"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper." -Edmund Burke
|Improve Your Online Small Business Profits
Today's interview subject is Jason James, founder of the Auction Resource Network.
Cort: I know that you are one of the pioneers in Ebay Internet Marketing and have earned as much as $18,000 in one week from Ebay; however I would like to know what you did before your Net involvement. When was this? What got you interested in the Net?
Jason: Good question. I was actually a high school student when I first was introduced to the Internet. This was back in the early 90ís when not many people had even heard of the Internet. My friend, who lived in the same neighborhood as me, invited me over one day because he wanted to show me his new computer and this thing called the ďInternet.Ē
Well the very first site I saw on my friendís computer was Yahoo.com. I was amazed at how cool it all was. There was all this information right at the click of a mouse. I literally pushed him aside and started looking around like a kid in a candy store.
It struck me early on what an amazing tool the Internet could be for everything from research for school papers, to updated sports scores to of course, making money!
I realized quickly that the Internet was a great way to reach millions of people. So before most people even knew what the Internet was, I was selling these information reports on CD. You may recall seeing them years ago. It was called 600+ How To Reports.
I started by investing my life savings, at the time, and I ordered something like 50 copies of these CDís at $5 a piece. I sold them for $15 plus shipping and handling. What I did was put up a webpage (A very ugly one!) and included something like if you want to order this CD, send a check for $15 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling to P.O. Box etc. etc. People starting finding my web site eventually through the search engines and the sales started to roll in.
Every single day after school I would drive (my parents car I borrowed) or get a ride to the post office to check my P.O. Box. I was selling about 5-10 CDís every week. I thought I was the coolest person on earth. At $10 profit per CD, I was making $50-$100 every week. I was sure I was going to be rich once everyone knew about my website and product.
Of course I'd pulled out my calculator and figured out how much I would make if I sold 100, 200, even 1,000 of these CDís per week! Well, I think I basked in my glory a little too long and over the course of a few months my sales started to drop to 1 or 2 CDís sold per week. But that got me started on other things and gave me a great learning experience and a starting point for other ventures that would come in the future. And as you will see, I eventually landed on eBay selling electronics.
Cort: Did you see the value of Email Marketing almost immediately after it appeared? What made you get involved with Email Marketing?
Jason: Unfortunately I didnít. If I had started collecting subscribers and sending out a newsletter back in the early 90ís when I was first introduced to the Internet I think I would be as rich as Bill Gates!
It took me several years, 7 to be exact before I was reading an e-Book one day and it talked about how this guy makes his living just from sending out offers to his newsletter subscribers. He referred to his business as click, send and profit. No real work involved. And that really appealed to me.
I see folks now without an email capture form on their website and I am amazed. I think it should be every online entrepreneurs top goal to start collecting first names and email addresses on their website.
The key to selling is to build a relationship. You can easily build a relationships with email list subscribers. But you have to first get subscribers! So capturing the emails of web visitors is critical.
Once you have a relationship built, your sales will truly explode. Thatís not hype either. If you have a well cultivated list of say 10,000 double opt-in subscribers, you can make several $1,000 week after week. Thereís no real work involved. Just present good offers, (via carefully chosen affiliate programs) and use proven ad text and you will make a tremendous amount of money.
Cort: We all know that here in the States Congress is trying to get tough with Spammers. Do you think that they have gone far enough? If not, what should they do?
Jason: Well considering there is serious jail time now being imposed to the top spammers out there, I think the penalties are harsh enough. Itís just a matter of catching these people who hide out behind a wall of secrecy.
I really believe Spamís days are numbered. Itís only a matter of time before people and businesses start to get smarter. Thatís a broad statement but what I mean is this:
1. Most email programs now have a Spam filters that filters out the junk. And when one does slip through the cracks I think the average user knows what Spam looks like and deletes it instantly. I canít imagine what a spammerís response rate must be. Maybe something like .0001% or something like this.
I think itís just a matter of time before it's no longer profitable.
Cort: What are your feelings about Plain vs. HTML Email Marketing? What about the Audio and Visual Email?
Jason: I am still a big proponent of plain text email. I dabbled with HTML email and it just didnít work for me. And there are technical issues as well. Many email programs donít interpret the HTML properly. I remember getting many emails about how my subscribers couldnít read the email and it was a jumbled mess.
With a plain text email I know that every email program out there will display my newsletter properly. The way I want it to look.
I compare HTML emails with Flash on a web page. It looks great, but does it increase sales? I donít think so. Itís almost like, wow look at these fancy graphics, doesnít it make you want to buy me! Wrong! Fancy graphics just donít do it for me. I need to read something that will solve a problem for me. I need to know the message that is being relayed to me. I could careless what type of graphic design or HTML skills you have.
Thatís why to this day Yahoo.com is still my favorite website. It's fast loading, mostly plain text everywhere, and it's easy to navigate and use. It gives me the information I want without trying to impress me with fancy graphics and html code.
Cort: What have been your biggest successes in your business and why? Failures? What would you do differently if you could do things over?
My biggest success in business so far has been selling on eBay. Many people arenít aware of what I am about to tell you and this one piece of information has really been a difference maker for me.
You can know, in most cases, if your item up for auction is going to sell on eBay even before it sells. With proper research you can know about how many bids you can expect to receive and about how much your product will sell for.
How you ask? Itís all done with research. I tell people this all the time. Research, research, research! There is a piece of software called Hot Item Finder which searches the eBay completed listings.
You can search completed listings going several months back. So basically lets say you are selling a Dell Inspiron 600m Laptop. What you do is plug the title of the computer ďDell Inspiron 600m LaptopĒ into the software and look to see items exactly like this that have sold in the past 3 months.
You can then sort the data and see the item that sold for the highest amount or look and see which item got the most bids and why. What you need to do is look and see what title was used, what category the item was listed in, what did the description look like etc. etc.
I donít mean copy the listing word for word. But look at the top selling auctions and try to get an idea of why so many people bid on this item, and not another.
I think this tip can be applied to all businesses really. For example if you want to write a niche e-Book. You would probably first look to see if there is a market for what you are selling, and then you would also want to look at your competition, that is if there is any.
Nowadays Niche marketing is huge. I mean if you have a miracle solution for training a puppy in 14 days, or a cure for toe fungus or whatever, you can write a book on it and succeed if you did proper research beforehand.
My biggest mistake over the last 15 years has been without a doubt what is called, ďanalysis paralysis.Ē Basically I would come up with a great idea, create the most beautiful webpage, read every book on the subject I could find but I would have a hard time actually taking action. I would have a hard time contacting joint venture partners, writing articles and submitting them, asking for link exchanges, whatever it might be.
For some reason or another many people seem to have this affliction. I just think itís a fear of being rejected. Itís so very important when starting an online venture to know you arenít going to get it right the first time.
Your first web page might be a real stinker. But the important part is that you put the web page up and let people see it. You let people see your idea. Now whatís key is you can get other peoples feedback (via message boards, web site review services, etc.) on your product idea, your sales letter, your website graphics. And thatís really the first step to success. Putting yourself out there, being vulnerable if you will, is very hard to do, but is very important in being successful online.
Cort: What would be your advice to Internet newbies concerning Email Marketing?
Jason: I covered this a bit in the questions above but I would say my advice to those just starting out with email marketing is to first build a relationship with your subscribers before you try to sell them anything.
The key to email marketing is building a relationship. This may sound repetitive but I hope you understand the importance of it. This one fact will determine your success of failure with email marketing.
You need to offer free things to your subscribers i.e. an article to help them in youíre chosen niche, etc. Then and only then can you begin to start sending them offers for other products.
The fact is people donít like to be sold on anything. You donít want to sound like a salesman when recommending a product they should buy. You want to sound like a friend. You want to offer them a product that will solve a problem for them. You want to establish their trust. Once you have your subscriberís trust, you have access to their wallet.
Sorry to sound so blunt, but itís true. If a regular guy like me, with no fancy degree or special skills, can make a 6-figure income online, then so can you. I really wish you the best of luck in all your online ventures. I will leave you today with one of my favorite quotes. This quote is posted right above my computer and I see it everyday. Enjoy.
ďInaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, donít sit there and think about it. Go out and get busy.Ē
Cort: So, true, Jason! ACTION is the key as you have so importantly pointed out. And here is a Special for you from Jason:
Jason: I would like to offer all DEMC readers a 25% off membership to my ďLearn How to Sell on eBayĒ membership website. Here I reveal step-by-step how I made as much as $18,000 in sales in 1 week alone selling products on eBay.
You can get more information here:
Auction Resource Network.
Please proceed to the order form and enter
Coupon code: 0E319
Cort McCadden is the co-founder of a new AV/TV production company called Avmagination that will be specializing in producing HDDVD Ė High Definition DVD Ė for ďedu-entertainmentĒ info products like his soon to be released Barter Wealth.
You can reach him at email@example.com and visit the website at http://www.avmagination.com to be on his mailing list to receive his newly updated FREE Ebook Survival Manual for the Third Millennium.
In this ebook you will find preparation for hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Cort is a recognized authority on survival and has made appearances on Art Bell Coast to Coast.
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