105 Best Affiliate Programs of 2020 (High Paying for

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs submitted by grabhosts to WorldofWordPress [link] [comments]

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs

What is the best web hosting affiliate program that offers large commissions and great deals for the customer? Thanks much.
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Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs 2018

Affiliate Program rewards you when you recommend products or services to your friends and peers.
You simply need to share your affiliate link or advertise service or product on your website and social channels like Facebook, twitter, google plus etc.
If some of your friends and visitors sign up for services via your affiliate link you will earn commissions.
Here below is the list of some best web hosting companies. You can earn huge money by promoting their services.
You can earn a great monthly income with these affiliate programs.
More you sale, More you will earn
Continue Reading Full Article..
submitted by Rajneesh_kr to Affiliatemarketing [link] [comments]

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs

What is the best web hosting affiliate program in terms of offering a monthly hosting plan to the buyer and giving large commissions on sales?
submitted by HackActivist to Affiliatemarketing [link] [comments]

Best Web Hosting Affiliate Programs

What is the best web hosting affiliate program in terms of offering a monthly plan and giving large commissions on sales?
submitted by HackActivist to AffiliateMarket [link] [comments]

9 Best Recurring Web Hosting Affiliate Program 2020 Get Lifetime Commission

9 Best Recurring Web Hosting Affiliate Program 2020 Get Lifetime Commission submitted by techieblogging to u/techieblogging [link] [comments]

Which Web hosts have the best referral/affiliate program?

Long story short...I'm in the process of migrating off of a subscription model and hosting my clients on my own server. Hoping to entice them into buying into their own hosting.
At the same time I know the majority of hosts will give kickbacks for referrals.
What gives the best service and seems like the overall best deal -- for both my client and myself?
submitted by PMmeYourVaginaPls to web_design [link] [comments]

Best paying web hosting affiliate programs

Best paying web hosting affiliate programs
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Frontend Web Developer Roadmap: Everything you need to know to get started

If you're feeling lazy and would prefer to watch a full video summary, one is available here. Let me know if you have any feedback!
What is frontend web development?
It is using code to create the visual part of a website. The content, the colours and positioning, as well as the logic that is on a page, such as submitting a form. That's frontend. The other part is 'backend', which is everything related to the database and network; the non-visual things that are going on behind the scene.

Different routes to learn web development
CS Degree: The first is a degree, through either a university or college. This offers strong foundational knowledge in computer science, which can be very helpful, especially in certain areas of programming. However in my experience, this understanding of computer science is not necessary in order to get your first web development job and you can learn all of the theory and nitty gritty details of computers while on the job. Additionally, getting a degree is also a very long process, so 3-4 years, it's also extremely expensive - and the majority of it won't be focused on web development.
Bootcamp: Next -3-4 month coding bootcamps (offers good structure and forces you to be fully immersed, but expensive and must be full-time)
Self-taught: Finally -Self taught. What the focus of this guide is. This route offers a flexible schedule and inexpensive, and as long as you have the right set of online courses and curriculum set up for you, I believe it is the best option. Getting your first web development job is not about what certificate or degree you have. In most cases, it is a meritocracy - that is, if you have the skills to do the job, you can get the job.

How long does it take to be job ready? 4-12 months.
Outline a timeframe which you are able to dedicate towards learning web development(3, 6 or 12 months) and create a schedule around it. This way you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable if you set a specific date to, such as finishing a specific course or start apply to jobs. Whether it is 3 or 12 months, the only thing that changes is how much time per week you are able to dedicate towards learning this craft. If it is 3 months, you'll need to be working 12+ hours per day, and for 12 months, maybe 2 hours per day. The key is coding daily, so you can immerse yourself.
It's also important to stick to one programming language, based on the job you're wanting to get. Don't get distracted by other languages. They're fantastic, but your focus needs to be on the core frontend stack. You don't want to be a Jack of all trades, but master of none. You need to get vertical proficiency, not horizontal - and you get that by practicing that one thing, daily.
What do you need to learn?
HTML (the content - the text, images, links), CSS(the styling - colors, positioning and responsiveness), and JavaScript(the logic for your website, when you click a submit button - what happens?). Once you have learned those three and have a strong foundation in JavaScript, then you'll be at a crossroads; React, Angular or Vue. These are JavaScript libraries and frameworks, which act as wrappers around vanilla JavaScript, giving you additional functionality that would take longer to code otherwise. It is important that the first thing you do before getting too deep into one of these, is to look on job websites (LinkedIn, Glassdoor or Indeed) and ensure that there are a lot of jobs for all of these in your area. Search for titles including "frontend developer and frontend engineer", as well as the words 'Angular, Vue and React' and see how many listings there are. If there is more of one of these technologies in your area, it may be better to learn that one. You'll likely find many of each. Personally I would recommend React as it is easier to learn than a full framework and there are usually a ton of jobs out there for it.
As a bonus, I would recommend looking into TypeScript and Redux. In JavaScript, you don't have to say that variable x is a number. It will infer that x = 5 is a number type. This however can sometimes lead to hard to catch bugs. TypeScript is still JavaScript, but it allows you to add strong typing to your application, where you define that variable x will be a number.
Redux is a state management library. Angular, React and Vue all have their own variations of Redux. When your application gets bigger and there are lots of different parts with their own data, Redux acts as a centralized memory for all of your different UI components to read from. It acts as a single source of truth so that everything stays organized.
Also need to be familiar with the version control technology Git (allowing you to 'save' your app at a specific point, roll back to it if necessary, and share the code online to others using Github or Bitbucket).
May also be helpful to know the basics of SASS (CSS wrapper, giving you more utility. It is still CSS, but just some extra tools which can be huge time savers). Along the way, you'll also need to learn basic terminal commands, using NPM packages and the build tool Webpack. You should also be familiar with the basics of Agile methodologies, which is a management style that a lot of development teams work in. If you're familiar with the very basics, then it will be an easier transition for you to join a dev team, and hiring managers will know that as well.
Learning resources
So, what resources can you use to learn all of this? I found that between YouTube and Udemy, you can learn everything required. I am going to leave a list down below with a list of Udemy courses you can pick up for $15 (when on sale). Each course is about 20-30 hours and it will teach you the required fundamentals. I'm not affiliated with these courses and make no money on it. I simply know the instructors are excellent and am sure they are high quality courses.
https://www.udemy.com/course/modern-html-css-from-the-beginning/
https://www.udemy.com/course/javascript-the-complete-guide-2020-beginner-advanced/
https://www.udemy.com/course/modern-javascript-from-the-beginning/
https://www.udemy.com/course/complete-react-developer-zero-to-mastery/
https://www.udemy.com/course/vuejs-2-the-complete-guide/
https://www.udemy.com/course/the-complete-guide-to-angular-2/

Once you've completed a these courses and have built a few projects
After that, it is all about getting your first job. I am going to create posts (and videos) on each of these points, because they deserve a post of their own.
In short, you'll need to have a great resume which highlights your love for web development, while also emphasizing how all of your previous job experiences has guided you towards this new career path.
Have a GitHub with your own projects on it, as well as some of the work you've done while learning along the way. Build out a portfolio website which highlights the projects you've build and the skills you have. You can host your portfolio and projects for free on GitHub Pages.
Consider doing 1 or 2 freelance jobs(even if it is just for friends or family), where you're working with a real client, with a real deadline. This will be good practice for you, and will show your future employer that someone has already trusted you, and that you delivered.
Familiarize yourself with LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor - and start applying for 3-5 jobs per day. I did this for an entire month, had a few interviews and then landed my first job. It can take a few weeks, or a few months - eventually you will get your first opportunity. Getting your first job is the most difficult. Once you have worked somewhere and have some experience, finding your next job will be a lot easier.

Conclusion
On a final note, learning code is not easy. There will be roadblocks and it can be a difficult grind at times. Remember that the path you are on now is worth it and can get you to the place in your life where you really want to be, whether that is career satisfaction, ability to work from anywhere in the world, or financial freedom.
Thank you for your time! Consider checking out my YouTube channel, as I'm posting weekly now with videos specifically for frontend developers who are just starting out. Available here.
submitted by ProgrammingWithPax to learnprogramming [link] [comments]

How to access the "Forbidden Wiki"

We all love Wikipedia, don’t we? A seemingly endless source of information, all consolidated on a well-formatted, visually pleasing website. And despite what your teacher might tell you, I can guarantee you that just about nobody’s trying to rewrite history pages with false information. Nobody has the time for that, nor does anybody care enough to do it.
Beyond research and general curiosity, there’s a ton of fun stuff you can do on the site. For example, there’s the Wikipedia game, where you start on one topic page and then click on related hyperlinks until you reach the pre-specified destination page. Also, did you know that if you go on a Wikipedia page relating to any topic, click on the first hyperlink and repeat the process, you’ll eventually find yourself in a loop that always directs you back to the page for philosophy? Deep stuff, really.
Now, that’s all fun and whatnot. But did you know that there’s something else you can do on Wikipedia? A ritual of sorts?
I recommend proceeding with caution. There is a certain level of risk involved when pursuing something like this. Would I recommend it? Not really. So why am I talking about it at all? Well, I’ll explain later.
This is what you’ll need:
A device with internet access. Preferably something mobile, like a laptop or smartphone. Make sure that none of your personal information is stored on this device. If it’s a smartphone, take out the SIM card, delete all your contacts, social media apps, photos, etc. This is not an optional step.
Internet access. Preferably public, like a library or a large, crowded coffee shop. Obviously not so feasible right now, so I’d wait until the virus dies down. You can also just use your home internet. Not recommended, though.
A weapon/bodyguard/vehicle. Optional, but also not at the same time. You’ll only need these things for reasons I’ll explain later. But more often than not, you won’t be needing these things. 15/100 times, I’d say. Still, better safe than sorry. Try and pack some heat.
Here’s what you’ll need to do. Sit down at a library, coffee shop, university campus, or any place with public Wi-Fi. Start off by visiting an extremely popular Wiki page. For example, Michael Jordan, World War 2, Elon Musk, Google, etc. Now, here’s where you gotta exert a bit of brain power. You’re gonna have to traverse from this popular page to an obscure page that has hardly been seen at all in comparison. But don’t go searching up something like “creepiest Wikipedia pages”, or “most bizarre Wikipedia pages” and try to get there. If those pages are on a list, then they’ve probably received a lot of traffic.
You’ll need to find a page about something truly unknown/inane, like some unheard-of Romanian folk singer from the 1960’s who only released 2 songs before dying in their 30’s or something. Doing this is harder than you might think. The page truly has to be something that very few people are aware of or would bother to learn about.
Once you’ve found a page that you deem suitably obscure and unseen, you’ll have to click on the Wikipedia home page, find another popular topic and repeat the process. Maybe 3, 4, 5 times at the very max. But don’t worry about clicking pages endlessly. You’ll know that you’ve done it right when you come across a seemingly blank page. The Wiki symbol and side options will still be there, but the page itself will be devoid of any pictures or text. Except for the title of the page at the top, that is.
It’ll say “INFORMATION LIMIT”, followed by a string of numbers. Remember that string. You’ll need it later. Also, don’t close the browser.
You’ve done it. The “ritual” has officially begun. At this point, you’ll have to leave the location you accessed it at. For the love of God, don’t just go back into your house. Get into your car or walk on foot to a remote location without internet access. You can’t just be disconnected from a network. There should be no networks available to scan for at all.
Make yourself comfortable and open that Information Limit page again. Hit refresh. Another page should load up, despite the lack of connection. It’ll be a login screen, with a single prompt.
“Enter access point: “
Enter the string of numbers you memorized earlier, EXCEPT for the last 2 digits. Most people who try this just type in the string as it is. Do not do this or you’ll be met with a horrible fate. Pay attention and refrain from fucking it up. Once this is done correctly, you’ll be directed to something that looks like the Wikipedia home page, but just a bit different.
Now, I’m not quite sure what kind of site this is, or where it even originates from. A lot of people just call it the “Forbidden Wiki”, myself included.
I need to note something of great importance here. If the page that loaded up is not in English or whatever language that you originally accessed it from, then click off immediately and go home. You… shouldn’t try and subject yourself to any of the images that may pop up on the pages you visit. They aren’t meant for you. Aren’t meant for human perception. If you glance upon these images, you’ll end up with a fate worse than the one that you’d get if you entered the entire string into the prompt. And that one is bad to begin with. You’re curious, but don’t take the risk.
But if the page is in the language you recognize, then go ahead and proceed. You’ll notice that the Wikipedia symbol will now be a bit different than the one you’re familiar with. It might be a different shape. A different color. Different symbols, perhaps. More often than not, it’ll look more ominous. More sinister, I suppose.
You need to keep in mind that the articles and topics you might stumble across on this site do not exist in our world. They are not something we need to be worried about. Don’t stay up at night thinking about what you’ll see. As far as we need to be concerned, they’re not real.
From this point, you have free range to explore as you please (somewhat). Be sure not to look at more than around fifteen pages, spending less than a minute on each. If you linger around forbidden knowledge for too long, they will know you’re looking. And they’ll be sure to look for you as well. This is information that you shouldn’t be privy to, and they’ll make sure it remains that way.
Who are “they”, exactly? Anybody who has a solid answer to that question likely isn’t around to divulge it. Just know that they are not from this plane of reality. That they possess far more strength and knowledge that you could ever imagine. Don’t think you’ll be able to evade or God forbid try and fight back against them. Even the most decorated government field agent who’s been through hell and back wouldn’t come close to succeeding. Humans that try and overstep the boundaries of what they’re supposed to know are nothing but pesky bugs that need to be exterminated to them.
Or in the worst case… bugs that need to be made an example out of first.
But don’t be too scared. Like I said, just don’t linger on any one page for too long and don’t visit too many. If you do this, you’ll more or less be able to bypass their detection.
But don’t think this means you’re somehow getting the best of them. You’d need to read and analyze these forbidden articles for upwards of hours before understanding what they truly mean and the ramifications of their existence in the multiverse. With less than a minute of exposure, you’ll only be able gain a surface-level understanding of the subjects at best. And “they” hardly care about that.
However… there is a way to legitimately bypass their detection, enabling you to look at the articles for a longer duration of time. But these involve complicated strategies that require extensive knowledge in both programming and arcane occult rituals. And even then… the risk is still astronomically high. Again, not recommended.
You might be wondering why you can’t just take pictures and look over them afterwards for however long you want. Well, I suppose you could. But it makes no difference. They’ll still know you’re looking and react accordingly.
So why bother bringing any kind of weapon, you might ask? Well, it’s not to fight back against “them”. Like I said, that’s a fruitless effort. Nah, these weapons are for the “Lurkers”. Sometimes, if you’re unlucky (around 15% of the time, like I said), your mere digital presence on the Forbidden Wiki will alert them to your location, and it’s something that can’t be helped. But even though the Lurkers aren’t in any way affiliated with “them”, they do have comparable goals. They don’t want you looking at that information either. But unlike “them”, the Lurkers don’t want you to have any kind of awareness of the subjects at all.
You won’t be able to anticipate them. They might fall out a tree if you’re in a forest. They might step out of a dark corner if you’re in an abandoned building. They might crawl out of a lake. You get the gist of it. You won’t see them coming.
Some will be more humanoid in appearance. Some will look more… unfamiliar. They will try and kill you in any way possible should you keep looking at the site. One sure way to guarantee your survival in these situations is to just close the browser, drop your device and take off. If you do this, they’ll have no reason to chase you down.
However… if you do want to keep looking, the Lurkers aren’t impossible to dispose of. In fact, if you’re armed well and have moderate combat experience, you should be able to wipe them out relatively easily and then continue exploring the site. Conversely, you could hire somebody else to deal with them on your behalf while you continue browsing. I’d recommend this option. Like I said, you can’t stay on one page for too long. And if the Lurkers start giving you trouble... then you might be a bit screwed.
I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the Lurkers either. One theory is that they’re simply interdimensional agents/mercenaries hired by a 3rd party who wants to protect their information from outsider eyes. But then who is this 3rd party? And why are they trying to protect the info? This is why I don’t bother with the theorizing. There’s simply too much that we can’t know.
Well, now that that’s all out of the way, let me tell about some of the pages I’ve come across on the Forbidden Wiki. Keep in mind that I had under a minute to glance over these, and despite having a fairly good memory, I’ll only be able to describe so much.
The Great Lakes Incident
“The Great Lakes Incident was a naval battle that took place across all five Great Lakes on the Canadian-US border from 2007-2011. Reports about a mysterious ship rising out of the water alerted Canadian authorities in late 2010… the belligerents were of an unusual nature, able to withstand conventional weaponry… possessing multiple heads, considered in between amphibian and humanoid… finally resolved using firebombs and chemical weapons…”
Inhabitants of the Bermuda Triangle
“…the beings living on these small, scattered islands are extremely hostile towards human contact… reported to be able to fly, causing trouble for aircraft travelling through… believed to have originated from a large, underwater volcano…
The Grand Canyon Void
“The Grand Canyon Void is a hole in the ground in Northwest Arizona measuring approximately 4.6 meters in diameter… hikers reported staring into the hole for hours on end, before they were dragged away from it by park authorities… an average of 12 hikers were reported to have jumped into it during the month of March, with their bodies turning up in different countries…”
Mr. Dream
“Mr. Dream is an Australian DJ from Perth… his self-proclaimed style is known as ‘infernal trance’. People at his live shows have been reported to experience moments of incredible euphoria, before disemboweling each other in the crowd… the manhunt is ongoing, with his latest show reported to have occurred in June 2019, at an underground venue in Paris.”
The Akroid mansion
“The Akroid mansion is a large estate located on the outskirts of Houston, Texas, belonging to the Akroid family… famously known for being the founding members of the cult known as ‘The Dawn of the collapsing Moon’… 77 attempts have been made to infiltrate the house, resulting in 587 Officer casualties. Only one known member of the Akroid family has been neutralized… the members are known to conduct rituals involving biological transformations of the human body… these creatures react in accordance with lunar cycles, exhibiting the most violent tendencies when the moon appears early in its first quarter…”
Channel 51 News
“Channel 51 news is a controversial news station that broadcasts on Channel 51 between 3-4AM… the reports presented on the program have been considered nonsensical and disturbing to the viewers watching… sometimes the hosts have reported incidents that have not occurred up until that point, only for these incidents to transpire one week after, as was the case with the Tokyo Massacre… The location the channel broadcasts out of remains impossible to pinpoint…”
As hard as it may be to believe, these are some examples of the more normal pages on the Wiki. Some of the other ones I’ve seen are… downright fucked.
The man inside your head
“The man inside your head is an arcane entity that exists within your subconscious. His intentions are malicious, and a good portion of your mental capacity is used to suppress him from escaping at any given time. Don’t let him escape.”
Eye in the Sky
“The Eye in the Sky is large eye measuring approximately 4400 meters in diameter that appears in the sky every so often, usually during violent storms. When it appears, it is advised not to look at it under any circumstances. The only exception to this rule is for those who have been forsaken and absolutely need to. You’ll know if you need to.
The corner in your basement
“The corner in your basement is that one dark spot in your basement tucked away in that far corner. No matter how much light you shine on it, it’ll never illuminate, and you’ll never know what’s lurking within it. You better figure out what it is soon.”
The Snowstorm Angel
“The Snowstorm Angel is that figure you see in your backyard during heavy snowstorms. You’ll think your eyes are playing a trick on you, and that your senses are somehow being distorted by the snowfall but make no mistake. It’s there. People often assume its nature to be benevolent, given its name. That assumption is incorrect.”
These kinds of articles were always shorter in length. In fact, what I described above pretty much represented the entirety of the text. These articles all included pictures as well. I regret ever looking at any of them.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you about the Forbidden Wiki at all, along with how to get there. As contradictory as it may seem, this is a precautionary tale. Most people will read this and believe it to be fake, or simply lack the time, energy or motivation to go through with it. Good. Be one of those people.
But then there’s the people who don’t fit that bill. The “thrill-seekers”, so to speak. These are the ones who’ll look for it no matter what. Eventually they’ll find another set of instructions written by somebody else. But one that might not include a proper warning. One that doesn’t tell the whole story.
I am here to give you that warning. Don’t do this.
I thought I was safe just browsing around. I followed all the rules. I hired hitmen off the dark web to accompany me in case the Lurkers showed up. I always made sure to not overstay my welcome on any of the pages, in order to keep myself hidden from “them”.
In reality, the Forbidden Wiki is a strange and complicated place. You may think that you’ve experienced enough and that you’ve figured out all of its tricks… but don’t underestimate it. We were never meant to lay our eyes on something like this.
I stumbled upon a ‘particular’ page the last time I paid a visit to the site. This was the page that ruined everything. The title was simply a phone number. A phone number that contained my area code. Here was the description. I remember this one verbatim:
“(XXX)-XXX-XXXX is a number that will be calling you in a few days. You are obligated to answer his call and follow his instructions. If you refuse, he will come to you. You will only have two chances.”
Here’s the thing. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a basement. I’m pretty sure there’s no demonic entity living inside my head. I’ve never seen a giant eye in the sky. I’m in the South, so snowfall is rare and sparse at best. Up until a point, the shit I’ve seen on the Wiki had been 100% separate and disconnected from my real life. I really thought I had no cause for concern.
But… I did get a call. A call from a number I really hoped I wouldn’t see again. I let it ring through without picking up.
One last chance.
submitted by Mr_Outlaw_ to nosleep [link] [comments]

CASE STUDY: Transitioning my niche site to ecommerce using Shopify

Disclaimer: My site is very small and I don't purport this to be a gamechanger for, well, anyone. I just wanted to share something that is seeming to work well for me.
I started my niche site in 2018 -- it is focused around a particular type of vehicle that has a hobbyist following. Initially the site was monetized through a combination of Google Adsense and the Amazon Associates program. At some point, I started trying to diversify the income as much as possible. For me, this meant adding the eBay Partner Network for some items and applying for Ezoic as soon as I met the requirements.
I also experimented with some small affiliate programs but didn't have much success -- I had to get very creative to find them as most of the stores I really wanted to refer sales for did not offer an affiliate program. I reached out to them multiple times seeing if there was something we could arrange. I even offered to just sell display ads to them, but no dice. The result was signing up for a couple small affiliate programs with low commissions and low sales volume proructs. This frustration was the start of my desire to curate my own store of products I genuinely want to sell.

Shopify and subdomaining
I use Shopify to host my online store. I am a software engineer by profession so I generally don't consider ease-of-use and setup to be the most important factors when choosing software -- I just want whatever is the most effective. There are other options like WooCommerce that I have heard great things about.
However, for me, Shopify is almost magically easy to use and offers everything I have needed or wanted so far. Following Warren Buffet's advice to "buy what you like" I actually bought as much stock in the company as I could after using it for a month. Everything just works exactly how I expect it to. I have never struggled to find any answers or documentation about anything. The support is phenomenal.
It's just a great product -- to me I think they could be a bigger company then Amazon in a few years because it allows anyone to create to sell online and maintain a lot of control, something retailers lose with Amazon. I signed up for the Shopify affiliate program because I want to refer people to it, not to refer people to it. I helped my cousin set one up for his beef jerky business and it took 20 minutes before he was online and it has been a gamechanger. The small independent grocery store across the street from me is surviving (probably thriving) through COVID-19 because they allow online orders through Shopify and window pickup. But most importantly, it's great to get the little notification when you make a sale, especially when the margins are so much higher than affiliate, but I'll get to that later.
For me, I used a shop.mydomain.com subdomain for my Shopify site. It's great because there are no conflicts with your Wordpress site and it's a very clean looking link. Shopify has some documentation on this if you would like to try it.

Profit Margins
Selling items yourself is great mainly because you get to choose and experiment with your profit margins. Want to experiment with razor-thin margins because you know your visitors will shop around a lot? Try it. Want to raise the price so any one sale is $80 in profit but you don't have to pack and ship as much? Might work, try it! Between Google Analytics and Shopify's analytics stats, you can measure anything you need to.
Here's a concrete example of one item from my site. I sell a particular type of spark plug that is used on a vehicle that my site is partly focused on. This is an item I have sold/referred in one way or another since the beginning of my site in 2018:
This is a small item that is extremely easy to buy in bulk and pack/ship quickly.
I actually averaged more clicks to this item when the destination was Amazon, so my conversion rate actually went up when I moved away from Amazon. I charge a few dollars more than Amazon and many other online retailers for this item. I could probably do some experimenting to find the optimal price/sales ratio, but I think those numbers speak for themselves.
One of my early fears was that the trust people have for Amazon and their affinity towards Prime is hard to challenge, but my opinion is that the trust you gain by writing well-researched, meaningful articles and being an active participant in the niche you serve makes people want to support you.

Dropshipping
Dropshipping has negative connotations because of the bastardized "buy cheap small items from overseas and make 4000% profit while the user doesn't know that the item wont arrive for 2 months" format that is shown by YouTube influencers and the like. However, dropshipping is simply collecting a sale yourself while having an underlying price agreement with a supplier who will pack and ship the item for you. The first item I sold through my Shopify store I actually sold on a dropshipping basis.
This was a line of products within the $200-300 price range, and I also sold these through the Amazon Associates program before. It was nice to make $10-17 for one sale, but I felt like I should be making more. I called the company that produces this item and asked to buy 3 or 4 to sell myself, but he suggested dropshipping instead which I was interested in as these items are rather large. I agreed to buy the items for around $160-200 and now I profit around $60 per sale -- the only effort required on my end is sending an email (gave them a card to have on file) and adding the tracking number to Shopify when it is available. The credit card points are nice too!
One other thing about this that I think is important -- It's really nice to have personal relationships that this kind of business offers. The guy that answered the phone was the owner of the small business and he's the nicest guy, great to deal with and it feels good to get him some sales, especially during a crisis like this. I actually met up with him at an industry event and we talked for a long time. He's an older guy and at some point I want to get him setup with a better online presence especially as he sells a lot of other products over the phone that I can't necessarily refer in my niche, but could definitely benefit from a real online store and web presence. I am building similar relationships with other suppliers and personally I love it.

Item Selection
If you go the route of stocking and shipping items yourself, the scope of products you can monetize through your site broadens drastically. For me, there was always a certain type of item that I wanted to sell, but I could never find a good version of this item on Amazon or anywhere that offered an affiliate program. This was actually one of the retailers I reached out to asking for an affiliate program to no avail. Then I asked for a dropshipping agreement -- the answer was still no. However, it's a lot easier when you ask to buy 50x of one item. They processed my distributor account in a day and had my items to me by the end of the week. It is now my best selling item!

Shipping Logistics and Tools
One of the things that I think could be a dealbreaker for people is something I personally really enjoy -- stocking, packing, and shipping items. My inventory is small enough to fit in a walk-in closet in my apartment. I love the process of getting the Shopfiy "ca-ching" notification, packing the order, and dropping it off at the mailbox. Here are some tools I have used to make this process more efficient:
Here is part of my dedicated "ship-station" where I manage my store and print labels/packing slips.
https://i.imgur.com/TdRfvEK.jpg
I would probably wait to receive the items you're selling before selecting the packaging you're going to use. That way you can take exact measurements and consider alternative sizes/types of packages. One of my items is a collection of smaller items. I throw away the box that my supplier ships it in, and put it in a bag that goes inside my small mailer box. I use a particular size of bubble wrap which was also specifically chosen to protect the item, while also taking up all of the surrounding space. It's much easier to make all of these choices when you have the item in front of you.
Here's the previously mentioned item (spark plugs) in the box I chose (bubble wrap not shown!) There is no wasted space when it is packed.
https://i.imgur.com/IXgTxm0.jpg
For me, I use USPS for nearly all of my orders. It's usually the cheapest option and very fast for the size of item I have. I live in an apartment complex and I can just drop my packages in the mailroom and they get picked up daily. Shopify will show you all of the available shipping options with speed and price. For international orders, it's only a few dollars more, and I think it goes from USPS and gets picked up by DHL.

Item Presentation
Another benefit of this approach is that you have infinitely more opportunity to make a good impression on your customers which is huge if your items are the kind that might be reordered, or if the customer may be interested in other items you sell. For me, item presentation is also important because as I said, I am operating out of a spare closet in my apartment, so I want to look as professional as possible.
Here are some ways you can do this:

Advertising
I have not yet started experimenting with any form of ads. All of my sales thus far have been the result of organic traffic from the content on my website funneled through to my store. This month I am going to experiment with Facebook and Google Ads. Obviously this may not work but if there is a decent enough margin after the increased customer acquisition cost I will continue. I will report these results later!

Legality and Relationship to Affiliate Marketing
Keeping in mind that we in this business typically operate as affiliates, the golden rule is to make sure you are recommending the absolute best products to your site visitors. Thinking back to the Casper mattress affiliate drama, there should be research and thought behind your recommendations. Selling the items yourself does complicate this. I have used all of the items I sell on my store. When I moved my links over from Amazon, I kept the notes indicating that I have used the item, but I also added a link to an explanation of my store.
I think it ends up being an extra vote of confidence when I explain to users: I have tried the items I sell and think they are the best in their category. I used to sell these items as an affiliate and would receive a commission, but I believe in them strongly enough that I now stock and sell them myself. I am not the only one who sells them and you can certainly buy from others if you find a better price/shipping speed.
I'll restate what I said before because I think it is extremely illuminating: My conversion rates went up when I moved items from Amazon to my own store!
The bottom line is that you need to be explicit about these things to be safe and honest. I think my niche works particularly well for this as people are looking for a.) What exact version of the item do I need? and b.) How do I use it? I know many niche sites are focused around "Top 10 X" type content and this may become a lot more difficult within the honesty/legality context. Something to think about.
As a final note, I still operate this as a sole proprietorship. Eventually I want to get an LLC for it. I have been upfront about this with all of my suppliers and none of them have required this for a distributor agreement.

My Stats
Here are my income sources over time. I apologize for the colors used in the line charts of individual sources, I could not figure out how to configure those.
https://i.imgur.com/bkeK6PJ.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/8ES9cG5.jpg
As you can see, my site is very small. However, the relationship between the decline these past few months in display advertising revenue (Ezoic literally sent an email saying to expect lower rates) and the Amazon Associates rate cut charted against my growing Shopify revenue really opened my eyes to the benefit I gained from diversifying towards ecommerce/Shopify. I still keep the older sources of revenue, but I actually think I will consider eliminating them in the future, especially display ads. Diversification is necessary when the revenue source lacks control -- Amazon Associates can slash rates willy-nilly, eBay Partner Network can apparently just decide to not pay me for a large sale I made, who even knows what these display ad networks are actually getting paid for our clicks or if every click is considered, etc.
Selling the items yourself gives you a lot more responsibility, but a lot more control. One of the primary reasons I'm so excited about this is that my inventory is still VERY small. I am working to add new items and it's wonderful because even if I only sell a few, the profit margins make it so much easier to spend the time to create the content and stock/ship the item -- a luxury I never had with Amazon.
Please feel free to ask any questions! I'd love to help if I can.
submitted by Mark-JST to juststart [link] [comments]

Our own step-by-step startup/project launch checklist

Hey guys! So my co-founder and I launched several projects/businesses over the past 2 years (incl. our marketing agency, local tour agency, and a bunch of other stuff). We usually go through the exact same process for every project launch, so we decided to turn it into a checklist, both for ourselves & the internet people on Reddit.
You can check out the complete checklist here, and here's a Reddit-format-friendly post:

Step #1 - Research Phase

Before you start planning your launch, you need to figure out your overall product and marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to think about:

Step #2 - Slap Together a Website

Time to get things rolling. The next step is to create a website & lay the foundation for your marketing.

Step #3 - Do Some Pre-Launch Marketing

If you have the extra time and resources, you can start marketing your product way before you’ve even launched. Usually, this involves:

Step #4 - Get Some Initial Traction

Once you have an MVP, you want to validate 2 things: that your product works, and that it can drive conversions (and hence, revenue). Here’s how to do it lean:

Step #5 - Prep For Launch

Every startup gets one “launch” in its lifetime. Here’s how to make sure you get it right:

Step #6 - LAUNCH!

Time to hit that big, shiny red button and LAUNCH!
submitted by DrJigsaw to startups [link] [comments]

Part 2: A great tip for Brazilians, Venezuelans and other nationalities which choose to play Tibia as their main income

Hello,
I have gotten so many replies and messages since my last post in this thread, that I can't answer them all individually. Previous topic:
https://www.reddit.com/TibiaMMO/comments/h8tu5u/a_great_tip_for_brazilians_venezuelans_and_othe
It has been shared on multiple subreddits so I have no idea where to even post this. But I'd like to come up with a follow-up thread with some more information. The internet is the most powerful tool that mankind has ever invented. You have the ability to reach thousands, millions and even billions of people with just a computer and some internet access.
If you're on this subreddit, chances are you're already playing Tibia and you already have a computer and internet access. It doesn't need to be the best internet, but as long as websites will load (eventually) you are good to go.
In this topic I will go more in-depth on web development and software engineering. If you have a very slow internet connection, you may want to look into web development instead of software development. An application/software is much heavier (larger file size) than a website. And most developer jobs require that you send and download files, back and forth, between you and your company's server. So if you feel like your internet is too slow to send a lot of files - do not worry! There are plenty of jobs.
First, I will go through some more details on how to learn web development and software development. After that, I will list a few other kinds of jobs that you can do remotely. These types of jobs can be done from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access.

Part 1: Some languages you should learn
What is web development? Well, it can be a lot of things. You perhaps make websites for shops/restaurants/hair dressers/dentists, or you work for a big company and work on their web application, like Outlook, Discord or Spotify (which can all be accessed via a browser: their web app). You can also work with design and user experience, instead of programming. Being a web developer can mean so many different things, it's impossible to name them all. But most web developers are just developers: they program. They make websites, and they either sell the websites to companies (as a consultant) or you work full/part-time for a company.
I can not provide in-depth information about every single thing, but I can give you some pointers. The very basics any web developer should know is this:

Part 2: Technologies and useful tools
To become a web developer you will need a few tools. You need a text editor, a FTP client, a SSH client and some other things. Also a good browser.

Other things you may want to look into:
Web services, SSL certificates, Search Engine Optimization, Databases, API, Algorithms, Data Structures

Part 3: Learning platforms

If you want to learn in-depth about algorithms, data structures and more. Then you can take a look at the curriculum of the top-tier universities of USA. Such as: UC Berkeley, Harvard and MIT. These courses are very hard and are specifically for people who want to become experts in software engineering. You can enroll some of them for free, like the one on Harvard. And by having a such diploma (which costs $90 extra) can get you a lot of job opportunities. You can enroll those courses if you want, but it can have a fee. But just take a look at what they are studying and try do their exercises, that is 100% free. Get the knowledge. It's mostly on video too! These course below are the very same courses that many of the engineers at Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Uber, AirBnb, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, etc. has taken. It's what majority of people in Silicon Valley studied. And it's among the best classes that you can take. These course are held by some of the world's best professors in IT.

UC Berkeley: CS 61a & CS 61b:

Harvard University: CS50 (free enrollment --- 90$ to get a certificate).

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): 6.006

Part 4: Finding jobs
Portfolio / Code Sharing / Source Control:

Part 5: Other types of jobs you can work with (remotely) - with/without coding experience

You can find information about all of the things I have mentioned by using YouTube or Google search.
Hope it helps.

And I hope that in 1 year, there will be at least some new web developers in Brazil, Venezuela and other countries in South America.
submitted by International-Unit-8 to TibiaMMO [link] [comments]

How to achieve explosive startup growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
I removed the last sections because of the post character limit. Here are two:
submitted by alollou to startups [link] [comments]

Free marketing guide for startups: How to achieve explosive growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
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