Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Seven REALITIES of Online MLM programs

If you have been involved with multi-level affiliate plans for any length of time, you are now aware of what a challenge it is. For me, the biggest hurdle was the technical side of it and I'm still not 100% there yet from the 'techie' standpoint. And there is no doubt whatsoever that reaching the point (in November of last year) where I was finally earning a net profit was just about the hardest thing I've ever done!

This blog is about those hardships and the lessons I've learned (and what I still need to learn). I am writing this today, because what I see out there is an epidemic of people joining these programs and then quitting far to soon. Whether it's GDI, TrafficWave, Pyrabang, DirectMatches or whatever - it's always the same story: Everybody gives up and quits.

In my case, getting sign-ups isn't the problem. For example, so far in 2009 I have recruited more than 50 people into TrafficWave and I have a downline member who has signed up more than that. The problem? Far too many of them are long gone and most of those dropped out immediately after the Free 30-Day Trial period. Observing this phenomenon time and time again has shaped my thinking and I've come to several conclusions that might be of interest to anyone reading this.

First of all, there aren't any 'magic' programs that are going to suddenly start working where the other ones didn't. Every affiliate marketing program requires two things from its paid members: Time & Money

They're all the same. So long as the company is legitimate and solid (very important!), it doesn't particularly matter which one you promote. They don't have to be new either. You can start today and earn a fortune with Amway. So, all of this said, here are the Seven REALITIES of Online MLM programs:

1) It's a long-term thing. You cannot expect to get great, money-making results in weeks or even months. It takes YEARS (two at a minimum) to build up decent income streams with these types of programs. If you aren't going to commit to a multi-year time table, then get a job, get an extra job, join the army or whatever you have to do to pay your bills, because this isn't for you. You can spare yourself an enormous amount of mental anguish if you accept right up front that this is a long-term business building project.

2) Most people will say no to your opportunity or quit shortly after joining. (see: #1) It's a numbers game. If you stay at it long enough, you will be successful. I am telling you, it's a fact, that THE reason everyone fails in this business is because they quit. That's it. That's all there is to it.

3) It takes money to make money. Want GOOD advertising? Then you're going to have to buy it. Sure, there are plenty of free promotion methods that can help you, such as Traffic Python, Viral URL or even Twitter. But in the end, you really should be budgeting a minimum of, say, $75.00 to $100.00 per month in online (or offline!) advertising methods. Too many people are not willing to spend one single dime in an effort to promote their business. If you aren't willing to part with even one penny in order to advertise your affiliate program, then you don't believe in what you're doing, plain and simple.

4) Yes, you are going to have to interact with people. Another reality that I must point out is that you cannot do this anonymously. What everyone seems to want to do is to 'hide' behind the Internet and do all of this without ever talking to anyone or even emailing them! Everyone wants everything to be 100% automated and nobody wants to 'sell' anything. Write this down: Nothing happens until something is sold. You're in the selling business! But the key is not to sell the company or product. Let the company do that. What YOU are selling is leadership and faith. Those are two things that everybody will buy.

5) You must lead by example. It's hard to convince me of how great your program is if you just joined yesterday. If you've been in it for 2+ years, then I'll start listening. You've got to be a leader. Let's just use the example of Traffic Exchanges. They are a 'community' in which people are watching others. If you are a regular fixture there and people get to know your name and face, they start paying attention to what you promote. If you stand behind the same program for a year or more, that gets noticed. To win at this game, you can't be passive. You're going to have to be a leader and cultivate relationships with other leaders.

6) You must MOVE. Another reality of Internet Marketing is that it takes far more work than most people realize. In fact, it's an enormous amount of work! Just like getting off the couch and exercising, it takes a daily routine of activity that you won't always want to do. Still, you have to do it. And once you stop or 'skip a few days' then the whole thing starts to unravel. I've seen it a million times. You must be in motion and keep focused. That's hard for a lot of people to do for months on end (I know) but it's the reality of this business - or ANY business.

7) You must have a system for success - a daily 'punch-list' of things that you do consistently and persistently that you can share with others. For example, if you join one of my affiliate programs and ask for advice, I'm going to give it to you. I will tell you every single thing that I do and exactly how I do it, though you could just read my blog posts or my ebook and figure it out for yourself. My POINT is that you can't just sell a program. You must also sell the system for making it work. People like to be told what to do and, if you are honest and they believe you, they'll do what you tell them. But you'd better have something to say!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let PPC Dictate Your Meta Descriptions

When your website is included in the organic listings of a search engine result page, there are two important factors that will cause people to click on your listing: rank and messaging. Of course the search engine has the ultimate say in where you rank, and even what your messaging is, but you do have some control over the messaging. Often times in an organic search listing, a snippet of your meta description is included. If your meta description is what shows, it better be inviting if you want a click.

One of the beautiful things about PPC is the ability to test different messaging in ad variations. Once you find the right ad copy to generate a high click through rate, by testing different ads, you can use that copy in the meta descriptions of your webpages. By knowing what messaging causes people to click, you can increase your click through rate in organic search as well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Google Introduces Place Pages on Google Maps

Google announced Place Pages on Google Maps, which makes Google Maps even more enhanced than it already is. Using Place Pages, you can now get more information about a place, such as restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses. Place Pages show general information about a place, as well as photos, reviews, web pages and user content.

For someone who is researching the 5th Avenue Apple Store that has never been there, they can already view photos and know how to get there using public transportation, as well as discover that it is open 24/7.

You can even view subway schedules and see what trains run at what station, which could be useful, and avoid an additional step to the MTA website:

If a place page lacks information, it can always be added through community edits or Google Map Maker.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Official, Google Does Not Care About Your Meta Keywords

It has been no secret to most in the SEO industry for quite some time that Google’s search algorithm does not include the content of meta keywords tags. Now it is coming straight from the horse’s mouth. It was recently posted on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog, and re-iterated by rockstar Google engineer Matt Cutts on his blog that Google does not care what your meta keywords are.

This does not mean, however, that all meta tags are ignored by Google. Snippets from meta description tags are still often displayed on Google search result pages. It also does not mean that other search engines ignore the meta keywords tag. What it does mean is that the notion that stuffing keywords in the meta keywords tag will somehow help a website rank for those keywords in Google can officially be put to rest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interesting Timeline of Search Engine History

Ever wonder how search engines came about? I didn't realize it went all the way back to the late 1950s! Search Engine Journal created an interesting timeline of search engine history, dating back to 1957 when the predecessor of the internet started through ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency). Following that the concept of the World Wide Web was created in 1980, the Archie search engine created in 1989, the creation of Yahoo in 1994, and to the present day when Bing was launched. For someone who started using the internet in the late 90s (1998 to be exact), and being an internet marketer today, I found the beginnings especially interesting. The evolution of search is fascinating knowing how advanced it has become today.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bing Looking to Increase Market Share with Visual Search

Bing has announced its next tactic to compete with Google in search. They are taking image searching a step further with “Visual Search”. Visual Search returns thumbnail images for specific search results. The main feature of Visual Search is the ability to refine a query, thus making the thumbnails that no longer match fly off the results page. The remaining thumbnails are in turn resorted.

The value of Visual Search is the blending of structured data into search results. Bing is pushing the envelope by returning structured data in a wider range of searches, including sports, travel, and product reviews.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Linkbuilding Challenges on Digg

Digg has now decided to add nofollow tags to external links on their website, which is unfortunate for those who use Digg as part of their linkbuilding strategy. This does not, however, count Digg out for building links. They are not adding the nofollow tag to all links, but rather just the ones they are not too sure about because they don’t just want to vouch for a website.

In order to get a do follow link on Digg, a story has to look real to them. Popularity is a good indicator to Digg that a story is real. For the linkbuilder, it is now more important than ever to publish relevant, valuable content on Digg that people will actually want to read and join the conversation. This is how the story will reach a threshold of popularity that Digg finds acceptable to give out do follow links.

Oldest Twitter User Turns 104!

I recently read about a Twitter user who just turned 104 years old! British woman, Ivy Bean celebrated her 104th birthday and is probably the oldest Twitter user. Ivy was actually more active in Facebook before using Twitter and prefers Twitter over Facebook because she says it's just updating and is a lot easier. Ivy has about 32,454 followers and basically tweets about what she is doing. She lives in a care home that encourages their residents to be active and her frequent Twitter-ing has gotten her a lot of media attention, getting asked to be interviewed from news outlets all over the world.

I think it's really awesome how people of all ages can embrace social networking, not just the younger crowd, as many may think. It's untrue that older people can't get into using social networking, as Ivy Bean has proved to us all. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Free Samples as an Ad Format Debuts on Facebook

Facebook advertising is pretty useful, and if you're a company that can offer something to your Facebook fans, it is even more useful and not to mention, beneficial. Chick-fil-A got some buzz this week for offering free samples through Facebook. The ad offered a voucher for a free breakfast biscuit, and all you had to do was fill out your mailing address. The information that Chick-fil-A gets goes only to them, and not Facebook. Once you filled out your mailing address, you can even allow friends to see you got a free sample voucher, which spreads the word.

I think this type of Facebook ad is great, and you really can't go wrong with giving free samples. It does benefit to become fans of your favorite brands because you never know when they'll start giving free stuff!