Issue Two January 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 explains the importance of learning to deal with criticism.

Affiliate Programs: What You Need To Know
10 things to consider when you decide that an affiliate program is your path to home based business success.†

Review of the Month
Review of the month is the MBright Builders. Bright Builders provides eCommerce business tools, support, and education. We currently provide our services and products almost exclusively through our retail partners.

Online Marketing Techniques
This months online marketing techniques section deals with the importance of creating quality content.

What's New at Home Biz Critic
If you havenít been to the site lately, I have been in a writing frenzy with lots of new reviews, business resources, and other category offerings

In My Experience

Learning to Deal with Criticism

None of us are immune to criticism from others.  Criticism, if handled with professionalism and grace, can be one of the most growth producing components of owning a home based business.  Consciously choosing to become a review critic opened me up to all sorts of comments from visitors to my site. 

Not only do visitors send me their stories of success with various affiliate programs, but they also send me their horror stories.  Often a particular affiliate program will garner more unfavorable comment than positive, so that my overall impression is not favorable.  If in my attempts to contact the affiliate program headquarters in order to learn  their side of the story my attempts to make contact are not acknowledged,  this further frustrates my attempts to present a fair and balanced review.

Such was the case recently in working recently with Brian Clark of Bright Builders. He emailed me to tell me that the review I had of his organization was not accurate.  What I appreciated about Mr. Clark was his willingness to understand how I had come to my conclusions and my challenge to him to provide an opportunity for me to change my opinion of his organization.  He was not cruel or mean in his comments to me and opened up to my dialogue that we work together to create a new review for the site.

On another note as a home based business reviewer, I am open to some pretty nasty comments from people visiting my site.  I am often not given a chance to respond to their comments because they have blocked a reply.  Often these criticisms come from people who do not know the process, research, and cost that go into providing accurate reviews.  While I would love for them to provide me an opportunity to change my mind by presenting me with new and balanced information, they prefer to let off steam and anger by pointing out my worthlessness.  I don’t buy it.  If you have another point of view, you are welcome to present it.  I like nothing better than to stand corrected.

As Brian Clark at Bright Builders so wisely reminded me, the majority of people contacting me about any affiliate program are unhappy.  He went on to say that the whole catch 22 here reminded him of the poem about blind men trying to understand an elephant by touching an ear, the trunk, the tail, a foot, and a tusk.  None of the blind men “gets” the elephant.

So, to all of you who have things to say to me, remember that your criticism of my work cannot be taken seriously if you do not understand how I arrived at my conclusions.  So, let’s learn to dialogue.  It seems to me that this is a lot more productive than calling names and spewing anger.  Growth as a human being can only be achieved through communication and respect.

When it comes to a home based business of any sort, being prepared for the unhappy customer, the disgruntled visitor, or the person who harasses you unfairly may be part of the territory.  Respond with dignity and play fair.  Standing on your integrity in the end will see you to the finish line.

 

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Affiliate Programs: What You Need To Know


Because a great many of the programs I purchase, review, and deal with when dialoguing with visitors are affiliate programs, I want to continue in this column to provide food for thought when you decide that an affiliate program is your path to home based business success. 

Let me state from the beginning that it is a shame that many of the affiliate programs making their way around the web don’t leave a positive experience in the life of the purchaser.  That being said, let’s examine things that are important to consider.

 

 

  1. An affiliate program is not your own business, so make sure it is a legitimate one.  There are affiliate programs that pay high commissions, but most people, not having a product or service of their own, are so anxious to find the right affiliate program that they don’t research the program.  It is easy to get carried away by emotion.  Leave it at the door whenever someone wants to introduce you to an affiliate program so that you don’t end up with a program that pays poorly or not at all.
  1. One of the most frequent complaints I get from people who visit my site is what to do about an affiliate program that is not paying them or better yet, not refunding them their money when they find the product, service, or claims to be fraudulent.  Purchase only through a reputable merchant account and use a credit card.  I have had to resort to having my credit card company handle getting my money back for me on more than one occasion.  Be sure that when you do purchase that you keep every email, every guarantee, and every receipt.  Your card company will need this information to process your claim.  If you fail to get your commissions as promised, you may have to resort to legal action.  Beware as this can be costly and ineffective, especially if the program goes out of business.  I pursued non-payment in court once and only ended up with a return that barely covered my outlay.
  1. Beware of advertising your affiliate program entirely through email links.  This is a waste of your time.  Thousands of other people are doing the same thing with the exact same marketing copy to an audience that is usually not targeted.  So, if your affiliate program doesn’t have a complete proven marketing program, again, beware.  Ask for a complete written business and marketing plan when you join.
  1. One of the things that I like to do is prospect.  Most of you probably hate it, as picking up the phone to dial strangers is not usually anyone’s cup of tea.  So, check out carefully what you have to do in response to all those newspaper advertisements you may be asked to place to generate interest.  If you have to memorize scripts, do three way calls, and spend time prospecting via phone this may not be the affiliate program marketing technique for you.
  1. So much of your success is inherent in understanding business fundamentals.  Your upline sponsor needs to understand how to mentor you in these fundamentals.  Here it is more important to teach you how to be successful, than to constantly bombard you with motivational email.  Training calls are invaluable.  Are they part of the program you are interested in?
  1. What corporate support will you receive if your upline sponsor leaves the organization?  And, how does your transfer to another line occur?  If you really go the long haul, these are important concerns.
  1. Find your passion.  If you don’t love the product, don’t get involved.  You can’t sell anything you don’t have a passion for, so decline any opportunity that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, interests, or beliefs.
  1. Beware of any affiliate program that is only about getting new members.  You will end up spending a lot of money and probably getting little or nothing in return, the company may go out of business, and you may make little  no money.
  1. Remember that on the web there are certain affiliate programs that more popular than others because the products and services are easy to ship or download, have mass appeal, and generate high profits with a low return rate.  These products are usually associated with heath, wealth, sport/entertainment, sex, or electronics.  Again, be sure that if you get involved with any program, you have a passion for the product.  It helps to have a background from your offline experience if possible, to sell online.  Product knowledge is a key to customer satisfaction and repeat sales.
  1. Finally, know your target market.  Your family and friends may not be interested in your new affiliate program offerings.  So, you have to know what consumers you are going to market to before you get involved.  If you don’t know where you are going when you get in the car, the journey will be less than satisfying to say the least.

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Review of the month


Bright Builders
Article Contributed by
Brian Clark, COO
801-318-8814



www.brightwebsite.com is also a good resource to learn more about Bright Builders.

In the mean time, here is an overview that will help you understand a little more about Bright Builders.

Bright Builders provides eCommerce business tools, support, and education. We currently provide our services and products almost exclusively through our retail partners. (So we do not market directly to the public but occasionally have people contact us.) Honestly, one of our struggles is to make sure that our resellers understand our packages and represent them accurately - especially as they add new reps - we constantly spend time & effort on this, but sometimes have problems here. The most common misconceptions we deal with are that we are turnkey (they won't have to do their own work to create a successful business) and that the first business idea they try is guaranteed to work.

Our resellers package our products in different ways and sell them at different price points. The most expensive package that includes all of our products goes for up to about $8000. Services we provide are Internet Business Coaching, Web Site Builder (we do not build the site for our customers but provide tools to allow them to build their own site), eBay MarketPlace Research Tools, Merchant Account, Search Engine Marketing, and Custom Graphic Design for the Website.

Many Bright Builders customers using these templates have top 10 ranking in the major search engines.

Bright Builders provides minimal meta tags by default. This is because none of the major search engines use meta tags as an important factor in search engine placement. The importance of meta tags for search engine placement has been minimal since the late 1990s. In fact misuse of meta tags (keyword spamming) can hurt search engine placement.

However, Bright Builders provides advanced settings that allows for any meta tag configuration needed. Bright Builders reps will review the needs with the customer before turning these setting on to ensure that they are not "shooting themselves in the foot."

Bright Builders regularly receives reviews from search engine professionals and attends Google and other SEO conferences to stay current.

Our most successful customer sells $1,000,000 per year on his website. We have another 12 customers doing over $100,000 per year including 2 doing over $500,000. We have hundreds doing between $1,000 and $100,000 per year. We also have many eBay Powersellers.

Our philosophy is that we provide the Education, Support and Tools that our customers need to be successful (many companies provide only the tools or only the education.)

The real bottom line of this is that we have stuff that can work - the question is are our customers willing to put in the effort to make it work. A majority of our Coaching is typically just helping the customer be motivated and organized. I anticipate that you have enough background in this area to understand that this is where most people get stuck. In our coaching we attempt to accomplish two things with our customers. 1) Teach them to manage, organize, and motivate themselves to do the work they need to do to be successful, 2) Give them the basic information they need to springboard off of to build a successful eCommerce business.

We have a basic process that we recommend our customers follow to build their eCommerce business.



1) Practice some fundamentals on eBay. eBay is the perfect place to start honing marketing skills because you get quick feedback. Plus you can get some quick income to stay motivated.
2) Find a product to sell that you are personally passionate and knowledgeable about. We partner with dropship memberships but we consider this a "crutch" for customers to use to learn while finding their niche product (sometimes drop shippers will be the source for niche products but more often our customers will inventory or create at least part of their products.)
3) Create a profitable eBay business where you are re-listing products that work over and over
4) Create a marketable website
5) Advertise your website to your eBay customers
6) Advertise your website using Pay Per Click
7) Advertise your website using Search Engines
8) There are a lot of ways to grow from here: finding new product within your niche, expanding your marketing efforts, etc.


I would say our strengths as a company are:


* Phone support and live chat with reps that actually care. We really and truly have a company and staff focused on our customers. We aren't perfect but we are always improving.
* Great ongoing resources. We send weekly emails with tips & tricks, have a comprehensive resource center with information on how to be successful on eBay and on a website. We also provide workshops training our customers on aspects of successful parts of the business (our current customers get these for free as we add them.)
* The best eBay Marketplace research tool available anywhere.
* An excellent Store Manager component of our website builder - we provide a ton of flexibly on letting people sell their products the way they want to - of course our customers always find a new twist we aren't ready for yet :) But you would be very impressed with what it can do.

Article Contributed by
Brian Clark, COO
801-318-8814

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Contact us:

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Online Marketing Techniques

Tim Wilson
Online Marketing

Quality Content

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

The importance of quality content on your website cannot be overstated.  In today’s highly competitive Google dominated search engine world one must look for the techniques which will provide them the best rankings results.  Through extensive research and testing this has proven time and time again to be quality content.  Below are some guidelines to follow when placing articles at your site:

Update:  It is very important to add new and unique content to your site as often as possible.  Update at least once a month if not more frequently.  And if you can’t afford to hire a professional or write your own, try using some of the available free-reprint content.  Just be sure to check the free-reprints for errors.

Structure:  Use brief paragraphs (1-4 sentences) as online readers appreciate when you get to the heart of the matter.  Along these same lines use lists, both numbered and bulleted.  Make your sentences brief, usually 10 words or fewer for the majority with a few larger ones thrown in here and there for good measure.  And finally never forget relevance.  Make sure the articles you include on your site are contextually relevant and contain the keywords you are targeting.

Check the Spelling:  The vast majority of high ranked websites for competitive keywords have little to no spelling or grammatical errors. Double check your work, or better yet have a professional look it over for you before it gets posted to the site.

Distribute: Make your articles available to as many sources as possible and be sure to include a link back to your site along with it.  Many websites like to place articles which they or their visitor might find interesting.  It is also the general practice to post a link to the origin of the articles.  Not only does this allow you get your message out but you’ll also get a back-link to your website in return.

To conclude “Content is King!”  Update often, keep it clean and simple, and share it with as many people as you can.  Using these techniques will help you create a site which your readers will find useful and the search engines will find easy to read, a winning combination.

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

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

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New Reviews at Home Biz Critic

What's new at Home Biz Critic these days? If you haven’t been to the site lately, I have been in a writing frenzy with lots of new reviews, business resources, and other category offerings.  With over 400 hundred new reviews planned for this year, you may want to check in every now and then to see if business opportunities you have been bombarded with are represented. 

Again, I encourage all of you who have had a successful affiliate experience to contact me.  I am open to assisting all home based business entrepreneurs to garner exposure for their opportunity.  I will be glad to provide criteria that will assist you to write a comprehensive overview of your program.  Your link and contact information become a part of the site, so that other visitors have the means to contact you directly.  Let Home Biz Critic become an advertising vehicle for your own downline growth.  

And, for all of you with the desire to become an Internet information broker, I am open to working with you to develop your products.  Take your business expertise, your hobby, or your subject knowledge and create products for your online business.  Some of my students are currently writing cookbooks, customer service guides, and fishing manuals.  The process won’t give you immediate monetary gratification, but the products will be yours to sell as you see fit.  We can even discuss your own affiliate program.

I am only a phone call away. 
Until next month,

www.homebizcritic.com
www.empoweryourincome.com

 

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