January 28, 2011
Today, I want to introduce you to someone using social media for a very personal cause. Jeffrey Reidy is raising money to help build his Mom a home. His main avenue? Harnessing the power of social media. I first met Jeffrey on #UsGuys on Twitter. I was moved by his story about his Mom and his dedication to helping her. At the time, he was starting a chip in campaign to get help for her. But now he’s come up with several other ways to raise money for her. One thing he’s doing is hosting a Social Media Webinar on February 8 from 8-10 p.m. CST . You’re definitely going to want to sign up for this. It’s only $29. It’s for a good cause. And you’ll get answers to lots of questions that you may have about how to make this social media thing work. I asked Jeffrey to tell me a little bit more about him Mom, his webinar and his advice for those new to social media.
1. Tell me a little bit about your Mom’s situation and what you’re doing to raise money to help her.
My mom was disabled years ago after a back operation for a sciatic nerve. Since she couldn’t work again after the operation, she had to start relying on a fixed income from social security. She couldn’t afford to keep living where she was prior to the operation so she found the only place that she could afford on the income from social security.
We didn’t know it at the time but the building she moved into was contaminated with toxic mold and she became really sick from it. Now she’s at the point where she needs oxygen to sleep at night and has a lot of seizure activity in her brain so even something like driving a car could be dangerous for her. She’s at the point where she needs to get out of there asap, and with money tight all around, I knew that I needed to do something big.
So I came up with the idea to run in the Disney World Half Marathon in January 2012 and tattoo sponsors’ logos on my body in order to raise money to build her a new house that she can live safely in.
I’m also holding some other events in the coming weeks and months such as social media webinars and anything else I can come up with to try to help her out.
2. What are you doing to train for the half marathon?
I just started a program called Couch to 5K this week and that will have me running about 3 miles in about 2 months and then I will step things up from there. It’s going to be a long road and a lot of hard work, but it’s my mom we’re talking about so I have to do whatever it takes to succeed.
3. How did you get involved with social media and how did you decide to use social media to help your mother?
I’ve been involved with social media for a few years now. It started out with me just using social media sites for personal use but then I added it to the consulting work that I do for businesses. I’ve seen so many great things promoted successfully with social media, so it just seemed like a natural route to go in promoting the events for my mom.
4. How’s that going so far?
It’s going very well. The support I’ve received from people has been tremendous and it hasn’t even been a whole week yet since I announced the Tattoo Run.
5. You’ve got a social media seminar coming up with the proceeds going to help your mother, who will be on that seminar?
We have a great lineup of speakers on the webinar… Michele Price, Chase Adams, Nicholas Cardot and Christopher Porter, plus some of the other #UsGuys founders might join Chase and the rest of us as well.
6. What topics will they be covering?
The topics that will be covered on the webinar include community building with social media, connecting with your customers via social media and friendship marketing using social media. We might touch on some other subjects as well.
7. Why should people sign up?
People should sign up because they’ll be getting a ton of great content and information that they can implement in their social media strategies. I like to tell people that this webinar offers real social media advice from real social media experts.
8. What one piece of advice would you offer for people just getting started in social media?
The best advice I can give someone that’s just getting started in social media is to just get out there and network with people. Interact with the people that you follow and the people that follow you, participate in #hashtag discussions and definitely focus on the “social” part of social media. You’ll make a ton of great friends and have a lot of fun along the way.
9. If someone wants to use social media to help their favorite cause, what can they do?
The biggest thing someone can do is to show people that you care about them and that’ll give people a reason to care about you and the things that you care about.
Thanks for the input, Jeffrey. Now, I highly encourage everyone to head over to Jeffrey’s blog and sign up for the Social Media Webinar. You’ll learn something for a great price and help Jeffrey help his Mom. Oh, and seating is limited and going fast, so get over there and sign up now!
June 3, 2009
Greetings everyone. Today I’m interviewing Dean Hunt of DeanHunt.com. Dean is best known as a buzz marketing genius and blogger extraordinaire.
Hi Dean. First, thanks for doing this interview.
Q. A lot of people when at the age you started were still in school or trying to figure out what they’re going to be when they grow up. How did someone so young become so successful so quickly?
A. That is the cool thing about the Internet, it doesn’t discriminate based on age. So anyone at any age can do it. I was around 20 before I got into it properly… I was 22 before I was making a fulltime income, so like most overnight success stories, there is a lot of effort and time that goes into them.
Q. So, for those who don’t know— what exactly IS buzz marketing? Is it just the internet marketing equivalent of being a shock jock?
A. Shock is just one small aspect of it… basically, it is doing something that gets people’s attention. The easiest way to do this is to make them feel an emotion… so, it may be inspiration, funny, shock, sadness, joy, hope etc…
I actually call it “outrageous marketing”.
I tend to use humour a lot.
When you grab attention, people talk about it, and that is when your message goes viral.
Q. Is there a limit to the boundaries you can push with buzz marketing? Is there anything you WON’T say?
A. I write as though I am my audience… if I find it funny, I publish, if I don’t find it offensive, I publish… etc…
My boundaries are more liberal than some people’s, but you can NEVER please everyone, and if you try, you will become very generic and dull.
Remember, it is better that 50% of people hate you and 50% love you, than 100% think you are ok.
Q. I recently saw a video you had published on your Facebook page where you referred to yourself as someone who has, at times, given up too early on sites? What’s one site you wish you had stuck with?
A. It is more of a case of giving up on ideas… my first ever big idea was to have a cup of coffee with 1000 strangers… I called the site “Fancy a Brew?” brew meaning tea or hot beverage in the UK.
It got a lot of attention, but I gave up after just 2 drinks… the ideas and potential excite me a LOT more than the details and the journey of actually doing it.
Q. Speaking of social networking, do you think it’s possible for business owners to have a real internet presence without it?
A. Yes, but social networking is a good option for people without a budget.
For example, if you have a team of 10 staff and a 6-figure marketing budget, do you NEED social networking? NO, but regardless, I think it helps… it is the grease that makes things happen faster.
My golden rule though, is that some people just don’t get it, or are not the right personality types to enjoy and excel in the social game… if that is you, do not fight it, focus on your strengths.
For everyone else, focus on the big 4: LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube
Q. Is there any ONE thing that everyone trying to increase the amount of money they’re generating online should be doing?
A. Testing. Success online can be summarized by the following: test things to see if they make you money, if they don’t, then tweak or stop doing them, if they do, do more of it.
Q. What is one thing you’ve had to change radically about how you view marketing over the years and what is one thing you think will always remain constant?
A. Consumers are more aware than ever before… they know about sales pages, they know about testimonials, one time offers etc… so you have to be more authentic.
The constant is that people who can get attention and stand out from the crowd will be successful. That is why buzz marketing will always be around.
Q. Tell us about your affiliation with ConstructZero (www.constructzero.org). What’s this I hear about your life being sponsored?
A. My life was sponsored by ConstructZero.org for $1 million, most of which I will be giving to charity. It means I will wear their URL and logo on an item of clothing, at events, on video, in photos etc…
It leverages my personal brand.
They are doing some really exciting and potentially world changing things at Www.ConstructZero.org, so I recommend you go check them out.
Q. What does a website have to do to earn a “doesn’t suck” button (http://deanhunt.com/your-website-sucks/) from Dean Hunt?
It has to not suck 😉
Just email me your website url with the subject line “does my website suck?” to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let you know.
Q. One last question— if you were to give up making money online tomorrow, what would you want to do instead?
A. Great question… I would probably consult with local, offline businesses. That or I would become a rockstar (I wish).
The answer to the last question made me laugh because it’s exactly what what my wife and I are doing with our new business. Anyway, I really enjoyed interviewing Dean and I recommend you go check out his blog by clicking here.
January 14, 2009
As I mentioned earlier a group of online marketers have released OnlineProfits.com. It is my pleasure to interview the mastermind behind the project, Daniel Scocco. Daniel has been making money online for quite some time now. His blog dailyblogtips.com is in Technorati’s Top 100 blogs, which means he’s a very popular blogger. The other day I had a chance to give him a quick interview and here it is…
Q. Daniel, tell me a little bit about what drew you to blogging.
Back in 2005 I was writing the thesis for my degree. The topic was Innovation Management, and I ended up with this huge word document that probably only 2 people would ever read: my teacher and my dad.
Then I thought, why not publish it on the Internet? Maybe someone will find it and like it.
I then purchased my first domain name and created a very simple blog with raw HTML files.
Every time I wanted to change a detail on the header or on the sidebar I needed to edit dozens of HTML pages….
Despite the poor quality of the site, though, after a while it started getting visitors. First 10, then 100, then 200 of them on a single day!
That is when I realized the Internet had an enormous potential, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Q. What was the most time-consuming thing when you were getting started?
Editing those HTML pages….
Nah I am joking. The most time consuming thing was probably browsing around trying to collect the bits of information that I needed to improve my sites, promote them effectively and so on.
You can go with trial and error, but it is very likely that other people solved the same problems you have in the past, so learning from them is the best approach.
Q. You’ve put together a new program with a great group of people for those new to making money online. How did you get the idea for such a large collaboration?
There are many ebooks and courses related to Internet marketing out there, but most focus on just one aspect of it (e.g., PPC, affiliate marketing, SEO and so on).
I wanted to fill that gap by creating a training program that would cover all the different facets of Internet marketing.
That is where the idea for bringing other people aboard came from. I realized that one person alone can’t master all those things.
Q. What is the biggest benefit to a program created by a group, rather than just one person?
The biggest benefit is the possibility to offer to the members a learning material that was created by people with different expertise and experiences.
Q. Who should buy this program? Is there anyone out there who should save their money for other products down the road, instead?
This program is geared towards anyone that wants to get started with Internet marketing and creating an online business.
If you are already earning good money online, if your blogs and sites are growing fast and so on, this is not the right product for you.
Additionally, for this first launch the content will be released gradually, so members will inevitably need to go through all the lessons. If you are interested in just one of the modules, say SEO, this is not the right program for you.
Q. If you could go back in time and do everything over again, what would you do differently with your business?
I would have started earlier on the Internet. I remember back in 1994 when I first got my Internet connection that my dad came one day from work talking about a weird idea of “investing in domain names.” We never gave that much thought. I guess we should have!
Q. What’s next for Daniel Scocco?
Online Profits will be my main gig for a while now. During 2009 I want to make sure that the current members will have a great experience and more than their money’s worth.
In 2010 I also have many plans for the expansion of the site.
My Parting Thoughts
It was an honor to interview Daniel. He is one of the most honest people I have met in this industry. If you haven’t already checked it out, check out onlineprofits.com to see what he has put together.
January 30, 2008
The other day I was interviewed by broadcasting brain. You can check it out on their blog by going here:
I thought he asked some really good questions. Go check it out!
August 1, 2007
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Search Engine Marketing guru, Aaron Wall. Aaron Wall made a name for himself very quickly in the SEO/SEM world. In 2003 he launched his first website, and in 2007 he is one of the most recognized names in the SEO industry.
Q. If someone had told you five years ago that in 2007 people would consider you an SEO expert, what would have been your reaction?
What is SEO? I wasn’t even aware of the term 5 years ago. My first site went live in January of 2003.
Q. What prompted you to start your first online business?
A wide variety of factors, which include:
- an emptiness and disconnect from doing jobs I did not like
- a lack of satisfaction in working for others
- a lack of trust for employers gained through being a low level worker, later being a manager and hearing what my boss thought of other workers, and knowing that my bosses boss was about to put me in charge if I didn’t quit…basically I saw little loyalty anywhere in the few jobs I had
- realizing that I worked harder than most people and was probably going to work myself to death if I kept up what I was doing
- a desire to better learn and understand myself
Q. For some people, Search Engine Optimization is a pretty dry topic, but for you it seems like it’s about so much more than business. What is it about SEO that fascinates you?
I think there is the idea that you can create something and share it with others…that small changes can lead to bigger ones. Also I love the idea that individuals can compete head to head with multi billion dollar corporations.
Q. Your book was the first product I ever saw being sold through a blog, what made you decide on that approach?
In 2003 it seemed obvious to me that blogs were given a disproportionate amount of link equity for their quality of content because they made it so easy to find out when you had something new to say. That is the main reason why blog as a format made sense for me, it was an easy and cheap way to acquire authority.
Q. When you wrote your book, the Overture search term suggestion tool showed 0 searches for SEO book. Why did you think there was a need, and did you think it would sell?
I never guessed it would become as popular as it did, but I remembered hearing that all SEO Books were crap because they were years outdated. That is a large part of the reason why I created an ebook.
Q. Search algorithms have evolved a lot in the past several years. If you were starting your first website now, instead of four years ago, what would you have to do differently?
A lot of it depends on how much capital you have to work with, how much you know about your topic of choice, and what your end goals are. If I marketed a credit card site 5% as hard as I marketed SEO Book I would probably have 10 or 20 million in the bank right now. The biggest thing I try to do with sites I start right now are to try to create competitive advantages that are hard to clone. Many of my new sites are via partnerships, and I try to get my partners to become leading subject matter experts in those fields. There is some amount of fake it until you make it to the approach, but it is easy to gain traction if you care about the market you are in. Another thing I like to do is create brands and ideas that are easy to like, and try to leverage that authority to profit from sectors of the web that are of higher value.
Q. Which SEO tools do you use on a regular basis?
SEO for Firefox, my keyword tool (which links to most of the best ones worth using), and the iGoogle homepage and custom RSS feeds (for news and link searches). I also like subscribing to a few best of breed content channels that are not freely available.
Q. What is the biggest SEO mistake people make?
- Cloning methods that were once successful, but are of little or no merit in today’s market. For example, that guy with the one page lead generation site that is ranking probably had real content on that page in the past, or was one of the first in the market and existed back when linking was more natural than it is today.
- Following what competitors are doing rather than creating their own competitive advantages.
- Believing in the advice of some guru too much and not spending the time needed to develop a deep understanding of the marketplace and create something unique and of value.
Q. SEO seems to be evolving into a much more cutthroat field. Can competitors use methods such as Seach Engine Bowling to ruin your Search Engine rankings?
It can happen, but I think it is much less common than some people think. I think what is much more common is people creating hate sites that rank highly for brand related keywords.
Q. How can you protect your Search Engine ranking?
Don’t rely too heavily on any individual keyword, or search marketing in general. Make it a piece of what you do, but outside of that create a strong brand and get people to evangelize your offerings.
Q. Do you prefer SEO over WEB 2.0 traffic generating techniques? Why?
I think it is a mistake to separate the two ideas. I look more at how they can play together to produce better results. At the end of the day it is all marketing, and the one thing worth tracking is results. 🙂
Q. In your “about me” section (one of the largest, most detailed I’ve ever seen, by the way), you talk a lot about social change. In what way do you see your current business ventures as avenues to social change?
Honestly it is a bit hard to know how what we do affects the world around us. If nothing else I think I try to push the question authority angle quite a bit. That should hopefully help some people believe in themselves more and create more creative stuff, but on the other side of the coin many of my readers represent business interests that are likely against the best interest of most consumers. There is a thin line between optimization and fraud. I can’t tell how people use the advice I give or what they market with it.
Q. One last question. What one thing must people learn now to be successful in SEO a year from now?
The market will likely look much like it does today with few major exceptions. I am thinking that right now there is too much weight put on domain authority by Google. I think they are going to find a way to break sites into pieces so one well marketed section can’t carry a low value section as well as it does today. In addition they will look for ways to implement usage data for signals of value, authority, and trust.
Over the next two or three years Google’s ad offerings are also going to become much more automated and wipe out many large markets where market leaders add little value to the market. There are also going to be swaths of content coming online. Independent publishers that do not have RSS subscribers (or some similar equivalent) are soon going to find their content buried. See this post for more on that http://www.seobook.com/archives/002327.shtml
May 8, 2007
Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Yaro Starak of Entrepreneur’s Journey, Blog Traffic King, and Small Business Marketing and Branding. Yaro is a very successful online businessman and well-respected in the blogging community.
Q. Based on the fact that Entrepreneur’s Journey archives go back to 2004, I would guess that you are probably one of the first bloggers to chart your journey of making money online. What is the most significant change you have noticed in blogging since you started?
A: The amount of new blogs talking about similar things to what I blog about. The whole making money online, blogging advice and Internet marketing topic areas are quite crowded and it is very difficult for new entrants to get a strong foothold unless they have a unique set of skills, experiences and background from which to draw on to create content.
If I didn’t have the experience I have from running Internet businesses since 1998 I doubt I could build a popular blog in this niche. It’s smarter to go for other areas where there isn’t as much competition unless of course you truly are great at making money online already and are prepared to share your secrets.
Q. What prompted you to start your first online business?
A: A strong desire for freedom. I’ve never had a full time job and I’ve always known that a business was the best way to make a living if I wanted to be master of my own life.
The Internet just happened to come along at the right time when I was entering university so I sort of grew up with online business as an opportunity.
Q . You now have quite a few online businesses. Out of those, do you have a favorite? Which is the most lucrative?
A: Things are constantly changing. In terms of raw profits my editing and proofreading business, BetterEdit.com is definitely the best. It makes the most money and since someone else manages the day-to-day activities I do only a couple of hours a week work on it.
However, I much prefer blogging and recording audio as a passion and while I certainly work a lot harder at it, it pays almost as well as BetterEdit does at the moment. Since I’m moving more into blog training this is the area I suspect to draw the most income from in the near future and the area I will spend the majority of my time on as well.
I also have a few forum sites which are basically passive income earners. They keep running without me and bring in money from AdSense and other advertising and affiliate programs. I make the least money from these (about $1000 a month) but they require nearly zero ongoing work since I have people in place who look after them.
Q. On your blog in March you mentioned that you made $6549.52 from blogging. What monetization methods have you found to be the most profitable for blogging?
A: My experience is probably a bit unusual in that affiliate programs work the best for my blogs. That’s partly because I focus on affiliate marketing and partly because of the industries I blog about. Affiliate product commissions are a lot higher than advertising payouts, so one product sale might make me $150, which for a lot of bloggers might be their entire month’s AdSense income.
I also focus on selling advertising directly from my blogs, selling banners and text links, which works really well. I like to put sponsors on a subscription so I do not have to spend too much time chasing up payments.
My goal with blog income is to focus on less labor intensive methods, hence I prefer recurring subscriptions and affiliate marketing.
Programs like AdSense and paid reviews require you work harder and putting out more content if you want to earn more. In my case I can focus on working less but keeping article quality high at the same time to provide value to my readers.
Q. On Entrepreneur’s Journey, you offer a lot of great advice to people who are just starting out. In your post titled “Small Business Realities“, you wrote:
The important skill to learn is that the business owner should work on the business, not in it, but that’s easier said than done and especially early on when funds are tight it’s very like you will be working in the business.
Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?
A: Looking at the growth of my business BetterEdit is a great example. When I started the business I built the website, hired the editors, coordinated editing jobs, provided customer service and marketed the business with posters on university campuses. Over the years I slowly moved away from each of these tasks and outsourced as my cashflow grew enough to do so.
First I hired someone to put up posters for me, then I brought on a web marketing firm to improve the website. More recently I hired an admin person who handles the daily job processing and customer service roles. Now I essentially just confirm payments are made and once a year hire new editors. If this was my only business I could spend the rest of my time working “on” it, formulating new strategies and testing new marketing methods knowing that other people where keeping the business running without me – the “in” the business part.
Of course I choose to spend most of my time in the blogging world now and not growing BetterEdit, but you can see it was because I moved away from being the center cog that kept the business going and allowed me to focus on blogging instead. You must aim to create systems that handle the critical roles if you ever want to have freedom.
Q. You recently started a blog mentoring program for beginners. What is the biggest mistake you see people make when they first start blogging?
A: Focusing too much on making money and reading other blogs. New bloggers need to focus on content production and marketing, not reading other blogs and feeling bad about how little money they are currently making.
99% of bloggers make peanuts for the first six months on a new blog – it was the same for me – and if you can create a mindset of giving great content especially during the early days you will be rewarded in the long run. It takes a little belief and definitely some hard work, but if you pick a topic you love, the blogging journey will be 100% enjoyable, even during the early days when you make no money.
Once you get to around 500 visitors a day, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, keep pumping out the great content to build more traffic AND then start testing some methods to monetize your blog. You can try and make money earlier than this, but seriously if you make $5 from your current 100 visitors that you are working four hours a day to generate are you going to be motivated or discouraged?
If you make $50 after doing just one affiliate promotion to your 500 visitors built up from a few months of steady blogging and not thinking about the money, don’t you think you will feel more motivated and excited about the future potential? It’s all about strategy and mindset with the right tactics at the right time.
Q. In addition to your mentoring program, you also offer a free blog traffic newsletter. If you could only use ONE method of getting traffic to your blog, what would it be and why?
A: Other people’s blogs. In the Internet business world entrepreneurs usually say if they had one tool to market with they would always say joint ventures. It’s through partnerships and relationships with people who already have access to an audience that you can successfully build your own audience.
Q. You have a great section on your website where you give a rundown of what a typical day in your life looks like. You mention “when you are mentally spent it’s a great time to work on free online marketing techniques that don’t require you to be firing on all cylinders”. Can you give us some specific free techniques that you use?
A: Okay, to be honest nowadays when I am mentally spent I go and leave the computer altogether, however what I was referring to in that article was when you can no longer construct clever things – like full sized articles, or website code, or graphic design or all the other somewhat creative or intellectual activities you might have to do. At these times you can head out and do marketing activities that only require you to use minimal brain power – leave comments on other blogs, submit your site to directories, take part in forum discussions, etc – all activities that take only a few coherent sentences or routine steps to get results from.
Q. In that same post, you mention that your upcoming goals include training someone else to take over more of your administrative duties. What tasks lend themselves to outsourcing? Are there any jobs that should never be outsourced?
A: When I wrote that article I had not hired the admin person for BetterEdit yet, so that was in particular what I was referring to. I have since hired a stay-at-home mum who manages the email customer service and job processing duties.
Other areas I am currently outsourcing are web development and server management, graphic design and very soon help desk management for my blogging business.
You can outsource nearly everything, but what you need to do is outsource what you are not good at and focus on what you are good at. If your income is not sufficient to outsource everything, then focus on the task that is your immediate constraint as the first outsourced
In my case I am best at content creation and relationship building. I still do a lot more than just those activities, but my goal is to get the point where all I do is write and record audio and training videos. Everything else will be handled by more talented people than myself and
I will essentially be a project manager.
Q. One last question before we go—and this is, of course, is the most important one. Since you’re a big tennis fan, who is the best tennis player of all time?
A: Ha! Tough to answer. I have this horrible feeling that Federer may not win the French. If he doesn’t then he’ll always have the same problem that Pete did with people saying he was not a complete enough player to be considered the best.
Without owning each slam you can’t be considered the best even if your total number of slams is highest, in my opinion. As soon as Fed has at least one French and equals or surpasses Pete’s total slam count then I’ll hand him the crown of best ever with no reservations.
May 1, 2007
A few weeks ago I asked Mama Duck (aka Lisa) if she would do an interview with me. I was really glad she accepted because I have always wondered how she managed to have her blog noticed so quickly.
Q. Mama Duck, can you tell my readers a little about your blog http://lilduckduck.com/ and how you got started blogging?
This blog is a repository for all the things that the toddler has done, destroyed & discovered. It’s also a resource for parents of toddlers that will continue to expand and eventually become an entire parenting resource portal, laid out less like a blog and more like an informational site. It actually began as I was looking for legitimate money making opportunities online, where I came across Steve Pavlina’s blog and Problogger. After doing quite a bit of research, I decided to start my own blog with WordPress on my own domain.
Q. In 2006 your blog was nominated for “Best Parenting Blog” in the 2006 weblog awards. If I recall correctly your blog had only been around about 3 months when you were nominated. Not only that, but after being in existence for less than a year, your blog has a Technorati ranking of 1,166 . What do you think are the main keys to your quick success?
Blog carnivals, community events, participating in relevant daily memes such as Works for Me Wednesday which can be adapted to include toddler and household tips that are both relevant to my blog topic and great for search engine traffic. Just getting to know people via e-mail (responding to their comments) & through different blog events (Wendy’s casting call allowed me to meet blogging friends right away that I still keep in touch with all the time). I also link my blog in my signature on all the parenting forums, on our signature making board (http://pixelperfectsignatures.com) and in all my e-mails. When I post stories/photos about the little one, I send the link to all my friends and family, rather than just copying it into an e-mail, then they can share with their friends and so on.
Q. What was the first blog you ever read?
Q. What blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I just tried to clean out my feed reader, but I still have 130 blogs in there! Some of the ones I try to check every day that haven’t already been mentioned are eMoms at Home – Parent Hacks – Daddy Forever – Trizle & West of Mars. How is that for an eclectic sampling? 🙂
Q. How much time per day do you spend on blog related activities (blogging, promotion, design)?
It took a lot of initial time investment – learning WordPress, researching how best to do things, optimizing, tweaking, setting up ads, designing the templates, etc. However, now if I can manage to leave the template alone, it’s just a chunk of time each week to write posts for the next week, then a bit of time each day to check comments, write quick posts, visit others, etc.. During the week I am usually doing well to keep up with orders and the little one, so I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the blog every day. Once the framework is there, it isn’t a ton of work just to write posts & answer e-mails.
Q. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone just starting to blog what would it be?
Research ahead of time. I’ve seen a lot of people who say “I wish I’d known when I started blogging that I need to use search engine friendly permalinks, or that it’s best to be on my own domain rather than Blogger/Typepad, etc” – mostly things that can be learned through just a bit of research, really. It seems overwhelming at first, but it becomes much easier when you just jump into it and try things. I have a local installation of WordPress on my Mac, where I can mess around with templates and coding to my hearts content without breaking the blog (PHP coding was new to me when I started the blog, although I’d done a fair amount of web design in xHtml and CSS), which is a huge help if you want to make your own templates or mess around a lot with pre-made templates.
Q. You use quite a few different methods to monetize your blog. What have you found to be the most successful ways to bring in money to your blog?
Well, the number one money maker for me is obviously my products, which are heavily promoted on my blog. Google AdSense does fairly well, but I’m having more and more trouble filtering out all the competing ads as I branch out into graduation cards, engagement and wedding cards, etc. so I’m looking for another option where I can have more control over the ads that are displayed. Text Link Ads & BlogHer Ads continue to perform well on this blog, Amazon referrals do well around Christmas time or any time I’m writing about toys or other products such as that when I put them in as text links, but not as ad blocks.
Q. What is the best way you have found to bring traffic to your blog?
Good search engine optimization, including creating a sitemap, using custom meta tags & search engine friendly permalinks, using keywords in post titles. Above all, writing good, relevant content to which others link and enjoy reading, which then ranks higher in the search engines. Carnivals & relevant memes are a great way to get started and to meet other people in your blogging niche as well.
Q. Is there any other advice you would like to tell people looking to start a blog?
It’s a commitment, I see a lot of people who slack off and don’t keep up with posting or anything. I try to always have posts written ahead as I do get busy, I don’t have time to write every day. If I can set aside a block of time once a week to write the posts for the next week, it really helps a lot.
Q. One last question, If you weren’t blogging, what would you be doing?
Well, I tend to get a little stir-crazy if I’m not doing ten things at once, so I’d probably be running another type of website, managing a forum, or doing more contract work (which I already do a bit when I’m feeling bored…). It’s very important for me to keep the little one here with me, so I’d definitely be doing something where I can stay at home or bring him along.
April 4, 2007
This week I had the privilege of interviewing Affiliate Marketing guru Allan Gardyne of Associate Programs. When I was first looking into online opportunities, Allan was one of the first extremely successful Affiliate Marketers I read about. Allan owns many websites, including PayPerClickSearchEngines.com a directory of pay-per-click search engines and KeywordWorkshop.com, the first website to give comprehensive reviews of keyword research tools.
Allan I am honored to interview you. I have been a regular reader of your newsletter since I signed up for it 2 years ago.
Q. On your site, you say that you’ve been making a good living from affiliate programs since 1998. Did you do anything before that to make money online? What led you to affiliate marketing?
I started online in 1996 with a hobby business website aimed at people like me who have an intolerance to gluten. My wife, Joanna, and I had spent a lot of time experimenting with gluten-free recipes so I wrote and sold a gluten-free recipes ebook – although I’d never heard the word “ebook” in those days. I called it a “digital book”, which probably puzzled most of my visitors!
That old site still exists but I give the recipes away now.
Selling the book wasn’t terribly successful, especially at first, so I spent a lot of time studying how to market on the Internet. One of the books I bought had an affiliate program. I found the book useful, so I started promoting it on a niche website and received a few commission cheques.
I thought “This is great!” and wanted to find more affiliate programs. I searched for an affiliate directory and couldn’t find one, so I started my own. That’s how AssociatePrograms.com was born, early in 1998. Apparently there was already one affiliate directory, but I didn’t find it.
In a fairly similar way, in 1999 I saw people on a discussion list asking for a list of pay-pay-click search engines. I couldn’t find one, so I created PayPerClickSearchEngines.com and handed it over to an employee to manage.
Q. What were you doing before you started your online business?
I was a journalist – reporter, sub-editor, chief of staff – for daily newspapers in New Zealand and Australia.
Q. Who most influenced you when you were starting out?
My boss. I’d grown to hate my job and was striving to escape from a control freak boss. That was mighty powerful motivation.
I was broke when I started and made the time-wasting mistake of trying to do things purely by trial and error. As soon as I could afford to, I started buying marketing manuals and read voraciously. The first marketing book I read was written by Jim Daniels. I learned a lot from Corey Rudl, Ken Evoy, Marlon Sanders… and lots of other people.
Q. What was the best thing you did to increase your online income?
I sat down and analyzed my skills and interests and decided to build a business around them. I’d wasted a couple of years online before doing that.
Now I always advise people to design their own businesses to suit them. For me, starting websites and newsletters in fast-growing niches was a really good decision.
Q. How has affiliate marketing changed in the past ten years, and how do you see it changing in the next five years?
Whew! It would take books to answer that, because there have been so many changes, so many hyped up fads. However, in all those hectic years, one thing has remained constant: If you build a truly USEFUL, interesting website which genuinely helps your visitors, you’ll have a very good chance of success. I don’t see that changing much in the next five years, although things will inevitably get more intensely competitive.
I think it’s inevitable that search engines will get better at sorting out the junk and auto-generated stuff. They’ll have to.
The whole “Internet marketing” scene is crazily competitive now. Wise affiliates are getting themselves established in less competitive niches.
I think affiliate merchants will have to work much harder to reward successful affiliates and encourage them to stay loyal.
We’ll also see a lot more video, more effectively used – I hope.
Q. In your last newsletter you mentioned how video is helping people sell their products. How can affiliate marketers utilize video to improve their conversions promoting other people’s products?
Yes. It’s good to see people pioneering the use of video for affiliates. I really must make the time to get more involved in video. I’ve seen some good videos created by affiliates who use Camtasia to show you how to use software or they take you inside a membership site – with the merchant’s permission, of course.
There’s fantastic potential for affiliates to do more of this.
It’s the old story. The affiliates who do some work instead of just pasting a link into their site, are more likely to get sales.
Q. Are there any questions you ask yourself about a product before promoting it?
I nearly always test a product before I promote it. I’m swamped with offers to promote stuff, so I can choose only those I strongly believe in. As well as being sure that the product is high quality, I like to know as much as I can about the people behind it. That’s really important to me. I like working with merchants I know and trust.
I’m also keen on programs which pay residual revenue, the sort we review at LifetimeCommissions.com. I like doing the work once and being paid over and over again.
Q. What kind of sites does affiliate marketing work best for? Are there any types of sites that should avoid affiliate programs?
They work well on review sites, where someone in a buying frame of mind types “product XYZ 478659” into a search engine and finds a favorable review just when they’re considering buying the product. That’s powerful.
Affiliate programs work well on any sites where the affiliate has gone to the trouble of researching the products thoroughly and writing in-depth case studies describing in specific detail how the product has helped someone.
Here’s a bad use of affiliate programs…
If I’m promoting product A, I hate seeing affiliate links on the sales letter promoting product B, on which I don’t earn a commission. I saw an affiliate merchant site the other day which had a pop-up which not only included an AdSense ad – against the AdSense rules! – but also promoted a third-party product. That sort of behavior isn’t fair to affiliates.
If affiliates spot this sort of thing, I think we should not only avoid the affiliate merchant but also tell them why.
Diverting traffic to non-commissioned sales is a really dumb thing for an affiliate merchant to do because experienced affiliates – the ones most likely to produce good sales – will see what’s happening and not sign up.
Q. What is the most important thing to remember when promoting an affiliate program?
The affiliate’s job is to help someone decide what to buy. You have to make a conscious decision to do this, not merely present a few facts.
Try to see things from your visitor’s point of view. Try to imagine what is going on in your visitor’s mind, and help him or her decide what to buy. This may sound simple, but it’s so easy to forget to do it.
Obviously, it’s really important to promote high quality products so you can enthusiastically endorse them. Enthusiasm sells.
Q. What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to promote an affiliate program?
The most common mistake is for an affiliate newcomer to create a site about how to do Internet marketing – when they know almost nothing about Internet marketing.
There are tens of thousands of affiliate programs and millions of products you can choose from. New affiliates often overlook the fact that it’s easier to succeed if you choose a less competitive niche. I own a bunch of websites in non-Internet marketing niches.
Here’s an article I wrote describing 12 mistakes affiliates make:
Q. What are your favorite affiliate marketing tools?
My mind and my fingers on the keyboard. Sorry if that sounds flippant, but it’s so true. When I look at how I spend most of my time, that’s what I do – answering questions on our affiliate forum, writing my affiliate newsletter and writing articles.
Of course keyword research is hugely important when you’re researching a new site or writing an article. I have an annual subscription to Wordtracker and dip in there every now and again.
I’ve never really been one for in-depth tracking and analysis, but I know it’s hugely important. That’s why I teamed up with Jay Stockwell, who created KeywordWorkshop.com for us. He loves doing that stuff.
Q You are one of the most recognized names in affiliate marketing. If you were to write a formula for affiliate marketing success, what would it be?
I think far too many new affiliates try to run before they can walk. They should start with something fairly easy and earn while they learn.
That’s why I strongly recommend that every new affiliate should start by creating a useful niche content site, weave in a few affiliate links and AdSense ads, and get good links to it. By doing this, you gradually learn all the main facets of Internet marketing, while generating revenue at the same time.
Who knows? You may do so well with this formula that you never venture beyond it.
My Affiliate Program Tutorial, which I wrote when our bookkeeper started asking questions, explains this in more detail:
Q. One last question. What is the best way I can learn more about affiliate marketing from you?
Thanks for asking! Explore the hundreds of articles on AssociatePrograms.com, explore our affiliate forum, subscribe to my newsletter, and explore the newsletter archives. If it all seems too overwhelming, start with my free Affiliate Program Tutorial. It sums up years of experience – and a lot of hard work.
March 27, 2007
Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gayla McCord, a work at home mom, and professional blogger (she blogs for a living). Gayla currently writes for – owns, and/or maintains 12 blogs, including a Work at Home Mom blog and MomGadget.
I am sure you will enjoy the interview, so without further ado here goes…
Q. Why did you get started blogging?
I originally started blogging for a writing gig I was doing that consisted of writing articles. They introduced me to blogging to keep the articles up that way rather then adding them to their website page by page.
Q. What was the first blog you ever read?
The first blogs I read were political. I started getting into reading them more because of the last election. Before that, I didn’t realize they were quite as popular as they were.
Q. What blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I’ve got several in my Google Reader, but the ones I read most often are those found in the sidebar of MomGadget.com
Q. What are your favorite blogging tools?
I LOVE Qumana. It’s a blog writing tool that allows me to easily post to all my blogs without having to log out, log in, and out again from the various blogs I have.
Q. How much time per day do you spend on blog related activities (blogging, promotion, design)?
I work in my home office from 7:00 AM until 3:30 PM daily. Once I have all my blogs updated, I then venture out to work on social networking, promotion, etc.
Q. You wrote in this post that you made $4602.00 in February from your blogs. You use quite a few different methods to monetize your blog. What is the best form of monetization that you’ve used on your website?
Google Adsense is actually my 4th top money maker. The strongest performance comes from niche products that I promote on niche sites. I believe if you are passionate about a product, believe heavily in it, it shows. People will more likely purchase from an honest product review then they will from a “store front” website.
Q. Which kind of blogs do you think this form of monetization works best for?
Niche Blogs and Niche Products go hand in hand. As an example – if you blog about vacuums, naturally a dyson ad will do quite well.
Q. What is the best way you have found to bring traffic to your blog?
Commenting on other blogs and joining forums that are similar in topic.
Q. You give a lot of good advice on blogging, If you were to write a formula for blogging success, what would it be?
The most simple formula for blogging is simply to be passionate about what you write. Write as if you were never going to get paid for it. Because most likely you won’t for the first six months to a year. And be consistent. Don’t throw in the towel too early. There really is no easy or quick way to make money on the net – contrary to what some ads might say.
Q. One last question, If you weren’t blogging what would you be doing?
Before I began working from home, I was a buyer for a convenience store chain. I loved it and would likely return to that industry. I just love trying products and selling them. It’s in my blood.
February 8, 2007
For those of you who don’t know this, Daniel was nominated for the 2007 weblog award for Best Web Development Weblog.
Daniel agreed to the interview and it is my pleasure to share it with you. I am sure it will be of benefit to those of you just getting started in the blogosphere.
Q. What were the first thoughts that went through your head when you found out?
I discovered the nomination looking through my server statistics. There were 27 visitors coming from the Bloggies website. The interesting thing is that the nominations probably were released one hour or so before my server uploaded the statistics, hence why I had only 27 visitors. The next day, in fact, I received almost 1000 visitors from the Bloggies. It was quite a surprise to me, specially when I discovered the blogs that I was competing with (i.e. Problogger, A List Apart and Copyblogger).
Q. Why do you think your blog was nominated?
Sometime ago I had published a post about the Weblog Awards, with a link where people could go and nominate their favorite weblogs for different categories. I think that some of my readers headed to the website and nominated Daily Blog Tips, and probably I was also lucky for having a couple of more votes than the runner up. Either way I am really thankful for the people that contributed to it.
Q. How did you get started in blogging?
I have always played with websites when I was younger, but I never had the time to create and actually publish them. Early in 2005, however, I came across some articles outlining the benefits of blogs and explaining how easy it was to setup one. The next day I registered for a Blogger account and created a blog to share my ideas about innovation management (most of them were coming from my thesis).
Q. What do you like most about blogging and why?
In my opinion the Internet used to be a monologue until a couple of years ago. You had big portals providing information for the people, but the flow of information was unidirectional. The appearance of blogs, in my opinion, contributed to change that scenario. Nowadays you have this huge conversation going on across the Internet, which creates much more value and opportunity for everyone.
Q. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone just starting to blog what would it be?
I am afraid I will need to use a cliché here, but the single advice I would give to someone starting out is: content is king! You surely can (and sometimes should) pay attention to the design, search engine optimization, promotion and so on, but if you have great and original
content the readers will come and so will the links.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most crucial element of a blog post?
Well it is difficult to nail down THE most crucial element, but if I had to I guess I would say the title. Titles play a very important role on the reader decision about reading the post further or just skipping it altogether. Other important elements are: the post should be scannable, should not contain grammatical errors and should go straight to the point.
Q. Is there any other advice you would like to share with people looking to start a blog?
Start it today. Everyone commits mistakes, but the sooner you start the sooner you will learn your way through.
December 5, 2006
About 6 weeks ago my wife Jill and I went to a couples night out dinner for a local Homeschooling group. At the dinner I met a homeschooling Dad who earns his living entirely online (something most of us would like to do). His name is Austin C. Davis and he runs over 100 websites. His two most popular sites are auro related sites that bring in consisent traffic for keywords like, Car insurance Atlanta, Car Insurance Dallas and the like.
The following is an interview I did with Austin, that I am sure you will enjoy…
Q. Austin, how did you get started in Internet Marketing?
A. I wanted to work from home by myself, make my own hours, not have to actually sell anything, like on Ebay, home school my kids and travel with my family. That pretty much narrowed things down to online stock trading…which I did for a while and lost money, and building a website and promoting products and services that someone else would mail out and take all the responsibility for.
I quit my day job, which is funny because I was the owner of a family auto repair shop in Houston TX that my grandfather started in 1937. I left the company and my father came out of retirement to take over. I knew nothing about the Internet and how to build a website or what and how to sell online, but I was determined and that is all that mattered.
I sat down at my computer and started to learn HTML, SEO stuff, link building skills, how to get listed in top positions in the search engines, how to become an affiliate for other web marketers etc. etc. etc. It took me about a year to really get everything under my belt…but I did EVERYTHING myself which I do NOT recommend. There are tons of places online now that can show you how to build a site, find products and start promoting them very quickly.
I had no idea what an affiliate marketer was so I had to start from scratch, and I was afraid to spend money on education, so it took me a longer time than it should have to get up and running and making a profit.
Q. If you don’t mind sharing, could you let us know what are the favorite sites you work on and why?
A. Sure, I have a direct relationship with an auto insurance company and they are my top revenue producer for me. Google adsense is my second largest revenue producer, then Alldata which is an online auto repair manual program that pays me per new subscriber. Clearly Adsense is the easiest and fastest to implement, but the days of large per click pay outs might be gone.
A year ago there where many, many marketers that were making $10,000 + a month easily with Adsense. I personally know of a handful of marketers that were making well over $50,000 a month JUST in Adsense.
If you can get a direct relationship with an advertiser, you will probably get more money and have more access to statistics and banners etc. than if you used a third party provider like http://www.cj.com which I still use, but look for a direct advertiser first. If you have a quality site, generate a fair amount of traffic and can prove to be worth the extra effort for the advertiser…you should not have a problem asking the advertiser directly.
Q. From the polls I have run on this blog, one of the top questions people have about Internet Marketing is “How do I get more traffic to my website?” Can you give us a brief description of one of your favorite methods to generate traffic to your site?
A. Hands down, KEYWORD RESEARCH! Most site owners make sites and post to their blogs about topics that they as the site owner THINK are of interest to the reader. I do things backwards. I do my keyword research FIRST, find the most traffic for the search term, then I will Google the actual keyword phrase to check out my competition.
I want to get on the top 10 on the first page…or I won’t waste my time making the webpage. So, an example would be the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” and according to http://www.goodkeywords.com using the Overture search engine I see the search volume for that phrase just last month and just on the Overture search engine had about 1059 searches. Now that is JUST Overture, so I take that number and multiple by 5 to include the other top search engines Like Google, Yahoo and MSN ( I count Google twice because of its large search size). So in this example I can estimate about 5500 monthly searches or about 180 daily searches for the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” .
Now I will take the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” and do a Google search to look at my competition. I am looking to see how many sites are Top Level sites, meaning the main page of the site is what Google returned. i.e. http://www.trustmymechanic.com is the top level and www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html is a secondary page within the site.
If the top 10 competitors are all top level sites…my chances of beating them from my secondary page is going to be very tough, and I would look for other keyword phrases to compete against.
Now, if you did the Google search for New Jersey Auto Insurance, you probably found my page http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html and if you noticed the title of the page, not the title of the article on the page….the actual title of the page you can see what other keywords I am targeting and how I used them in my title so it still reads well, but will pick up on all the varieties of the phrase I wanted to target. Which are
· NJ car insurance
· NJ auto insurance
· New Jersey Car Insurance
· Car insurance NJ
· Auto insurance NJ
If you add up all the potential free search traffic from those keyword phrases it is well over 10,000 monthly potential visitors from those searches. My page http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html gets returned on Google using many of those phrases because I themed the page correctly for each phrase AND I have links from other websites linking to that page using those phrases in the anchor text. The anchor text is what the visitor clicks on, like “Click Here” except I get my link partners to link to that page with “NJ Car insurance” which in turn gives me link popularity credit on the search engines. The more links I can get pointing to that page…the higher the search results I will go.
So the moral to the story is that ONE page on my site http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html is now getting listed in the top 10 results on the first page in the major search engines AND is making money. Incidentally I made that page about 2 years ago doing my keyword research I found that most major auto insurance companies DID NOT write policies in NJ. There is some whacky law that the big insurance companies don’t like, so they just don’t write auto insurance policies in NJ. I got on the phone, and spent days on the internet tying to find an advertiser that WOULD accept NJ traffic and built a relationship with them.
Keyword research is tricky and time consuming, but if you do it right….you will be rewarded handsomely. Don’t forget misspellings in your keyword research….I would bet more than 30% of the search volume contains a misspelling. I purposely add the misspelling and the proper spelling within the articles like this popular page on my site http://myhonestmechanic.com/articles/pontiac-soltice.shtml
I went to the Houston car show early this year and took my own pictures and made my own car review from all the free literature they pass out. You would not believe how many new vehicles that are coming on the market that are prime candidate for misspellings. Think about the visitor and how they might misspell the words you are trying to target. According to the Goodkeywords.com program almost 200 people using Overture last month searched for “break pad” instead of brake pad. 130 searched for nsurance instead of insurance….take these search volume numbers and multiple by 5 to represent the other engines and you can easily see a LARGE amount of easy search traffic that can be picked up utilizing the same articles on your site..
Q. Another thing people always seem to want to know how to do better is monetizing their site. Could you tell us about one of your best money making techniques?
A. From what I see, most webmasters make it too difficult for the visitor to take the action the site owner wants them to do. If you want me to enter my zip code and get a free online auto insurance quote, tell me that upfront on the center of the page…get my attention, make a compelling reason WHY I should get a quote in the first place and why should I get it from YOUR site? Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy. People read a webpage very quickly usually just skimming the content of the page looking for the information they typed in the search engine….make it easy for them.
Back to the NJ auto insurance page from above, look at the page text…I reinforce the same keywords you used to get to the page via Google…it’s my page title with a BIG testimonial from me telling you why you should get a quote from my site and all the reasons why I made the page in the first place….to HELP you find good insurance, because I have already done my research and can save you lots of time and frustration. Bulleted lists work very very well!!
If you have an affiliate program that will allow incentives ( you will give the visitor something in exchange for them doing something for you) then you should make your incentive offer irresistible to the visitor, and your incentive offer must be something they visitor will perceive as valuable and worth their time and effort. Like on my NJ auto insurance page, I will give a free copy of my ebook explaining how they can lower their car repair expenses….its something that is on the same lines as lowering their auto insurance…so the visitor sees value there and takes me up on my offer.
Here are a few good places to find incentive allowable affiliate programs, http://www.modernclick.com (owned by a friend of mine) and http://www.bulletads.com among many other affiliate programs you can Google to locate.
Q. You mentioned to me that you have tons of Internet Marketing products. What is your favorite one? Knowing what you know now, would you have bought as many products as you did or would you have different buying habits?
A. I think I learned the most from Brad Fallon and Andy Jenkins, both are super nice and very knowledgeable guys. Here is their latest venture http://www.instantseoexpert.com/ which QUICKLY sold out. The offer lots of really great info for free! I still buy online marketing ebooks all the time, I want to stay on top of what others are doing and if I can learn just one new idea from a $97 ebook…its more than worth it to me. There are lot of SEO tricks out there, but to be totally honest….keyword research, having good unique content, getting inbound links to your page from other quality sites AND having an affiliate program that will convert visitors to customers is 95% of the game.
Q. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in Internet Marketing, what would it be?
A. Find your niche, do your keyword research and consistently add great unique content to your site on a daily basis. The visitors will bookmark your site, tell their friends about you and others will begin to find your site valuable as well. I am giving a BBC radio interview later today, they found me via a Google search and from a recommendation of a listener of their show. If your site helps the visitor…you will be successful.
Q. What do you consider to be the most important thing you have done to increase your online income?
Without a doubt, taking the time to do my keyword research BEFORE I make a new website or even a new page on my websites.
Q. Are there any other things you would like to tell someone just starting out?
Find someone in your area who is making money online whom you can meet with on a regular basis for lunch to discuss new ideas, get your ideas and sites critiqued. You can find people online on the webmaster forum boards pretty easily. I would also spend the money and the effort to go to a few SEO seminars like the http://bigseminar.com/ and http://bradfallon.com/. I have been to both of them and have met and interacted with both marketers…..and learned A LOT from them in a short period of time. Don’t be afraid to ask other marketers. I visit a lot of SEO seminars and trade shows and I ALWAYS hand out lots of my business cards with my email and website address. You never know who you will run into and how it can benefit you later on down the road.