Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blog Posts .... get 'em ready, post 'em often

Before you start rolling the presses with your new blog --- whether you go with blogger or wordpress, do a little bit of planning. By now you have chosen the topic for your blog, now plan at least 10 posts. If you are doing a review style blog and say your topic is dog toys , you should at least have 10 topics on dog toys, written and ready to go. Here is what I mean

post 1 - How to choose good dog toys. What you look for when you are selecting toys for your dog.

post 2 - Review a new Kong dog toy.

post 3 - Soft Toys or Hard Toys?.

... well you get the idea. The reviews don't always have to be about a toy. What about reviewing a dog toy site you found on the website, what do you like about it. What in your opinion could improve it. Your overall impression.

This is an important step. Too often people launch a blog, all eager and ready to go. They post two, maybe three posts, and then have to come up with an idea for a fourth post and cannot find appropriate content. A degree of discomfort sets in and an ever so slight coolness begins to seep in. Soon, the posts are far and few in between. There is no traffic. The promise of making money on the blog is a distant memory. The blog languishes.

DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU.... this is a business - treat it like a business. Every business requires a plan. Plan a topic within a topic and expand. For example if you are writing about chocolates, then about mid to end January you should start writing articles on Valentines Day, where to buy the best chocolates online (your affiliates). Review some of your favorites. Post a picture of yourself munching on those decadent morsels. Ditto for March ... St Patricks Day, then there is Easter. If you plan basics for the whole year, you will never run out of content.

But Ten Articles? Come on Valentina?

Yes ... its a good way to get started. First it is a good discipline to develop. Then when you open your blog, post them 2 or at most 3 per week (nicely spaced), all the while writing additional articles. The spiders will love this. Here is a new active blog and the more relevant and fresh the postings, the better these cyber critters like to dine out on it and bring back good reports to the search engines.

More on posting articles on your site further down the road, for now write those articles and get ready to launch your site.

Coming soon .... ok, next week. Announcement of my next blog, its topic and related information.

Quick Links
Dog Toys World

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blogger or Wordpress?

OK. You are ready, able and willing to go.

"LET ME AT IT! Let me start on that blog already!" you say.

Not so fast my little chickadee. We’re almost there, patience. Success is an 80-20 rule and like Dan Lok says, the 80% is the work that goes in at the beginning, the preparation, the research. When all is done your chance of success goes up when you are ready to launch.

So let’s recap:
- niche topic: you’ve got one
- buyers/advertisers exist for this topic
- available affiliates
- keyword rich title picked for blog
- keyword domain availability checked
- decision made to purchase the keyword domain
- READY TO GO!

Not quite!

Your next step is to decide whether you want to use Blogger or Wordpress as your host. Things to consider:

BLOGGER – www.blogger.com

What’s good about Blogger:

a) Easy to set up. Everything is done for you. You just open a Blogger account, register your blog, go through the tutorial, set up your specifications and you are ready to go. All this should take no more than two hours, I know some people who have done it in half an hour!
b) No need to know HTML (that’s a whole different internet language that webmasters are whiz bang kids at, but not you and certainly not me)
c) No need to worry whether you have a c-panel or an how to use FTP
d) No need to know when to upload and when to download --- yes Virginia, there is a difference!!!
e) FREE! Unlimited number of blogs.

The downside of Blogger:
a) There is a limited selection of templates.
b) Tabulated pages are not an option
c) If you have a problem and need technical support, they expect you to rely on the forum for your answers – i.e., there does not appear to be a way to be able to connect with Google staff to help you with any technical problems you may be having.
d) Changes/additions you make sometimes don’t take. As an example if you look to the right hand side of this blog, you will notice that there are two gaps. Those gaps are supposed to be carrying Google ads, but for some reason I have not been successful in having them take.

WORDPRESS: www.wordpress.com

What’s good about Wordpress:
a) looks more like a website
b) functions more like a website
c) many more templates available
d) many more options
e) professional bloggers’ choice

Downside of Wordpress:
a) Not as much of a point and click system.
b) Offers two programs – one much more like the blogger, the other (the one with many more options) requires at least a familiarity for HTML, FTP and a c-panel
c) Up to three blogs free (after that it’s a for fee usage)

Most of my blogs are on Blogger. The few that I have with Wordpress were set up for me. My recommendation is that if you are new to Internet Marketing and to blogging, then you cannot go wrong with Blogger. I would go so far as to suggest that your first few blogs are with Blogger. Look at these as your “starter” businesses. As you begin to build your IM muscles, then go further a field.

If you are an experienced Internet Marketer and have some knowledge with HTML, FTP and c-panel, then I would recommend Wordpress … you know, as Mark Burnett says: Jump In! Even if You Don't Know How to Swim!

There are other places where you can have your blogs hosted, but the above two seem to be the industry standards.

ACTION: Open an account with either Blogger or Wordpress. Don’t go live yet. Take the time to go over the tutorials

Quick links:
Dan Lok
Blogger

Wordpress
Recommended Reading:
Jump In! Even If You Don't Know How to Swim! Mike Burnett of Survivor Series

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Domain Name Selection

Blog domain names can be assigned to the default designation of the server of your domain or, you can buy a domain name and the servers identity will not appear.

What exactly are you talking about? ... you say.

OK. Lets look at our options.

This blog is hosted by Blogger. You will note that the URL is shown as

http://www.ripalongwithme.blogspot.com

The word "blogspot" is the trade name for Blogger hosted blogs, and its inclusion in the URL shows everyone that this is a Blogger blog. As long as the title you want to give your blog has not already been taken, there is no cost for this blog or for the title. The same would apply if you chose to use Wordpress, the URL in that case would include "wordpress" or one of two other selections that Wordpress offers. Wordpress will give you up to 3 blogs for free.

Choosing the right domain, or "title" for your blog is important. It should have relevance to the topic upon which you will be blogging. Lets take this blog and another one I put up quite some time ago as examples.

The first blog is AppleSeeds Grow blog. This I put up a few years ago. The intention here was that I wanted to use the word AppleSeeds as an analogy to planting seeds of wealth, health and wisdom. The content carries some philosophical meandering, tips on good health and on growing wealth. I publish a newsletter by the same name and some of its content gets published on this blog.

The choice of AppleSeeds it turned out was poorly thought out. Originally this blog was devoid of any ads, then as I developed some Internet Marketing smarts I decided to monetize this site with Google Adsense.

While the title and word embody a powerful imagery on personal development, Google does not take to imagery too well. Even though I chose to allow Google Adsense for content, when Google went crawling through my blog, the first thing it picked up was apple and for the longest time the type of ads that were posted on this blog had to do with apple, the fruit, which of course had nothing to do with my content. Visitors who came to this blog certainly had not interest in apple seeds or apple sauce and so the ads were not being clicked, hence no income from Google. It has only been recently that the ads have turned more towards content rather than the title. Interestingly I never saw an ad that was for Apple Computers!

Rule No. 1: Keyword Blog Title should be relevant to your topic.

The second blog I want to call your attention to is this one. Once again when I put this blog up in November, its intent was somewhat different from what I have since turned it into. I and a number of my colleagues bought a program called Rip2 It. While it was promoted as a turnkey system that was as easy as ABC, many of us were having difficulties with the A B Cs and my intention was to post my progress through this program and in Internet Marketing. If you read the summary above under the title, you will understand the original direction or purpose of this blog.

Each December I review the year and make adjustments for the coming one. As I looked at this blog, I thought it could serve a better purpose, not just for a small group of people who were on the Rip2 It program, but to a larger audience who were just starting in Internet Marketing. It was then that I thought about setting out the step by step process of creating a blog. I have since decided on a different title, but will leave the current one up for a while so that readers understand what I mean.

Rule No. 2: Decide on the purpose of your blog.

An example of a good blog Domain: http://www.mercedesbenz.rip2itblogs.com There is no question about it. This is a blog on Mercedes Benz, the content supports it. But where are the ads? The purpose of this blog is to support and point traffic towards its website http://www.BuyMeAMercedesBenz.com. We'll talk about that later.

I strongly recommend that you check and see if the title of your blog is available as a dot com domain name, that is without the word "blogspot" or "wordpress" showing up in the URL. WHY? So you have full ownership of the name.

Someone I know started a travel blog. He called it Travel Sapien. Its a Blogger hosted blog. As travel blogs go this one is somewhat unusual and over time began to draw traffic. Someone checked to see if the dot com URL was available, it was and it was bought. Here is what happened:

My friend's blog URL published address: http://www.travelsapien.blogspot.com
Competitor boughtand owned this published address: http://www.travelsapien.com

Can you see the confusion that this caused the search engines? It took some finagling but my friend now owns the dot com domain name.

There are many sellers of domain names. One of the most popular and the one I use is Go Daddy

Rule No. 3 : Buy the dot com URL name

ACTION ONE: Decide on the Title of your Blog.
ACTION TWO: Check availability of dot com URL, if availble buy, if not, search for a different title/domain for your blog.

Quick Links:
Go Daddy
AppleSeeds Grow
Mercedes Benz
Buy Me A Mercedes Benz

Friday, January 23, 2009

Choosing Your Niche Market

"What does it take to make big money on the internet these days?"

Is it traffic to your website?
Is it copywriting skills?
Is it traffic conversion?
Is it a killer website?

The above play an important role but none are the answer. The answer is:

IDEAS.

For our purposes on this blog, "ideas" means the topic we choose, the niche within which we want to play and gain prominance. If you've been following along with me then you have your five topics. How do you choose the right one?

One of my first mentors was Kevin Wilke, founder of Nitro Marketing Blueprint. Great course, steep learning curve.

Now Nitro have put together an introductory course on niche marketing and are offering it free. I like free. This course is exactly what we need to help us with the early stages of blogging, specifically on how to choose our topic, or "niche." Register for the introductory webcast. Leave your plastic in your wallet, you won't have to buy anything. Invest the time. I promise you, it will be worth it.

ACTION STEP: Register for Niche Marketing Webcast

Happy Blogging!

Resources:
Register for Niche Marketing Webcast
Nitro Marketing Blueprint

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Choose a Better History - Choose a Better Future

Nothing on blogging today.

Just finished watching the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.I don't spend much time in front of the TV, but this was a historical moment and I wanted to view it live.

Political pundits are already dissecting Barak Obama's Inaugural Address. The sound bites, the implications of certain words, the delivery are all being commented on. So far not a pundit has mentioned what to me is the most powerful sentence:

"...choose a better history ..."

It is the word choose that is so powerful. It is not only the powerful who can choose - we, every day people have the power to choose and make a difference in our own lives. We too can choose a better future, to live a life of fulfillment. We make that choice by deciding to take action that will take us to the destination we want to reach

Be debt free
Be financially free
Be stress free
Be the best that we can be

Full Text of Obama's Inaugural Address

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dan "The Man" Lok, Blogging & More

In the world of Internet Marketing, Dan "The Man" Lok is a household name ... or should that be "cyberspace" name? Dan went from bagging groceries to banking big bucks for his efforts on the internet. He is now a self made multi-millionaire and I had the privilege of attending his seminar this weekend.

The seminar itself was nothing short of fabulous. It was classic Dan - two jam packed days of content, content, content, all by The Man himself. Limited to just 60 attendees the feeling of being in an inner circle was definitely clear and present. Some of what I learned will be covered later on in this series of blogging, some of it will unfold in due time.

I've known Dan for almost three years now. Met him at a friend's BBQ. We spent an hour chatting over a hot grill. I was just starting my internet marketing career, he was well into his, although at the time I had no idea just how well At the end of the conversation his sage advice to me was to blog and publish my articles.

I should have listened to Dan then. As I mentioned in my post Blogging, The First Step to Mastering the Internet, knowing what I know now, I would have started my Internet Marketing career by blogging. I think there is some inborn streak in most of us, we don't listen to our parents and we don't listen to the gurus in our own backyards!

I have also been researching five topics to launch my next blog. I have come up with a good niche market, something I know about and narrow enough that it could qualify for inch-wide, mile deep, but its not something I would want to carry on for the long term. If you are wondering about what that topic might be it is embroidery.

I know something about embroidery having learned it at school --- we started with the most basic stitchery in grade one and by the time we graduated highschool we had learned not only how to make french knots but cutouts, shadow stitchery and tedious cross stitching (the kind you counted by the squares on the fabric, not pre-printed). Amazon carries both books and a decent number of magazines. The term embroidery may be too broad as there are over 28 million results when googled, but I did note that there were sponsored links on the right hand side. Clickbank was a bit disappointing in that it did not seem to have many affiliates to offer and the pricing was low, so low profits.

I could have done more research on the subject, but decided against it for these reasons:

1. Incongruent: I have some 20 sites and blogs in total. Not all are themed, but they are grouped by topic themes. This is good for cross marketing which will be covered down the road. If this is your first blog, don't be concerned. If you already have several blogs and/or websites, a complementary topic is a good idea, an example might be if you have a site on travel, a good complementary topic would be something like canal tours, travel by cycle and so on. You could then post reviews on the various places you can take canal tours, the types of boats/barges/cruises that are available etc.

2. Little Personal Interest: Even though I have a good deal of personal knowledge and could write well on the topic, it is not one that grabs me.

3. Monetization seems to be somewhat limited. The magazines were well priced for annual subscriptions which is good and Google defintely has advertisers, but I was surprised at the somewhat limited affiliates through Clickbank. If I had my heart set on this topic however, I am sure that there are better affioliates that are available with Commission Junction.

4. Product Development : Eventually to up the ante it is a rule of thumb that one should develop a product of one's own. Now this could be something as simple as embroidery patterns that can be delivered digitally to DVDs showing how to execute certain stitches. Absolutely no personal interest.

So that is one down, four to go.

ACTION: Continue checking the viability of your niche.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blogging - How the Money is Made

OK…. So you now have 5 topics with which you feel fairly comfortable or in which you have a great deal of interest and would like to become an expert on. Lets get closer to selecting the topic, the niche within which you will become expert and upon which you will write your opinions, reviews, and pass on your knowledge.

Before you go leaping for the one closest to your heart you need to know if the topic is something that others are interested in. If one of your sources for coming up with your five topics was Amazon then it is. Now some people blog just for the shear joy of blogging and have no intention of ever making a penny at it

…THAT IS NOT YOU!

I don’t think it is a stretch on my part to make the assumption that the reason you are here is because you want to have a money making blog. We call that monetizing our blog.

Before going over your list and making that final decision there are a few things you need to know. How are you going to make money on your blog?

There are many ways but at the beginning we will concentrate on the very basic ones and that is through advertising and selling other people’s products. Each of these can be and will be expanded upon as we progress throughout the year. Lets just go over our potential money sources:

Advertising: The most common and easiest source of advertising is Google. Have you noticed on this page that there are ads by Google? How does that happen? Think of your blog as a publication, a mini magazine if you will. Now, what do you see on the pages of a magazine that you pick up off of the newsstand? Ads of course.

Google has many clients who want to place their ads on the net. Google is always looking for online publications in which to publish those ads, the important thing here is that publication contnent and ad content need to be complementary. The ads that Google places on sites are called Adsense and you will learn hot to get these on your site too. This is probably the easiest and fastest form of online income but to earn a four figure income from Adsense alone is a long stretch for beginners.

You can also have private placement ads, that is when a vendor comes to you and wants to advertise on your site. This is not likely to happen early on. You need to have at least some web presence and traffic before this begins to happen.

Affiliates: This is when you promote other people’s products on your blog, and when visitors buy those products through your blog, you will get a commission. When you were checking all those categories with Amazon did you notice that it is not just books and magazines that Amazon sells. You can become an affiliate or an associate of Amazon, so that if someone visits your site and then goes to Amazon and buys a product there, you get a commission.

How does this work. For ease of following, lets stay with Amazon Supposing you are a master embroiderer and you blog about embroidering. Check out the embroidery category under both books and magazines. Here is an example of an affiliate link for an embroidery magazine:. Hover your mouse over it, click it on and see where it takes you. Now if you decided to buy that magazine, Amazon would pay me up to 15% of that purhase.

You could write a review on the books on your blog, if your review reader buys the book from Amazon you will get a check. Magazine subscriptions typically cost more so your income will be higher and people tend to order magazine subscriptions because it is more economical than buying by the issue at the news stand.

There are many more sources of affiliates. Depending on the products you will be paid a commission ranging anywhere between 10% and 75%.

Now that we understand how we are going to make money on our blogs, review your topics. Which of those is most likely to sell? Here is what you need to do next:

1. For each topic chosen, go to Google and put the topic in the search bar. When Google delivers the results write down this information:

How many results (this will be in the hundreds of thousand and quite possibly in the millions)

Now, take a look at the Sponsored Links on the right hand side of the page. How many sponsored links are there? These are paid ads and indicate that there are
advertisers for your topic. Some topics have only a few, others have pages. The
important thing is to make sure that Google does indeed have advertising clients for your topic.

2.You can also do a search on Google for your particular topic by entering
embroidery lessons in quotes and add + affiliate . Will look like this “embroidery lessons”+ affiliate and you will get a list of vendors who have books, CDs, videos on embroidering and other
products that you can now promote on your site.

3. Go back to Amazon and search not just the books and magazines on your topic, but do they carry other products on your topic, is there anyone there selling embroidery thread, fabric with pre-printed designs, embroidery kits? Do the same thing with eBay

4.There are other sources of affiliates. I like going to Clickbank. Clickbank manages affiliate programs for many vendors. Same with Commission Junction, We'll go over these in greater detail later on.

Judgment Day is coming … patience is a virtue and the early steps help you set up a strong foundation. Soon you will make your choice

ACTION TODAY: Follow steps 1 through 4

Till next time …. Rip Along With Me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Blogging - Select Your Topic

Selecting the right topic for your blog is important yet it can be the first stumbling block to your online success. Often the first reaction is that you cannot even think of a topic quickly followed by a second reaction which is you cannot limit the number of topics that are suddenly flooding your mind. I confess that I ran into the latter when trying to come up with a topic for the blog which will be created here. Lets address each issue.

How do I find topics?
If this is your first blog top of mind is familiarity with the topic that you will be blogging on. The obvious choices that immediately spring to mind are things you like to do, what hobbies do you have, what sports do you play or like to watch. When you read, what do you reach for? What movies do you like to see? Is there something you are really passionate about? A friend of mine is a horticulturalist specializing in container gardening. Someone else I know is a master knitter, spins her own yarn and comes up with the most gorgeous wool knits. These topics are about passion. What are you passionate about?

Still having problems coming up with topics? I find that one of the best sources for getting topic ideas is through Amazon. Go to their categories directory.

Take your time navigating through all the categories. Because I like to read, I automatically gravitate towards the books and magazines and then go into sub categories. Lets take gardening as an example.

1. click on magazines
2. scroll down the categories to Home & Garden - click
3. scroll down the categories to Gardening & Horticulture - click

Now you've got lots of sub-categories. You can choose to specialize in shade gardening or Japanese gardens or herbs. The possibilities are endless.

While you are going through this exercise pay attention to the titles of books that are relevant to your topic and the magazines that are published on your topic. Amazon will be one of the sources of income on your blog. So, if you choose an obscure topic and there are few if any books and/or magazines on this topic, go back to square one. You must be able to monetize your topic easily. Later on when you become a whiz blogger you can go back to the obscure.

Narrowing down your topic selection
The floodgates have suddenly opened. No sooner do you think of one topic than another appears, followed by yet another seemingly better one. Don't worry about the best blog topic ever. This will not be your last blog, this is your practicum and while I wish each and every one of you to make heaps of money with this venture, the reality is that in all probablity this will not be your most profitable blog so edit, edit, edit your ideas ruthlessly otherwise you will never get started.

While it is probably better to select topics that you know something about, don't discount those that you have always had an interest in but on which you are not terribly knowledgeable about. One way to become knowledgeable about something is to write about it. I like Mike Litman's approach: "You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going"


ACTION STEPS:
- explore topic options
- select five topics

That will do till the next posting.

Happy Blogging.

If you have questions you can either post them on the comments section here or by contacting me directly through this blog.