My Online Affiliate Programs

Just a quick post on the affiliate partner schemes I’m on, influenced after attending a course recently on selling digital products and generating a passive income online. I’m with most of them a while now, some are useful, others almost pointless but you never know when they might kick off!

Google AdSense

The oldest of my affiliate schemes and not a great income anymore but still worthwhile if you have a website or 2 with decent traffic. The trick here is to add the AdSense code to highly trafficked blog posts, ie not your site’s front page but rather individual posts where the visitors are likely to be more relevant and more likely to click contextual ads.

Tribulant

These are a South African web development company who specialise in building some excellent commercial and free WordPress plugins, many of which I use myself on here and on other sites of mine. Their’s is my best performing affiliate system and pays a few online bills for me monthly. They offer a generous 30% payout and have a tiered affiliate system which means if someone signs up with them under my affiliate account, I make money on their sales too!

Themeforest

This is a directory of website templates and where I get most of my designs for client websites. I’ve found their designs to be the best around and they offer 30% payouts too.

Gravity Forms

An excellent forms plugin for wordpress that handles all kinds of functionality from basic contact forms to user registration, payments and post submission.

Bullguard

My computer protection software of choice. It effortlessly handles anti virus, firewall, spam, phishing, backup etc..and has only a small effect on pc performance. Everything’s automated too.

Template Monster

I’m not actively using this site any more for site designs because I think their templates have been well surpassed by others but it was always a decent affiliate scheme for me. You can buy items from your own affiliate account and get the discounts!

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is probably the leading online even management and ticket registration site. You can advertise your event and take credit card payments for bookings, issue tickets, put code widgets on your site to show event info and booking forms and more.

Please leave a comment if you use a decent affiliate scheme not mentioned here.

Leon

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Not Who You Know or Who Knows You but Who Likes You!?

I think some new definitions and thinking are in order for continued successful business branding via Social Networking sites these days. I reckon it’s time to go back to basics.

Dead to me are the people who post the same kinda boring business stuff in a never ending, automated looking stream. 52 ways to do this, 25 tips for doing that..it’s presumed we all have the time to read through a pile of shite like that when all we need is the one best way! A lot of people who post in this way are one way only, ie – they don’t converse or reply half the time or at all and to me they violate the very definition of “Social Networking”, ie – to BE SOCIABLE & INTERACT.

Perhaps larger, corporate companies can be expected to post in this way, after all it would be kinda hard for them to become ‘friendly’ with you and people probably wouldn’t expect it but for small companies and sole traders in particular, I think they should be selling themselves and creating valuable relationships far more than pushing their products.

So how do you sell yourself? Ever tried making a friend online or off? That’s all you need to do really. The kind of stuff that most people think is utter drivel on Facebook or Twitter, ie – what you had for dinner, pics of your pets, etc..is precisely the kind of stuff that people SHOULD be posting I think. There’s a more limited audience for your business stuff but the larger populace can all identify with food, pets, kids, current affairs, topical stuff etc so why not post about the average everyday stuff people do and think about? I bet you’ll get more interaction from more people.

Which is more interesting and likely to create interaction & connection?

What's More Interesting?

 

I’ll use myself as a case study. From the start of my social media adventures I’ve always tried to be opinionated, funny, interesting, different. I didn’t have this grand plan at the start but I noticed as I went along that the allegedly mundane, non-business posts attracted much more feedback and commenting. For example, if I post up pictures of my kids being cute on Facebook you may ask, what the hell has that got to do with what I’m selling? Answer: Most people, have kids, like kids, were kids and can identify with you straight away, perhaps forming an opinion about you as being someone who loves their kids, wants to show them off, is sane enough to have kids, etc..oh and look, he’s a web designer. I’ll remember him when I need one.

Today, I think it’s all about standing out from the crowd and selling your personality, opinions and knowledge, interacting with people and only very subtly if at all, mentioning what you do the odd time. If you make yourself interesting enough, people will probe further to find out more about you and what you do so have that information handy in the background. I think people crave interaction and love to give their opinions. The success of Facebook is proof of that so tap into it, interact with people, get known, get liked and get business.

You’re more memorable when you’re liked, not just known.

Leon

Website and Wordpress Security

Unfortunately this post has been prompted by my own security scare! The problem, which surfaced yesterday seemed to center around the .htaccess file in the root directory of client WordPress powered sites. A hacker managed to exploit a file permissions vulnerability in this file in a pile of sites which basically allowed him/her/it to inject some code in there, redirecting any site visitor to http://r1estudio.com/cabanas with the following slightly pointless message:

Hack

I had a habit of setting the permissions on the .htaccess file to 666 which is the lowest permission I could give it and still enable WordPress to write things like Permalink, Cache & Mobile configuration to the file. Trouble is I never changed back once I had WordPress configured. The ideal permission for that file seems to be 644 which should stop anything editing it.

The .htaccess and wp-config files happen to be quite important in WordPress so make sure yours can’t be written to. As usual, you learn the hard way.

The same goes for all sites, whether WordPress powered or not. Watch your file permissions and passwords!

Leon.

Bullguard Internet Security

The second of the all in one PC security suites I tried out turned out to be the winner, no further experimentation required with any other software. This one did everything I expected and needed straight away. Continue reading Bullguard Internet Security

How Do YOU Come Across Online?

Several online acquaintances were kind enough recently (I didn’t ask them!)  to offer me some super critical feedback on how they saw my Social Networking and Branding efforts online. From their ‘comfortable distances’ they pointed out the flaws in some of the things I say in my Twitter and Facebook feeds and advised me to desist from certain activities. Having relatively recently ‘found my voice’ and style so to speak through things like Twitter and Facebook among others, and feeling fairly confident that what I was saying on these sites was generally interesting, enlightening, funny or useful to my audience in some small way at least, I wasn’t too happy with this criticism and it came as a bit of a shock..

I can’t say for one second that it’s going to make me censor myself online and I hope to continue saying it like it is, calling people out, alerting people to good and bad service from companies, occasionally cursing when needed and calling a spade a spade but it at least made me aware that I should try imagine how I sound to others. With just a little ‘out of body’ thought, you might realise that the largely IT/Techy crowd on Twitter don’t necessarily want to hear about your cat or that family and friends on Facebook don’t want to be bombarded with businesses stuff. ‘Know your audience’ and tell them what they want or need to hear seems like apt advice.

My moral is basically this – think before you speak, brand yourself and your business as honestly and effectively as you can but if you feel something needs to be said, say it. And if you are being honest to yourself and your gut instinct then you should eventually gain the majority’s respect. The rest can fuck off!!

Leon

Online PR and Press Releases

Something interesting and unexpected happened me recently (like yesterday!). I built a new website last week and, as you do, tried to promote it best I could a few days after it went live. I used the usual channels, ie – wrote a blog post here and on my other sites about it, Facebook, Twitter, etc..I also decided to submit a press release for free through IrishPressReleases.ie which I’ve done a few times previously for some of my other sites but without any great effect. That press release got picked up by a prominent Irish Technology News service Silicon Republic who deemed it worthy to republish on their site pretty much in it’s entirity complete with images and web links, both to the new site and my main Reverb Studios one.

Silicon Republic publish all their stories on Twitter to (currently) 3,727 followers and also to their Facebook page. The Twitter side of it is what interested me most. They also include a “Retweet this” button on their articles and the article about my new site has been retweeted by 12 different people so far. Drilling down a little I was able to find these people’s Twitter url’s and see how many people in turn followed them. The follower numbers ranged from 59 to 12,300.

By my very rough calculations, I’m guessing in the region of 27,000 people worldwide on twitter alone have been potentially exposed to Silicon Republic’s article so far and by extension, to both my new site and this one and all for about 15 mins writing the original press release! You wont get that with an ad in the local paper!

Here’s my Google stats for the day:

Google Analytics

Leon.

Protecting Your Brand

I was reminded recently why it’s important to keep an eye on what people are saying about you, your business and brand, especially online where people say what they like a lot of the time (me included!). A follower of mine on Twitter and fellow web designer had some time on his hands one Saturday evening and decided to let me and a large client of mine know that the site I built for them used an off the shelf template. His tone suggested that I’d done something wrong by using an existing template and not telling anyone or crediting the original template creators. He misread my footer link on the clients site, thinking it said “a Reverb Studios Designed blog” when in fact it said “a Reverb Studios Design blog”, quite different things really! I used an outdated and freely available template, heavily customised and modernised it both back end and front and felt I didn’t have to credit the original designer for these reasons. Something which on reflection, I’ve now changed and included a credit to them just in case.. I also didn’t charge the client an arm and a leg for a custom designed site from scratch, instead charging my usual budget price so I don’t believe I done anything wrong.

The consequence of ignoring or not spotting this kind of thing is that negativity about your company can spread quite quickly and damage your brand and future earning potential. It was made easy for me on this occasion as the moaner in question communicated his imagined problem to me at the same time as my client but things will not always be that easy. Apart from keeping a very close eye on things like your Twitter and Facebook streams, you can also use an excellent service like Google Alerts to let you know when you’re mentioned or when someone links to your site.

If you know stuff was said about you in public then do the best thing you can and defend yourself there too.

Leon.