Thursday, 26 April 2007

Site building software

It's hard work building a website with software that works like a word processor, such as Nvu. Although this is great for producing one page, and easy to use for anyone familiar with WYSIWYG applications like Microsoft Word, it has serious disadvantages for dealing with anything beyond a few pages.

Serious site development software includes Ken Evoy's tremendously popular Site Build It! aimed primarily at producing medium sized commercial websites, and XSitePro, suitable for producing as many smaller websites as you like. These packages are very popular with good reason. Each provides a wide range of hugely useful functions that make producing and managing high quality websites that make money.

Both of the big two packages provide some degree of automation of the development of a website, such as XSitePro's nice feature of turning a long text document in to an online book in one go, complete with navigation links on every page, but there is other software around that takes the process further. It is necessary to be very careful using software like Targeted traffic or Traffic Hurricane, which are capable of producing thousands of pages of search engine oriented pages. If used without major editing of all of the output pages, the use of this sort of software will get you banned from using adsense, and from the google search engine database, and smaller search engines and providers of context dependent advertising are likely to follow. Some have reported using this sort of software to produce a shell of a website and then edit the pages beyond recognition to avoid any accusations of doorway pages, search engine scraping, etc., but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble, and the risk.

HyperVRE is a rather more respectable package, aimed at producing smallish content-based sites automatically. The basic idea of HyperVRE is to pick a theme, find public domain (or, in the paid version, any other source, including private label documents) around that theme and automatically generate a decent looking website, with context dependent advertising, affiliate marketing, and text link advertising.

HyperVRE has some nice ideas, such as the inclusion of RSS feeds to pages to add some freshness, a facility to include random snippets of other pages within a page to allow a reader to wander through the site. However it is rough and ready in some respects, has a few things that are more bugs than features. I think of HyperVRE as a toy rather than a tool for developing serious websites, although at least one person has made $9000 a month with websites produced with it. It is possible to produce something which looks like a website very quickly. But the organisation of the site is chaotic. To make it into a website that is well-organised would be a lot more work, and probably better done using other software.

With the hindsight of experience, I think for someone aiming to produce a real business rather than grab a few quick pennies before the roof falls in, XSitePro is best for building small websites, and Site Build It may be worth considering for a single larger site, especially for someone who would not feel concerned about being able to use scripts not included and produce multiple domains (without paying additional $300 a year).

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Alexa Toolbar

I often use the Alexa traffic ranking tool to get a rough idea of how active a website is, and how it's activity is changing over time. I've not installed it up to now, mainly because of a few scare stories about compatibility problems, and also that my antivirus tool gives persistent warnings about it (it is classified by some as adware, or a "potentially unwanted program" or PUP). However, as I often refer to in a typical day, the advantage is considerable, so I have taken the plunge and installed it. The immediate impression is that everything is fine.

Alexa - Alexa Toolbar

Friday, 6 April 2007

Seeking the truth

This has been a very exciting and critical week. Interesting that it encompassed the changeover from one tax year to the next and leading towards Easter, making it an important time for many people for different reasons.

I have changed my occupation again. Well slightly, and very much in the right direction, I think.

Last weekend, Joel Comm convinced me to sign up with It wasn't very difficult for him to do so, as they were offering a $1 introductory offer for 2 weeks trial of software that sounded very useful indeed to an affiliate marketer, dealing with some of the things that are difficult.

Specifically SMM builds 1/2 page mini websites specifically for the purpose of preselling any one chosen affiliate product. Wayne van Dyck (the CEO) sells these machines in packs of 5 and 15 (a nice pitch) for $300+ a year. Well, it was good enough for me to get a few affliate business models off the ground in a few days, but then I got sidetracked to a quite different business model.

I've always liked the idea of putting good quality content on the web and getting paid for adsense ads on it, though I've only done this in a tiny way, without getting past the crucial traffic issue. Then I came across HyperVRE. This has real wow factor, using state of the art viral marketing and an Internet feed of PLR articles to allow the building of websites around any chosen keyword group. Wow. One trick it uses is to include RSS feeds to individualise the content adequately.

There seem to be a few glitches in the software - RSS feeds seem to get garbled sometimes for no obvious reason - but I reckon they are workable around. The big problem I noticed is the very mixed quality of the content. I have heard that if you put adsense ads in lousy content you get a lot of clicks, but I couldn't live with that. I would prefer to create a website that people would regard highly, and maybe even remember and come back. It is a service to increase the average quality of content on the Internet, especially in areas where demand exceeds supply.

In order to do that, I need some extra arms and brains to produce material fast enough. Fortunately, I can hire in the services of ghost writers through syndicated Public Label Rights publishing of original quality material written by experts.

There are relatively cheap PLR providers around, from about $20 a month upwards, but on a recommendation from an existing user, I signed up with Articles Underground. I doubt that I will regret it, but time will tell. If I am wrong, I lose $97. If I am right, I reckon on gaining a good income.

Watch this space.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Lots of good material

Spent an awful lot of time today reading expert views on "how to do it". The Internet Marketing Centre impressed, the e-book they kindly sent me being information and expertise rich. Too pricy for me to join at present to subscribe, but looks a quality outfit. The wordtracker demo convinced me this is a really cool, useful tool.

Yawn - 3am. Better cut it short for now.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Warning about Dani Mendez and

I somehow ended up receiving mail from a Dani Mendez from a company ironically called [Kind of gives an impression of righteousness]

I have now seen one example of an extremely bad deal for an overpriced affiliate product, one advert for pyramid selling a exhorbitant, misrepresented supplement, and an advert for a deceptive home working scheme, which takes $50 from people, having misled them into thinking they are going to earn silly amounts for doing 20 minutes a day data entry, which never seems to happen (surprise). I feel sorry for anyone lured into these sorts of rip-offs.

I think anyone reading this should be able to draw their own conclusions about how to respond to such "opportunities".

Tricks of the trade 2

The second piece of useful information is for those who use clickbank as affiliates. Hoplinks are all very well, but they have a number of problems. The first is that the ugly URL puts off customers if they ever see it, and even permits a savvy customer to circumvent you getting paid. Worse still, there appear to be hackers around committing computer fraud by intercepting hoplinks and replacing them by their own, using worms and other sorts of malware. A good solution to both is to use hoplink cloaking. My preferred method is to use a PHP script, but there are other techniques available, which may be found in the clickbank guide article on link theft. (See, it is worth reading the manual sometimes).

Tricks of the trade 1

Two useful pieces of information today.

Firstly, wise gurus always advise affiliate marketers to publish widely, in order to attract traffic to their website. True as this is, the number of places to publish these days is bewildering. One very useful site is the directory of article directories. Don't be put off by the prominently placed ad at the top: the interesting stuff is further down!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Psychic news?

I was somewhat chuffed to discover that google posted a notice looking for beta testers of their new "pay per action" (PPA) version of adwords the very day after I discussed the raging conflict between PPC and PPA that is supposed to be going on.
See Google PPA announcement for details.

Building new business

Today my main focus was on presenting a model for affiliate modelling to a company I have worked with for many years. They have a product which has unique features which give it an edge, but have traditionally had a laissez-faire attitude to marketing, once saying to me that they relied principally on word of mouth by satisfied customers.

While this is a nice friendly way to do business, the big problem with this attitude is that it is very uncompetitive in the modern world. If there are competitors out their with alternative products that are getting a lot more publicity through affiliate marketing, then those products are going to grab the lion's share of new business. The growth of a company that is not effectively marketing their products is stunted. As a result, the competitors win and the customers end up with inferior products and may not even know it.

If a company has a good product it has a responsibility to the market to make sure that everyone knows about it, and one of the best ways to achieve that is through affiliate marketing.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Does Yahoo search advertising work?

Well, I'll have some idea of the answer over the next few weeks, having set up an advert for one of my affiliate programs. Not much risk for me, as I took advantage of the $50 free advertising offered by Yahoo to new account holders. Even so, I'm not going to be extravagant - I will take the opportunity to attempt to move from a position of ignorance to a useful level of experience.

Currently I have the max price per click set as low as possible (10c), but I think this will probably have to be raised to get any ads appearing at all. How much experience can I squeeze out of $50 of Yahoo's money and $5 of mine. An encouraging thing is that one sale will net me >300% return. Won't be so easy when I'm not getting my investment multiplied by 11.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The affiliate marketing jungle

According to the wikipedia article on affiliate marketing there is a battle going on between the more established "cash per click" and the less familiar "cash per action" models for the market in online marketing. Most of my personal experience having been recent (having devoted my time entirely to trading futures for several years - now a part-time, but still important activity for me) I hadn't seen there was any conflict involved!

Clearly a participant in any market will tend to do what is in their own interest. With advertising, which is more of a commodity on the Internet than it ever has been before (i.e. lots of participants on both sides, whose services are to a large extent interchangable), a buyer of advertising will always want to spend his advertising dollars on the medium that provides the best value (i.e. the cheapest for a certain profit gained).

So sometimes CPC might be best, sometimes CPA may be best. The big difference is that with CPA, the seller knows from the outset exactly how much he needs to pay to get one sale at a particular price. This make him very comfortable about the cost benefit of the advertising budget (merely presuming he manages to spend it, which is not a triviality, of which more later). Of course the situation is not really a complete pig in a bag with CPC. An experienced user of online advertising from a consistent source (such as Google's adsense) will have learnt by experience how much bang he gets for his buck.

I described the CPA market as like a commodity market above and this is very close to being precisely true for the buyer of advertising space. However in a sense the uncertainty has moved to the party providing space for adverts on his popular webpage. With the declining model of "cost per impression" he knew exactly how much he was going to get if a thousand visitors came to a page. With CPC, another variable was added - the question of what proportion of readers would click on an ad. With CPA another level of uncertainty has arrived, with the question of what fraction of readers will buy (or subscribe) after clicking an ad.

Despite being a provider of advertising space, this seems entirely proper to me. The customer is always right. What the buyer of advertising wants is paramount, and it seems fair that the party putting up the cash should have security if possible. A bonus for providers of advertising services is that security in the cost benefit of advertising encourage aggressive advertising budgets, involving appropriate leverage to grow new markets before competitors.

A very interesting issue is how the new advertising market operates, by comparison with older markets. There is a continual competition on for advertising space, and advertisers need to be competitive to attract affiliates to form partnerships with them. This means that they have to have strong attractive products with adequate margins to get the necessary exposure. More so than ever before the marketplace is a jungle where the fittest advertisers will survive, and the fittest providers of advertising space will prosper.

To mix metaphors, but perhaps appropriately given the nature of Darwinism, the advertising marketplace is always going to be a matchmaking arena with buyers of advertising services needing to fight for the space on the pages of their service providers, the webpage owners.

Early bird

After not leaving my computer until 2:30 am yesterday, I rose bright and cheerful at 7:30 this morning. I've noticed that when life is good, I need less sleep, when things have got me down in the past, I tend to lounge in bed more. So life must be very, very good! But I think if I tried to manage on 5 hours sleep a day, it would catch up with me before too long - I haven't managed that since my first year at college. And that may have been why I kept falling asleep in the exams and got a second...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Diary of an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is the hottest, most exciting thing in e-commerce these days.

Why is this? Well, everyone wins! Any company selling a product or a service, particularly those that can be marketed at a distance has access to a new marketplace, where they can essentially buy new business at a clearly defined cost, with no extra sales or marketing effort by themselves.

Anyone with a website or any type of publication on the Internet, can sign up with any company looking for affiliates, usually in an areas closely connected to the subject matter of their pages. Adverts can be placed on the affiliates website providing something that is likely to be of interest to the average reader of the webpage. An occasional reader notices something he or she is genuinely interested in, follows the link in the ad and maybe buys something from the company which had been advertising. The company pays the affiliate for bringing the two parties together and everyone is happy.

This mechanism has clear advantages over almost all conventional means of advertising.

The company advertising knows its cost per sale precisely - compare that to TV advertising! Generally a company does not really have more than a guestimate of whether a particular form of advertising is even effective, and companies often lose money by advertising using the wrong mechanism. Affiliate marketing is highly scalable. If a company with a good product pays affiliates well, they can expect exponential growth as their adverts become popular. Two tier affiliate marketing systems provide the potential for even more rapid growth of markets through secondary recruitment of affiliates.

The affiliate has a useful trickle of income, supporting his business even if it otherwise involves nothing more than providing information for free (a common feature of specialised websites).

The customer is better informed and is being provided with precisely the opportunities that he or she is most likely to be genuinely interested in, because that is in the interest of the affiliate.

Is affiliate marketing the future of advertising?