Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the Countdown To Creating My Website

Lately I've been spending my time writing articles. I have set a goal to write and publish 1 article a week, and so far, 2 weeks running, I've achieved my goal. From a course I am reading (yes, more education!), the underlying lesson is to do well you must be able to create excellent content when working online. People come to the internet seeking something. Not to be sold, but to learn about something. If I want to be a success online, to be able to provide my visitors good, informative content, rich with keywords, I have to develop this skill.

The goal of writing also allows me to continue to put into practice some of the skills I learned from Honest Riches, such as article directory submission, linking to the articles from my signatures in forums and re-writing then submitting the articles to EzineArticles.

Another benefit to this goal is I am creating the good habit of having to brainstorm for article ideas, researching for keywords, creating story outlines and then actually producing the finished article and publishing it to my HubPages account.

If you have been reading some of my prior posts, you may remember that I did a lot of "learning by trial and error". During this phase I felt it was important to register a domain name for a review I was planning to write. After doing my research (you can find the results in the sidebar), GoDaddy.com was the least expensive/best reviewed site for registering my domain. Now, keep in mind that I was not planning to build a website with this domain, but to "re-direct" the address of one of my reviews so the URL would look more professional. Well, since I have begun writing regularly, I have been able to use both of my domains with articles.

Since beginning to experiment with all the facets I could from Holly's book, I feel like I've covered a lot of ground and benefited with a lot of experience. My thoughts keep returning to the ideas I have for my niche website, so that is where I am headed.

Before I begin my website, I've 3 courses to finish. A while ago I began a writing course, mostly geared towards writing a book, but some of the exercises are universal for any type of writing. With daily study this course will be completed this week. Next, I will complete my Affiliate Masters Course from SBI! From what I have read, there are a lot of research tools that are offered and by the end I will have a blueprint for my website! After that I want to do one more free e-book course, also from SBI! called Make Your Content Pre-Sell. Since websites are mostly about good content, I don't want to waste my time writing the site pages before I take advantage of what this course will teach me. Since the SBI e-books are totally free, I figure I have nothing to loose by studying them.

The timeline I imagine for beginning my website will be by May. It actually feels great to have a clear cut goal and timeline laid out. No more running around wondering what I will do. And since I have decided that I will be using SBI! (Site Build It!) to build my website, I'm not even stressing about whether or not I'll know how how to build it and bring in traffic. It's all part of what they offer.

Well, I just wanted to bring the blog up to date and note that other than a lot of reading and article writing, I'm expecting some quiet time ahead, little to no frustration, and no more feeling like I'm running behind. Since I have my own plan, I no longer feel like I'm behind the "crowd". No longer am I following, but I'm finally walking on my own path.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Affiliate Network Programs That I Trust

Embracing the belief that I can "learn by doing", I wanted to see what types of companies and products the various affiiate networks offered, so I set out on a "signing-up" spree. The affiliate networks I selected were from the list Holly presented in Honest Riches. My main quest was to get signed up, then later I would concentrate on which companies I would apply to represent.

The affiliate networks I choose were:

Plimus
(If you are going to buy Honest Riches, wait to sign up with Pilmus. You will be automatically accepted as Holly's affiiate.)

Half.com

Commission Junction


LinkShare

Amazon Associates Program

Clickbank

HD Publishing

5 Pillar Affiliate Club

Affiliate Future

shareasale.com

Share Results

TIP: Have a small spiral or notebook available before signing up for the affiliate networks. With each network you sign-up for you will be required to have a user name and password. Though you might keep the same user name, it's never a bad idea to have some slight variances with each password. I've never had a problem with my online identity, but just to be safe I change it up. The spiral I have keeps all sign-in info. organized and within easy reach.

TIP: Some of the different networks offer tutorials. Make the time and commitment to utilize whatever training tools are available...especially since it will be free! My favorite training, so far, is from the 5 Pillar Affiliate Club . Between the detailed marketing resources to some of the e-books that they offer, it would rate "right up there" for me, even if it had nothing to do with an affiliate program.

Affiliate Programs: Who can you trust?

As I wrote earlier, the first affiliate network I signed-up with was Pilmus, so I could represent Holly's book Honest Riches. Since I had found Honest Riches to be a legitimate course on how to make money online, it was easy for me to trust signing up with Pilmus to be an affiliate, as this is the company Holly has chosen to handle her affiliate program.

Having trust in the affiliate companies you sign-up with is extremely important since they are the ones you are trusting to send you your earned commissions! For those new to affiliate marketing you have two basic ways to proceed: sign up with a network or sign up with individual programs. If you sign up with a network, you can represent several of that networks offered affiliate programs. When you earn commissions, your payment is processed to that network, then all the commissions due you are combined into one monthly payment to you. In comparison, if the company you want to represent as an affiliate offers the program on their own, as opposed to thru a network, you can sign up and receive your commissions directly from the individual company.

How do you know which networks or companies to trust? Do your research, look for reviews and ask people you know and trust who they use and suggest. The way I've "met" people who's opinion I trust is through a few online work-from-home forums.

The final thing I've learned is if you use a product that you think is great and feel would be a terrific niche to represent, find out if the company offers an affiliate program. If they do not, then send and e-mail and ask how you might be able to represent their program. I did this once and the company offered a discount code that the customer could use, then it would track for the commission that would be credited and paid to me. When I first approached the company and they said "yes", that they would create a program for me, I sort of felt like the dog that chased the car, and the car stopped! It was exciting and a bit scary at the same time!

In closing, the main reason I feel that affiliate marketing is a smart way to begin when learning to build a legitimate online business is that it does not require you to house and ship any product. It does help to buy the product or have familiarity with the "thing" you are representing, but from there, all you do is promote and send interested buyers to the company! It's the smart way to start.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Make quick work of your accounting

Accounting...bill paying....record keeping. If someone asked you right now to show them your record keeping and bill paying routine, how would you feel? Embarrassed about how sloppy it is or comfortable because it's all under control?

For anyone who would be embarrassed I say, get over it and get with it! A long time ago, when my husband and I first started our business, I had to go from using a simple personal checkbook to learning to use the type of accounting system that would satisfy our CPA. The good news is that with QuickBooks Pro 2009 the double entry system that accountants require is achieved simply by entering your bills and payments data. Once we sold our business and retired I began using the personal accounting program, Quicken Deluxe 2009. Again, it's just a matter of entering your data as you spend money or pay bills.

What does this have to do with those trying to earn honest income online with internet marketing, affiliate marketing or building a website? It is very possible that once you begin to have success with your business, you will have income streams from a variety of sources. If you start off organized then your time can be spent on building your business, not trying to make heads or tails out of a messy accounting system.

Set yourself up to be a success, from the start.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Affiliate Streams of Income and related points

Making my official "entre" into Internet Marketing, my first affiliate network to sign up with was an easy choice. With the sea of a zillion programs and products to choose from, I think it's best to choose one you know about. For me this meant signing up with Plimus to be an affiliate for Holly's Book Honest Riches.

Since signing up to be an Honest Riches affiliate, there are a few points I've learned along the way to take into consideration:

1. The affilate commissions will vary, from very low to very high commissions.
2. The payout can be a one time commission affiliate program or a lifetime commission affiliate program.
3. When starting out, it helps to choose programs or products to represent that you can use and market from a 1st hand experience. (Notice I didn't say "sell"?)
4. Start with a program or network that you know is legitimate. You can discern this by what you read in blogs, forums and online. Try searching for the name+review in your Google search and see what types of feedback you find.

The temptation to sign-up with any affiliate program you read about and lots of affiliate networks can be a big mistake...think about it, how many things can you do at once? Or, do well anyway.

Once you decide on an affiliate program to represent, you will have access to marketing links that you can use in text or banners to market your product. When you start posting your links, keep in mind that there will be sneaks online who will try to "steal" your commissions from you. The best way to prevent that happening is to "cloak" your links. Once you have a website there are a lot of ways and products you can use to cloak your links, but before that, there are a few free products that I have found. Not only can you gain the benefit of protecting your links, but with many programs you receive statistics for the number of clicks as well as where the clicks came from. After trying Addme.com, URLFreeze and Clickfire.com, the free link cloakiing program I use is ViralURL.com. One word if warning: before you sign up for this progam, consider getting a free e-mail account. Right after I signed up I did receive some spam mail as part of the marketing program they offer for their members who have upgraded to the paid service.

Speaking of free e-mail programs, I'm a total gmail.com believer. I really expect to eventually convert all my e-mail addreses to gmail so I'll never have to change again! (I know, never say never.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AdSense for Google...It makes sense, even if it only makes cents!

Do you know what AdSense is? No matter if you said yes or no, picture a sandy beach. Now, imagine picking up just a mere pinch of sand and looking at the individual grains. If you were to see one single, solatary individual grain of sand, by itself, could you ever imagine, in your wildest use of your mind, that if multiplied by some unknown quantity, you could have enough sand grain volume to create that beach you were initially picturing?

Now, picture a penny! Do you see where I am going? One penny does not seem like much, but multiplied pennies do add up. And, once you do a little preparation, they add up without you lifting a finger. That, in a nut shell, is what AdSense "does", to me.

The reason I am writing about AdSense is because it is one of the reasons behind why I decided to host my blog on Blogger.com as opposed to a free blog on WordPress. With a Blogger.com blog we are allowed to add the AdSense "widgets" (element or feature) to our blogs, which in turn is allowing us to earn revenue from the ads generated and clicked on by the readers to our work. On the other hand, WordPress' free blog does not allow you to have AdSense or Yahoo ads for income generating.

To sign up for AdSense you can go to Google.com and select the option for their program and just follow the steps from there. Honestly, adding the adds in Blogger is such a snap. One important thing is to pay attention to the tips you will find when placing AdSense ads on your blog. Tips such as making the ad background color blend with your template so it appears to be a part of your site...not a blatant stand out "GOOGLE AD". When I was first surfing I did not realize that the Google ads were not part of the web page content, so who knows how many clicks I provided for websites to make money from!

As of today, with the various places I have written and published articles, here as well as on my HubPages, the total dollar amount I have earned from AdSense is......$4.34.....OK, so I may not have enough grains to fill a sandbox, let alone a beach, but as far as I'm concerned, that's $4.34 worth of sand that I was "given" by Google, just for generating content that brought in traffic, that then, clicked on one of their ads.

I'll take that!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Joining WFHF (Work From Home Forums)

Back when I had a "real" job, I attended several of the dreaded Chamber of Commerce "After Hours" events. I say dreaded because out of all the dozens of people attending and socializing, very few had anything more than gossip to talk about, when the whole idea was to network and exchange useful business ideas. Well, recently I joined several of what I consider the online equivalent of the "After Hours" mixers: Online Forums.

If you search, you can find a forum on just about any topic you have an interest in. Now, these aren't "chat rooms" where conversations are flying by with dozens of people "chatting" at the same time. The Forums are static "discussion" boards where people post questions or topics and other people "post" their answers or replies. From my observation and experience the discussions can become quite active and sometimes even heated, but, all in all, they are mostly beneficial.

For anyone new to forums, the easiest way to find what you are looking for is to do a general search such as: Work form home forum or Forum for work from home moms. Once you get the search results, visit the sites and have a look around. The best forums are active ones. You can check the activity by looking at the threads and posts and seeing the date of the post and date of the last reply, how many views the questions have had along with how many replies. After you have found a few you think look promising, go ahead and sign up. Then, post in the "I'm New" thread, and spend some time reading. You really can learn a lot from these boards....and, you really can learn how to spot the ones out only to promote and scam! My advice is use the same cool head and character assessment online that you do IRL.

One of the most useful elements of posting in forums that I find is the chance to add a link back to my blog or anything else I may have published online through the "signature" feature. The signature will be found in your User Control Panel and it's here that you can add a URL of your choice. Sometimes you can add several. In fact, for others who are just starting out, the use of a signature can be one of your first ways to begin "advertising" your site or blog and drive traffic to it, and do it for FREE! As a little test, I created a link in my signature to my GPT (getpaidto.com) site and in a couple of days actually had 2 click through's for more information.

Hey, 2 clicks may not be a lot, but it's proof that this free strategy works!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Domain Names: Choosing and Using

It's amazing how time flies. This is marked well for me when I look at the last entry I made back in December and it's now the 2nd week of January, 2009. After time off to just "be" and enjoy the holiday, I'm ready to continue sharing my experiences and discoveries about learning to make honest income from the internet.

After creating this blog and getting a few entries I began doing some thinking about another lesson I had learned from Honest Riches, and that was on getting a domain name or two. My first "big" project I wanted to do was to write a review of Honest Riches, for I felt and still feel, very positive about the quality and benefits offered by what Holly teaches. With this as my motivation, I set out to decide from whom I would buy my domain name. Not wanting to make a hasty decision, I did my usual research. After that, not wanting all that work to go to waste on just me, I created an entry on my blog....you can find the results of my research on the right hand side titled Web Hosting. In the end my choice was to buy the domain name from www.GoDaddy.com . My decision was based on the low price and the good reputation of GoDaddy.

Of course, before buying the domain, I had to do a lot of creative thinking on what my domain name would be....GoDaddy.com has some good pointers that I used in my brainstorming session, and that combined with trying out some of the keyword research Holly teaches, I was able to come up with two domain names that I liked.

Be prepared, however, that when you purchase the name, there will be more expense than you might expect. To have the name registered privately, there is an extra fee. The purpose in this is so your name, address and phone number are not publicly displayed with regards to the "ownership" of the domain. Well worth the small fee!

Oh, the 1st domain that I am going to use is: HonestRichesHonestReview.com and will link to my book review on Honest Riches.

During my life there have been so many times that I've just "sat" on the fence...full of ideas and lists, but never putting into action what I need to in order to achieve something. This time, I'm not just "thinking", I'm "doing". Whether you are using Honest Riches or another program, maybe not even related to internet marketing, dare to believe that you really can do what you dream. At some point you have to start. Once you've started, it gets easier and easier to add up your achievements, like, buying a domain name.