My Disappointment with SEO PowerSuite

Now admittedly I have not used any of the tools that I am about to mention on my blog. The main reason for this is because this blog is my brain dump area. I can see I get around 100 visitors a month now reading my blogs for quite some time, so thanks for reading for those of you that enjoy the material I have. 
I have to be honest, I only use this blog to write my thoughts. In fact, as a freelancer, I can sometimes find it quite hard to get motivated on the morning, so a brain dump is the best way to kick my brain into gear. That is why this blog exists – as well as a good reference point if I ever forget myself. I can always go back and revisit my thought from the past that led my freelance business to where it is today. 

With that being said, the first though that came into my mind today was:

How can I make my services more valuable for my growing list of clients that are requesting an SEO health check”. 

In fact, this is a question I have been asking myself for some time, but I have never gotten around to it. Today is the first time I have started to think about tackling this issue, and hence this blog.

Why have I started to think about this? SEO Powersuite has long been my tool of choice. Nonetheless, more recently, I have started to loose my love and faith for the tool for a few reasons in particular. 

It is Expensive and Getting Worse
This tool is very powerful, but also very expensive. Initially you need to pay for SEO Powersuite, which comes with SpyGlass, Website Auditor, Rank Tracker, and Link Assistant. By all intense purposes, I tend to use them all for my day to day tasks. However, more recently I am becoming disheartened with tool. 
Firstly, you need to pay for algorithm updates on a monthly basis if you want the information you need to be accurate – this does not come cheap at all. After forking out all that cash on the software, I am somewhat put off that I have to the high monthly fees to keep these tools up to date. 

Rank Tracker
Rank tracker is the most useful tool because it is easy to track keywords from all over the world. However, recently I have not been able to get daily rankings, and rather I have to wait 2 days before I can update the rankings again. Nonetheless, daily rankings are not a must have part of my job. 

The reporting system is also great. You can customise reports to show the information you want your customers to see. You can also add explanations, so your customers have some of idea of what it is they are looking at exactly.

You can also get competition ratings and at the same time keyword research and suggestions using the Rank Tracker tool. This makes it very much a worthwhile investment to a degree. However, for these particular keyword research tools that make my job easier, the reporting system could work better with them providing the information you can see in view in a report format. 

Negatives:  What I am annoyed about is the fact that PowerSuite make you use your Google Keyword Planner account for search volumes. Now not many people know this, but unless you have a certain spend on your AdWords account, you will not be given accurate keyword search volumes. Instead of showing 140 searches per month, it will show 100 – 1,000 searches per month. Considering I have paid over $200 for the software and then $150+ per year for the algorithm update, the least SEO Powersuite can do is update this feature and give us real search volumes. 

Website Auditor
Website auditor keeps providing results that just aren’t true, so I stopped using this for my pre-analysis. I do however, love this tool for post analysis because it has the most awesome reporting system, keyword analysis tool, and more. 
When it comes to presentation, this is the best on-page tool I have ever seen or used. However, for some reason the tool over reports on certain errors, which then makes it difficult to track what really needs changing. 

For example, ALT texts always come out as xxx number missing, when in actual fact it is counting some images twice. It just ended up taking too much my time and I found other tools that would give me the information I needed without all the junk.

I am sure there are those that love the overkill number of errors. For me, Website Auditor is the perfect tool for after you have fixed on-page SEO. You can use the reporting tool to show a gleaming website.

What would really bring this tool to the forefront of on-page SEO analysis is the ability to use a CopyScape plug so you can search for plagiarised content on your website.  

SEO SpyGlass
Just stopped using it. It should be the best backlink checking tool ever. However, Spyglass features such as percentages of anchors has just stopped working for me, and I get nothing back from the support team despite having enterprise addition. Very weird.
At the moment, it would nice if the metrics also included Majestic, as I could use this information all in one place. This is a great tool for reporting, it is also great if you need to check for link penalty risks

Link Assistant
Finally Link Assistant, this is still a great tool. You can outreach to multiple websites and keep track of link placements all in one place. You can create custom campaigns for each project you have, keep email contacts, scrape email contact information, and check the metrics of almost any website you are considering reaching out to.

Metrics such as age, Alexa, Yandex, MOZ DA & PA, Inlink, Domain Inlink, IP address, and much more can be configured. You can even get an idea of the social metrics for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, PinInterest, and LinkedIn.  

There are some great features to SEO Powersuite, but some of the subtler things such as not being able to get exact search volumes for keywords, and the SpyGlass not working is annoying. In the end, PowerSuite makes my job easier in some respects, but has let me down in other areas. For example, having to buy a tool to get exact Google search volumes when you would have thought PowerSuite could provide considering the amount of money it costs. 

Keep a Working Capital in Your Online Business

One of the most overlooked aspects of business is the ‘Working Capital’; especially if you work online. Most people that work online don’t seem to understand the concept of working capital, which if you have not done any financial or business studies, this is not surprising. Understanding and keeping a working capital in your business can give your business several advantages.

  • No loss of reputation

There is nothing worse than hiring a freelancer that turns around after the hire and says that he/she has no money for a certain piece of software or whatever it is they need to get the job done. I hate this! It means the freelancer does not have good financial management skills and usually that worries me.

In my own business I usually charge 50% up front or if I am using UpWork or a freelancer website, then I am paying out of my own pocket until the job is delivered and all is agreed on UpWork for the payment to be approved.

Imagine this – I get the contract and then say to the client:

‘Please can you release the first milestone payment, so I can pay for the software and tools I need to get the job done’.

That may work if it is a very small job, but as I usually aim for high end work, the customer is going to think or maybe even ask:

If this guy is so successful, then where is his working capital for this type of work?’.

Firstly, I will have set alarm bells ringing in the customer’s mind. Secondly, the customer is probably not going to trust me. Thirdly, I will most likely create more work for myself because the customer will constantly check up on me as it is human instinct for people that are worried about their investment.

Last of all, the chance of repeat business may be quite low because you have already lost your reputation and looked unprofessional.

If you are just starting out as a freelancer, then no problems at all – any customer will understand. In this circumstance I am speaking about established businesses like mine that sells itself off the back of high work already completed.

However, far too often have I seen people that look as if they have a lot of business and a large business set-up, but in actual fact they are flat broke.

Think about this – imagine you were a large company looking to outsource:

  1. Would you deal with a company that appears broke for your high-end project?
  2. Or, would you deal with a business that appears to have a lot of cash already

Making yourself seem in demand and not appearing to worry too much about the money will make your business not only appear much more professional, it will also help your reputation because the person hiring you is usually an employee and assumes you are wealthier than them because you have your own business. This is where you also gain a lot of respect.

  • You always have a buffer

Now as an online entrepreneur making roughly $4,000 a month in salary living and working in Thailand, I often hire people to work for me. Freelancers are the bread and butter of my business, which overall turns over more than $10,000 a month at present. That means software, expenses, and freelancer payments cost me around $6,000 a month. Wrong!

I keep back $500 to $1,000 a month in my business as profit. This is basically savings for my business.  Now my savings over 7 years online should be around $70,000. Well wrong again!

It was not until about 4 years ago did I begin thinking about my ‘Working Capital’. I landed a great SEO contract on UpWork doing outreach. However, there were so many delays on my side because I had to wait for other contracts to pay so I could hire the Outreach freelancers as well as content writers.

In the end, I was writing the content myself. You can imagine – I am dealing with other customers, organising a content strategy, then taking 3 to 4 hours a day out of my life writing articles to be placed on the sites that agreed to publish my client’s content. In the meantime, I was not able to keep my eye on advertisements for new contracts.

Furthermore, I remember one of my local clients paying quite well needed regular meetings. That was a nightmare because I live in Bangkok. It would take the best part of half a day just to meet the client and go through the project with him.

Cutting a long story short, something as simple as not having a working capital meant that I was juggling money between freelancers, working in my own business, doing more hours than I needed to (such as writing), and actually if I look back at my hourly rate for that time, I was earning around $15 an hour as a business owner.

The lesson I learned was that if I keep a working capital my freelancers always get paid. When a new job comes in, I can use my savings and plant that into my working capital. My freelancers are happy, my customers know I am a professional business owner, my work gets delivered on time, and my time spent in my business is productive.

  • You will not have delays from Freelancers

If you run any business, one of the most important factors is getting your employees paid. In part 2 above I spoke about hiring a client I could not handle. The reason I did not have money to invest in getting the client’s job done was because I treated all profits as my salary.

I would get paid in PayPal, First Choice, or in my bank account, and then my profits I would withdraw and spend. This is a huge mistake for any business; especially freelancers looking to build their freelancer career, so they can live a free life outside of the 9 to 5 rat race.

So, here is where the problem of paying myself negatively affected me in step 2 above when I got my first big client. I needed software, which I bought, I also needed outreach email guys, I needed a designer, and then writers. Granted, I had to do a lot of the writing myself, and also the keyword research and reporting. However, I cannot design, and the process of outreaching to clients is really not worth my time whatsoever.

My plan was to juggle incoming contract payments, wages for freelancers hired for other jobs, as well as my own lifestyle. That consisted of eating out a lot at expensive restaurants, travelling to the beach a lot, and shopping. This is not to mention I was not a home owner, so I had rent to pay my house, pay my son’s school fees, and my wife was not working because our son was very young. The list goes on!

As a result of my juggling, I messed up. You cannot always reply on all your clients paying for renewals on contract on time, you also cannot rely on all your freelancers delivering on time, so you can send out an invoice to get paid. Several of these factors came into play and in the end there were some freelancers I was unable to pay on time – I remember 3 I delayed payment by at least a fortnight.

What do you think happened?

My unpaid freelancer’s productivity went down. I spend a lot of time answering them asking when they would get paid and reassuring them that despite them continuing the contract without being paid for the last batch of work is OK. Well the result of this was they delivered slower, and 1 freelancer just stopped and said, ‘Let me know when you can pay me, and I am happy to continue’.

Now I am a freelancer down and have 2 freelancers working at a slower pace than usual probably because they were worried I would not pay. I also look quite stupid at this point.

Moreover, the knock-on effect is causing more delays, and causing me more work. I was suffering all because I did not have a working capital in place to pay these guys.

If I did have a working capital, all my freelancers would have been paid, money from the contracts that did pay on time could have been used for the new designer and outreach payments, and the payments that were late from other customers would not have been so important. All it would have meant was that I pay myself a little later than usual.

Effectively, my working capital would have given me an extra buffer of cash to juggle during that difficult time. In reality, I had no buffer and got myself in a tough situation that added an additional 4 hours a day to work week in the end!

Why is it so hard to get reliable writers?

As a business owner and online marketer, one of the most difficult sides to my business is the content department. My biggest problem is being able to get consistent and reliable writers to produce content for me at a fast-enough rate that I can earn some good money out it. That is to say, the quicker they deliver, the quicker I can invoice and get paid.

My margin most of the time is about 25% per article. The problem I just realised I have is that maybe my margin is too big. If I paid my writers better, then there is a good possibility that they would deliver quicker. Now you may ask why would I want to decrease my profits?

The simple answer is: TO KEEP MY CUSTOMERS HAPPY

That being said, late articles and blog posts are the nature of the business that I work in. There are rarely any content companies that deliver both quality and quantity for a reasonable price by the deadline set. This is not specific to just the content business either. SEO outreach can be deadly slow one month and super-fast the next simply because more website owners replied and placed content in say month 1 compared to month 2.

However, content is a different ball game to SEO. Content has different barriers to overcome compared to SEO, and I just happen to be in both lines of work to make my income, so I should know.

  • Content can restrict your SEO progress

 

One major problem with SEO is that it relies so much on content. You cannot just put a link on a page with very short text and expect to fly up the rankings. SEO is all about quality and informative content placement. The cost of content writers, plus the time involved with Outreach can mean that you are not going to be able to pay your writers too well or you lose profit.

Think about it like this. In general, it really does not matter which website your content goes on, the content will still cost the same. However, the customer will always expect quality content regardless of the metrics of the website.

In the end, the customer is paying for the metrics or quality of the website’s SEO rating that you are placing the content on. Therefore, you need to balance out the cost of content across low and high metric websites.

Try explaining this to a customer. The customer is always going to see the same process of outreach = content = link. Explaining to the customer that higher metric sites should be charged at a higher rate can also lead to barriers. Mostly though, higher metric sites are very fussy about the content they allow on their site, therefore, the content is visibly better.

  • Content for blogs, news, and general content

 

Getting people to consistently write blogs and general content can also be a problem for some businesses or freelancers. What tends to happen is contractors will always have a time where they cannot deliver the work by the scheduled deadline. Sometimes the writer will just go missing completely. When this happens, you can end up with clients that are disappointed in your service because you are not managing the content schedule they have.

The frustration can be felt on your side because you just want to deliver to your clients so you can invoice on time. For the client, there is a similar frustration. They also have targets that need to be met and your writers being late holds your client up. The biggest danger here is losing the client and worst case scenario is the client does not pay you for the last batch of work.

How do you get around these problems?

You will always need what I call a bucket of writers. At the same time you are trying to get value out of the writers, which essentially is 2 things:

  1. Quality content that meets the client’s expectations
  2. A decent profit as you are the one with the client and managing the content as well as client

Most freelance writers will prioritise quicker paying clients or those that pay the highest. In general, I have found that the quicker you pay, the better the freelancers work. Although, there are many freelance writers out there that are not worried about being paid quickly as they have already built up a decent amount of cash to cover their month to month living expenses; in which case, the writer can prioritise higher paid work.

Figuring out whether your writer prefers quicker payments versus high payment and slow pay is something you will just get a feel for the more you get to know the writer. This is however quite complicated and something I now tend to avoid.

Here is the best way to manage your writers and deliver timely content:

Do not load up your writer’s tons of articles with deadlines set. For instance, I used to load some writers up with 50 articles of 500 words with a 7-day deadline for $5 per article. I have also loaded writers up with 20 articles of 1,000 words with a 7-day deadline. For the most part, the writers delivered on time, but there were always those times where deadlines were missed. Sometimes I would get zero content in a week despite content promises.

To resolve this, I just hired more writers and distributed the workload so each writer has less work. For instance, instead of 50 articles of 500 words to 1 writer, I would split this between 5 writers.

Here’s what I would do:

  • I would reduce the deadline to 5 days
  • If after 5 days some writers did not deliver I would ask another writer to finish them

Firstly, this meant the original writer loses out on work or can get on with some higher paid work provided. Secondly, the writer only has a few articles to deliver and if the articles are not delivered, then you can reassign them to another writer that is hungry for money.

The beauty of this strategy is that you always have a bank if writers available. If one writer fails to deliver, there is always another writer or another two writers that will be willing to do the work of the writer that failed to deliver.

In the end, you have a happy client and you build your reputation for being a reliable content supply business. You can also continue to grow your business without overloading your writers.

 

Is SEO Dead or Has It Just Began?

One of the questions I get asked the most is regarding SEO. Most people ask whether it is worth it or not. For me, I would say SEO has just began a new era of ranking.

Without beating around the bush, I will just jump straight to the point. The reason so many people think SEO is dead is because they are cheap! It is harsh to say this, but they don’t understand that websites like SEO Clerks and such like are not where real SEOs operate.

The problem with SEO marketplaces is they talk the talk, but do they not walk the walk. Their marketing is based on the pretence that services being sold by sellers on their website are the key to safe, quick, and expert SEO rankings. That may be true for about 2% of the people selling SEO, but for the other 88%, they are pretty much selling you the opposite to SEO.

If you are buying services that cost $50 for 50 links and sometimes 1,000 links, claiming a secret hack to Google’s algorithm, you are being conned. There is no secret hack to Google. Only good content and branding your business will help Google recognise that your website is worthy of great rankings.

Cheap Spam SEO Does the Opposite To Ranking

People that have been buying spam SEO from corrupt SEO marketplaces are mostly cheap skates. They are the ones that are spreading the word that SEO is dead. In reality, cheap SEO is dead because spam no longer works.

Those that have been buying cheap spam SEO services, and those tricked into doing so (usually new comers to the scene) are basically buying SEO that is counterproductive. Honestly and truly, these services should say – “If you want to destroy any chance of ranking your website, then buy my service”.

Seriously, these people are immoral, don’t care, and just want to rip you off. They also do not care that you may have spent thousands of dollars on your website. They will still destroy any chances of organic rankings all the same. It is a crying shames these sellers exist.

The Argument I Always Here

Truly I do not know where this comes from, but there are a lot of people out there that refute my answer to slating grey hat or black hat techniques. They say they are still able to rank using methods that are cost effective and could be deemed as spam

Why Do These People Claim Their Blackhat tactics Still Work?

One of the biggest problems in the SEO marketplace as a whole is that there are so many influencers that have established themselves. On paper or on the internet they look like the kings of SEO. This is because they once were. In some respect they still are. However, what they are doing is using their pre-built influence to continue selling the spam and PBNs they always have sold.

This is a HUGE problem in SEO. The once ranking masters and now nothing but marketers. They can’t just stop marketing the spam that Google once accepted as a powerful ranking factor.

What do these people do? They got to rich from SEO in the past that they just increase their marketing budget to make sure they continue earning and fooling people that they are still the master of SEO rankings.

They use teams of influencers, writers, Social Media bods and more to refute anyone out there trying to help people rank legitimately. That means when someone like myself comes along and writes an article like this, their teams of influencers and refuters are going to tell everyone out there that is article is BS.

SEO Influencers Use Their Past Profile to Influence Newbies To SEO

When they refute articles such as this one it goes something along the lines of – “Look at me – I have thousands of followers, an e-book, a testing crew, blog, reviews from these big businesses – you don’t know what you are talking about” and so on.

Why?

These guys do not want to give up their empires. Rather than readjust or admit that the theories they have been selling you for the past 5 to 10 years are now outdated, they continue to use their marketing influence to sell you the same old tripe.

Now this is not good news if you had a website that ranked, but was suddenly penalised destroying your business’s online visibility. You can ask them why, and they will blame it on you. It was you that did something wrong – because look – here is proof we are still ranking!

In the end, you spend more money trying to get back what you once had, only to finally realise that you need to throw the towel in and start again.

SEO Is Not Dead If You Use White Hat techniques

One thing is for sure – White Hat SEO is not cheap. You cannot just go out there and pay $100 and expect Google to recognise your website. It takes time and effort to bring your website to top of the organic search results. At the same time, you have to make sure that your investment is going to be worthwhile.

The great thing about White Hat SEO is that you do not necessarily have to continue paying for monthly services. The opposite was true of black hat or grey hat style SEO. That is because PBNs need consistently updating. You need to continue sending links to your website because the old spam links expire: “Know as Link Rot”.

In addition to this, people needed to continue buying SEO services to rank because the competitors were doing the same. SEO then did not require a huge monthly investment to stay competitive.

FACT: Cheap SEO Is Dead

To become a master of White Hat SEO, you need time. You need the time to create a user-friendly website. You also need to invest in decent content. It does not always have to go viral, but to stand a chance of people reading it, it needs to high quality. Then you need to include royalty free images, fresh ideas, and Social Media to push the content out into the World Wide Web.

None of this comes at a cheap price. Whether it costs you time or money, ranking on today’s Google search engine is no longer a case of buying a $50 service and letting someone else do all the work for you.

Online Permaculture: Technology Working with Nature

Permaculture e-learning

Here is a great example of how the concept of natural living work in harmony with technology. From live courses on a Permaculture facility, the popular courses have now made their way online so people can now learn the concept without having to travel to a Permaculture center and familiarize themselves with the concept at their own pace via an online.

You may or may not have heard of a concept named ‘Permaculture’. It is culture that has been widely growing popularity and it focuses on natural living. This not only means eating naturally, it is a culture that helps to remind you that consumerism is not a necessity, that you can live in a natural building, and if you are serious about Permaculture, you don’t need money.

We speak a lot about how to market websites, SEO, website design, and technology. When we came across the concept of Permaculture, which is orientated towards living a natural life, it was very interesting to see how a movement focused on facets of life that discourage using technology is in fact using technology to reach out to people.

It seems that today we are all so engrossed in the internet, smartphones, the latest TV and gadget that even Permaculturists have realised that technology is a necessary evil to be able to spread the word.

Without technology, most people would probably be oblivious to the fact that Permaculture even exists as a way of living. With all the problems us humans are causing to our planet, it is the Permaculturists that will be the ones in the end that we will all need to turn to. They are the ones that have the knowledge and mindset to take action and teach us that there is an alternative to consumerism and environmentally harmful living.

It seems sad to say that technology is the only way they are able to create awareness. However, this is the way of the world and when I saw this company in Thailand named Raktamachat, I was very impressed to see that they understand the internet is a necessary evil in order to increase the number of people on our precious planet understand how they can reduce their carbon footprint, and change the way they think about life.

Most companies that run this style of teaching will avoid technology altogether. However, however is the problem. If you avoid technology, then how will people ever know that practises designed to save our world exist?

Unfortunately, there is no way for them let the world know without actively going out there online and using the technology available to them to make sure they extend their reach. Extending their reach means using the most popular form of communication there is – the internet.

Learning online

Online Permaculture Courses

If you would like to visit a centre that teaches permaculture, you have quite a few expenses to consider. You will need to travel there, take time off work, and pay for the course itself. Courses usually start from $800, but in general you are looking at $1,500 for live course. This means the idea of holistic living is not going spread like wild fire. In fact, the opposite is true. Just a handful of people will know about Permaculture and fully understand the concept.

With online courses that are filmed live from real lessons directly from the Raktamachat campus, I found that I could sit back and relax when I had time and watch their course material and even better, I do it at my own pace. I don’t have 1 week to go and take the course spare at this time, but I do want to learn how to save our planet by living a more natural life.

Online permaculture courses were the perfect solution for me. Just like when I began to learn internet marketing. I went online and bought my course from sites like www.udemy.com. This way I could avoid the huge costs involved in taking a 1 or 2-week marketing course, and at the same time, I could learn at my own pace and even watch he modules I did not quite understand again.

Learning about Permaculture online is exactly the same. Except, I am not trying to become technically advanced as I have always tried to do. I am now learning how become more in touch with nature. This may sound strange for an internet marketer, but life is a balance. OK so I will not become a full on 100% Permaculturist, but you are probably already understanding how I am bringing balance to my life.

Yes, I will always use technology because I need it for my job. Nonetheless, I will reduce my carbon footprint in this world. Without an online Permaculture course, I can 100% say that would never happen had I not found Raktamachat.

An Interesting Social Media research Report

An Interesting Social Media research Report

A recent Social Media study looking into why people have so many friends on Facebook has pointed towards materialism. The report suggests that those people with a huge friend list are more likely to be more materialistic than those with a shorter friend list.

Reported in the Independent Newspaper here.

One of the points made by the report is that people collect friends on their Facebook account just as they would collect fashion items and accessories in their every day life.

For those that are interested in using Facebook to sell their product, this is actually a huge insight for them. If companies that sell designer products can sift out people with smaller friend lists, this means that they can then just target those that have many friends on their account.

With this style of targeting, there are two key benefits.
Why Does This Research Make Sense Even Before Reading About It?

Let’s say that this research is very accurate, it makes a lot of sense. Those concerned with looking popular and self-image are also likely to want to show a lot of materialistic wealth too.

This is a great hypothesis to begin the research. This is basically what you would set out to disprove to get your answer.

For example, people with many friends on Facebook do not have a lot of materialistic items.

Already common sense would tell us that someone with a lot of friends on Facebook is concerned about looking popular within their Facebook community. It then makes sense why these people would also want to look good out in public.

a)They would want to buy the best fashion items

b)They would want to have the best car

c)They would have the latest technology

d)They would have a lot of friends on Facebook

All these theories go hand in hand. It is true that one size does not fit all, so not every person that has a lot of friends is materialistic. Those that play in a popular local band, or they have a social business. Even though that may be true take 100 people and only 1 of them will be in a popular local band, and maybe 5 of them will have a social business like a fishing club, fishing shop, cycling club, martial arts classes, and so on.

In the end, strip down these people, and it would make sense that the rest of the people with a lot of friends on their Facebook friend list are just average everyday people. Those that have a normal job, an everyday life and no reason to have a lot of friends. What we are saying is that these are the people that do not have a social business and are not in a band.

As you can see. Even before reading the research, we have used common sense to break down the reasons why the research may not be true, and reasons why the research may be true, and we can already make a guess that most people with a lot of friends on their Facebook account are likely to be hoarders – which means it is likely they are materialistic.

Three Benefits to Targeting Facebook Members with Long Friend Lists

If the research is very accurate, which it is likely to be after we used our common sense to break it down, then there are two main advantages to businesses that want to sell their products.

1. These people are more likely to buy something fashionable

Someone that is materialistic is far more likely to spend money shopping compared to someone that is not bothered by material goods. This makes selling for any business much easier; especially if they can then break these groups of people down into further sub groups to suit the products to a groups demographics and personal likes.

2.These people are more likely to be impulsive buyers

Impulsive buyers are loved by any business. Send a little discount code to that person to buy the latest product and that may be all that is needed to persuade an impulsive buyer to make a purchase. With most of the hard work already done via this new Social Media research revelation, all that is needed is for a company to be able to sift through which people are the impulsive buyers.

3.Companies can save money by not wasting Facebook advertising

Many companies that use Facebook paid ads will be looking deeply into this latest research. They can now eliminate people with short friend lists because they research suggests that they are less likely to be influenced by adverts to buy, and they are not particularly materialistic.

Narrowing this down could shave off a lot of people from a target audience on Facebook. Also, the money saved can proportionately be put towards the new campaign to advertise to more people that fit criteria of this latest research.

The result should be more targeted advertising to people more likely to buy because they are materialistic.

4.Target more people for free

If someone has a long friend list and they ‘like’ an advert, the chances of Ad or business going viral are much higher. Plus, those with long friend lists are likely to be friends with other materialistic people who are likeminded and have long friend lists on their Facebook account. There is a lot free advertising that a company using Facebook Ads can pick up by targeting these people.

One thing is for sure, when there is a research paper that cost you nothing to read and it is about Facebook, and you are using Facebook advertising, then any such research is well worth your time looking over. It is free market research that could sky rocket your current Facebook Ad campaign.

Outsourcing to Improve Your Business Productivity

If you are stressed and letting your customers down because you are trying to do it all yourself, you inevitably stand the risk of losing those customers! This is when outsourcing can really start to take the pressure off.

For me, I always want to maximise my profits. I am sure any business owner feels exactly the same way. However, there are times I have woken up at 8am and I am still working at 2am. I’ve done this 7 days in a row, 10 days in row, and so on. No time for my son, who is always trying to get my attention – “Daddy is busy” – “Working AGAIN!” is the reply I get.

At the end of the day, you may have targets you need to meet, especially when it comes to money, but sometimes you are just making matters worse. Take it from me. I was sending reports with mistakes in them, reports with the wrong logo, and my productivity per hour was very low. In fact, had I been working just 6 or 7 hours per day, I would have probably gotten through twice as much work.

Check out www.timferriss.com for more info on outsourcing your business. I found this guys book; The 4 Hour Work Week, incredibly helpful with some great insights.

Why do we end up doing most of the work ourselves?

Reason 1: Money

For me, when I was working all those hour is because I needed the money. I had bills to pay, my son’s school fees, a dental implant of things, and the list just went on. No matter how I figured out and played with my budget, I had to earn XXX by date XXX.

Reason 2: No One Can Do the Job Like Me

It was not like I had never outsourced anything before. However, the training that goes into it, and the briefs you need write, then all the chasing up and answering questions. And all this for the small amount of profit I will make compared to me doing the work myself.

However, the biggest problem was – the result was never to the quality that I wanted. I would then have to go through and make corrections, reorganise, and so on.

I know now the mistakes that I made:

  1. I just did not go about the right way explaining the work
  2. I hired people that were too cheap
  3. I hired the wrong people

Yes, some of the people I outsource to now still don’t do the work to the same high standard that I would do. However, at least there are no sloppy mistakes, and it only takes me a few little touch-ups to bring it up to speed.

And guess what! I don’t even do the touch ups anymore. I have someone else doing that for me now. I have someone that is OK at the job to do the research and provide me with what is needed at a good rate, then I have someone I pay exactly the same rate that is a pro in my profession to do the touch ups.

For me, it is a case of quick scan over, and the quality is 99.9% of the time amazing. That really makes my business look pro!

What Happened Before I Outsourced?

At that point, outsourcing just would have meant outgoings that I could not afford. The backlash of all this was not positive work productivity, but negative work productivity. My customers were getting angry because was not communicating, my work became sloppy, and I was missing deadlines.

In the end I made the money I needed to pay for the school fees, and the dental implant, along with other bills that were suddenly dropped on me. On the other hand, I lost a couple of customers because my brain was not in the right gear to grovel and keep their business.

Back in full circle, I was worried about money again, what will happen next term when my son’s school fees prop again, as well as starting my pension.

It was time for a new business model. Now I had worked hard, got the money I aimed for, but also, I was a couple of customers out. I had more time on my hands!

How Did I Manage to Make Outsourcing Work?

Just because I had lost a couple of customers, it did not mean I was not busy. Instead I started to look at the areas of my business that were taking up a lot of my time.

For example, organising content from my writers. You can easily hire someone to organise content for different customers, and make sure it goes into the correct folders. All I needed was an Excel spreadsheet, a shared drop box folder and a little faith.

$5 per hour I paid for a contractor to gather content from my writers, look at the spreadsheet to see who that content writer was writing for, and place it in the correct folder. Next tick it off the spreadsheet. If someone was late, she would chase them. Should there be no reply, she would pass it to another writer that had already finished. Easy! How did they get it do wrong before?

Here was my secret: Camtazia!

It is a video recording program. It records your actions on your computer. No need for a brief on how to do simple task – and those briefs were complicated believe me – hence all the questions. Instead I recorded my jobs that were mundane and shared the video with the person I had hired.

No more questions – or at far less – and then to pay someone to double check everything costs the same – not hourly – but costs just a few dollars. In the meantime, I could get on with doing the jobs I specialised at – not the ones that were just taking up all my time.

Round Up: Offering Quality Means More Customers

This is a very brief overview of how outsourcing works, but it also gives you an idea of how simply you can turn things around. In the end, I was getting more customers for word of mouth, which then turned into enough money for a PR, email and marketing campaign.

Now I work on my business a lot more than used to. Plus, those tasks I specialise in – well I am already hiring a new person to share those duties, and I will still make more money because I have landed yet another customer!

How do I organize my online business?

Seriously this has been a question that I have been asking myself for a long time. With online writers to employ, designers, then all my own tasks, business profit and personal finances it seems that every time I write a TO DO list, it never gets done. Sound familiar? 

I believe after several years of working online that I have cracked it. This is without any software or magical tricks that take a genius to figure out. Literally I use an Excel spreadsheet for everything.  

If you are having problems or find yourself in a constant mess, then read on because maybe there are tips you can pick up from me. 

1.Use Tabs on your Excel Spreadsheet 

OK so this is not going to change your life. It’s not even a genius suggestion. I am just starting with the simple steps that I started to do. Basically, having different tabs with different names help me organize all the aspects of my business all from one Excel spreadsheet. You can of course also use Google Sheets, which I also use – but I use this more for sharing information with writers, coders, and designers 

2.Cash Flow Forecasts 

Like many of us that run our own online freelance business, it is hard not mix business finance with personal finances. After all, our online earnings as freelancers are by and large for our own personal finances. 

For me, use 2 tabs on my spreadsheet to record all my finances. 

  1. Business cash flow forecast 
  2. Personal cash flow forecast 

Prior to this I had nothing. Then I decided to keep a cash flow forecast. After this I found it easier to separate the two. In my business cash flow forecast now all my income from any work I do is not counted as personal income; instead, I pay my self a set salary for my month to month expenses. 

Effectively I have made myself an employee in my own business. That is exactly how it should be. All my customer payments are in my cash flow forecast. I have regular customers that pay on different dates, and new one-time or ad-hoc projects that come in also added on there as well as their expected payment dates.  

TIP: Both these forecasts I have set to 12 months in advance 

And wow… Having a 12-month outlook at my business has been the best thing I have ever done. I know when contracts end, I know when money in future months could go down. This is opposed to figuring it out 1 month before it happens and panicking looking for more customers.  

What’s more is – I have stopped taking cheap jobs just for the sake of bumping up a bad patch. I know when there is a possibility of bad patch well in advance now and so I start looking for other contracts, prospects, and I only take jobs that pay for what I believe my time is worth.  

For my personal cash flow, I can predict when I can take a holiday! I know when my son’s school fees are coming well in advance (again rather than panicking a month before thinking – dayum – I am going to have to live on pot noodles for a month and no Starbucks for a month ;-( 

3.Keep a Buffer Tab 

On my business cashflow forecast, it always shows my business balance. I then subtract $1,000 from this balance. This is my buffer. It fluctuates between subtracting $500 and $1,000. I make this up using percentages of projects as time goes on. This buffer is then put into a tab so I know what O have used it for.  

Many of us also must pay for other people to do work for us. There are also those bad patches or even lazy patches. When I say lazy patches – I get days and sometimes several days when I cannot get motivated. My productivity is rubbish and time seems to fly past. 

Basically, I was doodling. The next thing I know, I have not produced as much work as I should have. I do not have time to keep my customer schedule on track so I must hire help, and so on.  

Rather than me working on those days, I should have just outsourced immediately. Instead I sat there not feeling at all motivated and wasted a day in front of the computer. I could have gone out, taken the family out, run, swim, gone to beach (I live in Thailand!), gone for bike ride – I think you get the picture – I could have taken the day off.  

The same applies to when we get sick and cannot work, we have holidays, family visits, unexpected family or friend problems. At the end of it all, I work on holiday, I look for excuses to get an hour or two away from the family to get some much-needed work done. 

Why? Because I did not have a buffer to.

4.Target Earnings Tab 

We all have an idea of what our target earnings are. Many of my freelancer friends live day to day or month to month just earning what they earn. When their earnings are low, they cut back for the month. When their earnings are high, they are flush.  

I also did this for a long time, but it also meant I would run into a lot of the issues I have already mentioned in the (keep a buffer tab) section.  

Now I have target daily and weekly earnings. Well sort of! So, my daily target is $250 Monday to Friday. It almost NEVER works that way. The good thing is if I make $100 because I worked only a couple of hours, I can make up for it on a Saturday. Therefore, $100 Tuesday, I make up $150 on Saturday. I basically took most of the day off on Tuesday anyway.  

Each day I mark how much I made compared to the set target earning. This really has helped me out to no end. If I am $20 short one day, I can easily make that up the next day and so on. 

What did I do before I had the target earnings tab? 

Honestly, it was all air and dust. I was just making calculations in my head. It became so bad that I would start thinking about it when I was trying to sleep. When I was driving. Questions running through my mind like “what did I do yesterday?”, “How much did I earn?”, “What did that job pay?”, and so on.  

Every job pays differently and you imagine by the end of the week I was just sending invoices off blindly and watching the cash roll into my PayPal, Neteller, First Choice and bank account not really knowing if I had my target or not.  

Now I never have that problem because my target earnings tab shows me: 

  • The jobs I need to complete to hit my target that day 
  • How much time I will need to dedicate 
  • Who that customer is  

I can also rearrange this if the day does not go as planned. As opposed to having a day that does not go to plan and not knowing what I need to do the next day to catch up to hit my target. 

5.Daily Time Management 

Yawn, yawn, yawn. Yes, I know. How many people harp on about time management. I had the same opinion too. Why waste time organising time management when it takes time to organise your time. What a waste of time huh? 

This is the one time in my life I could not have been more wrong. At the beginning of day I look at my “Target Earnings” tab, I organise my time for that day, add in any surprise tasks too, and I have a plan. I can take regular breaks, I can reduce stress and I have time to exercise, watch a quick episode of the latest series I am watching – I now even have time to eat a proper meal – (yes – eating properly!!!).  

6.Progress (TO DO List) 

Now this helps me organise my daily management and ties in with my targets. I call it a progress list rather than a TO Do list simply because I have read the book “The One Thing”. TO Do is mundane; while, progress means you are in fact making progress towards your target earnings and job completion. 

This is a monthly “progress list” list. Every day of the month is on there on the left vertically, and the jobs I need to complete run horizontally. I have this planned 6 months in advance. 6 MONTHS!!! You might be screaming!!! Don’t worry – I have not set myself all the things I must do in 6 months. I have a 12-week plan for that, which I will discuss later. 

Anyways – it is not as much work as you think making this monthly progress list covering each day of the week. Every month there are the same regular tasks you must do.  

Here are some of my regular tasks: 

  • Customer report 
  • Customer invoice 
  • Pay myself 
  • Weekly Skype Catch Ups 
  • Email Comms 

Invoicing or reporting can occur on different days of the month. I need to know on which day I need to do that. Now it is easy to keep track of. I never forget to pay myself!!! I know which days I have arranged for a Skype catch up if it is needed, and I remind myself I should answer my emails at some point in the day. 

7.Customer Cost Tracking Tab 

Always keep a separate tab for each customer if there are costs associated with their contract. I do a lot of SEO contracts. They may pay me $500 or $2,000 a month, which looks great, but there are a lot of outgoing costs involved. For instance, I only do White Hat SEO.  

This means building relationships. I manage the relationship building by hiring Outreach experts, writers, and designers. All these people work together so they can create engaging content – in effect PR. To get people to your website, or to let them know there is a website that exists that has content or products that they be interested in or may help them means a lot of good content.  

All this costs money. If I do not know how much I am spending on these contractors, then I do not know if I am making a profit. However, with this tab I always know, and I know how much profit I am making at the end of the month.  

The sum is simple: 

  • Monthly Payment – Expenditure = Profit 

This profit is directly integrated into my business cash flow forecast. Any changes in customer expenditure are entered on this tab. This is then auto calculated on my business cash flow forecast tab. This is because the cell associated with the customer on my business cash flow forecast is set to display the value of the profit cell on the Customer Cost Tracking tab’s for each respective customer.   

How does all this fit together? 

Honestly, it took me ages to set all of this up. It was more my accident. One Excel spreadsheet developed into 2 tabs, then 3 tabs and so it went on. Eventually I fit them all together to work in sync.  

  1. My targets tab is coordinated with my Progress List. When I know the jobs I need to do to hit my daily targets, I can add this to the relative day on my progress list to get a visual of what I need to do each day. Regular tasks are that earn daily money are added to my progress list for the entire month.  
  2. Now the jobs that have helped me hit my target earnings are added to my progress list, I don’t have to worry about the value of each job. I already know this as I calculated this in my target tab. His takes a lot off my mind because all I need to know now is what I need to do for the day without worrying about money. Sometimes this can work for an entire week if undisturbed.  
  3. My Time Management from day to day comes next. At the start of the day I look at my progress list. I know what I need to do to hit my targets by using the progress list, which is already planned out for the week. To manage my day, this is a 5-minute job. I dedicate hours in the day to get the work done from my progress list. At the same time, I need to give my brain a rest so I can include breaks. This helps me become more productive. 

Here is a simple break down: 

  1. Target earnings -> (2) Things that need doing for the day -> (3) Managing the day 
  2. My progress list dictates my entire month – it is not set in stone. It is a guide rather than a solid “you MUST do this”. It needs to be flexible with my day to day work. However, it is also designed months in advance too. I know when I have holidays. I know when I am not working, so I can plan to outsource when I need to. I don’t miss invoicing or reports for customers. So you can see how this also has a long term function. 
  3. When I have completed work, I can tick it off as done. If by some chance it is not done, then I know my earnings have dropped. I can reflect this straight away by adding this to my business cash flow forecast sheet. This allows me to see if it is OK that this work was not completed, or whether I will need to make up the time. (in a way – this means overtime). If there is no huge financial repercussion, then there is no problem. 

Read My Summary (especially if you think this is way too much management) 

Now all these tabs may seem ridiculous. How many tabs do I have to edit? Isn’t this all a waste of time? For some it is… I have read many books whereby successful people have said that too much management or over management of your time, finances, targets, and so on are counterproductive.  

Honestly, for me, this works. the reason I created each tab is because my brain was finding it hard to cope with all the information. I wanted to stop jotting down notes on pieces of paper or creating notepad files on my computer that I would never look again. Even I did, they made no sense, so I wasted more time trying to work out why I wrote what I wrote.  

It may not work for you and it could well be counterproductive. For me, everything fits and so I know how to earn the money I need to earn and this fits into my finances.  

I hope though some areas, if not all, apply to you and will help you become a better business owner or better freelancer. 

e-commerce payments

E-Wallets & E-Comm Website Owners

e-commIf you decide that you want to become an e-comm website owner, then one of the most important areas of your website strategy will be the payment methods that you accept. Since the internet began, a rising payment method known as E-wallets have fast become a fad in the e-comm marketplace!

It isn’t rocket science to figure out that without a diverse range of ways to accept online payments, you are not going have a successful sales tally. Quite simply, if people can’t pay you regardless of how much they like your products or services, then you are not going to make money.

What is surprising to see is that there are still large numbers of e-comm websites that I have visited myself that do not accept some of the most popular e-wallets out there. Forgive my bad language, but WTF!!!

Why am I writing about e-comm e-wallets?

I have been in the online affiliate marketing and e-comm business for years. As you may have read, this blog is just a place for me to brain dump my ideas and thoughts. There is no angle here for me to make money. So this is my latest gripe in the online marketplace.

Here is where the WTF comes in when it comes to e-wallets!

My job is not just to make money for myself, but also I get paid as a consultant to help e-comm sites become more successful. And, what is one of the of the first things I see when I go and test my customers e-comm website check outs?

They do not accept e-wallets!

Everyone seems to be sold on just accepting VISA, MasterCard or Amex. How many customers are they missing out on?

Sometimes when I point this out, the only valid answer the webmaster or company owner comes up with is – we accept PayPal.

What about Skrill or Neteller?

Did you know this:

Neteller is responsible for not millions, but billions of US$ worth of financial transaction online EVERY YEAR!

Really, this is massive. Imagine, if you own an e-comm website, and someone visits your website that is a Neteller account holder. They see something they like and go to the checkout area – select payment methods – and boom – they leave. Why? The ecomm site only accepts PayPal and/or major credit and debit cards.

  1. The Neteller customer goes to your competitor
  2. You have lost a potential customer
  3. You have lost a potential repeat customer

The same applies to Skrill members.

Skrill Sign Up Page

Neteller Sign Up Page

Open Accounts with Every E-Wallet You Can Find

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer you if you are into e-comm is to offer every type of e-wallet you possibly can. There are several advantages to doing this.

  1. E-wallets accept multiple currencies
  2. People use e-wallets for security
  3. You can withdraw to your bank account easily (Free)
  4. E-wallets have great customer services
  5. Some e-wallets like Skrill offer VIP accounts
  6. You will increase your sale

Why Do People Use E-wallets?

E-wallets have come into fashion for a very good reason. One of those reasons is so you do not have continuously spread your bank card details around the internet. This is massive in terms of security for those that choose to use e-wallets.

  • You only need to give your e-wallet your bank details or credit card details
  • The e-wallet is topped up using your registered cards or bank account
  • You can withdraw from your e-wallet back to your bank account
  • You then ONLY need to use an email address to pay online

If you are not familiar with e-wallets, then it is worth noting that one of the main attractions to using them is the fact that all your need to remember is your email address and password.

How Do People Pay For Good or Service Via E-Wallets

As long the online store the person is visiting accepts the e-wallet(s) the customer is a member of, then the payment process for them is easy.

  1. Add to cart
  2. Go to check out
  3. Select the e-wallet payment method

Now the website’s backend will redirect the customer to the e-wallets secure payment website. The URL is coded with e-wallets URL and a small string that refers back to the shop the customer is paying from. This is an encrypted payment system 100% safe and secure.

  1. The customer enters the email address and password if their e-wallet
  2. Next the customer confirms payment
  3. The payment is then processed
  4. Customer is returned back to the e-com website thank you and/or payment confirmation page

Obviously, there may be some other steps in-between this such as entering your delivery address if the product you are ordering online is a physical one. That is about all there is to it.

For the e-com website owner, they will see the sale come in on their website and see it is from one of the e-wallet account they have. The owner can log on to check that the funds have been delivered for that order.

Another Reason People Like E-Wallets – Disputes are Easily Solved

Online PaymentsPeace of mind is something we all want when we make a transaction online. However, sometimes that isn’t always the case. Even though credit card and debit card companies are pretty good at getting your money back for you if you are not happy with a product, they are only effective 50% of the time.

There is no common link between the buyer and the seller. A customer may use an HSBC VISA and the website owner has an account with Standard Charter bank. If there is a dispute, the customer and seller have to leave it to the credit card companies. On the other hand, e-wallets have a better solution.

As the seller and buyer are both member of the same e-wallet, they can speak directly

Scenario 1: The buyer purchases your product. The product arrives damaged. The customer opens a dispute with the e-wallet company. You see the dispute and you can deal with it quickly. You can use the e-wallet’s communication system to communicate directly with the customer and resolve the issue quickly – this is great for reputation management.

This solves very customers fears of being ripped off

Scenario 2: If you have shopped online regularly, then you may have experienced this scenario. That is you paid an e-com site using your credit/debit card. The goods/service promised was not what you expected. You try to contact the seller via their website (because this is the only choice you have). You are ignored, or replies from the seller are sporadic. You give up!

In scenario 2 an e-wallet would not allow this to happen

One of the key advantages to having an e-wallet is the fact that customers know they are protected in a variety of scenarios. They do not need to give their bank or card details to shops online. The payment/check out process is guaranteed by the e-wallet company. The buyer is protected from malicious website sellers. For the seller, it allows you and also forces you to deal with customer issues promptly.

Working Online

5 Ways to Start an Online Business

Working online means you can work for yourself. Well at least you can work from home, in a coffee shop, on the beach or on a rocky mountain slope just as long as you have an internet connection. It doesn’t always mean being your own boss because you may find yourself working from home and having a virtual boss if you are lucky enough to find a business that will pay you an online salary.

As an online entrepreneur, I have spoken with a lot of people that use the internet to make a living. Mainly those that interact with the same website as me – upwork.com. I also looked through a lot of the jobs that are available on UpWork to see what kind of jobs are on offer for online freelancers.

Let’s just say the world is your oyster because just about any skill with software, applications, coding, marketing and more can be found.

Here are 5 jobs that you may not know exist online:

  • Support Desk/Customer Services

 

Yes, you read correctly. If you are currently stuck in a 9-5 customer services role in a busy office, then you have the skills to do the same job from home. There are plenty of companies out there that do not want to hire the office space, pay for the equipment, and have to pay their staff medical insurance! (Yes, no medical insurance can be a downside!). This leaves the door wide open for those that want to leave the office and work from home in a customer services role.

  • Data Inputting/Data Entry

 

Another job that usually means hiring someone to come into the office and add extra expenses when it could be done at home. There are many data entry jobs that can be anything from scouring the web to find email addresses marketers may find useful, to the transfer of information from one system to another.

  • Affiliate Marketing

 

Arguably one of the most difficult professions to get into. You will really need some people skills and a knack for persuasive argument. You also need to make sure that you are not just selling junk – this could quickly ruin your reputation; especially if you have built up an email list. The most popular affiliate marketing sites now are online gaming sites that promote games on behalf of other companies. One of my own personal sites is www.c9bet.com.

  • Online Games Testing

 

If you know where to look, you can volunteer to start testing games. Sounds like a dream job, right? For some it is. Once you get to learn the process of game testing and build up an understanding of the information the developers could really benefit from, you can build up your own portfolio. With that portfolio, you can start to charge a freelancer rate. The more you build relationships with various software developers, the higher the chances become of you landing paid jobs in this field.

  • Become an online writer

 

With billions of websites out there and bloggers such as myself, there are tons of writing jobs out there. I really enjoy writing or I would not be writing this blog! Every so often when I my thoughts are not in one place (because online work can do that to you), I like to write and so today I came up with 5 jobs online. If you are a very good writer, you can earn from $10 – $500+ per article you write. To get started you can try UpWork mentioned above – join and search for writing jobs.

Wrapping up, these are just some of the jobs you can build an online business with. All you need is a decent website that says who you are and what you specialize in. You don’t always have to have a website – I know a writer buddy of mine earning $3,000 – $5,000 a month on UpWork with no website to show off his talent.

However, I do suggest to you that a website would help if you are new. Keep it short and sweet – a one page homepage on a free Wix, Google or Weebly website will be suffice. As you build up your portfolio, you can begin adding your clients and examples/descriptions of your work to your website. After a while, you may be so busy that you will be able to hire someone to update your website for you!