Avoid the scams, find out which Business Opportunities actually work
24th March 2008
Filed under: Internet Marketing — Ben @ 4:27 pm

Andrew Fox launched a reasonably high-priced product last week which he has called the “Affiliate X Factor“.

It’s a 200 dollar product which consists of a 6 week video coaching course.

In reality, it’s 6 Camtasia videos dished out at the rate of one a week.

We got the first video on launch via a password protected blog. It’s 30 minutes of content and then 10 minutes of Andrew showing viewers how to put an Aweber opt-in form onto a website.

The 30 minutes of content is standard stuff – how to look through Clickbank to find products to promote as an affiliate.

Experts call it “researching a niche” but it’s truly boring stuff if you’ve ever read anything about niche research in the past.

As you can probably tell, I wasn’t overly impressed with this first video but there are 5 more to go and I’m hoping the quality increases significantly.

I don’t like to bash anyone’s product without good reason but I feel that I am always going to be sceptical of “Foxy” due to the last product of his I read – the extremely poor “Guru Slayer”.

I’ll add more after the next video is released so if you’re interested please stay tuned for more details…

20th March 2008
Filed under: Internet Marketing,Useful Tools — Ben @ 11:25 pm

I’ve got to take my hat off to the creators of this one – Peel Away Ads.

I know it’s pretty old news as far as internet marketing goes but if you haven’t seen it in action before, take a look at the sales page:

Peel Away Ads Salespage (opens in new window)

See in the top left hand corner?

Hover over that little triangle and the corner just “peels” away to reveal an advert.

Click on it and you are taken to whichever page the advertiser wants to show you.

It’s eye-catching, innovative and looks great…

Problem is, it isn’t advertised very well in some cases.

For example, check this screenshot I found on somebody’s blog today:

Peel Away Ads screenshot

It says “Currently 250% Off Standard Price“.

Fair enough, you may say – until you think about it.

How can something be 250% off? Isn’t that impossible? Surely the most you can discount a price by is 100%?

Without getting too technical, let’s consider the maths:

Example -> 50% off £250

£250 x ((100 – 50) / 100) = £250 x 0.5 = £125

Another example -> 75% off £250

£250 x ((100 – 75) / 100) = £250 x 0.25 = £62.50

So, it follows that 250% off £250 would be:

£250 x ((100 – 250) / 100) = £250 x -1.5 = -£375

Minus £375?

Unless I’m completely wrong, does that not mean that to give a discount of 250% on a price of £250, you would have to give the customer £375 in cash?

Peel Away Ads, brilliant advertising idea let down by poor maths!

Peel Away Ads

18th March 2008
Filed under: General Opportunities,Internet Marketing — Ben @ 2:29 pm

I don’t mind people acting as joint venture brokers – matching seller with promoter – and taking a percentage of the sale for arranging it all.

In fact, I could see it as a pretty good earner if you do it correctly.

What I don’t like is this new trend of finding a series of sites in a particular niche and then spamming the email addresses listed in the WHOIS with an affiliate link for a 2-tier affiliate program.

Take, for example, this email I got to the address I have listed in the WHOIS on one of my domains:

Subject: A Quick Question About [My Website URL]

Hi there,

My name is James Max.

I was recently reviewing forex trading sites in some of the major search engines and I came across your web site: [My Website URL]

Out of all the sites I came across yours really stood out for me and If you could please spare me just two minutes I have a business proposition for you as you are in the same market as I am. After reviewing your site I found that we are both targeting the exact same market, though we are not in competition with each other. I have been studying this target market for quite some time and would like to present you with the opportunity to increase your income for five minutes work. You will be provided with the marketing materials, all you need do is sending out an email to your ezine list or adding a graphic to your web site, and you can make money!

You can do this by signing up to the affiliate program found here: [affiliate link masked using TinyURL]. By promoting this product you can earn a commission without ever having to handle customer service or ship any products. It’s a fantastic way to make money pretty much out of thin air! By working together, we have the potential to create an additional revenue source for both of us — without investing any money or even any time. Because we share the same target market, your customers are guaranteed to be interested in the product. An affiliate arrangement is a sure-fire way to make that interest work to our mutual benefit. To sign up to this affiliate program visit: [affiliate link masked using TinyURL]

I offer this partnership very selectively, so please do act fast if you wish to go ahead with this. Also please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Finally I know you’re a busy person and I’d like to thank you for reading this email whether you choose to promote and make some extra cash or not. Keep up the good work! By the way, you’ll be paid by 10th business day of every month, for the preceding month’s earnings. [affiliate link masked using TinyURL]

Sincerely, James Max

P.S. I hope you don’t mind me emailing you it’s just your forex trading web site really stood out from the others I came across during my research.”

Unfortunately for “James Max”, I very much did mind that he sent me this email.

What really got on my nerves is that it was completely obvious that this was either an automated email or a quick edit of a template email to stuff in my email address and website address.

He couldn’t even be bothered to take 5 minutes to rewrite the email slightly to include my name or anything else even slightly personal.

I don’t actively ask for people to suggest products to promote anywhere on this website and I certainly do not expect people to just pluck my name from the WHOIS records and send this junk. It is unsolicited commercial email – it is spam.

Sadly I think that this practice is going to get worse and more and more of these emails will be received by webmasters who simply aren’t interested in the slightest.

Just last month this “technique” was provided in detail as a suggested business blueprint by a UK marketer in his new monthly “snail mail” newsletter.

I used to respect him as a good guy before he suggested to all his readers that they go out and spam people with affiliate links for 2 tier programs.

Anyway, to wrap up this rant, here’s the reply I sent to “James Max”:

Nice “template” email.

I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try and treat me like a complete idiot. This is a well known “technique” which is likely to mark you out as somebody not to be trusted.

Have a word with whoever urged you to send emails like this and ask them why they suggested you ruin your reputation by spamming email addresses you find via WHOIS.

Tip: If you want to be taken seriously in this business, don’t try to trick people, don’t use privacy protected WHOIS records and offer value – not dodgy 2 tier affiliate programs.

Oh, and don’t use template emails.”

Just another example of so-called internet marketers trying to trick people.

Is it just me or is the whole business opportunity/internet marketing field becoming more and more seedy and dishonest?

I’ve already had:

(a) Keith Wellman go back on his promise of bonuses (see Keith Wellman of FX Marketing Inc and Everyday Wealth LLC),

(b) the Global Pension Plan slowly disappearing (bizoppsuk.com/global_pension_plan.php) and

(c) another marketer has yet to send out some DVDs I ordered from him over a month ago.

Is it any wonder that the general public sees internet marketers as a bunch of scammers?

4th March 2008
Filed under: Financial Trading,General Opportunities — Ben @ 8:17 pm

Yesterday I got back from a weekend away where I was without access to the internet for four days. It was a risk – sometimes automatic digital delivery can go wrong and people need help – but luckily I got a nice break from the internet and didn’t come back to any screaming customers.

Which gave me a little time to think…

I found an ad in a national paper over the weekend offering what seemed like a great bargain. A 19th Century gold sovereign for just £120.

The ad made it clear that there has been a huge increase in the price of gold and that it has been a great investment over the last few years. And it has. Since I’ve been into financial trading, gold has risen from around $380 an ounce (late 2003) to around $1,000 per ounce.

My immediate thoughts were that it may be worth investing £120 for one of these coins. Of course, without the internet I had no way of finding out whether it was a good deal or not.

The ad made it clear you’d be offered further coins in the future unless you opted out. I thought that the first coin might have been offered slightly below actual value as a “loss leader” to gather names.

Buying gold at slightly below what it is currently worth was very attractive to me and so when I got back to a PC, I went to work.

Gold, today, is trading at about $980 per ounce and a pound is worth about $1.9875. So, back of an envelope calculation, gold is about £493 per ounce.

These sovereigns weigh 0.2354 oz which comes out at about £116 if it is pure gold.

However, and I didn’t know this before, 24 carat gold is considered “pure”.

22 carat gold is considered 91.6% pure and these sovereigns were 22 carat so their “fineness” is 916 out of 1,000.

Technically, buying one of these sovereigns would result in me getting about 0.2156oz of gold.

Which I work out as being worth 0.2156 x £490 = c. £106.

Net result: the sovereign is available for £119 but is worth roughly £106.

Glad I did my research before blindly sending off for the coin…

I also came back to several not-too-pleasant comments on the blog. Somebody pointed out to me that a couple of these comments could actually be considered libellous.

Needless to say, they were removed.

And I am now considering whether or not to remove the comments feature altogether. As I was told by a business associate:

“…the problem with running forums etc as I once found when I ran one too is that anyone who feels a little brave behind a keyboard can post anything and you as the forum owner are responsible. I closed mine down long ago as I saw no sense in spending time monitoring posts from nutters that could lead to legal action and me possibly losing my house. It just didn’t seem worth it to me…”

Scary stuff and so I will be monitoring comments very closely from now on!

Lastly, I found I had some money sat in my BetOnMarkets account so I had a little punt:

Bear Contract: Win GBP10 if, at the close of trading on 13-MAR-08, GBP/USD is lower than 2.

My thinking was, looking at the chart, there seems to be a resistance level at 2.00 so it was worth a very small wager for a bit of harmless fun. It only cost £7.45 so it’s a couple of pints worth of risk!

Just for the lawyers: THIS IS NOT FINANCIAL ADVICE – please don’t copy my trade blindly.

Until next time, thanks for reading.