You might only have one chance to make the right not write impression.


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Review of Multi-Level Marketing

I have fallen for multi-level opportunities many times over the course of my life for one major reason: the promise to make money without having much to do!
A mother who is already busy caring for her children but needs extra money, a student who is overwhelmed with taking classes but is seeking ways to make extra cash, and someone unemployed who isn’t quite ready to return to the rat race but isn’t busy enough not to make money will all fall into multi-level marketing traps at some point in their lives!
I remember thinking that if I could just help yet another company that the fruits of my labor would be residual. Meaning that I would receive commission checks for the rest of my natural life! The first problem with this money making opportunity was found in the fine print. The more I read, the more I learned that I would have to pay into the company with my own money to make some money!

At first it seemed easy enough, buy products I already use, become familiar with the company’s product line before I tried to sell it, and create a marketing campaign. Yet, I thought that it was kind of unfair that I had to purchase products from them since they needed my help to promote their products.
In the 9 to 5 world, if a company wants your services they are not going to tell you to give them a fee before you work with them. I thought that I should have got something for free if they wanted me to tap into my contact list which was primarily made up of family and friends. However, the independent associates, marketers, whatever you would like to call them, claim they were giving me something free already, online business advice.

There wasn’t anyone coming to my home, all I had to do was log into a site that would answer my questions on how to effectively market their products. So that is what I did. Once I reviewed the products and seen what techniques I would use to market them, which seemed easy enough, I was ready to begin. However, I couldn’t get pass the discomfort I felt that I would have to register to buy a company product each month in order to be entitled to any commissions I would receive from the person I would recruit to my down line. Not to mention, in order to keep my title, I had to keep something I had in mind to purchase on file each month. Other multi-level businesses will use a monthly membership or tell you to get customers to purchase from your site so that you don’t have to buy.

So there I was, just like I did with affiliate marketing, posting my links everywhere I could, within policy of course, to get someone to join. I refused to buy advertising and found every way to share with the public my efforts for free.

At first the results were going well until I realized that the people who registered were not buying anything. They too wanted to collect a commission check without doing much too! However, the top level executives said that it was up to us to encourage new recruits to buy products each month like we did in order to be eligible to get commission checks.
When I got my first check of $21 in commissions, I was disappointed because I spent more than that to purchase products just to get my executive level position. I quickly learned that I would not be keeping any purchase on my account so that they could automatically bill me, because that is what they were doing and at times I would forget and have to scramble to put money in my bank account to keep from having insufficient funds! By doing that, I was changing my status and position in the up line; therefore, affecting the amount of money I could get from commissions.

I finally got a check many months later for a commission less than $10. I didn’t buy one single thing and only promoted my links and I still got something out of it. However, mind you it was months later and the money wasn’t enough for a decent meal at a local restaurant! I also noticed that those that seemed to be doing well were investing a lot of their own personal money to make it happen! They were using gas and hotel money to attend offline events and paying for various advertising methods. They were getting copies of fliers made. They were hosting elaborate events to get others to join. They were also putting their reputations on the line as well by exaggerating personal stories to gain sympathy. Stories like not having rent money and then someone coming along and getting them to join the business were frequently told.
I also found that when I will feel like no one was really answering my questions about the business, someone would be appointed to me that was about my age, race, and gender with a similar life experience offering me something free or taking time out with me to do something nice. Can I tell you that if someone does something great for you in a multi-level business it will obligate you to do something for them in return? I also noticed that when I did well I had many friends and when I didn’t do well I didn’t hear from them. I found that many relationships between family members and friends were strained because people just didn’t want these multi-level marketers coming around them asking them for just one more product to purchase or even worse to join the business with a so-called minimal investment.

Do I recommend anyone join a multi-level business? I would say no. I don’t like the pressure that the more popular ones put on the sales representatives not so much to get people to buy products but to get them to join! I also don’t like the fine print that is sprinkled here there on websites and on pamphlets and by the time they have your credit card number they have already made more profit from a few sales then you will make in months trying to obtain commissions. I am angered at the secrecy that goes on amongst the top level sales people yet we are all supposed to be a part of a team but they won’t share enough with you to help you help them or are you really helping them if you become their equal or beyond?

Multi-level marketing businesses often use techniques similar to that of churches to pull on your emotions to get you to donate! They want you to feel good about giving money you know that you don’t have! If you allow yourself to be rubbed on the back, pulled into meetings, and eventually left alone with your disgruntled family and friends looking at you, then you have no one to blame but yourself!

Nicholl McGuire

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Surf for the Best Deal Online for Your Money

Birthdays and other special holidays are known for arriving during a time when one has very little extra cash to spend! Therefore, a shopper must be smart and know how to use the Internet to the fullest to get a great deal on a quality present. So what do Internet bargain shoppers know that others don’t? They know how to research! Here are some tips on getting the best deals!

First, get a pencil and a notepad ready to mark down any deals you may find during your search and where you found them. It is very easy to lose track of how much something costs and where you found it. When you type in the keyword for the item you are in search of in the main search engines add other words like “+ free shipping” and other specific keywords that will help you find what you need faster. You can add pricing information, buy one get one free, and other keywords that are usually associated with the product you have in mind.

Next, think of programs you already belong and check for discounts/coupons on their sites first. When you shop sometimes you are asked if you would like to join a special program hosted by the store. You accept and when it’s time to shop for that special gift, you forget about your memberships. One of the first things you should do is check those sites for specials discounts on the items you are seeking. Once you see some of the sales, you may change the item you had in mind to buy, for one similar that could be less expensive.

Third, check online auction sites and Amazon. There are many small businesses selling items dollars cheaper than the bigger stores. If you don’t mind, shopping with private sellers, try one of their sites.

Fourth, visit popular sites known for their deep discounts. Some of the most widely known names tend to have good quality merchandise at affordable prices. Stores like Walmart, Kmart, JcPenny, and Sears just to name a few. When you visit these sites type “clearance” in the search to see what items have been marked down.

Fifth, check local store websites. You may have stores right in your hometown you haven’t thought about and didn’t bother to check their websites either. Sometimes you will find that the store has a better deal online then if you walked into the store. If this is the case, you can print the item out from the Internet and if it is in the store, you most likely will get it for the same price you saw on the Internet.

Sixth, visit comparison shopping sites. Some of these sites will provide you with a variety of store locations for the single item you choose. This is a simple way to see who has the best price for what you are looking for. However, don’t solely rely on these sites, because it is impossible to list every single store in their databases that have the best deal.

Seventh, there are specialty shops that have discounts on shipping and handling or offer free shipping like the larger stores if you spend a certain amount of money. Sometimes they will offer some unbelievable deals because they aren’t as popular as the others. These companies use these special promotions to get people to visit their websites and make a purchase.

After you have done all seven of these things, you should have a good idea of what you are willing to spend, whether or not you will have to pay for shipping, and if you might want to be included on their mailing list in the future. Be sure that the website that you choose has an excellent return policy, has a phone number and email you can contact, and doesn’t have any other programs they may happen to sign you up for when you give them your credit card information. If you notice, many pop-up windows offering you to make other purchases be careful because some of those offers could be the kind that keep taking monthly from your credit card or bank. If you are unsure about any site, place a phone order.

By Nicholl McGuire

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Experience Meeting Men Online

I signed up for an online dating site for singles during a free trial period back in 2005 (since then I settled with one guy from back then.) I wasn’t desperate. I just wanted to try something different, because I had met men in traditional ways that most single women do such as: while walking down the street, through a mutual friend, attending a class, and at a family event. After spending about 30 minutes answering questions about everything from my preference in a man to what I like to do for fun, I had to create a small sales pitch as to why a man would be interested in me and upload my photo. When it was all said and done I had spent nearly two hours online just doing that then another couple of hours looking at page after page of single men. What I didn’t know is that every time I clicked on a man’s profile page my clicks were being tracked. The next day I received so many requests to chat live that I had to turn my speakers off because of all of the beeping!

There were Hispanic men, white men, black men, married men, and God only knows what other races of men flirting with me. “Hey sweetie! Hi beautiful! You are gorgeous!” One married man told me that I was going to make him divorce his wife! So I had to sift through all of the smooth talk and settle on a few men to chat. The Hispanic guy was a college educated guy with eyes to die for! The Middle Eastern guy seemed to be open minded, wanted me to know he loved America, but had no photo uploaded. The white guy told me candidly after a few conversations that he was interested in a sexual relationship and that he would even pay me if only he could do ABC and XYZ to me. I was so disappointed in him, because he only reinforced a known stereotype of why some white men will date black women. What’s funny was we had more in common than the others, but I had to politely tell him we couldn’t chat anymore. I was too offended beyond words.

So I continued to chat with the Hispanic guy who I later found out was from San Diego which was perfect since I was living in San Diego at the time. The Middle Eastern guy was also in San Diego as well. But as we chatted more, I found out that he wasn’t middle eastern he was jewish and from Israel. I asked him to send me some recent photographs.  But he seemed apprehensive about my request.  Then finally he said, "Okay." like he really didn't want to do it.  When he did, I was blown away! He was much older than me; in fact he could pass for my dad!  No wonder he didn't want to send the photos and kept insisting I meet him in person!  I was also sickened to see that the woman he was posing with was his daughter and she was about my age! He followed up with me after he sent the photos and asked me, “So what do you think?” What was I going to say, “You are an old, balding guy who could pass for my dad?” Of course, I didn’t say that, but I was thinking it. Instead, I told him, “They were nice.” He said, “You didn’t like them did you?” I said, “It wasn’t that, but I don’t think you’re my type.” That was the truth they were nice. He had sent photos from when he was in his daughter’s wedding. He would probably be a perfect catch for a woman his own age 40 plus. He became angry. “Well I was your type before you saw the photos.” I responded politely, “Yes, but I have to feel attracted to you.” He became quiet and digressed about the subject, started talking about his business, a print shop that he owned in an astute part of San Diego, and then we were off the phone. I never called him again and neither did he call me. I felt that maybe he thought he was a perfect catch for some money-grubbing young woman, but he had me confused – I’m not that kind of woman!

So the Hispanic guy was the last one standing and I had focused all my attention on him for about two weeks and we were actually having a one of a kind connection. I really thought that one day I could marry this guy – I mean he was just that good! He was articulate, intelligent, funny, and seemed to be doing well for himself while attending college. He was young like I was at the time (he was in his late 20s. I was in my early 30s.) His photos were nice. He had a slightly tanned skin tone like that of a Caucasian with blue eyes. However, I later learned something that his photographs didn’t reveal after meeting him in person. He was very careful to cover the weird shaped head under the baseball hat that was in those photographs. He was also very good about keeping his mouth closed and smiling, because some of his teeth had small gaps in between them (more noticeable than normal.) Lastly, he remained seated in many of his shots which made it hard to determine his height and also hid the size of his belly. I admit I had fallen head over heels in “lust” with his personality and when I saw him in person, the physical attraction just wasn’t there. Yet, the attraction that I had for his intelligence was off the chart! As I learned a little more about him while being in his presence, I realized that I had created a fantasy inside my head that just wasn’t there when I looked into those beautiful eyes. After many years of being on the Internet, I realized at that very moment with him that internet dating is not to be taken lightly. It was obvious he liked me in fact he direct about wanted to have sex with me, but I noticed in his mannerisms that he may have been thinking, “She isn’t my type. Nice girl, but not my type.” I also made a mistake during this date, by agreeing to intimacy with him, then changing my mind, meanwhile putting him and me in a potentially violent situation. I said no, he said yes and one of us was going to be in some serious trouble if we kept on in our mess. I made the choice to carry the burden. After the meeting in person, we no longer contacted one another. This is why I strongly warn young women to not put themselves in a position where you feel you have to say yes. We are saying yes to rape, drugs, alcohol, and anything else when we are in a vehicle with a man alone out of site from the public, at his home, or in a hotel room. Then when we realize we made a mistake, we cry, “Rape.” and then it may be too late. You will either give in to his demands or walk out without an outward scar (but mental and spiritual wounds) for the public to see or fight, get the authorities’ involved, and go through a plethora of emotions. Those are your options. No doesn’t start while the act is going on, it starts before you go with him by yourself away from the eyes of the public.

I eventually did find a guy on the Internet that became the father of two of my children, but can I tell you that if you think that meeting a guy on the Internet is better than meeting a guy initially in person, I will have to disagree. Because if attraction is one of the things that is high on your list of interests when dating men, then you will find yourself very disappointed almost angry at yourself for wasting time. People who aren’t interested in attraction, that physical chemistry between two people, will probably have no problem mentally dating first and then settling even though they know the guy or girl would have never been their pick in person. For them it would be easy to settle since attraction isn’t high on their list and they are already in love with them mentally. However, for me I need the whole package or nothing at all. When the man who became my children’s father, arrived at my door step, there was a white aura around him that I was able to see from a spiritual sense. He had stimulated me not only mentally like the example I used earlier, but he had also stirred my loins! He was actually better looking in person than in some of the photographs he sent me. He told me the same thing when he had met me. At the time I needed someone who I could connect with spiritually and who had an unforgettable personality. I prayed for the kind of man who would make any strong, feminist type of woman, like myself, fall to her knees and say, “What will you have me to do for you?” The kind of man who would love his wife so much that she couldn’t help but be submissive to him, to me, that is a good man!

I encourage anyone who has done everything else but Internet date to try it at least once. You could save yourself and the people interested in you some time and money if you are honest! If you have one child or many children by different partners, say so. If you are unemployed, been in jail, or something else, why not state the obvious. You would be surprised at how many men and women who will turn a blind eye to your past when you take the time to briefly explain and then follow up with how you changed. I will admit that I have been very honest in my past profile and I the conversations I have had with the opposite sex to the point that some of my family and friends told me, “Don’t say that! Why would you tell him that?” I believe that honest is the best policy. As much as we are tempted to think we can control how a person feels about us, the truth is we may get away with it for a little bit, but eventually they will find out and reach a conclusion whether or not they want to be with us anyway. So why not get on the right track from the beginning when you seek your potential wife or wait for your potential husband?

Nicholl McGuire

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thinking About Marketing a Business Using Social Networking?

Some people have bragged about how much money they received and how many prospects they signed up for their business opportunities as a result of marketing on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Black Planet. Yet, what they don’t tell you is the specific details of the plan they used to get them. They avoid telling you this because they hope to sell what they know in a future Ebook or don’t want you to compete with them. The truth is it all depends upon two things: the product you are selling and how you market them.
As we all know, some products just don’t do well on social networking sites. They may cost too much or be too cumbersome to obtain. The website may be a headache to visit due to bad video, music, slow uploads, error codes, and long forms to fill out. Sometimes sellers are terrible marketers and do the following to lose a potential sale such as: bombard friends’ sites with lots of ads, ask for friendship without bothering to compliment someone’s site, avoid starting a relationship with their potential customer, don’t support other sellers, and won’t respond to emails when they are contacted.

Trying to sell your own products can be a problem especially if others are trying to do the same. The social networking sites’ owners know this and will disable your links if you are an affiliate marketer or put up warnings of possible viruses to dissuade people from visiting your site. The owners know that if they allow marketer’s links all over the place on their pages, visitors won’t stay at their site very long before they are clicking off the site onto other marketers' sites. They also hope that visitors will click on their Google ads so that the revenue stays on their website.

If a marketer wants to be seen by others, everyday they will have to log in, make contact with their network, post blog entries, visit forums, or do other things to get noticed. They usually have software to help them add friends or other clever ways to save time obtaining friendship manually. Sometimes using friend adder software can backfire! Often getting a marketer kicked off a social networking site.

There are people on social networking sites looking for legitimate friendships but when too many people are marketing their wares to them, they can get angry and report marketers to the website watchdogs. Sometimes other marketers may be jealous of an individual’s large network and report him or her in spite.

The more contact you make with those in your network the better! A friendly “how are you” email helps. A link of your website in your forum signature is great. Speaking of forums, they can get tricky if a business owner is not posting relevant information. Also, if the watchdogs see too many postings they have a way of slowing you down by sending a warning email, commenting on your posts by making spam accusations, or sudden errors come up in the midst of all your posting. There are marketers who also use software to post to forums as well.

Classifed ads can be helpful for marketing, but once again depending on the product a business owner is selling it can be useless; since many people visiting the site are more interested in socializing then checking the classified ads. Most people will still visit a major newspaper or a related website based on their need for the things they want.

Marketing a business on a social networking site is a great learning experience, but can be a big time waster if a marketer isn’t seeing any results after following the advice of the experts. When you see that the free ways to promote your business, such as clicking on everyone’s profile page and sending them an email about your product is not working, like door-to-door selling keep it moving or try another method to market your business.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Review of Affiliate Marketing

Like you, I was in search of ways to make extra money using my computer. One day I came across a site that offered numerous eBooks and software that could not only be purchased, but also buyers had opportunities to market the products for a commission. It seemed easy enough and so I began my quest to find out ways I could market these products to others. From posting links to my personal web pages to sending emails to my contact list, I was determined to make some extra cash. However, along the way I experienced various problems and so that is why I felt the need to let others who may also be thinking about doing the same thing aware.

The first problem I encountered is outdated information. Some of these sites that provided ways to market affiliate products had not been updated in years! So I spent more time than I should of trying to put to work techniques that no longer worked! I can tell you that many websites will not accept an affiliate marketer’s links such as: some of the major auction sites, blog sites, and social networking sites. Some of the paid classified sites will not allow you to post your Url link in the description space and will charge you extra money to include it as a separate link. Because I didn’t know that initially, I would copy the links to affiliate products with my id information exposed for the world to see and post them everywhere (which was another problem by itself.) At times I received email from the watchdogs at some sites requesting that I take down my links. In addition, I didn’t realize my id information could be compromised and that those more knowledgeable about the system could steal my hard earned sales from me. Once I found out that this could be possible, I began seeking information on how to cloak my links.

The next problem I experienced dealt with trying to get more people to see my links and hopefully click on them. What I didn’t realize is that sometimes without notice the owner of the product or the affiliate marketing company could make my link ineffective, drop my information from the database, or some other problem knocking myself and others out of opportunities to make money! After spending weeks of posting links, I found this out the hard way. I was dropped from a database without explanation. As far as I knew I wasn’t in any violation of any policies (once I learned the correct way to market my links – always read the company’s policies before you start marketing products) with the affiliate marketing company, so I began to search to see if anyone else had a similar experience. It turned out that others did! Without notice, their links were redirecting without their id showing up for commission credit. Some affiliate marketing companies may drop a marketer for a number of reasons from not making any sales within a certain period of time to a client relationship ending and everyone affiliated with the business being dropped from the database.

Another problem I found with this business of affiliate marketing was the wages. It seems impressive when you see how high the commissions can be when you join the business; however if you don’t research the product thoroughly that you will be marketing, you may also discover a lot of requests for refunds. I usually went to sites that post rip off products and visited forums to find out what buyers are really saying about the products. It is best to check more than one because some of the business owners or other affiliates will act as if they are buyers boasting on their own products in some of these forums to generate more sales.

After spending money on many “how to” products to help me with my marketing efforts, I found that many of them were saying the same thing only in different ways. Over and over again Google Adwords and other pay per click sites were mentioned. So I thought that by using search marketing I could also increase my revenue instead what I found was I spent more than what I got back in commission so needless to say my time using this technique was short-lived. What many of these books fail to tell you is that you need an extensive marketing budget to promote affiliate marketing products in this way to make the big bucks! Better yet, creating your own product increases one’s chances to make a decent living! Another technique many marketers use is article marketing. Basically they write an article about the product and post their link at the end of it hoping the buyer will click on it and purchase the product. From personal experience, I can tell you that many readers click, but many don’t buy especially when these very lengthy sales letters can be a curse at times, rather than a blessing! Some of them reveal so much that by the end of the sales letter, a buyer pretty much has their question answered and will find further information on the subject for free.

What I found at times when I read these sales letters is that the owner would prioritize asking for the name of the person and the email address which distracted the potential buyer from clicking on the sales link. Now that was a problem for me, because I am trying to make a sale not help the owner collect names and email addresses! But that was exactly what I was doing! You see, the owner already has the contact name and can send them a follow up email with a link anytime he or she wants without crediting me with commission!

In conclusion, I found my experience with selling digital products wasn’t as fulfilling as other marketers bragged about it in their books. However, I would never say don’t try it; just don’t lose your mind when you make that first $100 and think, “I can quit my day job!” Because the truth of the matter is it’s going to take hundreds and hundreds of man (or woman) hours to do that as well as the creation of your own product coupled with a few online seminars priced between a few hundred to a thousand dollars per person, a membership program that charges a monthly fee, and an extensive email list that you can periodically tap with more affiliate marketing products! To your success!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Thoughts on Buying from Private Sellers

I love a bargain! Whether the company is large or small, a group or an individual selling it doesn’t matter to me just so long as I am getting the best price! With the economy spiraling out of control from one day to the next, I find that more and more people are taking what they really don’t need whether the item is brand new or gently used and getting whatever money they can for it. I enjoy buying online and when everything goes right I am quickly giving a seller four stars but when things go wrong, and they do, I am asking for a refund. But before I share the negative experiences, let me start with reasons why I buy from private sellers and what keeps me coming back. The three things that are important to me are price, personal service, and timeliness. A good price or special is what draws me in when selecting a seller to buy from. Also, location is a big deal for me too. When I know the item will be shipped from someone locally, I tend to go with this person because usually the item gets to me quickly! I will continue to buy from a seller if I know he or she is oftentimes receiving positive feedback from his or her buyers, but when I see a change in anyone of the areas I like, I move on to another seller.

Now for my bad experiences with private sellers that have happened to me more often in recent years. I assume that customer service has gone downhill because the economy has been bad. Prior to the economy, I didn’t have as many problems with online sellers. One problem I have is when the seller doesn’t disclose everything that is wrong with a product. When you, as a buyer, have an item such as a small electronic device that takes batteries and when you play it after a few times its time for new batteries, you can’t help but feel like you have been ripped off. This is when you say, “No wonder I got it for such a great deal.” Some sellers will reason that they left out those details because it may not have sold, let the buyer be the judge of that. I notice with some of these items that have great prices the statement of, “You get what you pay for” holds true. But what should be added is “but we aren’t that kind of company.” When the product arrives, it should be a pleasant surprise not the kind that appeared bigger in the picture but in all actuality it is smaller than you realize. To me, I feel cheated.

Another issue I have with some private sellers is a lack of professionalism in customer service. I know that he or she may be a stay-at-home mother or a retired grandfather, but there is no excuse for not sending me a follow up email letting me know the item has been shipped, may not arrive on time, or is out of stock. Let the customer decide what he or she will do if this issue is happening on the seller’s end. Not everyone will ask for a refund. I also would like to know if a seller even received my order and payment for an item. A friendly note will put me at ease. I don’t like to be put in a position to ask a seller, “Where is my order?”

One of my biggest pet peeves with private sellers is the hoops you have to jump when asking for a refund. I understand that there are people who abuse the system, but there are also people who are honest. If private sellers want to play in the big leagues then refund like them. I had an issue with a table, a large table, not arriving at my doorstep, I told the company and without hesitation they looked up the order, realized it didn’t come to my address, and refunded me the money. I learned the reason why some sellers will make you jump through hoops is because they don’t have much money if any money put away for refunds. That is why some will make you wait as long as 30 days to give you your money back. There business just isn’t generating enough profit just to hand you over your money when you want it.

When dealing with private sellers it may be difficult to exchange a product because they aren’t like the big chains having an abundance of items in stock, so you may have to wait awhile. Also, you are responsible for paying for the chipping and handling usually to return the item. There are some companies that will boast on the front page of their website that they will pay for shipping and handling on returns, but that isn’t many.

In conclusion, I love private sellers because I have been on both sides of the fence. I know what it feels like to have to scramble around the house looking for items to sell to meet a payment on a bill. I understand when you deal with a drop shipper and the item is suddenly out of stock and you have 50 plus orders to fill. It can be a pain! But I also know from a buyer’s point of view that all you want is a little communication and honesty. If the item will be late a seller should say so, if something happened to the item then be honest about it. I would recommend private sellers despite some of my negative experiences especially if you don’t have much money to spend with the larger chain stores and just hope and pray that your transaction with them will go smoothly!

By Nicholl McGuire