Online Relationships are Important

Online Relationships

Online Relationships

Online Relationships are Important

Think about some of the brands, bloggers and public figures you love the most…
chances are that you have some sort of connection with them, whether that
means getting to know the people personally, or sharing a core belief with them. These online relationships are important.

When businesses create a connection with their audience, they set themselves up
for loyalty that can last for years. Even better than that, a real connection means
that their customers will turn into raving fans who happily share their website and
product recommendations with others!

I am a big fan of a number of marketers and bloggers and follow them, support them and buy their products. I love to mention them on social media and in blog posts because they are ethical and offer great insight into building a business online.

If you have your own online blog or business there are a number of specific ways
available to you to connect with your audience, from email to your blog and social media.

How Much Do You Have to Put Yourself Out There?

Building a relationship with your readers means you have to be more than just a
sterile block of text on a website. You have to be human. So that one realization
strikes fear in the hearts of many marketers just starting out online. I know it did for me!

Reasons Why People Want to Stay Behind the Scenes

Some people make an awful lot of assumptions about their target audience. They
have a negative self-talk that goes like this:

“Nobody cares what I have to say…”
“They’ll think I’m stupid…”
“I’m not (pretty, handsome, young) enough to put myself out there…”

You’re making assumptions about the reactions that your audience will have –
and you’re insulting them as if they’re shallow people, too. Stop it!

Whenever someone comes online to learn or find solutions, they’re not caring
whether you’re young and beautiful or have a PhD in the topic. They just want
help, pure and simple. And that’s the truth, thank goodness! I am happy to learn from someone new and young or older like myself.

Regardless of whether you think you’re boring or not good enough, someone out
there will believe you are. Lets be honest…there are people you don’t get, or like, or want to learn from and that’s OK. But others will love your style.

You have to have faith in your audience that you’re going to attract those who are
appreciative of your style. Not everyone wants to follow the flashy guru who slaps
pictures up on his site of his new sports car, his house at the beach, and who uses
surfer speak at the age of 40. UGH!

Some people might want a soft-spoken, caring individual who conveys
information about the niche to them in a way they can relate to. All of the
superficial elements you’re so scared of are all in your head. Others will like a straight shooting kind of personality that motivates them with a kick in the rear. Be yourself. { Continue reading…}

Amazon Affiliates Program Changes

Beginning on March 1,2017 changes are being made to the Amazon Affiliate Program. The biggest change is they have eliminated the “sell more make more” higher payout fees. Whether you sell one or hundreds of an item as an affiliate the fee rate stays the same. Yikes!

The old fee structure looked like this:Amazon Affiliate Rate Chart

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see in the chart above, in the old structure, expiring March 1st, your commission rate rose based on an increase in the volume of sales.

In the new fee structure your fee rate will be based on the category of the item sold. See the new schedule below.

Amazon Fee Chart 2017 { Continue reading…}

New Access to Amazon Associates Program

Amazon Associates Program

amazon associates programOne of my business models is building niche sites and I am an affiliate for the Amazon Associates Program. This means when I recommend products I use and love that are available on Amazon I get a commission from Amazon when people buy items through my links. This doesn’t cost the consumer anything extra.

For the past few years quite a few states in the US couldn’t participate in the program because they wanted Amazon to collect the sales tax when customers bought things on their site and Amazon wasn’t cooperating.

My state, California, pulled out of the program a few years ago, which meant I couldn’t participate in the Amazon associates Program and suggest items for my customers to buy. Fortunately, this only lasted a few months before California and Amazon came to an agreement where they would charge the sales tax. { Continue reading…}

Quit Killing Your Dreams

Quit Killing Your DreamsQuit Killing Your Dreams

If you are the kind of person who has goals, ambitions, and big ideas for your life, then quit killing your dreams. You know that taking risks is an essential component of success.

Leo Buscaglia said, “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Pretty strong words!

Risk is a natural part of life and the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. I am not talking about something foolish but taking a calculated risk with some research behind it.

You don’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, you take the jump with proper training and a chute. Scary? Yes! But for those who do it, like George H. W. Bush on his 90th birthday, you can bet it was worth it. He did a tandem skydive out of a helicopter.

What’s the Problem?

Here is the dilemma. When it comes to risk, many people tend to “what if” themselves out of any and every positive idea that might move them in the direction of their goals. What I mean by “what if” themselves is that they imagine all kinds of disaster scenarios that may or may not occur should they take what appears to be a risky action.

When I share with others how I started a business online some people are supportive, inquisitive and admiring. Others say they wish they were as brave or bold and wish they could follow their dreams instead of staying stuck where they are.

When I ask them what is stopping them from taking that leap they quickly respond with “what if” disaster scenarios….

  • “What if I don’t earn enough to pay my bills?”
  • “What if I lose my initial investment?”
  • “What if I choose the wrong business?”
  • “What if I fail, what will everyone think of me?”

What’s the Solution?

Now I agree these are valid concerns but focusing only on everything negative that may or may not happen is the wrong approach. I tell them, “Quit killing your dreams! You need to get some perspective here and think of the positives too of pursing your dream business.”

Focusing only on negative scenarios that haven’t even taken place yet is a mindset issue. The only difference between their mindset and my own was that I was using my imagination to think of all the positive potential outcomes and weighing the risk in my favor. I was TRUSTING in my inevitable success.

There is inherent risk with every single action you take in life but we don’t let that stop us from driving to work, going on a walk or eating a meal. Yes, you could get in a car accident, get mugged, or choke on your food. But you TRUST that won’t happen. You take necessary precautions…car maintenance, stay out of dark woods, or eat slowly. But you don’t let that stop you.

Well, the exact same kind of thinking is REQUIRED by the person who wants to pursue a big life goal and take action on the risky steps required to reach that goal. Could you lose money, make some mistakes, feel like a failure at times. YES! So what. It’s happened to me. It isn’t the end of the world. It’s exciting living and the only way to fulfill your dreams.

If you are ready, willing and COMMITTED to achieving great things for your life, then you need to change your “what if” questions from negative to positive and quit killing your dreams.

Ask instead:

  • “What if I make it?”
  • “What if I overcome my fears?”
  • “What if I live my life to the fullest?”

Use your imagination to picture your life from that perspective and boldly walk in the direction of your dream!

Do you ever catch yourself with too many negative “what if” questions?

Special Peek Tour of Amazon

How Selling On Amazon Works from the Inside

How selling on amazon worksMany people are curious how selling on Amazon works. I sell on Amazon using both Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and their merchant fulfilled (MF) process. A seller who uses MF finds a great product to sell, lists it on Amazon, and when it sells Amazon notifies you, the seller, and you ship the item yourself. When a seller uses FBA, you find great products to sell, list on Amazon and then ship the items directly to Amazon to let them do all the fulfillment… packing, shipping to the customer, and handling any returns. These are just the bare bones basics and it is a great business model I love.

Let’s Take A Peek Inside

Since I am an FBA seller I have always wanted to take a peek inside one of the warehouse/distribution centers and see how selling on Amazon works from the inside. Last week I had the opportunity to take a 2 hour tour of the Amazon facility in San Bernardino, Ca. The tour had been set up almost a year ago by a member of an Amazon group of sellers I belong to.

There were a few restrictions such as we were required to wear flat, closed toe shoes, pull our long hair back and carry few items. I am generally a flip flop kind of gal, especially in 100+ degree heat, but I happily complied. No pictures were allowed once we were ushered through the gates. They gave us headphones, a recording device to hear the tour guide over the noise, an orange Amazon bracelet and a water bottle. All the essentials for the tour. AZ Bracelet

The facility is huge! 20 plus size football fields to be exact! Over 8 miles of conveyor belts your products travel on and the final belt to get the product to shipping goes 25 miles per hour. There were shelves stacked 7 rows high and pallets of products in a different section. It was so interesting to see their innovative technologies and all the processes from receiving, storing, packing and shipping. Amazon has a very organized facility and the workers wear different colored vests depending on the area they work in. 18 million different products are stored here.

Impressive Processes

The packing and labeling processes are so efficient. Employees stand at stations wearing gloves and when the customer product ordered arrives on a conveyor belt the computer tells them exactly what size box to use and they have pre-cut tape, all ready to seal the package with. They never even see who bought the item. The belt sends the package past a machine that blows on the shipping label. The machines are so sensitive that they can tell if the weight is inaccurate based on what the contents are suppose to be.

Our guide shared a story of how a particular CD that was repeatedly sold and packaged failed to get beyond the weight check point every time. Turned out the CD’s were not in the cases, a manufacturers problem. That’s great for us sellers as they didn’t ship the items and disappoint the customers. Of course with the volume of sales they do at this one facility, about 500 orders per minute, you can see how problems occur occasionally. As a seller on Amazon it was great to see things from their perspective.

This particular Amazon facility has 2500 employees and when they provide pizza for them as a perk on a special day they buy 750 pizzas! During the holiday season they can have upwards of 7000 employees to process orders to their customers. Seeing how selling on Amazon works from the inside was an eye opener.

Amazon’s #1 core value is Customer Obsession. It’s all about the customer and delivering great products in an efficient, fast fashion. As a Amazon seller that does merchant fulfilled too I know how time consuming that can be. Their systems and machines were impressive.

What Does This Mean For You

If you want to learn how selling on Amazon works from a sellers perspective, and would like to earn extra income or turn it into a business, I highly recommend starting with a course by The Selling Family. Check out their resources to learn more. I have several of their courses and they have really helped me refine my processes.

I was so impressed with Amazon’s facilities and opportunities I will be sharing more in the coming days . Stay tuned. 🙂

 

Penny Saver Is Back

Penny Saver Is BackPenny Saver is Back

Part of my business of selling on Amazon is garage saling and the Penny Saver is back! This weekly circular was one of my favorite resources to find great garage sales.

The Penny Saver came out every week and was delivered to my mail box on Wednesdays so I had plenty of time to plan for my weekend garage saling. I could later easily file the circular with all the addresses circled that I went to and then calculate my mileage for my log as a business expense.

The Penny Saver closed their doors in California in May of 2015 and laid off over 700 employees. One day they were here. The next day gone. No notice. In fact my community was having a garage sale last May and the circular never arrived.

Amazing Story

The great story in all of this is that a former employee contacted others and sought out investors to bring the Penny Saver back. They licensed the rights to the name, logo and website. You can read all about it here.

Never think that one person can’t make a difference and get the ball rolling to create massive change. This is a great win for employees who lost their jobs, advertisers and readers like me. Not only did I use the circular to find garage sales but I also used it to sell items of my own and run my own garage sales. I even found my terrific house cleaner in the listings…a great way to outsource a job I didn’t like so I could focus more on my business.

Application

It is exciting to see something reborn with determination, heart and hard work. All great principles to apply in our own businesses.

Hurdles come along. Expect it. But it is how you handle them, the path you choose, and where you want to end up.

For me, I’m happy to get the Penny Saver back to use in my garage saling.

What are some of your favorite resources to use in your Amazon business?

A Purpose Driven Business

Purpose Driven BusinessA Purpose Driven Business

Today is Mother’s Day and I am so thankful for my mom and the other wonderful women in my life. Sitting with my husband and son and his girlfriend and texting with my daughter who doesn’t live near me got me thinking about my business…a purpose driven business.

Why I do what I do. It isn’t just for the money, although that is nice. And yes, I like a lifestyle business, one I design. But I have to remember the “life” part of lifestyle. My husband and kids and extended family and those I want to help are my big Why. They are my life. They give me a purpose driven business.

Anytime I fall behind or get overwhelmed with the size of my to-do list I think of them. Don’t feel like boxing and shipping items to Amazon…I think of my purpose. Don’t feel like watching the videos to help me tweak my niche sites…I think of them. Do I always follow through? No. But I am getting better.

Treat Your Business Like a Mom Would

Today I received sweet cards, flowers, emails and Facebook posts. I bet you did too even if you are not a mom from people who care about you and see you as a role model. Even dads who take on the parenting role of both mom and dad. Doesn’t that inspire you to be even better? To be a role model in other areas too. { Continue reading…}

Reassess Your Life and Business

Time to Reassess Life and BusinessReassess Your Life and Business

The first quarter of the year is over, spring is here, and it is a perfect time to reassess your life and business. This is something I try to do at the start of every quarter as I evaluate if I am on track with my personal and business goals.

I don’t know about you but it is easy for me to let clutter in my work area pile up and my backlog of “things to do” get overwhelming. Even things I shouldn’t be doing.

Sometimes I just need to take a step back, draw a deep breath, and push the reset button.

I came across this old quote from Erma Bombeck. She was an American humorist who wrote many books and funny newspaper columns about life as a mother and housewife from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.

One of her most well know quotes is worth sharing. It’s been said she wrote the following piece when she was dying of cancer but that isn’t true. She wrote “If I Had My Life to Live Over” at the age of 52 and lived another 17 years.

My guess is she wrote this to inspire us to reassess life and business and find ways to bring more joy and satisfaction in life. Even though some of the references are dated…and I am old enough to get most of them…Yikes!… it is easy to think of applications in your own life. Especially read the last couple of lines. So encouraging! { Continue reading…}

Merch by Amazon

Merch by AmazonMerch by Amazon’s New Exciting Opportunity

Amazon is always changing and growing and one of their newest services is Merch by Amazon. It is a self service program where you design T-shirts and then Amazon produces them, sells and ships them to their customers. This can be an amazing new opportunity for you to grow your business whether it is an online business of yours or you help offline clients. See their quick video intro here.

Why was it created?

The program, started about a month ago, was originally geared towards app and game developers. Amazon owns Twitch, a live streaming video platform, that primarily focuses on video gaming. Merch by Amazon has become another way for game developers to monetize their efforts by creating T-shirts of their characters or favorite slogans for raving fans. My son is creating game apps and that is why this caught my attention. Read on to see how this can help you even if you don’t develop games or apps.

Who can use the service?

The good news is anyone can use the service and design T-shirts that can sell with Amazon doing most of the work. You just need an Amazon buyers account to get started. Currently there are no minimums on how many you have to sell. It is free to set up an account and get started at once. For every shirt that sells you receive a royalty that depends on the pricing you set and how many actually sell. Amazon also charges fees and you cannot sell a shirt at a loss. The sweet spot seems to be around $12.99 to $25. You can even sell a shirt for $9.99 and still make a small profit.

If you have ever tried to sell T-shirts as another stream of income you know how expensive it is to stock different sizes and colors and second guess what you think will sell. You won’t have any of these issues with Merch by Amazon. All you do is upload your design and let Amazon take over from there. There are other similar print on demand services like Cafe Press and Teespring and it is my guess Amazon will successfully grab a huge piece of this market. Some of these platforms require a minimum of sales before they will print the shirts. With Amazon’s service you don’t have this issue.

If you are graphically challenged like I am you can start with simple designs, outsource the work on a source like Fiverr or partner with someone who has design skills.

One of the things I love about this service is it is a quick way to add a passive income stream to your bottom line or sell your services of setting up accounts for local businesses or non profits looking for a way to raise funds.

I will be researching and diving into this new service even more in the next few weeks and will keep you posted on my results. My head is already spinning with ideas!

Have you tried out this new service yet? Do you see the potential of it in your business? Let me know below what you think.

 

Life is a Daring Adventure

Life Is a Daring Adventure

The title to my post is inspired by this quote by Helen Keller. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” If there was ever a person with multiple challenges and yet lived a life of purpose and passion it is Helen Keller.

I have this quotation on a coaster I use every day. It really is a great reminder to view life as a daring adventure and embrace all the professional and personal challenges that get thrown your way. Whether it is my computer getting stuck for over two hours today, trying to update Windows 7, or the last 6 weeks of health issues my husband is dealing with, life sometimes feels like a roller coaster ride.

The key though is to have the right attitude and refuse to give up. I like this poem and it sits on a bookcase by my desk. { Continue reading…}