Archive for 'RIP'

Outsourcing — "Secret Sauce?"

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Blogging Questions & Answers 27

questions and answers

Happy Thanksgiving for you guys that celebrate it (I know it was yesterday…). Another set of questions and answers is live.

If you want to ask a question you just need to leave a comment below with it.

1. James asks:

I run a podcast via a blog. I just started moving into video and I am now concerned that I have to many images, too many icons, and too many videos on the blog. Is there a chance I’ve overcrowded my blog?

I took a brief look on your blog and it does not look overcrowded to me. I think expanding beyond articles is interesting, especially if you have the time and skills to make cool podcasts and video posts. Very few bloggers do that, so it can become a unique selling proposition too.

The only thing that I would make sure is that your navigation clearly separates the three things. For example, you could have 3 main navigation tabs, one for “Blog”, one for “Podcats” and one for “Videos.” That one a visitor could reach the part of your site that he likes quickly and effortlessly.

2. Satish asks:

Is there a way to build automated link exchange system?
Ex:- If A and B exchange link.
A’s link on B’s website will be there until B’s link remains on A’s website.

I would like to do link exchange with some people, but I can’t keep monitoring whether they remove my link at any time, it should be handled automatically. Th

First of all I recommend exchanging links only with relevant websites, and for the purpose of adding value to the user experience and not to manipulate Google’s rankings.

If you follow that route, therefore, you would find yourself partnering with a handful of websites at most. On that case it becomes easy to monitor them once a month (even if you have 10 sites to check it will take 5 minutes).

The only scenario where you would need an automatic system is where you trade links with dozens or hundreds of sites, but this is something that might get you in trouble in the end so I would avoid.

Finally, I am not aware of any automatic system, but it should be possible to build one with PHP.

3. Transcriptionist asks:

What should be the optimal bounce rate? What is the minimum bounce rate that you think can be achieved? What were the bounce rates at the beginning of your blogs and what are the numbers now? How much did you target for your blogs at their inception, and have you been able to achieve it and if yes, how?

Apart from your own experiments and results in this regard and compelling content, what are other tips and techniques that you would suggest to bring the bounce rate down? Elaborate every little aspect in detail by dedicating a separate post for this topic please, as we all know the significance of controlling bounce rates arises from user behavioral tracking by major search engines and its subsequent effects on SERPs.

An optimal bounce rate is below 15%, but keep it in mind it is very hard to achieve that. The minimum that you could have without needing to spend a huge amount of time and energy on the tweaking process is probably around 25% is 30%.

I am not sure what my bounce rates were on the beginning of my blogs were because I didn’t use to check on them. Even today I don’t check bounce rates that often or for the blog as whole. Usually I just work with bounce rates on commercial projects, sales and landing pages.

As for optimizing sites for low bounce rates, I am working on a long and structured article on the topic. It will be part of my next project, so stay tuned for that.

4. Rick asks:

What’s your take on having a companion newsletter for your blog? (You don’t seem to offer one so perhaps that speaks volumes.) People swear by it, but I’m trying to understand why you wouldn’t just put all your content on the blog and skip the newsletter.

If you have the time available I think that having a newsletter to complement your blog is a great idea. Internet marketers swear by email lists because they are the most responsive channel you have, and it has been proven time and time again.

Additionally, I find that a newsletter allow you to build a closer relationship with some of your readers, because an email is more personal than a blog post.

Why not just put all the content on the blog? Well, because some of the content that will be suitable for your newsletter will not be suitable for the blog and vice versa. Suppose you want to give people a sneak peek into your latest project. A blog post would broadcast it beyond your control, while with the newsletter you could be sure about how many people would get to known your news, how they could share or act upon it and so on.

5. Ad Pr New York asks:

What are the best traffic stats to use?

Looking for one that is full featured and accurate.

Detailed referrers and demographics are important

Google Analytics is definitely the most robust and feature rich web analytics program out there. It is also free, so you can’t go wrong by giving it a try.

Sometimes it will report underestimated traffic numbers, but the difference will be small, and much more realistic than the rest of the trackers out there that always over estimate numbers.

6. Simon asks:

1) How do I block an IP address that is spamming my blog frequently and consistently with useless comments and links to non-Google approved sites? It seems like there is some bot auto-posting spam comments.

2) Is there a way that in the page navigation of a blog we can make a link to an outside page? Would this be done through altering the header.php to include another link or through the manage pages section in admin?

1) You can block his name internally on WordPress. Just go to “Settings,” then “Discussion,” and you will find a blacklist box there. Alternatively you can also block his IP with a .htaccess file if your server runs on Apache. You just need to insert the following code on the .htaccess file (changing the IP address obviously):

order allow,deny
deny from 200.20.2.1
allow from all

2) Yes you can do this. Basically you would need to delete the code that calls the page links automatically from WordPress and add the links manually. Once you have that you can add a link to whatever site you wish.

7. Netpreneur asks:

I have a plan to make a blog with forum inside, what are characteristics of content for blog and forum?

The blog content will be generated by you (or by other authors that you will hire), while the forum content will be generated by the members. You might be present and active on the forum, but unless many other people are too, it will become a ghost forum.

What I recommend is to work first on the blog, make it popular and build a community around it. Once you have that accomplished, then you launch the forum to support the lateral discussions that might arise from the blog posts.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Blogging Questions & Answers 27

Link Tips: 16 November 2008

I haven’t done a Link Tips in a while, but since I collected some links over the last couple of weeks I decided to pull one today. First of all there was an interesting guest post on John Chow titled How Planning Can Make You Broke. It is the story of how Alex Shalman managed to create a full eBook in two and half days, and how he used it on a interview to promote his content and boost the number of subscribers on his list. The moral of the story is: action rather than planning! Worth a read.

The second link I want to share with you is titled Web Publishing: Strategies To Help You Stand Out From The Crowd. A guest blogger on SEO Book is offering some nice ideas that you can use to add some flavor to your content or website as a whole.

I am sure that most of you guys use Gmail. The best thing about Google’s email service is the customization options and the advanced features that it packs. Sometimes we don’t even know what is possible to do with that neat piece of script. Thinking about that the Quick Online Tips blog wrote an article titled 5 Little Known Gmail Tips. If you use Gmail check it out.

Now many of you have heard about the benefits of submitting your site or blog to web directories right? The problem is that the worth ones are either too expensive (e.g., Yahoo! Directory) or take too long to get accepted (e.g., Dmoz). The guys from Search Engine People knew about this problem, so they compiled a list with 25 powerful web directories where it is much easier to get listed. I will be trying some of them myself.

Finally, Kevin Muldoon from Blogging Tips wrote an insightful article about the evolution of blogs. Some mainstream publications have started to suggest lately that blogging might be dying. I disagree completely with that view, and I think Kevin is right when he suggests that what we are experiencing is rather an evolution of the blogosphere.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Link Tips: 16 November 2008

The internet is a fast-paced environment. People can come to your website at any hour from a wide range of locations, each of them with different intentions or needs. Unlike physical retail stores, you can’t see who is coming in and browsing around. You don’t know much about the people reading you. How can we develop a rough profile of all these individuals?

You already get a glimpse of them everyday when they interact with your website. Some may register for an account, leave a comment or send you an email. But many are ‘invisible’. They get to your site, see what you put out, click on a outbound link and disappear.

What you currently know about these individuals comes from a combination of visible user actions (e.g comments/emails) and statistics (e.g visit frequency/visit length). Is this knowledge sufficient for most businesses or bloggers? Yes. But I think it would be tremendously helpful to learn even more about your audience.

In marketing and advertising, we proactively define our target audience. We start with our end goals and then structure our website/ads with the right buzz phrases, pitch, style, keywords and angle to appeal to people we want to attract as a consumer/user/reader. Gathering information on visitors to our website makes us more effective marketers.

It is helpful to analyze and construct a general profile of your audience, however shifting it may be, because it provides you with information that will allow you to better improve your content scope, site usability, conversation rate or marketing campaign. Let’s split this process up into two sections: statistical analysis and data collection.

Statistical Analysis: Start Working With What You Already Have


Image Credit: Mint

Depending on the stats tool you’re currently using, you can get a lot of information on how visitors are using your website, where they come from and what they are looking at. There are obviously a lot of different metrics to look at but I’m listing what I think is more relevant to understanding visitors in general:

  1. Visitor loyalty, bounce rate, recency, time on site. These sites measure one critical thing: the level of engagement. They reveal how often people visit your site, the last time they used it and the depth of their visit. While these numbers aren’t a definitive interpretation of on-site user actions, they are a gauge of their enthusiasm.

  2. Visitor Location. This allows you to make cultural and linguistic assumptions of your visitors. If you know you receive the most visitors from a few specific countries, you might want to create landing pages/offers or content with a geographic focus.

  3. Visitor search terms/keywords. This includes both search engines and on-site search boxes. The clearest indicator of visitor interest, search terms tell you what they want to get from your site and it reveals information gaps you can fill up. This is where data collection gets specific. If you consistently get a lot of queries for a specific phrase, you can safely assume that there will be visitor interest in content or offers related to it.

  4. Traffic source. This includes search engines, referrer sites, type-in/bookmark traffic and ad campaigns. Pay attention to referrer sites: it reveals what visitors are reading or using. Traffic sources also tell you where to improve for greater visibility.

Take some time to look at these statistics. Instead of only looking at them at each single point in time, it makes more sense to regularly study them to see how they trend over the lifespan of your site or the course of a marketing/ad campaign. On the whole, they will give you a good idea of what users want and what draws their attention.

How to Get More Audience Data: Using Polls, Surveys and Features

Now for the fun part: the active solicitation of user information. Instead of simply monitoring web statistics, you create opportunities for visitors to voluntarily reveal personal data and opinions. These can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Polls. An excellent and informal way to get information on user preferences, they are very easy to set up and maintain on any website. The questions asked can be diverse and they are a good way to gradually accumulate a lot of information without being too invasive. Run a poll for two weeks and change the questions to pull in more information. They can be integrated on a regular basis alongside articles or they can be left alone on a visible corner of the website.

  2. Surveys. Depending on their length and how they are created, surveys may be more labor intensive. Some visitors will avoid them if they are too long. They are ideal when bundled with competitions or special offers which provide incentives for completion. Short surveys can be used for exiting visitors or as a follow-up after a user completes a specific purchase or opts-out of your payment plan/subscription.

  3. On-Site User Features. If you’re running a community, social media service or even a blog, you can get more information by simply offering more user features (ways users can interact with each other and your site). For example, allow users to input more biographical info in profiles or give them the option to favorite/rate your blog posts and the contributions of other users. Features also add value to users and increase their engagement with your site. Think strategically about what data you want and create a feature that allows users to indirectly reveal it. Facebook is a good example of a site with features that generate a lot of mineable data. Of course, it is always good to have an appropriate privacy policy and allow users to opt out easily from their side.

  4. Audience Feedback. To understand your visitors, its useful to ensure that you monitor your feedback channels. Comments, emails, incoming blog links, mentions on online communities and even tweets allow you to get an intuitive feel of what people think about your website. Subscribe to the right feedback channels (Google alerts, blogsearch etc.) and track them daily. Either do it yourself or get someone to be the official feedback/community coordinator. Audience feedback is often unsolicited, although you can easily get more comments/emails by specifically asking for them. This provides you with clues on how to better cater to your target market.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, some of these methods can be applied online and offline simultaneously. For polls and surveys, you should be able to find some plugins or software available for your site platform. Alternatively, you can always use external online services like SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, 4Q and Wufoo.

After obtaining this data, setup a system which allows you to segment and compare your findings over a period of time. This can be a simple spreadsheet or something more sophisticated. When combined with the visitor statistics you already have, it’s easy to understand your audience, allowing you to to better accommodate their needs or interest.

Can you think of any other ways to get more audience data?

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How to Understand Your Audience: Data Collection & Analysis

Social Bookmark

Small gestures can yield lasting results

A few months ago, Guy Kawasaki tweeted (made a short announcement on Twitter, the micro-blogging site) that he was done with his next book’s manuscript and was looking for a few people to proofread it and give him feedback.

I was what I assume was a pretty large group of people who raised their hands.  Who doesn’t want to read Guy’s book before it gets published?  Anyway…read it, proofed it, critiqued it and sent it back.

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Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  I got a package and voila, it was Guy’s new book, Reality Check (released October 30th).  I thought sending it ahead of the release was a nice gesture.  But when I opened it, Guy had also taken the time to write a personal note to me inside.

Class act.

You have to figure quite a few people (like Valeria Maltoni who mentioned she got one too, although for the life of me, I can’t find her reference now.) offered to proof his book.  So it was probably no small task to get handwritten notes into each copy before sending them off.  A very nice gesture but even more than that….smart marketing.

Guy knows how few handwritten notes and cards are used today.  He knows it feels personal and that it makes a connection.

The book is a great read – very irreverent and practical. And the author – a great marketer.

P.S.  If you find any typos….I swear, I told him about it! 🙂

How about you?  What small gesture could you make to create a connection with your prospect, customer or employee?

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