My New Affiliate Micro-site Plan

tt twitter big4 My New Affiliate Micro site Plan

In my previous post on the secret to affiliate marketing success, I went over some exciting things I had realized recently, including a formula for affiliate marketing success that I think can really work.

Since that post, I’ve been doing a lot of research and prep-work, and I’m ready to get started. So this post is basically my new affiliate micro-site plan.

I looked at a number of affiliate products on ClickBank that caught my interest in some way, and went to work looking for keyphrases. The first step was to identify some good keyphrases that get 1,500-5,000 searches a month. This represents demand.

The next step was to look at the search results for each of these keyphrases and to check the number of backlinks going to the top 4 or 5 results. This represents supply.

I then examined the interplay between supply and demand for each keyphrase. It needed to have enough demand, in the form of monthly searches, and the top 5 search results needed to have a manageable number of backlinks (meaning not so many that I couldn’t reasonably develop more backlinks than the top results).

Based on this analysis, I came up with a list of 5 or 6 keyphrases that I think I can capture, meaning I can rank at or near the top of the first page search results for the keyphrase.

To get an idea of what kind of potential I was looking at, I then multiplied the monthly search number by a conversion ratio of 5% and then by the affiliate commission. This, of course, assumes I would capture all of those monthly searches, which doesn’t seem reasonable, but I only wanted to get an idea of the potential.

I decided to start with the top three in terms of this potential monthly income. Based on my rough analysis, these three keyphrases alone have the potential to generate approximately $51,000 per month. Needless to say, this got me excited!

So now the real work is beginning. I bought 3 domains closely related to my 3 keyphrases, and I installed WordPress on all of them. It took me some time to find a free theme that I thought would work well for the site I wanted to create. After all, I’m not starting 3 blogs; I want the focus to be on the content and the product. I chose the Oulipo theme because I think it’s very clean.

I’ve put some work into the first site, which is sports-related. I’m in the process of writing 20 articles for this site (I’ll go into detail about promotion below). I think the best way to do this is to focus on one site at a time instead of all at once. Easier to focus that way.

So here’s the plan to get my site to the top of its respective keyphrase results (this will be done for each article, over time – like once or twice a week):

First, publish the original article as a blog post on the site. At the bottom of the post, I’ll include a little blurb, kind of like a resource box on an article site, with a link to the homepage with the keyphrase as anchor. This will give me an internal link anchored to my keyphrase.

I use Web Traffic Genius to submit an RSS feed made specifically for the post to a bunch of RSS aggregators, which is the beginning of my external link building process. Web Traffic Genius is cool because it anchors the title of the post to my keyphrase, and it also lets me submit other articles and Web 2.0 pages as “extrafeeds,” giving those more links. Of the 20 articles, 10 will have the keyphrase in the title.

Next up, spin the article 10 times to make it somewhat unique. Post 5 of these spun articles (with different but similar titles) to EZineArticles, and post the other 5 to GoArticles. And the great thing about posting to EZineArticles is that it provides more free traffic.

Next up, bookmark the blog post at 10-20 social bookmarking sites. I know there are automated software products for this, but I want to get a feel for the process and for each bookmarking site.

Lastly, do some blog comments and forum posts linking to the article, or to the homepage. Some of these links will be nofollow to mix things up a bit. And create one or two Squidoo pages based on the content I’ve written (for the homepage, not each individual article).

Oh, and one last thing: I’ll look at the link composition for the top results, and see if there are any places I can easily put a link to my site as well.

The idea with all of this is to leverage my initial investment of time in writing a quality article. (Good) writing requires a lot of mental energy, so I want to leverage that investment as much as possible. And I think this strategy will do just that. Each article should get about 30 or 40 backlinks, and when you multiply that by 20 articles, you end up with about 800 backlinks, which should be enough to get me to the top of the rankings for most of these niches.

Now, I realize that Google likes older, established sites, and site-age can be an important variable in search position. But I’ve read from a Google employee blog post that even a couple of months can be long enough, so that’s another reason I’m doing one or two articles a week.

It’s an investment of time for a few months, with the goal being to rank at or near the top for each respective keyphrase within three months. That gives my sites the free traffic, and if my conversion pitch is good enough, hopefully that will result in sales. And even more hopefully, a lot of sales.

So that’s the basic plan. I’ve got two articles written for my first micro-site, and I will begin posting them and executing the link-building strategy today or tomorrow. I probably won’t give an update here until I see some kind of result, otherwise I won’t have anything new to say. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

I think I’ve found the secret to affiliate marketing success

tt twitter big4 I think Ive found the secret to affiliate marketing success

A few days ago, I went on a serious bender of reading about affiliate marketing, blogging, SEO, and other aspects of online business. I spent hours just clicking through links and reading articles, and I ran across a lot of blogs and information sources run by successful people.

As I did all of this reading, I started to realize two things: 1) I pretty much know all of the basics about successful online marketing already, meaning I’m at a point where I should be able to develop some real success, and 2) I finally realized what has been holding me back these past two or three years as I’ve experimented with online marketing tactics.

This second point is what really got me thinking. The thing that has been holding me back is insufficient research, plain and simple.

When you read online marketing and “how to make money online” tutorials, a common piece of advice is to do your research, especially when it comes to niches and keywords.

Whenever I read this before, I kind of mentally skipped over it. For one thing, I didn’t know how to do this kind of research effectively. And compounding this problem is the fact that I am an intuitive learner: I like to jump in and learn things as I go, on my own.

This approach has worked for me in a number of areas, but it was failing me in my quest for successful online marketing. My approach was to experiment, trial and error, basically. Looking back on it now, it was nothing more than a “if you build it, you better hope and pray they will come” type of thing. There just wasn’t enough serious analysis going into my efforts. I didn’t have any kind of benchmark or measuring stick for what it would take to really start making money online. Basically, I was shooting in the dark.

After doing this copious amount of reading and integrating what I learned with my previous knowledge and experience, I think I’ve stumbled across a formula that really can work.

The Secret to Affiliate Marketing Success

The key is research. Quality research. It’s that simple, and I think I’ve finally learned how to do this effectively. Here is the approach:

  1. Identify your niche(s). For me, these are areas that I know about and have an interest in, making it easier for me to write content and to avoid promoting products I haven’t tried or don’t believe in.
  2. DEMAND: This is huge. Use the Google Keyword tool to identify search phrases (keyphrases) that have sufficient monthly search volume. Too much search volume, and competition will be too great (I haven’t reached the level where I think I can compete effectively in this area yet). Too little search volume, and there’s just no market potential there. 5,000 monthly searches seems like a good target, but I’ve read that you can be successful in anything that gets 1,500 or more searches per month.
  3. SUPPLY: After identifying some potential keyphrases with sufficient monthly search volumes, check out the top 10 Google results for each keyphrase. Use Yahoo Site Explorer to find the number of backlinks to the top three results for each keyphrase. This is important because it gives you a benchmark to beat. It’s pretty simple: if you develop more backlinks than those top 3 results for your selected keyphrase, you stand a good chance at ranking well for that phrase. Then a big chunk of that monthly search volume will becomes yours.
  4. BACKLINKS: Start a campaign for building those backlinks. For me, this means writing articles, with particular attention to using the selected keyphrase as anchor text in the backlink. Each article will get posting to my site as a blog post, and I use Web Traffic Genius to create a web of links from that post. Then spin your own article 10 times, and post five of them to EZine Articles and five to GoArticles. Then bookmark the article on the top 10 social bookmarking sites. And do some various other backlink building, like forum posts and blog comments.

The idea with this backlink strategy is to leverage my initial time investment of writing quality content. For example, say I write one article a week, putting some effort into making sure it’s high quality. When I post the article to my site’s blog with Web Traffic Genius, this creates a web of links to about 25 RSS aggregators all pointing back to my site with the keyphrase as anchor text.

Spinning the article 10 times creates an additional 10 backlinks per article. The key with articles is to link back to your site with the keyphrase as anchor text in the resource box. And then you leverage the article further by bookmarking it on 10 social bookmarking sites.

So to illustrate what I mean by leverage, picture this: one high quality article turns into 25 links from RSS, 10 links from articles, and 10 links from social bookmarks. For one article, that’s 45 backlinks anchored to my keyphrase.

If I spend the time to write 20 articles and post one per week, that’s 20 x 45 = 900 backlinks. This will certainly make it easier for you to rank highly for your targeted keyphrase, and that’s the goal.

To see why, let’s illustrate with an example. Say my target keyphrase gets 5,000 monthly searches. The top three results currently for the keyphrase (my competitors) each have 100 backlinks. I execute my backlink strategy and leap over the competitors to get the top spot for the keyphrase.

Now my affiliate site is getting 5,000 monthly visitors. If I convert 5% of them, then I get 5,000 x .05 = 250 sales per month. If my affiliate commission per sale is $20, then I get 250 x $20 = $5,000 per month in income. And my traffic source is free. Basically, it’s on autopilot from there. It just takes the initial effort of writing high quality content and leveraging that to create a web of backlinks. Once the strategy is executed, sit back and collect your checks from ClickBank, Amazon, etc.

An important note: you don’t want to build up backlinks too quickly. I’ve read this in various articles, and it makes sense. If a new webpage goes from zero backlinks to 400 backlinks in a few days, that may raise some flags. And you don’t want to do anything that will ding your search rankings. So that’s why I’m planning on doing one article a week, and building up the web of backlinks over time. The goal is one or two articles per week, for 10 weeks, for a total of 10 to 20 articles. Remember that each article gets leveraged into a web of approximately 45 links. That’s a ton of backlinks in the aggregate.

Needless to say, I’m very excited to put this strategy into practice. I’m in the process of developing a plan to promote four or five affiliate products, plus my own health-related ebook, using this strategy. I’ll post more details once the plan is finalized, and then progress reports as my income grows, hopefully icon smile I think Ive found the secret to affiliate marketing success . With one or two articles per week for 10 weeks for five affiliate sites, I hope to have developed a serious monthly income by March or April. Stay tuned to find out the results.

The Differences between Blogging and Affiliate Marketing

tt twitter big4 The Differences between Blogging and Affiliate Marketing

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to online business, internet marketing, blogging, and affiliate marketing over the past few days. Basically, I’ve been thinking of ways to reach my goal of an independent income more quickly.

This introspection has really caused me to think about what I’m really trying to do. How exactly am I going to go about making money online?

I’ve looked all over the place, read all kinds of blogs and posts and articles, paid for some products that didn’t help at all, paid for some books that were too general to be helpful, and invested countless hours in experimentation and trial and error, with limited results.

As I was looking for fresh inspiration over the past week, I realized something. I was trying to understand all of these different methods that other people have used to make money online, and they were all starting to blend and mix together in my head. SEO, PPC, CPA, PPV, banners, blogs, affiliates, articles, aggregators, keywords, niches – it was all becoming a mess in my head.

My aha moment came unexpectedly. I signed up for John Chow’s mailing list a while ago, and joined some other lists more recently, to see what these guys were doing to make money online. After all, whatever they are doing, it seems to be working, doesn’t it?

I was thinking about the product and message of one of the marketers that John was recommending, and I realized that a lot of these products are for affiliate marketers only. People who design and pay for the ads that you see from Google, on Facebook, and countless websites throughout the web.

These people are professional marketers, like ad agencies and Madison Avenue. They spend their time dedicated to finding out what will make people click on a link, studying the science of what makes people buy.

That’s all well and good, and I’m glad that they’ve found success in what they’re doing. But I don’t want to spend all of my time studying analytics and reports, creating split tests, optimizing ad copy, and brainstorming new campaigns when the old ones run out of steam or the competition catches up. That kind of affiliate marketing is not for me.

I like writing. I like coming up with new ideas. I like connecting with people. I like having someone write a comment saying they enjoyed my post more than I enjoy someone clicking on an ad I designed. So I decided that my goal is to become a professional blogger, not a professional affiliate marketer.

It may not seem like there is a big difference between the two, or that this distinction is obvious, but neither was obvious to me before. The ideas of blogging and affiliate marketing were fused in my mind, and this was causing me all kinds of problems. I realized that if I focus on one, the one I enjoy, then life gets a little bit easier. And hopefully the reward will come after some hard work is put in.

I know that virtually no one is going to read this. I’m getting about one visitor a day to this site, and that’s OK. I haven’t put a ton of promotional effort into this site yet, but I think that will change soon as my re-focused thinking and efforts get put into action. And maybe my ramblings here will be seen by someone who has the same lack of clarity, and maybe this post will help in some way.

Regardless, I feel better now that my thinking is clearer, and I’m starting to feel a sense of invigoration that was sorely lacking before. My goal is to reach $2,000 per month in net income from my various blogs and projects (six or seven at this time) because I know if I reach that point, it won’t be as hard to push it to $4,000 a month, or $6,000 a month, or something higher. The hard part will be done.

So that’s what I will be working on: building up the six or seven “franchises” I have now into something meaningful and fruitful, and earning an independent income along the way.

The Best WordPress Plugins for SEO

tt twitter big4 The Best Wordpress Plugins for SEO

Anyone who runs a blog wants more traffic, and one of the best kinds of traffic is free traffic. And the best way to get more free traffic is to make sure your blog shows up in search engine results for specific keywords related to your blog and your individual posts.

A popular way to improve your rankings in the search engines is through a process called search engine optimization, or SEO. If you run a WordPress blog, you’re in luck: there are a number of free WordPress plugins that can help your SEO dramatically, and I want to share with you the best WordPress plugins for SEO that I use here on this site.

Best Free WordPress Plugins for SEO

All in One SEO Pack

The granddaddy of WordPress SEO plugins is All in One SEO Pack, which is something that every WordPress blog should be using. All in One SEO Pack allows you to specify your blog’s title, description, and keywords so that search engines can rank you for important keywords more easily.

The title you specify should contain the name of your blog and a quick tagline that people can actually read (i.e. not a series of keywords). For example, I changed my blog’s title to “ER’s Money Blog | Online business tips,” which is a simple title with a simple tagline so people know what my site is all about.

The description you specify will show up on search results and usually has a maximum of 160 characters, so you want to be concise. You can put some important keywords here, but make sure it’s something readable and interesting. For example, I changed my blog’s description to “Charting my journey to create a successful online business and an independent income. Who says you can’t make money online?” This allowed me to insert some important keywords, like “online business,” “independent income,” and “make money online,” but it’s still readable by a person.

The keywords you specify help you to rank for certain keyword phrases you want to target. A good tactic is to list keywords that you already rank for, and to keep this list updated as time goes by. This allows you to keep your search rankings fresh and updated regularly.

The only default setting I change is to not include the blog title in the post title, because this can dilute your post title if it’s already targeting a certain keyword phrase. The same applies to your individual pages if you have a lot of custom pages that already target certain keywords. If the only pages you have are basic ones like “About” and “Contact,” I would leave the default setting as is (i.e. add the blog title to the page title).

Another great thing about All in One SEO Pack is that you can specify and change the title, description, and keywords on individual posts, which really allows you to zone in on certain keyword phrases for an individual post.

When it comes down to it, this is one WordPress plugin for SEO that you absolutely need.

Google XML Sitemaps

Another great WordPress plugin for SEO is Google XML Sitemaps. This plugin automatically creates a sitemap for your blog and makes it easy for the search engines to find all of your content. Despite the name, it notifies a number of search engines (not just Google) when your blog is updated, including Google, Bing, Yahoo (registration required), and Ask.com.

It works right out of the box, and I haven’t needed to change any of the default settings. It’s very simple to set up and use, and it can really help your SEO.

SEO Friendly Images

If you post a lot of images on your blog (or even if you don’t), SEO Friendly Images is a great plugin for SEO because it makes sure all of your images have alt tags and title tags, making it easier for search engines to index and find your images.

Best Paid WordPress Plugins for SEO

The three free WordPress plugins I listed above are all easy to use and work great, and they can really help you in the search results. And best of all, they’re free! But if you want an even greater advantage in your SEO, there is a paid WordPress plugin I use that can really help you rank for the keywords you want to target.

Web Traffic Genius

Web Traffic Genius uses RSS to create a number of targeted links back to your blog. It allows you to create an individual RSS feed for each post you publish, and it submits these RSS feeds to a wide number of RSS aggregrators, giving you a huge number of targeted links back to your blog, all achored with your own titles, descriptions, and keywords.

It’s an incredibly powerful service, and I have seen great results using it. When you use Web Traffic Genius in combination with a full SEO strategy including the free plugins above and serious keyword research, you can easily rank highly for the keywords you want to target. And Tim and Anthony, the creators of Web Traffic Genius, are very helpful and available for questions and comments.

I’ve made some huge leaps in SEO in the past few months, and Web Traffic Genius is a big reason why!

The Article Challenge is Officially Over

tt twitter big4 The Article Challenge is Officially Over

Following up on my last post on the “new” article challenge, I can now say that the Article Challenge is officially over. The results were fairly disappointing, but I learned a lot about article marketing as a means of getting traffic.

First up, I only completed half of the “new” article challenge. I wrote ten articles on dieting with a straight affiliate link and posted them at GoArticles. I used some “bum marketing” techniques to target certain search phrases, but I did not see a single conversion, and I haven’t checked the stats on the articles. A little disappointing, but it was just an experiment.

So my experiments in article marketing did not produce any profits, but I did learn a lot. My conclusion is that article marketing by itself probably won’t be enough, but it is a good supplement to other traffic-building techniques. In fact, it will be a part of my new promotion strategy, which I will detail in a subsequent post.

Joe, if you’re reading this, I think you were right about duplicate content issues. I’ve decided to invest in article spinner software to spin my own articles. I still think it’s not right to spin other people’s articles (and I’ve seen some horrible spun articles, that I would never click through), but I see no problem in spinning your own articles.

So all in all, no profits, but not an entire waste of time. My next post will detail my thinking about a new promotion strategy that incorporates article marketing but also adds a lot more. Stay tuned!

The New Article Challenge

tt twitter big4 The New Article Challenge

OK, time to come clean: the Article Challenge, as it was originally set up, has failed and is now dead. I saw a very meager trickle of traffic from the articles, and needless to say, no increase in conversions/commissions/money earned.

All in all, I posted 5 articles for the Amazon/book website, and 2 or 3 articles for the post on this blog. So I didn’t come close to my goal of writing 20 articles for each money-making path. However, I wasn’t seeing the kind of results I wanted to see. I did see some search ranking improvements, but it wasn’t enough.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think it was the article writing that was the problem. Indeed, I think article writing can be even more effective than I originally thought. It was the way I set the whole thing up that was the problem.

I have to confess something: I’ve heard countless times that when you’re trying to pick a niche for internet marketing, you have to start with research to make sure your idea is viable. I know this is what you’re supposed to do, but I didn’t do it. I went with what I knew, and just hoped the traffic would follow. Kind of a “if you build it, hopefully they will come” type of thing. And I think this is what has been holding me back.

I think the niches I chose for the original Article Challenge were either too narrow (too “long tail”) or too broad (too much competition). I have learned a lot through my initial steps into article writing, and I think if I combine what I have learned about article writing with some solid research, I can be successful.

When it comes to research, I think part of the reason I avoided it was because I didn’t know enough about it. I didn’t really know where to start, and there’s so much information out there that it can be overwhelming if you look for external help. However, yesterday I stumbled across this website on bum marketing, and it got me thinking.

I am going to relaunch the Article Challenge, with a new framework. This is still an experiment, so it will have a limited setup. I will post 10 articles each for two money-making paths. The 10 articles will be posted on one article submission site. The titles of the articles will target one particular keyword phrase that currently has between 1,000 and 5,000 optimized Google search results (the number of results when the search phrase is in quotes).

In particular, one path will be exercise-related. I’ve read that GoArticles allows you to post straight-up affiliate links in the resource box, so this path will be a straight promotion, without one of my websites in the way. The other path will feature an ebook I recently wrote, for which I have a website set up. The ebook is in the self-help category. Since I have a website set up for it, I will post the articles on EzineArticles. I’ve also got some ideas for articles to promote this blog, but I’ll hold off on those for now.

I’m also going to go about writing the articles differently. I have a tendency to procrastinate, so the idea of writing an article a day doesn’t work, because I keep putting it off. Instead, I’m going to refrain from posting the articles until I’ve written all 10 for each path. Hopefully, this will make me feel some pressure and get them out quickly.

I think this new Article Challenge has a lot of potential. It certainly has more research put into it than anything I’ve done before. My goal is to write all of the articles today, but I have other things I need to work on as well, so we’ll see.

I’m excited for this new challenge. The bum marketing site I mentioned earlier said that with these niche keyword phrases, it’s possible to see your article on the top of the search results within a few days. That’s the goal, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out. Expect an update post within a few days of the articles getting submitted. Let’s hope it works this time icon smile The New Article Challenge .

Article Challenge Update II

tt twitter big4 Article Challenge Update II

It’s been 12 days since I “officially” launched the Article Challenge, and progress has been made. However, some of my expectations are going to need to be revised, including getting all this done in 30 days. I just have too much going on right now with school and other projects, but this experiment is still important to me and I do plan on completing it in some way.

Progress so far:

  • I registered for 8 article submission sites. While this is less than the original 10 I planned on, all of these sites have different requirements, and I feel that 8 is enough, and I think these 8 represent the most popular and trafficked article sites. Here are the 8 sites:
    1. www.ezinearticles.com
    2. www.searchwarp.com
    3. www.articlealley.com
    4. www.goarticles.com
    5. www.articledashboard.com
    6. www.articlesnatch.com
    7. www.isnare.com
    8. www.articlesfactory.com

    Some of these sites review your submissions and have to approve them before they go live, while others send them right through. EzineArticles requires approval, but it is also the most popular article submission site. Making sure your articles get posted here should be your highest priority, so take the time to get familiar with their policies.

  • If you plan on following my plan, just realize that this can be a pretty manual and time-consuming project. Each of these sites has different standards, requirements, and practices, and I had to become familiar with each. It also takes time to sign into each and submit the article, so a good way to do it is to have multiple articles written. You can sign into a site, go through the motions of posting each article (these motions are different for each site), and then move on to the next site.

    Since this process can be so time-consuming, you may wonder why I’m bothering. After all, there are auto-submission software options out there. The answer is that I am new to article marketing, and I want to gain a full understanding of how this marketing technique works. If I had used auto-submission software, I may have been able to save some time, but I would have missed out on all that I have learned by taking the time to register for each of these sites, find out about their standards, and learn about their expectations for article submissions. I think I’ve learned a lot already, and it’s knowledge I can use in the future.

  • One of my proposed money-making paths was to write articles promoting straight affiliate links (without going through one of my sites), but I wasn’t sure if this was allowed. Enough of the article sites forbid this that I have abandoned the idea. Instead, I created a Hubpage with some Christmas gift ideas, with Amazon links for each gift idea. I’ll write some articles related to these gift ideas, and the link will go to the Hubpage. I figure this is a reasonable compromise, and I think I can still learn something from this path.
  • I have published 3 articles, on the 8 article sites, for my book website. I have also created 2 Squidoo lens and 2 Hubpages based on the articles (I haven’t gotten around to the third yet). I have seen a trickle of traffic from these so far, but more importantly, I have already received two visitors from search engine results. Theoretically, I should have 3 x 8 = 24 backlinks from the articles, and more from the Squidoo lens and Hubpages, and I expect more search engine traffic the more articles I post. I haven’t had any Amazon sales yet though.

    After thinking of article ideas for this book, I’m starting to worry that this path is a little too esoteric and “long tail” to be really successful. However, the book was a best-seller and the author has a new book coming out this month, so I’m going to see this through. You never know; after all, learning is the point of this experiment/challenge.

    My eventual plan with this book website/Amazon affiliate path is to create a network of book websites. This should create a network of links, and I think it could be successful over the long term. After all of the initial work, it should also become a passive income stream, which is always nice.

    There is something else I wanted to note here. Part of my plan for promoting this book website is commenting on other blogs (which may obscure the results of this challenge, making the challenge unscientific, but whatever; sales are sales). I created a Google Alert for the name of the author, so I get an email everyday listing blog posts that mention the author and I can comment on the blog post, creating a link back to my site (usually a nofollow link, but it can get some traffic). To my surprise, I have seen some of my articles already syndicated to random blogs, meaning that people have used my articles as content on their blogs. To do this, they are required to include my resource box with the article, which means more links for me. It’s pretty cool seeing your writing on some website you’ve never heard of. I think it shows that article marketing can be successful if you get the volume high enough.

  • I’ve posted 2 articles for the WP Syndicator blog post here on this blog. I haven’t seen much of a response so far, but I also need to write and submit some more articles for it, and I haven’t even created Squidoo lens and Hubpages for the already-submitted articles yet. So more work needs to be done for this path.
  • And I haven’t even started posting articles yet for the mailing list path, and I only have one article written so far, so that’s some more work that needs to be done.

Overall, I have seen limited results so far, and definitely need to put more effort into the challenge. It is a time-consuming process, but I’ve learned a lot so far, and I think I can do all of this more efficiently as I go along and continue to learn. I think this Article Challenge still has a lot of potential.

I’ll try to put some more time and effort into this during the next week, and will post another update/progress report after I do so.

Related posts:
Article Challenge Update I
The ER’s Money Blog Article Challenge

Create a Facebook Page for your Blog

tt twitter big4 Create a Facebook Page for your Blog

Facebook has over 500 million users. That’s an incredible amount of people going to one spot for a lot of their news, social life, and relationship building. Just imagine if you could siphon off just a portion of that traffic and send it to your blog.

Well, the good news is you can! In fact, Facebook makes it pretty easy. All you have to do is create a Page for your blog. A Facebook Page allows you to create a mini-website within Facebook where people can come to view news about your blog, click on links to your blog posts, comment on things you post, view pictures you share, and more. It’s a great way to create a sense of community around your blog, and it’s also a great way to share your ideas and content with other people. These people can stumble across your page and if they decide to “like” it, then whenever you update the Facebook Page, the update will show up in their news stream.

To create a new Facebook page, go to:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/create.php

Where it asks what kind of page you want to create, select “Brand, product, or organization.” Enter all of the details for your blog and any other information you want to share with your readers, and you should be good to go.

When I started my first Facebook Page for one of my blogs, I was faced with a problem: I was the only person who “liked” my blog’s page! It seemed like I would have a hard time getting other people to “like” my page when no one had done so already. So how do you get more people to “like” your blog’s page?

One option is to go to your existing blog readership and ask them to follow you on Facebook. You could create a new blog post asking them to do this, and then provide a link to your blog’s Facebook Page. This option is free, which is always good, but you just have to hope that your readers respond.

There’s another option that will get new people exposed to your blog, but it costs some money. This would be to create a Facebook Ad for your page. This is the option I chose to get more people to “like” my page, and I was shocked to see how well it worked! I spent about $40 letting the ad run for a few days, but in that time, almost 300 people decided to “like” my blog’s Facebook Page. These are 300 people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about my blog, and once they started reading and posting comments on my updates, more people saw my updates and eventually the number of people who “liked” my blog’s page grew to over 700. It has really created a sense of community around the blog, and it’s a great way to get traffic to your blog. And all it takes is a small investment.

A Facebook Ad is a form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, so it does require some money. However, it’s easy to get a much higher response rate than advertising for a product because you’re not asking the ad viewer to open their wallets and spend any money. All they have to do is “like” your page, and if your content is compelling and interesting, you should have no problem getting people to follow you on Facebook.

To create a new Facebook Ad, go here and click on the “Create New Ad” button:

http://www.facebook.com/advertising/?campaign_id=402047449186&placement=pflo&extra_1=0

One more tip for your blog’s page: you can also add a Facebook widget to your blog, which will make it easy for someone who stumbles across your blog while surfing the web to “like” your page. To add a Facebook widget to your blog, go here and select “Page Badge”:

http://www.facebook.com/badges/

Creating a Facebook Page for your blog is easy and it can really help your readers engage with you, creating a sense of community around your blog. It’s also a great way to expose new people to your posts. It requires some investment in terms of set-up time, and in the case of an ad, a little bit of money as well. But the investment can easily be worth the effort.

Update: Create a Facebook Page for your Blog on Squidoo

Twitter Etiquette Guide

tt twitter big4 Twitter Etiquette Guide

Twitter has obviously exploded in popularity in recent years, and a lot of new people have signed up to find out what all the fuss is about. If you’re one of those new Twitter users, welcome to the Twitterverse! I put together this list of Twitter etiquette items to help you get up to speed.

And be sure to follow me on Twitter as well! You can find me at @ERmoneyblog.

Retweeting

If you see a tweet you like, you can retweet it to share it with your own followers. The two ways to do this are to use Twitter’s “Retweet” button, which retweets it out automatically to your followers but doesn’t allow you to add your own comment, or you can copy the original tweet, reply and paste it as a new tweet, and add “RT” before the person’s @[name]. This allows you to add a comment before the “RT” and is a great way to share tweets. The original poster will see your retweet on their @Mentions page, and will usually be grateful for the RT.

If you look on your @Mention page and see that someone has retweeted something you wrote, be sure to thank them! This can be as simple as a reply tweet saying “Thanks for the RT.” Simple, yet polite.

One more thing about retweets: don’t retweet your own retweets! I’ve seen this occasionally, and it just looks desperate and completely self-serving. If you’re tweeting out links to your blog posts or something similar, it’s OK to do so more than once, but change up the message you actually tweet. Repetitive tweets are boring and a good way to lose followers.

Self-promote appropriately

This follows up on the last point. Twitter is a great tool for self-promotion, i.e. promoting your blog, your book, your brand, etc. But to use it effectively for this purpose requires balance and some tact. If you have a new blog post, by all means tweet out a link! But just don’t go overboard with it. You see some people’s Twitter profiles where it’s all about them, all the time, and most of the time, this is simply a turn-off. Try to mix it up a bit with interesting articles and links from other sources. Your followers will appreciate it, and this will definitely make you more attractive to potential new followers compared to people who only self-promote.

Via, HT, or h/t

If you see a tweet linking to an interesting article or blog post and you want to share the link with your followers, you can either retweet the original tweet, or you can simply send the link out yourself with your own tweet. But if you use this second option, you should really give credit to the original poster for bringing it to your attention. You can do this by saying “via @[name]” or “HT @[name]” or “h/t @[name].” Via is pretty self-explanatory. HT and h/t are short for either “hat tip” or “heard through.” This is another great way to be polite to the person who made you aware of the content, and the person will usually be appreciative. The opposite is also true, however; failure to be polite and give credit will cause some people to get upset.

Hashtags

Hashtags are one of Twitter’s unique features. It allows users to “mark” a certain word or phrase to make it show up in searches and basically makes it easier for your tweet to become part of a larger conversation. However, some people misuse this feature by putting a hashtag in front of every word in their tweet. They do this thinking that their tweets will show up in more search results, leading to more followers, but it really just makes their tweets hard to read. Use hashtags sparingly and appropriately.

Don’t Auto-DM new followers

I see a lot of people use this tactic, and it really drives me crazy. A direct message (DM) is a private message from one person to another (i.e. doesn’t show up in either person’s stream). Some people use software to send out an automatic direct message (Auto-DM) when you start following them. The first time you run into this, you see the direct message and think, “Wow, that person just reached out to me with a personal message!” and you feel pretty good. Then you get them from other people and realize that it’s a robot message. If you ask me, it’s totally impersonal and is a huge turn-off. Definitely avoid using this.

Add a picture

This is pretty basic, but it makes a big difference. If someone follows me and they don’t have a picture, I am much less likely to click over to their profile to see if I want to follow them back. To me, a missing profile usually equals a spam account, and I will almost always ignore these when I see them. If you want more followers, add a picture.

Update: Twitter Etiquette Guide on Squidoo

Article Challenge Update I

tt twitter big4 Article Challenge Update I

In a previous post, I laid out my plans to test article marketing as a method of getting traffic. I called it the ER’s Money Blog Article Challenge.

The basic idea was to use article marketing to test four different money-making paths: promoting a blog post that promotes a ClickBank product (here on this blog), promoting a mailing list with a sales funnel that ultimately promotes a ClickBank product, promoting a separate website that promotes a best-selling book (with an Amazon affiliate link), and promoting a ClickBank product straight from the article (i.e. without going through one of my websites).

So here’s the update: I have all the money-making paths set. The book was already chosen for the separate website, and the mailing list already had a product and sales funnel in place. I chose a product to promote in a blog post here, and I chose a product to promote straight from the articles. So the paths are set.

My original plan was to write one article each day for each money-making path for 30 days, and to post each article to 10 different article directories. However, I’ve given it some thought and decided to change the plan.

I want to convert each article, which will still be posted to 10 article directories, to a Squidoo lens and a Hubpage as well. This will create a web of links, effectively multiplying the link “juice” from each article. Instead of just having a series of articles linking back to the promotion website, I will now have the series of articles and a series of Squidoo lens and Hubpages.

The bonus is that the Squidoo lens and Hubpages can all link to each other as well as the promotion website. The promotion website can also link to all of the Squidoo lens and Hubpages. This effectively creates a link relationship that is greater than one-to-one for each article (a non-linear relationship for you nerds like myself).

The bad news is that I just don’t have time every day to write four different articles on four different topics, post them to 10 article directories, convert them to Squidoo lens and Hubpages, and then make them all link to each other. I can’t do that every day for 30 days.

So the new plan is to create 20 such articles for each money-making path within a 30 day period. This will allow me to write more then one article in a day, and to post them when it’s convenient for me. I just have to make sure I do 20 of them within 30 days.

20 articles per money-making path times 10 article directories is 200 quality back-links for each path. Add to that the network of Squidoo lens and Hubpages, and the network multiplies. I think it will be effective, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. That’s the point of the Article Challenge, after all.

I already have one article written for each money-making path, with plenty more ideas available for each. So I plan on getting started with the actual link-building within the next few days.

Expect another progress report soon!

Related posts:
Article Challenge Update II
The ER’s Money Blog Article Challenge

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