Squidoo Challenge

I recently gave myself the challenge to write a Squidoo lens a day, for as long as I could keep it up.

My main hurdle in this challenge was to silence my internal perfectionist, the one that says the lens must be perfect before I click publish. That’s wrong for so many reasons, not least of which is that both Google and Squidoo like lenses that change frequently. By publishing a lens that still needs work, I can continue to update it over time and create better Google rankings for that page than if I waited to publish it and then never changed it again.

Here’s the list of lenses I managed to create during this challenge. The Responsible Living series is a rework of some web pages I’d written on those topics years ago.

I started the challenge on a Saturday:

Saturday: Responsible Living
Sunday: Discovering Your Values Finished on time
Monday: Living Deliberately Finished on time
Tuesday: What Is Yuwie? Finished on time
Wednesday: Popera Finished early
Thursday: Right and Wrong Finished on time (not happy with this one, but it’s published anyway)
Friday: Call of Cthulhu RPG Finished on time, barely
Saturday: Death on the Gambia Review Finished early
Sunday: Temporal Chess Finished late
Monday: Storytelling Games Finished on time

The Yuwie lens started receiving a decent amount of search engine traffic in just about 7 days. So it would appear that Google is starting to like Squidoo lenses again, at least lenses with a sufficient amount of content.

By the end of the challenge, I was starting to dread making the next lens. So ten lenses is about the limit for my creativity to flow non-stop. I plan on doing this again eventually, to increase my stable of Squidoo lenses.

Squidoo Case Study

One of the reasons I love Squidoo is the ease with which you can put together a nice landing page. The modules they have allow you to add Amazon links, pull from RSS feeds, and many other cool features.

I’ve been using Squidoo to test out the use of landing pages linking directly to affiliate pages. This was mostly a test of how well Squidoo ranked in search engine results, but also a test of how well that traffic converted. While Squidoo pages are currently not ranking well in Google, I have hopes that this will change as Squidoo clamps down on the amount of spam lenses. Even without Squidoo pages ranking well naturally in Google, you can use Squidoo to easily create a landing page as a target for article marketing.

I want to highlight one of the lenses I wrote as a test, about how to watch satellite TV on your PC. I did no link building to this page other than joining various Squidoo groups to gain some PR.

Over the last 30 days, the lens received 90 visitors from search engine traffic. 16 of those clicked through to the affiliate link, for a click through rate of 17%. I’m amazed at the click through rate, considering that my review of the product is, like all my reviews, honest. Perhaps that was a factor, since the other Squidoo lenses on the topic read like sales pages.

Of those 16 that clicked through, 1 purchased the product, for a conversion rate of 6.25% (or 1% of the total traffic).

While the amount of traffic wasn’t amazing, the click through rate was very good. Perhaps with a better product that had a better converting sales page, the purchase rate from those clicks would have been higher.

Considering that I put the lens together with only a little effort, and did almost no link building on it, this is still a pretty good return on my investment. This particular product probably won’t stand the test of time, but as long as it lasts the Squidoo lens will be there, requiring no maintenance.

Given some effort put into finding products that are worth a positive review, and some link building and article marketing driving traffic to the lens, using Squidoo as a landing page platform could be quite profitable.

Have you had any success with Squidoo pages?

Power of a Dollar Analysis

Update: the information below is no longer applicable, since the Power of a Dollar program changed how it all works. See my more recent Power of a Dollar Update for the most recent information.

Since Power of a Dollar is an odd sort of program, I thought it would be useful to analyze where the money goes. If you haven’t seen my Power of a Dollar review, it’d probably make sense to read that before continuing, as the following may not make much sense otherwise.

I’ve done a similar sort of analysis before with my Bigorilla review. Power of a Dollar isn’t quite so simple, since you can earn extra positions in the matrix by surfing sites, essentially getting more earning power for the same amount of money.

Let’s look at it from the point of view of the person at the top of the matrix. Let’s assume there are 3,200 members who go on to pay the $11 a month to get into the paid matrix (that is a bit under the program’s current membership, but it makes the math easier later). The person at the top immediately makes $32 (from 1 cent times 3,200 members).

Every day, those 3,200 members surf their three sites in order to get another position in the matrix, which pays the person at the top another 1 cent per position, so another $32 every day, even ignoring the additional positions he’ll get through surfing himself. But then, we always knew it was best to be at the top of a matrix.

What happens to people toward the bottom of the matrix? Let’s look at it from the position of one of the people at the bottom of the matrix. The bottom, level 7, of the overall matrix would have 2,187 people in it.

Level 8 has about 6,500 positions in it. It takes the membership two days to fill it, earning the positions on level 7 $.03. Everyone also gets two more positions, these on level 8.

Level 9 has nearly 20,000 positions in it, taking about 7 days to fill. The original level 7 position earns 9 cents, and each of the 2 level 8 positions earns 3 cents, for a total of 15 cents. Each member also earns an additional 7 positions on level 9.

Level 10 has almost 60,000 positions in it. It takes 19 days to fill. The level 7 position gets 27 cents, the 2 level 8 positions get 9 cents each, and the 7 level 9 positions earn 3 cents each. The total earned this level is 72 cents. Everyone also gets another 19 positions on level 10.

Level 11 has almost 180,000 positions in it. Assuming nobody else comes in from the outside, it takes 57 days to fill. The original position on level 7 gets 81 cents, the 2 level 8 positions get 27 cents each, the 7 level 9 positions get 9 cents each, and the 19 level 10 positions get 3 cents each. Total is $2.28. Everyone also gets another 57 positions on level 11.

Level 12 has over 530,000 people in it and will take 166 days to fill completely. The original position gets $2.43, the 2 level 8 positions 81 cents each, the 7 level 9 positions 27 cents each, the 19 level 10 positions 9 cents each, and the 57 level 11 positions 3 cents each. The total for this level is $9.36. Everyone also gets another 166 positions on level 12.

That should be enough to show a trend.

Level Positions Earnings Days to Fill Per Day
8 2 $.03 2 1.5 cents
9 7 $.15 7 2.1 cents
10 19 $.72 19 3.7 cents
11 57 $2.28 57 4 cents
12 166 $9.36 166 5.6 cents

That makes a total income after 251 days of $12.54.

The above analysis also makes some pretty big assumptions. One is that no new people join the program, another is that the entire membership surfs their three sites a day. The assumptions were to make the math easier, and are probably not going to hold up to reality.

While the amount of money to be made isn’t impressive, the people involved in Power of a Dollar would be surfing other traffic exchanges anyway, and perhaps paying $11 a month for upgrades there.

The main benefit of the program is that your site is not just viewed, but reviewed. You pose a question about your site that reviewers must answer correctly to gain credit for reviewing your site. So people will be reading your site, not just allowing a surf-timer to expire while doing something else. This should translate into more sales for you, especially since the people visiting your site have shown a willingness to pay money into one program.

Only time will tell whether the monthly fee is worth the advertising you’ll receive, or whether the income for late joiners will ever offset the cost.

NPN Case Study Concludes

Back on May 23rd, I posted that I was starting a case study on the promotion of an MLM business through typical beginner Internet marketing techniques.

The MLM used was NPN. The point of the case study was not to determine if NPN was a good opportunity or not, but to see how well the typical techniques a beginning Internet marketer might use worked.

Here’s a review of how I promoted NPN:

  1. Using NPN’s own lead packages ($30 per month for a few hundred leads)
  2. Posting in appropriate forums
  3. Sending emails to safelists
  4. Some bulk pop under traffic

The leads were sent NPN designed autorepsonder letters for a month. For safelists, I used Herculist and GOTSafeList. For the bulk popunder traffic I used BuyHitsCheap.

All told, I sent about 13,000 visits to my NPN affiliate link. Also, remember that NPN is a forced matrix, so there was the possibility of spillover from above. I deliberately picked NPN from a safelist ad, figuring that if my sponsor was using the same techniques to promote NPN as I planned on using, the spillover wouldn’t skew the results of the case study.

Total results: 0 signups under me. This counts personal signups and spillover.

The conclusion you should take away from this is that the typical beginning Internet marketing techniques do not work very well.

I’ve posted recently about techniques that can be used to do the job more effectively. Splash pages, for example, are far better than sending visitors to your affiliate link. Building a targeted list will get you more signups than sending out to a safelist.

While creating and tracking splash pages, and building a targeted list, take more time and energy than using the simple techniques, the increase in effectiveness is worth it. Your primary use of traffic exchanges and safelists should be to build recognition of who you are, and to build your list.

If you must promote an opportunity like NPN on a traffic exchange, do so using a splash page. You’ll see much better results than by using your affiliate link directly.

MLM Home Based Business : A Case Study

You may be asking yourself, “Why is Jay looking at an MLM opportunity when John Chow makes over $10K a month blogging?”

There are a lot of people out there attracted to multi-level marketing. The idea of leveraging the earning potential of those you recruit is a powerful attraction. These people are often those who can least afford to lose money online…they may be working at jobs they hate, and have little energy left to devote to an online business. Yet the idea of making $1 or so filling out surveys online doesn’t appeal to them.

If you’re one of these people, I want you to stop, and wait. True to the mission of this blog, I’m going to pay the money and take the risk, and let you see whether you really can succeed at an MLM opportunity with only part-time effort. This will take some time, because I want to make sure that I allow enough time to make a fair evaluation.

So today I’ll review the program I’ve chosen, and let you know how I’m going to proceed. Then in a few weeks, I’ll be back with the results. If you want to view the ongoing details, you can go to Apsense.com and join my NPN group.

The MLM opportunity I’ve chosen is called The New Plan Network (NPN).

The best sort of MLM opportunity is one where members do not pay just to support those above them. That’s why I like Agloco, since members don’t pay anything at all. NPN does require a monthly payment, but provides some Internet marketing services in return. The services provided are:

  1. Autoresponders: setup a series of email letters to be sent to prospects over a period of time.
  2. Generic opportunity capture pages that feed into your autoresponder
  3. The NPN Messenger: an instant messenger sort of application specific to your upline and downline at NPN.
  4. Ad Trackers: see which of your online marketing efforts are getting the most traffic.
  5. URL Rotator: display one of several possible web pages when going to a rotator address.
  6. A Clickbank front end: a store of Clickbank products you can direct people to, with your Clickbank id associated with all the products.
  7. Banner Rotator: every member can provide three banner advertisements that are then displayed on the NPN web pages.
  8. Multi-Downline Builder: you can provide details of up to five other MLM programs you support, and anyone you recruit into NPN will see the links to those programs.
  9. NPN Toolbar: a toolbar with quick links to NPN news and the members area of the site.
  10. Leads: you can purchase the contact information for people who have indicated an interest in online opportunities

Now, none of this alone is remarkable, and many are available for free. But packaged together, you could justify $10 a month for the services.

Their primary selling point is that they use a 5×5 forced matrix for people you refer to the program. This means that if you refer Jim and Sally, Jim will be under you and Sally will be under Jim. This supposedly keeps Jim interested in the program, since he got a referral unexpectedly.

Earnings are a modest $0.50 per member in your downline. With a 5×5 matrix, you can have up to 3,905 people in your downline, for a total of $1,952.50 per month. You also are paid $5 per month for each person you personally referred. To further complicate things, if you or your personal referrals have recruited at least 1 new paid member in the month, you will also earn a bonus equal to what your personal referrals earn that month.

All this makes it a bit tough to estimate a possible income. Theoretically, if we don’t manage to recruit anyone at all, but our sponsor does, we’ll still end up with people underneath of us and earning money.

Seems like a great deal, right?

That’s part of the goal of this case study, to see how it works out in practice. I’ll be marketing NPN the way a typical beginning online marketer would do so, using methods that are quick and easy, sometimes trading money for effort. This includes:

  1. Using NPN’s own lead packages ($30 per month)
  2. Posting in appropriate forums
  3. Sending emails to safelists
  4. Some bulk pop under traffic

We’ll see in a few weeks how effective these methods are. Again, to keep closer track of the results, see my NPN group on Apsense.com.

While we’re waiting to see how this goes, I’ll review a couple of far safer opportunities. See you tomorrow!