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BOOK REVIEW: "The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online"
by Jason Kelly

List Price $12.95 (Used copies available through Amazon.com)
Paperback: 187 pages
Publisher: Plume; (January 2000)
ISBN: 0452281687

Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell - Staff Writer of the IAHBE

How refreshing! No hype, no filler, no information overload—just step-by-step useful, clear information delivered with a sense of humor!

"The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online," by Jason Kelly, is a basic book that is ideal for someone relatively new to computer usage and/or very new to online entrepreneurial activities. We’ve all read books that are supposed to be for beginners but still assume a good bit of knowledge that not everyone has! This book really starts at the beginning with a chapter that clearly covers how to buy a computer, what accessories you need, and how to find an Internet service provider, e-mail program, and Web browser—and what to do with them when you find them! It even covers how to find information online.

If you feel you’re past the beginning stages in any of these areas, you will probably still want to buy this book for the excellent resource lists, recommended affiliate programs, discussion of what sells well online, information on how to get a merchant credit card account, and advice on how to promote your Website and procure advertising income. The resources in the book can also be found on the author’s Website—www.jasonkelly.com—where he keeps them updated and adds to his list regularly.

"The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online" is the fourth in Kelly’s "The Neatest Little Guide" series, preceded by "Mutual Fund Investing," "Stock Market Investing," and "Personal Finance." He departed from the money management theme when he realized that so many people needed a way to make a little extra money so they’d have something left to manage after the bills were paid. In the spirit of all the books in the series, "The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online" delivers concise, understandable, and immediately usable information and advice for anyone trying to learn how to set up a simple Website and earn some extra money, 24 hours a day, with minimal investment and minimal risk. Since Kelly started from scratch himself to do the exact things he talks about in his book, the “been-there-done-that-and-you-can-do-it-too” attitude is extremely reassuring.

How much money are we talking about? This was the first refreshing thing about the book: the author does not promise vast riches from reading his book. Instead, he says, “If you add up my conservative income estimates for selling products from other companies, selling your own products, and advertising to your niche audience, you can reasonably expect to see an extra $400 per month after reading this book.” After reading the book myself, I think this is an extremely conservative estimate and that many readers can--and will--be able to make much more.

One reassuring thing about the book is the author’s propensity for being brutally honest about his opinion on what works and what doesn’t. He compares software, for instance, and tells what he likes and doesn’t like. His humor shines through in a section on learning to use new Website design software. He advises playing with the options to see how easy it is to change colors, characteristics, etc. “Make a piece of text blink,” he advises, “and then promise me that you’ll never use that feature in your real business Website.” Anyone who has ever been turned off by a business Website with flashing lights, moving icons, and music will enjoy this as much as I did.

The next refreshing thing about "The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online" is that each chapter provides the information you need to know but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. I am convinced that information overload is a common culprit in paralysis of action. Jason Kelly’s guide will instead empower you to feel that you can, indeed, do this yourself. There is actually a great deal of information—and wonderful resources in each chapter—but it is presented so clearly and so logically that it is easy to understand and internalize.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the scope of this book is give you the author’s 10 steps to making money online:

1. Buy a Computer and Get Online
You’ll find an “Apple or PC” discussion, buying tips, whether to buy from a store or by mail order, and what you can expect (or NOT expect) in the way of technical support. Kelly makes a strong case for including a tape backup system in your initial computer purchase. You’ll learn what to look for in an Internet service provider, Web browser, and e-mail program and how to find things online using search engines.

2. Get Connected with the Online Community
Kelly endorses the power of participating in online communities such as Sixdegrees.com and ICQ.com, with comments on appropriate and inappropriate types of communication. He feels chat rooms are a waste of time, discusses message boards and newsgroups, and gives good advice on getting the most from e-mail.

3. Select a Website Hosting Service
Again, Kelly gives not only his opinion on hosts you can trust, but tells you what to look for and where you can find other hosts as well (www.Webhostlist.com).

4. Choose a Name for your Site
Make it short and sweet--the author provides tips on the importance of flexibility and tells why you should avoid weird characters or names that are trendy.

5. Design Your Site
This section was the real test for me, because it is an area that can be so complicated and confusing. It passed the test. Kelly begins with information on choosing design software and then teaches you how to keep your site simple, clean, easy to navigate, and attractive. His “Do and Don’t” section is probably worth the price of the book if you are serious about creating your own Website. Not only does he tell you where to find free graphics and other free features, but he discusses site content and tells you how to monitor and track the traffic to your site.

6. Become an Online Affiliate
Kelly says it best: "The easiest way to make immediate money from your new Website is through online affiliate programs. They enable you to sell products from other companies at your site and receive a commission. You don’t need to take orders, collect payment, manage inventory, ship products, or provide customer service. It’s simple and it works."

7. Sell Products from Other Companies
You’ll learn ways to tailor your offerings to your content so that your visitors will be informed and inspired to make a purchase. Kelly makes the point that more than just offering products, you’re really offering the service of having found what your customer wants at a good price. He cautions discretion and understatement in design and description.

8. Sell Your Own Products
This section includes a discussion of what sells well online and where to find unique products, including information products, Web products, and inexpensive products. It also covers taking orders, getting paid, merchant accounts, and how to use autoresponders to close sales.

9. Market Your Site
As expected, this is a primer on using search engines, meta tags, and quality site content to improve your rankings. It includes strategies that should be avoided and the power of word-of-mouth as well as reciprocal links, newsletters, and many other marketing tips and techniques. Reading this section will save you time and money by learning what NOT to do, as well as what you SHOULD do.

10. Advertise on Your Site
This begins with a discussion on the pros and cons of accepting paid advertising for your site, then guides you through the techniques for finding advertisers or sponsors and keeping them happy. You’ll learn what an ad network can offer you in trading some of the control over your advertising content for quicker income.

"The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online" by Jason Kelly is a well-written book with quality content. For the budding entrepreneur who seeks knowledge and self-confidence about how to get started making money online, this can be a vital stepping stone to success. Check out the author’s Website for further details (www.jasonkelly.com).

© 2003 by Elizabeth H. Cottrell. All rights reserved worldwide.

Book Review by Elizabeth H. Cottrell, IAHBE staff writer and editor. Elizabeth is a home-based entrepreneur, freelance technical writer, and owner of Riverwood Technologies, a desktop publishing company in Maurertown, Virginia.

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