Does JVZoo have any real competitors?


One day at a conference, around 2010ish,  a computer science professor came up to me and said he wanted to build the next Clickbank. I jokingly said, “Yea, and I want to build the next Amazon.”  Well he built JVZoo.. so…


There has been many competitors pop up time to time.  Most of which are already gone.

The huge Warrior forum has been around forever and implemented a marketplace to buy and sell digital products.  You would think given all the traffic of the forum they would be the most significant competitor.

The newest kid on the block – PayKickstart has had some “big players” launch products on their recently.


Clickbank cleaned house from the CEO down and refocused away from the IM space.  So, they are really not a relevant competitor.


But both of these companies charge you a fee to even list your product for sale.  In PayKickstarts’ case it’s $99 a month.


Here is where is it gets interesting.  While some of the “big players” might launch their products on these platforms they still promote products on JVZoo to make money.

And to go further even some of the founders of these companies are promoting products as an affiliate on JVZoo. It’s a bit odd to say your company is #1,  yet promote products to make money on JVZoo.


For instance not to long ago I got an email from one of PayKickstart’s founders Matt Callen:

Date: June 29, 2017 at 7:18:20 PM EDT

Subject: [Final call] last chance to make an quick ROI with video


And it ends up on a JVZoo checkout page:

So not only does PayKickstart’s founder not only use their own affiliate system… he promotes products that don’t even use their own shopping cart…

I think that speaks for itself.

I honestly don’t know if anyone can catch JVZoo at this point.


Six years ago JVZoo came out swinging when they launched with some truly innovative features – the likes of which an competitor has yet to match… even six years later
  • Free signups to use the platform (no trial b.s., it is truly free).

  • Free training program.

  • Instant payments to affiliates (personally I love seeing my phone blow up with paypal payments). No waiting period to get paid.

  • Free built in webinar hosting.

  • Free built in JV Broker settings.

  • Product owners have full control of who and how their items can be promoted by affiliates.

  • Free compliance review to ensure your product meets FTC standards (They cover your ass)

  • Daily product of the day promotions which if your’s is chosen can sell thousands (if not tens of thousands) of your product. I know this first hand.


But one of my favorite features is the transparent views for affiliates.  This is great for me because if someone hits me up to promote their item I can actually see how many are selling,  the conversion rate, the EPC etc.


And as you can see I can even see the refund rate also.  I love that feature.


Between their innovative platform, hundreds of thousands of built in affiliates to sell your product, and over 50,000 products you can promote as an affiliate to make money,  I just don’t see it.


If you know of any competitors on the map please leave in the comment below.



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Don’t Let Your Business Fail Because You Forgot SEO


You probably think you can just put up a website and you’ll have customers wander in. If you build it they will come, right? Besides, it’s how we’ve done business for years. Build a storefront and hope people decide to stop in for a peek.

The internet doesn’t work that way. When you set up a business online, you have no physical location. People aren’t walking the streets of the internet because there are no streets.

It’s more like wandering the vast reaches of outer space. To get someone to your location, you have to be intentional or you will be a very lonely business.

This is where search engines come in. They’re the navigational tool people use to wander the internet. And you can move up on their navigational menu. But it takes some work.

SEO will help you get there. So, let’s look at a few ways to use SEO for this very purpose.

1. What the Hay is SEO?

According to the Moz: “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

Aaaaand that tells you bupkis. Right? SEO people have a bad habit of talking above everybody’s heads without realizing it. Me included.

Let’s look at that Moz definition for a moment. Organic search engine results have nothing to do with some farming practice. Organic simply means natural in this context.

Organic search engine results are the results of a search that isn’t paid for. At the top of each Google search page, you’ll notice a few results labeled “Ad.” These are non-organic search results.

Those positions are paid for positions. Anybody below those are organic search results. Results filtered through Google’s algorithms.

The closer to the top of the first page your page appears, the higher your ranking or SERPs.

How Does Google Decide?

To an untrained observer, the results you get when searching Google might seem arbitrary. As if some guy at Google sits there and separates the goats from the sheep at random.

But Google actually uses computer programs called crawlers to gather information on all websites and index that information. Then, when you search for something, an algorithm compiles search results from that index.

So, essentially, when we talk about SEO or search engine optimization, we’re talking about appeasing the Google algorithm gods. We want to get our pages and websites on the first page.

And lately, the algorithm gods demand a lot of things for entrance onto the first page. Plus, the target is always shifting. Google comes out with algorithm updates all the time. And it’s an SEO expert’s job to keep up.

But right now, it all seems to boil down to quality. Quality content, quality links, and quality networking (in a social sense).

So, let’s look at a few ways to optimize and appease.

2. Keywords Are Still a Thing

Google uses words to find your content. While their machines can now look at things like syntax and context, keywords are still useful. And it’s still possible to rank for specific search strings.

But not all search strings are equal, or useful. Some are much harder to rank for than others. This is due to a multitude of factors like competitiveness and quality of the sites who rank there.

If you’re just learning about keywords, one area I’d say you should focus on is the long-tail. The long-tail is a set of keywords that are easy to rank for because the search volume is comparatively low.

The non-long-tail set of keywords racks up search numbers in the millions. Things like Facebook, condoms, and Adele are going to take up a large chunk of search engine numbers.

Long-tail is about specificity and ease of ranking. Use a keyword tool like KWfinder.com or Google’s AdWords keywords tool and sort by the easiest to rank for.

Then find keywords specific to your niche and that will catch people closer to the tipping point when it comes to sales. Frame an article or video content around this keyword and go!

Just be sure not to keyword stuff. One keyword every 100 words is sufficient. Less is more.

3. Quality Content Forever

There once was a time when you could get away with a page of keywords and links. Sparse content was king.

But Google quickly figured out that they actually have a customer base to please. And in realizing this, they began to police their search engine.

The penalties were dire. If you trespassed Google, you would get buried so deep in the rankings, you would never see the light of day again.

Google now looks closely at your content. If it features too many errors, too many irrelevant links, too dense of content, it gets dropped.

Quality content for small business SEO purposes includes content that’s scannable and useful. Google has basically told webmasters and SEOs to stop worrying about SEO (which we won’t) and focus on quality content (which we will).

Essentially, Google has forced SEOs to adopt content marketing. Which isn’t a bad thing.

To get ranked, write longer form content that gives your customers or leads something valuable they can use. Make sure your paragraphs and sentences are short. And maximize the entertainment value.

Nobody wants a boring sales pitch. They want to be entertained while they shop. So, give them what they crave and they’ll reward you.

4. The Internet is a Network

You might be thinking, thanks, Captain Obvious. But wait a second. A lot of people don’t realize the internet is a network. And without connections, it fails.

The same is true for your site. Google uses your reach and your connectedness to rank you. This means backlinks.

When people link back to your content, you can call that a backlink. Garnering backlinks is hard. It means you have to network.

Social media has exponentially improved our abilities to network. And if your content is shareable, you’ll garner a lot more backlinks.

But you can reach out to other small businesses and blogs and review sites in your niche. This is probably the most effective way of networking and garnering backlinks.

Also, link out to other sites in your niche. Sites will notice when you link back to them and you could open up networking opportunities.

Conclusion: SEO isn’t Complicated

SEO takes work, plain and simple. If you’re worried you won’t be able to understand SEO, don’t worry. It’s actually easier to understand than you think.

Are you using SEO for your small business? Let me know in the comments below.



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Video Is Hot, But That Doesn’t Mean Grab Your iPhone


When we were kids, the video equipment we had on hand was bulky. A VHS or an 8MM tape slid into some yawning orifice. And to mix video, you had to hook it all up to a VCR.

Kids today just don’t know how easy they’ve got it.

Pretty awesome technology is available to the common man right now. The newest iPhone shoots beautiful 4K video. But you can’t just pick up a cell phone and shoot video hoping to come out with something professional.

Otherwise the average Joe on the street would be making loads of money in advertising.

Although the iPhone is an amazing device, you can’t do a lot of things required for professional video with just a cell phone. It takes some extra equipment and a little bit of know-how.

In the next few paragraphs, I’ll outline exactly what you need and give you a few video shooting tips to boot.

1. Stability Is Your Friend

Unless you’re a surgeon, you won’t get stable video with just your hands. See, your hands are constantly making micro adjustments when you try to hold something steady. And since video cameras don’t automatically adjust for this, you need something stable on which to rest the camera.

There are two kinds stability devices you can use with an iPhone. A tripod or a glidecam.

If you plan on shooting in studio conditions or stationary conditions, then you can just buy a tripod with a GripTight mount. This setup will only set you back about $50 if you get a good tripod.

If you want movement in your video, get a glide cam made for an iPhone. This is a weighted and balanced device. With practice, you can even run with it and get smooth and stable footage.

You’ll need a glide cam if you’re going to take footage from a vehicle, or following people around their environment. An excellent glidecam will set you back around $200 or more. But it will reward you with beautiful shots.

2. Your iPhone Microphone Sucks

Apple probably wouldn’t like to hear this. So sue me, Apple! (I didn’t think so.) But the iPhone’s microphone is crummy.

Sure, it’s great for recording your thoughts and secretly recording conversations (secretly recording conversations is illegal in most states, btw), it’s not fit for video production. You need a real microphone for that.

Microphones seem like they’d be expensive. And the best ones are.

But companies like Rode understand budget constraints. And they’ve created an awesome little iPhone companion to help you record on the go.

The Rode Smartlav lavalier microphone works on both the iPhone and Android phones. It’s a clip-on lavalier made for recording an individual’s voice. If you want ambient sounds, you’ll need a much different multidirectional microphone.

And if you’re recording video on your iPhone, you’ll need another device to store sound. Another cell phone will work, an iPod, or a recording device. You’ll have to sync sound later in whatever editing software you choose.

Be sure to test your sound before shooting. There are plenty of great sound apps out there to help you record professional sound with a lavalier mic.

3. Let There Be Light!

This could either be the least expensive aspect of video production or a moderately expensive purchase. Natural light is free.

Learning how to leverage natural light for photo and video production is photography 101. Your subject will look best in natural light.

Getting the right angle is tough. And unless you have a reflective surface, you need to frame your subject so their face is looking directly at the sun. If not, you will have deep shadows.

A reflective surface doesn’t have to be expensive. You can make one with just a large piece of cardboard and some tin foil.

In a studio setup, you use three light sources. A primary light source (the brightest), a secondary light source (second brightest) and a rear light source (third brightest).

The first two light sources need to be at a 90-60 degree angle away from each other. You can use the sun and a reflective surface for these two light sources. And you don’t need a third light source if you’re shooting outside.

You can make your own indoor lighting with fluorescent light sources or if you want to go really shoestring, construction lights. Just a warning, construction lighting is extremely hot and your subject might faint from the heat.

You’ll need to practice setting up lighting and experimenting with white balance before you begin shooting principle footage. You can use a white sheet to help set the color balance on your iPhone.

4. Post Production Fixes All

That seems to be the mantra even in Hollywood these days. You can use post production to cover up some of the most glaring mistakes. And editing software is pretty expansive these days.

But some things aren’t fixable. If your footage is too shakey, you’re screwed. If your lighting is off, you might be able to fix some things with artificial light in software, but it will look tacky.

Get your stuff together before post production, and you’ll spend less time in post production.

But post production is still one of the most important parts of video and sound production. If you suck at editing, your video will be awful.

What kinds of things can you do in post production to make your video awesome? Animation is huge.

Animated video production will spruce up your page and make your videos pop. Have you ever sat through a boring PowerPoint slideshow and fallen asleep? Video without animation is just like that.

Even the smallest thing such as a moving company logo will add entertainment value to your video.

What Should You Avoid in Post Production?

You can make a lot of mistakes in post-production. And some of them are super tempting to the newbie.

Don’t play with transitions. Unless your name is George Lucas, you have no right to use even a side swipe transition. Black out or instant cut transitions are sufficient.

Don’t use animated clip-art from Microsoft PowerPoint. These are horrible, annoying, tacky and unprofessional. Just don’t. Please.

Video Production Is Easy

A video campaign will boost your traffic and increase leads ten fold. And it’s really not a hard process. It takes a little bit of time and a little bit of love.

Do you have experience with video production? Tell me your advice in the comments below!



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Should You Trust Bill Gates With Your Cloud Data?


Ok, yeah, we all know Bill Gates doesn’t run Microsoft anymore. But his name is synonymous with the sprawling corporation behind everything Windows.

So, we’ll just pretend he’s a Wizard of Oz and still sitting behind the scenes running everything.

Bill Gates wasn’t the first person to offer a cloud business solution to the masses. In fact, the first true cloud service dates all the way back to the stone ages of the internet: 1999.

Salesforce.com opened the way with their ability to deliver enterprise applications via a website. A few short years later, Amazon one-upped Salesforce.com with a suite of cloud based services that included human intelligence.

Today businesses face a nebulous array of cloud based services. And it’s patently difficult to choose the best option.

Today I’m going to clear the skies for you. Here’s how to figure out if Gates should get your business.

1. Is It Secret? Is It Safe?

Your first consideration should be security. And while they probably don’t have an enterprising young Hobbit on staff, they should still be able to keep your data secure.

If a cloud provider can’t show you multiple standard security measures, give them wide berth. This is the only way you’ll be completely comfortable with their approach to security.

What should you look for when it comes to cloud security?

Firewalls are one thing. These keep intruders from accessing your network. Anti-virus detection is a must. Multifactor authentication for access and data encryption should be there as well.

Internal security is another aspect you should pay attention to. Who will have access to your data? And how are they vetted?

Microsoft’s Azure is actually the perfect example of a secure cloud network. Their Azure compliance offerings are probably the most comprehensive of all the cloud services.

Not only do they ensure compliance with all governmental regulations on security, they even vett their security through civilian organizations like the MPAA.

2. Another Day Another Dollar

Some cloud services will try to gig you up front. They’ll tell you a massive cost to get started and act as if this is normal.

Don’t go for these “pay to get through the door” services. You’ll quickly find they aren’t reputable.

A great service will only charge you for what you use. And sure, it’s absolutely reasonable to charge for added services.

You’re essentially renting “server space” across the world. And you could be charged for varying periods of time. From hourly to annually depending on the vendor and the services.

And the price can vary significantly as well. You might have a service as low as a dollar a month and you might have services charge you over $100 per month. It really depends on the value they’re dishing out.

3. We’re Here to Serve You

Sometimes, what provider you choose will depend on what you need. If you only need the basics (a bed and a shower), why would you pay for a suite?

So, first evaluate your own business needs. Are you needing video and photo storage? Are you hoping for financial solutions? Or do you need file systems?

You can even outsource your customer relations to the cloud in software based offerings. This is called customer relations management or CRM.

The cloud is utterly diverse. You can outsource a billion functions. From IT networking to basic storage solutions.

4. Backup! We Need Backup!

Systems built by humans are bound to fail. Unless they’re the pyramids. Those things will probably outlast humanity.

And while your data will be more secure in the cloud rather than a local server, data loss happens. And the statistics show that most of these incidents are due to human error.

So, what can you do to prevent this? Go with a service with an excellent backup plan.

How will a service rectify the incident if you lose data? How many copies of your data are spread across their servers?

How many incidents have they had in the past year? And are there legal agreements that outline restitution if they lose all your data?

These are the kinds of questions you need to ask before you sign on to a new service.

5. “I Knew Nothing But Shadows and I Thought Them to Be Real”

While you may not be storing your aged self in an about-faced portrait, the cloud might seem just as magical. But it’s not.

Outages happen. And the smaller the cloud service, the more likely they are likely to experience one.

Downtime is expensive. It kills whole businesses.

Even if a server is up 99.5% of the time, that .5% represents over $9 million in lost revenue for most businesses. So, the margin for error with a cloud service is teensy.

You can’t afford to go with a service with any kind of major downtime history. But even the major services will have some, including Google.

If the service’s downtime history logs aren’t already in an accessible location, ask for a copy. Not only will their willingness to give you these help you determine their trustworthiness, you’ll also know whether they use stable servers.

6. “Scalability is About Building Wider Roads, Not Building Faster Cars”

Speed is important in some cloud services. Especially if you’re merely running a website. But you want to know that if you grow, your service can grow with you.

Again, basics are nice. And that might be all you need at first. But if you go with a service that isn’t scalable, you’re going to be stuck in that awkward position of transferring everything over to a new service.

This can be costly and possibly dangerous, depending on the data and service. So, it’s best to get ahead of future scalability problems by figuring out the growth possibilities now.

Issues might come up you haven’t thought of before. For example, what if you add staff to your team? Can you add users to the service?

Conclusion: Bill Gates Isn’t the Only Wizard

Jeff Bezos and other CEOs are now giving the Billionaire giant a run for his money. But as far as their cloud services go, you’re going to have to decide for yourself.

I hope I’ve given you enough to think on. Do you have advice on choosing a cloud service? Let me know in the comments below.

 



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Here Are 5 Tips for Dental Websites That Don’t Bite


Of course, remote dentistry isn’t possible right now. You can’t have your teeth cleaned by a robot at home. But many aspects of the business side of dentistry now rely on digital technology.

The most connected dentists not only have a basic website, they schedule appointments online, use the cloud for patient file access, and maintain a social media presence.

People use the internet for almost all business transactions today. Your patients expect their dentistry web experience to be just as pleasant and pain-free as their time in the chair.

But if you’re thinking “damn it, Ben. I’m a dentist, not a web designer!” you’re right. Your time is best spent helping people maintain healthy smiles.

But clean dental websites aren’t hard to maintain either. And there are a few simple things you can do to your website right now that won’t tempt you to hit the laughing gas canisters.

1. Simplicity Is Your Friend

Teeth are complicated, as you know. So many things can go wrong with teeth. And the diagnosis and treatment aren’t always straight forward.

You might try to make things simple for your patients, but your end of the deal is pretty complicated.

Web design can get pretty complicated too. Sure, not nearly as complicated as the human mouth. But it’s easy to over complicate things for users, especially if you’re used to working in the back-end of website design.

But in web design, the user comes first. Everything should be designed with the user in mind.

And users want simple and intuitive experiences.

For example, an intuitive web design puts the menus at the top of the website. This is where all of us have been trained to look when we visit a website.

And when a user clicks on a menu item, they should arrive at the promised destination. They shouldn’t have to wrangle multiple drop-down menus or move through several other pages to get there.

The concept I’m trying to get across here is called “minimum usable design.” It’s an aesthetic in web design that says you should be able to use your website when it’s 50% done.

It’s simple enough you could leave it half done and still be usable. Of course, you won’t publish at this point. But it’s a good marker to find out if you’re actually keeping it simple.

2. Outline Offline

When you went through dental school, did you practice surgery on live people first? Of course not! Who would sit through that kind of torture anyway?

While your dental websites don’t feel pain, it’s easier on you if you only have to throw away a piece of paper or erase a white board. You don’t end up tossing hours worth of work.

For some reason, our brains visualize better on paper than they do in the digital space. This might change with coming generations, but right now it’s true.

You will have a more cohesive web design if you write out your ideas and sketch out how you want your website to look. Use flow charts to mock up your menus and links. Sketch out your home page to see how it looks.

You’ll have an easier time getting this phase done than if you stared at a blank screen or a template.

3. Sparkling White Spaces Will Bring You Joy

As a beautiful clean smile makes your heart jump, so should white space on your website.

While, yes, content is king. And you should have as much actual quality content on your site as possible. You don’t need to stuff it all on one screen.

The beauty of the web is that we aren’t limited to physical space. We don’t have to take advantage of limited physical resources like paper.

Facebook has proven this. There is a bottom to your Facebook feed, but it will take a long time to reach it. If it were printed on actual pages, you would be shelving massive volumes. But the digital world is forgiving in that way.

You can make content both long form and good looking. On your main page, you don’t want long form content. Just beautiful links with small paragraphs and wonderful white space in-between.

When you do write long form content, make sure you break it up into one to three sentence paragraphs. And each sentence should be no longer than 20 words.

This makes the content easy to read and scannable. You want your patients to quickly find the information they seek. And white space helps you do this.

4. Make Your Dental Websites Mobile Friendly

While you might do the majority of your computer work on a desktop, most people don’t access the internet this way anymore. Mobile internet access represents 60% of the time people spend on the web. And that number is slowly going up all the time.

It’s utterly frustrating to mobile users when they encounter a site that is not mobile friendly. Pinching and squeezing just to get to a menu or a link is maddening. Human fingers just weren’t designed for it.

Thus, make sure you create a mobile version of your site along with a desktop version. Most web software will already do this for you. But if you neglect responsive design such as mobile friendly features, potential patients will get frustrated and leave.

5. Let Experts Fix Your Dental Websites

You probably see DIY dentistry disasters all the time. And you probably wish people would actually come in to see you or at least call before attempting such feats.

Just as there are dentistry experts people should see, there are dental marketing consultants dentists should see. Your web design and digital marketing campaigns could be sparkling and effective. But you might be trying too hard to do it all yourself.

While you can do a lot yourself, the best results come when you hire an expert to at least take a look.

Conclusion: You Can Do It

Now that you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve it’s time to wow your patients.

Creating dental websites is easy. But there are times when things go horribly wrong. Do you have any dental website horror stories? Let me know in the comments below.



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Stop Making These Mistakes So Your Website Won’t Suck


There are over 1 billion websites out there today. Visual representations of this are astonishing.

But this also means that there are millions of websites that suck. Really. And it also means there are millions of websites that are awesome.

Which category has more? I have no clue. But your website shouldn’t be in the former category.

That’s why I’m here. To inform you on how to avoid the most common web design mistakes.

1. Your Users Need Glasses to Use Your Site

This is a central element in web design. Readability is key.

But if a person with 40/40 vision needs glasses to read your content, they’ll go somewhere else.

There are tons of fonts out there. So which one do you choose?

First, don’t use Comic Sans. For the love of anything pure, do not do it!

And there are some pretty awesome looking fonts that would make for horrible web copy. Don’t be tempted by flowery fonts or bad ass fonts no matter if you are a heavy metal band or an actual flower company.

If you choose the right fonts, your website will magically look a whole lot better. And the font you choose will have a psychological impact on your brand. So be careful.

If you want to seem respectable, use Serif fonts. They’re clean and easy to read. If you want to seem like a stable company, use Sans Serif fonts, they’re clean and modern and bold.

If you want elegance, use script fonts like Bickman Script. If you want to convey friendliness, use Cooper.

Minimal research is needed to find clean and excellent fonts. So, there’ no excuse for illegible type fonts on your website.

2. Your Users Get Lost As Soon As They Arrive

Navigation should be the first thing you think about when designing your website. Flow charts are excellent for this.

Start with your home page and work your way outward. Every link should go somewhere meaningful on your site. And there should be zero dead ends.

Intuition is a great thing. It helps us navigate life without having to think too hard.

But when something defies our intuition, we get frustrated. This is where intuitive web design comes in.

There are certain givens in web design right now. When you design a page, you need to balance the left-right assumptions of your users.

Where do you immediately look for a menu on a web page? The left and right corners, right?

This is intuitive to most people. Don’t put the navigation bar where people will never find it.

Other Navigation Mistakes

There are some other mistakes you could make with website navigation.

Chiefly, drop-down menus. Drop-down menus are the worst. Look at the top of this page. Do you see Shoemoney using drop-down menus? Heck no! Shoemoney is a wise man. Be like Shoemoney.

But why shouldn’t you use drop-down menus? They cover up your content. And they are buggy as all get out.

Ever tried to use a drop down menu on a mobile device? Usually doesn’t work, right? Drop-down menus were designed for mice, and most people don’t use mice anymore.

If your navigation menu is exploding off the page, you need to clean it up. You can do this by distilling down your menu options into categories. This will clean up your page and allow people to find what they want faster.

3. You Chase Away the People Who Suffer From OCD

And a lot of other people who just can’t stand messy web design in general.

Structure is important. Unorganized content is another way to completely lose your users.

Your users need to be able to scan through your site and find the information they need quickly. If they can’t do that, they’ll go somewhere else.

You need to divide your content up with a heading, sub-heading, keywords, bullets, and other nice typographical things. And when organizing your content on a page, make sure it fits some sort of logical order.

Each page on your site needs a name and a way back to the home page. This is part of both navigation and organization. They need to know where they are at on your site at all times.

Also, your content needs to remain up to date. If you have out of date content on your site, your users will go to a site with up to date content.

And lastly, make sure you have a cohesive theme. Even if it’s a massively broad theme like SEO or Marketing, be sure you don’t put anything on your site that falls outside of those two categories.

4. Your Website Doesn’t Have a Search Widget

If you wandered on to the Shoemoney site by accident, you could find out whether there are articles here about YouTube video marketing pretty fast. There’s a search widget in the upper right-hand corner.

But if that widget weren’t there, you would have to scroll and click through the blog until you found what you were looking for. That’s a massive waste of time.

Don’t waste users’ time. They won’t appreciate it. And they won’t be your users for much longer.

If you don’t know where to find a search widget for your website, Google has your back. They provide a custom search option for websites. This allows users to both search your website and search the internet straight from your page.

Then they won’t even have to navigate away from your site just to find content on your site. It’s a win-win for both of you!

5. You Hurt Your Users’ Eyes With Bad Animations

I’m very happy I see less and less of dancing stick figures and winking Obama pictures these days. But I get super twitchy when web designers choose to add horrid animations to their websites.

First, complicated animations take up bandwidth and slow down your website. So avoid transitions where possible.

Second, there are a lot of tacky animations out there. So, find a professional animation site to buy from. Don’t rely on Microsoft PowerPoint type clip-art animations.

Great Web Design Means Money

Do you want to keep people coming back to your website? Get your site in order. You’ll make a lot more money with a well-designed web site than a crummy page layout.

Do you have any web design horror stories you’d like to share? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 



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3 Entrepreneur Stories to Keep You Driven for Success


In the world of online business and entrepreneurship, it’s easy to always get distracted by all of the shiny lights and opportunities all over the place. This is especially true online, as it’s easy to see huge mega success stories and not realize the years of work it took actually leading to where they are today.

The same can be said of Jeremy and his ShoeMoney empire. If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you will already know that Jeremy didn’t start out as a successful blogger and entrepreneur. He actually went through a long and tedious process of 9-to-5 jobs, money making schemes and eventually finding his way to make money online with Google Adsense and his mobile ringtone site. If you aren’t familiar with the story, you can read all about it in his “Nothing’s Changed But My Change: The ShoeMoney Story” book. I highly recommend it!

Speaking of stories of success… I have a few hand selected names and stories currently in the news to keep you both inspired and driven for success in the months to come. As I mentioned, it’s always easy to look at the success of others and start to feel down on your own performance and any goals that you might not already be hitting. Read through each of the stories below and you will start to realize the many different ways to make money in the world today, along with the many different paths to get there.

Kara Goldin, and How to Get Past the Naysayers and Build a $90 Million Company

When starting any type of business or putting yourself out there for the world to see, there are going to be plenty of naysayers and haters along the way. This is just one of the many obstacles that entrepreneurs have to deal with on a daily basis, and it’s also all part of what makes up the most successful entrepreneurs in the world today — being that either they don’t care or let it bother them, and also how they use such negativity to spur themselves and their businesses to a whole new level.

One industry that you probably think has been hacked to death, is the flavored water and beverage industry. Not only is it extremely competitive, it’s also heavily funded by big name players like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint, a company that makes around 25 different varieties of flavored water, and a product you may have already seen and purchased at your local shopping center. In this interview with Forbes, Kara is asked 20 different questions about not only how she runs her business and built it into a $90 million empire, but also how she has been helping other entrepreneurs and businesses grow in the process.

Sam Ovens, and the Secrets of Building Wealth in America

A million dollars is not a lot of money these days. Back before the “internet boom” and Silicon Valley, being a millionaire was quite an amazing task. Now it’s just something that happens on a daily basis for entrepreneurs and business owners around the world today. However, don’t take being a millionaire for granted… it’s still an amazing accomplishment and one that definitely takes a lot of work to achieve. Even with all of that being said, the internet has made the process for anyone to find financial or personal success much more attainable — whether it be through online marketing, buying and selling real estate around the world or even selling your expertise through online courses.

Sam Ovens is a perfect example of someone who was bound for success but just wasn’t sure how he was going to get there. At the age of 21 he dropped out of college and was broke and depressed — then by the time he was 25, he was a millionaire!

So how did Ovens get to where he is today? It all started with becoming a consultant to other consultants and making $10 million in the process. Then take that same successful business model and applying it to the concept of running online e-learning businesses. One of the most interesting components of this story is that Sam was living in New Zealand while all of this was going on, but he soon realized 98% of his business was coming from American clients — so he then decided to move the U.S. to further grow his business. You can read more about his story and secrets for building wealth in America, in this Sam Ovens interview on The Epoch Times.

Asia Newson, the 13-Year Old Super Business Girl

Not everyone in life is offered the same opportunities or start on a level playing field. Some entrepreneurs start from nothing, while others have successful parents or financial situations they can start off with. The good news is that the internet has made it a more level playing field for everyone interested in the entrepreneurship and business game.

Asia Newson, a 13-year old entrepreneur from Detriot, always has a passion for success and business. At the age of just 5, Asia was already selling candles she bought from wholesale distributors and selling them to customers in her neighborhood. Today, Asia has expanded that business model into producing her own candles and is now projected to have $100,000 in revenue for her company in 2017 — all while also training 40 of her peers and young kids in Detriot to help grow the business.As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs are all unique in their own ways, how they get started and what they started with. The secret to Asia’s success comes through the form of her mentor — which is her father. She also found a great business opportunity and one that she was passionate about in the process.

As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs are all unique in their own ways, how they get started and what they started with. The secret to Asia’s success comes through the form of her mentor — which is her father. She also found a great business opportunity and one that she was passionate about in the process. Not only is this story a great one out of Detriot, but it’s also one that highlights how there is no age requirement when it comes to entrepreneurship and how one person can start changing the world. Be sure to read Asia’s full story on Atlanta Black Star.

Paving Your Way and Making Your Own Entrepreneur Success Story

As you can see through each of the entrepreneur success stories above, each is unique in their own way — and also unique in how their businesses make money and provide value to others. At the end of the day, the world of entrepreneurship and business is an extremely crowded and competitive space and only the strong will survive. To find success, always remember to provide the best value and customer experience possible, while also treating your business like a business!



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Are You Drinking A Bunch of Startup Kool-Aid?


Startup culture is fascinating. Now, I’ve never been on the inside. But I’ve known enough people who were and I can say people who gear up a startup are some of the hardest working people I know.

But at the same time, they can be the most unrealistic people I know. Dreams of grandeur haunt us all. I, for instance, fancy myself as a novelist despite the fact I’ve published no novels.

Startup people fancy themselves as the owners of a successful business, which they aren’t. At least not yet.

And while it’s fine to dream, there comes a point where you can have your head too far up in the clouds you don’t realize you’re falling.

I’ve collected some advice about startups and how you can tell you’ve quaffed the wrong kool-aid. Hopefully, this isn’t you.

1. Doing Everything Yourself

There’s a VR game I love to play. It’s called Star Trek Bridge Crew. You literally get to hang out on a Federation Starship and carry out missions with four other crew members.

I’ve learned a lot about teamwork through that game. But I’ve also learned that you can’t run a whole starship by yourself. If you try, you get a torpedo up your ass.

It’s the same deal with any startup. Even if you’re running a “one man show,” there is no such thing as a one man show.

You eventually have to rely on people if you want to rise to the top. And if you haven’t already, get a co-founder.

Your odds of success increase if you have a co-founder. You’ll raise 30% more money, have 3x the user or customer growth, and you’re 19% more likely to scale prematurely.

Captain Kirk would have been nothing without Spock and Bones. Get a co-founder and rely on your team. You’ll soon be admiral of your own corporation.

2. Relying on Meetings

Some people love meetings. I’m not one of those people.

Give me a quiet office by myself, and I’ll blow your socks off. Make me sit in a board room with a whole bunch of other bored people, and you’ll see me doodling.

Meetings can be productive. You can learn a lot about your team in meetings.

But too many meetings and you end up just wasting time. How much time are you wasting? Just an hour? Wrong! You’ve just wasted one hour times however many people are in the room.

The more time your team is out there doing, the closer you will be to a successful business.

Have a meeting to hammer out ideas. Sure. But then get to work.

If you need to bounce an idea off of your crew, do it electronically. Those who rely on meetings are afraid to make decisions for themselves.

While you do need to rely on people for the success of your startup, there are some decisions you don’t need to bounce off your team. Waste their time only for the most important stuff.

3. Throwing Money At It

82 percent of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. But sometimes it’s because they thought money solved everything.

If you’re not seeing the results you want, another round of financing won’t solve your issues. There is another problem lurking in your midst.

Most likely it’s fundamental. Your business model isn’t working. You have to fix it. Make a business startup checklist and find what needs fixing.

It’s just like flying a plane. If you are grounded, you can’t go back into the air unless you fix the problem. Doesn’t matter how much fuel you pour in the tank.

4. Oh, All the Sweet Sweet Swag!

Publicity is tough. It’s also competitive.

Getting your name out there is a wise thing. And there are plenty of ways to do it.

Swag is one way to do it. Pens, business cards, mouse pads, t-shirts, things people can take with them. It’s mobile advertising.

Plus, employees love swag. If they’ve caught the dream, they’re going to bust out that swag everywhere they can.

But can you afford it?

Even freelancers fall into this trap. It’s weird not having a business card or a pen with your name on it to give someone. If not, you have to actually explain who you are. So, you feel you have to START with swag.

But you don’t. It’s a waste of your funding if you haven’t made any returns yet.

Are you turning down actually useful startup tools just so you can afford swag or that nice coffee maker for your employees? Don’t do it!

You need to build the house before you live in it. Save the swag until you make returns. Then you can reward your employees and get your name out there.

5. Holding Onto an Idea for Far Too Long

I once made a wrong turn near the end of a cross country race in high school. I was in first place.

When I made the turn, something told me I was wrong. I looked back, saw the number two runner sprint past the turn and I knew.

I turned around and pounded my legs and beat that guy by only a few strides. But I had to admit I was wrong and correct my mistake before I could win.

It’s the same in any startup business. If you made a wrong turn, don’t be stubborn. You don’t always have to be right.

If you’ve fallen in love with your original idea and it’s not going somewhere, you’ve fallen in love with the wrong girl. Cut your losses. There are plenty of fish in the sea!

You need to go on evidence. So make sure you’ve done your research before implementing an idea.

If I had memorized the course that fateful day, I’d have been a half a kilometer ahead. But I didn’t, and I still salvaged the race. But it was a close one.

Conclusion: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Sometimes we need a little bit of grounding. It’s ok. I’ve been there.

Just make sure you keep your head in the game and don’t pop that champagne cork too soon. There might be tainted kool-aid inside if you do.

Do you have any start-up horror stories? Let me know in the comments below!



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Your App Is Cool. Can You Just Make Sure It Works?


It really is one of the most frustrating things in the world. You download an app, get into the meat of it, and it crashes. You were just “this close” to winning that million dollar Monopoly prize and it all went to heck.

You’ve probably heard that being mobile friendly and having an app is the way to go. And the data backs this up. 89% of mobile media time is spent on apps.

That’s a massive majority. But when there is a large market, there will be competition.

And if you fail in that market, you’ll get buried. So, do it right the first time, and you’ll remain on top. That’s why today I’m going to talk about testing your app before you release it.

1. Design it With The User in Mind

Every app should begin where it ends: in the user’s hands. This should be your whole philosophy when it comes to app design.

The best testers and IT application developers know this, especially when it comes to interface design. Your app should be easy and intuitive when it comes to navigation.

So, begin testing before you’ve created the app. Send out surveys to your most loyal customers and ask them about your blueprint. Also, ask them what they’ve seen in other apps that work and doesn’t work.

If you take this important first step, you’ll know what your users are expecting and what they’ve experienced.

2. During Testing, Engage the User

You see, a lot of app developers only use scripted testing techniques. These are automated testing techniques that take the user completely out of the process.

While it might be easier and more laissez faire, it won’t catch all the bugs and it won’t keep the user in mind. It’s fine for preliminary testing, but until you have the app in an actual person’s hands, you won’t get everything ironed out.

This is where exploratory testing comes in. What is exploratory testing?

It’s the involvement of the individual tester in the process of testing. It’s hands on, but it allows the tester to learn empirically.

They take on the role of the user. And they now can empathize with the user throughout the whole process.

3. Always Prototype or Beta Test

You will not go with the first iteration of your app. Unless you’re an expert coder or developer, you’re not going to succeed at first bat.

You might have to scrap whole versions of an app and start over. Know that this is part of the process no matter how frustrating it is.

You will have to go back to the drawing board often. But once you have a final product, you’ll be highly satisfied with the result and so will your customers.

4. Use a Test Plan With Checklists

Your checklist should start with app usability. Features and functions come last. This is the opposite of what most developers do.

They typically create a list of features and functions they want in an app. Usability be damned! (They probably don’t really say that.)

If you write down your plan and centralize usability, you’re less likely to have a buggy app. You’ll also be less likely to leave out particular functions that are important to your customers and users.

5. Plan for Scalability

Static apps will eventually become obsolete. Just like a business, you want an app that’s scalable.

And you want to test for add ons and future upgrades to hardware and bandwidth. It needs to mold and shape with the times. And if you don’t test for it, you may see your app fail down the road.

Plus, app re-design is costly. You want to save as much future money now as you can.

6. What Are Device Environments?

Alright, when you pick up your cell phone, you’re holding one of the most densely packed pieces of technology on the planet. It can do a billion things for you, most of them you don’t make it do.

But some people do use all the functions on their phone. And some people take their phones out into extreme environments.

If you’re a company that designs an app for say Arctic research, you need to design the user interface and colors for that environment. Scientists will probably be using special gloves that allow them to interact with their phone.

You’ll want to test with those particular gloves in mind.

In essence, when creating a testing plan, make sure it involves the environment. Also look at apps used in similar environments.

If you’re creating an app to be used outside, perhaps on a constructions site, look at apps like Pokemon Go. These kinds of apps will inform you about colors visible outside.

The type of device will also have an impact on how an app will perform in certain environments.  Glossy screens are horrible in bright daylight, so you will need to see if your colors are bright enough to stand out behind a glaring screen.

7. Security Is Key

In today’s environment of security and data breaches, one can not be too careful. You have to include security and lockdown in your testing plan.

You need to review security standards if you’re going to be collecting user data. Data encryption is another big one. Look into encryption services if you are selling anything through your application.

8. Don’t Forget the Device

Every device will operate your app differently. And people will use your app differently on each device.

Make sure you include the device in your app testing plan. If it’s on an iPhone, you have to realize how people use iPhones. If you’re hoping to include widgets, know these go on a different screen in the iOS for example.

Also, know the limitations of the hardware itself. Are you going to tax the device? Will your app make it crash? Can your users access everything on a particular device?

These are pertinent questions when testing your app.

Conclusion: Just Get it Working

You’re likely to lose customer loyalty if you produce an app that crashes or is just plain difficult to navigate.

Have any app testing horror stories? Let me know in the comments below!

 



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Oh, Now You Want to Make Money Online? Congrats on Joining 2017.


You wake up and realize you’ve slept through your alarm again. What do you do?

A.) Call your boss and apologize and hope they don’t fire you?

B.) Jump out of bed in a panic, toss on whatever is lying about, slap on some deodorant, and speed to work?

I do neither. I just sleep another few minutes until my brain wakes up. I also don’t get fired for this because I don’t have a boss. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

Sure, I’m emboldened to particular people. That will never go away until I retire. But my schedule is my own to make as I please.

You see, I’ve joined the ranks of a growing sector of the world population. The remote worker. I’m not tied down to a particular location. I can take my laptop and work where I please. It’s the new American Dream.

But how do you break away from the 9-5 grind? How do you stick it to “The Man” and say adios to the office and water coolers and crummy coffee in styrofoam cups?

It’s absolutely possible to make the jump (don’t look down) and make money online. And if you keep reading, I’ll tell you how.

1. To Make Money Online: Downsize Your Expectations

I used to teach social workers how to deal with crisis situations. The program we used was called Mandt. And the whole philosophy centered around recognizing a situation before it happens.

To curb a budding bad situation, I taught that you were to “offer options and set expectations.” Those expectations needed to be realistic. When someone is escalating, setting the bar too high on either end will cause failure.

Online marketing gurus like to talk up the online money making game. They tell you “here’s a simple way to make millions.”

Problem is, millions don’t just drop on your doorstep one day. Those people had to put a lot of effort up front to get their millions.

Sure, the ultimate goal is to MAKE MONEY online. But at first, you’re just going to make money. And it’s going to take a bit of work.

Humans want to avoid pain. Most human behavior stems from our desire to avoid pain. And we expect that by avoiding pain we will gain pleasure.

This isn’t always true. Sometimes avoiding pain causes more pain. In the case of jumping into freelancing or online marketing, avoiding pain or work as some of us call it will have you sitting on the curb begging for money really fast.

2. The Passion of the Freelancer

The root word of “passion” isn’t pleasure. It’s pain. The lover in medieval romances often received some sort of wound to denote romantic or sexual desire.

Only recently has the meaning changed and society equated passion and pleasure. But true passion is at once pain and pleasure.

Why do you think the “writer stereotype” involves drink and despair? Because a truly brilliant writer is passionate about their work. The inner drive to create isn’t always comforting.

If you want to find work online as a freelancer (whether that be writing, video, editing, voice work, etc.) you have to be passionate. And the initial struggle should be a part of your set expectations.

3. The Importance of a Portfolio (Real or Imagined)

When I was in the “real world of work” I hated seeing job posts like this: “Entry Level Position: Requires 4 years experience in field.” The oxymoron hurt my mind.

How is a college grad, just moved out of their parent’s house, supposed to get work?

The funny thing is, most online jobs aren’t much different. You do need “experience” to get a gig.

The biggest difference, however, is that your experience no longer has to be tied to a specific job or a particular degree anymore. Yes, those things help. But a great portfolio of work will always say more than a CV or a resume.

If you’re going the freelance route to make money online, then make sure you’ve got a portfolio of work ready to show. Don’t have one? Welp, sucks to be you!

Wait. That wasn’t very nice.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: You don’t have to use published or posted examples in your portfolio.

While it helps to have a publishing record or existing projects you can point to, some jobs require anonymity. And you won’t always be able to use your work in your portfolio.

Instead, do your own creative work. If you are a web designer, build a few sample websites. If you are a writer, write a few sample articles. Your portfolio will prove you can get the job done.

4. The Wide World Affiliates and Other Marketing Opportunities

If you can write marginally well or make decent videos, you can make money online. Again, it will take some effort up front. And you have to see any online marketing gig as a business.

But with enough elbow grease and a little bit of luck, you too can make a decent income online.

Here are the first steps you should take:

  • Choose a niche you’re passionate about
  • Build a blog or website
  • Find an affiliate (Amazon is the most popular and easiest)
  • Write long form content about your niche (sell the products in your niche here)
  • Create an email list and be faithful
  • Always be honest

Too simple? You’re kinda right. There are loads of steps in-between each of those. One thing you should do is hire an SEO company like WebSuitable a little later down the road to optimize your site.

Google is pretty strict in what they let sit at the top of each search page. Unless you pay. And paying for a spot is always a good idea.

Network, garner what we call “backlinks,” and get that traffic flowing to your site.

Other ways to make money online include eBooks (nonfiction), an eBay business and shipping fulfillment businesses. The opportunities are endless. But you have to be passionate or you will eventually burn out and fail.

Making Money Online: The New American Dream

If you do end up making money online or working remotely, you will join over 3.3 million full-time professionals. You’ll save money and feel less stress.

While not everyone can handle the lack of outward structure, I still consider it a worthy endeavor.

Now that you’ve heard from me about making money online, check out Shoemoney’s story. His is an amazing rags-to-riches tale you can’t miss out on.

 



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