Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Being Scammed and Failing are not Synonymous with a Home Based Business

There is an endless variety of home based businesses on the internet. Do you know if the one you are currently contemplating is a legitimate income opportunity or a scam? Is that revolutionary wealth opportunity just a bunch of hype with no truth behind it? It’s a sad fact but maybe that “unique” home based business opportunity is a little too unique. In fact, it’s so unique it’s illegal. But just because there are a few bad apples, it doesn’t make the whole bunch rotten.

Every now and then, there will be a big “to do” about a scam that some people get burned on and then you know what follows - articles, ads, tons of negative content, etc. that the whole home based business industry is corrupt. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For every one unethical or crooked online business person there are literally thousands that are straight as an arrow and go strictly by the book.

First and foremost, always do your homework. There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against scams. The last thing you need is any negative press that you’ve gotten by being involved in some corrupt online business, especially when you are working so hard at branding yourself and earning a living.

Anytime you are the slightest bit suspicious, or if something strikes you the wrong way, start asking questions, and keep asking them until you are comfortable and confident with the answers. If your gut keeps telling you that something isn’t right, chances are it really isn’t, and you don’t want anything to do with that business.

Consider these questions and suggestions when you are doing your research:

• Read as much as you can about the home based business opportunity you are considering getting involved in.
• Find out if that company is a member of the BBB (Better Business Bureau).
• How long have they been in business? Be skeptical of new start-ups.
• Can you chat with members of the business (i.e. affiliates) and get their take on things? If they can’t answer your questions, walk away from that business and look at others instead.
• Type the name of the business into the search bar and see what kind of results you get after you do.
• Check out those sites that target online scams and get all the information you can about the issue.
• If you are a member of chat rooms, forums, or social networking sites, ask if any of the other members are familiar with that business.

After you have narrowed down your choices, try to find out information on Terms of Service, Privacy Policies, and FAQ’s of the various companies you are still considering. If they boast that their business is a substantial income opportunity for you, they better have proof. Otherwise you need to walk away. However, never let this discourage you. The fact still remains that there is a serious home based business opportunity with your name on it, and it is a legitimate income opportunity as well.

The 3 Hottest Online Money-Makers

Digital entrepreneurship is the fastest growing work-at-home career going and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. If for no other reason, it has become a solid testimonial to the massive assortment of business opportunities available to those who own a computer and have the incentive to make money with it. It is the ease of getting started in these businesses that are their main selling point as well as what makes them so popular with aspiring online entrepreneurs.

For lack of a better description, the internet is the primary tool used to develop and operate a business opportunity and generate revenue. Basically, most online business models that exist today fall into one of these five categories:

1. Advertising
2. Brokerage
3. Infomediary
4. Licensing
5. Merchant

Despite the dozens of business venues that exist online, there appears to be three endeavors that are at the head of the pack where the novice entrepreneur is concerned. These are Affiliate Programs, ePublications, and Traffic Exchanges, and they fall under category #’s 5, 3, and 1 respectively.

Affiliate Programs (also referred to as Affiliate Marketing) come in all shapes and sizes. For the most part, they are the best example of a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) revenue stream that you can find online. Affiliate Marketing is defined as “a web-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts.”

In most instances, affiliate programs involve either online retail store fronts or certain services such as internet providers or satellite television subscriptions. Membership fees that you pay the parent company supports your own fully functional website as well as a tutorial that instructs you on how the site operates, how to advertise and generate traffic to your site, and how to work the site in order to maximize your profits. The better programs (which obviously cost more) take care of the advertising and traffic generation for you.

In either situation, you have the opportunity to generate income two different ways. Your first revenue option is that you can earn commissions by retailing the products or getting subscribers to the service that you are offering. The other option involves signing up (or enlisting) other affiliates in what is referred to as a downline. You earn money off of these signups as well as a percentage of the sales they generate and their enlistment endeavors, hence the MLM concept of the business.

Before moving on, I do want to caution you on the downside of affiliate programs/affiliate marketing. It’s a sad fact that not all of these endeavors are always honest and reputable. Some have been banned for failure to compensate their members. Others just disappear once you have earned a small return on your investment, only to reappear looking very similar but under a different name. The ones that I was always skeptical of are those that continually pitch you on spending more money on upgrading your membership or additional new money-making programs. In reality, the only real winner here is the person who owns the main site.

There are three forms of ePublications, namely eNewsletters, eZines, and eBooks, that can provide you with an income online, and you can do this one of two ways. The first way is to buy someone else’s eZine or eBook and resell it for your own profits. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of these out there to choose from and some sell for as little as $7 a piece. The trick to being successful with these is to constantly keep your inventory of product fresh and rotating. Unfortunately, these get old very quickly and your sales oftentimes come to a screeching halt. In addition to this, there are those publications that are not anywhere near the quality that the advertising portrays them to be. So be careful what ones you invest in.

The other revenue stream with ePublications involves publishing, renting, or selling your own content, and also provides you with two avenues of earning money as well. This requires having skills and talent as a writer and isn’t for everybody. One of the easiest ways to find out if you are remotely decent at writing is to join a content producing website that will pay you for your work, or a site where you can actually rent your articles to businesses who wish to use it. Chances are, if you sell or rent your content on a regular basis, you’re doing alright as a content producer. A word of caution here --- there are some sites that purchase your content as exclusive or under “full rights” licensing.

When you sell your content under the guise of full rights, you no longer own the rights to your article once you sell it that way. And by law, you may never submit the article for publication to any other publication site unless you want to run the risk of copyright infringement. My advice to you is that if it doesn’t break your heart to do this then go for it. The benefit here is that you earn more money selling the content in this manner, but only once. Otherwise, either sell it as non-exclusive or rent it under “usage rights”, wherein you can rent it to as many customers as you want.

EZines and eBooks are a great way to go but they are time consuming and if you are not creative and skilled with the content you are writing, they can be very boring. Plus, they only generate revenue for you one way, namely by selling them. I have always contended that the best revenue streams result from producing content in the form of 500 to 2,000 word articles (that you can sell or rent more than once), or producing an eNewsletter on either a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly basis.

There are several benefits to producing an eNewsletter. First and foremost, it is one of the best ways to brand and promote oneself and one’s business on the internet. Secondly, you have two options to help you pay for the publication and generate revenue, namely by developing a subscription base for the publication and by selling advertising space in it. Finally, where content is concerned, you don’t have to produce it all by yourself. Why? Because there are many individuals who are looking to brand and promote themselves and will gladly contribute content to the publication in order to gain exposure, mention the name of their business, and stroke their egos by displaying their expertise in print.

Last but not least is the Traffic Exchange. TE’s, as they are often referred to, are “websites that provide a service for webmasters in exchange for traffic”. However, I refer to these sites as a cheap avenue for the novice entrepreneur to advertise their businesses, products, or services online. Again you are confronted with two options where this form of business is concerned.

The first way of earning money from a TE is to treat it as a MLM vehicle. Join a TE (or more than one if you want), upgrade from a free to a paid membership (if you can), and then start building a downline that earns you commissions off of their efforts. Not only do you earn money, but your referral banner rotates with others and you earn visitors to your site that may join under you. That in turn will generate income for you as well.

Please understand something while we are on the subject of TE memberships. It isn’t a requirement that you upgrade to a paid membership, but the benefits of a paid one versus a free one are usually quite significant. Generally speaking, surfing ratios are lower and commissions are higher. In some cases you can generate enough commissions to pay your monthly membership fees and eventually an upgrade to a higher level which in turn will earn you more revenue.

The second option for earning money with TE’s is to create and operate your own. Again, this option isn’t for everyone either. You have to have a thorough working knowledge of graphic design, website management and mechanics, a high level of customer service ethics, and a ton of patience. So be careful before you embark on this journey.

On the other hand, if you have the finances to pay a designer and an administrative support person, that’s the way to go. This course of action results in the maximum benefit to you because you don’t share any earnings with a downline. But you will have tax implications to deal with so don’t overlook that when making your decisions on an online income opportunity.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Starting a Home Based Business is a Good Idea

Business opportunity seekers are quickly learning that a home based business is the only way to go if you want to achieve any independence financially. There are numerous legitimate income opportunities to be had if you’re willing to do a little research and perform some due diligence in the process. When aspiring entrepreneurs contemplate the viability of a profitable home based business, one of the first questions that arises is “what makes a home based business such a good idea?”

Let’s be realistic. Have you ever heard the acronym of the word “JOB”? The letters stand for Just Over Broke. Interestingly enough, this has never been closer to the truth before. At some point in time, probably everybody has had the desire to be their own boss and operate a home based business. The problem has always been that finding a viable business opportunity is not always that easy. But when you do, and you get that first taste of success, there is no turning back. The following content will present you with the major reasons why starting a home based business is a good idea.

Reason #1 – The only person you have to answer to is you. There is no boss threatening your livelihood and your job security. It is the greatest form of freedom and independence that you can possibly experience when it comes to earning a living and loving your job.

Reason #2 – This ain’t no regular 9 to 5 routine. You never have to obey a weekly work schedule, there is no time clock to punch in and out on every day, and you never have to ask someone for a day off.

Reason #3 – There is no limit to the amount of money you can earn. If you have a regular job, there is no possibility that you will ever realize any type of a substantial income opportunity. The worst part of working for somebody else is that unless you are a commissioned salesperson your earnings will always be limited to the company pay scale. There are two truisms that always exist about earnings when you have a job and work for an employer:

1. you will always have limits on your earning potential
2. you will never get paid what you are worth

Reason #4 – Stay in your pajamas all day if that’s what you feel like doing. One of the things that a lot of people despise about their job is the fact that they are oftentimes forced to wear clothing that they cannot stand. This is especially true when you work for an employer that demands you wear a company uniform. It’s even more aggravating when you have to take care of those uniforms yourself. When you have your own home based business you can wear what you want to --- no shirt and tie is ever required.

Reason #5 - The greatest investment you can ever make is in yourself. When you invest in your own business, you are investing in yourself, and that is the best investment you can ever make in your life.

Why People Fail in Home Based Businesses

When business opportunity seekers look for a home based business, they look for certain aspects that fill their own personal needs. They want the freedom of being their own boss and stop living from paycheck to paycheck, and they don’t want to have to follow a weekly schedule doing it. Unfortunately, they see what they think is a legitimate income opportunity only to find out that it isn’t the profitable home based business that they envisioned it to be.

After a few weeks, they realize that the serious home based business opportunity they sunk their money and time into was nothing more than a serious loser. But why did they fail? What did they do wrong? What didn’t they do to allow themselves to succeed? Sometimes it isn’t the fault of the person; it’s that the business wasn’t a good business to begin with. The following are the five main reasons why people fail in home based businesses today.

Reason #1 – Most new business opportunities have no track record. Too many of the newer online businesses are just that --- they are too new and have not been proven. If there are products and/or services involved, it may be that the market is not well established enough. Usually, the only time a company succeeds in such a new endeavor is if they are a Fortune 500 company with a ton of money to burn. This isn’t the case with most of us though. Let the people who can afford doing this lay the groundwork. If it’s too new, it’s too risky.

Reason #2 – If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It’s an age old cliché, but unfortunately it’s the truth. Most of these revolutionary wealth opportunities are the same songs with different words. They are the same plans and programs that haven’t worked before, so they sure aren’t going to work now.

Reason #3 – Nine times out of 10, the only one getting rich is the one selling the program initially. The promoters are the ones who profit the most because they get hundreds (even thousands) of people just like you to give them money, but it never works the same way for the person paying the promoter.

Reason #4 – If it’s too good to be true, chances are it is --- or it’s illegal. Another unfortunate reality with online businesses is that sometimes, even though they are advertised as a legitimate income opportunity, nothing could be farther from the truth. If you do your due diligence and some research before you invest in a “unique” home business opportunity and you smell a rat, chances are there really is something rotten in Denmark (or wherever the business opportunity is coming from).

Reason #5 – A residual income opportunity may not be residual at all. Many home based business opportunities lack endurance. In other words, they’re here today, but they’re gone tomorrow. In a lot of circumstances they are all hype with no real foundation in reality. And when the hype runs out, so does the hope of having a profitable home based business.