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...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Learning Phase

Day 10 of the challenge was about the gathering of information, and beginning to learn about our particular niches. I realise now why Ed had only wanted us to bring 2 niches into this exercise, as the work load begins to increase significantly from here on.

Ed started the day with his usual podcast, and then made a strange little video about doing one last little bit of market research. As he said it was something that was sort of hard to teach, but as experienced Internet Marketers, himself and Dan knew this technique more by looking than actually documenting the process. Anyway, he told us to have a look in Google and search for our niche keywords. We were then to look to the results to see if there were any, or many Web 2.0 results. By Web 2.0 he means results that include Squidoo lenses, Hub pages, Ezine articles, Tumblr blogs, etc...places where people are already using Web 2.0 sites to write about and possibly market niches such as ours. Now the reason I say this was a strange video was because once he had told us about this, saying that if our niche failed after we had done all the previous market research then this would probably be the reason, he told us to ignore what he had told us. I'm assuming he did this because the idea might confuse a lot of newbies (and I would have included myself in that group had I not been part of the Immediate Edge program - now of course, I know all about Squidoo and Hub and Ezine). Adding this into the mix could quite well add a level of complexity to the mix for a lot of people that they would simply crash and burn through frustration at not being able to understand the process at this point, and may very well chuck it all in. Ed made the video as to give full disclosure, so that if someone did do all the research but didn't get any traffic, then he could at least say that he had explained the reason why it had probably happened. I assume he believes that for this challenge it's certainly not an important enough part of the market research faze to be worrying, but at the same time it needed to be mentioned. I have the feeling it may have been more confusing to have made the video and then said to ignore it, but I understand why he had to do it, and I bet if there are experienced members in a team then they could probably go into more detail for the lesser experienced people.

Speaking of teams, I'm not sure if I have one the start of the challenge we were all told that teams were the best way, and I got that and so asked to join a team. We got a handful of people together, I think 5 was the magic number, and I sent off an email to the guy who started the team saying I was interested. A few days later he sent out a group email with everyone's details, asking them to confirm that they still wanted on the team, and I sent off my confirmation. Since then I've had received maybe one email from each of them, only in response to me asking if the team was still a team. One of our team members started a Facebook group for our team, and only 4 out of 5 of us have joined it...the guy who started the team is the one who hasn't joined, but in his defense he says that he has been sick and needs to catch up. Mind you, the Facebook group has not had much activity since it was started, and the guy who started it, who is meant to be a member of my team hasn't even added me to his friends list despite me requesting to be his friend several days ago. I really thought there would be a bit more communication between team mates. I noticed in the stages of pre-season that other teams were doing teleconferencing on Skype, and coming up with fun team names, but getting correspondence out of my team has been a little like pulling teeth - nobody seems to want to communicate so I've pretty much resigned myself to doing this on my own. I know what people might say, well if YOU want to communicate then communicate...well, I HAVE been trying, and not getting much in response and I'm not the sort of guy who bangs his head on a brick wall for very long. Ok, that's my rant over...

The rest of Day 10 was about the gathering of information on our niches. For those who have chosen a niche they know little or nothing about, now is the time to learn. That goes for me, as the two niches I have chosen are both areas I know nothing about really. I just hope that as I learn about them I'm able to get interested. At the moment, though, it's just about getting snap shots of information and saving them in Google Notebook, a cool little tool for this exact purpose. Another fantastic technique that Ed has shown us is the way to be notified when new information on our niches comes our way. This process entails going to Google and doing a search for your niche under the Google News site. Now, in Ed's example his niche is "Free Speed Reading", but as it's a sub niche the news results are minimal, so he stuck with the umbrella phrase of "Speed Reading". Once he got his results he merely clicked on the RSS feed icon in the address bar of the browser, which took him to his Bloglines account and he saved the feed. This means now that anytime the word "Speed Reading" appears in a news article, Ed will get it delivered to his Bloglines account. Pretty bloody clever if you ask me. Then he did the same with the Blogs search section of Google and voila! He now has every blog that mentions "Speed Reading". Google, being the mother of all search engines, would pick up most blogs and news articles, and therefore Ed would receive a plethora of content which can be used down the track in the preparation of a product or sales page. Then it's just a matter of reading through these blogs and news articles, and seeing what makes you go WOW, or HMMM, and copying that into Google Notebook, storing it for future use. Hell, you may even learn a little about your niche along the way! Hats off to you, Ed, that's some cool IM shit right there!

So that's where I'm at right now. I'm concentrating on my two main niches, gathering information about what they are and cool things that others might find interesting about them. I haven't forgotten my third niche, and if I have time I will have a look for info regarding that, but it happens to be a niche that I already have quite an interest in, and know a bit about, so it's not imperative that I get stuff down during the thirty day challenge.

So, I'd better stop dribbling and get on with the learning phase

Rehash, Repeat, Reinforce

As you can tell by the title Day nine of the challenge was mostly about going back over the lessons of yesterday. It seems that people were having a bit of trouble with the lesson and Google Trends itself, and so Ed made a car cast (podcast in a car) as well as a couple of videos reexplaining what Rob had taken us through yesterday. I think that due to my time with the Immediate Edge program, and having seen part of this technique used, I didn't have a problem understanding where Rob was coming from - but it's always good to have what I thought was going on confirmed, by Ed no less. The one other thing Ed mentioned, which I'd also heard about through The Immediate Edge, was that we need to think in terms of the magic number of 200 - that being only 1 in 200 people who visit your "money page" will actually part with their hard-earned money. This doesn't sound all that encouraging, I know...but if you're getting 100 searches a day for your key phrase, and you're at the top (or near the top) of Google, then it could really only be a matter of a couple of days before you get a sale, thereby completing the challenge. And if you think that each niche has several keyword phrases that can bring in traffic, then you might be able to accumulate more than 200 searches in a day with all your keyword phrases pointing to the same money page, thereby making at least one sale a day...and it can only get better the more time you spend on it. The crucial part of all this is to make sure your phrases are getting traffic, by going through the market research steps as laid out by Ed and the team. As Rob Somerville put it, it takes you just as long to create a site for a term that is getting searches, as it does for one that isn't, so why waste that time on a term that isn't when some simple market research can confirm it for you? I can only probably see a dip in motivation if, once on my own, I'm unable to find another niche that brings in a healthy amount of traffic - but I have an ever increasing number of niche ideas to work with, and I realise that a lot of it at the start is going to be trial and error. Sure, I may have done the market research, I may see there is plenty of traffic for my keyword phrase, and so I create a site to sell a product...but if my site then stinks I won't make a sale no matter how many people are dropping in for a down the track, when sites are being built and tested, we'll be able to see what works and what doesn't - and I'm sure that will be one of the many things left to go through by Ed and the gang, to make the process even easier. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

Ed did say that at this point we should be thinking about only taking 2 of our niches on to the next phase, to put more focus on them. I'm not sure what the next phase is, but seeing as I've already whittled it down to 3 niches through the market researching, I might as well take all 3 through for now and I can always get rid of one if the work in the next phase is too much for 3 niches.

Bring on Day 10!

And Then There Were Three

Day 8 of the challenge has come and gone and I am now down to just 3 niches, which is okay since I didn't care for most of the others anyway...Of the 3 that are left, one is a subject I am really interested in already, one is something I know absolutely nothing about, and one is something I know a bit about but very little. Both the last two are subjects that I am interested in knowing more about, which certainly would help when it come to gathering information down the track. I know Ed and Dan find the thrill on Internet Marketing in learning about new niches they had previously known nothing about, and I certainly hope that down the track I can find that sort of enthusiasm for anything due to the marketing prospects...but at the moment I know myself well enough to know that I find it hard to get enthusiastic about a subject that doesn't interest I'm glad that the subjects that do remain after all the market research testing are ones that do hold my interest.

So, anyway, I should probably explain how it came to be that my niches have been narrowed by one since yesterday. Ed's lessons for today revolved around getting some sort of confirmation that the number of searches per day that were coming up for my niches in Wordtracker was accurate, or not. It's all well and good for Wordtracker to tell you that you're getting 200 searches a day for your keywords, but apparently there have been a lot of cases where people have used that information to produce a sales site, only to find that they go no traffic whatsoever. As we know, Wordtracker is only an educated "guesstamite" of the searches for a day, and uses a couple of sites to gather this information. Unfortunately, one of these sites is not Google, as that would pretty much clear everything up (as it's Google rankings that we are going after here). Google are pretty tight lipped about the actual number of searches a particular keyword phrase can get in a day so it's was up to Ed and his "lab" - Rob Sommerville, to try and find a way of being able to double check the Wordtracker results. They feel they have managed to do this through Google Trends.

Google Trends is a place where you can see in graph form, just how your search terms have been going. Unfortunately, there are no actual numbers on the graph to tell you how many searches the graph is showing at any particular point, but thankfully the big brains of Ed, Rob and Dan managed to figure out a way that you can get a rough indication. By using a search term with a known about of searches per day as a baseline, we are then able to enter our search term alongside that one for comparison. So using one of Dan's keyword phrases, that of "Male Yeast Infection", where he knew that he was getting 500 page hits per day due to his statistic counter, we are able to see if our keywords get enough traffic to warrant going further with them.

Now, this is by no means an exact science. As I mentioned the graph shows search results, while Dan is only able to gather stats for people who have clicked through to his site. He is in the #2 position in Google for that term so it's safe to say that a majority of the searchers who do click on a link will be clicking on his, but obviously not all of them will. The idea behind this is not about getting exact results anyway, it's simply a test to confirm that there is enough traffic on your keyword phrase to go ahead with the next phase. If Wordtracker was displaying 1000 results a day but Google Trends didn't have anything show up then you would know that, for that keyword, Wordtracker wasn't accurate. Then, to add to the confusion, we find out that Google doesn't usually display results on their graph for search terms that get lass than about 250 searches a day. That seems to throw a spanner in the works as, according to Wordtracker, most of my terms are only getting around 100-150 searches a day. Never fear, says Ed, for below the graph is another section that includes searches by region, by city and by language. It just so happens that "Male Yeast Infection" is only searched for through the English language, so therefore we know that the blue bar that represents the English number of searches is the full amount for Dan's click through stats...that being 500-550 a day. So if the blue bar is 500 searches, and our red bar comparison is only half the length, then we know that there are roughly 250 searches a day. As I mentioned before, this is far from being an exact science. It is merely a tool to double check the worth of your key word phrases.

Now, as so many people at the 30 Day Challenge were using "Male Yeast Infection" as their baseline, it meant that a spike occurred in the Google Trends search results. This then meant that the English blue bar was no longer reading 500 searches, but as Ed points out, if you still regard the bar as representing 500 searches, then you can't go wrong, as if the bar is actually representing more searches then your red bar by comparison is getting more than it would if the bar was only representing 500. Still with me? No, I thought not...

Suffice to say that as long as there is a little bit of red appearing, say 3mm at least, then all should be okay. Luckily for me, two of my phrases actually showed up on the graph as well, one of them being way higher than the baseline, while still only having around 30,000 page matches in I'm particularly chuffed about that. But, it did mean that one of my niches had to get the arse, so to speak, as it just didn't cut the mustard in comparison to the blue English bar, and when I tried to widen the niche by removing a keyword I found that there were far too many competing pages in Google for it got the chop.

Thanks to Ed, Rob and Dan I'm feeling quietly confident about my last three niches as I move into Day 9 of the challenge.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day 8 - Also Known As Day 1 of my Thirty Hour Hangover

I'm feeling a little under the weather today (self inflicted binging will do that to a person), so I'm not going to be writing much in the way of my excursion into Day 8 of the thirty day challenge...other than to say that after putting my niches through the wringer yet again I am down to 3 niches.

I intend to catch up on Day 8 blogging tomorrow, once the pounding in my head has settled and my pores stop oozing Carlton Draught...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lucky Number 7

Day seven of the thirty day challenge was a brutal one ladies and gentlemen, as 3 of my ideas had to be dropped after putting them to the days test. I've chosen for now not to replace them, and just continue to roll with the 4 I have left (until they possibly get shot down by more market research, of course). Ed's podcasts suggested that we start concentrating on 1 or 2 that really stand out to us at this time, but to still work the MR mojo on all 7. He also brought up a good Internet Marketing analogy using, in particular, the Idol music series (American Idol, Australian Idol, etc). Now, this seems to be the first place that my opinions differ greatly from Ed's, ad I absolutely despise reality TV shows - I think they are, for one, not reality at all, but merely voyeur TV. The only "real" part is that they don't use actors in the rolls, but the content is manipulated to the want of the producers so that even the most wholesome sweetheart can appear to be a total conniving bitch if the producers of the show deem it so. Ed says that it's a wonderful insight into the human psyche and how people think and work and I would agree, if the content was not manipulated for entertainment purposes. However, his analogy of Idol was really good, and eventhough it won't get me watching the show, it did make me see it in a different light. Basically, Ed made the point that in the old days the record company rep would go out to clubs and pubs, listening to bands in the hope of hearing that allusive sound that will sell - the next big thing. The problem with that is that it is like starting off with the product first and then trying to find the market...really bad in IM terms, huh? Well, bad in any terms...really stumbling around blindly in the dark, hoping to grab onto something worthwhile. What the Idol series does is it firstly attracts tens of thousands of people in each city to come along to them (the makers) to try and be successful. It's like sitting at home and having all these products delivered to your doorstep. The next part of the process is the filtering, which is similar to the noticing and judging faze of the 30 day challenge, whittling down what works and what doesn't. Being on TV they have the traffic situation covered and they have already started to make money via the text voting system...which is essentially the marketplace having a look and a listen to these "products" and deciding which ones are the best. The 12 or so episodes that it takes to whittle down the competition to the final 1 is like the build up to a product launch, with the final winner guaranteed a number one hit because it was the marketplace that chose him. It is genius from a marketing point of view, of course. As entertainment I still find the lawn in my garden more compelling...but I'll leave my anti-"reality" shows rant there.

Next we got the video from Ed's mate and fellow Immediate Edger, Rob Somerville, who quickly took us through a technique for finding out what competition your ideas will be up against through Google. Rob reckons that an acceptable Umbrella Phrase (your ideas keywords) should have no more then 25,000 - 30,000 competing pages in Google. Actually, if that was the case all my keyword phrases would be trashed right now, but the final 4 were close enough to that criteria for me to hold on to them. Firstly, we were to put our original idea (e.g Speed Reading) into Wordtracker and see the search results, as we had done a few days back. Then we put our niche keywords into Google, making sure to put quotes ("") at each end, which is called a Phrase Match, and Google will only show sites that display the term Speed Reading as two words side-by-side. If you left the quotes off, it would show every site that had Speed or Reading on the page, not necessarily together but anywhere on the page. We were to do that with all our 7 categories. Well, since most of my categories were one word keywords there was obviously a high volume of competition, usually in the millions. So what I did is look down the Wordtracker results for what is called "long tail phrases", and I'm sure the boys will go into this more as we go along. They will no doubt explain it better than I could so I'll leave the explanation of a long tail phrase until they have gone through it. Anyway, I went down the list looking for a term of 2 to 3 keywords that incorporated my original category, making sure that there were at least around 100 searches a day recorded in Wordtracker for it. Then I went back to Google and tried the Phrase Match again, getting much better results on most of my categories. As I said, 3 had to be put down, as they either had too few searches in Wordtracker without a decent long tail phrase, or they simply had too much competition no matter what long tail i used that had at least 100 searches a day. I hope that makes sense...

So it's on to Day 8 now, and from what I hear this may be make-or-break time for my last 4 categories. I'm actually a little more confident in them now that I have turned them into long tail phrases, but only time will tell if they are able to stand up to the 30 Day Challenge Market Research criteria.

Friday, August 10, 2007

To Google Or Not To Goo...well, actually

Day Six of the challenge is completed for me, I've watched the videos and done the tasks set out for us by the Maestro of Internet Marketing, Ed Dale.

Today's tasks were to first head on over to Google and try out our category ideas in the search engine, along with the word "affiliate", to see what was being offered in the way of affiliate programs for our particular niches. My ideas came out pretty well, with all but one having affiliate schemes attached to them. Ed says it doesn't actually matter if they don't have affiliate programs attached, as the idea of this 30 Day challenge is not necessarily to join an affiliate program. He will later be showing us an affiliate site to beat all affiliate sites, so I'm hoping he doesn't mean ClickBank, because while it is a pretty good affiliate site, I have found that a lot of the products there are absolute crap, so I'd hardly say it's the "beat-all" site for affiliate products...but I have faith in the words of Ed so I'm looking forward to sussing out this site when it comes up in the challenge. He also suggested that we take notes of some of the results we got for affiliate programs through Google, and drop them in Notepad which I have done.

Next was a hop, skip and a jump over to Google Trends, to see in graph form how our ideas were looking in the search department. One of my ideas didn't make the grade, having so little results that there was no graph for it, so I dumped it and grabbed another from the well, put it through the Day Two wringer and got it up to speed with the rest of my ideas. Google Trends is a great place to check how your search terms fair over the whole year, so you're able to see whether you have picked something seasonal, or whether it peaks at any points throughout the year for any particular reason. There are also news articles listed that are given A,B,C, etc labels, and these are also shown on the graph, so you can see if the spike in searches for your idea is based on it being simply because there happened to be a news article put out in relation to it. You are also able to view which regions/city/language the search term was most popular in.

Mine came out with some pretty general results. Only one of them had a spike at a particular time each year, with most just a steady cruise of spikes and troughs throughout the year. It was interesting to note that none of my searches had the US as the top region, despite the US being our target market. I don't know if this is a bad thing, Ed didn't place any importance on the region section. Still, I'm feeling less confident about my ideas today. I'm starting to feel they are either far too commercial, and therefore too competitive (despite what I wrote for Day 3, I'm thinking "why bother?"), or they are just too obscure...But the good thing is that as we whittle them down with the market research tools that we are being taught, I'll be learning the process so that if I do have to scrap the lot then I can simply start again and be able to do the market research on the new terms in a fraction of the time it's taken for these, as I'll already know the process and have taken notes...mainly this blog :)

So that's it, on to Day 7...only 3 days until I'm officially caught up - then I'll have some other Internet Marketing news to report on once I have more free time.

Big Ideas Day

So I've just finished Day Three of the challenge info (well I did so last night but ran out of time to blog). Day 3 was all about getting the ideas you'd come up with in Day 2, gathering just 7 of them (I basically closed my eyes and "threw a dart" at the screen) and having a look at how they fair in the "real world" of search engine results and the like.

The seven ideas I came up with range from pretty obscure to pretty commercial, and I like that because it will help to give me a good overview of how different markets turn out different results. At least, that's what I hope will come of it.

So following Ed's instruction, I put each of my ideas into the free Wordtracker tool to get an idea of the amount of searches that my niche is getting on a daily basis, and to also get a list of close-match results that I might be able to get further ideas for down the track. Well, as I suspected, my ideas returned search results ranging from around 12 a day, to somewhere in the vicinity of 13,000. The high level ideas that had that many searches also produced the highest number of alternative searches relating to the original search (are you still following...?), so perhaps I can go back to that list later and find a sub-niche to my niche that works. On Day One Ed talked about a sub niche he entered which was "Trout Fishing with a Spinner in a Stream", well you can expand that niche to be "Trout Fishing in a Stream" or "Trout Fishing with a Spinner", and again to simply "Trout Fishing", and then again to the umbrella heading of "Fishing". Now it doesn't take an Internet Marketing genius to know that Fishing as a niche would be pretty big and have some hardcore competition, but as you delve into sub-niches you obviously find that the competition drops off with each sub-niche tier you delve into. So eventhough I have one idea which is getting 13,000 searches a day according to the free wordtracker tool, there will no doubt be other sub-niches, and sub-niches of sub-niches, that will narrow down the field of competition until I am dealing with something far more manageable and potentially successful. But we'll just have to wait and see about that.

The next step was to go to Google and drop those main search terms (my 7 ideas) into the search engine and see what comes up at the top of the list. The idea here is to find out if there are actually other people trying to sell stuff relating to those ideas to real people. In a lot of cases you might find that you only get review sites and Adsense sites, which may not be so good. They can be useful, however, as they will generally only bother putting up a review of something if money is to be made from it...but the real meat is in seeing products in those results. That lets you know that people are making money from this niche. In this regard competition is good, just as long as it's not too much competition. The plan will be to out market our competition with Ed and Dan's state-of-the-art IM techniques...stuff these others wouldn't have even heard of (assuming they too aren't participating in the 30DC, of course).

And that was pretty much it. I put my ideas through and found that one of them didn't really come up with anything, so I might change that...or I might wait and see what comes next and perhaps look at a sub-niche of that one and see what is on offer.

Now in the 30DC scheme of things, Day 4 & 5 were catch-up/rest days, but there be no rest for those wicked neophytes who didn't have their internet connection on for the first week. Apparently the second week of the challenge was down to business so I dare say I'll have my work cut out for me in catching why am I continuing to dribble on in this blog? It's on to Day 6 with a bullet!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The best laid plans...

Well it had been my intention to plough through 3 days worth of 30 day challenge material each day in order to catch up after being offline for a week, but that hasn't exactly gone to plan so far - having only completed day one yesterday and here it is noon on my day two and I've only just completed watching and listening and writing stuff down. But here goes my summary for Day Two of the Thirty Day Challenge.

Today's lessons were all about the getting of ideas, and also what markets to avoid. It makes sense that a neophyte like myself would not attempt to try his hand at marketing products and services for highly competitive niches - a very small fish in a very big ocean. No, what is important is to learn how to make that $10 in the month, and once I've gone through the process once it will get easier and easier with each attempt, and perhaps then I can venture out of my little pond for deeper waters. So Ed wants me to come up with 7 ideas by the end of this day to take into day 3, and I must say that it's actually going to be hard to pick out only 7 ideas from the small mountain of niches I've already accumulated with a minimum of fuss. Ed's suggestions for looking for ideas include eBay Pulse, Technorati, Google Groups, Google Hot Trends and even Yahoo Answers. I will be having a look through those, but I spotted on the 30 Day challenge forums a thread where people such as me have listed sites they have used to scour for ideas - and there really is a sea of places out there to search for ideas, and once you start looking you really do begin racking up quite a list with not much effort. Now, whether the ideas I come up with are any good is another story, and one I'll obviously be finding out more about on upcoming training days, but the ideas are there and that's what's important.

As Ed put things (making very good sense to a newbie like me), the sites he suggests can be broken down thus:

eBay Pulse - Where you can find out what people are buying
Technorati - Where you can find out what people are writing about
Google Groups - Where you can find out what people are passionate about/interested in
Google Hot Trends - Where you can find out what people are searching for
Yahoo Answers - Where you can find out what people need help with

All are great avenues therefore, for developing products and/or services.

So far, however, I've only checked out the Random Niche Generator as well as various other blogs to get a list of around 60 niche ideas. I'm off now to search through Ed's suggestions, as well as,, and, just for back up purposes. I intend to be doing this internet marketing gig for a long long time so too many ideas are surely never enough...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Day One on Day 7

So I finally got to start Day One of the challenge today, on day 7 of the challenge. I'm sure I have a lot to catch up on but I figure if I can manage 3 days of the challenge each day then I will be caught up by the end of Friday, just in time to hopefully have some time over the weekend to focus on what I've gone through. I'm looking forward to just having one day of learning each day, as there is so much stuff contained in these videos and podcasts that I'm sure to have my work cut out for me over the next couple of day.

I realize that most of the people writing blogs of the thirty day challenge will be going through the same stuff I am, and seeing as I'm a newbie in the world of blogging it's doubtful that I'll have a particularly original slant on what's going on. It will take some time to get comfortable with all this documentation so excuse me if I start doing things by merely going through the facts of the day. To be honest, I'm sure this blog will really only be used for me down the track to keep track of what I've done so I can continue to run the processes and hopefully make more money from Internet Marketing, so it's unlikely at all that I'll be offering anything new to people reading this who have read other blogs on the thirty day challenge.

So Day One was running through the Internet Marketing symphony in 4 parts. I'd seen Ed do a video on this some time ago, either on the Undies website or through the Immediate Edge, I forget, but it helps to have a refresher on the important aspects of Internet Marketing...especially since I'd forgotten the order of the four parts (and actually forgotten one of the parts entirely), so here they are again, forever etched in 1's and 0's.

1) Market Research - The most important of the four aspects of Internet Marketing. As Ed put it, imagine if you wanted to open a coffee shop and could find out not only exactly how many people would walk past your shop in a day, but also how many would come in to your shop for a look-see. This stage is all about testing to see if your idea/niche is up to snuff, so to speak. Does it have enough searchers per day to justify the time you're about to take on promoting it? Even if there is enough interest, how is your competition? Will you be fighting for a Google ranking amongst millions of other hungry competitors, all perhaps most gifted than you in Internet Marketing, as well as being far more established? There are many many ways to make money online and pretty much everything out there is a potential niche. If your eyes and ears are open to it you can find niches the moment I'm still working on my eyes and ears but I have faith in Ed's word. I know what it's like when you open your mind to something. I know how when you're interested in buying a particular brand of car all of a sudden, wherever you go you'll see that make of car. So it's all about just writing down ideas from every-which-where...magazines, internet, TV, markets, going for a walk...seeing what appears to be selling and then going through the process of market research to see if it's a viable niche to be putting your time and effort into. Ed says the smallest niches are usually the most successful in the 30 day challenge game, and it makes sense, so the larger ones have a great deal of competition, as I stated above, that have been working at it far longer than myself. And lets not forget that within a particular niche there are often sub-niches. Ed used the example of Trout Fishing being a niche, and Trout fishing with a spinner in a stream being a more focused sub-niche. If people are searching for this stuff then there is a dollar to be made, and Market Research is all about finding out if there are people searching.

2) Traffic - Of course this makes sense as being the second most important aspect of Internet Marketing. Sure, you've found a niche that people are interested in and has a small amount of competition, but without getting people to your product/service, how do you ever expect to sell anything? You could have the greatest coffee in the world but if people are not going into your shop then you won't sell a drop. No traffic = no sales, it's a no-brainer. Developing a steady flow of traffic will take time and effort and that what it's all about on the 30 day challenge. I expect this aspect to have the most time spent on it, as some of the pre-season videos have shown the ways in which traffic can be developed. A lot of the Web 2.0 applications will come into force, no doubt, and will hopefully help channel the people you saw in your market researching, who were interested in your product/service, through your virtual shop door. This year the 30DC'ers are going down the free road for traffic. In the past, the 30 Day challengers would pay a small amount of money to places such as Google Adwords, in order to increase their ranking in searches...this year, as the entire 30 day challenge is being run free as a bird, it means that traffic must be generated differently. This will take more time and effort on my part, than if I was using PPC (Pay Per Click), but in the long run I thing it will be much better for me, both in a financial sense as well as an experience one.

3) Conversion - This is the sales part of Internet Marketing. Getting someone from being interested in the product/service you are offering, to actually throwing down their hard-earned bucks and paying for it. This section Ed and the gang will be, for the first time in a 30 day challenge, be showing us how to test what works in the ways of converting people into sales. This is obviously the trickiest aspect of the entire process, and can be the most frustrating. In the past it was often done with a sales letter, and had a lot to do with razzle-dazzle and good copy writing. Nowadays there are plenty of other tools at our disposal as Web 2.0 incorporates video and audio tools into the mix. Ed says that those who are able to work with these tools will have a better chance of making their first $10 in time. Thankfully, it's not necessarily about standing infront of the camera and talking, or else I might as well drop out of the challenge right now. I'm definitely not comfortable infront of the camera and I dare say looking comfortable when making a video is probably quite important when it comes to having a person buy your product/service. But as we've seen with the 30 Day Challenge Film Festival, it's not always about putting your mug on screen. Plenty of people have made videos with just images or footage of other things. I'd like to think I'm creative enough to come up with a few ideas in that area when the time comes...This year it's going to be about making a list (of email recipients) and then having a special "launch" to promote your product/service, and I assume, continuing to lavish great deals on them as you go, while gathering more names for your list. I remember Dan Raine saying when I first started the Immediate Edge program, that lists were the most important part of making a conversion.

4) Product - Finally we get to the last (but by no means least) of the 4 aspects, the product. Obviously without a product there is no sale but the product is the last in terms of importance as there are so many markets and niches out there it's more about finding the product to fit the market, rather than the other way round. In the past Ed and the gang have usually gone down the route of E-Books, either affiliate products or generating their own, and that is still quite a viable way of going about things (and one that I still plan to get into after the challenge has run it's course), but now, again using the latest audio and video tools that Web 2.0 has for us, we are able to offer a whole new range of products and services. I'm not exactly sure what they are at the moment...although for some reason belly dancing lessons comes to mind as a possible idea that could be sold through video...and some may say I have the belly for it, I'm sure. Again, it's about starting in small niches, staying away from the big guns like health foods and supplements, and picking away at the lesser known products and services that have a variety of interest levels available through the long-tail phrases. I'm sure Ed and Dan will talk more about long-tail phrases later, but it's one that I find really interesting and am planning on exploring in greater depth down the track.

So for the most part that was Day one of the challenge. I watched the video, listened to the podcasts, checked out some niche ideas from, random niche generator (don't install the tool bar), trendhunter, and made a preliminary list of niche ideas that I will then go to market research work on as Ed takes me through the process. Most, if not all people on the challenge, will naturally have already gone through that so I'd better quite dribbling and get onto Day Two...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Back In The Saddle

So the move interstate happened without too many hitches...we are now in Tasmania and slowly unpacking and settling in. I only got my broadband relocated to the new address today so will be spending the next day or two catching up to everyone else in the 30 Day Challenge. Will post step-by-step blog updates as I go, so as not to have one blog post with the whole last week of 30DC catch-up information to go through...