Archive for Wealth

Make Money From Home: An Internet Marketing Primer

work at home mom

“So Old Dog, what are you doing these days?”

“Since I lost my job I’ve been learning the intricacies of Internet marketing.”

“Oh yeah; I have a friend who does that.”

I believe people when then tell me that; but I do not believe that they have any idea of what I do.

Selling books and guitars and baby clothes over the Internet is a slight shift on a paradigm that’s existed since Eve sold Adam on the apple idea. But there’s a whole new world of Internet marketing out there, and if you’re interested in making some extra money, or looking for a way to while away the time during your retirement, I encourage you to read on.

Let’s start with a quiz; how many of these terms can you define?

Search engine optimization, both on-page and off-page. Google AdWords. Google AdSense. Pay-per-click. Pay-per-view. Pay-per-action. Affiliate marketing. Affiliate network. Clickbank. FTP. Domain name. Website (I thought I’d throw you a bone!). Have you heard of ‘GoDaddy’? Do you have any idea what they do?

As you can see there is a whole new lingo that represents a whole new way of doing business.

And while I’m somewhat familiar with most variations on Internet marketing I’m going to focus on the one with which I’m most familiar, “affiliate marketing”. Let’s look first at the old way of marketing and then we’ll have a look at the way I do business on the Internet.

I’m a guitar player and I’ve built a website (http://electric-guitarlessons.com) to sell guitar instruction courses under this new paradigm we’re discussing. Here’s how to do the same thing the “old way”.

First you need to find a product or two; shouldn’t be tough, there are plenty of publishers and book wholesalers to help you find a few good-selling titles. Now you need a place where customers can come and buy your books. So you rent a storefront for, let’s just say, $1000/month.

You’ll be open from 9-6 Monday through Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday, but you can’t be there every minute of every day so you’ll need to hire some help. Let’s bring in a part-timer, say 20 hours/week @ $10/hour. That’s $800/month, and don’t forget that you’ll need to contribute 7.5%, or $60 of your money to her Social Security .

Then there’s the light bill, heat and AC, and don’t forget insurance; I’ll be conservative and estimate $500/month. You’ll need to bring customers through the door (that’s called ‘marketing’!); again, I’ll estimate advertising and marketing expenses conservatively at $500/month. So it looks like you’ll need $2410 just to open the door. With a typical wholesale>retail markup of 40% you’ll have to sell about $6000 worth of $20 mguitar instruction books to break even; at $20/book that’s 300 books, or 12 each day.

You will need some start-up cash, of course. There’s inventory to purchase, fixtures to buy and everyone who provides service to you is going to want a deposit in the unlikely event your business doesn’t fly. I don’t think $7500 is far-fetched at all.

All this expense is worth it to you, of course, because you know you’ll be one of the fortunate “two-thirds of new employer establishments [that] survive two years, and 44 percent [that] survive four years” (from the US SBA).

And no more punching the clock; no more answering to “the man”; no more “yes boss”, “no boss”.

Also no more time to play guitar or golf, no time for vacations, no time to play with the kids…you have a business to run, after all! I’ve worn the shoes of “business owner” and trust me; even in the best of times its like wearing a very large stone around your neck.

In Part II of “An Internet Marketing Primer” I’ll show you how I sell guitar instruction courses. I guarantee that you will be awakened to a whole new way of thinking about and doing business. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to click on that orange “Subscribe” button on the upper right of this page.

First Race of the Year: the 2010 “Polar Bear”

Walking For Fitness and Weight Loss

walking-for-fitness (Not me!)

I began walking for fitness and weight loss in the autumn of 2008 as a means of preparing for the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon the following May. For the last few years my brother Kerry and some friends had set aside time each summer for an “adventure”. While discussion options for the following year’s challenge around a campfire on the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia Kerry, a former Hoosier, suggested they attempt to complete the country’s largest half-marathon.

When he told me about the upcoming challenge I immediately invited myself to join them and said invitation was enthusiastically accepted. I was 57 years old and had grown sedentary; I was looking for an excuse to get off my butt and back onto the street (I had been a runner for many years). I had also fantasized about completing the Mini, 13.1 miles through the streets of Indianapolis, including a lap around the fabled 2.5 mile oval known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I’m proud to say that Kerry, 6 years my senior, and I completed the daunting task. And in the process I increase my level of fitness and lost a few pounds to boot. But more important than those results was the fact that I’d developed a new, good habit—walking for fitness and weight loss. The benefits of exercise as well as the process of exercising itself become almost addictive. Someone once said that you can never be too rich or too skinny; I don’t know about the first but I do know from experience that looking at a pile of jeans that are just too big to wear anymore is intoxicating!

I’m now preparing to meet Kerry again in May for our second Mini. I’ve begun adding some jogging to my routine; another intoxication to competitive walking is to improve your times and pace. When I started my walking program I set a goal of completing any race I participated in at a 15 minute/mile pace and was proud to have completed the Mini in 3 hours and 8 minutes or 14:35/mile. But now I want better.

runinsnowIndianapolis has many opportunities to test your progress while walking/running with others. The first such competition is the Polar Bear 3 mile/5mile which takes place on the third Saturday in February. In my first run/walk competition of any kind I completed 2009’s 3 mile in 43:35, a pace of 14.06; I was pretty happy with that. This year’s race was cold (duh!) and my upper body layers (tech tee-shirt, heavy cotton hoodie covered by a Gore-Tex shell) immediately felt like chain mail armor. But I did my best and finished at a markedly improved pace over the prior year. Here is my evaluation:

Weather: cloudy and cold, 28 degrees at start. Nominal wind, some puddles and snowpack in places on the streets but not enough to affect the outcome of the race.

My general condition/well being:

Before the event: I felt great, excited to be with like minded people, confident of my ability to show improvement, no injuries.

During the event: A sense of doom at the outset. I’d planned on jogging the first 10 minutes but as soon as I began my upper body felt like I was wearing lead. I probably jogger for 2-3 minutes before I had to begin walking in order to catch my breath. For the remainder of the race I felt burdened and strained.

After the race: Jubilant! Despite the apparent burden of my low-tech upper body clothing I finished far better than I thought I would. About 200 yards from the finish line I saw the timer turn to 38 minutes; I’d set a goal of 40, and quickly calculated that I had 1 minute to finish at a sub-13 minute pace. I turned on the afterburners and looked up to see the timer tick off 38:47 as I crossed the finish line—I let out an audible “Yes!”

My conditioning, 1-5: I’ll give me a 3. I’ve come a long way the last few months but I’ve got a long way to go. By the end of the season I want to be able to complete a 5K in 31 minutes, a 10 minute pace.

My effort, 1-5: 5 I’m proud to say. I pushed myself hard, particularly at the end

Miscellaneous notes:

I finished in the 33 percentile; 2/3s of the participants were faster than me. But there’s something wonderful about being in the bottom third. I am surrounded by non-athletes; brave souls who are no longer young, overweight, out of shape or a combination thereof. Their likes all over the country are still in bed on this Saturday morning or sitting at McDonalds eating pancakes and sausage. For every one of these non-athletes doing this athletic thing in the cold there are thousands of people just like them who have waved the white flag and surrendered to the onset of their oldness, fatness and out-of-shape-ness. But not us; each of us is driven to be more, be better, be happier with ourselves. I don’t know your reasons for being out here on this gloriously miserable morning and you don’t know mine. But as I pass you, or watch you pass me, I feel the unacknowledged camaraderie we share and I silently cheer you on to the finish line and your own personal victory. See ya’ at the next race!

**There are lots of weight loss programs out there and it’s easy to get ripped off. “Fat Burning Furnace” has been the best selling program available on the Internet for months now, and that typically indicates a quality product. If you’re interested in learning more about the Fat Burning Furnace click here.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

old-dog-tricksThe necessity for me to prove that hackneyed old adage wrong came about on February 9, 2009. It began with a page at the Honda dealership where I’d been selling Hondas for the last 13 years;

“Old Dog to the business office, please. Old Dog, please come to the business office.”

It was my sales manager, and I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. He’d warned me a few months earlier that my weekly draw was outpacing my commissions and that if I didn’t begin to lessen the gap quickly I was likely to become the first man in history to lose his job as a car salesman for something less egregious than aggravated assault on the owner.

I wasn’t sure why I’d been paged to an office other than his but I suspected that he didn’t have the guts to fire me all by himself. Dean was reputed to have a rather impressive male appendage but I’d come to observe during his tenure as sales manager that his balls were the size of bee pollen.

He just couldn’t handle conflict. During one dramatic episode I watched a terribly distraught general manager make a cathartic apology to the sales force he’d been abusing for the past 20 years. The GM and Dean were good friends; in fact, he’d given Dean his position of sales manager. Watching his friend’s anguish was more than Dean could bear; he walked to and stood facing the door while hanging his head and staring at the floor. He looked like a little boy being made to stay in a room while his father beat his mom; I thought he’d pee his pants before it was over.

So there I was; 58 years old and unemployed and in a sense, relieved. I had, after decades of trying to make a living as a car salesman, finally failed in my attempt to do so. I had proven to myself and the entire world that I was not very good at something I really disliked doing.

For that reason, as well as the fact that the auto industry (and the entire US, for that matter) was in the throes of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, finding gainful employment as a seller of automobiles was out of the question. But the rent still needed to be paid so if I was going to continue living with a roof over my head I was going to need to learn a new way of making a living—some new tricks.

Extreme Makeover: Midlife Crisis Edition

I lost my job in February of 2009, 2 months after my 58th birthday; now that’s a midlife crisis! I didn’t really like the job very much, nor had I liked any job I’d had very much since I first started selling stuff when I was 25 years old. I knew that this was a pivotal point in my life and decided that getting fired was a good thing. And with that attitude in mind I began looking for a way to joyously earn a living for the rest of my working life.

For the last 11 months I’ve been living on borrowed money while searching for a way to pay the bills.

I think I’ve found it but I’m now living on borrowed time, too. I need to start earning money and I need to do it fast. So I’ve decided to combine my quest for personal freedom and financial security with attempting to find an answer to a question that I’ve pondered for years: “Can people change?”

Of course people can change, they do it all the time. Drunks become sober, addicts get clean, men become women and street people go from homeless in the street to a penthouse office on Wall Street. But that kind of change doesn’t happen often. And it doesn’t happen without seismic shifts in the way people see and think about themselves. Fundamental change is hard but it can happen; and it must happen to me—fast.

I have 30 days to turn my midlife crisis into an extreme makeover.

In that period of time I must become a successful Internet Marketer. In 30 days I must be able to look at my wife and tell her “Yes, this thing I’ve been working on will work! We are not going to lose the house; we are not going to have to file for bankruptcy; we will retire with comfort, ease and lots of money. Find something else to worry about, if you must. Money is no longer, and never again will be, a problem.” And I might just drop 10 pounds to boot!

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**Update 4/27/2010: I’ve returned to my old career and joined the sales staff at Terry Lee Honda in Avon, IN.

“Health, Love and Wealth…”

healthlovewealthIt was the inscription on a pewter plate that my wife and I got as a wedding present. For years the plate sat on my dresser and collected/dispensed the coins I carried in my pocket; consequently, I saw that Celtic blessing twice a day. The plate disappeared (along with a very nice Fender Stratocaster) through a door of our rural home we didn’t bother to lock but I never forgot the inscription that seemed to pretty well sum up what happiness was all about.

This site will feature thoughts and essays on all three of these topics, often as they apply to me and my life. I will be as candid and open as I can bring myself to be in an effort to help alleviate any shortfalls in the lives of my readers. I invite you to stop by often; better yet, subscribe!