Content, Content, Content!

October 15, 2012 by
Filed under Communicating for Success, Featured

A good friend of mine was recently driving around with a real estate agent, looking for a spot to open a new store. The agent kept saying, “Location, location, location.” In real estate, that’s the key, since you want people to see your store and shop there. If we were driving around in cyberspace, I would be saying, “Content, content, content.” Why?

Ann Handley, co-author of Content Rules, writes:

“Today, you have an unprecedented opportunity to create a treasury of free, easy-to-use, almost infinitely customizable content that tells the story of your product and your business, and positions you as an expert people will want to do business with.”

The Web is more or less nothing but content — from websites and blogs to articles and videos and the list goes on. Here are some facts to ponder from Joe DiDonato, Elearning! Media Group Editor-at-Large:

  • Technology renews itself every 12-18 months.
  • There are 3,000 books published every day.
  • The amount of new technical data is doubling every year

The point is, in order to have your content stand out, it needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention and then hold it.

The “grab” part is often easier then the “hold.” What makes content stand out from the endless chatter on the Web? The same reasons that are true for you are also true for your readers.

Here are a few points about what makes content outstanding:

Content must be relevant: Great content needs to speak to you about what’s happening now. If you are looking into how to write better content, for example, then this article is relevant. If you need to know how to make coq au vin, you should go to the Food Network website.

Content must be useful: Too much content on the Web is utterly useless. I’m not just talking about the low-quality stuff that pollutes the Internet. I’m talking about all the content that’s just mediocre or un-enlightening. The stuff that doesn’t tell me anything I can really use in my daily life. There’s lots of content about things, ideas, reactions, and opinions, and none of it is really helpful, except for the people who are telling me how to do something I need to do. Helpful content always finds readers.

relevant contentContent must be well-written: Outstanding content better be well-written or no one will read it, even if it’s relevant and useful. This is the toughest rule to follow. Really good writing is hard, and that’s why we have professional writers. So be honest with yourself: Either you write well enough to make your content work or you don’t. If you don’t, then hire a good content writer. This is especially true for busy entrepreneurs and business owners. If you can’t devote the necessary time to update your business’ website with useful content for your readers or customers, be honest with yourself and hire a pro.

Find the right topics: Don’t forget that the foundation of outstanding content is a fresh and interesting topic idea. No matter how relevant, useful and well-produced your content is, if a very similar article, blog post or video already exists, its potential is limited right off the bat. Always strive to find new and exciting things to showcase in your content. Here are a few ideas on how to find interesting content ideas from Handley and her co-author, C.C. Chapman, in their book Content Rules:

Chat with customers. Ask customers a single question, such as ‘What’s your biggest marketing challenge?’ or ‘What’s a strategy you used to grow your business this year?’

Interview luminaries. Q & A interviews with thought leaders, strategic partners, or flat-out interesting creative thinkers make for compelling text, audio, or video content. […]

Trawl industry news. Share an opinion about a recent news story that’s affecting your industry or audience. Be timely; you could benefit from the extra boost of being one of the first to comment on the topic.

Go behind the scenes. Show things that your readers or followers don’t usually get to see. Share photos that give an insider’s view of your company, or tease some new, compelling content, product or event that you’ll be launching soon.

Go to an event. Take session notes, conduct interviews, or take photos. Real-time blog or tweet the sessions that offer value to your community, and share with your audience what you learned, enjoyed, or were surprised at.

Share best practices or productivity tips. People are always looking for efficiencies, and this type of content is always highly useful and shareable. […]

What do you think makes content outstanding? How do you find great content ideas? We’d love to hear in the comments!

David Grebow is a freelance small business journalist for Vistaprint, a world leader in custom websites, business cards, and other marketing products for businesses all across the globe. David holds an MBA from Harvard and has been published in Harvard Business Review and The Economist.

How to Create Blog Content that Attracts Subscribers

January 17, 2012 by
Filed under PLR Products

The goal for any blog is to build a following. There are many different ways to attract new visitors to your blog, but convincing them to become repeat readers and subscribers requires one thing – great content.

Some of the results of more subscribers are:

· More profitability. Whether you are selling your own products and services, promoting affiliate products, or selling advertising, regular readers are more likely to buy from you.

· More social sharing. Your subscribers will be the first to Tweet, Like, and +1 your posts.

· More social proof. It’s natural for people to follow the crowd and the more followers you have the more follow worthy you become.

· A built-in audience. There’s something particularly satisfying about knowing that when you’ve taken the time and effort to produce a quality post, there are subscribers waiting to read it.

Crowd having fun

Here are some tips on creating subscribe-worthy content.

Find Your Voice and Communicate it Consistently

Articles that reflect your personality will connect with your audience. They’ll enjoy reading your content because it reflects who you are and what you’re about. People who feel a more personal connection and who can relate to you and your writing will be more likely to subscribe.

If you outsource any of your content, be careful not to give up your voice. Carefully select a ghostwriter who can write in your voice. Alternatively you can have your writer do the research and provide just an outline so you can finish the post yourself, in your own voice. And of course, when using PLR modify the articles to fit your personality and writing style.

Pay Attention to the Numbers

As you’re writing content for your blog pay attention to the blog posts that get the most traffic. Look at which blog posts are linked to most often and also how many comments they receive. Finally, use analytics to determine which keywords are bringing visitors to your site. The numbers indicated which content fits your audience and will help you gain subscribers.

Provide Value

Try to create content that provides consistent value. Value can be in the form of entertainment, information and education, or resources. For example, if your website is about organization and time management, checklists and how-to videos might provide excellent value to your readers. The more you can become a constant source of value, the more people will subscribe to your blog. They want to have immediate and easy access to all the information you create and share.

Present Yourself as a Credible Authority

Think about the blogs that you subscribe to. Chances are you subscribe to them at least in part because you trust the information they’re providing you. You consider the authors to be experts in their topic. As a blogger you can gain the same credibility and following by establishing yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Build authority by:

· Speaking confidently about your topic.

· Connecting with experts in your industry.

· Quoting relevant data and resources when appropriate.

· Recommending quality products and services.

· Creating an easy to use and read blog.

· Providing thoughtful responses to your commenters.

· Showing how much you enjoy your blog, topic, readers and audience.

Creating content that readers will subscribe to is part science, part passion, and part attention to detail. Create a content plan that reflects your audience’s needs and interests, pay attention to their feedback and the data, and most of all put your whole self into your blog. The subscribers will follow.

Guest Author

attract subscribersLinda Stacy offers blogging and PLR tips and resources at

Free Programs and Fine Print

February 11, 2011 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Monetizing Business Ideas

Yep! It happened again today. I was invited by a Skype friend to look into a free program. Their claim was that it was free to join and I would not have to pay anything to earn money. I’ve been around the internet long enough to not believe claims of overnight wealth and to distrust “free” joins but I indulged their request to click on the link anyway.

Non-English Landing Page

The first thing that I noticed was that the page was in German. I have a toolbar installed that allows me to instantly translate to English so this wasn’t a huge issue.

Analyzing the Offer

The first sentence on the landing page was a disclaimer:

This is no joke and no dream … You get paid money, because investors want to distribute funds.

If you have to begin by telling stressing the fact that your incredible program is really incredible and go on to suggest that investors want to give away their money, I’m immediately suspicious. Investors want to leverage their money by investing in things which will earn them money. At least that is what I’ve learned…

The landing page encouraged me to read the terms and conditions, although I would have done that anyway before filling in any forms. It’s called due diligence. 🙂

Free Isn’t Always Free

free-programs-and-fine-print-postThe second paragraph on the Terms and Conditions page said this:

Once you receive the gift, you have to pay into this program.

I didn’t need to read any further. Clearly, if payment is required to benefit from the program, it isn’t free.

I responded to my Skype pal by copying and pasting that text into our chat window. I added that I was a conscientious objector of cash gifting programs and that having to pay into it made it clear to mea that it wasn’t free. I thought that would be the end of it but they replied that I had misunderstood.

I re-copied and pasted the same text into our chat window and told them, in addition, that there was nothing ambiguous about the phrase: YOU have to pay into this program.

Denial of the Facts in Front of You

My Skype pal protested by saying that “no one had explained this” to them. I suggested that reading the fine print before joining anything, free or not, is a personal responsibility … and it is!

Are you entitled to a do-over if you sign a contract that binds you to a commitment you didn’t understand just because you expected it to be explained to you? If you are of legal age, the answer to that question is no.

I’ve worked in a business where contracts were necessary to proceed. I would spend no less than an hour going over the terms and conditions that my clients would be obligated to once they put pen to paper. I took pains to explain what their obligations were, as well as the authority they were granting to me as their agent. I never put paperwork in front of someone who might later claim diminished capacity because they had had a few drinks. I scheduled the meeting for another time and instructed them to hold off on the beers until after we were finished.

Not everyone will do this … especially if they are promoting a get-rich-quick-and-easy internet program.

Money for Nothing?

Call me old fashioned or jaded, but I’m not of the mindset that money will flow into your bank accounts without applying some effort.

When I was new to online marketing tactics, I got suckered into things. We all do. Once I abandoned the belief that the hype was more than it was and began to focus on things that I enjoyed doing anyway, which could earn income for me, my life has been simplified and I’m having a lot more fun too.

Many of the people whom I used to communicate with on a daily basis are still chasing the dream of instant wealth and fly-by-night programs. For them, and for those of you who pursue similar things, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to return and post your results to my blog.

There are no Magic Wealth Pills. The recipe for business success is the same:

  1. List the things that you are interested in doing
  2. Analyze those things to determine if their might be a market for you to leverage
  3. Construct a plan for pursuing that business
  4. Devise a list of measurements you can use to validate your success
  5. Determine the best approach for marketing and promotion
  6. Follow your plan and monitor results
  7. Know when to revise or abandon the plan and try the next thing on YOUR list

Eliminating Blog Spam on Your WordPress Website

December 20, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, Website Design

The longer your wordpress website is online, the more pages that are listed in search engines.  Getting pages listed is good for your business, for sure, but it also makes it easier for blog spammers to target your site in their efforts to get links to their own sites.  One method of doing this is referral spam.  Perusing some of the comments blocked naturally by Akismet, it is fairly clear that they were not written by a human.  Even though some of the malformed subjects and content created by spinning tools can become a source of amusement, having to manage your blog spam queue is a PIA and waste of time.

Blog Spam EliminationTo keep your site healthy, you have to learn something about how things work and keep code up to date.  Another term for this is website maintenance.  Over the years they have been online, I have tried several things in my efforts to overcome my blog spam at and my WordPress Website Development business site.

Within this post, I offer some alternative solutions and details about the one that I’ve settled on which is working perfectly for me.  🙂

Disabling New Comments

Within the WordPress dashboard, under Settings –> Discussion, there is an option to automatically close comments on articles older that a user definable time frame.  This is probably the easiest counter-measure against blog spam but I’ve never enabled that option because most of my content is not time sensitive and I don’t want to disallow comments for people who might find it weeks, months or years after the post has been published.


For a while, I used the Antispam Bee plug-in.  It was effective against blog spam but it didn’t allow me to review comments that had identified as spam.  Because there have been times when I’ve found comments from people that I know which have been marked as spam by Aismet, I didn’t want to risk it.

Referral Blog Spam Comments

Referral blog spam is generated by software and used by people who are looking for links back to their pages.  These people are banking on the fact that their blog spam will land on blogs where comments are automatically approved.  I’ve never set up a site that way and I’ve never allowed any of my WordPress Website Development clients to do so either.

The biggest headache for me was referral blog spam.  Recently, I implemented some changes.  After 72 hours of testing, I’m satisfied that I’ve found a solution that is worth sharing.  Bona fide comments are still delivered and there been ZERO referral spam comments.

What a gift!

Eliminating Referral Blog Spam

The  technique that I used involves three things:

  1. WordPress configuration
  2. Modification of .htaccess
  3. Captcha plug-in
  4. A little vigilance

WordPress Configuration

First, here is a screen shot of how my Discussion settings are configured at all of my sites:

Eliminating Blog Spam by

Recommended Dashboard Settings

Some of these are defaults but others are not.  I do not automatically approve comments from people whose past comments have been approved.  By way of explanation, the reason that I only request notification when a comment is held for moderation is because that second email that comes after I’ve looked over a comment and approved it was redundant.  🙂

.htaccess changes

To completely eliminate referral blog spam, you must add a few lines of code to your .htaccess file.  This is a file that resides on your server and was created at the time you installed the wordpress application.  It is critical that you retain a backup copy of this file because your site may become non-operational if you do not get it right the first time and you need to recover quickly when things go wrong.


RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} .wp-comments-post. [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ ^ [R=301,L]

These lines of code are placed just above the line that says # BEGIN WordPress. You will need to customize the code to agree with your domain names and destination URLs. This post does not endeavor to teach you the function behind the above code but, in summary, what it is doing if diverting comments that are not originated through the comment form on your site and, if someone’s software is trying to do that, they are directed to a page on one of my other domains that counts down the time until Christmas.  Granted, referral spammers will never see that page but it gives me a way to track their attempts when I review statistics that are logged by the Statpress plug-in.

You can use any text editor to read and modify the .htaccess file.  When you are saving the file, you must use double quotes so the file extension is not “.txt”.

Captcha plug-in

After a little trial and error, I decided to use the SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam plug-in.  All that I can say about my choice is that this one did not require any additional coding and it accomplished the task.


WordPress also incorporates the ability to blacklist commenters.  You can bar a comment that contains user defined words in its content, by commenter’s name, by URL, by e-mail, or by IP.  For those referral blog spam comments that slip through the cracks for any reason, this will be the final authority on whether or not you have to manually handle their unwanted comments.


There is one caveat to my preferred anti-referral blog spam method.  It will only work with a self-hosted WordPress website.  In other words, if your blog is hosted at, you will either have to put up with referral spam or install one of the available plug-ins through your dashboard.

With all the outsourcing, is anything made in the USA anymore?

December 13, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, Small Business

Enough with all this outsourcing talk!  This is the season where many of us are overtly shopping.  Economic circumstances may be forcing greater frugality but, as you are scanning shelves for stocking stuffers and gifts, take a moment to read the labels.  When I did this yesterday, none of the products on the shelf were made in the USA.

If you’re thinking globally about the events that led up to where things stand today in the USA economy, it cannot all be assigned to fiscal irresponsibility on the part of individuals and/or government.  Simply put, the root cause culprit is greed and any business who is outsourcing to overseas resources is contributing to the problem.

During my adult lifetime, from automobiles to toothpaste production, I’ve witnessed the discontent caused when corporate financial decisions were made to improve shareholder earnings.  Opposing forces clashed at annual meetings as the affluent passed through the picket lines of the affected employees.  But it didn’t stop or slow down the processes that have embraced offshore outsourcing and speeding the erosion of the financial foundation of the USA.  Since the early 70’s when this began, more and more US citizens have been put out of work and entire communities have been hobbled by the closing of manufacturing plants and businesses that once enabled them to thrive.

A trending online business is training that teaches internet entrepreneurs how to use offshore outsourcing for parts of their business.  While this may enhance one’s bottom line, these business owners seem to have lost sight of the larger picture.  By sending their business offshore, they are contributing to the problem that their training seeks to solve, in my humble opinion.

outsourcingI’m not just ranting.  Over the years that I’ve been in the Online Marketing & Branding business, I’ve acquired new contracts with many USA business owners who have been burned by using offshore outsourcing tactics.  When those people seem to expect me to lower my rates based on their bad experience, I’ve had to remind them that whatever happened before they began working with me does not create an obligation on my part to make it better for them.

My rates are my rates, and I’m worth every penny!  🙂

For new entrepreneurial technical talent who are just starting out, using freelance sites to acquire new clients without incurring advertising expenses is a valid but temporary tactic.  I only could do it for about 3 months because devaluing my services was not good for my business … or my self-esteem.  When buyers who had invited me to bid pursued me and begged me to reconsider, I would sometimes calculate out their proposed hourly rate in an effort to inform them that what they were willing to pay was below minimum hourly wages in the USA.

Pretty simple project. Please bid reasonably.

These are words that you might find in a post on a freelancer site.  What are the parameters of a “reasonable” bid?

outsourcing eroding US economyBudgets for gigs with statements like these normally range from $5 – $200 USD, and they assume they will win by outsourcing to an offshore developer.  When the low end of the proposed budget is $5 USD, the definition of “reasonable” is guaranteed to unreasonable for anyone who is trying to sustain a lifestyle in the USA.  Scanning through the requested deliverables, qualified AND experienced wordpress website design talent can see that the level of effort involved in meeting their expectations will consume no less than 20 hours of development and iteration time, including the iteration time that is part and parcel of the client not having a clear idea about what they want until they become aware of what they can have.

Much to my amusement, many such postings state they will only consider USA resources.  Either these buyers are lacking an understanding of what their outsourcing request entails or they don’t care to pay fairly.  I applaud wanting to control business operating costs but I can’t help wondering if they would ever consider a position that paid a maximum of $2 an hour?  And, with all due respect to anyone who has put something like this on a freelance posting, if someone is incapable of doing the work themselves in a few minutes time, how can they possibly characterize it as being simple?

More importantly and back to the point of my post:

When will those racing for wealth by using offshore outsourcing understand they are undermining themselves too?

Freelance outsourcing service values are only the latest in a long chain of progress that has cascading peripheral effects for us all.  As our country’s dependency on petroleum products shows no signs of lessening and the cost of a loaf of bread spirals upward, we all are feeling the pinch in our pocket books.  When manufacturing began moving offshore during the late 70’s, the source of our country’s expertise was described as being the service industry.  The train has left the station but which way is it heading?  After we’ve outsourced our services industry,  what will be left?

Don’t Should on Yourself!

November 30, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Featured

A wise man with whom I worked during my earlier years once came up with a profound New Year’s resolution at our annual marketing support meeting.  The entire group laughed out loud when he said his resolution was to never say “it should work” again.

There does seem to be a resurgence of people not thinking through the answers to questions that are asked.  Responses like this are pointless:

It should have been there by now.” or “That should have worked.”

Normally, a long explanation about how the process is supposed to work follows comments like these.  All kidding aside, it almost seems like an assumption has been made that I wouldn’t have done something simple, like checking my spam folder or reading instructions.  As the support person drones on about how their process works, I’m thinking, “If your system worked the way you’ve described it, I wouldn’t have picked up the phone to find out what was wrong.”

Customer Relationship Management | GetIncomeBlog.comCommunicating is such a critical component of business.  Whether it is written or verbal, our phrasing has a lot to do with how the other side of the conversation receives our responses.  We need to empathize with the caller and, above all, treat them professionally.  Without our customers, we have no business.  This applies to ALL business models … assuming the business is legitimate.

Even though this may sound cliché, there really is no such thing as a dumb question.  Entrepreneurs who are operating a truly customer-facing business must learn how to respond appropriately to their customer’s questions.  Here are some suggestions for improving your customer communications:

  1. Smile before picking up the phone.
  2. Establish set time frames during work days for taking calls to ensure minimal disruption..
  3. Draft agenda topics for scheduled meetings and allocate time limits to the topics.  Distribute the agenda to all invitees in advance of the meeting.  Be flexible to requests to alter or rearrange the agenda and time frames.
  4. Don’t make customers wait more than 24-hours for a response to their email or voicemail.
  5. Set “office hours” so your customers are respectful of your personal boundaries.  Inform active customers of your vacation plans.   If you have a dedicated business line, update your announcement to reflect any extended time away from your office so potential new business doesn’t think you are non-responsive.
  6. Ensure that you understand your customer’s problem statement before suggesting a solution.  They’ve been immersed in it long enough to determine it is a problem.  Sometimes you must back them up to the beginning so you can be of better assistance to them.
  7. Remain calm and be empathetic.  Understand that your customer may have struggled for hours before calling you and that they could be tense as a result.
  8. Set expectations properly if your customer’s issue cannot be handled during the call.
  9. Publish an FAQ page on your website and refer people to it first.  Whether you have a product or service, if you’ve been in business a while you know what questions are most frequent.
  10. If your product is digital, prepare documentation that assumes the least amount of knowledge while making it complete enough for advanced users.

Most of this blog’s readers are aware that I have a service business and that one of my services is WordPress Website Development. Many of my clients are unfamiliar with the software and part of my service fees include one-on-one training.  I welcome client calls because I love teaching people things that will make them feel more self-sufficient and confident with the products and services they have purchased from me.  Because I also enjoy the clients with whom I work as people, I have to monitor the gab time with some of them because we have so much fun just talking.

The Proposal …

November 23, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Small Business

In my business, potential clients sometimes ask for me to submit a detailed proposal that outlines deliverables and costs for milestones on a project.  This usually follows a lengthy phone conversation.  This is not an unreasonable request but preparing these proposals takes time that cannot be spent on other business activities and exposes details about my strategies and methods so my quandary is what level of commitment to ask of the prospect in exchange prior to delivering the document.  Although it is part of doing business, nobody likes paperwork.

Project Proposal GetIncomeBlog.comWhen I launched my business, I submitted detailed proposals without a second thought.  However, I modified my approach after a potential client failed to acknowledge the receipt of the proposal and ignored my requests for follow-up and negotiation until he contacted me to share a listing he had placed on a freelance site which was a verbatim copy of everything I had written in my proposal.  I was shocked.  He seemed pleased about the fact that he had sourced the project at a lower rate than I had proposed.  He has returned with new requests since then but I’ve declined.

My proposals now include a time limitation for pricing and a copyright notification that is intended to discourage prospects from using my content to shop their projects around.  In spite of these measures, there still are people who promise to meet with me after the proposal is sent, fail to return calls or emails for a while, and send a cryptic email saying that they “going another direction” with their project after a couple of weeks.  This is disappointing … and suspicious.

This isn’t a sour grapes post.  I certainly don’t expect to win every contract but I honestly don’t know how to handle prospects who leverage my copyrighted content to shop around for better pricing.  It is a bona fide conundrum.

These are the possible solutions that I’ve come up with:

  1. Withhold the delivery of all proposals until a mutually agreed to meeting time where we can walk through and discuss each point/price.
  2. Charge a flat fee for preparing and delivering detailed proposals and estimates that covers the cost of my time.
  3. Propose only an hourly rate for all projects in the future and track time, which is a big headache for me.
  4. Join the Circus and escape it all.  🙂

Well, the last one isn’t really an option but it is fun to muse about sometimes.

Email Marketing and Your Business

Email marketing came of age after direct marketing practitioners realized that their methods of engaging customers with postal mail could be applied to the Internet.  For those who are unclear about what email marketing is, it is using email to promote offers and/or obtain new customers.  Reports have proven that this is the next best marketing technique after search marketing.

You can rent a list, purchase a list based on demographics for your niche, or set up an opt-in page to gather list members from your target market.  Even though it takes longer, building your own email marketin list from scratch is probably the safest and most reliable method to use.

No matter where you begin with your list building, a well-written email marketing message can gain a prospect’s trust by disclosing relevant information that helps them to make informed purchasing decisions.  Email marketing also has potential to enhance relationships with existing customers if you continue to provide valuable communications that facilitate repeat or referral business.

The major advantages of email marketing is that there are multiple ways to automate your scheduled or broadcasted communications and it is much more cost-efficient than postal mail.  In addition, your offers have potential to “go viral” because members of your lists can easily forward messages to friends and colleagues who they feel might be interested, which increases your opportunities to make sales and add new customers to your email marketing lists.

Get Income BlogWithin a relatively short period of time, a large audience can be identified and targeted.  Autoresponders, like Aweber, allow you to monitor the responsiveness of your list with email open statistics and click through rates on your embedded links.  They can also help you craft a message that won’t be filtered out by built-in spam catchers.

The sales ratios of your email marketing campaigns or inquiries from members of your list may lead you to new ideas for products and services.  Email enables you to engage your customers in dialogue that helps you to scope your new product development by inviting list members to take surveys or provide feedback on ideas that you are forming.  Talk about convenience!

How Much and How Often?

Loose statistics from direct marketing resources indicates that new customers may need to hear about an offer up to 10 times before making a purchasing decision.  Equally important is that your messages must be timed in such a way that your new list members don’t feel overwhelmed.  For example, I’ve enrolled in campaigns and opted out immediately after receiving multiple messages in quick succession or too many notes in a week.

In my opinion, more than one email marketing message a day is too many.  I’m also of the opinion that more than a couple (3 or more) email marketing messages a week is too much volume, particularly prior to conversion.  Setting up your campaigns to send email every 4th day, or so, keeps your offer on the prospect’s mind without seeming overly aggressive.  That is the whole idea, right?

If all of your all of your email marketing messages are pitching something, people will learn to ignore you.  Keep your email marketing messages relevant and brief.  Most folks are dealing with information overload when they peruse their email inbox so your subjects must stand out if you expect your email to get opened.  Using fantastic email marketing titles that compel people to open may work according to some people but it also can make you seem less trustworthy.    To earn and keep the confidence of your list members, stick to actual facts about your offer and try writing messages that DON’T require disclaimers in tiny print at the bottom of the note.  🙂

Email Marketing Can Have a Dark Side

Some companies collect email addresses of people illegally and send irrelevant mails to them, which can be very annoying.  To get past spam filters, these messages will often have many lines of irrelevant text below the offer with “safe” words in them.

Some hackers intentionally design an email that looks like an advertisement but, when the ads are clicked, malicious software is downloaded that creates headaches for an unsuspecting or naive end user.  I will never understand why smart people, like hackers must be, use their creativity and talent to wreak havoc on people!  Even though your email marketing message is not malicious, you need to understand that everyone with a computer and email has heard one or more horror story and this will affect the success of your campaigns … especially if you have purchased or rented a  list.

In my previous post, I discussed the highlights of the CAN-SPAM act of 2003.  Caution is recommended for any list you choose to join but this does not keep you from receiving unsolicited email marketing, just as postal regulations do not restrict sending demographic based mail to your home.

Since the CAN-SPAM act only applies to US businesses, it is legal to initiate an email marketing campaign from a purchased or rented list as long as a physical address and a functional opt-out is included in the message, and email marketers are allowed up to 10 days following the request to remove people, the CAN-SPAM act seems to protects marketers more than consumers.  Sadly, my single voice isn’t loud enough to get these laws changed anytime soon and corporate entities with much more influence than me are working hard to loosen SPAM regulations, not tighten them.

Most email clients and webmail systems have spam filtering capabilities that can help to keep your inbox clean but those algorithms aren’t perfect.  How many times have you found a legitimate messages in your spam folder?  How many legitimate messages have you accidentally deleted?

Email Marketing is Only ONE Marketing Channel

As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  This is especially true for marketing and advertising expenses.  Email marketing is a great tool for building your business out there but you should also be testing other marketing methods and you should always be tracking the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Go forth and prosper, and make sure you use this marketing method wisely.

Are You Email Marketing or Spamming?

Email marketing is a proven method of developing a relationship with your customers and, if that relationship is properly developed and nurtured, a way to generate affiliate cash flow when you need it.  All that is well and good, but when your opt-out doesn’t result in being opted out, email marketing campaigns can result in driving business away.

One of the inboxes that I own began receiving email from Elizabeth Jackson.  Since I used to know an Elizabeth Jackson, I was enthused to see her name.  It was disappointing to find an advertisement for Work At Home jobs when I opened the email.

I used the option to unsubscribe, more than a dozen times during the past 3 months, and I continued to get email from Elizabeth Jackson from different email addresses.  Each time, I opted out again.  Further research today helped me deduce that Elizabeth Jackson is a fictitious name used to “protect the affiliates” who are promoting a certain CPA campaign offered by Clickbooth, to get income.  Clickbooth advertises themselves as the “exclusive CPA Network” who is ranked #1 by Website Magazine.

Ok, that is all legal but my question today is, who is protecting me, or others who didn’t invite these CPA email offers?

SPAM and the Consumer

email-marketing-or-spam-postPrior to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, I was forced to close a business email account that was being overwhelmed by no less than 50+ messages an hour in a language I couldn’t even read!  Things have gotten better, for sure, but it is possible to be in compliance of that act and still be doing nothing other than irritating customers or prospects.  Case in Point:  Elizabeth Jackson.

Here are some CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 cliff notes:

  1. It is an opt-out law and, for most purposes, permission of the e-mail recipient is not required.  If a recipient wants to unsubscribe or opt-out, however, you’d better stop sending e-mails you are at risk of being subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.
  2. Fraudulent or deceptive subjects, headers, return addresses, etc., are prohibited.
  3. Sending sexually explicit email without clear markings is a criminal act.
  4. Email marketers must have a functional opt-out system that is easy for consumers to use and is operational for at least 30-days following each mailing.
  5. Email messages should include a physical address of the company in the email.
  6. Spammers AND those who procure their services are culpable and both can be prosecuted.
  7. Personal emails, and perhaps non-profit emails, are not addressed by the act.  It applies to all US businesses who are sending commercial email of a transactional nature.

SPAM and the Business Owner

Looking over the guidelines again, a smile came to my face.  I do feel that some of the earnings claims in subject lines from a few of the internet marketing lists that I’ve joined are nothing other than deceptive, in spite of their disclaimers.  This is especially true when the click through leads to a product or service that was not developed by the sender.  But I am a perpetual student of marketing methods and completely understand that this is how affiliate programs work.  🙂

Email marketing is a good business strategy, especially for affiliate marketers.  At Flippa, sites with lists are worth more than other sites at the time of sale.  Thus, whether your motivation in launching a site is to build a Niche Empire or develop a site to later sell for profit, building an email marketing list is very important!

CAN-SPAM Loopholes

An apparent loophole in the CAN-SPAM Act, which is always exploited by senders of unsolicited email, allows email marketers have up to 10-days to complete an unsubscribe request.  Although those business owners are adhering to the letter of the law, I find it absurd.  All the autoresponders that I have ever used or recommended facilitate immediate removal from a list.

Pick Up The Phone!

In my desperation to stop getting three more months of unsolicited email from Elizabeth Jackson, whom I now know is a fake person, I was prepared to send a snail mail letter but I dug deep enough to find a phone number to call.  I did allude to the CAN-SPAM act during my call, which may have inspired them to be more attentive, but that remains to be seen.  Regardless, it was comforting to actually speak with someone who listened to my concerns and gathered up the email addresses that I wanted to eradicate from their lists.

The phone seems to have gone out of fashion but the truth remains that consumers sometimes need a phone number to call.  Business owners might conclude that including a phone number on your primary sales page footers or within the terms and conditions page at your site is a good idea for owners of affiliate programs.  After all, the program owner is equally exposed to the fines and penalties outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and they are legally obligated to manage the affiliates who are issuing email marketing messages on their behalf.

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Website Copyright: It Matters!

August 2, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Communicating for Success

Last week, a colleague, who also is an RSS email subscriber to my site, told me they had copied a recent post and published it on their site.  Because I also had helped them set up one of their blogs and coached them a little, I presumed that they meant they had syndicated my content using a WordPress plugin that had been recommended.  However,because they said the word “copy”, it seemed like a good idea to ask a clarifying question.  The subsequent conversation felt a little awkward and I am still trying to determine if they were simply naive or if it was something else.

What is a Web Copyright? | Website Copyright MattersEvery WordPress Website theme that I have created or customized includes code which places a default copyright in the footer.  Summarizing an article on this topic that I read on Smashing Magazine, the same laws that protect printed copy also protect internet content.  Since April 1, 1989, all published content is “automatically” copyrighted and it is not available for use in the public domain throughout the lifetime of its creator plus 70 years.

An idea cannot be copyrighted so, if something you’ve come across on the internet spurs a new post for your site, you are not breaching copyright law.  You are allowed to cite excerpts from existing web content without crossing the line but you cannot replicate articles in their entirety without specific permission.

You also must have the permission of an author before you translate their content to another language.

The “fair use doctrine” is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as use for scholarship or review.  It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work.

Website Owner Responsibilities

As I was researching this topic, I was enlightened on a topic that may be confusing.  Web content is OWNED by the person who creates it.  In other words, comments are owned by the commenter, not the website owner.  Copyright law implies that you cannot alter content that is not owned by you and this may include removal of links, which is something that I have done myself.

This little nit will be covered in a terms and conditions statement on my website so that people who choose to comment about my posts are fully aware of my policies regarding links in comments.

Bottom Line:  Blog Posts are not like Daylilies | Website Copyright MattersIn the patio garden behind a house where I used to live, I frequently gathered up Daylily volunteers from between the cracks in the retaining wall and replanted them in the garden bed where I actually wanted them to grow.  That they were interested enough in survival to cast off volunteer plants any place that roots could take hold impressed me.

Bloggers are no different.  We publish our content and send it out on RSS feeds, hoping to acquire new readership and engage our audience in such a way that they will tell their friends on the social network.  We’re honored that you want others to know about our work, believe me.

Some of us put real research time into creating what we believe will be valuable and accurate content that we hope will be helpful to our target market.  The whole idea of spending time on a blog post is to build authority for the business niche that we are endeavoring to grow.  We want to help you but we don’t want to write your blogs for you.  I make no apologies for saying that out loud and will happily engage in discussion about it with anyone whose opinion may differ.

Copyright Resources

Some very helpful people have directed me to authority sites on plagerism and copyright protection for my reference. Here are those links, should you also have an interest:

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