My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 2 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I'm Moving - Update Your Feeds

Well, I gave myself a new blog for Christmas and I'm moving home...

My website's home, that is.

I've never been a fan of remotely hosted solutions, but Blogger was so darn convenient and easy to use that I stuck with it longer than expected.

For months, now I've been wanting to host my blog on my own domain but never got around to it... until now.

I now have a WordPress blog and it's hosted on my own domain. The address is and the RSS feed is still

I know what many of you are thinking, "If you use Feedburner then there's no need to announce your feed." I know, but I only started using Feedburner recently so many of you may still be subscribed under my Blogger RSS link. If so, you'll need to update your RSS bookmark to

If you're thinking of hosting your own blog, I highly recommend WordPress. The customization features are amazing and you can do so much more with your blog.

And for those of you who have been WordPress users forever are probably wondering what took me so long. Yeah I wonder that too. ;)

In any event, just a quick note to let you know about my new blog. Look forward to seeing you there.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog Rush = More Traffic?

I've never been too big on blogging. I know, I know... everybody's doing it and it's sooooo "Web 2.0", right?

Well for me, it's always been sort of a secondary tool I use to draw traffic to my main site, and it was usually at the bottom of my "to-do" list.

But in the past two months, I've noticed a spike in my blog traffic and AdSense revenue. And those two things... traffic and money always get my attention. :).

Not to mention, I finally signed up with and discovered I had more than 400 subscribers to my blog.

So I decided to put a little more energy and time into blogging, especially now that I know many people have taken the time to subscribe (thanks!).

In the meantime, I stumbled upon this traffic-generating program for your blog called BlogRush. Like many of these referral network "thingies", I usually approach with caution and expect the least. But since it's free, I figured why not.

Here's how it works...

BlogRush operates on a pyramid-style, multi-level structure. You sign up for a free account, submit your blog to the network and place a widget on your site that displays other blogs from other members.

Without getting too deep into the details (you can get them at BlogRush anyway), you earn display credits every time your blog loads.

The more times your blog loads, the more times your blog is displayed throughout the network. You also earn display credits for your blog when you refer others to the network.

So just like any other multi-level traffic system, the people with high amounts of traffic, benefit the most because their traffic earns them more credits, which results in more blog displays throughout the network.

One flaw with BlogRush (and this happens with most programs that operate in this manner) is people have already figured out ways to cheat the system by using random user agents to spoof impressions.

In English, that just means they can generate more credits for their blog by using a script to trick BlogRush into thinking their blog has been displayed so they can earn more display credits for their own blog.

John Reese, the creator, says he is fully aware of these practices and is doing everything he can to remove "cheaters" from the network and keep the system clean.

Another issue I noticed with BlogRush is relevancy. When you join, you tell BlogRush what category your blog is in. This is to ensure your blog is displayed on the most relevant blogs and vice versa.

But when I check the widget on my site, often times I see blogs that are quite irrelevant to my content. And of course this means my blog is being displayed in the same manner.

Although I will say, things have improved tremendously since you can now choose a sub-category for your blog profile.

So what's the verdict? Can BlogRush deliver a flood of traffic like they advertise?

For most bloggers, due to their lower traffic levels, probably not. A "flood" may be overexaggerating a bit. But I do think you can generate some decent traffic.

And with time and some more fine-tuning (removing cheaters from the network and better targeting), this could be a very worthwhile program down the road.

I have been generating some traffic through BlogRush, and even though it's not a lot, it's enough to let the BlogRush widget maintain a slice of real estate on my blog.

And while there is much room for improvement, I like what I've seen so far. John seems very committed to the success of the program and has already improved many features, stats, etc.

So in the meantime, I'm sticking with them.

You can sign up with BlogRush here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beware of AdSense Overload!

As the AdSense popularity grows among Webmasters, it's hard to find a site without at least one AdSense unit displayed.

And in my opinion, many Webmasters overdo it.

Because you want to get as many clicks as possible, it can be very tempting to lace your page header with multiple AdSense ads. After all, the more ads, the money you'll make right?

Not necessarily...

... especially if your site is in a niche that targets Webmasters or other Internet savvy groups. These audiences are often immune to Internet ads in general and are twice as likely to ignore them.

So instead of AdSense becoming an additional revenue stream, it becomes a sign that may suggest you're more interested in getting clicks than giving useful content.

Arial of told me she immediately thinks "amateur" when she comes across a site where the Google ads take up more real estate than the actual content.

And she really hates the sites where you have to scroll down just to see the first line of real content because the AdSense ads are in the way.

I have to agree. First impressions are everything. And if your visitors first impression of your site is "too many ads and not enough info", you've immediately lost some interest, credibility and perhaps a repeat visitor.

Your visitors shouldn't have to dig through your ads to find your content.

Don't get me wrong. I think you should maximize your AdSense revenue potential by using multiple AdSense units - that's why Google allows up to three.

Just make sure they don't overpower your site's layout and you have good content to supplement the ads.

Remember, it's your content relevance and site usability that keeps people interested and encourages them to return - not your advertisements.

So rather than being so eager to show off your AdSense ads with the contrasting bright yellow background, why not show them why your site is worthy of a bookmark and a return visit. There's no better way to do that than through useful info and site usablity.

These days Web surfers are much more ad conscious than they were years ago. And with the media stories that have flooded newspapers and news programs, it's getting harder to find people who don't know a little something about "making money with Google ads."

In other words, people are much more aware, and it's getting easier for the average surfer to spot a greedy Webmaster.

A few years ago, more people would click ads out of curiosity or confusion. These days the only click many surfers are making is the "Back" button because they know exactly what this Webmaster is up to.

It's all about balance. There's nothing wrong with using 3 AdSense units on a page. And there's certainly nothing wrong with having them highly visible to increase the chances of a click thru.

But if your ads overpower your content, and it becomes obvious you're only out to make a fast buck, is it really worth the loss of credibility and a potential repeat visitor?

AdSense should supplement your content, not BE your content.

It doesn't matter how you slice it. Content has and will always rule. And I'd much rather sacrifice a few clicks with the hopes they will find my site useful and want to return again.

And should they happen to click an ad in the process of browsing my site, that's an added bonus!

And who knows, maybe on their next visit they'll make a purchase that is worth a whole lot more to me in commissions than 8 cents from an AdSense ad click.

AdSense is a wonderful, lucrative program. But don't let the dollar signs overshadow what it really takes to make a site succeed for the long haul.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'll Give You $150...

Yup... my contest is on again.

It seemed to work very well last time, and is really helping me build a nice community with useful posts and friendly folks.

All you have to do is become a regular member of my forum, contribute useful information on a regular basis and you could be $150 richer on January 31, 2008.

For more details, read my forum announcement.

Then join the forum here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Free Site For The Holidays

It's that time of year and SiteSell has done it again. (I was hoping they would.)

This is the best Site Build It! special you'll ever find - 2 subscriptions for the price of 1. Yes, you pay for one SBI! subscription and you get a second one absolutely free.

If you are unfamiliar with all Site Build It! offers, then you may not realize what a magnificent deal this is. The amount of tools and help you'll receive to help start an online business would cost you about $5,000 if you had to pay for each tool individually.

Lucky for you, SBI! doesn't cost nearly that much.

Not only is the price only $299/year, but for a limited time SiteSell is giving you TWO subscriptions for the price of one.

What in the world would you do with two SBI!'s, you ask?

You could keep one for yourself and give the free one to a friend or relative. Imagine giving the gift of financial freedom this Holiday. :)

Or you could keep both for yourself and start two online ventures. The choice is yours, just don't miss out on this special because you may regret it.

I don't generally like blogging for the sole sake of advertising, but I couldn't pass this up. Those of you who have emailed me about the next SBI! special will be glad to know it's here now.

And this is the best one of the year.

Skeptical about purchasing it? Just remember my experiment from two years ago. I bought SBI! purely out of curiosity.... never expecting to really make much money. Like you, I wondered if it was just hype.

Well, not only did I make my money back in 6 months, but today my experimental site generates over $2,000 per month and I haven't updated it in months.

Will SBI! make you rich overnight?


Is there little or no work required?

No. You have to put in your time.

But if you are not intimidated by some reading and a little brainstorming, it's an awesome collection of tools and tutorials that give you the best chance of succeeding with an online business if you take your time and follow the guide.

Please don't waste your Holiday money if you're looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. That's not what SBI! is about.

However, if you are serious about learning how to build a long-term, profitable website, then this special is the Holiday treat for you.

Get SBI! here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Need Help? Join My Family

When you're learning the ropes of website creation, design, making money, etc., the online world can be a lonely and even intimidating place.

More and more people are finding e-comfort at my forum, Website Babble. It's a place to connect with people who are learning just like you, and the members are some of the friendliest folks around.

Have a question you can't get answered? Want to communicate with newbies just like yourself? Looking for advice from some more seasoned Webmasters? Website Babble has it all, including a Lounge where you can talk about virtually anything and get to know the other members.

We are like family, so won't you join us?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wanna Quit Your Job in 2008?

For most, it takes a few years get their sites to the point where they can think about quitting their full-time job. But if you work hard enough, it can certainly be done within a year.

And even if it doesn't happen in 2008, perhaps you can earn enough to make it feasible for 2009.

If you are just getting started and want to make money online, here are some things you can do now to make 2008 a productive year for you...

1. Learn the basics of website building.

Don't rely on someone to update your site for you. You need the freedom to update your site when you want. Having to depend on another person is like buying a car when you don't know how to drive.

Imagine having to call someone every time you wanted to go somewhere. What's the point in the purchase if you don't have the freedom to go where you want when you want?

People are often intimidated by the website building process because they are "bad with computers" or feel they need formal training in web design. Not true. I didn't have any when I started and my site, doesn't look to shabby. ;)

Thanks to great programs like Dreamweaver and CoffeeCup you don't need any formal training to build a site. And there are hundreds of sites with free tutorials on how to use these programs.

Or if you decide to use a program like Site Build It!, you don't need to learn how to use any software because they have all the tools built-in.

However, I still believe every website owner should at least learn the basics, no matter the host you choose.

Even if you pay someone to do the initial design for your site, you should still learn how to manage/maintain it going forward.

2. Decide your approach.

I make money online through affiliate programs. In other words, I build sites on topics that interest me and recommend products that relate to my topics.

The merchants pay me commissions for any sales I make, but I do not handle any products. I am simply the middleman that refers the sales. In addition I earn revenue through ads on my site.

Since I do not sell any tangible products, the content on my sites act as my product. I spend most of my time writing and of course marketing my site anywhere I can.

Understanding how to keep my sites ranked high in the popular search engines like Google is also a must.

If affiliate marketing doesn't sound like your thing, you can also sell your own products by setting up an e-store. Understand you will also be responsible for collecting payments and shipping products so it's important to educate yourself on these processes.

Of course there are other ways to generate money from a website, but these are the two basic ways and most popular.

Obviously you can do a combination of both. You can sell your own products and still make money from affiliate programs, ads, etc. The business model is up to you, but I would definitely recommend you start small and simple.

For example, if you want to sell lots of products like, I would start with a smaller niche and then expand. It's much easier to get traffic to a small niche like "antique turtles" than to try and compete with well-known brands like Amazon and Overstock who sell everything under the sun.

3. Realize you are starting a business.

If you want full-time money, understand this requires a full-time commitment. This is not something you can do for 2 days a month and expect to generate a six figure salary. (At least, not in the beginning!)

You must grasp the concept of Internet marketing and realize unless you have a lot of traffic to your site, you are not going to make much. Traffic doesn't just come to your site automatically.

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) is a must if you want to generate free traffic from Google, Yahoo and Live (formerly They don't just start sending you traffic just 'cause you launched a site.

You should be setting up a plan that defines specifically the type of audience you want to target and how you plan to reach them.

And once you know that audience, it's up to you to do the research to find out where your potential audience/customers are.

Let's say you are targeting stay-at-home moms, you'll need to do your research and find out where they go online so you can get your site in front of them.

That could include creating a profile on the ivillage message boards to chat with other moms, and finding other online sites that target this audience and working out an advertising arrangement with the owners of these sites.

Generating traffic takes work and this is the most challenging task for any webmaster. It's the difference between failure and success online.

4. Decide if you need a webmaster or administrator.

With the emergence of dating and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, it seems everyone wants to start their own networking or profile/member-based site.

I'll be blunt. These sites are not easy to setup or manage. You need to understand a great deal about web servers, security, bandwidth, etc. or at least know someone who can help you.

Also, you will need more than just a cheap web host for your site. A $3/month host is not good enough for a site as robust as this. Dedicated hosting is almost a must and it is not cheap.

So unless you plan to learn all this yourself, make sure you have a right-hand man (or woman) to take care of the technical details for you. Also make sure you have the extra cash on hand for monthly hosting/server fees.

5. Learn from those already making money.

If you decide you want to be an affiliate like me, become a frequent visitor of Allan Gardyne's site

I learned almost everything I know from his helpful newsletters and website. He's got a ton of advice for beginners. And be sure to read his newsletter archives. Allan is notorious for highlighting other successful affiliates so you can get some fantastic ideas and inspiration.

Also check out Ralph Wilson's site, There are tons of great articles related to Internet marketing here. It's a great resource site.

6. Take it a step at a time.

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed with all the information online. Don't feel you have to understand everything about Internet marketing right now.

Your first goal should be deciding on a how you want to make money and who you want to target. Get a pad and paper and jot down your notes.

Research. Do a Google search for the type of site you want to create. Check out your potential competition and see what they're doing. Look for info or resources they are lacking and find areas where you can capitalize.

Then once you've done that, spend a good deal of time learning how to build your site. Don't underestimate the importance of this step. Your site is your doorway to income, so make sure you have a plan for what you want to do and how you are going to manage it.

Here's to a productive 2008!

P.S. Wanna chat with other people just getting started? Head on over to my forum, We're a friendly bunch! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Passive Income From Content

Cathy Stucker (The Idea Lady) conducted a tele-class last night, hosted by

Cathy is making a living from the abundance of content she's created over the years, and I thought she offered excellent advice... particularly for those who are just getting started and may be skeptical about how to make a living online from articles and information.

I summarized Cathy's main points in my forum,

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Accidental Blog Success

I love hearing stories about people who create sites for fun and they suddenly turn into a success story. That's what happened to Mikey, an avid fan of the series, Prison Break.

He told me his blog was originally created in early October 2007 for fun. And after only a month, the blog receives between 400 and 800 visits per day. This is the kind of traffic many bloggers can only dream about.

While I'm not usually a fan of starting with a free blog (versus a website), Mikey is a great example of how you can use a blog to get your feet wet online.

The trick is finding a niche you love that is not too competitive and delivering great content that your audience will value.

While many first-time bloggers fail to identify a target audience, and begin blogging by posting random, uninspiring information, Mikey's focus is clear.

His entertaining show updates, audience participation requests, incorporation of YouTube videos and clean layout all contribute to his early success.

As a reward, his traffic is soaring and his Alexa rank is already at 1 million. And even though he's not in the top 1% of trafficked sites quite yet, that type of rank for a site that is less than 2 months old is nothing to hang his head about.

Especially during a time when the Net is flooded with new bloggers trying to climb their way up the traffic ranks and get a piece of the delicious Google AdSense pie.

While many people find success online by selling products in hot niches, Mikey's story is a great reminder of how blogging about something you love can become quite rewarding with some dedication and effort.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a great future for Mikey and his flourishing blog,

What can you learn from Mikey?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Owe You An Apology

I was so excited to launch my new e-book, Untold AdSense Facts, on Saturday that I published a typo in the download to the link.

And a special thanks to the kind gentleman who brought that to my attention.

I am terribly sorry. So many of you take time out of your busy day to read my blog, only to find a broken link. And for that I apologize.

So if you missed the download to my free book. Here's the link again. (Right-click and "Save As" to download).

This time, the link works. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Untold AdSense Facts

Due to all the AdSense buzz generated by the media lately, I felt it only fitting to write a small e-book that addresses many questions I receive about AdSense.

Yes, the concept of the program is super simple, but making a lot of money takes time and work.

Right-click here and download my free e-book Untold AdSense Facts to learn what separates those who make money from the program and those who don't.

Friday, November 02, 2007

AdSense Member Earns $120,000

One of my Website Babble forum members posted a link to an article from USA Today about a retired gentleman who earns $120,000 in Google ads in one year.

I wasn't as amazed by his story as I was the skeptical responses to the article. Then again, people are often skeptical when they hear stories about people making extreme amounts of money online.

Especially when they've tried it and haven't had much success themselves.

No one is saying it's easy, but it is doable. One guy even replied and said that you had to have millions of hits to your website just to make $1,000/month with Google ads.

I wish I could tell this skeptic that he's dead wrong.

Either he's been burned by other programs in the past or has tried the "Google AdSense thing" and hasn't had success, so he assumes no one else can.

It really is a shame that there are so many scams out here that it is difficult for people to believe some of these programs are legit and do work.

I'm not making $120,000 in Google ads, but I'm doing quite well and I sure as heck don't have a million visitors in a month.

If you want success with AdSense, the formula is super simple. Notice I said the formula is simple, but that doesn't mean you'll be rich in 2 days.

You do have to understand that it takes time and it's about building a useful site, understanding the basis of Internet Marketing and having some patience.

Now, if patience and hard work is not your thing, then maybe Google AdSense isn't for you. But if you...

1) Set realistic goals

2) Build a site on something you enjoy

3) Be prepared to L-E-A-R-N

4) Understand you may fail once or twice before you succeed...

You really can make a lot of money with the program.

The bottom line is, most of these AdSense success stories you read about are true. And my response to the person who said, "...if this is true then why doesn't everyone do it" would be...

Everyone doesn't want to put in the work required to become successful with AdSense. They are often wowed by the earning potential, but when they suddenly realize it does take work, they quit.

My hat goes off to the senior earning $120,000. And I'm sure he could care less that some don't believe his story... especially when he's headed to the bank with a fat check courtesy of Google. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Need Traffic? YouTube It!

If you haven't tapped into the video world, you may want to consider it. Not only does video help build credibility for your site, it builds traffic too.

Just like a website on, you can optimize your video for YouTube searches, and drive more targeted traffic to your video.

Learn how to turn this YouTube traffic into more visits for your site.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Are You On Google's Hit List?

I wrote this article about a year and a half ago, but thought it was worth re-emphasizing because I continue to see thieves stealing my content.

Lazy people still don't get it. Rather than working hard to get Google to love their content, they still believe the best way to get a top ranking in Google is to steal someone else's content who is ranked high.

(shaking my head)

They don't realize Google is much smarter than they used to be. They ignore duplicate content and often will shell out heavy penalties if they find you plaigerizing someone else's content.

How does a permanent ban sound to you?

The bottom line is... shortcuts don't work. Stealing someone else's work, may seem quick and easy because you don't have to do the work. But is it worth getting banned from a traffic source that can provide you with thousands and thousands of free, targeted traffic everyday? I don't think so.

Do the work.

Be original.

You WILL be rewarded in the long-run.

Subtle Affiliate Marketing Rocks!

A fellow Site Build It! (SBI!) customer contacted me today. Someone emailed her a compliment regarding her website,, and went on about how she loved the site and would like the SBI! owner to design one for her.

The new SBI! customer was honored by the compliment, but didn't know how to respond. After all, she didn't design her site from scratch. She used Site Build It! and was not in the business of designing sites for other people. She just wants to make money from her own website.

I told her this was the perfect opportunity to tell her admirer about the web host she used. Not only will the admirer learn how to build her own website, but this is a great time for her to plug SBI!.

This is affiliate marketing at its best, folks.

In this case, the SBI! owner wouldn't even have to push the product down the admirer's throat. After all, the lady emailed HER about her site first.

This is when you simply take the opportunity to tell your story about the product you own, why you love it and more importantly how it can help the person asking the questions.

That's why it's so important to own the products you promote. When you can talk enthusiastically about its features, this builds your credibility level and increases the chances someone will buy from your link.

Imagine how excited the admirer is going to be when she finds out the SBI! owner is not a designer and used Site Build It! to build her site in minutes. Instantly her curiosity for SBI! will rise, and a subtle plug from another SBI! customer may be the convincing she needs.

And thanks to the generous SiteSell affiliate program, this SBI! owner is on her way to earning a quick $75 for the referral AND $75 every year this potential buyer owns Site Build It!. Yes, SiteSell's commissions are of the residual and lifetime variety.

Pretty cool, eh?

See? Affiliate marketing doesn't have to be about flashy banners and links that say "Buy this now!". Sometimes owning a product and making a subtle recommendation to an admirer is a much more effective combination. After all... it's worked for me for years. :)

Which method do you use?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ashamed To Be An Affiliate?

OK, I don't normally like to duplicate my blog posts, but I just blogged about this on my site and felt it was worthy of a repeat here.

You know you're doing something right when people ask you to provide them with your affiliate link before they buy a product.

That's what happened today in my forum, And to be honest, it's not the first time I've been asked.

In my opinion, this says so much about the importance of PREselling a product. When you give useful information, build credibility by actually proving you use the product... you'll find many people will WANT to make sure you earn the commission for the sale.

Honesty is an element that is missing from so many affiliate sites. So when people find it... they value it and are often happy to reward you for it.

When I first got started with affiliate marketing, I used to do everything I could to hide the fact I was getting a commission. But that was because most products I promoted, I didn't really use.

Well, I've come full circle in affiliate marketing and now could care less if people realize I am an affiliate. After all, I now only promote products I believe in so what's there to hide?

Yes, I do earn a commission when people buy Site Build It! through my link and I'm OK with people knowing that. But I also make sure they know I actually use and love the product. And that's the difference.

So the next time you try to disguise the fact you are an affiliate. Ask yourself why? Do you have something to hide?

Yes, some people may be turned off by the fact you are getting a commission, but if you do a good job in PREselling and show you really own and use the product, those who buy because of your honesty will outweigh those who don't by far.

And from time to time, you'll get the nice surprise of being asked to confirm your affiliate link before they buy. Wow! ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hire a Web Designer? Really?

You know absolutely nothing about web design and the thought of creating your site intimidates you. So it's just best to pay someone to do the site for you right?

Not necessarily.

Read this article for my thoughts on the subject.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sample Money-Making Sites

Thinking of buying Site Build It! but not exactly sure if it's for you or how you can apply it? Take a sneak peek at some sample sites equipped with stories from the SBI! owners.

This site proves that SBI! will help you monetize (make money) with almost any topic you can come up with. All you have to do is follow your passion and let SBI!'s guide lead you to success.

View the sample sites here.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Link Exchange Boo-Boo's

When you're struggling to get enough traffic to your site, it can be tempting to exchange links with anyone who is willing. More is not always better when it comes to link exchanges, so choose your partners wisely.

Swapping links with sites that have little to do with your theme won't do you much good. Think about it. When you go to a jewelry site, you're there because you're interested in buying jewelry. It's not likely an ad on buying furniture is going to get your attention.

Not to mention, the search engines give you more "points" when they see your site is linked with sites that have content related to your theme. If you're targeting jewelry shoppers, partner up with other sites that relate to this subject matter.

Don't confuse the engines (and your visitors) by linking to sites that have virtually nothing to do with your content.

And if your site doesn't have a main theme then that's your first problem. You should be able to describe who your site is targeted to in one or two sentences. If you can't, then it's time to stop and focus your content. Targeting everyone means you really target no one.

It's best to define one main audience and structure your content around this group of people. Then find related sites and develop some kind of link exchange with the Webmaster.

Not only will you have an easier time selling to your audience (because you'll know their needs), but the search engines will bring you more targeted traffic because the related sites pointing back to you help identify what your site is about. Also be sure your link partners link back to you with the keywords you want to be found for.

Take advantage of the benefits solid link swaps can bring. Use them to let the engines know what your site is about to help improve your rankings in the long-run.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Why Most Fail With AdSense

I call it the "Hodgepodge Theory." And if this applies to your site, it may be a big reason why you aren't seeing your AdSense earnings increase.

Watch the video below to learn more about why I believe many people struggle with building their AdSense revenue...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Why My Sites Failed

I thought this would be a great, candid discussion to start in my forums.

Everyone is always talking about what you should do for success. But often times you can learn even more by focusing on what you shouldn't do.

I started the discussion by talking about 3 previous sites I created that failed, and I'm forever grateful for them because I learned a lot.

Feel free to read about my experiences, and/or add your own story.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Most Critical Website Phase

This blog entry was inspired by a post in my forum yesterday.

It's easy to get bogged down in the technicalities of how to create a website...

How do I create a chat room?

How am I going to setup a membership area?

How exactly am I going to make money?

How do I accept credit card payments from my site?

Sound familiar?

Even though these may be crucial components to your website, they don't mean a thing if you do not know how to attract a targeted audience who wants to participate in the site you worked so hard to create.

THE most critical phase of any site is the planning process in the very beginning. And planning doesn't just involve the technical aspects of how things will work and are setup.

It's imperative that you sit down and think about the kind of person you want to attract, and how you will get them to find you.

Unfortunately building a website doesn't guarantee an automatic influx of interested visitors. People don't just stumble upon your site like they do a store on a busy street.

Sites become popular on the Internet because they are recommended. The recommendations may come from word of mouth, blogs, social networking sites and even search engines.

Yes, search engines recommend sites too. The reason you see a site ranked on the first page of Google for a particular search is because Google knows the site has numerous links from other sites, blogs, etc. all over the Web in association with that keyword phrase. So Google recommends it to you as a relevant search result.

Something about your site has to attract your audience's attention, meet their needs and provide a service, product or information that isn't offered everywhere else.

So if you aren't taking the time to...

1) Plan how you are going to make your site stand out over your competitors

2) Map out the kind of visitor you want to attract and meet all of their needs, wants and interests...

Then it doesn't matter how much the site costs, how you setup a shopping cart, chat room, how you are going to design your navigation, etc.

Don't waste your precious time and hard-earned money on all these site enhancements until you have a definite plan. I guarantee it will be worth the extra effort in the end.

I've created many sites without a plan, and it's no coincidence they are no longer around.

If you are expecting a full-time income from your website, expect full-time work. Take it seriously from day one don't just skip over the planning phase because you're in a hurry to rake in the money.

How you plan in the beginning is the difference between success and failure in the end.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Same Ol' Traffic Tips (Yawn!)

You know about search engine submitting, blogging and writing/submitting articles for other sites. So what do you do when you've done all these things and still can't get enough traffic?

The video below discusses topics which often get overlooked when people create websites. While some of it may seem like common sense to you, why are you and so many people still neglecting these key tasks?

Friday, August 17, 2007

If I Had To Start Over...

While people are encouraged by my online success, some often frown when I tell them it took me six years to make enough online to at least match my 9 to 5 salary. Even though I made a profit every year, there were a lot of ups and downs in the beginning as I learned from my mistakes.

My success didn't happen overnight and if I could do one thing over again I would have learned how to write for my audience instead of myself.

What I mean is that so many people build sites without regarding who their target audience is and what they want to learn about. For example, if you are going to build a fitness site, don't write 10 pages about you and your weight struggle. Write to help your readers.

To put it bluntly, people don't really care about your story until you show them how your site can help them first.

Check out your competition and add information that they are missing. Instead of talking about all the things people should do in regards to the subject, switch it up and focus on what they shouldn't do.

Be different.

Stand out from the crowd.

And once you really know who you want to target and focus on their needs AND offer information that cannot be found anywhere else, then you will have success much faster than I did.

In the beginning, I kept copying other people's concepts and would only have minimal success because my site was not unique enough and got lost in the crowd.

But once I realized the secret was to take a topic and offer information that my competitors were not, add my own voice/personality, really learn how to communicate with my audience, that's when my traffic and sites started to take off.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Site Gets a Facelift!

Not only does have a new look, but I've finally abandoned the little annoyances of Microsoft FrontPage and decided to design and manage my site in Dreamweaver.

I must say, FrontPage does have its quirks such as adding unnecessary HTML code and not handling certain file extensions very well (.php, for example). But it isn't that bad if you want a small, simple site that is mostly written in HTML.

But if you want to do more with CSS (a must for a large site like mine) and have the ability to add Flash elements and other cutting edge web features, you really need to graduate to something like Dreamweaver.

Plus, with Microsoft now abandoning FrontPage for its successor, Expression Web, I decided to move to a more "Web acceptable" design tool. Besides, I've heard nothing but horrible reviews for Expression Web so I was not going to continue to support their web building tools.

My new site design is managed with CSS and SSI (server side includes). In English, that simply means I can update my entire look (layout, colors, navigation, font size, etc.) by simply editing one file. And when your site is over 130 pages, this is a must-have!

When I used FrontPage, I did use CSS, but FrontPage doesn't handle CSS very well and was constantly adding excess code that overwrote the styles I setup in my CSS file. (Sort of defeats the purpose of using CSS). I'm really glad to be done with FrontPage and have much cleaner HTML to work with.

As I continuously emphasize on my site, I am NOT a designer, nor do I want to be (which is why it took me so long to graduate to a more acceptable piece of design software), but I'm very glad to have my site managed in a program that is much more "Web acceptable" and does not add all this extraneous, annoying code.

Thumbs up to Dreamweaver!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why Most Online Stores Fail

Selling products online can be quite the challenge, particularly if you are building your first site and have no brand awareness/recognition. A big mistake many newbies make is they try selling products before they have the traffic and credibility.

Building a store is not a guarantee people will just flock to your site. You must give them a reason. More importantly, you must give sites like Google a reason to bring free traffic to a newcomer such as yourself.

The best way to succeed with an online store is to build content first and the store last. And if you don't understand what I mean, watch the video below and for complete details read this article on building online stores.