Make Your First Sale Online

In almost every Facebook Group and Forum that I am in which is connected to selling online, the biggest complaint is not making sales.

What I want to do in this post is tell you why you are not making a sale.

When you make your first sale, things become a lot more exciting as then you can concentrate on optimizing. Whether that is split-testing or different traffic methods or copy or upsells, you can only do that once you make your first sale.

As before that, you have little to no data to work with.

So, why aren’t you making sales?

  1. Targeting

As well as being the most boring subject, this is probably also one of the most important. You must have a product which your target market is going to buy.

You must have a product that is not just ‘bah’ but makes them excited enough to get out their credit card and give you money which they can also spend in many other places.

This is both if you are selling a physical product or a digital product. I am going to be concentrating more on physical products here, but almost everything is the same with digital products.

So, first you need to find a target market (or niche) which people are passionate about and will want to spend money in.

I enjoy playing table-tennis (ping pong) and even have a table. However, past a bat and a ball (which I already have) it is unlikely that I would buy a mug or t-shirt as it is just not central enough to my life to advertise the fact that I would play.

So, if you target table-tennis players on Facebook Ads, you may be advertising to me, but there is little to no chance that I would ever buy from you. And I am guessing it is the same with others who also have an interest in table-tennis.

So, you want to find a market who are passionate about the interest that you are targeting. Dogs is always a good example. People love their dogs and treat them as part of the family.

So, is dogs a good market to advertise to?

Well, it’s not awful, but is probably too large in order to be able to get a group of people passionate enough in your product to do with dogs.

How about we niche down to a breed of dogs. For example pit bulls. Although there are far less pit ball dogs than dogs in general, any product that you advertise to them which has a real connection to pit bulls will be more relevant.

How about we go one step further and try and find pit bull owners that are really passionate about their dog? I don’t really know the market, but if you were to target people who are interested in pit bulls and also are interested in a dog magazine that would probably give you more passionate people.

Or how about pit bull owners who also have the profession of a dog trainer?

Hopefully you can see where we are going with this. You want an audience that you know is passionate about their niche. You need to be able to qualify that when picking your ad interests on Facebook (if you are advertising on FB).

This will be the same whether you are selling a physical product or a digital product. For example, a pit bull owner is far likely to buy a pit bull training ebook than a general dog training ebook.

Let’s now find a product that may be suitable.

You are interrupting this person’s day. You need to wow them. Try and sell them a dog lead or dog food and they probably won’t care. It doesn’t solve a problem for them as they can get one from Amazon or their local pet store. It also won’t lead to an emotional response so that they will stop what they are doing and click on your ad.

What you need is something which will make them laugh or cry or say ‘wow!’

For example, a new kind of dog lead where the owner doesn’t need to hold it, may make them interested.

A mug of a pit bull with a great design and something very funny or apt also may make them interested.

The thing to remember here, is that it is very hard to sell anything online to any market and if you are not matching up the perfect product with the perfect target audience then you will NOT sell and therefore not make any money.

Niche down your audience until you know they are passionate about something.

Choose a product that WOWs them, else you won’t get them anywhere near your website.

2. Your Credibility

It is likely that your prospect has never heard of you before. When they land on your website they are going to make a very quick decision whether they are going to buy anything from you.

If you don’t make them feel comfortable with making a purchase then they will just leave very quickly.

Make sure that your site looks clean and professional

Make sure that you have https even if you are not taking payments directly

Make sure that you have a well-written product description in short paragraphs

Make sure that you show clear images of what they will be getting

Make sure that you have clear navigation and pages about you, contact, T&Cs etc.

Many people hate Paypal. Make sure that you offer another method of payment also if possible.

This really is the minimum of what you should be doing. You are asking them to give you money. They will not give you money unless they fell that they are actually going to receive the product and that they are not buying from someone who has never sold before.

3. The Conclusion

If you are yet to make your first sale, then the reason is very very likely to be found in one of the reasons above. Once again, it is bloody hard to make any sale online, but unless you have credibility, a passionate market and an amazingly wow product you won’t make any sales at all.

Ask yourself if you would honestly buy your own product.

People will buy from you because they want your product so much that their guard is let down about your credibility and they believe that they will receive your product as described. Don’t let them down!

Common Flippa Scams

…and how to avoid them!

I was Skyping with a friend this morning how he had just been scammed out of over $20k (ouch) on Flippa and thought that I would write a post outlining how some of these scams work and how they can be avoided.

I have been scammed a number of times and even when the money is lower and doesn’t hurt so much, inside it hurts like hell so don’t want you to go through the same thing.

In a sec, I will go through a few specifics on some scams that I have come across, but first want to give some general advice.
1. Do your due diligence

That means going through all of the revenue and traffic stats. Watch out for anything that looks suspicious. Although there are circumstances where it is unavoidable, as much as possible make sure that you view the Google Analytics. If possible ask them to add you as a user to their stats so that you can verify.

Also, try and watch them live log in to their stats to make sure that all is legit.

Do remember though, that nothing is conclusive. URLs can easily be spoofed and faked even if you are looking at them live.

How to do due diligence is a post in itself, but there is plenty of info on the internet and on Flippa itself on what is involved.
2. If you are suspicious, then jump ship

Obviously, if something is too good to be true, then generally it is. But sometimes you just get an inkling that something suspicious is up. If that is the case, then just don’t bid. This can be extremely hard and requires self-discipline, but if everyone practiced this, then most of the scams would not work and you can save yourself a lot of money.

One of the things that I follow, not just in buying sites, but generally is that it is a lot better to not buy something and be disappointed than to buy something and be disappointed. There will ALWAYS be new opportunities.
3. If you are purchasing a site that is monetised by AdSense or something similar ask if you can place your AdSense code on their site for a day. If they are reluctant, then ask to do it during the Escrow protection period. If they disagree then it is likely that something is fishy. You can also ask to place your statcounter code in the same way.

Here are some specific examples. Some which I have been a victim of. Some of which I have heard of others being a victim of. And others that have been so clear from looking at the auction.
1. Google Images Scam

Sometimes you see a site that is getting a lot of traffic in a good niche. In reality though, much of the traffic is coming from Google Images which is almost worthless, but certainly less valuable than normal Google search traffic.

One symptom of this, is if they are NOT monetising their site at all but are selling it on the traffic figures rather than revenue.

It is pretty easy to find out if this is this case by doing two things:

a. Check the statistics to see where the traffic is coming from
b. Do a search on the major positions and see if it is likely, that they are getting that much traffic from those keywords. You can use semrush or google keywords tool to try and get an estimate of how much traffic they should be getting.
2. AdSense Ban Scam

When buying a site which doesn’t currently have AdSense on, make sure that you check that that site or owner has not been banned by AdSense if that is the way that you want to monetise it. There are several online tools which claim to do this, but an easier way is to ask them just to place Adsense code on their site. If they don’t want it on their main site, then they can put it on a non-public page. If they refuse outright, then it is likely that something suspicious is up.

Even if you don’t intend to monetise the site with AdSense, then the resale value will be reduced if you ever do intend to sell it on.
3. Clickbank Gravity Scam

Here is one that is pretty hard to detect. Basically, they are selling a Clickbank site and claim to have a high gravity. You can confirm this gravity by CB Engine or a similar site. However, they may be fraudulently increasing their gravity by using their own different accounts and acting as an affiliate.

(NB. Putting it simply – The way that gravity works is how many unique affiliate accounts are used to sell a product)

When you purchase the site, if they don’t continue their own campaigns and you don’t have access to these campaigns then your sales could dramatically reduce or even stop. What you want is multiple affiliates making sales rather than all coming from the same person.

This is very difficult to detect, although there are a couple of ways that you can investigate it:

a. Do a search on google for the product name and also the product hoplink id and see if there are multiple people selling the product.
b. Ask to have a list of the referring ids and check if they are individual people. For example, if they have their own products and have different whois details etc.
4. AdSense Click Fraud

Here is a really horrible one and is becoming a lot more rampant in the last few months. The way that it works is that the owner hires freelancers in a developing country to click on their AdSense ads. Before Google catches up with them, they list the site with a short revenue history. It’s very difficult to know for sure if this is the case, but there are several things you can look for:

a. Look for a constant history. If the revenue and traffic are fairly constant for about a year or longer then this is a good sign.
b. In statcounter, you can see the exit link activity. Look at the IP addresses of the people who are clicking on the links and check that they are also from US/UK etc. as well as developing countries.
c. Look at the times of day when the majority of the clicks are happening. If they are all happening in Indian hours, but it is a site directed towards a US market then it is likely that something fishy is going on.
d. Look at the traffic logs to see where the traffic is coming from.
e. Look for an unrealistic CTR on the AdSense.

The way that this scam works is that once you purchase the site, the clicking stops and your revenue drastically reduces. In addition, Google can catch up with you and ban YOUR account on suspicion of click fraud.
5. Trademark Scam

This is something that I have been a victim of and is hard to investigate. If you purchase a site which has a trademark in the URL or the site goes against the terms and conditions of another site.

An example may be a site which scrapes twitter etc.

At any time, you can be issued with a DMCA or asked to take the site down or even sued. Generally, you will comply and will have lost the site.

In many cases, the previous owner may have already received a notice and is selling it on before proceedings have been taken. You will basically be left with a duck/turkey.

The only real way to avoid this is not to buy sites which are ‘dodgey’. Or in the case of larger sites which are on the grey side of legal, get the seller to sign a contract saying that they have not been issued with warnings.
6. Search Engine Scam

In many cases, sites will only be getting traffic from the search engines because of a few high power links that they have. If those links are removed, then you will lose the SERPS and ultimately traffic. The scam part comes when those links are from the seller who removes or redirects them once you purchase. Watch out for this also if you are buying a site based on its PR (which can be faked) or traffic that is coming directly from just a few sites.

The way to avoid this is to investigate the links and hope that they are from a number of varied domains and IPs and owners.
7. Shiller Scam

This is basically where one user has several accounts or enlists the help of friends to bid an auction up so that the social proof makes you think that it is more valuable than it actually is. You can’t really detect this, but should try as much as possible to know how to value a site for yourself.

—————

Although there are probably many more, those are the main ones that I come across in the $2k-$30k range where the majority of my purchases are. As I said at the beginning of the post:

1. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
2. If you get a bad feeling, don’t bid. There will always be more opportunities.

Very interested if you could leave in the comments any other scams that you have seen or advice for potential buyers (or sellers).

Would appreciate it also if you could ‘like’ and/or forward this post on.

Keeping it real in an unreal world,

Ben Shaffer

 

[Part 2] – 8 Step blueprint (AdSense)

It’s been a few months since I gave
you one of these, but one has just
come up which is…

So easy
Non-technical
Quick to implement

that I wanted to get it out to you asap.

It’s the kind of thing that you should
put literally an hour aside for and just
implement it and you will see results from
it for months and years to come.

Just reread that paragraph and realized it
sounded a bit hypey – but also oh so true.

I’ll try and keep it short and sweet and
give you just the steps, as there are not
really any gaps to fill in:

1. Go and buy:

http://www.nicheseeds.com

It is a new tool that has just been released
by my friend and WOW expert (yeah really)

Matt Garrett. 

It is a monthly service, but one month
will be enough for your purposes.

One of the main stumbling blocks for a lot

of people is what niche to go after. This
takes away all of the guess work and tells
you:

– the niche
– the keywords
– the domain name to buy

There is a limit of 1,000 places and they
have just passed the 600 mark after less
than 24 hours of it being on the market.

CLUE: The domain name bestdigitalkeyboard.com
is still available. Go and register it before
someone else does 😉

2. Spend around 5 minutes playing with the
tool and choose a niche, set of keywords
and domain. If you are spending more than
5 minutes then you are spending too much
time. The results are there for you to take.

3. Write 250-300 words for each of those
keywords apart from the main keyword where
you should write 500 words.

If you have difficulty writing the articles
then use a tool like:

http://www.thegreatestarticlespinner.com

which currently has a 7 day $7 trial. It’s a tool
that I use and have used daily.

4. Go and buy this WordPress theme:

http://www.adsensectrtheme.com

Over the last few weeks I have swapped out
all of my other themes for this one and
seen massive increases in revenue. It
works incredibly well. So well in fact
that I have just made an offer to buy
the website on Flippa!

5. Buy the domain name you chose earlier
and set it up on some hosting. If you don’t
have hosting, then be in touch at my helpdesk
and if you ask Josh nicely, then he will set
you up with some for free.

6. Set up the theme that you bought in step
4 and upload the articles you wrote in step
3. If that takes more than 10 minutes, then
also be in touch with Josh at the helpdesk
and he will do it for you.

(Have a feeling Josh is going to hit me for
saying that 🙂 )

7. Make sure that all of the articles apart
from the main one have links using the main
keyword coming into the main page. The main
page should ONLY have the main article
showing on it. You can do that by changing
the settings on the control panel.

8. Build some links to the site. If you don’t
have any software or sites that can automate
this for you, then spend about 10-20 dollars
on Odesk or fiverr.com

and that really is it…

Most of the things in life that really work
are simply. You can definitely complicate
the blueprint above by adding in additional
steps.

But if you do follow it, then you will create
a recurring AdSense income for yourself.

I strongly advise you to spend an hour now
and implement it.

If you have 2 hours then implement it twice etc.

It works.

Hope you found the above useful and do take
my advice.

Keeping it real in an unreal world,

Ben Shaffer
Helpdesk: http://www.replytoben.com

PS. Here are the links for your reference:

Niche Reaper:
http://www.nicheseeds.com

The Best Spinner:
http://www.thegreatestarticlespinner.com

High AdSense CTR Theme:
http://www.adsensectrtheme.com

SEO – a new technique?

I wanted to write a post today about an SEO technique which is actually as old as the web itself, but I rarely seen written about or even alluded to.

Although it is undoubtedly something that you do know about, I see so few people actually doing it, that I thought that it could act as a reminder to actually ‘do it’.

In forums and salespages, I always here about the ‘new thing’ which is meant to help you with SEO, but at the end of the day, it does come back to the essentials, which is what this post is really about.

I think that a lot of people don’t really think logically. Do you not think that Google realizes how easy it is to blast out thousands of spammy links on blogs or forums? Or that when you are bookmarking, that is only done for SEO purposes and will (almost) never actually help anyone?

I am not saying, that these links don’t count. What I am saying though is that a proper link is worth many multiples of a manufactured link.

So, here goes…I know it’s basic stuff, but trust me it works. This really is how I have the most success with traditional SEO – but it does take a bit of work.

Step 1 – Choose a keyword (we will use ‘ironing boards’)

Step 2 – Go to google and do a search for that keyword phrase

Ironing Board Search Engine Results

Step 3 –
a. Go through the top 5 sites which are NOT obvious authority sites or sites about a general topic, but are sites about a topic which is highly relevant to your search term.

b. Go over to yahoo.com and type in for each url link:domainname.com
eg. link:betterlifestyleproducts.com

Yahoo Search

c. Click on inlinks

d. Go through each of those links and see if you can get a link from them.
The first one weirdly crashed my browser.
But the second one: http://www.thecherryblossombeauty.com/ has an email address there right at the bottom.
The eight one: http://www.killerstartups.com/Site-Reviews/5581/ has a way where you can submit your site to them to be reviewed
If you through those 27, I can almost guarantee that you will get some really high quality links

Step 4.
In the search from Step 2, go through the top 100 and see which of those sites you can get a link on.

Step 5.
Send an email to all of those potential link partners. I generally keep it ‘non-spammy’ and personal.

For example:
—————————–
Hi,

My name is Ben Shaffer and I am the owner of Killer Ironing Boards.

I came across your page at:

http://www.domainname.com/directory/page.html

and enjoyed your information about ironing covers.

I wondered if there was a possibility of putting a link to my site at:

http://ikillerironingboards.com

as I am sure that your visitors would find it interesting to find out about
the actual ironing boards if they are look for information about ironing
boards [ed. or whatever]

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance.

Best Wishes,

Ben Shaffer
—————————–

Is it sexy? No
Is it salesy? No

Is it personal and personal? aha
Does it work? Yup

So, what’s my point?

I am not Google, but through my own SEO efforts, I have found again and again that building up highly relevant links one by one is far more effective than using spammy or automated or artificial techniques.

And one of the great things about it, is that it DOES take time so most other people will NOT be doing it.

Back to basics, or a waste of time?

Would love to hear your SEO tips below.

Keeping it real in an unreal world,

Ben Shaffer

A step by step guide on step by step guides

I love step-by-step guides, especially if they lead to a method in making money.

I have known Colin Evans for…well years as he is a subscriber of mine and me of his.

He just gave a case-study where although the numbers are quite low, shows that you can create 60% of the profits he did without having one person on your list…

Go and see what I meant at:

http://colin-evans.com/my-views-on-internet-marketing/case-study-selling-a-simple-step-by-step-guide.php