Thursday, October 12, 2006

Domain Dashboard

I have currently removed any referral links for Domain Dashboard.

I have filed a support ticket, loads of bugs and what I feel is an unfinished interface that should have had a lot more work and testing put into it.

I have no idea how Jim a.k.a. Bud Wiser gave it a 5/5 rating.

I currently feel like I paid $150 to beta test something (I live in Europe, I have to pay VAT of 17.5%).

One of the bugs I have is a corrupt database, after just a few hrs of using it. They had quite a strange backup procedure, stating you backup all the files in a folder other than one file. I believe it is something to do with the license. Why put it inside a folder that you have to backup frequently? They said if you restore a file over it, you would break the registry....

The challenge is going to be how to fix everything. Obviously I am not going to be zipping up files to send them that have password data in them. Maybe the only way will be to uninstall, delete what remains, and start again from scratch.

Databases for this kind of program have loads of generated passwords in them. Recovering from a database failure at the wrong stage e.g. accounts created with random passwords, but no backup made of the database yet, is going to be very tricky longterm.

I have never had a problem with Roboform in 18months. All data for Roboform is stored in individual files for each site, so even if there was a database failure on one file, that is only one password gone, and it is easy to get it remailed to you.

Thus I give you fair warning...

I strongly suggest subscribing to my blog if you are interested in this product. If you own it, I would advise backing up everything, and repeat the process every 20 mins or so, especially if you use any of the mass functions.

If it wasn't for the database problems, which they will hopefully fix, it is going to be a damn powerful tool that will save me hours of work.

The list of feature tweaks I sent to them were minor irritations which hopefully would be fixed over time. It is a shame that so many of the tools seem to be half finished.

If you are maintaining 100s of sites (as I am sure Jim is), then you will live with the bigs and give it 6/6 because it has just knocked hours off your working day, every day.

I am not making as many domains. It saves me time with setup, but then I spend a lot more time on each domain.

Once the database gets fixed...

Core functionality 4/5
This is the setting up of domains - there are some bugs in it, or it is not foolproof. The interface is a little clunky but it can do the job

FTP 3/5
The simple ftp is junk. The mass ftp I can see some holes in it, but haven't tested
Stats 3.5/5
It works, it is fast, and once it has been tweaked and all the data is exportable, not just single days, it is maybe a 5/5 and will blow the free digitalpoint service away for easy of use with multiple sites.
Mass Creation x/5

Heh, the buy it before it is gone offer will last until Friday at Noon, I guess they have a little time to get back to me so I can give people a thumbs up (and a link)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Investing in your online business

This week I have been investing in a few bits and pieces which should hopefully reap some good rewards.

With so many offers flying around, major launches by big names, and a host of smaller offerings it is often hard to decide what is a good choice.

I was almost tempted by Joel Comms new Adsense package, but he blew it on 2 major accounts.

First off was when he mentioned he doesn't know much about HTML. Wordpress templates have to be 100% right for compatibility with all the plugins and widgets. They can't just be chucked together with the same CSS as other pages and get everything looking right, especially when you have lots of content in multiple child categories.
The bonuses on offer were actually more valuable than the templates, but even then many were not ideally suited for use with Wordpress sites.
In addition I sent them a support ticket just a few minutes after the site went live. I still haven't received an answer back.
It is a physical product. As you know I run my business from the UK, but I live in Poland. Shipping and importing to Poland is a nightmare if a package gets stopped for import duties.
Whilst Joel would only have charged $20 for shipping, the Polish authorities don't have to believe that fee is accurate. They can decide that $100 - $150 was the actual shipping fee.
If the paperwork isn't completed corectly, instead of paying only $5 or so in duty, I could end up paying 30-40% on the total $197+$150 - so maybe an extra $150. Add to that admin fees and a $200 purchase costs $400.

But then there is the time investment. I might have to actually travel to the customs office to sort out paperwork, faxes back and forth. Maybe shipping new sales documentation from the US because of some error etc.

You might think I am over exagerating, but I have paid $200 import duty on a single CDR beta version of a game I was once sent by a publisher. Importing CDs to Poland was my main line of business for over 10 years, often into 7 digits worth per year.

Stomper didn't attract me. I often worry about non competition clauses. I have some major plans ahead and avoid anything that might be looked on as even vaguely in the same direction. This is especially true if they have hidden features that are a secret weapon.
That is actually one of the reasons I dropped out of Portal Feeder. I might have ended up helping to shape it's future, and in some ways that would have overlapped with some of my own plans, especially smaller projects that didn't happen due to my time offline.

They don't come close to one of my major projects that even 1 year after I first conceived the concept and made some initial appraoches to technology partners, is still fresh, state-of-the-art and begging for a green light (from my bank balance... ) ;)

So what have I spent money on?

First off Affiliate Project X. That is an affiliate link but this is way after the big guys have been promoting it. I found it highly motivational for my major project which combines some of underlying concepts. The primary concepts are pre-selling and being sneaky. It isn't an ebook filled with 10 products that you simply must buy to get it working. The strategies work - I have made around 10x my investment back over the last week. It doesn't require a mailing list (which is a good job, I have never mailed my 1K+ subscribers - when it happens it will be juicy)

My largest investment this week was Domain Dashboard. It is a tool for managing domains with cpanel and whm. I am setting up a lot of new sites, and managing what is happening on each hosting account is becoming a pain. You can do it with lots of bookmarks, but even using a tool like roboform for filling in all the passwords it eventually gets too much.

Last off I purchased some Adsense backgrounds. I have sites that get 100+ unique visitors per day yet don't cover domain purchase and hosting fees. I have used a couple so far over on my Wordpress Plugins site which has recently changed domain name. (more about that on the site)
It is one of my poorer performers atm, but that will change. I have full time programmers working on some very neat wordpress plugins. Most of them will be free, so well worth subscribing to my plugins blog.

So I have invested in products that:-

1. will enhance my approach to my business (Project X)
2. will save me time and help me work more efficiently, no matter what kind of sites I create
3. Something that will help my existing sites make more money (Adsense Backgrounds)

There are lots of smaller investments you can make that will make a direct measurable change to your business. It is often better to make small purchases than buy one large training package, mentoring program etc.

The gurus all preach about the little changes you can make to your business that soon amount to big changes. Then they try to rape your wallet for something you don't need, an all in one solution.

I am only investing profit. If you go back into the archives you might recall that not much more than a year ago I was making sites on free hosting.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Stomper Network - getting the right customers

I am sure I am not the only one taking an interest in the Stomper Network

Andy and Brad have certainly done their homework, maybe influenced by The Product Launch Formula.

I noticed today in the comments someone asking how you ensure that the people who join a training program that has been marketted as successfully as The Stomper Network has, are the ones you really want in such a community project.

The Stomper Network will largely rely (at least I think it will), on its members taking action, collectively. The last of 5 key elements is likely to be announced tomorrow, and I assume it is some tool / script that will help the members in some way, possibly with linking.

Stompernet will no doubt be limiting its membership, and if half the membership is sold to big corporates, who are there mainly to absorb information, and not participate in community schemes like linking, then the service will be less valuable for the remaining members.

One good method for pre-filtering memberships is to have some form of indepth questionaire for all applicants, and retaining the right to refuse membership if in the best interests of other customers.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Portal Feeder - 9 months on

I cancelled my subscription to Portal Feeder fairly early, and probably a good thing in hindsight as not long after that my internet marketing career took a 9 month hiatus.

I had faith that the system would eventually bring in some results, but I didn't really like the sites that were possible at the time.

I didn't provide any example sites in the past, but there are quite a few out there, and they are not too hard to find.

People using Portal Feeder tend to link through to their sites when they comment. You might have to delve a little deeper, maybe taking a look at the links page located on the site they are linking to, and then you can find lots of totally unrelated sites (quite often), and more rarely sites within the same niche with similar navigation, other than the template used. I would assume by the same author, all built with Portal Feeder.

This post for instance on the Portal Feeder blog is very typical

Some of what I have seen actually surprises me.

1. I would have expected a lot more linking, and interlinking between members of Portal Feeder, maybe with some free blogs inbetween. The sites I visited seemed to have very few linking partners.
2. By this time I expected a lot more variety in the way sites were formatted, and maybe a lot more interlinking within the content.

The good news I suppose is that the members have been active creating sites, and it doesn't take many sites, if carefully targetted to cover the cost of Portal Feeder. Many of the sites were carefully niched, rather than aiming for broader terms.

Maybe Portal Feeder v2 can do a lot more, hopefully the sites I saw were all based around v1 and that v2 sites I wouldn't be able to recognise quite so easily, and would have much better internal linking.

Article Marketing - Article Marketer price increases

I have used Article Marketer for over 1 year, and they have kept their prices the same throughout. They have fulfilled their promise to improve the features of the service.

Article marketing is a great way to promote any niche website.

At a rough estimate they now submit directly to more than 10 times as many websites compared to 1 year ago.

As to happy customers, I am certainly happy, but I can also see how happy people are from the healthy state of my affiliate income.

Recurring monthly income has actually been increasing, even though I haven't been doing much active promotion of the service for the last 9 months, and I am also seeing a lot of renewals for 1 year subscriptions.

Obviously there are going to be some dropouts, but the majority of people who subscribed to Article Marketer 1 year ago, are still members.

Another indication of the quality of the serice is how many people once they have used it, decide to also promote it as an affiliate, despite the fact they could make more money from a single sale promoting more expensive services or maybe a more expensive software solution.
I currently have more than 100 sub-affiliates.

On Tuesday 26th September prices for Article Marketer are going to be going up for new subscribers. It is more than overdue, and the service will still be better value than any other quality article submission service.

Do yourself a favour (yep British spelling), and lock in a subscription to Article Marketer before the price increases take effect.

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SEO - inbound links analysis over time

Nosmada asked the following question in the comments to my last post...

Hi Andy,
Glad you are back. I was researching article submission software and was wondering what you feel is the easiest and best way to get one-way links including other ideas like using blogomatix or other methods. Like what is the easiest thing that really produces when you are really time crunched?
I haven't been able to immediatey pick things back up where I left off, because it has taken some time in analysis of what I had been doing, and what continues to work. It has even meant that I haven't been able to get back in contact with everyone I should.

Easiset is relative to your situation. A lot also depends on whether you are trying to link for a number of major keywords, or thousands of low hanging fruit.

I still strongly believe in article submission as an effective way of promoting websites but you shouldn't use it as an exclusive method.

My belief is that Google has some kind of balance scale, and looks to see some kind of natural linking from different types of sites.

Links from articles will only get you so far, and you need links from other sources which balance it out to get a higher authority rating.

I still rate Article Marketer as the best way of submitting articles. They weren't a flash-in-the-pan. They are still in business, growing their distribution, and improving their service.
The bad news is that they are going to be putting their prices up "any day", so now isn't a good time to sit on the fence.

Looking at things based on what I remember 9 months ago, I see an aweful lot hasn't changed.

The PR of many popular sites also hasn't changed, despite continued and in many cases increased distribution of their content.

If all you are getting is links from PR0 to PR6 sites, it is going to be hard to get beyond PR4 to PR6 yourself.

So article marketing is going to help, but ultimately the best way to get a high rating and a huge variety of inbound links is to create a buzz about something that gets others talking and linking to you.

As an example I am going to be continuing work on my plugins site. It gained a PR5 rating almost overnight with very little promotion work.

I suppose the best example of the buzz effect is the original pixel adverts site. The higher up the internet food chain you create the buzz, the better quality links you will get.

Then again my plugins site doesn't make much money. That is something I will be working on, and obviously I want to increase the amount of links it is getting exponentially.

I haven't tested out any of the new mass blogging tools, but from what I have seen whilst they are going to help bring you traffic from low hanging fruit keywords, they are not, just like articles going to take you to "authority" status and beyond.

I respect many of the people using them, for instance Dane Morgan has been recommending various products over the last month and I respect his opinion.
Would you believe I also respect Bud Wiser over at Army of Blogs.

That doesn't mean I agree with everything they say, or that I would use every tool they use or give a testimonial for.

Actually Army of Blogs is quite a good example. I am sure Bud has spent a little time promoting his blog, and of course he has some links coming in from RSS feeds etc. Whist I am sure it is not his core business, I would still expect at least a few of his pages to have PR4 or higher. (yes I know PR isn't a major indicator, but it is an indicator)

This Blogger blog also currently is a good example of bad internal linking. I have PR4 on the front page, but it is not being passed onto important internal pages very well. I just spent 30 mins or so scrolling back to previous posts to see their PR, and the ones that had an article pointing to them are PR3.

Thus it is my opinion you will get PR3 for any site that you submit at least one article for, for the page it is linking to, as long as you submit it to the "majors" such as ezinearticles and it gets picked up on a fair number of other sites.
If you submit lots of articles, you might get up to PR4 or PR5.

To get any further than that, you need to be doing something else...

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Back in action after 9 month Hiatus

I have decided not to go into the details of my absense, but rest assured nothing illegal or life threatening.

A lot has changed over the last 9 months in Niche Marketing, or so lots of people would have you believe but at the end of the day, all the fundamentals are still the same.

You still want to build up lots of sites, with lots of content (better if it is unique), and get plenty of incoming links.

Sure there are new tools to help you build them, link them and monetize them, and umpteen new ways to create content faster to fill them, but at the end of the day, not a lot seems to have changed.

Obviously you still need to target your niche correctly, thus there are even more keyword tools and services, but the old ones still work (at least the ones I have checked over the last 2 days), and still allow you to find "low hanging fruit".

I am going to keep this post short but expect a lot of activity over the next few days as I delve into the survivability of an internet marketing business if it becomes decapitated. Yup ouch!

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