How to Work Anywhere and Still Get Local Clients

This guest-post on outsourcing your work to a local sales-person is by Warren Greeley, writing from Chicago, Illinois.

There is this reoccurring daydream I have of working on my laptop while lounging on a beach somewhere I’ve never been, with white sandy shores and clear-blue water as far as the eye can see.

There is a problem though. I own a business that has a well establish local niche — and it’s my main source of my income.

I had a simple but great idea to fix this problem. This idea was to implement a local sales person to do the selling for me.

In doing so, the burden of pitching my services is taken (mostly) off my shoulders—and—my location becomes less necessary in serving my local niche.

The benefits of hiring a local sales person, then, are great.

  1. You can benefit from a local niche (or several) regardless of where you are.
  2. Your business can maintain a higher level of personal (face to face) connection even if you are half way around the world.
  3. You are more likely to get clients and make sales by adding a personal salesman to the equation. People like talking to a real person more than websites or resumes.

So, with all that in mind, how do you go about finding and hiring the right person for the job?

The Search

This can be the most tedious part of your journey. There are plenty of ways to search for this type of worker. But fortunately, you are a web worker, meaning you probably understand a lot of the resources you have.

Listing sites like Craigslist are great for finding someone in need of a job who wouldn’t fit on Career Builder or other conventional online job listings.

The best place to look, though, is through your contacts. If you are reaching out to your location of origin you’re likely know a lot of people there. Ask them, get the word out and be proactive about it.

In spite of my efforts elsewhere, I found just asking friends and acquaintances rendered the best results.

Choosing the Right Person

Though this is an unconventional job position (working for a nomadic business owner with no office!), it still needs to be treated professionally.

Some traits to look out for are:

  1. 1. Ability to work on their own.
  2. Crazy amount of personal charisma.
  3. A thirst for a challenge.
  4. Experience in a similar or complimentary industry.

All four of these will be needed to ensure the candidate is a fit for the position.

The most important trait overall is trustworthiness. This is easier to establish if you find them through personal connections but in any case, be sure to check their references like you would if you were hiring a full-time employee to your office.

Negotiating the Position

As I have already mentioned, this job position is not normal. There will most likely be no office to go to and very little regulation. This holds problems for both you and the sales-person.

They need to trust that the position is worth it and you need to trust they will live up to their end of the bargain (even if you’re relaxing on a beach somewhere).

Because of this uncertainty, there must be some kind of compromise on both sides. You will most likely have to pay out a slightly larger commission to the sales-person because of the risks involved and they will have to understand there will be no base pay. Compensation will be solely from commission.

Working out odds and ends is important too. Be sure they understand if they will or will not be compensated for additional projects in the future with the clients they bring in.

Also, be sure they know how and when they will be paid (including taxation).

Side note: You do not have to treat this person as a full-time employee. By treating them as a free agent working for you there is far less hassle with taxes.

Training the Person

If you chose the right candidate, you will not have to train them in how to sell (nor should you), but you’ll need to provide the basics of your business — and FAQ’s.

When hiring, be sure to explain and provide on paper all of your services, your pricing structure, terminology for your field and anything else you think they would need to talk to potential clients and sound like they know something about your industry.

I even went so far as to recommend some blogs my salesman could read to get a feel for my field.

Getting Started

Some people may need a push in the right direction to get started. Even if they have connections themselves (which they probably will) you should give them a couple of leads to start with so they have an idea of what you are looking for and also so they can get started quickly.

Once they make their first sale they will become more motivated.

Keep in mind that though this is a good way to get work, it should not be your only way. Do not rely completely on the sales person to get you work, especially when they’re just starting out. Remember to pursue the other avenues you use already.

The most important things to remember:

  1. Use your resources and connections to the fullest to find candidates.
  2. Trust and enthusiasm are very important in your relationship with your sales person.
  3. Make sure you give them all the necessary information to do their job. Giving leads and incentives when starting really helps.
  4. Don’t rely on this as your only source of selling.

5 Short-Term Strategies for Building Long-Term eBook Sales

This is a guest-post by Alexis Dawes. She earns six-figures a year selling information products.

What’s the #1 deterrent that keeps people from writing and selling their own eBook? According to the people who e-mail me for advice, it’s the so-called grandeur of the task.

Even though most people want to write a book, there’s something about it that rings of big, scary and un-doable. And actually this impression couldn’t be further from the truth.

I published an eBook back in 2005. Took me around 4 hours to write it. Another week to perfect the sales copy. And another few hours to create the ads.

That very eBook continues to generate sales today, even when I’m on vacation… sleeping… watching American Idol… you get the message.

It’s not that writing and promoting an eBook is difficult. It’s that most people don’t understand how small actions can snowball into profitable e-publishing ventures.

This post will show you five actions you can take to help assure success in your eBook sales future.

Strategy #1. Always think “Is this an eBookable topic?”

I started teaching my daughter to read at the age of 3. Now at the age of 5 she’s reading at a second grade level. Plus, she’s writing 3-4 sentence stories based on picture prompts almost daily.

My teaching routine is an idea for an eBook. In fact I’m working on it right now.

Several years ago my cousin ran into some financial difficulties. A friend of hers happened to be a mortgage originator, and gave her some tips to help avoid the bad credit blues.

When my cousin told me about the advice, I thought it would make a good eBook. I ended up interviewing her friend for mortgage related tips and turned it into an eBook.

If you’re exceptionally good at a task you do at your day job, that’s an eBook. If you’ve ever done something exceptionally well (e.g.- created a $100K wedding on a $5K budget) that’s an eBook. Did you overcome a difficult time in your life? What were your coping mechanisms? That’s an eBook too.

Strategy #2. Pick a passion and study it periodically.

I’m a photography buff. At one point I almost gave up writing to become a portrait photographer.

As you can see, I never did. But my love for the craft still has me buying photography books and magazines. I take pictures of my daughter. And if a friend stops by, they know to make sure it’s not a bad hair day, because at one point they might get snapped.

Even though I’m not a professional photographer, I’ve gleaned enough information about photography over the past 6 years to churn out several photography eBooks.

If you’re like most people, you may not have the time to devote yourself to a “this-is-what-I-do-in-my-free-time” type of hobby, but you can probably spend a few hours each month learning about something that you’re truly interested in. And that accumulated knowledge can eventually become an eBook.

Strategy #3. Don’t hesitate to dictate.

In the summer of 2007 I sat down to write a series of eBooks. I was in Florida visiting my parents, which meant free babysitting and an enormous amount of time to write.

However after the first two weeks I found it harder and harder to type. My shoulders were tight. My wrists were applying for carpel tunnel status.

I’d been more-or-less nervous about experimenting with dictation software. (I just didn’t think I could speak what I wanted to type.) But I also knew that I had to at least try it for the sake of my aching arms, shoulders and back.

Well you could’ve knocked me over with a feather when I finally gave Dragon Naturally Speaking a try and LOVED it.

I initially found myself speaking the words as if I were typing them. So there were a lot of pauses. But after a week the pauses diminished and my output increased by 20-30 percent easily.

I have no problem saying that if your goal is to write many eBooks, Dragon Naturally Speaking is essential. Period.

Strategy #4. Read a sales letter a day.

If you’re going to sell eBooks, you’ll have to know how to write sales copy.

You can study copywriting techniques and practice writing sales letters, but you can ramp up your skills even faster by being committed to reading one sales letter every, single day.

So where do you find sales letters to read?

Clickbank.com and Paydotcom.com are popular payment processors for eBook authors. Looking through their respective directories will show you that the most popular titles are listed first. These are the eBooks whose sales letters convert the best.

Study them. Study the ones for topics you have no interest in.

What do you like the best? The least? Does it make you want to buy the product? Print the sales letter and make notes. Incorporate those ideas into your own sales copy.

Strategy #5. Build name recognition before you need to.

I write eBooks on several different topics. Most of them are promoted on a set-it-and-forget-it basis, meaning I perform a series of marketing steps upon launching, then I let the eBook sell itself.

But there’s one niche where I constantly strive to build name recognition. That’s eBook creation and marketing. When I talk about it, it generates the highest level of excitement for me. Not to mention it generates excellent profits. (Just keeping it real!)

Whether you write about 1 or 100 different topics, there’s always going to be your favorite. That’s where name recognition is key. Especially when it comes to topics where there’s a significant amount of competition.

The more visible you are early on — even before you launch your eBook — the better.

That means putting up a lead generation web page before you even write your eBook. You can offer visitors a free report or white paper related to your topic, in exchange for their e-mail address and permission to e-mail them new articles periodically.

Once you do that, find blogs and forums where you can post comments. Commit to a minimum of two ‘quality’ posts a week. And be sure to use your lead generation page URL in the signature.

Once you’ve officially launched your eBook, you’ll already be looked upon as a trusted member of the community. And that’s a profitable position to be in.

To learn my step-by-step strategy to creating information products that sale, visit my website Desperatebuyersonly.com

9 Blog Ideas to Help You Profit From Amazon

Amazon’s Affiliate program is one of my favorites, simply because it is so adaptable to virtually any blog or topic.

They also have the benefit of a lot of trust, so you don?t need to sell the reader on Amazon as a business, rather you can focus on the products themselves.

When I first started using the program I was rather dismayed that the results it was yielding were small. The key however is to build many, targeted, relevant links over time.

I learned this after reading a reading a ProBlogger article on the subject where Darren Rowse discusses his experience with the program. After a couple of months it appears to be working with my monthly income from the program climbing from a few dollars up to the low three figures.

While that still isn’t a lot of money, I suspect if I simply keep applying this principle of developing solid links to the program, this figure should continue to rise to eventually become a solid earner.

So here are 9 ideas for working Amazon links into your blog, of course some of them are mutually exclusive, but there should be enough in there to get any blog plugged in:

(1) Write a Product Review

Amazon links like all affiliate links sell best when they are part of the content. A review is a great way to pre-sell an item, particularly if the review is a positive one.

Of course if you only ever review things to sell them, your readers will realize there’s something fishy going on, so stay objective and let your readers choose if its worth purchasing.

The neat thing about Amazon links are that you get a commission on anything the user purchases after clicking your link within 24 hours.

So even though they may not buy the product you review, it may lead them on to a shopping trip. This means that it can be a good idea to lead into an Amazon link with some text that doesn’t necessarily imply they should buy the item.

For example, you can find out how much it costs over at Amazon, or Read other people’s reviews over at Amazon. By doing this even people who aren’t ready to buy may just click it to keep exploring, once they get to Amazon who knows what may happen.

Example: Here?s an example of a product review that we did on FreelanceSwitch for a book called Six Figure Freelancing.

(2) Create an aStore and link it from your sidebar

An aStore is Amazon’s mini-store product that opens up in a new window. You can fill it with a little catalog that you think would be interesting to your readers and if Amazon can detect it, the aStore will display the user’s Amazon wish list, which is a handy way of reminding them of the things they already decided are worth spending on.

You can style an aStore to match your site, and put a link or graphic in the sidebar of your blog to call attention to it.

Give it some supporting text indicating that you’ve hand picked things that you think might be interesting.

Example: Here’s an example of an aStore from over at ProBlogger

(3) Whenever you mention a product / book, drop in an Amazon link

This is common sense, but if you are running an affiliate program you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to link in.

If you mention a book or some other Amazon item in passing in one of your posts, make sure to link it up. Readers will find it useful and you increase the number of ways a person can wind up shopping at Amazon and thereby contributing to your income.

You can even go a little out of your way to mention products or books. For example you could write a post talking about your wish list of presents this holiday season and drop in a few Amazon links for people to see what you are talking about.

Example: Here?s an example of a post where a book was mentioned in passing and linked up – http://freelanceswitch.com/productivity/lessons-from-eating-frogs/

(4) Create a Best Sellers List

People love best sellers lists for the same reason they love stories on Digg’s homepage because the masses have done the thinking for them. If everyone likes something, it must be good!

Creating a best sellers list or some other type of top picks list, is a good way of taking the effort out of choosing for your readers. These can work particularly well around the holiday season when people are in the mood for shopping.

Examples: Problogger has a great post about producing best sellers lists that includes examples

(5) Create a Resource Post and include Books

Linkbait type posts that list some sort of resource are great because they can lead to lots of traffic and readers love them. Happily it is also not that hard to work a set of useful books on the topic into your list.

Example: Here is a post that was wildly successful on Digg and StumbleUpon that had a section full of Amazon links called 34 Places to Get Design Inspiration Online and Off

(6) Make a Competition Prize Pack

A competition prize pack is often made up of items that are readily available on Amazon, so when talking about the prizes as you’ll probably wind up doing in a few posts, link them up!

Example: In this survey competition, we are giving away a huge prize pack of goods, all of which link back in to Amazon.

(7) Create a Resource Page or Segment of your Sidebar

A lot of blogs like to have a whole page or segment of their sidebar with general resources. Often this will include a Recommended Books section. This keeps your books right there in front of any potential visitors.

Example: ZenHabits keeps a nice set of books in his sidebar with the catchy title Must-Read Books?

(8) Run a Banner Advert or Omakase Banner

This is probably not the best way to promote your Amazon affiliate link because it is so detached from you and your blog.

Nonetheless if you have an empty space for adverts on your blog, running an Amazon banner is better than running no banner.

Additionally Amazon offers a product called Omakase banners which will intelligently display products that suit your viewer which can be a good option.

Some blogs will place a banner, list of books or even aStore link, and promote it by asking their readers to use this as a means to support the blog.

In a way this is a little like asking for donations and on a blog where there is a lot of good-will can work really well. Of course if you have over-commercialized your blog already it is unlikely anyone is going to feel sympathetic enough to go out of their way their Amazon purchases through your link!

(9) Use Amazon tools like Search Boxes or Context Links

Amazon also offers two other products you can embed on your site. The first are search boxes that allow your user to begin searching the Amazon catalogue.

These are unlikely to generate much in the way of returns as most people will simply type in Amazon.com to start looking for things.

The other product is Context links. These are similar to a product like Kontera where you place a snippet of Javascript and it automatically detects whether any words on your page could be hyper linked up to Amazon’s product list.

Whether this works for you depends on how you feel about context links, personally I am of the opinion that they distract from your main purpose. Nonetheless they can bring in the conversions.

So there you have it, the key with Amazon links seems really to be to build up the number of different ways that a reader can wind up shopping at Amazon, and using these 9 methods you should be able to start building up quite a few links.

As with any monetization method, remember not to over-do it for your readers, balancing money-making and content.

Choosing The Right Advertising For Your Readers

It is possibly one of the least thought about points for almost any new blogger.

What is the right type of advertising for my readers and my blog?

If you set up a free blog account, especially with Blogger, you stand a particularly high chance of being completely brainwashed with Google Adsense so you don’t even look beyond that option.

This happens primarily because of the simplicity of getting Adsense working. It’s OK, don’t blame yourself for that, blame Google – they’re very good at what they do! :-)

This article is not about choosing the easiest monetizing methods but rather the rightmonetizing methods.

A trap that many bloggers fall into, is to think that just by popping up a few blocks of pay-per-click (PPC) ads, the same sort of money that more popular blogs are making will happen for them. Sadly it doesn’t work that way. Here’s why –

  1. Unless your blog is considerably popular, you probably don’t have the traffic levels that they have
  2. It’s unlikely that simply copying their look will yield the same results
  3. It’s important to find the methods that are appropriate for your blog

So if you are setting up a new blog or have been experiencing a steady increase in traffic and are thinking about showing some ads then here are some tips –

1. Know your readers

It’s essential to know your demographics before you think about monetizing your blog. Know what gets them out and interacting with your content. Know what their interests are and what they kind of products they’d be partial to.

The kind of stuff that generates community interaction is the kind of stuff that will generate clicks and income for you.

2. Monetize the right way

Look at both consistent strategies and inconsistent ones.

  • PPC and Affiliate advertising falls into the inconsistent type, you can get a 100 clicks today and 10 tomorrow or vice versa. Results can be highly skewed and you never know when someone like Google, Yahoo or your affiliate site can pull the plug on you. On the other hand, these types of strategies tend to be simple to add to a site and can be implemented almost immediately.
  • Direct sales of text and banner ads can be classified as consistent. Here you know exactly how much you are making per month and plus you get to choose the advertisers for your blog. 
  • If you choose your advertisers wisely, chances are they will see good returns on their investment, so they stay with you for the long term. If an advertiser doesn’t get results from you then they won’t be back the next month. Bottom line, keep your ads related for a long term turnover.

    Additionally try to price your ad sales in such a way that it makes sense for advertisers and the return they are likely to get. It’s much better to be selling out your ad inventory at a cheaper rate than not selling any at all at a more expensive rate.

  • Often just having ad spots filled will provide a sort of social proof to new advertisers considering. While an empty ad bar can give the impression that it’s not worth advertising somewhere.

3. Think carefully before you jump for the quick buck

Because often that’s about all you will make, a buck. When starting out with my blog –everybodygoto.com – one big mistake I made was to use only one PPC ad network on my blog.

This can quickly lead to ad blindness – the phenomenon where regular readers switch off to the ads. Ad blindness of course only increases the inconsistency in PPC income.

Keep shifting ads around between a few networks every week or so, this makes your blog look fresh to you as well as to your readers. Kinda like how you change your t-shirt over the same pair of jeans everyday and get a totally different look.

If readers see changes happening often, they’ll visit often. Hey Hey! That means more clicks, and more money.

4. Experiment

Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what is going to work for your blog, so experimenting is a good idea. Try out multiple types of advertising, mix and match and measure the results.

Not only does this help fight the ad blindness mentioned above, but additionally you have a higher likelihood of stumbling on something that is a perfect match for your readership.

5. Cut out the crap

Quick money making schemes, pyramid marketing, long sales pages etc…are some of the most hated type of affiliate advertising you can put on your blog, or anywhere for that matter.

So stay away from it, most of your readers already know how much they stink, don’t let them associate you with that stink.

6. Plan campaigns for your advertisers

A new trend that is emerging among blogs is to plan linkbait campaigns along with your advertiser. If you have a big enough readership and you get a good advertiser on board you can plan one with them.

It’s simple, you tell them all they need to do is provide a cash or physical prize, to give away for posts written by your readers linking to the advertisers website with a keyword of their choice.

If the prize is good enough expect a huge response to the campaign and a bunch of links for your advertiser as well as your blog. Everyone wins!

So there you have it. Some of the methods you can use to show the right type of advertising for your readers, and increase your income alongside.

Ultimate Guide to Monetizing your Site With Donations

You must provide something of value to your readers if want them to donate to you. There is no such thing as a free lunch – such is the law of our society.

Go beyond the dreaded classic donation button and harness the power of e-philanthropy, find out how it can jump start your blog and keep those pesky financial issues that are part and parcel of running a great website from becoming something you have to think about every other second.

The web and blogosphere are all about giving great content and information to people for free.

What about asking people to give back?

Donations? Oh come on…

Can you remember the last time you gave money to charity? What about the last time you paid for a magazine subscription?

Oh, so you do remember your subscriptions. Why? Because you invested a sum of money in order to get value, a magazine, a newsletter, a product…

Most, if not all of us, know what a donation is, but let’s just mention it one more time – a donation is an act of giving a voluntary gift (as of money or service or ideas) made to some worthwhile cause.

But aren’t donations a pretty “lame” way of monetizing a blog or website? Not really.

Wikipedia, one of the biggest sites on the web uses donations to raise money to keep it’s content online, and there are numerous other examples, from people who blog about personal development, Apple fanatics as well as all around cool bloggers.

Heck, even Leo Laporte loves donations…

Holy monetization, Batman!

It seems then that donations can be a viable business model or at the very least one more stream of monetization.

Darren at Problogger have an article on the topic of whether Donations on Blogs actually work, and came to the conclusion that donations do work, as long as it was done correctly.

If you are planning to go down the route of the donation deserved blogger/programmer… then here are some essential points to remember:

    1. Make it Original

If you’re planning to get any money you need to have original content. Podcasts, articles, comics, it doesn’t matter so long as it is 100% yours.

Think about it, which would you rather donate money to, Wikipedia or some guy talking about how Wikipedia works? …I thought so.

    1. Play on Passion

People donate because they feel a need for it, a call of the mind or of the heart. The linux crazed geek will often donate to an open source project, and an animal lover will probably donate to an animal rights group.

As a personal example, I don’t usually give money to street musicians, I’ll admit that. But when I was walking down a street recently and some guy started playing “The Fields of Athenry”, one of my favorite songs that reminds me of Ireland, I immediately reached for my wallet.

    1. Fans

These are the people that will buy a product, get a paid subscription and still give a donation. They generally make up about 5-10% of your audience.

These are the same guys and gals that would buy a t-shirt with your logo and they are the ones that always, always comment first.

They are your most passionate readers (or listeners) and if you provide value to them, they will provide you with the means to work on.

    1. Make it Easy

If you’re asking for people to give you money, it should at least be easy to do! Don’t make them jump through hoops or fill out any unnecessary forms.

Think of it this way, if you walked past a busker on the street asking for donations and he handed you a form to fill out in order to give him your spare change, would you really stop and take the time?

    1. Ask for It

It’s highly unlikely that donations will come pouring simply because you put a little “Donate” button on your site. If you want people to donate, you need to (politely) ask for it.

You can add it to your menu or sidebar, put a link at the bottom of every article, add value to the donation (for example through a promotion like the t-shirt one that John Gruber does) or even make a list of all the donors to thank them.

    1. Offer an Incentive

Although you want your users to donate simply because they enjoy your main content, it doesn’t hurt to offer small incentives such as an extra download, access to an exclusive RSS feed that has an extra article each month and so on.

Offering people who donated a chance to win a prize is fast becoming a more familiar scene. The Free Software Foundation (an open source organization) gives its donors a little banner in return that they can display proudly to show their benefactor ways.

    1. Explain Why

It never hurts to explain the whats and whys of your request for donations. WordPress on their donate page gives details of what the money is spent on and why its needed.

This helps your donors to feel the need and might help them put in an extra zero or two into their donation. SourceForge even provides an FAQ about the donations

Lets get technical

Ok, so you’re set on getting some love from your fans. Well, we’ve already mentioned removing obstacles and making it as easy for them as possible, so what are the simplest payment methods?

The easiest and most popular way for both you and the potential donors is adding a Paypal button, but remember that although a lot of countries are supported by it, most aren’t. If you’re writing a blog from a country that isn’t supported by Paypal, you should check out Click and Pledge, a service made for online donations.

Another service that Wikipedia offers is to donate through MoneyBookers.com. You may even wish to provide one or all as options.

Give your readers at least two or three choices of donation type. The most common options are one-time donations and automatically recurring donations like what TwiT podcast networkdoes.

This way you give people the chance to give what they can afford and even potentially get multiple donations from the same person over time. You might also want to actually specify what you are asking for.

For example you can say “Minimum donation…” or for recurring donations you can provide “Contribution Plans” like “A dollar a day”.

Finally, although we are talking about online donations mostly, its worth mentioning that going old school and offering a postal address for cheques and money orders doesn’t hurt either!

Wikipedia even offers a bank account in case you wish to make a direct deposit.

Keep your head up

When you get donations, be sure to thank your readership and never try to do anything to con them into giving you money. If you make people passionate about your website, they will react positively, so be positive.

Don’t expect donations if you cram your website with multiple Google Adsense blocks that obscure the readability or if you are always negative in your posts. I’m sure that Kathy Sierra would get far more donations than say Jason Calacanis – of course Jason probably wouldn’t give me a donation now either.

Donations are a good way to keep your site going if you really do provide value to your readers or customers. If you provide value and a positive attitude, I’m sure you can easily see donations as a significant financial stream.

Just remember the three rules of e-philantrophy – provide value; ask for donations; thank your donors.