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Date: Friday, 19 Mar 2010 21:44

On March 2, President Obama signed legislation extending the SBA’s ability to provide small business loans enhanced by Recovery Act provisions, including the higher guarantee of SBA- backed loans and a waiver of loan fees.

This is the second time the Senate has approved additional funding since December.

How Is It Going To Work?

Additional funding will support about $1.8 billion in lending by extending its ability to guarantee loans. It will help new small businesses to jump-start and existing businesses to grow.

Existing borrowers who are already in SBA’s Recovery Loan Queue will be funded first, followed by the new applicants who are eligible for the higher guarantee and reduced fees.

According to SBA Administrator, Karen Mills, the increased guarantee and reduced fees on SBA loans helped put almost $22 billion into the hands of small business owners…As a result, average weekly loan approvals by SBA have climbed by 87 percent compared to the weekly average before passage of the Recovery Act.

The extension will provide higher guarantee for 7(a) loans through March 28, 2010. Reduced fees will be available until the additional funding is exhausted or the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

If you already took a 504 or 7(a) that is already funded, you will not be eligible for higher guarantee or waived fees.

More Support from SBA Is On the Way

SBA states that it will continue to provide small businesses with the tools they need to drive economic growth and grow jobs.

Karen Mills, reports: “We will continue working with the President and with Congress to move forward with proposals for a longer extension for these important program enhancements, as well as higher loan limits, refinancing for commercial property loans and other significant ongoing support for small businesses.”

For a detailed information regarding the new legislation, please read the press release (pdf document).

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Accounting & Finance, Management"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Mar 2010 17:41

digital poster

All business owners know and appreciate that advertising is essential for the success of their businesses, from the early days when store owners advertised their store in their local newspaper, on radio stations and in local magazines.

What was wrong with these methods?
Well firstly, once people have read the magazine article or newspaper, they rarely retain the printed copy, this on top of the costs involved with print advertising put an end to how successful this medium was for getting paying customers over the stores door step. Radio advertising was also expensive, but unlike newspapers and magazines they could not go online, like people who still advertise with magazines and newspapers, their ad can be seen online under the classified ads on the newspapers website – as most newspapers have their own website that has lots more content with more ads.

Now in the 21st century, some of these business owners are harnessing technology and making it work for them, rather than the other way round.

This type of entrepreneur is using digital signage to capture customer’s attention, getting them in-store and then up selling them products.

When you go to the mall (and yes they turn over lots more than us), they have large LCD displays hanging from the ceiling promoting stores within the mall, such as breakfast specials from the sandwich bar or that designer dress at 60% off the original price.

But any business owner can have a scaled down version at a fraction of the price, the one thing that deters business owners investing is the perceived cost implications of deploying such a solution. We will try and put you mind at rest with the following information.

Setting up a solution.
Do you have a redundant television? Or an old TV you are about to upgrade at home? If you do you can bring the old set to the store and connect it up to a DVD player near the checkout and then your supplier of any overstocked products to supply a “commercial”, so it will play on the TV for the overstocks you have.

Now if you do not have any overstocks, you could look at a digital poster, these are a commercial grade screen with an inbuilt media player, all you need is content to display and if you ask your suppliers, I am sure they will be glad to supply you with free content, then you drag and drop the content onto the CF memory card and insert it into the player then hang the iposter on the wall, near the checkout or near the front door, so people can see it as soon as they walk in.

When customers are passing your front door, they will see the screen with the ads and it will cause some interest and they will be drawn into your store, then even if they were not looking to buy your promotion product, they may because it is promoted professionally and directly to them.

This solution costs little to implement but the results can pay for its self week on week.

Author: "--" Tags: "Small Business General, advertising for ..."
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Date: Thursday, 04 Mar 2010 05:29

SEOMoz Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Learn the basics of what search engine optimization is and how it can lead to vast amounts of targeted traffic at ridiculously low prices.  SEO is how online businesses drive organic traffic (non-paid) and will always be an important asset that a web property can build up.  SEOMoz’s guide is an excellent, and thorough, resource that is by far the best introductory piece on everything SEO related.

Google’s AdWords Beginners Guide

Google AdWords is the industry standard in pay per click advertising platforms.  What is PPC you ask?  Ever notice the ads around the results on Google when you do a search for something commercial?  Advertiser pay for visitors based on the number of clicks (creative name, eh?).  Many businesses can produce awesome marketing ROI’s with pay per click advertising.  This tutorial gives the basics of how to get rolling and how to start a campaign–straight from the horse’s mouth.

Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

This excellent blog post gives a good introduction to Social Media Marketing.  SMM is anything you do to promote your business on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other social media sites.  In the past few years, social media has taken the web over by storm and participating isn’t an option–it’s mandatory!  This guide gives some good info on both how to market to social media users and where to do it.

Sphinn

Sphinn is a search marketing news aggregator–generally geared toward the slightly more advance professional.  I believe in learning by immersion so once you’ve read about the basics, I recommend heading over to Sphinn and reading solid articles (like the one I wrote on marketing for mortgage brokers) that show up near the top.

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land is an industry leading source for news on search engine marketing.  It sometimes delves too far into the nitty gritty of search engine functions but the archives are pure gold.  Like Sphinn, this is a little more advanced and I’d recommend reading the beginning resources I listed above before delving into Search Engine Land.

SEO Book Forums

This is the first paid resource on the list.  SEOBook is probably the first or second largest authority website on SEO.  The blog, which is free, is excellent but the real meaty stuff is in the paid, members-only section.  I have a membership to the site and it’s a fairly high monthly fee but totally worth it.  The access to legit web marketing pros is unparalleled anywhere else and because of the cost, a lot of the typical fluff is weeded out.  If you’re serious about building you business online…join SEOBook!

Raven SEO Tools

The other paid tool I’d endorse is the Raven SEO Tools suite.  It’s a great CRM tool and SEO toolset that makes lots of online marketing functions MUCH easier.  It’s also a treat to use because it integrates with Google Analytics and some other marketing tools that you’d likely consider using.  Best of all, anyone can sign up for free for 30 days to see if it’s a fit!

Author: "--" Tags: "Marketing & Sales"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Nov 2009 02:01

Cash Flow

Did you know that many small businesses fail due to amateur cash flow management whether they are profitable or not? This article offers tips about cash flow projection, a free cash flow template, two free cash flow calculators, and explains the meaning of cash flow and cash flow statement.

Whether for business or personal finances, Cash Flow Management is a crucial part of financial management.

If you are here to download the free cash flow statement templates, and don’t want to read further about cash flows, here are the shortcuts:

If you are here to learn more about the crucial part of financial management; Cash Flows, let’s start with the Cash Flow 101.

What is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is an expense or revenue stream that changes a cash account over a given period for a business, a project, or a financial product. There are two entries made for each category; Cash in & cash out. Activities such as operation income, financing, investing, donations & gifts bring in cash, while investments, expenses and donations take cash out of your cash flow. This can be said for both businesses and personal accounts.

What is Cash Flow Statement?

A “cash flow statement” or a “statement of cash flows” represents the amount of cash used & generated by a company, a person or a project within a given time period.

Cash flow statement is calculated by adding non-cash charges such as depreciation to net income after taxes. Cash flow is an important indicator of financial strength. Financial analysts use cash flow statements to measure a company’s financial strength and performance.

Free Cash Flow Statement Template

Here is a free cash flow statement excel template. I usually use this cash flow statement template to brainstorm new project ideas. When I have a new project or a business idea, first thing I do is to look at worst case & base case scenario cash flow projections by entering projected numbers in this excel sheet.

So, feel free to download the Cash Flow Statement I’ve been using and use it for your needs.

I have created this cash flow statement excel template to use as a quick and dirty cash flow projection tool for my ideas/projects. In no means, it is supposed to replace a well thought, quality cash flow statement. If you are preparing a cash flow statement for an important reason, such as presentation to potential investors, please use a professional business plan software. I use Palo Alto to create all of my own and my clients’ business plans.

Free Cash Flow Calculator

This is a great Online Free Cash Flow Calculator to use for quick projections. I’d recommend bookmarking it. Click to use the online cash flow calculator.
Click to Use the Free Cash Flow Calculator

Free Discounted Cash Flow Calculator

Discounted Cash Flow is used to calculate the time value of money. Click to Use the online discounted cash flow calculator.
Click to Use the

Understanding Time Value of Money in Cash Flow Concept

As a business owner, you have to clearly understand the Time Value of Money to be able to create accurate cash flow projections.

Time value of money shouldn’t be treated only from the financial perspective. Any small business owner should focus on time value of money for any type of cash flow projections and investment/funding decisions.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Accounting & Finance, Management"
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Date: Tuesday, 24 Nov 2009 02:15

Make Money with Facebook Ads

According to Facebook, there are over 300 million active Facebook users. While over 50% of the users login to their Facebook account every single day, fastest growing demographic is 35 years old and older. (If you are interested in finding out more about Facebook’s demographics & stats, check out Facebook’s stats page.)

Whether you are a small business owner, an online marketer or the head of marketing at a giant corporation, if you are still not using Facebook to get new customers and business, you are making a huge mistake.

Facebook has an ad platform called Facebook Ads, and you can start advertising on Facebook Ads with as low as $1 a day. Yes, it is 1 buck a day.

At the end of this article, you will be able to launch your first Facebook Ads campaign and learn how to optimize Facebook Ads. If you have been running Facebook Ads, you will learn some advanced tips for Facebook Ads targeting and split testing which will end up lowering your ad spent tremendously for the same amount of clicks.


How to Make Money with Facebook Ads article is written for absolute beginners in mind, but I will also be sharing some pretty advanced, never shared Facebook Ads techniques. I will also reveal the secret tool used by the top Facebook marketers. Some of these top Facebook marketers are my friends, they won’t be happy at all when they see that I’m sharing their secret weapon; “I’m sorry guys, please don’t get mad at me!“.

Okay… Enough said, let’s get started with the “How to Make Money with Facebook Ads” Guide.

I wanted to create an “Ultimate Guide for Facebook Ads”, and it has ended up being a much longer article than I originally intended. I didn’t want to leave anything out, I hope you will start making money on Facebook Ads after reading this article, or increase your net profits on already profitable Facebook campaigns.

Here’s the main categories in this guide, so feel free to skip the topics you are comfortable with and jump right into advanced tips:

How to Make Money with Facebook Ads Guide Index

  1. How to Find Products to Promote on Facebook Ads
  2. How to Start Advertising on Facebook Ads
  3. Advanced Targeting Tips for Facebook Ads
  4. How to Start your First Campaign on Facebook Ads
  5. Facebook Ads Bidding Strategy – CPC vs CPM
  6. Advanced Split & Multivariable Testing Tips
  7. How to Optimize Facebook Ads
  8. Recommended Resources for Facebook Advertising

How to Find Products to Promote on Facebook Ads

Before even getting started with the competitive analysis, you need to have a product or service to sell on Facebook Ads.

Facebook offers both demographic and location based targeting. If you own a local small business and your potential customers are local, this is great news. You can target by location, then demographics on Facebook Ads.

When we get into Facebook Ads advanced targeting tips, it will be a piece of cake to start running Facebook Ads for your local business like a seasoned online marketer.

If you don’t own a local small business, don’t worry, there are literally thousands of products in the market which you can start promoting. Let’s get started with a few ideas.

Product & Service Ideas to Promote on Facebook Ads

  1. Promote your own products on Facebook Ads. Local or national, Facebook Ads is a great place to promote your own products. Whether your business sells a tangible product, software, or even if you own a coffee shop, Facebook Ads is a perfect match to promote your own products and services.
  2. Promoting Affiliate Products on Facebook Ads. If you don’t own your products, don’t worry. There are hundreds of affiliate networks in the market, making thousands of affiliate products available to you. Whether it is a CPA, CPL, or a CPS campaign, you can start promoting well known brands on Facebook, and start making money right away on comissions. Here are two of my favorite affiliate networks if you like to signup and check out the offers. They both have thousands of offers available for Facebook Promotion: AzoogleAds and Neverblue Ads.
  3. Generate Leads on Facebook Ads. Whether for your business or for local clients, Facebook Ads is a great place to generate leads. Create an appealing landing page. List the benefits of the service/product you are promoting instead of its features. Ask the users to fill a short form. This is one of the best ways of collecting potential customer data. Did you know that local businesses would pay high dollars for this type of legitimate leads? Let me give you a real life example. I had a friend who has negotiated with his apartment’s manager, and charged $100.00 for every potential tenant he’s found via Facebook Ads. It cost him around $1.50 per lead he’s generated on Facebook Ads with super laser targeting. Use this tip, be creative and find other ways to convince local businesses to buy quality leads from you.
  4. Build a quality email list with Facebook Ads. Email marketing has the highest ROI in any type of online marketing. You can create a landing page loaded with information, and start building a quality double opt-in email list by promoting your landing page on Facebook Ads. Many online marketers, including myself, use Aweber to create double opt-in email lists and autoresponders. So, check Aweber out if you don’t have an email marketing software.

Ok, I have given you some ideas and tips to find products and services to promote on Facebook. As long as you are creative, you will be able to find good products and services to promote on Facebook, even if you don’t own one yourself.

Let’s get started with advertising on Facebook.
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How to Start Advertising on Facebook Ads

Before creating your first Facebook Ad Campaign, you have to understand how the platform works.

If you don’t have a Facebook account already, please signup and create your Facebook account. If you already have a facebook account, and if you are familiar with the website, most likely you have already seen facebook ads, usually running on the right sidebar while you are logged in to Facebook.

Please take a look at the image below. I have created a screenshot of current Facebook Ads being served to my profile (click on the image to view the full size):

Facebook Ads on Profile Sidebar

When I click on “More Ads” on the right bottom of the sidebar, Facebook shows more ads targeting my profile details. Below is the screenshot of what I see at “More Ads” page:

Click to Enlarge - Facebook Ads Examples

These are just a few samples of how Facebook Ads will look like.

Important Tip: You have to find out and analyze what your competition is doing before getting started with your first campaign. This is pretty easy with Facebook. You can open a Facebook account and enter the details of your potential customer’s demographics in your profile.

If your product is targeting female users in the United States between 18 to 21 years old who goes to college, just open a new account and setup your profile settings according to this. When you start browsing on Facebook, your competitors ads, who are targeting similar demographics will start showing up on your sidebar. Do this process over again by changing your profile settings to see different ads targeted for different demographics.

Customer Demographics Research Tip: If you like to do little bit more research about the customer demographics of the product or service you are promoting, you should check out Quantcast. Take a look at Facebook.com’s Quantcast Data as an example. Freely available data online is gold mine, and Quantcast is the right tool to start digging that gold out and find laser targeted customer demographics data.

You have done your research, found out what the competition is advertising on Facebook, now it’s time to learn more about Facebook Ads targeting before creating your first campaign.
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Advanced Targeting Tips for Facebook Ads

This is where all the magic is; Targeting on Facebook Ads. Let’s start with taking a look at targeting options on Facebook Advertising Platform.

Currently Facebook lets you target users in 12 different variables. Take a look at the image below which shows all the targeting options in Facebook Advertising (click to enlarge the image):

Click to Enlarge Image - Facebook Ads Targeting Options

Let’s take a close look at each of these targeting options on Facebook and share some advanced tips.

Facebook Ads Targeting Options:

  1. Location Targeting: Facebook Ads lets you target your potential customers by country, state and city level locations. What I hear from the rumors, zip code level targeting is coming soon. Even if you are running a national or international campaign, location targeting is the first place to start creating laser targeted ads on Facebook. If you are a local business, it’s a no brainer. But if you are promoting nationally, I will share some tips how to use the location targeting for your campaigns at the split testing section.
  2. Age Targeting: Age targeting is a standard demographic factor. If you have done your research right and come up with a well defined target market, it is time to select your target market’s age.
  3. Birthday Targeting: If you are creative, you can come up with some genius ideas to market to the birthday kid. If you are targeting users on their birthdays, you must do it on separate campaign, because most likely you will have a different ad text and image for this.
  4. Sex Targeting: Gender targeting gives you a chance to target to females or males only.
  5. Keyword Targeting: I can’t emphasize how important the keyword targeting on Facebook ads is. This is probably the most important targeting option on Facebook Advertising Platform, and you should spend some serious time finding the right keywords. Before your keyword research, try to think like your customer. Let’s give a real life example. A mediocre marketer likes to sell a subscription for an online hip hop music website. Since the marketer thinks mediocre, he/she creates one Facebook Ad Campaign, and adds all the keywords related to hip hop music, such as “hip hop, hip hop music, hip hop beats, etc.”. You get the idea. But a smart marketer (you are the smart marketer here), instead, does an excellent job of understanding the demographics of the potential customers, and comes up with some genius keyword targeting ideas. He/She starts creating separate Facebook campaigns for every single keyword. For every popular hip hop singer, he/she creates a new ad copy with laser targeted text and image. For Jay-Z (hip hop artist if you don’t know the name) fans, he/she creates a targeted ad with Jay-Z’s picture on it. Probably, you already got the idea, and running to open a new browser right now to start a new Facebook Campaign. If you can use the keyword targeting right with some creativity, you will be able to make some real money on Facebook. Think, think, think.. Think about what are the favorite TV shows of your customers can be? What type of food they might be preferring? What type of a car they might be driving? Ok, that’s enough, if I share more of my advanced keyword targeting tips with you, I might lose my profitable campaigns on Facebook :)
  6. Education Targeting: When I see an ad on Facebook which says, “Hey Red Raider!” (I’m a Texas Tech Alumni), I’m already sold. There are over 4000 colleges in the US. Here is another secret tool I use; National Center for Education Statistics Tool. You can get the list of all schools in the US for absolutely free. With the correct automation in place, you can create over 4000 college targeted Facebook campaigns out of your single campaign.
  7. Workplace Targeting: My wife is doing her fellowship at Westchester Medical Center in New York. One day, while she was on Facebook browsing, she gets all excited and tells me that “We should change our auto insurance company”, because this company named XYZ is offering a huge discount only for Westchester Medical Center employees. Do I need to explain anything else about the power of workplace targeting? We know the ins and outs of the game, but a regular internet user, doesn’t matter how smart he/she is, falls into these little marketing tricks easily. Use this powerful targeting option to create profitable, targeted Facebook ads.
  8. Relationship Targeting: Creative thinking will give you great use of relationship targeting. If you sell jewelry, create separate campaigns for each relationship status. Don’t try to sell engagement rings to already married users. Relationship targeting can become the most important option depending on what you are trying to sell.
  9. Interested In Targeting: The name tells it all. Try to come up with ideas to combine relationship & interested in targeting together.
  10. Language Targeting: I am originally from Turkey, and there are over 500.000 native Turkish speakers living in the US. Don’t you think you will steal my heart by serving Turkish ads to my profile in New York? Think about Spanish, Russian, German, French, and all other languages being spoken in US. I’m not talking about international targeting. I’m talking about targeting your own country (USA in this case) and creating separate ads for different language speakers. I can’t tell you how powerful this is. Ok, let’s give a real life example. A mediocre marketer will try to sell cheap airline tickets by advertising “Cheap Airline Tickets”, and a smart one will target Turkish Speakers in the USA, and will have an ad in both English and Turkish (split testing) saying “Cheap Airline Tickets to Istanbul, Turkey”. You can start extremely profitable campaigns even in the most competitive niches right from the start with language targeting. OMG, I’m giving too many secrets :)
  11. New! Connections Targeting: This is a brand new targeting option on Facebook Ads. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but it is pretty exciting. You simply target users who are connected to one of your pages, groups, events or applications. The sad part is, you need to be an admin of that specific page/group/event/application.
  12. New! Friends of Connections Targeting: This also sounds pretty powerful. You can target your page’s fans’ friends.
  13. More information about Connections Targeting & Friends of Connections Targeting from Facebook’s official announcement:

    If you are a Page admin, Group officer, Event admin or Application developer, you know how important it is to connect and engage with users who are connected to you. We’re happy to announce the ability to target Facebook Ads only to users who have expressed interest in your Page, Group, Event or Application with connections targeting. Connections targeting allows you to target fans, members of your Group, users who have RSVP’d to your Event and/or users who have authorized your Application. Simply look for the “Connections: Target users who are connected to:” field in the ad targeting interface to get started. As you begin to type the name of your Page, Group, Event or Application in the field, the names of all eligible content that you manage on Facebook will appear in the type-ahead. Use this opportunity to increase engagement, send alerts and promote special offers to users who have already raised their hand for more information.

    You can also choose to increase the number of fans and page views to your Page, members to your Group, attendees to your Event or users authorizing your Application by excluding your connections from seeing your Facebook Ad. To do so, simply look for the “Connections: Target users who are not already connected to:” field in the ad targeting interface.

Again, Facebook targeting is the key to creating successful ads on Facebook. You have to spend some serious time for research and game plan on the targeting options before you start creating your campaign.

In the targeting section, I have highlighted the importance of launching laser targeted Facebook ads over and over again. I feel like most of you will ask the same question to me:

Laser Targeting Sounds Great. But, How do you Create Thousands of Laser Targeted Facebook Ads?

This is where my secret tool comes into play. Again, many of the top Facebook marketers will get mad at me for publicly speaking about this secret tool. But, I am ready to take the heat.

I use a tool called Facebook Ads Manager, used and known by only a tight circle of Facebook marketers. Even though it is available to be purchased publicly, most Facebook advertisers haven’t even heard about it.

This is a Firefox plugin which sells for $199.00. My daily net profit has increased over 10 folds on the second day I’ve started using this tool. But more importantly, now I can create and launch thousands of Facebook campaigns within a few minutes.

I will talk more about this tool in the split testing section.

You can create, launch and manage Facebook Ads through Facebook’s manual interface. You can even hire employees and interns to manage hundreds of campaigns manually, but the secret to making money on Facebook is automation, and you won’t be able to generate high dollar figures without an automation tool.

Anyways, check out the Facebook Ads Manager to read more about what this tool does and how it will automate your Facebook Advertising Business.
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How to Start your First Campaign on Facebook Ads

Before opening your Facebook Ads account, you should google facebook ads coupon and try to find some fresh Facebook Ads Coupons. Facebook is handing out coupons at industry events. These coupons are usually worth $50 to $100 and good for new accounts. Many bloggers give out these Facebook coupons away for free. So, find a Facebook Ads coupon, if you can, before creating your Facebook Ads account.

After you’ve created your account, start by taking a look at Facebook Ads Best Practices page.

Click through Rate (CTR) of your Facebook campaigns will be one of the most important factors on how much per click you will be paying for your ads. My experience shows that the image you will be using in your ads is going to be the most important factor to get higher click through rates.

So, spend some time for researching and finding good, interesting, stupid, crazy, creative images. Prepare your images at Photoshop or your favorite image editor. Keep in mind to have your image sizes 110 pixels wide by 80 pixels tall. This is a pretty small size for an image, and you have to be extremely creative on your images to get attention right away.

Facebook pages are already busy with text, images, videos, etc., so you won’t have a chance if you can’t find creative images which will pull attention of the users and make them want to click your ads.

After your images, ad copy and targeting options are ready, you can start creating your first Facebook Ads Campaign.

All the information needed to be entered is straight forward. Since you already have in depth understanding of targeting options, it will be easy to create and submit your first ad.

Important Tip: At the bottom of “Facebook Ad Creation Page”, you will see an estimate number of people your ads will be served to depending on the targeting options you have chosen. This is a dynamic number, when you change a targeting criteria, this number will update automatically. So, take a close look at this number when you are creating your first ad.

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Facebook Ads Bidding Strategy – CPC vs CPM

If you don’t excel the bidding strategy for Facebook Ads, you might simply wast countless hours of work for creating all these Facebook campaigns.

Let’s start with basics, take a look at the screenshot below, taken on the Facebook Campaign Creation Page (click to enlarge the image):

Click to Enlarge - Facebook Ads CPM vs CPC

You can either pay for each click (CPC), or pay per thousand impressions (CPM). Making a decision on CPC vs CPM is a tough one. Simply put, there’s no one form of successful bidding strategy on Facebook. You have to try both methods, test and test again.

CPC sounds great first, you only pay for the clicks you receive. But the problem is, if you don’t get a good CTR, Facebook starts showing your ads less and less, ending up with zero impressions pretty quick. It kills many campaigns from the start which might be successful.

But in general, for the products and services I promote, I have a pretty successful formula which works great for me.

I start creating a number of split test campaigns with my Facebook Ads Manager tool and I launch all of them PPC based.

After analyzing enough data (depends on the volume of campaign, it might take a day or even a few hours to get enough impressions), then I pick the highest CTR campaigns, and create CPM based new campaigns for them.

The biggest advantage of CPM based bidding on Facebook Ads is, Facebook keeps showing your ads to the users even if they start getting less clicks. This way, your campaigns don’t die if they don’t get a good CTR for a day or two.

Again, this is how I approach CPM vs CPC bidding on Facebook, but you should test as much as you can before coming up with a default bidding strategy on Facebook.

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Advanced Split & Multivariable Testing Tips for Facebook Ad Campaigns

I use the Facebook Ads Manager for advanced split and multivariable testing for my Facebook Campaigns.

The screenshot below shows how I use Facebook Ads Manager to split to create laser targeted Facebook campaigns for ultimate success in Facebook Advertising:

Facebook Ads Split Testing

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How to Optimize Facebook Ads

To be able to increase the ROI on current campaigns and make the new campaigns profitable, you need to constantly optimize your campaigns.

Even though we have focused mostly on the CTR, the main goal should be the conversion rates. I use Tracking 202 Pro to track all of my campaigns. Even if I have thousands of Facebooks Ads running, it becomes very easy to track which ads are converting. Tracking 202 also has a free version which is great.

Whether the free version or the paid version, I’d highly recommend Tracking202 for anybody who is running Facebook Ads.

After you have proper tracking in please, simply setup your profit goals, and monitor all ad groups daily for the conversion rates.

Another important optimization tip is for laser targeted campaigns. Sometimes, it is easy to achieve excellent profit margins on Facebook with very targeted ads. But since these ads are served to a limited number of people, after a while, they start getting less clicks and conversion. This happens to me all the time. When my super targeted Facebook ads start getting little to no CTR’s, I try to modify the images, and ad text. But, again, some campaigns will come to an end on Facebook whether you like it or not. You have to profit from them while you can.

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Recommended Resources for Facebook Advertising

Here are two great books if you like to read further about Facebook Ads, Social Media Marketing and also in general Social Media. I will be updating this section with resources I find valuable for Facebook Advertising.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff. The title tells it all.

Facebook Era is an excellent outline of basic steps to a successful Facebook Advertising.

See what some authorities are saying about Facebook Era:

“People in all demographics and regions of the world are more connected than ever before to the products, issues, places, and individuals in their lives. This book recognizes that we’ve come to a place where people can represent their real identity–both personal and professional–and use the social filters on the Web to connect with the world around them.”

–Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook

“…A must-read for CEOs and other executives who want to understand Facebook and more importantly take the right actions to stay relevant and stay competitive.”

–David Mather, President, Hoovers, Inc.

Inbound Marketing is a great book and a must read for business owners who’d like to get a better understanding of social media.

One of the co-authors of Inbound Marketing is Dharmesh Shah of OnStartups. By the way, OnStartups is one of my favorite blogs.

See what some authorities are saying about Inbound Marketing:

“If you’ve been looking for a trustworthy primer on getting found online, here’s a great place to start. Buy one for your clueless colleague too.”—Seth Godin, author of Meatball Sundae

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing by reading this book.”—Guy Kawasaki, cofounder of Alltop, and author of Reality Check

Here’s also a good blog post from Business Insider, written by Nick O’Neill; 10 Rules For Advertising On Facebook.

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In Conclusion

Since you are reading the last paragraph, you have spent your valuable time to read until the end of this post, thank you for that. I am glad you are excited about giving Facebook Ads a try, and I hope you have found the information I’ve shared valuable.

99% of business owners who read this article will never even give Facebook Ads a good try (I’m sorry but it’s real life data from experience). Don’t be in the 99%, and start creating your first Facebook Ad today. The best advice I can give you about succeeding with Facebook Ads it; by doing it and testing, testing, and testing until you find enough profitable campaigns.

Please share your comments below, and I will try my best to answer any questions you might have about Facebook Ads.

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Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Facebook, Marketing & Sales, Social, Adv..."
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Date: Saturday, 13 Sep 2008 19:43

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Information overload is a pretty new term moved into our lives with the internet era. Especially if you are working online, you have to be on top of things all the time.

My regular work day starts with checking my emails and checking my stats on several sites. I have never thought about organizing basic tasks in my regular business day. Of course, for every project or a website we make plans, timesheets, we use project management tools, etc. But how about organizing the very basic daily tasks we do all the time?

Understanding and Accepting the Problem

Since the beginning of 2007, I knew that I was spending so much time on unnecessary things and tasks in my daily life. I didn’t know the solution, but I have finally admitted it was a serious problem for my business and for my daily life. Then, I started looking for a solution.

Finding Tools to Help Me Solve the Information Overload Problem

It was during December 2007, and I was waiting for my international flight at JFK Airport in New York. Even though I had several books, my laptop and magazines to read in my luggage, I was checking some new books at a store in JFK.

I saw a book named; Getting Things Done, and I was curious. I have checked it out. I knew the name “David Allen” as the “Personal Productivity Guru”, but I have never read his books before.

This books has practically changed my life. It gave me a whole new perspective on information overload, and increasing personal productivity.

If you are smart enough to overcome the information overload problem yourself without reading a book or using tools, great, good for you. But I was NOT. I needed somebody or a book to tell me exactly what to do step by step. And it worked.

If you read this book or any other book to help you with overcoming information overload, you don’t want to change everything in your life right away. You have to take a step at a time, otherwise it will be very hard. Think about quitting coffee. Start decreasing one cup a day, then once every two days, etc. This is how I have implemented the tips into my life from “Getting Things Done“.

I have also found a FREE tool online called FlowChart.com. It is great to create flow charts, or mind maps. I highly recommend this tool. You can also share your flow charts with your friends, partners, employees, and create a collaboration.

Other than Getting Things Done by David Allen, I have also heard great things about Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson which I will be ordering soon.

You can check out the best selling books about information overload at amazon.com. You need to overcome the information overload before it is too late, and become more productive.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Featured, Reviews, Small Business Genera..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2008 08:41

Amazon Goes Green

Amazon has launched a new cateogry called Amazon Green a few weeks ago. Amazon has always been good with following high demand trends in online shopping world. In most cases Amazon is the first to implement those.

The behavior of both offline and online shoppers in the US are changing, and going more towards Green Shopping. This is great news for the environment, and for our future.

Many small businesses are following the green shopping trend for a while but the big shots in online shopping game are jumping onto the board recently, one by one.

Amazon Green is a category/section within main Amazon site. You can pick 3 products from Amazon’s catalog which you believe are green, then they get rated higher in the Amazon Green Section.

eBay has launched WorldOfGood.com for green shoppers. With the new site, I believe, eBay’s ultimate goal is to target increasing Etsy.com customers.

Amazon‘s Green Model within their main site, or eBay‘s Green Model with a seperate site. Time will show which business model will be more successful.

Is Your Small Business Still NOT Green?

Amazon, eBay or other big online stores will make their share of $$$ from the green shopping trend. But how can you increase your sales or bring new customers to your small business by going green?

Every niche is different. Some niches are more suitable to offer environmental friendly products than others. You don’t have to offer a large selection of green products. You can do little things to let your customers know that you care about the environment.

Tips to Go Green For Small Businesses:

  • Try to use as much recyclable supplies as possible.
  • Run campaigns to support environmental friendly non-profit organizations.
  • Try to find new green products which would fit into your product line.
  • Let your customers know that you care about the environment.

I have been hearing more and more success stories of small businesses which go green. So, don’t miss the “Go Green” trend, and both increase your sales & help the environment.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Ecommerce, Amazon, Green, Green Business"
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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2008 08:48

Stable Passive Income As an eBay Affiliate

Is it possible to create a stable passive income stream with affiliate marketing?

Yes, absolutely.

Is it true that we can create an affiliate site within minutes and become a millionaire overnight, just like it says in $99.00 “Get Rich Overnight” ebooks?

Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Every penny, a real online marketer makes online, is the result of very hard work and many sleepless hours spent on the computer.

I have found a way to create a stable passive income stream with much less work than any online or affiliate marketing techniques.

I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I will share my biggest secret today which I have never shared before, not even with my close friends. I am a guy who believes in KARMA, so here it goes.

My true story of making over $5000/month passive income within 3 months as an ebay affiliate:

It was around August of 2007 when I have read a few forum posts about a software/script called BANS (Build a Niche Store). A few people were talking about how much they make with this script as an ebay affiliate.

The stories sounded to good to be true, and I didn’t even check the script’s website.

I was already making good amount of money with my ecommerce business, affiliate sites, blogs, and consultancy business. But I was always searching for that secret recipe; Passive Income, like many other online marketers.

Every penny I made online was the result of hard work and many sleepless nights spent on the computer. I was amazed with the stories of online marketers making unbelievable numbers as passive income. I always thought it was too good to be true. It was a prejudgment on my side, I admit it now.

It was around November of 2007, three months after I’ve heard about this script BANS, now more and more people started talking about it online. I have decided to give it a shot and purchased the script.

I have paid $97.00 for BANS which comes with unlimited website license, and totally forgot about it due to my busy schedule.

About 6 months later, during May 2008, I have decided to spend a few hours and setup a site. I have setup my first BANS ebay affiliate site that weekend, and within exactly 3 months (June, July, August 2008), I have 10 BANS sites with over $5000/month income. (August sales numbers are not finalized yet, but we are at $5,125.24 exactly as of august 29th).

Here’s the interesting part. The first site I’ve built with BANS, after doing the initial promotion, is making around $1000/month as of august, and had a steady income increase of 100% every single month. I have setup the site, promoted it, and left it there untouched. This is pure increasing passive income.

I have seen one thing, if built right, an eBay affiliate store can make more money than you can ever imagine.

Many affiliate marketers will tell you, eBay affiliate sites are too SATURATED, stay away from them. Of course, they will tell you that. Because they don’t want you to be competition. Ok, too much talk doesn’t take us anywhere. I have told you the story of my journey as an ebay affiliate, now it is time to show you how I have succeeded within 3 months, step by step:

Creating My eBay Affiliate Site Network with BANS Script for Stable Passive Income

1) Niche Market Research:

After doing some preliminary research, and reading forums, I have seen that some BANS site owners are getting great results, while others are not making any money at all.

I have figured out that choosing the right niche for your BANS store is the half of the equation, but the important half.

Here are the steps I have taken for my niche market research:

I have used eBay Pulse (eBay’s FREE Research Website). It shows you the most popular keywords, and top ebay stores under any chosen category. This is like gold mine, crazy valuable information.

I have spent like 4-5 hours digging deep into sub sub categories and trying to find the right niche market for my BANS Store.

After a well done keyword research and niche market research I have decided on a few niche markets I would profit as an ebay affiliate and picked one of them right away.

I have purchased Keyword Elite which was highly recommended by my super affiliate friends on many ocassions. It wasn’t cheap, it was $176.00, but I can’t seriously believe how many hours I have saved by using a top notch software like Keyword Elite. It’s on my top recommendations lists.

When I was setting up my BANS sites, I have heard of a tool called Micro Niche Finder, but didn’t purchase it. After reading so many positive reviews by reputable online marketers, I have decided to purchase it recently. It seems like a great tool, I haven’t played with it much yet, but it might help with your niche market research a lot, and save you some time and money.

2) Planning and Setting Up the BANS Sites:

After researching many web hosting companies, I have decided to go with HostGator. I have signed up with their Baby Plan. It offers 600gb diskspace, and 6000gb bandwith for $9.95/month. I host 38 sites on it right now, and everything is working great.

I have purchased 10 domains from Godaddy, for $9.99/year each. I have done some in dept research to find the best keyword rich domains. This is still very important for search engines.

If your niche is Blue Widgets, your goal should be getting a domain www.bluewidgets.com , if it’s taken, be creative and try to find something like: www.buybluewidgets.com, www.bluewidgetsuniverse.com, etc. You get the idea.

Since I have so many sites, and affiliate projects running at the same time, I tend to be more organized nowadays. So, I went to Flowchart.com and created a flow chart for BANS sites network. This is like a roadmap for me, and it helps to be organized. This flow chart shows me which site will link to which site, basic SEO plan, etc. I’d highly recommend signing up at Flowchart.com for an absolutely FREE account. Creating flow charts for your business will help you to survive and be more productive at the era of information overload.

3) Setting Up BANS Store Categories (MY SECRET RECIPE):

Your hosting is setup, your domain is registered, and you have installed the BANS Script. Installing BANS is very easy even for a non-tech savy person. BANS comes with a step by step installation guide with screenshots.

The tricky part is setting up the categories. That’s where my secret recipe for a stable passive income method by BANS comes in.

You have two options to setup categories within BANS. You can either pull a specific category from eBay with all the auctions, and BANS creates the category and sub-categories automatically. Most of BANS store owners choose this option. If you pull a specific category from eBay, let’s say you’ve chosen Baby Gear category, there will be many other BANS stores which have chosen the exact same category, and your store will be another DUPLICATE BANS store for Google. You will never get great search engine traffic.

But instead, if you enter “2″ as your main store category number, this means multiple category store, you have the chance of entering search queries for each category, and create 100% customized categories.

For instance, you can have a 100% unique category called “Handmade Baby Gear”, even though eBay doesn’t have a category like this, and create a custom search query and pull all auctions live. This way you can focus on more long tail keywords.

eBay has a great GUIDE called USING SEARCH COMMANDS. Please read this guide very carefully, and do tons of test searches on eBay according to this guide.

When you fully understand how the search queries work at eBay, it will be a piece of cake to setup 100% custom, long tail categories with eBay search queries. This will be your competitive advantage.

Feel free to ask me any questions regarding to eBay search queries, and setting up BANS categories at the comments section under this post. I will be happy to help as much as I can.

After you’ve setup your BANS site with custom categories, play with the template, and create a unique look if you like. BANS template system is very easy to customize. This is what I love about BANS, you can have a 100% unique looking affiliate site.

4) Promoting BANS Sites & SEO:

BANS admin panel has Store Pages and Content Pages options. Store pages are the category pages, and content pages are a built in CMS system to add content to your BANS store. As we all know, the power of unique content is priceless for SEO.

So, I’d highly recommend adding around 5 unique articles to each of your BANS sites. Be creative, add a video page (embed youtube videos), also add a pictures page (embed flickr images), etc. These will bring the quality links, so spend some time and create unique content.

Basic SEO: Every BANS site I have built had a few unique content pages, and some basic SEO.

What do I mean by basic seo? Doing some article marketing, directory submissions, blog commenting, video marketing, social bookmarking etc. For each BANS site I have created, I have done some preliminary SEO, not much.

That’s ALL. After these 4 steps, sit down, relax and enjoy your income increasing every single day.

The more you work on creating unique content, and doing SEO, the more traffic and income you will get. No secret recipe here. You will enjoy the free organic search engine traffic to your custom categories and you will realize the power of long tail keywords.

Very importan note I must add. I haven’t brought any PAID traffic to my BANS sites. So, over $5000/month passive income within 3 months is pure profit minus the domain and hosting cost (which is close to nothing).

I have seen many BANS sites making good amount of money with paid traffic (Google Adwords, etc.), but I haven’t had the time to setup PPC campaigns for my BANS Sites.

All the traffic I get is PURE organic search engine traffic due to long tail keywords. 92% of the traffic comes from Google organic search as of today.

Tools Used & Money Spent to Setup my BANS Network and Passive Income Sites:

  • BANS Script : $97.00 (Must have. One time fee, unlimited sites license)
  • Keyword Elite: $176.00 (Optional. One time fee, unlimited usage)
  • Micro Niche Finder: $97.00 (Optional. One time fee, unlimited usage)
  • HostGator: $9.95/month (Must have if you don’t have a hosting account. Unlimited site hosting, great for a network of BANS sites.)
  • Godaddy: $9.99/year per domain registration (Must have, one of the most reputable domain registration companies in the market)
  • eBay Pulse: FREE (Optional. Free website)
  • Flowchart.com: FREE (Optional. Free website)
  • eBay Search Commands Guide: FREE (Optional. Free website)

If you think this is too GOOD to be true, think again. Do some research online about BANS success stories and don’t take my word if you like. But I’m in a KARMA mood today, and I just shared all of my secrets to create a stable, passive income as an ebay affiliate marketer.

Remember to share your success stories and ask your questions at the comments section below.

It’s time to get back to work and create more BANS Sites.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Affiliate Marketing, Success, bans, buil..."
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Date: Sunday, 13 Apr 2008 17:27

Uncle Sam’s Money is one of the most popular government grant application programs on the market. I have received several pm’s and emails about Uncle Sam’s Money Programs. I’ve decided to purchase the program and write a review about it.

If you are reading this review, it means you are interested in applying for a government grant. If you haven’t read already, I’d recommend reading a post I’ve written about How to Get Government Grants also.

If you like, visit Uncle Sam’s Money before reading my review.

Uncle Sam’s Money Review

There are so many government grant application information products on the market, most of them are CD’s that you get in the mail. The trick is you pay only shipping, get the CD in the mail with the information but they start charging your credit card monthly until you cancel it. Uncle Sam’s Money is a one time fee program.

Here’s what you will get if you decide to purchase Uncle Sam’s Money:

  • Instant access to all the resources (membership site)
  • Free Consultation from a grant specialist. As far as I know, only Uncle Sams Money offers this option.
  • Grant Writing Tutorial and a Grant Writing Software. This is very useful if you haven’t applied for grants before. Writing a great grant application is one of the most important part.
  • Up-to-date Federal Government Grant Programs Directory.
  • Up-to-date State Government Grant Programs Directory. (most programs do not offer the state government grant directory)
  • Unlimited email support by Uncle Sams Money staff. If you have any questions about your grant application, there will be support to answer your questions. This is very valuable when you need guidance.
  • Seperate directory for education grant resources.
  • Contact details of grant specialists (including phone numbers) in your area. This is worth getting the Uncle Sams Money.
  • Resources and wealth of information for all types of grants such as small business grants, education grants, women’s grants, research grants, personal needs grants, housing grants, healthcare grants, etc. Not focused on on specific field of grants.
  • They offer so many free bonuses (ebooks, information, tutorials, etc.) that I won’t even have time to list here. Here’s the full list, go check them out.

Visit Uncle Sam’s Money to view the full list of features.

How much does Uncle Sam’s Money Cost? Is there a money back guarantee?

Uncle Sam’s money is normally $79.95 (one time fee), but they are running a limited time special for $39.95 (one time fee, no recurring charges). Everything is upfront, no hidden or recurring charges, that’s what I like about Uncle Sam’s Money Program.

They also offer 90 days, 100% money back guarantee, this shows their confidence in their program’s success. You will also get a FULL refund unconditionally if your grant application is not approved. Nothing can get better than this.

If you are in the process of preparing a government grant application and trying to decide a program to purchase, I’d highly recommend Uncle Sam’s Money, one of the most respected programs on the market.

I wish you the best luck getting the much needed grant you deserve.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Accounting & Finance, Reviews"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Apr 2008 02:55

You have decided to buy or sell a business, now what will you do? It is always good to know your options before buying or selling a business. Here are some of the routes you might take:

Market Research Before Selling or Buying a Business

When there are thousands of businesses for sale on the market, market research might be time consuming. If you haven’t done so, check out these articles from SBA (Small Business Administration) about buying a business, and these articles about selling a business.

Buy or Sell a Business via a Local Business Broker

There are advantages and disadvantages of hiring a local broker to buy or sell a business. Many brokers will only charge if they sell your business. Some brokers offer a list of businesses for sale and it is always great to see what is available in the market and get an idea of the price range for related businesses. Here’s a list of local business brokers in the US and Canada by state. When you are ready to buy or sell a business, start with an extensive market research, then I’d recommend to get a consultation from a local broker first.

Buy or Sell a Franchise Business

If you have the cash to invest and if you are not experienced in business, I’d highly recommend starting with a franchise. Most of the franchise businesses comes with a great business plan and forecasting. When you need help, the company does everything to help you succeed. Owning a franchise comes with many advantages.

If you are planning to buy a franchise, here’s a great site about franchise opportunities. They have bunch of information about franchises and a great directory of franchise business listings. Also take a close look at Top 500 Franchises by year at entrepreneur.com . More listings and information about franchises.

Best Places to Advertise your Business for Sale:

It is always good to get a word out there when you decide to sell your business. Your competitors might be interested in buying it, and it might be an indirect way to let them know. Business brokers also may contact your competitors to let them know about your business.

BusinessMart.com has become the fastest growing business for sale search engine, helping buyers and sellers of small businesses and franchises. BusinessMart.com has many resources to help you on your journey to start your own business, sell your existing business or open a franchise. I’d recommend spending some serious time on BusinessMart.com if youare buying or selling a business.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Start-up"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2008 06:42

How To Get Government GrantsUS Government offers hundreds of billions of dollars cash every year as grants. Many think these grants are for only small businesses, but government offers grants for a wide range of purposes including small business grants. So the government offers this free cash, and the question is “How to get government grants“?

If you have a business consultant working for you, and if you haven’t discussed this topic, you should do it now, because government offers these grants to any type of small businesses. It doesn’t matter how profitable your company is, you might use some free extra cash to buy your own facility, right?

But if you don’t have a small business consultant, or can’t afford one, don’t worry. Applying for government grants is not that hard. Here’s a step by step guide:

How To Get Government Grants Guide

  • 1) Visit Grants.gov and read all the information available.
  • 2) Visit Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Government Grants Search Page and visit all the categories until you find the most appropriate category for your needs. You can also visit Grants.gov search page and search grants by keyword.
  • 3) Preparing the government grant application is the most important part. You can get great information at Grants.gov or on other sites, but remember many applicants fail due to the mistakes on their application. There are many affordable informational products out there to guide you on the application process step by step (some of them include live chat and/or phone assistance from experienced grant writers). I’d highly recommend getting one of these products. Beware of the scams out there, there are also many scam products on the net. Here’s a great guide which compares government grant programs, they have tested over 50 products, and they recommend 5 of the best ones. If you ask my best pick, it is the Government Research Guide, I have personally used it and it was extremely helpful. You can also read Uncle Sams Money Review I’ve written which is a great progra.
  • 4) Keep track of the New Opportunities Page at Grants.gov. It is updated daily, some fascinating grants become available, and if you visit this page, you will be one of the first people to learn about it.
  • 5) When filling out the application, be very honest, explain your goals in detail, and do not exaggerate your situation, ’cause many people do. Here’s the online application system for applying to government grants.

That’s basically the steps you need to take for the answer of “how to get government grants” question. Now, sit back and relax, and hopefully you’ll have the next government funded success story. Good luck.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Accounting & Finance, Reviews"
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Date: Sunday, 23 Mar 2008 02:48

Free Local Business AdvertisingLocal businesses usually don’t have large advertising budgets. Large franchising chains, and brand names usually use their national advertising channels to compete with local businesses.

Internet advertising is becoming more popular for both online businesses and local small offline businesses. There are some quality local business directories online. One of them I’ve found recently is Kudzu.

Kudzu.com is an Internet venture owned and operated by Cox Search Inc., a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, one of the nation’s leading media companies and providers of automotive services. So, it’s backed up with a well known brand.

Kudzu is running a special for a limited time. They are offering FREE Premium listing through 2008. I have registered my businesses last week, and already started receiving some quality traffic. I wanted to share this information with my readers since it’s a great value (normally it’d cost you around $750.00).

Click to visit to register your business for FREE (No credit card required, nothing to lose).

Here’s how your premium listing will look like at Kudzu.

Premium Local Business Listing

Take advantage of this limited time offer and register your business for free. Every visitor helps for your business.

* Important Tip: You don’t have to own a local business to be able to register. One of my websites receives the most traffic from a niche local business directory site.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Featured, Marketing & Sales, Small ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 27 Nov 2007 16:15

[photopress:online_sales.gif,full,alignleft]According to a recent Forrester Research report, online holiday retail sales in the U.S. are expected to hit $33 billion in 2007, a 21% increase over last year’s sales. Personally speaking, our online sales have already doubled this holiday season. Even though we have run a big discount through an email campaign, black friday was not our best sales day. For the holiday season our best day was yesterday (Cyber Monday).

Our prediction shows that our ecommerce business sales will increase around 50% for the month of december (compared to november), and we will try to keep the increase until June with different promotion techniques.

Included in Forrester’s report were the following findings:

Apparel and Accessories: This category will top holiday shopping lists.
(80% of respondents said that they will purchase something in this category online.)

Free Shipping: A majority of consumers still have interest in free shipping promotions.
(61% of respondents said they are more likely to shop online from a retailer offering free shipping.)

Less Flare: Fewer consumers are willing to pay for extras such as gift wrapping, or overnight delivery.
(26% of respondents said they would pay for expedited delivery prior to the holiday season, down from 45% who said they would do so in 2006.)

*Forrester defines the holiday shopping season as the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

ComScore, Inc. also released recent information and predictions regarding the 2007 holiday season. ComsScore, a global leader in measuring the digital world, projects that the months of November and December will see approximately $29.5 billion in online consumer spending.

2006 versus 2007

Non-Travel (Retail) Spending (Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases)

2006: Jan-Oct: $77.5 Billion
2007: Jan-Oct: $93.6 Billion
(21% Increase)

2006: Nov-Dec (Holiday Season): $24.6 Billion
2007: Nov-Dec (Holiday Season): $29.5 Billion
(Projected 20% Increase)

Their reports also show that the first eighteen days of the holiday season saw more than $7 billion in online retail spending.
Holiday Season to Date, 2006 versus 2007

Non-Travel (Retail) Spending (Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases)
2006: November 1-18, $6.01 Billion
2007: November 1-18, $7.04 Billion
(17% Increase)

“The online holiday shopping season got off to a slow start in the first week of November, but it has since picked up sharply,” notes comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Sales in the first ten days of November were up modestly versus year ago, but surged to levels in excess of 20 percent by mid-November. It’s likely that warmer than average weather at the beginning of November kept people outdoors and away from their computers, weighing down early holiday season sales, especially for key online categories like apparel. The growth rates during the second and third weeks of November are likely to be better indicators of how the remainder of the season will play out.”

Many will sale most of the ecommerce niches are already saturated. DO NOT Believe them. There are so many ecommerce niches that needs new online stores desperately. Even some big names still don’t do a good job in online marketing. For me, an ecommerce business is like a long term investment. People will shop online more, and your ecommerce site will keep growing if you work hard on it.

Happy Holiday Sales!

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Ecommerce, Featured, Marketing & Sa..."
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Date: Friday, 16 Nov 2007 21:24

thepoint logoThe Point is a social and consumer activism site found by Chicago based Andrew Mason that just launched this week. I like the concept, and tested it myself by starting a campaign.

The concept is simple; A member creates a campaign, and participants pledge to take action only when enough other people have pledged to do the same thing. If the tipping point is reached, members agree to boycott a product, donate money to the cause, or take some form of civil action. You can review all the campaigns, and decide to participate or not.

If the site becomes popular, one of the main concerns might be the cencorship. I couldn’t find any information if ThePoint.com will use any cencorship towards any campaigns in the future or not. This part from the Terms & Conditions Page may give us some idea:

The Point may remove any Content and The Point accounts at any time for any reason (including, but not limited to, upon receipt of claims or allegations from third parties or authorities relating to such Content), or for no reason at all. To report Terms of Service abuse, please email: abuse@thepoint.com

TechCrunch points that ThePoint.com has already raised $2.5 million from angel investors, and will soon try to raise more in a VC round. I’m very curious about the monetization techniques they will use. I will definitely write a followup.

Andrew Mason, the founder of ThePoint.com, has posted this comment at TechCrunch after a question raised by a reader about the similarity of ThePoint.com to PledgeBank.com ;

Pledgebank is a great site and shares the same basic “I’ll do something, but only if others cooperate” model, but beyond that, there are more differences than similarities. First, The Point is largely focused on “do this, or else” campaigns — ultimatums targeted at a third party that are designed to, once they tip, quickly force a change by creating an unendurable financial stress. For many campaigns on The Point, the tipping point is something that can be quantified — it’s the point where the cost to a target of the group action becomes greater than the benefits of not changing. The tipping point of a campaign on The Point shouldn’t be determined by a prediction of how many people are likely to join, rather, a calculation of how many people are needed to force change. On The Point, it’s less important that a campaign tip than it is for people to have the sense that they will only be asked to take action when the conditions exist for a combined action to solve their shared problem. We also have an awesome feature called conditional anonymity — your identity isn’t revealed until the campaign tips — that makes The Point a singularly powerful tool for forming issue-specific workplace unions.

Overall, I like the idea and the site (usability, design, and concept is pretty good). I will definitely be checking the campaigns, and will participate.

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Featured, Reviews, Social Networks, Web ..."
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Date: Thursday, 15 Nov 2007 21:32

True entreprenurs love to take risk. Some do their homework better than others before taking risk. Taking risk might lead you to success, but at the other side, it might lead you to failure. When you read the success stories of entrepreneurs, you also find out their previous failures.

Why am I writing about taking risk, and learning from failures?

I have recently had some conversations with a few friends about starting a business. These friends of mine work corporate jobs, and always searching for opportunities to start their businesses. I have observed a particular difference in business perspective between them and myself. When they talk about a business opportunity or make a business plan, they are looking for absolute ZERO risk. They always mention, oh of course you have to take risk, but when it comes to reality, they are scared to take risk. They know it, but they don’t accept it. One thing I have learnt as an entrepreneur is “Failing is a part of entrepreneurship”. If you take risk to achieve big goals, you will not be 100% successful. You will fail along the way.

I took a risk, Failed, then what?

Always re-evaluate your business along the way. You will make many small mistakes, it is normal. If you can find out what you are doing wrong, correct it, and learn from your mistake, you are doing the right thing. Even if you fail, the key is trying to learn from your failure.

Never get discouraged

Keep your motivation at the maximum level. I set goals with daily sales for instance. If I can’t reach that level, I work harder. If I reach the level, then I set a higher goal. Setup your daily, weekly, monthly (short term) goals, even write them on a post-it and put it on your desk, wall, monitor. Never get discouraged if you can’t reach your goals, work even harder.


The Biggest Successes are Often Bred from Failures by Randy Komisar (8 min. video)

Click to Watch The Video

According to Komisar, what distinguishes the Silicon Valley is not its successes, but the way in which it deals with failures. The Valley is about experimentation, innovation, and taking new risks. Only a small business that can deal with failure and still make money can exist in this environment. It is a model based on many, many failures and a few extraordinary successes.

If you don’t like the idea of taking risk and failing, here’s a short but useful formula:

NO RISK = NO FAILURE

Author: "Ahmet Kirtok" Tags: "Entrepreneurship, Featured, Interviews"
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Date: Wednesday, 14 Nov 2007 20:27

Exponental growth rate of Facebook usage all over the world led many developers create applications for Facebook, and for other social sites. VC’s are also interested in good applications. I have written about How to Make Money with Your Facebook applications couple of weeks ago.

Main problem developers facing was the compatibility issue between social sites. If you have an application project for Facebook Platform, first you have to learn the Facebook Markup Language, but if you want to implement this application to another social site, you need to rewrite the code for the other site’s markup language. This process is very time consuming for developers.

To help the application developers, Google has launched OpenSocial this month.

Campfire One - Introducing OpenSocial

What is Google Open Social?

Google OpenSocialOpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

Social sites which participate in this project agree to accept the API calls and return appropriate data. Google won’t try to provide universal API coverage for special use cases, instead focusing on the most common uses. Specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.

Unlike Facebook, OpenSocial does not have its own markup language. Instead, developers use normal javascript and html (and can embed Flash elements). The benefit of the Google approach is that developers can use much of their existing front end code and simply tailor it slightly for OpenSocial, so creating applications is even easier than on Facebook.

Applications can have full functionality on profile and/or canvas pages, subject to the specific rules of each host. Facebook, by contrast, limits most functionality to the canvas page, allowing a widget on the profile page with limited features.

Marc Andreessen, founder of Ning, has a blog post with some nice set of screencast and screenshots about OpenSocial.

Google OpenSocial will definitely start a new way of application development for social networking sites. I will be checking the new applications written on Google OpenSocial platform, and will write about some of them in the future.

Sources:
1) Google OpenSocial
2) TechCrunch

Author: "Kirtok" Tags: "Entrepreneurship, Featured, Social Netwo..."
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Nov 2007 17:35

Ali G invents ice cream glove and goes out to shop for VC funding. This is hillarious, and a must to watch.

Look at Donal Trump’s face, he was kind of pissed with the whole situation.

Author: "Kirtok" Tags: "Humor, Small Business General"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Nov 2007 04:41

You have the great idea for a Web 2.0 Startup project. It might be the next Facebook. But you don’t have the experience to properly put a business plan, sales pitch for VC’s, or any development experience. You believe in your idea so much, you have the entrepreneur spirit, but no experience. What would you do?

dpDuncan Riley from TechCrunch introduces us to the company which will answer your questions; Digital Telepathy. If you are an experienced entrepreneur in Web 2.0 field, you might not need a helping hand even though Digital Telepathy offers services for existing startups looking for advice on taking their business to the next level, but if you are new to all Web 2.0 thing, this might be a great choice for you.

Duncan Riley explains the 3 “Biz in a Box” Products which Digital Telepathy offers;

The concept is simple: Digital Telepathy offers three design my business options with varying service levels based on the length of each plan. The 15 day plan provides a wannabe startup with market research, strategic alignment, scalable revenue model, instruction manual for project completion and a concept summary delivered as a “Biz in a Box”. The 45 day plan offers (in addition to the 15 day plan) “initial buzz building,” and a range of design services including basic prototyping, usability testing, blueprints, concept mapping and other design services. The 90 day plan adds development services including full scale back-end development for beta release, front end development, private beta invites, feature development and more.

Prices range from $15,000 through to $250,000. Each project has its unique needs, therefore you will need to contact them for a quota. Below is a comparison chart for Digital Telepathy’s services:

Digital Telepathy Product Comparison

Check out the projects they have already done. Their work looks promising.

Author: "Kirtok" Tags: "Entrepreneurship, Featured, Marketing &#..."
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