Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't Purchase Traffic

There are a ton of companies online that offer guaranteed visitors for a fee, but what's the quality of these site-seers?

Many moons ago, I decided to try the idea of purchasing website traffic in the hopes that it would lead to more people viewing my site. This proved to be a waste of time and money. Although I knew that sign-ups, customers, etc. weren't guaranteed, and I wasn't really expecting any, I thought maybe the extra traffic would prove worthwhile for increasing the visibility of my site(s).

Let me tell you, there's no point in doing this. There are far easier, less expensive, and much better ways to increase your website traffic. Ways that actually work and really do bring in more genuine, interested traffic.

1) Article Marketing. Done right (although this is terribly time-consuming if done entirely by hand), writing unique articles and submitting them to a variety of free article directories is a fantastic way to snatch up extra, genuine traffic. The people who find your article, or even use it on their own site or blog, will actually be looking for what it is you're talking about. They are therefore genuinely interested in your product or service.

In the mean time, while no one has yet seen that article, the search engines will find it. This gives your site valuable back links. And if the content is 100% unique, it will rank much higher in search engine results. And that is the kind of traffic you really want - organic website traffic from real people who were actually searching for products, services, and information about whatever it is you're in the business of providing.

2) Traffic, Banner, Link, and Ad exchanges. Although this kind of traffic isn't quite as organic as the aforementioned article marketing, it does lead to plenty of back links and real people are actually looking at your site. Some of them may even be interested. They are real people after all, and many are probably on the look out for something you know how to do or provide.

This isn't exactly targeted traffic, but it's far more targeted than the type many companies are trying to sell you. And it's also free or extremely low-cost.

3) Social Media Marketing. In today's age, this can't be emphasized enough. Leveraging your free accounts at various social networks is a fantastic way to generate a heck of a lot of targeted, organic traffic. Not only are these real people, but these are people who aren't going to be clicking on your link or ad without being interested in it.

The problem with this one is that it can take time to get enough followers, fans, friends, etc. on these different accounts to get very many clicks per day. True, there are places that will sell this to you, and it even works for some people. But gaining followers for free on Twitter is pretty easy if you go along with the #TeamFollowBack or #500aday or many other such hashtags.

And if you don't have the time to build and maintain a decent following on the social networks, there are plenty of people who will tweet your links, advertise your site to FaceBook groups, etc. on Fiverr. And it's cheap. I don't consider this cheating. You're only hiring someone to tweet your site, you aren't buying followers. You're asking them to advertise your site to their FaceBook fans, you aren't buying likes. So your traffic should be just as targeted as if you were doing it all yourself, but this might save you some time to work on your site, blog, product, or service offerings.

These are some of the best ways I have found thus far for generating genuine traffic and increasing exposure for your business online. There's always PPC ads of course. They certainly do bring in traffic from genuinely interested people online, but PPC is usually very expensive. There's also a lot of competition for the best keywords, which is really going to cut into your bottom line. So I say - it's time to get creative!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review of Article Marketing

Taking advantage of article marketing isn't only for affiliate marketers. If you have a site or blog, this can be a wonderful way to gain more exposure and get a hold of those wonderful little back links that make your search engine ranking sky rocket. But there are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Writing just one article, all the same words and phrases, and uploading it to hundreds of different free article directories can be a horribly time-consuming task. Luckily, there are article submitters, which can submit that article you spent time writing to hundreds or thousands of different article directories automatically. These save countless hours when compared to having to go to each and every individual article directory site and submit your articles manually. My favorite so far (of those I've tried) is Magic Submitter.

2) If you write just that one article, with all the same words and phrases, and submit it to 500 different directories, search engines will see it as a whole lot of duplicate content. So I suggest using an article spinner (like the one that comes included with the clicky above) in order to have that same article you just wrote "spun" into multiple variations. The article will essentially be the same, but it will have more unique content. For this, you will interject synonyms or alternate sentences (and even titles) that the spinner will randomly choose when it creates hundreds of versions of your article, then submits a different version to each directory when you use the submitter.

These spinners have a thesaurus included, which is rather extensive, and so you should have no issues finding multiple ways of saying the same thing. Done correctly, this will only take you another 30 minutes or so and you'll have hundreds or thousands of different variations of the same article, reducing the amount of duplicate content you could be penalized for in the search engines.

Like I said, it's not just affiliate marketers that should take advantage of this level of site promotion. Anyone with a site or blog can benefit from having more exposure and back links. What I like most about the Magic Submitter is the fact that it also submits to a variety of social media, not just article directories. And it is very well put together, in my opinion.

Magic Submitter

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Filling out Surveys for Extra Cash

As it indicates over there on the right hand side of the page, I've tried just about every work from home program I can get my grubby little hands on for around a decade. Now, of course, I did take time off from various income streams when I had my children, or when life happened, and these days I am a freelance writer and editor. But I've still run the gambit in this area.

One of the ways to make money online that I gave a shot was filling out surveys. This was a long time ago, while I was still going to Glendale Community College and my children were very little. Is it a scam? No, you really can get paid for filling out surveys. But there is a bit of a catch that they don't usually let you know about up front: your selection of surveys is indeed limited.

Sure, there are hundreds, even thousands, of surveys available online that companies will pay people to take. It's part of their market research and they are certainly hungry for the data that makes a difference to their bottom line. However, they are willing to pay because they are running a highly targeted campaign. This means that you will not qualify for all those surveys.

Whereas it is true that you can take any number of surveys, and there's no "glass-ceiling" involved in the amount of money you can make, you are simply not going to qualify for every paid survey that's available. Honestly, you'll be lucky if you qualify for 5 or 10 surveys per week (which generally only pay a few dollars, or less, each).

You can increase the number of surveys you may qualify to take by joining up with as many companies who deal with these sorts of listings as you can get your hands on, and it's true that some companies are a bit better than others in this regard, but you're still not going to be able to quit your day job by taking surveys online.

On the other hand, if you're looking for an easy way to get a small amount of extra cash this can be a great way to do just that. By the end of the month you may not have more than enough to buy yourself a ticket to the movies, but that may be a movie ticket you wouldn't have been able to squeeze into your budget otherwise.

Whether or not taking surveys for cash is going to be a worthwhile endeavor for you is going to depend on your individual situation and your personal goals/desire for making money online. Do you want to find a way to fire your boss? Then this probably isn't the solution for you (although combining it with many other small-time, legitimate ways to make a little extra money online might help you get there eventually. Again, it depends on your personal situation). But are you just looking for a good way to make a tiny bit extra in your free time? Then you might want to give surveys a shot!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is Affiliate Marketing a Viable Income Stream?

If you've spent any amount of time trying programs that promise to make you rich or researching ways to make money online at all, you've probably heard of affiliate marketing. This is where you make a commission on the sale of someone else's product in exchange for the referral you sent their way that resulted in a sale.

There's no shortage of people who will tell you that this kind of work will make you rich. There's no shortage of available programs that promise you can make a 6-figure income within x amount of time. But the real question is - does affiliate marketing work? Can you actually make money from home selling other people's products?

The short answer is yes, but there are catches that you're not usually told about ahead of time. Affiliate marketing is HARD work. You are going to have to invest a lot of time into it, and probably some money too. The pay off, if you stick with it and are willing to put forth the effort, can be truly amazing, but it's far from "overnight."

About 97% of the people who attempt affiliate marketing fail to make much, if anything at all. But let's examine why. Many of these people were under the impression that this would be easy, a piece of cake, just fill out a couple of advertisements and watch the money start rolling in. That's not the case. So when they discover that this is going to eat up a significant amount of time, they become disheartened. And they have every right to feel that way! This wasn't the promise they were sold a few years back.

Affiliate marketing is kind of like being a real estate agent in that you don't make any money at all until you sell that first house and receive your commission after closing. In order to sell that house you're going to have to reach out to potential clients, schedule an open house, make sure people are aware there's an open house, have flyers or post cards or something people won't throw away made up with your business contact information (which is going to cost some money), go door to door even if that's what it takes. And it doesn't stop when you sell that first house, if you want a paycheck to continue - you have to start all over again (although that's a lot easier to motivate yourself to do if your commissions were enough for you not to worry about where the food on your table is going to come from for a while).

This isn't a get rich quick scheme. It won't happen overnight. But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Using the same example of the real estate agent above, if this person were to become disheartened and give up when only one person, who didn't end up submitting an offer, showed up to their open house, they would never be able to sell the house and claim their commission. So maybe it's been a month of affiliate marketing for you and you feel lucky to even have one sale. If you stick with it, change up your strategy a little bit, search for tips, find tutorials or programs written by successful affiliates who used to be where you are, and (most importantly) don't give up - you CAN create a viable income stream by being an affiliate marketer.

But remember, there will be hard work involved. This will likely be a very time-consuming task, and it may take a while before you're reaping the rewards you really want. But this is also an income stream without any limit to its potential. It's not a guaranteed paycheck, but neither is real estate and yet my grandmother sold million dollar homes eventually, where her commission was enough to support her family and her dreams back when it was a booming market. Find the niche or market that works for you, that you can get behind and honestly feel good about selling. If you can do that and commit to putting in the time and effort that is required to get things rolling (potentially to the point where they are on autopilot even), then you actually can make affiliate marketing a well-paying, full-time job that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Paid to Like and Tweet

Believe it or not, plenty of people (big and small, in business terms) will pay you to "like" their facebook page and/or "tweet" their products, services, brand, etc. This can be an excellent way to generate some extra money from home for something you're probably doing anyway. But beware... your friends and followers on these popular social networks didn't join just so that they can see advertisements every few minutes.

In order to make this idea work, without simply ticking off everyone who started following your timeline in the first place, you will have to continue to regularly and actively contribute genuine, useful content. Posting a few advertising tweets each day, or liking 10 different company or individual fan pages each day will be much more tolerable to your friends and followers if you're generally posting something more content-rich, fun, or socially interactive. This, in turn, will make your advertising tweet/likes far more valuable and effective for the people who were looking to pay you to do them!

There are a number of ways that you can find people who would be willing to pay you for this service, provided you have a strong following on one or more of these social networks.

1) Fiverr can actually be a fantastic place for you to throw up a gig to tweet a certain number of links to a certain number of followers, or guarantee a certain number of likes on Facebook, for a fee.

2) Sites like the one this link will take you to in a new window have listings from advertisers who are looking for someone who is willing to spend a certain amount of their social networking time on helping them get the word out about their products, services, programs, etc.

3) Joining a site like PaidPerTweet will allow people who are interested in hiring you to tweet their message/link find you. Sites like these can be rather competitive and there will be people who have a million or more followers that you're competing with, but their prices will also be more expensive than you're likely to charge for a single tweet to 1000 followers.

Social media marketing is huge right now. Marketers are realizing that this platform allows them to reach the largest, targeted audience possible without cutting so far into their profit margin that they may as well be giving the stuff away (which is what PPC has become for so many - but that's a different post). Regardless of experience or skill set, you too can take advantage of the social media marketing craze and leverage your pull in any/all the social networks you're a member of.

My take on it is this: I don't join social networks, or follow/befriend people just so that I can see advertisements, and I doubt you do either. But if my "friend" is posting a lot of fun and/or relevant content, I don't mind seeing an advertisement thrown my way now and then either. Ads are all over everything - the internet, the radio, TV, and so on. At least they aren't calling my house during dinner to try and get me to listen to their pitch! So go ahead, make a little money from the time you spend on Twitter or Facebook. Why not?

Review: is Fiverr Worth it?

One site that allows you to make money from home is On Fiverr, you post a "gig" with details on something you're willing to do/provide in exchange for $5. As you generate positive feedback by delivering your gigs to clients on time, you move up the ranks to unlock other features, such as the ability to create "extras" or add-ons for your gigs.

With time, a creative and/or enticing gig idea, and a little work, this can be a great way to generate a little extra cash. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you decide whether or not it's worth your time.

1) Since Fiverr takes 20% of the gig's purchase price, you will have to decide what you're willing to do for $4, not $5.

2) The money a client pays you will go into escrow and will not be released to your account for withdrawal to PayPal for 14 days after the product/service has been delivered (and accepted as such by either the client or the system). However, if you stick with it & have a reasonably wanted gig or two, you could make a few hundred dollars in your first month.

3) Fiverr handles payouts via PayPal, or through the use of their Fiverr revenue card. I haven't gone with their newer revenue card option yet, so I'm not sure if there is a credit check or anything like that involved with becoming approved for it. I do know that the company who powers the card charges fees of some variety, but then so does PayPal. If neither of these options works for you as a payment method, this may not be the opportunity for you, but if you can make either of these work then this can be an excellent opportunity.

4) In my experience, clients will often expect an awful lot for their $5, even if you're offering a service that would cost exponentially more were it made available via any other avenue. That's not necessarily a bad thing - people want to get as much as they can when they hire someone, no matter how much or how little they are paying, and I do understand that. However, it can mean that you are putting in more of your time and creative energy (depending on the gig) per hour than you would if you were making twice as much at a regular minimum wage job. On the other hand, it can be an excellent way to generate fairly quick buzz and positive feedback for your brand, allowing you to offer your services for more money later on.

Fiverr has it's pros and cons, so whether or not you consider it worth your time is up to you and what you're willing to do for $4! It is certainly a legitimate, proven way to make extra money online, speaking as someone who has used the site. It might take a couple of days to get your first order, but orders will pick up as positive reviews come in from happy clients.