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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

5 Frustrating Things About Paypal


A sharp colleague of mine vented about some frustrating things about using Paypal (as a seller).

I wanted to share this so that:

  • Folks know what they’re getting into when they sell through Paypal;
  • Paypal will be pushed to be better; and
  • Entrepreneurs will see opportunities to create alternatives to Paypal!

Here are the 5 Frustrating Things About Paypal

1) Batch Payments

To do batch payments (i.e pay a load of affiliates or staff by uploading a spreadsheet with the data) you have to first fund the PayPal account – this can only be done by bank transfer which takes a long time and means you need to predict the payment amount up front and fund it beforehand.

This is a cumbersome process. Uploading the CSV and just being able to pay immediately without preparation as with any other payment would be helpful.

2) Support

PayPal support was pretty awful in the past, although it is getting better and you can now actually find a phone number on their site to call them, but from what I read they only did that because of legal pressure, which is a signal of how the company works.

3) Cost

Paypal is quite expensive. Enough said!

4) Random Blocking of Funding Sources

They randomly block funding sources for security reasons. This means at times I am unable to make payments or it delays payments that have to be sent by eCheque.

PayPal won’t rectify it if you contact them, the problem just disappears – it happens more to me when travelling.

5) Canceling of Subscriptions

If you have subscribers or are subscribed to a service via PayPal, then PayPal will automatically cancel the subscription when your credit card expires, you change a credit card and a few other reasons – I have lost a lot of paying subscribers this way.

PayPal does not explain this process very well to subscribers so a lot get confused and don’t know what they are subscribed to, or how to fix it.

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Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Tips On How Local Businesses Use Social Media

  • When I attended the Social Currency CrunchUp, there was a panel of businesses (all local except one (Levi’s)) whose members mentioned some tid-bits on how social media was working for them.

Here are my notes from the panel:

Curtis Kimball, The Creme Brulee Man

  • Sells Creme Brulle, primarily in San Francisco and changes his location (a cart) regularly
  • His customer Acquisition focuses on Twitter
    • Has 14,100 followers) because it’s so easy…a majority of my customers come from Twitter or from friends who are on Twitter.
    • Doesn’t have a fixed address because he doesn’t have a permit (“Permitting situation in San Francisco is a nightmare.”)

    the creme brulee man

Dr. Robert Vaksman, Dentist

  • “Nineteen percent of our traffic comes from Facebook Page (>100 fans)…and some of them are coming in to the office.”
  • Uses Twitter and YouTube too

Dan Yoo, Stone Korean Kitchen (Restaurant owner with 50+ seats)

  • Groupon has filled his restaurant more than 50 times ($35 worth of food for $15)
  • Had to pay Groupon 50% ($7.50) of what customer paid
  • One thing he’d like to know is how many of his Groupon customers came from the 94110 zip code (so that he can remarket them).

Oren Jacob, Ready, Set, Bag! (Movie maker)

  • Used Groupon to sell tickets to his documentary…for free he has the market reach that a large movie maker has — “It levels the playing field.”
  • Groupon helped him do 2 things:
  1. Drum up publicity (because people saw the film promoted on Groupon)
  2. Sold tickets to the actual movie

Note: He’d like to see more demographic information on these customers that Groupon generated for hm

Megan O’Connor, Levi’s

  • Focuses on Facebook — 520,000 Fans who can “like” Levis and particular promotions
  • Tracking: “We can track some sales (from offers) (on Facebook).”

Note: The panel was moderated by Erick Schonfeld and David Hornik.

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Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

How To Promote Your Book On Twitter (& Other Twitter Tips)


There’s a question that everyone wants answered these days (I’ve heard it repeatedly at the recent conferences I’ve attended)…and it is:  “Who’s making money using social media?”

I’ve been asking that question of my friends lately and one guy stood up and said:

“Well, I am.”

How To Make Money Using Twitter

Mitchell's Monthly Royalties From Twitter

His name is Mitchell Cogert and you should listen to him because he’s built a profitable little business selling poker books primarily through the free traffic he’s acquired using Twitter.

Mitchell is a veteran of marketing strategy having worked with Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit and other leading businesses.

Read on to enjoy his thoughts on such topics as:

  • Does Twitter make money?
  • Who else makes money using Twitter?
  • The six steps of how Mitchell himself makes money with Twitter
  • How to find customers on Twitter

…here we go:

How To Make Money On Twitter

Q: Hi Mitchell. Before we get to your poker book business, let’s look at the rest of the world — first off, does Twitter make money yet?

There is an article entitled Twitter is Said to Be Profitable in Bloomberg that stated Twitter earned $25 million in 2009. The revenue came from deals with Google and Microsoft to get access to tweets for their search results.

At the Chirp conference (the Twitter developer conference) last week, Twitter announced a plan to earn money from ads. If you do a search on Twitter, you may see an ad as a tweet at the top of the results.

Q: Do you know of anyone else who makes money off Twitter?

Here are a few companies: DellOutlet, the Coffee Groundz, Zappos, Souplantation, NakedPizza.

You can learn more about success stories on Twitter by going to these Twitter Case Studies.

Logo of Bird for Mitchell's New Twitter Business

Q: Let’s get back to you your poker book business — do you make money on Twitter…is it profitable for you?

The cost to be on Twitter is $0. The cost for my Google blog is $0. The revenues from my poker books are priceless…lol.

Actually, using Twitter is very profitable! The most expensive thing I do is the time cost to write posts for my poker blog.

But that is fun to do, because it is my hobby.

Q: Would you break down the steps through which your poker business makes money using Twitter?

It’s a process:

  1. awareness–>
  3. effective tweets–>
  4. clicks to website–>
  5. valuable content–>
  6. sales

Q: So, “all in,” as they say in poker, how much money does it cost you to operate your combo Twitter/Blog sites per month versus how how much you think Twitter generates in book sales?

Out of pocket cost is for twollow at $7 per month and the websites on Homestead at $20 per month.

The royalties from my poker book sales average at least $1,000 per month.

Q: Do you have any other tips on how to make money using Twitter?

Yes. Let me give you one tip on how to get followers who are the most likely to buy from you.

The trick is to find followers who have “lists” that define your consumer.

For example, let’s say you are selling books to moms on parenting advice. Check out Twitter users who have lists they define as “moms.”

Now, just click the “follow this list” and you have created awareness about your business.

The moms that like what you have to say (tweeted) on Twitter, will follow you back. These followers are prospects!

Q: Thanks again, Mitchell

Thank you again!

Note: see How to Get Twitter Followers (Ones That Buy!) for Mitchell’s thoughts on that subject and for his contact information.

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Saturday, March 20th, 2010

How To Process Credit Cards In-Person With No Merchant Account (It’s Called “Square”)

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I believe the new payment application SquareUp (some call it just “Square”), which allows anyone to accept credit cards in person, is a game-changer in business.

I just bought a book using it from author Dom Songalla (pictured below) at a conference we both attended — it was simple yet powerful.

Rob Kelly & Dom Sogalla at The Twitter |140 Conference

Author Dom Sogalla Shows Rob Kelly the SquareUp-Enabled iPhone

Dom simply popped his credit reader reader  into the phone jack of his iPhone; and then swiped my credit card for $20.

A Square-Up Enabled iPhone

A Square-Up Enabled iPhone

Here’s the receipt I received via email (note that it shows me the location of my purpose):

Receipt from SquareUp Transaction

The whole thing really took just three steps:

  1. The author swiped my credit card on his iPhone
  2. I signed my signature with my finger on his iPhone screen
  3. He typed in my email and emailed me my receipt

And the beauty is that Square does not require you (the seller) to have a merchant account to accept credit cards — and there appears to be just one fee (2.9% of the transaction amount).

Others, including PayPal’s new Bump iPhone App, are also getting in the market of exchanging money between phones.

I like Square chances as much as anyone’s as it has smart folks like its co-founder Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter) and Board member Gideon Yu (previous executive at Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo) behind it.

Click here for tweets from some Square advisors.

And since SquareUp is still in beta, you’ll have to go to the bottom of Square’s home page and give your email address to get in line to receive the card reader.

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Monday, November 16th, 2009

What is Affiliate Marketing? — Tips From a Veteran


Pam White has helped affiliates sell millions of dollars of  products…and those sales were made at little risk to the affiliate marketer’s she managed, as they were primarily performance-based (they didn’t layout any cash until the products were sold!)

She generously agreed to answer some questions to help us understand the affiliate marketing business.

Q: Welcome, Pam. A lob-ball question first: What is online affiliate marketing?

A good description, I believe, is “selling other people’s stuff” on the Internet and receiving a commission for doing so.

Affiliate Marketing Expert Pam White

Affiliate Marketing Expert Pam White

Q: If you’re a business, and you have products to sell, how do leverage affiliate marketing?

Determine the financial benefits of handing over the marketing expertise of a “staff of affiliates”, versus the cost of marketing the product through your own marketing department’s expertise.

Does the competitor have an affiliate program?  Maybe you should consider it as well.

Q: If you want to run a business, but don’t have any products of your own, how do you leverage affiliate marketing?

1. Learn all you can about affiliate marketing – in general.  SEO, PPC, etc.

2. Research products or services of which you have expertise and are passionate about.

3. Analyze keywords and quantity of searches performed for the   niche.

4. Realistically analyze your budget and ROI goals

Q: You mentioned earlier that the top affiliate marketing programs are offered by Commission Junction (CJ), Sharesale and LinkShare — please tell us more about each of them?

Commission Junction /LinkShare/Shareasale and many other networks, contract with hundreds of merchants selling products, and for a fee, handle the management, tracking internal listing of the Merchants Affiliate program.

Those interested in joining an affiliate program within the network can peruse the various products offered once they have completed the signup and approval process.

Generally speaking, however, the affiliate must have a domain name and website or blog to be approved to sell the merchant’s product.

Q: You also mentioned, that if you’re selling a service you can utilize Clickbank: how do you make money with Clickbank?

Clickbank is similar to CJ, in that there are several merchants listed in the Clickbank Marketplace and you can choose which products you wish to promote.  With most merchants offering up to 75% commission per sale, it’s very popular for those wishing to sell digital products or membership site offers.

Q: What’s the “Clickbank Elite”?

Clickbank Elite is a program sold by a 3rd party merchant that extracts the “hot” selling products at Clickbank as well as cloaking the Clickbank generated hoplinks.

Q: I understand that Google has entered this space — what are your thoughts on the Google Affiliate Network?

I must be honest and say that I’ve not had the opportunity to search their offers or speak with any Merchants who are currently using the Google Affiliate Network.

Q: Speaking of Google, I hear stories about affiliate marketers who receive “Google slaps” — What’s a Google Slap?

A Google Slap occurs when Google views your website’s content and the Adwords keyword used to drive traffic via that ad to your landing page as not relative, or of poor quality.

This will result in an increase in your PPC costs to as high as $10.00 per click.  Additionally, your page rank, and thus your Quality Score, will be adversely affected.

Q: How do you avoid getting Google-Slapped?

Consider the keywords you are bidding on and the landing page and Adwords Ad group to make sure that they all “relate” to the content on the landing page as well as offer value to the visitor.  Be sure the page has adequate “original” content.

A great place to learn all the basics of Google Adwords is from the Google Adwords Learning Center. You can also view the Youtube videos published by Google.

Q: I hear that Pay Per Click (PPC) is key to affiliate marketing — would you elaborate on that, including defining a PPC Affiliate?

A Pay Per Click affiliate bids on and pays for each click on his targeted Sponsored ad at Google, Yahoo, Bing or any PPC network.

PPC is the key to gaining an immediate presence for your brand or campaign in the search results.

Q: What do you consider to be the best affiliate marketing program of all time?

I don’t know that I’m qualified as an expert on that question, so I’ll go with Amazon, since they were one of the first to enter the space.

Q: Who do you consider the best affiliates in the marketplace?

Not to hedge that question, but “the best” I believe, would be relative to the vertical.   Best CPA, Best CPL, Best CPM.  I haven’t worked in all those verticals.

Q: What’s a super-affiliate?

Again, this is relative to the vertical.  A “super-affiliate” may be an individual, an agency, or a network.  It’s any affiliate that has the ability to drive high volume sales (consistent with the niches expectations) which outperform the “average” amount generally produced over a given period of time.

Q: What’s the best way to recruit super-affiliates?

Network, know the competition, review who is the top PPC advertiser in your niche, identify them through various online tools, contact them, present your offer and metrics and invite them to join your program.

Q: What’s the best way to learn affiliate marketing?

Forums, Blogs, E-books, Industry leaders, Google Learning Center, Articles, Mentors, Coaching programs, trade shows like Affiliate Summit. Twitter, Facebook

Q: What’s a good affiliate marketing website to check out for beginners?

Affiliate Tips owned by Shawn Collins, who is also the co-founder of Affiliate Summit.

Q: In our last conversation you mentioned — would you describe the affiliate marketing forums they provide?

Basically, almost any network you choose to join will have a corresponding forum at ABestWeb where you can discuss openly any issues, complaints, questions, or accolades you wish and have it viewed and answered by a moderator/associate of that particular network.

Q: Thanks for sharing your perspective, Pam. If someone were to want to get in touch with you, how might they do that?

You’re more than welcome.  Those who wish to reach me may do so by contacting me at my e-mail address [email protected].

15 comments so far (is that a lot?) | Continue Reading »

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

How to Create A Sales Pipeline


I’ve been teaching someone on our team recently about how a sales pipeline works — and so I thought I’d summarize my sales approach here for you (I’ve used this for straight up sales as well as for partner sales).

Note: I’m going to refer to the party I’m selling to as a “customer” but it could easily be a partner in the case of partnership sales.

There are any number of sales pipeline stages you can use: I’m going to use Leads, 10% Opportunities, 50% Opportunities, 90% Opportunities and Closed Won/Lost. I first adopted this methodology when I began using which mapped well to how my mind works.

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Top 10 eBay Selling Tips


eBay has a lot to offer for you to sell products on the Web, though the various costs of selling on eBay reads like a Chinese Menu (check out a list of eBay fees).

Costs for selling on eBay may include:

  • eBay Auction listing fee
  • eBay Auction listing final value fee
  • eBay Fixed price listing fee
  • eBay Final value fees for fixed price listing
  • eBay Business and Industrial Equipment insertion fee
  • eBay Business and Industrial Equipment reserve fee
  • eBay Business and Industrial Equipment final value fee
  • eBay Reserve fee
  • eBay Buy it Now fee
  • eBay Listing upgrade fee
  • eBay picture hosting fee

eBay’s fees are so complicated that a few clever people have built eBay fee calculators….try out this free eBay calculator — just looking at it stresses me out!

So I was happy to hear that Marshall Smith, a Senior Software Engineer at ChannelAdvisor, was doing a presentation on cost-saving tips for selling on eBay (at eBay’s DevCon ’09 earlier this month at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose).

I sat in and here are Marshall’s Ten Selling Tips for Reducing eBay Fees:

1) eBay Variations

You can list 12 variations of a product (e.g. different sizes and colors of the same priced t-shirt) as one listing and thus save listing fees. This only applies to certain categories (which eBay seems to be actively adding right now).

2) eBay Catalog Adoption

You can cut eBay submission fees in half if you are selling a catalog of products by using the eBay Catalog. You also get promotion in product-based search methods.

3) eBay International Site Visibility

You can reduce ebay auction listing fees for additional countries by inputting in one country. It’s more advantageous for auction/dynamic priced listings where you could save $1.63 on a $49 auction listing (For eBay fixed-price listings, it makes sense to list once for each country).

Note: Some categories are not supported.

4) PayPal Micropayments

Leverage PayPal’s Micropayments — this is useful for sales with order value of less than $12 .

For example, you can get a rate of $.05 + 5% (instead of $.30 + $2.9%).

For eBay sellers with variable sales, configure two Paypal accounts used based on order value.

For 200 $5 transactions a month you could save $29.

5) eBay Sales History Relist

Sales history is one element used for eBay Fixed Price items in the Best Match algorithm. When you list an item, that specific item doesn’t have any history (it hasn’t had any purchases).

So what you can do is use the relist functionality and link the two items together. It tells eBay this is the same as the previous item I was selling so that you have a starting score when you have just opened an item (otherwise it’ll have a score of zero).

There is no need to use the eBay Featured First function.

6) Immediate Payment

There can be some real advantages to using eBay’s Immediate Payment — it requires the payment from buyer at the time of purchase (as opposed to the buyer paying later).

You don’t have to file any UPI (unpaid item) requests. This could be really desirable for a highly desirable item (event tickets). Because it’s already been paid for, you’ll be faster to ship and the customer receive the product sooner.

7) Improving eBay Seller Metrics

Providing Shipping information to eBay (using CompleteSale API so it shows up in MyeBay. This reduces buyers requesting “Where’s my item?”

It also gives you more leverage in any potential INR disputes. You might also find better DSRs on communication.

8) Submit detailed eBay Seller Policies

In your eBay listing detail your return policy, handling time and shipping options — This reduces buyer confusion and increases confidence in the transaction.

You as a seller have to follow through on your policy. If, for example, you provide returns everywhere except Australia, you must mention that!

9) Efficient Timing When Processing eBay Orders

The eBay order import needs to work with seller’s fulfillment processes and timing — Missing a shipping cutoff window may delay buyer’s receipt by 3 days (Friday to Monday).

Sellers need to get packages into the system as fast as possible (you’ll get better ratings and thus potentially lower fees).

10) Higher DSR’s Reduce Seller Fees


  • A rating of 4.6 earns a 5% discount on final value fees
  • A 4.8 earns a 15% discount
  • A 4.9 earns a 20% discount

If all of these eBay costs seem like too much a headache, you can try the little “free ebay” service my friend and I put up.

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Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Free Business Classifieds


The purpose of is to help businesses grow, profit and organize.

And I’m noticing a lot of Classifieds-related searches on Google lately, such as the following list from April 2009 (the parentheses are an estimate of the monthly searches):

  • Classified Ads (90,500)
  • Free Classified Ads (74,000)
  • Free Classifieds (60,500)
  • Community Classifieds (12,100)
  • Free Local Classifieds (3,600)
  • Business Classifieds (1,300)
  • Free Classified Ad Posting (720)
  • Business Opportunity Classified (480)
  • Free UK Classifieds (480)
  • Free Classified Ads in India (320)

That’s a lot of searches!

People seem thirstier than ever for the ability to post classified ads (perhaps due to the economy) —  and they usually prefer that they are free.

New Place to Post and Search Free Classifieds

Towards that end, I employed a friend of mine to help create a simple free business classifieds application that allows anyone with an email address to post a product or service for sale.

To post a free business classified, you simply go to the home page or specifically to Add a Free Business Classified.

Other classified Web sites, such as Craigslist (which I’m a big fan of), allow you to post most classified ads for free; however, plans to differentiate from them.

Such difference might include focusing on business to business classifieds, small business classifieds, free local classifieds and some other items (more on that later).

For now, go experiment with your free classified ad posting on — you can do it in just a few minutes.

We have kept the design very simple so please be forgive its ugliness…but the functionality should work.

And, as always I’d really like to hear what you think.


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