So it’s important that you update your WordPress installation and there are three simple things that you can do to kind of dramatically reduce your risk of being attacked.
The first thing is you want to update all your themes, plugins, and of course Windows.
And when I say update all of your themes, if you have theme on your website that you installed a long time ago that you’re not using, you should delete it. If you don’t have any intention of going back to it, delete it. The default WordPress themes, if you’re not using them just delete them. Anything like that, if you’re not using it, delete it.
Same thing with plugins. If you have plugins that you’ve tried and decided that you don’t want to use them anymore, don’t just deactivate them, completely delete them. Everything that you are using in themes and plugins, make sure you have the latest version that is going to have any known security holes plugged.
Then, maybe most importantly, you want to make sure that you have WordPress updated.
The second thing, and probably the most important thing for this particular attack, is that you want to make sure that you are not using a username of admin on your blog.
A lot of people recommend that you delete user admin, and of course before you delete username admin or before you do any changes to it, what you need to do is create a new user that has administrative privileges and then change the role of admin down to subscriber and then, optionally, delete it.
To be honest with you, I usually don’t delete user admin, I usually just turn it all the way down to subscriber, which is the lowest on a WordPress blog. I just leave it at that and then put a very strong password on it. That defeats this particular attack, so that’s what I recommend.
I have heard stories of people deleting admin and that having some adverse impact on their blog if they had poorly coded plugins that were depending on that user ID, so I don’t normally recommend that for everybody. It’s much better to turn the user admin down in permission level.
The third thing I recommend, because of the nature of this attack, is to install a plugin like Limit Login Attempts.
This is a plugin that lets you login four or five times, however many times you specify, and then after four or five failed attempts it makes you wait 15 minutes. That also is pretty good for defeating these brute force attacks.
There are other security plugins out there, like Blog Defender, that a lot of people think are really good. I haven’t really evaluated Blog Defender. It’s actually a package that you can get that teaches you how to secure your blog, you can check those out. I do know that Limit Login Attempts is a pretty safe thing to install.
Some of the security plugins go in and modify your WordPress database tables to obscure them from attack, to change the names that are commonly used in WordPress inside the MySQL databases. That can also have side effects. Usually it works just fine, but I don’t just blanket recommend that you go do that willy-nilly, because you never know what’s going to happen.
I want you to be able to do stuff that is safe, so these three things.
• Update all your plugins, themes, and WordPress.
• Make sure that you don’t have a user with any meaningful privileges that is named admin.
• Install the Limit Login Attempts plugin.
That will fix you up and you’ll be good to go.
Forever Affiliate Updates and News
The big thing for me since I last talked to you was the end of the Forever Affiliate six week coaching program. If you missed Forever Affiliate, as you know I’ve been talking about it for a long time, you can get that at LateNightIM.com/fa. I have been working with people that bought Forever Affiliate through my link at LateNightIM.com/fagroup.
The coaching program is over, but the Forever Affiliate course, which is incredibly affordable, and the coaching materials themselves, which are more expensive but very valuable, are still available through that link if you’re interested.
I can say without a doubt this is the best affiliate marketing that I’ve ever been involved with. Frankly, I felt like it was awesome. As a result of this course, I have a 20 website plan for 2013. So I’m going to be putting together 20 sites according to the Forever Affiliate plan this year with a goal of having 10 brand new profitable sites by the end of the year.
So, of the 20 sites I want to have driven 10 of them to profitability. I’m hoping that those profitability numbers are hundreds of dollars per month. We’re talking about an experiment here that could generate a lot of revenue and I’ll be reporting to that.
Now, I’m slower than a lot of the other people in the course because in addition to my day job, which you guys know about, I have this crazy blog and podcast to maintain. But my plan is still to report all the results to you as they happen. I’ve built this crazy master control spreadsheet, complete with the tasks that I need to accomplish for each of these 20 sites. I’ve updated that with some macros so that I can generate a report for you guys and tell you exactly what’s going on section by section.
In the Forever Affiliate course, basically, you have to do niche selection, build the site, create and post content, and then you monetize the content. Then you do some initial low cost promotion, then you have this option of doing paid testing. That’s something that is actually taught in the coaching materials, but it’s not in the base course. Once you identify that this is going to be a profitable site you can promote that asset more heavily, which is a bigger investment but you know you’re going to make money with the site at this point so that makes sense. And then ongoing promotion after that.
I have those categories of tasks broken out into about 60 tasks per site and I’ll be working through that and I’ll be able to give you some more detail in the future.
With regard to that, my current overall status is that I have 14 of my 20 niches identified. Four of the sites are built, meaning that WordPress is installed and they’re up and running. Three of them have the content posted and they’re rolling. One site has completed the initial promotion phase. That’s where I am; I would judge on this journey of 20 sites that’s something on the order of 5% complete.
I will be reporting the status to you and we’ll get into the numbers and let you know whether or not this Forever Affiliate is going to work as well as I think it’s going to work. There’s certainly a lot of data out there that suggests that this is actually a really good idea.
Automated Site Experiment
In addition to this Forever Affiliate experiment, I’ve decided to start another experiment. We talked about this a little bit last time, about why the snoring site failed and how I wanted to re-do that experiment.
Since that time Jon Leger and Josh Spaulding have come out with a free report that describes an experiment that they did that was very similar to the one that I did with the snoring site. They had wild success, they built almost 100 sites and they just used the Article Builder software (that you can find at LateNightIM.com/ab) to automatically populate those sites with content, no backlinking or anything. They were able to generate an enormous amount of pageviews and unique visitors just based on posting good content.
I’m going to repeat that experiment with 10 sites. So in addition to these 20 sites that are actually quite a bit of work to build, I’m going to build an additional 10 automated sites and see how that works with Article Builder. So I’ll be reporting those results as well.
If you’d like to read the report that Jon and Josh just published, you can download that at LateNightIM.com/abreport. It’s quite remarkable and it talks about exactly what they did to get these unique visitors essentially just by throwing up the site and automating it. I think you’ll find that’s an interesting read, so go check it out.
Listener Feedback – Is It Possible?
We have some listener feedback on Facebook from Michael Stephens and I wanted to get to that. I had told him a couple weeks ago that I was going to cover this on the show and I’ve had a hard time getting around it, but it’s a really important topic. I wanted to read you the question that I got from Michael on Facebook.
Mark- I have for some time now been going down the road of affiliate/internet marketing, but the thought that is continually nagging in the back of my mind is that is this really worth the effort? I don’t mind at all working hard for something, and putting in the time, as I realize it’s not going to occur over night, but I don’t want to do it if it’s all for nothing and there is no payoff.
I guess I think about it this way – there are certain activities that a person can do that have higher values in an economy than other things. For example, a doctor usually demands a higher salary than a clerk in a department store. And I know that if I want to make that higher salary of a doctor, I need to get the education etc. and thus there is a payoff for the effort.
But for internet marketing – there doesn’t appear to be any comparisons – to some extent it feels like I’m rolling dice – it might work and it might not – it’s a chance. I’m not looking for a guarantee – I just want to make sure I’m using my time wisely and not wasting it.
Even if I develop a website that is in the center of my passion and interests, if it’s not making money and I’m not providing for my family, then it’s not a business, it’s a hobby. I heard it said that if you want to catch a whale then you have to go out to the sea where the whales are at- with internet marketing – I can’t figure out whether I’m fishing in the Pacific or fishing in a kiddie pool.
Do you have any thoughts on it??
I certainly do have some opinions on it, and I love this question and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you.
I am certainly in both camps here. I have invested heavily in my education, I have a couple degrees in electrical engineering and I was working on a PhD in Electrical Engineering before I got totally distracted by my day job. I completely understand this idea that it seems like if you invest in a higher education that you will get a job in corporate America (or whatever country you live in) and that’s a pretty safe play, it’s a relatively guaranteed result. And I think that’s true.
A lot of these internet entrepreneurs want to talk about the death of corporate America and how you can’t count on corporate America to provide for your family and all of that. Yes, that’s true – anything can happen. But the truth of the matter is that the extremely vast majority of people who have gotten a college education, who are working in good fields, who do good work, they have jobs and those jobs pay good money.
Even when they get laid off, which happens from time to time, they can find new jobs that also pay good money. That has certainly been my experience in the engineering field. Stuff happens, but really that education is something that you can count on to provide a good wage for you.
But it is true that while at one point in time in the distant past, once you had a job with a big company you could pretty much feel like you were guaranteed to have that job for the rest of your life. That’s certainly not true anymore. This sort of implied contract between large employers and employees is not the same as it used to be.
By the same token, employees move around a lot more than they used to. My observation is that a lot of employees are leaving big companies, a lot more readily than they used to, for larger salaries. So there is a lot more movement in the system.
I think while it’s true that if you go get a medical degree and you’re successful in medical school there is an average starting salary associated with that that you can expect. In contrast with that, for internet marketing there is no such standard or guarantee. You start internet marketing and you do whatever it is that you do, maybe you’re successful and maybe you’re not. That’s exactly what Michael was talking about.
I would argue that’s largely because the barriers to entry for internet marketing are low and the requirement to get started, to get trained for curriculum and so forth, there aren’t any standards. When you get an accredited Bachelors Degree in Engineering from someplace, you know what you’ve got. When you buy a $67 course from Andrew Hansen or any of these other guys, you don’t know what you’ve got. You have something very different than a four year degree.
There is a huge difference here. There’s also a huge difference in what you might expect on the high end. Just to extend the Andrew Hansen example, this is a guy who decided he wanted to take a few months off and go to Thailand, live on the beach, and create his next product. I don’t know any engineers who are going to go in to their boss and say, “I’ve been thinking about this new thing I want to work on, I’m going to take three months off and go to the beach.” If that kind of lifestyle and independence is attractive to you, then this kind of internet marketing is about the only way to go.
There are no guarantees in life, but certainly the probability that you’re going to have an average income of $100,000 a year or more is higher if you’re successful in medical school than it is if you’re going to study internet marketing. I think that’s completely the case.
I will also say that I don’t know what the attrition rates are in medical school, but I would venture to guess that most people who start medical school actually finish. After all, there’s an admissions process. It may not be true that most people who say, “One day I’d like to be a doctor,” finish medical school. Most people who say, “I’d like to make over $100,000 a year on the internet,” don’t do that either. So I think it depends on how you measure these things.
If you make it all the way to putting in the five years, six years, or eight years of effort that it takes to get through medical school and residency, then you’re probability is you’re going to make money. If you put that same amount of effort and get the right kind of training in internet marketing and work on building an internet business, and invest the kind of money in your internet business that you invest in becoming a doctor, I think the probability is probably really good that you’re going to make good money in internet marketing.
I don’t have that kind of data to support that kind of claim, but I also don’t know that many people who have actually put in that kind of effort, that level of training and investment the same as medical school, into internet marketing. What you see most of the time is people who wish they were making money online, they try for a few weeks or months, and then they quit. Now, I can absolutely 100% guarantee you that every medical student who wishes he was a doctor and tries for a few weeks and then quits medical school, fails, every single time.
I think it’s a little bit apples and oranges to compare these things and you have to be a little bit careful. Let me tell you what I think the cold hard truth is.
The cold hard truth is most people, according to research that I’ve done on the blog and surveys that created, when they’re in a mode where they’re reading my blog and answering my surveys they do not make money online. Most people that start out in internet marketing that try to make money online, do not make money online. The failure rate is very high. At one point, I had an estimate that it was something like only a few percent that actually really try to start making money online actually succeed.
The flip side of that is; why is that happening? That’s another question that Michael asks. I think that it’s largely for two reasons.
One is there are a vast number of people that contact me that don’t really want a career on the internet, they just need money, they’re not very serious about it. In some cases they’re looking for something that’s an easy way to make money, a trick, a shortcut to wealth and riches, or whatever. They want the Ferrari and the computer on the beach lifestyle, but they’re not really prepared for how much work it is. That’s one thing.
The other thing is I see people who are willing to do work, but they’re relatively impatient and they quit too soon. For all of these overnight successes that you see, who seems to have appeared out of nowhere, when you dig into what Pat Flynn was doing he has worked man years on building that platform. Yes, he was in the right place at the right time. Yes, he’s talented. Yes, all these things. The truth of the matter is that he works his butt off.
Cliff Ravenscraft at Podcast Answer Man seems to have appeared out of nowhere as an instant overnight success. His first year in business he made $9,000 or something like that. These guys who you see that have all of this success – Mike Filsaime, who is a different kind of internet marketing but a multimillion dollar guy, was slaving away for years late at night as a used car salesman at a dealership before he was super successful online. There are always these back stories that no one ever talks about. I think a lot of people that don’t make it, don’t make it because they’re not willing to do the work and because they quit too soon.
Michael, that’s my thinking on it. Is it possible for you to be successful in internet marketing? I say yes, absolutely. There are billions of dollars per year made on the internet, there’s no reason why you can’t have some of that money. Is it easy? No. Is it likely from a probability standpoint? No, not if you look at the general population.
Are you already asking the right kind of questions that tells me that you have the right mindset, you know it’s going to be hard work, and you’re willing to do it? Yes, absolutely. So I think there is opportunity there. The great thing about the internet is literally anything is possible.
About Keyword Research
Enough soap-boxing for tonight. I wanted to talk a little bit more about keyword research. I don’t want to layoff of this because after listening to the last several episodes I’m not satisfied that I’ve covered this finding niches thing enough.
One reason is that I was reminded about the critical importance of keyword research to everything. When it comes to selecting niches for affiliate marketing, one of the most critical criteria is whether or not you’re going to have an audience for what you do. Keyword research, therefore, is the important key thing that’s going to give you that information about whether or not what it is that you’re planning to do is going to actually pay dividends.
It is probably the most high return activity in the internet marketing field in the sense that if you can do keyword research in the beginning, you can understand whether or not the project that you have in mind in general is going to be successful.
Now, of course, if you’re going to do the next Twitter or the next Facebook, that’s going to take on a life of its own. But most internet marketers are relying on being found one way or another. You’re either going to be found by buying traffic or through organic search. When it comes to organic search, keyword research can really tell you a lot about what visitors you might be able to get and what kind of visitors.
As SEOmoz says, “it’s not always about getting visitors to your site, but it’s about getting the right kind of visitors.” They go on to say, “The usefulness of this keyword intelligence cannot be overstated. With keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce products, services, and content that web searchers are already actively seeking.”
They sum up by saying, “In the history of marketing there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understand the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche.”
What they’re talking about is you can tell what people are thinking by what they’re typing. To kind of highlight this point, I wanted to touch on one last piece of visitor feedback and then on the next episode we’re going to go into keyword research in a little more detail and I’m going to give you some tips on exactly how I think keyword research should be done.
This feedback is from Patrick…
Hey Mark, I have a question. I have a site I am staring up that will be based on providing free test questions for people. I am getting really close to having my first mini test out. What I was wondering is how to promote the site on the search engines. Would it be better to go after the test itself or have each page target the content of the question?
What Patrick is asking is, “Should I target keywords on the website targeting visitors that are looking for a practice test or take advantage of the fact that I have all this content in the form of test questions and target the information in the test questions?”
This is fundamentally a keyword research question. To answer these kinds of questions you always need to put yourself in the shoes of the person that you’re targeting. What I like to do, and this is something that I learned from Jeremy and Jason over at Internet Business Mastery, is when you’re developing a website one of the first things you ought to do is create an avatar, a cartoon character in your mind of exactly the person that you’re targeting.
One specific example. “She’s a 28 year old mother of two who drives a silver minivan. She likes pizza, long walks in the rain, and champagne.” This whole kind of detail, this whole mockup of who this person is.
In this particular case that Patrick is talking about, the person he’s targeting is a person that needs a practice exam and they’re trying to prepare for a test, so they’re looking for sample questions.
So what are they typing into Google? Those are the phrases that you need to check. ABC practice test, or practice test on _____.
You want to target those kinds of phrases initially. Unless you find out that the volume is super low or perhaps if you find out that the search competition is way too hard. When you’re weighing all of that you need to be considering what you plan to do once that prospect hits your website.
Are you going to ask for their email address, give them the test questions, and then sell them the course? That’s the kind of thing that Pat Flynn does on his LEED exam site, that’s also the kind of thing that’s done on several of these other test preparation sites that exist. If you’re going to sell them the course, then you want to target the keywords for people who are trying to prepare for the test, because they’re the people that need the course.
Regarding the specific question, it always goes to the intent of the searcher, and you can always determine that from keywords. To give you an example, say this is a computer technician test. I don’t know what Patrick is actually targeting, but let’s say it’s an exam to become a certified computer technician. 99% of the people searching for a phrase like “how to format a hard drive” are not searching for that because they’re preparing for an exam. They’re searching for that because they need to format their hard drive.
There’s not really a lot of sense in targeting “how to format a hard drive” even though that’s a computer technician question that’s on the exam, because you’re going to get the wrong searchers. Really what that is about is a phrase that Lynn Terry refers to as market to message match. Are you matching your market, your searchers, with the message on your website? In that case, you’re not. Those people are searching for that because they need to format their hard drive nine times out of 10.
In this particular case you need to be targeting phrases like “computer technician exam,” or “certified Windows technician,” or “certified OS10 technician,” or whatever it is that you’re trying to prepare them for. I hope that’s helpful and I hope that feedback answer is useful to illustrate the power of keyword research.
What I want to try to do next week is talk a little bit more about how to actually do the keyword research and some of the things that I think are important with regard to keyword research and identifying niches. Then we’ll get off of this topic and we’ll start moving on to once you have a niche what exactly it is that you’re going to do; you’re going to build a website, you’re going to create content, you’re going to drive traffic to that. We’ll talk through all of those things, but I want to spend a little bit more time on keyword research because it’s so important.
Wrapping Things Up
That wraps it up for this week. I have a lot of work to do with my Forever Affiliate sites and now with this new experiment that I’m doing using Article Builder. Again, if you want that free report, go to LateNightIM.com/abreport. You can download that PDF file, it’s a quick read and I think you’ll find it fascinating – I certainly did.
Until next time. It was really good talking to you and I’ll talk to you again soon.
Thank you for listening to the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast…