Archive for October, 2010

frustration

Don’t you just hate it when….

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…You spend days writing content, editing pictures and uploading to your site only to receive an e-mail not 5 mins after finishing to say that the merchant is closing their affiliate programme!?! /Screams!

With Christmas ordering in full swing we decided to add some new content to our Luxury Hamper website.  The site went live just before Christmas last year, selling an excellent range of hampers over the festive period.  We therefore were looking to add some different types of luxury hampers for Christmas 2010 and so decided to look for some fish based hampers, who doesn’t like kippers in winter?!

With fish hampers up to a whopping £2500 these are definitely top quality products which fit with our luxurious aims!  Unfortunately as mentioned we received an e-mail from the affiliate network to advise that the programme would be closing down with effect from the 4th November 2010…boo!

Out of the e-mail came two questions:

1) Is the merchant just moving to another network?

2) Who else supplies what we are looking for?

To tackle number 1 I quickly jumped on to the merchants website in pursuit of a contact e-mail address.  I dispatched an e-mail enquiring whether this was the end of their affiliate channel altogether or whether they were just moving to another network.

Unfortunately the reply that came back was that the whole affiliate programme had been a complete waste of time and money.  For the money being paid the traffic didn’t live up to the merchants needs and thus they would continue to sell direct.  He did kindly offer to pay me a commission direct via a code that my traffic would have to enter manually into the checkout page.  Unfortunately this just doesn’t work for me.  If the code gave the customer a discount then I can see them entering a code at the checkout process, who would enter a code for no benefit?!  I proposed to the merchant to make the code offer the customer a discount but never received a reply, oh well, we’ve got until the 4th November to convert some sales!

For question 2 the network was proactive in their termination and suggested other merchants that they represent who offered similar offerings.  Upon investigating this we’ve found a great Scottish butcher who sells both the fish that we were looking for as well as meat!  We’ve been after a meat hamper supplier for a while but due to the nature of the product we’ve found it difficult to find a merchant who offered them.  So although the whole episode started off badly it may have been a god send as we have now killed two birds with one proverbial stone! Result!

Horse, eating

Are you a one trick pony?

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When I started out in affiliate marketing(AM) I was advised to select a topic that you are interested in.  The reason for this is you will find it easier and write better content if you understand and have a passion for a particular subject.

With my wife and I both being involved in this business we bring 2 separate sets of passion to the table which gives us a broader range of niches that we can write about.  Being the fountain of ideas that we are we still come up with domains and niches that neither of us know a jot about.  Ice Skates.org.uk was an idea we came up relatively quickly after we began on our AM journey and all of the content was written externally for us.  Just because you don’t know a particular subject if you have the means then I wouldn’t hesitate to get a content writer involved to produce your website copy for you.  We engaged a university student to produce some graphics for the website and within a relatively short time period (3 weeks) the site was ready for it’s launch.

Since then we have added all sorts of different niches to our portfolio and currently have 30 sites developed with 10 waiting in the wings!  With such a diversification we benefit from the following:

  • Evening out of seasonal trends
  • Fresh content as you are working on different subjects each day
  • A wide range of product sales from high ticket items to low value items
  • Better relationship with networks as you promote more of their merchants

As an example here are the sort of products that we sold yesterday 11th Oct 2010

  • Piano
  • Oak furniture
  • Something naughty from lovehoney
  • Windscreen Wipers
  • Cake tins
  • Cake storage tins
  • Chef Knives
  • Toys
  • Books
  • CD’s
  • DVD’s
  • Pamper Hampers
  • Photography Equipment

Don’t be afraid to try new niches, you may be surprised how well they can perform!

search

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!

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Improving your sites Search results

If like me your websites are under pinned by wordpress then the default search offering can leave your visitors frustrated with the results that get returned. This is because the default search function in wordpress is set to return it’s results purely in date order. It performs no weighting on the search term to return the most appropriate results so this can mean your visitors are getting fed up and clearing off instead of wading through pages and pages of results.

To solve this issue I deploy the Relevanssi Search plug-in to all of my sites. This plug-in allows for AND as well as OR search operators allowing a much more dynamic and useful search solution for your visitors. There are a myriad of options that you can set to get your wordpress search working smarter so hop over today and give it a play!

What are people searching for?

Do you have a site that’s getting a lot of visitors but isn’t converting very well?  The issue could be that people are landing on your website and aren’t finding any pages for the search terms that they are specifying.  For this particular dilemma I deploy the Search Meter plug-in which keeps stats on what people are searching for and the number of pages being returned for each search term.

The great thing is that it has a section under your wordpress dashboard to show you the search terms that have returned zero results.  Armed with this information you can tweak existing content or create fresh content to capture these future searches.  If you understand how and what people are searching for you can create better content in the future!

Updated : One Million People – Now Free!

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Following on from my earlier post here OneMillionPeople.com has now become free!

Grab the opportunity to have your face forever emortalized in print (or until all copies of the book end up in charity shops!)

Alex seems to have moved from charging a “per face” to allowing people to sponsor one of the 1250 pages that the finished book will have.  Since swapping to this model the book has started to fill quite rapidly so take the chance to get your mugshot up there!

4hww

Review : 4 Hour Work Week (4HWW)

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Having seen a few of my affiliate chums tweet and blog about Tim Ferriss’s life changing book 4 Hour Work Week (4HWW) I decided I would grab a copy to see what all the fuss was about.

First of all I recommend that if you’re going to grab the book then ensure that you get the updated version.  The picture to the left shows the cover of the updated version which is updated to 2009 and contains more up to date facts, case studies and explanations.

Firstly I’m not a book reader so it takes a special kind of book to have me reading cover to cover.  This book just sucked my mind in and introduced concepts that are useful from personal and business aspects of your life.  The book has a definite American slant but most recommendations can easily be translated to UK based services.

What’s the 4 Hour Work Week About?

4HWW is a lifestyle design book that deals with introducing automation into various aspects of your life to deliver that illusive commodity, time!  However free time with no purpose is just as bad as working your fingers to the bone 60hrs a week!  The book splits down how you should move from your current working practices to become one of the newly rich!

LOL, how the hell can I just give up my 9-5 office job to become a sky diving instructor in Iceland?

Tim explains about how to deal with your fears, how to put your doubts in to perspective and how to set yourself challenges and outline your goals and dreams.  The exercises in the book challenge your comfort zone and teach you some tricks for dealing with your working day.  The book focuses on the fact that the majority of people work all their life to retire and enjoy their life.  Often this means missing some fantastic opportunities or, as in my own mothers case, dying before reaching retirement and never reaping the rewards of your working life.

The book uses a 4 step process called D E A L which stands for:

Definition - This is the foundation of the lifestyle design and explains the flaws in our current life rules and introduces us to the newly riches set of rules and objectives.

Elimination - Explains how to weed out the clutter and influences that have a negative impact on your current life.  This includes the use of the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) to determine what should stay and what should go!

Automation - This is the one that interests most people, how to make money with the minimum of effort!  Income automation appeals to everyone and the book provides case studies of this working in practice.

Liberation - The final step in the jigsaw is to create the free time that you need to explore your new lifestyle.  You’ve got a plan now for a mini retirement, can you still hold down you current full time job whilst being out of the country for 3 months?!  You sure can, you are now able to be fully functional regardless of location!

So the verdict!

I found the book a great and riveting read that had me nodding along to many of the questions that the book raises.  It enlightens your mind to the possibilities that are there for everyone, not just those who are business owners.  I’ve used the principles in the book to good effect already and seen improvements in my own business and lifestyle.  Don’t take my word for it though, grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think!

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