What Makes a Good Blog Great? (Blogging Tips)

What makes a good blog great? (Blogging Tips)It takes skill to write a great blog but it can be learned and this article will give you some helpful blogging tips by looking at the techniques used by great blogs. Good blogs have the power to bring readers back regularly for more information. Great blogs, in addition will attract growing numbers of readers. This post has some tips to help you write a great blog. By putting them into practice you can grow your skill at writing blog articles and hopefully your blog will be not just a good blog, but also a great blog.
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Advice on Including Advertisements in Your Blog – Here Be Dragons (And Alternative Monetizing Ideas)

Including Advertising In Your Blog - Here Be Dragons
Do you want your blog to pay its way? It is a reasonable expectation to earn some income from your blog even if just to cover the hosting charges or to treat yourself for all your effort. But how can you do this?

If you are a blog owner and regularly publish blog posts you will know that it can take considerable time to research, draft, review, seek feedback, rewrite and finally publish your articles. Then you have to invest some time and effort to promote them, attract readers, respond to comments, deal with spam etc.

If the blog is just a hobby, and the joy of writing and publishing your articles is reward enough, then that’s fine. You don’t have to monetize it if you don’t want to.

On the other hand, if the blog needs to generate some income in order to put it on a sustainable footing there are some techniques you can use. An obvious and easy one is to simply add some display advertisements to your blog. There are advantages and disadvantages to this method which you, as the blog owner, need to be aware of. Display advertising is covered below. There are also alternatives that might be more financially rewarding and better for your blog’s reputation. Continue reading

Win-win Fundraising Idea for Charities, Non-profit Organisations, Good Causes and their Supporters

Fundraising for Charity

Is there a better way to raise funds for good causes?

Mary unintentionally lets out a sigh of resignation as again the fundraising committee ask her to join another fundraising effort. It’s the sixth one this year, but she knows that demands on the charity’s services have increased and funding from state sources has been sharply reduced due to cutbacks. She has tried raffles, sponsored walks, cake sales, you name it – she’s tried it. Mary dislikes having to ask her family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues (who sometimes feel the urge to avoid her) yet again, for donations, so soon since the last time. Some of them have little or no spare cash, and feel embarrassed to say no.

Some fundraisers are so-called “sales”. Mary feels guilty about asking supporters to buy things which they really don’t need or want and which are overpriced because it’s all about fundraising for the worthy cause. Mary is passionate about the charity and the people it serves. Her family, friends, neighbours and colleagues believe that donating to it is worthwhile, but never speak out the inner thoughts in their mind that “there must be a better way“.

Then Mary discovered Vendexo, and learned that her charity could connect with merchants and businesses who would pay a commission on sales referred by the charity. All the charity had to do was to set up a page on its website containing shopping links. The charity could decide which merchants to work with, for example, merchants selling gifts, beauty products etc. – products which the supporters of the charity would be buying anyway for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, weddings etc. Mary’s favourite charity wouldn’t have to clutter its website with advertising, but simply let their supporters know that when they wish to purchase such products, they do so via the shopping links on the charity’s shopping page, and the charity gets a sales commission. The products purchased are no more expensive than if purchased without using the charity’s shopping page.

That’s a win-win situation. The charity raises funds using the collective buying power of their supporters and with almost no effort and no bucket shaking. The supporters of the charity feel good because the charity is benefiting from a purchase which they want to make, and don’t pay any extra for. The merchants benefit because they get extra sales. Customers which might be hard or expensive to reach using other forms of advertising are delivered to their online shops by the charity, so that makes good business sense.

The Vendexo System keeps track of the numbers of visitors referred and the sales which result. These numbers are visible to the charity via a control panel on the Vendexo website. Vendexo also pays the charity the sales commission earned. As an example, if the sales commission earned is 8%, and 1,000 of the charity’s supporters purchase €300 worth of products over a 12 month period, for birthday gifts, Christmas etc. then the charity would earn €24,000 from this. All for something which is easy for them to set up.

Donate as you shop

Donate as you shop

The Vendexo System is FREE for Mary’s charity to join and to use. For almost no effort, the charity now has another income stream, and that reduces the pressure on Mary and she feels better about that.

If you are associated with or fundraise for a charity, non-profit organisation or a good cause, and you would like to activate another income stream which is easy to set up, requires almost no administration and for which there is no charge to join or use, then contact Vendexo today.

Commission rates can vary from program to program, so actual rates may also be higher or lower than this value.

Online Advertising Without an Advertising Budget

no advertising budgetAre you a small business owner?
What is your marketing strategy for the new year?
The range of options has never been so wide, but most of these options are ruled “out” because they require large up-front payments for an uncertain return.
Now with the Vendexo Internet Marketing Platform, you don’t need to go to the bank for a business loan to do your marketing – you can build brand awareness and grow sales on a pay-as-you-grow basis. And the best part is, that you choose how much you want to pay.

To find out more, watch our 3 minute information video for merchants/advertisers.

Goo..ing, Goo..ing, Gan!

The GAN may be gone, but the Vendexo Affiliate Network is open for business. It provides merchants and advertisers with an Internet Marketing platform to grow sales in an affordable way. This marketing technology helps small and medium businesses advertise and have the products promoted without throwing their cash-flow out of kilter.

If you are a merchant or advertiser and would like to find out more about how the Vendexo Affiliate Network can help you, please contact us.

www.vendexo.com/aff/main/

Recipe For More Customers Visiting and Buying From Your Online Shop

Recipe For More CustomersWith shoppers continuing to incease the amount they spend online, how can you, the small or medium business grow your income from this important market?

Shoppers are buying more online for various reasons, including:

  • Better value. It is so much easier and faster to shop-around online and find deals and bargains than with physical shops. Think of the time saved when you don’t have to take the bus or car, look for parking spaces (which you typically have to pay for) etc.
  • More choice – in terms of range products, prices and suppliers.
  • Security. The legal protection given to online consumers is even greater than that enjoyed by customers in physical shops. Furthermore, payment processors and credit card companies have taken measures to give greater confidence to consumers to make payments online.

So, if you are a small or medium-sized business, how can you tap into this market? How can you get more customers visiting your online shop? If there are lots on online shops within easy access of the online customer, what’s going to make them pick your online shop (assuming they can even find you)? I hope the following will prove useful.

Ingredients

  • Quality products or services. If you are trying to sell poor quality, don’t expect sustainable business growth. Sell good quality at a fair price and the online community will want to sing your praises when they post on facebook, Twitter etc. The more unusual or “hard to find” the products are, the more likely people will choose to buy them online.
  • An online shopping platform which shows your products in a good light, and enables the customer to see multiple views/photos of the products and read the details. Try to imagine the questions which the customer may have about the product, and provide answers for them. There are various shopping cart platforms available to choose from including our own eCommerce hosted shopping cart system, which you can try out free for 30 days.
  • Clear and accessible Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions governing your website & online shop. The Terms & Conditions should also cover your Returns Policy, and provide instructions to the customer regarding the steps to take if the goods arrive in a faulty condition, were not what was expected, if the size or colour is incorrect or the customer simply has a change of mind. Best practice is to remind the customer of their statutary rights under consumer legislation. The following are useful references:
    http://www.nca.ie/nca/shopping-online Shopping Online eCommerce Regulations
    http://www.nca.ie/nca/shopping-from-home Distance Selling Rules.

Method

So you have the basic ingredients in place and now want to get the customers to your shop.

  1. Search Engines: Think about about the words and phrases which your customers may type into Internet search engines when looking for your products. Remember, they probably won’t be typing in your business name. Make sure that you use some of these words in the <title> element of your webpages, and that these words are repeated on your web/shop pages and product description pages. This will be a strong hint to the search engines that your website/shop should be associated with these words & phrases.
  2. Branding: Be clear in your own mind what your brand is and what it stands for. Let this guide your website and shop design, appearance, pricing, the support and after-sales service you give to your customers, and any communications you send out. All points of contact between your business and the ourside world should reflect the values of your brand.
  3. What is your website address? Ensure that your business cards, letterheads, compliment slips, invoices, receipts (including till receipts if you have a physical shop) include your website/online shop address.
  4. Encourage your existing customers to come back for more. They may just need gentle reminding. Why not send them an e-mail if they haven’t bought in a while? If you can afford to send a discount coupon (e.g. 10% off)  with a 2-week expiration, it may be enough to bring them to your online shop to take advantage of it. Remember, it is easier to get an existing customer to buy again than to find a new customer.
  5. Build up an e-mail list. A newsletter sent out several times a year to announce new products or special offers addressed to existing customers or those visitors to your website who subscribed. This audience is already interested in what you have to say, so use that. Be sure to include an unsubscribe link in the e-mail to enable them to take their name off the list should they so wish.
  6. Promote your online shop using the various social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Google+ etc. These and other forms of networking help to raise your brand awareness.
  7. Advertise your business. If you have a marketing budget and know what magazines, or newspapers your target market reads, what radio stations they listen to or TV channels they watch, try running some advertisements. Start small, testing a couple of different ads on the smaller publications/broadcasters to see what works best, and then refine. Search engine and social media advertising can also be tested on a small scale to see if they work for you, before committing larger sums of money.
  8. I’ve saved the best till last. Get others to promote your products and services for you. How? Who? Why should they?

    Recognise that the Internet is a game changer
     — it opens up a lot of new possibilities. Are you prepared to think of new possibilities? Your potential customers are already using the Internet. They are visiting websites, reading blogs, articles, discussion forums, postings etc. related to their areas of interest and hobbies. If they are interested in sailing, they are likely to be visiting sites containing articles about sailing, boats, marine equipment, reviews of sailing books and sailing accessories, news about sailing events, races and so on. Imagine now that you run a sailing school, and have places to fill, or you are selling a new type of lifejacket that would appeal to sailors. The websites where your potential customers visit may be very happy to have some extra income to pay for their website hosting etc. Ads for your training course or lifejacket would appeal to their readership, a good match, actually useful information for their readers to know about.You may not have a marketing budget, or it may not be large enough to pay for this website advertising, and the return is uncertain. But when these websites refer you visitors and they buy, these are sales that you wouldn’t have otherwise got. This is growth. The more you sell, the greater your profit margin because your fixed overheads are spread over more sales. You may also be able to get a better price from your suppliers if you purchase larger quantities now that your are selling more. Growth must be financed, but not necessarily up-front. It can done from your improved profit margin, as the sales come in. By paying a sales commission to these referring websites it gives them the potential to earn more revenue and incentivises them to promote your products and services.

    The practicalities:
    How to set something like this up? How to know where referred visitors are coming from, when commission is to be paid, to whom and how much? Sounds like a lot of work. That’s where the Vendexo Affiliate Marketing Network comes in. It is a marketing network where website owners/content publishers with advertising slots can find advertisers/businesses with products & services to promote. It is also a hosted platform which performs the administration tasks associated with tracking where your referred visitors are coming from, calculating sales commissions, and paying them for you. It provides a control panel enabling you to see these referrals, in tabular and graph form, and the return which this marketing channel is bringing.How to find out more: Visit the Affiliate Marketing section of our website, and contact us with any questions you may have. If you want to try it out, click on the Signup button on that page
  9. Bake for a few weeks or months and then go back to step 1. It is a continuous process. Review what you have done and try to measure the results.Chocolate cake. A symbol for the rewards of following this recipe. You refine it as you go, trying something new, making improvements where required and putting more effort into what is working for you so as to amplify that effect.

I wish you well with your endeavours, and that this recipe produces rewarding results for your business.

New Year – New Thinking – New ways of Marketing

New Year Marketing Tools

Do you have an online shop? Are you looking to get 2012 off to a good start? Maybe it is time to try something new? Use your imagination and come up with a way to package and price your products in a special way to encourage shoppers to buy. You might try bunding individual products into a set which when bought is better value than if the items were bought individually. You could also work with some other merchants to make up products sets combining products from multiple sources.

Then, most importantly, get the marketing message out there. And that is where the Vendexo Internet Marketing Platform can help you. This platform serves up ads and special offer/promotional material onto web pages where your customers are visiting, and whose website owners and content publishers have advertisement slots to fill. Our internet marketing platform provides the tools to make your promotional material available, to connect you with website owners and content publishers, and to track the performance of your campaign so that you are getting value for money.

Contact us today to find out more.

The motivation for the Vendexo Affiliate Marketing Network

Many small online businesses are in the situation where:

  • They have identified and sourced the products they wish to sell online
  • They have a logo and brand name
  • They have set up their online shop

However, sales are not meeting expectations.

The big businesses are getting most of the attention, as they have big marketing budgets to spend on expensive marketing and advertising campaigns.

What can the small business owner do to:

  • promote their brand,
  • attract more interested visitors to their online shops,
  • get more sales?

There is only so much that a business can do to try to make their pages rank highly in search engine results, and paying for sponsored ads on search engine pages  can quickly leave the wallet empty.

Vendexo Affiliate Network facilitating.What strength can the small businesses leverage to improve their web presence? Their numbers and their willingness to help each other!

Could I develop a platform to help these business owners? Such a platform would help these business owners cooperate to drive up each other’s sales. Each one is a business and so has to make money, so if business “A” helps business “B” to get a sale, it is only good business if “A” gets a share in the sale. That encourages “A” to help “B” again in the future. It is a win-win for both businesses, and the customer is also satisfied.

For people who write blogs, reviews and articles, or host social sites for special interest groups (e.g. parenting, wedding, health, education etc.), the platform should allow them to refer business to the small merchants and get paid a sales commission to help them pay their bills and encourage them to keep writing.

How should these publishers refer business? There would be privacy issues if they passed on personal contact details to another party. The visitor or reader has to want to be referred. They have to take an action, such as clicking on a link or an ad and then their browser will be directed to the appropriate page on the merchant’s website. The platform must make it easy for businesses to make these links and ads and to make them available to other businesses and publishers to find and promote.

Ease of use is critical. The platform has to be accessible with a web browser, intuitive and easy to learn. Furthermore, business owners are busy people and don’t have time to be writing cheques for sales commissions and sending them out to loads of people each month. The platform has to handle these payments automatically.

It can’t be too expensive for small businesses to get on-board and to use on an ongoing basis. Affordability is critical. It also has to be flexible enough so that merchants can specify what sales commissions they are willing to pay out, and thereby control their costs, yet keeping it attractive for other businesses and publishers to send visitors to them.

Those were the challenges. The platform has been designed and built in Ireland and is now ready for business owners to join and try out. It is the Vendexo Affiliate Network, and for a limited period there is no sign-up fee. Click on the link to check it out, and working together with other business owners and publishers, let’s grow your business!