Why Are You Paying For Ebooks?

Regular readers will know how I feel about ebooks in general. People do buy them, though, which is odd given how easy it is to get them for free.

Especially this month!

Seems like there are umpteen Christmas giveaway sites with tons of ebooks, software, and memberships, most available for free. Some of these products are already available for free, but most are products that are being given as an incentive for you to join the author’s list.

Here are the three giveaway sites I’ve run across so far:

Santa Sal’s Christmas Giveaway

The fictional character Sal, of Site Swiper fame, is running a giveaway site. It’s loaded with ebooks, but there are also a few memberships in there that might be worth having for the contacts and ad credits.

Note that I haven’t gone through the entire list yet, because there are several hundred products available.

12 Days of Christmas

I’ve posted about this one before. The gifts here are released every other day, so you get a chance to look them over as they come out. A bunch of ebooks again, with some useful software packages thrown in.

30 Days of Christmas

Another “days of Christmas” type site. This one seems to be a lot of master resale rights packages in different niches, along with the usual run of Internet Marketing ebooks.

So, if you’re still thinking of spending money on ebooks this season, sign up to these sites instead and download all the ebooks you can handle (even if you get snowed in for Christmas!)

Popularity Contest Plugin And Spam

For some time now, the most popular posts in the sidebar list have been put there by spam.

Online Opportunity is setup with my recommended settings for a spam free blog, so comment spam doesn’t make it into the public eye.

But the Popularity Contest plugin still counts each spam comment as a vote for the popularity of a post. So the popular posts are those that are most keyword targeted by spam bots.

I’ve zeroed out the weight comments play in popularity, but the spam bots are still officially visiting the post pages, so they still tend to rank highly based on traffic alone.

I may need to look into the Bad Behavior plugin, which is supposed to prevent spam bots from hitting the blog at all.

Has anyone else encountered this same issue?

What To Look For In An Ad Tracking Service

I’ve written before about the benefits of ad tracking.

I figured it was about time to talk about what to look for in an ad tracking service. After all, if you’re going to use ad tracking, you need some software that will actually track the ads. Every service seems to have slightly different features, and how do you choose?

You can get ad tracking from paid services, like Hits Connect and Traffic Wave, or you can get some software to install on your own hosting, or you can use the built in tracking that comes with whatever product you’re promoting.

Price And Number Of Links

Let’s get this one out of the way first.

Price is certainly a factor in any decision you make about your Internet Marketing efforts. When you first start out, you probably don’t have much money to invest, and aren’t really sure how to make money online yet.

So it doesn’t make sense to pay money for something you can get for free. Free ad tracking generally is limited in its features, though, or puts other people’s links on your page. Later, as you start to make money, you can reinvest some of those profits into ad tracking that provides more features.

A very nice free ad tracking service is URLFreeze.com. Hits Connect has a $11.97 a month membership, and a $19.97 a month membership. The main difference is the number of ad tracking links you can create (15 for $11.97, 100 for $19.97). Traffic Wave allows unlimited ad tracking links for $17.95 a month (that also includes unlimited autoresponders).

Link Campaigns

Some ad trackers allow you to use one ad tracking link to distinguish from different click sources. For example, when I link to Hits Connect, I use a base tracking link that looks like this: http://www.trker.com/go/16626 . By adding a campaign to that link, I can use something like this: http://www.trker.com/go/16626/campaign .

Campaign tracking allows the use of a single link per destination, but to differentiate the sources of the clicks. So I’ll know if the first link in a post does better than the last link in a post, if the call to action anchor text does better than the program name anchor text, etc.

You can do all that without campaigns, but it requires creating multiple ad tracking links, and is generally more of a pain.

Hits Connect does campaigns very well. Traffic Wave does not do campaigns, but I’ve seen new features added regularly to their autoresponders, so hopefully campaign tracking will be added to the ad trackers.

Tracking To Sales

An especially useful feature for ad trackers is the ability to track a click all the way to a sale, so you know exactly which ad tracking link resulted in the sale. This is a rare feature, since it requires some cooperation on the part of the merchant. Their sales page has to include appropriate code to notify the ad tracking service of the sale.

Hits Connect has this feature available. It seems to be primarily integrated into traffic exchanges, so you’ll know where your referrals come from. But if you are writing your own sales page, or having it written, you could also integrate the sales tracking into your site so you could benefit from this sort of tracking.

Traffic Wave does not do this sort of tracking.

The place that you’ll usually find tracking to sale is in the tracking links embedded into various programs. For example, Project Payday provides excellent ad tracking services built into the affiliate link, and tracks to the sale (as well as doing campaign tracking). SiteSell.com is another one that has tracking to sale built into their links.

Purchasing Software

Purchasing software is attractive, because for a one-time fee you can get an ad tracking package that runs on your own server. You manage everything, and generally you can get whatever features you want by paying for them.

The downside to this is that all the ad tracking traffic comes through your own server, using your bandwidth. If you have cheap hosting, this might affect the performance of your website.

A popular ad tracking package is Ad Trackz.

Conclusion

There’s certainly no clear winner when it comes to ad tracking solutions.

Hits Connect is a very polished offering, but has that limit of 15 or 100 links, depending on your membership level. 100 is a lot of links, but you generally cannot delete a link once it’s in the wild, so eventually you’ll run up against it.

Traffic Wave offers unlimited ad tracking links, plus unlimited autoresponders, so is a great deal, but lacks many of the more advanced ad tracking features you might like.

Ad Trackz allows unlimited links and is completely under your control, but will use bandwidth from your server.

The only common strength among all the ad trackers is that you really can’t afford to not use them. Being able to know which of your advertising is most effective is the only way to improve your Internet Marketing efforts.

The $22,500 Network Marketing Contest

SBI! recently announced the start of their $22,500 Network Marketing Contest.

The basic idea is to use SBI! to build a site that monetizes, at least partially, through network marketing (e.g. MLMs). But to do so in a way that’s consistent with the basic SBI! philosophy of providing valuable content, and “keeping it real”.

As an example, a site that talks about the benefits of Amway would not be in that philosophy. A site that talked about the problems products (which you could, coincidentally, get at Amway) could solve, would. The ideal site doesn’t actually contain a link to the MLM program, but rather has a way to capture your own leads. You can then follow up with those leads directly and refer them to the MLM program.

The bible for the contest is Ann Seig’s The Renegade Network Marketer, which I mentioned yesterday is available to SBI! members for 50% off. The most exciting part about this contest is that Ann is providing free coaching to the contest entrants. Regular readers will know I consider good mentoring essential for online success, and here you get 12 months of it for free (well, for the cost of an SBI! membership if you don’t already have one).

To enter the contest, you must get your SBI! site by February 6th. If you’re already an SBI! member, and haven’t decided on a niche yet, you’re eligible if you signed up after August 6th, 2007.

Then build the best site you can to drive leads to your chosen MLM program, using the techniques outlined in the The Renegade Network Marketer and following SBI!’s Action Guide.

The winner is the one who earns the most from their site in the last three months of their first year of operation. So you have nine months to build traffic and perfect your techniques.

The winner will get the top prize of $10,000. Second and third prizes, respectively, are $3,000 and $2,500. There’s also $2,500 for the most creative use of online techniques (I’m especially interested to see what people come up with for this category…for some reason an image of dancing penguins comes to mind).

Finally, and the touch that reflects the philosophy behind the way SiteSell operates, there’s $2,500 for the person who contributes the most helpful advice on the contest thread to help other contestants succeed. So while it’s a competition, there’s also the cooperative aspect of it that pervades the SBI! member forums.

If you’re interested in reading the contest thread on the SBI! forums, contact me. I have a guest login I can share with a few readers, but that isn’t for public distribution.

Click here to get your SBI! site to enter the contest. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee if you start following the action guide and decide it’s not for you after all. After 30 days they’ll refund a pro-rated amount, so taking an extra 30 days to decide isn’t that big a deal.

How To Give A Free SBI! Membership For Christmas

Special SiteSell Promotion

I’ve posted a lot about the SBI! process, and the value of the SBI! tools.

Most people feel that the cost of SBI! is high, which is only because they’re looking at it in conventional web hosting terms. $299 for a year’s web hosting is high. With SBI!, though, you get not only web hosting, but the Site Builder tool with it’s Analyze It! technology so you don’t have to be so disciplined to remember every little SEO trick for every page you create or edit. You also get other services included that more than make SBI! a bargain.

And at this time of the year you can buy an SBI! membership and get one free. The free membership can be used to create a second site for yourself, or you can give it as a gift for Christmas. SBI! is suitable for just about anyone, as long as they have a desire to create a web site to make money online. The process outlined in their Action Guide can be followed by anyone, even if they know nothing about SEO or online business.

You have until the stroke of midnight on Christmas day to take advantage of the special. At that point the banner in this post will automatically change to a regular SBI! banner, until their next special rolls around.

A Truly Ethical Online Service?

I’ve written before about Running An Ethical Online Service.

At the time, I wrote about not spamming your members with every link you wanted them to join, but respecting the reason they joined your service. But I had in the back of my mind an image of my ideal online service. The sort of service that truly did all they could to help you succeed, including forgoing their own affiliate commissions on products in order to get you a lower price.

This sort of thing goes against the typical Internet Marketing model, which can be summed up in, “Once you have a customer, sell them as much as possible”.

But imagine what it would be like…a company totally dedicated to helping you succeed. A company that prices its service fairly enough so they don’t need to milk you for affiliate commissions on back end products. A company that has a vested interest in making sure its tools work for you, since it’s those tools that keep you paying your money.

I’d had in the back of my mind a long-term goal of starting that company, since I hadn’t seen anyone else doing anything remotely like it.

Since then, I started my Site Build It! series, and have discovered that the company that produces SBI!, SiteSell, is just such a company.

I’ve written before about the tools provided, and will write more as I get farther along with the process. So here I’ll focus on what SiteSell does on the backend for its members.

There’s a resource section for SBI! members where you have links to recommended online services and ebooks. This is the section where, in a normal online service, the company would make a large portion of its money from you through affiliate links. For example, there’s a link to Ann Seig’s The Renegade Network Marketer there that would normally earn them $33.50 (50% of the purchase price) when you bought through their link. Instead, they provide you with a special link that gives you a $33.50 discount when you buy.

There are other ebooks there that SiteSell has arranged to be provided free to SBI! members. An example is How To Create Web Content Fast, normally offered for $37, is available free through the resource center.

The mindset behind this sort of technique is, “We will provide you with the tools and resources you need to be successful”, with the underlying assumption being that if you’re successful, you’ll continue to purchase more SBI! sites, which is where SiteSell makes money.

Finding a company that truly links the success of its members with its own success, rather than seeing them as potential customers for other offers, is a very nice change of pace.

Click here for SiteSell’s SBI! page for more info.

Post Launch Profits Review

Post Launch Profits is a new ebook put out by Alex Jeffreys.

The ebook is less a collection of techniques than Alex’s story about how he generated over $100,000 in sales in a year. While the ebook is great from an inspirational standpoint, the “If he can do it so can I” type of thing, what really makes it a terrific read is how he made the money.

I’d recently written a post about How To Succeed In Internet Marketing. Some of the advice in that post was, “Find a mentor”, “Create products”, “Network”, and “Experiment”.

Alex made his $100K in a year by doing all of that.

He’d been making a living selling products on Ebay, and switched to offering a membership site that taught others how to make a living on Ebay. That membership site was his vehicle for making the $100K in a year.

Some of the points that struck me as I read through the ebook.

The Importance of Mentors: Alex wouldn’t have succeeded if it hadn’t been for his mentors. A mentor can short-circuit the learning curve and help keep you motivated.

Note that despite having great mentors, Alex still made lots of mistakes. But he experimented and kept going and ultimately succeeded.

The Importance of JV Partners: The majority of Alex’s sales came from JV partners recommending his site. As I said in my earlier post, this is what makes the gurus gurus, the use of JV partners to launch products.

The ebook does talk about some specific techniques, but it’s the overall mindset of a successful Internet Marketer that’s most important to take away from reading it.

Click here for your free copy of Post Launch Profits.

Get Paid For Video Ads On Your Site

Pay Per Play is a service that will pay you to play video ads on your site.

The basic idea is similar to Adsense. Their code picks an appropriate video ad to play based on the content of the page, so the ad is targeted, and therefore interesting to your visitors.

But rather than getting paid for a click, you get paid when the video runs to its conclusion. The video ads are all 5 seconds, so you should have a fairly high conversion rate. You won’t get paid for 100% of your visitors, certainly, since some of them will leave before the 5 seconds is up, but it should be a better percentage than Adsense.

You earn 25% of what the advertiser spends, however much that is, to display their ads on your page. You also earn 5% of what your referrals earn, and 5% of what their referrals earn.

The service is in pre-launch right now, so it’s hard to say what the actual cost-per-play will be. They’ll do it auction style, though, so expect the CPP to be low at first and then to rise as advertisers see which websites are converting best for them and their competitors.

The service sounds pretty interesting. 5 seconds is a fairly long time in Internet terms, but videos have a way of getting people to watch them. Maybe ad blindness will extend to cover this eventually, but at least at first there should be some good money to make.

Click here to sign up for free, and for more information.

The Best Places To Advertise?

When picking where to advertise on the Internet, you have to keep in mind various factors.

One is your audience. If you’re looking to sell fishing poles, advertising on a Work At Home Mom website isn’t targeted advertising. You’ll sell some, but your sales won’t be as high as if you’re selling on a fishing website. You must identify your audience before picking an advertising location. Too many new marketers focus on what they’re selling, and not who they’re selling it to.

Another is where the advertisement will appear. Site wide advertisements will get your ad in front of a lot of eyes, but aren’t necessarily the best place. Even with a targeted audience, not everyone in that audience is ready to buy your product. Ideally, you want a page that reflects some problem that your product can solve, some need it can fill, or at least a proven willingness to purchase.

Pages that address the particular problem or need that your product solves or fills are a great place to advertise. If you’ve chosen a product that has a broad appeal to your target audience, then there will be pages like this on nearly every website devoted to that audience. If you’re having trouble finding those pages, then maybe you’ve picked the wrong target audience, or the wrong product for that audience.

A nice middle ground is to advertise on the Thank You page for other products in your niche. That will get your product seen by people who have just finished buying another product in the niche. You can often make these sorts of advertising arrangements directly with the website owners.

A less targeted alternative to working directly with website owners is ThankYouAds.com. It’s basically a traffic exchange for ads placed directly onto Thank You pages. You have a limited ability to select the niche by choosing one out of twenty-two categories for your ad. So it won’t be as targeted as picking a specific Thank You page to advertise on, but is better than just a random exchange. My preliminary testing with this service doesn’t show a good enough conversion rate to justify using it, though, so it could be that some members are not displaying the ads on their Thank You pages after all.

Like most things online, you can invest your time locating appropriate pages on target websites and making arrangements with the website owners, or you can use an automated system that converts your traffic into views of your ads. Investing your time will always yield better results, but the automated systems give you the benefit of hands-off operation.

Ultimately, you have to decide how much of your time you’re willing to invest in your online business.