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Christmas Time for Authors!

28-Oct-12

Hey everyone, just wanted to give a quick heads up that Christmas is coming up soon, and this is a great time for authors. If you have ever published an ebook on Amazon then you know how sales fluctuate. Well, last year I sold a buttload of books during December/January because people are buying Kindles. Where a book may only sell 100 copies a month, it can easily sell 1,000 copies per month in the holiday season.

Most of my books are part of the KDP Select program and I get paid for borrows too. Lots of authors don’t do that because you can’t sell it anywhere else such as the Nook or something, and that means I get more money per download because there are less authors doing it.

Well that’s all. Nothing mind blowing here. Just a reminder.

E-Commerce and Fulfillment

16-Aug-12

For years, I have dabbled in ecommerce. I have promoted ecom sites, partnered with store operators, and designed/setup ecommerce scripts. I have many drop-shipping accounts and I know where to get a good deal when I want to sell one. What I have learned along the way is that there are a couple different kinds of ecommerce websites.

  • Home-based drop-shipped stores.
  • Big-box retail ecommerce.
  • Larger privately owned stores that buy in bulk/pallets, and use a fulfillment service like AMS Fulfillment Service.

If you are reading this looking for answers for your own store, lets assume you are the first one or the last one on that list (or trying to become one of those).

Dropshipping has been something I was always interested in. It’s very easy to setup and sell without storing inventory. You know that it takes a lot of money to buy a warehouse or storage space, and manage shipping of all of the orders that come in. Dropshipping is what a lot of Ebayers do and it works for them.

Is it good to dropship for other reasons?

Yes. One major reason is that dropshipping companies tend to provide a list of their products along with images, descriptions, and other vital data like item weight in an excel file or csv which you can then import into an ecommerce site running oscommerce, cre loaded, or one of the many others out there. When inventory changes, the csv file usually changes quickly and you can import that information with the click of a button.

Why would I do anything else then?

Well, you’re not saving money when you dropship. Sure you can get wholesale prices if you have a federal tax id number and business license, but that doesn’t mean you are getting the rock bottom price.

If you were to order in bulk, you would save thousands of dollars per month in a high volume e-commerce sales business. You order items by the pallet, but you still have to store them. That’s where fulfillment services come in. You pay a nominal fee, and you have the pallets sent to their warehouse. They receive the order from you and slap your label on the item, then ship it to the customer. All of this is done quickly so your customer benefits from the fast service and get their item while it’s fresh in their mind. The great thing about a fulfillment service is that even after their fees, you are saving lots of money by purchasing your items in bulk.

Do you have an ecommerce business? Do you dropship or buy in bulk?

Membership Sites: The OTHER Green Meat

10-Aug-12

Membership websites are something you probably haven’t considered if you are blogging for income, or trying to make money as an affiliate…but you should think long and hard about leaving cash on the table. It’s fairly easy to setup a member site and you don’t need Duhaime’s Law Dictionary to get into business (although you may want to brush up on legal web jargon). A member site can be created using WordPress and the Magic Members plugin.

I currently have a couple of membership sites in development, and I can give you some quick pointers.

  • Use WordPress and Magic Members for the easiest and quickest setup.
  • Pay extra attention to pages that are locked and ones that are unlocked for guests. You need to provide free info in order to make the sale.
  • Ensure that you have lots of original content before you start marketing.
  • Provide weekly or some other regularly scheduled updates.
  • Send out a monthly newsletter to ensure engagement by members.
  • Offer a free newsletter so you can market to potential customers (and upsell existing ones).

Marketing a member website is just as simple as marketing a blog or any other website. You want to use the same article marketing, blog hopping, and guest posting techniques. Traffic is key…especially targeted traffic. If you are already marketing via another newsletter, you may be able to send out a message telling them about the new membership website.

In addition to the standard marketing, I like to promote my member sites with my ebooks. When I create a new website, I create a couple of ebooks for sale on Amazon, and some shorter “free reports”. All of them will reference the new website somewhere inside of it. Just make sure not to over-do it and spam or you will be reviewed with that information (you may be labeled with that regardless by sabotage).

Later on, I will post a much more detailed article on member sites and marketing. I wanted to quickly post one to spark your interest in the idea of making money this way.

Get More Traffic & Revenue by Driving Your RSS Subscribers Back to Your Blog

08-Jul-12

Last week I got the opportunity to peek through MaxBlogPress Bring My Blog Visitors Back and learn how it changes our customary approach to RSS Feed.

RSS Feed, though very useful tool for allowing subscribers stay connected to your blog content, has its own drawbacks. The subscribers stop visiting your blog because they get it all from RSS Feed what they want from the blog. This leads to less user participation on your blog thus decreasing your blog traffic and revenue as well.

To overcome this shortcoming, MaxBlogPress Bring My Blog Visitors Back comes into scene, and if you are inside the circle, you must by now probably have used it or heard rave reviews of how it’s been so useful.

http://www.brandonconnell.com/bringback

This plugin comes straight from the house of MaxBlogPress, an established name in the industry for its credibility and building quality wordpress plugins. Some of MaxBlogPress’ highly popular products are Subscribers Magnet, Ninja Affiliate, Max Banner Ads, etc. and now it’s Bring My Blog Visitors Back.

MaxBlogPress Bring My Blog Visitors Back is a powerful WordPress Plugin that offers you more flexibility and control over the RSS feeds, enticing your RSS readers to visit your blog without slightest annoyance and at the same time, adds value and increases readership of the blog.

But that’s not all.

Content thieves, who have found an easy way to scrape your blog contents through RSS Feed making use of some automated software, now becomes a sort of free marketer for your blog.
Because along with the content, they take away your identity also thus providing you free back links and traffic.

Isn’t that amazing?

Bring My Blog Visitors Back works exactly as its name implies. It brings back the potential visitors lost somewhere on the premises of RSS Feed who otherwise should have been playing on your blog happily.

http://www.brandonconnell.com/bringback

To tell you more…

This amazing plugin comes with some attractive and powerful features that completely transform the look and functionality of RSS Feed. Using the power of Bring My Blog Visitors Back, you can now upgrade your RSS Feed with the following features:

a) Display related posts
b) Display social icons,
c) Display Number of Comments,
d) Display Latest User Comment,
e) Display header and footer text/banners,
f) Display copyright notice

When you are in the lurch of not having able to monetize your blog and you get a soothing treatment for RSS Feed, what could you have asked for more?

But remember, this plugin is not made for you if you:
i) Don’t need a boost in quality traffic and revenue of your blog.
ii) Don’t mind scrapers stealing your content via RSS Feed.
iii) Are satisfied with whatever setbacks your blog has encountered.
iv) Are least concerned about how RSS Feed looks and what it does.

However, it’s a must-have if you really are serious about your blog and blogging career. If you are syndicating your blog through RSS Feed, and worried about the minimal traffic and revenue you are getting from your blog, and at the same time receiving a high-tension threat from content thieves, then no matter how unfortunate you are, you will be entitled to a pleasant treat till you have this plugin on.

So, instead of racking your nerves, it’s time you act smart and fast. Go and grab this revolutionary WordPress plugin straight from here.

http://www.brandonconnell.com/bringback

I Lost Pinterest

10-Jun-12

When Pinterest was created, it happened to be the perfect social network for women. I can’t say for certain that it was designed originally for women in mind, but that’s just who it’s target market is for. Of course, after Pinterest went viral, everyone joined in and now the service has blown up.

My wife first joined Pinterest, and I joined suit immediately after. I was curious, but that’s all. I had no desire to actually use the social network because Facebook has been my thing ever since I stopped using MySpace. Just recently though, I decided to use it as a traffic tool. As with any social network, you must use it within it’s terms of service limits. If you go into marketing via a social network with spamming on your mind, you will only get yourself banned and probably hold a grudge.

What’s with Pinterest anyway?

Pinterest is a website where you can “pin” an image to your categorized board. That image links to a source where you found the image, and you can describe the image and/or link on your board. You and those in your network can also comment on pinned items.

Because this is still a young and fast growing social network, you can really benefit by joining in as soon as possible. As the social network grows, there are more people pinning things which makes it a much more saturated place like Facebook and Twitter.

How can I market my business with Pinterest?

It’s a social netwPinterestork. As with any social network, you need to be social for it to be beneficial for you. Don’t go in it with traffic and conversions on your mind. If you do, you will likely spam on accident which will be counter-productive. Instead, you need to actually take interest in what others are pinning. It shouldn’t be too hard. There are lots of things on there that may very well look interesting. Because it’s picture based, it’s easy to spot things you may want to check out and comment on.

You can also share your actual business links. For example, you can setup a board that says “my businesses” and place all of your links in there. Another board for your favorite places to vacation, or another for your favorite foods. That’s what I mean about “taking part” and not spamming. It’s ok to promote your own links, but just categorize them as such and don’t just promote your business. You wouldn’t just go onto Facebook and join a bunch of groups that you can post your link on would you?

Use comments like you would blog-hopping

Pinterest allows you to post comments on other people’s pins. As with blog marketing, if you go to other people’s content and comment, they will return the favor on yours. This results in other people finding your content and commenting as well as sharing if they find your pins interesting.

Commenting is one of the easiest and fastest ways to bring traffic to your boards. Use this technique immediately so you can start benefiting.

TAG – You’re it!

Tagging is something you are probably very familiar with if you use Facebook. When you want to notify someone that you are talking about them, such as in a post or a picture, you post their name. Pinterest ran with this feature and it works the same.

When you tag others (only if it’s relevant though), then you are likely to get their interest and “network” with them in a positive way. Just don’t abuse the tagging feature by naming people that have absolutely nothing to do with your pin. If you see someone really loves trains and you post a pin about trains, then you can tag them and get their interest. If you are selling luxury shoes and tag a bunch of men, then you are likely to be reported and even yelled at virtually by a bunch of dudes.

Titles make or break articles

If you are going to write a blog post, then you want to create a title that catches peoples’ attention. The same goes with pinning. Use a creative title that can possibly go viral.

Be descriptive in your title by mentioning what’s actually in it, but do it in a unique way. For example, the title of this article is “I Lost Pinterest“. That’s an eye catcher right there. You know automatically that it’s about Pinterest. The browser title also shows that it’s about Pinterest Marketing, and this is a marketing blog, so it all fits together.

As always, be creative and follow the rules. Pinterest can be a really big traffic source for you, and possibly get you some new business. You just have to join and take part.

Are you using Pinterest in your marketing campaigns?

There’s an App for That…or Is There?

14-May-12

Hello everyone. I am scheduling this post to publish around the time I am making my way home to finish up some client projects and begin learning Flash and Flash Builder for AIR development.

When I am building my first flash apps and games, I will need something to work on. The reason I chose Flash for my development environment is that it is the ONLY environment that works across ALL platforms (i.e.; BlackBerry, iOS, Android) and all of the various smartphones and tablets out there. Of course there will be minor code changes for certain in-app purchases or what-not, but that’s not a concern of mine.

What I would like to use this post for would be an invitation for you to tell me what kind of apps would be the most useful to you. The term “there’s an app for that” isn’t necessarily accurate. For instance, I have yet to find a media player on my Kindle Fire that will play WMV format videos. I know of some people that wish there were a backup app that will clone their entire phone content and configuration as if it were a system iso which can be restored per their tastes and apps rather than factory settings. There are lots of potential apps which would be useful, and I invite you to comment below and tell me what you would like to see created for your phone or tablet.

Setting Up a Niche Empire PART 1

02-May-12

As I sit here with coffee doing it’s thing at 9PM and “Where is my mind?” by the Pixies playing (I LOVE Fight Club!) I thought a tutorial was a good thing to share with you. My inspiration for doing clear and detailed posts like this is the fact that there are many great paid membership sites for learning things. I thought Lynda was the best, but they have been knocked off their platform by LearnVisualStudio.net which I fell in love with. I have been attempting to learn C# and other programming languages for years, but I always got busy with projects that were more important and felt that materials out there weren’t clear enough. That all changed recently, and now I know a LOT about C# and have a great program I am developing for keyword research which I will be putting out initially for free when I’m done.

With that said, I will provide you with a clear (and hopefully inspiring) tutorial on building a niche empire. It really is easy to do, but very time consuming at first. It doesn’t have to take years for it to start netting you some cash…not pocket change but actual cash that can pay your bills.

The first thing you need to do is…

Decide on a Niche!

This may or may not be obvious depending on your experience level, but choosing a niche is the very first step. We don’t normally just roll the dice and say “ok, let’s just go with this”, but that’s how I tend to do things. It saves me time. Many other niche marketers will do lots of heavy handed keyword research. The way that my brain works though is I rely heavily on common sense. I have been told that it’s more like uncommon sense by some people because they claim not everyone is that smart. Who knows if that’s true. If you prefer keyword research, then by all means jump on it. I will even help you right now.

Most blogs like mine will walk you through this process by promoting a software such as Market Samurai or some other keyword research software that ends up costing more than you are willing to put into this business at this point in time. The reason they do this is because they are earning an affiliate commission off of it if you decide to buy that software using their link or coupon code. There’s nothing wrong with that because that’s what we do as affiliate marketers, but I am assuming you are broke and barely connected to the internet right now. Because of my assumption, I will walk you through a process that costs you nothing other than your time (and maybe some of your hair). You can pinch your pennies though.

Google has a handy (and free) tool you can use called the Google Keyword Tool which can be found by clicking here. Notice the following screenshot, I typed in “making a million dollars” and hit search. Once I did that, Google gave me a list of keywords related to what I searched, and a number showing how many people search for that on a monthly basis. The volume is low, so you can call this an easy niche.

Google Keyword Research Tool

I am going with this niche because it is appealing to me. Even if it had a lot more competition, I would go with it because competition is irrelevant. Some people prefer to find something with low competition because it’s easier to get ranked a lot of the time. Just in case, we will check Google listings and find out what some of these keywords bring up.

A search for one of the recommended keywords “make a million dollars” shows 14.9 million results. That’s actually pretty small of a number for me.

Google keyword results from research

If you don’t believe me that this is low competition for me, have a look at the results for a search phrase my blog comes up on. If you search “popular blogging topics” without the quotes, my site shows up on the very top with 56.7 results!

Popular Blogging Topics search results

Let’s start promoting!

Head on over to ClickBank at http://www.clickbank.com and login (or register if you haven’t already). Once you are logged in, you can go to the marketplace and start your search for products to promote. For this example, I am in the E-Business and E-Marketing category because I am in that industry as an internet marketer and entrepreneur.

Choose your niche on ClickBank

There is a dropdown menu that is defaulted to “Popularity”, but I actually check the “Gravity” which means it tends to stick better. People not only buy the product but they don’t return it for a refund as often. This way, you get to keep more of your commissions. If you relied on popularity, you may end up getting a bunch of sales, but also a bunch of refunds so you will never see the commission.

I chose Millionaire Society as the product to promote. When choosing a product, I like to go to the actual product’s page and see if they have affiliate marketing materials. If they don’t have much to work with such as banners, emails, and other codes to use already, then they aren’t that serious. I would rather work with a company that put in some of their actual time into it rather than rush to put out a product and get sales. See the screenshot below of their affiliate center.

Millionaire Society ClickBank Product

As you can see, they seem serious about their product by offering affiliates like me with codes I can easily copy and paste into whatever promotion I am using. I like to use banners for my sites, as well as some articles.

Notice the following screenshot that shows a banner kit this company provides. It has lots of variety and size differences to fit whatever kind of site you have.

Millionaire Society Banner Kit

I can place some of these bad-boys right here on my blog with confidence because they fall in line with what I recommend to my readers. I can open up my OIOPublisher plugin and create a banner slot for it. First, I will add a Ninja Link using ninja affiliate (you don’t have to do this if you don’t have this premium plugin). I like to create short-links which is why I use this plugin.

Ninja Link

Now my long ugly affiliate ClickBank url is shortened to http://www.brandonconnell.com/goto/millionairesociety and it’s much more likely to get clicked on.

Now I will add the banner to my blog using a cool (but premium) plugin called OIOPublisher. I like this plugin despite the fact that it costs because I can use it not only as a WordPress plugin, but also a standalone script which can be used on a plain old static html website. You can basically reuse this script for every site you create and build up your empire with an automated system of advertising. I can also automate the direct ad sales process with OIOPublisher so I can focus on building great content.

Banner Purchase for OIOPublisher

After I add it, you can see it on my blog (see below).

Banner Live on My Blog

See how sexy that looks?

Setting up niche sites

Not everyone is a website designer like me, however you will quickly become a code junkie if you are affiliate marketing. That’s because you will always want to create some new niche sites, add features, or some other task that will come up and force you to learn some basic html and css coding. With that in mind, what better time to start learning than right now!

You can actually do this without any coding by signing up for a cheap $15 a month unlimited Hostgator account. You can use coupon code bconnell994 for $9.94 off of your first month! Hostgator allows you to install a script such as WordPress with the click of a button, and you can set that WordPress blog up as an affiliate site, thus not coding anything yourself. You can also easily login and start putting in content using an administration. Very easy stuff. If you would rather do things the harder way, you can use free html templates that you can find easily with a quick Google search.

Whether you are using WordPress or the html templates, you need to add content to the site along with the banners and other promotional materials. It’s not smart or wise to copy someone else’ content. You should actually spend your own valuable time on creating content, or hiring a writer on Fiverr to create original content for you. Run it through Copyscape and make sure it truly is unique content. By providing free content along with your ads, you are making an actual contribution to the world wide web.

If you took my advice and decided on WordPress, there are some basic setup items that need to be taken care of. The first one is permalinks which are the URLs that are used when you post an article, page, or other content on the blog. When I setup permalinks, I set them up for /%postname%/ which tells WordPress that you want the URL after your .com/ to be the title of the article. This eliminates the dynamic aspect of your website and allows for easier indexing by search engine spiders.

Another important setup item is a good spam catcher. I use Akismet on most of my sites, but there are alternatives that others prefer more. You can find some free plugins for this on the WordPress Codex. I also use a simple captcha plugin for my forms. Anything that prevents automated spam bots from taking up your valuable time will be beneficial.

Stay tuned for part two, where I give you more details on setting up niche sites and marketing them.

Issue: Blank White Screen on WordPress Blog

23-Apr-12

I recently came across a problem while upgrading a WordPress blog of a client. Actually, I ran into this problem a couple times in the past on this very blog, so I already knew what the issue was and how to fix it.

So here’s the situation. You have numerous plugins that are out of date, and WordPress notifies you of a core update. You decide to update, and then when the site or the admin dashboard loads, it shows nothing but a white screen. This might happen because you didn’t upgrade the plugins first. If the plugins are REALLY out of date and no longer supported by the current version of WordPress, then it will cause problems for you like the one I just mentioned.

One way to avoid this problem is to upgrade all of your plugins before you upgrade WordPress itself. This way, you ensure that you’re using the most recent versions which have a higher chance of compatibility with the latest WordPress. If you upgrade all plugins and still have a blank white page after upgrading WordPress, then you obviously have a plugin that is simply not compatible anymore.

If you are still having issues, then you need to rename the plugins folder. I like to name it BAKplugins, and then create a new plugin folder (which will be empty). After you do this, simply load up your dashboard again and it will deactivate all of your plugins because it will no longer detect them. After it does this, delete your empty plugins folder, then rename BAKplugins to plugins. Now go to your plugins options in your dashboard and you will see all of them inactive. Go through one-by-one and activate them. Each time, reload your blog URL to verify it’s loading alright. Eventually you will come across a plugin that causes the issue again. When that happens, simply delete that plugin through your FTP program and reload your dashboard. You just found the bad plugin.

If all of this sounded foreign to you, I am more than willing to assist you with fixing your WordPress blog. My price is $55 for the blank white screen issue. I can assist with other issues you may have as well, for another price. Just contact me in either case and I will be happy to help you out.

ISPs Are Pulling a SOPA

19-Mar-12

They’re selling us out. Just weeks after Internet users from across the globe came together to to beat SOPA, the major ISPs are cutting a deal with Big Content to restrict web access for users who are accused of piracy.

It’ll do much of the dirty work we were able to prevent when we took down SOPA, this time by restricting certain Americans’ access to the WHOLE Internet.

The details are fuzzy, but the head of the Recording Industry Association of America’s bragged this week that ISPs will start policing copyright by July of this year.

Will you urge the ISPs to back down from this plan? Just click here:

http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/backdoor_sopa/?referring_akid=a5270908.317329.GmbFp9&source=auto-taf

Here’s RT’s take:

Some of the biggest Internet service providers in America plan to adopt policies that will punish customers for copyright infringement, and one of the top trade groups in the music biz announced this week that it could begin as soon as this summer….

RIAA CEO Cary Sherman was one of the guest speakers among a New York panel this week and he confirmed that, at this rate, some of the most powerful Internet providers in America should have their new policies on the books by July 12, 2012.

The ISPs are poised to start treating their customers like criminals, restricting their access to the Internet. And they’re cutting us off at the knees just as we’ve begun to force a new conversation about Internet freedom and copyright law.

Please sign on to Demand Progress’s open letter demanding they back down:

http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/backdoor_sopa/?referring_akid=a5270908.317329.GmbFp9&source=auto-taf

Thanks!

P.S. – If you don’t know enough about SOPA and PIPA and how they can come back, as well as how the above example is a serious threat, you can also read the book “The SOPA & PIPA Conspiracy“.

The Ups and Downs of Ecommerce

17-Mar-12

There is one thing that I have always hated about e-commerce websites. I use scripts like cre loaded or oscommerce, and they are plain Jane. I have to install the script after creating a database, then I have to design it before I can even get to the actual commerce. It’s horrible. Today, I came across a cool website that eliminates that problem, and it’s something a business partner and I will most likely be doing next week. That site is http://www.madefreshly.com which is an online store service.

The cool thing is that it is ready for anyone. The beginner, the pro, whoever. Anyone that has known me since forever knows I am crazy when it comes to productivity. Having to setup an ecommerce website from scratch can easily kill productivity and ambition as well. I like the idea of “easy setup” when it comes to the ecom business. I can focus on actually putting in the products, marketing the site, and managing the orders.

Does anyone have any experience with ecommerce websites that go beyond frustration?