Artificial Intelligence Content Writing – Using Jasper

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Artificial intelligence content writing is revolutionizing the way people write content for their blog, website, or other online properties. I tools can produce content in a wide range of styles and formats, from short sentences to long-form articles, thus freeing up more time for you to focus on other tasks. With AI content creation, you can have a computer do a lot of the preliminary work for you as soon as you feed it with the basic outline of what you need.

You know that content is king

As a business owner, marketer, or blogger you know that content is king. You need to produce high-quality content regularly to keep your website looking fresh, attract new customers, and retain the ones you have. It needs to be relevant content that the search engines will notice and rank to such a degree that your site attracts organic traffic.

But who has time for all that writing? It takes hours for human writers to write entire articles from start to finish. It takes even more time to carry out the keyword research and then review the final article to ensure that the search engine optimization is finely tuned for the chosen keywords and phrases and the target audience.

You can outsource the task but what you save in time will cost you in hard cash. If you hire content creators to write articles for you then you can expect to pay approximately £160.00 / $218.00 for a 2,000-word blog post.

Fortunately, there’s a new way to help with the writing process and produce content: AI content creation.

The Problem: Writer’s Block. The Solution: Jasper AI Content Generation

Why do we need AI copywriting tools?

Because you want to write great content and you don’t have the time or resources for creating content at the rate and the quality that digital content needs to be if it has any chance of attracting traffic. AI tools can help.

This post was produced using the AI tool Jasper (formerly known as Jarvis). Jasper didn’t write the whole thing but he did create the framework and generate enough of it for me to edit and complete the entire article.

AI tools create content for all kinds of tasks. They are not just a niche article writer. They can help with your entire process.

Here is a selection of the templates that Jasper provides in addition to automating creation that will kickstart your next 2,000-word blog post:

  • Expanding and improving existing content
  • Creating original and effective social media ads
  • Creating original and effective social media posts
  • Creating original and informative product descriptions
  • Generating content ideas when writer’s block sets in
  • Creating titles and meta descriptions that search engines notice
  • Create output based on the AIDA or PAS frameworks

Jasper can produce a wide range of content in a variety of styles and formats, from short sentences to long-form articles. He is an AI writer and content creator that mimics human language and can write in any number of styles; casual, professional, funny, excited to name a few.

Natural Language Generation

Natural language generation (NLG) has emerged with the advent of machine learning and AI tools. NLG or natural language processing is the process of having a computer generate text that reads as if it were written by a human.

This can be done in several ways, but the most common is to use a corpus (a large body of text) to learn how real humans write and then use that information to generate text that mimics their style.

There are many applications for NLG, from customer service chatbots that can handle basic inquiries to websites that generate entire articles based on your preferences. NLG can also be used for more creative purposes, such as generating poetry or song lyrics.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a process where computers are taught how to learn from data. This is done without being explicitly programmed and allows the computer to improve its performance over time.

In the context of content writing, machine learning can be used to improve the quality and accuracy of your content. It can also help you to come up with new and unique content ideas, based on the data that you provide.

Predictive Analytics

AI is making it possible to take all of the data that has been collected and use it to make predictions about future events. This is done by training algorithms in the process fo analyzing large data sets to find patterns that can be used to predict future outcomes. Predictive analytics is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, including content generation.

When it comes to content generation, predictive analytics can be used to determine what kind of content is likely to be most popular with your audience. It can also be used to generate titles and headlines that are more likely to get attention. And, once you have created your content, predictive analytics can be used to help you track how well it is performing. All of this is done without any human intervention, making it easier than ever to create all types of content.

In today’s world, where attention spans are short and the number of stories that people need to be aware of is overwhelming, it is more important than ever for marketers and business owners to be able to produce relevant content quickly and efficiently.

Example output from Jasper

Jasper is my AI tool of choice for the tasks I’ve covered in this post. As a test, I gave Jasper one command, to describe himself, and the following paragraphs were what he produced within seconds:

I’m Jasper, a content writer, and marketer. I’ve been working in content for several years now, and I’ve seen first-hand how AI content writing is changing the landscape. It’s amazing to think that you can now outsource your content creation to a computer and that it can produce content in a wide range of styles and formats.

One of the great benefits of using AI content writing is that you can get a lot of work done very quickly. You can provide the computer with a basic outline of what you need, and it will take care of the rest. This leaves you with more time to focus on other tasks, such as marketing or social media.

In my opinion, AI content generating is one of the best ways to produce content online. The computer can work much faster than a human, meaning you get results faster. It can also produce content in a wide range of styles and formats. Another benefit is that it typically requires little oversight because the computer knows what it’s doing! This means you can trust your computer to do a great job and get on with other tasks.

An important benefit of using AI content writing is that it typically requires little oversight because the computer knows what it’s doing! This means you can trust your computer to do a great job and get on with other tasks.

One drawback of AI content generation is that it can only produce content on a very limited range of topics. It’s great for producing short blog posts or social media updates, but not so good for writing more in-depth and long-form articles. However, this is changing: some programs can now write longer content also, and I expect them to get better over time.

As you can see from the above content quality, we’re not talking about an AI writer that’s going to put an author or seasoned journalist out of a job, but we can use tools like Jasper to create automated content that gives us the foundation on which to build written content and to come up with blog ideas.

The training and video explanations are excellent

What does Jasper know?

By the end of 2019, Jasper had read 10% of the entire world wide web. Consider for a moment just how much data that entails. All the data that Jasper has seen enables his AI to type out automatically generated content that is clear and understandable.

Using an AI tool in this way is the process of blending human intelligence and creativity with machine learning. The result is content generation that is quicker, cheaper, and more efficient.

Just a few of Jasper’s many templates

Benefits of AI Tools for your content strategy

Everyone would like to have an advanced niche article writer in their team or better still, be one themselves. That’s not realistic for most of us but we can use AI content marketing tools that are programmed to produce relevant content based on the results of keyword research.

Content marketers can then optimize this, publish it, and analyze the results, adjusting their content marketing efforts based on the analytics.

As they analyse data, those already using AI powered content generation have noticed a sharp uptick in the statistics as their content strategy pays off.

Who can use AI content creation tools?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) content writing is still a relatively new field, but it’s growing in popularity as more and more people discover the benefits of using it. AI content writing can be used by just about anyone, for any purpose. Whether you’re a blogger, business owner or student, AI content generators can help you save time and produce content for your blogs and social media pages.

Some of the people who benefit the most from AI content writing include:

Bloggers: If you’re tired of spending hours trying to think of content ideas and writing blog posts, let AI take care of some of the creation process for you.

Businesses: Writing website copy, blog posts, and other content can be a daunting task. AI tools can help you streamline this process and produce better results in less time.

Content marketers: AI tools are an excellent addition to your content marketing toolbox. You can use tools like Jasper to create things like Google and Facebook ads, Google Business profile updates, headlines, and emails. Your content marketing strategies will benefit immensely from using such tools.

YouTubers: Stimulate your video script writing process by using AI powered tools to create video scripts, titles, and descriptions.

Students: If you suffer from writer’s block or need to meet a deadline on an assignment, using an AI-powered tool may provide the structure and inspiration you need to get the job done faster.

Add a title, an article brief, some keywords, and set the tone of voice. Then click compose.

Drawbacks to using AI

AI-generated content is not yet at the standard of literary classics or the output from a seasoned journalist. It cannot be relied upon to produce award-winning copy. While AI tools can be a great time-saver, there are some drawbacks to using them.

First, the computer may not always produce content that is up to your standards, or those of your client. It’s not a fire and forget process. You need to be an editor and proofreader.

Second, AI powered tools are not a substitute for your content marketing skills. Look upon them like any other tools. When used correctly they’ll be of huge benefit but you need to invest time in learning how to use them well. You’ll still need to do your keyword research and content marketing with the finished results of your content generation.

Third, as with all tools, there is a learning curve involved when it comes to getting the most out of them. When you start using Jasper, for example, you may be slightly overwhelmed by the number of features and how to use them. This isn’t really a drawback but you will need to invest a little time and effort by working through the bootcamp. Better still, go for the Jasper certification to verify your progress in learning how to use this tool.

Finally, if you rely too much on automation, you may find the standard of your output declining. Use them to boost your creativity, not to replace it. AI content generators are great and they are evolving, but for the moment they still need human writers to guide the output and add the finishing touches.

Ways to enhance your business/blogging habits with AI tools

There are several ways in which you enhance your business or blogging habits using these tools:

1. Use a content generation tool alongside your creativity, editing, and proofreading skills.

2. Use an AI-assisted editing tool (e.g. Grammarly) to help you polish your content before publishing it.

3. Creat content in a few clicks while your chosen tool is integrated with an SEO tool like Surfer SEO.

4. Integrate AI into your content marketing strategy to create more personalized and targeted content.

5. Use AI to monitor your website traffic and performance and make decisions about what content works best.

FAQs about AI content creation

1. What is it?

It’s the process of using a software program based upon natural language processing to create content for publication online in a variety of ways.

2. How does it work?

The user conducts some keyword research and makes choices based on their content strategy. The user then employs the content creator software to generate the basic content for the blog post, advert, video script etc.

3. What are the benefits of using AI content writing?

AI generated content saves business owners, webmasters, YouTubers, and bloggers time, effort, and money giving them more time to spend on their content strategy.

4. How can I get started with AI content writing?

Sign up for a free trial with Jasper and try it for yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Conclusion

Machine learning and natural language processing have revolutionized the way people write content for their blogs, website, or other online properties. This type of software can produce content in a wide range of styles and formats, from short sentences to long-form articles; to give you more time to focus on other tasks. The benefits of such processing power are vast.

AI content writing is not just for professional writers. Anyone with an internet-connected device can take advantage of this technology. Whether you’re a small business owner who wants to save time on creating website content or you’re a student who needs help with papers and essays, AI content writing can help.

The only drawbacks are that the quality of the output may not always be perfect, and you will likely need to do some editing yourself. Secondly, since AI is still learning how to write like humans, the tone and style of the content may not always be what you want. You will need to give clear instructions and modify your guidance as the article develops.

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Jasper – The Best AI Tool For Content Writing

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What’s the best AI tool for content writing?  I’m going to answer that question from the point of view of affiliate marketing.

Are you struggling to create enough content for your affiliate marketing idea?  What’s the most important tool you need to have if you’re to become a successful affiliate marketer?

Affiliate marketing has been around for years and there are those for whom it is their main source of income while others use it to support their income made elsewhere.

Affiliate marketing is one of those money making methods that has low start up costs and which can be scaled according to the time and energy available. 

Then there are many more people who try affiliate marketing and fail.  They start out with the dream of creating a source of passive income only to find, months later, that they’ve earned only a fraction of what they’ve spent.

It’s very easy to spend a few hundred dollars each month on subscriptions to tools that you think you need only to find that you’re only earning a few dollars in income from your affiliate marketing efforts.

Spending $297 on subscriptions each month when your affiliate sales are only $27 per month is a recipe for failure and despondency.  You need to prioritize and I’m about to explain why there’s only one tool you need at the start.  

I have also tried and failed in some areas but I’ve enjoyed some success in affiliate marketing too, and I’d like to share with you some tips that will help you to save time and money.

I’m not going to describe what affiliate marketing is in this post.  Presumably you’re here because you already know the basics.  If not, here’s a beginner’s guide. For now though, you just want to know how to be successful at it.

Let’s break it down into the two main areas that are the key to success and the reason why so many people fail at affiliate marketing.

What’s your affiliate marketing niche subject?

First, there is the niche.  

You’ll often hear people say that you should choose a niche that interests you, or better still, that is something you’re passionate about.  That’s all very well but if your main interest is something that doesn’t attract people looking for products and services related to your niche then you’re not going to generate many affiliate sales.  

You might succeed in attracting traffic but if the site visitors are looking for information only and are not on the verge of buying something then the revenue will be minimal.  You might be able to generate some Adsense income but that’s about it.

The other option is to choose a niche that is popular throughout the year, that has medium to low competition, and which contains plenty of products and services to promote.  This is a much better idea but it comes with one big drawback which is the fact that you’re going to have to somehow create tens of thousands of words of copy about this subject, and if it’s not one that interests you then that’s going to be hard.

How do you create the content?

The second biggest obstacle to success in affiliate marketing is content generation.  Many people start out by creating a website, adding 30 or so posts that they’ve written themselves, optimizing it all for the search engines, share the posts in social media, and then sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Only it doesn’t happen, so they write more posts and repeat the process.  Months later, after many hours spent writing articles and diligently completing the SEO work their reward is just one or two sales or none at all.

If they can’t write the content themselves they may outsource the task to a content writing service, but of course that incurs more expenditure.  Paying for content isn’t cheap and you need a lot of traffic to a site to generate affiliate income that will cover the cost of having the content produced for you.

The sales they generate might be all the encouragement they need to keep going but on the other hand many will simply admit defeat, abandon their websites, and start looking for another side-hustle, some other way to make some money online.  

Best AI Tool For Content Writing

What if I told you that there’s one tool that will not only drastically reduce the amount of time you spend writing your first batch of content but will help you to maintain the momentum, to keep creating copy, and lead you to affiliate marketing success?

That tool is Jasper.  Jasper is one of a new breed of tools that uses AI to generate content.  

Now, if you’re not familiar with this idea, stick with me.  We’re not talking about a one-click push-button tool that churns out sub standard content or which plagiarises the output of others.  

Think of Jasper as a writing partner.  

Imagine that you’re sitting at your desk, staring out of the window or wasting time checking social media, waiting for the inspiration to get on with that 1,500 blog post you know you have to write.

Jasper is the tool that will focus your attention and get you started.  It’s an AI tool that unblocks writer’s block and writes paragraphs for you which you can then edit and rearrange to create the article.  

Jasper solves both of these problems that I described above.

Jasper doesn’t care about the niche. He’ll write about anything with a consistent level of enthusiasm.  Jasper has read over 10% of the entire world wide web so he can write about niches that interest you and those you find dull.

My advice to anyone thinking of trying affiliate marketing or who has already started and is thinking of giving up, try Jasper .

When you’re starting out you don’t need SEO tools and keyword research tools.  Yes, they work and they’re very useful but if you don’t already have the income to cover the cost of these subscriptions then you’ll have to wait until you can afford them.

The one thing you do need when you’re starting out or your affiliate income is low is content.  You need to consistently produce content that is of sufficient quality that it will attract organic traffic.  

Jasper is a powerful tool and you need to apply some study and practice to get the best of him.  This is a partnership and your end of the bargain is to learn how to use Jarvis to his full potential.  You can’t blame him for not producing if you don’t give him clear instructions. So make sure you work through the bootcamp.

Get Started With Jasper

  1. Take out a trial subscription to Jasper. It’s just $29 per month for the starter package and $59 pm for ‘Boss Mode’.
  2. Go through the bootcamp
  3. Generate your first few articles

I’m confident that if you go through those three steps you’ll be impressed with the results and enthused by the potential.  

You’ll feel your enthusiasm for affiliate marketing renewed and you’ll suddenly realise that with Jasper’s help you too can at last look forward to some passive income from affiliate marketing. 

That’s what I found and that’s why I’m now producing more content for several of my sites as well as for clients.  

Once your fresh articles have borne fruit you can re-invest that income into the SEO and keyword research tools of your choice.  

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Online Book Arbitrage with Zen

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Book flipping, or online book arbitrage, is another business idea that takes advantage of the data that Amazon freely supplies.  When analysed this data can be presented in ways that enable users to make buying decisions, but what is online book arbitrage?

Note:  This post is written from the point of view of someone trying and testing these techniques i.e. me.  I’m currently invested in this model and spending several hours a week on it.  It’s not just another post pretending to be a review in order to encourage visitors to click through affiliate links although of course it does contain such links.

Before we begin let’s summarise the various processes available to us for selling on Amazon. 

Amazon Seller Terms

FBM (Fulfilled By Merchant or MF – Merchant Fulfilled).  The seller (merchant) sends the goods to the customer. By doing so they save on Amazon’s storage and handling fees but they also have to deal with all returns and customer service.

FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon).  The seller sends the goods to Amazon.  By doing so they avoid having to deal with all the returns and customer service but they pay Amazon fees for this service.  The goods are stored at an Amazon centre and dispatched to the customer from there.  

Retail Arbitrage

Retail Arbitrage.  Buying products from other retailers then offering them for sale on Amazon. This involves visiting shops in person so there are the additional overheads of time, travel, and parking but if the bargains are only available in these locations then the profit may justify the additional expenses.

Online Retail Arbitrage.  Buying products from other online retailers then offering them for sale on Amazon.  All done from your laptop or PC.

Now let’s summarise these two methods again but only for books.

Book Arbitrage

Book Arbitrage.  Buying books from charity shops (thrift stores), library sales, car boot sales, and other places that sell used books.  

Online Book Arbitrage.  Buying books from online retailers (including Amazon) and selling them on Amazon at a profit.

You can of course mix both retail and online arbitrage.  There’s nothing to stop you from buying from thrift and retail stores and also buying goods for resale online.

In either case the merchant has the option of having the books delivered to a prep centre for checking, storage, labelling, and onward delivery to Amazon.  

This means that it’s possible for someone to buy and sell books without ever having to handle one themselves.  It’s an ideal business model for those who have limited space and who want a business that is low risk and scalable.  

Using prep centres means that you can buy and sell in the USA or UK wherever you happen to live.  All it takes is to open an Amazon Seller account in each location.  This will incur a small monthly fee which needs to be taken into account when it comes to your gross profit from sales.

So, now that we’ve clarified the terms and the methods let’s look at the tools available to us.

Zen Arbitrage Software

Having evaluated both eFlip and Zen Arbitrage I have opted for the Zen Arbitrage software. In my view Zen Arbitrage is the superior product for several reasons not least of which are:

  • Better analysis of the data and presentation of the results
  • Better training resources in both video and text
  • Speed of results generated from the database

The explanations in the Zen Arbitrage videos are clear and concise and this is essential if you’re new to online book arbitrage as scanning the data and making the buying decisions can seem complicated at first.  

Online Book Arbitrage Business Model

In order to generate any meaningful profit you’re going to need to invest a few hundred pounds or dollars.  The only way you can scale this business up is if that investment generates sufficient profit that enables you to compound it.  

So if you buy 50-100 books and they don’t sell then you’re going to quickly become demoralised and doubtful about your ability to make the right choices.  On the other hand, those first few sales will be all the encouragement you need to keep going and scale up.

It’s therefore essential that you keep a sense of perspective and don’t rush into this idea without going through the explainer videos in detail.  Slow and steady at first will reap rewards later on.

Some say that the online book arbitrage is best only for textbooks and that these are seasonal with the peak months of January/February and August/September.  However, while there clearly is higher demand at these times they do continue to sell throughout the year.  It should also be borne in mind that other books, particularly non-fiction, sell well too.

What we’re dealing with here is another example of supply and demand but the single most important reason that this business model works is because of Amazon’s millions of Prime customers.

Opportunities Generated By Amazon

Over the past two decades Amazon has acquired millions of customers.  These people are willing to pay more for products that are available elsewhere at lower prices simply because Amazon has made the checkout process so simple and the delivery process so efficient that it satisfies the demand for near instant gratification.

This presents us with an opportunity.  If a book is for sale on Amazon and the demand for this book is high enough then stock will gradually diminish.  If you offer the same book for sale at the same price and your stock is stored at Amazon then eventually your copy will sell.  Not only that, as all that stock sells then those who offer the book for sale at a higher price will eventually sell their copies too.

So if you can find and buy copies of these books that sell well then those that are used ( By used we mean acceptable, good, or very good condition) will sell too at the higher prices as long as the order is fulfilled by Amazon.  One click ordering and next day or same day delivery drives sales. 

If this business idea interests you then I suggest you take advantage of the Zen Arbitrage 14 day trial offer.  Work through the videos, try the software, and ask questions.  Make good use of those 14 days.  

Other Arbitrage Tools

Another tool you can use to carry similar and additional checks on your potentional purchases is BuyBot Pro.

Some of the checks BBP carries out are identical to those in Zen Arbitrage so it’s not an essential addition but I find it useful as an extra pair of eyes and mostly for its ungating feature.

Some book publishers do not allow sellers to sell used copies of their books (the books are therefore ‘gated’) but some do allow with one simple application. BuyBot Pro checks your Amazon Seller account and in some cases can ungate your account with one click.

It has a host of other featured and checks. Some online retail arbitrage merchants use it and no other tools since for them it contains everything they need. It’s certainly so packed with features that it takes a while to get used to them all and to use it to its full potential.

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Online Retail Arbitrage – Pros & Cons

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Four years ago I wrote a short post about online retail arbitrage and now it’s time for another on this subject having taken into account the developments in software and changes in shopping habits since then.

What Is Online Retail Arbitrage?

Online retail arbitrage is the process of buying products online from retailers and selling them for a profit, usually on Amazon but also on eBay and elsewhere.

It’s perfectly legal and no different from buying something at a car boot sale and selling it for profit online or at an auction.

Generally speaking this process is made possible by factors:

  1. Retailers sell surplus stock at a discount to make way for new stock or for any other particular reason that suits their business.
  2. Amazon’s millions of loyal customers exist because Amazon shopping is based on convenience and trust.  Enough shoppers grab what they want from Amazon’s virtual shelves without checking to see if the same item is for sale elsewhere at a cheaper price.  They know they’re purchase will be delivered quickly and efficiently, and they also know there is no a no-quibble money-back guarantee. They value this convenience over price.

Online retail arbitrage has the distinct advantage of being low risk with low start-up costs making it an attractive business model for anyone looking for a part-time business that they can run alongside their regular employment and which will scale and grow with additional effort – a side hustle as our American friends call it.

Online Retail Arbitrage vs Retail Arbitrage

Online retail arbitrage is distinct from retail arbitrage which denotes the same process carried out by physically visiting stores and shops in order to procure the items to sell.   

As well as bricks and mortar shops, retail arbitrage can include visiting charity shops (thrift stores), car boot sales, auctions, and anywhere else where new stock or used books are offered for sale.  Many of the items may not be available online so some bargains can be found in this way.  Second hand books in particular can be profitable.

On the other hand retail arbitrage takes more time and incurs the additional transportation costs of travel and parking.  When you add the overheads of travelling to the shop, parking your car, finding the items, queuing to pay, and returning home to process them you may have lost any profit they might generate.  

You could still buy them using credit or debit cards that offer cash-back or other rewards but you won’t be able to use any online promo codes and other methods of adding a little to your profit margin.

One of the big advantages of retail arbitrage is the chance of finding rare books that you can sell on Amazon, sometimes at a huge margin.  These might be books that have no barcode but which are rare nonetheless.  Others might be books that have been published in the last two decades and which are therefore barcoded and which are now out of print.  A quick scan of the barcode using a suitable app on your phone will reveal the current price of the book on Amazon. 

Tools For Online Retail Arbitrage

SourceMogul

In order to build your online business empire you’ll need some basic tools. Your first and most important tool will be SourceMogul.

SourceMogul is a browser based software that scans over 80 million products to search for those that might be suitable for buying and reselling at a profit on Amazon.  I first encountered this software several years ago when it was fairly new and operating under the name ProfitSourcery.  The company behind it won a Welsh business award in 2016 and it’s been evolving ever since.  Today, with a new website, tutorial videos, and most importantly of all greater accuracy in the data it presents, it’s better than ever.

It works on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices and costs £77 per month, although at the time of writing there’s a £20 off the first three months making it £57 for the first 90 days or so.

I suggest you visit the SourceMogul website and YouTube channel and take a look at the free training material.  They explain how to use it far better than I can.

Jungle Scout

Jungle Scout is another tool that is well established, that has evolved and improved over time, and which is used by many Amazon sellers for researching products.  Subscriptions include a large amount of training and reliable support. The browser extension enables in-depth analysis of any product viewed in the main screen.

Let’s assume you’re up and running and have made a list of products to buy that will sell at a healthy gross profit.  There will be Amazon seller fees to pay and these will depend on the product size, weight, and other factors.  You’ll have to pay Amazon a fee for each sale and for the processing, handling, and delivery of the items, but if the profit margin is high enough then you’ll still have a net profit after all these fees are deducted.

To help you in this process you might want to try BuyBot Pro. It’s a browser extension that’s available on a two-tier subscription service.  Once installed in your browser it will churn out an estimated net profit for the product you’re browsing on Amazon.  You don’t need it and you could use SourceMogul alone so consider it a second pair of eyes that will either confirm what you’ve already seen or warn you off if you weren’t sure.

Processing Purchased Stock

So far, so good but what about the process of handling, labelling, and shipping all these purchases to Amazon?

Once again you have two choices.  You can either elect to have all your purchases delivered to your home, office, or wherever else you will process the purchases and prepare them for shipping to Amazon, or you can use a prep centre service.

The advantage of the former is that you save on prep centre service fees at the cost of time,  effort, and purchase of materials on your part.  

The advantage of a prep centre is that they handle all that administrative overhead and charge you fees for doing so.

Perhaps your personal circumstances are not ideal for receiving several deliveries per week and/or you don’t have the time to unpack, re-pack, label, and ship goods to Amazon in which case you should go for the prep centre option.

On the other hand if you have the time, space, and inclination to do so you can save yourself the prep centre fees and do it all yourself.

Online Retail Arbitrage – Risks

Buying and selling at a net profit after all your expenses and fees have been paid is mentally satisfying and financially rewarding but the opposite is true if this process fails for any reason.  The risks of it failing and how these risks can be mitigated include the following:

  • The products you’ve sent to Amazon don’t sell.  If you’ve done the research using SourceMogul, understood the data, and perhaps backed up your decision using BuyBot Pro or Jungle Scout then you can mitigate this risk significantly.  However, shopping habits can change and new and updated products can quickly become more popular.
  • You can’t find any products in the first place. There is a small risk of this happening and you may find yourself going through a dry spell but it’s unlikely to last long.  Press on and keep searching.
  • You’re not building a brand.  With conventional retail you gradually acquire a loyal core of customers giving you other opportunities for selling but with this model that’s unlikely since you’re selling such a diverse range of products in a haphazard way.  However, as you scale your business up this becomes less of a concern. 

Advanced Retail Arbitrage

It’s often been said that success isn’t about having a particular skill or ability or even just being lucky, it’s more about the fact that you keep going.

Let’s assume a year from now you’re buying and selling hundreds of products each month and generating several thousand pounds of profit but the daily task for sourcing new products is taking its toll on you mentally.  It’s become a chore and you’re burning yourself out. You worry that if you don’t keep going your empire will crumble through lack of attention.

Perhaps now is the time to invest in a VA – Virtual Assistant.  You can outsource the task of sourcing products to a VA in another country where the cost of living is lower.  It’s an additional expense for you but it frees up your time and relieves the burden of finding new products.  By using an offshore VA you can pay them a fee that is acceptable to them while not being so high that it takes too much of your profit.  

The VA will need to be trained and that’s where a company like FastTrack FBA can help.  They specialize in recruiting and training VAs for this very purpose.  For a one-time fee they will train a VA just for you.  Once the training is complete you take over and deal with the VA directly.

Note: This post contains affiliate links but it’s not another of those posts written just for the purpose of making a quick buck through affiliate sales.  I’ve used most of these tools and tested this method so I know how it works and vouch for the usefulness of those tools I’ve tested.

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7 Reasons why you should quit Facebook

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I’ve reduced my use of Facebook down to about 1% of what it used to be and here I give 7 reasons why you should quit Facebook too.

My criticisms of Facebook could be applied to other forms of social media including those in which I’m still active, like Twitter, but if I’m to untangle myself from the knots of cyberspace then I have to start somewhere, so Facebook it is.

Furthermore I’m not judging others for continuing to use Facebook. It contains many useful groups and there is much to be gained from it if you use it with strict discernment but the home feed no longer holds any interest for me.

So why quit Facebook? What follows are my personal reasons. Many hundreds of millions of people will continue to use this platform and derive some benefit from it, so good luck to them. However, I’m reaching the end of the road and for me it’s time to spend my time doing other things.

1. Facebook time is not recreation

It’s often thought that scrolling through newsfeeds for hours is no more or less harmful than sitting in front of the TV and I’m inclined to agree, but I don’t think either practices are necessarily harmless. Obviously you can choose what TV programs to watch and likewise you can tailor your Facebook feed to certain degree using several options:

  • Choosing which of your friends to follow
  • Choosing which pages to follow
  • Joining or leaving groups

With a little tinkering you can create a newsfeed that’s more to your taste but what you can’t prevent are the endless adverts, suggestions, and the nannying announcements about Covid or anything else that the Facebook AI thinks you should know about.

Time spent on Facebook is no longer a form of recreation, if it ever was, it’s just more time for Facebook to learn more about you and to expose you to more advertising.

2. Facebook time drains your energy

What’s the first thing you do each morning when you reach for a phone or a keyboard? Chances are it’s not to check your email but to check social media and scroll through updates and feeds. The longer this continues the more time and energy is wasted.

One of the things that we all have in common is that we all have 24 hours in a day to spend. How much of that time you spend with yourself in charge or with some Artificial Intelligence controlling you is up to you. I would suggest that if you want to achieve anything each day then avoid social media until the task is done or at least limit your time to the minimum so that you’re not left wondering why it’s already lunchtime and you’ve achieved nothing.

Facebook is a massive distraction and by giving it attention you replace those fresh thoughts in your mind each morning with whatever Facebook has decided you need to see.

3. Facebook generates pointless arguments

The old gags about cat videos and getting into arguments with total strangers on Facebook are as true to day as ever before. People see something that triggers them and they post a comment. Perhaps someone will signal their agreement with a like or perhaps another will argue to the point, and so another Facebook argument begins.

What has been achieved? Absolutely nothing of value. Arguing with strangers online simply entrenches opinions because people become immediately defensive in public debate. It’s very rare that anyone says, “That’s new information and thanks to this fresh insight I’ve changed my views on this subject.”

Instead, what tends to happen is that it draws the participants back to either look for more endorsements of their own viewpoints or to have the last word and by doing so feel better about themselves. It’s all a bit pathetic really, isn’t it?

Stop! Click Away Now.

4. Facebook is a data harvesting machine

Facebook is a private business, not a public service. It’s business is the harvesting of data and selling it to advertisers who pay in order to reach a certain demographic. If you’ve ever created any ads of your own on Facebook you’ll know that you can tailor your ad to reach, for example, 18-25 year olds who are single, live in Wisconsin, and who are interested in fly-fishing.

How does it know so much about people? Because they all willingly supply their information by completing a full profile and by monitoring their activity while they use Facebook. Every time you like, comment, or search your actions are recorded and all those billions of pieces of information feed the AI which then works out what ads and suggestions your feed should contain.

Does this really matter? Well, if you’re comfortable willingly revealing every detail about yourself, your life, and your habits then no, it doesn’t matter, but there’s a more sinister reason as we’ll see in the next point.

5. Facebook is not a free speech platform

Facebook’s collection of user data and the AI monitoring of user activity extends to what users say about certain topics. This has lead to people having their accounts temporarily restricted or to being banned altogether.

Where this is reflective of those things that are illegal anyway within society then I think most people would agree that it’s a good thing to have this level of censorship but it doesn’t end there. As many have found, a particular political viewpoint or an opinion about a subject that effects all our lives like the Coronavirus pandemic has lead to automatic censorship by the AI, and while it’s possible to appeal against these decisions it’s nevertheless indicative of the machine-learned bias in the AI that causes the suspension in the first place.

On appeal and review by human Facebook employees some have had the ban upheld while other more distressing and anti-social content remains in place. These contradictions reveal poor standards of management of the platform as well as a bias in favour of certain types of politics and religions while being critical and censorious of others.

6. Facebook can manipulate you and your opinions

Facebook can use all it knows about you and your activities to influence your opinions. The more data about you that the AI collects, the more accurately it can predict what you’ll do next and what opinion you might have on any given subject.

This power enables Facebook and its advertisers to subtlely alter you opinions by what it introduces into your feed. Instead of changing your mind because you’ve read significant and well researched articles and books you might find yourself thinking along certain lines because of things you’ve seen on Facebook. Is any of that information verified? Where did it come from?

you may also find yourself in agreement simply because it’s what all the people you know on Facebook think. This herd mentality is well known and it’s sometimes very difficult to break out of it. It’s not easy to be the lone voice of disagreement, particularly if you’re not totally sure of your facts. It may just be that your instinct tells you that something isn’t right and you steer the other way only to find yourself alone on a different road.

7. Facebook fosters an unhealthy feedback loop

Probably one of the most unhealthy aspects of Facebook use and one that is common in most social media is the way it encourages you to seek validation and endorsements.

The likes, loves, hugs, smiles and other reactions that can be given to anything you post can become slightly addictive, so much so that young users in particular can feel aggrieved if their posts receive few likes or are ignored altogether.

The positive reactions to content added to Facebook confirm an endorsement by others, be they friends or strangers. These endorsements can be augmented by positive comments. Consequently the user looks for more opportunities and more content to add to gain additional endorsements and the cycle continues.

The result of all this is that people are spending more time collecting content for their social media feeds than they are participating in life. How many times have we see the auidence at a gig (pre-Covid of course) filming the band instead of enjoying the show? What is the first thing people do whenever they see some drama unfold in the streets? They film it of course because they want to be the first to upload it and gain the maximum attention and likes online.

Conclusion

There are so many ways in which we can occupy our time more constructively. Wasting it on social media can be the equivalent of watching junk TV or eating junk food – instant gratification while putting your mind in neutral. I’m not suggesting giving up social media entirely but don’t let it rule your life. Make sure you use it and it isn’t using you.

I still have a profile on Facebook but that’s only because I have several business pages and groups that I will continue to administer for now. A lot of what gets posted to the pages is done so automatically anyway.

I’ve stripped my profile down to its bare essentials and remove all my previous posts dating back several years. It’s oddly satisfying doing this, rather like clearing the clutter at home. You should try it.

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How to start an online dating business – online course

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Learn from a dating site webmaster (me) how to start an online dating business in this online course. I will teach you how to create and promote dating sites in this booming industry.

  • Are you looking for a way of starting an online business with low risk and on a small budget?
  • Are you looking for a online business you can start and run from home?
  • Have you ever wondered about how to run and manage a dating site?
  • Are you curious about the online dating industry and how you might work within it?

I have over 15 years of experience running online dating sites.  This course is a distillation of what I’ve learned.  Enroll on this course and I’ll explain how to begin, how to save time and money, and how to equip yourself with the right tools and tricks to maximize your chances of success while minimizing the risks associated with starting an online business.

I started my first online dating site in 2004/2005 and quickly launched others. In those years it was a lot easier to rank sites in Google so my sites quickly became known. Some of them turned out to be very profitable while others were the wrong choice of niche. Choosing the right niche is crucial and I cover that in the course.

As time went on the bigger companies realised the potential of online dating and more companies joined the industry, so things became harder. My course reaches you how to get started in this competitive industry and shows you how it is still possible to make money with the right effort applied in the right places. Most importantly, it teaches you how to avoid the pitfalls that cause people to give up before they’re found any success.

Niche Dating Sites

The first thing you have to do is decide on a niche. A niche is simply a subset of people who share common characteristics or interests.

If you can think of single people who share a common interest and if there are not many dating sites successfully exploiting that niche then you could be on to a winner.

Dating Site Platforms

Next, you need to decide on a dating site platform. Broadly speaking there are three main types of dating site; self-hosted, white label, and affiliate site.

I go into the details about each of these platforms in my course. There are pros and cons with each and they each require different levels of commitment and effort.

Business Plans

You will also need to create a business plan that includes cash flow forecasts. You can’t measure how well you’re doing until you know what you’re spending. Again, these are covered in much more detail in the course.

So let’s say you’ve chosen your niche and you’ve built a site in partnership with a white label dating company. Like any other freshly launched website that relies on traffic that it can convert into customers you’ll now need to optimise it for search terms and get it ready for marketing. The search terms will have been chosen during the market research phase of your business plan.

SEO

You will also need to ensure that the site’s on-page SEO and off-page SEO is the best you can make it, without becoming too bogged down in this area. SEO is a vast subject that’s constantly evolving but you’ll only need to know the basics.

Marketing

When you’re ready to enter into the promotion and marketing phase there are several options open to you, free and paid.

Free forms of marketing might include Facebook and LinkedIn pages & posts, Twitter and Instagram posts and stories, a YouTube channel, and blogging. Paid forms of marketing include Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and conventional ad placement both online and in print.

Assuming your methods work you should start to generate traffic that converts into new registrations, and soon after your first subscribers. At last, all your hard work is beginning to pay off!

You press on and the site continues to grow. Perhaps in time it will grow enough to justify a re-negotiation of the revenue split. Eventually you may be able reduce the tasks you need to perform each day by outsourcing them to contractors. If one site is all you wanted then you can take your foot off the gas a little but you may want to expand into a portfolio of sites.

This is just a taster for over 20 lessons on the topics you need to know about in order to become a successful online dating website owner.

The Online Dating Industry Today

The online dating industry has come a long way since the early days of the internet. When online dating first became popular, there were a lot of negative stereotypes associated with it. People thought that only desperate people would use dating websites, and that they would never find true love online. However, the industry has grown a lot since then, and it is now a mainstream way to meet potential partners. In fact, according to a recent study, one in five relationships now starts online.

The industry has also become much more sophisticated, with the development of targeted websites and apps for specific audiences. For example, there are now dating websites and apps for people of all ages, religions, and sexual orientations. This growth and sophistication has led to a more positive perception of online dating, and it is now seen as a safe and effective way to meet new people.

Running an online dating business

Starting an online dating business can be a rewarding and lucrative way spend your spare time in the digital age. Though starting an online dating website may seem like a daunting task, with a little planning and effort it can become a reality. To get started, consider creating a business plan that outlines your goals and objectives for your dating website.

Next, choose a web hosting platform and domain name for your site. Once your site is up and running, begin promoting your business through online and offline marketing channels. Finally, don’t forget to offer excellent customer service to keep your customers coming back. With these steps, you can be on your way to starting a successful online dating business.

Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Such a basic description does not explain the pitfalls, the shortcuts, and all the other aspects that you need to look out for as you start your business. My course takes you along the path step by step. You can learn from my mistakes and speed past the delays that set me back.

Being a dating site webmaster

Online Dating Business

Being an online dating site webmaster can be a profitable and fun business to run. You’ll need to invest time and effort into promoting your site and keeping it running smoothly, but if you’re passionate about helping people find love, it can be a very gratifying experience.

You’ll also need to be proactive about keeping your members safe from scammers and other malicious activity. But if you can create a secure and enjoyable online community for singles, you’ll be rewarded with loyal users who appreciate your dedication to their happiness. So if you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding business venture, Consider becoming an online dating site webmaster.

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Content Studio vs Hootsuite (and why I switched)

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A few weeks ago I switched to Content Studio from Hootsuite for my social media management dashboard of choice. In this post I explain why.

I had been using Hootsuite for years. It remains a very good tool and will no doubt be able to continue its growth thanks to a fanbase of loyal users and continuous development and improvements. The fact of the matter is that I didn’t learn how to use it to its full potential so it’s partly my fault that I ended up cancelling my subscription.

It’s not unsual to find a sparkling new tool, register for an annual subscription (to secure the big discount), and then for the use of it to taper off. By the time I cancelled my Hootsuite subscription I was only the lowest monthly tier for subscriptions and I never used it as much as I did in the first few months of opening an account.

Enter: Content Studio

A few weeks ago I saw a Facebook ad for Content Studio. We are all familiar with the format and the hard sell and 99% of us ignore those we see but the old formula works and on this particular day I was in the 1% that wanted to know more.

I have far fewer social media accounts than I used to have but even so, they take up a lot of time and energy to manage correctly. My use of Hootsuite may have fallen off but if I was to continue to use the accounts for any kind of benefit then I needed a semi-automated management dashboard.

Content Studio’s interface is clear and intuitive. Adding and authenticating accounts was quick and easy. For anyone familiar with Hootsuite you might at first be hard pressed to find any difference in the range of functions but for me it’s the clarity, layout, and response speed of the dashboard that makes it the winner.

Content Studio Features

I won’t list them all here but these are the Content Studio features that I use the most:

  • Automated RSS feeds. Use and RSS feed to create on-topic posts in, for example, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.
  • Automated video feeds. As above, but using YouTube videos from a particular channel.
  • Bulk uploads. Create a CSV file of tweets, thumbnails, and links and upload it. Each will be added to the schedule.
  • Grouping. Group accounts, create a schedule, and assign a set of hashtags to each group. Posts can draw on a random selection of hashtags from the set assigned.
  • Analytics. Clear and easy to understand displays of what’s working; likes, retweets, shares, and replies.

As I said, Hootsuite has these (not sure about grouping) and others too but it’s the way it’s displayed that appeals to me.

Content Studio & Instagram

The only accounts I have removed from my Content Studio dashboard are the Instagram accounts. This was because not only did I find the process a bit fiddly (perhaps I was doing it wrong) and couldn’t get it to work but I had also already subscribed to Tailwind.

Tailwind is another social media management dashboard but it concentrates mainly on Pinterest and Instagram. I think it’s Instagram process is much easier to use than anything else I’ve tried so far. I know it means another subscription but it’s the time it saves that makes it worth the additional expense.

Conclusion

Social media posting on auto pilot or semi automatically is all very well but it doesn’t amount to much if it doesn’t encourage engagement, attract new followers, and generate leads. You will still have choose your content carefully and filter out that which won’t appeal (or may be off-putting) to your target audience, and you’ll still have to engage and respond with your own followers and other posts.

However, like all well designed tools Content Studio can save you time. And it’s hard to put a price on that.

Register here for a 14-day free trial of Content Studio.

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5 Reasons why you’re not making money online

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In this post I’m going to suggest the possible reasons why you’re not making money online. I’m going to describe these reasons in context of the mistakes I made in the last 20 years in the hope that you will learn from them and avoid these errors.

The Internet in the 1990s

I built my first websites in the late 1990s, when the World Wide Web was a new frontier in which there was little regulation and plenty of opportunity. If I knew then what I know now I would probably have become one of the dotcom millionaires, but as we know hindsight always comes with 20/20 vision.

I started using the Web toward the end of the 20th Century using dial-up modems that provided just 9,600bps of bandwidth at first, rising to 14.4k, then 56k. I remember showing my wife a URL saying,“You see this? It’s a website address. Pretty soon you’re going to see these everywhere.” She looked at me with that look that says,“Who is this geek? What did I marry?” and left me to my tinkering with this new phenomena.

1. Have a plan for your vision

One of my first websites was one from which I sold a few books. It was about the same time as a chap called Jeff Bezos was building a book-selling website called Amazon. There our similarities end – he had the vision and the drive but I had neither and that was my first mistake – not taking the time to come up with a clear vision, and not planning how to turn that vision into reality.

However, I wasn’t a complete failure as I did get into online dating relatively early on in that particular industy. I launched my first online dating site in 2004 and by expanding the portfolio into several niches I began to see some good results. I made a reasonable about of money from online dating between 2005 and 2010 but my second mistake was not reinvesting the income into actions that would nurture the sites and keep competitive.

The internet dating market grew and with it came the bigger businesses with their larger budgets and human resources. They applied their strengths and focused on their goals with the result that small, independent operators like me were soon losing ground to them.

2. Don’t Get Distracted

So that’s my second tip; if you’ve got the vision and the plan and if it starts to bear fruit, don’t get distracted, don’t blow your winnings, and don’t diversify too quickly, because sooner or later others are going to notice your success and start competing against you.

You need to consolidate and strengthen your position in anticipation of those who will soon arrive, hoping to capture your territory. However, you also have to careful that you don’t spend your profits on advertising that fails to convert into fresh sales.

3. Learn SEO Essentials

My next and third lesson was to be about SEO.

Twenty years ago you could build a website and get it to rank in the search results very easily. Today, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an industry in itself and there are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there ready to take your money in return for empty promises.

It’s very hard to find genuine and honest people who have the integrity and the skills to provide an SEO (or any other) service that delivers impressive results. Flushed with early succes you may feel suddenly confident and with cash in your pocket you head off in search of those who will improve the quality of your websites such that they keep appearing in the top five results.

You pay them, you wait, and six months later your website rankings are worse and the company no longer answers your calls, or if they do it’s only to sell you more services. No thanks.

Sale
6 Reviews

4. Don’t Delegate Essential Tasks

That was mistake Number 3 – don’t trust others with crucial tasks that you should be doing yourself. There are tasks you can and should outsource but unless you are 100% sure of the company, my advice is learn basic SEO and tweak & fix your own websites. At least if you get it wrong all you’ve lost is time, not hard cash.

The rush to spend money on time saving tools and on outsourcing tasks that you may find tedious brings me to my fourth mistake and tip.

5. Don’t Waste Money On Useless Tools

You’ve probably noticed how the algorithms notice your interests and browsing habits, and how you start seeing more adverts that are related to your online activity.

My Facebook feed is full of adverts for various tools relating to video making, scripts, and advertising. They all make grandiose promises about how they’re goting to bring amazing results that will help me and my business enjoy quick and easy success. The format is often the same – a similar landing page filled with details and testimonials that leads you to a time-limited special offer of “Just $97!

We know they’re lying or at best exaggerating their claims yet we still click on those links, just to take a look. There’s that part of us that still hopes there is a formula (magic or not) that is easy to follow and which works with minimal effort. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent more dollars that you care to count on tools and plugins that didn’t deliver and never even recouped the cost of the product.

My advice is be very, very selective about what you buy. Don’t buy it on first inspection, don’t buy tools and plugins on impulse. Instead, wait 24 hours and then check it again. Does it still seem as attractive as it did the day before?

My Two Essential Tools

There are very few tools that I use regularly and which I’m certain have been an excellent investment.

One of them is Vidnami* (formerly Content Samurai) – the tool I use to create these videos. Using Vidnami I’ve created over 300 videos that make up a YouTube channel of over 18,000 subscribers and that generates a small but regular income each month.

Try Vidnami for free for 14 days*, you’ll probably find a way of using it for creating videos for social media, websites, or YouTube.

The other tool that I use each week is TubeBuddy*.

This is actually a suite of tools that includes keyword research for new videos and most importantly the SEO tasks for videos that I’m about to publish. It saves a HUGE amount of time when it comes to completing and optimising videos, giving them the best chance of being found and ranked.

Stay On Track, Be Productive

My fifth mistake was to be spreading myself too thinly and not knowing the value of time management.

It’s very easy, even now, to launch a website based on some vague idea you had while walking the dog or taking a shower. It’s also easy to imagine that if you launch enough websites at least one or two of them might succeed, but that method doesn’t work and just saps you of time and enthusiasm.

Concentrate on one or at most just a few websites and don’t get distracted by the never ending distractiosn of social media. Yes, social media is useful but make sure you’re using it and don’t get used or over distracted by it. Make sure that each day is productive in one way or another. Set yourself tasks that need to be completed each day so that once done, whatever else happens, at least you’ve taken those small steps towards your goal.

There really is a meaning behind the saying,”Make each day count“.

So there are five errors and lessons that might help you. Let me know if these have helped or if you have some suggestions of your own.

*Yes, of course they’re affiliate links!

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SourceMogul – The Number 1 Tool For Online Arbitrage

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In this post I’m going to introduce you to SourceMogul, a powerful browser based software tool that enables subscribers to run an online arbitrage business as an Amazon Seller using the FBA process.

That’s quite a mouthful, so let’s break it down into plain English and then I’ll describe several very good reasons why I think you should subscribe to SourceMogul.

What is Online Arbitrage?

First of all, what do we mean by online arbitrage?

In simple terms this is the process whereby goods are bought at their retail price from one retailer and then re-sold at another at a higher price, in this example, on Amazon (either in the USA or the UK).

This is made possible by the fact that some retailers want to shift stock to make way for other new stock, so they discount the price on the existing stock to sell it more quickly. If you can find this stock in time, buy some or all of the surplus, and ship it to Amazon as your own stock, you can sell it at the higher price and pocket the difference.

Is it legal? Is it ethical?

Yes, and yes. It’s perfectly legal and entirely ethical.

Look at this way; twenty years ago I opened an account with Amazon. 20 years is a lifetime ago in internet terms, but like many millions of others I started shopping online with Amazon because the prices were usually low.

Naturally, over the years the prices have changed, some are still bargains while others are higher than elsewhere, but I’ve grown used to the convenience. I know that if I need something for the house or garden it can be on the doorstep within 24 hours.

For me, the convenience, the reliablity of delivery times, and the no-quibble returns is more important than finding the same item elsewhere for $5 less. Time is more important to me so I don’t want to spend 30 minutes browsing and comparing prices.

The same is true for millions of other consumers and that’s one of the reasons why Amazon is so successful. People are willing to pay extra for the reliablity, convenience, and to save time.

This situation produces an opportunity for people like you and me.

What is SourceMogul?

SourceMogul is a browser based software that collects data that Amazon freely provides about its best sellers in each category.

It also searches other online retailers for those same products, and then it compares the prices and other details. When it’s found some matches it presents them to you in your dashboard, along with lots of statistics about prices, sales volumes, and trends.

All you have to do then is to analyse the results and pick those you think will sell for the most profit. Once you’ve selected a few product lines you can then buy them from the retailers who still have stock.

The goods are then delivered to you just like any other online shopping purchase. You then ship the unopened goods to Amazon where they become part of your inventory. All being well the goods will sell and Amazon deposits the funds into your account.

What is Amazon FBA?

This is what is meant by FBA – fulfilled by Amazon. You send them the goods and they take care of all the storage, marketing, transactions, delivery, and processing returns.

From time to time they’ll deduct some fees for this fulfilment process but as long as you buy and sell correctly you’ll make a profit.

SourceMogul will search hundreds of stores in the US or UK, finding products that match your chosen Amazon category. Once set up it will continue to work for you in the background and then present you with the results. You can cherry pick items and add them to a wishlist for deeper analysis. Once your satisfied with the products and the profit percentages you can arrange to purchase the stock.

Low Risk and Scalable

The great advantages of this model is that it’s both low risk and scalable. You can start small with an initial budget of a couple of hundred dollars and reinvest your profits to scale up. You can do as little or as much as you want each week, and even take a break for a while but I think once you get started you’ll want to keep going.

SourceMogul‘s documentation and YouTube videos contain all the instruction you need and together they explain all the fine detail of the data that’s presented in your dashboard. There is also a Facebook user group that contains additonal files with instructions and tips.

For example, one document explains all the ways you can maximise your profits by buying your stock using promo codes and cashback deals, or how to at least gain from the purchase by collecting retailer loyalty points or air miles on your credit card.

I first came across this software three years ago, under its former incarnation when it was known as Profit Sourcery.

X4 Software, the company behind it, won the 2016 Wales Startup Award and have continued to develop the sofware so the product you see today has matured and become hyper efficient for the task for which it is designed.

Getting started with SourceMogul

To get started I recommend you follow these three steps.

  1. Open an Amazon Pro Seller account.
  2. Read the SourceMogul guides on their website and watch their videos on their YouTube channel.
  3. Register for your 7 day free trial and start trading.

Once you see those first sales registered in your Amazon dashboard you’ll be hooked, but in nice way. Each day brings fresh opportunities and you’ll soon get into the habit of running new searches or analysing those you’ve already completed. There’s pleny of help from the SourceMogul team and there’s interaction with other users in the SourceMogul Facebook group.

From time to time I’ll publish new posts here, reporting on progress.

If you’re already using SourceMogul or if you’ve got any questions, feel free to comment below.

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How To Start A Dating Site From Scratch – Update

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This post is a supplemental update to a video I created in February 2017 entitled “How To Start A Dating Site From Scratch – Make Money Working From Home”. You’ll find that video at the foot of this post.

Since uploading that video I’ve received numerous questions and requests for additional advice from people considering this business. In this post I have I’ve re-written the original script, made some alterations, and additional information.

So if you’re thinking of starting a dating site for a particular niche, read this post to the end before you make any decisions.

Your first site could be a part time job that brings in a little extra income each month but it could expand into a full time occupation consisting of one large site or a portfolio of several sites.

My Dating Site Webmaster Experience

I started my first online dating site in 2004. The following year I started several more. I sold one of the more successful ones and have kept most of the others going since.

So how can you be part of this industry? What options and opportunities are there for a newcomer?

Even though online dating has been around for a long time now there are still opportunities for anyone with the dedication to succeed.

It’s not a path to instant riches but if you invest your time and money wisely you stand a good chance of generating a healthy return.

You should not underestimate the effort involved. Like any business it takes time, persistence, and a certain amount of risk to succeed.

Building an online dating business is like creating a vineyard. You’ll have to nurture it carefully for a while before you can pick the grapes and enjoy the wine.

Three Main Types of Dating Site

But first, let’s begin by looking at the three main types of dating site:

  1. The stand-alone, independent dating site.
  2. The white label dating site.
  3. The affiliate dating site.

Below this post you’ll find some links to companies that provide the resources you need for each of these types.

The Independent Dating Site

The independent site means that you, the owner, retain full control over the site. This means you have full autonomy and can change it in way you like at any time. You retain all the income that the site generates.

Obviously, when the site is new, you’ll probably be spending more on marketing and development than you receive in income but if the site succeeds then you keep all the profits.

The disadvantage is that you’re also responsible for all the day to day administration. This means you have to check all the profiles, answer all emails, and deal with all other aspects of administering an online dating site.

You can outsource these tasks to a contractor or delegate it to an employee if your company is large enough but either way you will have to pay for someone else to do the administrative tasks.

The foundation for your successful independent dating website is the software. Get that right and it makes the whole job so much easier for you and for your members.

Skadate have been developing their software since 2004 and it’s packed with features – all the functions you’ll want as an administrator and all the features your members would expect of a modern dating site.

The White Label Site

A white label dating site is one that brings you into partnership with an existing online dating company.

They provide the platform, access to an existing database of members, and all the technical and administrative support.

You can make your white label site as small or large as you like. You can develop it into a multi page site and add a blog or even a shop if you think it’s a sound business idea but remember your prime purpose is to convert visitors into new members and existing members into subscribers.

The partnership with a white label company will involve sharing the site’s revenue. What percentage you receive each month depends on the agreement and how well your site performs.

You may find that there are variations created by any temporary promotions or deals but you should be able to collect at least 35% of the site’s revenue each month.

Your role in the partnership is to start the site, develop the design, and market it to the target audience or niche (more on the niche sites later).

The advantages are that all the the back-end tasks (technical and administrative) are taken care of for you. All you have to do with the site is to market it month after month.

Another advantage is that the white label company could be a leading brand in the online dating world, so your site might be able to display links to Customer Charters and other reassuring evidence of high level of integrity.

The disadvantage as you’ve probably already guessed is that you have to give up a large proportion of the site’s income.

Here’s an example of a white label dating site: www.lovegenerations.com

The Affiliate Site

An affiliate site is similar to the white label site but it’s generally a simpler process to set up. The revenue share is usually a fixed rate which may be a choice between a small sum for new members and and a larger sum for new subscribers.

The advantage of this type of site is that it’s quick and easy to set up and most affiliate companies have niche networks ready for you. All you have to do is to choose the niche you want to develop a site around.

The disadvantage is that it can take a little while to make changes to your site if you want to amend or improve it in any way.

Here’s an example of an affiliate dating site: www.horseandcountrylovers.com

Here’s an example of an affiliate scheme you can join to promote online dating for the over 50s.

Choosing Your Target Market

General or vanilla dating sites are those that try to match -make straight single men and women.

A niche (or niche as our American friends say) dating site is one that targets as specific section of the community.

This could be anything from a group based on religion, sexual orientation, hobbies, age, profession, ethnicity, and many other factors.

You may be able to think of a new niche that hasn’t been targeted yet. Alternatively, you could create a site for people who belong to an existing tried and tested niche that still has plenty of scope for growth.

You will need to do some market and keyword research in order to determine the size of the niche. Take into account the demographics of the people and any seasonal trends.

It’s an advantage to choose a niche that interests you. The reason being that you can save money by writing new content for your site yourself if it’s a subject with which you are familiar.

If you can draw on personal experiences then your writing will be of interest to your target audience and you can provide this content at no cost to you other than the time it takes to write it.

Marketing And Promoting A Dating Site

Once you’ve chosen your niche and set up the site you’ll be ready to start the next phase.

Before you begin your marketing and promoting, make sure you’ve thoroughly tested the site and all its features and functions.

Sort out any bugs and fix anything that doesn’t work.

Obviously, you’ll want to use the free social media; Twitter, a Facebook page, and perhaps a blog or a YouTube channel, or all of them.

It all depends on how many resources and skills you have in your team.

Social media is an important tool but again, it takes time to build a brand and to develop the trust that will persuade people to follow your links.

You’ll also have to make use of paid advertising in the form of things like Google Adwords and perhaps print advertising in magazines that are for people in your niche.

Adwords takes some getting used to but there is plenty of free instruction online. It can be particularly useful if you develop a YouTube channel and then promote your best videos as video adverts.

I hope you this post helpful. If you have any questions please post a comment below.

Note: Since writing this post I have created an online course on this subject which takes you through the entire process in much more detail. He is an introduction to my online dating course.

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Octoparse Web Scraper Review

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I’ve been searching for a tool that will collect data on businesses within a certain market sector.  I need something that is semi automatic, ethical, in continuous development, and with good support.  So I’ve downloaded a copy of Octoparse and I’m now working through the tutorials while writing this Octoparse Web Scraper Review.

If you’ve searched for such tools yourself (or any other software for that matter) you’ve probably spotted that there are many that promise a great deal but which haven’t been updated for a year or more.  There are fake reviews that are blatant affiliate promotion pages and there are one or two that look promising.

It’s time consuming finding the right product and you don’t know who to trust.

I should therefore be transparent and state that I’m writing this review because the team behind Octoparse are offering a free month of Pro subscription to anyone who writes a review.  They didn’t say the review had to be a five star endorsement, just a review, so here’s mine.

My Review of Octoparse Web Scraper

I registered for a free account on their website and downloaded the trial copy.  As soon as this was installed there was a notification of an update so the first thing I did was to update it to the latest copy.  I find it a little reassuring that there’s a recent patch or upgrade.

The UI is pleasantly free from distractions and advertising.  Like all new and unfamiliar pieces of software it takes a few minutes to navigate about but there are handy built-in tutorials or you can dive straight in and start a task.

There’s a wizard option to build tasks or you can go in advanced mode. I chose the wizard option as this is all new to me.

I set up the task and entered the URL that contained a list of companies with links to pages giving more details of each. I wanted to collect all the contact information for each company.

By clicking on example fields in the internal browser window the software quickly learns what to collect.  The only niggle I had was capturing the company’s URL.  Perhaps that’s my inexperience or a limitation in the trial copy.

Anyway, within a few minutes I had captured about 50 records and exported the data into an Excel spreadsheet.

Obviously this being the first attempt this took a little while but already I can see how the Octoparse Web Scraper will save me a lot of time.  I need information from several pages of a directory.  It’s not a lot but it’s a laborious processes to do it manually and consequently I tend to procrastinate or find other things to do.

This tool will save a lot of that time and effort, and I’ll be able to get on with using the information it gathers.

Ethics of Web Scraping

It’s easy to stray off the straight and narrow path when using tools like this that gather information.  If someone has gone to all the trouble of building a web directory there is the potential for someone to scrape all the data and build a duplicate directory under another name.  That of course would plagiarism and unethical, not to mention illegal.

However, data is published in directories so that others can find it and if you need to contact many companies within the same market sector then there’s no harm in saving some time and effort by gathering that data and putting it into a spreadsheet for future reference.

So my advice is:

  • Don’t over do it. Take only what you need.
  • Don’t ever re-use the data and pass it off as your own.
  • Give something back to the source e.g. create a quality backlinks, use their adverts, buy something from their site, recommend them in appropriate forums and in social media.

 

 

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Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – Tools

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Wouldn’t it be a relief if there was a step by step plan in affiliate marketing for beginners that explained each part of the process in clear and easy to understand terms?  Here it is!

There are a thousands of sites and blogs telling you how you can make money online.  Many of them explain some of the steps but few give you all the information you need in one place.

In this earlier post I explained one of the options available.  I described its founder and how it came to be created.  It’s a course that continues to be developed and updated.

In this post I’m going to elaborate on those options and introduce you to the tools available.  I’ve used all of these myself so I can give you an honest description based on personal experience.

Affiliate Marketing For Beginners – Tools

Affilorama

This is the main site that contains all the other tools and training materials.  You can register as a member for free and explore its contents.  Free membership includes an affiliate marketing quick start guide, a downloadable road-map to success, and 120 video lessons in affiliate marketing.

Affiloblueprint

This is the step plan for those wanting to learn and apply this business model.  As the name suggests it’s a methodical map that leads you all the way through the jungle.  It’s ideal for those who have tried and failed and others who have never attempted affiliate marketing before.   Have a look for yourself and read the full description.

Affilojetpack

This is for those who want to skip the basic work and head for the more advanced side of affiliate marketing.  All the groundwork is done for you leaving you free to concentrate of fine tuning and marketing.  Check out the full description here.

If a long description don’t convince you then you can attend several webinars that describe the product and the process in more detail:

Free Resources – no obligation

  1. Start by downloading this free report on how to make thousands of dollars per month with affiliate marketing. There are no catches or gimmicks.  It’s totally free.
  2. In addition to the report you can also attend a free webinar that goes into more detail. Sign up here.
  3. There is another free webinar that describes seven ways in which you can send much more traffic to your website.  What good is a well designed and clever website if it doesn’t receive visitors?  Sign up here.
  4. Here’s another free webinar in which you’ll learn how it’s possible to start small and scale up your business into thousands of dollars per month.  Sign up here.

Affilotools

So you have one or more completed websites. You’re happy with the design and content but you have no idea how well they are performing.  Without this vital information you have no idea what works and what should be changed or discarded altogether.

That’s why you need Affilotools – all your monitoring and analysis in one place.  Check out the full description here.

Affilorama Premium Membership

This is an upgraded membership for those who keen to delve deeper into affiliate marketing.  There are advanced training videos, ‘over the shoulder’ videos in which the author describes how he spends his money and how he earns it back, and free web hosting for 15 sites.  It’s just $1 for a 30 day trial, so it’s worth signing up just for that alone.  Here’s the link to the details.

Affilotheme

Finally, there’s Affilotheme.  It’s a suite of WordPress themes designed specifically for affiliate sites.  Why try to create sites using themes that need edits and alterations to work as an affiliate site when you can buy a theme built by people in the same line of business?  The package includes the usual first rate support and a money back guarantee.  Go here for the details.

Conclusion

I expect you know the drill by now.  Persistence and hard work pay off in the end.  There are no short-cuts to online riches but if someone can show you the way then it does save you a lot of time and money.

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YouTube SEO – How To Rank YouTube Videos

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In this post I’m going to provide you with some easy to follow tips for improving your YouTube SEO. I’m going to describe what changes you can and should be making to rank your YouTube videos for maximum traffic, views, subscribers, and interaction.

When it comes to ranking videos on YouTube, there are a number of factors that come into play. Just like with any other search engine, YouTube uses algorithms to determine which videos are most relevant to a user’s query. While the specifics of YouTube’s algorithms are kept secret, there are some basic optimization tips that can help your video rank higher in searches.

Note: For several years I’ve used Tubebuddy to optimize all my videos. It integrates with my YouTube dashboard. It saves time and effort, and provides me with the prompts and checklists to ensure I’ve covered all of what follows.

What is YouTube SEO?

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google, and Google owns YouTube. Video marketing is HUGE and is growing bigger but if you want your videos to be found among the millions that exist they need to be optimised for searches. Just as we have to fine tune our websites for SEO purposes, we also have to ensure our videos are checked and tweaked to exploit every chance of being found and viewed.

YouTube SEO then is simply the processes of optimising videos so that they have the best possible chance of being found. Found, not just in the search results but also in the list of suggested videos that YouTube shows you when you’ve viewed another video.

YouTube Videos – Keyword Titles

There isn’t room in this post to go into a description of keywords and phrases. I’m going to assume you’ve found your chosen keyword. However, if you want a tool that helps you with keyword research then try Long Tail Pro.  I use it every week and have foundsome rich pickings using it.

Anyway, I presume you know to which search terms you want your video to appear in the search results. For the purpose of this post let’s assume you’ve made one about horse riding for beginners. Perhaps you’ve chosen the title ‘Horse Riding Tips For Beginners‘ because that’s a keyword phrase that your target keyword phrase. You get the general idea. So your keyword phrase should be used three times:

  1. It should be the name of your video filename before you upload to YouTube.
  2. It should be at the start of your video title in the editing area.
  3. It should be repeated at the start of your text description.

YouTube SEO – Video Description

So you’ve named your video by using your keyword first followed by other key terms to a maximum of 100 characters. Next, add the description. You have 5,000 characters for this so use as much as you can. Repeat the keyword title and then give a full and accurate description. Treat this description with the same diligence and attention to detail as you would any blog post or article.

Proofread it for any spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. Be sure to include any links to your author or business sites but don’t over do the links. Remember that Google looks for content that is relevant, useful, and original.

YouTube SEO – Video Tags

Once your description is complete add the relevant tags. Don’t be tempted to add tags that are not relevant to your content. You aren’t going to attract more traffic by adding irrelevant tags. Also, by effectively spamming your tag area you risk having your account suspended if you use this and other underhand techniques. You have a total of 500 characters to fill up in the tag section so use it wisely.

YouTube SEO – End Screens and Cards

End Screens are often overlooked by those in a rush to simply upload their videos and hope for the best. End screens are those small hyperlinked images that appear near the end of a video, about 20 seconds from the end. You can add several of these if you wish. The options are:

  1. Video or playlist – yours, or someone else’s
  2. Subscription link for your channel
  3. A link to another channel that you want to promote
  4. A link to an approved websites

An approved website is one that Google/YouTube have identified as belonging to you. This might have been verified through Google Webmasters site. If you need any help with that, post a comment below. Cards are those little icons that appear throughout the videos in my channel.

Look at the white circle containing an ‘i’ in the top right hand corner of the videos. Click that and you’ll see the cards I’ve added to this video. There may be one or several linking to approved websites. Like End Screens they could also link to playlists, videos, subscription links, or channels. So, to summarise so far, you’ve added nice long title, a full description, relevant tags, end screens, and cards.

How else can you improve YouTube SEO?

  • Add the video to a playlist
  • Share it on social media with relevant hashtags
  • Encourage others to share it
  • Respond promptly to comments
  • Encourage interaction in the comments
  • Be responsive and friendly, even to negative criticism
  • Share your video in relevant forums, Facebook pages, etc

When sharing in forums etc respect the rules and don’t argue if your video is deleted.  The site’s owners have their rules and it’s best to abide by them. 

Finally, don’t forget YouTube’s own free tuition on developing a channel.  It takes a while to work through each lesson but there is much to be learned from it.

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Free Training In Affiliate Marketing Provided By Experts

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I’ve been researching and experimenting with this area of online enterprise for some time so it was a pleasant surprise to find some free training in affiliate marketing provided by experts in this field.

Affilorama was founded by a chap called Mark Ling. He also happens to be a millionaire and he achieved this status through affiliate marketing.

Now he spends this time running a business that teaches others what he has learned. He is at the top of the ladder but he’s reaching down to help others up and the best bit about it is that some of those lessons are free of charge.

Free Training Provided By Experts

Mark started out on the ground floor, experimenting and learning as he delved into the world of affiliate marketing. He enjoyed some early success but like many who didn’t know what was ahead he was hit heavily by the Google algorithm changes. Sales dropped dramatically and success turned into failure and debt.

Dismayed and disillusioned he returned to the day job. However, the prospect of a lifetime at the coal face working for someone else was too depressing to contemplate so he gathered his energies together and launched back into the project.

Having applied what he’d already learned and added new techniques he found a way through and made his fortune.

So Mark Ling is like a pathfinder. He’s walked the whole route, found a way around or over obstacles, and now he’s ready to show you the way. What he has done others can do.

Not only that but a significant chunk of the material he’s put online is available free of charge. So now you’ve got now excuse for not starting your own journey into affiliate marketing.

Here’s the link to over 100 FREE lessons in affiliate marketing.

What’s in this Free Training in Affiliate Marketing?

If you have any experience already in this subject then you will probably already be aware of the basic formula; finding profitable products to promote etc, so this list of categories will come as no surprise.

While they may not seem a revelation the important thing to remember is that they are the essential fundamentals. If you can master these then you can build a successful business.

* How to research and choose products that are worth the effort that goes into promotion
* How to design and create websites that will keep visitors on the page and engage with them
* How to optimise those websites for on-page and off-page search engine optimisation
* How to generate instant pay per click traffic with the right keywords and ad groups
* How to hire talented people who will grow your business by taking on the tasks you delegate to them

The videos are clear, concise, and not too long, so your focus and attention is maintained. This is the secret to absorbing knowledge piece by piece.

Affiliate Marketing lessons for beginners and up

The training videos are categorised and displayed in such a way that you can work through them one by one if you’re a complete beginner. Alternatively, if you already have some experience you can cherry-pick and only watch those you feel are relevant to you.

However, I would suggest you use all of them for revision. All to often, what we think we know and what we actually remember is not what was originally taught. It’s easy to become complacent and revision is a way of filling in blanks or reminding us of things we have forgotten.

This is a course that would suit people with or without affiliate marketing experience.

Active Community Forum

By signing up you also get access to the Affilorama forums. Here you can ask questions and read the answers posted in reply to those from other students. It’s a mine of useful information and one of the richest you’ll find and the Affilorama staff often drop in to add their opinions and comments.

Is it enough?

There’s a lot of free material here to get your teeth into but sooner or later you’ll probably want to change gear and move into more advanced topics. You’ll want to use the sort of tools that the full time affiliate marketers use.

As you might expect (this is a business after all) there is a subscription fee for these other sections of the Affilorama site but they do occasionally offer one dollar trials of the Premium subscription. You won’t know about these unless you’re already signed up as a free member so register now and stay tuned.

Free training in affiliate marketing provided by a millionaire and his team who have walked the walk.

==> Sign up here!

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Affiliate Marketing Tips You Can Learn From My Mistakes

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There are thousands of sites and videos providing affiliate marketing tips.  I’ve made some mistakes and also enjoyed a few successes in this area, so here are a few additional tips you may not have seen.

When the full blown web began to emerge in the 1990s I was already employed in IT.  I saw it as a time of opportunity and began to look into networking and websites. As a result I have enjoyed over two decades of gainful employment as a Network Engineer and Webmaster.

Unfortunately though, learning how something works isn’t as lucrative as figuring out what to do with it.  That’s why I’m writing this when it’s -2 degrees outside in England instead of sitting at my laptop in a holiday home in the Caribbean.

Anyway, I count my blessings, and although I haven’t become a dotcom millionaire I have learned a fair bit by trial and error.  Most trials end in error and that’s part of the process of reaching a goal.  The trick is to keep going.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the art and science of creating websites (and/or mailing lists) and using them to promote goods and services in such a way that visitors click on links and make purchases through links provided on the site.

You promote a product or service, link to it, and the website visitor clicks on that link and buys from the supplier.  In return you are rewarded with some commission on the sale.  This can be anything from 1-12% or even more.  It all depends on the affiliate agreement.

As well as goods and services you can promote just about anything that is for sale online, including for example online courses. Promoting things that are not geographically limited has some advantages.

Simple really, isn’t it?  Except it’s not.  For this to work you have to achieve the following:

  1. Find a product or service that is in demand and for which there are not already too many high ranking websites.  It needs to be something that people are searching for in high enough volumes to justify the time, effort, and expense of building a website and nurturing over several months so that it has a chance of reaching the top of page one on Google search results for the given search term (the keyword).
  2. Assuming you have succeeded and have a site that is attracting visitors in enough numbers your site then has to convince them to make a purchase using one of the affiliate links in body of the text in your site or embedded in the images (the conversions).
  3. All this needs to be done while paying close attention to your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and without breaking any rules, be they in Google’s search algorithms or in the affiliate agreements.

Affiliate Marketing Tips – Errors and Lessons Learned

My First Mistake – Too Much, Too Soon

I have built websites that convert but in my eagerness to develop the idea I have built too many, too fast.  This soaked up resources (time and money) so what little was gained from the successful ones was being spent on others that did not succeed.

It’s so easy now to setup a website.  Most hosting companies provide packages that will register your domain name, install WordPress, and give you a working website with a few clicks.  The temptation is to extrapolate your imagined success too far with unrealistic expectations.

Tip Number 1:  Learn how to nurture and grow a tree before you plant a forest

Tool for this tip: Your brain, lots of free advice online, and a business plan.

Second Mistake – Keyword Research

The second error is one of the fundamentals.  Get this wrong and everything that comes after is a waste of your time and resources. Keyword research is essential.

It can be exciting to come up with a new idea and allow yourself to be carried along in a rush of enthusiasm.  You start to convince yourself that you’ve found the next hot seller with low competition and high demand.

You build the site, fill it full of content, and wait for the money to roll in.  As time goes by your hard work pays off and surfers begin to find your site. However, sales are zero you realise you’ve made as website that attracts visitors who are not buyers. They were seeking information but they were not ready to buy anything.

Tip Number 2:  Keyword research is half the battle.  If you’ve succeeded here conversions and commission will follow.

Tool for this tip:
Several free keyword research tools, like: Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and Google Trends,  

Third Mistake – SEO, Audits, Reviews

The web is evolving all the time.  Google updates its algorithm, trends and tastes change, technology evolves, and websites that once looked new and fresh begin to appear out of date.  It’s surprising how quickly that new design tires and you begin to view a site as a relic.

While all this is going on there may be other sites competing with your own for the same keywords.  If you don’t keep an eye them they will get ahead of you and start to take more and more of the traffic.

Tip Number 3:  Stay current and informed. Audit and review regularly.  Keep an eye on the performance of not only your own sites but of you competition too.

Tools for this tip:
Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Bing Webmasters, and some SEO analytics like NeilPatel.com or SEO Powersuite.

Fourth Mistake – Time Management

Entrepreneurs and business coaches often remind us of the one essential thing that unites us all:  we all get just 24 hours per day.

Another common piece of advice they offer is that we should cultivate the habit of doing our essential tasks first, before we check emails and social media.  By doing so we ensure that day after day we get some productivity out of our time, even if it’s followed by more time wasting.

How often are you distracted?  How many times during the day do you pause the work you know you should be doing and instead click on anyone of several social media accounts to check for; updates, likes, responses, news, current affairs, comedy, controversy, disasters, or some other way of wasting your time?

Social media has many positive uses but are you using it or is it using you?

Resist the temptation to scroll through your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram feed.  The chances are you’ll check once and get sucked in again.  You might even start with something that seems valuable, like an update in your business related Facebook group or a video about SEO, but then you realise another hour has gone by and now you’re watching a guy shark fishing in the Philippines or wondering why your friend shared that particular post.

Tip Number 4:  Become and expert in time management.  Develop the self discipline to avoid distractions and get on with taking steps toward your goal.

Tools for this tip:  It’s a habit you have to develop, so this one is down to you and your own self discipline.  You could set up reminders and alarms to nag you each morning too.

Fifth Mistake – Endless Training

Training is very important, there’s no doubt about that, but there comes a point where you have to complete the course and get on with some productive activity by putting what you’ve learned into practice.

However, what sometimes happens is that somehow you learn of another course and you begin to wonder if this one reveals more information and more important techniques.  Before you know it you’ve paid another fee for a series of lectures and video modules which will take you another month to complete thoroughly.

At the end of this next month you realise that you’ve not got any closer to your goals, you’re a month older, and your bank balance is further diminished.

Tip Number 5: Make use of the free material online and choose one good course in: affiliate marketing, internet marketing, and SEO

Tools for this tip:

Plenty of FREE material about affiliate marketing available on these sites:

I’ve suggested these three because you can choose which accent you prefer!  There are other reputable and reliable sites too.

Recommended training for affiliate marketing, SEO, and internet marketing:

  • Affilorama – AffiloBlueprint
  • Udemy – Top Marketing Courses-Affiliate Marketing – there are lots of short courses on there on all subjects related to your affiliate marketing goals. Go through the reviews, check the feedback, and check for the latest versions. Sign up for their mailshots and you’ll be notified of periodic discounts and offers.

Final Word – Video Marketing is big!

I end this post by pointing out one important thing I learned in 2016 and that is the fact that video marketing is growing fast and in 2017 it will continue to grow.  Even if you build well designed, responsive websites which look good on desktop and mobile devices you should not underestimate the importance of adding video marketing.

This may seem like a expensive and difficult new skill to master but it’s actually quite easy.  You can turn a blog post or article into a video in a matter of an hour or so. I used to use Vidnami for this but since that was sold I’ve switched to Promo.com.

Conclusion

I hope you found this article useful.  Please add your comments below and share it with others if you think they will benefit from it.  Thank you 🙂

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Home security cameras – 7 reasons why they are a great idea

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It’s an unfortunate fact of life that the Police are placing more and more reliance upon the public to provide evidence of crimes before they will investigate thoroughly.  However, there are distinct advantages to installing covert cameras that go beyond the evidence gathering when crimes occur.  In this post I explain several reasons why home security cameras are a great idea and why I think you should invest in some.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Home Security Cameras – what are they?

Home security cameras can be categorised into the three main types:

  1. Outdoor cameras – more expensive due to the cost of the weatherproof casing
  2. Indoor cameras – less expensive but of course limited to indoor use
  3. Covert cameras – hidden spy cameras inside the home

Home security cameras can be wired or wireless and they come with a variety of features and functions depending on model and manufacturer:

  1. Data stored on a an SSD card on the camera itself
  2. Data (images, video, and sound) transmitted to a local PC, NAS (Network Area Storage) or to a cloud account
  3. Motion Detection – recording triggered by movement (or sound)
  4. Night Vision – infrared capabilities
  5. Pan and Zoom – remotely operate and pan around and zoom in to areas of interest
  6. Internet Access – the camera’s view available over the internet with an app or website account

You’ll sometimes see them referred to as IP cameras (Internet Protocol) because they are devices connected to your LAN (Local Area Network) in the home, just like your computer, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet computer.

There are hundreds on the market and the technology is evolving.

Vehicle Surveillance Camera

A single bullet camera installed on the outside of your home can keep a watch on your vehicle parking area as well as your front garden.  In urban areas it is often the case that you have no option but to park on a driveway that is just off the road.  Your vehicle is therefore exposed to any passing miscreant with mischief in mind.

If your vehicle, caravan, or motorcycle is of particular monetary value and importance to you then the risk of theft or vandalism is greater.

If another driver reverses into your drive and collides with your vehicle then your bullet camera will capture the event.  It will make your insurance claim so much easier if you have video footage of the incident that clearly exonerates you and shows what really happened.  Without this evidence you are left to explain the damage and your insurers may not believe your story.  You may also be able to read the number plate of the vehicle and you can then pass this on to the Police.

The same advantages in terms of insurance claims, exoneration, apportioning blame, and helping the Police in the event of an accident occurring within your field of view are also reasons for installation a dash cam in your vehicle.

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Burglary Deterrence

Just as fake security cameras in shops can act as a deterrent to shoplifting so too can real home security cameras deter thieves.  They are almost certainly going to be real cameras and they’ll be filming anything that moves.  Given the choice between ten houses in a street, nine of which have cameras installed and one does not, it is a fairly safe bet that the house without the additional security is likely to be the burglar’s next target.

The same is true of alarms, but the cameras have all the additional benefits.  A house alarm is a deterrent and it may be monitored, so it can alert the neighbourhood and perhaps the Police, but it’s the security cameras that collect the evidence.

Obviously, to be a deterrent the camera has to be seen by the would-be thief. In the clip below the trespasser hasn’t seen the camera but a clear image of his face is captured in the footage.

Nanny Cam

Sadly, not everyone who is entrusted with the responsibilities of looking after children, adults, or pets has the integrity and professionalism to do so properly.  Let’s face it, some people are just downright cruel.  They may hurt or abuse (physically, emotionally, or verbally) those in their care, steal from them, or just behave in an unprofessional manner by neglecting to carry out those tasks that you have delegated to them.

An indoor security camera can be left in place and on clear display as a deterrent, or a covert camera can be installed to capture evidence if you suspect any wrongdoing but haven’t got any proof.

This is particularly useful for occasions when you have to hire temporary staff, and of course it refers to all kinds of staff or contractors, not just nannies; carers, cleaners, tradesmen, builders, house/pet sitters etc.

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Pet Camera

Many pet owners have no option but to leave their pets alone in the house or flat.  This can be a source of worry for the owner and anxiety for the pet.

A home security camera can be used to check up on a pet while you’re at work or absent for any other reason.  Some models can now transmit sound and video so you can even speak to your pet and reassure them with a visual and aural message.

Wildlife Cameras

Many people who have installed home security cameras have discovered that they capture all kinds of wildlife passing through their gardens at night.  Foxes are of course common in urban areas, but some cameras have also captured footage of badgers, deer, and other mammals.

Outdoor cameras can be pointed out bird feeding areas where they can capture footage not only of the more common garden birds but also the occasional rare visitor.

If your garden is particularly active you might want to consider adding a wildlife camera specifically designed for the task, just like the trail cameras we so often see on wildlife documentaries.

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Neighbourhood Watch

Communities and neighbourhoods that cooperate and communicate with each other are safer than those in which everyone is a stranger and no one talks to their neighbours.  The scheme works in close association with the Police and has proved its worth many times throughout the UK.

By joining your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme you can meet others who have also installed home security cameras and share tips and ideas with them.

You can cooperate with your neighbours and use your security devices to deter anti-social behaviour and crimes of any sort.

Helping the Police and Security Services

As the population grows and budgets for the Police seem to be diminishing rather than increasing the public are being called up on to help both deter crime and provide evidence when it has occurred.

A security camera installed on the outside of your home may capture the movements of a criminal or terrorist suspect passing by on the street.  That small piece of footage may be of great value to the security services.

Indoor and outdoor cameras may capture evidence that convicts anyone who vandalises your property, steals from you, or commits acts of violence against you or your family.

Surveillance Society

The subject of home security cameras and CCTV surveillance is the subject of rigorous debate, with strong views held on either side of the argument.  On the one had there is the case for deterring crime, and gathering evidence and intelligence.  On the other hand there is the increasing amount of intrusion into our daily lives, and near constant surveillance.

For example, here in the UK there are thousands of CCTV cameras filming us as we pass through urban areas.  In Germany there are far fewer as the consensus has been that they are a violation of privacy.  However, in light of the December 2016 terror attack in Berlin (and the lack of intelligence and footage of the attacker) it may be that the German people and government agree to more CCTV cameras being installed in the streets of their major cities at least.

Installation, Usage, and Maintenance Tips

  1. Read and follow the instructions.  Indoor cameras are very easy to install and configure but you may want to ask an electrician to fit any outdoor cameras as the power cable will probably need to come through an exterior wall.
  2. If your WIFI signal is weak in the chosen area then consider using Power over Ethernet plugs.  These use your household electrical wiring as an extension of your computer network.  Put one plug near your wireless router and connect it using a LAN cable.  Put the other near the camera and connect it using another LAN cable.
  3. Indoor cameras can be used to monitor the outside of the house by positioning them on a window sill but they tend to pick up glare on the glass of the window and they don’t have the coverage of an outdoor camera.  However, as a low budget option you can put them on the ground floor windows to monitor the areas in front of at the back of the house.
  4. Motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted so if you’re getting too many alerts reduce the sensitivity and confine the motion detection to certain sections of the camera view.  For example, you might be able to de-select the area covering a branch of a tree that keeps moving in the wind.
  5. Regularly check that your cameras are working and that your images and video are being captured and stored.  Clear out any archives so that your storage quota is not exceeded.  Some NAS software will do this automatically by overwriting to oldest archive.
  6. Keep your camera’s firmware up to date but check it’s working again after any upgrades.
  7. Familiarise yourself with the app for remote access and test in periodically so that you can use it easily when needed.
  8. Respect the privacy of your neighbours and don’t point your cameras in such a way that impinge on their privacy.  Domestic properties are not covered by the Data Protection Act but if you film or photograph your neighbours they could take action against you on the ground of harassment or voyeurism.

Where to buy home security cameras

Some of the more well known and popular brands are Y-Cam and D-Link and both companies have an extensive range available on Amazon. I’ve used both and I’m quite happy with the results.  Check that you’re buying the latest version of the camera and read the reviews.  You’ll find the vast majority of the reviews are positive.

If you have any feedback, suggestions, or tips you’d like to share please do so in the comments below.

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11 Ways To Audit and Refresh Websites For 2017

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The web is continually evolving and changing fast.  Websites that seemed to be state of the art a few years ago now look dated.  It is good practice to put some effort into a continuous cycle of improvement so with that in mind here are 11 ways to audit and refresh your websites for 2017 and beyond.

Websites are like plants, trees, and animals.  They need to be nurtured, fed, and given regular health checks. It’s not a difficult task but it does need to be part of your routine.   Happily, there are some easy and free ways in which you can increase traffic to your websites.

Website Audit and Review

The first task is to take a detailed look at your website and audit it.  Before you can make any improvements you need to baseline it to establish the current status so that you can measure any progress.

Things to consider in this review:

  • Keywords.  Is your site designed to attract traffic from particular search terms?  Are these terms still relevant?  Should they be updated based on changes in the way people search and the terms they use?
  • Content.  How much new text and media has been added in the past 12 months?  Was this too much or too little?  What would you change about the schedule in the coming year?
  • Quality. How satisfied are you with the quality of the content added so far.  Have you ever hired a proofreader to have the site checked for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors?
  • Appearance.  How about the site design?  Does the current them look dated?

Next, audit the site for technical errors that could effect its performance:

  • Broken links. Are there any broken links, missing images, and videos that don’t run?
  • Code errors.  Is the HTML, CSS and other code error free?  How could it be improved?
  • Mobile friendly.  How does your site load and display on smart phones and tablets?  Put your URL into this free mobile friendly Google tool and test it.
  • Forms and functions.  Are all the contact, mailing list and other forms working correctly?
  • Reporting.  Is your Google Analytics code reporting correctly and accurately?

Finally, don’t forget security and backups:

  • When did you last backup your website?  Is the process automated?  Where is the backup stored?
  • How secure is your website?  Are you plagued by spammers, spam comments, and spammy registrations?

Website Improvements

If you’ve checked all of this and found the site to be over 80% error free then well done!  It’s in very good shape and only needs a few other tweaks to optimise it.  However, if there are obvious areas for improvement then it’s time to work out a plan and implement it.

You can make these improvements in any order but you might prefer to start with the design first and then rearrange the content.  Once you’ve decided on a new theme you rearrange and amend the existing content.  You’ve then got a fresh looking site that might inspire you write more articles and blog posts.

You’ll need to address all and any of the items listed above.  If this is beyond your expertise or if you’re in any doubt about how to do it then hire someone to do it for you.  I would be happy to give you a no-obligation quote too.

Strengthen your site’s SEO

It’s easy to become obsessive about SEO and forget that the priority is simply to create interesting and informative websites that answer your target audience’s need, and which inspire visitors to return and to share your content.

Take care of that task and your site’s ranking will improve naturally.

  • Creating a site that is error free, loads quickly, is mobile friendly will help.
  • If you’ve audited, refreshed, and renewed it then you’ve already improved the SEO to some extent.
  • Adding fresh and original content that people like and share will attract backlinks.
  • Writing articles and blog post, or creating videos, that are shared on social media will also help.

However, you an dive much deeper into this subject and use tools that will analyse the site, suggest improvements, and give you the means to implement those changes.  Again, you can learn to do it yourself or hire someone to do this for you.

Conclusion

As with houses, businesses, life habits and more, websites need annual audits, reviews, and refreshment.  You can make some or all of these changes yourself and the SEO Powersuite is an excellent collection of tools which, properly and regularly used will pay for itself many times over.

Alternatively, outsource the task and look forward to seeing a gleaming new website for the year ahead.

Website Audit and Review Tools

  1. Google Analytics (FREE)
  2. Google Webmasters (FREE)
  3. Google Adwords (for the Keyword Planner) (FREE)
  4. Google Mobile-friendly Test (FREE)
  5. W3C CSS Auditer (FREE)
  6. W3C HTML Auditer (FREE)
  7. SEO Powersuite (suite of tools that audits, checks ranking progress etc)
  8. Content Samurai (create videos to draw traffic to your site)
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How to make internet marketing videos that create leads

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I’ve found out how to make internet marketing videos that look professional and that are ideal for capturing leads or promoting a brand. I can now offer it as a service to my clients.

Internet marketing can be difficult. It saps your time and your money, usually both.

Cyberspace is awash with SEO ‘experts’ who are ready to take your cash in return for promises of quick results.

After several months of paying their invoices you find that your site’s ranking has not improved enough to generate a decent return on your investment.

However, one thing that most experts agree upon is that video marketing is booming.

People search on YouTube for all kinds of solutions, products, and services. Many now go straight to YouTube for a video first and maybe check out websites on Google later.

A good video that’s properly configured for your target audience can help you gain those precious leads much faster than the article it is based upon.

How to make internet marketing videos

So here’s another service I can offer: turning your blog posts or articles into Youtube videos.

Example 1
Here’s a sample I made using a voiceover artist who read the script for me. I can hire UK or US speaking male/female voiceover artists:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEOVoo8D7C

Example 2
Here’s one I made by recording my own narration.

How to use my marketing video service

  1. You send me the link to your blog post/article or simply send me a copy
  2. You specify what sort of voiceover you want:
    (A) You record it and send me an mp3 file of the recording
    (B) I record myself
    (C) I arrange to outsource to a voiceover artist (you specify M/F, accent etc)
  3. I turn that into a slideshow/video
  4. I add appropriate stock images or any that you supply
  5. I share a draft copy of the video for you to review and approve
  6. You specify any changes and I make those amendments
  7. The final version is put online:
    (A) I send you the final copy and you upload it to your own account
    (B) I upload it to your YouTube account and do all the SEO tweaks for you

Prices

The price depend on the options, number of words in the article etc, but here are some guide prices:

  • A basic five minute video for which you supply the narration, starting at £45
  • A basic five minute video for the narration is outsourced, starting at £85
  • A basic five minute video for the narration is outsourced and I upload and SEO tweak the video, starting at £99

All prices are excluding VAT. I can offer you discounts for bulk orders. Contact me for further details and a no-obligation chat about your ideas.

Other Options

Alternatively, learn how to do this for yourself and make as many videos as you want each month by clicking the banner below and signing up.  The team behind Content Samurai are excellent.  They produce clear and concise training videos and provide quick support. There’s also and active Facebook user group for subscribers.

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Twitter Hashtag Hours – Meeting Points in Cyberspace

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Twitter hashtag hours are an example of simple idea that is both useful and free to use.  Simply send your tweet in a sixty minute window each week to reach businesses and individuals in a given area.  It’s a great way to network and make new contacts.

As the idea has caught on it has spawned hundreds of new hashtags.  Each one seeks to act as a focal point for a particular geographic area or a niche interest.

Some accounts have been duplicated while others have fallen into disuse.  As with all things in cyberspace it’s a good idea to check the data for integrity every now and then.

The list below is for the weekly area or county hashtag hours in the UK.  I compiled this list from another I found online but it quickly became apparent that the list I was about to use was out of date. It contained duplicate entries and other errors so I have checked each hashtag against the Twitter account the manages it.

Times are UK local time.  If you spot any errors or find any other regional hashtags please let me know in the comments below and I’ll update the list.

Twitter Hashtag Hours

Monday

19:00-20:00hrs #CumbriaHour
19:30-20:30hrs #DorsetHour
20:00-21:00hrs #CheshireHour
20:00-21:00hrs #HertsHour
20:00-21:00hrs #LincsHour
20:00-21:00hrs #NorthEastHour
20:30-21:30hrs #NorfolkHour
20:00-21:00hrs #TorbayHour
20:00-21:00hrs #WorcestershireHour

Tuesday

14:00-15:00hrs #NorthEastHour
19:30-20:30hrs #SurreyHour
16:00-17:00hrs #EssexHour
19:00-20:00hrs #veganhour
20:00-21:00hrs #HampshireHour
20:30-21:30hrs #BerksHour
20:30-21:30hrs #KentHour
20:00-21:00hrs #Merseybiz
20:30-21:30hrs #SoutheastHour
20:30-21:30hrs #WiltshireHour

Wednesday

20:00-21:00hrs #CambsHour
19:30-20:30hrs #CornwallHour
20:00-21:00hrs #DevonHour
21:00-22:00hrs #LondonBizHour
20:00-21:00hrs #MidlandsHour
20:00-21:00hrs #NorthWestHour
20:00-21:00hrs #ShropshireHour
20:00-21:00hrs #StaffordshireHour
20:00-21:00hrs #YorkshireHour

Thursday

20:00-21:00hrs #EastAngliaHour
20:00-21:00hrs #LancashireHour
20:00-21:00hrs #NorthantsHour
20:00-21:00hrs #SomersetHour
20:30-21:30hrs #SussexHour
20:00-21:00hrs #ManchesterHour
20:00-21:00hrs #WirralHour
20:00-21:00hrs #SouthWestHour

Other Hashtag Hours

There are hashtag hours for all kinds of interests.  For example, if horses are your thing there is #EquineHour every Sunday 8-9pm,   every Monday at 8-9pm,  to connect with horse lovers & equestrian businesses worldwide every Wednesday 8-9pm, and  every Thursday 8-9pm

If your topic of interest is covered then there’s nothing to stop you from opening a Twitter account and starting a new hour of your own.

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What your LinkedIn profile picture says about you

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LinkedIn is a thousand things to a thousand different people.  Perhaps you’ve completed your profile and use it for brief and infrequent messages to former colleagues, or maybe you’re a heavy user preferring it to all the alternatives.  Whatever it does for you there’s no denying that first impressions count, so here’s a few tongue in cheek suggestions of what your Linkedin profile picture says about you.

No Picture

You’re not really serious about this are you?  Failed at the first hurdle.  Sort yourself out and upload a head and shoulders shot.

The Non-Human

Are you a logo?  A building?  Do you have four legs?  The profile is meant to be about you.

The Face in Shade

I can see that you’re a human, aged 20-60, possibly male, but that’s about it.

The Over The Shoulder

Are you David Brent?  This is a business website not recruitment page for TV extras.

The Party Dress

The shot taken of you in that bar in Ibiza holding a half empty Pink Mojito at 2am.  You’re clearly someone who enjoys a night out, but what are you like in the office?

The Other Half

So you cut a picture of the two of you in half and uploaded the bit with you in it.  You now appear to be leaning to one side with a stray hand on your shoulder.

The Webcam DIY

The view of your nostrils with a slight fisheye effect while you frown trying to get the angle right is not a good look.

The ID

To save time you uploaded the same picture that’s on your name badge.  You know, the one taken when you were 123rd to be photographed on a hot day in 2010.

The Oldie

You’ve got one decent picture of yourself but it’s from 2003.  Scrub up and upload something more recent.

The Over-Posed

“Hello, my name is Larry.  Larry Lovemyself.”

The Pilot

Q: “If you’re in a crowded room, how do you tell which one is the pilot?”
A: “Just wait. He’ll let you know soon enough.”

The Décolletage

Yes, your cleavage can attract attention, but probably not the sort you might want on LinkedIn.  Try Tinder.

Have you seen other examples that made you wonder?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Should we use Social Media? Is it right for our business?

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The majority of new aviation businesses will at some point consider what presence they need to have online.  They will start with a website and then ask themselves the question should we use social media? Is it right for our business?

The answer to this question will depend on several things.  There are plenty of aviation businesses that have no need of social media and many that don’t even have a website.

If your already have a lot of clients and your order book is filled with repeat orders from that client base then time, effort, and money spent on a website might be wasted.  Similarly, marketing through social media will be low on your list of priorities.

On the other hand, you can achieve all your goals with just one social media account and a very basic brochure style website.

Flying into Cyberspace

If you are to realise your long term business goals you may need to lay some foundations now.  Creating a website and making your mark in the world of social media may not pay any dividends in the short term, but further down the line you may wish you’d started earlier if you delay the entry into cyberspace.

If you’re in the aerial photography business a website, Instagram, Flickr, Vimeo, or YouTube account is the obvious place in which to showcase your completed projects.

Videos in particular are seen very favourably by Google in SEO terms.  An active YouTube channel is a big plus, but SEO benefits are engineered by paying particular attention to the title, description, tags, and even the thumbnail.

You may have created a superb video with excellent editing and accompanying music, but if you haven’t given attention to the way the video is listed in YouTube then you may be missing a lot of traffic.

Sharing your work

Sharing your work on social media can expand your brand and attract potential leads.  If you niche is aerial photography and perhaps Lidar then you might want to share you work with appropriate hashtags in order to draw the attention of prospective clients.

It’s worth doing a little research before choosing the right hashtags.  If you want to attract the attention of decision makers in certain geographic areas then the choice of hashtag is of paramount importance.  Quantity is important too.  1-3 hashtags is about right, but more than four can seem like a confusing message.

With your carefully crafted aerial photography video uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo you can share this on Facebook, Twitter, and your LinkedIn company page using your choice of hashtags.  If it’s of sufficient quality and interest viewers will also share it, but you have no control over which hashtags they will use.

Generating Passive Income

It costs nothing to open a YouTube account and you can quickly learn now to upload your choice videos as each is completed.

If your videos are of interest to the many millions of viewers with an insatiable appetite for new material then your video may well become a source of passive income through advertising.

Monetising videos in this way is easily done provided that the images, video, and music used is licensed correctly.  It’s simply a matter of managing your YouTube account settings for each video submitted.

Anyone can learn to do all of this, given enough time, but if your time is already filled with other tasks why not let someone who has already learned the ropes do it for you.

Contact me to discuss how we can make best use of YouTube and other social media accounts to showcase your work and attract new clients.

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