Archive for 'research'

That is a common cliché among bloggers, make money online experts and web entrepreneurs. I am sure you heard it before. Heck, I used to give this advice myself. It goes like this:

If you want to make money online, you got pick a topic that you are passionate about. You need to love it, else it will not work.

I used to agree with it, one hundred percent.

Lately, however, I started questioning that rule. Creating a website on a topic that you love is certainly a good strategy, and it works well for many people, but I am not sure if it is the only way to go, or the best one.

The first flaw I see on that rule is the following fact: if the niche or topic you love is not a profitable one, it will be pretty hard to make a lot of money online with it no matter what.

Suppose you love tea. Should you write about it if you want to make money online? I am not sure. You could certainly create a popular website around tea, but if you decided to go with a more profitable niche instead, while putting the same effort and time, you could end up making much more money.

One argument that people use to back up the “you got write about what you love” theory is the fact that if you choose a topic merely because it is profitable, soon you will lose the motivation. If you write about something you love, on the other hand, you will have content for years to come.

This is partially true, but not completely. Why? Because some people get motivated by the pure desire of making money or becoming successful.

In other words, if they start a website on a profitable niche and see that their efforts is bringing a good amount of money, they will get motivated no matter what the topic is. They will even do research and learn about it if needed.

So what is my position now? I think that both strategies can work. Choosing a niche or topic because you love it is a good route to success, but choosing a profitable one and approaching it scientifically can be equally successful.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Should You Really Write About What You Love If You Want to Make Money Online?

The Winner’s Curse is a term used to describe auctions whereby the winner will overpay because he/she overestimates the item’s actual market value. This tendency to overbid is due to factors like incomplete information or other market participants. Recent research show that people also overbid because of the fear of losing in a social competition. 

A team of NYU neuroscientists and economists conducted brain imaging studies and discovered that the striatum, a part of the brain’s reward circuitry showed an exaggerated response to losses during an auction game. When a group was told that they would lose $15 if they failed to win an auction, they consistently bid higher than others who were told they would win $15.

The difference lies in way the auction was framed. When simply reminded of what they had to lose instead of what they stand to gain, participants responded with higher bids.

While there have been investigations of overbidding which have attributed the phenomenon to either risk aversion or the ‘joy of winning,’ it was the use of imaging data which allowed us to distinguish between these conflicting explanations and actually arrive at a new and different one, the ‘fear of losing.’…We were able to use neuroimaging results to highlight the importance of framing, and specifically the contemplated loss, as an explanation for overbidding during experimental auctions.”

This ‘fear of losing’ seems to be triggered by competition with others and perhaps, attachment to the value of the item. A interesting takeaway point: instead of only highlighting the benefits or promise for a product/service, it would be beneficial to indicate what the buyer might potentially lose by not making a purchase or taking action.

People implicitly understand that they’re  dealing with other consumers because of factors like exclusivity and scarcity. The one who acts swiftly will get to purchase and enjoy the benefits of the product, while others may not. The call-to-action is much intense in an auction, because the actions of others occur in noticeable real-time. Competition is in the forefront of the mind.

This study reminds me of how much competition is almost intrinsic to human society. You see competition between individuals, groups and countries in business or sports. It is perhaps, both an evolutionary necessity and a learned behavior that one develops in order to survive or thrive within a social environment.

We are all familiar with the pleasure of competition. Many of you have bought items from Ebay, an online auction marketplace.  Often, your decision to make or abandon a purchase is rushed along on a subtle but tangible undercurrent of excitement during the process and a feeling of minor elation for having won an item at a favorable price.

Could there be a way to transplant the fear of losing and the pleasure of winning into a non-auction scenario? Perhaps the use of a competition as a backdrop where each consumer’s individual drive can play out against others. Make them interact and challenge one another within a superstructure that helps YOU fulfill specific end goals.

Let the Competitive Instinct Flourish Within a Social Environment

CompetitionImage Credit: Swamibu

Businesses or marketers should think about how to create a social environment which encourages the natural competitive instincts of their audience. Interaction within this sphere motivates each individual consumer/participant. This helps to increase the level of audience engagement and automatically enhances the value of the product/service/site.

Social news sites like Mixx.com proudly highlight their top users by displaying them on a leaderboard or giving them specific awards/badges. This symbolic segregation of a group of users from others and the conferring of exclusive emblems of acknowledgment enhances the visibility/reputation of these individuals. This becomes something others can strive towards.

Not everyone will lust after awards or a higher user ranking. In fact, most casual users won’t care or bother to go after greater recognition. But owners of these communities know that there will always be a segment of hardcore users (the more competitive or goal-oriented ones) that will work extra hard so they can improve their score or rank higher on the leaderboard.

This addicted 1% of users enjoy a sense of achievement and are often enough to generate enough activity to make your site grow. This effect is even more prominent when the community itself is the main attraction. Take the example of video games with online features: players will gladly pay for a monthly Xbox Live subscription or WOW account so they virtually cooperate or compete with other individuals. Inter-user competition becomes an value add-on.

Such a social environment is not very difficult to create: there are a few fundamental elements involved. For starters, users should be able to interact freely with one another, through the site’s main features or separately in an standalone environment. Also, bind user profiles and on-site activity to awards, rankings, points, recognition, rewards and achievements.

Allow people to form sub-groups to pursue a diverse level of interests. Facilitate inter-user contact and interaction by organizing open competitions or one-off events that everyone can join. These special events can be plotted on an established calendar of regular activities which involve the community or its sub-groups.

The general theory is simple enough: Think about creating social environments that are conducive for your overall business objectives. Apart from simply marketing your site, we should look at giving our audience the ability to connect (and compete) with each other.

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Fear of Losing: Using Competitive Instincts to Your Advantage

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This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)

I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?

  1. I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
  2. I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
    • Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
    • Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
    • Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
    • Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
  3. I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
    • I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
    • Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
  4. I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
    • I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
    • I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
    • I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
    • I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
    • I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
  5. I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.

As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.

My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.

So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?

I just completed the keyword research training module for the real estate marketing optimization training product I’m producing.  There are a few finishing touches to add, but it’s already 1 hour and 50 minutes long.  I have held nothing back in the keyword module as it is the cornerstone to an effective optimization campaign.

If you haven’t commented to win a free copy of this training, I highly encourage you to do so.  Somebody is going to gain access to some powerful knowledge, and it could be you!  🙂

Today, I have created a video that speaks directly to the real estate industry as I am in the middle of a large prospecting campaign which targets real estate professionals.  Even if you are not in the real estate profession, this video may help you carve out a nice little niche within your market.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://smbconsultinginc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/niche-research.swf" width="500" height="334" allowfullscreen="true" /]

If the above embedded video doesn’t show, click the link below (wow, that rhymed!):

Real Estate Niche Research

If you haven’t received an email from me about downloading your own FREE copy of “The State of Online Search for Real Estate,” please head on over to http://smb-seo.com and register now.

Let me know what you’re thinking after you’ve finished watching the video. Read the rest of this entry

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