Issue Three February 2006

In this issue:

"Home Biz Critic is dedicated to the research and the objective review of home based business opportunities."

The Home Biz Critic

In My Experience
In this months section of "In My Experience" the author talks about the backlash associated with writing reviews.

Affiliate Programs: What You Need To Know
A discussion of the value of personal marketing and how and when to advertise in the various offline media outlets.

Review of the Month
Thismonths review is submitted by Claire Randall and focuses on Russ Dalbey and his "Winning In The Cash Flow Business" course.

Online Marketing Techniques
Uderstanding one's competition is a key to online marketing success. An introduction article to online competitor analysis.

What's New at Home Biz Critic
An update from the world of HBC; the one constant in life is change.

In My Experience

Freedom of Speech and Harassment

The subject of this column is something about which I hesitated to write. Most of you visiting my site know that I write reviews of home based business opportunities. Many of them are reviews based on over 35 years of testing various affiliate, MLM, and networking programs. Many of the reviews are the collective sentiment of a large number of people who have contacted me expressing their opinions. Others are the experiences of a large network of contacts I have who relate their experiences to me. These reviews are only opinions based on personal experiences. They are not meant to incite people. Yes, I get my fair share of criticism, and that is to be expected. However, given the opportunity to work with the person whose opinion doesn't agree with mine, a happy medium is usually achieved, with both parties getting a better picture of the business opportunity in question. But, what I am going to discuss today is harassment. It isn't a pretty subject, but one you need to think about because owning a web based business opens you to the possibility of this type of treatment.

Harassment is the unwarranted threatening of an action against another person that can be a single incident, repeated with multiple incidents, and is often and unfortunately subject to escalation. Expressing an opinion on your site may lead people to send you legal letters noting your violation of something that directly relates to them. In expressing my first amendment rights to free speech, I have been accused of trademark infringement for mentioning a company's name in a review. I have been accused of using business names for sponsored listings on the Internet search engines. I have been accused of slander for mentioning a very famous marketer on my site. And, most recently I have been accused of using a company's trade name to market and advertise my business. Note that none of these things is true.

I do not make any money off of any of the companies I review. I run no affiliate programs, so I am not encouraging the reader not to get involved with whatever choice seems best for them. I am simply providing information. You may not agree with it, but you can tell me that by writing a review to post at the site. I have also not slandered anyone at my site. There are programs I don't feel good about recommending, but that is not slander. And, if mentioning a business opportunity on my site by name is a trademark infringement, then I would have to be benefiting from their name in some way.

The treats against me have been nasty. Lawyers call me. Compliance Departments write legally threatening letters to me outlining the action they will take if I don't immediately meet their deadline to take my reviews down. It doesn't matter that what I have written is an opinion. I am not allowed to express that opinion. Business opportunities I have participated in personally have repeatedly threatened me to remove my review of their opportunity.

What they all want is for me to write glowing reviews of everything I test, research and review. Life doesn't work that way. There will always be the good, the bad and the ugly in everything. We may never agree on our experience of the same business opportunity. Who we hooked up with when we got involved may lead to different experiences of the same business. That happened to me recently. I had a less than positive experience of a company I am forbidden to mention although I spent about $2,000 with them before I opted out. One of my visitors had a positive experience of the same company. We each had very different uplines. So when I write a review, the last thing I expect is to pose such a threat to these major affiliate programs and marketing gurus that they will harass me to remove my reviews.

I will tell you it gets old. I would like to think that a solution can always be negotiated. But, I am learning that is not the case. I don't have the time or energy to choose to fight this harassment every day, but I have to deal with it. It doesn't go away. So be prepared for the letter or email you didn't expect when you put your information out on the web. Anyone can accuse you of anything. The cost of fighting these legal battles, after doing so once, has taught me a valuable personal lesson. Those with the most money win by wearing you down. I won't go there again. I take the reviews down these days. I know that I talk to enough people daily to pass the word along verbally. That communication they can't yet monitor.

It is all in a days work, however unpleasant. Tomorrow morning there will be a new opportunity in my mailbox for review. And, the amazing thing is that many companies approach me asking me to review them so that they can have marketing exposure through the Home Biz Critic site. In the end, either way you cut it these companies are only interested in money. All of them will do what they think is the best course for making money. I just happen to express my opinion. I never really know how that opinion is going to be received or what the outcome will be. Harassment is just one possibility. So, develop a plan for dealing with it now, and you won't be thrown off your mark the first time a lawyer gives you a call about your product or the content of your site.


If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to get started in the world of internet marketing and sales please take a look at my new E-Book "Millions at the Kitchen Table."



Affiliate Programs: What You Need To Know

One of the things that often get pushed to the back burner these days is the positive, powerful effects of offline advertising for your home based business. Many affiliate programs promote a variety of ways to accomplish better market recognition of the brand name and thus, better sales volumes for the affiliates. I am going to discuss the value of personal marketing and how and when to advertise in the various offline media in this month's column. With all the Internet focus in today's marketing environment, offline marketing is often a subject ignored in the quest for volume traffic and volume sales that require little, if no personal interaction either by direct contact, telephone, or mail correspondence.

I have two friends who have become millionaires and hold top positions within their respective affiliate programs. One of these friends has a booming, highly profitable, nationally recognized line of herbal supplements. The other is a top producer in a botanical skin care line who got in at the launch phase of her affiliate opportunity. Neither of them has a personal website. They have access to the corporate website and send all their contacts there using only their personal affiliate numbers as tracking codes for their sales. One of them has a storefront. Neither of them is particularly web savvy having grown up, like me, in the age before calculators and computers. But, both of them are highly skilled with people. They have a trait called emotional intelligence. What this means is that they each have the art of reading people and relating to their feelings. It has given both of them the knack of instantly connecting with people and tuning into what makes them tick and what will make them buy. Both of them have built their giant downlines on the strength of personal marketing. Everyone feels special and it's evident when the whole company gets together that the bond on these teams is one of genuine affection. Each of these friends raised families, worked in outside jobs, and had those great basic business skills of being organized, focused, and driven to achieve their goals. Liking people came naturally.

It is easy to hide today in the online world. With autoresponders and email, getting to know anyone and getting any help if you have questions is often one of the biggest challenges for customers. It is also a huge problem for affiliates when reaching corporate headquarters can be done only through email. We may be moving toward a society with little personal interaction, but we haven't reached it yet, and many people want and need the sense of belonging to something special, and of achieving recognition for their personal accomplishments. Personal marketing makes this possible. Picking up the phone and checking on people, getting your downline together for a weekly meeting, and working as a team to achieve goals are often lost arts in the online world. Focusing a whole downline and assisting new affiliates is a full time responsibility. Both of my friends thrive on this challenge. So, consider how much mentoring, teaching, and assisting you are willing to do before you choose your affiliate opportunity.

Once you have the personal marketing down and you are talking to everyone you meet, calling any lead you get, passing out your business cards, holding intro meeting on your opportunity, holding home parties and asking for referrals, you are going to want to consider supplementing these personal marketing effort with offline advertising.

Offline advertising is one of the least expensive ways to promote your business. And, if you work to limit your advertising to trade magazines, local rags, and other publications designed for your niche market, you can do very well. Obviously, you still have to have killer ad copy to garner attention, but choosing well where to spend your dollars can seriously affect your conversion ratio. Obviously, if you don't target your efforts, offline marketing will be no more successful than sending out bulk email. So find the magazines, direct mail opportunities, and local papers designed to meet your need first. Knowing what your target market's buying triggers can be discovered by reading these publications, checking out other advertisers, and writing down a list of buzz words for ad copy.

You are now going to place classified ads, magazine ads, and do direct mail marketing only to your target market. Your direct mailing efforts will be done only to buyers. I will address list buying and writing ad copy in the next newsletter. These are the how to components of offline marketing and can also be successfully transferred to your online efforts, as well.

When I first started doing offline marketing, I noticed that my sales went way down in the summer months, so I cut back on advertising during the months of June, July, and August. I then beefed the offline advertising effort up again in the fall. That hasn't been the trend lately for me here in my geographic area, but you will want to test, test, and then test again when to place your ads. In fact all parts of your business must be constantly tested. We will discuss how to test and what to test next month when we get to writing ads, how to place ads, how to pay for ads, and how to test ads.

So, I hope you will consider a wise balance that meets your needs when you divvy up your advertising budget. Consider all the costs of both Internet and offline marketing. Consider your product and its potential markets. Find out what your buyers want before you write your website, your sales letters, and your ad copy. It is so easy to believe that everyone will buy what you are selling, but you must think like a marketer to reach them and trigger the buying response. You can have the best information or tangible product in the world, but knowing what your target market's buying triggers are and how to test for success can be the key to your continued satisfaction as a home based business owner.



Review of the month

Russ Dalbey
Article Contributed by
Claire Randall

After seeing Mr. Dalbey's TV show, I decided to check out the America's Note Network (ANN) website. Basically, the course teaches people ways to sell cash flow notes and make money. I was a bit skeptical at first, mostly because I have never purchased anything from an infomercial before. I have always prided myself on making good sound decisions. I decided not to buy at that time.

A few days afterwards, I mentioned the opportunity to my sister. She told me that her husband Bill had a note on some family property and he wanted to try and sell it. That's when the potential of the note business really hit me - it was right under my nose. So when the TV show came on again a week later, I purchased the Winning In The Cash Flow Business course, and soon received my educational material in the mail.

Once I opened it up and began reading, it was just like Russ had explained it would be. Find them, list them, and sell them. I made my first deal two weeks later! I would recommend this course to anyone who has the time and dedication to learn the note business. Once you get the basics down, it's easy to make money, BUT you have to take the time to really educate yourself. I would recommend getting a coach as well. The Dalbey Wealth Institute handles all of its own fulfillment and support right from Russ' own office - that's rare in this business. Russ even continues to work in the business he teaches. As a result, his customer service team is always available, emails are answered in a timely manner and students have direct access to well-trained experts in the cash flow business.

I've even heard Russ brings students right into his office for classes and works with students directly - try getting that kind of attention from other business education companies.

For myself, I just want to say a big "thank you" to all the people that work with the Dalbey Wealth Institute. I was new to the note business and the people that worked with Russ Dalbey's company were great at helping me understand everything. I didn't need any motivation to work hard - I've always been a hard worker. But unlike other work-at-home programs I've tried, they were able to make everything clear - even though I had never done anything with real estate notes before!

Here is some feedback I got from a couple of his students…

"I had been on a personal research 'thing' where I was ordering left and right. I had ordered a couple of real estate programs, get rich quick in real estate - a couple of the multi-level marketing schemes. But none of them worked out like Winning in the Cash Flow Business did." Source: Charles F., Chicago, IL

"Real estate is that it's a difficult business. If you have ever been involved in buying and selling real estate, it can be a real pain - it's hard! It's not the easiest thing in the world to do. You got to find a buyer, you've got to structure it, plus it takes cash if you're buying it. With the note business, you don't need any of those things. You can own a note and the payment can come to you on a property that could be clear across the country - you don't have to go visit it, you don't have to DO anything. It's just so simple!" Source: Daryl S., Grand Rapids, MI.

Claire Randall


Article Contributed by
Claire Randall



Contact us:



Online Marketing Techniques

Tim Wilson
Online Marketing

Analyze Your Competitors

This article was submitted by Jeffrey Staub of Virante, Inc.

There are no two ways about it, online marketing is a competitive industry. When trying to establish yourself on the internet it is always good practice to keep an eye on your competitors. After all the whole point is to beat out your competition and attract their customers to you. When researching the competition start with Google and search for the keywords you feel best describe your product or services. Look at the top five results, visit their websites and see what they are doing to achieve their success. Then emulate them. Look at how the site is laid out and how that might contribute to their success. Do they offer relevant content? What is the navigational layout? Are they making it easy to buy their products or services? Then take a peak at who links to them as this is a crucial aspect in the fight for high search engine rankings.

If you are not familiar with the techniques for analyzing a website in Google I recommend you first become comfortable with the "info:" command. To utilize this handy feature type "" (replace the with the URL of the competitors site) into the Google search box. There you will see several links which give a lot of information about the site. You will see "Google's cache", "similar to", "link to", "from the site" and "contain the term" links. Each of these can reveal what is making your top ranked competitors so successful.

The "Google cache" will show you a picture of what Google has stored in its database for that particular site and gives you an opportunity to see what Google sees. I also recommend clicking the "cached text" link that becomes available when viewing the cache. This is the information which Google draws keyword density and associates a keyword search to.

The "similar to" link will show you other sites which are similar to the one in question. Honestly I find this to be rarely useful as the information is rarely present for whatever reason.

The "link to" link will show you what other sites on the internet are linking to your competitor and therefore improving their PageRank and over-all rankings. This is basically an indicator of popularity, and the more popular you are the higher you'll rank. Whenever possible try and get links to your website on the same pages which link to your competitor so that you will be on the same footing in the popularity race. Second only to unique content is your linking structure. Study it, it is very important.

The "from the site" link will give you an idea of how many pages from your website Google has on record, the more the better. I like to think of this in terms of target practice, the bigger the target the easier it is to hit. If you imagine your potential customers as hunters you want to make the pry as easy to hit as possible so make your website as big as you can.

The "contain the term" link is pretty self explanatory; this link will show all the websites with the term " "on the page.

Something to keep in mind when analyzing this information is that Google tends to hold back when it comes to displaying all the links which point to a particular website. Yahoo!, believe it or not is, much better at giving you a better representation of actual links. But this is a subject for future articles.

I recommend heading over to and have a look at some of the free SEO tools they offer. You'd be amazed at what is possible when it comes to analyzing your competitor's websites as well as your own.

Virante can be found on the web at You can review Ryan P.M. Allis, the founder, at my website

Virante, Inc. can be directly reached at 919-459-1088. This company has great integrity, knowledge, and customer service.


What's New at Home Biz Critic

For those of you that don't know me personally, 2005 was a year of change. I lost Jerry to a heart attack in June, had a health scare, and experienced one of the most trying legal battles of my entire career. All of these things played out on the screen of my life simultaneously leaving me little time to process my grief or deal with the ongoing challenges of running a business. All of us go though these life altering events, so I don't feel special or singled out. Overwhelmed would have been the word I would have used had you talked to me last summer. However, as the process starts to settle within me about who I am, and what my passions will be for the remainder of my life, I find myself answering a new call. In reality, I am only returning to the passion that drove my youth.

I am going to continue to write books on marketing, I am going to continue to support Home Biz Critic with reviews, and I am going to continue to mentor students, but I will also be creating new opportunities for myself so that my growth and my interests more closely match what I believe in. So, if you start to see Home Biz Critic evolve with new tabs don't be surprised.

This summer I will finally actualize a dream I have had since I was 14. That takes us back to 1968. I have been interested in the work of Mike Reynolds since I first read about his Earthships in Mother Earth News, and so finally I am going to construction school to learn how to build the home I have dreamed of all my life. For those of you that are interested, the website is Don't be at all surprised when you see pictures of the construction process on the web.

So, bear with me if I ask you to leave a message for me. If you leave a message I will return your call. I may take a day to get to your email. Just know I may be mucking around somewhere in the dirt creating a home that is part of my healing process. And, let me say, I hope you all have many passions to balance the one you have for your home based business.