Corn Sheller Niche Site Update
The Corn Sheller site the idea was to test Keyword Canine to see if it could correctly identify a keyword that was easy to rank for. It has a data mining feature inside called Niche Discovery where it randomly crawls through lists of keywords and related keywords that it finds in keyword tools, it’s kind of these keyword scraping suggestion engine, and evaluates those keywords. It looks at their cost per click, their competition, search traffic, and several other things, and it ranks them whether they’d be really easy, hard, medium.
I asked Josh to blindly select a keyword that Keyword Canine thought was easy that I was going to test it. He sent me a couple and the one that I liked was something I had never heard of before, which was this farm implement that was used years ago called a corn sheller. The reason I liked it is because I did agree and my analysis showed that Keyword Canine was right, the keyword was easy, and corn shellers were something that were antiques that were currently being sold on eBay. They were being sold on eBay and so were their parts.
I knew I could easily build a site on corn shellers, which I did at CornSheller.net, and I could easily monetize that site with links in eBay. So I did that, I got some good results, starting making $10, $20, $30 a month as I reported on before. Then Penguin came.
When I built links to the site I was sloppy about the way I did it and my links were way over-optimized for the phrase corn sheller. Since that time I’ve been gently building links back to the site using really long tail phrases that include the word corn sheller and phrases that completely do not include the word corn sheller, phrases like “this really cool site,” or “look at this site,” or “this site here,” those kinds of natural English language phrases.
When you think about a normal linking signature when you’re talking to someone in normal conversation they don’t always use the keyword in the anchor text for something that they’re linking to. They might say, “The other day I was looking at a great new site about corn shellers,” and they might highlight “a great new site about corn shellers,” and hyperlink that. They might hyperlink the phrase “a great new site.” It’s hard to really say exactly what they’re going to do, but I’m certain they’re not always going to use the word corn sheller in the anchor text.
So I’ve been generating varied anchor text by using Josh Spaulding’s Deep Linker Pro 2.0 tool, I’ve been using some gigs off of Fiverr and some other kind of linking strategies that we can talk about later, to try and bring that site back.
It is sort of coming back. I’ve started to get a lot of traffic on Saturdays, almost 100 visitors a day on Saturday, which is pretty good. It’s not as high as it was getting, but it seems to be increasing. The only problem I’m having, as I reported last week, is that the clicks that I am getting into eBay are not converting to sales as aggressively as they were before in the month of August. I don’t know if that’s a fluke for the month of August, we’ll have to watch that and see what happens.
I’m sending traffic to eBay and I’m not making the same kind of pennies per click. I was making something on the order of $0.30 to $0.40 per click before and now I’m making considerably less than that on my eBay transactions there. I’ll have to watch that and see what happens. If you look in the show notes for Episode 34 I’ll try to remember to put in a graph of the current traffic stats for CornSheller.net.
Snoring Solutions Niche Experiment Update
Now, the snoring solutions keyword that I’m also working on, that’s even more concerning. You’ll recall I’m automatically generating content for that site and I’m willing to do that because ArticleBuilder.net generates pretty darn good content.
In fact, in the show notes I’ll put some of the kinds of content that it generates so you can see what a real article looks like in there, it’s pretty good. It’s not absolutely super fantastic Pulitzer Prize winning, alert the media, make a press release sort of content, but it’s not junk. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show someone a site with Article Builder content on it. I think it’s a pretty good tool.
The whole question we’re asking with the snoring site is, “Is it possible to make money with a website that is 100% completely automated from link building to content creation and keyword research?” All I did was I went into Keyword Canine, put in the word snoring, picked a keyword, built a website based on the keyword that I picked, and told ArticleBuilder.net to go ahead and fill the site up with content week by week, and that’s what it’s doing. It’s monetized with Clickbank and it’s got automatic images going in there. The question is, “Does all that work?”
Right now the answer is not this time.
I think in general this should be working, but I’m seeing very little traffic and no long tail traffic. Normally I would expect to see a pretty significant amount of long tail traffic. I’ve had four total visitors to the site since I launched it and it’s not even clear to me how they got there. So this is so far a bust, but I’ll keep you posted and let you know what happens. What I’m going to do is really launch a full assault on Fiverr with this site. I just haven’t quite gotten around to doing all the things that I need to do there.
That’s what’s going on with the snoring solutions keyword based site that I’m building. I’ll keep you posted there and let you know what’s going on.
Taking a Lunch Break on the Road in Texas
I have a startling deep confession to make. I paused the recorder and I pulled off the road to hamburger chain that we have here in Texas called What-a-Burger.
For a fast food hamburger, they have a great burger. I think they totally kill all the other nationwide chains that I know, like White Castle and In-and-Out Burger and all these other ones from around the world. It is just a big monster hamburger with high quality beef. Of course, in Texas it’s very common to put jalapenos on your hamburger, which is the way I like – jalapenos and mustard, no mayo. Never put a mayo on a hamburger, at least not for me.
The problem is I feel incredibly guilty because I really need to get down to 195 pounds. I’ve been really working hard to try and get down from 245 where I started off the year. I’ve lost 20 pounds and I’m down to 225, but I’ve kind of stalled out and I need to punch down that additional 30 pounds. I’m going to be doing that after Labor Day here. I’ve decided I’m going to refocus that and I’m going to do that by doing one of these Couch-to-5K type applications. I’m going to continue watch what I eat, just not today obviously, and go back to working on trying to become a runner again, which I used to be years ago.
Anyway, I feel guilty and I’m sorry. That gets us to the next topic I wanted to talk about today.
Affiliate Marketing Focus Segment
I wanted to be sure and talk about the fact that we will be covering affiliate marketing every week. Last week I told you that the real thing about affiliate marketing is what you’re doing is you’re matching buyers with offers. You’ve got to find the buyers and find the offers, put them together. When you do that you can get a commission for doing so.
What people want to do is create a business based on affiliate marketing that generates cash for them. That’s the idea of affiliate marketing.
One of the things I thought I would talk about today is what are the advantages of affiliate marketing, why do I want to do affiliate marketing as opposed to some other internet business, why is this good idea to start an affiliate marketing business as opposed to other kinds of internet businesses. For example, maybe I want to be a Kindle book publisher or maybe I want to be an eBay reseller, a power seller, or maybe I want to create information products, or maybe I want to be a full time blogger, etcetera.
If you go back to the first seven or eight episodes of this podcast I go through what all those possibilities are. For this episode I wanted to talk about the next step in this affiliate marketing journey, which is understanding what are the good reasons to do affiliate marketing. There are several and I think I can go through them here with you pretty quickly.
The first thing I would say about affiliate marketing and why you want to consider affiliate marketing is that it’s relatively easy to get started. As I discussed in the last episode, in order to get started in affiliate marketing all you really need is an offer, probably on your website, and some traffic.
While that’s a big deal and you’ve got to build a website, and I don’t mean to minimize all this stuff because I know if you’re just starting out in internet business this can sound like just enormous tasks in front of you, that’s a lot smaller task than designing some new product, doing the market research, and building that product and having it built in China and warehousing it somewhere and then drop shipping it to customers over the internet. That’s a huge undertaking with a lot of moving parts and that’s one kind of internet business to sell physical products.
But, to sell affiliate products it’s really easy to get started because really all you need is an offer and a website and some traffic and you’re ready to go. So one reason I like affiliate marketing is that it’s an easy way to get started building an online business. That’s thing number one.
Thing number two that’s related to that is you don’t have any of the customer service burden necessarily that you would have if you were the product owner. If the product owner sells a product and there’s something wrong – they ship the wrong color or whatever – it’s on the product owner to fix that.
I will teach you later that really good affiliates will help the people that buy through their affiliate link when they can with product issues. I’ve done this many times for people on MasonWorld.com where they buy a product, they have some trouble with the product developer, I intercede on their behalf or I help them with some problem that they’re having and they’re not getting the right kind of customer support.
One of the things that I’ll do as an affiliate is try to never promote products that have those kind of problems. That mostly comes because on MasonWorld.com I personally only promote products that I’m using myself, so I can avoid a lot of those types of problems.
The bottom line is you’re not responsible for customer service if you’re an affiliate, you don’t have to worry about it.
The third thing about the greatness of affiliate marketing is you don’t have all of the business overhead paraphernalia with taxes and accounting and so forth. It’s really neat, if you’re an affiliate and you promote articles on Clickbank, for example, you don’t have to worry about deciding what tax to charge for some small community in Great Britain and understanding value added tax and all that. Clickbank handles all that for you, and that’s really cool.
This isn’t a show for giving you tax advice, but I think one really nice thing to think about if you’re just trying to start an internet business is to keep your tax situation simple, at least at the start because you’ve got a lot of other things to worry about. If you’ve just got one or two companies sending you checks once a month, that’s a lot simpler for your bookkeeper than handling tens or hundreds of thousands of transaction from all over the world and paying those local taxes where required and all of that kind of stuff, that can become very complicated.
Usually I don’t choose to deal with those kind of things, even in the United States. I usually run through a service like Clickbank that will handle stuff like that for me even on my own products. With an affiliate you don’t have to worry about that, it’s really nice. I think the business info structure for affiliate marketing is simply much simpler than creating your own products.
The fourth point is I like the amount of legal exposure that you don’t have when you’re an affiliate marketer. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV and I’m not offering you legal advice.
If you’re the kind of affiliate marketer that I recommend that you be, which is one that’s completely transparent, honest, and straightforward, you don’t misrepresent products, you disclose your affiliate relationships with the companies that make the products in the way that the FTC requires you to, and you comply with other FTC guidelines about disclosure, privacy, and so forth, I think it’s a pretty safe business to get into as a solo entrepreneur. That’s my personal opinion.
You should seek the council of a legal professional if you’ve got legal questions about affiliate marketing. Just know that one of the reasons that I like affiliate marketing is because I like the amount of legal exposure that affiliate marketing exposes you to, I consider it to be an acceptable level of business risk from a legal standpoint.
Business risk might be the fifth point. Jeremy Frandsen over at Internet Business Mastery tells this very famous story about a buddy of his who wanted to start his own business and he was going to sell yoga mats. He searched the marketplace and he decided that he was going to make premium yoga mats because he couldn’t find any premium yoga mats on the market and he knew that must be a gap in the marketplace.
So he designed a premium yoga mat instead of a $19 yoga mat, or whatever they cost at Target. He designed a $100 yoga mat and sent them to production in China, got a warehouse full of them. Then after he had spent all this money developing this yoga mat business he recognized that the reason he couldn’t find any premium yoga mats on the market was because no one wanted to buy a premium yoga mat.
There’s a lot less business risk with affiliate marketing because you can try different things to see what works, you can make different offers and you’re not actually building any products or creating any risk.
Even with information products, unless you’re very careful you’re running a pretty significant risk that you’re going to build something that nobody wants. Even if it’s just a video course and doesn’t represent $100,000 worth of product development costs, you’re still looking at a lot of time and effort that you spent on something that nobody really wants to buy. This happens to the best information marketers.
With affiliate marketing you try something and if it doesn’t work you just try something else. That gets me to point number six and maybe that will be the last point for today on the reasons that I really like affiliate marketing and that is that there are so many products to choose from.
I’ll tell you two places you can go just to be convinced of this. If you want to sell very high commission information products just go cruise around the Clickbank marketplace and look at all the different stuff that’s on there that you can sell. That’s only one source of many for information products on the internet. If you’re into physical products, how does Amazon.com grab you? Or if you want a little higher commission on most products maybe Commission Junction. These places have I don’t know how many products, hundreds of thousands for sure, maybe more available for you to sell.
Your choices are many. Literally if you are into underwater basket weaving it wouldn’t surprise me if there were basket weaving products available that you could sell for affiliate commissions on your website. So I like the flexibility.
Those are the six reasons that I like affiliate marketing. I could probably come up with more. I really like it, it’s easy to do, it’s pretty limited in its liability, at least in my opinion. There’s just more stuff out there that you can do than you could possibly imagine. It’s really easy to match up products with whatever it is that you want to talk about or do. I just think affiliate marketing is a really great place, especially for new internet marketers or for internet marketers that are looking to somehow expand the business that they already have it’s a great place to start.
The question I have for you is what occurs to you that are great things about internet marketing that you think I forgot to mention? Give me a call at MasonWorld.com/feedback or on the feedback hotline at 214-444-8655. I’d love to hear from you and hear what you think I missed regarding affiliate marketing and leave your comment in voicemail or at the feedback hotline and I will play your comments on the air. I’d love to hear from you.
Dallas Area Meetup Reminder
Before I forget, I wanted to remind everybody that we are on for the meetup on September 11th. If you’re in the Dallas area we’re going to have the first ever Mason World Late Night Internet Marketing Meetup in Allen, Texas at The Londoner Pub at 8:30 on September 11, 2012. You can find out more about that and leave a comment if you’re coming over at MasonWorld.com/meetup. You’ll also find a link there to a Facebook event, you can also find that event on the Mason World fan page. However you want to let me know, just let me know you’re coming so I can warn the people that run the pub there and make sure we have a table reserved.
I think right now I’ve got four or five people that are in the area and are available, which is really cool. I know four or five people doesn’t sound like much, but to me it’s just awesome. I’m really excited to touch base with some people that listen. I know one of my friends from Internet Business Mastery, Mandy, is going to be able to make it, which is totally cool. I know some other people are coming as well, including (I hope) the guy who lives down the street from me that I mentioned a couple episodes ago.
I hope that you guys can make it if you’re in the area. If not, I plan to do this again. Maybe you’ll make it at a future time. Of course, if you’re even in the Dallas area and want to grab a cup of coffee, give me a holler, I love to do that kind of thing and I’d love to hear from you.
Internet Marketing Tips: The Value of Checklists
In this internet marketing tips section this week I wanted to give you a little tip regarding checklists. I guess you know I read a lot of business books, both in relationship to my day job and in relationship to internet marketing, because I’m always trying to learn something new that I can apply either to my day job or to my business at home. One of the books that I read recently, which was really a cool book, is called Checklist Manifesto.
Checklist Manifesto is this book all about how checklists have revolutionized and are critical to places like the aircraft industry. The book is mostly about checklists in the operating room and how that has saved lives and so forth.
I really think checklists are the kind of thing that can save a solo entrepreneur, so I wanted to recommend to you that if you’ve got tasks that you do more than once that you start making the habit of documenting the things that are necessary to complete those tasks in a checklist format.
There are two reasons that I think you should do that, maybe three.
One is somehow I think it’s true that if you’ve got a checklist it helps cut through procrastination, because if you’ve got a list in front of you and you’ve got a task that you need to do and you know exactly what you need to do and it’s complete unambiguous and right out in front you, you can get started.
Even if you don’t finish it you can stop and start it and pick it back up. It just avoids you from having the excuse of “I’m not sure where to start this,” or, “I don’t have time to finish it so I’m not going to start.” So I recommend that you make checklists for your tasks that you have to do in your internet business.
The other reason that I recommend that you have checklists and the reason the Checklist Manifesto book talks about is that it keeps you from making mistakes or forgetting to do things. I think that can be really important.
It’s not like someone is going to die on your operating table in internet marketing, but if you publish a blog post and one of the items on your checklist is to check the affiliate links to make sure that they really work and you failed to do that, and as often happens to me you have the wrong links in there or they’re broken, not only does it frustrate your readers but it can cost you money. Those kinds of things on a checklist for when you publish a blog post can actually translate into dollars.
The third reason that I would say that you need a checklist is eventually you’re going to want to outsource this stuff. If you’ve already got a checklist for the stuff that you know needs to be done you can pick the list of the things that you don’t want to do and outsource some or all of those things on that list to a virtual assistant someday when the time comes.
Outsourcing is a daunting task if you don’t have good documentation of what needs to be done. But, if you’ve got good documentation of what needs to be done then outsourcing is a no-brainer. My thinking is go ahead and make the documentation part of your natural business, build a business manual for your business as you go along in the form of checklists and then when it comes time to outsource you’re good to go.
I definitely recommend Checklist Manifesto, you can found that Audible and that audio version is really good. That’s the one I like. I’m sure the print book is wonderful too. There are lots of great stories in there about how people have done amazing things, including prevented airplane crashes and saved people on the operating table through the use of checklists.
I’m getting close to grandma’s house, so the last thing for today is a request for some questions for the feedback episode. It’s getting pretty close to the time when I wanted to try once a month or every two months to put together some questions that come in on the feedback hotline. So send me some questions. I’ve always heard one of the hardest things in podcasting is to get people to call you and leave you feedback and questions, I never believed that but boy it’s true. People are funny about picking up the phone.
Pick up the phone just to say hi, 214-444-8655 and I’ll play your feedback on the show. If you want to throw in a question and plug your website, that would be awesome. I’d love to hear from you, it’s one of the things that keeps me going when I hear from people that they’re actually listening to and enjoying the show. I know there are thousands of you out there actually downloading the show, I’m assuming you’re listening to it. If you are, give me a call.
Give me a call at 214-444-8655 or go try the Speak Pipe gadget at MasonWorld.com/feedback. I’d love to hear from you, it would totally make my day.