also offer a money back guarantee so that people will feel confident about buying from you. How about after sales support? Who do they contact when they have problems after purchasing?

Alternatively, you can add customer testimonials, your contact information, address, and so on to boost your prospects’ confidence. Make them feel safe about buying something from you, a total stranger to them on the other end of the Internet.

As a conclusion, it would be very pitiful if you sold hard and sold well to a prospect and something goes wrong when he or she is ready to pay. Eliminate any chances of that to maximize your profits!

An eBay Seller’s Checklist.

Being a seller is a lot of responsibility, and sometimes you might feel like you’re not doing everything you should be. This simple checklist will help you keep on top of things.

Have you found out everything you possibly could about your items? Try typing their names into a search engine – you might find out something you didn’t know. If someone else is selling the same thing as you, then always try to provide more information about it than they do.

Do you monitor the competition? Always keep an eye on how much other items the same as or similar to yours are selling, and what prices they’re being offered at. There’s usually little point in starting a fixed price auction for $100 when someone else is selling the item for $90.

Have you got pictures of the items? It’s worth taking the time to photograph your items, especially if you have a digital camera. If you get serious about eBay but don’t have a camera, then you will probably want to invest in one at some point.

Are you emailing your sellers? It’s worth sending a brief email when transactions go through: something like a simple “Thank you for buying my item, please let me know when you have sent the payment”. Follow this up with “Thanks for your payment, I have posted your [item name] today”. You will be surprised how many problems you will avoid just by communicating this way.

Also, are you checking your emails? Remember that potential buyers can send you email about anything at any time, and not answering these emails will just make them go somewhere else instead of buying from you.

Do your item description pages have everything that buyers need to know? If you’re planning to offer international delivery, then it’s good to make a list of the charges to different counties and display it on each auction. If you have any special terms and conditions (for example, if you will give a refund on any item as long as it hasn’t been opened), then you should make sure these are displayed too.

Have you been wrapping your items correctly? Your wrapping should be professional for the best impression: use appropriately sized envelopes or parcels, wrap the item in bubble wrap to stop it from getting damaged, and print labels instead of hand-writing addresses. Oh, and always use first class post – don’t be cheap.

Do you follow up? It is worth sending out an email a few days after you post an item, saying “Is everything alright with your purchase? I hope you received it and it was as you expected.” This might sound like giving the customer an opportunity to complain, but you should be trying to help your customers, not take their money and run.

Being a really good eBay seller, more than anything else, is about providing genuinely good and honest customer service. That’s the only foolproof way to protect your reputation. Of course, you might be wondering by now whether it’s really worth all the hassle to get a good reputation on eBay. Won’t people buy from you anyway, and couldn’t you just open a new account if it really comes down to that? Our next email will set you straight.

Building Your Mailing List with Downloads

A mailing list is the lifeblood of your online business. The old adage “the money is in the list” cannot be true enough — if you had a targeted list of prospects to contact each time you have a new product, you will be able to save a lot of effort by marketing it to your existing list of targeted prospects.

You can actually build up a targeted list of prospects that are interested in your products by offering a relevant download on your website. For example, let’s take a look at a very good example — apple.com. When you download the free iTunes and Quicktime software from their site, they will ask you to fill in an optional name and email form so that they can send you offers on songs that you can purchase via — guess where — iTunes!

In reality, you do not need to offer such a “heavyweight” download such as a full-feature software like iTunes. You can attract prospects equally well with some quality freebies such as a simple report, a free wallpaper, and so on. The important thing is that your download offers enough value for the prospect to be willing to give away his/her own email address to get it.

However, slapping together a simple download and putting a link on your website won’t be enough to attract qualified prospects. You will have to do some homework in order for your lead-generating mechanism to work well for you.

First of all, you must place your download form prominently on your website. Preferably, dedicate a page to it and link to that page from every other page of your website. That way, there is no way your visitors cannot find the download page, and when they do, you’ll get some of them converted into your prospects!

Also, you have to put a little effort into promoting your download. Explain and elaborate on the values of the download, and why your visitors should download it. You might think why would anyone want to pass on a freebie, but most of your visitors would be too lazy to take the effort to download it because most of their downloads just sit on the harddisk collecting virtual dust. It is hence important to show your visitors why they should download your freebie.

5 Simple Steps to Posting Your First eBay Auction.

It’s surprisingly simple to get started posting your very first auction on eBay. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Open an eBay seller’s account.

If you’ve bought things on eBay, then you already have an account – just log in with it and click ‘Sell’ in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click ‘Create a seller’s account’. If you’ve never used eBay before, then you’ll need to open an account first using the ‘register’ link underneath the toolbar, and then click ‘Sell’ and ‘Create a seller’s account’. The eBay site will then guide you through the process. For security, this may involve giving card details and bank information.

Step 2: Decide what to sell.

For your first little experiment with eBay, it doesn’t really matter what you sell. Take a look around the room you’re in – I’m sure there’s something in there that you’re not all that attached to and could put in the post. Small books and CDs are ideal first items.

Step 3: Submit your item.

Click ‘Sell’, and you’re on your way to listing your item.

The first thing you need to do is choose a category – it’s best to just type in what the item is and let eBay choose for you. Next, write a title and description. Include key words you think people will search for in the title box, and all the information you have about the item in the description box.

Now set a starting price. $0.01 is the best starting price, as it draws people in to bid who otherwise wouldn’t, and items will almost never finish at such a low price. The next thing to set is the duration of the auction: 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. This is up to you: longer sales will usually get more bids, but will also seem to drag on forever. If you’ve taken a picture, add it now – items with pictures always sell for more. Finally, tick the payment methods you will accept (just PayPal is best for now), and where you will post to (limit yourself to your own country to begin with). Submit and you’re done!

Step 4: Wait for it to sell.

This is just a matter of sitting back and letting eBay do its thing – buyers will find your item and leave bids on it. Some bidders might email you with questions about the item, and you should do your best to answer these questions as quickly as you can.

Remember that if your item doesn’t sell then you can list it again for free.

Step 5: Collect payment and post it.

eBay will sent your buyer emails guiding them through the process of sending you payment for the item. Make sure you have the money before you send anything.

Once you’ve got the payment, all you need to do is pack the item for posting (make sure to use some bubble wrap), take the buyer’s address from the confirmation email eBay sent you, and write it on the parcel. Put some stamps on, post it, and you’re done!

I hope you enjoyed selling your first item. Now that you’re starting to get into it, the next email will give you a checklist of things you need to do to be a successful seller.

Improve Usability of Your Website

No matter how brilliant your website design is, if it is hard to reach the content of your site then your site is as useful as an empty shell. Here are some tips to improve the usability of your website to ensure it serves its functions optimally.

The first method is to make sure the typography of your content is suitable. If you have large blocks of text, make sure to use CSS to space out the lines accordingly. The longer a single line of text is, the greater the line-height of each line should be. Also, make sure the font size of your text is big enough to read easily. Some sites have 10-pixel-tall text in Verdana font; while that may look neat and tidy, you have to really strain your eyes to read the actual text.

Make it easy for visitors to find content that they want on your site. If you have thousands of articles on your site and a certain visitor wants to find one single article from that pile, you have to provide a feasible means to enable visitors to do that without hassle. Be it an SQL-driven database search engine or just a glossary or index of articles that you have, providing such a feature will make sure your visitors can use your site with ease.

Ensure that your site loads fast if you do not want to lose visitors. Most internet users will leave a website if it doesn’t load completely within 15 seconds, so make sure the crme de la crme of your website is delivered to the visitors as soon as possible to retain their attention.

Last of all, test each and every link on your site before it goes online. There is nothing more effective in tarnishing your professional image than broken links, so be very careful about that.

Deciding the Nature of Your eZine

When choosing a topic to publish your eZine on, you must consider some important success factors that can determine the flow and goal of your eZine.

You are encouraged to write non-time sensitive contents such as short tips, mini stories and interviews. Doing so enables you to create content in advance so that you can conveniently dispense to your subscribers at a later schedule.

Topic-wise, you will do well to cater to a starving market that will always be on demand for the kind of content you offer. And by this, I mean that you should zero in onto a demand that has been, is and will always be there.

Relationships and dating are niches that have been on Earth long before the World Wide Web came up, for example. The food niche will always be there as long as there are chefs cooking for anyone with a stomach to fill.

Having said that, you also want to have a steady stream of products or services of your own or an affiliate for you can endorse to your mailing list and make even more money.

This is also the reason why the Internet Marketing niche will remain one of the hottest niches there is, as products and services are created almost around the clock. As long as there Internet Businesses cropping out, there will always be needs to be fulfilled.

Learning the eBay “Lingo”.

Do you have trouble sometimes understanding when people talk about eBay? Don’t worry, some of the jargon is really obscure, and you can’t be expected to understand it until someone’s told you what it means. Here’s a little list of some of the most useful lingo to know, but you don’t need to memorise it – even the most common jargon is only used relatively rarely.

Words.

Bid: telling eBay’s system the maximum price you are prepared to pay for an item.

Dutch: an auction where more than one of an item is available.

Feedback: positive or negative comments left about other users on eBay.

Mint: in perfect condition.

Non-paying bidder: a bidder who wins an auction but does not then go on to buy the item.

PayPal: an electronic payment method accepted by most sellers.

Rare: used and abused on eBay, now entirely meaningless.

Reserve: the minimum price the seller will accept for the item.

Shill bid: a fake bid placed by a seller trying to drive up their auction’s price.

Snail Mail: the post, which is obviously very slow compared to email.

Sniping: bidding at the last second to win the item before anyone else can outbid you.

Abbreviations.

AUD: Australian Dollar. Currency.

BIN: Buy it Now. A fixed price auction.

BNWT: Brand New With Tags. An item that has never been used and still has its original tags.

BW: Black and White. Used for films, photos etc.

CONUS: Continental United States. Generally used by sellers who don’t want to post things to Alaska or Hawaii.

EUR: Euro. Currency.

FC: First Class. Type of postage.

GBP: Great British Pounds. Currency.

HTF: Hard To Find. Not quite as abused as ‘rare’, but getting there.

NIB: New in Box. Never opened, still in its original box.

NR: No Reserve. An item where the seller has not set a reserve price.

OB: Original Box. An item that has its original box (but might have been opened).

PM: Priority Mail.

PP: Parcel Post.

SH: Shipping and Handling. The fees the buyer will pay you for postage.

USD: United States Dollars. Currency.

VGC: Very Good Condition. Not mint, but close.

The chances are that you’ll find more specific jargon related to whatever you’re selling, but it’d be an impossible task to cover it all here. If you can’t figure one out from your knowledge of the subject, then type the term into a search engine, followed by the word ‘ebay’. The chances are that someone, somewhere will have seen fit to explain it.

While it’s good to be able to understand others’ jargon, avoid using it unless you really need to (for example, if you run out of space in an item’s title). Many people on eBay are not experienced buyers and you will lose them if you write a load of gobbledegook all over your auction.

By now, you’re well prepared for eBay life, and you’re probably ready to get started with that first auction. In the next email, we’ll show you how to dive in and get started.

The Importance of a Sitemap

A sitemap is often considered redundant in the process of building a website, and that is indeed the fact if you made a sitemap for the sake of having one. By highlighting the importance of having a well constructed sitemap, you will be able to tailor your own sitemap to suit your own needs.

1) Navigation purposes

A sitemap literally acts as a map of your site. If your visitors browses your site and gets lost between the thousands of pages on your site, they can always refer to your sitemap to see where they are, and navigate through your pages with the utmost ease.

2) Conveying your site’s theme

When your visitors load up your sitemap, they will get the gist of your site within a very short amount of time. There is no need to get the “big picture” of your site by reading through each page, and by doing that you will be saving your visitors’ time.

3) Site optimization purposes

When you create a sitemap, you are actually creating a single page which contains links to every single page on your site. Imagine what happens when search engine robots hit this page — they will follow the links on the sitemap and naturally every single page of your site gets indexed by search engines! It is also for this purpose that a link to the sitemap has to be placed prominently on the front page of your website.

4) Organization and relevance

A sitemap enables you to have a complete bird’s eye view of your site structure, and whenever you need to add new content or new sections, you will be able to take the existing hierarchy into consideration just by glancing at the sitemap. As a result, you will have a perfectly organized site with everything sorted according to their relevance.

From the above reasons, it is most important to implement a sitemap for website projects with a considerable size. Through this way, you will be able to keep your website easily accesible and neatly organized for everyone.