Category: Make Money Online

Realising Your Dreams: It’s Easier Than You Think

Posted by – March 9, 2013

First let me say that there are two kinds of dreams; impossible dreams and possible ones. Usually the impossible dreams are only impossible because of the way you frame them. For example, you say that you want to dance for the Royal Ballet, but you’re forty and have never had any ballet lessons. That’s probably not going to happen. But what is it you really want? Does your dream have to be so specific? If you want to earn a living by dancing, then your dream is still attainable; it’s just that you’re going to have to be creative about it. If you want to be associated with a highly prestigious organisation, then you can find ways of making that happen. You can be on stage, you can give performances, you can make your dream happen — but only if you’re prepared to drop the specifics and think about what you really want.

Once you’ve looked into your heart and determined what you really want, freed from the specifics of how you want it, you can set about making it happen. The second major problem with most people’s dreams, is that they take a passive form. For instance, let’s say you want to be a great singer. Nothing wrong with that. What do you do about it? What many people would do, is to basically do very little except to perhaps record a few songs and hope that a talent scout from a huge music publishing company will spot them and make them famous. They imagine that once spotted by the talent scout, everything will be easy. Their lives will be transformed into glitter and happiness.

In reality, it rarely works like this. Very few people are elevated from ordinary lives into greatness. On the rare occasions when this does happen, people often find that their lives are still difficult — and in some ways even more difficult than before. Fame isn’t what it appeared to be, as seen through the media, from a safe distance.

Here’s what you need to do. Forget the great man (or woman) discovering your amazing talent. Forget the idea that the general public will abruptly acclaim your work as genius. Instead of expecting to be magically, passively lifted from your current situation to your ideal situation, figure out how to actively lift yourself step by step from your current situation to where you want to be.

The Internet is Your Ticket to Success

The Internet gives us unprecedented opportunity to realise our dreams. The key to using the Internet successfully is to realise that the Internet repays the creation of regular, quality content — whether the content is your manga illustrations, your latest recipes, videos of yourself singing or telling jokes or whatever. If you create regular, interesting content and put it somewhere, very few people will look at your stuff at first, but as time goes by you’ll pick up fans (and probably detractors too) and eventually you’ll be able to make a living by selling them your product in some form or other. Your own website or YouTube or iTunes or Facebook or some combination thereof are some especially great places to put stuff.

Yeah I know, that word “product” is unnerving. But if you want to be paid for your work, think of it as a product, whether that product is your stand-up comedy or your songs or whatever it is.

Let’s talk about the word “professional”. You want to be a professional, right? You want to be a professional dancer, singer, writer, artist or whatever. A “professional” is not someone who has a magical status in society that guarantees them adoration and fame. A professional is someone who makes their living by doing the thing that they are professional at. A professional writer is someone who makes their money by writing. It’s that simple. Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me. Society has a way of making us feel that professionals in creative areas are leagues above us somehow, but if you read their actual biographies, usually you find that they struggled at first; they eventually reached a point where they could scrape a living doing what they love to do, and only later did they become famous due to the quality of their work and the extent of their output.

If you want widespread recognition, first accept that you have to start by doing what you do for very little monetary reward. In something like two years (or less, if you’re very productive) you can make a living doing it. From then on, it’s a question of getting better and better at what you do, and keeping on doing it.

If you want to write books, you no longer need a publishing company. You can publish an e-book yourself and potentially make millions with it (but you’re not focused on money, right? If you are — better to stay away from anything creative and go into something more mundane). If you’re a singer, you can sing on YouTube and eventually attract enough of a following to make money from YouTube advertising or from selling your songs by telling people where to buy them in your YouTube videos, or offering yourself for hire to sing at events.

Whatever you do, you can use the Internet to get there step by step.

Fun or Prestige?

One objection that a lot of people have to the Internet route to being a professional x, y or z, is that it isn’t prestigious. People will ask you stuff like, don’t want you a normal publishing deal? Don’t you want to work for a normal company doing what you’re doing? If you teach, they’ll ask you if you wouldn’t like to teach in a university. If you film your own drama series, they’ll ask if you wouldn’t like to be on TV.

You have to ask yourself why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Do you want and need prestige, or do you want to do the thing that you’ve always dreamed of for a living? If the answer is that you want the prestige, you may never succeed anyway — due to your lack of interest in the thing itself. A true actor will act whether on YouTube or on TV. Sure, a true actor desires the most prestigious option, but he or she knows that being able to make a living acting is the first and foremost greatest thing to reach for — not the ultimate goal of being on TV.

An Internet career may or may not segue into a conventional career, and you may or may not want it to. What it almost certainly will give you, at least if you’re at all dedicated, is the opportunity to make a living doing what you love.

Conclusion

Whatever it is that you want to do with your life, the Internet may give you the chance to do it. Things are changing, and careers are becoming stranger and less conventional. That’s a good thing. Embrace the change. The key to using the Internet is to create material and put it somewhere regularly. Think about where that place is going to be. Think about having a website. You don’t need to get mega technical; just have a place on the Net where people can find you. You won’t garner much interest at first; interest comes with time and persistence. It’s going to be probably a couple of years of regularly creating stuff before you can hope to make a living off it. You must first get people to look at your stuff, build a fanbase and start thinking about how to sell your talents to them.

On the other hand, the great thing about the Internet is that you won’t work in a vacuum for long. You will start getting feedback from people after a month or two if you work at creating interesting stuff. People will leave you comments and tell you what they think. You can start making money pretty quickly too; it’s just that it won’t be a lot at first. Meanwhile you’ll get better and better at your art, as you continue to publicly practise it.

Think practically, always think of new ways to get exposure and to make a living from what you do, and above all keep creating new material. I can’t emphasise the importance of this enough. The reason why everyone isn’t making a living on the Internet is partly because many people actually like their office jobs, and because most people who start creating stuff on the Internet just don’t love what they are doing enough to keep creating material week in, week out for a couple of years. If you can be one of those who have what it takes to keep going, you too can make a living doing whatever it is that you love doing.

You can eventually find ways to work with other people, but unless you’re very lucky with your choice of friends, initially you’re probably going to have to go solo. Your friends are unlikely to share your passion. If you do have friends who share your passion and are willing to work hard on it with you on a regular basis, then you’re probably destined for the big time! Check out Christopher Nolan’s biography and see how he got started making films if you want an example of the power of a dedicated circle of friends. Unless you’ve got Nolan’s charisma, leadership skills and/or dedicated circle of friends, you need to get together the courage and guts to do what you want by yourself initially.

Oh yeah, and one last thing. Make sure you know what it is that you’re doing. Don’t create a random blog like this one! I write on this blog for fun, not for profit. I put my experiments here. To succeed financially, your website or YouTube channel or whatever needs a clear theme. It can’t just be a mixture of random stuff. Make sure you know what you’re about, and keep doing it till you succeed!

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How to Sell Stuff on the Internet

Posted by – March 6, 2013

This website has become a random ragbag of my various experiments. So now I think I may as well just use it as a place where I can write down stuff I want to get off my chest. One of these things is the subject of how to sell stuff on the Internet.

I make a living from selling computer programming videos via my current main website, Cave of Programming. I don’t want to brag (or maybe I do), but at the moment I’m making a quite OK living from about an hour of work a day, on average, on this video stuff. But it took me a long time to figure out how to make a living doing very little work. It was my ambition to do this right from when I was a small child, since I really wanted to spend my time thinking about things and doing things that I knew wouldn’t pay any money. It took me till the age of 38 to figure out how to do it. Hopefully if I share the secret with you, you’ll be a bit quicker off the mark than me.

What to Sell

You can sell all kinds of things on the Internet; e-books, recordings (podcasts), footage taken with your video camera, photographs of household objects, videos explaining how to do stuff, other people’s products as an affiliate; the list is practically endless. I read of some woman who makes a living blogging about Jesus. She puts adverts on her site (or maybe asks for donations, I’m not sure), and makes a living from that.

None of this is at all technically involved. Selling as an affiliate, for example, just involves signing up to a site like ClickBank and finding a product you want to sell. There are websites that will handle all payment and downloads for you. All you have to worry about is, what are you going to sell and why.

My Anti-Sales Pitch

The reason I’m really writing this post is to say this: you know all that stuff that people do to sell stuff on the Internet? Hype, squeeze pages, popups soliciting emails, SEO, correct keyword density, promoting yourself as a world-leading genius etc, etc? Forget it. You don’t need it. You don’t need any of it. Look at my own computer site (listed above). I don’t do any of this stuff. I’m also very lazy, except when I happen to get enthusiastic about something — and I don’t get enthusiastic about money or sales. And I make a fine living, getting better all the time.

But there must be a reason why people do all this SEO hype stuff, right? If you don’t do it, what should you do instead?

The Secret

To successfully sell a product, you need to have a website that prominently offers that product for sale, and you need to have good traffic to the website. Only something like 1% of the people who visit your site will buy the product. So the key to selling something successfully is to get traffic to your website. That’s true even if you aspire to make money solely from putting Google ads on your site (difficult, but do-able) or by soliciting donations or selling a service.

Here’s the key to building long-term high traffic to a website: post interesting and/or useful stuff regularly on it.

That’s it. That’s the secret. You can post articles, or if you don’t like writing (and I actually don’t write much about programming), you can embed media into pages that have only a few sentences of explanation and a good title. For example, make YouTube videos at least once a week, or record audio files, or take photographs if that’s part of what you do, or whatever. Just make sure you are putting regular quality content on your site.

Other Important Stuff

There is other stuff that I should mention. It’s not quite that simple, but the above concept IS a powerful recipe for long-term success. It might take you two years to be able to fully support yourself from your website. You need to create good content, of course. The content you’re posting needs to be strongly connected to whatever you’re selling. You’re going to have to be quite enthusiastic to keep going, even when you’re only seeing an occasional sale initially. It will really help if you’re giving people information that they’re looking for. Use the Google keyword tool to find out what people are actually searching for; these keywords should be in your titles and pages, because that’s what people are looking for — and how else will they find your stuff? You can also bookmark your posts on places like StumbleUpon.

For me, YouTube has been a huge driver of traffic to my site. I give away “how to” videos for free regularly on YouTube; I mention the url of my site in the videos (which is a memorable url), and I paste it in the description of the video on YouTube too. The key is to do stuff like this regularly, and not expect too much for the first few months.

You can’t do everything at once; but if you do what I did — google for information about how to create and promote websites, and just keep going — you’ll get there in the end. What you don’t need to do, is engage in high-pressure sales tactics, SEO or weird psychological techniques. The best thing you can possibly do is treat your visitors like human beings and don’t be afraid to show who you really are. Don’t ever try to pull the wool over their eyes.

Don’t Focus on Sales

If you really want to build your own web-based business that will bring you money even while you sleep, don’t focus on making sales. Put sales into a corner of your mind, and make your primary focus your actual product. Make your website and whatever you create as good as you can. Focus on helping people and getting your message across. If you focus on sales and money, you’ll waste effort that you could have expended making your product or your website better. Forget it. Sales is a function of traffic, and traffic is a function of posting quality material frequently.

Don’t be afraid to give stuff away for free. Get your head around the fact that if someone is helped, somewhere, that’s a good thing. It improves the state of the world, whether or not the person you helped ends up buying stuff from you.

Your Dreams, Now (Well OK, Soon)

The Web gives us unprecedented opportunity to really make a living doing almost whatever we want. All it asks in returns is that you find a way to communicate what you’re doing effectively. You have to be patient, because it does take time to build traffic to a website or blog to the point where you can make a living off it. If you’re desperate to make a living independently immediately, go and teach your language somewhere or something like that. Initially you need to value every website visitor; one day you’ll get your first sale and it’ll be great. Then you’ll get another sale and another; it’ll build into a good source of “extra” income, and finally you’ll be making a living off it. You can make a living doing almost anything. Whether you’re into origami, Jesus, wilderness survival tactics, cat photography, cookery or whatever, you can probably make a living doing it within roughly two years, if you get your act together. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

YouTube and Other Such Tools

One of the easiest things you can do is actually to make YouTube videos explaining how to do something. Ideally, make it something you know about, preferably that interests you. You can alternatively learn your subject as you go along if necessary, and be honest about learning it. People may well be interested in your learning experience. Connect with people. You can appear on your videos, or just talk and show slides or something. Use software like BB Flashback Express to record your screen if that’s appropriate. Post videos regularly and see how much traffic you’re getting after three months. Then ask yourself how many more videos you’d need to create if 1% of your YouTube traffic were buying your product.

If you’re creating videos, making sure you watch your own videos. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tones of voice and ways of speaking. Aim to create a pleasing product; leave your ego out of it and ask yourself what’s going to be pleasant and interesting for the user to experience in your videos.

There are people out there who are building substantial traffic to websites without even recording or writing anything! There are illustrators, photographers, people who paste recipes or code examples …. believe me, if you’re able to read this, you’re almost certainly able to make a good living for yourself via the Internet. Just be genuine, be yourself, and let people see who you really are and what you’re about.

Experimental Travel Site

Posted by – November 9, 2011

This is just a quick post to announce my new blog, Fascinating Journeys.

It uses cheap hosting from AccuWebHosting (as does this site), along with the free WordPress content manager, and a paid-for premium theme called Lifestyle, which is part of the Genesis Framework.

My plan for this blog is to write about travel-related themes, to make money from advertising on the blog (this is its entire purpose really) and initially to try to pick up visitors by targeting “long tail” key phrases in Google.

I’ve noticed that my most popular posts on my blogs so far are often ones targeting key phrases that only get as little as 7000 global searches monthly. For these key phrases I can easily get onto the first or second results page in Google and pick up 100 hits a month. So these are the phrases I’ll use in my titles; also I’ll be looking for key phrases with high Cost Per Click (CPC).

Making Money Via Blogging, Attempt No. 3

Posted by – October 30, 2011

Before launching into telling you about my latest project, a little history of my previous attempts at making money through the Internet is in order.

Early this year, around about March, I was working for a massive American telecomms company and searching for ways to make money under my own steam, without having to spend all day implementing the random idle wishes of random bosses. One way that sprung to mind was setting up a blog and making money from placing advertising on the blog, through a service such as Google ads or CJ.

I immediately set up a blog, this one, and waited for thousands of people to flock to my site and click on my adverts. Then I realised that I had made a number of critical mistakes. Firstly, I had not written my articles around key phrases that people are actually searching for, nor had I placed such key phrases prominently in my articles, as is the idea behind SEO.

I had also started a blog that had no really clear focus. Inasmuch as it did have a focus, the focus was largely about making money online, an extremely competitive field.

Blog Number 2

I set to work to correct these mistakes with another blog. My second blog overcomes several of the deficiencies that this blog suffers from, as far as making money goes. Firstly, it is tightly focused on computer programming. This means that the people who go to my second blog are interested in computer programming, and might click on computer programming-related adverts. Secondly, I wrote nearly all of the articles around popular key phrases with low competition and good monthly search volume (as found by the procedure described in my article on the Google keyword tool).

The number of users visiting my second blog increased far more rapidly than was the case with this blog. After a few months I was starting to get about 200 per day. Then I basically gave up on it and stopped posting.

Why? Well, partly because I ditched my job, moved to Hungary and lapsed into a state of exhaustion from which it took me four months to recover. But mainly because I realised I’d made another crucial mistake even with my second blog. I had ensure that I was tightly focused on one topic, my articles were written around key phrases with good search volume and low competition; all well and good. But I had forgotten about ensuring that the niche was a profitable one (as judged for instance by looking at the cost per click or CPC of advertising for these key phrases in Google keyword tool).

I fell to just using my second blog to advertise my own services as a computer programming tutor. Actually I now have one student (alongside teaching English lessons in Budapest), but I found him through Guru.com! Nevertheless occasional enquiries come to me via my blog, so maybe it will pay off for me in the long run. In fact I can now see that it is perfectly possible to make a living teaching computer programming online, a fact which has inspired me to start posting to my programming blog again. Regular posting should build the number of blog visitors up gradually, eventually to the point where I can easily solely make a living from teaching programming if I chose to do so.

Blog Number 3

So that brings us to my third project (leaving aside an aborted mathematics blog that I quickly ditched). Now that I’m fairly settled in Hungary, earning some money from giving lessons in English and programming but not enough to quite live on, I’m ready to explore blogging further. Actually I’ve been inspired by my friend LP, who tells me that a friend of hers makes quite a lot of money precisely by selling advertising space on his blogs.

My new project will be a travel blog, carefully written around profitable key phrases, and written frankly more with the idea of making money than being a vehicle of self-expression. I’d love to eventually be able to making a living literally by visiting places and writing about them, but for the moment I’m content to research things that people want to know about, using the Internet of course, and write short articles based on that. A possible spanner in the works here could be my lack of actual knowledge about tourist destinations, but we’ll see. I’ve lived in four or five countries depending on how you count them, but I’ve never really made a bee line for the tourist hotspots.

At the moment I’m in the process of changing the URL of my aborted mathematics blog and wiping the data. My plan is to purchase a premium WordPress theme (a year ago I didn’t know what WordPress was but now I do, and believe me it’s very useful if you want to create a website), such as this one. Then I want to document the whole process of how the blog does financially and in terms of visitors.

Based on my programming blog, I think that if I post a short article more or less every day, I should be attracting 200 visitors a day after a few months. If I can earn even 30% of the CPC listed in the Google keyword tool for my proposed key phrases, and 5% of my visitors click the ads (which may be over-optimistic), I should then be earning at least 60 euros a month. This seems somehow frankly unbelievable considering that this would be 60 euros per month every month (with minimal further posting) for an indefinite period of time.

Where is the flaw in this reasoning? Perhaps no-one will click on my ads, or perhaps my programming blog achieved a certain degree of minor popularity quickly because I was providing niche information in an area where I know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure. But I plan to document how it goes right here.

SEO Basics: Using Google Analytics With WordPress to Track Your Website Stats

Posted by – April 1, 2011

If you’re trying to increase your blog or website’s search-engine traffic, you need to do two things. Firstly, apply SEO techniques to draw visitors to your blog. Secondly, use a good traffic analysis program to see where your visitors are coming from and what they’re searching for.

Viewing detailed stats on your website visitors can really help you to target your articles correctly. You can also use a good stats program to judge how successful your various attempts at promotion have been. A good stats program lets you answer questions like:

  • How many visitors have come to my site through search engines?
  • How many visitors have bookmarked my site or memorized my URL?
  • What countries do my visitors come from?
  • What websites are referring visitors to my site?
  • What key phrases are my website visitors searching for in Google?
  • What browsers do my visitors use?

Google Analytics — The Free Solution

Since a good stats analysis program provides you with so much information, you might expect you’d have to pay top dollar for such a piece of software. Fortunately that’s not the case; Google Analytics is in fact free and provides you with a huge array of interesting stats for your website via an easy-to-use interface.

So how you do set up Google Analytics to work with your website? I’ll assume here that you’re using WordPress, the free blogging platform. However, don’t worry if you’re not using WordPress; I’ll also explain how to add Google Analytics to any website.

Getting Started With Google Analytics

The first thing to do is go to Google Analytics and create a free account, if you haven’t got one already. Once you’ve got an account, click the big “Access Analytics” button and you’ll see a screen rather like the following.

Google Analytics

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You can see I’ve already got two websites set up in Analytics; one of them had 506 visitors in March, the other (a site I’ve just created), only 46 visitors.

Let’s go ahead and add another blog to Google Analytics. Click Add Website Profile and fill in the details on the new screen. Click Finish.

Google Analytics

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We now see a screen that looks like the following:

Google Analytics

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You can see some cryptic-looking computer code in a box underneath where it says Paste this code on your site.

If you’re not using WordPress, you need to copy this code with your mouse (select everything in the box, right-click and click “copy”). You need to paste this code into every page that you want to track, before the closing </head> tag in your page. Usually your website will have a header that’s copied into every page, so you’ll most often only need to edit one file.

However, if you are using WordPress, there’s an easy and elegant way of accomplishing the same thing. Look at the string of letters and numbers (beginning with UA) to the right of where it says Web Property ID. Copy this code. The code will be something like UA-87685123-4, for example. You can also find this code embedded somewhere in the stuff you see in the text box mentioned above.

Now log into WordPress, click Plugins and click the Add new button. In the search box that appears, enter “Google Analyticator” and click “search”. Google Analyticator is a WordPress plugin that simplifies the business of adding Google Analytics to your site.

Wordpress

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Once you’ve found the Google Analyticator plugin, click Install now. Then click Activate plugin. WordPress will now return you to the list of plugins.

Wordpress

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You’ll see that next to Google Analyticator is a settings link. Click this to go to the screen where you can connect your Analyticator plugin to your new Google Analytics account.

Wordpress

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Here there is a text box where you can enter your Google Analytics UID; you need to paste in the UA-XXXXXXXX-XX code that you copied earlier.

Wordpress

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Make sure Google Analytics logging is set to enabled. Also it’s a very good idea to make sure that Track all logged in WordPress users is set to “No” and set User roles to not track to at least Administrator. This helps to reduce spurious stats due to you visiting the site yourself.

Finally click save changes right at the bottom of the screen.

We’re almost done. Now we can go back to the Google Analytics page we were working on earlier. Click Save and finish. Typically you’ll see that your new site has been added, but there’s a nasty-looking yellow warning triangle under the Status column in the table of websites being tracked.

Google Analytics

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No problem. Click edit by the profile of your newly-added website. On the screen that appears, click check status.

Google Analytics

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Now, assuming everything’s working, Google Analytics will say “Analytics has been successfully installed and is gathering data”. All you have to do now is wait for people to visit your site …

Google Analytics

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Some Tips and Tricks With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is really geared towards viewing your stats on a day-by-day basis, not hour-by-hour. So you can’t rely on the data it reports being up-to-date; you can only rely on data prior to today. In fact, it won’t report intraday data to you by default. Fortunately it’s easy to get this data, and most of the time it appears to be pretty up-to-date.

Go to your website report in Google Analytics (click View report) and bring up the calendar drop-down by clicking next to the date in the upper-right-hand corner. Click today’s date and click apply.

Google Analytics

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Now you can see today’s stats (which will likely be zero if you’ve just set up your site in Analytics following these instructions).

Google Analytics

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Another good idea is to further filter yourself out of your own website stats by setting up a filter. This will only work if your IP address remains the same every day; this depends upon your ISP. You can use the site below to check your IP address; keep an eye on it — if it’s always the same, you can use it to filter yourself out of your website stats.

Go to a site like What’s My IP and make a note of your IP address. It will be something like 192.123.4.12. In Google Analytics, click the logo in the upper-left-hand corner to go to the Analytics home page. At the bottom of this page, click Filter Manager.

Google Analytics

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Click Add Filter.

Google Analytics

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In the screen that appears, select Exclude, traffic from the IP addresses, that are equal to. Enter your IP address in the IP address text boxes. Under Apply filter to website profile, select your new website and click add. Now click save changes and we’re done!

Google Analytics

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Using Google Analytics

Once you start using Google Analytics, you’re liable to get addicted to it. This is especially true if you’re carrying out an SEO campaign to increase your traffic, regularly writing articles around key search phrases. You’ll want to select today’s date as above, so you can see the new visitors coming in to your site.

When you go to your site report in Google Analytics, you’ll see a page like this (once you’ve got some traffic!).

Google Analytics

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In the menu on the top left, you can see various useful links. Click visitors to see who’s been visiting your site. Keep an eye on the date — by default it displays a whole month of data not including today, so you need to follow the steps above if you want to see today’s stats or a different time period.

Google Analytics

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You can see all kinds of interesting stats about your visitors by clicking on the links that appear in the menu when you go to the visitors page. For instance, map overlay shows you a map of where your visitors come from. You can even find out what towns your visitors are from. Scary!

Google Analytics

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Clicking Traffic source will show you how your visitors find your site, including what phrases they are searching for in Google.

Google Analytics

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Basically you can have hours of fun and figure out how to bump up your stats in the process. Enjoy!

A Note On “Bounce Rate” and “Time On Site”

There’s one thing I must mention here, since it confused the hell out of me when I first started using Google Analytics and it probably means you will underestimate the level of interest among your visitors if you don’t know about it.

Google Analytics has a statistic called “Time On Site” in the visitors section. However, the only way Analytics can know how long a visitor spent on a page is if that visitor clicks another page afterwards. Google Analytics can only measure the time between successive clicks. This could lead to you overestimating how long a visitor has spent on a page, since the visitor might load a page from your site, go away and do some shopping, come back to his browser and then click another link, leading to a massive overestimate for the amount of time he spent reading your page.

More common however, is the situation where a visitor loads a page, then closes the page without looking at any other pages on your site. How often do you search for something, click on a page, read it and then close the page when you’ve finished? For me I’d say this is what I do most of the time on the Internet. This is called a “bounce”; you’ve “bounced” off the site instead of delving into it. Google Analytics records this behavior as a “bounce”, with zero time spent on the site — even though the visitor may well have read your page thoroughly and possibly even have bookmarked it or emailed it to his friends.

So if you see a high bounce rate in your site statistics coupled with a low average time spent on your site, don’t be too disheartened, since this statistic has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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SEO Basics: Using Google Keyword Tool To Get Traffic For Your Blog or Website

Posted by – March 17, 2011

If you want to get search engine traffic to your blog or website, you need to write articles containing stuff that people are actually searching for. Fascinating Experiments presents a quick getting-started guide to using Google’s Search-Based Keyword Tool to do just that.

Important Information About This Article

I now believe that this article contains a basic error, repeated from other similar articles. The ‘competition’ column in the keyword tool does not in fact tell you how many other websites are competing for the given key phrase. It tells you how many other advertisers are competing for that key phrase.

If you are a website publisher and not an advertiser, you probably want competition to be high, not low!!! I apologise to anyone who was misled by the original article, which you can still read below. In fact, if you want to know how many websites are competing for a given key phrase, you have to click on the phrase to do a Google search. Presumably you would want the number of competing websites to be as low as possible.

I suggest ignoring the competition column, enabling only CPC (cost per click) and clicking on the phrase link to judge how many competing websites there are for the phrase you’re targeting.

That said, I can attest from personal experience that if you follow the recipe below, it will tend to bring people to your site. But I now think that the information presented below about competition is erroneous.

That said, on to the (erroneous) main article ….

Every day millions of people are typing millions of words and phrases into Google. If you want the page you’ve just created to appear prominently in those search results, what do you have to do? Let’s say you’ve got an online art shop, and you want as many people as possible to find your article promoting your latest art sale. Your first thought might be: — use the phrase ‘art sale’ in the article title and repeat it as much as possible throughout the article; then people typing in ‘art sale’ will find your article. Right?

Let’s go to the keyword tool and check it out. Be sure to create a free Google account and actually sign in to the keyword tool (see the links in the upper-right corner) if you haven’t already; the tool only shows full results for registered users.

First, click the columns button and make sure Global monthly searches and Competition are both checked. Also make sure Only show ideas closely related to my search terms is checked.

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Type in ‘art sale’ and click search. This is what you get:

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You can see that 165,000 people are searching for art sale in Google per month. That’s lots of people! But here’s the problem: look at the bar under the competition heading. It’s more than half full! That means that lots of other sites are also offering what you’re offering. Your art sale page will be buried under established art sale pages.

We need to include phrases in the title and body of the page that people are searching for, but that don’t have huge competition. That way there’s a good chance that people will find your new page.

Uncheck the Only show ideas closely related to my search terms checkbox, then click search again.

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Now we can see a list of phrases related to art sale that people are searching for, with varying amounts of competition and monthly traffic.

Click the competition heading to sort in order of competition.

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These are all very high competition phrases; they are no use to us. Click the competition heading again to sort in order of competition from least to most competition.

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Much better!! Now we’re seeing lists of key phrases that have very low competition. For instance, we can see that 49,500 people a month are searching for art gallery painting, but the phrase doesn’t have very much competition.

You can click on the phrase itself to see a list of websites related to that search term.

Click to enlarge

Of course, if you title your page art gallery painting: art sale online, or some such phrase containing art gallery painting, many of the people who find your page won’t want to buy your art; they’ll just be looking for information on art galleries.

This is the challenge of SEO (search engine optimisation). Find key phrases that correctly describe the subject of your page, that have fairly low competition from other sites, and that plenty of people are searching for every month.

Clearly various strategies are possible here, bearing in mind that it takes time to get traffic to a website.

For instance, if you run an art gallery, you could regularly write 250-300 word articles on art-related subjects, with the title of your articles based on good key phrases. Make sure that each article has a strong chance of actually providing people with the information or services that they’re searching for; for instance, if you title a page Oil Art Paintings, really provide people with information about oil art paintings, or offer to sell them oil art paintings, depending on what you think those people are really searching for.

If the titles of your pages are irrelevant to what people actually want, people will simply leave your site immediately and make a mental note not to visit it again. Neither will anyone link to your site, and you need inbound links to bump you up in Google’s search results.

If your aim is to build a really popular site, not only do you need to provide good, relevant content focused around good key phrases, but you might also want to consider posting regularly, since search engines love regularly-updated sites. Some bloggers post two or three 250-300 word articles per day; others write longer articles less often. But you don’t necessarily need to do either of these; if your aim is simply to get a small steady stream of targeted visitors (visitors who actually want the product or service that you provide), just posting one good page a week for a few months might do the trick. But if you want great search engine results, or you want visitors as quickly as possible, keep the above ideas in mind.

The key phrases you choose need to be in the title of your article; it’s also good to use them in headings or in bold elsewhere in your article. But don’t go overboard, or your article will look weird and read like a scam page, and people will avoid it (as will Google!). Keep your articles’ titles, headings and content focused around good key phrases, with relevant content, and in time you can get the traffic you need.


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Squiffy’s Making-Money-Online Hungarian Adventure

Posted by – March 8, 2011

Budapest

Shortly I’m about to embark upon the adventure of moving to Budapest, Hungary and attempting to make a living online in one way or another. I’ll be documenting the whole thing right here.

At the moment I’m still a wage slave, but I feel it’s time to start my journal of success — or doom and horror as the case may be.

Although I’m an experienced web developer, I’ll be attempting to make money in whatever ways spring to mind, within reason. Today I registered a new url, www.caveofprogramming.com, where I intend to attempt to sell my programming, programming tuition and website-building services. I also contacted an agency that rents out flats in Budapest. Fortunately they speak English, although apparently not very good English. Still, their English is a heck of a lot better than my Hungarian, which is still in its primitive embryonic stage.

Why Hungary? Why Budapest?

I’ve chosen Budapest to move to because, while it’s a big city with lots of bright lights and attractions, it’s also very cheap. Flats can be rented there for as little as 140 euros (around 140 dollars, very roughly) per month. Mind you, those flats would be in the hideous and unsafe VIII district. So I’ll be looking to fork out up to 500 euros per month, including all bills, for somewhere a bit nicer.

My savings might just about stretch to a year if I’m really careful, but then I’d be flat out of cash. Can I get a business going online that will cover food and rent before my money runs out? I’m not sure, but I’m prepared to give it a go. It’s the only way to escape the terrible fate of spending the rest of my life in an office.

– Squiffy

PS. If you’re into computer programming, check out my new site: The Cave of Programming. I may well be relying on this sucker for a good portion of my future income … scary thought.

Get Visitors to Your Blog or Website Using Blog Carnivals

Posted by – March 2, 2011

Money

A good way of getting a steady stream of visitors to your site that’s often overlooked is to use Blog Carnivals. While personal development blogger Steve Pavlina says that blog carnivals were instrumental in enabling him to make over $1000 per day from his site, in my experience blog carnivals attract only modest numbers of visitors.

However, the great thing about them is that the visitors you get will be precisely targeted to the content of your article; they’re interested in the topic you’re blogging on and they may well subscribe to your blog or buy whatever you’re selling.

What Are Blog Carnivals?

Blog carnivals are websites that release regular blog posts consisting of links to other blogs. For instance the excellent blog carnival the Berry Go Round has previously linked to an article of mine on wild foods.

Let’s say you’re interested in plants but you don’t want to search through thousands of blogs yourself to find good blog posts on the subject; you can read the Berry Go Round instead and get a shortlist of good plant-related posts.

How Do I Get My Post Listed On A Blog Carnival?

To get your post listed on a blog carnival, you have to submit it yourself. If it’s a half-decent article there’s a very good chance that you can get a blog carnival to link to it, bringing you direct traffic and boosting your search engine ranking. Probably the easiest way to find good carnivals is to use a site that organises carnivals for you and provides you with a standard, easy submission form; I use BlogCarnival.com.

Be careful to only submit your article to relevant blogs; don’t spam. BlogCarnival.com allows you to sort the blog carnivals in order of release date, so you can see which carnivals are releasing a new edition soon. Use the header widget at the top of the table on this page page to sort the blog carnivals in order of release date — but don’t forget to bookmark FascinatingExperiments.com before you go if you want more tips on getting visitors and making money online.

Once you’ve submitted your article to one or more carnivals, it’s time to wait for the carnival release date; then you can sit back and enjoy a probably-small-but-steady trickle of precisely-targeted traffic.

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Making Money From Your Blog: How To Get Visitors Quickly

Posted by – February 28, 2011

In case you’re in a hurry: here’s the bottom line right at the start of this article, before we go on to look at some related stuff. If you’ve started a blog recently and you want to get visitors in a hurry, here’s how. Write good quality posts with attention-grabbing titles, then submit your posts to the main social bookmarking services.

The biggest ones right now are probably:

crowd

About four times as many people as this visited my blog in its first month. You can get as many yourself -- or maybe many more -- by following some simple tips.

These are basically sites where you can bookmark an article in such a way that other people can find and enjoy your bookmarks. Hence the term social bookmarking for these kinds of sites.

I started this blog just one month ago as a very part-time effort; search engines have only just begun to get me a few visitors, yet overall I’ve so far had over 400 visitors in my first month.

(So thanks for visiting my blog — your interest means a lot to me!)

Whenever I write a new post, I bookmark my own post on all four of these sites. Most articles attract only a few visitors on the first day; others attract dozens right away. What’s the difference between the posts that people don’t visit immediately and the ones they do?

I think the main factor is a catchy title; one that appeals to some group of people for some reason.

To take an example, my articles Five Surprising Facts About Gunpowder and Freaky Houseplants: The Top Ten Alternative Plants to Grow In Your Home both attracted dozens of visitors instantly, even though my blog was (and still is!) basically unknown and hard to find through search engines.

How To Submit Your Posts Quickly To Social Bookmarking Sites

desert

Your new blog without social bookmarking.

If you check below this post, you’ll see a bunch of icons that allow people to quickly and easily submit this article to these sites.

When you click on the relevant icon, you can bookmark this article through the service of your choice. To do so you must create a free account with one of these services; after that bookmarking the article is hardly any more work than clicking the icon.

A great advantage of these icons is that you can then easily bookmark your own articles, giving you some instant free advertising.

If you use some kind of free blogging software such as WordPress — which if you’ve got a blog, whether on Blogger.com or your own site, you almost certainly do — you can add icons like these to your posts automatically by using free widget plugins. See your blogging platform help for details.

The Importance of Content

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Your new blog with social bookmarking.

If you’re writing a blog regularly, I hope you’re doing it out of passion and not simply because you want to make money. Or — if you do simply want to make money, hopefully you will at least take the time to do some research, put some effort into your articles and provide people with something they want. Because otherwise — social bookmarking won’t ultimately help you. People will visit your blog and then leave immediately and not come back without good content.

Can You Make Money From Blogging?

If you can get enough traffic, you can reputedly make good money from blogging. It’s hard work and it takes a long time, hence the importance of blogging on subjects you’re passionate about or at least genuinely interested in. Making money from blogging is all about attracting visitors to your blog and then offering them paid services or products — known as monetising your blog.

There are various ways you can do this, which I’ll doubtless be covering in a future post. Meanwhile you might want to check out useful tools such as CJ, Google Adsense, Google Analytics and Amazon Affliates.

I’ll shortly be trying the interesting experiment of attempting to make a living through the Internet and blogging about it for your entertainment — unless of course something goes horribly wrong in my life meanwhile. I’ll be ditching my lucrative well-paid job and moving to a cheap former Eastern-bloc country, Hungary, and attempting to make a living via such things as this blog, my other, even newer blog, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Elance and whatever else comes to mind.

If you want to find out what happens to me and discover a new way to promote your own blog or site for free … the social bookmarking icons are right below this article … your interest is much appreciated!

– Squiffy

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Finally, a Straightforward Way of Making Money at Home?

Posted by – February 23, 2011

The Mechanical Turk (source: Wikipedia)

The problem with offices is that they suck; therefore for some time now I’ve been searching for a way to make money online, at home. I imagine that then I can finally be freed from the tyranny of the alarm clock and the sinking feeling that any hard work I do will only make some big shot richer, leaving me in pretty much the same position as before.

However, most apparently straightforward ways of making money from home seem to involve spending years gradually building up income (or in the case of forex, possibly losing it!) or else they have some dreadful string attached.

Something That Actually Works?

So I’m pleased to announce that I’ve found something that looks very like the holy grail of working from home. It’s called MTurk and it’s run by Amazon, the people who sell books.

I haven’t checked it out myself yet (I will as soon as I have some free time!), but here it is: Amazon MTurk.

MTurk apparently stands for Mechanical Turk — the Mechanical Turk being a hoax chess-playing automaton constructed in the 18th century. But MTurk is not a hoax; it’s a site where people who have simple online tasks that they need doing can pay people to do them, while people who want work to do can find it.

What’s the catch? Those who’ve tried it say that you usually only make around minimum wage, and that’s assuming you’re OK with English and you pick and chose your tasks carefully — because not every task posted will work out economically for you.

Some tasks apparently require you to take tests beforehand (weeding out total incompetents). There’s also some kind of reputation score that you can build up by correctly completing tasks; some people will only let you work on their “hits” (the MTurk name for a work task) if you have a score above a certain level.

But considering that this seems to be pretty much guaranteed income, these caveats don’t seem all that bad. If you’re planning to move somewhere cheap and build up your own online business (as I am), having MTurk to fall back on is no small comfort.

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