MDA Jail & Bail Update

The Muscular Dystophy Association’s Jail & Bail event was today. 

To make this post just a little bit on topic for the blog, I’ll share that I raised $400 for the MDA, almost all of it done online through their donation page.  I had one person who gave me a check instead of donating online.

My fundraising method was basically to send out unsolicited emails to everyone I knew.  So yes, spam works.  Send out enough emails and someone will do what you ask them to.

For anyone who wants to donate to the MDA, they’ll have my donation page up for another month.

Thanks to Tyson and Enkay!

I wanted to thank Tyson and Enkay for being early supporters of the blog.

Tyson, over at Some Make Money, was kind enough to put a link to Online Opportunity in his feed signature for a month or so, as thanks for my referring him to the plugin. I appreciate the gesture!

Enkay, over at Enkay Blog gave me a sitewide link as a Proud Sponsor. That’s pretty generous, considering he’s the one who did the work of promoting my first contest! Thanks!

I’m not sure how they each found the blog, but I’m glad they did. While I don’t get to my RSS reader often enough to comment on their blogs these days (fall semester is arriving quickly!), I do appreciate their early support. That can make or break a starting blog.

So if you have the time today, find a blog that doesn’t have any comments on it at all, and leave a few. You’ll probably make someone’s day and keep them blogging for months to come.

8 Interesting Things About Me

I normally don’t participate in this sort of thing, but I could hardly resist when I was tagged by Enkay Blog. He was one of the early readers of this blog, and I owe a lot to him for promoting the first contest I had (when it would have increased his chances of winning $100 by not promoting it).

So here are the rules for this 8 interesting things post:

– Each player must post these rules to begin the meme.
– Each players starts with eight random facts or habits about themselves.
– People who get tagged must blog about their eight things and post these rules.
– At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
– Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here are the 8 interesting things about myself:

1: While in college, I failed Speech class three or four times before finally passing. Most of my old friends find it hard to believe I now teach college and stand up talking in front of students all the time.

2: To stick with the college theme for a moment, it took me four colleges and fourteen years to get my undergraduate degree. I have to confess I wasn’t a very good student. My Master’s degree took only two years, and I made perfect grades all the way through. Maybe the pod people replaced me between the two degrees?

3: I have a wonderful two-year old daughter. We’d never expected to have kids, and my daughter fought her way past various forms of birth control to get here. We’re so glad she did!

4: I have a personal web site where I’ve written quite a bit about my personal philosophy on growth, finances, and the like. It’s called Guardian Tree Productions.

5: I’m a life long gamer, and love board games, roleplaying games, murder mystery games, card games, and pretty much anything that involves getting together with multiple people and having fun.

6: In high school, I designed a chess variant where pieces traveled in time in addition to their normal movement. I never could get anyone to play that version with me.

7: I write science fiction when I get the chance (which isn’t much since I started this blog!) I’ve put a couple of my stories up on a really old home page of mine. The page itself is hopelessly out of date, and all the material there is slated to be worked into another site some day.

8: Also back in high school, I helped a friend of mine make a movie about zombies. He now owns his own production company and makes movies for a living.

This is the spot where I’m supposed to tag other bloggers. Most of the ones I would have tagged were also in Enkay Blog’s list, but here are a few that missed the list: Tyson, Carolyn, Rosa, and Lori.

Oh, and may I just say that the latest poll over at Carolyn’s site, Juggling Frogs, gave me my best laugh yet today.

The Network as a Membership Site

I’ve mentioned before the idea about making a portion of the Network into a membership site, to give access to the ever growing library of ebooks and videos I’m accumulating. Since most do not have give away rights, I’d need to use them as incentive for joining a membership site.

My original idea had been a $1 one-time fee to get access to the library. I’d also need to provide something as a benefit of membership, to keep within the letter of the licenses, so there would probably be a URL rotator available for members.

Then I started thinking that I wanted to continue adding to the library, which does cost some money, and bandwidth would rise as the library grows. It’d be nice to defray the ongoing costs, so a monthly fee started sounding like a better idea. $1 a month is still fairly trivial, but would help to offset the cost of adding to the library.

So I thought I’d throw it open for your opinions, since the purpose of such a site would be to get this library in your hands. What do you think is the best way to work the membership fee for the site? I’ve included a poll below to track the most common options, but feel free to leave comments with ideas, too.


Introducing the Network

I’ve started up a sister site to the blog, the Online Opportunity Network.

The purpose of the Network is to provide in-depth support for people who are working any of my recommended opportunities. Right now, the Network only has a detailed guide on Marketing Pond. In the weeks since I first posted about Marketing Pond, I’ve recruited nearly one hundred referrals, and felt the need to provide them with advice to help them succeed.

Eventually the Network will contain guides for other programs I recommend. Writing the guides is time consuming, though, so they’ll follow slowly. If you have requests for which programs should get guides next, let me know.

I also have plans for a newsletter or two that will be hosted on the Network, rather than the blog.

I’ll occasionally post here about new happenings on the Network.

A First Look at the New Squidoo Stats

Squidoo is great for putting up a quick web page that will rank more highly in Google for its keywords than a brand new website (all other factors being the same).  And Squidoo lenses generally get ranked in Google search results in a couple of days.

But one of my pet peeves about Sqiudoo has been the poor stats offered.

The old stats gave you charts of the number of visitors your lens had, the lensrank of it, and how many outgoing links were clicked (but not which links).  In modern terms, this was primitive!  Especially when Squidoo itself uses Google Analytics, so they had the data available.

The new stats that just rolled out expose more of the Google Analytics data for your lens. 

Here’s an example of one of the sections of stats for my Roleplaying With Kids lens.

You can see that it breaks out the traffic (for the last 7 days) by source, which is nice for getting an overview of where your visitors are coming from.

It’s curious to me that I have some direct traffic coming to the lens.  That would be people who didn’t click on a link, but bookmarked the page or typed the link into their web browser.  I wouldn’t have predicted this.

Google accounts for the majority of the traffic to the lens, which is what I would expect, since Squidoo lenses rank highly in Google results.



Also provided are lists of keywords used in search engines:

This is the most valuable section of the new stats.

Everyone talks about long-tail keywords being valuable, but predicting a good long tail keyword is difficult. 

This listing shows what long-tail keywords my content is attracting that I hadn’t thought about originally.

The keywords with a little + next to them are keywords that are not targeted by my lens.  Some of them may very well apply, but others may not be a good match for the lens, and point out new niches to explore.

You also get a list of sites that are in the referral section of the summary above.

This helps you to know where your traffic is coming from.  If someone has linked to your lens, it’s worth exploring their site to see if there are other niches you can create a lens about, or other content to fill out your current lens.

The clickouts section (below) shows you which links leaving your lens are being clicked on (the count of clicks is also given).  This helps you to know which outgoing links are most popular, and might indicate either a good candidate for expanding your information about, or breaking out into a new lens.


You can adjust the stats to get information for the last 30 days, just today, or just yesterday, as well as the default 7 day period.

There’s also a royalties section that shows details of any orders that were placed due to using the Squidoo module.  My lens doesn’t have any links to, so I can’t show you that section.

I’m excited about the new stats, and expect to be able to improve the traffic to my lenses by using the information they provide. 

If you’re not already using Squido, you can sign up here and create your first lens within minutes.

Using Multiple Email Addresses in Free Money Programs

The nice thing about free money programs is that you can, well, get money for free. Instead of paying into a program and getting a cut from what your referrals pay, instead you trade time for money, just like a regular job. Your job in free money programs is typically clicking on advertisements, taking surveys, signing up for free trial offers, etc.

Regular readers will know I recommend Marketing Pond as a good downline builder for free money programs (see my review of Marketing Pond for details). There’s a lot of great info in the Marketing Pond forum on the best ways of using the free money programs, but for those of you who sign up for the programs without reading the forum from top to bottom, I thought I’d share one important tip.

Don’t use your regular email for every program.

Most of the free money programs are quite good about not flooding your inbox with emails. Marketing Pond includes some traffic exchanges, and the ones that are safelists will flood your inbox with emails. In addition, signing up for free trial offers via the free money programs will put your email on another company’s mailing list (that is, after all, why you’re getting paid to take the free trial, so they can get your contact information and try to sell you their products).

My recommendation is to get a couple of free email addresses at Use one as the email address you give to the free trial offers. That one will be, over time, absolutely flooded with emails you don’t want to read. Just log in now and then and delete all the emails.

Use another as the subscription email for any safelists you use for promoting Marketing Pond. This inbox will also be full of emails in short order. Depending on the safelist you’re using, you may want to actually read some of these, if you get credits of some sort for doing so. GOTSafeList, for example, provides you with advertising credits for reading the emails other members send. See my post on safelist advertising for more details on safelists.

To recap, my advice for getting started with Free Money Programs is:

  1. Use your primary email address to sign up with the actual programs
  2. Use a second email address when signing up for free trial offers
  3. Use a third email address for safelists

Since the free money programs themselves send you emails that you get paid to read, it’s in your best interests to have them come to an email you check regularly. I’ve used my primary email in a number of programs, and haven’t received too many emails. I also check my email several times a day. If you check it less often, you may want to create another Gmail account to use with the free money programs themselves. Just don’t forget to log in to read the emails regularly!

Blogger Jailed, Desperately Seeks Bail

Okay, so I haven’t really been jailed.

I’ve been asked to participate in a local jail-and-bail type of event to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I go and sit in a jail cell for an hour, and hopefully they let me out afterward. That might have something to do with how much money is raised in my name, although surely feeding me three meals a day while they wait for the money to come in is going to cost more than just letting me go.

They’ve got a nice website for directing potential donors to, so in the event that any random strangers stopping by the blog want to help me raise bail, you can go to my page on their website.

They’ve set my bail at $3,600. I have a feeling I may be in the cell for a bit more than an hour.

Welcome Users!

I noticed that the blog was getting some users from a link on’s site. Turns out that the staff was Googling themselves and found my series on how to make your own website for free. They were nice enough to mention it in their news page, so some of their users have been coming through to see how to setup WordPress.

When I realized this, I immediately started feeling guilty about the horrible state of those posts. I’d written parts 1 through 3 of that series before I discovered Windows Live Writer (a most excellent blog authoring tool that makes embedding images into your posts nearly trivial), so they were just a bunch of text instructions.

I spent today rewriting them using Windows Live Writer, and embedding screen shots to guide people through the process of getting signed up with and installing WordPress there. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about users having to wade through a bunch of text instructions with no screen shots.

That’s my excuse for not posting the Squidoo tips I’d promised today, and I’m sticking to it. Expect the Squidoo tips tomorrow.

Internet Business Models

I realized I started out the first post talking about monetizing a website, and haven’t really talked in more general terms about making money online. So I’d like to talk a little about the business models on the Internet.

A business model is basically a description of how a business operates, and in our case the most important part of a business model is how we make money.

The Internet has two basic ways to make money online: advertising and sales.

I talked a little about advertising in the last post. You provide human eyes to look at advertisements, and companies pay you money. They may pay you only when someone clicks on an advertisement (e.g. pay-per-click or PPC) or they may pay you when someone just sees the advertisement (e.g. pay-per-impression or CPM) or they may pay you only when someone clicks on an advertisement and then buys something (pay-per-sale).

Selling advertising space is the easiest way to get started making money online, but it does generally require a website.

Sales is the other main way to make money on the Internet. You have a product, and you create a website to allow customers to purchase your product. This also requires a website, but there are companies that will make it easy for you to create an online store. Yahoo, for example, will do this.

Since I haven’t tried creating an online store yet, I won’t recommend any specific programs. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of starting an online store, you can also promote affiliate programs. An affiliate program is where you become a salesperson for an online product, and promote it on your blog, in your email signature, on a web page, where ever. When someone clicks on your link to the product and buys it, you get a commission.

So advertising and sales are the two traditional ways to make money online. There are some other options that I’ll talk about in later posts.