Home Based Business – Getting Your Name Out

The best widgets in the world will never sell if no one knows that they exist. And many times, the worst widgets in the world make millions only because they are marketed so well. Now, you have a widget. Congratulations! How are you going to get your name out?

Good marketing starts with a plan. In my early days of online marketing, i thought there was some Holy Grail. Some secret method or software that would get me in front of millions of hungry buyers who would be scarfing up my widgets faster than I could make them. My only problem would be trying to keep up with demand. (Dare to dream!) Little did I realize that my online business was going to actually require real work. After all, the gurus I subscribed to were always getting pictures from exotic locations, or were cruising around in their fancy expensive cars, or standing in front of beautiful homes. It didn’t look like they ever worked to me!

Of course, in the beginning, I didn’t know anything about Photoshop either.

To make a very long story short, it wasn’t until I met my mentor that I realized what online marketing was really all about. He laid out for me a plan that made sense, required time and effort, and actually produced results. Of course, I had to take it on faith from him since it was 30 days before I ever saw any real income from the marketing plan, but once it was up and running, I knew I could apply it to any item I wanted to sell, whether it was a physical widget or an eBook or a course,or an informational program.

The secret is planning your work, and working your plan. I realize that is an old saw, but it is the most basic means of success if you are going to move ahead in any sphere. Especially if you are running your own business. Remember, your competition may have dozens of employees to leverage their efforts. In your business, it’s just you. So leverage at every opportunity. Nowhere is this more important than in marketing.

As a solo-preneur, you likely have a relatively small budget compared to your competition. That puts you at a distinct disadvantage for starting out. However, your small budget can be leveraged to bury your competition. And in business, that’s what you have to do.

So market relentlessly. Never give up. Stay focused. Write articles every day. Post on craigslist every day. Post free classifieds every day. Place e-zine ads every day (they will cost you a little). But with just a regular game plan, you can methodically get your name in front of your buyers, establish yourself as an expert in your field and really ramp up your business.

Advantages of Having a Home Business

So you have decided you need to develop extra income. Have you considered running your own home business? There are many advantages to running a business from home. First of all, you already have your home. Either you are renting or perhaps even buying your home. Or maybe you live with somebody else. But the main thing is, you don’t have to go and rent or buy another place to do business in. So the initial start up costs of having a business that you run from home is far less than finding an appropriate building or office and leasing or buying that building.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to GO someplace to begin work. Think about how many times you have gotten stuck in traffic. How much do you spend a week on gas just getting to and from places? Well, when your business is in your home, you don’t have to spend money or time driving around.

If you are running your own home business, there are tremendous tax advantages too. Part of the expense you are already spending to live can be written off as a business expense. There are of course certain conditions you must achieve, but any competent tax accountant will be able to steer you correctly in how much you can deduct.

Normally, the room that you have your business in or run it from must be isolated and separated from other rooms, and what you do there has to be mostly business. In other words, you can’t just dedicate a desk in one corner of your bedroom where you sleep, or you may not qualify to write off any household expenses.

However, if you have for example a two bedroom home of 1200 square feet that you are renting for $1100 a month, and you set up one of the bedrooms strictly for business only and do nothing besides business in that room, then you might be able to claim the cost of that room as a legitimate business expense. Suppose the bedroom was 12 feet by 10 feet. That means that bedroom is 120 square feet or 1/10th the total size of your house. So you might just be able to claim a deduction of $110 a month as office rental. In our illustration, your “office” is 10% of the size of the house, so you might be able to claim 10% of the electric bill for the house too as office expense. Over a year’s time, these deductions can really add up. But you have to keep accurate records, and itemize everything. Be sure to check with a good tax accountant or tax attorney before deducting anything as the IRS may have changed their requirements to qualify for legitimate business expenses. The really interesting thing is that even though you are already paying these expenses, once you have dedicated that bedroom exclusively to your business, then you can claim them as business deductions which means that you get to make and keep even more money before you have to pay taxes.

Now, if you are delivering a product, then of course IF you keep records of the miles you drive while doing business, then you can also deduct something like 35 cents for every mile you drive. And if you “have” to attend meetings where hundreds of excited people who are also doing the same home business meet to share their successes and teach each other how to be better in business, the cost of driving to and from these meetings or seminars as well as related costs of staying in a hotel (when necessary) and even eating out (if you are more than 50 miles from home) can also become business deductions.

So, if you live in New York and somebody in Hawaii buys one of your widgets, and you get a crazy idea that perhaps you should up and deliver that widget in person, perhaps you can write off your plane ticket, your meals, your hotel stay, etc. Of course, be sure to check with your accountant. The IRS might think that it would have been better to ship the widget because that would have been more cost effective. However, if you not only deliver the widget, but have a recruitment meeting where you can show more people how to get into your home business for themselves, providing you can document and actually verify that such a meeting took place, then the trip is a Business Trip and just might qualify to be deducted.

A lot of nurses who need continuing education credits to renew their licenses find that attending classes in exotic places is not only pleasurable but a tax write off as well. Again I strongly suggest that you check with a tax accountant or even a tax attorney before spending all your money delivering little bottles or boxes of widgets all over the world.

And by the way, your business should actually make some kind of real sales and turn profitable by the third year or the IRS might invoke the “expensive hobby” rule and disallow all your deductions.

All in all, a business from home is easier to start and run than starting one almost anywhere else.

Dirty Blue Widgets and the Basics of SEO

In very basic terms, SEO or search engine optimization is the process of improving the traffic going to your web site through the various search engines.

When people search for things on the Internet or World Wide Web they go to the the search engines like Google or Yahoo, they type in what they are looking for and they are given pages of results in the form of web sites that have the relevant information. For example, if people are looking for “dirty blue widgets” they are given search page results that will have some or all of those terms in their web site design and web site content. The searcher then clicks on each web site link given and determines if this is what they are looking for or not.

The search engines use programs called spiders to crawl or move through “web” looking for every piece of information available and then send it back to its search engine home to be indexed and cataloged according to the text, keywords, keyword terms and images found. In general terms then, if you are discussing or selling dirty blue widgets from your web site you want people to know that. You want your web site to show up in a search for “dirty blue widgets”. It is important then, to be sure that the search engine spiders that do visit your pages know that your website is about that keyword term. You need to optimize your site to stress that fact to these spiders.

There are a number of things that you can look at to ensure maximum optimization:

o using specific, relevant keyword[s]
o proper keyword density
o using related keywords
o using your keywords in the right places like your URL, meta tags, title tags, heading tags etc
o linking properly within your web site pages

Those are some very basic things you can do within your web site pages, this is known as on-site SEO. You also need to look at off-site SEO which consists of incoming or back links to your site. Think of these links coming in to your site as votes. The more that people vote, the more importance the search engines place on your web site and its content. The more relevant the links are the better. In other words, links form other sites that have also highlight “dirty blue widgets” will count for more than a site about peanut butter. There are a number of things that you can do here:

o directory listings with a link back to your site
o articles in article directories or other web sites with links back to your site
o forum postings with a link back to your site
o comments on blogs with a link back to your site
o link exchanges
o buying links
o creating content that people want to link to. Sometimes referred to as “link bait”

There are a number of things that you can control and a number that you can’t when it comes to SEO. But basically, you want to make it very easy for people to find your web site. And that means you need to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to find you and know exactly what your web site is all about. Remember that these search engine spiders are programs that visit and help to index your site. They need to have the information served to them in specific ways to help them do their job. You won’t have a live human visiting who can make a judgment call.

On the other hand, your live visitors will come and make a judgment call as to whether your web site is relevant to them or not. They will decide whether your content is compelling enough to stay or buy or not. There is a delicate balancing act in SEO between your electronic visitors and your live ones.

In the next few articles we will go through all of the necessary steps in optimizing your web site for “dirty blue widgets” in more detail.