Monday, October 1, 2007

The Challenge Begins Again

So today is the first day of my new challenge. I've spent the last 31 posts going into the process of the Thirty Day Challenge with the help of Ed and Dan. I started two niches and put them through the 30DC process and ended up making only one sale. I've all but given up on one of the niches and am still working on the other one with the home of building upon it over time.

But today it's all about the new niche and starting to put it through the 30DC process. This is likely to happen a bit faster than the previous niches, as I am much more familiar with the process in general - and I only have one niche to work on. I'll be keeping this niche to myself, at least until I actually make a sale (touch wood). So in the interest of simplicity when it comes to explaining what I'm doing, I'll simply be referring to my niche as "stamp collecting". I know, it's not very inventive, and doesn't have much to do with a real niche, but it works for the purposes I'll be describing later on.

As I mentioned, I will be going through a large portion of the challenge process in a faster time than the first time around. In fact, in one day alone I've already reached Day 10 of the challenge. To know what I've already done to that point feel free to read over my original 30DC blog posts. The information I have discovered for my new niche are as follows:

Initial Searches
"Stamp Collecting" has 2873 searches per day in the free Wordtracker tool
The drop off from "Stamp Collecting" to "Rare Stamp Collecting" is 2873 - 719.

Competition Analysis
Through the Thirty Day Challenge Toolbar, the first site to come up for the broad match of "Stamp Collecting" was ranked at #8 in Google. That equates to good optimization prospects for my site(s). There were only 3 sponsored links that showed up in Google through the 30DC toolbar also. Also, plenty of sites charge for "Stamp Collecting" materials, so definitely potential for sales.

Through the Google search bar, it was the #6 site to be the first to use "Stamp Collecting" as a broad match - and that was actually a subpage of another site. Only 2 sponsored links showed up and again, plenty of sites that charge for "Stamp Collecting". Clearly a mature market and great potential.

Affiliate Prospects
There are a number of affiliate options for various "Stamp Collecting" sites. Sponsored links also have general affiliate websites but none that are "Stamp" specific. Actually, I already went into Clickbank and found a product with great stats that I'll be using. I know that's going a little against the teachings of Ed but I thought it wouldn't hurt to have a look once the other stats started to shape up. Mind you, the above section is more about seeing if people are offering affiliate schemes, which equates to a niche that people pay money for, rather than seeing if there is an affiliate product for me to promote.

Google Trends
No news articles. Search trend has steadily grown since the beginning of 2004. It peaked in August 2007 and has declined slightly since but not significantly. Doesn't seem to have any major trends other than the search volume rising slightly during the US summer period. Understandable. Having just missed the US summer that will mean I won't get the traffic of a couple of months ago but it's not enough of a decline to keep me away from the niche. Search volume is still quite high throughout the year. By next summer I could have developed a great site and catch the extra traffic with it (fingers crossed).

Checking Umbrella Phrase

Apart from "Stamp Collecting" I had thought of targeting other phrases relating to my main keywords. After checking out other phrases under my keywords of "Stamp Collecting" I found that there weren't enough searches to warrant the extra work. In GTrends, "Stamp Collecting" has 1724 searches a day against a competition volume of 193,000 websites. The Thirty Day Challenge process taught us to stick to searches over 100 a day and competition of less than 30,000 pages. It is my understanding that the criteria was only for use at the beginning, and that as we became more confident with our handling of the lessons we could tackle larger niches. Well that's what I'm doing and if you look at the above stats I've got a pretty good chance if I do the work.

As I mentioned, the original criteria was 100 searches per day against no more than 30,000 sites. Here I have 193,000 competing sites which is a little over 6 times the amount I'm supposed to have. In comparison, my niche is getting 1724 searches per day which is 17 times the amount necessary. With those two put together my ration is actually much better than if I was sticking with just 100 searches a day and 30,000 competing pages. Obviously I will have my work cut out for me, but I'll also be tapping into a much larger traffic stream so the chance for success is greater.

Web 2.0 Properties
So I'm up to Day 10 of the challenge process, just like that. Day 10 is to have a look through Google after doing an exact phrase match search for my niche, and to check for results in the "Web 2.0" categories. This means sites such as Squidoo and StumbleUpon returning results in my niche. What that can mean is that someone is already optimizing their stuff for the keywords I have chosen. That could mean extra hard competition, but it doesn't necessarily mean that I should steer clear of it. If I found I wasn't getting as large amount of traffic as I expected then it could be attributed to this part of the process. Still, according to the market research I've done I should still be able to get a fair whack of the traffic if I work hard enough. After doing the exact match phrase for my keyword in Google I found that the first Web 2.0 property to appear was an Ezine article, at #17, and not for my exact phrase match anyway ("Rare Stamp Collecting" instead of just "Stamp Collecting"). So all indicators look good.

So now is the time for setting up my Bloglines account to receive "Stamp Collecting" news and blogs. From here I'll start gathering information to place in my blogs, Squidoo lenses, etc.

That also means the hard grind of writing frequently about a new niche phrase, which I've had trouble with in the past. Still, after getting through the previous two niches I worked on relatively well I think I'll be okay. It's good that "Stamp Collecting" also happens to be a subject that interests me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Ultimate Doodling Tool

(I'm working on a better title, sorry)

Well before I get into blogging about my new niche I came across this sweet little application this morning and thought that rest of the world needs to know about it.

Of course, the rest of the world doesn't actually read my blog so not sure why I'm bothering really...but for the 5 people who may visit today (if past stats are anything to go by), here is a great application that you should blog about yourselves and get the snowball effect happening on.

It's called Sketchcast and it's all about sketching, funnily enough. What it does is video record your sketches, with or without voice over, and then you can embed them in your blogs. The sketches can be used as simple additions to your blogs, or tutorials for certain ideas you have. They may even be used as product development.

I sent the link over to Ed to see what he thinks and made the suggestion about product development for the thirty day challengers somewhere down the track. Not sure if or how that would work - that's for smarter internet marketers than me to deal with. But I think this is really going to be big. It's just so damn easy to put a video sketch together and embed it that I just want to play around with it some more.

It's the creation of Richard Ziade and here is his introduction video presentation sketch that explains a little more about it:

And as an example of what it's capable of:

Well, that's what it's capable of in an art sense but it has plenty of other applications as well. And now for my very first sketch:

I'm really keen to use this more and make it a part of my blogging. To get the full use out of it I'd probably want to invest in a graphics pen, tablet and headset - but for now I just have a mouse and cheap microphone to use and it still works pretty well. I'm looking forward to testing it out some more. Check it out yourselves at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Future Of Free Internet Marketing

So here we are on what is officially the end of the Thirty Day Challenge - Day 30. Today there was no real lesson, per se, but Ed did a video explaining a little of what the future holds for those who stuck it out and made it to the end - or should I say the beginning - or is that the end of the beginning? I'm not really sure but anyway, Ed went into a little of what would be happening in the coming weeks, months.

But isn't the challenge over? Isn't that the whole point, it runs for 30 days and then that's it for another year? Well, in past years, yes, that would have been the case, but Ed and Dan have decided to carry on with this project because they could see the potential to be had in having so many thousands of people stick around and listen to what they have to say. Not only that, but these people got to put into practice what Ed and Dan taught and saw the results for ourselves - so we know this stuff works and therefore we know these guys know what they're talking about, you know?

Ed explained that they would be keeping the Thirty Day Challenge site up as it was, with the forums and training all accessible to whoever wanted to register. They would be getting some volunteers in to help moderate the forums, and keep them going as "action forums", as Ed put it. That just means that the posts that are put up there are quality, they have content and they are about taking action. There's no griping or trying to sell stuff, like in other marketing forums. The stuff in the 30DC forum is the good oil, and it's the sort of resource that can be tapped into forever, because as new techniques and tools come the way of the 30DC'ers out there, they'll post about it in the 30DC forum. It's developed into a real community, with everyone having that one common connection.

So Ed talked about where we go from here. He said that over the coming weeks and months he would be making the occasional blog post along with Dan, that would slowly but surely go into the ongoing process of Internet Marketing. As Ed put it, this last 30 days was all about testing. From here, we move away from using third party platforms and products to make our money, and get into creating our own products on our own domains, and reap all the rewards. But that will come over time, in dribs and drabs as Ed and Dan can find the time in between their regular day jobs working on the Immediate Edge and other marketing ventures. Some of the subjects touched on for the future was List Building, Product Development, Domain Registration and Pay Per Click Advertising. Now, obviously these subjects don't fall under the "free" ethos of the thirty day challenge, which is simply why they weren't included in it. But beyond the free testing phase it's now time to start investing a little bit of money into your niches in the hope that it will get you more money coming back. Basically, if all the 30 days of testing showed you that you have a niche that pays, then it's time to move ahead with it, but to do that you'll have to spend a little too.

List building, for anyone who doesn't know, is when you get people to sign up to your newsletter. This can be done any number of ways but usually involves offering the potential signer something for free in exchange for their name and email address. Obviously, the bigger your client base the more chance you have of making money, and if you can target your client base when you feel like it, by sending out an email, rather than waiting for them to stumble on your page at random, then the more chance you'll have of making a sale. So capturing email addresses in vitally important when it comes to making real money.

Product development is pretty self-explanatory. This is where we create something to take over from selling the affiliate product we had been trying to sell in the past, through Clickbank or Amazon or somewhere else. To create our own product means that we are no longer getting just a commission of the sale, but the whole sale price. From there you can actually put your product on sites like Clickbank and have other people sell it for you, thereby generating even more revenue.

Domain registration is where you move from using third party platforms such as Blogger, Squidoo, Tumblr, whatever, to registering your own domain name that will have something to do with your niche - and buying some space on the web that you can call your own and therefore decorate the way you want. The reasons why we haven't done this already are explained previously - but to recap it's all about Google seeing your site as ugly and not ranking you very high. If you are using a third party platform for your content then you already have a leg-up, as these sites are already viewed favorably in Google. When you go out on your own, however, it's a cold cold world, and Google will generally sandbox you for a period of time while they figure out what to do with you. But now that we have tested and worked on backlinks and social bookmarking we know that we can work our own sites - as long as have a product/niche that people want to spend money on.

Pay Per Click advertising is just that, advertising that you pay for as people click on it. It's usually handled by Google Adwords, and by paying a certain amount of cents per each time someone clicks on your ad, you can generate a monster load of traffic. What it all depends on is how competitive your keywords, which is reflected by how much you need to spend to get to the top of the search results.

And I'm sure there will be more to come as well...

What Ed is mapping out will eventually look something like this:

A map of the whole internet marketing network for one niche

It's a confusing looking beast, I know. Some of it I understand, but most of it is a complete mystery to me. But I'll continue to document my way through it and hopefully it will all be explained in time.

Well, there were times when I wondered whether or not I'll get through the whole challenge. It was a HUGE amount of information and work to accomplish. Even though I'm a stay-at-home Dad doing this I still found it difficult to keep up every single day - I don't know how people who have 9 to 5 jobs coped! My hat is off to everyone who got through the challenge. I truly believe that Ed Dale and Dan Raine hold the future of Internet Marketing in their hands, and the 30DC was a sampler of that knowledge. The testing phase that Ed himself goes through with each new niche. That's a high recommendation in my book.

As with any sort of training, the first time round is the hardest, as it's all new information to process. The second time around the process is a little easier as you're being reminded. By the third or fourth times you've got the process down and can get through the majority of the training in next to no time. The market research phase of the thirty day challenge went on for days, and rightly so - there was a lot to explain. Now that we have the understanding, we need only touch on the notes as we go through to remember what we had to do the first time around. Next time I probably won't need notes at all. So as of today I'm moving on to my next niche and starting the thirty day challenge process again. I've put a call out for some more team mates and have had a few replies and even joined a couple of social bookmarking groups on Facebook to help with the networking. I'll be keeping the niche to myself at least for the time being, but suffice to say that this time around I'll be challenging myself by tackling a niche with more competition that what we've been told to go for in the thirty day challenge. The reason for this is that I believe the first time around it was very important to start small, but with each crack at the process we become more comfortable with it, and I believe the things taught to us by Ed and Dan can be used on any size niche, whether it be to make $10 a month or $10,000 a month. Ok, so I'm not going after the health market or anything, not even the wedding market - it's only my second go with the process and I ain't that comfortable with it yet. I'll explain more in my next blog, when I start detailing MY experience of going through the process, rather than mostly going through what Ed has told me.

If you haven't tried the Thirty Day Challenge then I fully recommend you give it a go. It's completely free and has a mountain of information that WORKS! You really have nothing to lose except some time. If you follow their steps as they teach it you will make money. If I can do it as an Internet Marketing neophyte then believe me, anyone can. Hell, even kids took the challenge and they made money. If you're at all curious about Internet Marketing as a way of quitting your day job then I say try it out and see for yourself. Don't listen to nay-sayers who are jealous or spiteful that this information is getting put out on the net for free when they're trying to charge you an arm and a leg for it - do it, and thank me later.

So where do we go from here? The sky is the limit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Backlinks To The Future!

We are now on Day 29 of the Thirty Day Challenge and it's all about backlinks. If you hadn't gotten it from previous posts then here's the scoop. Backlinks are one of the most important aspects to having a good page ranking in Google. Using Ed Dale's earlier analogy that Google is the bouncer and your niche is the niteclub, well backlinks (from reputable sources) are link having someone well known to the club/bouncer put in a good word for your ugly self. If I manage to get a backlink on a site that Google regards as an authority in my niche, it's like someone cool walking me up to the door of the club and saying "this guy is okay, treat him well". Obviously, the more of these cool people you have coming to the door with you, the more likely you are not only going to get in, but also you're going to get a good table near the front of the stage (equals high page ranking).

Now some people think that the more backlinks you have the better off you are, but that's not necessarily so. Quality always wins out over quantity. The best backlinks to have come from authority sites in your niche. If you're selling sausage making tips then you want to get backlinks from sites that at the very least revolve around the processing of meat. Having a backlink to your sausage making tips come from a computer game website is probably not going to do much for you in terms of gaining Google's trust and confidence. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows about sausage making and says you're okay - huge plus. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows everything there is to know about car parts, Google is not going to care so much. Don't get me wrong, almost any backlink is a help - but if you're going to take the time to submit your site for backlinks then you might as well go to relevant niche sites to do it. To see how to go about doing that you can read my previous blog post.

Now, once you've done the hard yards with authority sites in your niche you can try hitting directories for a bit more of a boost in the rankings. Directories are basically sites that will list your site in a particular category relevant to your niche. Google will take notice of these places, but only in a cursory way. Directory submission is something you should not bother doing manually, as the time it takes will not be rewarding enough. Thankfully, there is directory submission software out there that takes away alot of the time-consuming aspect. One such tool can be found at - where you can also download an article submitter to place your content on other platforms such as Ezinearticles. I'm a bit skeptical about article submitters because of the duplicate content rule on Google. Basically, Google will penalize anything it sees as duplicate content, and relegate it to the "sandbox" - also known as the Supplemental Index. Basically, lost in the ether.

A great place to go to find directories to submit your sites to is It has a list of over 800 directories that you can submit to, along with their page ranking (the higher the PR the more "authority"), so you can just focus on the directories that are going to mean more to Google.

One of the good and bad things about directory submissions is that they usually take quite a while to show up. Usually around 3 to 6 months for a free submission, but some work a little quicker. I say this is good because what it means is that you can submit to multiple directories at once without fear of Google thinking you are spam and sandboxing you. If you were to do the same thing with social bookmarking sites then Google would consider you a spammer and drop you like a hot potato.

If all this time and trouble and waiting is too much for you then you can also pay to have your site listed on various directories. This will generally guarantee you a quick listing. If you have plenty of money then you might as well hit the big wig directories - Yahoo and DMOZ. Yahoo submission run at around $300 a year. I'm not sure the price of DMOZ but it's not that much. Of course, in keeping with the principles of the thirty day challenge we do not want to spend any money just yet, so I'll pass on the paid submissions and stick to the free ones.

Another place to acquire backlinks for free is by answering questions relevant to your niche in Yahoo Answers. What is Yahoo Answers? Well, it quite simply a place where people post questions and other people answer them. The asker then picks the answer that suits them as the best. You can build up points for having your answer picked as the best.

When you first go to Yahoo Answers you should click on the 'Advanced' link and make sure the "open questions" is checked. This will then give you the questions that you can still post answers to (once a best answer is picked the question becomes closed for anymore answers). You then do a search for your keyword phrase and see what comes up. If you find something you can answer try and put your keyword in the answer somewhere (but not in a spammy, sales way). You are given a 'source' box that you can then enter the address of your site. If you can be bothered you can also search through the 'resolved questions' and add comments instead of answers. The advantage of Yahoo answers is that it is niche specific, which Google likes. It's worthwhile spending an hour or so every few days going through trying to answer questions and add your backlink. The most important thing here, though, is to make sure your answers are contributive. Don't just post some crap, through your URL in and expect it to be okay. Yahoo Answers is moderated and if you spam you're likely to have your answer deleted and your account suspended.

Ed's Podcast for Day 29 of the challenge talked about the various niches that he's had a look at from other thirty day challengers, and the mistakes some of them had made when trying to get ranked. I really wish I could have gotten my site looked at - but hopefully I'll network someone who knows enough of their stuff to be able to tell me if I'm doing something wrong with my site. For some reason I just can't get it off Page 4 of search results, no matter how many relevant backlinks I work up. My Squidoo lens is holding up okay, but with my next niche I'll definitely be trying a new platform other than Blogger. I thought it would be favored by Google seeing as Google own it, but maybe because it's so big Google don't consider it such a knowledge base after all.

Ed's advice when starting to add content to your platform is making sure you put your keywords in the heading of your blog, to write a decent description in the heading of your blog for Google to pick up. Don't throw too many articles up at once at the beginning. Just make one post and wait for Google to index it before you make any more. Do a little social bookmarking on that one post, but not on the first day and no more than 5 sites every other day. Make sure that whatever platform you use there isn't already a bunch of people trying the same niche on that platform. If so, use another platform. There are hundreds of viable platforms to choose from, so go out there and knock 'em dead.

There is only one more day of the Thirty Day Challenge left for me to blog about - I'll then be carrying on with my new niche idea and documenting my attempts at getting better results with that then I've had with my current two niches.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Link Analysis & Blogs/Forums

I got a bit ahead of myself with the Day 27 lesson. I shouldn't have actually gone into checking out the competitors backlinks through That was actually part of today's lesson, so here we go.

Link Analysis

The first part of the lesson for today is Link Analysis. This is where you use search engines to reveal the link network of your competitors. You start by doing a search for your keyword phrase in Google, making sure you have the Firefox SEO tool activated. This will show a number of things, but the one we're interested in today is the Yahoo page links. This result can be accessed by clicking on the '?' next to the 'Y! Links' link - it can also be automatically turned on for each search by clicking on 'Tools' at the top of your browser, then going to 'SEO For Firefox', then 'Options'. You can then select which results you want to see automatically, and which you want to see On-Demand. By default, all results are set to 'On-Demand'. If you're using Microsoft's Internet Explorer then you should stop using it right now and switch to Firefox. IE is dead, Firefox is the future - of that you can be certain.

The Yahoo links number is the number of links that Yahoo can find that link to the page in question. Obviously we don't know how many of these links are relevant at this stage. The manual way of looking at these links is to go to Type in "link:[URL of #1 ranking competitor]", and Yahoo will return all known sites that link to that page. You can do the same with Google but they generally return much fewer results for some reason. Once you have your list you check them out to find which are relevant. Most of the time you can tell just from the blurb that goes with the URL, but sometimes you will have to check out the site as well. There are software tools that allow you to check for relevant sites for more quickly, but as these cost money they are outside the scope of the thirty day challenge. Unfortunately, Rob didn't even name them so I couldn't go to my P2P network to see if I could find them there and give them a try.

Once you find a site that seems relevant the next thing to do is check whether they have 'no-follow' links on their site. When it comes to backlinks, Google will go to your site and be able to find all the pages that link to it from other sources. However, if a link is No-Follow, Google will not record that as a backlink to your site. Some sites put No-Follow in place to dissuade spammers from spamming their sites. By default, if the Firefox SEO tool is active, then No-Follow links should appear in a red box. Some search engines, such as Yahoo, will still credit you with a backlink if you post on a No-Follow link site, but Google will not. Other things to look out for are sites where links have been removed by moderators, or sites, such as forums, where links are not allowed in signatures (or signatures have been turned off completely).

Blogs and Forums

You can also find other niche relevant content sites for creating backlinks by going to Technorati or Google Blog Search. These sites provide the ability to search for blogs in your niche. You can simply visit them, type in your keyword phrase, and see what turns up. In a lot of cases, you will be able to visit the blogs that appear in the results and post a comment which includes a link back to your site. Try using a unique name when posting in blogs and forums, so you can then set up your Google Alerts for that name to make sure the posts appeared, and to add to your comments if necessary. When commenting on a blog or forum always make sure that your comment is relevant to the blog post, so that it adds to it or it is a well thought out opinion. Simply throwing up a link to your site with a "nice post" comment will generally get your comment removed.

For forums, you can search for your niche in Google simply by typing "[your niche] forum". This will generally give you a list of sites that are relevant to your niche but that also contain forums. You can then visit these forums, make sure they allow signatures to be posted, and then sign up and start making your contributory comments. Who knows, you may even find yourself part of the community after a while. In the case of forums it is much better to simply post comments relating to the topic at hand, rather than trying to turn each of your posts into a "look at my site" post. Include a link to your site in your signature, and if your forum posts are compelling enough people will click through to your site anyway. Plus, a link in a signature is a common thing in forums, so moderators will be less likely to consider it spam. In fact, if you've followed along with the thirty day challenge properly, and written your great content, it won't be spam at all.

Other sites to check out and possibly post comments on are Squidoo and Hubpages. To find your niche on these sites you can type in the following ' "sign my guestbook" "[your niche]"', and this should produce a list of lenses in your niche that allow guestbook comments.

The Rush Is On For BlogRush

Right about this time hundreds of thousands of people are writing about a new application called BlogRush. Why are they doing this? Well, for one it appears to be an incredibly useful tool for getting traffic to your blogs and therefore they, as bloggers, want to tell the world about it. On the other hand they also want you to click on their affiliate link so that they get your referral. Neither reason is bad, of course. I am blogging this for both the reasons above.

How Does BlogRush Work?

BlogRush is the idea of John Reese, and on the outset looks to be a fantastic tool for building traffic to your blog. The way it works is that you sign up for an account over at BlogRush, fill in your blog details and are presented with a piece of code that you insert in your blog. Then when you view your blog you will see a box similar to the one at right, with a list of other blogs in it that relate to your subject matter. Elsewhere, on other blogs that are in the same subject matter as yours, your blog will appear in the list. For each person that visits your blog in a day, BlogRush will place your blog in their little interface once a day. So if 100 people visit your blog, your blog will appear 100 times throughout the day on other people's blogs. Theoretically, this will increase your blogs traffic which in turn will increase the number of times you appear on other BlogRush interfaces, increasing your traffic - and so on and so on.

The real meat in the sandwich happens when you get referrals. As you can see also on the interface there is an "add your blog posts - FREE" button. If a blogger clicks on this button on your blog and signs up then you get the referral, which means that for each person that visits their blog you get an appearance on BlogRush. So if someone with 1000 visits a day signs up through your blog (that already gets 100 visits a day), then you will appear 1100 times a day (100 for your blog = 1000 for your referral's blog). Then if someone visits your referral's blog and signs up to BlogRush, not only does your referral get the referral, but you do too! In fact, you get referrals 10 deep, which can equal a huge amount of increased traffic. You also get a special referral link that you can simply email to other people to become referrals for you. Sounds fantastic, but there are problems associated with it for some people.

BlogRush Problems?

For one, Internet Marketers like myself don't want people clicking off their page, so sticking an interface that asks people to do just that may not work out to be the best idea. If someone does click on a link in the BlogRush interface the new blog opens in a fresh window, which is supposed to reduce the amount of "click away" that your site will get. IM'ers are worried that this will reduce sales and it's a fair concern indeed. People love to click on links, so giving them something else to click on (other than their affiliate links) that looks nice and possibly has blog titles that are more appealing, might not be such a good idea.

Another concern that I read in Caroline Middlebrook's blog, was that once everyone gets on board the BlogRush train, that referrals will drop off. As she writes:

Most bloggers will optimise their blogs to encourage readers to either read more of their content, or to click an ad, subscribe to the RSS feed, join a newsletter etc. Generally speaking a blogger does not want the user to click out of their blog so I don’t imagine this widget to be prominently displayed on many blogs. You’ll notice that I put it right at the bottom of my sidebar. I may be wrong here as it looks like quite a lot of bloggers are pushing it in order to get the referral links but once every blog in the world is signed up, the referrals will drop off and then it all falls on the shoulders of the readers.


It's a good point, and one that a lot of people who are rushing for a piece of this 'ere BlogRush might have failed to take in to account. Like Caroline, I am a follower of Ed Dale's internet marketing techniques. I've only been on to him since the start of this year when I accidentally came across him on Google, but in a very short space of time I have grown to trust the man and his word. The thirty day challenge is testiment alone to the massive amount this man is willing to give back and when he vouches for a product or service I have no doubts that it is the top of it's game and worth my hard-earned bucks. Anyway, Ed put out a blog post a couple of days ago saying that he would be giving BlogRush a try very soon and will document his results. I know a lot of people will be waiting to see what he has to say on the matter, and I think at this point a large portion of BlogRush traffic is dependant on his opinion.

As it is BlogRush has been so overwhelmed with traffic that they are having troubles keeping up. Originally the stats from using BlogRush were supposed to be up within 24-48 hours, but yesterday a notice was published on the BlogRush site, by John Reese, that said (in part):

The first 60 hours since we launched the BlogRush public beta has been nothing short of EXPLOSIVE. We knew that we were developing an exciting tool that many bloggers could benefit from, but we had no idea how fast the 'word' would spread across the Web.

With this explosive growth has come some challenges, and our entire team is working very hard to solve any potential bug and issue that we've been alerted to. We're improving things at a very rapid pace and we hope to have the entire network completely stabilized very soon.

I would like to ask that you are patient with us during this time and know that we are doing our best to help YOU drive more traffic to your blog and we will soon have things running smoothly.

You can view the rest of this notice if you login to your BlogRush account. If you don't have a BlogRush account you can get one here.

So if the experts end up saying this might not be such a good thing then I will most likely drop BlogRush from my IM sites, depending on their reasons. I do think I'll probably leave it on this site and any other blogs I have that don't produce sales for me, as my initial instinct is that it's a good tool for generating traffic and let's face it, this blog ain't exactly swimming in readers hehe. Time will tell, and you can bet when it does I'll be posting my thoughts about it - and with BlogRush's help I may even get some people to read it :o)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Link This!

After a weekend we are on to Day 27 of the challenge and the podcast for today had Ed getting a little hot under the collar about spammers and critics. Spammers, who have been using the 30DC techniques for their own spammy needs, thereby undermining the process for the rest of us. It breaks down like this: If a bunch of spammy spammers use these techniques as Ed has detailed them, then those places that Ed has suggested we put our content (ala Tumblr) will see that as a representation of all the 30DCers...because as we know, people see the bad things first and judge all else by that first impression. Of course Tumblr didn't want to be known as a spammers paradise, so they did the only thing they could do, shut everyone down. Why should they go through each individual page to see if the content has merit?

Ed then went on to have a go at the critics out there, who say the 30DC is just a bunch of hot air. These people are generally made up of those who either haven't even taken the challenge, or took it and failed because of their own choices for niches.

Anyway, Ed announced that all the forums and training for the 30DC would continue to be kept up on the site so that anyone can take the challenge again and again, as often as they like, whenever they like. He also mentioned that there would be sporadic future lessons that would deal with product development, amongst other things. He talked about the ease of creating audio and video products as long as you were comfortable with talking/creating videos.

He also asked us to have a look at Michelle MacPhearson's blog for some good information, including the 2nd edition of Luke Parker's Free Online Advertising Encyclopedia. A must-grab. You can download a copy here.

The it was over to Rob Somerville to talk about Link Building. Link building is when you create backlinks to your blog or site. What link building does, is tell Google that, because all these other sites have links to your site - and because these other sites know what they're talking about - Google should put you higher in the ranking for your keyword phrase. It's sort of like being vouched for, except you're vouching for yourself really. Over time, with decent content, you'd be able to build links naturally, as sites that have something in common with yours and like your stuff will link to your site anyway. However, that can take a long time and with so much competition out there it may never happen, so we need to help things along a little. The important factors to look for when trying to place your link on another site is: age of the site you're putting your links on and content relevance of the site you're putting your links on. If you're putting links on a new site that Google doesn't even recognise anyway, then it's a waste of time. To put your links on a site that has nothing to do with your niche is also a waste. Link quality is far more important than link quantity, but a combination of both built up over time is the best of all. You should always try to include your keyword phrase in the anchor text of your link. I generally just put the URL in most cases anyway, as it includes the keywords from my blog. Links from .edu and .gov are better still to have, although obviously harder to secure.

You can use yahoo to identify the backlinks of your competitors, and then go after those as well. Using the SEO tool in Firefox, you can see how many Yahoo banklinks a competitor has. Then by clicking on the Yahoo links link, it will take you to a page that lists all the backlinks to that page. So then you can review the backlinked sites, and determine which ones are best for going after.

Another way to find sites of relevance, is to create a Google Alerts account. This you can set up through your GMail account if you have one, and you can get Google to email you everytime they find a site that has your keyword phrase in it - you can then go to that site and see if it's possible to create a backlink to your content on that site.

Ultimately, though, the best link building strategy is to create great content that other people in your niche area will want to link to. Remember, not everyone is out to make money online - some are just there to pass on knowledge and information, and if yours is up to snuff then others will link to it and share it around (and hopefully give you the credit you deserve).

You can basically create backlinks yourself by commenting on blogs and in forums, making sure that you can include a link back to your site. Don't be spammy, though, always write something that adds to or contributes in someway to the rest of the content on the site. If it's a blog, make a comment about the content and try to steer that to your blog. If it's a forum, make posts that contribute to the thread you're posting in, otherwise in most cases your post will just be removed by the moderators. If you contribute then you're more likely to be left alone. The best way to post in forums without seeming spammy, is simply to include your blog address in your signature, so that every time you post a backlink is created and it's not about tricking people or spamming them into visiting your blog.

You can also try reciprocal linking, where you arrange with someone who has a site in your niche, that you will create a link to their site if they create one to yours. In this case always make sure you specify what the link text should say.

You can also submit your site to various directories, such as Yahoo and DMOZ (the big two) but this is usually expensive (Yahoo is US$300 a year).

I set up a Google Alerts account and within a couple of days I got an email that led me to a site that had ripped off my blog content and put it up on their own platform. At first I was pretty angry, because I was sure that Google would penalise me for having duplicate content, but after posting on the 30DC forum about it and reading the replies, I realised that the other guy was most likely to be penalised. I posted comments on all his blog posts, directing people back to the "original source" of the content, my blog - thereby creating a backlink for myself. Within a couple of days his site had vanished.

Things to avoid when trying backlinks: Link farms, irrelevant sites, low-authority sites, porn or gambling sites, duplicate content and links from deep within a site's structure.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

To Proceed Or Not Proceed

Day 24 of the challenge was a bit of a rehash with a side order of extra stuff. Ed started by talking about traffic, and said that now was the time to look at our niches and if they weren't getting the sort of traffic necessary for a successful start-up then we should probably cut them loose. The amount of traffic necessary isn't necessarily based on the stats we got from Gtrends, either, as that was really only showing what you could be looking at once you are in the #1 or #2 position for your keyword phrase on Google. Most of us, of course, are not at that point. We are, afterall, after 200 visitors to our blog each and every day, with a hope that a certain percentage of those clicking through to our product/sales page. I thought this was a little strange, since not all the SEO tactics had been discussed, so alot of people (myself included) were not ranking as high as we could be, as we probably would be, once all the tactics were put into place. Still, I did have to concede that even with the extra tactics to come over the last 6 days, my WiFi blog was possibly up for getting the chop. The only thing was, of course, that I hadn't given it the link love that it needed, as I wanted to concentrate on the best Wii games blog first. I'm actually contemplating making a post on the 30DC forum, asking for a team of around 5 or 6 people to become a "link love" team, and just work on helping each other out when necessary. I guess it can't hurt and who knows, I might get some interest.

It was interesting to note that if Gtrends is saying you should be getting 200 visits for a #1 or #2 rank in Google, that it will drop to about 60 visits for #3, and around 30-40 for #4, etc. Most people have their Google search results set to default, which is 10 results per page, and most people do not click onto the 2nd page of results. They will refine their search before they do that if what they want can't be found on page 1. So it's important to get to a ranking of at least 10 to really see results.SEO

Ed then went on to talk about clusters. A cluster is where you create content on a bunch of different platform and have it all pointing to your product. These platforms all work on your main keyword phrase, and you should be looking at 4 or 5 in each cluster. Clusters can include, by are not exclusive to, Blogger blog, wordpress blog, Squidoo lens, Hubpage, Ezine article. They should all have at least one link each that points to your product, as well as possibly having links to each other along the way, just to increase your authority/backlinks. Backlinks will be a topic that is discussed at a later date.

As you build up a cluster for your keyword phrase (sausage making tips), you can then create another cluster that centers around another keyword phrase in that same niche (sausage making recipes) and another (sausage making supplies) until you have several clusters, all in the same niche, all pointing to the same products, but using different keywords to capture different search traffic, increasing your chances of getting that illusive 200 visits per day.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

My First Sale!

Just wanted to write a quick note to say I got my first sale through my best Wii games niche yesterday! I found this out when I went to my affiliate sign in page and noticed that my conversion rate was now at 3.45% instead of 0.00%. When I checked it out I found that through either my blog or my squidoo lens (amazon doesn't tell you where they came from) someone ordered a copy of Resident Evil 4. Needless to say I was very excited. I know this stuff worked already due to the many hundreds of people who have made their first $1 or $10 from the 30DC process, but to actually have it happen to me was amazing! I suspect, due to my BWG blog being sandboxed, that the sale came through Squidoo, as I've had a couple hundred visitors through there already in the last couple of days, and my lens is ranked #670 overall (out of hundreds of thousands of lenses created), and is #19 in the video game category. That's pretty good but it's normal for a lens to shoot up when it's first created, only to slide back down overtime. The trick to keeping it up is to update it regularly, and make sure plenty of people check it out. I need some more people to rank it for me too.

Anyway, Amazon only dish out around 10% commissions, and RE4 is $29.97 so I get a little under $3 for the sale, but it's a start, it's better than nothing, and it's proven to me that this stuff really can work. Hopefully, once I write a review of RE4 on my blog that sale may become one of many - we'll see.

It's a great feeling to have your thoughts confirmed. Onward and upward from here!


It's been a busy last few days at home base here in Devonport. The more work I layout for my niches the less time I have to do what needs to be done (obviously). This last week has just gone by so quickly. I've been adding to my niche blogs, writing other blogs, writing back to emails, putting together Squidoo lenses and trying to spend time with my family in amongst it all. I don't know how I'd cope if I had a regular 9 to 5 job on top of everything as well - it would take me ages to get anything done.

Day 23 of the challenge was about conversion. Conversion is when you convert a person who visits your page from just viewing your page, to clicking through to your affiliate (or your product) page - and a further conversion if they actually buy the product. The way to conversion is by producing really good content. The tips for creating really good content are, to write your article like a story - make it engaging and find an angle people can relate to, such as an expedition with the kids to the supermarket, and somehow work your niche in there if possible. If it's relevant to your niche then most people who read it will also have kids and therefore be able to relate if you post a funny story about how the kids got up to mischief, or something like that. You can always find something interesting to write about - especially if you look up news and blog articles about your niche through Bloglines for ideas. Ed says we should be brilliant without even trying and that's easy for him to say - I know a lot of people struggle with writing (I can definitely relate) and their confidence at producing good copy. If you are really bad at writing (not just in your own eyes) then maybe try making a video. You don't have to show yourself on camera, you can use slides to produce content and even to produce a product. Try looking up videos in your niche on Youtube and see what's being made out there. But it's safe to say in this day and age that when it comes to selling your product on the internet it's all about good copy.

Ed suggested a book to us that we should either buy or get in to our local library. It's called "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die", by Chip and Dan Heath. Ed says it's THE book to read if you're interested in making money online but have trouble with writing good copy - or knowing what good copy is. I'll probably buy a copy as I tend to like to own things and not have to give them back. Chip and Dan have a process they call S.U.C.C.E.S (easy to remember, huh?) and it goes like this:

S - Simplicity: Keep your content simple and engaging
U - Unexpectedness: Capture people's attention. Add a surprise.
C - Concreteness: Add details/accuracy to help people trust/remember
C - Credibility: More details as to where/when things happened in your story
E - Emotional: Connect with your audience
S - Stories: Write content as a short story

Ed says if you can incorporate at least 2 of these aspects to your copy you are doing well. Obviously the more you can squeeze in the more chance you'll have of making a conversion.

I'm not sure if I have actually mentioned my second niche before (the first being best Wii games). It's actually about WiFi and my keywords are "What Is WiFi". I know I made it a bit difficult for myself having my keywords as a question, but that's what I saw as having potential in terms of searches per day and competing pages. It makes it difficult to incorporate into copy as regularly as I would like, certainly not as easy as "best Wii games". In the last week I've added to my cluster by creating a Squidoo lens on both tops. You can check out the best Wii games lens at, and the WiFi lens you can get to by clicking here. Be sure to check them out and if you're a member of Squidoo perhaps you could give them some love by ranking them and Stumbling them (pretty please). There was a glitch in the WiFi lens that had it only showing up as Under Construction, but hopefully by the time you read this that problem will be solved. I managed to find a clickbank product that relates to my best Wii games niche so I have put a link on my Squidoo lens and will soon make a post about it on the blog. I have another review to write for it first, followed by a funny story of Wii safety that I was given by a fellow 30DCer.

I'm far more interested in my work with the best Wii games, as that is getting plenty of traffic - but I'm still trying to put plenty of good copy into the WiFi one. My WiFi blog isn't getting so much traffic and seems to be struggling to compete with other WiFi pages - but I've been going a lot slower with the social bookmarking on WiFi, to see if a more organic approach doesn't yield better results. I also noticed the other day that my best Wii games blog has disappeared from Google. Now the only part of the blog that appears in search rankings is my review of Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix. I've been told by others that this can happen when Google tries to determine where to actually rank your page - so I'm being patient for now, and a little worried. If it has been "sandboxed" it could be gone for 3 to 6 months, but as long as the Harry Potter post is still up people should be able to find the rest of the blog. I'll start giving that some SB love and see how it goes.

So now I'm off to write another review for the best Wii games site, and write another blog for "What is WiFi". After that I'll be working on articles for both niches to submit to - followed by looking into some new niche ideas.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Testing And Tracking

I've just completed Day 22 of the thirty day challenge, despite the official challenge ending 2 days ago. Yeah, I got a little behind - mainly due to the content writing and life in general. Now that there aren't anymore daily updates of the 30DC I should be able to catch up on all my work pretty quickly.

Today's lesson was all about testing and tracking and we were granted an audience with none other than the man himself, Dan Raine, as he took the podcast and video cast helm to explain all there is to explain about tracking.

During the podcast Dan explained that tracking is the 2nd most important thing in marketing next to market research. Not only does it show how well you're doing, as you can track the number of visitors to your site as well as how many people click through to your product page. It also serves as an early warning system if something goes wrong, as you can monitor the amount of visitors and if you start noticing a drop off in clicks you can look to see if your affiliate product has changed in any way, or if there is a new competitor on the scene. Dan told us that to get a decent idea of how you're doing you'll need to track for at least 2 weeks or so, or get around 1000-1500 visitors or more.

He talked about 'slippery' content, which is just how good your content is in relation to how many people click through to your product. The better your content, the more clicks through, the more slippery your content.

I've chosen to put in place the Statcounter tracking code to measure the people who visit my sites, as I've been using it for some time on my Cards-A-Gogo shop on Cafepress, so I have a feel for how it works. You can also use Google Analytics, which I believe gives you an easier-to-read data display but for now at least I've opted not to use it due to the time it takes to familiarize myself with it. To measure the click-throughs to my affiliate products Dan has supplied us with his own tracking system, which basically does a re-direct to an address specifically created from the original affiliate link you input. So I put in my affiliate link and a new link is generated. I then enter this in my blog instead of the original code, so that everyone who clicks on that link, gets quickly re-directed to count their click, and then re-directed back to Amazon, and they are none the wiser for being shuffled. We can then easily check our stats by logging into the 30DC dashboard. I assume then that the 30DC website (or at least the dashboard) is going to be left up online for the long long haul - as it would be a pain to have this going for a while and then find we have to change everything due to the site being removed by Ed and Dan. I'm sure it will be, there is so much information floating around the forums that I think plenty of people will be using it and adding to it for months or even years to come. A very handy present for us 30DCers indeed.

So I changed all my links (luckily I didn't have too many at this stage) and have already noticed the stats rising.

One thing that has been mentioned since a couple of days ago is that by now we should have more than one platform for our niche. This is something I haven't gotten around to as yet but I will be starting Squidoo lenses for both my niches from tomorrow, as well as continuing with the 30 day challenge. I've also got a couple more ideas for niches that I plan on looking at today to see if they might be worth getting into - in which case I'll start working on the market research and traffic testing for them next week, as well as continuing to work on my Cards-A-Gogo shop in preparation for hitting it with the link-love.

All in all a pretty easy day work-wise. I posted a new blog for each of my niches, and the content writing never stops. Once I've gotten a few posts under my belt for each blog I'll be able to slow down and only post once a week, but for now I really should be posting at most once every 3 days...something I've been a little neglectful with recently.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rinse and Repeat

On Day 21 of the challenge Ed had a problem with his video so instead we got a 25 minute audio presentation and a PDF with the slides that would have been used in the video had it worked. I, of course, didn't get clued into that until I was about 20 minutes into the audio - realizing then that I could have been looking at the PDF as Ed went along. No matter, I took a quick look through the PDF until I had caught up. Minor problem for me was that some of the images that Ed had placed in the PDF weren't showing up for me. Normally, with Ed doing an accompanying video with the PDF supplied as well, this problem didn't matter, as I could see the images Ed was using in his video presentation. For this one, I had to just guess. I think I did okay.

Basically, today was a sort of "rinse and repeat" of yesterday. Ed reiterated that we are still in the testing phase, and not to get too hung up on the affiliate product too much, as this was only being used to test our market. Some people have been lucky enough to make money while testing, and why not, but the ultimate goal here was to produce our own product down the track so that no only can we reap all the rewards from sales ourselves (instead of only receiving a commission), but we would then have an asset which we could possibly use to buy and sell. With our own product we can feed it out to affiliate marketers (like we are NOT hehe) and get them to do the work while we get a slice of everything they sell. Maybe our product will be so good that someone will offer us big bucks to buy it (our product being a website perhaps). But Ed was clear that this was something of a possibility only and definitely a far way down the track. I wasn't fussed - I'm just concentrating on making my first dollar through this affiliate sales part, the thought of selling my own product is, at this point, a dream.

He asked everyone to head on over to Mike Mendel's blog and check out his piece on Quality Content. A damn good read made up of a lot of common sense. He pointed out something that I could relate to - that quality is something that you know of, yet you have a hard time defining. You are aware of quality when it's around you, yet when asked to describe what is quality, you become tongue tied...well I do anyway. It's just one of those things in life that is there - you have a feel for it - but it hasn't really been until now that I've had to analyze what it is all about. Where does this quality come from. How can I produce it? For me, it comes down to a feeling I get when writing content, and that's the best I can do to describe it. I'm definitely one of those people/writers who is never satisfied with their work, but I can still tell when I have written something that would be helpful to someone else. Something that has merit, has meat, and is geared to serving the purpose for which it was created. On a creative level I may think it stinks, but I'm not writing a novel here, so it just needs to be interesting instead of truly captivating. I'm sure that will sound weird to people but I know what I mean ;o)

I did pick up some pointers from Mike, such as the use of sub headings in my blog pieces (which I have implemented over at my best Wii games blog), as well as cutting back on the use of affiliate links. I was never spammy with them anyway, but my last best Wii games blog post did have 4 links to the one game in it, so I cut that back to two. The use of pictures to space out your content was something else that Mike mentioned, but I feel I have that under control.

So the benefits of our Market research are now starting to show, as the sites we've put up should be receiving a certain amount of traffic. Obviously, that doesn't mean to say that we are getting as many visits as were in Gtrends for our niche, as our sites are still climbing up the Google page ranking, but we should be seeing results nonetheless. I certainly am for best Wii games. I placed tracking code from several days ago and have seen, due mostly to social bookmarking, that I'm getting around 50 visits to my site per day. That number does include my visits, so it's probably more like 40 outsiders having a look. Plus, with Statcounter, I get to see where they came from, and I'm seeing that more and more people are finding my site based on their Google search term. For some terms I'm actually in the top position, others I'm no 2. Most I'm around no 5-10 but the point is people are clicking through to my site. In my affiliate stats I've seen around 60 people click through to products from links I have on my site (that includes my 2nd niche as well). All in all I'm pretty happy with the way it's going. It's still very early days but as long as I keep putting out content every 2-3 days and chip away at the social bookmarking then things will progress.

The next stage for me is to increase my profile by using another hosting platform for more content relating to my niche keywords. The goal, as Ed puts it, is to try and gather 200+ people a day to your product, so the more reels you have in the water the more chances you're going to have of catching more fish. So the plan is to start work on a Squidoo lens revolving around best Wii games. I notice there is actually a lens up there already, but I think mine will be better. In the lens I can link directly to the Amazon products also, as well as host Adsense ads on the page. I can discuss a variety of topics relating to best Wii games, but unlike a blog I'm not heaping content upon content. I make up the one page and can just tweak it every so often to keep it fresh. It's about creating a cluster of sites that all feel back to your niche. My niche lends itself to having a number of products available, and I think that will give me more chance of getting sales.

So for now I need to write another blog for each of my niches, and then start on the Squidoo lens, as well as get stuck into the Day 22 challenge content.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Ethics Of Social Bookmarking

Day 20 of the thirty day challenge was pretty easy. No heavy lifting or working with complex machinery...phew! Only two videos to watch and learn from.

The first video was about the ethics of social bookmarking. This video was inspired from some people in the challenge thinking that the more people they had as contacts to social bookmark their sites and spread the "link love", the better. Well, not true says Ed. The problem is that our sites are new and Google knows this. What we are trying to do is market the way the internet works, or more importantly how Google works. That is to say that when any new site comes on the scene it is basically a piece of driftwood in a very large lake (excuse the poor analogy as it goes). It's all by itself, floating out there. As time goes on, if it's a particularly useful piece of driftwood, it will attract water bugs and the like who will take up homes in it's cozy knots, then perhaps frogs will come to feed on the bugs, birds to feed on the frogs and perhaps even the odd slithery snake will come along to take a grab for a bird. Despite that really bad analogy my point is that it takes time for a site to gather popularity, and Google know this. Posting up a blog at 12 noon and then asking 100 of your closest friends on Facebook or wherever to Digg, StumbleUpon, and social bookmark to around 40 sites is only going to send alarm bells to Google - and they in turn will deem the site spam. This is because there are sweat shops in third world countries full of people who are social bookmarking sites by the ton. Google are pretty savvy to this deal so they are on the look out for sites that suddenly have a hundred or so gorgeous friends hanging around them when they turn up to the club. They smell something fishy and it ain't the pate. So they do what they do best, they slap your site upside the head and you are left to play in the sand box. This does you no good and can even hurt those who have social bookmarked your site, as they may get bumped for inappropriate usage of the social bookmarking tools. It happens and it will happen if you try to push your popularity.

So Ed's advice was to only ask the people in your group to social bookmark your site, which I think is just dandy. After I social bookmarked my best Wii games blog I had about 100 people visit the site in one day. That was a big surprise to me, as I never realised that many people would be searching through the social bookmarking sites looking for stuff. No one actually bought anything through my affiliate links, but about a dozen of those 100 did click through to various products I had listed, which is promising. I then sent an email out to my group, who I have heard nary a word from since the TDC started, to ask them to supply some link love to my site. That was on Monday and it is now Saturday and so far I have only heard from two of my group members, but only one of them has actually social bookmarked the blog. I understand that they are probably tied up with life and stuff. Joining all those social bookmarking sites takes a hell of a lot of time. I've only joined 30 of them so far, just because it is so time consuming. I tend to join 10 per day and then bookmark my site with them. So I know what it's like to have so much to do just with the TDC, and I don't have a day job. These guys would probably have day jobs to tend to, plus families and what-not. I'm leaving my expectations low for now, but I hope in time they will get around to it when they have reached the social bookmarking phase of the challenge. Anyway, that's what natural growth is all about anyway, have a trickle build to a stream build to a river. It's very very early days, having only put my blog up last week, and only have 3 posts on it so far, so I'm not actually concerned in the slightest.

The 2nd video from Ed was basically talking about other sites that can be used for hosting platforms. This has come since the drama surrounding Tumblr. People got into a panic about it, understandably, but those who are up on the internet marketing explained that Tumblr is not the holy grail of hosting platforms - that it was just used because Google seemed to like it - but there are plenty more sites out there to choose from.

One great source of Web 2.0 sites, and blogging sites in particular is, where you can search for a specific arena of Web 2.0. It lists stacks and stacks of sites and has around 20 different blogging sites to choose from. Also, lets not forget Squidoo and Hubpages. I used Squidoo earlier this year when trying out a niche business so I already have a handle on that. I do plan to expand both my niches into Squidoo at a later date, and have already secured the URLs. I like Squidoo because it is one page that you fill with information and you can add modules for selling and other stuff and that's it. You really only need to update it every so often, unlike a blog that you need to keep adding to. But with a Blog you are forced to add to it so it remains fresh in the eyes of Google, and therefore you can simply take pieces of your blog to use in keeping your Squidoo lens fresh - so long as you change the content somewhat to avoid duplicate content.

Ed threw out a number of platforms to use - Blogger, Wordpress, Hubpages, Squidoo, even Yahoo Answers and Twitter (although he promised to go further into Twitter at a later stage). Also, Ezine Articles was a good place to go to post content and Ed made that one of the action points of the day, to write an article for Ezine. I'm not going to get to that today (I'll barely finish this blog by the looks of it), but I'll definitely post an article in the not too distant future. He told us that as this is the testing phase still, we should not be trying to create our own domains around our niches. Anything where money needs to be spent is not necessary at this time, and goes against everything the Thirty Day Challenge is there for. At this point we don't even know if our niche is worthwhile (well, some people have already made sales and therefore they know, but as yet I don't) so we shouldn't be going off half-cocked (or fully cocked for that matter) until we have more information. It's not about the hosting platform we use, as these sites are interchangeable. It's about having great content across several platforms. There are no quick fixes any more. To make money in your niche you need to research your niche, learn about your niche, and market your niche as a business. Eventually, you will want to be using a lot of different platforms to host your one niche content, all pointing to your affiliate product (or your own product if you're lucky enough), but be sure there are no tricks to get you rich quick using Internet Marketing. I'm all for that, as I'm not concerned about working hard to get sales. My main focus is simply to do what it takes to be able to work from home for the rest of my life - and if that means I have to create business after business, getting maybe only 10% of my income from each one, then so be it. I don't ever want to go back to the rat race.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The lesson for Day 17 was all about social bookmarking. Now in the scheme of things, when this days training was put up on the 30DC site none of the Tumblr drama had occurred. Still, maybe Ed and Dan had a suspicion as to what would happen, or maybe other challengers were posting questions about what happens when their keyword phrase is already taken as a URL for the Tumblr site. Whatever the reason, Ed and Dan made it clear that Tumblr was not the Holy Grail of hosting platforms. The reason they chose it was because it had a simple layout, it was very easy to sign up to, it was new on the scene but yet was ranking very well with Google (meaning it had been search engine optimized). That's not to say that there aren't plenty of other blogging sites, etc, that aren't just as good in comparison. Actually, one forum member put up a link to an incredible site called that lists all the sites in the Web 2.0 arena. You can then search for specifics, such as "blog" and it will give you all the blog sites out there. Great site, very useful.

So Ed and Dan made mention of some other hosting platforms but they did say that the best way to do this was to use a number of different ones. The way Ed put it was that you should never expect more than 10% of your income to come from one site, no more than 10% of traffic, also. There's nothing wrong with having more than one platform promote the same niche either. So if you had an ongoing Blogger blog regarding your niche, you could also have a static Squidoo lens focusing on one area of your niche, but with links back to your blog and your affiliate products. That's my plan now that I have gotten my first Blog up to the way I like it, I'll start putting together a Squidoo lens as well. Then I'll have a crack at my second niche in the same way.

The 2 videos for Day 17 were in regards to a social bookmarking, and creating backlinks. The first video went through the process of getting your site ranked in the social bookmarking sites, using Social Poster. This is a great utility for submitting a site to many social bookmarking sites at once. It has a long list of sites to submit to, and once you have your site name, URL, description and tags filled in you just have to post those details at each individual site. The only time consuming part really is that you must first register at each site you intend to submit to - but even this stage is greatly streamlined using Social Poster.

The next video was about submitting an article to This is a site where people write articles for use in PLR (Private Label Rights) material. This is copy that someone has written that they allow anyone to use on their website for content. The smart thing, if you're going to use PLR, is to change the text around, as other people may be using the same content on their site and Google doesn't like duplicate content. So if you get something free like that it's always a good idea to re-write it to some extent. Changing one or two words per sentence should do it. The purpose of us 30DCers submitting articles to Ezine is that we are able to include a backlink to our blog/lens/whatever in the bio section, which is shown with the article, and just may entice someone who is interested in our article to look for more content and/or products. It's another boost in the rankings, as we know that backlinks from reputable sites means that Google likes us just that little bit more. I must get onto writing an article sometime soon.

So this was the point really where someone could make their first sale, once the social bookmarking is done and traffic starts to flow. On the actual Day 17 I was still struggling with writing content, but now I'm actually working on Day 17 stuff I look forward to seeing just how quickly things start to happen...

EDIT: Just a quick note to say that, even without social bookmarking, the blog site for my first niche turned up at #9 in the Google search rankings for the phrase match. I published the blog at around 8:30pm, and when I checked at 2:00pm the next day there it was. I made some more tweaks on the site to make it look a little better, put images in and what not, and then started doing some social bookmarking. I didn't go crazy with it, though. I only posted my site to around 10 bookmarking places, as I didn't want a huge surge of traffic to my site alerting Google that something might be a little "spammy". I then put an email out to my fellow team members (who I haven't heard from in weeks), to give me some "link love" - votes through Who knows if I'll hear back from them or what they are doing, but I thought it was worth a shot. In the next day or so I'll start hitting up my contacts on Skype for the same thing. It's all about making the traffic look natural. Like some people have found it and told their friends about it, and so on.

By the end of the day yesterday I had around 100 people visit my site, which was surprising but very cool. The social bookmarking works, but I know that is just a spike due to the new listing. The real aim is to make me look good in Google's eyes so that I can then rank naturally high, and people will find my site simply by searching for my keyword phrase, rather than by checking social bookmarking sites.

Actually, at this point I can reveal what my first niche is and the site address. My first niche was for "best Wii games" - as in Nintendo Wii. You can view the blog at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Location Location Location

Day 16 of the thirty day challenge and we are moving the content we have written up into the wide weird world of the internet, in preparation of getting it ranked and having traffic swarm to our page and hopefully our affiliate products.

The first video was Ed going over the process we are to follow. We create the blog (our content site), which is our attractive friend. We then hit it with some social bookmarking (a process that will be explained further on Day 17). That is our attention getting friend, or friends as the case may be.

So the action points are:

1. Watch the Tumblr Video - check!
2. Create a Tumblr blog account - check!
3. Write another 3 articles for each of my phrases - crap...

I am actually understanding why this content needs to be written (well I think I do). It's my understanding that we not only need to get into the practice of writing content regularly, so that it doesn't become such a chore, but also so we can learn about our chosen niches (if we didn't already know about them), and hopefully become interested in them. That has certainly happened with me, although I am still behind in the content writing. I'm okay with that, though, because I know I can pump out the good when necessary, as one of my jobs back when I was working 9 to 5 was to write copy for newsletters and shop item descriptions - and that was for an area that I didn't have a great deal of interest in, so writing about something I am interested in will be a piece of cake.

The one thing I'm a little unclear on is just how regularly are we supposed to upload new content to our blogs. After watching the videos I didn't really see that mentioned anywhere. I notice that for both Ed's and Rob's niche sites they had two blog posts already in place, but I don't recall hearing either of them mention how often after that should we be adding to it. Is it once a day? Once every two days? I might have to jump on the forum and look that one up.

Speaking of the forum, I forgot to mention earlier that with the great 30DC toolbar that we were supplied with thanks to Dan, we are able to quickly and easily search the 30DC forums through Google. We merely type into the 30DC search bar the phrase we are looking for, then when the results appear on Google we click on the Thirty Day Challenge link on Google and it narrows down the results to only those from the forum. How cool is that!

After Ed's video we got a video from Rob explaining how we set up a blog in Tumblr, and some little tricks to use to help identify our keyword phrase to Google. It's important to put our keywords in the heading of the blog, as well as trying to fit it in the first sentence (or first paragraph if first sentence doesn't work). Also, bolding that first instance and italicizing the last instance of your keyword phrase will let Google spiders know that those words are the ones to focus on. I think having a different attribute on each is important, as Google doesn't like too much repetition, so having one bold and one in italics is better than having two bold key phrases. So don't go off and bold all your key phrase instances thinking that it will give you a higher ranking. It will likely do the opposite if anything.

So I was then left to open my Tumblr account and create my blogs. I got a good tip about GMail from one of the other challengers. He mentioned that with GMail, you can alter your original email address so that the same email can be used for all your Tumblr accounts. Let me explain...

With Tumblr, it is a case of one email address per account/blog. Unlike Blogger, you can only open one blog per account in Tumblr, which I do find restrictive. Anyway, I opened a GMail account as, and the tip is that if you make your Tumblr account email address "", not only will you get emails going to your GMail account, but you can make "yournichephrase" any of your niches and not have to create a new email account for each phrase. Now that saves a lot of time and hassle. So I did all that and posted just one piece of content for each niche. I was actually running a little behind so didn't get this done until Friday the 17th.

As it turns out I'm kid of glad I only put up one piece for each niche. Overnight on Saturday the 18th, the guy who runs Tumblr went on a rampage on his own site, deleting blogs and accounts indiscriminately. He rationale was that he didn't want all us 30DCers using his blog for what affiliate marketing. He called us scum and eventhough he was targeting 30DCers, he apparently deleted several blogs belonging to people who had been using Tumblr for a while. Alarm bells obviously went up for him when there was a HUGE spike of traffic to his little blog site, as thousands of 30DCers, following the words of Ed Dale, went over and signed up and posted their content. Ed blamed the mass deletion on those who were using the 30DC process to produce spam-like crap content, rather than those who had genuine, original content in place. Personally, from what I read of the guy who runs Tumblr, I don't think it mattered. It certainly didn't matter to him which accounts he deleted. But hey, it is his site and he's welcome to do what he likes with it. If he doesn't want the extra traffic then that's fine. I know a lot of people got angry and probably started using Web 2.0 techniques to try and bash Tumblr. Neither of my blogs got the chop and they may have been because I was running late with signing up (not in the midst of the thousands of others), or that my blogs were of a technical nature - apparently the guy who runs Tumblr is an ex-IT guy so is partial to techie stuff. Who knows really, but I was in a quandary as to whether I should stick with Tumblr now or take my blog elsewhere. I didn't want to continue working on it only to have this guy decide to shut me down 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 months in, and have all that work wasted. On the other hand I had started and noticed that in less than 24 hours one of my blogs had reached #34 position in Google for the phrase match, without having any social bookmarking done on it whatsoever. I was now worried that if I started again I would be competing against this Tumblr blog. If I did start again I would have to change my content enough that Google didn't see it as duplicate. That wasn't a bit deal, and in the end I figured it was better to spend a bit more time starting up somewhere more secure, so I headed to the first place I could think of that hadn't let me down. Here.

I know down the track I will use other blogging platforms to host my content for future niches, but for now I wanted to just have the ease that Blogger affords me, so I started two new blogs with my niche phrase in the URL, and posted my first blogs for each, with revised content of course. I added in one affiliate link in each blog, to products on I don't really expect anyone to buy that stuff, though. I'm now off to add in some tracking code so I can see if anyone is actually visiting these blogs.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ed Says I'm Ugly

Day 15 was just one video, on the WHY of doing all this stuff - social bookmarking, blog posts with affiliate links, etc). It is, as Ed would say, Marketing the Way The Internet Works (or more importantly, Marketing The Way Google Wants, because as we all know it's Google in whom we are targeting for traffic).

Ed broke it down like this:

Imagine each niche phrase as a nightclub, and Google is kind of like the bouncer (door man) for each and every club there is. Actually, Ed started by saying that Google was the nightclub, but I think the analogy works better with Google as the bouncer. So anyway, niches such as "Viagra", or "Diet Pills" are like the Viper Room nightclub in Los Angeles - notoriously hard to get into. You might as well save yourself the time and humiliation at this point. There are far too many other, much cooler, hipper and better looking people already trying to get into that club for you to even bother. However a term such as "Free Speed Reading" was, as Ed put it, more like a Blue Light Disco. Or perhaps for the purposes of those of us too old to go to Blue Light Discos these days, it's like a boutique pub. Much easier to get into but still it pays to have help. You see, Google your new little blog site and thinks, damn you is ugly! Pig ugly if you're going by the pics Ed uses on his video. So Google doesn't want to let you in, certainly not the Viper Room, but not even the boutique pub either...well, not on your own anyway. New sites generally look dodgy, with their sales letter and opt-in page, it's pretty obvious to Google that you're only interested in parting people from their money. So the trick is to have influential friends to help get you into those smaller clubs and boutique pubs. Influential friends come in the form of authority sites. There are basically two types of influential friends - the gorgeous intelligent friend, and the attention seeking friend. Partner up with both of these and you're practically a shoe-in to get into your desired club.

First up there is the gorgeous intelligent friend - also known as sites that allow you to post content, such as blog sites. Google likes them because there is usually plenty of backlinks to them (backlinks are kind of like other sites putting a good word in, as far as the Google bouncer is concerned). They may have been a round a while and so are well-known to Google - but best of all (for you) they are happy to associate with you (post content and tags). This is a real help and alone can definitely get you through the door, although you'll probably be waiting a while to get to the bar if you only go in with the gorgeous intelligent friend. That's where the attention seeking friend comes in handy.

Attention seeking friends are your social bookmarking sites, such as digg,, etc. These sites already have a high page ranking with Google and they get noticed. So when they say you're good, then Google is not only much more inclined to let you in, but you're getting a drinks card and a path cleared to the bar. The problem is, like with life, if you continue to only hang out with the party people (attention seekers) you'll crash and burn, and wear saddle bags under your eyes and be deaf from the constant dance music, and be coughing and wheezing from the smoke and other ingestants. The Google will see you as a washed-up party doofus and bump you from the V.I.P list altogether, never to be heard from again. You'll be pawning off your 6 inch disco platforms and selling the gold in your teeth before you can say "Paris Hilton is going to jail".

So that was it...a painless day of theory, but very important and worthwhile going through. I'm really liking Ed's analogies. They certainly make digesting the theory that much easier.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that another 3 pieces of content have been requested. I think this is going to be a daily thing and I think I know why, but I'll expand on that more if it turns out I'm right.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How To Make Money

Day 14 of the challenge had us just watching a couple of videos from Ed, explaining to us how we are initially going to be making money with the 30 Day Challenge process. First up, though, he told us that we must write another 3 pieces of content on our keyword phrases...yikes! It had taken me 3 days just to get through the first three pieces, now I gotta write another three?! Actually, after writing the initial three articles on each keyword phrase I'd managed to learn enough from them to not only get interested in my niches enough to want to learn more (and therefore write more), but I also managed to get into the swing of writing in general, and don't feel anywhere near the pressure I did prior to writing anything.

Ed took us through a couple of ways of finding our affiliate product to promote. Yes, I know what you're thinking, the 30 day challenge is just about affiliate marketing...well, personally I don't actually see whats so wrong about that in the first place (in the second place, no, it's not actually going to be an affiliate marketing exercise). If this was just about selling someone else's product I wouldn't be disappointed at all. Plenty of people out there make plenty of money from affiliate sales - and those people don't have Ed and Dan's cutting edge marketing techniques on hand - so I really don't have a problem with it at all. But as Ed says, the ultimate goal is for us to be selling our own products (and therefore reaping all the rewards instead of just a commission). I don't know if we'll actually have time to go right into product creation as part of the 30 Day Challenge, although with the amount of content that has been coming through so far from the guys I wouldn't be surprised if they managed to fit that in with only 14 days to go (10 really, as there is no content uploaded on the weekends). I say there are only 14 days to go because I'm actually writing this on Day 18.

So Ed took us over to to look up some affiliate products to promote. I'm not the biggest fan of clickbank, as I find it's been overrun by a lot of crappy products with poor sales pages. Some of the sales pages have their own name squeeze (a form to get you on their mailing list) and I'm sure part of this challenge will be learning to use our own name squeeze...perhaps. But on the whole the site is good for finding something to promote for the challenge. Ed pointed out that this is not our main goal, but we are only using an affiliate product as a means to test to see if the market are actually willing to spend money. If you link to a good affiliate sales page and people go through your site to the product and buy it, and they do it often, then you know it's a good market. Some markets may get lots of searches, but predominately just from tire-kickers, people who aren't interested in spending money. This works as a way of seeing if the market is going to make you money in the long run.

Ed also took us through, for those people who couldn't find a product on As you would be aware sell almost everything, and up until I saw the video I didn't realise they had an affiliate program. They only pay out commissions of 10%, which is paltry compared to the commissions you can get on clickbank - but as I mentioned, this isn't about getting money, it's just about recording the amount of sales. I do understand why Amazon's commissions are so small compared to clickbank, though. Amazon deal in real products, whereas clickbank deal in digital products. Digital products are a lot cheaper to produce, and are usually produced by the person who is selling them, therefore they can dish out high commissions to entice affiliate marketers to promote their products. Amazon deal in products created by others, so they have had to pay an initial wholesale fee for the product, and therefore cannot afford to hand out too big of a commission. Also, as Amazon is so HUGE and well known throughout the world, I dare say they don't need that much help selling their products anyway.

So after having a browse through clickbank I only found one product for one of my niches and none for the other - pretty much what I had expected. Amazon had plenty of stuff I could promote and so I signed up with them. Unfortunately, seeing as I'm in Australia, I only have the choice of receiving my affiliate commissions by cheque or gift certificate. If I choose a cheque I lose US$15 for each cheque they send me - so I picked the gift certificate. I figure if I actually do sell anything and make some money I can always find something in Amazon to spend it on.

So now I'm off to write my next three articles...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chipping Away

So it's actually day 15 of the challenge today but I'm still chipping away at the Day 13 material, the content writing. I'm still finding it a bit of an obstacle, and I'm sure this is where a lot of people trip up and are never heard from again. I'm determined not to be one of those people. So eventhough I've only written 4 articles on my first keyword, and none on my second, I will push through and get this done - even if it means catching up over this weekend. The reason I've done 4 of one is because I took a sneak peak at the Day 14 material and in it Ed says we should write another 3 articles on our niche keywords. Seeing as I already had this fourth "angle" on my niche as a back-up, I thought I might as well give it a go. The niche I'm currently working on happens to be the one I knew nothing about before I started, and I'm surprised to find that I'm actually getting interested in it - so much so that I may look into obtaining it once I have some money rolling in. God knows I'll know all the ins and outs and problems associated with it by the time I'm done.

The second niche I haven't started on yet but will probably get going with that today. I hope to be able to write at least two pieces today, maybe three if I'm lucky. That will really narrow the catch-up gap. I'm still planning to check out the Day 15 video today, because I feel that if I get more insight into what we are going to be doing with this stuff, then I might have a better way of going about writing about it. Just a personal thing for me, others might be able to just write and write with no problems. I do prefer to know what it is I'm writing for, but I have to admit I've done better than I thought I would so far. I know 4 short pieces of content doesn't sound like much, but having to read all about a brand new topic that I had no knowledge of does take up time. It still has it's moments, as the niche is quite a technical one, and parts of it are hard to digest for the layman, but on the whole I'm getting better.

So back to it...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hard Yard

The Day 13 lesson was that content is king! Great...just when I was doing so well and having such a hoot compiling stats for my niches (thanks even more so to Mike Mindel for his amazing Google Trends/Wordtracker tool), Ed comes along and says we're going to need to start working for our gravy! Who woulda thought! Well, I knew making money online couldn't be all ice cream and pancakes. The reason I feel like reality has hit me in the face with a wet fish is because I'm a downright dud (if I do say so myself) when it comes to writing content. Now, I know Ed's lesson was to keep it short and keep it light and I have no problem with that when it comes to writing blogs (ok, the keeping it short part I may get a little stuck on), but for some reason (I think I know what) when it comes to writing about "things", such as niche ideas, I just clam fingers seem to repel away from the keyboard, my brain seems dryer and more desolate than and old west ghost town, complete with tumbling tumbleweeds and eerie wind howl sound effects. Truly, it's like someone switches a light off the moment I have to "write for work". I think I know why this's partly due to the pressure I put on myself. I know in part that it's crunch time, or at least I'm beginning to feel that, and so, being the perfectionist that I am, I feel like not attempting is easier than making the effort and hating it. It's why I generally have such a hard time starting things in general. The funny thing is, I know once I start I'll get over the anxiety and just push on and do my best...but I delay delay delay as much as possible and get knotted up inside over it. Even writing this blog now is just to delay the work I'm supposed to be doing. In that case, I might as well get on with telling how Ed went through it.

In the good old pioneer days of internet marketing, content was not as important as making people think you had what they wanted, only to push them into something else entirely. Well, thanks to Google (and really, speaking as a consumer I sincerely say thanks) and their goal of making the customers experience of searching through their site a pleasurable one and one where they get what they're searching for (which, of course, makes sense for them) the game has changed significantly...not that I ever got to play the easier version of the game. Now it is absolutely crucial to actually deliver what the customer is searching for, or you will simply be allocated to the Google sandbox (that's a term I heard, I know what it means but have no idea where it comes from) - in short, you'll get the Google bitch slap and your site will be relegated to the minor leagues on Page 25 of the search results, where you might as well pack it up and take it home for all the good it will do you. The brainiacs at Google are so with it and hip to the groove that they have got their little spiders out combing sites for relevancy in terms of chosen search terms. So if you type in "Sausage Making" into Google, the mother of all search engines will actual favor sites that talk about actually making sausages, rather than sites that just mention sausage making in order to try and get you to buy their product (which may not have anything to do with sausage making). Clever, huh? That's not all, of course, but it's enough for today. So, as Ed says, "Content is King". So we need to gather up all those bits of information that we scraped together from the Day 10 lesson, and make something of it.

The way Ed tells it, we need to create 3 articles for each keyword phrase. These articles are to be short, only one or two paragraphs - to ease us into the process. One day, when we're actually making money with Internet Marketing, we would probably outsource this part of the process - get someone else to write our copy - and I tell you, for a while I seriously considered doing that very thing as part of this challenge, but that would kind of defeat the whole "make money for nothing" part of the whole thing. So I went through Ed's video and he does make it sound oh so easy...which I know it actually is once you just pull your finger out and get started. Even when I was working 9 to 5, getting paid to write copy for newsletters and product descriptions for the company I used to work for, it was always the job I left until last because I found starting it to be such a hump, such an obstacle. Once I actually did get started I didn't find it that difficult at all, and in some cases actually liked what I wrote, but more importantly my boss liked what I wrote. I therefore, don't really have a clue what it is fundamentally speaking, that causes me to hesitate...

I only needed to spend a short time in the afternoon looking over my niches to see three different angles for one and two for the other. I've still gotta find one more angle for the second niche but hey, until I actually start writing that's really not my major concern.

Ed's tips for this lesson were to keep it light, write it conversationally, like you were sending an email to a friend about this topic - and I've noticed a few people on the forum suggested ways to get started, which I thank them for. He (Ed) also said that using a quote from a reputable source can be a good way to pad out your mini-article, and to include your niche keywords in the heading, and in the first line of the content. Now, this could be a little difficult for me to do for all 3 articles of my first niche, as it's a question, and the other 2 angles I'm looking at are also questions regarding the umbrella topic but not exactly the same as the first question (obviously). So lets say my niche was "sausage making" and the keywords I'd found that work for Google Trends and Wordtracker was "what is sausage making?", and the other angles I was looking to write about were "how does sausage making work", and "sausage making equipment", well I couldn't really use my initial "what is sausage making" as a heading for each of those questions...unless it was posed like "What is sausage making and how does sausage making work?"...Hmmm, a bit of a stretch but it might get me by for now.

Ed also talked a little about using Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and I will be giving that a go. Even though I'm quite happy using Word and Notepad to do my writing, I've had cause along this 30DC path and before it, to put a lot of stock in Ed Dale's suggestions. He hasn't steered me wrong as yet so I don't feel there is any reason to doubt him on this one. It's really just that as I get older I tend to have a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude getting more and more ingrained in my psyche...and there's nothing really wrong with that, other than it can often (especially in the Web 2.0 realm) mean that you miss out on better things, things that you had no idea about and actually make things easier, combine things into a simpler, more organised package. Thanks to Ed and his trusty team for putting me onto such stuff so many times.

Anyway, I've put this whole writing thing off long enough...