The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #3: Poor Font Choices

October 1st, 2013

Mixed Media Painting (Detail) by Choichun Leung / Dumbo Arts CenCreating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #3. To see Sin #1 & #2 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/

Deadly Sin #3: Poor Font Choices
Just like with color, you have to really think about the font types that you want to use. Not just for your header, but also for your content, your navigation and more.

So why is this important? What do you do with content? Hopefully read it! There are so many websites out there that use tiny, hard to read font, cramming content together or just use an ugly font that is makes it extremely hard to read their content, and some of it might be good!

Choosing the right font style and format for your online store will already put you ahead of the competition and for something so easy, you would think that everyone would do it right!

Stray away from flowery scriptive fonts because they are just too hard to read and you have to appeal to the masses. So try to choose easy to read fonts and don’t be afraid to have LARGE text because that would make it easier for older shoppers or shoppers with poor eyesight to shop. So don’t be afraid to try out different fonts and sizes to compare what looks the best with your overall theme.

The color of your font to coincide with your background is important too. If you choose a white background and yellow font, that would make it too hard to read. Black on white and white on black are the easiest color choices and most widely used because it’s familiar. But if your store overall theme color is lavender, you can use a dark purple for your font on a white background and it works well. So just adjust and try different things to see what you like and what works.

Bold, italics and caps. Don’t overuse these additional styles that you can add to your font. Otherwise your customer won’t know where to look.

Bold is used for emphasis or to draw your attention to something. Use for headings or sub-headings.
Italics is used for emphasis as well.  Like keywords, quotes, captions or titles.
– All CAPS for words or sentences make them hard to read, so avoid using as much as possible except for short words that you want to emphasize. Most people feel that all caps makes them feel as if they are being shouted at. So keep that in mind.

Choosing the right font may not seem that important, but it really is and you should be extremely thoughtful in your selections. Because a good overall font and the font color choices will really help to personalize your store and if they all work together to make everything easy on the eyes you will be rewarded by customers and repeat customers!

Ask your friends and your family members their thoughts on your font choices. Getting a large diversity of people you know to check our your store and give you honest feedback is the best way to get the font choices nailed.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design Sin #2: Poor Images

September 24th, 2013

Camera expoCreating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Below is Sin #2. To see Sin #1 go here; http://www.worldwidebrands.com/blog/the-7-deadly-sins-of-online-store-design-sin-1-color/

Deadly Sin #2: Small and Poor Images
Poor images on a website make the entire shopping experience poor.

Since the customer can’t actually pick up the product and look at it, you need to provide them with enough clear images to make them feel as if they are. Images shot from different angles are important and images of the product in use are also helpful.

You may be using a dropship wholesale supplier that provides you with images to use. But look closely at those images. If they are too small, you need to make them bigger, or request larger file sizes from the supplier so you can conform them to your site. If they only give you one image, you should request more or purchase the product to take your own images to show it off properly.

You also want all of your images to look similar. If you are using more than one supplier for your online store, but one supplier has a black background on their images and the other uses white, change the backgrounds to all match and choose a color that looks good in your store.

Having multiple images to show the product off, and having all of the images look similar will make your store look cleaner and more professional. It will also allow the customer to think that you are the one fulfilling the products directly. There is nothing worse than an online store with poor images!

Photoshop is a great program that you can use to edit images, but Photoshop is a large costly program and has a learning curve involved. Or maybe there is someone that you know that is good at graphic work that could help you out. 🙂 There are places on the web that you can hire low cost help; services like that can be found on eLance.com and Fiverr.com

photo by: auggie tolosa

The 7 Deadly Sins of Online Store Design – Sin #1: Color

September 17th, 2013

2.26.09: color wheelCreating a beautiful, easy to navigate online retail store is a way to get sales and keep customers coming back to you. Over the course of the next 7 weeks I will talk about the 7 Deadly Sins of site design that many new online retailers forget about or commit these sins without thinking about it. Don’t just do things to your site that you like, because there may be too many people that don’t like your favorite choices. You have to have a site design that appeals to a larger crowd.

Deadly Sin #1: Poor Color Choices
Choosing a good color theme for your site is extremely important. Don’t just choose what YOU like, because your favorite color of “puce” might not look right online or to others.

Choose colors that are hot in the current trends and is aesthetically pleasant to look at. Do a search for Color Trends to see what everyone is gravitating towards year after year.

Also think about the products you are offering and choose a color that fits. Selling relaxation and mediation products? Choose a soothing, calm color instead of black or bright red that are jarring to look at. Selling sports equipment? Choose fun and playful colors.

Once you have chosen your main color, then choose complimentary colors for sub-menus and other graphic elements. Generally taking your main color and toning it down a bit or picking a color that is a shade lighter or darker looks the best.

Colors set the mood and tone of your site. Did you know that the color orange means optimism? The color yellow is cheerful and blue is trust and peace. Ever hear of color psychology? Colors have meaning and many shoppers will leave a site immediately if the color isn’t pleasing or gives them a wrong impression. Google the term Color Psychology to understand meanings behind colors to help you with your decision.

Ever see a poor color choice for an online store? Share your comments below!

photo by: thedalogs

The Biggest Problem with Datafeeds from Wholesale Suppliers

September 10th, 2013

Pen and PaperDatafeeds, in theory, are great! You can automatically upload the wholesale suppliers product information onto your website without having to go through the process of adding all the products one by one.

However, there is also a big problem when using the same information that all of their other retailers are using. Duplicate Content!

All of these other retailers online are using the same descriptions and images over and over. The consumer searching for the product to buy will come across the same description in the search engine too, so where do they go? The cheapest or the most trustworthy looking site will get their money.

Duplicate content is something to be completely avoided at all costs. Google will punish you for using duplicate content because the way that they look at it is, which website should I serve up for this search query? Avoiding duplicate content will help you get higher results in the search engines. That’s a fact!

So how do you get past this big problem? Writing your own unique targeted descriptions is the best and only way to combat this.

Tips for writing compelling targeted product descriptions:

1. Who are your targeted customers?
Don’t try to market to everyone, that is a mistake and makes boring descriptions. If you are selling a niche product geared towards a certain demographic, write down a list all the things you know about that customer. For example; if you are selling products geared towards new mothers, think about their age range, their worries and fears, who are what is influencing them now?   Do some research, look at lists online, host a poll somewhere….

2.  What is the product going to be used for?
What exactly will your customer use the product for? Cleaning their home? Decorating their home? Using it for work? Using it for school? Ask yourself all the ways that someone could use that product and make a list. Then list out, WHY they need the product to help them accomplish their task.

3. List out the features of the product.
Does this product have something that a similar product doesn’t? Does it have cool features or smell wonderful? List all of the features and write short descriptions on color, smell, size etc.

4. Draw a lot of attention to the benefits of the product.
Describing the benefits of a product will help the customer decide to purchase from you. How will this product benefit them? How will it improve their life?

5. Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your online store!
Non-compelling descriptions are boring. Bring some life and character into your store by injecting your own personality into it. Are you a funny person? Don’t be afraid to joke if the product deserves it! Are you a loving and caring person? Bring some sentimentality into your store if you are selling products that could benefit from loving and caring words!

So, once you have your lists together, then you are ready to start talking about the product on your website for the product description. Look online and find examples on how to lay it all out. There are some really fantastic websites out there, some you probably already shop at that have compelling product descriptions.

Make these examples an influence, but don’t copy!

photo by: kdinuraj

How to Prevent Fraudulent Orders and Chargebacks for Your Online Store

August 20th, 2013

Accepting Credit Cards in your online storeThere are many practices put into place in order to ensure customer safety with credit card companies when someone buys online. Unfortunately there isn’t much that the credit card companies offer to help merchants, but what they do provide will be a big help.

Keep reading to learn about how to prevent Fraud & Chargebacks, how to recognize problem orders and how the security features that the credit card companies DO offer are important and how to use them.

This is important, because ignoring the problems and receiving a large number of chargebacks will create issues with your  merchant account provider and could ultimately end up with your merchant account cancelled and your reputation ruined.

You need to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your business.  Remember, you take on this responsibility all to yourself since you will not get outside assistance from your merchant provider or from the credit card companies if you blatantly accept fraud orders.

First, you need to learn how to recognize potential fraud. Here are some signs to help trigger you into action;
1. The order is LARGE or totals a HIGH dollar amount.
Large orders that contain several quantities of the same products or orders that are made up of mostly high ticket items are a good indication of fraud. Anything that is out of the norm is something to watch out for.

2. Orders placed with free email addresses, like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail…etc.
Free email accounts cannot be verified. But if someone places a high dollar order and their email address is JohnDoe@comcast.net, then that particular order may be OK. But you should always implement the steps that will be provided later on down this article for these situations.

3. Orders shipped to the same address but used multiple credit cards to order multiple times.
Pay close attention to all previous and following orders if you suspect fraud. Many fraudulent buyers will place multiple orders one after another and then move on to attack another website.

4. Shipping Warnings
Many fraudulent orders are from international consumers. So be mindful of all international orders. Another shipping warning is the customer used a different shipping address and billing address for the order.

Here are the things that credit card companies offer to help deter fraudulent transactions and to help you decide to decline an order;
1. CSC, CVV, CV2, CVC, CCV
It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s all the same thing; Card Security Code, Card Verification Value, Card Verification Code, Card Code Verification. It’s the little 3 numbers on the back of your Visa, MasterCard or Discover Cards, or the 4 numbers on the front of your American Express card. Requiring your customers to enter these numbers while placing an order will give you a match or no match result. Non-matched CVC’s are a good indication of fraudulent orders and the order should be auto-declined.

2. AVS
Address Verification Service is an important feature from your merchant provider. If the billing address that the customer provides doesn’t match what is on file with the cardholder, that is an indicator of a fraud purchase. Discover card will auto-decline any order that has a no match for AVS, but the other credit card companies will not, so most fraud customers will use the other types of cards.

Things you can do to prevent fraudulent purchases:
1. Simply do not accept international orders.
The AVS, doesn’t check international addresses. As a result, the address cannot be verified for the order. Not accepting international orders all together will help prevent fraud orders. However, if you do decide to accept international orders, keep in mind the location of the purchase. There are about a 20 countries that yield the most fraudulent orders and should be avoided completely. Then of course there are the US sanctioned countries that you shouldn’t be selling to at all. You can find lists of these countries by going a Google search. One important thing to note, AVS will check Canada orders.

2.   Call the customer!
The easiest and most effective way to deter fraud is to call the customer! Simply call them to verify the purchase and their shipping address for their order.

3. Check your customer out!
Not only do your customers need to understand and know who you are, you need to know who your customer is as well. There are free sites online to help you do a couple of things… Reverse telephone lookup. Take the customers phone number and put it into a reverse phone search. Check to see the location of the phone number, and if the number is listed, it will even give you with names and a portion of their address so you can verify the telephone. Do this before calling the customer! http://www.whitepages.com/reverse_phone is a free service you could use.

With all of the social sites online, most people have a Twitter or Facebook account. Search your customers name with their location, and see if you can narrow down the social sites that may belong to your customer. You can then check them out there too.

Google Maps! Entering the customers address into a google search will give you a satellite view of their home address. If the address provided is a mail service or points to a non-residential address, that will help in determining fraud as well.

Yes, this may make you feel a little bit like a stalker! But, you are just protecting your business! Remember, you don’t have to do these things with all of your orders, just ones that you feel may be non-legitimate.

The dreaded chargeback! What you need to have in place!
1. Contact Information
Have your contact information, including a telephone number easily accessible by your customers or non-customers. Make is as easy as possible for them to call you, instead of immediately calling their bank. One of the biggest reasons for a chargeback is that the customer doesn’t recognize the charge. Make sure that their credit card statements will show your store name and telephone number so they can reach you about the order.

If you are under the situation where your registered business name and store name do not match, then always communicate to your buyers, and multiple times, that the charge on their statement will read XYZ Company, Inc as that is your registered business name, that owns and operates CandlesSmellAwesome.com

2. Policies
Make sure to post all your shipping and refund policies on your site and provide them to the customer in many areas. On their receipts, on the checkout page and etc.

3. Confirmations
Always email a confirmation of their order. If the email bounces back, that is a sign of fraud.

4. Shipping Reasons
Another big reason for a chargeback is the customer claiming they didn’t receive what they ordered. To help deter that, always have tracking on all packages and in some cases pay additional for a signature required upon delivery.

The above items will help you with deterring fraud, but it also gives you fuel to fight a chargeback. When you receive a chargeback, it will be for one of two main reasons; 1. the customer doesn’t recognize the charge and 2. the customer didn’t receive what they ordered. What you respond with will help the merchant provider determine whether the claim is valid or false. Always respond with what they ask for, but provide more if you can too. The more information you give, the better.

We have a set way that we respond to chargebacks and you can follow our guideline that will help you put together what you need;

1. Customer name, address, telephone number, email address, date of order, cost of order and what they ordered.
We list this information first when responding to a chargeback.

Example Statement: Customer John Doe, located at 123 Main Street, Anytown, FL 123456, telephone; 555-555-5555, purchased on 7/19/2013 a set of vanilla bean candles from our store at CandlesSmellAwesome.com. After purchase, we immediately sent a confirmation of the order to the provided email address; johndoe@comcast.net

2. Merchant Receipt
Provide a copy of the merchant receipt that shows AVS Matched.

Example Statement: Following is a copy of our merchant receipt that shows AVS matched. The AVS helped us to determine that this wasn’t a fraudlent charge.

3. Shipping & Tracking Information
Keep all tracking numbers and shipping addresses on file. Go to your shipping provider’s site, and use the tracking number to get a screen shot of the delivery information.

Example Statement: We shipped the customer’s order to the same address that was provided as the billing address. On 7/20/2013 we shipped via UPS with the tracking number 123456789. This item was sent and delivered to 123 Main Street, Anytown, FL 123456. Following is a screen shot of UPS’s site at ups.com that shows the order was delivered. 

4. Tracking Customer Communication
If the customer at any time contacted you via email or phone, document it. Keeping records of your customer communication will assist you with fighting a chargeback. Also see if your shopping cart provider has IP tracking. Having an IP address for all your customers will also help in determining fraud and fighting fraud. You can use IP lookup services online to verify the customer’s location.

Example Statement: Additionally, we have communicated with this customer on 2 occasions. The first occasion was via email when the customer asked us about the vanilla bean candles they ended up ordering. Please find a copy of that communication below.

The second occasion where we communicated with this customer was when we called the number provided on 7/19/2013, and verified the order and ship to address.

We also use IP tracking for all orders. The customer ordered with the IP address; 123.45.6789 which matches their location in Anytown, FL

As long you as are mindful of all orders, keep good records & communicate the important things to your customer, and often. You won’t receive many chargebacks. The ones that you DO receive, may be valid fraud orders that slipped through, and no one can be faulted for that but you and you will have to pay for it.

photo by: 401(K) 2012

Why Junk Information Damages Your Business

August 13th, 2013

pile of sprinklesStarting a business, ANY business, takes time, money and a commitment to learning. Those things are all investments you are making in yourself, and in your future. Anything that slows down the progress of those investments is a BAD thing!

One of the most important things you’ll need for your business is information. How to use eBay. Who are the best web hosting companies. How to collect money from your customers’ credit cards. Where to find products to sell. Etc., etc., etc. Nobody is born knowing all this stuff! You have to learn it, which means you have to rely on someone else, somewhere, to teach it to you or to write down the information that you need so you can read it and learn it.

In our opinion, one of the lowest, sleaziest things one human being can do to another is prey upon their hopes and dreams for a better life, in order to cheat that other person out of a few lousy dollars. Yet, this happens all the time on the Internet when it comes to Information.

In our Information Market, which is Product Sourcing, there is an absolute human cesspool of scammers and lazy profiteers who are more than willing to lie to your face, promise you riches beyond your wildest dreams, and then leave you with information that will not only not help your business, but will actually damage your business. Bad information can actually cause your business to fail completely.

Many of the people who do this are outright scam artists who are actively and purposely trying to cheat you. Some of them are simply lazy, and are looking to make a fast buck selling substandard, outdated information, not caring who they hurt in the process.

Some others actually think it’s “ok” to cheat you, because “everybody else does it”.

Then there are a very few of these small operations in Product Sourcing Information (only two or three, actually) who do try to put together halfway decent information, but they don’t have the time and manpower to maintain that information, and it quickly becomes outdated and useless. That cheats you and your business as well, although it’s not malicious, it’s just irresponsible.

How can bad information damage your business?

Mostly in the form of lost time. The money you spend on the information isn’t really the thing to worry about here. Most of the bad information is cheap to begin with. Some of the scammers have realized that cheap information is recognized as bad, though, and will actually jack up their prices and charge you premium money for the same worthless piles of cow flop.

However, still, it’s really not the money. The problem, as we said, is lost time.

Let’s use an example.

Lionel decides he wants to start a Home-based Internet Business. His full-time job doesn’t pay all that much, creditors are always calling, it costs money to raise two kids, and his wife hasn’t been able to find work in a couple of months.

Lionel’s not broke, but he’s not making it all that well either. Beside that, he really doesn’t like his job to begin with. So, he takes a leap of faith, and decides to invest what money he does have, in his ability to start a Home-based Internet Business.

Lionel decides he wants to sell on eBay, because of the low entry cost. It doesn’t cost him much to get started. He starts out by selling a few things out of his attic, and from garage sales around the neighborhood. He quickly realizes, though, that if he’s going to make real money in the long run, he needs to find a steady, reliable source of the products he wants to sell, and pay genuine Wholesale prices for them, so he can make a good profit.

Lionel has heard that Drop Shipping is also a low-entry-cost solution for getting a real wholesaler to ship brand new products directly to his customers for him, so he doesn’t have to buy a bunch of products up-front and ship them from his home. That sounds pretty good!

He’s now a fairly experienced eBayer, so naturally he turns to eBay to search for information on Drop Ship Wholesalers.

He enters a search on Drop Shipping in eBay. What he finds looks exciting to him! Auction upon Auction for all kinds of “Guaranteed Genuine” lists of Drop Shippers and Wholesalers!

Better yet, many of them are only $5! What a great deal!

So, Lionel spends a few bucks on something called the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide”. The name sounds so impressive, that it must be a wonderful source of information! Besides, the Auction promises him Guaranteed, Genuine Sources that will make him thousands of dollars in a matter of days! The owner of the Auction claims to have built this and used it himself, and it works wonders!

Lionel gets his hands on the information, and lo and behold…there are hundreds of listings of “wholesale” company names there, categorized by the kinds of products they “wholesale”!

Lionel is anxious to jump right in, so he goes to the Sporting Goods category, and sees a listing for what sounds like a large Sporting Goods “wholesaler”. There’s a phone number there, so Lionel calls it. The number rings a couple of times, and then Lionel gets a recorded phone company message telling him “this number is no longer in service.

Hmm. Well, thinks Lionel, companies do change their phone numbers. Or, maybe it was printed wrong in the information. So, he sends an email to the Email Address listed in the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” for this Sporting Goods “wholesaler”.

Lionel waits a couple of days for a reply, then decides to send another Email. In the meantime, he’s busy getting other aspects of his business ready to go to selling brand name products on eBay. A week goes by, and Lionel still has no reply. By this time, he’s getting frustrated. So, he calls the Chamber of Commerce in this city where “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” has told him that this Sporting Goods “wholesaler” is located. He asks about the Sporting Goods company he’s been trying to contact.

The nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce tells him that the company went out of business nearly years ago. (That, by the way, actually happens. There was a Sporting Goods drop shipper in Pennsylvania that went out of business, and is still listed in many of the junk drop ship lists on eBay, as are tons of other useless listings).

Okay, now Lionel is getting a bit upset. He’s just wasted a week of his time, that he could have used creating Auctions for Sporting Goods products.

He’s not going to give up, though, so he goes back to the “Ultimate Genuine 2013 Drop Ship and Wholesale Connection Guide” and finds that there are several other Sporting Goods “wholesalers” listed. This time, he calls them all.

He gets two more disconnected numbers, one number is answer by a lady who says “Sherri’s Hair Salon, can I help you?”, and one answering machine that tells him that Jo and Bill are not in, but if he’s calling about the 1983 Buick for sale, it’s still available and they’ll call him back.

At this point, Lionel realizes that he’s been the victim of a Junk Information Scammer.

You see, it’s not good enough to simply have information. The information must be honest, accurate, and up to date, or IT IS USELESS.

Many people buy one of those junk lists you find for sale for a few bucks on eBay, for example, thinking that even if the information is mostly bad, there are bound to be a few gold nuggets in the cow flop. Some of that information must lead to real wholesalers, right?

Let’s give you another kind of example of how that kind of thinking will hurt your business, even if there are a few gold nuggets.

A couple of months ago, my Family Physician made a referral appointment for me to see another Doctor for a minor checkup. I hadn’t been to this other Doctor’s office before, but my Family Physician’s receptionist gave me an address that was way on the other side of Orlando. The address she gave me was in Altamonte Springs, about a 45 minute drive for me. So, on that day, I set off to go to this Doctor’s office. I drove all the way out there, got there about 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment, found the office building, and discovered that this Doctor’s name was nowhere to be found in the building’s registry.

I got on my cell phone and dialed 411 to get this new Doctor’s office number. I called his office and told them where I was. His receptionist told me that they had recently moved to Ocoee, Florida, which was actually only about 15 minutes from my house!

There was no way I could make it all the way back from Altamonte Springs to Ocoee in about the five minutes I had left before my appointment, and the Doctor was tightly booked, so they made me reschedule for another day.

So, because I had gotten outdated information from my Family Physician’s office, I used a quarter of a tank of gas, and wasted nearly two hours of time that I could have used much more productively.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound all that terrible. But, think of it this way:

What if I repeated that same fiasco with several hundred Doctor’s appointments, and only made it to an actual Doctor’s office a handful of those times? That sounds a lot worse, doesn’t it?!

That is exactly what happens to you when you buy junk information. For each one of the potentially hundreds of “drop shipper” listings in those bundles of garbage, you are going to spend time trying to contact each of them. Let’s be generous, and say that ten companies out of a list of 300 companies are real, genuine drop shippers. How many days, weeks, or even months do you think it’s going to take you to go through lengthy contact processes and sift through all that junk and find the few real ones?

You’re going to be making phone calls and waiting (possibly forever) for calls back. You’re going to send emails and wait hours, days or weeks for responses that will never come. All that wasted time could have been used productively on building your business if you simply had 100% honest, accurate, up to date information.

That $5 you spent on that cheap list will actually cost you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars worth of lost time. We call that the “save now, pay later” plan. You end up paying a LOT more than you save!

And if that’s not bad enough, just wait until you think you’ve finally found a real drop shipper, and it turns out to be a “middleman” who isn’t a real wholesale company at all, but instead is just some guy sitting at a computer in his bedroom claiming to be a wholesaler. All he’s doing is having you order from him, then he’s re-sending your orders to the REAL drop shipper. That middleman ups the prices you pay for the products, and leaves you with very little profit margin. He makes money for doing nothing more than lying to you.

Once again, It’s not good enough to simply have information. The information must be honest, accurate, and up to date, or IT IS USELESS.

“Time is Money”. Truer words were never spoken. You’ll find out, when you spend time spinning your wheels chasing down useless leads from junk information, that the time you wasted has cost you a lot. It may even put you out of business.

photo by: S. Diddy

Home Based Business: Why Do We Do It?

August 6th, 2013

hard workerWhy do we do this to ourselves? Why are we out there working so hard to learn new things and explore home-based business opportunities, when we could just settle in to a steady job, working for someone else, until we retire?

This is not one a “here’s how this or that works” post. This is a more philosophical kind of post about something that just needs to be said once in a while. So, on with a little philosophy!

Most people are perfectly content to live out their lives working a regular job. Maintain a steady income, buy a house, put money away in the Company 401K plan, create a College Fund for the kids. Get home from work at 5:30, tired, but with a general sense of satisfaction that they have put in a decent day’s work and all is basically right with the world.

Get dinner on the table; make sure the kids have done their homework. Maybe watch a movie, or putter around with a hobby. Spend some time with the spouse. On the weekends, play a little softball, go see the Grandparents, hang out with a couple of friends, jump on a Jet Ski, take the kids to the Zoo.

Once a year, take that accumulated vacation time and rent a cottage somewhere, or maybe once every few years blow a stack of cash and go to Disney World.

Same job, day in and day out. The people change occasionally, but that’s all right. There are always new friends to be made amid the shuffle and bustle that comes out of the Personnel Department. The longer the time on the job, the greater the skill and knowledge. With that comes the respect of co-workers, and gradual advances in pay and privilege.

Sometimes there’s grumbling and griping. The new boss is an idiot, or there’s a co-worker who just arrived from the planet “Huh?”. The occasional setback; the Company’s sales are down, so there’s no Christmas Bonus this year, or rumors of layoffs have begun to circulate once again.

Overall, though, there’s a deep-seated satisfaction that one is Working For A Living, and that’s something that’s very important to have.

If you’re one of that majority of people in this world who can work the daily grind for thirty or forty years, retire, and call it a good thing, then more power to you. It IS a good thing. I envy and respect you, I really do. But then, you wouldn’t be reading this post in the first place, so you’d never know that. Sometimes I wish I could be happy to be Working For A Living for someone else!

There are those of us who simply cannot be entirely satisfied with that life, and that’s probably why you are here reading this.

For some of us, although we Work For A Living on the surface, we are simply never happy with it. There’s a longing for something more that is actually a physical heartache at times. Many times we don’t know what it is; we just know that we need it, and the need never goes away. We search for it by changing jobs, or changing relationships, or both. Sometimes we even unconsciously keep the most important people in our lives pushed away, at arm’s length, because we are so obsessed with our pursuit of something that perhaps we can’t even define. It’s an elusive but overwhelmingly annoying feeling that what we’re doing with our lives is simply not enough. We need something more!

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of those people with that need. As far back as I can remember, I was never happy simply holding a steady job. I was always looking for more, even though I could not define what more was. I didn’t even know if more was good; I just knew I needed it.

I don’t know if that need is something I was simply born with, or something that I picked up while growing up. I DO know, however, that either way, it came from my parents.

They both had the need, too. Both of them. My Mother had a good career, but she was always doing other things on the side. She found an answer to her need through a series of home businesses.

Back then, the big home business was the Party Plan. Tupperware, Rubbermaid, Park Lane Jewelry…you name it, she was into it. And she was good at it. It wouldn’t be long after she began a new venture that she would become the Regional Manager for this or that, or the Top Producer for the other.

My Father had the need too, as I said. He worked himself practically into a coma supporting our family, and his combination of drive and need finally culminated in his actually buying the last company he worked for. He took over that company and turned it into a viable, respected multi-state entity that employed a lot of people and had a solid reputation for quality and integrity. People always trusted my Dad, because he always kept his promises.

I don’t think he ever really understood how much I respected him and my Mother for what they accomplished in their lives. How they started with very little, went out into the world on their own, risked everything, and never gave up. How they found answers to the need that I know from my own experience was so powerful and overwhelming for them both. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to actually do it, and their examples are a source of great pride and inspiration for me.

Through the years, boiled down to it’s most basic aspect, I’ve come to realize that my own personal need is for a financial security that does not depend on the ups and downs of someone else’s company or business.

Financial independence, for me, is not about how much money I can put in the bank. It’s about the fact that whatever I earn, I did it MYSELF. From something I CREATED.

Yes, of course, it’s partly about earning money. However, hungrily accumulating money just for the sake of accumulating it is NOT important to me. Money is just a tool. It’s what can be done with it, and what I actually do with it, that’s important.

For me, it’s about having enough to give my family a secure life. Paying for a solid college education for all my kids. Making sure that many years from now my grandchildren, and those who come after them, will be able to share in something of what I created. It’s also about being able to reach out and to help people who need it whenever I see them. Could I do all that by Working For A Living? Working the daily grind all my life for someone else?

Yes, I could, and many people do. However, that doesn’t cover the entire scope of it for me. For some reason, I need to be able to do it myself. I need to be the one creating the things that bring in the income. So satisfying that need, for me, means financial security gained from something I created myself.

Wherever your own personal need comes from, you know it’s there, and you’re looking for a way to satisfy it. The fact that you’re reading this post is pretty good proof.

I’ve been in business on the Internet for many years now, and I can tell you that I work harder at it than I ever did when I worked for someone else. There are long hours, setbacks, ups and downs. There’s a lot to learn, and you have to constantly plug away at your business, day after day. You can’t slack off when things look tough, and you can’t blame other people for your own occasional bad decisions.

There will be times when you think you might have been crazy to try it in the first place. There will be people who tell you ARE crazy for trying it in the first place!

Now, if you quit your regular job to try and start a Home-based business, you may BE crazy! You need that steady income, until your own business at least matches it, and you’re sure you can sustain it. So, you do need to keep the day job, or look for one if you don’t have one right now. The beginning of any entrepreneurial venture has to be based on a solid foundation. For home-based business, that foundation is a regular job while you build your business.

If you feel the need to be an entrepreneur, though, that means that it’s a part of who you are. Follow it through. If you deny it and keep it bottled up, you’ll probably regret it at some future point in your life.

You and I are not crazy.

We’re driven. We’re creative. We’re inspired.

We’re Entrepreneurs. :o)

Get Ready…Here Come The Holidays Again!

July 17th, 2013

Christmas TreeWe do this topic every year in July. If you’ve been reading for years, you know that, and you may be able to skip this one. However, you may want to continue anyway, because a little reminder can’t hurt!

If you haven’t been reading for more than a year, please pay attention to this one. It’s important. We like to think they all are, but some topics are a little more critical than others. :o)

The 2014 model year cars are out. If you try to buy a swim suit in your department store, all they have left are the ones that nobody wanted earlier in the year and they aren’t ordering more. Wal-Mart is gearing up with warmer clothing already. Before you know it, the Halloween stuff will be on the shelves. That will all too soon be followed by plastic, motorized, smiling figures of Santa making arm gestures that could be considered questionable if you position him the wrong way in your yard.

The big retailers all know that this is the time to be gearing up for the biggest retail season of the year. The Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, let’s buy a ton of gifts and fill up the closets with stuff we’ll never use again Season.

The Holiday Season gifts may not be on the shelves yet, but you can bet your life that they’re on the way to the stores’ warehouses. The big retailers’ Purchasing Agents are making deals as we speak for tens of thousands of Atomic Neutron Robo-Blaster Buddies, and Suzi Drinks Her Bottle and Calculates Your Income Tax Dolls. Expensive Diamond Jewelry, Dad’s Favorite Tool Kits and Car Seat Massage Sets are already flowing from manufacturers to wholesalers to retail warehouses.

The big guys do it, and you should to. That’s how the big guys got to be the big guys in the first place. You have to plan well in advance for the products you want to sell during the Holiday Season. That one short, shining Season accounts for a whopping 20% to 40% of all retail business for the entire year. Those who are prepared, make money. Those who are not, wonder why they didn’t.

So, how do you prepare? Start looking for wholesale suppliers of products that will sell well as gifts, and that can complement your existing product lines. That way, you don’t have much Search Engine Positioning or Auction re-tooling to do when the selling begins.

If you’re already working with products you know will sell well during the Holidays, start talking to your Suppliers, and asking them what their inventory levels will be during that time on each product. You don’t want to run out.

Ask your wholesale suppliers which products they are planning on stocking the most of…those will be the products that THEIR Market Research indicates will be selling well!

For the online Retailer, like you and me, the Holiday Season preparations stat NOW, so don’t be caught by surprise this year…there will be competitors out there preparing right now!

This is also a great time to START an online business, if you’ve been thinking about doing so. Right now is the PERFECT time to get started to be up and running for the Holidays and tap into this billion dollar selling season! Get Started the Right Way Right Now with a membership from Worldwide Brands! http://www.worldwidebrands.com/wwb/christmas_in_july.asp

Should You Tell A Wholesale Supplier That You’re Selling Online?

July 10th, 2013

handshakeWhen you’re out there looking for Wholesalers to provide you with products for your Auctions or Online Store, there are times when they need to know that you are an Online Business versus a brick-and-mortar retail store, and times when it doesn’t matter.

For example, when you’re contacting companies through our Worldwide Brands Certified Wholesalers Directory, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to tell those companies that you are on Online Seller only. They already know that. They would not be in our Directory if they didn’t!

What do you do, though, when you’re contacting companies on your own to find specific products at Wholesale? Many times you’re going to find that wholesale companies do not like to set up Retail Accounts for those of us who sell exclusively online.

Why? Well, look at it from their point of view. Most online sellers are fairly new to the whole world of wholesale. Wholesale Suppliers know that they are going to have to spend extra time and effort helping those sellers along, and introducing them to new concepts. There is also the fact that many people start online businesses based on bad information, or start them half-heartedly without putting in a lot of effort. That means that those people are likely to set up Accounts with Wholesalers, and then never follow though and buy anything.

Those things add up to what most Wholesale Suppliers consider wasted time. No business likes to waste it’s time, and unfortunately that’s the reputation that small online sellers have earned in the view of most Wholesale Suppliers. It is certainly not deserved; there are many of us out here who are working very hard to market products online successfully. But, because of the many scam artists who sell people Internet Business Packages that don’t work well, and because of those people who are half-hearted about their businesses online, all the rest of us pay the price in the eyes of the Wholesale Supplier. By and large, they consider small home-based online sellers to be a potential waste of their time.

So, there are some people who say you should not even tell a Wholesale Supplier that you are a Home-based Online Business, and some who say you should tell them.

What’s the right thing to do? Well, it’s somewhere in the middle, as most things in life are. :o)

When you’re talking to a Wholesale Supplier about Drop Shipping, they will most likely ask you if you are an online seller only. They’ll probably have a place on their Account Application that will ask for your web site URL.

In other words, it’s probably best to be upfront with a Drop Shipper about the fact that you are a business based entirely online.

It’s a little different when dealing with Bulk Wholesalers. In the Light Bulk Wholesale section of our Directory, the Suppliers ARE all willing to work with Home-based Online Businesses, so there’s no question there.

When you’re looking for Bulk Wholesale Suppliers on your own, though, you really don’t have to volunteer that information upfront, unless you’re asked.

In this situation, you are going to buy products in bulk. Most of the time it doesn’t really matter to the Wholesale Supplier how and where you sell those products, because they’re going to deliver a case or pallet or truckload to you, and they’re done. That’s all the involvement they need to have in your business, aside from the normal course of customer service. If you volunteer the fact that you are an online only seller without being asked, you’re giving out information that you don’t need to give out. That information may just cause your Account Rep to decide that you could be a small business that never places an order after getting your Account. That, in turn, could affect whether they give you an Account at all.

If they do ask, tell them. If they don’t, leave it alone.

Never be dishonest with a Supplier about this (or any other!) issue, though. If they don’t want to work with Home-based Online Businesses, and you tell them you’re not one when you really are, they will find out eventually and probably shut down your Account. It’s not worth the wasted time and effort!

photo by: buddawiggi