Affiliate Marketing – Horrors & Revelations 2

This is a continuation of my last blog post, Affiliate Marketing- Horrors and Revelations. If you didn’t catch it, feel free to check it out here. As promised, I will tackle a couple of issues that affect your success in Affiliate Marketing in this blog post. Now, I am not supposing myself to be an expert, but I am going to give you a purely intellectual perspective of what I think can work. While I have a personal first-hand experience with some of the strategies that will be discussed, others still remain untested waters. So, please read and take this advice with guided optimism.

Recap

In the previous blog post, I had alluded to the power of Affiliate Marketing. We also defined Affiliate Marketing and why it is making such a huge difference in the lives of people. Building on that knowledge, we need not only discuss the ways and means to become successful at it, but also the factors that contribute to its success.

Before we go into the gory details of what factors influence successful Affiliate Marketing, let me take this moment in time to introduce you to the Vigilante Scholar Affiliate Marketing Code of Honor..  So, place your right hand on your chest and repeat the following words: I will believe in the product I am selling, I will know my audience, I will sell to solve actual human problems, I will build relationships, I will place more emphasis on winning the trust of my customers first not making money and, I will not be greedy but I will be passionate….

If you just did that, then we are ready to begin.

The Vigilante Scholar Code of Honor is a list of tenets that have been collected from top Affiliate Marketers in the industry. Some of the principles are not as important as others but their impact is still significant.

#1 Believe in the Product

So, you want to be an Affiliate Marketer right? What is your motivation? Well, you probably just want to make a quick buck and that’s it. But here’s something that you need to know, people have different needs that require different solutions. If you find yourself in between those extremes, then you already lack faith in what you are selling. You have to believe not only that you are a solution to someone’s problem but also that the product you are selling will do the job. There a lot of products and services out there. Most of them are good while some of them are two months away from becoming junk.  Now ask yourself, would you sell junk to a close friend of yours or family member? You probably wouldn’t. Why not? It’s just not cool right? You need to be so confident in your product that you wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to your friends and family. If you believe in the products or services you are selling, you will have more courage in pitching them to other people. Another reason is that they are a reflection of you. If you associate yourself with good quality products, there is a high chance of people purchasing them. Moreover, you would get a good reputation in return. This will in turn help build trust. (More on that later)

So, this part of the Vigilante Scholar Code of Honor is encapsulated in these final words: ‘Don’t sell anything that you don’t believe will solve your audience’s problems.’

#2 Know your Audience

Unless we grew up together or you are from my neighborhood, chances are that you and I have never met in person. (I am actually adorable by the way…)

So how does that make you feel? Do you feel uncomfortable or curious about me? Or maybe just a little bit afraid because you have no idea who you are talking to? Perhaps a parent’s precautionary words to stay away from strangers come to mind. Depending on your personality, your reaction to strangers will undoubtedly be different from the way you act around people you know. Talking to strangers is not everyone’s strong suit and for good reason; they are a lot of crazy people out there. But when it comes to selling your product, you have to understand that at the tail-end of a computer screen or phone or tablet is a human being. This human being is reading your blog post, watching your YouTube video or Vimeo (whatever Affiliate Marketing channel you use) for a reason. They have a name, a family and a whole string of emotions attached to that. They struggle with life just as you do and are looking for a solution to a specific problem that they think your product might solve.

It goes without saying that you must do whatever is in your power to understand them. It’s not just enough to sell the product; you also have to understand why they needed it in the first place. I know it’s not a common thing to follow-up people an Affiliate Marketer has sold their product to, but if you can, please do.  Send follow-up emails to see if the product you sold to them worked. If not, give reasonable suggestions on the next step. In other words, act like you have known them for years. Treat them with affection and understanding. That’s what makes a great marketer!

#3 Sell to solve problems

This is closely tied to the last point I alluded to earlier about knowing your audience. After you have known your audience, then what? You know their problems and sorrows but can you fix them? In the few years that I have been alive on this earth, I have met some very interesting individuals who only talk about problems but never seem to know how to fix them. In illustrating my point, I need not go further in search than in the political arena. Politicians are masters at fault finding and identifying problems.  However, they often can’t deliver solutions. Wouldn’t the world be wonderland if they were more problem-solvers than problem-identifiers? Of course it would, but if only it was that easy.

Remember I suggested that it would be a good idea to follow-up your customers after they purchase your product. The reason why this is so important is that you get to be a problem solver and not pile up to the list of problem-identifiers. I wish there was a panacea for all of our problems or the perfect product that would somehow wipe every tear away. However, just as they are no perfect people, they are also no perfect products. You have to identify yourself to be more than an Affiliate Marketer. You have to be a problem solver!

But I know what you are thinking, follow up emails are just too much work and it’s just a waste of time anyway.

 Jesus once said,

“There were there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.”

-Matthew 24:28

In our context what that means is that wherever people gather, there is money! Money follows people wherever they go. That’s why you find that countries that have the largest populations also tend to have a higher GDP than countries than have small populations. Just think about it, if every person in China gave you $1 right now, how much do you think you would have? Yes, you guessed it…billions of dollars.  Now, each and every person in China might consider giving you that $1 and forgive the fact that you are a stranger if (1.) They know you understand their problem and (2. )They think that what you are trying to sell to them will solve their problems.

So are we good? Or you are all caught up? If you are still reading up till this point, I assume you are still in there. 

Okay, let’s go!

#4 Build Relationships

This is closely tied to the previous points. Like I earlier pointed out, talking to strangers is not everyone’s strong suit. Trusting strangers with your money is even worse. Have you ever wondered why branding is so important to a company? Why companies spend billions and billions of dollars every year to promote their products or services over and over again? Well, partly the reason for that is that people have trust issues. The world is very cynical. That is why it is hard to build a good reputation but extremely easy to destroy it. It’s human nature to fear more than we hope. Why is it like that? Well, it’s out of the very simple reason that it’s safer that way.

Let’s take Coca Cola, the famous soft drink company, as an example.

That company has been in existence for over one hundred years but yet it still advertises strongly. Why? Surely everybody has got the memo that they are one of the best soft drink companies in the world. Not quite. I think one of the main reasons why they keep advertising is so that they reassure their customers that they still got it .i.e. to reaffirm trust in their products. By the way, I am not endorsing the brand to you in this post because I am their Affiliate, I just like them.

There is one sales tactic that I particularly like called ‘Share a Coke’ which underscores my main point here. In this tactic, the company would randomly print out local names on their bottles. For example, mine would come out as ‘Share a Coke with Yaiman’.

This was brilliant because it would make someone subconsciously feel that the company knows them on  a personal level whenever they buy that bottle, hence boost trust. I can imagine that this tactic was able to bring in some pretty hefty sums of money for the company.

The last two items on the Vigilante Scholar Code of Honor are embedded into the four we have already discussed. So we will just proceed.

Driving Traffic

Now that we have discussed the Vigilante Scholar Code of Honor, let’s now look at factors that affect successful Affiliate Marketing.  Making a passive income is not as easy as it sounds. If it were so, then everybody would do it right? There are a few extra hoops you must jump in order to succeed and one of them is driving traffic to your Affiliate Marketing platform.  Let me be honest, I thought Vigilante Scholar will be a killer. I remember thinking, ‘there are billions of people online every day and so getting traffic will be a no brainer.’ Boy was I wrong!

After getting my feet off the ground and starting the website, I realized that most of the traffic that a website gets is streamlined because of search engines. These are the cops of the internet. The biggest search engine, of course, is Google.

Perhaps, if search engines didn’t exist, traffic would be easier to come by because people would just surf the web on their own manually. Wow! Even typing that makes me cringe. That would be horrible. Besides, we all love Uncle G right? Mr. Google. He (assuming it’s a he, relax feminists) makes our lives easier. Without search engines like Google, the internet would really come out as it is: the good and the bad would be all mixed up in one big ball of confusion. Search engines do a remarkable job to bring order to that chaos.

Okay, now that we have decided that assassinating Uncle G is a bad idea, why not learn what it takes to sit on the table with him?

Although Google is not the internet, it has evolved quite impressively with the wants and the needs of people. So without further ado, here is a couple of tips you can use to create great SEO content and drive traffic.

Build Backlinks

I know what you are thinking, ‘Backlinks? That sounds so tech-savvy.’  You are right, it is. But it’s not very complicated though. Backlinks are simply defined as links from one website to another website.

They tell search engines like Uncle G how many websites are linking to a particular website. That of course, entails that the particular website is an authority. Well, not exactly. It also matters what type of backlinks that a particular website has.  For example, if Vigilante Scholar has twenty backlinks from newbie websites like X, but only one backlink from a website like Forbes or CNN, Google will generally attach more weight to the well-known websites and reward Vigilante Scholar in SEO accordingly. That is why I generally advise that it is a bad idea to buy backlinks from Private Blog Networks or anything like that.

Unlike human beings, Uncle G seems to be getting smarter and smarter as he ages! He can tell high quality backlinks from low quality backlinks. So if you buy backlinks from a private blog network to manipulate your Search Engine Rankings, Google will find out one way or another and you will get penalized. The best way to build backlinks has always been guest-posts. The more you guest-post online, the higher the chances of getting more backlinks to your website.

Create Evergreen Content

This goes to the heart of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). People are always searching for answers online and your content should be able to fulfill their desires. While nobody knows what exactly Google uses to rank one website over another, an indisputable fact is that it’s all about user satisfaction. The more people read your content and share it online, the higher the chances of your content being found on page one of Google search. So what’s the deal? Well, the deal is that you have to create content that people like. It’s just common sense that no one would share something that they don’t like. It’s also a good idea to hire professional writers who might get the job done for you.

Upwork is a good place to start.  You can hire a freelance writer from there.

Promotion

Hello! Social Media still works!  Most businesses are now realizing that social media deserves its place of respect in the marketing world. That’s why companies like Facebook or Twitter are making tons of money from charging companies in Advertising fees. Let’s use Facebook as our starting point. There are two types of people who log into Facebook: (1.) There are those that log in to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones and, (2.) Those that log in to sell stuff to their friends and loved ones.

Remember Jesus’ words? There were there is a dead body, the vultures will gather? That’s exactly why social media marketing and promotion is important. Wherever people meet, and yes that includes social media, they take their money with them. One strategy I would recommend to improve your brand visibility or affiliate links promotion is to identify influencers i.e. people who have a large following and whose opinion matters about a certain brand or business. Paying Facebook to advertise for you is a good idea but paying these influencers to do the same is even better. Why? This is simply because people trust an influencer better than they trust an Ad. Besides, by using influencers to promote products, you would be adhering to the Vigilante Scholar Code through knowing your audience.

 

Research Keywords

I know you are not going to believe this but… finally(we are done)… do keyword research. Writing for the web is always tied around keywords. When my blog post, Chishimba Kambwili v The Attorney General was ranked on page one of Google search, I was ecstatic. At first I thought, ‘ That is amazing, I must have written some good content.’ Yes, I was right about that. The content was good but there was also another reason that was less glamorous: The keywords ‘Chishimba Kambwili v The Attorney General’ don’t receive a lot of love in Google searches.  Therefore, because the keyword difficulty was easy, it was easy for me to rank on top of those searches. So don’t bite more than you can chew. Using a free marketing tool like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, you can find the keyword difficulty of what you are trying to write about. But please in all honesty, if you find yourself competing for a particular keyword with sites like Forbes or the Entrepreneur, just give up. Then again I could be wrong! But at any rate, aim for keywords that have low competition but high search volume and most importantly write long detailed content to beat your competition.

Final words

I hope that this post has been helpful to you and also that you will keep on hustling. Remember, it is not over until the fat lady sings! So keep at it and work hard. Everything is possible to him who believes.

P.S. Don’t forget to like and follow Vigilante Scholar for more information about Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Law.

Affiliate Marketing :Horrors & Revelations

BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF AFFILIATE MARKETING

Affiliate Marketing needs no introduction in the Entrepreneurial world. It’s leaving its mark on both small and big corporations alike. This year, Affiliate Marketing Spending is estimated to be at 6.8 billion U.S. dollars in the United States alone. Next year, there is a projected growth of about 6 million dollars in spending. That’s a lot of money for an activity which has been historically likened to your everyday greedy salesman. In military language, Affiliate Marketers are the foot soldiers of most corporations, working tirelessly to convince customers to buy a product.

Although there have been many advances, Affiliate Marketing has not been spared from the dark side of human ambition. As much as there are success stories of people making a huge fortune, equally horrifying stories of unethical behavior by affiliate marketers are not unheard of. Annoying Ads on blogs and websites make a person all but wonder if there are any ethics in the art.

What is Affiliate Marketing

According to Encarta Dictionary, Affiliate Marketing is the use of a central website to market the products and services of other sites. That’s a pretty blunt way to put it. If we were to put it in a more simple way, we would say it’s marketing the products and services of others to get a small commission on every sale. For example, a 10 per cent commission on a T-shirt which costs $100 would mean that an affiliate marketer would get $10 on every sale. This means that the more sales that an Affiliate Marketer makes, the more the earnings.

If you are a follower of Vigilante Scholar, chances are that you have read my blog post titled Rape Chinese!’ The Two Most Common Words in Zambian Ghettos. In that post, I had talked about my failed attempt at being a salesman. To be honest, I didn’t do my best. That was a classic example of a situation where a man’s ego overrode a good life lesson. But just in case you are one of the few Vigilante Scholars who haven’t read it, feel free to click on the link above. Anyway, I digress.

You see, Affiliate Marketing works very much in the same way as your everyday salesman. In fact, you could think of it as being a door to door salesman for a particular company and your neighborhood as the Internet. Then you could also think of the doors as email addresses and the classic salesman’s slick tongue as Ads and Promotions.

The process is very straightforward: You get a link from a website that is selling a particular product called an Affiliate Link. After having done that, you then distribute that link in whatever channels that tickle your fancy: A Blog, YouTube Channel, et cetera… If a person purchases a product using your link, you get the commission promised by the company that gave it to you. Get the idea?

The Upside of Affiliate Marketing

There are obvious advantages and pros to Affiliate Marketing. The following is small list:

  1. It Requires Less Work: Unlike my futile attempts in the Salesman’s world, Affiliate Marketing doesn’t require as much effort as walking from door to door trying to convince people to buy a product. Pound for pound, it requires less physical exertion. With the help of digitization and the internet, you could literally make sales while you sleep.
  2. It’s time efficient: Since machines work around the clock to show Ads to potential buyers, you have time to do something else. Like I said, you could literally make money while you sleep or while watching a football game.
  3. You could make a fortune: Despite its turbulent nature, Affiliate Marketing has made a lot of people achieve financial freedom. People who become skilled at it have high chances of becoming Super Affiliates i.e. people who make six-figures or even seven-figures annually.
  4. You get to solve real human problems: I believe that businesses of all kinds are world changers. They provide jobs for us and will probably shape our future. From the color of our toothbrushes to the softness of your mattresses, companies continue to impact our lives at an unbelievable pace. When you are an Affiliate Marketer, you get to be part of that Ecosystem. You have the chance to solve people’s problems by providing them with the goods and services that they need.

The Downside of Affiliate Marketing

Like every other good thing in life, Affiliate Marketing is not without flaws. Here’s a small list of some of the cons:

  1. Miss out on building relationships: One of the biggest shortcomings of Affiliate Marketing is that you miss out on opportunities to build relationships with the customers that you sell your product to. Because you are the intermediary, the company that you are selling for is the one that gets to keep tabs on customers. After you get paid, there’s no responsibility attached to you whatsoever. (which brings me to reason number two):
  2. Affiliate Marketers are not exactly seen as Knights in Shining Armor: I find it very ironic that Vigilante Scholar endorses the idea of Affiliate Marketing but the words; ‘Vigilante’ or ‘Savior of the Day’ are the last thing that the General Public would use to describe Affiliate Marketers. As previously mentioned, they are seen as greedy and heartless business people who care nothing about customer satisfaction- no less respect for privacy.
  3. Acquiring and learning the Necessary skills can be tough: Affiliate Marketing is still in its infancy. Besides the obvious advantage that there’s a huge earning potential, this also means that acquiring the necessary skills could be challenging. There’s a lot of good online material to learn from. However, not all of it is created equal. From my own research, I have found that the most successful Affiliate Marketers are those that use a ‘trial and error’ method. This means trying out all sorts of ideas, both the good and the bad, and then painfully sticking around to see which ones work. Suffice to mention that not everyone has a heart large enough to lose a few hundred dollars before seeing a change in their income.
  4. Income is uncertain: This point is closely tied to the previous one. There’s a lot of uncertainty in Affiliate Marketing. You can make as much as $5,000 per month or as little as $20. It all depends with the strategy that you use. If you have a weak stomach for uncertainty and fluctuating revenues, then Affiliate Marketing is probably not for you.  

Final Advice

Now, let’s wrap up this post with a few words of advice. From my point of view, I think Affiliate Marketing deserves a chance. It has its shortcomings, but I feel that it deserves attention from that Entrepreneur who is looking to make a few extra dollars in passive income.

My next post will be particularly helpful for those who may be interested in trying it out. On the other hand, I also completely understand those who may not be interested, there are many ways to kill a rat and Vigilante Scholar will reveal all the hacks and tricks it could possibly find.

The War on Poverty & the Myth of being broke

Entrepreneurial Lesson on Saving

No one likes to admit that they have no money. Being broke is a kind of burden that only a few of us can accept. After all, we have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and kids who need to go to school. This harsh reality is even more severe if you live in a third world country. It’s often a choice of either adaptation or being wiped out. Preferably, the former is better than the latter. There’s nothing wrong with adapting to poverty or being broke but the only problem with this approach is that it makes us complacent. It makes us fall prey to those human tendencies that accept rather than fight and be quiet rather than speak. In this post, I will share some of the tools that I have used to combat a broke pocket. Now, I am not saying that I have a gazillion of cash but I am saying that I will share with you some hacks and tricks that have made me have a little bit more to spare.

The Myth of being broke

Here’s the thing, no one is ever truly broke. Yes, I do mean NO ONE! To me, it appears that being broke is more of a myth than a reality. Let’s take a simple question to illustrate my point: If by some superhuman discipline, you were somehow given the ability to save every penny that you have ever had since the day you were born, how much money do you think you would have right now? I know that you are thinking it’s not possible and I agree. But just think about it. The money would be enormous right?

It’s this very thought that made me change my look on finances and entrepreneurship. I had realized that it’s not that I didn’t have money. I often did, but it’s just that I didn’t know how to use it. This epiphany came to me in an unexpected place: It was a hot day and it seemed like I was the only one under the mercy of it. I was going home from the town center in Kitwe and as I was walking, I was approached by a kid who was acting as a guide to a blind woman. He asked me if I had a one kwacha that I could give him and I said ‘no’. Knowing full well that I had the money, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Man, what’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I just give him?’ The kid obviously looked disappointed at my response and he went on to look for another potential good Samaritan. Although I felt guilty for not giving him what I clearly had, I sat down to ask myself some serious questions: Firstly, if I were to give an estimate, how much money did that kid make from collecting from random strangers at the end of a day? I didn’t think it was much. Then secondly, what exactly was that money used for? Here, I thought of several things. From food to shelter to clothes and all kinds of stuff. In my conclusion, I not only realized that the kid’s family fed off that money but also that it was probably the only means of survival that they had. Or was it?

The thing is that human beings are more likely to spend than to save. Emotions are an interesting part of the human experience. They are completely blind and are great advisors. But they are terrible leaders. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that from an emotional point of view, it doesn’t make sense to say ‘no’ to any sincere request. Over the years, I have trained myself to say ‘no’ a lot! Not only to other people but also to myself. I admit that sometimes this kind of training has produced undesirable results: A classic example is my refusal to give one kwacha to a kid who was just trying to appease her blind parent. Saying that makes me feel like a villain! However, generally speaking, this kind of training to say ‘no’ has helped me to have a little extra cash for unexpected scenarios.

Truthfully speaking, when someone says that they are broke, what they actually mean is that they had some money but didn’t use it to its fullest capability. You see, money is a concept. Whatever value we believe it has is all in our heads. Economists call it fiat money, meaning it was declared to be valuable by a central bank. The word ‘fiat’ is Latin for the phrase ‘let it be done’. What does this mean? Well, it means a central bank declares one dollar to be of worth called one dollar, five dollars to be of worth called five dollars, and so on. But in actuality, it’s just a piece of paper. So, what does this have to do with the myth of being broke? Well, everything actually. Money was designed to hold potential power. In other words, it will have its effect after it has been used. Supposing you had one billion dollars and you only used two dollars in your lifetime to buy a cigarette. Do you know what that means? It means that in your lifetime, one billion dollars’ worth of money was reduced to a cigarette. So again, when people say that they are broke and don’t have any money, what they actually mean is that they didn’t use their money very well or didn’t use it at all to create streams of income that could fish in more money. Even a kid who is a guide to her blind mother has some form of income.

The Bottomline

So, what’s the Bottomline here? What is the one thing you should take away from this post? Well, the one thing that I would absolutely recommend you take away is that being broke is as much a myth as the Tooth fairy. The question you should ask yourself shouldn’t be, how can I stop being broke? The real question that you should ask is, ‘How can I make my income work for me’. The saying that money is never enough is true. I knew a man who used to complain about not having enough cash to live the life he always wanted. So, he worked hard and prayed for a promotion. To the surprise of everyone, he got promoted and immediately began work. With a higher income than his last paycheque, you would think he would be content right? No, he wasn’t. Immediately the higher pay got in, he moved to a place that charged higher rentals and bought a fancy car. And guess what? He was back to where he was; Complaining about being broke and not having enough money… The problem is not how your pocket is looking, it’s how you look at your finances. If you look at them as a scapegoat to quench your desire to have the life you see in the movies, then technically speaking, you could still be broke with a million dollars in your bank account.

Damage Control

Now that we have established the problem, how do we fix it? Much like every myth out there, the best way to fix this problem is to test the waters. Baron Rothschild once said the best time to buy is when there is blood on the streets. He made a fortune off this strategy in the Napoleonic battle of waterloo. The meaning of this quote is that we should not buy based on other people’s needs or the panic that is present but rather on personal research and application. Warren Buffet had actually once said, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” The gist of this is to avoid a herd mentality of following what everybody else is doing when it comes to investing. The same holds to be true in finances.

When it comes to money problems, it all bolts down to how big of an appetite one has. Just make plans for the future, analyze the situation and, do not forget to be satisfied with what you have. Only then can break the myth of being broke.

THE DAY THE SUN TOOK A VACATION

Ancient Egypt is a civilization that has fascinated scholars from all around the world for many years. The Egyptians built the pyramids, perfected mummification, were rumored to be the first to invent the wheel, instituted embalming techniques and so much more. Moreover, there are a few civilizations in the history of mankind that were as enthusiastic about their traditions and beliefs as the Egyptians. Through their funny-looking inscriptions on their walls called hieroglyphs, they made their beliefs known to both the living and the unborn. Even the Bible had written about this great society when it recounted the slavery of the children of Israel. Oddly enough, however, their stay in Egypt has never been recorded in the hieroglyphs.

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Ancient-origins.net

As a Vigilante Scholar, I have long been fascinated by this civilization and I found some very interesting gems about Leadership. The Egyptians practiced what theologians call a polytheistic religion. Meaning unlike the Jews, Christians and Muslims, they believed in the existence of several gods. Chief among these gods is the god Ra, who was believed to be the sun god of the sky who controlled the day. He is equivalent of the Greek god, Helios, except that he didn’t have a chariot to ride in the sky. In place of that, he had a sun boat. Today, it has been scientifically proven that what causes a solar eclipse is the movement of celestial bodies in the sky; the alignment of the Sun and the moon to be more specific. The Egyptians saw this differently. They believed that what causes a solar eclipse is the traveling of the sun god Ra to the underworld. On those travels, they believed that sometimes he would get attacked by a demon snake which would then swallow him. Since the sun god is swallowed, the obvious conclusion in the Ancient Egyptian mind was that this definitely had to be the cause for the eclipse. Of course, today these ideals sound absolutely ridiculous. But in ancient times, they were a creed that the Egyptians not only held but also enforced.

My own personal account of an eclipse was back in 2001. It was a total solar eclipse and the people who saw it can attest to the fact that it was spectacular. On that day, birds decided to turn in for the night although it was only 10 a.m. or so in the morning. They were completely taken by surprise. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures but my memory of it still remains.

The Egyptians weren’t the first nor the last to talk about the disappearance of the sun though. The very famous poet, Lord Byron, had actually envisioned himself in a dream where the sun was extinguished and complete darkness reigned on the earth. He described what a miserable existence it was as every person’s heart, as he put it, ‘was chilled into a selfish prayer for light.’ There was no difference between night and day because there was no moon to differentiate the two. In the poem, people forgot their passions, desires and ambitions. They burned their homes, work places and other important building so that they could just get a fire to stare at each other. Snakes became harmless as they lay side by side with human beings so that they could just get a glimpse of some light. To add a little flavor, I bet the entire world put a heavy price tag on match sticks and anything that can burn. The international monetary fund would’ve invested millions, if not trillions of dollars, in research in how to bring the sun back. Lord Byron concluded by saying, darkness was the universe. Sounds pretty dark and hopeless doesn’t it? This, ladies and gentlemen, is the day that the sun took a vacation.

Lord Byron’s dream

Now, imagine how much money people would pay the guy that could convince the sun to make its vacation short. No doubt the Ancient Egyptians would classify such a person as a demigod because he helped Ra in his plight in the underworld. The big corporations would pay him all they have got because he solved a ‘global’ crisis. He would be given the Nobel Peace prize and his seat would be secured among the immortals, right next to Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Alexander the Great. He would move from being an ordinary man to a great Leader who rescued the world in its time of peril.

This little scenario brings out the point that I am trying to drive across in this post: A vision is born at the moment you realize that a sun is simply taking a vacation and not gone forever. However, I don’t mean for you to take this literally. I mean that would bring us to the same reasoning level of the Egyptians. To clarify, ‘the sun taking a vacation’ in this scenario means you identifying something that people need and going to work at it. Find what people complain about. To use Lord Byron’s words, find things that cause them despair, hopelessness and anguish. As soon as you identify that thing, then congratulations, you have just discovered the genesis of a vision.

As we all know, the sun is a very important celestial body. Its presence literally determines whether or not we will see the next day. So now, let us translate that into entrepreneurial terms: In today’s competitive world, there is literally a market for everything. So, you must create a product that is unique and different from your competitors. Specialization is not only important but it is also vital for you to succeed. The Leadership Mentor and Author of several bestselling books, Dr Myles Munroe once said, ‘Trees never take their fruit to the market nor do diamonds convince people to look for them.’ His viewpoint was that the real reason that people look for diamonds and sell their merchandise to the world is because society has put a premium of these products. Often than not, industries that I can classify as a ‘Sun taking a vacation’ are extremely hard to get into and require lots of money.

To give you a sense of where to begin, I am going to suggest a business model that might work. It’s called dropshipping. Have you ever wondered how companies like Amazon were able to build their online presence and become the giant that they are today? The company is arguably the best E-commerce business in the world. When Amazon doesn’t physically have the product that it has listed, it uses dropshipping to fulfill its orders. Dropshipping is an amazing entrepreneurial business model that can earn you income if you know what you are doing. It means creating a website that sells particular items and when an order is made, the manufacturer itself ships the items directly to the customer. The beauty about it is, you don’t have to stock all of the physical products in order for you to sell. No need to have a store to package your inventory. I classify this type of business model as ‘a sun taking a vacation’ because the demand for products and services on the internet is huge. It’s become a very popular business model and entrepreneurs are making good money with start up costs that are close to nothing. Now, before you jump on the dropshipping bandwagon, there are few things you should consider: The first thing is that nothing is ever that easy. I mean if it were that easy then everybody would do it right? And if everyone does it, then the market would become saturated hence making it difficult for you to make a profit. The laws of supply and demand obviously might work against you. Its just basic economics. Be that as it may, however, there is always a way for you to find a niche in a particular market and turn it into a money-making venture. To do this, you have to spend a lot of money on advertising. In internet marketing, a conversion is the percentage of the number of people who visit your site and are likely to buy your product. In e-commerce, the average conversion rate is about 2-3 %. This means that if you can get 100 people to visit your dropshipping website, at least 2 people are likely to buy your product. It’s plain simple, the more traffic you receive to your website, the more you are likely to make a sale.

Now, for those of us who wouldn’t want to be involved in starting a dropshipping business from scratch, there is still some options that are available. You can buy a pre-existing dropshipping business and then manage it yourself to create more profits. Websites like Empire Flippers have tons of dropshipping websites that they offer up for sale. However, using this route involves a lot of investment on your part. The advantage is that you don’t have to work as hard in marketing as it would be if you are starting from scratch. On the other hand, the obvious disadvantage is that its costly. For argument’s sake, a dropshipping business can cost as much as $250,000 on Empire Flippers .

To conclude, there’s never been a time in modern history that Entrepreneurs can position themselves for success as today. Dropshipping is just one of the many business models out there that is a ‘sun taking a vacation’. Its operational costs make it easy to earmark yourself for success as an Entrepreneur. Please feel free to reach out to Vigilante Scholar with any questions about dropshipping. Your personal experiences are also welcome. I would like to hear your different stories about this. Until then, keep hustling.

‘Rape Chinese!’, The most common words in Zambian Ghettos: Self- Leadership Lesson on Entrepreneurship

Growing up in Zambia has been a ride, to say the least. Like most Zambians, there have been challenges along the way, and yes! I do say challenges and not problems. But I am grateful for the little blessings that God has afforded me, which I should mention that not every person in the country has had. For example, not everyone has had the chance to graduate High School let alone see the four walls of a University. Most of them never make it beyond the eleventh grade and that is due to several genuine reasons. I am not a stranger to this kind of place because I have been on both sides of the coin. I have felt the bitter pain of a long campaign to get yourself to college only to be disappointed by a lack of funds. I have known the loneliness that is found in sitting at a small shop in Chisokone Market only to make less than 5 Kwacha after a day’s work. I believe that for the many Zambians living in Ghettos out there, getting a decent education up to college level looks to be more of the privilege of a few than a reality of the many. Out of work and unemployed, most of them turn to entrepreneurship to be a light to their paths. A beacon of hope in a dark tunnel of immense poverty. Although most of them work from hand to mouth, having an entrepreneurial mind can make all the difference between starvation and making it to the next day.

Entrepreneurship is a special kind of self-leadership that is rare to find among the educated. That is why it usually falls on those who don’t have much faith in the educational system. There’s no doubt that the ability to make wealth is a talent of some sort. Not everyone has been graced with it. However, the level and number of entrepreneurs that spring up in Zambian Ghettos challenge that assumption.

The words ‘Rape Chinese!’ usually exclaimed with vigor, are the most distinctive words you will ever hear in a Zambian Ghetto or Mine Area. Relax! The words don’t literally mean what they imply, I mean that would just be barbaric. They don’t mean that we should go out of our way and rape Chinese people. Rape is a common Zambian relish that is often found alongside our traditional meal, Nshima. Chinese is also another common Zambian relish. I have never really bothered to ask where these names came from but they are very common. It’s quite normal for you to walk to a vegetable stand and tell the seller that, “Hey, I want rape.” Or you would hear old friends telling each other at dinner that, “My wife knew that you like rape and that’s why she served it.” I know, it’s strange. It’s only recently that it dawned on me that this wasn’t probably the best name to give to a vegetable. Anyway, what does this have to do with Self- Leadership, and Entrepreneurship? Well, the answer is in the form of a story. Like I said earlier, most Zambians struggle with finances and they are forced to sell anything so that life doesn’t grind to a halt. One of the ways that they do this is through selling vegetables by making rounds in neighborhoods. They would yell at the top of their voices saying, ‘Rape Chinese’ and a customer would stop them to buy. The same goes for other products like Charcoal and used Car Batteries. There was one man I met who taught me a very important lesson on Entrepreneurship. Usually, selling vegetables like Rape and Chinese is done by women and it is quite rare for you to see a man in that type of business. But this man was different. There was something he was doing that was attracting more customers than most of his competitors. I will tell you about his secret shortly.  You see, it’s not about what product you are selling but it is about how you sell it. At the end of the day, it is the salesperson that makes the money. During my job hunts in Kitwe, I had the opportunity to test this theory out and see if it works. There was a company that was training salespersons to sell lotion and other cosmetic products and I applied for a job. After getting the necessary documents, I was called for an interview. Sitting in that office, I was only bothered by two thoughts: How much are these people going to pay me? and do I really have to talk to strangers to make money? To cut the long story short, I was paired with a mentor, and off we went to convince people to buy our products. My mentor told me that out of 100 people, chances are that 95 people will say ‘no’ to your pitch in selling them the product, only about ‘3’ would say ‘yes’ and the rest would tell you to come back tomorrow. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, those are way too many Nos for me to take.” Going from customer to customer, I watched my mentor use every trick in the book to convince a potential customer to buy. At the end of the day and in an almost prophetic outcome, we had only managed to sell five of our products. We never split the money at that point because I was still a newbie. So, my mentor told me, “Well, you did well today. Make sure to come back tomorrow for more.” Nope, I never went back. I don’t know if it was my ego or my sense of introversion that made me change my mind. Like the many of us, I couldn’t take the brunt of people rejecting my product 95 times in a day and only making a loose commission on sales. Nonetheless, the lesson was learned. In those few hours, my mentor taught me a lot about human psychology when it comes to buying. You have to be charismatic in the way you sell your product. People are emotional creatures and respond to things that make them feel good. I don’t know about you but I think feeling good is a good incentive to buy someone’s stuff. Now, let’s go back to the man I mentioned earlier before I digressed into this tale of tales. The man’s secret into making more sales than his competitors was his charisma. Instead of going around and chanting the common mantra of ‘Rape Chinese’, he added a little charisma to the mix. He was saying in Bemba, ‘Umuti wabwali!’ which translates to medicine for your Nshima in English. Then he added a high-pitched intonation of the word ‘Yeah’ before every sentence. The kids loved it. They would follow him around the neighborhood as he sold vegetables and unknowingly, increase his popularity in the neighborhood. I had also tried to use the same tactic on this post. Be honest, when you first read the title ‘Rape Chinese!’, The most common words in Zambian Ghettos: Self- Leadership Lesson on Entrepreneurship, what was the first thing that came to mind? Crime in the ghetto, right? Raping Chinese women to get some money? All sorts of thoughts came to mind of which, unless you have lived in Zambia, vegetables were the last on that list. I should mention, however, that this wasn’t an attempt at charisma. Lord knows I don’t have the talent for that. But the main point remains: grab the attention of your customers by engaging them through spurs of charisma.

Then, you also have to work hard and sacrifice. It takes a little bit of yourself to be an Entrepreneur. Unfortunately, Entrepreneurship is not one of those skills you can just wake up in the morning and master. It takes time and effort. You must put in long hours of work and discipline yourself to a workable schedule. People will follow and are more likely to buy products from someone who is consistent. From my point of view, the man I mentioned earlier showed a high level of consistency in his work. I observed that he would usually pass by our neighborhood before midday almost every day.  The importance of consistency cannot be overestimated.

“Without commitment, you will never start, and more importantly without consistency, you will never finish.”

Denzel Washington

So, to conclude, always show charisma and consistency in your endeavors. I can bet that you would be able to achieve some sustainable results in doing so.

P.S. Don’t yell Rape Chinese unless you are in Zambia.