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A Home-Based Business Online
Sent to 7,890 Subscribers
Editor: Elena Fawkner
Publisher: AHBBO Publishing
Contact By Email
Hello again and a warm welcome to all the new subscribers who
have joined us since the last issue!
The AHBBO feature article from a couple of weeks back got
me thinking about today's topic : the content of advertisements
we are bombarded with online. Being the recipient of at least
my fair share of spam, I'm no longer amazed at the kinds of
claims advertisers are prepared to make, just for a quick buck.
The reason is simple : desensitization. Expose yourself to
something often enough and for long enough and it will soon
start to lose its effect on you. So it is with spam and the
outrageous claims that too often go hand-in-hand with it.
And there's the danger. We become so used to the hype we
begin to see it as the natural way to sell on the Internet. We
do so at our peril, however, as some of this type of advertising
is downright illegal. So, in this week's article, we take a look
at what you need to know when advertising online including
links to some very handy free online publications from the
FTC to guide you in the right direction.
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this week's
Remember, this ezine is for YOU! If you have comments
or suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed,
or would just like to share your experiences with other
subscribers, I want to hear from you! Please send comments,
questions and stories to Contact By Email .
This is one of those business ideas that was just made for the
internet. There are so many online sources of information for
genealogists available now, as well as specialized software
programs, being a family tree researcher no longer means setting
up camp at the major public library in your city.
It very much is a business that can be run from the comfort of
home. This is, however, a business that requires quite a bit of
training before you get started. It's not simply a matter of
logging in, typing in a name, date and place of birth and having
a person's family tree appear before you. It takes research,
knowledge and expertise. Fortunately, all the information you
need is available online. Just be prepared to invest substantial
time researching the field and learning what's involved.
Once you've equipped yourself with the knowledge and skills you
need, start by researching your own family tree (or perhaps do
this as you're learning) or the family tree of a friend to get
practical experience before hanging out your shingle.
This is a business that can be promoted both online and offline.
Your website should, of course, be geared to generate business
but include free, relevant content to attract targeted traffic.
Offline, advertise your services in your local Yellow Pages and
periodicals relevant to your business as well as placing classified
ads in your local newspapers.
There are many more ideas like this at the AHBBO Home
Business Ideas page at free home based business ideas
with more being added all the time.
© 2017 Elena Fawkner
If you've placed advertising in an ezine, you've no doubt been
advised by the publisher of his or her advertising guidelines.
Typically these guidelines go something like this: "Six lines,
65 characters per line plus URL/email. No adult, hate,race."
Unfortunately, the publisher's guidelines typically don't go on
to require that the ad conform with the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission ("FTC") guidelines for advertising on the Internet.
As a result, many of the classified ads you see in ezines, on
classified ad sites and wherever else such ads appear are,
simply put, unlawful.
In this article, we'll take a look at what the law requires in
this area as amplified by the FTC's published guidelines on
the subject. And if you're not located in the U.S., don't
think they don't apply to you. The laws on deceptive and
misleading advertising are very similar from country to country
so this discussion probably applies to you too. Even if
your country's laws are different, if your ad is going to
readers in the U.S. that may be enough to catch you
The basic legal principles that apply to advertising generally
apply equally to advertising on the Internet. There are three:
1. advertising must be truthful and not misleading;
2. advertisers must have substantiation for their claims; and
3. advertisements must not be unfair.
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING
In its policy statement on deception
the FTC notes that there are three elements that underlie all
1. there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely
to mislead the consumer. For example, "false oral or written
representations, misleading price claims, sales of hazardous or
systematically defective products or services, without adequate
disclosures, failure to disclose information regarding pyramid
sales, use of bait and switch techniques, failure to perform
promised services, and failure to meet warranty obligations";
2. the perspective of a consumer acting reasonably in the
circumstances or, if the representation or practice is directed
to a particular group, the perspective of that group acting
3. the representation, omission or practice must be a "material"
one. This means it must be likely to affect the consumer's
conduct or decision with regard to the product or service.
In short, therefore, the Commission will find deception if "there
is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to
mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances,
to the consumer's detriment".
=> Role of Disclosures and Disclaimers
The FTC places particular emphasis on disclosures and
disclaimers when considering whether an advertisement is
truthful and not misleading. Now, obviously, in your ezine ad
you don't have room to go into all the ins and outs of your
product or service. But that's OK because the ad is not
really your sales pitch, it's what you use to try and generate
a click through to your sales pitch.
That's not to say that anything goes in your classified ad
and that it's only your sales letter that you need to be careful
with. Try using a headline like "MAKE $60,000 IN 60 DAYS"
when the product you're promoting sells for $20 a pop and you
yourself are lucky to make one sale a week and see how
far that gets you with the FTC.
But most "reasonable" consumers recognize puffery when they
see it and will not be deceived into believing a product or service
referred to in an ad with a headline like "CHANGE YOUR LIFE
TODAY!" is, in fact, a magic wand.
But when it comes to your salesletter or website, watch out.
This is where you need to be very careful about your
representations, and include appropriate disclaimers and
disclosures where necessary. Here's the FTC's guidelines for
"Disclosures that are required to prevent an ad from being
misleading ... must be clear and conspicuous. In evaluating
whether disclosures are likely to be clear and conspicuous
in online ads, advertisers should consider the placement
of the disclosure in an ad and its proximity to the relevant
claim. Additional considerations include the prominence
of the disclosure, whether items in other parts of the ad
distract attention from the disclosure; whether the ad is so
lengthy that the disclosure needs to be repeated; whether
disclosures in audio messages are presented in an adequate
volume and cadence and visual disclosures appear for a
sufficient duration; and, whether the language of the disclosure
is understandable to the intended audience."
=> Content of Disclosures and Disclaimers
Advertisers are required to identify all express and implied
claims that the ad conveys to consumers and, when doing
so, focus on the overall impression of the ad and not just
individual phrases or statements.
If those claims are likely to be misleading to the "reasonable"
consumer, then the advertiser must disclose qualifying
information to remove any possibility of deception. Such
qualifying information must be disclosed clearly and
conspicuously in a place where the reader of the claim will see
either the qualification itself or a prominent link to it.
Note also that a disclosure only qualifies or limits a claim to
prevent it creating a misleading impression. It CANNOT cure
a false claim. If the disclosure contradicts the claim, the claim
itself must be modified for it is deceptive.
For a full copy of the FTC's "Dot Com Disclosures" guidelines,
SUBSTANTIATION OF CLAIMS
If you claim that by purchasing your new viral marketing
product, the consumer can generate $50,000 in 60 days in
additional revenues, you'd better have a reasonable basis
for doing so. In other words, when you get an informal access
letter from the FTC asking for substantiation (or, if you fail
to respond, a formal civil investigative demand), be prepared
to produce documents and records that provide support for
your claim that your consumer's revenues will increase
$50,000 in 60 days as a direct result of purchasing and
using your product.
If you could not provide, if asked to do so, substantiation for
a claim you intend to make in your online ad, it is misleading
to include it.
The kind of evidence needed for substantiation depends on
the claim. A claim such as "9 out of 10 women lost an
average of 10 pounds in two seeks while taking ABC-
Metabolizer" will require competent and reliable *scientific*
evidence. Letters from satisfied customers do NOT
constitute adequate substantiation for this purpose.
FAIRNESS IN ADVERTISING
According to the FTC's policy statement on unfairness, to
justify a finding of unfairness, the injury to the consumer
must satisfy three tests:
1. it must be substantial;
2. it must not be outweighed by any countervailing benefits
to consumers or competition; and
3. it must be an injury that the consumer him or herself
could not reasonably have avoided.
"Substantial" means more than trivial or merely speculative.
As the FTC notes, "In most cases a substantial injury involves
monetary harm, as when sellers coerce consumers into
purchasing unwanted goods or services".
On the other hand, "emotional impact or other more subjective
types of harm ... will not ordinarily make a practice unfair."
So, the mere fact that an ad is sexist, for example, and as a
result offends some members of the community, will not, without
more, render the advertisement "unfair" for the FTC's purposes.
=> Countervailing Benefits to Consumers or Competition
It is possible for an injury to be outweighed by higher interests.
An example the FTC cites is a case in point: "A seller's failure
to present complex technical data on his product may lessen a
consumer's ability to choose, ... but may also reduce the
initial price he must pay for the article. The Commission is aware
of these tradeoffs and will not find that a practice unfairly
injures consumers unless it is injurious in its net effects."
=> Injury the Consumer Could Not Reasonably Have Avoided
There is a fine line between freedom of choice and regulatory
intervention. Consumers are expected to survey the market
and the available alternatives and to make an informed
purchase decision. The Commission will generally only get
involved where certain sales techniques operate to interfere
with the consumer's ability to effectively make his or her own
FTC examples of these types of sales techniques include
exercising undue influence over highly susceptible classes of
purchasers such as promoting fraudulent "cures" to seriously
ill cancer patients or dismantling a home appliance for
"inspection" and refusing to reassemble it until the consumer
signs a service contract.
For a full copy of the FTC's policy statement on unfairness,
see http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/policystmt/ad-unfair.htm .
Refunds must be made to dissatisfied customers if you promised
to make them.
=> Franchises and Business Opportunity Rule
If you are selling a franchise or a business opportunity, you must
give consumers a detailed disclosure document at least 10 days
before the consumer pays any money or commits to a purchase.
=> Multi-Level Marketing
MLMs should pay commissions for the retail sale of goods or
services, NOT for recruiting new distributors (pyramid schemes).
=> Free Products
If a product is advertised for free if another product is purchased,
the consumer must pay nothing for the one item and no more than
the regular price for the other. Such ads should describe all the
terms and conditions of the free offer clearly and prominently.
The FTC has a Jewelry Guide about how to make accurate and
truthful claims about jewelry you offer for sale.
=> Mail and Telephone Orders
Under the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, you
must have a reasonable basis for stating or implying that a
product will be shipped within a certain period of time.
If not, you are implying that you can ship within 30 days and
you must have a reasonable basis for such implication.
There are various other rules that may impact on your business
including 900 numbers, telemarketing, testimonials and
endorsements, warranties and guarantees and the like.
For more information on these and other topics, see the FTC's
publication "Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: Rules of
the Road" at
The penalties imposed by the FTC against companies or
individuals (via state mirroring legislation) that run a false
or deceptive ad depend on the nature of the violation.
Here are the possibilities:
These are legally binding orders that require the company
to stop running the offending ad or engaging in the deceptive
practice, to have substantiation for claims in future ads, to
report periodically to the FTC about such substantiation and
to pay a fine of $11,000 per day if the company violates the
law in the future.
One effect of the prevalence of spam on the Internet that I have
not heard mentioned before is that it desensitizes us to
outrageous advertising claims. We EXPECT to see claims such
as "make $60,000 in 60 days" even though we have conditioned
ourselves to ignore them.
The danger, though, is the fact that we ARE so desensitized that
it's almost second nature to "reach" when writing our own ads. It's
easy to gild the lily, to make our opportunity, product or service
sound a bit bigger and better than it really is. That's the nature of
advertising after all.
But on the Internet, we have to be more careful than the offline
advertiser. Only on the Internet it seems, has hype been elevated
to such an art form, so much so that we begin to think that we
must do the same if our ad is to be noticed.
The challenge for us all, then, is to write winning ads that draw the
attention of the reader while at the same time refraining from making
claims that the reasonable reader may be misled by and by being
fully prepared and able to substantiate any claims made.
By following these, in essence common sense, principles, we will
go a long way to ensuring that OUR advertising practices don't
attract the attention of the wrong people!
use the autoresponder copy which contains a resource box;
and (2) you leave the resource box intact.
TIP #1: Speed up the programs you use the most.
Using the improved version of disk defragmenter that comes
with Windows 98, you can speed up the startup of programs
you use all the time. The new defragmenter has the ability
to rearrange stuff on your hard drive, moving frequently
used programs to faster parts of your disk.
Run Disk Defragmenter by clicking Start, then select
Programs, Accessories, System Tools and then Disk
Defragmenter. Be sure you select the option labeled Rearrange
program files so my programs start faster. Then start the
process. Load time for my most frequently used program has
decreased by three seconds. Not bad! Of course, "results will
TIP #2: Freeing up drive space.
Are you trying to free up some extra drive space, and need
a new corner to tackle? Go after this one. It's super easy.
On your hard drive there's a folder named
'C:\Windows\Recent' which lists links to recently used files.
If you need to save some disk space, clear out this folder.
It contains only links, so feel free to delete what you find
there. You won't save a ton of space, but if you're a
fastidious cleanser, this may be just what you're looking for.
Besides, who wants scraps of stuff lying about on their hard
drive, anyway? I'd prefer junk stood about, myself.
Tips by Tom Glander and Joe Robson of The Newbie
Club. The best Newbie Site ever to hit the Web.
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Did you miss out on the Cookie Cutter wave? Then DON'T
miss out on this one! Cookie Cutter's big brother, THE
NEWBIE GUIDE, is finally here. Get EVERYTHING you
need to know, soup to nuts, to make SERIOUS money on
the Internet, a great product to SELL and a way to get
PAID, all in one easy package. Don't let THIS one pass
you by. ACT NOW!
Anna Aagaard writes:
"I'd like to tell you and your readers about a new web site that
my husband and I have designed. It is called In Her Prime
"Sometime last year, I got the idea to create a magazine for women
over 40. I was tired of all the typical glitzy women's magazines I
saw in supermarkets. I wanted something that would appeal to me,
at my age (44) and other women like me, with meaningful articles
on a variety of women's midlife issues.
"I couldn't find anything that met my needs on the news stands,
so I started researching how to create a publication of my own. I
quickly found out that it is very expensive and risky to start a
paper magazine, but I kept the idea in my head and talked to my
husband about it over the summer, shaping and reshaping how I
could go about it.
"Finally, we came up with a solution. We decided to combine our
talents and create a web site and e-magazine for women over 40.
My husband had a lot of the technical expertise and I had the
ideas and desire to do this as a project. We started to investigate
other web sites and connect with people who could help us.
"We agreed on a domain name paid to register it. We bought a web design program and my
husband taught himself how to use it to design our site. I
researched e-zines and internet newsletters. We looked at what
was out there and tried to do something a little different.
"After much research, we decided our site would have a free
section and a paid 'members' section. The free section would have
a comprehensive links library covering numerous topics of interest
to women over 40, along with a discussion forum and a books page
linked to Amazon.com.
"The paid section would be our subscription e-magazine with a
variety of articles that would appeal to midlife women. To test
out our ideas, we invited a number of women to become part of a
'focus group' so we could see if our site would be appealing to
them. We asked them a variety of questions about their use of the
internet, their interests and their needs.
"As the plans for our site became more complex, we realized that
we would need to have it hosted on a secure server and after much
investigation, we selected one that we thought would serve our
"We spent hours combing the web for good sites to list in our links
library, and an equal amount of time contacting all of those sites to
ask permission to put their links on our site. We felt this was good
web etiquette, and it enabled us to interface with a wide variety
of interesting people out there in cyber land.
"Our links library is an ongoing project and we are always on the
lookout for new sites to add to it. We wanted any midlife woman who
visited our site to instantly have free access to a wealth of organized
information to meet many of her needs.
"In addition, we hoped our subscription e-magazine would give that
added touch, with topical, stimulating and humorous articles for
women over 40. We investigated e-commerce and connected with a
company that could provide it for us so we could sell subscriptions
to our magazine. Fortunately, we had a friend in Texas who had
extensive experience in web site development and he helped us
activate usernames and passwords for our prospective customers.
"Of course, we needed articles to put in our e-magazine, but by
this point, we had made so many connections through the internet,
that we had little trouble finding material to use. We now get
some articles for free ( good advertising for the writer and her
site), and we pay to have other articles written or to obtain
reprint permission for them.
"Based on the input from our focus group, we made our
e-magazine bi-monthly, so we will put out 6 issues per year. The
January/February issue is now online and it has some great
articles in it!
"We are very happy with it and hope other people will be as well.
We invite your readers to visit our site and tell us what they think
If you want your site seen by thousands, write and tell me
about it! But make sure it's one you've created yourself
or have had created especially for you. No self-replicating affiliate
7. Subscription Management
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9. Contact Information
Elena Fawkner, Editor
A Home-Based Business Online
Contact By Email
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