Thursday, December 18, 2008

StoresOnline Did Not Scam Me!

There is a company out there called StoresOnline who is doing Internet Marketing Seminars all over the world peddling a store building tool. I was introduced to this company in November 2004. I even gave them a testimonial. I'm not going to lie to you, this company has A LOT of bad press out there. Mostly from very vocal, unsatisfied customers. If you are doing your research on StoresOnline and are thinking about buying their product, I'm glad that you found this blog posting!

You can find my posts on a few of these StoresOnline bashing sites:

Now, I cannot speak for what StoresOnline is doing in other countries because my experience is limited to the US. There are just so many negative outlets, I wanted to provide a positive one. Here is my experience with StoresOnline (SOL):

I went to the seminars in 2004 and actually read between the lines. I asked my questions and did not stop until I was satisfied. I read every letter in print to see what I was “actually” being promised and decided to buy. I started on my sites immediately. I opened my business account and completed my ECI application to allow my sites to accept credit cards. Since I knew that once the sites went live, I would have to pay for hosting, and I financed the websites at the seminar and those monthly payments had to be made so I started direct depositing a portion of my regular salary into my business account. I didn’t want venture capital or a business loan from the bank so I used my hard earned money to support my business.

I found my dropshippers on my own. I did a google search to find my first supplier on allnaturalelements.com and I had that site up and running in April of 2005. I had no marketing experience so I began reading and applying the literature that SOL provided. Including PPC. I was soon called by a company called Internet Advancement (IA) , with no direct connection to SOL, who offered to get me to the top of the search engines in 6 months or my money back for almost $2000. Not knowing much about marketing, I was curious as to what they would do so I could repeat it myself on my second developing site healthyhearthelp.com. I paid them their money did what they asked and waited. Meanwhile I started work on my second site. Before I paid IA, I had received an invitation to a forum now found on http://www.onlinemerchantforum.com. I had not visited the forum until a month after I paid IA. Once I was there I found out that I should have kept my money from IA. Since I was in wait mode, hemorrhaging dollars in PPC (because I didn’t properly know how to use it), I started reading the plethora of information on the forum. I started applying the techniques that they suggested on my second site only. I didn’t want IA getting credit for my work. HealthyHeartHelp.com went live on August 1st 2005. Within a month I had my first sale! I was convinced from that day on to handle my own marketing. Meanwhile, AllNaturalElements.com suffered because the “marketing” that IA did was basically stuff my meta tags full of keywords. The title, description, and keyword tags were basically just a comma delimited list of keywords. Meanwhile HHH.com thrived and has been thriving ever since. ANE.com gets a sale here or there, but I had been too busy with work, school, and life, after transferring it to the new 5.0/Pro builder from the 4.0 builder, to undo the damage done by IA. I also decided to put up my company website AlfordIEnterprises.com as I started getting involved in other entrepreneurial endeavors. I don’t market AIE.com at all other than using it as my link of choice when I post on forums and blogs. So here I am, at the end of 2008, in business for a little over 4 years and I can say that what I paid StoresOnline at that seminar has been brought back to me in
profits and then some. I haven’t direct deposited any money from my regular
salary in over 2 years. My business has brought in over $45,000 in revenue in
the past 4 years and that number is growing more and more every day. I am now
being solicited by vendors to carry their products on my sites.

OK so that's the quick and the dirty of my experience. If I had any advice to give to people looking to get involved with StoresOnline, it's the following:

It seems expensive, yes. But you are starting a home business in which there are many benefits. $6000+ is not a lot of money to start compared to if you were opening a brick and mortar business. It takes money to make money, and no matter what business you choose to get into, there will be startup cost. You have to make your spending decisions wisely. Most small business fail in the first 5 years so the odds are stacked against you. If you choose to invest this money, please know that you are TAKING A RISK. Just like playing the stock market. There is a strong chance that it will not work out. Ask yourself if you have the drive and the will to make the sacrifices that are required to start your own business. This means, time away from family/friends/pets, loss of sleep, drained energy, and a tight budget. If you are not computer savvy, you may want to take some classes to educate yourself. Google tutorials on HTML and javascript to read and educate. Follow the tutorials and read all the documentation provided on the product so that you can understand how to use it. Ask yourself, if this did not work out, what would you be losing. Most business don’t see a return on investment for 5+ years. Ask yourself how long can you wait to see a return. Make a smart, calculated, educated, BUSINESS decision. This is a business and cannot be run on emotion. Do you have it in you to do and
suffer through what it takes?

If you have heeded my advice and you still want to buy into StoresOnline, my next set of advice is to save your money. Buy the sites and nothing extra after you leave the seminar. You will get calls about coaching and Internet marketing from companies affiliated with StoresOnline and companies who found you because you bought a new domain. Don't spend any money with them. All the information you need on marketing is available for free on the Internet. All you have to do is search for it, read it, and apply it. Join that forum that I said helped me out so much too. Don't do Pay Per Click (PPC) unless you know what you are doing. You will lose money and fast. Last but not least, consider buying only a few sites if you can. I'm not sure of what StoresOnline is offering these days. I bought 6 sites and honestly, it's a lot of work to get these sites up and running. I do have plans for all 6, but it takes time. It's been 4 years and I have only managed 3 sites. Maybe in the next 4 years I can get the others up and running.

So, like I said, I'm a happy, satisfied customer who does not believe that StoresOnline is scamming people. I do think that they use the same sales tactics as those other seminars like Russ Whitney Real Estate. They are all the same. Some consider the tactics "brain washing" or "high-pressure." You just have to be smart and not make a purchase on emotion.

My most important lesson today: Don't spend/give/invest money that you can't afford to be without. Use it like it may never come back to you. When you think about it that way, it makes the decision to spend that much money a lot easier.

Welcome to Alford I-Enterprises: The Owner's Blog

Hi Everyone,

I usually have a lot of feeling about being an entrepreneur and the tools that I work with so I will be sharing them here. If there is something that you want me to investigate, critique, research, or just given my opinion on, just let me know. I have a lot that swims around in my head so I will be sort of using his blog like a diary. Please feel free to chime in where necessary!

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