Sunday, December 27, 2009

What do I need to do around here to get paid?

As you know [ probably don't, but anyway... ], I'm here to make money to do whatever the heck I want without having to worry about budget or stuff like that. So what exactly do I need to do around here to get paid?

Having been reading the make money sites and others related like affiliate marketing, etc. There's a common understanding of what it takes to get paid online: you need visitors that click on ads or buy products. And where do those visitors come from? Google, of course!

Which is probably not you, if it were, you'd probably be already at checkout typing your card's numbers to get that need-to-have new product. Sure there will be some posts that will be specifically crafted to cater to that audience [ you'll probably spot them from a mile away ], because, guess what, I need to make some money off this thing to go around doing stunts and buying plush junk.

So that's what we'll do first, focus on getting to google to get those visitors coming here.

And what exactly do I need to be doing around here to get listed on google? well, links pointing here, of course!

This is where it has, so far, gotten hard to be earning some semi-decent money around here. I have a site on electronics [ which you can find on google if you really must see it ] that gets, on its best days, a little over a buck a day, that close to 4 cent an hour on a 24 hour day, or 12.5c on a regular 8 hour workday. That's not going to cover my party costs anytime soon, and its boring as hell to update, because even though I love electronics, it's a pain in the butt to find an interesting topic, get a circuit drawn and then write a semi coherent description so those not well versed in the arcane art of electronics can understand it.

I do have some ranking for that site, and some googlers find their way to my nifty little electronics pages, but they aren't enough to make a decent income from. Back on topic of links, that other site has gotten a few links pointing to it, some from articles I wrote myself, some from links I asked other webmasters from, and one or two unrequested but welcome links from people who wrote an article, and considered my site a good reference for what they were writing about.

Getting links to site is a whole industry in itself, spam as taken over and webmasters are increasingly wary of linking out to other sites, thinking that it may hurt their own rankings or be penalized if the linked site gets bad publicity. Also, there's a tendency to ask for a link in return for a link, the so called reciprocal linking, which search engines don't particularly like because it has been abused beyond insanity by spammers and webmasters alike.

Now, besides asking for links, there's another technique called link baiting, where you supposedly write an article or blog post that generates enough attention that other bloggers and webmaster will link to it just to be part of the "I'm in the loop of current events in my part of the web" crowd. But there's one particular problem with this tactic: you need to have the right contacts or a "critical mass" of people who know about your site already for this to catch on, being second usually won't cut it.

So now you get the picture of what's involved in getting links, you have to pretty much hammer your way in for every link you want for your site, which will help you get listed and ranked in google, which will help you get visitors, visitors that click or buy, action which will give you money to do the things that you want to do... Is this getting complicated already?, well, it gets worse...

After you have many links pointing to your site and visitors are flocking, clicking and commenting and who knows what else, the money just isn't rolling like you expected, what happened?

There just happens to be a thing called relevancy and intent to buy. You see, when you are in a site about tropical fish, you might be interesting in buying a fish tank, or tank water heater, or maybe even some pretty looking water plants for you aquatic garden, that's relevancy. But if you are in a site about the breeding habits of tropical fish in their own habitat, you might not be that interested in a fish tank, because, well, tropical fish belong in the tropics where they can breed, right?, there goes the intent to buy.

Selling products or displaying advertisements is the same game, if visits don't convert into buyers, advertisers go away, and for you to make money to do the things that you want to do, that's just not right...

I wrote earlier about how visitors from google are more likely to click an ad or buy something you are promoting, but why exactly is that? That happens because people looking for something on google are most likely looking to solve a problem or looking for info on something that will help them satisfy a need. People just following links from the sites they visit most often are not as likely to buy, as they are in some kind of "tv mode", just like when they watch tv, people read those sites when they're not looking for anything in particular, and most likely expect some kind of entertainment or news, not something to solve.

And to make matters worse, not every google visitor is the right kind of visitor. Depending on what they input in the search box, they are either looking for info or looking for how to get some benefit, and to make money from them, you need to establish what keywords [ words typed in the search box that are key to what the visitor is looking for ] people type when intending to buy.

And how does google know what sites are relevant to the keywords typed? from the links, of course!. When you get [ or make ] a link, the highlighted text that becomes the link, more than likely will be the name of your site or the title of an article, or in the worst case, a generic "click here" or "read more", that text is called anchor text, and that is what google uses as to determine which keywords are related to the page linked.

Remember earlier how I told you about how hard it is to get links?, well, this makes it just one bit harder, as webmasters don't like to be told what you'd like the link text to be, so they either just include the name of the site or just the url, which doesn't help all that much.

Wait a second, I'm reading all this on how to make money, rank in google, get links and establishing relevancy and intent to buy, but didn't you said your goal is to do what you want to do and not waste your time doing boring things? all this seems pretty darn boring to me... We'll, it just so happens that I love the business world, promotion and marketing, as an application to human psychology, which is one of my hobbies, so this isn't boring at all; frustrating and challenging perhaps, but not boring by any chance.

I love getting people to do what I want them to do, but not in a manipulative way like you see in politics or teenage high school drama, I like to persuade subtly, in a way that people don't really know they are being persuaded. It is very interesting to me to get to know how the human mind works, what makes us do and what makes us stop, what drives us to excel and what slumps us into failure, and what better way that to get people to act by buying, clicking or linking, which will give me money to party and travel and buy plush things to give to a lovely girl?

Back on main topic, what do I need to do to get paid around here? in short: visitors with buy intent, that come from google, for which to get listed there you need links that include all the relevant keywords that people type in google when they are looking to solve something, to the point of buying to get that done. Easy as that.

Now I'm going commercial on this thing, because, hey, I need to make some money right?, and you'd want to make some too.

But Zak, I don't have a website where I can send some visitors that buy or get links pointing to, what do I do? Well, get a website up, of course!

There are some ways to go about this, one is to get a free hosted, ready to rumble blog. My personal favorite [ you'll know why in a sec ] is to get a free blogger blog. Why? because its free, google owns it so it won't go down on you in the near future, and because its just oh so cool to make money with a crappy free blog :]

The other way around is to get a hosting account, install wordpress [ or having it installed ] and post away. Wordpress is the go-to platform for many of the "hot shot" internet marketers out there, because you can put a million plug-ins in it to automate and optimize the heck out of it, and its also free, but you need to do some installing, with the added benefit of controlling every thing the blog does [ unlike blogger, where you can add functionality, but not modify the underlying works of it ].

Get your hosting at Dreamhost. Why? because it will pay me every month you stay signed with them, and it should pay for your expenses if you refer a few people yourself. They do good hosting, you shouldn't have a problem with them.

Now that you have your hosting and giving me money at the same time, and considering you'll want to be on the move for as long as possible while still being able to build your site, you should really get a laptop [ notebook, netbook, or one of the similar products with the basic same functionailty ] with good battery life so you don't have to be plugged in all the time. Here are some from Amazon, and yes, you make me money in the process as well, but wouldn't you prefer to give me a tip on your purchase or give it all to the big corporation eh?, well then, go buy yourself a laptop by clicking the amazon ad.

So now you are on the move, with your site set up, ready to start getting links.

Now you have to start thinking what keywords to target, remember I wrote about them earlier? Well, there just oh so happens to be a coaching program that will help you know what kind of keywords to target for your links, and also on how and where to get the links from. The program is The keyword academy, and you sign for $1 for the first month [ about $30 for the next months ].

Now you have your web business on the go with professional coaching available, anything else?

Well, maybe, but this can also potentially make you some money as well. The thing is Linkworth, where you buy and sell text links [ the kind that help you get better rankings in google ]. You sign up as both advertiser and partner, so you can sell and buy the links, every time you renew I get a cut of that, and so will you on people you refer that buy the links. This thing doesn't work very well on blogger [works, but with limited options ], so you should consider getting the hosting account and wordpress, one or two links alone should cover your hosting expenses fairly quickly.

Following the promotion topic, you might want to look into email marketing with aweber. They allow you to build a list of prospects from your own visitors, so you can market to them [ which have already shown interest in what you have to offer, by signing up to your mailing list ]. They also have a referral program, that pays you [ or me ] some 30% of what your referral pays as long as they remain clients of aweber.

Now another moneymaker for those overspent souls that bought just about everything I'm promoting [ which you really should get ], there's Hubpages [ HubPages New User Signup ]. With hubpages you write an article and make money from product sales and advertising revenue [ need to sign up for adsense, amazon and ebay to use all of their revenue modules ], you can also make money by getting others to sign up [ like I am ] and by referring visitors to hubs [ the name they give to articles ], where you make money by getting a share of the impressions generated. Others that work very similar to hubpages are Bukisa [ they have revenue share depending on visits as well as clicks ] and Xomba [ they also have a social bookmark service ].

So now get to IT! now you have all the tools the pro's use to get paid, get them so I can get paid too!

All those programs where I get paid when you sign up/buy are called affiliate programs, they give you a tracking code and when someone buys after clicking your link you get a cut of that. But for easier starting, there's Adsense.

Adsense analyzes the content of your site to serve text ads that are relevant to what you wrote. It's easy to implement because the adsense system pretty much does all the work on selecting the ads. The trick here, is that you need to tweak the position, color and general layout of your ads, in order for visitors to be clicking on them.

There's not much science to it, its just a matter of writing about topics that get ads that when people come from google, they'll find them interesting enough to click on. You need to make your posts in a way that you leave the visitor wanting more info on whatever it is that you are writing about, and just when they are about to leave, an adsense block conveniently placed gives them the perfect way out. But like I said before, the most important thing here is to start ranking for the keywords that people with intent to buy will use to find info that you provide, and adsense takes care of relevance [ as long as you write relevant info, auto generated content just doesn't cut it ].

Also, don't expect to make a million bucks from just one topic, more than likely it won't happen. You either need many sites on different topics, or a site covering many topics. There's advantages and disadvantages for both site building strategies.

When building many sites, you need to start with the right hosting package. For this to be effective, you need to host them on different hosts, different accounts and even different countries. Why is that? because it will allow you to leverage your own links in the future. If you host all your sites with the same host, in the same server, all the links pointing to it will be next to useless for a new site in the same IP block. If you do things right from the beginning, the more links your sites get, the more power your network [ or farm as its sometimes called ] gets, because you can reuse the linking power for other sites you start, without having to start from scratch asking for links or distributing articles.

Another advantage of micro sites is that you can literally build hundreds of them, and although individually they may get a few bucks a month, having many allows you to have a consistent and  enjoyable amount of money.

The other strategy, building a single, multiple topic site has the main advantage that it can rank easily for long tail keywords [ that is, keyword phrases with 3 or more words in them ], because of the overall link authority the site will already have. Sometimes called authority sites, the bad thing is that gaining focus can be a little difficult, and "regular reader" will be annoyed at the sudden changes in topics, or lack of consistency in the areas you cover.

When building a multiple topic site, adsense can have a harder time selecting the ads to display on your site, since it not only uses the content on that page, but also the content across your whole site, and also uses user preferences from visits to other sites [ although that can help you get better ads ], so you can't be 100% certain of what comes up in the ad blocks.

Authority sites, a one topic site, need time and energy to rank, because instead of using multiple micro sites [ also called niche sites ] that target the less competitive long tail keywords, you build an authority site to rank for the most competitive keywords, those that can get you visitors in the thousands. You need many links, and also links from sites that have many links from authority sites themselves.

I personally like a hybrid approach: build a website with many topics, but pour all the info for a site in just one page [ kinda like this one page ]. This allows the adsense bot to have a lot of content to digest, which gives me better targeted ads, also I have affiliates to choose from that are related to the program.

Now for more on affiliate programs, if you want your make money endeavors to be just like the regular 9 to 5, then by all means hand pick a product and promote it. If you are like me, then you'll need a few programs that will keep updating the best selling products and track your referrals for a long time, and pay you for repeat or multiple purchases. Amazon works great for this, you make a post, make a widget with the types of products you'd like displayed, and amazon takes care of the rest, serving the bestsellers for the categories chosen so you don't have to worry about it.

Also make sure that you select programs that will keep on paying you for as long as the referred visitor is a client, like my deal with dreamhost. It will be better because the income from one month is on top of what you had from last, so it could keep on building until you have a great income that keeps pouring in even if you stop promoting it.

Adsense works kinda the same way, because if you did your link building correctly, even if you stop promoting your site, visitors can still find their way using google and you keep on making money from people who click your ads.

There you go on affiliate programs, keep building your site and find your style, posting exactly like others are doing is just like imitator singers, if you want to listen to a famous singer you buy tickets for their concert, not for the imitator around the corner.

- Zakmata

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