AffSphere Review

AffSphere is an article directory that claims you have multiple ways to earn.

It’s basically a site designed to aggressively monetize article traffic. To give authors an incentive to submit content (beyond the normal benefits of article marketing), AffSphere will send some of those commissions your way.

Here’s a quick review of some of the ways they reward authors.

Affiliate Commissions

AffSphere advertises some programs that you can become an affiliate of, and they’ll display your affiliate link on those banners that display on your articles.

Banner Advertising

You can advertise your own banners on their site, using credits that you’ve earned from both writing articles and referring others. Think of this like a big banner exchange, except you’re using credits rather than truly exchanging banner impressions.


The usual benefit of article marketing, you may make some more money from whatever you’re promoting. You can redeem credits for article traffic too, which increases the exposure of your articles.


Your article pages also have your affiliate links to AffSphere, so if someone signs up after reading one of your articles, you get them as a referral.


Supposedly you can earn a percentage of Adsense income, with your publisher id rotated among all the articles on the site in some way. However, I didn’t see in the back office area any spot to place my Adsense publisher id.


You earn a percentage of what your downline makes in Adsense, down 5 levels. If, in fact, anyone can earn via Adsense.

Affiliate Links

You can put affiliate links in your articles.

The idea seems like a good one, but I’m bothered by a couple of points.

First, not seeing a way to provide my Adsense publisher id is troublesome, since they make a big deal out of that being one of the ways you can earn. I may just be missing it, but I was walked through entering other affiliate ids, Adsense should have been included in there.

Second, the AffSphere affiliate link to their home page redirects to a sales page for an article marketing guide. AffSphere itself is free to join, but this makes it seem as if you need to purchase the guide, and does a disservice to everyone who does try to promote the directory.

My recommendation is to click the above link, then edit the address bar to remove the “/reports.php”, and hit Enter. That will take you to the real home page, where you can join for free.

If AffSphere is going to work for you, it will work because you’re creating content for it. As usual, try to direct readers to a site you own in the article. Don’t rely entirely on AffSphere paying you an income, treat anything you earn there as a nice bonus while you’re promoting your other sites.

Random Commission Checks

I received an unexpected check last week from an affiliate network.

It was unexpected because I hadn’t really promoted anything from that network for six months or more, so I didn’t expect to have made any sales. Yet there was the check. So I went online, logged in to the affiliate network, and ran some reports.

It turns out that the sales were from a blog post I’d made over six months ago. A couple of posts about a particular product I’d tried, and I tossed an affiliate link to the product in it on general principles. The post was on my personal blog, which has very little traffic. I honestly never expected to make a sale from it.

What’s the moral of this story?

That blogging is very much a cumulative effect when you monetize with affiliate links. Think of it as spreading seeds around the Internet, and you never know when one of those seeds may sprout and start generating sales. The more seeds you spread, the better off you are in the long run. But it takes patience, and isn’t a way to get rich quick.

Keep plugging away, though, and eventually you’ll start to get random commission checks out of the blue.

A Lesson Learned From Freshmen

As the fall semester starts here, I’ve been busy preparing syllabi, lecture notes, etc. So I haven’t had much time for my online projects, although I did manage to finish another ebook that I’ll launch sometime in September.

I wanted to talk a bit about the biggest lesson I’ve learned from watching freshmen as they come into college for the first time, and how that lesson applies to newcomers to online marketing.

College Is Hard!

Most of the freshmen find college a challenge. Not necessarily the class material, but the entire experience. Being away from home, entirely responsible for your own actions, answerable to nobody.

A small percentage of them will self-destruct that first year. They’ll decide to ditch class and not do their work, because it’s their choice. Nobody is hounding them to be responsible, it’s up to them. If they’re lucky, they’ll come out of it and start making good decisions. If they’re not, they’ll drop out of college entirely.

When you first start working online, you’re in a similar position. You’ve worked for other people (and probably still do), and in your day job have all sorts of checks and balances to make sure you do what you’re supposed to do.

Online, though, it’s all you. Nobody is going to punish you if you watch a movie instead of working on a mini-site. Nobody is going to yell at you if you knock off an hour early instead of finishing that ebook.

Yet that sort of freedom is an illusion. If you don’t put in the time and the work, you won’t succeed. If you aren’t motivated to start, the chances are good that your motivation will get less and less as time goes by.

You’ll have to be your own boss and force yourself to do the work, to put in the time.

Or you could always drop out, and head back to the day job for good.

It’s your decision.

Lessons Learned From JV Giveaways

I wrote an ebook (Link Cloaking 101) recently for an Internet Marketing related giveaway. While regular readers are probably tired of hearing about it already, I’ve learned a lot from the process of seeing what other Internet Marketers to in giveaways, and wanted to share.

Here’s how to maximize your results from participating in a JV giveaway.

Do Not Provide A Direct Download Link

The giveaway sites will ask you for a direct download link, so that upgraded members can download your gift without filling out your opt-in form. This is bad, because you don’t get that person as a subscriber. But it’s good for them, because they don’t have to fool with opting in.

Most giveaway sites are fine if you provide a link instead to a web page that contains a direct download link to your gift. On that web page, provide the direct download link at the top, but just under that tell them what they’ll be missing by not opting in to your list.

Michael Badger did this extremely well in a recent giveaway. I can’t post the link here as an example, because then you’d be able to download his gift directly. But basically, he provided the download link first, and just after told people about the one-time offer that list subscribers could get. And yeah, the OTO was nice enough to convince me to sign up to his list and pay for the OTO.

So, do not provide a direct download link, but instead provide a link to a web page that contains the download link. You can do your best on that web page to convince people to sign up for your list even though they don’t have to do so.

Use An OTO

You have two places you can provide an OTO. One is the direct download page mentioned above…below your attempt to convince someone to sign up for your list, you can also make an OTO that you think they’ll enjoy.

The second is after someone becomes a subscriber, you can do a one-time offer after they confirm their email address. The OTO has to be on target with what you’re giving away, or you won’t get many takers.

I recommend using Rapid Action Profits to manage the list subscription and OTO process. No need to mess with payment options or secure downloads, RAP takes care of all of it, and integrates with whatever autoresponder you’re already using.

Do Not Automatically Give Resale Rights

Give a gift that is just for personal use, and provide a link for people to opt-in to get resale rights. What you’ve done is taken a list that is interested in the original topic of your gift, and transformed it into a (smaller) list that is interested in selling the product themselves.

That second list is more likely to be open to tools and training that will make selling things online easier.

How’d I Do?

I pretty much missed the boat on every lesson with Link Cloaking 101. I’m too lazy to go back and fix the problems with that ebook, but the next one I write I’ll do from the ground up with all these lessons in mind.

What techniques have you found helpful with giveaways?

Stealth Traffic Report Review

Seems like everyone is writing a Stealth Traffic Report of one form or another recently.

This one is from Michael Badger, and was given away at the Auto Pilot Cash Streams giveaway (the link in the first paragraph is directly to the PDF itself, no need to join the giveaway to get it…if you’d rather join Michael’s list to get the report, click here).

The report lists 6 tactics for driving traffic to your website. Some of the tactics will drive targeted traffic, and some drive untargeted traffic. The report does a nice job of describing how to use each type of traffic properly.

Some of the topics include using social bookmarking sites, article marketing, software development, offering resale rights, etc.

If you’ve been working online for any length of time, most of the techniques here won’t come as any surprise to you. One in particular isn’t one I would recommend (what he refers to as “Fire Linking”), because Google slapped blogs for doing it last year.

Other techniques are great. His suggested use of social bookmarking sites is a great compromise between getting traffic from those sorts of sites and avoiding abuse of the sites. You’ve probably seen his technique for using resale rights to build a list before, but it helps to be reminded of it since most of us don’t get around to actually using most of the techniques we read about. The techniques described for article marketing can help you to create more effective articles, and pull more traffic with them.

20 Ways to Make $100 A Day Online Review

This is an ebook collecting techniques that 20 articles written by Internet Marketers, focused on quickly earning $100 per day.

I’m not a fan of ebooks, despite having written one myself (see Link Cloaking 101), because most of the time the information simply isn’t useful. It’s too vague, or makes unreasonable assumptions, etc.

With 20 articles written by different people, you might expect this ebook to be a mix of different short articles. It is a mix of different articles, but each article is generally 10 to 15 pages long. Each article goes into as much depth as you’d normally find in a short ebook targeted to that technique.

For example, I started to read the article on niche marketing, and immediately found myself in a discussion of what a niche is, how to use keyword tools, etc. All the same information that you can find for free at Online Opportunity. But then it moved into how to structure your niche site, finding partners, etc.

The article on the $100 a day mindset nicely laid out ten different models for earning online, and talked about overcoming your own mental blocks on succeeding. There are a couple of articles about software creation and selling software, about creating information products, about using public domain material, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and more, including the story of how one man built an Internet greeting card service into a full-time income (the service allowed sending physical greeting cards from a web site inexpensively).

What I like most about this ebook is that the people writing the articles all come across as regular people. They’re not billing themselves as gurus, and it’s pretty clear that not too long ago they were beginners, too.

If you find yourself needing some inspiration, or are stuck for a new idea about how to earn online, then I recommend 20 Ways to Make $100 A Day Online.

Neglected Niche Site Vs SBI Update

Long-time readers will remember that I created a couple of niche sites from scratch. One used my neglected niche site strategy (basically, create a typical MFA site, submit it to some directories, and forget it). Another used SBI, which is a more managed approach, focused on creating a quality niche site.

Both sites were started in November of last year, but my natural procrastination kept either from being much to look at until March (when I had enough of the SBI site up to monetize it).


The SBI site started receiving traffic almost immediately. Too soon, in fact, since I hadn’t had enough pages up to make it a site worth visiting when the first visitors started arriving. But that just gave me the motivation to get a minimum set of pages up quickly, instead of procrastinating. The SBI site currently gets about 70 unique visitors a day, on average. I’ve done no promotion with it beyond directory submissions.

The neglected niche site has had, on average 0 visitors a day until just recently. It takes sites like this a while to age before Google decides they’re okay to list. It’s now sitting on page 2 for its keyword in Google. Based on my experience with other sites like this, it’ll take another three or four months to get up to page 1 (and will drop off entirely several times in that period). The key here is to keep up with the directory submissions, so Google sees continued linking to the site. So going with just the recent activity, the site is getting about 5 visitors a day.

Adsense Income

The SBI site started getting Adsense hits as soon as I monetized it, since traffic was already coming to the site (another reason for late monetization is the instant gratification you get by getting at least one Adsense hit). It’s made a grand total of $30 since March. Not great by any measure…the particular niche I chose might tend to discourage Adsense clicks.

The neglected niche site has made about $1.50 in that same time period. Based on other sites like this I’ve done, I expect it to eventually make about $1 a day. It’s in the same niche as the SBI site, but provides less useful information so the click through rate on Adsense will be higher.

Which Is Better?

It all depends on how you work.

I think the SBI site has more potential for income, but the key with a site like that is that it must be updated frequently, and the information must be quality. You’ll make less in Adsense in the short-term, but you’ll build trust with your regular visitors. That trust will let you recommend affiliate products or sell your own products later.

But the neglected niche site strategy is a fire-and-forget strategy. It’s the “build 50 of these sites to earn $1,500 a month” strategy. That’s appealing to a lot of people, because it doesn’t require creating quality content, and doesn’t require much in the way of promotion. It does, however, require patience, since sites like this take forever (in Internet terms) to rank well.

I’d recommend you try both and see how they work out for you, personally.

Auto Pilot Cash Streams Banned By Paypal

Regular readers will remember that I wrote an ebook called Link Cloaking 101 in order to participate in the Auto Pilot Cash Streams giveaway.

Turns out that pretty recently, Paypal decided they didn’t like the concept of the site, and are requiring the owners to remove Paypal payments from it. It just shows that you never know what Paypal is or isn’t going to like, but that they’re sensitive when it comes to anything Internet Marketing related.

If you’ve put a One-Time-Offer on the giveaway site, then you’re going to have to modify it to include your own payment processing. This is a pain, because part of the benefit of using the giveaway for this was not having to figure out payment processing.

But it’s also good, because you’ll get 100% of the sales price instead of most of it going to the giveaway site and the buyer’s sponsor. You can also take the opportunity to build a list of buyers, if you’re comfortable with payment processing.

I’ll assume you’re not comfortable with payment processing, and tell you how I modified my OTO on the site to handle taking payments. I used Oronjo, a free service for selling digital products online.

You can set up your product to be sold via Oronjo, and then simply paste the HTML for the order button at the bottom of your OTO page. You’re instantly set up to take payments!

So if you’ve thought about setting up an OTO at Auto Pilot Cash Streams, but this latest news put you off it, use Oronjo to make taking payment trivially easy.

Which PPC Keyword To Use?

So you’re thinking about using PPC to drive some traffic to your blog pages, or to a mini-site you’ve created.

Which keywords to you choose?

There are two aspects to that question. One is what keywords will get you good placement for low cost (e.g. low competition keywords). I’ve written about that before. Another aspect is what keywords Google thinks your page is about.

We can use Google’s keyword tool to get some insight into that last part of the question, and a start on good keywords to check for the first part.

Go to the tool and you’ll see the initial opening screen, something like this:

This is what I’ve shown before, to do keyword research on possible keywords to determine competition. This time, though, we want to click the radio button labeled “Website Content” (circled in red above).

This allows us to type in the URL of a web page instead of a keyword. Google then goes out to that web page and examines it to figure out what keywords it’s about, and then shows you the statistics for those and related keywords.

This is most beneficial when done on specific landing pages, as a start to identifying good keywords to target for PPC. If you find that the keywords you thought you were targeting don’t come up, then you might need to look at your on-page SEO a bit more closely.

Using the keyword tool in this way is a nice shortcut for identifying secondary keywords to bid on when using PPC to drive traffic to a mini-site. I’m sure you’ve already identified your primary keyword using other means, but secondary keywords can often have lower competition and drive a significant amount of new traffic to your site.

Traffic Wave Tutorial #4

If you’ve been following along with the Traffic Wave tutorials, you’ll have your autoresponder set up and your thank you pages done. All that’s left is the opt-in page.

Traffic Wave does provide an opt-in page for you, but I don’t use their pages for a couple of reasons. One is that I like to host my own opt-in pages so I can use my own analytics system (in my case, Google Analytics) to get insight into who is visiting the pages, and what percentage of visitors make it on to the various thank you pages (e.g. through the sign up funnel). Another is that the Traffic Wave opt-in pages only give you a limited selection of templates. Even though the opt-in pages I come up with aren’t that great, at least they’re my work…and when I want to, I can pay someone to create a custom opt-in page for me.

On to creating the page.

Pick A Template

Unless you’re the sort of graphical genius that can create an opt-in page from scratch, you need to pick a template. There are tons out there, just look around (or join The Advisory Panel and download a few packages from the free library there).

Your two basic choices are a squeeze page, or a sales page.

A squeeze page is a short page that can be seen all at once. It’s designed to catch the visitor’s attention and entice them into submitting their name and email. A sales page is a longer page that is designed to overcome the visitor’s reluctance to sign up by bombarding them with claims about how your product will cure all the ills in their life.

Which you use is up to you. Long sales pages are popular these days, even though I never read them and think they’re horrible tools. But they’re popular, so maybe they’re working for someone.

Whatever template you find will provide you with an HTML file and possibly some image files. You’ll need to edit the HTML file to add your opt-in form.

Creating A Capture Page

You have a template that has a space where it says, “Put your opt-in form here”. But where do you get your opt-in form?

Login to your Traffic Wave back office, and go back to the autoresponder you set up in previous tutorials. Choose the option titled “Capture Pages”.

That will take you to the area where you can define what information your capture form requires, as well as defining custom capture forms. I recommend you stick with just name and email for the information. After all, the goal here is to get them as a subscriber, not to get their life story. Time enough to get more information later once you have permission to contact them regularly.

For now, click on “Create New Hosted Capture Page” to be taken to a screen with a lot of information to fill out. For the most part, we don’t care about all of this, because we are not going to use this capture page, we’re only going to swipe the opt-in form from it.

You should put something meaningful into the Page Nickname. You must also put something into the Headline, Paragraph 1, and Signature Name, although it doesn’t matter what.

Down at the bottom, under Subscription Landing URL, put the full URL to your opt-in thank you page. This will show after they subscribe, but before they confirm. Under Confirmation Landing URL, put the full URL to your confirmation thank you page so it shows after they click the confirmation link.

Click “Create New Capture Page”.

Note that if you didn’t care about using your own analytics, and liked one of Traffic Wave’s templates well enough, you could put real information into the Headline, etc, and use the capture page as hosted on Traffic Wave.

Getting The Opt-In Form

You’ll be taken back to the Capture Pages area, and now the information for your new capture page will be listed at the bottom.

Copy the URL of your new capture page and paste it into the address bar of your web browser. The capture page will show…if you’d decided to use it hosted on Traffic Wave’s system, this is the address you’d direct traffic to to get sign ups.

I always host my own, though, so I just grab the opt-in form from this page and integrate it into my own squeeze page. To grab the opt-in form, view the HTML source for the capture page (on Firefox, use the View menu, and the Page Source option).

Somewhere in the HTML that shows will be a line that starts with something like this:

<form METHOD="POST" ACTION="" onsubmit="return myValidate.Apply('errWin')">

This is the start of the opt-in form. Copy everything from that line down to the line that has this in it:


All those lines together are your opt-in form. Remove the onsubmit section from the beginning form line, so it reads like this:


Also remove from inside the form any script tags (these make the form check for required information, which is a good idea, but requires Javascript…I prefer to keep my forms as simple as possible).

You’ll also have to modify the table inside the form to get the look you want when integrated with your squeeze or sales page. I can’t provide advice on that since it depends on the template you’re using. Do some searches on HTML tables, background colors, etc, to tweak it to fit the page you’re using.

After you finish, you’ll have an opt-in page that you can host yourself, but will sign people up to your Traffic Wave autoresponder. Now you just need some visitors, so go submit it to a giveaway, traffic exchange, etc.