Confessions of a Lazy Super Affiliate Review

Regular readers will know that I don’t think much of ebooks.

The typical ebook in this niche is full of information you can get for free other places, and mostly just forms a skeleton on which the author can hang a bunch of affiliate links. Ebooks that actually provide what they say they’re going to provide are rare, in my experience.

So rare that I gave up buying ebooks a while back. So why did I purchase Confessions of a Lazy Super Affiliate?

I’d like to say that it’s because I was maintaining the promise I made when starting this blog, to spend the money so you don’t have to. But frankly, I’d rather focus on providing information that helps you succeed, rather than spending money on ebooks.

I bought this ebook because of a very thoughtful question and answer list that came across one of the lists I’m on. The answers caught my attention, and I decided to purchase the ebook for a review.

The sales page of most ebooks is full of unbelievable hype. I was pleased to see that this ebook has a more reasonable sales page. Chris, the author, does make some claims for what he’s earned, but he also provides some useful information on the sales page itself.

If all you want to do is learn how he promotes his sites, click through to the sales page and read about it. You’ll get a list of the basic steps he goes through to start his sites ranking well in Google.

The ebook itself isn’t particularly earth shaking in any one aspect. He covers identifying hot markets, picking affiliate programs to promote, creating the site, and promoting it.

But I was impressed by the plan of action Chris outlines. He gives enough detail that you can reproduce what he does. He doesn’t minimize the amount of work involved, but gives great ideas throughout on how to outsource much of it. Obviously, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be spending your time instead of outsourcing until you generate some profits.

Toward the end of the book, Chris gives a look at the strategy of creating your own products and then upselling more expensive affiliate products on the back end. This allows you to recruit affiliates of your own to sell your product, in order to get people in front of the more expensive upsell.

Again, nothing brand new, but the style of writing and the action plan was appealing.

The most original part of the book is where Chris talks about using software you create to drive affiliate sales. He covers how to create the software without being a programmer, although you will need some basic HTML knowledge. If all you’ve ever done is use the visual editor in WordPress, be prepared to put some time in acquiring HTML skills.

The idea of using software submissions to get backlinks has gotten popular lately, and my position has been that those links would be useless for SEO purposes. I’m glad to see that Chris reports the same. But by combining the software submission with an affiliate promotion, he’s done well.

This ebook does have a variety of affiliate links in it. They’re all appropriate to what’s being discussed, though, so I never had the feeling that the ebook was written solely to make affiliate sales. More that those were the services the author uses, and so of course he’s linking to them using affiliate links.

The ebook should work well for someone who has been around Internet Marketing for a while, and has created a few sites but not had much luck promoting them. The promotion section, in particular, shows that a systematic approach using a variety of techniques works well, rather than the hit or miss approach many people use in the beginning of their online careers.

The biggest weakness of the ebook is in the area of actually creating the web site you’ll use for recommending affiliate products. You do need experience at creating web sites to be able to take that section and put it into practice. Again, someone who has been around Internet Marketing for a while will have already done that.

Despite my distaste of ebooks in general, I have to recommend this ebook in particular. The entire package is professional, and throughout you get the feeling that Chris knows what he’s talking about and is writing from experience.

Read more about Confessions of a Lazy Super Affiliate here.

Oronjo Review

This seems to be the season for new free services.

Oronjo.com is a service that provides payment processing for free. The idea is that you can sell either a file containing an ebook, audio, video, etc, or you can sell a page of content on your site. Oronjo takes care of storing the product you’re selling in a secure area of their own site, so nobody can access it until they have paid. Oronjo also takes care of payment processing, using either Paypal, Google Checkout, or with Oronjo credit. Presumably the Oronjo credit is gained by previously selling something.

Oronjo takes no fee for the service, so only the normal Paypal or Google Checkout fees apply. What’s the advantage to using Oronjo over doing it yourself?

Well, anyone can take payment with Paypal pretty easily. But setting up a secure storage location on your web host, so that people can’t download the product without paying for it, is harder. And integrating that secure space with payment processing is hard. All of that can be done, but if you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of selling your own products online, Oronjo provides a very easy, free way to give it a try.

If your products do well, you may very well want to set up payment processing yourself. That would open your possibilities to more payment processors, and give you complete control over it all.

If you’re the type that likes to donate to charity, Oronjo has the option to automatically donate the proceeds from certain products to a charity of your choice.

The whole idea behind Oronjo is to make it so easy for anyone to sell their digital products online that they can afford to charge less for them. You’re eliminating the middle-men, so can afford to make a little money from a lot of people. At least that’s the Oronjo way. You’re free, of course, to set whatever price you want.

Oronjo.com is a very nice service that should lower the bar considerably for people to try selling online.

OneLinkDirectory Review

OneLinkDirectory is a service that provides a categorized listing of web sites, much like any other directory.

The main difference is that in OneLinkDirectory, as the name implies, each category only has a single web site listed. So anyone who looks in that category sees only that one site. Well, two sites, actually…one featured (e.g. paid) site, and one free site. The idea is that if you grab the category of your choice, you have a lock on it. Nobody can take it away from you, and your site is guaranteed high visibility.

The free links are nothing special, just text links. You don’t get to add a description, the site just pulls the title of the page you’re linking to and uses that as the anchor text of the link. On the one hand, that’s good for your site’s SEO. On the other hand, OneLinkDirectory inexplicably decided to use nofollow links for free links, negating the SEO value of being in the directory.

The featured links have an image of the site, and you can type in a title and description. This is the link that catches a person’s eye when they go into a category (the free link is below the featured link, and not marked in any way). Unfortunately, they also decided to use nofollow for paid links.

So what’s the benefit to being in a directory that uses nofollow for links?

The directory is actually a thinly disguised opportunity to make money. The gimmick is that you pay for a featured listing in a category, with prices started at $395 a month for a top level category, and going down from there, and you get a percentage of the fees from all the categories under you. So if you pay for a featured listing in the Business category, you get a percentage of what someone pays to be featured in Business->Opportunities, or Business->HealthCare. And it doesn’t matter if you referred them or not, you get a commission.

That seems like a pretty good deal, although the monthly fee is pretty steep. But if you get that back from the fees of those under you, who cares, right?

Well, not really. If you go to OneLinkDirectory and click on the Income tab across the top menu, you’ll see a breakdown of what happens when you pay for a top category featured link. You earn only 5% of the fees from categories under yours, so you won’t earn back your $395 even when 20 second level categories under you are sold (because second level categories sell for less).

In fact, you’d need another seventy-some people on your second level just to break even. When you’re paying $395 a month and not getting any SEO benefit from it, it’s going to seem like forever until you break even. This opportunity is clearly only for those with a healthy income stream coming in already.

So is the directory useless? Not quite. It’s still in the early days, so you’ll have lots of people looking for categories to put free links into. So get in now, and put your free links into appropriate categories, and you’ll get some people looking at your links later. You might get some visitors or make some sales from this traffic.

In the long-run, buying a featured link might be a good investment, but you have to have enough income coming in from other sources that you can afford to treat it like a long-term investment.

Click here to visit OneLinkDirectory.

OblinQ Review

The founder of OblinQ contacted me and asked for a review, so here are my first impressions. Keep in mind that this isn’t based on an extensive use of the site.

The purpose of OblinQ is to allow you to set up your own online store. This is similar to Bravisa and Zlio.

What distinguishes OblinQ is that you don’t have a list of products you can offer, instead you can go to any web store and offer products from that store through your OblinQ store. They have a toolbar extension you can install, and then when you’re on another store (such as Amazon.com), you can choose to add a product there to your store. This allows you to build up a list of personal recommendations.

Of course, you’ll get a commission on most items when someone buys them through your store. The site itself doesn’t contain a lot of information on how commissions work. To get commissions from Amazon, you have to enter your Amazon Associate’s ID, so presumably you’re getting those paid directly from Amazon. For other stores, I’d guess that OblinQ is collecting commissions and paying some percentage back to you (an update from Rahul, the founder…OblinQ passes 100% of the commission back to you).

They do have a feature that allows you to enter you own affiliate links, if you have an account at a suitable service such as Commission Junction. For those, the commissions would go directly through the service.

One of the nice things in the stores themselves is that OblinQ uses Shopping.com to do a price comparison for your shoppers, and provide a list of where a product can be bought and for how much. Another fun feature is the ability to include YouTube videos in your store. This could be used to provide some of your own how-to videos showing products being used, or just to include something fun for your visitors.

There’s also a recent partnership with Bravisa that allows you to easily sell your Bravisa products at your OblinQ store. This is important because your profit margins on Bravisa products are higher than your profit selling through affiliate links. But you can provide alternatives to your Bravisa products, so that you get the sale no matter what.

All in all, OblinQ is a nice service for setting up an online store. They do need some spots for inserting analytics code, tying into Google’s webmaster tools, etc, and some how-to guides would also be a great addition. But if you use the toolbar plugin to add new products to your store, you can’t go too far wrong.

Another Accessible CPA Offers Network

I’m always on the lookout for networks that provide CPA offers.

The big names don’t want to accept sites that don’t already have a good amount of traffic. I’ve been fortunate in building this blog up to the point where I can get accepted at most networks, but when you’re just starting out you don’t have that option.

Market Leverage is a CPA network that I just signed up with, and according to their site all publishers are accepted. They will need to talk to you on the phone before approving your application, but as far as I can tell that’s a formality. They want to make sure you’re a real person, and find out what sorts of niches you cover, to be able to assign you a representative who can help you pick appropriate offers.

I’m pretty happy with them so far. I found an offer to use on one of my neglected niche sites that pays $27 per lead, which is very good. I’ve added a banner to that site to see if I can eke a little more income from the trickle of traffic it gets.

They have a good 40 or 50 categories of offers available, including ones usable in Canada. One of the categories is “Incentivized” offers, so if you’re looking to market via cash back, you can do that.

Like most of these networks, they clearly mark whether an offer is good for emailing to a list, advertising on PPC, or using on a web site. One of my gripes with some CPA networks is that the offers are mostly email only. Since I don’t spam any of my lists with offers, those aren’t useful for me. Market Leverage, though, has a good proportion of search and web offers.

I don’t know if I’ll use any of the CPA type ads here on Online Opportunity, because most of them are pretty spammy looking. The “Earn 6 figures from home” type of ads that I’d probably give a negative review. But I’ll look through and see if I can find any that would be truly useful for you all (assuming I ever do get around to monetizing the blog!)

In the meantime, if you have a site/blog in any niche, try signing up with Market Leverage to see what offers they have in your area.

Building Your First Income Stream

Most people who get into Internet Marketing do so because they want to make money.

Usually lots of money! After all, that’s what the hype tells them. Make money while lounging on the beach, because your websites are selling for you while you’re gone (that came across a list I’m on lately).

What the hype doesn’t tell people is that making money online takes time. The gurus show pictures of their expensive houses and cars, and don’t talk about the years they spent learning the ropes. They didn’t start out making tons of money, they started out making a little money (or even losing money).

I think the first income stream you build is the most important.

That’s the one that you can reinvest into other opportunities, to pay for outsourcing graphic creation, writing, programming, etc. The first income stream should bring money in for nearly free, so that you aren’t leaking money from your savings while you’re learning the skills you need to succeed.

Getting that first income stream is a big confidence booster, and keeps you motivated to continue learning and growing.

Here are some possible first income streams.

GPT Sites

These are the sorts of sites that pay you to do things. Click ads, complete offers, etc. Marketing Pond is the best way to get involved in this arena, since all these sorts of programs rely on you getting referrals to earn more than you can earn alone. Instead of trying to get referrals to a dozen programs at once, you get referrals to Marketing Pond, and then they join the programs under you.

This route is the best for someone whose confidence level at writing is low. You can work on your writing skills while you’re earning a bit of money online.

Blogging

For the cost of a domain name and web hosting (about $70 a year), you can write about a topic that interests you. People come to your blog because they’re interested in the same topic as you, and they stay because they like the way you write.

Along the way, they click on ads on your site, they buy products you recommend, and you earn some money. How much depends on how many people visit the site.

Some people have replaced full-time incomes via blogging. This is a good option for those who are confident writing regularly.

Income Streams To Avoid At First

Don’t get into the pay-$X-a-month ways of producing income right away. You’ve seen the hyped up ads all around the Internet…pay $10 a month, we’ll put 100 people under you and you’ll be in profit in a week.

Profit can’t be guaranteed to happen that soon in any of those programs, and if someone tells you they can they’re lying to you in order to get a commission from you.

Wait on these until your first income stream can support them. Then you don’t care if it takes a while to build up to being in profit, because you’re not out money from your savings.

Whichever first income stream you pick, stick with it for the long run. That’s the only way to build it to the point where it can support other projects.

P.S. This Friday is the one-year anniversary of this blog, so tomorrow will start our guest blogging period. I’ll be back for Friday’s post, until then enjoy the guest bloggers! I’ll be on the beach…

How To Split Test Adsense Ads

I’ve been planning, thanks to suggestions made by commentors in recent posts (PayPerClickTrick and On Stage Lighting) to do some split testing of Adsense ad colors and formats.

If the term split testing is new to you, the basic idea is that you run ads two different ways and see which one works best. “Works best” can mean whatever you want it to mean…best click through rate, best earnings, etc.

My plan had been to do serial split testing. Run ads the way I have them for a two week period, record the click through rate, impressions, and earnings, and then run them with different colors for a two week period. I would wait to change formats until a later test, since one of the critical parts of split testing is that you must know what causes any change in results. So if I changed both the color of the ad and the format, and the click through rate went up, I wouldn’t know which change caused it. It might be that it’s the different format, and the changed color is actually hurting my click through rate.

Change one thing, test it, and see what the results are before changing anything else.

Another option is parallel split testing. This is where you run both sets of ads at the same time, rotating equally between them for all your web visitors. Visitor #1 might get blended ads, visitor #2 would then get ads of a different color, visitor #3 would get blended ads, and so on. I prefer parallel split testing because it equalizes any possible seasonal factors. For example, my two week period for blended ads started on March 11th, and will end March 24th. March 24th is the day after Easter here in the United States, and that might have an effect on web traffic and click through rates.

By doing parallel split testing, both ad variations would be running at the same time.

One of the tricky parts about parallel split testing is that you really want each visitor to see only one ad variation. A simple rotation scheme on a page load won’t do that, since any given visitor might reload any given page on your site. If they reload it they might see the other ad variation. Changing ad colors on a visitor will get their attention, and will definitely skew the results you’re trying to measure.

Each visitor should see a consistent ad theme on your site, and it should rotate on a per-visitor basis.

I’m still hunting for a suitable script to do this for advertising on a WordPress blog. There’s a split testing plugin out there that is for Adwords campaigns leading to your blog, not for Adsense on your blog. There’s another one for split testing different variations on your posts. That one looks very interesting, but wasn’t what I wanted.

I did find the most excellent Who Sees Ads? plugin for managing ad display. The plugin will allow this with some custom PHP programming added. With the plugin, you can define rules under which visitors will see any particular ad. You could display ads only to new visitors and not to your regular readers, you could display one ad to visitors from the Unites States and another to visitors from India, you could specify that each visitor should see an ad only X times, etc.

One of the options in the plugin is to use a custom PHP function to determine if an ad should be shown or not. I think, with some custom PHP code, that I can manage to get a PHP function that will alternate between displaying ad variations with the plugin on a visitor basis, and not a page load basis.

The only problem is time! For the meantime, I’ll stick with serial split testing, and begin my two week period of testing non-blended ads tomorrow.

Look back in two weeks for the results.

Update: I just found the WP Spinner plugin. It’s basically a plugin that will rotate different content on your WordPress site. They say it can be used for split testing, although I’m not sure if it’ll show the same content for a particular visitor, or if it’s a simple rotating on page views mechanism. I doubt I’ll give it a try, since the programmer in me wants to write some PHP code for use with Who Sees Ads, but you might check it out if you’re looking for split testing plugins.

Improving Your Adsense CPC

A couple of days ago I started hunting for information on improving the cost-per-click (CPC) you get with Adsense ads. I was a bit tired of losing visitors from my sites for an 11 cent click (that’s an extreme example, but it happens).

I know that the amount you make per click with Adsense is dependent on a number of factors that you don’t control directly, including your click-through-rate compared to other sites in your niche. But I knew that Adsense allows you to block specific websites from displaying ads, so I basically wanted to find somewhere that provided a list of low paying sites.

I ran across this post pretty quickly: How To Improve Google Adsense Revenue. The post covers the basics, and is a great tutorial if you’re new to Adsense. It didn’t cover what I was looking for, but it’s a quality post that’s worth a look.

I also found this post on Blocking Out Unwanted And Miserable CPC Sites. It talks about a database called Ads Black List that was exactly what I was looking for in the first place.

Ads Black List allows you to enter all the domains you run ads on, along with keywords for those domains. It’ll then search its database of MFA and low CPC sites and see which ones target those keywords. You get a list of those in a format suitable for copying and pasting into the Adsense competitive ads filter box.

Now ads from those sites won’t show up in your Adsense ads. This helps block those doing Adsense arbitrage, or just those who pay a really low CPC.

I’ve just used this for my sites, so don’t have anything to report on the results. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update: Since I wrote this, I’ve seen a bit of increase in CPC for my sites. I don’t have enough data yet to make a conclusion, but the initial increase seems to be very good.

Cash Crate Increases Commissions

Cash Crate, a popular get-paid-to (GPT) site has recently increased the amount of commissions you get from new members.

Their basic commission structure is still in place. You get 20% of what your first level referrals get, and 10% of what their first level referrals get. This can amount to quite a bit of money over time, as your referral base grows. You can boost those numbers by referring more active members from the United States. The majority of offers are good only for those members, so they increase your commission rate when you refer more of them. After referring 50 active U.S. members, you get 25% of what your first level referrals make instead of just 20%.

That basic commission structure is one of the best I’ve seen in these sorts of programs. The recent addition adds on another $3 to what you get from your first level referrals who earn their first $10 payout.

When one of your referrals makes their first $10 payout, you’ll have earned 20% of that, for $2. You get a bonus $3 for them making it to their payout, for a total of $5. That’s very generous!

Another thing I like about Cash Crate is that the payout amount is low enough anyone can make it. My Inbox Dollars post walked people through making their first $30 payout…using those same techniques, a Cash Crate member can easily breeze through their first $10 payout.

Click here to join Cash Crate.

February’s Neglected Niche Site Update

Back in the January update for my neglected niche site, I reported around $35 in Adsense earnings.

February’s income was around $30, down because of a total lack of time to do anything to the site. But then, that’s why I call it my “neglected” niche site. I also had about $100 in affiliate commissions from sales, which was a new trend. As far as Adsense earnings, though, I think the plateau has been hit, unless I work more on the site to boost its search engine rankings. And it doesn’t really seem worth my time to do so, for a probable extra $10 a month in Adsense income.

I’ve been wanting to do another niche site lately, even though I’m still working on adding content to a quality niche site over at SBI!. Yes, I like to start projects! I’m resisting, though, because I just don’t have the time to do a new niche site justice.

Instead, what I’m going to do is live vicariously through volunteers over at The Advisory Panel. I’ll host and manage a niche blog/site, and volunteers will generate content. They’ll all share in the proceeds from the blog, and along the way we’ll document the entire process at the forum.

If you’re interested in volunteering, join The Advisory Panel and let us know.

P.S. Speaking of niche blogs, the prize for the March contest at The Advisory Panel is going to be a complete niche blog, setup and ready for content. As a bonus, it’ll even have a header custom designed by Lori over at A Cowboy’s Wife.