work at home describes any task, job or specialty that can adequately and satisfactorily be performed in the home without creating a hazardous or unsafe environment.

The Home-based Business Phenomenon

Present-day American dreams

Present-day American families have the same dreams shared by families a few decades ago; buy a home, provide for the health and welfare of their children, and send those children to college. But the price tag for fulfilling these dreams climbs higher and higher every day, making it much more difficult to achieve the same standard of living that families enjoyed in past decades.

It used to be that a husband went off to work in the morning and the wife stayed home doing household chores and taking care of the kids; but the days of one-income households are long gone and both parents must now go out to work – when they can find it.

However, as the old familiar adage suggests, “necessity is the mother of invention” and accordingly, many enterprising single moms & dads, and even husband & wife teams are finding ways to stay home, and still earn a living via opportunities that are springing up all over the country as a result of the tremendous growth of an industry that makes work at home possible.

The Home-Based Business (HBB) industry has made it possible for anyone with some basic skills, a computer and Internet access to start a business at home. For example, an individual with a background in word processing can create his/her own in-home word processing business.

Getting started

Before you begin your Home-Based Business however, it is important to do your research. Find out what kind of software program will be most suitable for the type of business you intend on doing. You will also want your computer system to be compatible with your clients and customers.

Next, look at the make-up of your industrial area. An arts community, or a thriving business area? By checking out the demographics of your area, you can make a decision regarding the type of advertising you want to use.

In the beginning, you will want to try all sorts of advertising. Neighborhood newspapers are an inexpensive way to advertise, but they usually only published on a weekly basis and that may not be enough to keep the clients rolling in. You can put your name on the bulletin board at your local supermarket and pass out flyers door-to-door in large office buildings or other business complexes.

Although it may be more expensive than neighborhood newspapers, you may want to run an ad in your local daily newspaper (in the business services section). Church bulletins and university newspapers that sell advertising may also be a relatively inexpensive way to go. You should also get your business cards printed up right away; and don’t let a client walk out the door without one or two business cards. Repeat business and word-of-mouth may well be your best advertising tool.

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Whatever methods you choose to employ in your advertising, do yourself a favor and track the responses. Put a check list next to your telephone and whenever a call comes in (whether you get hired or not) ask the prospective client where s/he found out about you. It won’t take long for you to discover where your most cost-effective advertising comes from and when you know that, you can punch it up and drop the ones that aren’t doing anything for you.

Do your homework!

One telephone call will be the only opportunity you have to sell your service. If you hesitate when asked a price for a particular project, you will probably lose the job so do your homework. Call the competition and ask what they are charging. If the competition is out of your immediate geographic area (and you are therefore not a threat to their livelihood), you may want to be straight with them and tell them you are starting a home-based business in their field and ask for their input. You may be surprised to find them willing to help out with important information.

Keep in mind that there are myriad of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to establish the fundamental operations of your new home-based business. Whether you expect to get clients from the Internet or not, it is necessary to set up your business in a manner that will accommodate local clients/customers. So business letter heads, envelopes, forms, business cards, invoices and other paraphernalia will be necessary.

It will also become necessary to establish your pricing policies and have them available upon inquiry. Depending on your business, you could set a basic rate which can be a flat rate or a percentage.

For example…

…Using the business of word processing for a pricing example, a prospective client may call asking what you charge for 4 single-spaced pages. Your answer might be $45.00 per page straight text and then when the client comes, you discover that what s/he has is 4 pages of extremely complicated tables – definitely NOT STRAIGHT TEXT.

By not making firm pricing commitments over the phone, you will have the flexibility to charge a more accurate price when a client brings you something other than what you were expecting.

Elaborating further on the word processing example, to some clients a resume may be a single spaced page, but it takes a lot longer to type than a business letter and you will want to charge more for resumes. You will want to establish an hourly rate for tables, transcription and other more time-consuming jobs.

Always keep in mind that your pricing will change as you become more familiar with what your clients demand, and you may find yourself doing a lot of list maintenance and merge letters, or you may be doing work primarily for doctors, or attorneys; so you need to have a good basis for your pricing… but be flexible.

There are several home-based business models you can choose from, each one giving you the same flexibility to create your own USP (Unique Selling Proposition), as well as your own operational balance sheet. After all, the income & expense aspect of any business is usually an excellent indicator of that business’ prospects for success or failure; and truth be told, no business – new or old – start out with failure as an aspirational milestone. Therefore, it is success to which they aspire and choosing the type of home-based business to launch could make all the difference.

Choice of business types

The two business types that came to mind – based on my own – experiences are: Promotion and Distribution. You can choose to be a promoter or a distributor in addition to all the other choices that are available; but I have provided a glimpse of each vocation with the help of two other publishers whose knowledge of the topics is unquestioned.

According to a What is Promotion? article published to the Slide Player website, “Promotion is any form of communication a business or organization uses to inform, persuade, or remind people about its products and improve its public image. Product Promotion: 1) Explains the major features and benefits of its products (especially in relation to competitors), 2) tells where the products are sold, 3) advertises sales on those products, 4) answers customer questions, and 5) introduces new products…”

…And Distribution is described in the following manner: After a product is fully developed and offered at a competitive price, it must be delivered to an identified target audience. The place element of the marketing mix is where product production and distribution channels are decided and planned. The decisions made in this step directly affect the types of communication that are used to tell the target audience about a product.” This description is provided in the article, What Is the Difference Between Place & Promotion in the Marketing Mix? Written by Tim Burris for the Chron website. And there are so many more!

Subtlety in Email Marketing

Know the distinctions!

Typical Web users receive tons of emails encouraging them to purchase certain products or visit specific websites owned or managed by the email senders or merchants with whom they are affiliated; and while these emails arrive in inboxes of unsuspecting web users each day, most of them pay very little attention to such emails. This is because emails which are blatant advertisements are often viewed as spam, and most Web users have very little tolerance for spam; but it is very important to understand the distinction between these two types of communication.

One distinction is the reaction of recipients, which is to say that reactions to spam tend to range from simply ignoring such emails and having the email addresses blocked from sending future communications, to reporting such emails to their Internet service providers (ISPs) for further investigation. We realize many Web marketers have difficulty keeping their email marketing subtle and, as such, this article will provide some information which we hope will be useful in determining how email marketing can be kept subtle so it is not viewed as spam.

Criteria for subtlety

Among the most important criteria for ensuring your email marketing is done in as subtle a manner as possible and not be viewed as spam is to provide something of quality to your recipients. This thing of quality may consist of insightful articles, interesting quizzes or other useful facts which members of the target audience are likely to find useful, if not valuable.

The simple fact is when email recipients realize that an email they received is offering them something worthwhile such as knowledge or information about a particular niche subject they are much more likely to spend some time reviewing the email and therefore will not likely consider the email to be spam. In addition to using the creation of something qualitative to convince recipients that the email is not spam, business owners can also take advantage of qualitative content to provide subtle advertising which may include product references in the articles or links to his/her website throughout the email.

Avoid outrageous claims

Avoiding language which makes outrageous claims can also help to keep advertising quite subtle since the opposite – using certain superlatives and adjectives of greatness with which to describe specific products – is likely to be viewed as blatant advertising. When such language is used, it is highly unlikely that email recipients will believe there is validity in anything contained within the email because they will believe the entire email is simply one big advertisement for the senders’ products or services.

One method proven to be most effective in keeping advertisements subtle when running email marketing campaigns is to only send your email(s) to those who are likely to be extremely interested in your products and services. This is important because when email recipients receive an email that does not reflect their interests in any manner or form, they are not likely to take the email seriously and may very well view such email(s) as a blatant advertisement or spam.

Blatant advertisement is taboo

However, when emails are sent only to those who share a common interest the email seems more personalized and therefore, those email recipients are not likely to view every product reference as a blatant advertisement since they understand there is sometimes a need to mention products or services in emails of high quality content which are sent legitimately.

Finally email marketing is considered subtle – and remains so – when the content of campaign emails is written as though it is not coming directly from the business owner. In other words, the copy might discuss products and services as though they are being offered by a third party. This method makes the advertising seem more subtle because it does not appear to come directly from the business owner.

Be minful of perceptions

Of course, business owners can help to ensure their email marketing efforts are not viewed as blatant advertisements by keeping reference to their own website to an absolute minimum, while being mindful of the fact that most Web users often view links from one website to another strictly as advertisements. For this reason it might be advisable for business owners who are promoting products/services via an email campaign to keep links to a minimum and to carefully weave these links into even the most quite benign copy.

The links should be provided as though they were only included to provide readers with an opportunity to learn more about certain products/services and not as a way to encourage them to purchase these products/services. It might be worthwhile for business owners to consider hiring a writer with this type of skill and experience to ensure the copy conveys desired message, message formats and message intent which should therefore convey the desired effect to the email recipients.


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Marketing Types that Compliment Email Marketing

Multifaceted email marketing

If you are already engaged in promoting products and services via email marketing you may already realize the potential this type of marketing holds; and if so you probably also realize that it is not reasonable to expect your business to thrive with email marketing as the only marketing strategy you opt to utilize. Of course this is not unusual since most businesses do not typically have a great deal of success unless they make the decision to incorporate more than one marketing type into their overall marketing strategy. With such other marketing options in mind, this article will examine a few of these Internet marketing alternatives which have, and can be used, in conjunction with email marketing.

Email marketing in itself can be multi-faceted in the sense that it may include sending out mass emails, distributing digital newsletters, creating relevant website content, and even offering correspondence courses via email. Implementing only one of these email marketing strategies may result in a small increase in either website traffic or sales, but implementing more than one strategy at a time can create a more significant effect.

Similarly it is definitely worthwhile to incorporate other types of Internet marketing into promoting your business on the Web if you are not already doing so; because this can help you to enjoy a greater degree of success if you apply the strategies correctly. Some of the other types of marketing strategies you may wish to employ include placing banner ads, participating in industry related message boards and starting an affiliate program.

Banner ad placements

Of the other types of Internet marketing available, placing banner ads may be the most expensive option. In many cases your business will have to pay another website for the privilege of placing your banner ad on their website. Choosing a website which sells products which complement, without competing with, your business is worthwhile. However, there are some free options for banner ads including exchanges, as long as you are not required to place more than one banner ad on your website for each time your banner ad appears on another lineup, as doing so can create a very crowded and confusing site with will drown out any content you provide.

Additionally, such agreements could compromise your ability to control the type of website(s) your banner advertisements are displayed on; and for this reason it is worthwhile to pay for ad space so you can have more control over where your banner ads are displayed.

Participation in industry-related forums can be another way to promote your business online. Message boards are online meeting places where individuals who share a common interest can get together to discuss those interests as well as pertinent issues in addition to asking and answering questions from each other. Most message boards allow users to place a link to their website in their signature line. If you regularly participate on an industry-related message board and include a signature line with a link to your website you can reach a high concentration of members of your target audience.

Message boards & affiliate marketing

When using message boards to promote your business it is very important to follow all message board guidelines and to avoid techniques which may be deemed as spam, such as posting your link when it is not appropriate, introducing off-topic information, blatantly promoting a particular product/service, or inserting hyperlinks where they are not welcomed or acceptable.

Last, but certainly limiting the number of marketing options to those mentioned here, is the affiliate marketing program which is another type of online marketing that can be used in conjunction with email marketing. Affiliate marketing involves allowing website owners to place advertisements for your business on their website. These website owners are known as affiliates, and each time one of their advertisements causes an Internet user to click through the advertisement or purchase an item, the affiliate is compensated by the merchant (in this case, you of you are the one providing links and banners) who created the product/service to which that clicked link leads.

This compensation schedule makes affiliate marketing incredibly cost effective. Essentially you do not pay your affiliates unless the advertising generates a specific reaction from Internet users such as making a purchase or generating website traffic. The amount of compensation should be determined beforehand and may be based on a flat fee or a percentage of the sale. Business owners have to embed code into the affiliate ads to determine which ads are generating profit or traffic so they know which affiliates to compensate, but this information is also useful for determining which advertisements are most effective.

More marketing methods

The above marketing types are a few additional options business owners and entrepreneurs can use to compliment their email marketing efforts on the Web and fine tune the overall marketing strategy. Other marketing types which we do not have space or time to discuss in this post are Article Marketing, Niche Marketing, Blog Marketing, Video Presentations, Pod Casts, Network Marketing and Multi-level Marketing (MLM), among others. Simply do a search for any of these other marketing methods if you need more information. Good luck!