Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TopicSpotter Sold

With the rash of so many other sites, TopicSpotter has been sold and has claimed all the articles for its own, with no way to delete them. Your only hope is to file a DMCA Notice of Infringement and pray for the best.

Unfortunately, writing for article platforms is currently the Wild West, and there is no way to stop the sale of these sites. However, be warned if you buy one of these revenue-producing sites: if the site claims all its articles are by the site owner, be wary and do your research; get the advice of a lawyer on intellectual property rights. You don't want to end up with Federal Trade Commission Complaints, or be sued by authors.

Your best bet is to head over to the Wayback Machine at http://www.archive.org and look for the Terms and Conditions of the site you are thinking of buying. If there is a revenue split, in all likelihood the authors own their respective articles.

If you buy such a site, be aware that you will have to continue to either honor the original Terms and Conditions, or give authors a chance to remove their content (90 days is about right). Make sure you send an email notice to each author's registered email address.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Value of Passive Income

I just saw a post on a forum, stating that working a week on a project that was going to pay $2.00 per month is not a worthwhile use of time. Yes, that is true for your day job, I'll admit. However, passive income is much different than active income, and its value has to be figured differently.

With interest rates on investments near zero, and not likely to rise fast, the passive income value of a CD with a $25,000 deposit is $325 per year, or $27.08 per month. Most online writers who have been at it a while earn, on average, at least that much, so you can say that their online properties are worth $25,000 in terms of their passive income value.

Now, the question is not how long it would take you to earn $27.08. Most of us can do that pretty easily. The question is, how long would it take you to save $25,000? That's the real value of your online properties.

To put it another way, let's say you work an hour on some passive income-producing property (an article, a graphic, a photograph, &c.). If that article makes you ten cents per month, you feel as if your time has been wasted. But has it?

The first month you've been paid ten cents per hour. After five years you've been paid six dollars per hour. But after ten years, you've been paid twelve dollars per hour (a little better, right?). In addition, used correctly, each property you put online drives sales to your other properties, so in the long run, everything makes more. And that's time you wouldn't have spent on active income in any case, so it's quite likely that you wouldn't have produced any income whatsoever in that hour.

So don't be discouraged by pennies in earnings, especially at first. It takes a while for your work to catch on, and you have to keep at it steadily.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Literally Anything You Write May Earn You Money!

This was such a funny occurrence that I couldn't resist sharing it with all of you. You know how people tell you to write what you know about, or what you're passionate about, and people will search for it? I got proof the other day that it happens to be true.

I was looking at my Wizzley statistics, and here is the screenshot of what I saw:

So yes, it's true. People will search for anything. If you're not earning yet, take heart. Eventually someone will search for what you're writing about!

Friday, July 3, 2015

You're Wasting Your Outgoing Links

A lot of people use their limited number of links on Hubpages, InfoBarrel, Wizzley, and other sites foolishly. They link to a single product, when each of these sites has a module or element to link to single products on Amazon. If the person is not going to buy from your element, they're not going to buy from your link. So never use a link to link to a single product.

The smart way to use your links, if you're going to link to Amazon as well as use the Amazon element is to use the links to link to a search page, a Listmania! list, a So You'd Like To guide, reviews, discussion forums, or anything at all on Amazon except a single product. The thing is, once you get the customer to Amazon, you can let Amazon do the selling. So get them there any way you can. You'll still get the credit for whatever they buy, using the "Link to this page" tool (see the previous post on how to do this) in your Site Stripe. By all means use the Amazon elements for single products but it's a waste to use links for that when you can direct them to a page where they can or want to buy more than one thing.

If you don't know how to create or find any of those things I listed above, then it's time you checked out the other kinds of information Amazon has available. Believe me, you want to learn, because this is where most of your sales will come from!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Link to Amazon

Affiliate sales can be confusing, but it seems to me that one of the sites many people have trouble understanding is Amazon. Now, Amazon is a great site, and it's got the potential to be a real money-maker, but there are so many options that knowing which one to choose can be a bit difficult. So both for your own blog, and for the major revenue share platforms, let's clear up a little of the confusion.

First of all, make sure you are signed up for the Amazon Associate program. Recently, Amazon has started deleting accounts that don't make a sale within the first 90 days. If you don't already have an account that was grandfathered in, you want to have a sizable body of work online before you apply. If you have just applied, be ready to put a LOT of links out there fast.

You'll see later how to use outgoing links with Amazon, and you should be following those rules, as well. But for specific products (for which you should NOT be using outgoing links), you'll want to follow these steps:

First, make sure your Site Stripe is turned on. To do that, go to your Associates homepage, click on Account Settings.

In the box that says Account Information, click on Associates Site Stripe Options.

Make sure it says "On," and then click the options you want. I have everything except discussion forums checked.

Now, when you go back to Amazon, you should see a grey stripe at the top of your page. If you have your settings correct, the first item on the left of the Site Stripe will be "Link to this page," followed by "Short link to this page." Search for the product you want as you would normally do. Once you are on the actual product page, you can use either the link or the short link. Some revenue-sharing platforms happily accept the short link; others want the long link.

On InfoBarrel, I recommend the regular link. When you click "Link to this page," a box will come up.

Choose "Text only" from the options. A long line of code will appear inside a text box. Of this code, find the first quotation mark (") and place your cursor there. Select everything until you see another quotation mark (you want all the stuff inside the quotation marks, but not the marks themselves). Using your keyboard, copy the selected text using Control-C.

Now switch over to InfoBarrel, and use the sidebar to add an Amazon element. Click "EDIT" at the top right corner of the element, and using Control-V, paste your link from the clipboard. Add your description, and click SAVE.

For HubPages, all you need is the ASIN (the product identifier number). In your browser address bar, look at the link, and after amazon.com and the name of the product, will be /dp/ followed by a string of letters and numbers, followed by another virgule (/). That string of letters and numbers will tell HubPages what product to find. Again, enter your description and click Save.

What about widgets? Astore? We'll get into that very soon.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lazy, Lazy, Lazy

I know I absolutely loathe article promotion. It's horrible. I avoid it whenever possible. So when I find something where I can "set it and forget it," (apologies to Ron Popeil) I'm delighted!

IFTTT (If This Then That, pronounced like "gift" without the initial g) is an automation tool for the web, your cell phone, and much more. If you go to IFTTT.com, you can "set and forget" lots of things, but the best is social media. Now I've written about this elsewhere at length, but you can stack IFTTT and Buffer to make a very powerful social media promotion that you never have to think about ever again (until the internet changes dramatically). When Pinterest allows IFTTT then we will all be able to take a vacation! (Buffer does allow it, now, but you have to pay. I'm not making enough money yet to pay.)

Unfortunately, if you're like me, and have multiple social media accounts, you'll have to sign up for IFTTT using multiple email addresses, one for each account. With four Twitter accounts, that's a bit of a hassle, but hey, it's better than tweeting my links all day every day (actually even cleaning my oven is better than that).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Art.com and Allposters.com are moving to Commission Junction

Yes, it's true. I logged on to my account this morning and both sites are moving to Commission Junction. I've never had much luck with that program, simply because I don't seem to sell anything, but I am hoping that with luck and all the hundreds of posts with those two affiliates, and the 1600+ links I will be adding shortly, that I'll be able to sell something before they kick me out for inactivity. Fortunately, I can apply for other programs, too, and I hope that something will sell eventually!

So for now I will be redoing literally hundreds of links and hoping that I don't mess something up. As if I didn't have enough to do already!

Art.com has told me their former links don't work; however, I believe if you leave it all in place and use the Commission Junction auto deeplinker, that might work (if their pictures are still served from the same address after the change). If not, you can find the picture address, and use the CJ bookmarklet to generate a deeplink.

Art.com and allposters.com are also on VigLink, so it's possible if you have VigLink installed that will work, too. We'll see after the changeover!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Earn $65 (or more) Each Year on Amazon for Free

That's right, with a few minutes a day, you can earn more than $5 a month on Amazon.

How? This is the easy part.

Use Bing as your search engine.

Okay, it's a little more complicated than that, but not much.
  1. Sign up for the Bing Rewards program.
  2. Use Bing as your search engine.
  3. Pick an Amazon gift card as your reward. (Yes, there are other rewards available, but Amazon is one of the most useful and easy to get.)
Now here's how to get to those gift cards fast:

Each day, open Bing on your browser.
First, you will see a little bar at the top that will have a badge with your points on it, like this:

(Incidentally, I started this on May 1st. It's May 25, so I will easily make my reward this month.)

Click on this badge and you will get a small sliding window that looks like this:

(For the sharp-eyed among you, this screenshot was taken at the beginning of my task, while the previous one was taken at the end of my task. So, yes, I did earn nineteen points today.)

You want to check this window first, because you will sometimes get double points for searches, but you have to click on the link to activate the double points. On those days you can get 30 points for searching.

At the bottom of the window you will see something like this:

Click on one of those little windows after the first two on the left: it doesn't matter which one. The window will change to a Bing search result about that news story, and the bar will move to the top of the window. You don't have to click on an actual search result to get the points. Just keep clicking on news stories pictures until you've clicked on 29 of them. That will give you your 15 points per day for desktop searches. (If you make Bing your default search engine, and you're online all the time, and you do this at the end of the day, you may have already earned your 15 points, but I do it at the beginning of each day, while I'm still too sleepy to do anything else, in order to make my waking-up time productive.)

If you look at the window which opened when you click on the badge, you'll see other activities you can earn for points. Just click the links, new windows will open, and you'll be good to go.

$5 Amazon gift cards are available for 525 points. But, if you're doing this every day, once you reach 150 points for the month, you'll receive Gold status and get a 10% discount on your reward:

and so, your $5 Amazon gift card will be only 475 points.

When you redeem, you'll get an email with a gift card code. You can simply copy/paste the code to Amazon and that will credit your account. The dollars in your account never expire, so don't be afraid to save up for something big!

So, to do the math, 15 points for searching, times thirty days, will get you 450 points. Add in 30+ more points for the other activities, and you will receive 13 (plus a few leftover points for the next one) $5 gift cards per year.

And yes, you can use your referral link (as I did above) to invite friends, and get some extra points. They have to reach Silver status (get 200 points) within 60 days, plus take the tour. You have to redeem something to get to Silver status; if you're smart, you'll redeem something for 20 points. Don't redeem your gift cards until you reach Gold status, because the discount is worth waiting for (a fifty-point reduction).

You'll notice I haven't mentioned mobile points. I can't get them to work, either with the Bing app or Safari mobile, and evidently many other people can't, either; searches I do on mobile still count as desktop searches. I have a new phone so I'm willing to try once more, but then I'm throwing in the towel. If you manage to get it to work, that's an extra ten points per day, or more than $35 a year extra in Amazon gift cards, which works out to a dollar every three or so days. Not exactly minimum wage, but it comes in handy for your Christmas shopping and those Black Friday deals.

One more way to earn points: with your Hotmail, Live or other Bing-affiliated email address, once a week you'll get an email with an opportunity to earn four more points by clicking the links in the email.

Happy searching and shopping!


Bing sent me a response. Mobile searches work only from phones, not tablets. I don't have an iPhone to test it out, but for Android, install the Bing rewards app. Make sure you are signed in to your account. Now go to the menu (symbol on upper right) and choose "Status." You will see the mobile equivalent of the sliding window (second picture above). Tap on "mobile search" and then search from there. Twenty searches will get you ten points. Yes, it's awkward but it works, and you'll satisfy your idle curiosity when you're away from your phone.

Someone with an iPhone please let me know if mobile searches work for you, and how you did it.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Adieu, Zujava!

Alas, another content site has fallen by the wayside. Zujava, which was a favorite of mine, is closing its site on July 1, 2015. I have to admit, I never made much money there, but I liked the format and the site.

I'm dividing up my content between InfoBarrel, HubPages, and Wizzley, depending on where I think it will do well. I will miss the camaraderie of the site and all the people (although I am sure I will find them again elsewhere), but I will be happy of the extra money. I just didn't get enough traffic to my articles there to actually earn anything.

Considering that I still have old eHow articles that I haven't yet republished, I really need to get to work, but first I have to finish the project on my own website. I also have to start moving other articles that aren't doing well, and update my article on 50 Ways to Make a Dollar a Day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Now That Squidoo is Gone . . .

Perhaps your content has already found a home at HubPages. Perhaps you're looking to move it somewhere else. Or perhaps you don't know what to do.

There were all types of content at Squidoo, which was part of the problem. So let me try to help you figure out what to do with the content that just won't go elsewhere.

Naturally, long articles with fewer than one Amazon link per fifty words will do fine at HubPages. If you like HubPages (I do), there's no problem there.

If you have no outgoing links, you might consider Seekyt. They are nice folks, and have a nice platform and nice revenue share (70%).

If you have Amazon sales as part of your outgoing links, try Infobarrel. They allow one Amazon element (not link) for each two hundred words of text. However, your grammar, spelling, and writing will really have to be up to snuff as they are (rightfully so) extremely picky about content. Your content can't be a pure sales page, as was popular on Squidoo; it will have to be real content. For former sales pages, consider reorganizing your content, such as a how-to article with a list of supplies, or a comparison/contrast review of products. You can also have (within reason) links to other, related InfoBarrel articles, and two links off-site (links to sites such as Wikipedia do not count as part of your two-link limit). Remember, just because you wrote an InfoBarrel article doesn't make your articles related. For more information, check out the Newbies Guide (yes, written by yours truly, but approved by the community at large, and the owners of the site).

If you love widgets, such as the Amazon mp3 widget, consider your own blog. You can also add Apple or iTunes widgets if you have a PHG account. For example, a music article with a review of an album, and then the widgets for sampling the mp3s on Amazon, and buying them on iTunes, would be perfect for a self-hosted blog on WordPress.

For a combination of Zazzle, Allposters, and Amazon, Wizzley appears to be the go-to site. Unfortunately, Wizzley doesn't appear to allow videos, except for YouTube.

So good luck finding homes for all those articles (to be honest, there are still some old eHow articles I am trying to find new homes for)!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Update to HubPages

HubPages has recently updated their policy to allow one product per 100 words (the old limit was 50). While typically it's never a problem for me to write more, there are some times when it's just not possible to say 100 words about each of the supplies needed for a complex crafting project, or a recipe with exotic ingredients, but which is generally of the "dump everything in together and bake it for three hours" variety.

So what to do with all those hubs? Since HubPages allows two links to the same domain, or unlimited links to HubPages, the answer is to divide up those products. I have a chance to make even more sales this way. For example, I have a hub on using a formula to make cheesecake, rather than a recipe, so that you can have unlimited varieties of cheesecake without having a different recipe for each flavor. Now I can have a hub on uncommon ingredients to put into cheesecake, and highlight more spices and flavorings. Under each item I put why you might want to consider using it in cheesecake.

Another idea is to use the Listmania! feature on Amazon, which now allows up to forty products per list. Instead of linking to individual products on Amazon, you can link to the list, and your affiliate sales will still count. With my work yesterday I am up to fifteen lists, and more will be coming.

Of course, you can also set up a blog in minutes, and put a link to your blog, and an Amazon widget there, with your products in it. (I started this on my website in December, and I currently have created more than 450 Amazon widgets posted.)

No matter which method you choose, HubPages is still a valuable resource for earning passive income, and well worth the effort. Don't be upset by the changes; we simply must adapt, find more avenues to sell, and keep going!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

And Yet Another Free Tool!

I have a big project in the works for the website for my day job (more on that later), and I wanted to schedule a bunch of posts, more than Buffer can handle. And that's when I discovered IFTTT!

IFTTT is a simple, free website that does very complex things. You have two channels, and a trigger on one channel performs an action on another channel. I've already written an article about the possibilities for article and website promotion, but you can also use it to promote your ebooks, art, POD stores, and anything else that you might think of!

Buy at Art.com
Author in bookstore with sign that re...
Mick Stevens
So instead of spending all that time promoting yourself, you can literally set it and forget it. Head over to IFTTT and start exploring all the possibilities, and see what you can come up with! As for me, I took a recipe that was on page about 15,000 in popularity. It's now in the top 200 pages, simply because of all the time I added it to promote things on my own web site.