Do You Pay Taxes On eBay Income

Q: I read your last column about paying income tax on eBay sales if you are doing it as a business, but as someone who only sells on eBay occasionally I’m still confused if the IRS rules apply to me. Can you tell me more?
– Norman L.

A: Last week’s column on whether you were required to report income earned from eBay sales to the IRS sparked a number of additional questions and comments from eBay sellers who were hoping that I could somehow validate that their eBay activities were mere hobbies instead of actual businesses and therefore not susceptible to IRS taxation.

Several folks argued that just because their little eBay hobby generated a little cash, that didn’t make it a full blown business. It seems they consider the income from their little hobby to be financial manna from Heaven and thereby not taxable by earthly tax collectors. I’ve always been amused by folks who try to impress me with talk about their “little side business” but when the subject turns to taxes they suddenly refer to it as “my little hobby.”

All kidding aside, the conclusion that I came to after reading each email was always the same: while you may think selling on eBay is just a fun pastime and the money you’re making is not reportable as income, depending on the circumstances, the IRS would probably disagree with you.

It seems that everyone likes making money, but hates carving off a piece for good old Uncle Sam. Welcome to free enterprise, folks. If you’re going to come to the dance you have to pay the fiddler.

The IRS rules are clear: you must pay taxes on all personal and business income and that includes money you make selling on Ebay.

In its most basic sense, the IRS rules can be interpreted to mean that if you buy an old vase at a garage sale for $10 and sell it on eBay (or elsewhere) for $20 you made a $10 profit and therefore must report it as income and pay Uncle Sam his fair share.

In reality, if you are a casual seller who only sells a few items on eBay every now and then it’s doubtful the IRS is going to let loose an army of agents to collect taxes on the few bucks you make. However, if you consistently sell on eBay the IRS may deem your activities to be business oriented and you will be required to file a Schedule C and claim the income.

As mentioned last week, the IRS uses a number of factors to determine if an eBay hobby that generates sales revenue is actually a business.

These factors include: – Do you carry on the hobby in a business-like manner? – Do you spend considerable time working on the hobby? – Do you depend on income from your hobby for your livelihood?

If the answer to any or all of these question is yes, you’re running a business, not carrying on a hobby, and you are responsible for paying taxes on your income.

What’s eBay’s take on all this? Naturally eBay is vehemently opposed to anything that might rock the eBay boat. eBay does not does not issue 1099 tax forms to sellers, nor does it report seller’s sales figures to the IRS.

Ebay considers itself merely to be a facilitator, meaning that they provide a marketplace in which buyers and sellers come together to do business.

Furthermore, under it’s current system it would be impossible for eBay to issue accurate 1099s to sellers. eBay does not track if a seller actually gets paid by the buyer, so eBay has no idea how much money – if any – actually changes hands at the end of each transaction.

On the bright side, if you do sell on eBay as a business you can deduct a number of business expenses, including the cost of inventory, listing fees, shipping, envelopes, packing materials, etc.

You might also be able to deduct things like the purchase of a computer for business use, office space (even if it’s a home office), office supplies, and more.

Talk to your accountant if there’s any doubt as to whether you should or should not be paying taxes on your eBay earnings.

Here’s to your success!

Tim Knox

Tim’s latest book is “The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!” We asked 58 Top Internet Money Makers: If you lost is all tomorrow and had to start from scratch, what would you do to be back on top in the 30 days? Their answers just might make you rich!

Related Links:
http://www.prosperityandprofits.com
http://www.dropshipwholesale.net

Google Adwords – Here is Why It Can Explode Your Business!

The beauty of Google Adwords set up is its simplicity. Google programmers seem to be a close follower of the maxim taught by Edward Debono when it comes to simplicity. Signing up and getting started is very easy and takes a few minutes to get your campaign rolling.

If you are new to the Google Adwords programme, all you need to do is relax, and go through the simple steps mentioned below to get you started off on one of the most technically advanced advertising plans on the internet:

Step 1: Define the eyeballs:

The first step would be to define the target group for your advertisement. There are multiple fields to select from which help you get the geography and language preference of the audience set up so that your ads are shown only to the relevant audience. This process results in an Ad Group, and you can define multiple Ad Groups for various campaigns.

Step 2: Word your ad:

All Google ads are text based and they are displayed in varying font sizes and color to define order and importance. Once your Ad Group is defined, you need to start putting the advertising message together. This is a bit tricky as you need to get the communication within preset character limits. You can write a headline of up to 25 characters, and a two line message of 95 characters. It might be a good idea to take a look at other Google ads in order to understand the choice of words for the ad. After the descriptions are done, you can enter a display URL.

Once the ad itself is put together, you can select the keywords for which the advert should show up. You need to careful with your selection here as your selection of keywords is going to be the key to success (as well as critical for your billing at Google) of your campaign. You can get a lot of help from the keyword tool which helps you find alternate keywords as well. It is recommended that you start with a few keywords in the first place and then proceed to add keywords as the campaign progresses.

Step 3: Define the commercials:

Here’s when we need to start sorting out the preferred currency of billing and display. Google does not allow you to change currency of preference once you have set it so you need to be sure which currency you would like to be billed in.

Google Adwords allows you to set pricing of each click. The system would suggest you a maximum cost per click (CPC) which you can choose or define a CPC which you are willing to spend. The ‘Traffic Estimator’ allows you to see a hypothetical scenario of the traffic you can expect with each type of CPC you choose along with the cost of campaign. This helps you in choosing the keywords effectively.

The commercial section does have a number of sub steps to follow! You now need to finally define what you would like to spend on the campaign. Google will display your ad only till such time the budget permits and then inform you about the expiry of budget. This feature allows you to stay within a pre-defined budget. Google Adwords also recommends a budget based on your previous selection. You can set your budget based on this recommendation.

Once you have completed setting your preferences on the system, Google Adwords gives you an opportunity to review all the details and then click on the final process of signing up for the service.

Step 4: Signing on the dotted line:

True to the rest of the process, the signing up process is really quite simple. All you need is a valid and frequently accessed email account and set up a password and you are ready to roll.

Getting started on Google Adwords is quite simple as you can see from the above steps. All the best with your online marketing campaign with Google AdWords.

Matt Bacak became “#1 Best Selling Author” in just a few short hours.
Recent Entrepreneur Magazine’s e-Biz radio show host is
turning Authors, Speakers, and Experts into Overnight Success Stories.
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Secrets On Security – A Gentle Introduction To Cryptography

Let us take the example of scrambling an egg. First, crack the shell, pour the contents into a bowl and beat the contents vigorously until you achieved the needed result – well, a scrambled egg. This action of mixing the molecules of the egg is encryption. Since the molecules are mixed-up, we say the egg has achieved a higher state of entropy (state of randomness). To return the scrambled egg to its original form (including uncracking the shell) is decryption. Impossible?

However, if we substitute the word “egg” and replace it with “number”, “molecules” with “digits”, it is POSSIBLE. This, my friend, is the exciting world of cryptography (crypto for short). It is a new field dominated by talented mathematicians who uses vocabulary like “non-linear polynomial relations”, “overdefined systems of multivariate polynomial equations”, “Galois fields”, and so forth. These cryptographers uses language that mere mortals like us cannot pretend to understand.

In the computer, everything stored are numbers. Your MP3 file is a number. Your text message is a number. Your address book is a longer number. The number 65 represents the character “A”, 97 for the small “a”, and so on.

For humans, we recognize numbers with the digits from 0 to 9, where else, the computer can only recognize 0 or 1. This is the binary system which uses bits instead of digits. To convert bits to digits, just simply multiply the number of bits by 0.3 to get a good estimation. For example, if you have 256-bits of Indonesian Rupiah (one of the lowest currency denomination in the world), Bill Gates’ wealth in comparison would be microscopic.

The hexadecimal (base 16) system uses the ten digits from 0 to 9, plus the six extra symbols from A to F. This set has sixteen different “digits”, hence the hexadecimal name. This notation is useful for computer workers to peek into the “real contents” stored by the computer. Alternatively, treat these different number systems as currencies, be it Euro, Swiss Franc, British Pound and the like. Just like an object can be priced with different values using these currencies, a number can also be “priced” in these different number systems as well.

To digress a bit, have you ever wondered why you had to study prime numbers in school? I am sure most mathematics teachers do not know this answer. Answer: A subbranch called public-key cryptography which uses prime numbers especially for encrypting e-mails. Over there, they are talking of even bigger numbers like 2048, 4096, 8192 bits.)

When we want to encrypt something, we need to use a cipher. A cipher is just an algorithm similar to a recipe for baking a cake. It has precise, unambiguous steps. To carry out the encryption process, you need a key (some called it passphrase). A good practice in cryptography needs the key used by a cipher must be of high entropy to be effective.

Data Encryption Standard (DES), introduced as a standard in the late 1970′s, was the most commonly used cipher in the 1980′s and early 1990′s. It uses a 56-bit key. It was broken in the late 1990′s with specialized computers costing about US$250,000 in 56 hours. With today’s (2005) hardware, it is possible to crack within a day.

Subsequently, Triple-DES superseded DES as the logical way to preserve compatibility with earlier investments by big corporations (mainly banks). It uses two 56-bit key using three steps:-

1. Encrypt with Key 1.
2. Decrypt with Key 2.
3. Encrypt with Key 1.

The effective key length used is only 112-bits (equivalent to 34 digits). The key is any number between 0 and 5192296858534827628530496329220095. Some modify the last process using Key 3, making it more effective at 168-bit keys.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) was adopted as a standard by the National Institute of Standards & Technology, U.S.A. (NIST) in 2001. AES is based on the Rijndael (pronounced “rhine-doll”) cipher developed by two Belgian cryptographers, Victor Rijmen and Joan Daemen. Typically, AES uses 256-bits (equivalent to 78 digits) for its keys. The key is any number between 0 and 15792089237316195423570985008687907853269984665640564039457584007913129639935. This number is the same as the estimated number of atoms in the universe.

The National Security Agency (NSA) approved AES in June 2003 for protecting top-level secrets within US governmental agencies (of course subject to their approval of the implementation methods). They are reputedly the ones that can eavesdrop on all telephone conversations going on around the world. Besides, this organization is recognized to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the world and may be the largest buyer of computer hardware in the world. The NSA probably have cryptographic expertise many years ahead of the public and can undoubtedly break many of the systems used in practice. For reasons of national security, almost all information about the NSA – even its budget is classified.

A brute force attack is basically to use all possible combinations in trying to decrypt encrypted materials.

A dictionary attack usually refers to text-based passphrases (passwords) by using commonly used passwords. The total number of commonly used passwords is surprisingly small, in computer terms.

An adversary is somebody, be it an individual, company, business rival, enemy, traitor or governmental agency who would probably gain by having access to your encrypted secrets. A determined adversary is one with more “brains” and resources. The best form of security is to have zero adversary (practically impossible to achieve), the next best is to have zero determined adversary!

A keylogger is a software program or hardware to capture all keystrokes typed. This is by far the most effective mechanism to crack password-based implementations of cryptosystems. Software keylogger programs are more common because they are small, work in stealth-mode and easily downloaded from the internet. Advanced keyloggers have the ability to run silently on a target machine and remotely deliver the recorded information to the user who introduced this covert monitoring session. Keystroke monitoring, as everything else created by man, can either be useful or harmful, depending on the monitor’s intents. All confidential information which passes through the keyboard and reaches the computer includes all passwords, usernames, identification data, credit card details, and confidential documents (as they are typed).

For the last definition, we will use an example. Let’s say you have your house equipped with the latest locks, no master keys and no locksmith can tamper with them. Your doors and windows are unbreakable. How then does an adversary get into your house without using a bulldozer to break your front door? Answer: the roof – by removing a few tiles, the adversary can get into your house. This is an exploit (weakness point). Every system, organization, individual has exploits.

See, it is not that difficult after all. If you can understand the material presented in this article, congratulations – you have become crypto-literate (less than 1% of all current computer users). If you do not believe me, try using some of this newfound knowledge on your banker friends or computer professionals.

Stan Seecrets’ Postulate: “The sum total of all human knowledge is a prime number.”

Corollary: “The sum total of all human wisdom is not a prime number.”

This article may be freely reprinted providing it is published in its entirety, including the author’s bio and link to the URL below.

The author, Stan Seecrets, is a veteran software developer with 25+ years experience at (http://www.seecrets.biz) which specializes in protecting digital assets. This site provides quality software priced like books, free-reprint articles on stock charts and computer security, free downloads and numerous free stuff. © Copyright 2005, Stan Seecrets. All rights reserved.

Credit Counseling Get in Line Now to Avoid the Upcoming Rush

Credit counseling is a valuable service for consumers who have trouble managing their finances. A distinctly different service from debt consolidation, credit counseling assists consumers with problem debt by educating them about the basics of money management. Americans really don’t get the education they need about how to manage bank accounts, balance checkbooks, or pay bills on time, and credit counseling can provide these services as well as others. By educating consumers, counselors hope to reduce the number of debtors who are forced to file for bankruptcy. Anyone whose financial situation is such that they would benefit from credit counseling may wish to seek it out in a hurry, however. A number of different factors are coming together in such a way that the counseling industry may soon be completely swamped with more clients than it can handle.

Recently passed bankruptcy legislation, designed to reduce the number of consumer bankruptcy filings, will now make credit counseling mandatory as a prerequisite for a bankruptcy petition. Anyone who wishes to file for bankruptcy relief must first demonstrate that he or she has undergone credit counseling during the past six months. By requiring counseling as a condition of debt relief, Congress hopes to reduce or eliminate repeat filers. The counseling industry is preparing for the additional customers now, as the new law is set to take effect in October 2005.

Other factors will weigh heavily on the counseling industry, however. A 2003 law passed by Congress requires credit card companies to raise their minimum payments so that their customers can repay their balances more quickly. This has resulted in the near-doubling of minimum payments, and the average American household, which has a credit card balance of $10,000, will see their minimum monthly payment rise from $200 to $400. Since many households can only afford the minimum payment now, the hike in the minimum due may drive more Americans into counseling and bankruptcy.

The increased reliance upon interest-only mortgages and low-interest adjustable rate mortgages could be a factor, too, if home prices either fall or fail to increase as they have. The sky-high prices in many markets have led homebuyers to purchase more homes than they can really afford, often using mortgages that are themselves riskier than the traditional 30-year loan. Should interest rates rise or housing prices fall, tens of thousands of homeowners will find themselves with loans that either exceed the value of the home or are unaffordable.

Those in the credit counseling industry say that this is a critical time, and the combination of new laws, fragile markets, and credit card industry overhaul could push a number of consumers towards bankruptcy and mandatory counseling. Anyone with problem debt who might benefit from counseling should consider doing so sooner, rather than later, as qualified credit counselors may be quite busy this fall.

©Copyright 2005 by Retro Marketing.

Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including End-Your-Debt.com, a site devoted to personal bankruptcy, debt consolidation and credit counseling, and HomeEquityHelp.com, a site devoted to information regarding mortgages and home equity loans.

8 Killer Ways to Improve the Effect of Testimonials on Your Customers!

Every web business should be using testimonials. Testimonials are extremely effective in making visitors take that extra step forward to buy your product because they are given confidence by looking at what other people have said. Testimonials can work everywhere on a website; on the homepage or in the sales letter. Good, believable testimonials on your website can spark a great number of extra sales. Here are 8 ways to make your online testimonials more effective.

1. When asking for testimonials, ask people whose opinions count. If a visitor on your site sees a testimonial from a well known person who is associated with the product you are trying to sell then this will have a great boost for your credibility. Just ask these well known people to review your product and give a testimonial. Do not be afraid to ask for testimonials because really you have nothing to lose.

2. Ask your customers to send in their picture when they give testimonials about your product or service. This will show viewers that the testimonials you show on your site are not fake. It gives the impression that real people have said these good words about your website.

3. Have your customers who give testimonials mail you their hand written signature. This way you can scan in the signature so that it looks like a genuine testimonial. Once again, this is another way to make your testimonials more believable so that visitors will start to trust you more; a crucial part of achieving online success.

4. Similarly, you could have customers to send in a hand written testimonial as a letter. You could scan in the whole letter for boosted credibility. However, in order to get customers to do this you could offer a discount or offer a free gift if they give a good hand written testimonial. Alternatively, you could ask for a testimonial on a post card.

5. You could have customers give a spoken testimonial. This can be done easily by the customer recording his or her testimonial with a tape recorder. An alternative and possibly easier way of doing this is to have your customer leave a voicemail or answer phone message and then upload this to your website as an audio file. Have the audio testimonial played whenever someone enters your site so that visitors always get to hear how good other customers have found your product or service.

6. When your customers give testimonials, ask them for their personal profile too. This will make testimonials more entertaining to read for your visitors and will show visitors what type of people your product and service benefits most. Also, your customers will probably be very willing to give a testimonial with a personal profile because it will allow them to include their web address. This way, you should be able to get plenty of these testimonials.
7. When you receive your email testimonials, take a screen shot of the email instead of just extracting the testimonial from the text. This way when visitors see the email, they will see the date, time and ‘who it’s from’ field. This of course will serve as sufficient proof to show that this is a genuine testimonial from a happy customer.

8. Once you have received very positive testimonials, ask the writers of these testimonials to give their contact information so that your web visitors can contact them and enquire on the product you are selling. This is a great way to get people talking about your product positively and your visitors are more likely to believe a positive account from a previous customer than a positive account from your sales letter.

Overall, just be creative about trying to improve the effect of your testimonials. Put them where people will see them and include them on all pages of your website so that happy customers will be associated with your website. If testimonials are used effectively, many more sales will be made.

For more information on this subject or about making money online go to http://www.info-ebooks.co.uk

100s of free ebooks and software products are also available at this address. Gain free access to these by sending a blank email to:

infoebooks@freeautobot.com

Thank you for reading

William Johnston
(will@info-ebooks.co.uk)

Investment Real Estate Secret – Buy a House Today, With No Money Down

If you’ve read my article “Purchasing Property With No Money Down. . .” today’s article may seem a bit conflicting. Bear with me, though, and you’ll see that it is not. In Purchasing Property With No Money Down. . ., I explain how buying up property at inflated values at a break-neck pace is no way to be successful in real estate. I explain how this is a form of investment real estate finance that is possible but not advisable. In this piece, I’d like to express that buying property with no money out of your pocket can actually happen and can be a great technique, if it’s done properly.

Let’s suppose you find a house that you’re interested in purchasing as investment real estate. The owner, who also uses the real estate as investment property wants to get out quickly. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get the house with no money down. Note, look for ads that say seller financing or motivated seller to find these types of deals.

In lieu of conventional bank financing, you may offer the seller his exact sales price, if he agrees to finance the sale for you. Before going this route, ask him if he’s willing to take a considerable amount less than his asking price; if he’s motivated, he’ll likely say yes, assuming he’s going to get a bank check. Now, you come in with much more money, but you ask him to finance the loan.

Here’s where salesmanship is critical. Offer him a deal that he can’t pass. If he’s selling for $100,000 but was willing to take $88,000, you’ll give him his entire asking price of $100,000 with very special terms. Although you amortize the loan over 30 years, you promise him that you’ll pay him off in three years or less. Meanwhile, you’ll pay him interest only payments on the note at 8 or 9 percent. Explain to him how he’ll make all of this money on top of the $100,000, because you’re not paying down the note with your monthly installments. Because you’re giving him such a great deal, you will not pay him anything as a down payment.

Now, you may be thinking this doesn’t look like a good deal for you. Here’s how you make it a terrific deal. The second you close the deal with the seller, you stick a for sale sign in the yard, announcing that the “Owner will finance.” Now, you sell the house for $110,000. You take a $5,000 down payment, and you take interest-only payments on $105,000 at 8 or 9 percent interest. You are making more than you have to pay the seller, plus you have the $5,000 in your pocket. This is truly a sweet, No Money Down investment real estate deal.

NOTE: if the seller insists on a down payment, you offer him the $5,000 you plan to collect from your buyer. Be sure to get him to allow you to defer the down payment for three months. This gives you time to sell, collect the 5k and pass it along to him. This isn’t as sweet as pocketing the $5,000 yourself, but it’s still a no money down deal.

Mark Barnes is the author of the new novel, The League, a shocking, sports-related conspiracy. Learn more about his suspense thriller at http://www.sportsnovels.com. He is also an investment real estate and home loan finance expert. Get his free mortgage finance course at http://www.winningthemortgagegame.com

Seven Sizzling Ways to Turn Targeted Traffic Towards Your Blog!

Blogs are an unbelievable way to achieve success on the internet. Blogs can establish a web presence, express your opinions and generate serious profits. However, without visitors a blog is useless no matter how good the content. With thousands of blogs being created every day, you need to know exactly how to get people to your blog over everyone else’s. Here are 7 breakthrough ways to bring traffic to your blog:

1. Optimize your posts for the major search engines. Search engines love blogs because they are frequently updated with fresh content. All blogs have the opportunity to make it to a high position on search engines but here are a few tips to beat your competition for the top spots.

  • Make sure you use plenty of primary keywords in the titles of your blog posts.
  • Make sure you use secondary keywords in the body of your posts, however be careful not to use too many since this will make your post sound unnatural.
  • Use keywords in the anchor text of links in the body of your posts since links have a higher importance to the search engines than ordinary text.
  • If possible try to use your most appropriate keyword in the URL of your blog. Search engines love keywords in the URL and this will have a serious effect on your positioning.

2. Write posts that people will want to read. Put yourself in the position of someone following your blog. Always write relevant content which will be of interest to your blog followers. Good content will lead people to recommend your blog. As a rule, each post should contain a single topic. If you wish to discuss two topics then break it down into two posts. This makes life easier for readers and makes information easier to find. A great mistake that many bloggers make is writing large, infrequent posts. Get into the habit of writing short posts but making sure that you post regularly at least 3 times a week. This way, people will return to your blog because they are sure there will be something new to read.

3. Use your blog posts as articles. Writing and submitting articles is a sure-fire way to gain more visitors. Just turn your blog posts into articles by formatting them, and perhaps adding a bit more detail. This way you are building traffic and writing for your blog at the same time. Recommended sites for submitting your articles are http://www.ezinearticles.com and http://www.goarticles.com.

4. Build links to your blog. This will also have a great impact on your search engine ranking, especially Google. Build links to your blog by exchanging links with other blogs of the same topic as yours. This way you can guarantee targeted traffic. Come to an agreement with another blogger that you will each write a positive review on each other’s blog. This way you will get a good testimonial for your website and receive a link on another blog. If you have a main website, then make sure you link from every page to your blog. This way you gain lots of links and whichever page visitors enter your website, they will always have the opportunity to visit your blog.

5. Ping the blog services. There are many services which track and connect blogs all over the world. By sending a small ping to all of these services you will let them know that you exist. They will come and check you out and this could spell serious visitors if your blog is full of good content and is regularly updated. Sending this ping is not at all difficult. Just go to http://www.pingomatic.com where you can send a ping to a number of services very quickly for no cost.

6. Submit your blog to blog directories. Just like if you have a website or an ezine, it is essential to submit your blog to the top directories. A good listing in these directories could mean 100s of visitors every day. You can find a great list of blog directories at http://www.masternewmedia.org/rss/top55/. And don’t stop at blog directories. Don’t be afraid to submit your blog to the big directories such as Yahoo and Dmoz.

7. Capture your readers’ email addresses. This is vitally important because it is essential that you can keep in touch with your readers so that you can update them about your blog and make sure they are still reading. Just make sure you have a subscription box on every page of your blog and offer a free bonus such as an ebook as a reward for subscribing. With a good list of subscribers, you can conduct surveys to find out what topics your readers want your posts to consist of. Keeping in touch with your readers will lead them to trust you and they will continually come back to your blog and will recommend it to their friends.

Just be imaginative. Keep trying different techniques to getting people to your blog and see which methods work best. Remember, creativity is one of the keys to internet success.

For more information on this subject or about making money online go to http://www.info-ebooks.co.uk

100s of free ebooks and software products are also available at this address. Gain free access to these by sending a blank email to:

infoebooks@freeautobot.com

Thank you for reading

William Johnston
(will@info-ebooks.co.uk)

Sales Skills for the Non Sales Professional

Have you ever wondered how in the heck you’re going to do it? You are a lawyer who wants to make partner, an accountant, an engineer or other professional and part of your business plan is that you have to attract business customers? You’ve always detested selling, and you can’t see yourself doing it! As a matter of fact, sales people are a HUGE turn off to you!!!

Yet, you HAVE to bring in customers!!!

What ARE you going to do?

Many of my current or former clients fit the above description. Many of them finally contacted me, a coach, when they were in trouble because they had NO CLUE where to start. They decided that they did need help, and they realized that only a professional could rescue the mess that they’ve made.

And guess what? They survived! And not only did they survive, but they thrived! As soon as they realized that they didn’t need to change their personality, become a raving fan, or over the top, they relaxed and settled into learning what they had to do.

I’ll take you through a typical client and what they learn to do.

Kirk was a guy who found me in one of my Charisma classes! He was basically a smart fellow who was trying to make partner in his law firm. He had been told upon his hiring that he’d be responsible for attracting business to his company. He bluffed his way through the interview by mentioning how many people that he knew and how many big cases he had worked on successfully. He didn’t mention that the business wasn’t his, or that he was TERRIFIED of calling all of the people that he knew and asking for business!

When Kirk and I finally got together I asked him to start by naming all of his strengths. We went over all of the benefits that any of his clients or future clients would get by working with him. I had him post these in his office so he’d never doubt how talented he really is in work.

Next, we outlined what sorts of clients he should secure and then wrote a list of any current or former friends or colleagues that he knew. We developed an information sheet on each of them which would be later transferred to a contact management system such as ACT or Goldmine. On each of the sheets, Kirk had to go and write about the person. He wrote down anything he knew about them professionally or personally. These ranged from where they went to school to their spouses names, to their hobbies.

Next, we put them in order from A Accounts ( HUGE!!!) down to D accounts (Barely worth calling) and everyone in between. When all was said and done, Kirk had a list of about 25 people on the A list and those were the ones that we focused on.

Those names went into the computer. We then called and got all of their current information such as emails, secretaries names, firms, etc. We then wrote a letter that was sent to each of them announcing his new position and then said that Kirk would soon be giving a follow up call to say a quick hello. The letter was written in a casual manner, and not too formal. It definitely did NOT look like a form letter from a law firm!

Over time, Kirk redeveloped these people into friends. He did it by meeting them to play basketball, going to networking events with them, or inviting them to political speeches. He was able to get tickets for a few of them to different events and basically became a resource to the whole legal profession for most of them. Kirk became a FRIEND to these individuals, their firms and as a result, guess what happened?

Kirk started bringing in business of course! Not only that, but his bosses wanted to know what he was doing and how it all started. Needless to say, a few of his co workers were in the position to hire a coach and we duplicated Kirk’s experience.

Developing into a sales professional is a scary thought for someone who is afraid of sales. But turning into a resource for your friends and colleagues is not only fun, but a great way to learn and grow your business. And if you get stuck, call me! I’ll help you through!

Mary Gardner, The Charisma Coach! is an Executive Communications Consultant and Trainer. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She owned and operated one of the first coaching institutions on the east coast, CCI, in NYC, Philly and NJ. Mary has appeared on ABC’s 20/20 and has self published a book on public speaking. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5, and lives in Orlando, FL.

For information contact: mary@marygardner.com or Web: www.marygardner.com

How To Write A Press Release – The 10 Commandments Of A Great Lead Paragraph

How to write a press release is a major challenge facing both experienced and aspiring PR professionals.

Press release writing is a learned skill. This article contains press release sample writing, including that all important first paragraph.

“If it bleeds it leads” is a famous saying amongst news editors on why certain stories are on page one or first up in a TV or radio news bulletin.

With so many big news stories breaking recently, such as the Pope’s death and the Navy helicopter crash in Indonesia, how can you make your media release stand out?

Well, the success of a news release being followed up by the media depends on the all important lead or first paragraph.

After the headline, this is the first message an editor or journalist will read and it is one of those critical moments of truth when you either win over or lose the media.

The first paragraph sets the structure for the whole of the media release.

Take this example of a very poorly written opening or lead paragraph that was actually sent out from the office of Northern Territory Opposition spokesman, Richard Lim on March 9, 2005.

Shadow Minister for Employment Education and Training Dr Richard Lim says that private registered training organisations which provided vocational education and training for Territorians are struggling to survive because over the last two years, the Northern Territory Government has a policy of using the Equipment Grants for government providers only, they being the Charles Darwin University and Batchelor of Indigenous Tertiary Institution.

(Source: D.D. McNicoll, The Diary, Media Section, The Australian, Thursday march 17th, 2005, pg 22.)

What is this person trying to say?

As a media and communications specialist working with clients, I find I spend at least half my writing time working on that all important first paragraph. It is were all the value is.

Here are my Ten Commandments for writing a great lead paragraph. A good lead paragraph must:

1. Summarise The Whole Story.
This is the sharp end of your message and the reader must understand what the whole story is about just by reading the first paragraph. The most important and critical information must come first.

2. Answer The Five W’s.
It must answer the who, what, when, where, and why of the story.

3. Grab Your Attention.
Like a good headline, the lead paragraph must grab and hold the attention of the reader.

4. Make Every Word Count.
Aim for brevity and word economy. Less is more. Edit out words to increase impact.

5. Make Sense.
Write for meaning.

6. Be Accurate.
Always stick to the facts and be truthful, no matter how bad the news. Avoid fluff and hype. Remember it has to be newsworthy.

7. Keep To One Sentence.
Simplicity is the key to great lead paragraphs.

8. Provide Context.
If you are introducing an organisation or person for the first time, put this in context by providing descriptive, detailed and meaningful words immediately prior to the company or individual name.

For example:
Thomas Murrell – poor, no one knows who he is!
International business speaker and co-author of Understanding Influence For Leaders At All Levels, Thomas Murrell – better and puts person in context.
Different descriptions can be used, depending on your objectives and the context of the release.

9. Be Precise.
Precision is vital. Out of all the information you could get across what is the most important? This must be communicated in a precise way.

10. Edit, Check and Proofread A Minimum of Three Times.
Nothing will shoot your credibility down like a typo or error in the lead paragraph. First impressions count no matter how good the story is. Professionalism is essential. Get someone else to check and read your release.

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries.

You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com. Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom’s blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com.

Looking For An Affiliate Internet Marketing Tip

Here’s a few affiliate Internet marketing tips that can help you earn extra
money for little effort on your part. Do you currently have a web site that sells products? If you do, developing an affiliate program may be the opportunity you are looking for. An affiliate program is a way to obtain an increased sales level while gaining new customers and increasing awareness of your site. To get started, examine an affiliate Internet marketing tip and see if it’s right for you.

The first affiliate Internet marketing tip is determine if starting your own program is right for you. A successful program requires both time and money. You must be willing to work with those that will be your affiliates to help them promote your products. Your affiliates should be treated as business partners in the sense that they are working both for you and with you.

Another affiliate Internet marketing tip is to be careful the percentage you wish to offer and examine how you will pay your affiliates. Most affiliates earn 8% to 15% off the sales price of all the items bought by people brought to your site by theirs. If your profit margins are not high enough that it easily absorb the added expense affiliation brings, you may wish to reconsider your percentages. Most affiliates are paid per click, per lead, or per sale. Determine which is right for your business before offering affiliate programs.

An affiliate Internet marketing tip that deserves to be mentioned is to make sure your affiliates are promoting your sales as they are supposed to be doing. It’s just like an employee or business partner that is not holding up their responsibly. You may wish to have a minimum sales requirement quarterly or yearly to keep the affiliate relationship alive. If you keep in mind an affiliate Internet marketing tip or two in your brain while you are structuring your program, surely you will fund success.

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