Many may asked why this site was using an “About Us” page as a home page, which is part of the reason we chose to go to a different platform. But on the original site, the reason was simple. This is not a sales site. It is simply the “headquarters” site for the licensed business, and is for information only on who we are and what we do. Our actual business is conducted on many sites, blogs and auctions, some of which we will reveal and yet others will remain confidential, for business purposes.
History of Azgrand Internet Marketing
Azgrand Internet Marketing was started in late 1999/early 2000 in Mesa, Arizona, by John W. Abert and his wife, Sharon. An internet business can be “as grand” (therefore the name) as any brick and mortar store. Our location at that time, in Mesa, Arizona, also added to the choice of names.
It started out with 18 different store-front web sites carrying over a million products, but the company supplying the platform for the stores and the products changed their way of doing business, and their name. Azgrand had no choice but to go in its own direction.
For a short time, the site became the home and information site for my "day job" at the time, which was Azgrand Machine Electric, Inc., from which I ran my freelance robotics and automation specialty service business.
In 2004, the marketing part of Azgrand Internet Marketing helped to set up a company to import steel tool boards from Sweden, and became the first, and largest distributor, outselling six other distributors nationwide. Later in 2004, while looking for items to compliment the tool boards without competing with them, it acquired a distributorship with Ernst tool organizing products and built that into the largest online full-line stocking distributor in the world. Azgrand stopped being a distributor for them in 2008, at its own choice, because buying in large quantities and then “warehousing” products did not fit into our future growth goals for the company.
In the spring of 2005, ten years of living in the heat and traffic of the desert Southwest had gotten to us, and we moved to Cherokee Village, Arkansas, a place in which we have owned property since 1965, even though we lived in Northern Indiana until 1992. By early 2016, we again have a new address in a state without a sales tax nexus law (so we can once again be Amazon Associates).
The web platforms we use
From the outset, we experimented with several different web builders, just to see how they worked and be able to compare them. Besides platforms provided by product vendors, we also tried both free ones and paid ones. Over the last 15+ years we have worked with FrontPage 2000, and it’s successor, MS Expressions, as well as WebPlus 9 and Web Plus X4 from Serif Software, and others created through “open source” providers, such as Kompozer, Drupal and Jumla. For the most part, they all do the same things, just with different looking control panels. Once you know one, it isn't hard to adjust to another.
As the search engines and marketing trends changed from static sites to social marketing and blogs, so did the methods of Azgrand.
In 2010, we started using WordPress blogs with our sites, beginning with our blog.CaravanCamperRV.com site. The owner’s wife, Sharon, went to a Blogger platform with her own site at MusicDecorandMore.blogspot.com in 2010, and she has several other blogs available through links there.
As we, the owners of Azgrand, phase into retirement and out of selling physical products from our own sites, we are working toward more affiliate and digital sales, and are finding that the Blogger platform is easier to use and less maintenance to keep up with updates than the WordPress.org version (for use on private domains). Also, it allows more freedom of advertising than the free version of WordPress.com.
Many other sites and blogs are currently being built to continually expand the business toward more digital products, including our own books, and as we travel more while running our business, we are working toward keeping things more private. But don’t worry, wherever we are, we will be constantly monitoring everything that goes on.
Although the version used on private domains (WordPress.org) has much greater (almost unlimited) versatility, the free version at WordPress.com only allows their own advertising, and is very limited in functionality. Users of ANY blog platform need to read the fine print before they decide what will work for them!
John W. Abert was also involved with the “Education Specialist Trained by eBay” program as an eBay authorized and trained instructor (the only one in all of northeast Arkansas), and has also been an eBay authorized Trading Assistant for other people wanting to sell on eBay. We have since dropped both of those programs. (More about that is on the “Questions” page).
Both John and Sharon still sell on eBay, having achieved the status of Top Rated Sellers, and will try to maintain that status. But as one of the best known eBay “gurus” has said, it isn’t the rank or the status that counts… it’s what you take home at the end of the day. The bottom line is what really counts.
We have access to millions of products through various wholesalers and affiliate vendors. We can buy physical products for eBay through vendors on World Wide Brands and many other sources. We have affiliations with many private vendors who handle their own affiliate links, as well as many “aggregators” (managers of affiliate links for other vendors) who have many hundreds or thousands of vendors signed up with them. And we also use Skimlinks/Skimwords, which has roughly 18,000 vendors and over 40 private aggregators signed up with them. Amazon alone has roughly seventeen times the inventory of Walmart worldwide, and we also do business with both of those.
The service of building and managing web sites for others has been discontinued as we phase into retirement mode. There are no plans to provide services to others at this time, other than free consulting via email or comments, if people ask about their sites.
We have also been providing some free training just from reading our posts, and that will continue on the newer Blogger platform.
We read a LOT of blogs created by other people…some are done extremely well, and others are a total mess. We have seen such mistakes as photos of the wrong sizes being inserted and having WAY too many of them, which creates long page loading times, bad writing, bad formatting, spelling and grammatical errors, no or not enough paragraph breaks, too many posts per page, poor navigation, failure to provide the FOUR different means of subscribing to the post notifications and even when provided…putting the forms in the wrong places…and countless other atrocities that simply drive people away. At the very least, it hurts the readership of the blogs. Many people with no marketing knowledge fail to see the errors or don't understand why correcting them is important to their readership.
Whether needing a static site for business, blogging for sales reasons, or social, the techniques are the same for all. The idea is to gain readership and provide a site that people will want to read and come back to. The last thing anyone should be doing is driving people away!
Azgrand is not an “IT” (Internet Technology) company, nor a graphic arts or web design company. We must know some of those things in order to operate efficiently, but our expertise is in marketing techniques for the web, which we will continue to do for our own use.
It doesn’t take an “IT” tech or a graphics artist to create a good blog. Some of the ugliest and simplest sites in the world are also some of the most profitable. It does take “some” marketing knowledge to know what attracts readers and what looks good, as well as how to write a good sales letter and gather the most important information so you can stay in touch with those readers.
The same things that apply to making sales also apply to gaining readership. You can’t have one without the other, so whether bloggers realize it or not, they ARE part of the internet marketing industry. If nothing else, they are selling “themselves” to attract readers.
As much as we to want to provide information to help people, the whole truth is that unless they want to help themselves, the words of any teacher falls on deaf ears. I have learned that the hard way and invested much time in useless projects for people who don’t care about themselves or their businesses. It will not happen again. However, we will answer questions with honest answers if asked.
I don’t make my money from training others by creating complex training systems for them, or building and managing sites for them… I make it by doing the things for myself that I “could” teach them, if only they had an interest in learning.
Why have customers chosen Azgrand to return to for future purchases?
The single most important thing that has made our business successful is the importance we place on customer service. We despise the mindless (and many times meaningless) messages kicked out by autoresponders, so to date we haven’t started using one. Even our free 94-page ebook on creating a minivan camper (available at CaravanCamperRV.com) is delivered through a special setup within a WordPress plug-in, rather than farmed out to a vendor. Our emails have always been personally written. We answer each and every email we receive (within hours). This may have to change as our business grows, as we expand more into digital products, and as we free up time to enjoy retirement life and travel, but we are going to hang onto this very important factor in our service for as long as we can.
We at Azgrand Internet Marketing are always experimenting with new sites, new web tools and new software to improve profits while at the same time cutting back on maintenance issues. We specialize in products and techniques with “longevity” in the marketplace, rather than fads and “flash in the pan” short-lived sales methods. Many of our sites will remain “anonymous”, designed to run on autopilot, while we continue the process of building new ones and eliminating those that do not perform.
But in retirement, we do it on our own time… not because we have a deadline or “have to”… but because we enjoy what we do, and don’t have to answer to anyone for our words or our actions.
We do nearly everything “in house”, including our own clerical functions, web work, and (as always) whatever it takes to get the job done. We didn’t know much of it when we started, but we read, studied and implemented what we learned and jumped in and got our hands dirty. We went to numerous seminars to learn even more, and yes, we even spent thousands of dollars for the education we got, because that’s the way it works. Nobody gets something for nothing in this world. If you want something bad enough you have to earn it.
It took awhile to get past the cost recovery time, but thanks to our dedication to study, Azgrand Internet Marketing has enjoyed a comfortable growth rate for the past few years, and 2016 is on target to be the best year yet.
Earlier, “retiring” was mentioned, and that is true. We are discontinuing many of the time-wasting things that we have done in the past, and will be concentrating more on our own sites. As with any business, you have to eliminate what doesn’t provide the most profits, and find things that do. It's simply a "work smarter, not harder" frame of mind and process.
The company, Azgrand Internet Marketing, will continue for our own use for as long as we see a need to run it, as it is the parent company for all of our individual web sites and ventures. But building the business, gaining more and more sales, and all of the other things that a normal business does is of very low priority going forward, although we may introduce more digital products of our own making, such as ebooks. As always, the name of the game is to go where the money is the greatest and the work is the least.
As of late July of 2015, we had already sold off many of our assets. The real estate closing was in January of 2016, and as of November 17th, 2015, we vacated the property for good, and have gone into full-time RV traveling all over these great United States. Winters will likely be spent in the Southwest, or along the southern coast, and summer travel could take us anywhere, including into Canada, and maybe on to Alaska.
What does the future hold?
Other sites and blogs are currently being built as we have time, to phase the business toward more digital products, including our own books. As we travel more while running our business, we are working toward keeping business things, and even our current location, more private. But don’t worry, wherever we are, we will be constantly monitoring everything that goes on.