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Tag: Affiliate Marketers

stupid phone


 
If I could do it easily, I would run a poll: “how many of you use a Smartphone vs. a traditional, old-style cell phone?”. I’m sure the vast majority would be using the former. Not that the readers of this blog represent, in my opinion, the phone user demographics properly, but that’s not my point.

 
Well, I’m not. The last time I switched phones was almost two years ago. Back then I intended to migrate to a Blackberry. But when I reached the store, it just seemed unnecessary. All I wanted was a phone with a big keyboard so that it would be easy to write emails and send text messages, which I got (the image above is the type of phone I’m using).

 
I would be lying if I said I regretted this decision. Though as time passed, I kept missing some features that others had. For example, I had no easy way of accessing my email or Twitter: I had to open a browser and type the URLs. I also had no way of uploading photos directly to email, Twitter, Facebook. Nor could I use applications like Foursquare – I’m not sure I would, but I’d definitely give these a try.

 
A few months ago I decided to upgrade: in 2008 all of my urgent emails were work based, so were answered at work. Now that I am self-employed, I really need to answer some emails when I’m away. I already do it if I really have to, but my phone really isn’t designed for this, so it’s not very convenient (purely in terms of interface). In addition, my phone has reached old age: it has an annoying habit of turning off in the middle of conversations – somehow, always when I’m trying to meet someone outdoors – or turn itself on in my pocket and dial random people (if one is reading this: my apologies!). It clearly needs to be retired (possibly even put down. It will be humane, I promise).

 
What are my choices?

 
iPhone: I know most people just looooove iPhones. I respect that. However, I have an iPod touch I’m not using at all. I can’t stand the touch screen interface, I don’t like the navigation interface… I just don’t like it. My iPod sits and gathers dust and I really need to just sell it.

 
Android: I decided I’m not getting one because it’s Google based. They already have too much information about me and the rest of the world, I’m not about to give them more. I imagine a scary scenario: it’s the year 2020 and Google can suspend/ban you from its applications if you go into certain areas: “You’ve been to MICROSOFT’s HEADQUARTERS? No GMAIL FOR YOU!”. Ask any affiliate marketer and they won’t deny that this is a plausible scenario (even if a bit exaggerated). We’ve seen Google at its worst (at least I hope that this is its worst).

 
Palm: I have heard good things about the palm, but when I saw it, it looked too similar to the iPhone for my taste.

 
Blackberry: that was my original choice. I know they are convenient for email management, they do hold the largest share of the Smartphone market, and I like the fact you don’t need to touch the screen on most of them.

 
So a quick summary of my goals:

  1. Get a phone experience that’s better than what I have.
  2. Be able to manage emails/Twitter/Facebook much better than I currently can.
  3. Be able to use apps – and I honestly care which app store, whether the Blackberry app store or Palm’s, etc.

 
Today I went to the store determined to make the transition. I left – pretty disappointed – without making one.

 
I played with all the phones. Most of the touch screen interfaces weren’t so inconvenient as I thought they’d be, so I decided to reconsider those. Some of the Androids had a physical keyboard, so I decided to risk the doomsday scenario I described (I deserve the criticism, I know) and include those as well.

 
Most seemed like good phones. But none, not even a single one, was as good for typing as my old style phone. Even the phones that included a keyboard were too small, or were designed in an inconvenient way.

 
People used to to tell me “Oh, you’ll get used to X’s way of entering text” (usually X was the iPhone). But no, I don’t want to! I don’t want to get used to a bad thing, I want to upgrade! When I switched to my current phone, typing immediately became pleasant and easy – I didn’t have to get “used to it”. Particularly now that I intend to use it for email much more, I don’t want to start hating my (new) phone! Not to mention, switching to a Smartphone increases one’s phone bill (though that’s not and never was the issue).

 
I’ll also state I have carpal tunnel syndrome (well, not exactly – something similar) – as a result of almost 30 years of typing – so typing on a small keyboard is always an unpleasant task for me.

 
I tried one after the other. They all sucked in this respect. I don’t get it: why can’t a single Smartphone manufacturer include in its device a keyboard that opens like mine? I’m not going to get a Smartphone just to be “cool” if it makes my life harder!

 
I started looking at the new models of my existing phone… these definitely improved in two years. But I didn’t feel I could make this decision, staying with a “stupid”, “moronic”, “clueless”, phone (i.e. not a Smartphone) without at least getting more information on the alternatives.

 
Therefore, I wrote this post.

 
Any ideas? I’m hoping someone would say that there is a mythical model, offered by company X, that does exactly what I want. And it’s either too expensive to be sold (I’ll pay the price!), or no one likes it so it’s almost free (even better). If I need to travel to China to get it, I’ll go there. If I need to sacrifice a small goat to the God of mobile phones, I’ll even do that. It is time to move forward. But really move forward.

 
Help?

 

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Resources for Affiliate Marketing

This Wednesday I’m giving a two hour introductory talk about affiliate marketing. This is following my plan to start doing more speaking engagements which I enjoy (as mentioned in my post about my talk at Social Media 201).

 
Preparing my Powerpoint deck was fun although it was somewhat time consuming. I also prepared a resource page for the audience.

 
I don’t know exactly the demographics of this blog’s visitors (clearly Alexa is untrustworthy, as I’ve joked about): I would estimate that at least a quarter are seasoned affiliate marketers, another quarter is friends, and the rest are people I meet through Twitter or people who Google for certain topics I’ve written about – Twitter Jail being the most popular (of course, it’s possible to be both a friend, an affiliate marketer, and know me from Twitter :) ).

 
Since I took the time to make this resource list, I figured, why not share it? If you’re an affiliate marketer, you can stop now because at least 95% are things you know, and know well (however, I AM sure most marketers aren’t familiar with the Mobile CPA Network I joined, for example). But if you’re not… proceed.

 
I think I will make more of these introductory posts, explaining resources for building links and other things new affiliate marketers require. But that’s for another time.

 

“Standard” Affiliate networks

These are networks dedicated to physical products or eBooks.
Clickbank Sign up page – eBooks, eCourses
ShareASale sign up page – physical products
Linkshare sign up page – physical products
Linkconnector sign up page – physical products
Commission Junction sign up page – physical products

 

CPA networks

Here are some of my favorite CPA networks: harder to get into than other networks, and normally require a brief phone interview before being approved.
Neverblue sign up page
Marketleverage sign up page
Azoogleads sign page
Clickbooth sign up page
Copeac sign up page

 

Mobile CPA networks

This is a CPA affiliate network dedicated to mobile offers. I am aware of two more such networks, but since I have not used them myself (yet), I’m not listing them.
Sponsormob sign up page

 

Offer directory

An excellent resource for finding offers and comparing commissions across networks.
Offervault

 

PPC: Keyword spying tools

If you’re doing any PPC at all, you really need a keyword spying tool. I used PPCBully 2.0 and thought it’s great.
PPCBully 2.0
Affportal – has a lot of useful tools for PPC campaigns

 

SEO/Blogging: Keyword research tools

If you’re creating search engine optimized niche sites you must do your keyword research.
Micro Niche Finder: superb tool, and even has a ‘brainstorming’ function which just finds good niches for you on its own.
Market Samurai: superb tool which just gets better.
Google Keyword Tool: a good place to start

 

SEO: Link building

eZArticleLink: If you need links, this is a good resource – there’s even a free version!

 

Pay Per View Networks

I included only some of the PPV networks I use.. since this is an introductory talk, I’m not sure I would recommend on PPV being the starting point. However, I didn’t want to leave this out.
DirectCPV
AdOn Network
MediaTraffic

 

Pay Per View Resources

If one does do PPV then Affportal is a must. An absolutely fantastic – and mandatory – resource for PPV which just gets better.
Affportal

 

Email marketing Resources

Here too I only mentioned the one tool I use. Yes, there are others, but this one is the best.
Aweber – best email marketing tool

 

Twitter resources

This is probably better phrased as ‘Twitter monetization resources’.
Ad.ly
SponsoredTweets

 

Media Buying resources

This is useful for anyone doing demographics research for the purpose of media buying. Most definitely not for new or even intermediate affiliates!
Alexa
Quantcast
Compete

 

Domain registration

I registered more than 60 domains with Namecheap and don’t have a single complaint. They’re also the cheapest. In fact, I’m going to register one, possibly two, domains right after I finish this blog post…
Namecheap

 

Domain hosting

Unlike domain registration, I’ve had my share of hosting accounts and was very unhappy with most. However, Hostgator is excellent: very good service, high reliability, quick and friend customer support. Definitely better than the other accounts I used. Even their pricing is competitive!
Hostgator

 

Facebook advertising resources

Since it’s hard to do split-testing with Facebook because there is no way for the average user to get a bulk upload tool, the Facebook Ad Manager is a must in order to do any serious Facebook advertising.
FB Ad Manager

 

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getting off a mailing list

Removing yourself and getting off from mailing lists used to be a problem in the past. But the CAN-SPAM Act mostly changed that. Or better phrased, clearly defined what is legal and what is not. I’m specifically referring to two clauses as defined by Wikipedia:

  • A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
  • Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 days.

 
With that being said, I’m sure you’ve been in the following situation: One day, you start getting emails from a mailing list you never joined. Sometimes there is an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom which works, sometimes it does not work and sometimes there isn’t even one. As the above states, all of these are illegal.

 
Affiliate marketers who use mailing lists for email marketing are required to use a double opt-in, meaning, when someone gives their email address, they get a confirmation email which requires approval. On top of that, there must always an unsubscribe option, which must always work, and the marketer needs to include his address on the bottom of the email.

 
I’ve joined countless mailing lists and have often unsubscribed (“opted-out”). I have no problem with this. They’re doing everything by the book – no one forced me to join.

 
What I don’t like is being included in mailing lists which I never joined. Let’s break these to four groups sorted in order of notoriety.

 
The first , and the one I find least annoying, occurs when a company you’ve handed a business card at a conference includes you in their list. I don’t know the legality of that – perhaps if you’ve given them a card you are granting them permission (could be in the fine print since sometimes you participate in a raffle). This happens frequently enough that I’m not really sure (and I’m no attorney). In this case, almost always unsubscribing works.

Nevertheless, even if this is legal, not only this is an abuse of the trust you’ve given the company, but sometimes it’s just plain stupid. During a conference I’ve attended a few months ago, immediately afterwards I was apparently put in a mailing list which “informed me I’ve received a 15 day trial of their product”. Every day I got an email (I didn’t bother unsubscribing) and at the end of this period, I got a request for a feedback. The thing is, I actually wanted to try their product – but not immediately after the conference. So I ended not using it, opting out, and crossing this company from my list of potential products I may get. Had they simply asked for my permission I might’ve ended testing and possibly purchasing the product.

 
The second is worse: you’re suddenly receiving email from a list you have no recollection of ever joining, often not even being familiar with the product or company. Sometimes opting out works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there is no link at all. This is definitely illegal, and in these cases I report them as spam in my Gmail account (never does anything as far as I can tell) and create a filter to direct their messages to my trash folder. Sometimes I also send them a blank email with ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ as the subject line, assuming that if someone did this inadvertently, he would take me off and occasionally it does work (this used to be the way to unsubscribe from older mailing lists)

 
The third is much worse: someone – an individual – you’ve handed a business card to at some point decides to include you in his personal mailing list. This is not just illegal but also plain rude. The last time this happened to me was fairly recent, and I was actually doing a favor to that person, giving them business advice. And then I ended on their mailing list!? My guidelines are similar to those I mentioned in the last item.

 
The fourth and last one is the worst as it involves someone you know. A friend, his significant other or family member, decides that they’re going to start a mailing list and include you in it. I’m pretty sure that in almost all cases the person is unaware this is illegal, but regardless, this is very rude. It’s happened to me 2-3 times, and in all cases these were lists I had not a shred of interest in (and needless to say, there was no unsubscribe option). Since I knew the people involved, which isn’t always the case (i.e. recently the wife of a friend – which I had never met or corresponded with – included me in a mailing list of something completely irrelevant to my interests), I felt I couldn’t just ask to remove me unless I’m willing to endanger a relationship with that person. In this case filters are your allies.

 
Sometimes I feel like creating my own spam list, include all the above in it and just blast them periodically with nonsense. But then I would be no better than them…

 
Any interesting stories anyone would like to share?

 

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The Wannabe Guru

The Wannabe Guru

I just returned today from the Lightweight Startups meetup. Overall, an excellent meetup, though frankly, our 202 Affiliate meetup is much better (not to mention the fact that we win free items every time). During the meetup I noticed that the attendees tend to be very different from those who attend our affiliate meetups, who in turn, are quite different from the people who attend the tech meetups (which I occasionally attend as well). It is then that I realized that I’ve attended enough affiliate meetups to be able to categorize affiliate marketers into several distinct groups. Ah, a challenge! I’ve decided to do so in this blog post.

 
Note that if you’re not an affiliate marketer, you may not understand what I’m talking about, though I’m sure you’ll see some analogies to a domain you are familiar with. We are dealing with human nature here, so the same/similar patterns will emerge in various circumstances.

 
Let’s begin. I’ll start with the lowest of the low.

 
The Newbie: he comes to the meetup with bewilderment in his eyes. Someone told him that he could make tons of money very quickly, and he wants to know how. Sometimes he knows a bit (“you can advertise on Google with CPO, right?”) and sometimes he knows virtually nothing. Usually despite the best efforts to help him all you can really say is “take a good class or do a lot of reading on the subject, as you need to be familiar with the basics before you can do anything productive”.

 
The Struggling Affiliate: usually this type knows his stuff but hasn’t had great success so far. It might be because he doesn’t know some crucial bit of information, or he simply hasn’t gotten his lucky break yet. Sometimes he admits this, sometimes by talking enough with him you’ll be able to tell.

 
The successful affiliate: you can recognize this type by the calm assurance he handles the meetup and the occasional slip-up of large expenses he mentions. You can also tell that he is generally not interested in either the Newbie or the Struggling Affiliate because they have nothing that he needs (he may throw a bone in their direction, but nothing beyond that).

 
The Bullshitter: this type of affiliate has done it all and made a lot of money. He won’t say anything specific. Just that he’s done PPC, SEO, Media Buys, PPV, on all the affiliate networks, and promoted all the hot products (he can name every single one as if his life depended on it). He also knows all the gurus, every single one (he’s been to Gauher’s house and is fact the godfather of his child!). Yet when you really try to get some facts from him, you see that his knowledge is skin deep and basically what he does best is talk. One final bit: the bullshitter knows he’s a bullshitter. He’s not self deluded.

 
The super affiliate: a super affiliate is what we all aspire to be. Those are the guys that make the big bucks. From my experience, the real super affiliate tend to be rather shy about it (“I do well” they answer when asked), and in fact, that’s how I usually recognize them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t super affiliates that are the bragging type, there’s definitely a lot of those.

 
The Guru: I’ve met only a handful of those, but these are the legendary people. We all know their names. We all get emails from them. We all know who they hang with. They’re gurus, and they’ve earned this status. Usually they don’t come to meetups unless they’re invited to give a talk. Why should they? They don’t need to anymore. They’re beyond that. We all bask in their glory. If you look really hard, you’ll be able to see that some have a green aura around their heads (because of all the money they have, you see).

 
The wannabe Guru: the wannabe guru is a successful affiliate (possibly a super affiliate) that genuinely believes he is a guru and constantly talks about this, how much money he’s made, and how his life is the life of a rock star. But when you do some research he can never be found online! How mysterious! And no one knows his name! This type is easy to recognize because he talks more than everyone else, usually about how successful he is. The nice thing about the wannabe gurus is that there’s no chance they will ever read this post. Their time is too valuable to waste on mere blog posts (let alone from someone as lowly as myself – wait a moment, everyone are lowly to the wannabe guru, except for other gurus perhaps). Why waste their time when they could be hanging out with President Obama, Bono or even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (they know him too and are at times eccentric, so you never know).

 
The lackey/minion: you’ll see him hanging around whoever he thinks is higher in the ranks than he is (usually the successful affiliate, the super affiliate, the wannabe guru, or the guru). He’ll laugh at all the right moments, never interrupt mid-sentence, do whatever is asked/commanded to do. He lives to serve, all for the precious knowledge that he may gain (and who knows, he might – I’ve never been one myself so I don’t know).

 
The scammer: fortunately, I haven’t seen any of those in our meetups, though I have been in contact with some (through other means). They masquerade as gurus/super affiliates when in fact most of their income comes from scamming YOU. They do courses which are overpriced, promise the world yet offer nothing new. During the course they constantly try to pitch in offers (always with some excuse “I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but this is too good for me not to mention”) and often try to sell their own products as well, which tend to be overpriced junk. A quick visit to some of the affiliate forums will give you names, though you probably can think of some already.

 
Note that the categories are not mutually exclusive, that is, a person can be in more than one: for example, a successful affiliate may be a lackey of a super affiliate and a wannabee guru may be a bullshitter (though it’s not necessarily the case – he may truly believe he’s a guru).

 
Have I forgotten anyone? I have considered adding more types such as The Blackhatter, The Porn Affiliate, but decided this goes in a different direction to what I have in mind.

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