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.