Lunch and Learn: It's easy to start your internet business Jason Nelson tells how to begin
Jason and Tiffany Nelson spoke at the July Lunch and Learn about running an internet business. Jason works for eBay in addition to running his own internet businesses. He began with a brief introduction of himself and his wife Tiffany who is from American Fork and Jason is from Ferron, the son of James and Lynda Nelson. They have nine children three of which are adopted. Tiffany just ran a marathon and has lost 55 pounds in six months. Jason lost 60-70 pounds and they have been working to get healthy.
Jason graduated from Emery High in 1990. He attended CEU and BYU. He attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. One of the top business schools in the nation.
Jason explained his attire to the business lunch. He was dressed in a T-shirt that said, Serious by Birth, Grumpy by Choice. He said it doesn't matter what you're wearing to run an internet business, you can sit home in your underwear and make money running an online business. "Running an online business gives you freedom. It lets us do what we want. I am not an egg head computer programmer, but I can run a successful online business. I have never coded a website, but I can use free or cheap tools that other people have created. All the technical skills you need are how to use word programs. Tap into the tools that are available.
"In Emery County there are roughly 11,000 people, that's not a lot of customers, not a lot of customer traffic. But, like with eBay.com. there are 100 million active users. There could be multiple people using one account. According to comscore.com there were 282 million unique people in July of 2011 that surfed eBay.com. There are 1.4 billion internet users. Tap into those people, find other people to buy your products. In Emery County each year there is $213,530 million made by residents each year. But, that's not discretionary income. Right off the top 30-40 percent is consumed in taxes. It just disappears, then you have housing, cars, utilities, it leaves very little discretionary income. With the internet you can tap into other people's income.
"In 2012 so far $215 billion has been spent online. Google makes money selling advertisements. eBay employs more people than live in Emery County. eBay enables other people to sell their products and they take a cut. They are an e-commerce enabler. You can make money on line. Amazon sells to customers. Amazon is a market place. They also drive business to stores and online businesses. One way to make money online is to make common tasks cheaper or easier. Other ways are to actually sell something, or sell advertisements and promotions.
"Like with Skype, it's software that enables one computer to talk to another and it's free. One lady I know is from the Philippines and she Skypes each week with her mother in the Philippines and it's free. Skype makes money by selling additional services. They use the computer to make calls and it's cheaper than using the telephone. They sell other services to make life easier.
"Online businesses make sense and they are low risk. When I just completed business school we lived in San Diego. It was 72 degrees all the time. I was willing to take a little risk. But, now I am 40 years old with nine kids and a big mortgage and I am less willing to take risk. Internet business is low risk. I pay for other people to hold my website on their computer. They are hosting my website. I pay $6 per month to have my websites hosted so people can find them. I split the cost with a buddy so it's only $3 per month. They are professional and look great. WordPress.org and CMS made simple(www.chmmadesimple.org); ECWED.com get a basic subscription for free or a full service subscription for $17. My preferred host is Omnis.com.
"You need some way to get your money for your product or service. The easiest is eBay's PayPal, it's easy to use. You don't pay anything for this service unless you use it. You can also set up a merchant account. You can start online for an initial cash outlay of $6 for the first month. Get a shopping cart. This is not a risky venture. There are three rules of online business. Content, content and content. The real key is having the right content."
Jason told of his friend Pete Abilla who operates shmula.com and he does advertising and sells spots on his websites. He makes between $500-$1,000 a month and he just blogs about things he is interested in. He blogs about helping businesses with waste. If you visit his site, he will ask for a name and email and when an ad pops up if you are on his site and you click on that ad, he gets a cut. He helps market other peoples products. If you click on a book he mentions on his site, it will take you right to Amazon where you can purchase that book. Pete offers services as a consultant. He makes more than $150 bucks an hour consulting. Pete was featured in the Utah Business magazine as one of the bright tech people.
It's not complicated.
Find something you can write about, there are 1.4 billion people looking for content. You need to provide the best info for whatever you write about. Sell a real product and make money. Blog about what you enjoy. What if it's 4-wheeling. Talk about the places you go. Anything you are interested in can go on a website. What are you passionate about. Sell your products, sell other people's products and if users click on an ad on your website, you make money (this is called affiliate marketing). You can do this. You can write and create good content.
"Leo Garcia wrote about training dogs. His website and services became too popular and too successful. He was charging $1,200 for this dog training. But, it's no longer available, he had to quit to save his marriage. He was making $5,000-$10,000 a month.
"You need good content and videos are great. Our first attempt at an online business was cherishedpresents.com which had personalized gifts. But, it was too much we offered too many items. We started selling webkinz. We were making about $40,000 a month. We were making double off that website than what I was making working and we ran it out of our basement," said Nelson.
The internet business they are operating now is nutrasmartonline.com selling fiber and nutritional weightloss shakes.
"Two years ago it made $8,000 and last year it made $40,000 and this year it's on track to make $300,000 in revenue, but I have three partners in that business that we divide the money with. There are some challenges when you have inventory. It adds significant risk. Holding inventory can be expensive. Inventory depends on the suppliers and the labor intensifies," said Nelson.
Nelson talked about newsletters and sharing information by email. When they sent out newsletters about Kinzconnect.com (their now closed Webkinz website) sales would jump to 4x the normal daily average.
Tiffany talked about the webkinz (www.webkinz.com) and how huge they were until they weren't able to get them any more.
Each webkinz had an avatar on a website and you could follow that webkinz. Each time a new webkinz was going to be introduced then Tiffany would send out a newsletter announcing when it would be available and how you could preorder on the website, before the item was available in stores.
"The webkinz were huge, we couldn't keep them in stock. I would put up a picture in the newsletter announcing the day it was coming out and that was really successful. I would blog about them. I would receive mail back thanking me for the newsletter.
"Everyone thought the newsletter was a great free service. The newsletter was a key to success. The content mattered. It helped me to connect with the customers, we began to have a personal relationship. They were interested in me and my family. Think one on one marketing, not a blast to all marketing. The website must be easy to get to. I sent out links in the newsletter that lead directly to the website so they could order the webkinz. The website must quickly get them the information that's interesting to them. You must have a relationship with the people you do business with. I would tell them if my kids liked the product and it made a difference. One on one marketing makes a difference."
Jason said when they stopped the newsletter they had more than 5,000 people on the distribution list.
He said to be the manufacturer in your business if you can. Right now they sell diet shakes and fiber supplements on line. It enables them to wholesale the products.
They work with Amazon and Amazon ships out the product and stores it so the Nelsons have no inventory at home. It is cheaper for then to let Amazon do the shipping.
He said if you can't write, then hire a copywriter to write your content for your product for your website. Give them a cut. Use affiliate marketing. Pay others only when they make money for you. This is a true win/win situation.
Nelson said to keep the focus small and have one website for each product. It helps to focus on a single product.
Tyler Jeffs, chamber president thanked the Nelsons for coming to the Lunch and Learn and for all their great suggestions. Merrial Johansen was the winner of a $25 gift certificate to the Castle Cafe in Huntington where the event was held. Mistie Christiansen from the Co-op gave away several door prizes.