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Interview with Mama Duck

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?

Steve Pavlina, who led me to Problogger.

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 HomeParent HacksDaddy ForeverTrizle & West of Mars. How is that for an eclectic sampling? ūüôā


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.

I Joined AGLOCO

April 19, 2007

In my first post about AGLOCO, nobody really gave any arguments that AGLOCO was in some way evil.

On the other hand, Jimi from AGLOCO Cash Machine made some good points in favor of joining:


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What concerns could anyone have? Spyware? The Google Toolbar is Spyware. The Alexa Toolbar is Spyware. Neither of those places pay you to use it. Your personal information isn’t used for Agloco. Just your viewing habits. You can turn it off or on at any time.

Not getting any money out of it? Didn’t cost you anything anyways.

They are expected to have 10,000,000 users by July. What does that mean? Advertisers may actually be willing to pay for that kind of audience.

Why join now? To build a network. Get a larger share of the pie. Be a part of a start up at the beginning.

In fact, I went ahead and joined through Jim’s affiliate link. I don’t know how much I am going to do to promote AGLOCO, but I do plan on checking it out and seeing if it makes me any money.

You can learn more about AGLOCO on their official website, by clicking here.

Did I make a mistake, is AGLOCO evil?

I Am Testing Out Kontera Ads – What Do You Think?

April 17, 2007

I am testing out Kontera on four of our blogs (this one, our american idol blog, our apprentice blog, and our onourtv blog). I will let you know how it goes.

I was prompted to do this, because of the results my friend Austin had from adding Kontera ads to a few of his sites. The Kontera ads are the links on this blog with double underlines.

Have you tried Kontera ads on your website or blog? What do you think of them?

Convince Me To Join AGLOCO

April 9, 2007

I have seen the word AGLOCO mentioned over and over, but haven’t really looked into it. From the little bit I have read about it, it seems like some sort of MLM scheme. I wanted to give YOU a chance to convince me it was a legitimate way to make money.

So here’s the deal. If you like AGLOCO (or if you don’t like it), go to the comments on this post and tell me why I should join AGLOCO . Please include your affiliate link in the comment.

If anyone convinces me to join AGLOCO , then I will use YOUR affiliate link to sign up for it.

Have at it!

Internet Marketing Tips From Around The Net 4/5/2007

April 6, 2007

This week I did a lot of reading online. Most of it was going through the list of 48 blogging mistakes. Here are some of the other articles that I enjoyed reading from around the web:

I Made $6549.52 From Blogging in March
Great Post by Yaro. As I said in the comments:


Excellent post. I think it is really cool that you have found a good balance between blogging and making money other ways online. I made the mistake of putting too much time into blogging and I am now thinking of ways to change that. I want more freedom with my time then what many of the top bloggers appear to have. I don’t want blogging to become a 9-5 job. More like 9-noon…

eMoms Birthday Party Contest – Grow Your Business with ShoeMoney & eMom!
Great contest idea by Wendy. Count me in. If you have a blog you should enter it as well. The prizes include tons of great free Intenet marketing products and advice.

The One Million Dollar Race
This looks like a fun contest. The rules aren’t complete yet, but the basic idea is you enter the competition to see who can earn a million dollars online the quickest. For those of us who are ultra competitive it may help motivate us to make more money. I will write more about this contest, once the rules are finalized.

My Take on Third Party Advertisement
Good post by Garry. I personally think that third party advertisers offer several advantages over going it on your own, like a bigger audience of potential advertisers, payment processing, etc. That said, I know that many people including my friend Austin, say that once you get enough traffic you should try to find a direct adveriser to sponsor your site.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Lots of Link Love
An excellent guest post on problogger about getting links to your blog by Wendy.

Questioning the Legitimacy and Authenticity of Internet Marketing Advice & Sources
Great post by Aaron Wall about being careful about who you go to for advice and mentoring.

Gayla Reveals Her Income Sources

April 6, 2007

After my interview with Allan Gardyne, Allan checked out my interview with Gayla and he asked the question:


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You mentioned promoting niche products and AdSense. What other methods are you using to monetize your blogs? (Perhaps George will be kind enough to refer this question to you.)

Gayla posted the response to Allan’s question on her blog. Since some of you wondered about that as well, I thought you would be interested in checking out Gayla’s response by clicking here. You also might want to bookmark the new page she created to track her blogging income sources.

Thanks Gayla for writing that post!

Interview With Affiliate Marketing Guru Allan Gardyne

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:
http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/articles/108/1/12-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:

http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/articles/188/1/Affiliate-Program-Tutorial

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.

Website Monetization Tips Coming Soon

April 2, 2007

A lot of you have emailed me or left comments on this blog with questions about monetizing your website and/or blog. So…

I decided to ask an expert about website monetization.

I knew that what I needed was to find an affiliate marketing guru to interview.

Yes, I have read tons of stuff on affiliate marketing and I do a decent job with affiliate marketing myself. However, there is always room for learning, especially from an expert!

I decided to ask the first person who came to my mind when I thought of the words “affiliate marketing guru”. I consider this person to be one of the top 10 Internet marketers in the world. He agreed to an interview and I will be posting the interview on Wednesday when I get back from a day of rest tomorrow.

If you are interested in learning affiliate marketing from an expert, then be sure to check out the interview I post on Wednesday.

Interview With Professional Blogger Gayla McCord

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.

Will John Reese Help Me Make Big Money Online?

March 20, 2007

I have bought many Internet Marketing products, listened to many Internet Marketing teleseminars, read many Internet Marketing blogs, experimented with many Internet Marketing techniques, and this past weekend I finally decided to join one of the top Intenet Marketing gurus membership sites: John Reese’s – Reese Report.

Why?

After years of listening to him speak and getting to know some of his techniques, I decided to download his free preview of the Reese Report. I was very impressed with his free preview, but it took a recent teleseminar for me to finally decide that I wanted to learn as much as I could from John Reese.

John won’t let me tell you the things I learn exclusively from him, but I will certainly be able to let you know how things work out. I plan on implementing his strategies in my online business and will let you know the results of those changes.

I will still continue to do my own experiments and reveal the details from those experiments.

Anyway, if you are interested in checking out John’s free newsletter, click here to download it. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Three Simple Steps To Making Money Online

February 22, 2007

Last May I wrote a post called the Key to Making Money Online. After writing it I realized there was an important factor missing from my equation – effective monetization. Given that missing ingredient, here are the three simple steps you need to take to make money online.

1. Produce Quality Content
If your site has good conent people will like it. Whether it be video games, educational materials, product reviews, news, etc. Producing quality conent is the first step to making money online.

2. Get Quality Links
If your site has good content, that is a great start. However, you must get visitors to your site. You have to let your target audience know about it and get quality links to your site. There are many ways to get links to a site. Having a site that is worth linking to (step 1) really makes this process easier.

3. Monetize It
It goes without saying that you have to monetize your site to make money online. There are many ways to monetize a site, ie. Affiliate Marketing, pay-per-click advertising, selling your own products or services, text link ads, etc. This is the missing step from my original formula. I guess I overlooked it, because back then I took it for granted. Now, I see that you should never take monetization for granted, because you can almost always find a way to make more money with your current traffic. I will discuss monetization methods more in the future.

So here is my original formula:

GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS = TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC = MONEY

GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS = MONEY

Here is the new formula:

GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS + EFFECTIVE MONETIZATION = MONEY

It’s really quite simple when you think about it.

Blog Flipping And Site Flipping – Would you do it?

February 15, 2007

The other day ESPN bought a sports blog called truehoop. Henry Abbot (the owner) will continue to write for it as usual, but now he will be getting paid by ESPN and have special privleges like attending the NBA Allstar game in person. Pretty Cool!

Click here to read the story on the truehoop blog.

For a lot of people, having their business or blog bought by a big company is a great accomplishment. It certainly helps most people financially.

One of Austin’s friends, Keith Baxter does some site flipping and it pays him well. I have thought about getting into that business, but once I build a site worth flipping I am not sure I would want to flip it. I guess if I made sites on topics I wasn’t that interested in I would want to flip them. But do I really want to build a site on a topic that doesn’t interest me?

Maybe if I could make a million dollars a year it would be worthwhile…

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