Transcript continued from the Episode 036 Show notes

Corn Sheller Website Update

Today I've got a bunch of cool stuff for you. I wanted to start with an update on the corn sheller site, we haven’t talked about that. Over at CornSheller.net. You’ll recall that’s a site that I started because I wanted to test out a keyword tool. Much to my surprise, I was able to rank the site, monetize it and make a little money, and then stinky Penguin came along and wrecked the site.

I am happy to report that the site is back alive again. In fact, I had my record number of unique visitors on Sunday September 16th. Usually the peek for the week comes on Saturday as hobbyists and antiquers get online and they’re home from their day jobs checking it out. But, I had this big peek on September 16th of 300 unique visitors, which is really great. I’m getting lots of days with visitors up around 200 now. All this traffic started on September 4th.

The question is; how did I do that? This is one of those sites that was killed by Penguin, or at least I thought it was. We wondered if we’d be able to bring it back – and sure enough, we brought it back. The first thing that I did was I used Josh Spaulding’s tool for directory links called Deep Linker Pro 2.0. (That’s over at DeepLinkerPro.com.) The other thing that I did was I bought a gig on Fiverr and promoted the site with one of those SEnuke type gigs. That gig seems to have had a pretty significant impact on what was going on.

Around August I bought this gig from fastestfacebook. The name of the gig was, “will use SEnuke X to create over 1,750 quality backlinks to your site within 72 hours using custom SEnuke X templates and lists for $5.00.” Then you could buy an add on gig with the provider would create 10,000 contextual wiki tier-three links from 5,000 domains that point into those SEnuke blogs.

This is kind of a pyramid linking scheme, it’s similar to the kind of thing that Pat Flynn describes in the Backlinking Strategy that Actually Works article that he has over at Smart Passive Income. The idea is you’re creating these links into the site and then you’re backlinking to those links, and then the extra gig that I purchased backlinks into those links.

I provided 10 keywords that were pretty varied. I’ll post this whole gig in the show notes with a screen capture so you can see exactly what I did.

Now, there’s a couple of things about this that are kind of interesting. One is it’s really cheap. The second thing is it does not make the internet a better place. If you look at the links that are provided, these guys are basically spamming the internet to generate links. They’re taking crummy spun content and pushing links back into the site.

So as an experiment I think it’s okay to do this stuff. As a way to run your business, I think you have to ask yourself whether or not that’s the kind of person want to be. Some people will argue that you have to do this kind of stuff in order to keep up. Other people will argue that you should always make the internet better place. I tend to lean towards the second thing, but obviously I’m not above doing this sometimes. That’s just a little inner conflict that I face – just being straight up with you there.

I will post this and you can take a look at it, it’s very interesting. It’s a pretty large amount of information that they give you.

That clearly had an impact on the site. The rankings came back. I did this on August 13th, it was complete about five days later, and it turns out that this totally worked and the site has come back.

If I look at my eBay stats, in the month of September, which started off kind of slow from a traffic standpoint. In the beginning of September I was just barely starting to get a peek just over 100 visitors. By September 5th and 6th it took off. I’ll actually post the traffic stats in the show notes over at MasonWorld.com/episode036.

I’m getting about $0.10 a click, so these visitors that are coming in are worth $0.10 to $0.12 per click. As a result of that, I've earned almost $40 on this little site in the first half of the month. This has not yet effected my retirement planning, but it’s really interesting.

I think if you’re just joking around and you can make $35, what in the world could you do if you were serious. I’m not even working on this thing. I put up a few articles and I sent some links to this thing and I walked away. If you can do that, what would you be able to accomplish if you were working on something that you really cared about?

This is the reason that I think you should, at least for your first site, try to work on something that you care about, because if you get into it you can really create something and make some serious money. I think it’s pretty encouraging.

We had some feedback on the corn sheller site in the form of a question. This question is from Andrew and he asks whether or not we should install a corn sheller forum.

Andrew says:
Have you considered or is it even possible to stick a forum on your website, maybe even the corn sheller site, to help build natural traffic? If you could answer that on the podcast that would be awesome. Thanks.

This is actually a great question and it brings up a lot of issues. Should we put a forum on the corn sheller site? I guess Andrew even asks “could we?” Those are two separate questions, so let’s take them separately.

First question is what are we talking about here. We’re talking about this idea of user generated content. If you can make this happen it is absolutely fantastic. Some of the most successful websites in the world today don’t generate their own content. Let me give you two examples.

  • Google does generate the content.
  • Facebook does not generate their own content.

If you can get your users to generate the content that people want to come and see, that’s awesome. I should give you another example that you’re probably more in touch with on a day to day basis regarding internet marketing. The Warrior Forum – that’s another great example of user generated content.

User generated content comes with its own baggage. You've usually got to moderate it and deal with other issues around it. But, you can make it happen. If you can get a forum going on your site, all of a sudden you've got all this juicy search engine stuff that can be indexed in Google and you’ve got repeat visitors to your site that are coming back over and over again on their own. That sometimes can be the best kind of visitor, depending on the kind of site that you have.

Great question. The other part of the question is should we do that? There are two things, maybe three things. One thing is I have a rule of thumb about forums and generally I say that the time to start a forum is when you’re comment traffic is over 10 or 20 comments per post.

For example, MasonWorld.com I would say just barely has enough traffic to justify a forum. I had one in the past. There’s sort of enough traffic to do it and it works okay, but it’s just barely enough consistent visitation on MasonWorld.com to make that happen and make it work.

On the corn sheller that’s not clear, I don’t know if we have enough traffic. We’re certainly not getting post comments, we’re not doing that kind of interaction with our audience. But, if I was passionate about corn shellers and I had a lot of people that I was trying to engage with legitimately on the topic of corn shellers, I think it might be a good idea, depending on whether or not we could really engage those people.

For this particular website it’s not a good idea, because my goal is to fire and forget. I don’t really want to ever look at this website except to collect the checks. For that reason, I think it might not be such a great idea for me on this website. But if I were to sell this website to a corn sheller enthusiast who really wanted to invest in it, a forum could be exactly what the site needs. That certainly would have an SEO impact and it will have traffic impact if people are actually visiting the forum.

How would you do that, how would you add a forum? There are a couple of ways you can do it. If you’re running WordPress you can use a plugin called BBpress. I hate that plugin, I think it’s awful. As forums go, it just looks terrible and it’s hard to use, but it certainly works. If I've just offended you terribly because you wrote BBpress or you’re using it and you love it, I’m sorry. If you use BBpress on your site I probably won’t visit there, I really don’t like it.

I strongly prefer real forum software. There are a couple of options that are pretty decent. I live vBulletin the best. Even though it’s pretty ugly, functionally it’s really good. I like it the best, but it’s not free.

If you’re looking for something free, PHPbb is written in PHP and is a free open source product that is in most Fantastico implementations. For example, if you’re using Host Gator and you’ve got Fantastico in the cPanel it’s in there and you can just install a PHPbb and it can be right there with your website on the same server and that works just fine. In fact, the forum that I had on MasonWorld.com years ago was implemented in PHPbb, even though I prefer vBulletin.

There’s another option that I think is pretty decent. I don’t like the implementation as much, but it works really well for some people. If you want to really build a community and you don’t like the way PHPbb looks and you don’t want to host the thing yourself and set it up, you can set up a Ning website and you can brand that to your brand on your URLs.

You can see really good examples of this on Dan Miller’s site at 48days.net. Also, GSPNcommunity.com, I think, is Cliff Ravenscraft’s community also implemented on Ning. It also works if you’re going to charge people. Cliff is using a Ning site for the Podcast Mastermind.

So that’s how you can implement those. If you've got a community or if you’re trying to build one, I encourage you to create a forum if you’ve got enough traffic. But, if you’re trying to build passive income forums are not passive. You have to moderate spam, you have to encourage people, you have to get in there and be present in the forum for them to really work. For that reason, I think forums are not a good idea in some cases where you just don’t want to do that much work.

I hope that helps. That was an excellent question and I really appreciate it.

Is it Okay to Mix Affiliate Products with Your Own Products?

Our next piece of feedback is from Deborah. Deborah has a question about whether or not it’s okay to offer affiliate products and your own products at the same time. It’s an excellent question that’s often asked and it’s worth going over here today. Let’s hear from Deborah…

Deborah says:
I just listened to your most recent podcast on my Stitcher app and I wanted to just call and ask you a couple of questions. I’m really interested in your affiliate marketing pieces that you’re going to be doing.

I have a website, I do social media coaching for businesses virtually and locally. I have some products that I create myself. My question to you is this.

Creating products is, of course, time consuming. While I want to keep adding products and increasing that stream of income for my business, I’m wondering if I can rev that up a bit by using affiliate products. I’m not sure. What do you think about mixing affiliate products with your own products? Do the two kind of fight each other, is it a good idea, what do you think?

I’m eager to hear more of your show because I like to learn from people who are really doing it and I know you really are doing affiliate marketing as I’ve been aware of you. I think I first came in contact with you in 2009 with Internet Business Mastery program, and then of course I started listening to you when you started your podcast. Now that I have you on my Stitcher app I’m going to be able to catch every one of them on my iPhone, which I’m really excited about.
Thanks again. I’d love to hear an answer, whether it’s through the blog or the podcast.

Thanks for the question, Deborah.

Deborah, by the way, has a really nice blog over at TekkBuzz.com. She’s a social media consultant in west Michigan and she has a really nice looking site over there. I’m not sure if she’s a Spartan. I don’t know how that works out in Michigan, but I know if you get it wrong and you get a University of Michigan person confused with a Michigan State person you get in big trouble, so I won’t venture into football territory there. Thanks for the question.

Shout out to Stitcher, I really appreciate those guys over there. I think Stitcher has a bright future, they’re poised to get in automobiles and a lot of other places where it’s necessary to stream over the cellular network. I really like their niche in the marketplace. You can find me on Stitcher by going to MasonWorld.com/stitcher. If you’re interested in the Stitcher app it’s available for all major platforms, including iPhone and Android.

So you’re building your business one night at a time, maybe one day at a time, and you’ve got your own products, which is awesome. You’re clearly building a platform over at Tekk Buzz, the website looks really good. You’ve got gaps in your product line, you’re trying to grow your income, it takes time to build all these things up, and your question is in the meantime is it okay to go ahead and sell affiliate marketing or is that going to dilute the brand or mess up things for you, will they conflict with each other.

These are excellent questions. It always comes back to the same thing, and I think as long as you always do this you’ll be okay. The answer is you have to do what’s best for your clients, your customers, and your readers.

If you’re aware of products that you personally endorse and recommend that you know will help your clients, then by all means affiliate marketing is absolutely fine. Ultimately your goal is to make your clients successful in the social media space and if you can help them do that without compromising your long range strategy, then I think it’s just fine.

There are a few things to watch out for.

Make sure that the products you’re recommending as an affiliate are things that you've tried yourself. I noticed on your about page one of the things that you pride yourself on is that you don’t recommend any social media strategies to your clients without testing them first. So I would say that the same goes for affiliate products, don’t recommend any affiliate products to your clients that you haven’t tested first. Certainly don’t recommend any affiliate products to your clients that they don’t actually need – that kind of goes without saying.

The other thing I’d watch out for is to make sure that you understand your long term product strategy and you’re not going to do something that would undermine your long range strategy necessarily. Sometimes you might want to do that anyway if your goal is really to help customers, but let me give you an example.

Let’s say in three months you’re about to release a social media marketing software tool that is some kind of automated tweeting system for your clients and that’s a tool that you've built. In that case it might not make sense to promote a tool like Tweet Adder as an affiliate, because you’re going to cannibalize future sales of your product. What would make more sense would be to talk about how important Twitter is and how much automation can help you in prelaunch and then launch the product on your own.

You wouldn't want to cannibalize the sales of your future product by promoting some affiliate product now. That will also put you in the position of having to answer the question, “Why did you promote this product if you've got your own product? Which one is better?” So you need to think all those things through.

Fundamentally, it always comes back to whether or not you’re helping your customer. Let me give you a little trick about how you can do that and I think this is absolutely the best way to do affiliate marketing.

Find an affiliate product that fills a hole in what you’re able to offer your customers, make sure that’s a great product for you and that you really believe in it, and then analyze that product to figure out what it’s missing that your customers really need and provide that as a bonus to that product. That will really help your conversions, it will help your customers, it will increase sales, and it will make you look like the person who really are – somebody who cares about their clients.

Bottom line, I think it’s just fine to sell affiliate products as long as you’re thoughtful about it and you put your customer first. You can replace those affiliate products with your own products over time and that will be just fine.

A Little Bit About the Clickbank Marketplace

One more piece of feedback, a comment about the Clickbank marketplace that I mentioned a couple of episodes ago. This comes from Danny Mullen over at DannyMullen.net.

Danny says:
I just got done listening to your podcast and I’m in the car on the way home and figured I’d call since you recorded in the car. I love the show and I just want to say thanks for bringing up Clickbank. I’ve been doing some affiliate stuff for awhile, I’ve known affiliate marketing for many years but I’m really just getting it going here in the last three to six months. Clickbank is a new one that I’ve never tried out before, so I plan on going in and seeing what they have to offer. Thanks for the tip. Love the show.

Thanks, Danny. I really appreciate the positive feedback. That just goes to show you, here’s a guy who has been doing affiliate marketing for years and didn’t know about Clickbank. You can’t have a question that I don’t need to hear, so bring it on. Give me a call on the voice mail hotline at 214-444-8655. If you have a question, I want to hear about it. We’ll deal with it on the show.

Danny, this is awesome because Clickbank has some special properties. Here are two of the things that I really like about Clickbank, maybe three things.

One is that they have generally really high commission products, if that appeals to you and if you’re interested in 50 to 75% commission products. Clickbank is a digital information marketplace with no physical products so there’s not a high cost of goods sold, so product creators can afford to give very high commissions and that can be very lucrative.

The second thing I like about Clickbank is they have built-in customer service. It’s part of the Clickbank terms and conditions that Clickbank will honor any refund request within 60 days. I really like this as an affiliate because I don’t have to worry about whether or not the seller of the product is going to be yucky (to keep the show G-rated here) to a person who wants a refund for whatever reason. If the seller cannot resolve the situation to the buyer’s satisfaction, Clickbank will refund the money no matter what.

As an affiliate who is promoting products it’s really important to me that the people that I recommended are treated fairly with a transaction. As a seller in the Clickbank marketplace sometimes that means you get refunds that maybe you shouldn't really be getting. But, I still think it’s the right thing to do always to refund the customer’s money if they ask for their money back and Clickbank has a really good policy for how to handle that, so I really like it.

The third thing that I really like about Clickbank is they’re totally reputable as a company in terms of whether or not they’re willing to pay you. You hear a lot of people complaining that they've done business with individual marketers, sold their products, and they failed to get affiliate commissions. You don’t ever have to worry about that with Clickbank. They’re a real business, they do exactly what they say they’re going to do, and there is never any issue with whether or not you’re going to get your check from Clickbank. I have gotten many checks from Clickbank and never one issue with them as far as integrity in their payment process.

So those are three reasons why Clickbank is really cool and worth your time to look at. There are a couple of things about Clickbank that bug me a little bit.

The main one is that it can be relatively easy for nefarious internet marketers to steal your commissions. If you’re promoting a Clickbank internet marketing product and you promote that to internet marketers who understand how affiliate marketing works, some unscrupulous affiliate marketers will find that product, go get an affiliate link for themselves, a lot of times they already have a Clickbank ID and they’ll insert their own Clickbank ID in place of yours and collect the commission for the product themselves, effectively getting a major discount on the product and cutting you out.

Clickbank, in my opinion, doesn’t do a good enough job to prevent that. They’ve done some things in the last couple of years. There are now whitelist programs that the sellers can use, but they often don’t. You can obscure your link, and so forth, but at the end of the day somebody is going to figure out that it’s Clickbank and if it’s an open affiliate program they’re going to be able to steal your link.

That’s kind of a scarcity mentality. I wouldn’t not promote things on Clickbank because of that. But it is something to be aware of and it’s something that I wish Clickbank would do a better job of addressing, much in the way that PayDotCom addresses it. If you’re not familiar with PayDotCom, it’s another place like Clickbank that you can check out that has lots of digital products. JVzoo is another one.

I’ll put links to these in the show notes. All of these are really good marketplaces. In the case of PayDotCom and JVzoo, they do a lot better job of protecting your affiliate link from commission theft, so I encourage you to check them out and see what you think about those too.

Thank you very much for the feedback. That’s why I do the show, to get feedback that turns a light bulb on for somebody, or helps somebody, or somehow made their business go one notch further. That’s why I do this, so thank you very much for the call.

That’s going to wrap it up for this week. I’ve got a couple of ideas that I want to run by you guys.

One of them is I’m kind of itching to do a free webinar. I mentioned this on Twitter the other day. It would be a tutorial webinar about how to find a niche, how to do keyword research, or how to install WordPress, or how to do something. What do you guys want to know about?

There are lots of things that I could do, but there are lots of these things out there. Maybe you’re interested in this, maybe you’re not. We could do a live webinar where we just had a chat window open and people put questions in the chat window and I just blabbered on.

I’m kind of motivated to do this because I had such a good time with my little internet marketing meet up that I did a couple of weeks ago, just answering questions and hanging out with people. I’d like to do that on a wider scale if possible.

So if there is interest in that, please leave a comment in the show notes at MasonWorld.com/episode036 and let me know your ideas, or send them to me on Twitter or visit the Facebook fan page. If we like it, we’ll crank up GoToWebinar and we’ll do something fun. Of course it will be late at night, I’ll try not to make it too late.

That’s sort of what I’m thinking. If that appeals to you, let me know.

My last request is if you haven’t had a chance to go over to iTunes and leave a review, I would really appreciate that. That really helps other people find the show. iTunes uses those ratings to decide how prominently to display the podcast, so if you’re enjoying the podcast and you have time to go to MasonWorld.com/itunes that will take you to our page on iTunes and you can leave a star review, and a written review about why you like the show, if you’re up to it. That would be a huge help to me, I’d consider it a personal favor.

I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week and thank you very much for dropping by.

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