The Truth About Your Blog Stats

If you’re new to Google Analytics or confused about how to use it effectively to help grow your business then chances are know your blog statsyou (and your pocket perhaps) may benefit greatly from understanding fully what the numbers really mean and how to use the tools to help you gather intelligent info about what is making or breaking your website.

When I first took a look at my numbers utilizing the Google Analytics tool, I was completely perplexed.  Yet, the information offered some mystery that I knew I had to further evaluate.

Statistics…What???

I don’t know how but by some miraculous reason I managed to ace my Statistics 101 class in college.  However, the numbers I was looking at behind my website just seemed like a whole different animal. And if you are anything like me, I couldn’t scream help fast enough before my eyes started rolling back into my head and I was overwhelmed with trying to make sense of the seemingly important data that was flashing right before my eyes.

Thankfully, I have a great mentor who not only offered some guidance but also has a Blog Statistics Workshop replay that helps break down the numbers into edible pieces. This allowed me to understand what it all meant in order to work efficiently on getting more traffic.

It is true for many of us who run businesses online that our Google Analytics tool is the go to place for reference in order to see what our website traffic looks like.

But when you get there, wouldn’t you want to know what the numbers really mean? Why they’re so important? And what that information tells you about the health of your site?

In Know Your Blog Stats,  Kelly discusses the significance of  this information and what it tells you about your readers.  If you think you already have what you need, take a look at this article I read in Inc magazine where it describes how you may actually know less than they think about your website’s analytics.  

Billions Are Connected

There are billions of Internet users across all continents around the world. I think it comes to no surprise that the number keeps growing by the day. This means that as time goes on, there will be more businesses competing with each other online and more people available who can potentially be your customers.

Many people have come to rely on the Internet as a referential point in making a decision about something.

Think about it. How many times a day do you “Google” something, look something up for a review or attempt to make a decision about a fancy restaurant you’ve never been to without first searching for it online?

Because of the prospective of reaching an extraordinary amount of people online, businesses have vested interest in developing solid marketing strategies that are competitive in nature and produce the desired results

How do businesses produce results?

By learning about what is working in their business and doing more of it while identifying what is not working in order to trash it or tweak it as deemed necessary.

What can you do to figure out if your blogging is working? [Read more…]

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Tools That Make An Affiliate’s Life Easier

Kelly’s inspirational post about dreaming bigger, has really got quite a few of us riled up and ready to go. For me, it couldn’t have been better timing because this week is also the same week my kids start school again. I am excited to reclaim those hours and pour 100% of it into my business once again. Since Kelly talked about affiliate marketing and working harder on it, I thought it would be good to follow up with some tools that can help make your lives as affiliates easier, better, more productive which hopefully leads to more profits. So here goes.Tools

Password manager – I use Roboform on the PC and 1Password on the Mac, others I know use LastPass and Xmarks. Whatever you decide on, a password manager really helps logging in and out of those many affiliate accounts a breeze.

Affiliate link plugin for WordPress – there are a few out there. What does it do? You set a keyword for example “SparkplugU” and tell it to link to your affiliate URL each time SparkplugU is found. All automatic and works for older posts too.

Zemanta – this is a Firefox plugin that will make photo, books, DVD and website resources suggestions for you based on what you are writing about. You can link it up to Amazon – if you’re still their affiliate – and make it easy to add links to products found in Amazon.

A macro utility – Tired of typing your affiliate URL again and again? Copying and pasting is OK but still takes time to open your file, look it up, copy and paste. Too many actions. Use a macro utility. I use something called DirectAccess that helps me do a bunch of things, but one of my favorite uses is for it to help me type in URLs. Instead of typing, I enter a short code and hit ‘End’ the software types the links for me, reducing the amount of typing I do.

Image by sanja gjenero

Lynette enjoys discovering new ways to use technology or new technologies to use in a business and in turn help her clients apply them. You can find also Lynette at her blog, Twitter and Facebook

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Why I Love Affiliate Marketing (I’m Dreaming Bigger Now)

I haven’t been feeling the Follow Friday vibe much lately but I posted one today:

ff-alice

This after I received an affiliate sale notification from her program.  There’s something pretty inspiring about earning $150 in commission, wouldn’t you agree?

There’s no doubt I love what I do and make a good living at it. One of the greatest things about being an internet business entrepreneur is that there are no limits – and right now, I’m focusing in on that because I’ve decided it’s time to make more money. (And I know I can do it!)

I remember when I first started my online business.  I just wanted to make a couple hundred dollars a month.   Time and experience certainly raised my expectations.  I paid off my debts, left my day job and have enjoyed freedoms I once only dreamed of.  [Read more…]

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I Thought I Was Smarter Than That

Last week I got scammed on Craigslist.

You have no idea how shamed and humbled I feel about that.

I haven’t fallen for a scam since I was 20 years old. I actually sent $18 and a self addressed stamped envelope to get info on stuffing envelopes for pay.  That was pre-internet of course… but the lesson was learned well and I knew I’d never fall prey to anything like it again.  I pride myself on seeing a scam coming from a mile away.

*grumble, grumble*

So, last week I was surfing rental ads on Craigslist.  There was a house that looked like a perfect fit for us at a great price.  I emailed the owner for info and received this email:

Before we begin giving you more information on the apartment we need to know if you are currently up to date with your credit report. Obtaining your credit rating for free is easy, using the following link:

http://uscreditreportcenter.com/creditcheck.php (The process is free and safe and only takes a minute to fill out).

We have had a large number of defaulting tenants who came from Craigslist, so before we can set up an appointment with you we need to verify you are a credible tenant. Once you have completed the application please e-mail us back.

I thought that their request sounded fair… so I followed the link.  When asked to pay $1.95, I thought – ok, why not? I saw the fine print about canceling within three days and planned to do that.

To make a long story short – after giving them my credit card I was routed to a page with info on how to request a free copy of my credit report from another website.

*grrr*

So I felt foolish but I thought to myself, ‘Ok, fine – I was tricked.  That’s not the end of the world. I’ll just call the number and cancel right now and be done with it.

But the phone wasn’t answered.

And the fax I sent brought no reply.

And the email I sent was ignored.

And three days later my card was charged $34.97.

*argh!!*

I should also mention that the ‘landlord’ hasn’t replied to any of my testy emails about their little Craigslist scam.  Upon future exploration I learned they’re not really a landlord.  They have a private registration domain for email but maintain no website on it.  I suspect that they’re posting Craigslist ads for awesome looking houses all over the country – all with an affiliate link for the credit report site.

A call to the bank, a few copies of my fax and emails and the money is back in my account.  Oh – and my credit card had to be canceled and reissued which will affect me in a lot of other areas.  It’s a pain in the neck and I’m annoyed that I had to waste time dealing with it. All my own fault of course!

You know what annoys me the most?  An affiliate marketer scammed me. I’m an affiliate marketer!  Call me naive, but I didn’t realize that we had this sort of slimy underbelly in the affiliate marketing community.

It’s just wrong.

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Web Design Affiliates Wanted For Affordable Web Design Program

There are millions of small and growing businesses around the world. Only 1/3 of them are on the web. The rest believe that it’s too expensive or it’s too difficult to get online.

Every business must have their own web presence to compete in todays economy.

A website is simply an electronic brochure that helps your customers do their homework on you before they buy from you. All of your details, hours of operation, products, services and more are listed on this online brochure. As a result, well informed customers trust more and therefore they buy more.

SiteBuilderAvenue.com recognizes this and has launched a program to help small businesses gain access to affordable web design with first class support to get their website launched.  Starting at $50 for set up and hands on live help, any new or growing company can get their website launched in a matter of days. If you simply want to do it yourself, you can take advantage of the 10 day free trial, $0 cost set up and build your own website with free email and phone support.

With every website built by the SiteBuilderAvenue.com team, they give you access to a growing marketing library of  videos, audios, free eBooks and more in their Discovery Center. You can learn about local marketing, facebook marketing, twitter, Link wheeling, local search submission, Pay Per Click tips and so much more.

In addition, they offer you a free wordpress blog site hosted on their server as part of the monthly cost. It’s like getting two websites for the price of one. You can use the blog to link to and drive traffic back to your primary business or use it as a secondary site for another business. Either way, the benefits of having a blog on the system means you get the biggest bang for your web design bucks.

In order to get the word out, SiteBuilderAvenue.com has launched an affiliate and reseller program that pays commission to the marketers that join their FREE program and send new clients!

Join Their Free Affiliate Program

This is a program that anyone can do part time from the comfort of their own home or office.

Working at home is the goal of many people in today’s economy.  Part time of full time income is need to help fight against the rising cost of inflation. “I want to help change as many lives financially as I can”.. Said creator Gene Culver. “I live to put money in other marketers pockets and I will do anything I can to help them succeed”. He adds… “Success is a team sport”.

The perfect partners for this program are business consultants, graphic designers and high traffic sites that are interesting in putting links on their site that return real recognizable revenue on a weekly basis. This program pays weekly!

The goal is to offer affordable web design and provide a respectable commission to affiliates that refer new clients.

They also have a reseller program:

The reseller program is more of a partnership and it allows the marketing reps to use SiteBuilderAvenue.com as the upstream provider for their front-line business. The reseller sets the price and becomes the primary contact for the design clients. SiteBuilderAvenue.com supports the sale as part of the resellers team to assure that everything is quoted properly,  designed to specifications and installed on time and on budget!

This win/win solution works for the customer, marketer and SiteBuilderAvenue.com.

Take a look around and add it to your list of great products today! SiteBuilderAvenue.com.

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Home Businesses that Work: Affiliate Marketing Online

best passive income streamsWhat is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is kind of like being an independent sales representative in the online world – sans the telemarketing! And it’s one of the best passive income streams you can add to your internet business.

An affiliate marketer puts links and ads on their web site that are encoded with a specific tracking URL and Cookie. When a surfer clicks on that link and the click results in a purchase, a commission is paid to the affiliate marketer. The commission paid does not change the amount the customer is charged – the commission is paid by the merchant or advertiser.

Affiliate Marketing is different than pure advertising. Advertising is typically sold on a Cost Per Impression (CPM) basis. For every 1000 impressions (views), an advertiser pays a certain amount of money whether or not an actual sale is made. With affiliate marketing, the advertiser only pays when an actual sale is made.

Typically a unique URL is used to track when visitor has originated from an affiliate marketer’s site. Additionally, most advertisers also offer an “action period” – for a certain number of days after the first click, a cookie is placed on a surfer’s computer to continue to track the origination of the referral source. Affiliate marketers like long cookies – which means they will get credit for up to 4 months (sometimes even longer!) after the first click.

Affiliate links can be banner ads or text links. You can add them anywhere on your site you feel appropriate. Of course, if your page is covered with ads with no other compelling content, a surfer will have little reason to want to click on any of your ads. Affiliate Marketing works best when you offer resources for customers to make an informed buying decision.

Affiliate Online Business Success Tips

Most successful affiliate marketing sites are review and content based. As an affiliate marketer, it’s up to you to educate and inform YOUR surfers/readers to help them determine what products and services are right for them. Here are a few good examples of very successful affiliate sites:

Rosalind Gardner got her start in affiliate marketing by finding a need and filling it. She entered the online dating scene in 1997, and didn’t really know which sites were the best, and which were ones to avoid at all costs. She learned by trial and tribulation which sites were the best and most reputable on the net. Then, realizing there were many other people who would want to know about what she learned, she launched 101date.com – one of the first dating site review portals on the internet.

101 date is a GREAT example of simplicity paired with great content, and her results prove it – based on her success in affiliate marketing, she wrote an eBook called How I Made $436,797 in One Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online.

Another good example is Brad’s Deals – a coupon site with over 2500 Handpicked Deals & Coupons. Brad originally started the site to help his friends save time and money shopping online. Currently consumers using BradsDeals have spent over $100M at over 700 retailers – because he works constantly to update his site and he has a loyal customer base of his own that visit regularly to use his coupons (affiliate links with a built-in discount).

Affiliate Marketing works best on a site dedicated to affiliate marketing – such as above. It is less effective on blogs for a couple of reasons – most blogs offer free content (which predisposes our readers to expecting things for free), and most good blogs have what’s called a lot of “Leaky Links” – meaning links that send traffic away from your site without the potential to earn you $$ (non-affiliate links). This is a generalization, of course, so note that there will always be exceptions to this.

Becoming An Affiliate Marketer

Skills Needed

To be successful in affiliate marketing, the following skills are needed – though you can rest assured you don’t need them all right now – some of them will simply come with time and experience…

Search Engine Optimization

Paid Search Engine Marketing

Sales Copywriting Skills (for reviews, informative articles, newsletters and other marketing materials. Head over to CopyBlogger to learn from The Guru on this subject)

Webmaster/html knowledge
A mailing list building strategy (very important!)

Working knowledge of spreadsheet programs and the ability to analyze costs vs. commissions

Ability to analyze web statistics on a basic level

Pros and Cons

Affiliate marketing can be extremely lucrative. It also can be built to the point where much of the business can run on autopilot, giving you a lot more time with the family. It can also be quite rewarding, knowing you are providing a valuable service to people who need the information you offer.

Affiliate marketing also requires patience. This is not an instant-get rich quick business. It takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t work – and to learn how to build up your own traffic (in order to send it elsewhere!). Time is the best teacher for affiliate marketing, as you can study what links your readers are most interested in (by tracking their clicks), where your traffic comes from (what keywords they use to find you), and what affiliate links convert to the most sales.

Best Passive Income Streams and Income Potential

Don’t expect to earn much in your first few months in affiliate marketing, especially if you are only doing it part time. After the first year of persistent work, you can expect to see a steady passive revenue stream. This business model offers the opportunity for the best potential with having to put less work in that most other models. For this reason, many people consider affiliate marketing as one of the best passive income streams online.

I can’t say for certain, but from my past experience and that of others I know personally, I would say the low end of income potential is $10 K a year and at the high end the sky is the limit!

As with many businesses – you get out of it what you put into it. A six figure income from affiliate marketing is absolutely possible – and is also not the norm. In fact, there are a few seven figure affiliate marketers out there – so it certainly pays to learn the business!

How to Be a Successful Affiliate Marketer

No formal training or certification is necessary. Kids have made big bucks in affiliate marketing.

Sales Skills Necessary

You don’t need to do any in person presentations or make any sales calls. But you do have to write compelling sales copy, present product information in a clear to read and understandable format, make site navigation easy and intuitive, and handle customer service emails (sometimes your audience will have questions or problems with a merchant – while you can’t control what happens, you can yank links from your site, or add more based on what your readers like and dislike).

Remember – you are PRE-Selling for your advertisers – keep this in mind and your results will always be better than if you just throw links up on your site.

Initial $ Investment Range

It doesn’t take much $ to invest into creating an affiliate site. You have to pay for web hosting, and a solid email marketing/autoresponder tool (unless you know the CAN-Spam laws like the back of your hand are are willing to risk your email marketing business based on what you know). If this is your only source of income, then you need to plan for the time it will take to get your business up and running to a point that it will make you actual income (plan at least 4-6 months).

Also, PPC (Pay Per Click) traffic is quite critical to the success of an affiliate marketing site, so plan on opening an AdWords account and paying for some traffic.

Where Can You Learn More?

I’ve learned everything I know about affiliate marketing from two sources – I used to run the affiliate program for Socrates Media (from the Merchant side of things) and I read Rosalind Gardner’s book How I Made $436,797 in One Year Selling Other People’s Stuff Online from cover to cover. I really, really highly recommend it!! (Yes, that’s an affiliate link to her book and THAT endorsement is affiliate marketing in action!! ;) )

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