KDB Business Services- Business Reviews and Tips

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today I was researching some product prices online. The thing to do when there is so much competition for Christmas. This is the time every marketing strategy is tried, every possible option checked out, and alot of money spent on advertising.

I went to several different sites and tried to purchase some things. When I clicked on them I received the message "this product no longer available". I just spent a few hours searching for the specific product only to receive that message. I was rather annoyed. So I searched some more, found something else, only to find that it was no longer available either.

One of the biggest crucial things for survival in this overly competitive time of the season is to make sure you have enough products available. If you get quite a few sales a day, you should make sure you have hundreds of products available.
Make sure that you keep an updated inventory list at all times, and make sure you only allow yourself to get down to a certain amount of product availability.

This brings me to another thought I had today as I was scanning around. Overall presentation of your site. There are so many more shopping sites online now. What makes you decide to buy from one place over the other even when they may have the same products for the same price? Does one site appear more professional than the other site? Does it look like it has been around longer? Does it look like it is a more trustworthy site? What kinds of questions run through your head before you make that final choice?

The bigger name stores like Walmart, Toys R Us, Macy's, Big Alots, and others can afford much more leeway in certain things than the smaller businesses. But does that mean they deserve all of the business then?

That is where the creative thinking/marketing comes into play. You need to find something unique to offer. Free shipping is a big one. If you can't afford free shipping because you are working with a dropshipper who doesn't offer it, can you find a cheap product that people may like and want to add for free? Free gift wrapping? I have a company I deal with that doesn't offer free gift wrapping, but it is cheap so it is worth it to tell your customers it is free and you pay the little bit of difference. If it means the difference in sales or not for only a few dollars, it is worth it.

In these times as everyone surfs around looking for gifts online, it may get discouraging to the young new shop keeper trying to make a name for himself. They may feel like they really can't compete. But Rome was not built in a day and neither was any other business. You need to keep perservering. Keep learning and practising something new in regards to advertising and marketing every day, don't allow yourself to have any negative thoughts, and just believe in what you have set out to do. Take out your mission statement. Read over again what you had planned for your 5 and 10 year terms. Remind yourself that you are still on track, and will remain that way providing you keep going as planned. Something is only a dream without a reality if you have not properly prepared for it, and envisioned it as such. This is not a dream like winning the lottery. This dream is a future you have planned and prepared to work for long and hard no matter how it may seem from one day to the next.

So take care. Keep your ideas going. Don't be afraid to try something new. If anyone has any questions don't be afraid to post a comment. I'd love to share ideas and concerns.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

There is alot of stock put in domain names and proper web hosting when starting up your online business. There can also be alot of confusion and indecision when trying to decide on what to do.

When I started out my online virtual assistant site a few years ago, the domain name was pretty simple. I chose my business name.com. That seemed like the logical choice since I knew the name would be available as well as it would state what kind of services I provided all in one, which is the key objective.

When I started out my new online store 5 months ago, I was a little more unsure of what to name my domain.
I knew I wanted to sell children's products at discount prices, so I chose http://bargainbin4kids.com. As time went by though, and my resources for products began to get wider, I realized I needed more of a niche, so I decided on cartoon merchandise. Changing the name of my website was easy enough, but now I was in a dilemma. I had been using the domain name I registered, and all my visitors/customers where aware of that name. If I changed it now, I would have to start my marketing all over. What to do? As of today, I have still kept my domain name.

Choosing a domain name that describes your website mission is important. Choose wisely. Make sure you are positive of what your mission is before you choose. Otherwise you may waste valuable time and money investing in the wrong thing. These are the lessons we learn along the way.

Now for web hosting. There are many sites out there that offer web hosting at prices that range from free to $100 a month depending on what you want to do.
Free sites are alright to start your business if you do not have that many products to sell and would just like to get the feel for setting up and maintaining a website.
I chose to use http://vstore.ca for mine. I liked it because it has a great shopping cart that is easy to use. It offers a free web hosting service to start with the option to upgrade to premium at anytime for $20 a month.

I used the free store for my online gift shop with miscellaneous products that only ship to American customers.
The free option is not good for certain things though. Sometimes you are not able to view the site when surfing. Bad for business! It hasn't happened very often, but enough to notice and be a concern.

You can not make any extra money by posting affiliate links you want to promote, or Google adsense. Any advertising income is earned by Vstore only.
You can't upgrade or specialize your web template to make it more uniquely yours, only the 10 standard templates are available.And you can't sell downloadable products like ebooks, which is available in the premium paid subscription.

Then there is another site I tried that is free called http://1freecart.com. That seems to be a good site. They use different layout templates. You have more options on how you would like your products viewed. There is a new option now that they have merged with http://sharesale.com which is one of the affiliate sites I use. So now you can upload and post your affiliate programs on there. You still can't benefit from Google adsense, but it is nice to know they allow the affiliate links. I need to review more on that aspect as I have just found out they added that feature.

The last free webs hosting service I would recommend for beginners, is called http://freewebs.com. They have templates that are more graphical in nature. I checked into this website option to set up a website for my daughter who sells her original impressionist artwork. The templates were a good match for her. This site is cool because it has a community you can meet people in. You can create your own blog, you can create a photo album page,and numerous other pages that the other sites don't offer. It does have the option to post products but it is done with a different system. The other sites have integrated shopping carts. This one you add the pic and the product info and then a link to add a paypal button, which then allows a connection to go to your Paypal account to pay for the merchandise.

As for paid web hosting sites, other than the upgrade for vstore, I would recommend http://netfirms.comThey are pretty affordable. I used them a few years ago for my business services website. They do have an ecommerce package as well for more money than their regular hosting package, but I have never actually tried it out personally. The thing I enjoyed the most was the amount of Stats you could keep track of for your website. You also could get multiple domain names, and 100 email adressess all included.

Check around and see what you decide. The free web hosting options are good to start with though. When you feel comfortable then you can upgrade.The free sites still have an option for you to buy your own domain name and point it towards the site for a more professional look. They still provide Stats for you to keep track of visitors. And most of them offer discount deals for marketing your site as well. 1freecart has some good offers.

Take care. Next week we will discuss more about Sharesale and other affiliate membership sites.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It is the day before Halloween. There is a bustle about every home. The kids are running around trying to make sure they have all the things they need for their costumes,and some are trying to make sure everyone knows where the party is going to be. The parents are scurrying around to pick up last minute treats, bake cookies, call for babysitters, or whatever needs to be done.

The decorations are all put up, the lights all lit, the candy bowls all laid out, makeup all donned, and the party all set to go.
Tomorrow all the leftover candy will be on sale for a fraction of the cost it was today. A few days later all the Christmas merchandise will line those same shelves.
It is 54 days to Christmas and the retail environment will use every moment possible to convince buyers that they need to have whatever it is that they have on sale. Whether it is a cute new toy for Susie, a crafty six in one tool for dad, an awesome out of this world video game system for Billy, or a super deluxe baking set for mom, there is a promotional tactic being employed.

In the retail world it is all about the holidays. A big percentage of the income made is during those peak hours and days before Christmas.
Say as a small business owner who sells children's products, my store averages approximately $2000 a month January through October. Then the Christmas rush comes upon us. Everyone knows if you buy online you need to start purchasing 6-8 weeks before Christmas to ensure you will receive your gifts on time.
So, starting the middle of November the rush begins. In the 6-8 weeks before Christmas, sales jumps from $450/$500 a week to $2000 a week or more. That is why it is so crucial for you to make sure you have a good marketing strategy set up. The competion is fierce. But the need is great as well. Make sure you can be found, offer as much of a deal/steal as possible, and provide quality products with excellent customer service.

People want to spend money this time of year, they need to purchase presents for their loved ones. Some people are browsing for ideas with no idea of what to get, others are looking for specific things.
I have found a new help in reaching out to my customers. It is called Site Pal. You create your own character and record your voice, and the character talks on your website for the customers. If you are interested click on the banner below to take their free 15 day trial. It is worth it.

Some people don't have sites set up for ecommerce but still want to get into the frenzy of selling online for the holidays. Site Pal can be used even in eBay auction listings. On an average day, over 1,000 live auctions use customized SitePal talking characters to connect with their customers, pitch their products and drive customer acquisition. That is pretty impressive. And it is a great price. $9.95 a month for a permanent animated sales force to help you out every day is well worth the price I think.

If you still haven't decided what to do yet for an online business, there are numerous affiliate programs out there for almost every product imaginable. If you would like to promote ebooks you could check out Clickbank.com. If you would like to promote toys, or other merchandise you could check out Sharesale.com. I have an account with both companies and they are very good with delivering your sales commissions on time. They have a great stats board for you to keep track of all your sales progress as well. Every company you decide to promote for will give you all the banner htmls and most necessary promotional tools you will need to help earn money. Remember when choosing your programs to pick the companies that offer at least 30% commissions when dealing with ebooks and such and at least 15% commissions when dealing with physical product merchandise like toys. Otherwise it is not really worth your time. You may need to spend a few dollars on CPC or PPC to get people to come to your site and click on your options, so you need to make sure you will receive enough of an income to make it worth the pay out.

Happy hunting! Keep up the good work and keep plugging away. Next week we will discuss options for web hosting. Designing a website is not as hard as you may think nowadays, with alot of the web hosting companies offering great website builder programs included in their packages.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good Afternoon.
I was going to continue on with another business idea to make money, but I thought I would discuss online auctions first. It still ties in with having your own store, but can be used on it's own as well if you want to get your feet wet in the online selling world but aren't ready to set up your own website.

Now, I know everyone knows and seems to use eBay as the number one auction site,but I have found over the last few years that not everyone is still feeling the love.
eBay is getting so competitive these days, some people just can't be bothered.
From the sellers point of view, unless you have your own unique product, that only you posses, you have to compete with everyone else trying to sell the same product as cheap as possible to get the sale. So, therefore, no room for profit eventually.
Also, the more people post, the more you have to promote to make your ad stand out(like paying extra for Bold,etc.)Therein, the price of your listing just doubled. Once upon a time it was affordable to post on eBay. .25c and you were good to go. Now the average costs you about $2.00.

That can get pricey if you are posting a list of items and only one or two sell with a profit of only $5.00. When I first tried this it cost me $95.00 for the first 2 weeks of posting.Ouch. That was something I could not afford on a regular basis. I started scanning around for other auction listing sites, I found and tried and few, now I use a combination of using the website traffic that goes to those auction sites, and my own online store website. Every few weeks I go and post about 20 items on www.ioffer.com or www.webidz.com and see how they are received. If they seem to sell, I keep it up, if not, I try something else.

I like these 2 sites of all the ones I have checked because they allow you to set up an online store on their site for free(up to 500 products), they can be listed as Buy now,with bidding,or make an offer options. I like to just pay a certain price online when I shop. Some people get a thrill out of haggling, and others love to compete with bidding. So having all the choices available at once is good. Once again,no charge to list the item either, unless you want multiple pictures, and special features, then it is .5c a piece. You also can leave your items up as long as you want. Unlike the auctions on eBay, the items don't end in the 3, 7 and 10 day cycles. The competition is still there for other sellers selling the same items at low costs, but not as many as in the eBay community.

That brings me to the buyers point of view. Great for low prices, but as more people list,you have to scan through pages to find a good deal. Alot of the sellers only sell to Americans to keep the costs low for shipping.

The big thing for todays resellers is using dropshippers. What dropshipping is, is a company who has the inventory stored in a warehouse allows you to sell their products with out physically buying the items first. Then when you have a buyer for the item you put the order in to the company and they will dropship the item to your customer without their own company info on the box. That way, you pay a wholesale price they ask for and sell it to your customer for a retail price, you collect the money, give the lower price to the company when you place the order for the customer, and the difference is your profit. I use this method for most of my products. As you start making more money you can just go to wholesale sites, buy more products at even cheaper wholesale prices, and earn more profit. You will have to store the merchandise yourself by then, so usually most people wait to proceed to that step when they can afford a storage space or extra room in the house for their storeroom.

Dropshippers can be found online, but you have to do alot of research and spend a few dollars to find good ones. Most of them say they are, but they are what is known as "middlemen." You would still get a discount, the profit margin would just be a little bit smaller. A good place to get into even though it is pricey to start is OneSource, brought to you by www.WorldwideBrands.com It costs $299. to sign up but it provides so many viable good sources it is worth the money in the long run. One time fee. There are other cheaper sites, but they are not quite as extensive. If you prefer to go that route, I recommend Shopster.com They have the option you can make a store through them, so you would not have to invest in a hosting site for $20 a month as well. Lots of products there. The profit markup isn't quite as high as with worldwidebrands, but still good enough to learn the ropes with. They ship worldwide as well. Other big sites like Doba.com, only ship to the US.Shopster has good customer service to help you out. They are offering a 7 day free trial for you to check it out and see what you think. Then it is $29.95 a month with a one time $99 startup fee.

If you are interested in starting up your own online store, want to try the dropshipping method, and would love to have this great opportunity to try your own business online with relatively low start up costs, check into one of these two companies. Then remember, for promoting your products, use the auction sites as well as your website. Also, ioffer.com has a promotional tool you can use to create flyers for your products. You could print some of those out, and try putting them up around your neighborhood, or door to door mailboxes. You can promote in so many ways. They don't all have to be costly either.

Bloggers Directory - Submit Your Blog!
Do you own a blog online? Feel free to submit your blog to my Bloggers.MartinLemieux.ca directory!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good day. Today we will go more into depth about the premade websites I briefly mentioned the other day. I left the link for the Zlio shop for anyone to take a look. That is a good store idea for anyone who is just starting off and doesn't really know what direction they want to take.

Zlio provides the software,templates, and monthly web hosting needed for you to setup your own shop for free. All you need to do is find the products you desire from the list available, click on the "add product to store" button and that is it.

Zlio is in affilliation with numerous stores that have agreed to pay anywhere from 3-14% commissions on anything sold. There are around 3 million products to choose from in almost every category you could think to need or want. Zlio makes a deal with these companies, takes their own cut(hence being able to give you the website creation and hosting for free), and then there is still enough for your commission.

There is also a community setup there so you could create a profile, look around at other people's stores and link with them to help exchange traffic and profits. Zlio offers promotional tools and options for you, to help you market and promote your store as much as possible. There are several templates to choose from to create the look and feel of your storefront as you would like it to appear so it will be uniquely yours and not a generic website just like everyone elses.

You can make money from commissions off of your own chosen products in your store. When you get more adept at it you could always open up another store for another niche idea( a chosen specialized product or group of people to market to). There is no limit to the amount of stores they allow you to have for free. Just remember though it is up to you to market and promote so the more stores you have, the less time and money you will have to promote the best for each store.

You also have a personalized affiliate link to promote to get others to sign up and make a store to sell things themselves. For everyone you sign up you get 10% of their commissions, and then5% of everyone they sign up afterwards. Now if a commission is only $5.00 and you get 5o cents it may seem pretty pointless to try since the 5% would then be only 25 cents, but remember when it comes down to that level it will be all about the amount of people signed up underneath. Since that won't be your main focus of income anyways, it is not really a concern, just call it a little extra bonus.

I hate to mention the cons as well as the pros when trying to promote a business opportunity, but I must. It is not a big concern, just merely a mention. Right now, this option is only available to sell products to the USA and France customers, but Zlio is in the process of getting it setup to be able to expand their sales and shipping to worldwide. So I stillrecommend this idea since there are still millions of shoppers out there, and more to come in the near future.

So if you enjoy shopping, are pretty up on the current trends in todays market, and think you would like to try your hand out in this type of business, it is a legitimate business that is cheap to start up and get going. You can purchase your own domain name later on and provide yourself with a more professional front. If you have any questions you can email me at melanie@bestdeals4ushop.com or melaniebremner@bargainbin4kids.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some of you who may have been reading my past posts from last year may be wondering what has happened to me and my other business.

I have changed the direction of my business. I am still KDB Business Services, but I decided to research and learn about internet marketing and focus mostly on the best start up businesses for people who have not much startup capital but still want to stay home and have a career.

I started to talk to some mothers and hold a weekly meeting to see what interested mothers and how much time they would have to invest. Since most mothers dcn't have much time or money to invest due to having to watch children, and clean home, I decided to dig around and see what I could recommend that would be the most for the least investment but still manage to reap enough rewards and not be a scam.

There are alot of scams out there in the internet world, alot of so called "gurus" prey on the fact they know so many people are out there trying to find work at home solutions.

90% of the programs and ideas marketed out there are scams. And even if they are not necessarily scams, persay, they are misrepresented to the point, that they might as well be.

First off, anything promised to be a complete business in a box, where all you have to do is buy the product and then put it on a web host service, and the money will come rolling in, is all fake.

The majority of all online business work is in the day to day marketing that goes along with it. The internet is so vast, the competition is so intense, that you need to do as much marketing to get yourself out there as is humanly possible.

You can get discouraged, alot of people give up before they start to see anything because it takes a long time. If you do not have at least a year to invest without needing money, then this type of business is not for you.

That is why stay at home moms are perfect for this type of business, they are going to be home with the children not working anyways. With all the options for marketing and advertising that require lots of work, but are free, it is a viable option. There are ways to spend money for different advertising, such as adwords(we will discuss this at another time), but I personally think until some revenue is noticed from all the hard work being done manually, don't invest anything yet.

You need to do the manual advertising in order to learn the ropes. Once you are secure in knowing how things are done, and what makes a difference, then money can be spent more freely on pay per click options, paying for email optin subscribers, paying for targetted traffic or whatever if there is still more traffic needed to your site.

I know you need to spend some money to make some more money, but there is the smart way and the blind way. Learn the ropes first, research options, try all the free sources first, then when you have developed a nice sounding advertisement/sales copy you can promote through all available sources.

I will discuss with you various business opportunities out there that I recommend, I will try to help you with any concerns you may have. If I do not readily know the answer to something, just let me know,and I will go find an answer from some trusted internet professionals that I know do have the answers.

The first thing we will be discussing is affiliate programs. I have researched hundreds and hundreds and have narrowed it down to some I will take the time to discuss with you over the next little while.

if you would like more info, just email me with a comment or concern in the subject line, and I will research anything needed and get back to you. melanie@bestdeals4ushop.com

Anyone interested in building an online retail shop can take a look at the 3 shops that I am presently running, we will discuss how to set one up and all the factors for interested parties.
http://bestdeals4ushop.com, http://bargainbin4kids.com, http://everything4moms.zlio.com,

Tomorrow we will discuss affiliate websites, that are premade for you, these are often what some people like to get into because they have no technological skills. These do require some form of monthly payment, but any business you start will cost for web hosting monthly charges and a domain name.
Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Having a blog of your own? Why not. But having your own online shop is even better! It takes less than five minutes to sign up, a few more to personalize your shop and finally, a pleasurable stroll through Zlio's directory of over three million items to fill your newly-created virtual e-store. And at the end of the day, you get a commission on every sale generated through your store (2 to 15%, depending on the supplier).

The most important thing, then, is to generate traffic on your shop (mine's here, by the way!) Or in addition, you can rely on your family and friends - indeed, if you refer someone to Zlio, Zlio gives you a free bonus of 10% of that person's commissions, for ever, and 5% of the commissions of anyone they refer in turn! By the way, I thought I might mention that my referral link is http://zlio.com/?page=app:signup&r=116049, in case you'd care to click on it!

Stay At Home Working Moms Have Real Jobs
I have been a stay at home working mom since 2004. I used to work in a call centre doing tech support before I decided to stay home and have a baby. I still wanted to work, so I started my own virtual administrative business.
I graduated from Toronto School of Business in 1998 with a Small Business Management diploma, so I was confident in the knowledge I could succeed. I also had 9 years of administrative assistant experience I could rely on when selling my skills to prospective clients.
I set up a simple site that advertised my services, then I spent hours creating flyers to post in my neighborhood, endless more hours posting my ads on free classified websites I found through Google searches, and set up my complete home office.
I found work doing various customer service jobs like taking orders for restaurants such as Swiss Chalet, a couple telemarketing jobs, typing out manuscripts and school papers for clients, and a few other odd jobs. I soon found I wanted a different kind of online job, so I decided to expand into the ecommerce world.
It is tough to go on your own. There is no one to help you out. You have to take care of every aspect yourself. I taught myself internet marketing. I almost quit in the process. I am not put off by very many things, but taking on the daunting task of learning internet marketing by myself, with no direction; no one to tell me who to trust when looking for proper mentors to guide me through, was downright scary!
I learned how to make professional looking websites, researching templates, learning html and java script, finding clipart, uploading images, setting up an ecommerce shopping cart so I could process orders through Paypal, and so much more.
Hours of researching, calling, faxing, and emailing, to set up wholesale accounts for bulk product orders. Finding dropshippers for products I am not physically able to keep in storage. The list seemed to go on.
Now on a daily basis there is still the updating and maintaining of my website to make sure all products are available with the correct inventory count, processing orders as they come in, responding to any emails from customers, processing returns, getting the advertising out to Yahoo and Google, creating my bi-weekly newsletters for two different websites and then sending them out to everyone who has opted in to my email list, and writing articles to submit to the article directories to further enhance my traffic.
I recall a conversation I had with one of the mothers I meet with on Wednesdays for our “Work At Home Moms” group. We were discussing how people respond to us when they find out we work from home and do most of our business online. There are a vast many people out there who are under the impression that we don’t work as hard as the average Joe who has a job outside of the house. I needed to write this article to inform others that work at home mothers most often tend to work harder than outside jobs. While we maintain our business at home, we still manage to do the laundry, watch the children, clean house, and make dinner. I work so much my husband often wonders when I will ever stop.
We do have real jobs, and we do work real hard. We just happen to be our own boss.

About the Author

Melanie Bremner is a mother of three who has written and published several children’s stories, taught Sunday school, and graduated from business school, with a minor in psychology.
She is presently running and maintaining an online discount retail shop, and produces a bi-weekly newsletter full of stories, facts and fun for the whole family. If you would be interested in receiving tips on various topics of raising children and family matters, you can sign up for her newsletter at http://bestdeals4ushop.com