Blue Hat Technique #17 – Keyword Fluffing

I’ve gotten a couple requests asking me to keep the Link Laundering, Madlib Sites, and Power Indexing Tips series going. I think that’s a great Fuckin’ idea. Let’s not only do that but throw in a related Blue Hat Technique at the same time. This is a little technique I learned back in my warez and mp3 site days. You’ve probably seen it used before, but if you’re like most marketers you’ve probably just skipped right by it without ever giving it a second thought. It’s called Keyword Fluffing. It’s fairly simple and works pretty damn well, especially if you have a large site(eg. A Madlib Site).

ObjectiveWe’re going to fluff all of our individual pages’ keywords with additional targeted long tailed phrases. We’re going to do this by creating a search box with static results and inner link within the appropriate pages. This in a sense will attempt to triple or quadruple your long tailed search traffic. This of course is an unrealistic performance result, but it will work and help quite a bit. Worthy of mention, there is an extremely blackhat version of this technique called Keyword Drafting, but for this post we’ll keep it very white hat and by the books. Yes, many major sites use this technique and it’s well within the rules. The Process1) Create a search feature on your site. Using Mod-Rewrite have it print the results to a separate subdirectory. For instance the results for the search “My Keyword” will result in a static page of the results located at www.myexample.com/search/mykeyword.html.

2) Pick up to five keywords related to your site’s niche to fluff. These will need to be common keywords that people looking for your site may tack on to their search. As an example, many software directories and crackz sites use the terms, download, crack, keygen, & serial to fluff. So when they have a page targeting “Adobe Photoshop” that page will also fluff for the terms, “Adobe Photoshop Download”, “Adobe Photoshop Crack” and “Adobe Photoshop Keygen.” Many of whom are common phrases people might add on to their search terms in the engines.

3) On each individual page on your site at the bottom put a little Div that says “Related Searches” or something similar. Then put in a link to the search results for each of those long tailed phrases. For instance the Adobe Photoshop page will have a link to www.mydomain.com/search/adobephotoshopserial.html with the anchor text “Adobe Photoshop Serial.” Be sure to make these links crawlable and pass PR. You will want them to get crawled and indexed so they can start ranking for those individual terms.

4) Make your site’s search box record the most recent searches. For added value, on your main page put up a link to the “Recent Searches.” Be sure to filter out unwanted html tags and inappropriate words. You don’t want people abusing this feature. You do however want to start gaining some extra targeted phrases you may not have thought of in the indeces.

The real trick to this technique is to scale it according to your sites’ current indexing power. I’d recommend you don’t just immediately implement this off the get go. A rule of thumb I use is to wait till my site has reached at least 60% saturation in at least 2 major engines.

For this technique I used an example that I thought people may have openly noticed. You have probably heard the recent news that Youtube has announced that they have quit using this technique, not because it’s against the Google TOS but because it was “unfair to the integrity of their results.” Meaning it worked too damn well, and other more relevant sites couldn’t compete against their saturation levels. There are of course other more prominent examples I could use, but for the sake of exercise I encourage you to reread my Madlib Sites post and think about the advanced version of this post, Keyword Fluffing with Replacement. I’ll give you an example directly. In the madlib post we targeted the phrase “Dating in ___.” The blank represented a targeted geolocation(ie. New York). Consider replacing the “Dating In” with “Single Women In” or “Single Men in.” That way you not only target the several thousand phrases related to the actual dating terms but you also got the substitution for people using different versions of the searches.

There you go! You just over tripled your saturation and keyword targeting. With any luck and time this will bring in quite a bit more organic search traffic. Hell, who needs luck.

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The Absolute Fastest Way To Make Money Online

I’m actually writing this post as a point of reference to an Email I got. The details of the email are private and aren’t important, except that it asks the age old question, what is the absolute fastest way to make money online? I’m a firm believer that online income needs to start out as a supplement to your preexisting income then eventually work its way to a full time gig. Trying to dive right in with some cash you got saved up is a way dangerous move. There are no guarantees here, at least none that I have found. There are however solid investments. There’s nothing more I would love to contribute to this blog than a huge article detailing project investments, but for today we’ll start out with the basics. There are long-term, short-term, and mid-term investments. If your goals include a career making money online you need to focus on long and mid-term investments, while using short-term investments to fund your long term investments. It definitely takes money to make money and the Internet is no exception. So naturally the statement that usually follows a question like what’s the fastest way to make money online is, I only have $__ and i need to figure out a way to turn it into an income I can live off of. This is a scary and all too common question. The best answer is naturally projects that can be categorized as long term slow growth investments, but sometimes life doesn’t allow you the luxury of time. So in that case you need to consider the short term investments that are going to pay out big, and then go balls to the wind with them and see what comes out. So let’s see if I can clear up a tough situation like this for the first time ever without using a single example.

What Is The Absolute Fastest Way To Make Money Online?My answer to this question is Link Injection. Link Injection is simply a process of trying to put in your affiliate links into already established popular sites with preexisting traffic. A more specific example of Link Injection would be Social Site Spamming.

Uhhhg You’re going to talk about Myspace or Craigslist spamming aren’t you?

I could take that approach with this post, but then a few people would try it. They would make a few bucks. Some things would change with their systems and the post would become worthless very quickly. So instead I’d like to take a more generic approach and talk about how to approach any link injection possibility and successfully come out with some serious cash which you can use for your long term investments and to get by on while you’re transitioning into the industry. So let’s evaluate these types of targeted traffic sources and how to exploit them for some quick bucks.

Methodology:1) Pick a social site or link injection source. There are definitely no shortage of them. A quick list might include: Myspace, Craigslist, Google Base, Facebook, Yahoo Answers, Forums, Blogspot.com/Blogger.com, Top Sites Lists, Tagworld, or even chatrooms. Feel free to fill the comments with more.

2) Get out your handy Notepad and start taking notes.

3) Create an account. Be sure to make a note of every form field you fill in as well as the URL to the signup form. Make a note of any captchas or secondary forms you have to fill in. Also be sure to note if you have to confirm your email address or not, or any other account verification methods.

4) Evaluate your market. Try to get a feel of the type of people that use the site and offers that might interest them or at least convert well. For this step it’s perfectly acceptable to simply write down, “General Idiots-dating offers.”

5) Find a niche that can fit a large majority of the users. The best advice I can give for this is to “be useful.” For instance if you’re attempting some link injection on a site that helps people with problems consider things like the tools and utility niches. A good formula to follow will be (total_visitors-percentage_not_interested_in_niche) * conversion_rate * $commission_per_conversion = $income.

6) Find an affiliate offer that you can promote. Try to find one that is inconspicuous. You will want one that you can promote discreetly while helping people. Finding a high converting offer is important but consider the fact that you will be getting an absolutely huge amount of traffic to that offer, so the discreetness of the offer will be quite a bit more important. So don’t just go for a random porn and webcam sex offer. Yeah, I caught you didn’t I

7) Log back into your account and manually go in and attempt to make a single post or attempt to get your affiliate offer in there. You may need to stuff some interesting text or instructions around it. You’re single goal is to get that link to stick. Hell your ultimate goal is to get people to thank you for the link. If you got that you got ultimate link injection stickiness. At the very least make your link interesting, trick them if you have to just make them want to go to your link and see what’s there.

8) Do some further testing. Make notes of how long your link sticks, make notes of how many people see the link and how many click through and how many actually convert. Try to get some kind of feel for how big you are going to take this in order to make the money you are needing. It’s not a bad idea to work your way from the bottom. I personally like to make the link as discreet and hidden as possible, see how long it sticks. Then start making it more and more “in your face” with each attempt. Make a log of the results of each attempt. You will want to find the optimal medium. The point at which the link will grab the most attention while sticking for the longest. From there it’s just a matter of tweaking with the creative to get it to convert better once they do click the link.

9) Repeat the entire process in it’s entirety. Once you found your groove and know exactly the results you want it’s time to write your pseudo code. Pseudo code is simply a very simplistic way of describing a process. If it helps, think about describing exactly what you want done to an infant. The more details the better. From there rewrite your pseudo code and replace everything you would need to specify such as your account info and link info with user input tags. It’s very important to specifically what information you are willing to donate to the process. The rest will ideally be automated.

10) Find a programmer. As you are probably starting to realize by now, doing this all by hand is not a very efficient use of your time. Give your pseudo code to the programmer and work out your payment details. Decide in advanced how much you are willing to pay. If you are incapable of paying anything to get a program made, you have two options. Either do it by hand until you can afford it, or learn how to code it yourself. You could also make some form of bargain or trade. A lot of times you will be bombarded by pre-made publicly available programs that are already providing nearly what you were wanting to do. This isn’t a bad option to help you get started until you get your own custom program made, but by rule I never rely on pre-made programs. If they exist, then they are used. If they are used then they will become worthless quickly. Therefore they are a bad investment. As much of a pain in the ass as it seems, custom made is the only way to go when you’re link injecting. Lastly, make sure your program or script allows for proxy use.11) Talk to your account manager. Make some form of contact with your account manager for your affiliate program. If you are producing some volume or have a good idea of the volume you will be producing work out some form of deal with him. Get some better rates. You’re goal is to make quick big cash. More the better.

12) Get out while the going is good. This is the most important step and unfortunately the most ignored. Your gut will tell you when to get out of a soon to sour market. Listen to it NOT the money. Understand that you are making a short term investment. I see so many people fall through the cracks like that. They do a bit of link injection on a certain network. They think they found their golden goose and they hammer it as hard as they can. They spend all their money thinking it will just keep pouring in faster than they can spend it forever. It’s such a sad and all too common mistake.

13) Understand your investment. I have a firm rule I stand by with my business that has never failed me. My short term investments pay for my long term investments. My long term investments pay me. Never the other way around. I know this is hard but consider it mandatory for your own good. Whatever link injection method you are doing it will not last forever. So any money it makes needs to go to stuff that will grow your income overtime.It’s okay to pocket a few bucks for yourself to get by on, but not for one moment think; I am now making 4-5 figures a month or day or whatever, Yay for me! It’s a false sense of security. If you really want to make online income your full time job you will need a good grasp on this concept.

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Recommend-It WordPress Plugin

I’m excited. I just put up a new WordPress plugin that I’ve been wanting for awhile now. It’s called Recommend It.

Recommend It – Allows your blog’s veteran readers to recommend posts to first time visitors through a simple voting system.

You’ll notice that at the bottom of every post is now a button that allows you to recommend that post to first time readers. So now first time visitors here will be greeted with the posts that got the most recommendations from the veteran readers.

I’ve been wanting a plugin like this really bad. I think it’s a great way to point your new readers to the real meat of your blog. I first got the idea for this when I saw several blogs that recently got links from bigger blogs and so they made special posts to welcome the readers. They all recommended a few of what they felt were their best posts for the new readers to check out. My reasoning was that they might be worried that the new flood of visitors would leave after not being able to find the good posts, or get the wrong impression about their blog from the most recent post. I started thinking about how much I could use something like that. Sometimes my most recent post isn’t always the best representation of the rest of my blog or the best for new readers to get introduced into the community with. It’s often best to leave it to the people who know your writings the best, your readers, to point your new visitors in the right direction. I personally would like to see this at the top of every blog I first visit.

So I asked a buddy of mine, , who is a great coder if he could possibly make me a plugin to automated the process and leave it to the visitors to decide which posts would be best for the newbies. I think he did a great job.

If you would like to use Recommend-It on your blog he was gracious enough to allow me to share it.

Download Recommend It

Installation Instructions

If you need any coding work done I’d strongly recommend you contact . He does some great work.

E-mail:

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From Affiliate to E-Commerce Mogul – The Real Secrets To E-Commerce

This was originally a guest post over at Net Business Blog. It’s been over a month so I reposted it here for preservation sake. Here’s the original Comments. Enjoy!

Hello everyone. This is your captain speaking. First I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Eli from BlueHatSEO.com. I do a little SEO here and there when needed. It’s not everyday that someone like Matt offers you an opportunity to do a guest post on one of the best internet business blogs on the net like NetBusinessBlog. So I’d like to start off by expressing how extremely honored I am for the chance to write this post and demonstrate a few things to the NBB’s community. Writing about the business aspect of SEO is not something I get a chance to do very often so I think this is a great opportunity to talk about what I think is one of the toughest business transitions in the industry. The move from affiliate to full blown E-Commerce publisher.

The reason why I say that E-Commerce is the toughest transition to make is because if you’ve ever attempted it, whether you were successful or not, you find out very quickly why it’s called the big boys club. In the affiliate market industry you have several people above you. First the manufacturers. Then the suppliers.. Next the E-commerce sites. Lastly the affiliate network. Everyone above you wants you to succeed. Your success means their success. In the E-Commerce world the model of authority changes. It is just you and the manufacturer. The manufacturers want you to succeed but not so much that it hurts their real cash cows, the local retailers who will spare no time complaining about their online competition. Frankly you are nothing more than a necessary pain in the ass. In that spirit the manufacturers use their biggest asset, the suppliers/distributors, to put up barriers so the average Joe can’t just jump into the business. You go through the suppliers and the suppliers make sure you don’t upset the manufacturers. Understand that to them it’s fine to field complaints about places like Tigerdirect or Walmart being too price competitive. You just laugh and say yeah that’s them! Fielding questions about some guy/girl in a bathrobe out of their house is a different form of headache for the manufacturers. A headache they are not willing to accept. So what about the average Joe? How do we break into the business?

First understand that I’m going to explain in deep detail how, but that the information I’m telling you does not come from lots of research and reading. It doesn’t come from learning from other people and attending conferences, nor lots of personal success or luck. Instead it comes from tons upon tons of failures. I’m too embarrassed to say how many failed E-Commerce sites I have laying around on my servers in ratio to successful ones. Let us just say the numbers aren’t pretty. I learned the true secrets the hard way and in an effort to help you not do the same I present to you this guide.

The Niche

The obvious first step is to pick your niche. You should be an expert on this by now. So this step should be easy right? Sorta not really, this is where the most average Joe’s fail. When searching for niches as an affiliate marketer you look for easy to sell items that have low competition for their keywords. In E-Commerce its exactly backwards. You’re looking for those products that are seemingly impossible to sell online with extremely high competition for their keywords. I’ll explain why. The natural Internet nerd like ourselves wants to sell something we like or use ourselves. For instance computer parts or electronics. You can easily find long tailed phrases with low competition and get your hands on lots of products to ship. However, you are force to compete with everyone else. If you think you can score the same margins and prices as places like Newegg or CDW you are kidding yourself. They will absolutely crush you and leave barely anything left for the rest of the competition to wipe with. I hate to be blunt about it, but that’s the harsh reality of the situation. Instead do some retail research around town. Try going to a local mall and start writing down every product you see that would possibly have a big gross margin(the dollar amount between your buying price and selling price) that you think might be difficult to find online. You will be shocked at where you find these products. They aren’t on the bottom shelves at large retail outlets they are typically hidden in specialty shops.

After you have compiled your list ask yourself some questions about the products. I’m going list an example. Please don’t take it literally because I have done no actual product research on it. I’m strictly using it as a superficial point of reference. Lets assume you walked into a kite shop. So now we have a potential product to sell, kites.

1) Does this product potentially have a high gross margin? Yes, I would imagine kites would have a high gross margin because they seem fairly cheap to make and yet certain ones like two stringed kites sell for very expensive.

2) Does this product potentially have a MAP price(minimum advertised price allowed by the manufacturer)? Kites possibly do but more than likely don’t because kite shops are sparsely located in places where kite flying is popular like coast lines. *Products with MAPs in place are very good for starting in ecommerce because they allow you to get the product cheap, and still be able to compete with your prices against the heavy competition.

3) How hard will it be to get my hands on this product? With kites I would imagine it would be pretty hard. There probably aren’t very many kite distributors, and the few around are probably big enough to service the entire country.

4) Is this product easy to find and buy online? One search on froogle for the word “kite” gives me only 36k results. By comparison yeah I’d say its pretty hard to find the right kite online. *The harder to find a product the better. It means there is probably loads of information about it, but few selling it. Meaning, if you manage to get your hands on some product fulfillment; competition will be easy to deal with.

5) Are there plenty of variations of this product? Yes there are many many different types and shapes of kites. *Variations are a good thing, it means you may possibly be the only etailer to sell a particular model that a customer may be looking for. It also means your website will be large enough to draw enough traffic to convert. People may come to your site looking for one model or specific product but then decide on another while browsing your site.

Fulfillment and Shipping

Next define a specific plan for fulfilling your orders and shipping methods to your customers. You have several options to pick from.In-House Inventory – You buy the products directly from a distributor or manufacturer and then ship them to your customers yourself. This has several obvious upsides and downsides. On the upside, since you are for sure purchasing the products you can bargain for cheaper prices and suppliers are more willing to respond favorably. Storing the products yourself also allows you exact control over your own inventory. The downside of course is that this piles quite a bit of work upon yourself. You have to have space for all the product. Likewise you have to manage your own inventory counts and personally ship the products yourself. A lot of people in the industry have done very well with this method, but don’t expect to be an overnight success without a ton of work on your part. It’s best to build up to your own inventory not start out there.

Private Manufacturing – You can cut a contracted deal with a person you know who invented something and have them make and ship the products for you. You just make the sales and inform them of the orders. This is ideal because it allows you the benefit of exclusivity to a product. The downside is of course the reliability. Since they are your only sole supplier if they take off or quit you are still responsible for their actions and your business is instantly doomed. You could do this in mass, so if one flakes out you can just drop their products and continue selling others, but then you are dealing with N times the number of headaches. I personally have gotten many offers from people wanting to cut deals like this with me. Just as a preference I would never go with this method despite seeing others around me become very successful doing it.

Drop Shipping – This is the golden nugget that gets most people started in E-Commerce. Drop shipping is where a distributor cuts a deal with you to handle the product fulfillment to your customers for you. They carry the inventory you just notify them of the orders and they ship directly to your customers for you. Besides not having to carry your own inventory, this has the added benefit of cutting your shipping costs. Instead of having to pay for the products to be shipped to you then have to pay to ship them to your customers. You just pay the shipping from the distributor to your customers directly. Likewise you also get a much larger inventory at your disposal. Typically distributors carry very large volumes of the products they carry because they have access to the manufacturers directly. You essentially get access to that entire inventory. You also get access to much larger brand names that people are likely to look for and recognize.

Blind Drop Shipping – Blind drop shipping is exactly like drop shipping except the distributor also agrees to ship the product to the customer with your company name on the package instead of theirs. This way there is no confusion on where they bought the product from. This helps dramatically with drawing return customers back to your site.

Drop Shipping

For our kites example we are going to attempt to score a drop shipping or blind drop shipment deal. Like I mentioned, drop shipping is probably the most attractive option for people wanting to get into the business. Unfortunately, it is also the reason why most fail. This is simply because drop shipping is an ideal solution made up of smoke and mirrors. Remember what I said. Manufacturers do not want the average Joe getting into E-Commerce, at least not successfully anyways. It is bad for overall business. So drop shipping is a solution for them to turn affiliate marketers with grandeur dreams of E-Commerce right back into affiliate marketers. That is essentially what you are doing after all. So bear in mind that the illusion of the perfect world drop shipping preaches isn’t what it seems. If you follow the conventional path you will make the conventional mistakes and fail like everyone else. So let’s evaluate these traps and come up with a slightly complex but workable solution.

Drop Shipping Directories and Sources

There are several directories and sources that are specifically setup for people wanting to find distributors that are willing to do drop shipping. One of the most notable is World Wide Brands. This is a nice solution. Distributors that specialize in providing drop shipping and blind drop shipping can sign up and people can find them and directly apply to promote their products through the website’s application process. They also are very good at weeding out the fake distributors through a screening process. Sometimes people get the sneaky idea to pretend to be a distributor. They buy from another distributor, jack up the prices and then drop ship for others under the illusion that they are a genuine distributor. The people selling their products get screwed because the prices are so high and they have so many people selling the same products that it makes it nearly impossible to sell while maintaining a net margin for yourself. However, while this trap is taken care of for you through their screening process you are still stuck selling the exact same products as everyone else for nearly the same prices and very little margins. This is because distributors that specialize in drop shipping typically only sell products that the manufacturers are happy to get off their hands and don’t mind online competition. For their pain of having to deal with an automated drop shipping system and the extra cost of having thousands of clients these drop shippers also tend to raise their own margins and lower yours. This draws some negativity to your ultimate goal, but keep in mind that many of your sales will be from people that come to your site looking for one product and end up buying another. So its not a bad idea to keep the drop shipping directories on the back burner to help fill your finished E-commerce site and supplement its product count later on. Another trap to note with drop shipping sources are the sources that claim to manage the entire process themselves. You pay them to join and they supply you with a generated website and automatic inventory management system. This seems like a cool idea because then you have no actual work to do yourself. They offer to manage the product listing, the hosting, and the payment processing after all, but keep in mind that this is an all too common scam. When searching for a drop shipper its always a good policy to remember; Anyone who wants YOU to pay them to sell THEIR products is a scam. There is no exceptions to this rule no matter how attractive the offer.

Real Distributors

Alrighty, now that we have eliminated all the scams and nearly every possibility to break into this business without carrying your own inventory lets talk about attempting the seemingly impossible. We are going to attempt to contact and setup a relationship with a real big time distributor. We are going to do this tactfully and even to do it through the actual manufacturers. We are also going to convince this distributor to change their entire system for us and to drop ship for us. This will be easier than it seems but at the same time keep in the mind the ultimate goal of selling the products no one else is allowed to sell online at the absolute highest margins and price competitiveness. Hang on to your seats we’re going to the promise land.

The Process

1) Build a beautiful E-Commerce site of the products you are wanting to sell. For our kites example we will build the best looking kites website and fill it with fake products. It would be easiest if you got an open source shopping cart system such as OS-Commerce and then heavily modify it as well as add in your own custom template. Distributors look at a lot of websites related to their products on a daily basis. They should be very well versed in the sites available out there so it is important to make one that will visually impress them.

2) Make a list of recognized brands for your niche. Don’t worry about availability. Just focus on building a big list of brand names. For our example we will make a list of all the major kite brands.

3) Get a business license. This is a mandatory step. You will never even have a chance to talk to a proper distributor if you don’t have a valid business license and bank account. Also, get a credit card or bank card in your business name. The best advice I can give you is to do everything possible to appear like a legitimate long standing business. It is also helpful to get your own business phone. Every detail will matter. You are now a legitimate successful business no matter what the IRS says.

4) Take your list of brands and call all the manufacturers. Contact the sales department. Once you are in the sales department say your name and what company you are from as well as your city and state. Say you are interested in finding a distributor that will supply their products. Before they get a chance to forward you on tell them you would like to speak to the regional sales manager for your area. For instance if you live in the North East. Ask to speak to the North East Regional Manger of Sales or an equal. From my experience the regional managers are very good at micro managing business relations with the distributors in their area and are the absolute best person to talk to when wanting to find premo distributors.

5) Once you get a hold of the regional manager SELL SELL SELL. If you are a timid person now is the time to let the bad ass business person inside shine through. The only reason you are talking to this person is because someone in his company said he was a very good person to talk to. You show him a lot of respect but at the same time let him convince you to go with one of his distributors. A good way to get the ball rolling on this is to ask him what is his BEST distributor in his area. Feel free to embellish and let him know you are from a major E-commerce development company and allow him to sell you on a specific distributor. After that is finished politely request some personal information from him. One of my patented moves is to say something like, “Well great I’m looking at their website now they seem pretty good. If you don’t mind me asking you for your personal opinion since you seem to really know what you are doing. Who would you recommend I talk to at that company? We move a lot of products and are in constant communication with our suppliers and I would really like to know who you would recommend in their company to work with. I always enjoy working with a person who’s really motivated and a go getter when it comes to their clients.” This is usually when the regional manager will lower his professional tone and really start to like you. He will usually give a personal recommendation (which will become a very important piece of leverage later). When he says something like, “Alrighty, just my opinion, but you should definitely talk to *James* over there. He is really smart and motivated.” I just used the name James as an example, but just be sure to write down the persons name, the distributor name and their contact information as well as the regional manager’s name.

6) Call up the distributor immediately after getting off the phone with the manufacturer’s regional manager. Don’t bother introducing yourself to the receptionist just ask directly for the person he made the recommendation for. “Hi James, my name is ___ I am from *yourcompanyname*. We’re a large E-commerce development company in your area. I was just speaking to *regional managers name* the regional manager over at *manufacturers name* about you guys. He seems to think highly of you and recommended I talk to you personally about buying some products.” Remember your goal is to convince this guy to not only push your account through but to agree to drop ship for you. At this point all he knows is the guy in charge of one of the company’s coveted manufacturers and whom his boss has weekly conference calls with and flies out to have lunch with just made a personal recommendation to speak with him. For all he knows you may be golfing buddies with him. At this point he’s blind, he just knows he better seal this deal with you as if his christmas bonus depended on it. So let him know you’re not interested in the details but at the same time make all the important requests. “Are you guys capable of drop shipping for me?” “How about blind drop shipping?” When he responds with a sure we can probably make that happen then stop the deal making and rush the rest of the process. “Alrighty, well that sounds great. I’ll talk to my lead developer and have him start integrating your product lines into our system.” “Go ahead and fax me an account application and any paperwork I need to get signed. Don’t bother with a credit app. We pay for everything up front when the order goes through using our credit card, but go ahead and send over the paperwork so you can put that information on file. I’ll give you a call when everything has been taken care of okay? Here’s my personal number if you run into any questions.” Right before you hang up remind him to send you a list of his product lines (all the brands his company sells). Then end it right there! Try not to get into talking about your site or your business, although if he asks happily show him your website. Either assure him it already gets lots of business or assure him it will very soon because your company never fails at producing a successful E-Commerce site. If he is quick on his toes he will start warning you about his company’s “protected lines.” Protected lines are the brands that only his company is allowed to distribute in their region. All others are restricted by the manufacturer to never touch their products. These protected brands tend to also have very tough restrictions on selling online, which typically means absolutely not. Not in a million years. You are a jerk for asking. Divert any questions he may ask as to “which lines are you interested in selling?” “Well James I’d have to look at what you have. Go ahead and send me a list of your product lines and I’ll have my PT (product tech) look over them. I don’t know a damn thing about kites. All I know is how to sell them.” If you get too much into that conversation it will result in him telling you all the brands you aren’t allowed to sell and eventually end in you only selling a few kite strings.

7) Fill out all the paperwork and have it faxed or emailed back by the end of the day. You are not a company that screws around. When you say something will get done it gets done immediately and you expect the same from everyone you work with. This is very important because when you assure him that your site will produce them enough sells to compensate for the bother of them drop shipping for you and only you, you are not really assuring him, you are TELLING him. It is important for him to adjust to the fact that everything you tell him gets done at a pace he’s not accustomed to with his typical brick n mortar retailers. Immediately after the paperwork is sent call him (or have another person call) and let him know it has been sent and you are waiting on him to push the application through the approval process. If he or the credit department is slow to push the applications through be sure to let him know that you are slightly inconvenienced by that.

Be prepared. If they are a big enough distributor with a big enough line of protected products they WILL investigate your company. Here is what you know about your company. You’re business license is new because you either switched names, management, or states recently. Your company has little or no credit because you pay for every product and order up front with your bank card. You personally have great credit, and anyone else who signs the paperwork has great personal credit. If this doesn’t apply to you I’m sorry to say this business isn’t for you. Big time distributors will need you to prove that you are responsible enough to pay your own bills before you start managing 5-6 dollar figures worth of orders a day. Yes, you eventually will be doing that kind of volume if you are the only one selling those lines. Those big protected lines are the products consumers want, many don’t have places in their cities that sell them so they have to buy them online. If you are one of the only ones selling them you will make sales. Lots and lots of sales.

8) Once you get the account approved talk to him about the protected lines. Email him a list of all the brands you would like to sell through your website. Don’t ask him to look through the list and figure out what ones you are allowed to sell. Most if asked will just send you back a very short list of the ones they are sure of. Your goal is to sell every single product they have. If he tells you no, that’s okay just ask what you have to do to sell that brand. Sometimes they will require someone in your company to be certified in either the installation of or repair of their products. Sometimes they will require authorization through the manufacturer. He will happily handle all this for you. Just fill out any applications you can and get as many products as you can, especially the protected ones. There are many protected lines you will not be successful in obtaining authorization to sell. For those I have had some success in directly contacting the manufacturer and getting authorization to sell a few of their products. This works great because if you show your responsibility there you can eventually move up to new protected models as they come out. Just take whatever you can get. Every product is potentially worth thousands in profit a month.

9) Finish the website. Get all the products in and remove the fake ones that were in there for show. Then repeat the first 8 steps and get more and more distributors and products. Try to load up your website as much as possible. Put in useful and good information about each product and make it as high converting as possible.

10) Advertise! Advertise! Advertise! Make sales. Make sales anyway you can. If your site is not performing within the first month buy some of your own products for your relatives across the country. Just do whatever you can to produce some results. Some great ways to advertise include joining an affiliate network. One of the cheapest is Share A Sale. The cheap ones are good to start off on. Then as your site grows you can move on to bigger ones like Commission Junction and shopping.com. Also be sure to utilize free advertising such as Froogle. Just be sure to produce some kind of results.

11) Rank for your terms. Pick a recognizable term for your site. For instance we will want to rank for “Kites.” Follow basic SEO and do some of Matt’s brilliant ideas that he shares to be sure you rank. This is a great way to make sales but its also quite a bit more than that. When finding distributors in the future it gives you a bragging right. Tell them to search for Kites on Google. When they see your site in the top 10 they will KNOW that you make sales and work hard to get your business. This also works for your current distributors that have locked you out of too many items and/or are being difficult to give you custom pricing. Say something like, “Hey, I’m making tons of sales through these other distributors because this last week we started ranking for Kites in Google. We are having a hard time keeping these products in stock. You got to help me out and give me some more products to sell or give them to me at cheaper prices so I can compete in the price market.” Just saying that gets them pacing around their cubicle while talking to you on the phone.

12) Follow up with your distributors. Always be pushing down your own pricing on the products. If you are exclusive and picked a good niche pricing won’t matter too much, but it always helps to convince the customers that your more expensive item is much much better than the cheaper one your competitors are selling but only slightly more expensive. View your distributors’ account managers as your personal friends and business partners. Once you are in they are there to help you succeed. They want you to sell! If a competitor is just stomping out your prices show them their website and ask them why. They have direct contact with the manufacturers and they will investigate and figure out why they are able to get the products to their customers for cheaper than you can. They also love investigating etailers that are selling products they aren’t supposed to. If a competitor is selling a product line that is protected; they can figure out who they are getting it through and whether or not they got authorization through the manufacturer to actually be selling them. If they don’t have the proper authorization the manufacturer will sick the rabid legal dogs on them until they take the products off their website. They are like your own personal guardian angels of your business. It is their job to protect you and take down anyone trying to stop you from being successful, or at least get you to a competitive level. All you have to do is continuously produce sales and make them as hassle free for the processing as possible. Every distributor has its price. No matter how much of a pain the fulfillment is, if you produce enough sales/day or convince them that you will they will happily work with you and do anything it takes to help you succeed.

Anyways, I hate to cut it off but I am making this post entirely too long. There is so much in this business that it’s tough to fit it all in only one guest post. There are hundreds of other ambiguities and dilemmas you will face in the business. However, this should get you the solid start you will never read about anywhere else. If you follow closely and make sure to understand all the traps and advice I’ve given you are sure to succeed. I understand that there are many articles that claim to be the “secret” to e-commerce, but I figured Net Business Blog was the only suitable home for the one and only post that really does dispel the secrets and information that no experienced e-commerce professional wants people to know. I’d like to thank Matt for this opportunity and allowing me to write for you guys. Feel free to fill his comments with your questions and I will happily answer any I am experienced enough to answer. Welcome to the big boys club

Good Luck and Keep Reading!

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