It Seems Like Ages Since I Last Updated

Well, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve last updated this blog, but I’ve been busy (which is a good thing). I’ve actually done quite a few things lately:

- I purchased the SEO WSB software which I’ve been using to build up a couple larger content sites
- I’ve been using an great bit of software to help me write my articles (I can’t disclose too much about it…yet)
- I’ve actually altered my game plan a little bit as I actually started to develop my websites

This has paid off for me in more ways than just finances, but I’ll start with the finances first. The new site I just set up steadily brings in $2 per day in Adsense revenue alone (which is definitely a great accomplishment for its short life on the web so far), and my affiliate commissions are steadily increasing.

I haven’t met my challenge’s $100 per day goal as yet, but my sites are well on their way.

I mentioned that this project was about more than just money for me. In this short period of time, I’ve learned to look at the extended picture - i.e. the big picture. The sites that I’m starting today will ultimately end up paying for my retirement in a few years - yes, you heard me right…”few” years.

The more care and dedication you put into something, the more you will get out of it in the long run. Because of this, I’ve decided to put a great deal of care and dedication to each of the sites that I’m putting up on the web and all the content will be originally written by myself. I don’t mind spending the extra time now and delaying my gratification.

I remember a question that Aaron Wall asked a while back on his blog -I can’t remember his exact wording, but it was along the lines of - if you had to show your site to a Google representative, would you be embarrassed? That got me thinking, and to be quite honest - I want to be proud of every single site I put onto the web. I do that same courtesy for each of my clients, why wouldn’t I do the same for myself.

And just because your site is thought out and well crafted doesn’t mean it can’t be monetized ;) . That’s it for the quick update, now it’s back to work for a few more hours before I hit the sack. I’ll definitely try and keep everyone in the loop a little more often.

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I’ve Been Sandboxed

I always thought of the sandbox as something that “happened to other people” and not me, until today.

My affiliate site appears to have been sandboxed by Google and it’s very disconcerting to say the least. I now know and understand what those web masters go through when they check to see if their site’s been indexed in Google only to find it hasn’t. Then scamper to check in Yahoo! and MSN only to find that it has. After that, a web master doesn’t really know what else to think.

I decided to do a little bit of research on the domain name I purchased (on a whim and it simply seemed like a good choice at the time) and turns out it was previously owned. The big clue should have been when a good chunk of my referrals were coming from the yellow pages website.

Google bot loves crawling my site, but it seems like I’ll have to wait in Google limbo until it’s all fixed up. I’m not sure whether I should contact Google and ask them if there’s something particularly wrong with this website - it’s no different structurally than any of my other websites (which were all crawled and indexed in under a week), so other than the domain name being previously owned.

It is still a little odd to me that Google would sandbox my affiliate site because of being previously owned - it’s been more than 2 years as far I can tell. And this website (www.astepcloser.com) was previously owned too, but it’s still indexed and doing well in Google. Guess this is a wait and see game.

The good news is, I’m getting a TON of traffic from Yahoo! and some trickles from MSN. Yahoo! is now my new best friend :D .

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I feel proud of myself today - I got stuff done

I didn’t focus on the $100 per day project today. Instead focused on my long neglected affiliate based website. I gave my clients the boot for the day and decided that I was going to do something for myself since I was hinging on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I signed up with a new affiliate program over the weekend (my last one discontinued their affiliate programs), added 32 new pages of content, and made a few tweaks to the template and layout.

I’m feeling a renewed vigor for this particular affiliate website because I got the approval notice from the new affiliate - yay. And this affiliate allows me to create links directly to individual products (aka smart links).

I was totally starting to feel bummed for a minute because I hadn’t heard anything for so long from the previous affiliate program I applied to (they didn’t even bother to contact me and let me know they discontinued their program, I had to contact them).

Aside from that, I’ve become an Adsense tracking fiend. I’ve broken the tracking down as follows:

  1. Week
  2. Channel name (i.e. the website)
  3. CTR (click through rate)
  4. Page Impressions (Total/Average)
  5. Clicks (Total/Average)
  6. Earnings (Total/Average)
  7. Notes

I track the results weekly and note the ad format I’m using or changes I made. This way, I am able to see at a glance where I am with my Adsense earnings and quickly see what’s working on what sites and what’s not. So far, my most recent change has yielded a 2.7% increase in my click through rate - yay.

When I’m not so lazy, I may turn my spreadsheet into a PDF for download with a few more notes.

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Time To Apply What You’ve Learned

Earlier, I talked about the importance of getting yourself educated. Now that I’ve finished reading (or well, semi-finished), it’s time to actually apply what I’ve learned to some real world examples.

Personally, this can be the scariest part because it will mark whether or not you experience success. But some times you just have to buck up and dive in feet first without questioning it. If you start questioning everything, you may run into analysis paralysis and we all know how dangerous that can be.

I’ve not had much time to work on my $100 per day project due to some prior obligations and some other issues, but I have managed to do something (and that’s always the biggest hurdle). I finished setting up one of my 3 pre-researched mini content sites.

I toyed with the idea of using WordPress as the content management system as Nadav suggested (a good suggestion by the way), however, I decided for what I wanted to accomplish - WordPress proved to have too steep a time requirement. What I wanted to accomplish was very simple and it was a wise decision, for me, to develop the website locally using a Dreamweaver template.

1. I have complete control of the layout. I know you can customize WP, but it would take more time to figure out the ins and outs of getting WP to look the way you want while still being fully functional - at least without learning PHP or hiring someone to do it for you. Remember, I’m cheap.

2. I have static pages. For this particular project, I’d rather have the static pages than having the pages generated on the fly.

Best advice: look closely at your project’s needs, then look at the tools at your disposal and then decide which would best fit your needs.

So, I know you’re all pretty anxious for some results so, here goes. Since my first project will be Adsense powered, I used some of the techniques found in the Adsense Secrets Revealed guide.

The site has been up for 2 days. I just checked my Adsense account this morning and boy was I blown away at what I saw! I have an average click through rate of 5.4% and I’m well on my way to earning back the domain registration fee of that website in less than a month :D .

The traffic came solely from the 3 link exchanges I did (I haven’t actually started marketing the site yet). I will be applying a few more changes to the site over the next week and I want to add at least 25 more pages of content and then I’ll start my traffic campaign (I haven’t found a book or program yet, but I’m hoping I will find one by then).

Total marketing cost so far: $0

A good education pays.

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It’s Official, I Will Be Taking My Online Marketing To The Next Level

Last night, I touched on the fact that I won’t be accepting any new consulting clients. The fact of the matter is, when I work as a consultant for other people, I am still am employee. Although the business is mine, I work from home, and I can set my hours - I am still a slave to deadlines and the whim of my clients.

Remember that old saying “in order for things to change, you must change“? Because I want to start establishing true financial and personal freedom, things need to change in my current life and way of operating. Basically, I’m changing.

As of yesterday, I stopped accepting new clients and will not be until June 1, 2005. I will continue to work with past and current clients while still being selective within that pool.

My consultancy has definitely blossomed, enough so that I am literally turning clients away. It feels wonderful to be able to pick and choose who I will work with, but recently, I’ve been so busy I don’t have much time to work on my own projects - the projects which will allow me to enjoy true financial and emotional freedom.

I have saved enough money to allow myself to pay my bills while having a little extra padding for incidentals. I will establish at least 5 passive income websites by my June 1 deadline. The websites don’t need to be huge cash cows overnight, but I want them to establish a foothold in their respective niches.

By this time next year, I will be taking new clients only because I want to, not because I have to.

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The Star Has Returned

It seems that I’ve been MIA for a few weeks and this blog has been a little neglected. Well, that has changed and I have returned.

I became super duper busy over the past few weeks and wasn’t able to update as much as I would have liked. I’ve decided that I am shifting my focus to my online business for the next 2 months. I’ve decided I will not be accepting any new consulting clients (however, I will still make appointments and schedule my previous/current clients if necessary).

This site has also received a make over - I’ve love to hear any opinions on the design and layout, so don’t be shy - leave a comment or send me an email (star-at-astepcloser-dot-com).

I’ve upgraded to WordPress 1.5 (very nice, I’ll write a review on that in the next couple of weeks). I’ve also added Google AdSense. I know the main purpose of this blog is not to generate money, which is why the ads will only be visible if you’re referred from search engines or another site - and they will only be visible on individual entries.

I will be creating another section that outlines the goals, purpose, and caveats of this blog later on next week (or hopefully sooner). For now, know that the #1 goal of this blog is not to pimp out services or products - so I’ll try to keep all that to a minimum here.

If you’re a regular, you may notice things being moved around, that is because the site’s not *truly* finished yet. There are still a number of things I would like to add to the site and will be making the time to do that over the next 3 - 4 months.

Since it’s very late, I’m going to call it an evening and I’ll finish this update in the morning.

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An End to a Semi-Productive and Almost Relaxing Weekend

This weekend I made a vow to myself to not work. That’s right. I promised myself that I would not work on client projects, I would not work on my own projects, and I would not work period. The only thing I was allowed to do was relax and learn.

I’m actually quite glad I took that time to focus on myself because I was suffering from some serious burnout. I’m still a bit burnt out, but at least my head is screwed on a little tighter and I can focus a little more.

Just so you can share in what I learned up on. I went through all the PDF ebooks on my computer (there’s somewhere around 40ish), printed off the ones I knew I really wanted to read which totalled around 4 or 5. I grabbed my pen, a highlighter, and a glass of water.

I didn’t get through all of them, but I am proud that I accomplished something.

I read The Guide To Search Engine Marketing (PDF) available for download from OneUpWeb. It contains some pretty basic information and if you’ve done any research into search engine optimization, this will be old news. However, there are some good reminders sprinkled in there to keep you on your SEO toes. I also loved the glossary. I’m sure it will come in handy. They also offer just the glossary in their articles/whitesheets section, so no need to download the full manual (41 pages) if you’re only interested in the terms.

The second ebook I read was The Beginners Guide to Business Blogging by Debbie Weil. This is a really great introduction if you’re completely new to the world of blogging. While there are also bits of great information, it’s filled with a helping of fluff. Had it been edited for content/repeat information, I’m sure it would have shrunk by more than half.

On another note, however, I love the formatting of this ebook. It’s always nice to see an ebook that’s not plain jane.

Reflecting on one of the notes I left myself in the printed version:

search engines seem to love blogs

Next to it, I wrote “BURN INTO CORNEAS!” - just in case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is an important concept to grasp.

The free download of this ebook has been disabled, however, if you really would like a copy of it, leave me a comment by clicking on “Leave your review” and use your real email addy - it won’t be shown. I’ll send a copy of the ebook to that email address.

And finally, I’m reviewing a copy of Liz Tomey’s JV ebook. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but there is a lot of good information to be found within its pages. It goes over some techniques for locating and contacting JV partners which is something I will be doing in the near future with the launch of my upcoming project. I’m only halfway through it, but so far it makes for good reading.

On the “to be read” list, I have The Power of Concentration by Mike Litman (what I love about this book is that it’s an actual book - not an ebook, so I didn’t have to use any ink printing it out and it doesn’t cost anymore than the average marketing ebook does either).

I also want to get through Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill (PDF) which is definitely all the rage with the “gurus” and from what I can get through, it contains a lot of wise information. I currently have the PDF version (230+ pages) and haven’t printed it yet because I had to order a new ink cartridge for all this stuff LOL. I’d recommend getting the paperback version from Amazon - it’s only about $3 and you won’t have to worry about wasting ink or going blind.

Next after that is Scientific Marketing by Claude Hopkins. I don’t know too much about this ebook - but if it can help my sorry marketing skills, then it’s definitely on my list of “to be read immediately” books.

The list of ebooks I want to get through in the coming weeks seems somewhat endless, but I’m focused. I will only read the ebooks that will directly apply to my current project - all the rest can wait. I’m learning up on business blogging, search engine optimization, press releases/free marketing techniques, and business management (i.e. setting up business plans and setting business goals).

And for the curious people - none of these links (except Amazon) are affiliate links. This is my own personal blog, not a place for me to pimp out products. I really like these lucid days.

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Taking a break to put things in perspective

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog (3 days) and I’ve been wanting to, quite badly, but something always seems to come up.

I’ve been in a funk, especially about my affiliate website. I still haven’t heard any word from the affiliate site as yet - I really am starting to think that affiliate manager is asleep at the wheel. But I didn’t let that deter me, I was still able to:

  • Add a Feed and Corresponding URLs to the affiliate site
  • Make a few design changes to the affiliate site
  • Submit my website to another 6 directories (thus meeting my daily goal)
  • Update the contact form page
  • Added/deleted a few CMS plugins

After all of that was done and said, I was able to focus on some client websites. I managed to get 2 more clients and one more lead :) , so business is looking up. I also finished designing my short term money site (don’t worry, nothing illegal) and I only need to make a few minor updates before it’s ready for launch and marketing.

I also developed the site map and category layout for my next project. So right now, I currently have:

  • 1 affiliate site I’m actively and aggressively developing/promoting
  • 1 short term money website in development and a few pages away from launch
  • 2 other affiliate/content sites in development
  • 4 websites on the back burner - will focus on these sites like a laser once I’ve finished the others

And of course, there’s the client projects that I have work on - I made a list of current clients/what needs to be done and I will steadily work through that.

I’ve also decided that I will take a hiatus from current outside work to focus on my affiliate/online projects and I do have some die hard loyal clients, so they will understand and deal with the 2 month wait.

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Getting Stuff Done

Today was definitely better than yesterday and 100 times better than the day prior to yesterday.

I got a lot of work done for my affiliate site and also found some inspiration for future affiliate sites.

I initially set my goal to get at least 5 inbound links to my affiliate site. Somehow, I found myself on a linking hayday and by the time I finished I had requested (manually by emailing webmasters) 5 link exchanges and submitted my URL to 20 website directories. Yep, 25 inbound links (20 are confirmed).

I found a good number of link partners simply by doing a Google search and submitting URLs to the first 2-3 pages of results. The search term I used was allintitle: keywords directory (substitute keywords with your website’s keywords or niche).

Another good thing is it really didn’t take me all that long - it was an hour of my time well spent. I also got some more good news when I checked my stats and I see that Googlebot finally decided to make his way to my site. He crawled most of the pages and he was the last of the three big boys to get there.

And before I close up this post for the evening. I finally broke down and applied to another affiliate because I have not heard any word from the initial company I applied to. I think their affiliate manager is asleep at the wheel. The only problem with the new company is that I cannot link directly to specific products, so I am still holding out for the first affiliate company.

The website is almost done and I will be adding the search script tomorrow and I will be promoting my website’s directory so that I will obtain even more link partners.

Oh yea, one more thing - I’m finally due to get my first check from Google this month and I am extremely excited. Since I cannot disclose actual numbers, suffice it to say that it’s a larger payout than I expected.

That’s the business update.

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A Step Closer…

Finally I have it. A quiet place away from the fray where I can document my hopes and fears, goals and achievements, fantasies and dreams, and everything in between. A place where I can be totally open and bare my soul - flaws and all.

Judge me if you will, however, I do not care. Not because I don’t care about you, but simply because I believe there is only one judge. But before you decide to judge me, know this: I am a real person with real feelings, living a real life. I know that you are reading my words on a screen and you can’t hear my voice or see my face or touch my skin, but I am a real person. This is my life, these are my thoughts, these are my feelings. This is my refuge.

I am a step away from learning to breathe again. A step away from learning to love again. A step away from living my life again. By reading my words, you are taking that step with me, by my side. Thank you.

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