How Has The Economy Affected You?

by Mike on October 29, 2008
in Making Money Online

As financial markets around the world continue to go up and down like a yo-yo, a lot of people are scared.  Companies everywhere are laying off employees, freezing open positions, and cutting back any way they can…including salary increases and bonuses. 

I personally know a lot of people with hefty mortgages who are worried they could be out on the street if they lost their job (or if their cost of living continues to skyrocket while their salary remains the same).  They feel like they’re on a wild roller coaster ride that has gone out of control.

This lack of control is one of the primary reasons I started my own business to make money online.  The thought of being completely reliant on the whims of some faceless corporation scares the hell out of me.  I need to know that if times are tough I can fend for myself. 

That said, a lot of internet marketers are feeling a crunch too as consumers are less willing to open their wallets to buy new products and services.  Advertisers too may scale back spending which could hurt those that rely on AdSense or blog ad space for income. 

A lot depends on the niche…I think in general the “make money online” niche will continue to do well as millions of people looking to make extra money to supplement their income flood the internet.  Other niches will be less fortunate.  For some of my niche websites the last month has seen a drop in conversions that I suspect has a lot to do with the health of the economy. 

What about you?  What kind of effects have you seen?  And what do you see for your future?

Starting a Pay Per Click Case Study

by Mike on October 24, 2008
in Case Studies, Pay Per Click

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to post here lately…my mother in law has been ill, I’ve been working on a project on my house, and I recently signed up for PPC Classroom 2.0 so I’ve been spending time pouring through their modules and preparing to dive into the world of pay per click. 

There’s a lot of money to be made in Pay Per Click so I strongly suggest you consider it as part of your business model.  This is something I’ve been looking to get into for some time but I just haven’t had a chance to educate myself properly.  I’ve played around with ppc before but there’s a lot I didn’t know.  Time to fix that!

PPC Classroom is a course that’s designed to teach you the ins and outs of running successful Google AdWords campaigns.I don’t have an affiliate link and in fact the course in now closed too new members, but if you go to their site you can sign up to be notified if they let new people in.

Going through the modules I’ve already picked up enough tips to make my purchase worthwhile.  Plus, since I bought it through Jeremy Palmers affiliate link I also received a free copy of last years PPC Classroom version 1.0.  That sold for $497 just last year!

Anyway, once I get the PPC ball rolling I’ll post here regularly about my results.  I won’t give away actual links or websites I’m using but I’ll give you some numbers so you can see how it goes.  GOnna start with a really small budget and increase a little at a time as I see results. 

Sign up for my free RSS newsletter so you don’t miss out on future updates to my Pay Per Click case study.

What Adam Sandler Taught Me About Priorities

by Mike on October 21, 2008
in Inspiration

One of my favorite Adam Sandler movies is Click. Sandler plays a
workaholic who comes across a magic remote control that allows him to pause or fast forward over parts of his life. But he quickly loses control and discovers he’s missed out on most of the great moments of life. He’s also neglected his family…he ends up old, divorced, and alone, and he has missed out on his son and daughter’s childhood. They grew up without him.

Lying in a hospital bed after suffering a massive heart attack he realizes that his mistakes are about to repeat themselves as his son is going to skip his honeymoon to attend to business. There’s a touching seen at the end where Sandler is struggling to catch up with his son to tell him “Family comes first.”

When I first sat down to watch Click I thought it was strictly a comedy, but instead it ended with a powerful message that really struck me hard. As a dad I struggle to balance work and other responsibilities with family time. I’m sure you do too.

Our lives are so busy and full of chores, errands, and responsibilities that it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters. Nothing is more important to me than my family, but at times I still find myself putting other things before them…working, projects around the house, etc.

Then I have to sit back and remind myself of what’s important. When the kids are pulling at me to come play its easy to say “No, daddy has work to do.” But it breaks their little hearts.

Time moves fast and before long they’ll be all grown up. So I make sure to spend some quality time with them every single day now while I can. It doesn’t take much to make my little girls happy…it can be as simple as sitting on the floor coloring or doing a puzzle together. I cherish that time because I know it won’t last forever.

I hope you understand the importance of family and children. If you find yourself pushing them aside because you have to go to research keywords, download a new ebook, or write a new blog post…stop. Look at their little faces and remember they
won’t be little forever. If you don’t stop to enjoy them now you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

Personal Development For Smart People

by Mike on October 15, 2008
in Recommended Reading

In this post I’m going to tell you about a new book called Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina.  I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Steve’s new book with the promise that I would write a short review on this blog.

I’m a big fan of Steve’s blog so this really was a no brainer for me.  Worst case I figured I’d get a free book out of the deal right?

Well I got a lot more out of Personal Development for Smart People than that.   Steve really has written the ultimate book for personal development in which he reveals “the seven universal truths behind all successful growth efforts…as well as practical, insightful methods for improving your health, relationships, career, finances, and more.”

Steve’s 7 universal truths can be used to improve all aspects of your life but as an internet marketer I found the chapter on Authority particularly enlightening.

Steve talks a lot about persistence in the face of failure and it really struck a chord with me.  I failed quite a few times before I finally started making money online.  It would have been easy for me to give up.  But instead I learned to accept that success will take time and I pledged to learn from my mistakes instead of repeating them.

Little by little my knowledge grew and I actually started to achieve my goals!  Now I aim to share some of the so-called “secrets” to making money online that so few people take the time to learn.

Time and time again I see people chase after one get rich quick scheme after another.  They’re always looking for an easy way out instead of taking a little time to examine why they failed and correct their mistakes.

If you truly want to improve your life and build a successful online business you can’t be afraid to fail.  From failure you learn…from success, not so much.

There are a lot of nuggets of information in Personal Development for Smart People, but I think my favorite line is:

“An expert is a person who’s failed enough to succeed.”

Think about that for a minute and you’ll realize how simple, yet brilliant Steve’s universal truths are.  I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of his book at Amazon today before you forget. You won’t regret it.

Raising Awareness About Poverty

by Mike on October 15, 2008
in Uncategorized

If you weren’t already aware, today is Blog Action Day…a day in which blogs around the world have pledged to post about a common topic to change the conversation and raise awareness about a serious issue.  This year’s topic is poverty.

I think we’re all familiar with poverty.  And its not just the drunken homeless man sleeping in the corner of the bus stop…all around us there are people struggling to get by and teetering on the brink of a financial abyss.

It could be your next door neighbor who lost his job and now eats boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner 4 nights a week.

It could be the single mom still saddled with exorbitant medical expenses she’ll never pay off.

It could be the elderly couple trying to survive on Social Security.

These people are all around us and I think its only human to stop for a minute and think of the people who have less than you.  How can you help someone in need?

Winter is coming and that almost-new coat you never wear because it makes you look chunky could keep someone else warm on those frigid days to come.

Old clothes that don’t fit or just sit in your closet would be perfect for those who can’t afford to replace their own worn out wardrobe.  Children’s clothes are especially helpful.  How would you feel if it were your daughter who got made fun of for wearing the same outfit everyday?

Donating food can help keep people from starving to death.  And don’t just give them the old lima beans and peas that you don’t like.  Give them something they might actually enjoy.

Toy drives are popular around the holidays.  It breaks my heart to think of little children who have no presents to open up on Christmas Day.  An inexpensive stuffed animal, fire truck, or doll can give a child a happy holiday.

Please take a moment today to think about people who are less fortunate than you.  If each of makes just a small gesture we can come together and make a world of difference.

Please spread the word and pass this post along to your friends.  And if you have your own blog I encourage you to post about poverty today too…and you can even leave a comment below with a link to you blog action day post…

Article Marketing – The Traffic Generating Machine

by Mike on October 12, 2008
in Article Marketing

The other day I was chatting with Danny Cooper over on his blog and I mentioned that I’ve had a lot of success generating traffic to my niche web sites via article marketing.  Danny asked me if I’d be willing to share some specific numbers so I figured I’d post it here so you can get an idea of just how powerful article marketing is.

Now there’s no way to cover every aspect of article marketing in just one blog post…so this will be the first in an ongoing series.  Make sure you subscribe to my free RSS feed so you can continue receiving each new post because once completed you’ll have a comprehensive guide to making money using article marketing.

If you’ve never heard the term article marketing you must be living in a cave.  Its simply the process of writing articles to generate traffic to your web site.  Blogging is itself a form of article marketing, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here.

For our purposes here article marketing is writing articles and submitting them for publication to third party directories.  I know what you’re thinking…why should I give my best articles away to some directory for free?  I’ll give you a few reasons…

1.  You get free links from the directories themselves and from any other site or blog that reprints them.

2.  If done right you can top search engine rankings and boatloads of traffic through directories like EzineArticles.


image source: http://www.carrieunderwoodofficial.com

3.  You’ll win fame and fortune and Carrie Underwood will want to date you!

Ok, ok maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch.  But let’s take a quick look at a real life example so you can see the kind of traffic article marketing can generate.

For this example, I’m not going to give you the actual niche or domain that I’m sending traffic to. Its a tight little niche that I’ve done well with and I’d rather not give it away. Let’s just say it promotes a product I found on the Clickbank marketplace and its earned me several thousand dollars in affiliate commissions since I started promoting it.

Besides the niche doesn’t really mean much…you can use article marketing to promote everything from natural remedies to treadmills to internet marketing seminars.

The numbers I’m going to share with you below are from 29 articles that I wrote and submitted to EzineArticles.  They all link back to the same domain.  Almost all point directly to the homepage, a couple to secondary pages.

What this says is that the 29 articles I wrote were viewed 24,396 times on EZA and 8,882 readers clicked on the link to my site at the end of the article.  And that’s not all.  The articles were republished by other sites or blogs 82 times and seen by who knows how many more people.

That means that on average each article I wrote was read about 841 times and generated 306 click-throughs to my site.  Not bad!

And those are just averages…some articles don’t do so well, but my best one for this niche has generated an amazing 7,169 views and 4115 click-throughs!

So far.

You see these articles are still sending me new visitors day in and day out even after I published them over a year ago.  They send me traffic while I’m sleeping, on vacation, or sitting on my couch watching the game.  They’re a traffic powerhouse that should continue to send new traffic for years to come.  And the more articles I write the more traffic I get!

And this is just one niche.  I’ve written hundreds of articles under various pen names promoting many different products.  Some don’t pan out quite so well, but some pay big dividends!  If you’re not tapping into the power of article marketing to promote your site you’re missing out on some serious traffic.

Now don’t forget to subscribe to my feed because there’s a lot more to learn about article marketing. Most people do it completely wrong and never see any results. Stick with me and I’ll show you how to write articles that will bring you more traffic than you can handle!

Free vs Paid Website Hosting

by Mike on October 8, 2008
in Hosting

Free vs Paid Website Hosting

Many newbies to the world of blogging and website building think they can save themselves some money by using a free web host. And while they do save themselves a few bucks a month, they cost themselves a lot more in the end. In this showdown of free vs paid website hosting the winner is clear…and its a knockout.

Here are 7 reasons why free website hosting sucks…

1. Your domain name looks like crap.  If you use a free service to host your site or blog you’ll have a domain that looks similar to these:

http://www.geocities.com/mikecollins/

http://mikecollins.blogspot.com/

You don’t really have your own domain, you’re just piggybacking on someone elses.  It looks amateurish and if you’re trying to build an online business no one will take you seriously.  They’ll just think, “What kind of business can’t afford the $9 a year for their own domain?”

2.  Most free hosts severely limit the amount of disk space you have to build your site. You’ll only have enough room to build a few pages and then you’ll quickly run out of room. 

3.  In addition to space limitations you’ll also get slapped with a bandwidth cap.  As soon as your site becomes even mildly popular you’ll exceed the cap and your site will be shut off.  No one will be able to access your site until the cap is lifted at the end of the month.  That’s just an insane way to do business.

4.  Offering web hosting services for free is probably not the most profitable business plan.  In order to actually make some money or at least break even free hosting providers impose their own advertising on your site.  Check out this typical geocities site to see what I mean.  Do you think the guy who created all the content on that page makes money off those ads to the right?  BUZZ!!  Wrong!  Geocities does.  Nothing like giving away your visitors for free!

5.  Most free hosts don’t offer any domain based email.  In other words you won’t be able to have an address like me@yourdomain.com.  This isn’t the end of the world as I actually prefer to use Gmail most of the time anyway…but it does look more professional to have a real email address that matches your domain. 

6.  One of the biggest expenses web hosting providers face is customer support.  A well-trained and effective customer support team doesn’t come cheap.  Many free hosting providers get around this by severely limiting support.  Others eliminate it altogether.  Now if your site is down or you run into technical problems, wouldn’t it be nice to know you had someone to turn to?  Even the cheapest of paid hosting services offer 24 hour support and you’ll be glad its there when you need it. 

7.  When it comes to free website hosting…you don’t actually own anything.  You’re simply borrowing space on someone else’s site and they can take it away at any time and without warning.  Awhile back there was a big uproar over Blogger blogs being deleted without notice.  Lots of bloggers lost all of their original content and had to start over from scratch.  What if your host deletes your account (on purpose or by accident) or goes out of business?  You’ll lose everything. 

So there we have it.  The battle of free vs paid website hosting is over.  By now you should see the importance of finding a reliable web host and price shouldn’t be your only concern.  Look for a reliable host that offers a combination of features you need for an affordable price.  And be sure to check out web host reviews to see what actual customers are saying before making a decision.

Using Htaccess To Mask Affiliate Links

by Mike on October 6, 2008
in Affiliate Marketing

One of my readers recently asked me how I mask my affiliate links on my new web hosting review site and I promised I would write up a post about it…so here it is.

There are several different ways to mask affiliate links but personally I use htaccess redirects.  i think its the easiest and most efficient way and I’m going to explain exactly how to do it so you can try it out for yourself.

But first let’s think of a few reasons why you’d want to mask your affiliate links.  Here’s what a typical affiliate link might look like:

http://www.costumecraze.com/WZRD22.html?c=cj,WZRD22

And here’s what it looks like using an htaccess redirect:

/dorothy

Notice they both go to a Dorothy Halloween costume with a merchant I work with through Commission Junction.  The second link has several advantages over the first:

  • It looks nicer.
  • It describes the link destination.
  • Its easier for a visitor to remember or write down.
  • Its more difficult to be hijacked.

Plus, it only takes about 5 seconds to create the redirect.   Here’s how you do it…

Go to your root directory (where your home page is) and look for a file called “.htaccess”.  If its there, open it in Notepad.  If its not there just open a blank document in Notepad and save it as “.htaccess”.  Note there is nothing before the period and be sure to change the “Save as Type” to All Files.

Ok, once its open just go to the very top and enter this simple code…

Redirect /description http://destination.com

Or using my Dorothy costume example above…

Redirect /dorothy http://www.costumecraze.com/WZRD22.html?c=cj,WZRD22

This simply creates a command that tells your server that if someone visits /dorothy they should be redirected to http://www.costumecraze.com/WZRD22.html?c=cj,WZRD22

Piece of cake!  And the beauty is that all of your affiliate links are located on just one text file.  If a merchant changes their links (you eBay affiliates know what I mean) you only have to change one file instead of painstakingly searching through your entire site.

Before I forget, you need to make sure that each redirect is entered on just one line or it won’t work properly.  Also be sure to backup the original htaccess file before making any changes.  Htaccess controls a lot of things and if you mess something up your whole site could be unavailable!

This really just scratches the surface of what you can do with htaccess.  To learn more check out this comprehensive guide to htaccess.

What’s Going On With Google PageRank?

by Mike on October 4, 2008
in Search Engines

A lot of strange goings on with Google PageRank since yesterday.  Just last week the PR of this blog was updated from a N/A to a PR4.  Now its back to an N/A.

I checked my other sites and they all appear to be back to what they were before last week’s update.  My best guess is Google had to roll back the update for some reason and its only temporary.  So settle down and don’t worry about it.

I don’t care much about PR anyway.  Its nice to see it go up but it doesn’t really correlate to how much revenue a site produces…unless you sell links which I don’t do anyway.

We;ll see what happens over the next couple of days.  hopefully it will all get straightened out and I’ll get the PR4 back again.

What kind of impact have you seen on your sites?

Edit on 10/6 – Looks like the dust settled and I’m back to a PR4…all is well with the world again.  :)

Case Study – A Review Style Site In Action

by Mike on October 2, 2008
in Case Studies

In this post you’re going to learn about two very powerful products.  Individually they each have the ability to make you a lot of money.  But when used together they can move mountains and form an unstoppable combination that almost guarantees profits.


photo credit: podoboq

This is also the first in what will be a series of posts tracking my progress as I use these two tools to start a new site from scratch.  Think of it as a case study where I’ll periodically discuss my progress as I go.

You’re going to want to read this post carefully because it can make you a lot of money if you follow along with me.

Step 1 – Understanding The Conduit Method

The Conduit Method is a short report written by Chris Rempel (The Lazy Super-Affiliate).  I obviously can’t go into too much detail about it without giving away all of Chris’s secrets…but I’ll give you a little overview so you can see what I mean…

The Conduit Method is all about finding a hot market with lots of products to promote, and stepping in when someone is just on the verge of buying.  And as Chris demonstrates…one of the best ways to do this is with a review site.

Think about it.  You’re looking to buy a new digital camera.  Maybe you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few different models.  Before you make your decision you’re likely to search around for some comparisons and comments from people who already own each model.  You’re in the last stage of research before you make your purchase…and that’s the perfect time for an affiliate to step in and claim a commission for themselves!

NOTE – this is a just a short summary of Chris’s report.  There’s a lot of details I’m leaving out so I strongly recommend you grab a copy of his report here.

Step Two – Applying the Conduit Method With A Review-Style Site

I was blown away by Chris’s report.  It was so simple…yet so powerful.  I immediately started to brainstorm of a way I could test it out.  I wanted to make a review-style site that was easy to update and could have affiliate links for lots of different products.  I saw a few html templates that would work but it would be too manual that way.  What I really wanted was a way to use Wordpress to create my review sites.  But I couldn’t figure out how to make it work right.

Then I got lucky and saw a thread on the Warrior Forum that mentioned Dan Grossman’s WP Review Site Plugin.  It wasn’t free but it was exactly what I needed.  I quickly bought it and started testing it out.  So far I’m very impressed…

It lets me add new product reviews quickly and easily.  It lets visitors leave their own comments and rate the products on a 5 star scale.  Then it ranks the products based on the actual customer ratings.  That’s a great feature because visitors will know which products rate best as soon as they hit my home page.

Starting the Review Site Project

For this project I wanted to pick a niche with lots of different products to promote. I chose web hosting.  I know…its an incredibly competitive niche so getting traffic could take some time.  But the potential rewards make it worth the effort.  There are tons of web hosting affiliate programs and many of them pay between $80 to $120 per referral.

Plus, I had already been planning a site on web hosting for some time.  I have some PLR content I bought to use for articles and I’m already affiliate of around 20 hosting sites so I could get started right away.  Plus I already had a couple of reviews written in advance.

So lets look at the pros and cons of my niche topic:

Cons

Very competitive
Organic traffic will be tough
PPC traffic will be expensive

Pros

High paying affiliate programs
Lots of different products to promote
Already have some of the writing work done for me
Popular topic with lots of traffic potential with time

The Site

Ok, so here’s a link to the review-style site I created: Best Web Host Ratings

It took me only 2 hours to register the domain, setup Wordpress, install the WP Review plugin, tweak the settings a bit, and write 20 something short reviews.  If you notice, the reviews are really just a list of basic features…nothing too time consuming.

The real power is going to be in the customer reviews…that’s the content that’s going to keep the site growing and keep visitors clicking through to the hosting provider’s sites.  Keep in mind that I’m an affiliate of almost every host listed, so I really don’t care which host gets the sales.  I get a commission no matter what.

Now I’m in an awkward spot because there’s not a lot of reviews yet and so there’s not much selling power either.  So if you want to help out please go ahead and leave a short review of your experiences with various web hosts.  All links are DoFollow so if nothing else you’ll get a free link back to your site.  :)

As traffic and the number of reviews grow I’ll be interested to see what kind of sales the site generates.  I really only need 1 sale to break even and everything after that is profit!

Here’s how I plan to market my webhosting review site…

Article marketing through EzineArticles and other directories
Posting in forums
Yahoo Answers
If sales warrant, perhaps a PPC campaign

As you can see this isn’t exactly a full on marketing blitz.  I’m mostly focused on writing articles and posting responses to people who are searching for a host.  It’s all about finding the right angle to attack the niche.

Am I missing anything?  If you have any ideas for promoting the site please leave a comment…I’d love to hear them.  But keep in mind I want to go free or low-cost with this site.  I want to demonstrate that it can be done on a shoestring budget.

That’s all for now…I’ll check in once a month or so to keep you updated on how the site is doing.

Make sure you subscribe to my free RSS feed so you can come along for the ride.