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Why is it that so many home business entrepreneurs will go to Hell and back trying to make an extra sale that results in a few more bucks but these same folks couldn’t be bothered doing anything to save money around the house/home office.

I should know because I’m one of those home business entrepreneurs.

If you’d like to know how to reduce your home business’s operating costs, look no farther than the electrical outputs in your own home, or more specifically the devices plugged into them.  The US Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the outputs in the average American home are costing up to 10% of your home’s electricity consumption by wasting electricity used by electronic devices even when they’re in the off or stand-by mode.

Energy Thieves in Your Home Office
Even when the computer on your workstation is turned off, it may still act like a Vampire sucking electricity even though you`re not using it to compute.  The digital clock on your office desk or space heater in the corner use electricity around the clock- robbing you of hard earned dollars.

Lucky for you that you read my blog as I’ve come across a new web-based tool by TXU Energy called Energy Thieves that enables you to easily go room by room in your home office and calculate how much money each appliance costs, even with the power button off, and make changes that can save you money.

Of course, Energy Thieves also has a section with tips on lowering your electric bills as well as the TXU Online Energy Store through which you can purchase energy efficiency and conservation devices.  Imagine that.

The Biggest Losers (Energy Wise)
According to the DOE, televisions with satellite or cable systems, computers and audio/video systems are the biggest drains of electricity. Reducing the amount these item’s wastes can save your home business money and energy without sacrificing comfort or need.

You don’t have to be a “Tree Hugging Hippie” or an alternative fuels fanatic in order to find this website useful.  Above all, don’t be like me (sigh) and underestimate the amount of money that can be saved by simply unplugging electricity-sucking devices when not in use.  How about $100 or more per year, per room!

Oh, now you’re interested.

Kenn’e

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In the world of Internet marketing, the use of free classified advertising is akin to eating junk food.  They’re both cheap, quick and easy to obtain but not very good for you.

I beg to differ… on free classified ads, not junk food.

Free classified ads (FCAs) are a great way to advertise if you have little or no startup money. Sites such as USFreeAds, Kijii and CraigsList are great places in which you can promote your business for free.

The only downside to using these sites for FCA’s is that your posts will disappear quickly, usually within seven to 30 days, so expect to spend a few hours a week placing the same ads in the same categories on the same website. This is well worth it since FCAs are so cost-effective; remember, it only takes one sale to make this form of advertising financially worthwhile.

How FCAs Got a Bad Name
Not every type of product or service lends itself to free classified advertising.  In fact, one of the main reasons FCAs have such a bad reputation is that most Internet marketers don’t understand that this type of advertising should not be used to directly sell anything; rather, it should be used to entice readers to check out your website for more information.  Let your website do the selling.

“Don’t try and sell your product in the ad. There simply isn’t enough space to do that, says Cartess Ross, Jr. president and CEO of Hippo Marketing. “(Your goal should be to) get their name, mailing address, email address and phone number. (Send them) a package outlining your product or service. That package (should then be) designed to sell them on your product”.

Advertising to Your Own
Another successful way to use FCAs is to only sell something of interest to other advertisers.  My own personal experience has shown me that for the most part posting FCAs is a waste of time –unless you’re targeting other advertisers– because an overwhelming majority of people who visit free classified ad sites are other entrepreneurs like you who are trying to promote their own business.

Use this piece of “inside information” to strategically target your fellow free-classified-advertiser because many of them look at other ads while searching for their ads to make sure they are being displayed.  Its that simple.

Not Again With the ‘Search Engine Marketing
But there’s an even better reason to use FCAs and that’s because they can rank well in the search engines.  I’ve seen FCAs for very competitive key words rank as high #3. The problem is that listings containing FCAs almost always last only until the next search engine update.  Therefore, if you’re going to use FCA’s as backdoor into the search engines, make sure repeat your posting to the same free classified ads page at least once a week.  Also, remember to write your ads with search engines in mind by using your keyword(s) in both the headlines and body text of your postings.

It’s outside the scope of this article to instruct you on composing classified ads (either free or paid), so if you’re interested in an online tutorial on the subject I recommend you check out Writing An Effective Classified Ad.

Forewarned is Forarmed
Strategies to effectively use free classified advertising do exist, they just aren’t what the average home business owner thinks of when they think of Internet marketing. Hopefully knowing this will give the home business entrepreneur who uses this marketing technique a slight advantage over their competitors.

Kenn’e

If you’re like most home business entrepreneurs you probably have a website.

And if you’re like most home business entrepreneurs with a website, you’re probably interested in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which is the use of search engines to attract potential buyers to your website.

And if you’re like most home business entrepreneurs with a website who are interested in SEM, you’ve probably made changes –or paid someone to make changes– to your website based on one or more SEM falsehoods.

Let Me Come Clean With You
First, you should know that I’ve been doing SEM for clients since 1995. You should also know that the term ‘SEM’ is really a misnomer because it’s the type of marketing that includes more than just the search engines as a place to promote websites; it includes any Internet-destination that you can display your website’s URL on such as other websites, directories, forums, blogs, etc.

However, of all the different places on the Web to promote a website, generally speaking search engines generate the most targeted traffic so they are the ones search engine marketers focus on first and foremost.

One good thing about being around since the early years of SEM –just about the time Yahoo first appeared– is that I’ve seen all types of bogus advice on the Internet for ways of improving your website’s rankings in the search engines, sometimes attributed to self-proclaimed experts (like myself?) and sometimes given out anonymously.  Although it’s hard for the novice webmaster to know the difference between good and bad SEM advice, let not your heart be troubled because I’m here to help.

Favorite SEM Falsehoods
Below is a list of the more common SEM-dogmas I’ve heard bandied around the past 14 years and whether they’re true or false.  You can trust me here because I’ll separate the facts from the opinions.

(1) The More Search Engines You Submit To, The Better
FALSE:  When it comes to SEM myths, this one is public enemy number one. Ask any SEM professional which fallacy do they have to work the hardest at overcoming in the mind of their clients and that’s the idea that the more search engines you submit your website to, the more web traffic you’ll generate. This falsehood is continually perpetrated by companies charging a small fee for submitting your website to 100+ or more search engines.  Unfortunately, this technique hasn’t been effective since the late 1990s and even then it was marginally effective at best.  The truth is you don’t even need to submit your website to search engines come all you need to do include a link to your new website on a webpage that is already indexed by Google, Yahoo and Bing.

(2)  #1 Rankings Can Be Guaranteed
TRUE:  I know I’m going to catch Hell from other SEM’arketers here but understand that there are two types of rankings in the search engine world; the first type is called “Organic” search engines rankings and second type is known as “Commercial” (a.k.a. pay-per-click). Organic rankings are those that only the search engines control how well your website will rank for a given keyword where as the Commercial those listing that appear either above and/or on the side of the Organic search results. Any SEM firm can guarantee you website appears in the top spot for Commercial rankings because all it requires that they bid for the top placement for that keyword and Presto, a #1 ranking! Organic rankings, however, usually result in 2-3 times as many hits and almost always take a year or more and hundreds or even thousands of dollars in order to achieve in #1 rank for a specificid keyword.

One last word on #1 rankings; they’re not the end-all-and-be-all andbe-all of SEM, even for Organic rankings. As the CEO of The First Listings Marketing Group Jason Mills puts it, “The most valuable service of a reputable search engine marketing firm is not the ability to rank a website well for a given set of keywords, but the ability to identify keywords for which top rankings will benefit the client”.

(3) Search Engines Are The Best Way To Promote Websites
FALSE.  Earlier I wrote that “generally speaking, search engines generate the most targeted traffic” which is true, but that doesn’t mean it’s always better then other forms of online-marketing or even more traditional promotional methods such as TV, radio and print advertising.  In fact, I’ve had clients whom I’d recommended avoid the Internet completely when advertising their website.  One client of mine had an existing website which was so poorly designed that any SEM campaign could only begin after she completely upgrades her website at a cost of $10,000.  I finally convinced her that it would be far more cost-effective to simply tell the customers in her retail store about her website and promote it that way. True, I may have lost some money by turning this client away but I did sleep soundly that night.

(4) Pay-Per-Click Will Help/Hurt My Rankings In Google
FALSE:  As one of the first users of pay per click (a.k.a. PPC) advertising with the now ancient GoTo.com, it wasn’t until Google dominated the search engine industry that this silly rumor started.  Although many SEM’arketers  openly questioned whether having a well-funded Google Edwards campaign helped a website ranked higher under its keywords, almost all the major SEM’arketers dismiss this notion.  “This one is funny to me because about half the people who think that running Google AdWords will affect their organic rankings believe that they will bring them down; the other half believe they will bring them up”, says Jill Whalen, co-founder of SEMNE, a New England search marketing networking organization. “That alone should tell you that neither is true.”

(5) Any Website Can Rank Well Given The Right SEM
FALSE:  Okay, so maybe I was the only person that labored under this delusion up until a few years ago when I attended a conference for SEM companies when I learned that I was quite wrong in my belief that with the proper on-page optimization, tons of quality back links had enough time any website –no matter how poorly designed– could be made to rank in the top 10 (or first page) of any search result in any search engine for any keyword.  Learning this fact was almost as bad as when I found out that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

No Secret SEM Formula
There are many home business entrepreneurs looking for magical tricks that will make their websites rank better in the search engines, but the truth is that the only proven formula for success is the following;

SEM Success = Knowledge + Hard Work + Experience + Hard Work + Patience + Hard Work – Shortcuts

Kenn’e