Removing Feedburner Account

SuperAff will be removed from Feedburner shortly, so if you have the feedburner rss in your feed reader, you will no longer receive SuperAff updates. This only affects a handful of SuperAff readers so it shouldn’t be too big a change for everyone.

Change the feedburner feed to http://superaff.com/feed/rss2/ and you’ll be fixed right up no prob.

If you wish to keep your blog feed stats out of Google’s clutches, now is the time to make the move:

NOTE: Service of FeedBurner publisher accounts will not be interrupted as a result of the acquisition by Google. You will have a 14-day interim period ending June 15, 2007 to opt-out of allowing Google to service your account. If you take no action by June 15, 2007, the rights to your data will transfer from FeedBurner to Google. Opting out will terminate your user agreement with FeedBurner, permanently delete your FeedBurner account, feeds, and all related statistical data and history, and prevent the transfer of your data rights to Google. To opt-out, contact us via accountx@feedburner.com, provide your FeedBurner account Username, and request to have your FeedBurner account deleted. We will contact you at your registered email address to confirm your deletion request before completing it.

Found on the login page: Feedburner

A big kudos to the folks at Feedburner for doing the right thing :).

You’re Not Creating New Attention, You’re Stealing It

Ok maybe ‘Stealing’ is kinda harsh, but you’re definitely taking it from somewhere. When trying to come up with ways to develop hooky content and sites, it’s helpful to realize that you’re not pulling traffic and attention out of thin air. You’re actually trying to take someone’s attention from one website and directing it to your website.

Web surfers have a finite amount of time on the web:

Web Surfers Attention

What you’re trying to do is squeeze your site into their web surfing time:

Web Surfers Attention Including Your Site

What can you do on your websites that will seduce a visitor into shaving off the time they spend elsewhere and direct that time and attention to yours?

When I look at my stats and see thousands of visitors reaching a page they found in a search engine, I know there’s a website or two that I took that traffic from. The better my page is–the higher the chance that searcher stopped digging through the SERPs and stuck to my site.

When I see blog subscriptions rising and email subscriptions growing–I know that visitors will be returning to my website and spending less time on another.

Every time a page of mine is Stumbled, I just raised the bar for competitors to compete with.

That’s what being hooky is all about. Stealing, attracting and retaining attention.

Your Content Has To Have A Hook

The past couple days I’ve been rumbling around the net marketing world reading blog posts, reading forum threads, listening to podcasts and recalling the overall message that I heard when I was new to the “Let’s Make Money Online” world.

As a newbie, there are two things you have to remember:

1. Everyone who’s selling you something wants you to think you can do it. That all you have to do is put time in, whip up some content, upload affiliate links or adsense, and you’re golden.

2. Most everyone is selling you something. Whether that’s a product or themselves or building their reputation.

Here’s the truth:

At one time message #1 was valid. All you did have to do was put in time, c&p some affiliate product links & descriptions, get some links (through your friends or your own network, etc.), and you were golden. You too could be a Super Affiliate!

The first years were like that, but today–if you’re not already established–that’s not the case. The truth is to be a successful money maker online today, you have to have a few things going for you:

1. A domain that’s been around a few years (and not flagged as spam by an engine).
2. A solid network of friends that can help with the inbound links to generate buzz and establish you (or your site) with links.

If you don’t have those two things, you have to have:

3. A hook.

That’s something that I haven’t seen talked much about by the pros and the gurus. It seems today everyone is setting themselves up to be consultants or gurus whose sole purpose in life is to see you succeed. And they’ve got the ebooks and the products and the tips and the secrets to sell you that give you what you want to hear.

But no one is talking about the hook. They talk about content, good content, sometimes. But good content is relative (what’s good to you is only so-so to someone else). And even good content isn’t going to get you anywhere. No one links to good content, and links are the one thing that you HAVE TO HAVE to see any success online (unless you want to pay for traffic).

There are song writers and producers that make jillions of dollars in the music industry who are experts in developing music and songs that are ‘hooky’. They are the Go To people in the industry that shoot singers and rock bands to the stratospheres of success. Their sole mission is to take a song and adjust it until it flat out rocks so the masses glob onto it and buy the song and buy ‘into’ the singer or rock band. An example is Mutt Lange, he’s a guru in the music industry.

A hook in music is:

a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be appealing and make the song stand out; it is “meant to catch the ear of the listener” (Covach 2005, p.71). This term generally applies to popular music, especially rock music.

As a developer of content, you *must* catch the attention and interest of the visitor.

In our lingo, linkbait could be an example of a hook. But linkbait gets you attention for one thing (or page) rather than the site as a whole. An example of linkbait is providing a free tool. Yes you’ll get links, but the attention is all directed to that tool or that page. Those links will help the entire domain rise in the SERPs, but if the rest of the site has no hook to it, you’ll have to keep on developing new hooks or new tools to keep accumulating links and new traffic.

That’s why Digg traffic isn’t so hot to trot anymore. Webmasters who have been dugg realize the traffic assaults that one page–but it doesn’t move around the rest of the site over a period of time. Not many subscribers, not many clicks, not many sales. It’s a hit and run sorta deal.

No matter how focused you are and how hard you work–Today, if you don’t have aged domains or a ‘connected’ network of people/websites to work with, your content has to be hooky.

Your content, your site theme and subject, has to have a hook that visitors buy into and can’t shake off. They want to subscribe to it. They want to stumble it, They want to link to it. And if it’s a ‘persona’ you’re developing–you want your visitors to glob onto and ‘buy into’ you. They will be your evangelists and your champions.

So How Can You Hook Up Your Content?

I don’t know. I don’t think being a ‘Hook Expert’ is something you can learn from someone or buy. I don’t think it’s any one thing. You can create ‘Hook Pages’ like controversial posts or providing free tools or a massive reference list that is useful, but the site as a whole?

I’m looking at one of my ‘newer’ sites that hasn’t gone anywhere since I started it. I know it’s got the makings of being a money maker and had complete faith in it. But over time it’s been a ghost town and I realized that although the concept behind it is a keeper, the presentation or the way the site is being developed has no hook to it. There’s nothing exciting or linkable about it. There’s no hook.

Out of nowhere the site was stumbled and although I am enjoying thousands of visitors hitting the site, I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t get a chance to hook the place up first. Without a hook, the site has big holes that won’t retain the juicy Stumble traffic.

Another newer site of mine is hooky and is enjoying attention and links and subscribers and all that good stuff–but that comes from instinct. What I knew would work with a certain crowd and how it was presented.

How To Be Hooky? Know your market. Stand out from the crowd. Trust your instincts. Be ‘cool’ in some way. Just ‘good content’ doesn’t cut it anymore, at least not if you’re new with an unestablished site.

How To Cloak Affiliate Links & Click Tracking With PHP

Here’s a sweet bit of code I found to not only cloak affiliate links with php, but also count the clicks:

Hiding Links With PHP and Counting Clicks with MySQL

The nice thing about this bit of code is that you can add an unlimited amount of links to the one file. I’ve set this up (5 minute job) and it works like a dream. If you know how to create a database, you’ll have this up and running lickety split.

I do a little bit of everything when it comes to link cloaking. I’ve used script programs (can be a bit clunky), .htaccess redirects, domain redirects, javascript methods (doesn’t work for non-javascript browsers), other bits & pieces of code. I’m really liking this code though so I’m going to give it a shot.

Perks:

  • You don’t have to buy a link cloaker/click tracker for *each* domain. This is a free solution, simply install the script for each site if you like.
  • Redirects & tracks more than one link at a time.
  • You could also install this on one single domain and use it as your own personal tinyurl for all your sites. Potential problem with that idea: it will be easy to trace all the domains in your network.

To view your click counts, you just have to go into phpmyadmin, select the database, select the linkcount table and then browse–each link name and count is displayed.

If you want to prevent the search engines from spidering those links (does Google view affiliate links as paid links?), just block them in robots.txt with:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /redirect-filename-you-used.php

That is all it takes. From here you may want to write a front-end to display your click results or you could even display the count next to the specific link in your sites navigation menu to rank the most popular outgoing links.

Maybe if we harrass studge.com we can get him to whip up that front end too for us non-codeheads so we don’t have to dig around in phpmyadmin :P. If you use his code, why not drop him a comment or a link as thanks, it’s a keeper.

ETA: Patrick pulled through with some more code–wooohooo! You’ll find the code to view the stats here: Displaying Click Counts with PHP and MySQL. Works GREAT, a big thanks to Studge.com!

Update: For WordPress users, there’s this handy plugin that will auto-cloak keywords that you set inside the WordPress admin panel (watch video to see how it works).

Web Properties & The Martha Stewart Factor

Around the time Martha went public there were concerns about the Martha Stewart Living brand being able to hold up if there were ‘No Martha’. What happens to investors when Martha dies? Retires? Or if she’s dragged down in public opinion (this was “Before Scandal”). It was questioned whether the brand was so tied to Martha as a person, would it still be able to produce and hold onto the market share it enjoyed?

It was a big hurdle for her to overcome and convince investors that yup, the brand she built was golden. She did it and was a smash on Wall Street when Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public (love ya Martha!).

Fast forward in time: Stock plummeted when Martha’s scandal hit and she went to jail. Although it hasn’t fully recovered, and is quite a bit lower in value than it was, I think MSO stock has proven it can endure regardless of Martha being in the picture or not. Martha did indeed build a ‘real brand’, but it definitely was tied to her as a person as well. It was an interesting lesson to observe.

Here’s how the above relates to you: How about your domains? Your blog? Your list? Are they tied too closely to YOU? Is the brand YOU? When the ‘persona’ you worked so hard to establish moves on, would the brand or domain you dropped sweat over still hold value, or be as valuable? Will the traffic likely move on when you do? Or would the traffic stay regardless of who ran the show?

Have you asked yourself: What happens in 5 years? Are you planning on blogging consistently as you are until the day you die? What happens if disaster strikes and you need to sell now to raise money? Are you building for ‘saleability’, just in case?

Aside from a personal blog, SuperAff is the one and only blog that’s tied to me (personality). I’m here to build and develop properties into something of real value, properties that will be worth something. I’m not here to build ME.

  • Will your web property traffic shrink or grow or stay the same if you sold it?
  • Is your web property worth less if you’re not attached to it?

If you realize your persona is tied too closely to a domain, you could temper that and ease out gradually over time with guest or paid staff contributions. Withdraw into more of an ‘editor’ position, but that takes a lot of time to mold and there are no guarantees the visitors will buy it and stick. Especially if they smell something in the works. Sometimes you ARE the brand and nothing else will do.

Bottom Line: You can’t go wrong creating and developing a property that’s good to go for the next 5, 10, 15 years. With or without you.

Hey, Is Two Years In Your Plan?

Print and Pin: How to: Build an Affiliate Site You Can Sell for $1M.

I think the quick cash methods, the building for serps plan, the MFA sites, the thin affiliate sites…they can be good starts for the beginner because there are plenty of net-life-lessons involved. Examples:

Serps crashes
Adsense clicks dropping in value
Click rate drops (ad blindness)
Adwords costs getting pricier/more competitive
Duplicate content burns
Crappy converting merchants
Burns from the all-eggs-in-one-basket thing

I also think the idea of building a million dollar website can be poo-poo’d by those who haven’t built their net muscles up a bit. But if you keep at it long enough–at some point, you do learn the lessons the quickies above have to offer you. And from the people getting rich off of selling the it’s-so-easy-dream to you.

When you get to the point that you can’t ignore those lessons, one of two things will happen. You either walk away from it all–discouraged–or you turn your attention to higher ground. And you realize the experiences you gained just might provide you with enough talent/knowledge/assets to really build something special.

Is it too late to start building a full time income online? (bolding mine)

Many people feel that all the good ideas are taken or that they are earning just a fraction of what is needed to make a full time income online and it is natural to look inwards at times and question your own commitment and ability to come out the other side of a long road, and it is a long road. Granted there are large success stories that have surged in a short period of time but aside from them, the majority of webmasters should be prepared for a 12-24 month investment before seeing good financial rewards from their website or blog.

This year continues to be strong for me. Key focus points of mine: Patience, Consistency, Focus, Discipline. I’m not even thinking about cash right now. The driving force is all about creating net spaces that visitors want to return to, find value in and talk about. Thankfully, I have a little bit of thin stuff from my beginner days that still churn & are funding the adventure ;).

ETA:

Eeeps, forgot to include: Is Your Site Defensible? A 10 Point Quiz

  • 1-3 yes’s: You’re fucked. Probably better and easier to start a new Web site that has a more defensible idea behind it than to fix the old site. In the meantime the old site can sit as an (indefensible) passive revenue stream. (It may also be a good candidate to unload at Sitepoint.)
  • 4-6 yes’s: Your site is like most quality Web sites–you have some defensible traits, but still a Google penalty and Adsense booting (or equivalent) would likely cut your earnings by a very high percentage. Even most quality Web sites are fairly vulnerable.
  • 7-10 yes’s: Congratulations, you don’t just have a Web site, you have a real, saleable business.