Amazon Closed My Affiliate Account
Minor setback this morning. Amazon closed my affiliate account. The good news: they actually give a phone number to call and someone actually answered. Here’s what I did wrong:
When I signed up for my amazon affiliate account, I listed one Blogspot blog as my only website. This was a blog I was only tinkering with at the time. It only had three posts and I only linked to ONE STINKING AMAZON PRODUCT. I didn’t even use my amazon affiliate ID in the link. That is what got my account shut down.
Because I had continued building my niche site that I am discussing in my journey here, and using this same Amazon affiliate site, there was traffic going to my amazon affiliate ID. Hell, I even made $5 in June. Woo hoo. But, when Amazon did their little check on me, they only checked the one site I listed on my application (long ago) which was the blogger site with three pages. Since that one link didn’t have my affiliate ID, they decided “since we couldn’t determine where your traffic was coming from, we closed your account due to breaking the TOS.”
They were very nice on the phone. They could see exactly what went wrong and that it was rather stupid to close my whole account for one little link but they said they couldn’t open the account back up. I am, however, welcome to open a new account right away. Easy for them to say, now I have to recode all of my links (copy, past, find, replace code, copy, paste…) ugh.
So, today’s lesson:
1. When you apply for an amazon affiliate account, only list one website for yourself for the application. this is what the amazon person told me. Make it as easy for them to verify you as possible. Don’t go listing all your other accounts or they will HAVE to go check them all. One little mistake like this and you have to start all over again.
2. When they do shut your account, they will pay out whatever they owe you. That’s nice. They could keep it. For me, it was only $10 ($5 in May, $5 in June).
3. It takes several months before they check out your application. you get instant TEMPORARY approval when you sign up. So as you add websites to your arsenal, make sure you go back to the amazon affiliate account and add those URLs to the account. It sounds opposite of rule 1 but if you have traffic coming from somewhere, they will need to know where it is coming from.
4. The biggest lesson – always have alternate sources of revenue for your site. One source can go down at any time. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Here’s the amazon email…
We’ve now reviewed your application to the Associates Program. Unfortunately, it did not meet our program requirements. As a result, we have closed the account under which you had been temporarily approved.
We noticed that you are not using tags associated with your store in any of the Amazon Special Links you have created on your Site XYZ.
As a result of this, we were unable to determine the source of traffic. This is in violation of our Program Policies found here: <https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/policies>.
You will be paid for any outstanding fees accrued prior to this notice. You’re welcome to reapply once our program requirements are met.
Thank you for your interest in the Associates Program.
And the Black Clouds Rolled In
Black clouds of Cloudflare, that is. I also experienced my first outage from CloudFlare. Using the company I described earlier to speed up my website, I was able to speed up my site significantly. I think the main way they did it was to route my traffic through CloudFlare. I don’t know much about it. They did all the work after I provided them with full access to my site. Kind of unnerving really… to give a stranger complete access to your stuff. But my page load speed dropped significantly so I’m hoping that makes a difference in end-user happiness and getting organic traffic from Google faster. (again – pre Acabado, would not pay for that service now. Use Acabado)
I got an email saying CloudFlare went down. Which should, by default, mean my site was down. So a little concern there on how often this happens.
Here’s the email from CloudFlare:
Dear Cloudflare Customer,
Today at approximately 13:42 UTC we experienced a global service disruption that affected most Cloudflare traffic for 27 minutes.
The issue was triggered by a bug in a software deploy of the Cloudflare Web Application Firewall (WAF) which resulted in a CPU usage spike globally, and 502 errors for our customers. To restore global traffic we temporarily disabled certain WAF capabilities, removed the underlying software bug, then verified and re-enabled all WAF services.
We’re deeply sorry about how this disruption has impacted your services. Our engineering teams continue to investigate this issue and we will be sharing detailed incident report(s) on the Cloudflare blog.
~The Cloudflare Team
I had noticed difficulty accessing the site a few times that afternoon but I was at my day job so I wasn’t paying close attention. This will not be the first time CloudFlare glitches on me. Now that I think about it, perhaps I don’t need them anymore with Acabado installed? I better check on that since NameServers are involved. Ugh.
More info on Gleam.io and my Go Live Contest
I have mentioned that I’m using Gleam.io to run my go live contest. It is working pretty seamlessly but at $49.95/mo seems quite steep. I’m running a pretty lengthy contest (about 45 days total) so I had to buy two months worth of Gleam service. Altogether, I’ll be a good $500 into the contest by the time it completes. Unless I find more sponsors…
But I do recommend Gleam.io because it was really easy to set up the contest and they allow lots of different configurations to the contest like:
- I could allow the contestant like write a guest blogpost for points (i assign point value)
- they can get points for signing up for my newsletter
- they can get points for commenting on my posts
- they can get points for tweeting about my site
- they can get points for sharing the contest on facebook
- the one I used was a point for signing up for the newsletter and one point for each verified email (gleam verifies) that also signs up for the newsletter. gleam also provides the affiliate tracking id during the signup process
“Wow, thanks for posting your journey with Project 24 in such detail. It really puts into perspective how much work that program is. Keep going. It looks like you’re headed in the right direction. I think when this begins to pay off, it will be huge for you!” – another Friend
Man, I hope so. I stayed up many nights after my family went to sleep working on this stuff. It’s the only way to do it when you work full-time and have a family. I was just telling my wife that although we made $30 in June, and we’re not supposed to see any revenue until the sixth month (we’re in the beginning of month 4 now), I will breathe a lot easier when I start seeing real organic traffic come in and I don’t have to play this mickey mouse social media game every day.
Like today. It’s 7pm and my site has 35 pageviews. THIRTY-FIVE! WTF?! So, I just spent 15 minutes adding 35 new memes to my meme page and I’m going to hop on the Facebook groups and post a “Happy Independence Day Everyone! Enjoy 3 dozen new memes at xyz.com!” and hope for some friggin’ traffic. – Me
Another BIG TIP for me was following this guy on YouTube who calls himself Ferdy Korp. He posts “how-to” videos and has a 3+ hour tutorial on how to use Divi from Elegant Themes. Not only does he speak with a cool accent (Netherlands) but he walks you step-by-step on building your ENTIRE website. Thanks to him, my stuff looks awesome. Of course, that’s my opinion.
Found another tip for driving manual traffic. Since I did a podcast interview today and collected questions from facebook groups, I know they are watching for the announcement of when the podcast is finished. So I went on and posted a teaser about how well the interview went “Great interview today and got over 70 minutes of helpful information. I Should be done editing in the next few days. Newsletter members will get notified first (try to drum up more newsletter subs) but you are welcome to check my podcast page and see if it has gone live at xyz.com”.
This technique and my updated meme gallery post have already taken me from 35 pageviews to 110 in two hours.
The podcast idea has increased my visitors’ length of stay to 11% now and they are staying on my website for over an hour. Both of my podcasts are about an hour in length. There are no commercial breaks during the podcast. I still have to figure out how to monetize the podcast. For now, I’m just using it to drive traffic to my site.
Is there a way to rotate banner ads based on the length of time shown? Is that allowed??
Unusually low volume today. I’m hoping it is because it is the day after a holiday? I’m only at 137 pageviews and I released both a podcast episode and a 2000 word article. I notified all the usual groups. I would have thought that releasing two big hitters on the same day like that would net me around 1000 page views.
I could be spending less time on promoting my site for inorganic traffic and use that time to write more content. I have been motivated by the desire to get off Adsense and move to a more lucrative agency. Knowing that Ezoic requires a site to be four months old and getting 10k page views each month gave me something to strive for..
I’m also writing in my profession so when I complete an article that I think benefits my fellow peers, I link to it in our social media groups. So there’s that. I’ve kinda told myself I’m done writing content for this niche. I’ve hit the 30 articles I need for it and have completed 8 out of 10 youtube videos. I don’t feel good about the vids at all but like the course says, just get something out there for now. It’s basically me standing in front of my bedroom wall and recording on my old laptop with a webcam. Whatever. I got it done.
The podcast has two episodes and THAT I really like doing. I think that is how I will continue to add content to this first niche site, as time goes by. Maybe aim for two podcasts each month. I’ve successfully recorded one hour with the guest each time. Then run it through Audiophonic to clean it up. Then I edit it in Audacity. Add an intro and outtro. Let the guest hear it first to make sure they aren’t going to freak about anything. Then once they give it a thumbs up, I post it.
So, technically I’ve moved on the second site which I’ve already talked about. And my wife has started her first site. So July, Aug and Sept will be spent setting up blogs #2 & #3.
Oh, I haven’t come up with my three sales items for site #1. That’s what’s left on the to-do lists. Project 24 teaches you to have three digital products to sell on your site. Like Guide eBooks or How-To’s or something. I’m still trying to figure that out for my niche.
“Thanks for the updates. Are you still driving traffic via social at the moment? It’s not unusual to be low on organic traffic after only 2 months.
How much content is on your site now?” – Friend
30 articles, yes it is – Me
Tread Lightly in Moderated Groups
I have learned that posting to FB groups really helps. I have one main group that I target. When someone asks a question about radiography, I respond with a link to the article on my site that answers it. The Mods of that group ended up saying something like “we’ve talked about you and we’ve been noticing that you are doing an increasing amount of self-promoting and that isn’t what this group is for. Please refrain.” or something along those lines. Since I can’t afford to lose that pot of potential views, I backed off and it showed in my numbers.
But there is still some residual traffic coming from that group. Eventually, though, I imagine it will get buried. I did find a second group that appears to have no real moderation. So I started pounding that one with links to all my articles. Researching the mods and seeing when they last posted tells me they aren’t active. I cranked up just under 1000 pageviews yesterday by posting links to articles on group #2. Turns out, Group #1 has about 15,000 members. Group #2 has almost 35,000 members. So I’m seeing better results now.
The problem, of course, is that I can’t just keep spamming them over and over. They’ll get sick of my repeated posts. So I’ll focus on new memes as they do drive some traffic to the blog. Then weekly, I post a “the meme page has been updated with dozens of new meme images and videos.” That will get a big influx of views for 24 hours.
Always Looking for New Groups
So I have to keep watching for more FB groups. LinkedIn is just about worthless for this sort of thing. Since my site is kind of centered around people looking into radiography, there’s no real traffic from LinkedIn for that. I did find one Reddit group that works and I post there.
I also started my own FB group and dump all my stuff there. I put a disclaimer at the top that says “groups are requesting that I stop self-promoting with my helpful articles so I opened my own group where you can see everything.” Income school says don’t bother with Facebook. They don’t like FB because they say you don’t truly own your group. I can understand that. But I’m also driving quite a bit of traffic so until organic traffic shows up, I’m going to keep after social media.
When I started the journey, I created a FB page. Now I have a FB group. I don’t fully understand the reason for a page. It seems to distract from the group because people sign up for one or the other. I’m thinking about either deleting the page or just placing one post saying “go to the group page.” (Update: I did pin a notice at the top of the Facebook Page informing visitors to use the Group page and left a link to the Group.)
Also keeping my eyes out for other social media outlets to post on….
“Hi Ron, I’m starting this same journey (project 24) and will keep an eye on this post. I chose a niche that i know nothing (dont do this mistake guys)!
I think you are doing very very well, hope i get half of your numbers! lol
Here are my two cents. Maybe you are trying too hard to drive traffic through marketing? The project philosophy is “content is king”, they say nothing you can do to boost your traffic is as good as writing new valuable content.
I would keep pushing till get accepted by ezoic ads to boost your earnings. but after that I would wait for organic traffic kicks in…. writing more posts every week and maybe starting the second niche site.” – New Friend
Yes! I agree 100%. I don’t want to market all the time but it gets REAL addicting to see high traffic and then watch is drift off. I saw it again this week. One day dropped to 66 pageviews and I had to step in again. I found another facebook group in the same genre and started posting links to my content. Luckily, this group has absent mods. Nobody said anything about me posting 12 separate links to my content. I hit 999 pageviews by the end of the day.
I’m only pushing hard on the traffic to hit Ezoic’s requirements. I’m hoping that by month 4, their minimum age to join, I’ll be at a constant 10,000 pv per month. Then I’ll drop Adsense and start making some money.
Found what I think is another trick for traffic. Using the niche of radiography, let’s say there are radiography organizations that control what the industry of radiographers do. I saw one of the members of the org posting in Reddit on some new rules that were coming out on how radiographers can do their jobs. I contacted that person and asked if I could interview them for my radiography podcast. (I have only completed one episode so far, total noob.) The expert agreed. That will add more quality content to my site. But then I went to the FB group and told them I would be interviewing this person. I solicited their concerns and said “post your questions of what you would like to know and I’ll ask them during the interview.”
This got a lot of attention and people asking questions. That got me zero traffic but people started to ask when the podcast would be available. I told them they would find out first if they were members of my newsletter. I linked to it on my website and BAM! I’m going to mention them by first name and their questions in the podcast. This will incur interest in listening and keep them on my page longer since I embedded the podcast on my site using Libsyn (which is only $5 per month by the way!)
So the interview is tomorrow. I dropped a few more posts on the FB group with teasers to build interest. It appears to be working. Once i post the podcast episode, it should drive some good traffic with long length of stay (I shoot for one full hour.).
What I need to learn next is how to monetize the podcast episodes. Here are some thoughts on that:
- it would be hard to get paid sponsorships given that I’m on episode number 2 but I could mention Audible and direct people to use my affiliate link
- I could mention other affiliate links pre-show, middle and post-show. That’s three opportunities to earn some revenue but I have very low expectations that will work.
- that’s all I know. What else can I do to earn revenue from people listening to my podcasts if I don’t have paid advertisement placed?
On another note, my go live contest is not very impressive. I only have about 50 signed up for the newsletter. The prizes are pretty decent. One is sponsored. The rest I’ll have to pay for. Will cost around $300 in the end. I need to start monetizing that newsletter now.
Paid around $50 to a service to speed up my site. I now score very high and load very fast. Hoping that does something for inviting Google organic traffic. (note: this was pre-Acabado)
I’m finishing up the youtube video aspect of the plan. I’ve done about eight vids. Seem pretty lame to me but whatever. Some are 5 minutes, one is 21 minutes. A couple I use the iphone animoji face to try and be funny. the rest are me recanting the most popular posts on video.
I need to wrap up this site and I am supposed to be starting blog #2 now. I have bought the URL and hosting. Set up Word Press. Have the first 8 Response Posts done. I’ll leak a little here cuz if you’re reading this far in the weeds, your interest is solid. This niche #2 is kayaking. I bought a new domain. Set up my Divi. The 8 posts were sitting on a blogspot I had been toying with so the content is about three months old. I reworked it a little to make it more Project 24 friendly. Wife also started her first niche. She has written one post that I need to edit. I have one other that I paid for through iWriter. Not sure I really like that service yet but I’ll keep experimenting.
I started with Blue Host as recommended by Project 24. But I have a feeling (unsubstantiated) that my Google page speed is not optimal due to the host. (Note: this turned out to be not a problem with the host). Again, not my field of expertise but to experiment, I have left my first two niche sites on Blue Host and started the next two on Site Ground. It sucks learning new platforms, so to speak, but I’ll get it down eventually. So far, Blue Host has been easier to deal with only because their internet/phone connection has been clear. Site Ground sounds like they’re in a war bunker on the other side of the world ( and English isn’t their first language.) Nevertheless, they have both helped me troubleshoot and I have no qualms about either yet. It is yet to be seen which is faster.
I say all that to get to the stats. Project 24 advised not to use the Monster plugin and just go with Google Analytics. I did that for the first two sites. I’m only a few weeks into niche site #2. The 3rd and 4th are just parked. But, on the Site Ground, I went ahead and installed all of the bells and whistles: Yoast SEO, Monster Insights, JetPack, etc. We’ll see if this slows the site down or helps at all.
For comfort, I still use StatCounter.com for viewing hit counter type statistics. It’s nowhere near as complicated as GA and shows me a lot of data. So I have it installed on everything. But I also have GA on everything. The screenshots I post here are a mix of StatCounter and GA.
I will add that site #3 (Kayak-101.com) was a new addition to an old blog that I tried to resurrect on blogger. While I was building niche site #1, I was experimenting with the Project 24 layout on my old blogger. After about 8 Response Posts, I decided I might as well give this niche its own site and get it off the blogger.
Since this is starting to confuse even me, I’ll be a little more specific.
Niche #1 is healthcare related – 90 days in and over 30 articles completed, including 8 YT vids and two podcasts. This is the one that all my Journey has been about so far. (revealed as The Radiologic Technologist)
Niche #2 is food related – two weeks in, only three articles so far, one video. Wife’s going to work this one with my help (and iWriter to help).(note: no more iWriter, too expensive and not good enough quality)
Niche #3 is outdoor sports & rec – transferred 8 Response Posts from my blogger. I”m going to work this one (and might lean on iWriter) (Kayak-101)
Niche #4 is seasonal. You guys will laugh at this one. Not enough there yet to poke fun at but…let’s just say, every year I grow my beard out woodsman style, triple bleach it and pimp myself out in a big red suit all through December. I’ve got tons of pics volunteering at nursing homes and such. I figured, what the hell. Let’s see what Project 24 can do with it.
I’m also considering building a site just like Ferdy Korp. Then offer local seminars on “How to Build a Website using Divi”.
Update: this site you are reading now turned out to be niche #5. Wife is still struggling through #2 so it isn’t worth revealing yet. I will probably end up jumping in after Kayak-101 is complete to finish #2.
Another quick tip. When I first started using iWriter, I got a really good 4000-word article from a writer for $66. Using her name, I found her on LinkedIn. I connected and offered to cut out the middle man. She accepted. I now get 4000-word articles for $40-45 (before tip). It may not be the most ethical but… this is business. And her writing is graduate level grade
AND in the healthcare niche, which is even harder IMHO.
Tip #2 – I thought I was a pretty good writer. I’m headed for my doctorate in August. Then I downloaded Grammarly and holy crap was I wrong. With only the free Grammarly, I went back and corrected every single post. Some of the suggestions are wrong but it caught a lot. Mostly was me typing fast and misspelling and not doing a good enough job proofreading. I highly recommend the free Grammarly. I have not paid for an upgrade yet but probably will someday.
“I am interested in how you see the finances going at the moment. What is your totally outlay at this point and what have you made back? I am interested to see if the $66 per article is worth it? How are you tracking the article vs revenue ?
See if you can follow me here, assuming the site needs 30 articles plus the resources pages written it adds up to around 85,000 words for a minimum site as per the instructions on Project 24. That means each site excluding hosting costs about $1000-$1500 to outlay for content. I am assuming about $1 to $1.50 per 1000 words depending on the writer. Add on hosting and domain and your total outlay is around $1600.
That seems like peanuts to pay when you consider the possible return but how is it tracking right now at the early stages ?
Obviously if you write the content yourself your outlay is only $100-$200 per year for hosting and domain. At what point did you decide to take the plunge with writers to scale? “ – Smart Friend
You are pretty accurate in your numbers. I have laid out the following (that I can remember):
BlueHost – 80 (came with domain name)
Divi – 80 one year membership
5 articles from iWriter – probably around 150, cuz i ordered different sized articles
page speed optimization from guys here on BHW – 49 (made huge diff on speed, no effect on organic traffic that I can see…yet)
logo design – 30 (dezinerguys here on BHW), they do good work
so, i’m around 400 or so. I’ve probably spent a little more. Oh, like Gleam.io is 50/mo for contests and I ran for two months to build email list
the income school guys posted a yt video in the past week or so that reviews a website they built using their Project Rexburg writing team. Their analysis was that it takes about 13 months or so (ROI) to break even. But they don’t say what their actual expenses were so I’m assuming pretty much like you said: hosting, paid content, etc. – Me
I have laid off social media marketing on the daily. It was bringing me around 250-300 page views each day. But the difficulty is coming up with new content every day. I have allowed the traffic to dwindle under the auspice that I was really only fooling myself with the inorganic traffic. I don’t want a site that requires three hours every day of posting crap to social media sites just to get people to go look at my site. I am relying on the Income School theory that organic traffic will start to flow around the six-month mark. That should be around early October. Fingers crossed.
Plus, the Adsense revenue of 250-300 pageviews a day is still ridiculously low in my opinion.
So the past few days I’ve had under 100 pageviews on the first niche site. I have been focusing on my second niche site and have right around 10 response posts. I’ll be moving to the second tier of posts soon: Staple posts.
My contest is about over. I set it up to run the duration of the 3-month building cycle for niche #1. The Gleam.io membership cost me $49 / mo x 2 months and I really don’t think it was worth the results. That’s $100 expense in an attempt to build up a subscriber newsletter base. In the end, I’m only looking at about 40 subscribers. The software was super easy to use and looks very nice on the GUI side. My hopes were that someone would go ninja on this thing and share it all over social media. It just didn’t happen. So, after July 14, I’m taking down the contest and canceling Gleam.io. You can see about half of the subscribers didn’t sign up correctly and used a popup rather than the contest widget. So I had to manually enter them into the subscription base. Nobody has dropped since signing up. I put out an email every Monday cataloging what has happened in the past week and what is on the agenda for the upcoming week.
I’ll post my adsense from today, which shows page views are down 40% (Last 7 days vs previous 7 days). My Impressions are down 63%. But my Page CTR is up 47%. So it almost seems like while I did lose page views, the people that still showed up clicked my ads more. I lost dead weight?
Spinners versus Content Writers
I researched spinners yesterday on a whim. WordAI popped up a lot in conversations so I tried them out. I signed up for their trial service. Three days free but they collect all of our billing info upfront. I spun a few articles. There’s a learning curve to figure out which of their many options you want to use when you spin. In the end, I pulled one article out of it and posted it.
I set it to replace words. It does a very good job of this. I kept reading through the spin on my left screen and the original on my right screen. Sometimes the spin wouldn’t make any sense. I’d have to read the original and decipher… then reword. Altogether, I took the #1 ranked competitor page for specific topics and spun it. I think it looks decent. I added my own pics and personal inuendos.
Then I canceled my subscription today. At $59 / month, it’s a little steep for me right now. I already wasted enough money on contests and such. Plus, I figured I could use this spinner for the full 3-day trial and download a bunch of articles….NOPE. As soon as I canceled, it said “You have canceled but your membership stays active until the end of your trial period.” which is tomorrow. So I happily loaded up another article and hit SPIN.
It failed and told me that my account had been canceled. If I wanted to continue using the service, I had to turn it back on. Well, that’s not what it said when I canceled. Nevertheless, I walked away for now.
In the future, I can see using WorkAI to help during creative slumps. It seems easier to me to rewrite an article than to come up with original articles sometimes.
Smart Friend chimed in:
“I like SmallSEOTools “Article Rewriter”. It’s your fairly standard synonym replacer and, like you, I have the original up on my second screen to decipher. Actually got to the point where I was just going paragraph by paragraph and rephrasing them myself. Then I run it through Grammarly and SmallSEOTools Plagiarism Checker. They claim to not store the texts you’re searching on. Can’t say the same about Copyscape (nothing about it that I’ve seen easily on their site), but they’re a good second check. SmallSEOTools checks at the sentence level for exact matches, while Copyscape will let you know if parts of the sentences match.
Oh, forgot to mention that SmallSEOTools is free.
I am only at 20 articles on the first niche site. I am using Google auto ad placement and I don’t think its great. I’ll likely remove it and place ads specifically in spots that make sense. The Blog looks a mess with the auto ad placements.
My CPC is much higher than yours as is my RPM. Considering the effort I put into this site (which isn’t much) its paying for itself but I’m looking at getting up to that 30 articles in the next month or two.
have you put a Facebook pixel on your website yet? Do this asap. Once you do this you get to know your target market. If you make a product or you can increase your RPM to $10+ then by having the facebook pixel you learn who to target with Facebook paid ads and how much you should be spending on getting that traffic to make a profit. But first, you need to get the data so start collecting it now.”
I manually place the ad code where I want it. I do no top banner but place several in the body of long posts. Then the obligatory footer. But I will check out the Pixel. – Me
“Niche selection is definitely the hardest part. Would you say the niche you went with is one you are experienced with or an expert in? I went through their stuff recently too. The idea of pillar, staple, and response posts is interesting.
So you started in April and already getting traffic from google? That’s pretty good.” – Friend
It’s a niche I’m an expert in. But the writing can still be exhaustive. I’ve found that when I can afford to hire a writer, then I can just add in personalized blurbs about what I know and make the article more personal. Some of these writers are spot on…some, not so much.
I looked today and see search engine hits from Google, Bing and Yahoo but it is only a few referrals each. I’m hoping this means they’ll open the flood gates soon. – Me
I saw a major lag in traffic today so I thought I would share an idea I came up with that boosted them temporarily.
Since I have had good success with creating Memes in my niche what I did was put them all on one page on my website and create a meme gallery.
Then I went to my social media accounts and posted a quick blurb saying “I went back through the last year of my meme posts and gathered them all into one page on my website. If you need a good giggle, pay it a visit.” and then I linked to my page. On Reddit, I put another blurb below that saying if this is too close to self-promotion please delete. You don’t want to burn your bridge to social media groups.
I received over 100 unique visits in one hour from Facebook already. I do not think the mods have released my post on Reddit yet. Linkin is pointless for this kind of thing.
I’m on track to have my second highest page view day thanks to this dumb meme idea. What started out as a desperate attempt to drum up some traffic had done great. I clearly didn’t understand the value of memes. Now I how to figure out how to capitalize on memes better.
I’ve started making my obligatory 10 videos. I already had one made previously and am using that as #1. I made the second video this morning. I used my iPhone XS and the animal emoticon thing to mask my face. I did a 3-minute video on something that happens in my career field a lot since I’m blogging about my career field.
I made a thumbnail for the youtube post. Used the Slice iPhone app to crop, add text and sound effects. Uploaded it to youtube and embedded the youtube URL in a new page I created on my blog. When I posted to social media about my video, I linked to my site so I would get the pageview first, then hope they hit the second click to view the video. I still need 1000 subscribers to monetize my YT account so views there are not as critical. However, it is sending traffic to my YT channel so I added the words (Please Subscribe) in the title.
Not really getting much action on my Reddit or FB posts about this video. At least, nothing like yesterday’s post about a meme page. I ended up with 715 pageviews for that one. Come on organic traffic! I’m going to knock out the rest of my ten videos tomorrow and post them on YT. Then I should be about done. I’m waiting on one more post from iWriter and my 30 posts are done. Then it’s time to move on to niche site #2. I still haven’t thought of a topic yet.
Google and Organic Traffic
Google is certainly in no hurry to confirm I exist. Patience is a virtual….but hurry up already!
Bring on the Podcast!
I finally took the plunge and recorded my first podcast. While trolling a Facebook group for places to drop my niche links, I came across a radiographer telling terrific stories. Turns out, her job is a traveling radiographer in Hollywood. So she spends her days driving around Los Angeles taking xrays of Hollywood’s rich and famous.
I reached out to her on Facebook Messenger and told her I would love to share her stories on my podcast. I said other radiographers want to know more information about what it is like to be a traveling radiographer. She happily agreed and a date was set. Next Saturday morning at 10 am.
I’ve experimented with both Skype and Zoom for work conferences. I much rather work with Zoom. There is also a free service offered by Zoom. So I sent her a link to use that allowed her to join me for a chat using Zoom when the time came for our interview.
As a backup, I set my mini video camera nearby, facing me, and recorded the whole thing from a second angle. Zoom recorded our conversation just fine both audio and visual. I ended up with about 80 minutes worth of recording.
Zoom gives you both an audio file and video/audio file when you record. So here are the steps I took to cleaning up the podcast:
- Import the audio file into Audacity and edit out whatever you don’t want. Stutters, stammers, long pauses and things you may have said but decided after the fact that you shouldn’t use it. This reduces the size of your file before the next step.
- Run the edited file through Auphoic’s software. It will clean out all the background noise and even out the highs and lows. And it’s free! I got this tip from one of Jim’s early Income School videos before they were talking full-time about blogging.
- For $5/month you can get a Libsyn account. Libsyn will host the audio file for you and after you have uploaded your podcast, it gives you different links to choose from to place on your blog. These links include an audio player that you can customize. See examples of my podcasts here and here.
- Save your video file from Zoom for your Youtube channel. I haven’t posted mine yet because there was quite a bit of editing done to the audio version. Lots of first-time mistakes or clearing my throat and saying “UM” a lot.
- Use Audacity to create an Intro and Outtro for your podcast. This is a 10-30 second clip of some cool music and you introducing your podcast. If you listen to mine, you’ll hear an opening clip from a techno song that leads into a repeated riff of Van Halen.
- If you’re really savvy, you’ll figure out how to add advertisements in the Intro, Outtro, and middle of your podcast. I haven’t gotten that far yet.
- Last, send a link to the final version to your guest. I always tell them they get to hear it first before it goes live. If there is something they don’t like, I edit it to make them happy. You don’t want word getting out that you are a bad host.
- Note: I did try Skype for my second podcast and was greatly disappointed. The connectivity was horrible and I recorded from the exact same location. There were many places on the audio were my guest cut out for a few minutes. We would have to wait and start talking again. Stick with Zoom folks!
Niche 1, Month 3 – June – Project 24 Blogging Journey
Site: The Radiologic Technologist
June Action Plan
Complete Steps 41-60
- Step 41: Record a how-to video
- Step 42: Make a contrary opinion video
- Step 43: Make another video
- Step 44: Watch video: how to create a Pillar Post, write 1st PP
- Step 45-53: Write 9 Pillar Posts for a total of 10
- Step 54: Promote on Pinterest
- Step 55: Record a Staple Video
- Step 56: Record a PP video
- Step 57: Record another Pillar video
- Step 58: Make a video for Recommended Gear pages
- Step 59: Record 10th video
- Step 60: Set up Amazon Associates
Now, I clearly jumped the gun on Amazon Associates. But I already had one from my previous hobby blog. I have set up a niche page on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I added the social share buttons on my niche site hoping folks will share my content.
I even tried to jump the gun to join Ezoic and dump Adsense. I signed up and they contacted me. They liked my stats but you have to be at least four months established AND have 10,000 pageviews each month. I’m not even half that old yet.
Hiring Someone Else to Write Your Content
I have subbed out a few articles to iWriter.com and have had mixed results. The $66 Premium service for 4000 words is stellar but too expensive. The $33 Premium service for 2000 words sucked. I have paid for two of each. That is who Income School recommended if you are going to pay someone else for content. The only good part is that you can send the article back for a rewrite up to three times or ask for a different writer all together if the article is bad enough. I did both on the lower tier. Both upper tiers got praise from professionals in the career field when I posted those articles on my blog.
I have three Pillar Posts left to write. Those are 4000 words or more. There are YouTube videos from Income School if you have questions about that part. I need to do 9 more YT videos. Then, according to Income School, I can stop if I want. That would conclude the makings of a niche site. Let it ride for six months and the organic traffic should start to build at that point and income should start to be realized.
Having Contests to Build a Newsletter Subscriber Base
I kicked off a pre-Go Live contest today to both drum up more traffic AND build an email marketing list. That is not part of the Project 24 outline but I know the value of a good email list so I’m giving it a shot. I decided on a handful of prizes that wouldn’t break the bank and created a contest mid to late May. I basically ran a 30 day contest offering rewards to random winners who signed up for my newsletter.
I signed up with Gleam.io for $49/mo, I know, more expense. It did seem a bit pricey but I was excited about my blog. For that price, they have a very extensive list of options. I chose to give points for different actions:
- one point just for signing up for the newsletter
- one point for each friend that they referred to my newsletter
Gleam took care of verifying all the signup email addresses to check for fraud. They also had a very nice GUI that was appealing on my blog. I proceeded to advertise my “Go Live Contest” to “Win Great Prizes” on Facebook groups, SubReddits, Pinterest, Instagram and even LinkedIn.
I had read the advice of Tim Ferriss, an online mentor of mine, and was ready for an AVALANCHE of subscribers! (Did it work? Keep reading.)
Wish me luck! I’ll post back early July and let you know how June turned out. Oh, I did start to see organic traffic from Google yesterday. Fingers crossed!
I’m attempting to get my monthly pageviews to 10,000/mo. That will allow to get off of Adsense and over to Ezoic. Income should take a big boost from that.
I made $30 in Adsense in June.
The part I’m stuck on is creating three digital “e-products” needed to stick to the Income School program.
The image says “2nd month.” By that I meant the second month that the content had been “live.” Technically it was the 3rd month because I started in April. Thinking back though, I started mid-April so the whole thing is kind of screwy to follow. But you get the idea.
Niche 1, Month 2 – Project 24 Blogging Journey
May: Complete Steps 22-40
- Step 22: Make a Resource Page
- Step 23: Build a framework for Resource Page
- Step 24: Buld first Resource Category Page
- Step 25: Build second…
- Step 26: Build third..
- Step 27: Site design and structure
- Step 28: Watch video: Staple Posts, and write it
- Step 29: Write second Staple Post
- Step 30: Write third…
- Step 31: Write fourth…
- Step 32: Write fifth…
- Step 33: Write sixth…
- Step 34: Write seventh…
- Step 35: Write eighth…
- Step 36: Write nineth…
- Step 37: Write tenth..
- Step 38: Watch video: how to promote
- Step 39: Record first YouTube video
- Step 40: Watch video: how to YouTube with screen sharing
Writing Staple Posts
The key, as they explained it, is to write 2500 words or more. These are no longer responses to Google questions. These are shorter “How To “posts and “5 Best Things” type of posts. Short guides, etc. The method they use it to put a Headline 1 at the top and add another H2 or H3 every 2-3 paragraphs. Keep the paragraphs short and to the point. No extra drivel just to fill space. Keep the wording simple unless you know your audience is going to be highly educated. Make your own graphs and charts to use as images. Take your own pictures to use as thumbnails and post images. If you absolutely have to use someone else’s photos, subscribe to a service to have a large library to chose from.
They recommend using your phone camera to record and not overcomplicate this part. Just 5-10 minutes talking about something relevant to the blog. I already had one video made on this niche topic prior to starting the blog so I just plugged that video into a page on my blog. Month 3 I’m supposed to have ten videos total. If you can’t think of a topic for a video, just use your articles for the videos. Narrate the articles, so to speak.
They also say you can create a podcast to have a similar effect. I’m guessing we’re just going for an alternate method of driving traffic to our niche site. I kind of like the podcast idea better. Find a YouTube video that teaches you how to use a screenshare / screen recording just in case you absolutely don’t want your own ugly mug on video.
After getting a taste of that 1600 pageview day, I became hooked on watching my hit counter like Hoes on Santa. So to keep the hits coming, I went out and found a few groups in the niche/genre on Reddit, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Luckily, they all accepted me and my gentle spamming in their groups. So, in Reddit for example, I joined the Radiology subreddit. When someone would post a question about “How do I get into radiology” or “How much does a radiographer make per hour” I would write a sentence or two of small talk and then link to my niche post that answered the question. I repeated this on all three social networks. (I did this through July and have had terrific results.)
But it isn’t organic traffic. It’s all marketing traffic, inorganic traffic. Which is fine but it means I have to do stuff every day to stay engaged in each group. The days I have content to post, it is pretty easy to get traffic. But the days I don’t crank out content, it is a bit more of a struggle. My saving grace here was that I had already been making memes in my field for about six months just for fun. But I had only been posting them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not the greatest place to wrangle traffic. I mean, I’m hitting the niche of people who don’t know what they want to be for a career and they are asking questions. LinkedIn is built for people that HAVE a career and are networking. Facebook and Reddit ended up being MUCH better.
But I grabbed all my memes and recycled them through FB and Reddit. They were widely accepted to the point where I created a meme page on my website as a library. The trick here is to create your own memes with your own pictures, then you can paste your own URL on the picture. Now, when people download my memes and share them somewhere else on the internet, they are advertising my site for me. Memes are easy to make. I doubt I need to tell anyone how to make them but just in case, I simply downloaded the phone app Photo Director and used that. $4.99 to buy the app and I was ready to go. The droid version is WAY better than the iPhone version, as are most things between droids and iphones. (zing!)
How does my site rank?
I’m not sure how accurate it is but I enjoy visiting CuteStat and running my domain name through it. The outcome, among other things, is your Alexa ranking and dollar value of your website. At two weeks old, I had no Alexa ranking at all. By four weeks my Alexa ranking was 4,292,170. I think the value went from $8 to $240 during this 4th week but has remained unchanged. (by June 11 I was at 3.7M on Alexa.) Further down on the page it shows you your average daily unique views and daily average page views. This thing may be total crap, I don’t know.
I have continued the same marketing strategy through May. My traffic dips if I don’t have time to engage in social media for a day. But I’m hoping, in time, I’ll have enough Return Visitors and new people interested in the career field that traffic will continue without my input. I do intend to return to make this an “authority” site with more content after I finish the second niche site.
I’ll post my June actions in the next post and include my Pre-Launch Go Live Contest. This contest will be an attempt to start building a newsletter membership.
I have jumped the gun a little and added Adsense ads to my site. Income School recommends you wait until you have completed all 30 posts. I already have a working Adsense account from my Orange Jeep Dad blog so why not use it. What I risk is sending a signal to Google that I’m all about the money and not about providing high-quality content. The Income School theory, best I can understand, is to put all of your content up for Google to index. No ads would indicate to them that you only exist to provide quality information. Once you start getting organic traffic, THEN you add the advertisements.
I couldn’t wait that long. My impatience got the best of me.
My Adsense earnings, in my opinion, turned out to be pathetic. (By the end of June, I’m around $16.28 for the last 30 days, but I didn’t get serious about loading up on Adsense ads until the end of May.) Now every page has 3-5 ads on it. Never more than 5, even on the 4000+ Pillar Posts. Google doesn’t have penalties that I can find if you post a ridiculous amount of ads on a page but I think it looks tacky.
I also added Amazon Affiliate links. Again, not recommended at this phase but I already have them on my old blog. So I put some ads on the sidebar and linked to radiology basic supplies like x-ray markers, lead aprons, etc.
Amazon is at $5.74 for May 11-June 11. However, Income School teaches that you shouldn’t see your first $5 until your sixth month and I’m there in six weeks so I shouldn’t complain. I am linking to Amazon products on a few pages and on the sidebar of every page.
The third income producer that I haven’t tackled yet is selling info products. Income School teaches to do (1) ads (Adsense, then Ezoic when at 4 months old and 10,000 page views each month, then AdThrive if you can hit 100,000 page views each month), (2) Amazon affiliate links and (3) info products.
For being two months into niche 1, I’m pretty psyched. All that is missing is organic traffic but I know that will be a while.
“It’s a solid plan you got there.
Will be following.
Do you plan to rely only on quality content to rank? is your niche competitive?
You need at least some backlinks imo.” – Friend
This method is all about “quality content.” They don’t believe in building links etc. But I will be linking some.
My niche is competitive but only against the organizations that either provide the licensure for the career field or the organizations that are the “societies” for the career field.
There are not a lot of sites doing content on “What is a Radiographer”, “How do I become a Radiographer”, “How much do Radiographers get paid” etc. (note: I was WAY wrong on this notion) This niche model should work for any field. I’ll be trying a different career niche after this one to verify. – Me
I’m going to try and upload some pics of my stats now.
What you’ll see is data from StatCounter which I’ve used since 2007. I started tracking my niche around the 3rd week of April but then messed up the code somehow and lost the tracker. I wasn’t concerned as I didn’t expect any traffic yet.
So the first blip you see around April 23rd is actually me being tracked because I hadn’t chosen to hide my own footsteps yet. May 3rd is when I fixed the tracker but it was still tracking my hits. I hid my own digital tracks and the real traffic started around May 8th or so.
By that time I had written the 10 Response Posts and started on the next set of ten posts called Staple Posts. Staples are 2500 words, a 1000 word increase over the Response Posts. One of the Staples went quasi-viral, so to speak, and got shared around Facebook around May 16th. I ended up with 1600 pageviews and about 1300 unique visits. Needless to say, I was stoked. (yeah, I said stoked. So what. I’m old.)
Little did I know that this popular post was going to hook me on checking statistics daily. Addicted is more like it. I began checking my website stats almost hourly. There is definitely a thrill to seeing your stats jump through the roof. (I never again saw a spike like this through the end of July.)
April 2, 2019 Journal Entry
Wifey and I have decided to give it a go using the Project 24 blogging methodology as taught by two guys at IncomeSchool.com.
- Can I make a profit following the Project 24 method found at IncomeSchool.com? It is a 60 step process and eludes to being able to replace your full-time job in 24 months.
- I have been blogging for over ten years but only dabbling. I am familiar with Blogger and WP. The blog I spent the most time on was self-sufficiency themed blog but mostly served as a family journal. The Orange Jeep Dad moniker from those days continues on as I occasional blog on that old platform to check in on friends. I also have resurrected the YouTube channel for posting my P24 blogging escapades. I have coded in HTML, PHP, CSS, C++, …and I’m so old I cut my teeth on Basic, Fortran, and Cobol. This is my first attempt to get serious with blogging in hopes of replacing my 9-5 job.
- April: Establish niche site #1, complete Steps 1-21 of Project 24
- May: Complete Steps 22-40
- June: Complete Steps 41-60
- July: Establish niche site #2, complete Steps 1-21
- Aug: Complete Steps 22-40
- Sept: Complete Steps 41-60
Month 1 – April 2019
Steps 1-20 include the following:
- Watch the video on what it is all about
- Choose your topic and domain
- Sign up for hosting
- Get a logo
- Themes and Plugins
- WordPress settings, SEO
- Watch video: No Nonsense SEO
- Create an Article Hit List
- Watch video: Formatting posts
- Write first Response Post
- Write second…
- Write third…
- Write fourth…
- Write fifth…
- Write sixth…
- Write seventh…
- Write eighth…
- Write nineth
- Write tenth…
- Add legal content blurb
- Resizing images
Niche Ideas (steps 1-7)
I watched the video. It can be found on their YT channel. It was very difficult for me to decide on a niche. There is a list from Income School that you can download from their site and it contains dozens of ideas. My first question was “how many are still good if you’ve been giving this list out for a while?” So I continued until I found my own.
My advice: if you can’t decide on a niche, go with what you know.
I won’t divulge mine but let’s just say if I was a plumber… I would create a blog about the plumbing profession. For full transparency, I have released the name of my Niche #1 – The Radiologic Technologist.
I have worked in the radiology field for the past two decades. I am hopeful that I have enough experience in this niche that I can continue to find content to write about and stay engaged. (Fastforward three months: I have made a few videos on the topic of choosing a niche.)
- My first horrible attempt at a niche discussion...in my car. (warning, horrible audio)
- My second equally horrible niche discussion, still in my car.
- My third automobile video is on selecting a hosting service.
- Now in an office, I share my thoughts on niche selection.
- And lastly, I share some of the marketing efforts I made on the first niche.
I used good old FlamingText.com to create a temporary logo. It is very easy to use and the final product is free.
I used a nulled theme of Divi from Elegant Themes until I got to a point where the functionality was broken due to needing an update. Of course, you can’t update a nulled theme so I dropped around $80 for an annual subscription to Elegant Themes. If you end up buying Divi, please consider using my affiliate link.
Helpful Hint: To learn Divi like a boss, watch Ferdy Korp’s 3+ hour tutorial. It is SO worth the time because he teaches you EVERYTHING you need to know about setting up your WordPress, installing Divi and building an entire website.
Domain Name and Hosting
So I picked a domain name with the words of my profession in it, as mentioned earlier. I went with BlueHost for hosting as suggested by Income School. I bought the annual hosting package for $80 and it came with the domain name free. I set up Word Press and began creating content.
Article Hit List
The Income School guys teach this on their YouTube channel as well. You basically search Google for your niche word and see what Google shows as the common questions around that search. Using their method, I came up with about ten article topics to write about.
Writing 10 Response Posts
Knocking these out took me a little over a week. I work full-time and have a large family so I did these mostly at night after everyone had gone to bed. Many nights I stayed up until 2 or 3 am to get the posts done. I started the whole process mid-April and was able to finish with the 10 Response Posts by May 1st.
Resizing the Images
I actually didn’t want to do this due to monotony. I skipped it and moved on to the next month’s tasks. Ultimately I went back and completed this step.
I saw no traffic this month (April) and didn’t even have a hit counter or analytics installed. Project 24 says you won’t see your first $5 profit, until month SIX of the process. I was content just blogging my brains out for April.
[Sneak Peek, I’m six weeks in and seeing traffic and income. Nothing great, mind you but it is starting and way ahead of the projected plan. ]
Family duties call. I’ll continue with what I did in May with some screenshots as soon as I get more free time.