What were you doing this weekend?  Did you go down the pub or watch a bit of TV?  I didn’t waste my weekend mucking about!  I got some of the best business tips I’ve ever received – completely free.

I joined over 500 other people to get completely free training from some of the world’s best speakers in the field of internet marketing.  This event was hosted by the ‘Financial Freedom Institute of Australia’ and was part of their popular ‘Money Masters’ series.  This weekend they broke new ground, with a dedicated ‘Internet Masters’ event.  This focussed almost exclusively on internet-based business ideas and systems for success.

This event was a must in my opinion – a very informative conference for no money at all, with a particularly strong focus on helping newbies.  Hopefully, the conference will re-run next year, so keep an eye out for it.  I couldn’t possibly cover every detail of this mammoth, 3-day event in just one short article, so here are just a few highlights based on what worked for me personally.

Matt & Amanda came up on stage to promote their ‘Bidding Buzz’ Ebay-based approach.  Being the world’s most searched site, Ebay is the obvious place to start your enterprise, particularly if you don’t want the technicalities and hassle of setting up your own website.  Personally, I quite like having my own site – but for many people it’s quite daunting.  Ebay’s a great alternative.  Some people love the classic trading strategies that would be as familiar to a Victorian market trader as they are to modern entrepreneurs – buy low, sell high; split bulk; bundling etc.  If you’re a natural trader and marketer, Ebay offers an easy way to get started and Matt and Amanda offer an introduction that will put you head and shoulders above the idiots trying to sell their unwanted junk online.  I don’t know the details of what they sell, nor how much they make.  What I do know is that several of their students are actively trading on Ebay, and learning how to set up a viable business is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

One of my personal favourites of the weekend was Andrew, speaking on behalf of himself and his wife Daryl.  They’re a refreshingly down-to-earth couple who inspired me with the feeling that ‘I could do that’ – something often lacking when I see the slicker and more polished presenters.  They were selling an ebook course which turns conventional wisdom on its head – abandoning opt-in pages and other established practices.  They were helpful, credible and refreshingly honest, combining innovation and insight with the impression that they were very human – and therefore that their students therefore didn’t need to be able to walk on water to follow their business methods.  I’m going to be implementing their strategies soon.  Andrew is a genuinely helpful guy, and gave a friend of mine a very useful piece of personal coaching about her internet business during our lunch together.

Brian Duffel offered a package of software which could be edited, rebranded and re-sold for profit.  As far as I understand, most of these programs are essentially plug-ins for Microsoft Office products.  You can re-brand and sell them as your own.

Simon Coulson presented his proven system for information publishing.  His offer is a course teaching the good, sensible technique of writing and/or publishing information products on the internet, together with follow-up support.  This model is based on building a quality customer base out there in the real world.  Simon’s style appeals to me greatly. He’s just as successful as many other gurus – but he has an approachable, down to earth manner that allows him to wear his wealth lightly.  He’s built his business the hands-on way, carying mailsacks around full of products destined for customers.  Beyond this down-and-dirty approach, he’s also got an incisive ability to critique other people’s business models.  I genuinely believe that his offering is better able to deliver reliable, long-term results than many potential competitors, because of its face-to-face approach.  My only regret about Simon’s presentation was the absolutely disgusting dinner consisting of undercooked vegetable in batter that I bought him in the bar – he deserved a lot better!

David Cavanagh is a long-standing favourite of mine.  His presentations on stage step people through the process of setting up and promoting a website online.  This is great for newbies, as they can see the mystery disappear before their eyes.  All the fear that held them back from setting up online simply melts away before their eyes.  It was very impressive to watch him set up and optimise a website live on stage, achieving front page rankings on Google within 24 hrs.  Who could argue with that for free?  I’m always impressed at the results he gets, and with the fact that he doesn’t do anything flash, complicated or difficult.  He not only makes it look easy, he proves it’s easy!  I thoroughly recommended him for newbies.

Mark Vurnum was making a very rare personal appearance promoting his lead-generation course.  Most businesses are very, very bad at doing their own marketing, and all they want is for someone to take all that stress away.  Mark shows you exactly how you can make a good living doing just that.  When I say a good living, I don’t mean paying the rent and keeping the car filled up.  Mark’s currently having a whopping Cyprus villa built, for well over a million pounds.  As far as I know, only a small part of this income has come from tuition and training.  He’s really walking the walk that he teaches.  I love this business strategy, albeit with a few tweaks, and it’s very much the focus of much of my activity at the moment.  I can’t really give the approach a better recommendation than that.  Mark’s a friendly, helpful and open-minded chap, and he was great fun to talk to over dinner.

Andreas Georghiou was a tax advisor and spoke about the advantages of using Cypriot and Seychelles companies to legally avoid tax.  I know plenty of people who are working out of Cyprus for tax and personal reasons – in fact it’s quite a haven for internet marketers.  Perhaps this is something you should be looking into.

If you’re looking for a fast, cheap and easy way to get an online business set up, build a list of hungry customer and then sell products, you can do a lot worse than going to see Shaun Clarke.  He explains how to build an enterprise based on interviewing gurus.  The principle is so simple.  You interview a few gurus in a chosen field, then sell the series of interviews online.  By allowing the gurus to sell this product to their own list, they make money on the work you’ve done.  But each time the potential customers visit your website to check out, buy or download your interview product, these people join your customer list.  That way you get the customers from ALL your partners – for life!  What a great way to build a list of motivated customers without spending money to drive traffic!  Of course, there’s a huge amount of skill required to attract and interview your gurus – and this is what’s covered on his course.

George Fokas was presenting the ‘sharelord’ system.  If you’re looking for a simple, low-risk stock market strategy you can operate online, ‘Sharelord’ is well worth a look.  It’s widely regarded as one of the lowest-risk stock market strategies available.  The principle is simple:  You invest in shares, just like investing in a rental property.  You ‘insure’ that share against falls in value – much like buildings insurance.  You then rent out the share to a speculator who is happy to pay money to ‘rent’ the share, just like a landlord.  The ‘tenant’ ‘rents’ the share on the off-chance that it will go up in value.  If the share rises, you get keep the rent and take a small margin on the sale when this ‘tenant’ buys.  If the share does nothing, you keep the ‘rent’.  If the share falls, some or all of your losses are covered by the insurance policy – and you still get to keep the rent.  It’s not a completely risk-free system, but it promises strong, reliable monthly returns with relatively low risk.

Brian Duffel was promoting the WIN property investing system.  I’m not really a fan of property investment in the current market, but if you’re keen to jump in then the WIN system is based on solid principles of buying cheaply, optimising the monthly income and looking for opportunities to trade the properties quickly for a.  I’ve operated by these very principles myself for much of my investment career, so I know they’re achievable and practical.  I’d caution against holding property right now, unless you’re buying at very deep discount – but this is exactly the approach that WIN teaches.

As for what’s on sale, I can’t comment in detail as I haven’t experienced the products.  Many were delivered as internet-based training plans, with notable exceptions such as Simon’s course.  Most of the packages on offer were comprehensive, with selling prices of a couple of thousand or more.  Clearly, the price wasn’t putting many people off, as there were very large volumes being sold at the back of the room.  Many people were happy to invest heavily in their future, and often the sales desk was bursting with hungry customers queuing to buy.  Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  As always, many people who buy training don’t actually use it.  Making the effort to follow up is everything.

Whether you buy or not, this was well worth attending – especially bearing in mind it’s free.  I’ll do all I can to get back next time.