Categories
Business

My Half Assed and Very Late Affiliate Summit West Schedule

Tomorrow I leave for Vegas baby, second time in a few months, and second time with a $1k+ free conference ticket in my hand. The universe must want me to go to Vegas…. You rock universe!

But more importantly Shoemoney, his sexy staff, all my friends and family who voted for me, all the people who don’t know me but I harassed them via email or Facebook and to a few hundred random s from Mturk in some third world country. YOU ALL ROCK!

If you don’t already know, I am headed to Affiliate Summit West on an all expenses paid trip because I won the Shoemoney Crazy Affiliate Contest.

Travel Plans

I am a very last minute traveller.

Some people spend days even weeks planning their trips. I usually wake up in a haze, walk out the door and figure out where I’m going while I’m walking. OK, that might be a bit extreme but I am closer to the latter than the former.

Spending 10+ months travelling last year taught me that its not worth spending all your time planning if its going to cost you enjoyment in the moment. Plus sporadic planning can turn into crazy adventures. It can also turn into a looming and costly disaster but that’s a story for another day.

I have a 9am flight which I booked at 6pm tonight. I then booked a nights’ accommodation at Circus Circus which looks very entertaining for its modest price tag, and is close to the Wynn so I wont have much of a trek in the morning when I switch to the Wynn.

ASW Schedule

Looking around the web for some things to do, I stumbled upon the Canadian Affiliate Marketing meetup which is from 5:00PM – 6:30PM at the Wynn Parasol “Up” Bar. I figure I gotta go and get my pass so could be a good opportunity to meet some Vancouverites.

Then I’m headed off to DKs Poker Tourney. I figure this will give me a good opportunity to chat with people and maybe make some plans for the rest of the summit.

And that’s about all… Ill figure the rest out when I’m there. If anyone has any tips on specific events or parties to attend I’d be keen to hear about them.

I also had some questions about whether I will be blogging live from the event. In all honest, no probably not. I’d like to, but yea, doubt its going to happen. Will try and do a few post about it when I land – if I don’t come back with 100 business ideas that lock me down for the next few months!

Anyways, if anyone is at ASW hit me up. We can grab a beer.

Categories
Business

Winning the Shoemoney Crazy Affiliate Contest – P1

So as you may know by now, I was the winner of the recent Crazy Shoemoney Affiliate Summit Contest that finished up a couple of days ago.

Here is the prize as it currently stands:

  • A platinum pass to Affiliate Summit West.
  • 2 nights hotel accommodations paid for at host hotel.
  • $500 Airfare Reimbursement.
  • $2000 to gamble on 1 hand of blackjack (can you handle the pressure?).
  • Roll with me at Affiliate Summit.
  • A pass to the Epic Advertising Playboy Mansion Party this fall.

Very epic prize.

It was a long road with many hours invested. To win, you had to write a post on your blog stating “why you should win the contest”. 10 finalists were then selected by Shoemoney’s staff. After that it opened up and the winner  had to acquire the most votes over the course a 5 day period. In the end, I emerged triumphant with 43% of the total votes.

Over the next two posts, I will give a break down of exactly what I did to win the competition.

The Finalist Post

First things first. Before anything else you had to get selected by Shoemoney’s staff as a finalist. This meant a killer post.

The first thing I did was assess the competition. I immediately understood that there would be no point attempting this thing half hearted. Just whacking up a useless post on my blog isn’t going to win me a prize easily valued at $5k but it will deteriorate the quality of my blog and brand. So before even deciding whether to enter it or not, I had to do a quick analysis on reward/ratio.

If I my chances of at least getting into the finalists were slim to none, I wouldn’t even bother entering. That decision would be made solely based on the competition. In the end, there were 92 Comments with probably 70 entries to the competition. But when I made the decision to enter, there was less than 40 entrants.

Firstly, this low number was very surprising. I guess that it was the holidays and what not probably meant less people were aware of the contest. Any way, I started reading through the other comments and was fairly shocked at what I saw.

There were a number of entries that were 1 paragraph long, broken links and posts with clearly no thought put into them. Yes there were also a few good posts, but most of them were below par.

Low numbers and low quality? Shit yeah, bring it on.

When I first read the post there was two days left to enter the contest.

Knowing that I had two days, there was no reason to rush the post. You should treat it like any other piece of writing you are trying to get right and write it out, let it sit, edit it, let it sit some more (something I usually don’t do because it takes to long and editing is annoying but it definitely is the most effective technique).

The Essay Approach

When it came down to writing the post, the first question I had to ask my self is “What is this post trying to achieve?” this is something we all had to do in school when we were given one of those annoying questions and told to discuss it. What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to argue a point? Solve a problem?

In this case, the point was to be selected. To be chosen. So I started thinking about other types of documents that have a similar purpose. The first that came to mind was a resume, something I have lots of experience with as an ex-recruiter.  A resume is a document you create so you are selected. But getting hirired for a job is not usually just from your resume, you need to do a good job selling youself to secure the position.

This train of thought brought me down the path of a sales letter. Really the purpose of this post was to sell myself. Really, this post was to be a sales page.

The Sales Page Post

I am by no means an expert copy writer. But I know a little. I know what some of the key elements of a strong sales letter are. These include:

  • Telling a story
  • Building Trust
  • Emotional stimulation
  • Focusing on the benefits

I started telling my story. People like dealing with people they know, so the more of a story you can tell the more trust you will build plus it makes for an enjoyable read. I continued with emotional stimulation by writing the post in a very casual manner and by sprinkling humour through the post. I then wrote a section on how I can give back and what the benefits would be of hiring me. Whether they are tangible benefits for someone like Shoemoney or not is irrelevant. They just have to be better than the benefits the other contestants were offering. Some is better than none.

Additional Elements

On top of the above elements which appear in every post I added two more of my own for this particular post:

  • An element to show I had done my research
  • A gimmick to stand out from the crowd

If you see down the bottom of the post, there is a picture of a girl in a grey shirt with a CLICK HERE underneath her. This was not chosen by accident. Actually Shoemoney talked extensively about this picture in his video on Facebook advertising. By adding this element is showed that I actually knew who Shoemoney was, followed his stuff and paid attention. Plus it was slightly humours, at least I thought so anyway.

The last was the tattoo gimmick. To be honest, this was chucked in right at the end. I was basically reading my post thinking shiit, I need a gimmick to close this deal and maybe more importantly, to win the votes. Sure I had a strong post, but it didn’t jump out at you, there was noting overly special about it. If you see Donny Gamble’s post he included the elf video and Danger Brown had a cool video of his own plus he was going to shave his head. These are two other fantastic examples of utilising a gimmick to get attention which resulted in both these guys making it to the finals.

I don’t know why I chose to get a tattoo. Basically I just thought it would be something that the judges would notice, people would talk about and it would make a funny story. No real reason besides it was a straight gimmick.

The End Result

Here is my winning entry. I probably spent a good 4-5 hours on it, possibly longer. Lots of that time was just reading it over and over correcting little bits and pieces. But every couple of times I read it I would get another big idea and chuck it in. As I said the tattoo idea didn’t come until the very end, maybe the last or second last re-read so it definitely pays to do this.

Next up securing the most votes.

Categories
Business

Bring on the Controversy

Electron plumber just released a post on his blog ripping into me for using Amazon Mturk as a marketing tool in the Shoemoney Affiliate Competition.

Its true, I wont deny it. I did it. And kudos to him, we all gotta do what we gotta do to win and attempting to eliminate the competition is an age old strategy to win a fight. But the truth is, I didn’t really have much of a choice…

I worked VERY hard on this competition, not only on the entry post but also on gathering votes. I spent the good chunk of my New Years Eve and every waking moment hustling for votes until Jan 2nd untill I saw this…

Those are tweets coming from a post on John Chow’s blog. For those who don’t know, John Chow is a very successful blogger in the Internet Marketing space whom I greatly admire and whos blog I regularly read. The only problem is, he has 118,000 readers!!! 118k wtf? that’s like more than some celebrities.

El Plumber was right. I am not a super star, I don’t have the Alexa rankings to control the masses. I thought I had a compelling entry that would naturally attract votes, but in a situation like this that means jack. After all the work I did, blasting out to my lists, hanging on Facebook asking everyone to vote for me for 2 days straight, asking friends to post on their walls, pulling thousands of emails from every conversation I’ve ever had on Gmail and of all my social network connections. Even asking random girls in bars to vote for me on their smart phones. I thought I was doing pretty well and used a number of interesting marketing methods that I will post about later.

While I cant see my votes, I can see the clicks from the links I was marketing and things were going pretty well. But now that a post had gone out to 120k readers the competition had been taken to a new level.

After seeing the tweets, I started doing some investigation. Oh and by the way, its not just tweets, there is syndication and a whole bunch of other ridiculous stuff that happens when someone posts on a blog of that size. I wasn’t sure if this was a legitimate friend-helping-a-friend-out post or if it was a brilliant paid advertisement (which I am not against by the way). I had read last years winners post as he talked about how he won the competition. He too had bought a post on John Chows blog to help him win votes. Here is his excerpt:

Enter John Chow

I’ve been following John and Jeremy for a long time.  I’ve watched them compete against each other (to see who cold get the most RSS subscribers in an allotted time frame) and promote ZK in the Internet Marketer of the year contest.

It only seemed natural I enlist the services of John Chow and so I contacted him about the possibility of a sponsored post.  It seemed like a good fit, the Shoemoney and Johnchow audience is similar and John Chow has a big following (71000 RSS subscriber and 51000 twitter followers).

I felt it would be a solid investment as it would likely bring in a lot of votes.  I figured if I lost there would still be some value in the links from John Chow and some of the attention it generated.

Five bills later I had a post up on John Chow promoting me and I was feeling pretty good.

I almost when onto sponsored tweets and tried to buy a tweet from Shoemoney himself but I assumed he would decline in for conflict of interest reasons.  Probably should have done it for the potential attention/linkbait anyway.

Not sure if 5 bills was $500 or $10k but either way, that’s lots to spend. And since John Chow’s following is up significantly from last year, it would probably be even more expensive this year. I still wasn’t sure if Donny had done the same thing so I dug up his post on John Chow’s blog.

This is what it looked like:

Now see Donny Gamble’s Post: 

Look familiar?

After seeing this I thought F*(%… I cant win this doing what I’m doing. As El Plumber said, I simply don’t have a big enough following. But it seems that a media buying frenzy was about to begin. Technically speaking, if I had the funds I should have been able to buy advertisements all across the internet. Make Facebook ads with the criteria of “ages between 10-99” and plaster them up. Create PPC campaigns on every keyword and buy the front page of MSN. Buy spots on Google TV, hire a professional producer to make me an emotionally stimulating, NLP filled commercial causing people to emotionally connect with me and have a strong call to action to resulting in votes on promise of donating a billion dollars to starving children if I won…

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have those kind of resources….

There was no way I was going to win without some form of paid marketing approach so I started looking around at the different tools and marketing channels I have at my disposal as an internet marketer. I looked at various media buys, sponsored posts, sponsored tweets etc… But if I am going to be spending money on advertising, I am going to look for the channel that is going to bring me the best return on investment. The tool I chose is one that I have used a few times provided by Amazon.

Enter Mturk

Mturk or Amazon Mechanical Turk is basically a service where you can find people to complete a small task for a small price. You can have them do things like comment on a blog, bump up a post on Digg or vote for you in some competition.

I thought about running a PPC campaign and paying anywhere from $0.10-$2.00 per click and not be guaranteed a vote. Sure if I threw enough money at it, I would get the same results but it didn’t seem like something that a smart internet marketer would do. Why pay more for the same results?

With Mturk, you can have an action completed for you for a set price. Depending on the difficulty of the action, you might pay anywhere from $0.05-$2 per HIT (Human Intelligence Tasks). Since this task was a very simple one “go to a web site and click vote” I created a campaign paying $0.05 per HIT.

Not sure what Donny’s ROI will be on his John Chow investment, say he paid $1000 and got 1000 votes (less than a 1% conversion) its still pretty expensive. I figured 118k readers, even if he had a 1% conversion that would be 1180 votes. So I structured the hit to be 909 votes, with fees that worked out to be exactly $50. Pretty good investment I thought plus I felt I had already done pretty well in the natural voting part, I just needed something to counter the big influx of votes Donny would get from John Chow.

The Results?

Firstly, nobody knows where they stand so its all very exciting. It’s completely up to Shoemoney and his staff on how they choose a winner. I didnt do anything illegal, there are no rules stating what marketing tools can and cannot be used. But this isn’t a democracy that is going on here so my fate and that of the other marketers lies in the hands of Shoemoney and his staff.

I’m sure if someone had access to Oprah they would ask her to do a shout out for them. If that were the case all the Mturkers in the world probably wouldn’t help.

It is clear that the final portion of a competition like this is not about the quality of your entry, but about who you know, your ability to leverage marketing channels and the resources at your disposal. Much like business in the real world.

All I can say is that I really want to win this competition. I needed a paid marketing channel to stay in the game and this was the most financially viable channel to use.

Good luck to the other contestants, I hope your marketing efforts don’t work as well as mine, but if I don’t win, I hope you post about how you did so I can learn and grow.

Categories
Business

Step by Step Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant (or How I Hired my First VA)

hire virtual assistant

A few weeks ago I hired my first VA (Virtual Assistant) on OnlineJobs.ph. I have outsourced things before like development projects to Elance (now UpWork) and little bits here and there to Fiverr (which rocks, by the way, the amount of stuff you can get done for $5 is amazing) but this was my first venture into hiring a full time VA.

For those who don’t know what a VA is, here an excerpt from Wikipedia:

A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is an entrepreneur who provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients from a home office. Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits. Clients also avoid the logistical problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies.

Task list

Firstly I made a task list. I outlined all the things I knew I had to do on a regular basis and that I do not enjoy doing.  When choosing the tasks you want to outsource there are a few things you should consider. The first thing should be what you dislike the most. The more you dislike the task, the more you should want to outsource it. The second is how much it will cost to outsource. You may hate copywriting, but if you don’t want to fork out tens of thousands to get your sales material written, then you’re probably going to do it yourself.

For me, the things I outsourced for my first VA were:

  1. Article Writing. I don’t mind writing (although I do dislike editing) but I can’t stand writing about the same topic over and over, rewriting articles and writing spun articles. And this is something that needs to be done over and over. So this was high on my list.
  2. Creating profiles and submitting stuff. From articles to ebooks to software to slides. Submitting stuff is very time consuming and drives me nuts.
  3. Social media profile building. Again, not hard just monotonous and time-consuming.

There is more than enough work there for a full-time employee, and tasks like article writing can easily be expanded. There is never enough articles you are writing.

Finding staff

To find resumes I looking around the few of the job boards, but I found OnlineJobs.ph to be the best, [UPDATE: Another new one to check out is Outsourcely]. For my search criteria, all I did was type in “article writer” and sort by date so that the newer resumes came up first.

When assessing the skills that your worker needs, always make sure you target the skill that will be the hardest to train in. For me, it’s going to be much harder to teach someone how to write well than it will be to teach them how to submit to a certain site or use a certain social network so writing was the key metric I was looking for. If you are hiring a programmer, it would be their core language skill (PHP, Java) etc…

Contacting Staff

Before I started searching, I wrote up a quick email. Here it is below:

Subject: Article Writing and SEO Position for Australian Company

Hi XXXXX,

I saw your resume on OnlineJobs.ph and I’m looking for a person who can do the following:

Job Description

  • Article and Blog Post Research
  • Article Writing
  • Article Submission
  • Web 2.0 website creation
  • Ebook creation
  • Directory Submission
  • WordPress Blog Updating
  • Other Traffic Generation Strategies

I am looking for someone to work a full time position, working 9am-6pm 5 days a week, your local time.

Salary starts at $250 USD per month and goes up depending on performance

I am wondering if you are interested?

If you are, please provide the following:

  • A full copy of your resume
  • Examples of work you have done (Articles or Blog Posts)
  • Your current availability

Points included:

  • Job description
  • Working hours
  • Salary expectations
  • Request for more information

I sent this email to ~20 people.

This is the start of the screening process. Basically, you are trying to see how well they take instructions. I have already given some instructions here, and if they do not answer the above three questions correctly, they are instantly disqualified.

Some people responded asking me questions, or with just weird answers, they were instantly disqualified. A few (about 7) responded with the correct information. Those that did, I moved on to the next step.

Screening

To screen my staff, I gave them a task to complete. Again, I got this idea from Tyrone’s Mass Outsource (no longer being sold) and I am SO glad I did this step. I wouldn’t have thought of this myself, even though as a recruiter I have been extensively exposed to this method, I just didn’t think people would do it for me seeing how I’m not a big company with a solid reputation. But it was the best thing I could have done.

Here is the task I gave them:

Hi XXXX,

Thank you for your response.

To make sure you are suitable for the position, I would first like you to complete a task for me.

Please send me an email at the point you start the task, and at final email. This way I will know how long it took for you to complete the task.

Below are the instructions:

  1. Write an article of 400-500 words on the keywordEcommerce Strategies
  2. Use the following in the resource box: Finally, if you want to build an e-commerce store, you should watch the free video course on how to build an online store at eshopwiz. This will take you through the exact steps you need to build your own online store.
  3. Submit the article to the top 3 article directories
  4. Create necessary article and email accounts
  5. Forward me the directories and logins so I can check the task has been completed.

Note:

It is not necessary for the articles to be approved yet, I just want to be able to read them and see that they have been submitted correctly.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Vinay

This is what separated the superstars from the super******* people that looked good on paper that said they had all this experience doing exactly what I wanted either didn’t respond to the task or came back with very silly questions. Only two completed the task and one was exceptionally better than the other.

The idea is to give them detailed instructions, but not too detailed. I would give more details than this in a real project such as what directories to submit to, what secondary keywords to focus on etc… but for this task you want to see what they are capable of on their own.

At this point, I had 1 candidate left. So I was pretty comfortable. But for the final step, I got on the phone with her. If I had two or three left I would have done the same, but I think getting it down to three is the target I will have in the future.

The Phone Call

I have done phone screenings thousands of times as a recruiter so this wasn’t really anything new to me. What I really wanted to get a feel for was her living situation and her motivation for taking the job. Plus I wanted to weave out gaps in her resume. Without going into too much detail, green lights are things like ‘family’ and ‘long term’ with good reasons that they left their previous jobs. Red lights are ‘need money’, ‘no family’ and ‘first time’ as these show lack of stability and experience.

After she ticked lots of green light boxes, I offered her the position on the phone and she started the next day. The whole process happened over 3 days. And so far she has been great! Hiring an outsourcer is something I recommend anyone who is in a position to do, do. It drastically increases your productivity, lifts your mood and adds more structure to your business.

Categories
Travel

The Ultimate Contest – Shoemoney, Affiliate Summit and the Playboy Mansion!

Wow Oh WOW!

Could this possibly be the best possible prize, contest thingi ever to be created?

Two points, that instantly highlight the craziness of this contest:

  1. An opportunity to roll with Shoemoney at Affilaite Summit West
  2. A ticket the Epic Playboy Mansion Party

I can’t decide which one is better. I know that spending a weekend with Shoemoney will completely change my life forever. And that’s not just some “oh yay lets go and get feelings and be all emotional and see the light” warm and fuzzy life changing crap. I’m talking direct, immediate repercussions that will hockey stick my income, network, reputation and lifestyle immediately.

Buuuut, the Playboy Mansion…. This is something that has been on my “top 10 things I want to do before I die” forever like… You could have all the money in the world and not be guaranteed entry to the mansion. Well.. if you had all the money in the world you could probably get in, but you know what I mean…

The good thing is if I win this contest, I won’t have to choose! Because Shoemoney, the mad man that he is, is giving away the opportunity to win both of these fantabulous prizes in one hit! Oh he’s also chucking in some other cool bonuses like a free trip to Vegas and a $2,000 blackjack hand to sweeten the pot!

This post is my entry to said contest which you can read all about here.

Why I Deserve to Take this Puppy Home

First a bit about me.

My name is Vinay, how you doing?

A year ago I took it upon myself to redesign my life. I was 24, working in good job in Sydney as an IT Recruiter. Life was good, I was earning 6 figures, had lots of toys, but it wasn’t Shoemoney good. And I wasn’t free.

I wanted excitement, adventure, riches, travel, VEGAS!!

So I set off, off to see the world. For the last year I travelled through South East Asia, Europe and North America. But before leaving I took it upon myself to get set up with some income to help me along the way and truly achieve my goals. Having an already fairly strong background in IT and business the internet seemed the way to go.

My first endeavour was an e-commerce store which is still running strong and has been my main earner over 2010. While travelling I worked on this business and quickly learned the ways of the internet world.

Heineken Festival, Lake Balaton, Hungary

After 9 months of excessive partying like New Years in BKK, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, 4 day festivals in Hungary, the biggest nightclub in the world in Ibiza, underground raves in Amsterdam, experiences in Berlin that I will not write about publicly and much other crazyness it was time to get serious again.

Deatmau5, Ibiza, Spain

So a couple of months ago I relocated to Vancouver where I am now. I have stuck my head down doing 100 hour weeks and have got lots done. I released my first free product. My first collaborative ebook and my first paid product is currently in WSO testing. I have built niche sites like this and this. I have a full time VA and have assembled a team to produce my first app kicking off early in 2011 – no links here, this one is hush, hush. I feel I am right before tipping point and am just looking for something to push me over the edge. Rolling with Shoemoney would without a doubt be the rocket fuel that pushes me to the next level.

I wanted to move to Vancouver so I could have access to opportunities just like this. I made it to Blogworld for my first Vegas experience a few months ago which was mental but nothing compared to what I expect ASW to be! I also wanted to be in the same time zone and be closer to people who were more experienced and accomplished than me in the online world. They say you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with so I want to make sure I spend my time with people I respect and who are better, faster and stronger than me. So far so good as I met my partner for my software project here already!

Ok so why do you DESERVE to win?

Well I don’t know if I deserve to win or not, only our esteemed judged and super sexy voters will determine that. But what I do know is that I WILL maximize this opportunity to its fullest.

Some people will tell you they party hard, but few people know what partying hard really is.

Some people may tell you that they know how to be professional, but few people have pitched to Fortune 10 Investment Banks.

Some people may tell you they are serious about making it online, but few people have put in the work to learn everything they possibly can AND act on it.

Some people are applying for a free trip to Vegas, but few people understand the REAL value you are offering in this competition.

CLICK HERE

Hell, I will fly myself to Vegas for the opportunity to hang for a weekend. I don’t care about the expenses or the blackjack hand (although I REALLY want that ticket to the Playboy party!) I know the value will be far beyond the immediate material benefits of the prize.

In terms of what I can offer in return… What do you give the man who has everything?

Well, I know I can offer fun company. I can tell you that I’m an easy going guy with a steadfast positive attitude. I have oodles of interesting stories, know how to have a good time and get along with people from all walks of life. I’m also a single man with lots of experience chasing girls all around the world if that’s your kind of thing.

I can be known to give good advice but I can also be known to tell it how it is which some people don’t appreciate. In return, I prefer to be told how it is and I know Shoemoney is that kinda guy. You won’t need to tread lightly with me.

In terms of promotion: I will blog the whole experience and promote Shoemoney as the next Hugh Hefner to every good looking girl I come across for the rest of my life. I will do any type of interview or promotional campaigns you want. I will send everyone who helps me win this a personalised card filled with blue glitter and for the grand finale: If I win the blackjack bet, I will use the winnings to get the shoe money logo tattooed onto my back!!!

Yes you heard me right. John chow can even record it and post it on his blog!

By the way, I don’t have ANY tattoos so this is a pretty big deal. That’s how bad I want this. I’ve thought about it many times and have always said – if I ever get a tattoo it needs to have a good story behind it. If I’m lucky, I might have just found my story.

So please Shoemoney and his oh so very good looking staff, pick me!!

Shoemoney Logo
My Future Possible Tattoo
Categories
Business

Video Failure and a New Future – Niche Site Duel 04

This is a continuation post from the niche site duel I started earlier. Take a look at post one, two and three first if you haven’t already.

As you may have read, I started with a slightly different method of creating a niche site from the standard model that Pat and Tyrone followed in the Niche Site Duel.

Instead I was to make a series of videos to drive traffic to a squeeze page, build a list and sell products. This didnt work out so well… Maybe because I didn’t put enough work into it (probably this), maybe because the model was wrong, maybe because the niche was wrong, for whatever reason, here are some quick results:

I made 24 videos – first problem as the target was at least 50 – and you can see them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/stopsleepapnea

Stats

The videos so far have received 878 views.

From those 878 views I received about 85 visitors. ~10% CTR (Click Through Rate)

From those 85 visitors, I received 12 email sign ups to my squeeze page. ~ 14% Opt In Rate

From the 12 visitors, I have sold 1 product for a comission of $10.

Granted I only spent about 2 days in total making the squeeze page and the videos, but this is still not a great result by any standard.

Tips from Videos

I wanted to give a few tips I learned from making the videos. I have been working on projects I find much more interesting than this one, many using videos such as the free course I built on how to make an online store. So I have learned lots. And this was my first forte into video so I am glad I did it.

Video Tools:

To make these videos, I used three different tools:

  • Microsoft Powerpoint – Create a slide show (Use Open Office if you don’t have)
  • Cam Studio – Screen and audio recording
  • Windows Live Movie Maker – Editing

These are all free and easy accessible tools that anyone can use to start making videos.

For the content, I used PLR (Private Label Rights) content that you can find around the web by searching. This is basically content you can buy for really cheap and brand as your own (I spent less than $10).

Video Techniques

Few tips I want to share when making the videos.

  1. Make your videos short and varying in length
  2. Create a strong call to action at the end with clear instructions – “click on the link below and sign up to our newsletter to get xyz”
  3. Create long outros to your videos after your call to action. This means the user has less of a chance of being distracted by the related videos that pop-up and will more likely click on your link.
  4. Use Tube Mogul to distribute your videos to multiple video directories

Why did I Fail?

The main reason this project failed was not enough traffic to the videos. There are thirdly main reasons for this.

Firstly, I didnt make enough videos… If I had made 100 videos, I would have had at least 4 x the visits. Probably more because the chances of one or two of them becoming popular and getting many hits is much greater.

Secondly, I didn’t market my videos. This is huge. I didn’t build backlinks or get comments to videos thus they sailed by unnoticed.

Thirdly, I didnt pick a ‘video friendly’ niche. Sure my competition research was sound, but logically I think I was off. Sleep Apnea is not a visual topic and not many people are searching for it on YouTube. If I had picked something like Golf Swing or something more visual then I think I would have been in a better situation.

What Next?

Well, if you have visited http://sleepapneastop.com in the last few days then you may have noticed it is no longer a squeeze page (a page designed to get just name and emails like http://www.eshopwiz.com) but is now a blog.

I have decided to turn it into an auto blog cluster.

I may talk about this in the future, but for now all you need to know is there are hundreds of blogs running on it that all look like this:

http://sleepapneastop.com

http://antisnore.sleepapneastop.com/

http://cpap.sleepapneastop.com/

As usual, there is nothing better than a good failure to keep you on your toes. Besides the video marketing, I learned lots about squeeze pages, list building and a whole lot more. Plus the project is not yet dead, taking a new direction.

Oh, I also learned I don’t like learning about, reading about, talking about or making videos about sleep apnea. Thus why the auto blog route. I couldn’t stand to make more content on this subject 🙂

Categories
Business

My First Collaborative Ebook is Here!

Just a quick post to tell you about my first colaborative ebook that I released over at my other blog eshopwiz.com

This has been a great experience, I got to meet many interesting people from all different areas of business. More about the creation of this book in the near future. But for now, go check it out here!

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Business

The Launch Post – Could this be the Difference Between Life and Death?

I’m currently working on launching my new site which is a complete, free video guide to building an online store as mentioned in this post.

The site is coming along nicely with the core 7 lessons already developed, the email auto responder is set up using aweber so you get a nice email in your inbox with a link to each lesson (the lessons are delivered over 8 days). There is a blog that is coming along nicely, kind of. There are a bunch of sales pages up at the moment. I’m testing different subscription boxes. I have a sales video made, but need to make another one or two so I can have them rotating for testing by the time launch date comes… I don’t like making sales videos so I’ve been putting this off.

The site is already running, it’s been ‘soft launched’ meaning I have done some mild marketing for it and have a fair few subscribers but it’s still a little rough around the edges so need to smooth things out for the official launch.

One thing I’m very excited about is the launch article I’ve been working on. I think a post article can be very important as a solid kick start to any new site. If done properly, it could really blow out and create a viral effect. If it doesn’t work, it will result in a great post with not much traffic so either way it’s not so bad.

For my launch post I’ve been contacting influential figures in the ecommerce space and asking them this question:

“What is one unconventional piece of advice you would give someone looking to start their own ecommerce store”

So far the feedback has been exceptional! I have had feedback from a number of prominent CEOs, top bloggers and even a guy who has a radio and TV show. I won’t reveal the details just yet but there is some pretty juicy stuff. The goal here is that not only is this turning out to be a great post – which might even turn into a free eBook if I keep getting content like this – but hopefully the people I’m contacting will help me promote the article/ebook and it will go viral. I will write a post on how I went about contacting these people in the future. I cant take credit for this idea however, It was actually something I picked up from listening to this podcast between Pat Flyn (Smart Passive Income) and Corbett Barr (Think Traffic).

I plan to do some pretty hefty marketing to friends and people on my social media networks to try and get Diggs and Stumbles up. By hefty I mean one email asking them to Digg and Stumble the post. I’ve NEVER marketed to my friends before so I’m a little nervous about this, but this factor is driving me to ensure the quality of the content is as high as possible.

The whole process is turning out to be much more coordination than I originally thought. I also need to write a press release or two and push it out to the press release sites. I’ve never done that before… I just put a request up on HARO to see if I can get more contributors to my article so will see if that brings back anything useful. And I’m sure there are plenty of other things I need to do that I have either forgotten or haven’t thought of yet. Either way this post is kind of a check list for myself.

The one thing I still haven’t come close to deciding and that is super important is a title for the launch post. Without a title I’m 100% happy with, the launch isn’t happening. Because as you may know from here, here or here the headline of a post/book is the most important part. Here’s a few I just thought of:

Unconventional Advice from Ecommerce Geniuses?

Too boring…

Want Larger Breasts, a Super Model Girlfriend or a Million Bucks?

Too much?

Captains of Industry Reveal their Tips to Conquering the E-commerce World?

F*&% I don’t know… Maybe it will come to me in a dream. Got any ideas?

Categories
Business

Designing a Squeeze Page – Niche Site Duel 03

Welcome to post number 3 of my niche site challenge. As you may know from posts one and two I am participating in the niche site duel being run by Pat Flyn.

My strategy has been a little different from the traditional strategies that most of the other guys have been using. And I am not sure if I have picked the correct strategy or not, but at the very least I am learning lots which is the most important thing. Including picking up some awesome linking strategies from makemoneybuzz.

The main reason I chose this route was to experiment with video. With screen casting, driving traffic to and from videos as I am working on another project which is due to launch in a couple of weeks. I knew this and figured I should get some practice in before going full force on a project that I am more comfortable with and that has much larger potential.

The site that I have chosen is http://www.sleepapneastop.com

This was actually the first squeeze page I have ever designed right after going through some training on how to build them.

Here is what I did.

1. Installed WordPress and downloaded a free squeeze page theme from wordpresssqueezepage.com. I’m not going to show you how to install WordPress, there are plenty of guides out there including guides written up by the other participants of this competition. But if you have any questions, just ask.

2. Registered with Aweber to give me pretty email sign up (opt in) boxes and to track and manage my email campaign. Aweber is an amazing piece of software. You can build all sorts of sign up boxes, set up automated email responses, split test emails, track clicks. Basically do anything. If you are thinking of doing any sort of email marketing, get Aweber.

2. Crafted a story around my product. Taking this angle can seem a little on the morally grey side. Again, this is just an experiement. And we all know that stories sell. So I crafted a story about a guy named Peter Evans who used to suffer from sleep apnea but managed to fix it and now he has the secrets to show you how.

4. Created a small, relevant ebook that I give away for free by rewriting some content I found on the web. I think its only about 1000 words and took me a couple of hours including formatting. This gives people incentive to sign up and get the free report. People like free stuff.

5. Built the squeeze page. A few things I have picked up before and after I built the squeeze page:

  • Don’t have big flashy header images. Just have a simple, red title.
  • Make sure that your op-tin box is above the first line. The line refers to the first thing you see when the site loads up. You shouldn’t have to scroll down to see the sign up box.
  • Also, above the line should be short, punchy and with a strong call to action towards the sign up box. The aim here is to get people to enter their email addresses. Nothing else. Your headline should sell the majority of the people.
  • If a reader isn’t sold on your headline, start going down into benefits of the product, then into your story.
  • Finally try to capture with another sign up box.
  • Use a light background (which I am not doing!)
  • Split test your squeeze page using Google Website Optimiser (which I am not doing!)

As I said, this was my first squeeze page so its probably not the most awesomest thing ever. It was an interesting process and so far I have learned a lot. More experimenting to come and soon I will start to show results. Between Blogworld and my other new and exciting project, this site has been about 2% of my time so its definitely not where it should be but I still think it has potential so will keep slugging away at it slowly.

Categories
Business

Abstract Income: How to Support an Abstract Lifestyle

Recently I have been participating in the Niche Site Duel, more as an experiment than anything else. But the reason I have been playing around with things like this is I am trying to build myself a strong income stream. A stream that comes from multiple sources and ideally that can be eared from any country in the world.

To do this, I have been setting up income businesses. An income business (versus a value business) is a business that you can set up for relatively low costs, that will bring in consistent income. While many income businesses are now forming online, they dont have to be online. An example of an income business would be a cafe, restaurant or convenience store. They are never going to turn you into a billionaire, but they allow you to earn your income yet still have more control over your life (at least that’s the idea, doesn’t always work out that way as im sure many restaurant owners would argue).

Currently here in Vancouver, I am exploring the possibility of a value business. A business that has the potential to make lots of money but comes with high risk, more stress, less flexibility etc…

While I have been travelling though, I have built one online income business that has managed to make me a decent profit and is continuing to grow. This business has been an ecommerce business. The model I followed was the same as the one given in the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris, and truly does work. While it can be a bit of work initially, it does pay off in the long run.

I am launching a new site in the next couple of weeks that will be a free course to show people exactly how to build an online store. Its going to be AMAZING!

No seriously, I already have 4 hours of video content, with loads more coming. It will show you how to go from absolutely nothing, not even an idea (although if you already have a product or idea that will help) to owning your own ecommerce store.

It will include product research and selection, domain research and selection. Build the back end of your store (don’t worry, you don’t need to be a techie!) including setting up tracking and payment processing. Designing your store. Building the content. Plus building a marketing and customer retention strategy.

So make sure you subscribe over to the top right as this site is going to kick ass and be totally free!