Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Affiliate advertising part 4

Now that you know which companies you will be advertising for you will need to decide how best to give them exposure.
One of the most effective ways of advertising is within your content.  If the advertisement looks like part of your content people tend to be more inclined to click and look. For instance if you were writing about gumballs you could say that "Wifflemore Gumball Company recently introduced a new line of gumballs guaranteed to never cause a cavity."  The "Wifflemore Gumball Company"  would be a link with your affiliate id. 
It is also important that your banners be where people can see them.  It is very tempting to just place your buttons and banners at the bottom of the pages where they will be out of the way but it also defeats your purpose!
Since one of my websites is about free stuff I will always place a banner from a company offering a freebie right at the top of the page where it is at eyelevel with my visitors.
This means it is the first thing they see when they visit and they will be more inclined to click it if they are there looking for freebies.
I have also recently started putting my google adsense ads in the middle of my content.  I have taken away the background as well.  I don't know why this works but it has increased my CTR.
My theory is that the ads no longer look like ads and since they are in the middle of the content you almost have to read them to get to the next paragraph.
Take a look around the internet at various websites and notice where they have placed their ads.  Make a note of which ones stand out to you and why.  By doing this you will have a better understanding of where you should place your ads.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Affiliate advertising part three

When you are deciding which companies to advertise for there are some things you can look at to help you decide. 
As you go through the lists you can see the amount each companies pay per sale and about how many sales each ad is generating. 
It is important to keep in mind this is information might not be relative to you.  If you see a company that pays 25% per sale but their conversions seem low it might just be that they are a new company to that affiliate program or that there aren't too many people promoting that company. 
If it looks like something that would be an easy sell for you go ahead and give it a try.
If after a month of good traffic that particular ad isn't really generating as much income as you had hoped for you can always exchange it and try another banner or just go with a different company. 
I personally try to find companies that fall somewhere in the middle.  I have tried companies with a high conversion rate and had no success whatsoever and I have tried companies that I was sure wouldn't generate anything and they ended up doing well.
Take some time to read through the affiliate programs you join and learn exactly what all of their statistics mean.  Some of the terms you will run into:
EPC Earnings per 100 clicks
EPM Earnings per 1000 impressions
CTR Click through rate
CPM Cost per 1000 impressions
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Affiliate advertising part two

There are a number of places where you can easily sign up to be an affiliate for thousands of different companies.  These companies range in size and popularity.   You can be an affiliate for everyone from e-book publishers to Wal Mart. 
Some of the more popular affiliate sites are cj.com (Commission Junction), Linkshare.com, and clickbank.com. 
Personally I have not used Clickbank so I won't comment on it other than to tell you it is out there.  Another one that I just recently signed up with and am really enjoying is shareasale.com.  They offer a large range of companies and they also make it really easy to get datafeeds for your site (another topic altogether!).
Before you start signing up to become and affiliate you will want to make sure your website is fully up and running.   Some places like cj.com will delete your account if you haven't had a sale in a certain amount of months.  This means if you don't already have steady traffic you will probably lose your account and have to sign up again and apply to each company again.
What happens is this:  You sign up with the program.  Then you can go through and look at the companies available for you to become affiliated with.    Then you apply to be an affiliate for each individual company.   Some companies will give your site automatic approval and other companies will actually have a person take a look at your site and either approve it or not. 
If you don't get approved for a company, don't take it personally.   They will tell you a number of possible reasons why you didn't get approved.  Remember, these are POSSIBLE reasons.   If you see anything on the list that might have disqualified you like not enough traffic, just wait until you reach that traffic level and reapply. 
More to come!
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Friday, February 24, 2006

Affiliate advertising

Well I figure I have spent so much time talking about websites and how to build them and how to get traffic that I should probably talk a little bit about affiliate advertising too.  
Now that you have tons of traffic coming into your website you should probably know how to make some money from it! 
Affiliate advertising is fairly simple.  You sign up with different companies and agree to put their advertisements on your website.  Whenever one of your visitors clicks on the merchants advertisement and makes a purchase you make money.
There are other types of advertising where all your visitor has to do is click on the ad and you make money. 
I was on a message board a few weeks ago where someone had asked about affiliate advertising and someone else responded that it was a dirty word among some people.  For the life of me I still don't understand why unless they believe that you can only be an affiliate for scams.
Google adsense offers the most popular form of affiliate advertising.  Take a look at almost any website and you will find advertising by google. 
Another popular form of affiliate advertising is selling products for specific companies.  You can offer just about any product you can think of. 
What is your website about?  If it is about parenting issues you can offer parenting magazines, toys, and daycare options and probably find a source of income by doing so.
Over the next few installments I will talk more about where to find these sources of affiliate advertising, the best programs to sign up with and how to go about it.  I will also tell you some how to set up your advertising to make it easy to find and encourage your visitors to want to visit the merchant.  In the meantime think about what your website can offer your visitors and what types of things will fit in best with what you are trying to accomplish.  
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Working at home with kids

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Today I have been giving a lot of thought to one area of working at home that is a little odd. 

Typically, we want to work from home so we can stay home with our kids.  That is the ideal situation.  Over the past week though I have been working really hard to get my blogs redesigned and have needed to spend a lot of hours with them.  While I have been so busy Katie has been left pretty much to entertain herself.  Which translates into video games and tv since the weather is too cold to be outside.  Of course this is not really fun for her so she wants me to stop working and play every ten minutes and I have to say give me a few more minutes to finish up.  

So I stop and play and then have to try to pick up where I left off.  As this has been going on I remembered a thread in a message board where someone asked about working at home and having your kids in daycare.  At the time I thought what a silly idea that is!  We work at home so we can BE there with the kids. 

Here are my thoughts on it now.  I love being here and having the special moments.  I love when she first wakes up and cuddles on the couch with me to watch the weather (her favorite channel these days).  I love when she learns something new and I am here to see it.  I love fixing her breakfast and lunch.  I love that I CAN take a break to play catch or baby dolls. 

I don't like when I am deeply focused on a project and have to stop to see what she needs or to get interrupted all the time. 

So obviously the things I love outweigh the things that I don't like but I can now see the point of some moms putting their kids in daycare so they can get some work done.  It is also probably a very nice break for their kids to have other kids to play with and things to do. 

For me, I will continue setting a time limit on work and a time limit on fun and I will continue taking breaks to "play". 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Find a work at home mentor

As with everything else in life if you don't know what you are doing you have two choices.  You can either try to figure it out on your own or you can ask for help. 
In the work at home sector not only will you save time by asking for help you will also probably save money. 
There are people online who are working from home and there are people looking to work from home and luckily there are places where they all come together. 
If you find these places half your battle is over.
I would love to place a link to my website and say this is where you should go for help but I have to give credit where credit is due.  I regularly turn to wahm.com for advice and help and I need it everyday!  The ladies and gentleman there have an amazing collection of real life knowledge and they are always willing to share.  Any of you who have read my blogs before probably notice the change.  I have spent weeks trying to figure out how to make these changes on my own and I have also spent countless hours messing everything up. 
Over the past two days I have asked a couple of questions and presto, a whole new look and an easy to use template. 
There are countless other sites on the internet where you can find help but it is imperative that you can trust the help you are getting.  I have visited sites where the members are knowingly promoting scams and things that just don't seem quite right.  If you have even the tiniest feeling that the venture you are about to embark on might not be so great, find a mentor and ask. 
Most people will not mind and will even welcome your questions.  I get emails and PM's daily from people wanting help or wanting to know if a program is valid and I never mind answering those questions. 
I would rather spend 5 mins explaining why something is or isn't good than have someone spend money they can't afford on a program that will go nowhere. 
Here are some other great and trustworthy places where you can get great advice on working at home:  http://work-at-home-mom.blogspot.com/
Keep in mind the above is not a complete list.  There are countless resources and work at home websites, these are just a few that I know and trust. 
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Monday, February 20, 2006

A day in the life of a wahm

I had every reason to expect that I would get caught up today. Here were my plans: Write in both of my blogs, add some pages to the new scrapbooking site, write an article on how to use watermarks for www.scrapbooking4us.com, submit new website and blogs to directories.
Here is how it went: 5:15am, hear cries from Katies room. Go into room, she is scared and no one heard her yelling. Take her into bed with us. 5:25am, she is hungry. It is time for hubby to wake up anyway so he gets her up and gives her some cereal. 5:39am, hubby wakes me again to tell me we have a situation. The new pet goldfish is belly up, do I want him to "handle" it. Decision: Flush the fish and hope she doesn't notice before I can replace it or leave it and take the chance she will notice and have to explain that the Wincey is now in heaven with Princess her cat? Decide to leave it and hopefully it won't be too traumatic. 5:45, hubby comes in to wake me up again to let me know he is going out to scrape his windows. Give up on sleep and get out of bed. Hubby explains he is not leaving just scraping windows. Go back to bed. 6:05am, give up completely and get up to have a cup of coffee and get started on the workday. Check email, explain to Katie that I am going to work until 9:00 am and THEN clean house and THEN we can play. Answer emails. 6:30 go in search of a fun site to write a review on. Find one, hmmm so interesting I spend the next hour there. 7:30 write a review. 7:40am start looking for freebies and check out surveys for www.itsfree.proboards43.com (message board). Enter in new freebies and surveys, catch up on games, answer questions, and take surveys that may not be so great but then again might turn into something wonderful. 8:05 check individual survey sites to make sure I didn't miss anything.
8:15am wake up teenage daughter to prepare her for the fact we ARE going to clean house even if it is Presidents day. 8:30 get Katie fresh cereal as dad forgot to add sugar earlier and she likes sugar in her cereal. 8:35am Check out other sites where I might have PM's to answer. Answer PM's. 8:45 get dressed and find Clothes for Katie. 9:00am go to store to get new goldfish and bread. Pick up bread and other groceries. Go to pet store which is closed... Find another pet store, explain situation with dead fish. Get advice. Come home, put stress coat in water and sneak new fish into fish bowl.
10:30 Call mom of Katies friend to set up play date. Learn they are going swimming at YMCA and she will be here in 20 mins to take Katie with. Dress Katie, brush hair (not easy) wash her face, find swimsuit. 11:00, other mom calls to say they will not be going swimming after all and she will be away from home for the next hour and a half. Explain situation, come up with alternate plan. 11:30 leave to go to Walmart to get a few more needed things. Listen to pretend siren sounds the entire 20 min drive. Spend another 10 mins finding a parking spot. 12:15 finish shopping, go to play spot in Walmart. Given broken toys at least $2 in quarters and then head over to in store McDonalds. Have lunch and head to parking lot. Get child in car seat, load up groceries, and open Mcdonalds toy hoping for peace and quiet on the way home. Drop katie off at friends house. Come home with a master plan. Get some work done. Read Pm's from helpful other work at home parents. One has found a link to a new blog template. Quickly, copy and change template in blog. Almost works. Read over HTML which is like a foreign language and make some changes. It works! Make a few other updates and changes. 2:00pm, hubby comes home. Fold clothes and change sheets on bed. Check on fish and discover it too is dead. Get hubby to flush new dead fish and dump out half the water. 2:30 head to pet store to get new goldfish. Come home, place fish in bag in tank to let water reach the right temp. Fold clothes. Come back to work to find hubby had taken over the computer to play games. Start dinner and make bed. Watch tv since I can't work yet. 3:45 ask hubby to go pick up Katie from playdate. Hmm not quite 4 he can play another game. Check on clothes and turn dryer on again. Tell hubby about day while he plays game. 4:00 he leaves to get Katie, finish up dinner. 4:35 Katie is not hungry but she sure is cranky from heing up so early. Make Katie a bubble bath. 4:50 she decides she is hungry, doesn't want bath. Remind hubby he has 10 mins before he has to be at work and he hasn't eaten dinner which is why I cooked it to begin with. 5:00 kiss hubby goodbye while he heads off for second job, get Katie in bath. Wash her hair... Come back to finish working on blogs. 5:30 Get Katie out of bath and into pajamas, play roll the ball and a few games of Hi Ho Cherry Oh. Now it is 7:05 and I am finishing this blog. At 8:00 I will get Katie into bed and read her story and then back to the message board and to find more freebies. I should be done with work by about 9:15. This is the world of working at home on a typical day. Fit in what you can and work around the rest. I love it...

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Top ten ways to drive traffic to your website

So you have built a website? Terrific! Now what? Now you want people to see it! There are a number of ways to do just that! Best of all there are a lot of FREE ways to do that!

1. You can always advertise! This does not have to be expensive. Buy advertising at places that generate a lot of traffic and make sure you are advertising where people need what you are selling. If you are selling fruit flavored bubble gum it won't do you much good to advertise AARP.

2. My personal advertising choice is FREE. Classified ads serve a dual purpose and there are still people who read them. Go to almost any website and you will find a classified ad's section. One of the most popular classifieds websites is craigslist.com. You can advertise to a specific region or nationwide. Another one is at yahoo.com. They have quite an extensive classifieds section.

3. Write articles. You can write articles on most anything. Make sure it is informative and free of errors. Once it is done you can submit it to other websites, or post it to places that specialize in content. You never know who might grab it for their own website! Make sure to include an authors box at the end and include your web address. Free advertising.

4. Join communities! Before putting your website in your signature make sure the owners don't mind. Read the terms and conditions and rules. DO NOT go out and randomly place advertisements on websites. You will quickly find yourself banned. A LOT of message boards have a specific thread just for placing advertisments. Go ahead and put up your website in those places. You never know who will read it!

5. Use your signature in emails. Go into your email program and find out where to add a signature. Set it up with your name and website address and use it on all your emails. Especially the funny ones that always get forwarded!

6. Get a stamp with your websites address made up or stickers. Use them on all the mail you send out through snail mail. Just think of all the people who handle that piece of mail before it gets to its destination!

7. Get some window clings made up or make them yourself and put them on your car. You can get the stuff to do this yourself at wal mart.

8. Make up some flyers and post them all over. There are message boards everywhere, the grocery store, the laundry mat (Everyone who ever goes reads the bulletin board!), wal mart, etc.

9. Make up some business cards and hand them out whenever someone asks what you do and even if they don't! Always hand out three. This gives the other person an opportunity to hand out two and keep one.

10. Start a blog. If you sell handmade jewelry, start a blog on how to MAKE handmade jewelry. Include your website address in the links section and your signature. Make sure to update it regularly at least 2-3 times a week. Everyday is better if you can do it!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Todays questions and answers on website building

I have been working with a couple of people on how to build a website which is why you are seeing this topic covered so often this week. I figure if they have these questions there may be more of you who have the same questions so I will share the questions and answers until we run out!

Todays questions:

1. Do you actually have a product of your own that you promote and sell on your website? or is it an "information website" with links to other companies that sell products?

2. Do you need to have a product of your own to sell to have your own website?

3. Does affiliate advertising really put money in your pocket? Is it worth the time and overheads to do this?

4. How do you select the companies to affiliate advertise?

5. What would be an approximate yearly outlay for webhost costs?

6. What would be an approximate monthly outlay for advertising? If that is required on my part.

Okay 1 and 2.: You do NOT need to have a product of your own to sell. In your case you COULD because you know how to create. In fact, one idea for a website that I started but never finished was a place where crafters could each have their own little "craft stand" on my website to sell products. So you could sell your products, help others sell their products (they would pay you for this space) and have affiliate products. Or you could just have affiliate products. I only sell affiliate products. (to clarify there really is no selling involved. I just put up links to their websites)

3. Affiliate advertising does and can put money in many peoples pockets. It depends on you and how much time and effort you are willing to put into learning the business and promoting your website. Over a period of three days last month I earned over $1200 from ONE affiliate program. Part of this was from being prepared and aware that the promotion they ran was going to happen and the other part was knowing where to promote it. Now if I was really on top of things and took the time to hunt down more programs like that it is possible I could do that every week, but I don't.

The overhead for this kind of business is incredibly low at least for me. I have NEVER spent a penny on advertising. My only costs are the costs of website hosting. NOW.. that does not mean that this is good advice. My goal when I started was to prove everyone wrong and show that you could do this with NO advertising dollars. My website is low cost and free home businesses so it would have been a little hypocritical of me to spend thousands of dollars in advertising and then say "see, you can do it!".. IF you can afford the advertising DO IT.. You will get one way links back to your site which are very valuable and you will be able to drive traffic to your site sooner which means you will start making money sooner.

4. You select the affiliate companies based on your website. So if you are building a a website based on crafting you might become an affiliate for Joann.com. If you are building a website based on medical conditions you might want to be an affiliate for webmd.com. There are a lot of choices once you start looking around.

5. Yearly outlay for your website costs could be as little as $120 a year to thousands depending on who you go through and what you want to be able to do. I use Homestead and I pay about $240 a year but it gives me lots of flexibility in building my websites, it allows me view my site stats, see where my traffic is coming from and includes a lot of great tools that other companies don't provide. It also allows me to build multiple websites for only $2 a month more. I think that in itself is great at least for me. There are other companies that charge less per month but I don't think they give you the same features. There are also companies who charge more per month. I am getting ready to do a review today on a webhosting company called Easy Web and Design

I tried it out last night and you can click the link and give it a try to. It's free to try out. Just click on the sitebuilder link at the top. The part that impressed me the most was how quick and easy it is. If you don't want to create your website from scratch or don't feel you really can, this is an ideal place. It took me less than 5 minutes to have a website made here! It is almost like a website in a box. You just enter your personal information, enter whatever name you want for your website and tell it what kind of site you are building and voila! There it is! It gives you a very professional website especially if you have products you are offering. I imagine after you are past the initial setup and signed up you will have the ability to go in and add products and more things. It runs about $40 a month and includes all of your optimization tools, statistics etc.

6. The costs of advertising are dependent on what you can afford. The key is to make sure your advertising dollars are going where they will be best spent. If you have a craft website for instance it would be more beneficial to spend $100 for a banner or text ad on the main page of a well trafficked and well known quilting site than to spend $50 at some place that promises to send you 20,000 visitors. They might send you that many visitors but it probably won't be quality traffic. There are also lots of advertising venues that cost you nothing.

1. Join message boards that have an interest in what you are promoting and that allow signatures. Put your website in your signature. It is important to not just run in and try to advertise on every message board you find. Take some time to get to know the people and offer your help where you can. You will build a good base of return visitors this way and not get yourself banned from what could be a great place to advertise.

2. Write articles. Personally I am terrible at writing so I don't get to take advantage of this. Write an article about quilting or doll making or other crafts etc. Submit those articles anywhere you can. People can pick up the articles and use them on THEIR websites giving you exposure and more one way links. They have to use your signature which will include your website and a little blurb about it. Free advertising.

3. Print up flyers and business cards and hand them out.

4. Print out a window cling with your website on it and display it on your car or you can pay someone to do this.

5. Use your signature in your emails and include it will every email you send! Just think of how many places those "jokes" get forwarded to... There is bound to be someone along the line interested in what you are offering!

You have some great ideas in your head for building a website. Now you are that much closer to getting it started!

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Still more website building advice!

I want to give you a couple of hints of things I learned the hard way. First it is NOT always a good idea to use a free web host. There are tons of places you can put up a website for free but the search engines will might not like your website. The search engines use "spiders" to crawl sites and determine what gets indexed in the search engines. Depending on how your site is set up and what it offers the spiders will also help to determine your rankings in the seach engines. The problem: All search engines use different algorythms to make these determinations.

Two things happen can happen when you use a free hosting service, first you don't get your own domain name. If I use a free webhost my domain will look like this: www.freehost.scrapbooking4us.com. I suspect the spider sees a ton of sites that start with www.freehost and tends to just ignore them. You will want your own domain name not only because it looks more professional but because it will help your rankings in the search engines.

The second thing you need to know before you start building is a little more about search engine optimization. You will need to make the content of your first page include all your keywords. If your site is about goblets you will want to think of everything about goblets that you can imagine, glass, antique, colored, drinking, water, etc. You will also want to use as many of those keywords as possible when you put together your index page. If you have keywords that don't match your index page the spiders don't like that much either.

You will want to write a description of your site and keep it under 200 characters.

After you get it up and running you will want to start promoting it. Some people swear by submitting your site to the search engines and others say it isn't necessary. I use a free submitter to be on the safe side. You will also want to exchange links with other similar websites to get good rankings.

Lastly coming up with a name: I came up with my name for www.katieshugs.com because I was working at home to be with my daughter (Katie) and wanted to include her name. Every other name I came up with was already taken and this one wasn't so I grabbed it. Now at that time I didn't know anything about search engines or I would have went with something different. For www.scrapbooking4us.com I spent a good hour trying to find a domain name that was available that included the term scrapbooking. I finally found this one and it was very important to me that I have the word scrapbooking in the domain name. I believe this will be a huge boost when someone searches on the term "scrapbooking".

There is a lot more information about building websites than just this but hopefully this will give you a little to think about and help you get started with your new business!

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Making money with a website. Good advice!

This week I have come to the conclusion that just like with every other product in the world, volume is key.
If you want to make money from websites I think you need to have more than one.
This is the premise on which a lot of people are making a lot of money! The idea is to build a lot of different websites and use your affiliate links to produce your income. If you have more websites and more visitors you should end up with more click throughs. Right? I hope so!
I am giving it a try.
I have been researching this theory all week and I believe it should work. I built a new website this week at www.scrapbooking4us.com and I have been scouring the web for scrapbooking affiliate programs.
I also started a new blog www.reviewtheweb.blogspot.com and I hope it will be a traffic driver! I will keep you up to date on how these sites work out.
My goal is to build a new website every month which if nothing else will keep me busy.
If you are going to start building websites here are some tips I have learned:

Use lots of content. If you throw up a website with a bunch of ads and just a little content there won't be any reason for your visitors to stick around long enough to click any of the ads. Make it an interesting and fun place so people come back and spread the word.

Place your ads seamlessly: This isn't as easy as it sounds. The idea is to make your ads NOT look like ads. Add them right into your content for optimum placement.

Get the word out: Tell everyone about your website. Join some message groups and put your website in your signature. Make sure it is okay first. There are a lot of places that won't let you put a link in your signature so check the rules. You can use links in your signature and talk about your website on my message board at:

Make regular updates to website to keep it fresh and new, search engines don't like broken links so check it often. (I need to clean mine up today too!)

Enjoy your website: If you aren't interested in it and having fun with it no one else will be either!

Have fun!

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