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     Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web

       Editor: Peter Kent
         Top Floor Publishing

        Over 40,000 Subscribers in More Than 100 Countries!

   ~~~ IN THIS ISSUE ~~~

   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   Beginner's Column:
      Use Bundling To Increase Your Profits And Sales!

   Not Just Your Own Products

   An Online Store Diary

   A Quick Way to Replace Text Across Multiple Files

   Online Seminars Using Voice and Web

   Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

   Book Reviewers Wanted

   Reading Back Issues

   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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   {{ Beginner's Column:
        Use Bundling To Increase Your Profits And Sales! }}
   by Larry Dotson

   An effective way to increase your profits and sales is to
   bundle many products or services together into one package.
   This gives people more reasons to buy your products and
   services. People also have come to believe package deals are a
   better value. You want all the products or services to be
   closely related. For example: if you're selling a computer you
   could add in software, hardware, computer furniture, etc.

   There are many ways to go about choosing the right products or
   services to bundle into one package. You could survey your
   customers and see what products or services they would like you
   to offer in the future. Spy on your competition and see what
   products and services they're offering or not offering. If you
   would like to, bundle unrelated products or services together,
   ask your customers which ones would be of interest to them.

   Bundling can also increase your target markets which in return
   would give you a larger audience to sell your products and
   services. For example: if you're selling a baseball magazine
   you could add a free baseball when someone buys a subscription.
   You're now targeting people who want the baseball magazine and
   those that want to play baseball out in the yard. Some people
   buy a package deal just to get one of the products.

   There are many sources where you can find products and services
   to create a package deal. You can buy them from wholesalers or
   drop shippers. You can buy the reproduction/resell rights to
   other people's products. Team-up with your competition to
   create a package deal. You could joint venture or cross
   promotion deal with other businesses. You could also create
   your own products and services. Be creative!
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   {{ Not Just Your Own Products }}

   The above article from Larry Dotson reminded me of another way
   to profit from your Web site -- sell other people's products,
   whether bundled or not. By increasing your product line, you can
   increase average sale value quickly and easily.

   My Top Floor Publishing site sells books published by, not
   surprisingly, Top Floor Publishing. But we recently began
   selling two other books, one from IDG (Making Money in
   Technical Writing), and one from Ventana/Coriolis (The Official
   Netscape JavaScript Book). The decision to sell these books was
   easy; I wrote both books. In the case of the first book we have
   to buy it from the publisher at the normal bookseller
   discounts; as for the second book, we purchased the remaining
   stock when Coriolis let it go out of print. We could be selling
   books that I didn't write, of course (and will probably look
   into doing so soon). The real reason we added these books is
   that we believed many of our visitors would also be interested
   in these titles.

   We don't make anywhere near as much money on these books,
   though, as on our own titles. However, rather than selling five
   titles we're now selling seven, a forty percent increase. And
   simply having these extra books on the site means we make more
   money. We find that many people who buy a Top Floor book add
   one of these other books to their basket. And we're also
   selling these books on their own -- people who would have left
   our site without making a sale make a purchase because we have
   a wider selection.

   If you're selling products online, attracting people to your
   site to sell to them, increasing your product line by finding
   compatible, non-competitive, products is a quick and easy way
   to increase sales.

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   {{ An Online Store Diary }}

   Thousands of people are setting up sideline businesses online.
   Most probably fail to cover their costs. Yet many do very well.
   Why? A combination of factors, including picking the right
   product -- something unusual and hard to find is likely to do
   better than a mundane everyday product -- and investing a
   little effort in effective promotions.

   The following is a short "diary" my business partner wrote
   early in December outlining his experiences in setting up an
   online store, what was intended as an experiment in online
   commerce. He tracked down a product that is very difficult to
   find in the U.S., yet is likely to be of interest to many
   people. With a little effort in promoting the site -- and I
   mean that literally, only a little effort -- he was able to
   push sales into thousands of dollars a month very quickly.
   Here's his story.

   My online store -- a Diary
   Mike Ceranski

   "If you build it, they will come" may be true in the cornbelt,
   but it is the biggest single misconception on the Internet. If
   you are considering creating an online store, be sure to sit
   back and consider how much time and energy you will be able to
   put into your store's promotion. The simple act of putting up a
   web store does not guarantee traffic, even if your wares are
   unique. You must be willing to invest effort and brain power,
   and perhaps a wee bit of cash, in order to drive traffic to
   your storefront. To give you an idea what's involved, here's my
   story about selling on the Web.

   Sep. 1, 1999
   I searched for and found a very cool product called
   electroluminescent wire that glows when power is applied. It
   has a wide range of possible applications -- from automotive to
   woodworking -- and can be used by anyone. It fulfilled my
   requirements for a broad potential market, yet was also easy to
   sell through highly targeted verticals such as home theater.

   Sep. 15, 1999
   I contacted the manufacturer and made an investment in enough
   stock to get the store going. I built a web store using
   BizBlast's e-commerce technology (being affiliated with
   BizBlast, this was an easy decision). [Note: this is not
   available to the public at present, but will be shortly.] Once
   the store was up, I asked Peter Kent where the best list of
   online newsletters and e-zines was located. This in hand, I
   crafted a short, 3-paragraph introduction e-mail message which
   could be easily customized. Late one evening I spent three
   hours e-mailing e-zine and newsletter editors customized
   versions of this short letter.

   Sep. 20, 1999
   My first order came in, and so did 7 e-mail messages with
   questions about the products and their application. I answered
   the questions promptly -- a strategy that I've stuck to ever
   since. Orders did not overwhelm me, but at the end of my first
   "official" week (Sunday, Sep. 26th) of sales, I had sold about
   $290 worth of stock.

   Sep. 22, 1999
   I decided that I should try leveraging another site's
   popularity to benefit my own. I decided to auction one of my
   glowing wire kits on eBay.com. The real purpose wasn't to sell
   the kit, but rather, to introduce my product line and URL to a
   large number of auction-surfers who might find it intriguing.
   eBay allows you to create very detailed product descriptions
   with embedded HTML tags. And this means you can embed
   hyperlinks from the descriptive text back to your web store. I
   took full advantage of this and created a visually appealing
   description with plenty of links back to

   Oct. 3, 1999
   The end of my second full week of selling online saw cumulative
   sales reach a tad more than $650. I decided to check my ranking
   with the major search engines. I'm horrified by what I find.
   Even though I had used an automated search submission program
   to submit softneon.com to more than 500 search engines, I found
   that such popular search sites as http://www.hotbot.com and
   http://www.infoseek.com were ignorant of "softneon" and more
   generic terms like "electroluminescent".

   I began hand submitting to the most popular search engines. I
   also worked on my Meta tag list so a wider range of words or
   phrases entered at search sites might result in hits for
   SoftNeon. For instance, I want people who are searching for
   alternative lighting effects for home theaters to find my site,
   so I added words like "Sony", "projection", "home theater",
   "THX" and "surround sound" to my Meta tag list.

   Oct. 10, 1999
   I decided that since Halloween was approaching, I should to add
   a Holiday angle to my products. I create a quick Halloween
   decoration using a ceramic pumpkin and some orange EL wire and
   take a picture of it using my handy digital camera. I quickly
   add it to my examples page (
   http://www.softneon.com/examples.htm ).

   Oct. 31, 1999
   I closed out my 6th week of cumulative sales at $1,655.54. I'm
   not setting a world record, but considering my marketing
   investment is about 7 hours and $3.25 for my eBay auction item
   (which sold for $40), I'm pleased.

   Nov. 2, 1999
   An article I wrote for E.P.E. Online Magazine appears in PDF
   (Acrobat) format. The article was requested by the magazine's
   Chief Editor after he received my promotional e-mail I'd sent
   back in September. Since E.P.E Magazine has a predominantly
   English audience, sales to the U.K. promptly go up.

   Nov. 7, 1999
   Sales for the week shoot up to $1,200 for the seven days from
   Nov. 1 to Nov. 7. Wow! If sales continue at this rate for the
   entire month, I expect sales will top $4,000. I begin
   considering what and how to promote for Christmas.

   Nov. 15, 1999
   Sales have slowed down. I create two new auctions on eBay, one
   in automotive accessories, and another in Star Trek
   collectibles. Questions about adding EL wire to things like
   Klingon battle cruisers and '57 Chevy's go way up.

   Nov. 20, 1999
   Sales begin picking up. I notice sales from a lot of the same
   cities (such as Calgary and San Francisco) again and again.
   This makes me think that my product line has a strong
   word-of-mouth factor. Perhaps I should consider an affiliate
   program. (An affiliate program is a system whereby other web
   sites put up your banner ad and if a visitor to their site
   clicks on it, they jump to your web store. Then if they buy
   something while in your store, the originating web site gets a

   Nov. 29, 1999
   Sales for the month of November come in at $2,475. Not the $4K
   I'd hoped for, but I have to admit I did not do enough online
   marketing in October and early November. Still, the store is
   covering costs and making me a bit of money. Time to do some
   more online marketing...


   {{ A Quick Way to Replace Text Across Multiple Files }}

   If you've built or manage a Web site, eventually you'll run
   into this problem. You need to replace a piece of text in
   multiple file, but you're not exactly sure where this text
   lies. Some HTML-authoring tools have built in search-and-
   replace tools. But what if you don't use an HTML-authoring tool,
   or if you're working on files that you can't edit in your
   HTML-authoring tool?

   I've found a great little tool called WinEasy that will quickly
   replace text across a variety of files -- I just tell it what
   text to look for, what to replace it with, which directory to
   look in, and what type of file I'm working with (.html, .htm,
   .txt, or whatever), and away it goes. It's very quick, and
   there's even a log-file feature that shows you which files were
   edited, and how many replacements were made.

   Just recently I was editing product files in a shopping-cart
   system. These are not HTML files, they're just text files
   containing information about products that a shopping-cart
   program displays in a catalog. I needed to modify a few things,
   and WinEasy saved me a great deal of time.

   A quick word of caution, though. As with _any_ search-and-
   replace tool, you must use it with caution. You should think
   carefully about what you're changing. For instance, if you want
   to change the word "red" to "blue," take care or you'll end up
   changing, for instance, "bored" to "boblue."

   This is a freeware program. You can find it at


   {{ Online Seminars Using Voice and Web }}

   I recently heard about an interesting system that combines
   telephone connections and Web presentations. You can use this
   system to host a Web-based seminar. You provide your seminar
   "attendees" with two things, a phone number and a URL. At the
   seminar start time the attendees dial in, and load the
   specified Web page, and away you go. (Of course this requires
   that attendees have a voice line in addition to the line they
   use to connect to the Internet ... so many home users won't be
   able to work with such a system.)

   This system can host literally hundreds of attendees at the
   same time. Most of the time the attendees will be unable to
   talk -- they just listen to the presentation. But you can open
   up the lines to allow questions, if you wish.

   You can find more information at http://www.webinars.com/
   You can sign up to attend a free demo if you wish. But having
   said that ... I don't know what Webinars charge, so I not sure
   if you'd save much, but it's probably not that hard to create
   your own "webinars." You can build a Web-based presentation,
   then use a voice-conference system. There are many conference
   systems around; you can find a big list at Yahoo, at

   Some of these services can handle conferences of 1,000 or more
   people. Participants call the number at the specified time,
   enter a code, and are placed into the conference.

   I haven't dug around for the best price (if anyone knows of a
   really good deal, let me know and I'll mention it in the next
   newsletter). Such conferences are not necessarily cheap,
   though; I've seen prices around 30 cents per person per minute.


   {{ Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books }}

   Top Floor Publishing now has five books in print:

   Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing

   Poor Richard's Web Site

   Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions

   The CDnow Story: Rags to Riches on the Internet

   MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution: Turn Your PC into a
   CD-Quality Jukebox

   Order direct from the publisher, and you'll get a 100%,
   1-Year Guarantee. If you feel the book wasn't worth the
   money, send it back for a refund!

   And remember, these books are discounted at the Web site, and
   you pay just one shipping cost regardless of how many books
   you buy!


   {{ Book Reviewers Wanted }}

   Do you review books for newspapers, magazines, newsletters
   (electronic or paper), Web sites, or other media spots? If
   so, perhaps you'd like to review Top Floor Publishing's latest
   book, "Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing." Or perhaps you'd
   like to review one of the other books I mentioned above?

   Contact my Marketing Director, Missy Derkacz, at
   [EMAIL PROTECTED] Include your full mailing address, the
   name of newspaper/magazine/whatever in which the review will
   appear and the probable date of publication, and the editor's
   contact information.


   {{ Reading Back Issues }}

   If you need to refer to back issues of this newsletter -- and
   search the archives -- you can find them at the following


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