What We Are Doing to Make Money Online in 2016

Yes I know, I haven’t been adding much to this site lately and I only came into it today to update WordPress and various plugins and such. But I like to keep adding content to the site even if it is only every now and then. It’s one of the first websites we created and one I still enjoy writing for.

So I thought about what to write for this post and decided on discussing what we are doing this year to make money online. It’s been evolving over the years but it has to if we want to continue working online. If you rely on Google, Amazon, Pinterest, Twitter or any other external business in order to make your money then you have to be prepared for them to make changes that could alter your income….sometimes in a big way.

It’s so easy to give up when those changes happen. We could have easily given up when Google hit our review sites hard but it never occurred to us to do so. Neither of us wanted to go back to a regular 9 to 5 job so we just assumed that it would work out in the end.

So after we got hit, we spent a lot of time working on this and that, just managing to hang in there by the skin of our teeth sometimes, but we just kept going and eventually we settled in on creating authority sites. But it wasn’t so much that one day we decided that we should create authority sites – it was more of an evolutionary process as what we really wanted was to be working on something that we had an interest in. We had created all of those Amazon review sites on topics, which for the most part, we really had no interest in so we wanted something we could work on long term that sustained our interest.

What this meant is that we started to build sites based on ‘our interest in the topic’ rather than ‘how good the niche was’. However, we also knew that the we couldn’t just build a website based on our interests if no-one else was interested. Nor could we do so if we couldn’t make any money from it. The reality is that if we want to work online, we not only need to think about what interests us but whether we can generate an income from it.

So we ended up creating a couple of authority sites – but we really only have one that we have been placing most of our focus on lately. It is a craft site and it is something the both of us really enjoy working on. We love the topics we write about and we love the people who follow us. It’s a nice community to be in so it was a good choice for us.

We have been building up a presence on YouTube and that has been a great way to get traffic to our website. Creating videos for YouTube can be a lot of work but we make sure we do the best we can with the equipment we have and we have improved so much since we first started recording for YouTube.

Our main focus this year has been on creating our own products. As many of you know, some years back, we released a manual called the ‘Amazonian Profit Plan’ which provided a step-by-step plan on how to create review sites and make money with Amazon. This was extremely successful and we were amazed at how much money we made from that manual – we honestly weren’t expecting it to do so well. But it taught us that creating your own products is the key to making money online over the long term.

We create downloadable graphics and crafting files as well as full training programs for various topics. We will continue to do this for at least the remainder of this year and probably on into next year.

We have also been selling physical products for over a year now on eBay and although it is doing better than we expected (we are a Top Rated Seller) , we don’t want this to be our main focus. We like the freedom of working online so that we can get up and go at a moments notice if we want. However, eBay doesn’t lend itself to that as you have to be in one location in order to stock and post the items. This is why we have started to reduce the amount of items we have on eBay and eventually we will most likely close up shop.

We still of course use Amazon quite extensively. We link to it wherever we can plus we still make money from the old review sites we have, but we don’t want to have to rely on it exclusively.

So that in a nutshell is what we are doing online now.

Why We Got Rid of Our Websites & Shut Down Our Podcast

minimalism and online marketingI recently read a blog post where someone mentioned creating a Word for the Year. This is where you choose a word that encapsulates your main intention for the year. It can be one word or a group of words. For some, it’s not always easy to find that word and in fact, you can take courses to help you find that word, but for me it was easy. I knew straight away that my word was ‘minimalism’.

I have been wanting to declutter for some time now and in fact, have been slowly doing this with household items but I really wanted to get serious about it. The house was still filled with so many ‘you never know when you might need it’ items and it was time to let them go.

This has taken up much of January for me and Wanda has come onboard as well and is doing the same with her home. In fact, she has gotten rid of far more than me.

It’s a liberating feeling getting rid of ‘stuff’. It feels like a weight off your shoulders. It essentially means that you have less stuff to worry about and to be honest, most people in western societies have more stuff than they will ever need just sitting in boxes in the garage. Some people have so much stuff that they pay companies to store the excess.

So since we are both focused on a more minimalistic approach it was only natural that this would apply to our online business. Last year, we just did too much and as a result by Christmas we were just burned out. We really needed to reassess what we were doing and get into a ‘declutter the business mode’.

This has meant a big change to the number of websites we currently own. Some of these were websites we had when we first started online so they held some sentimental value for us but we were in the right frame of mind to finally let them go.

Our criteria for getting rid of those websites was whether they earned enough to cover the cost of running them. Most didn’t so we just let them go. This has resulted in us going from around 30 working websites down to just 15.

Because we had so many websites, it was difficult to manage them. All those things you need to keep in mind like remembering passwords and which hosting company they were with, ensuring Wordpress and plugins were updated and domain names were renewed. And we would often think that if only we had more time, we would be able to work on them and get them making money again. So they were constantly in the back of our mind…yet another thing to think of.

Finally getting rid of them has been a really freeing experience. It has has allowed us to combine the majority of the remaining websites into one hosting account. This meant, we were able to close down one of our hosting accounts completely. So apart from the money saving, it is one less thing to worry about.

We have also decided to close down the podcast for this website. We really like the idea of doing podcasts and they are a great way of getting traffic to your website, but we had to weigh our options and we knew that this particular podcast had to go. So today we shut it down.

One final thing we did was to reduce the amount of videos we are recording for our YouTube channels. At one point, we were creating 3 a week. That was way too much work as we not only had to record but do all the preparation before hand and then spend time editing the videos.

This is really just the start. We intend to declutter even more so because decluttering not only gets rid of stuff and reduce workload but it also declutters the mind. The less ‘stuff’ you have to think of, the clearer the mind becomes.

We are already finding that the lightened workload is having a beneficial effect on our wellbeing. We are able to take time off and get back to having experiences rather than being stuck at home working on the business so completely. Creative ideas are flowing more freely and work has once again become enjoyable. So if you are doing way to much, sit back and evaluate just what you can downsize to get your life on track.

AB 004: How We Get (Genuine) Subscribers on YouTube

YouTubeOur main focus lately has been our YouTube channels and as a result we have been researching heavily on how to get more subscribers to those channels. Subscribers are extremely important because they create a following, they provide valuable feedback, they interact with you and like your videos, and they are your loyal fans.

We have two main channels that we are focusing on at the moment – our ASMR channel which is just about to reach 20,000 subscribers and our Alanda Craft channel which has just reached 5000 subscribers. Bear in mind, that these are REAL subscribers. We haven’t purchased subscribers nor do we run competitions in order to gain subscribers. These subscribers have come about simply because they like our videos. They are the best type of subscribers you can have.

Which leads me to an important point…DON’T EVER BUY SUBSCRIBERS! How do we know this?… because in the past, we tried this on one of our old YouTube channels (which we no longer work on). It doesn’t work because even if those subscribers are real people, they will not watch your videos, they will not Like your videos, and they will not comment on your videos.

In this podcast, we talk in detail about the techniques we used to get the number of subscribers we have and here is a summary of those techniques:

1. Create Quality Content

This is absolutely the most important thing you can do when creating YouTube videos. If you’re videos are poor quality, or don’t provide all the answers, or simply don’t meet the expectations of your audience then you won’t get subscribers…it’s as simple as that.

2. Ask for Subscribers

Seems simple doesn’t it, but all you need to do to get more subscribers is to ask for them. This can mean writing a short line in the Description field under the video to ask the viewer to subscribe, adding an Annotation in your video asking them to subscribe, or simply verbally asking them at the end of the video.

3. Increase Upload Frequency

The more videos you upload, the more subscribers you are likely to get. This certainly doesn’t mean that you need to upload every day, but if you are only uploading a video every now and then,  perhaps you need to rethink your strategy, as uploading more regular, good quality videos is going to result in more subscribers.

4. Use Custom Thumbnails

Using Custom Thumbnails is very important. If you don’t use a custom thumbnail, YouTube will simply select a screen shot from your video and use that. This screenshot may not always let the viewer know what to expect from the video. Creating your own thumbnails can make a massive difference to view counts and more views leads to more subscribers.

5. Be Yourself

Don’t try and copy someone else on YouTube just because they are successful. Just be yourself.

6. Use a Channel Trailer

This is something that we are about to implement on our craft channel. The Channel Trailer is what an unsubscribed person sees when they see your Channel page. The Channel Trailer needs to show this person what they can expect from your channel and needs to be short and snappy – under a minute is ideal.

7. Add a YouTube Subscribe Button to Your Blog

You can add a YouTube Subscribe button to your blog. We will be doing this on our blog posts that feature a YouTube video.

8. Use Keywords Effectively

This is so critical and yet not many people do this correctly. Keywords can make a massive difference to your rankings if you use them in the right way. You need to ensure that you choose the right keywords for your niche and place them in the Title, Description and Tags fields under each video.

9. Reply to Comments

Replying to comments lets your viewers know that there is a real person making these videos, plus if you have helped someone out by answering a question they are more likely to subscribe to you.

10. Hold a Giveaway?..hmm, maybe not

We have found from our own experience that holding a giveaway is not a good way to get subscribers. We tried this on our blog to get people to sign up to our newsletter and all we got were people interested in winning a prize. You will not get people who are really interested in you by holding giveaways. The only time you want to hold a giveaway is to thank your current subscribers but don’t use it as a way to get new subscribers.

11. Keep Your Intro Short

If you have an intro for each of your videos, then keep it short. Anything longer than 10 seconds starts to become too long and people will click away. I have seen intros as long as 2 minutes and all I really want to do is fast forward it. Keep it short and snappy.

 

 

AB 003: How to Create a Podcast from Start to Finish

how-to-podcastWe have been podcasting and boy do we love it. It’s something that we should have done many years ago, but neither of us really had the confidence to just get up their and ramble on which is something you kind of need the ability to do if you want to create a podcast.

Having said that however, I can personally tell you now that you don’t have to have the confidence at the start. We definitely didn’t and if you listen to our very first podcast you will see how scripted it was. We had no idea what we were going to say and the script was the only way we were going to get through that first podcast.

By about the third or fourth podcast, we were flying though them and today, we don’t even create notes for our podcasts. We decide that we are going to create one and a few minutes before we start recording we go through what we might want to talk about and away we go.

So what I am trying to say here is don’t be deterred if you think you don’t have what it takes to record a podcast because all it takes is practice. You’ve just got to get in there and do it.

So since we enjoy podcasting and we can see the benefit of it we are starting a podcast here for this blog, so we thought we would take you through the steps we go through to create a podcast channel and get the first podcast recorded and published.

Why You Need to Podcast

vector-microphone_smallIf you have a website then one of the best things you can do is to start a podcast. Of course, it will depend on your website topic as to whether it lends itself to a podcast but just about all topics can work.

So what are the benefits of podcasting? The biggest benefit is an increase in traffic to your website. There is a whole world of people on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting directories who don’t know about you and your website.

Just think about it for a minute. Let’s say you have a website on dogs. Nice choice with plenty of potential but how many other people have a website on dogs? You only have to do a quick search in Google to know that there are millions of websites already doing the same thing. The competition is horrendous.

Now let’s take a look at all of the podcasts related to dogs. I can almost guarantee that you won’t find millions of podcasts on dogs. Maybe a few hundred, maybe even a thousand, could be more, but millions??…nope. So your competition is so much less, which means you can be found so much easier.

And if you choose a topic that is less competitive than the dog niche then you might even find that no one is even doing a podcast related to your niche.

So you can draw on that untapped market of people wanting to hear what you have to say about their favourite topic. And while you are doing that you can encourage them to visit your website.

You can also make money directly from your podcast by promoting your own or other people’s products. Or you can sell an app for your podcast, sell subscriptions to premium podcast episodes or include paid advertising spots in your podcast.

So starting a podcast can be of great benefit to your online business.

What You Will Need

A Microphone

blue-yetiYou are obviously going to be recording your podcasts so you need something to record them with. If you are just starting out and have limited funds you can always record using your phone. As long as it can save the recording as an MP3 it will do the job, although sound quality probably may not be that great and sound is important when it comes to podcasting.

If you want to invest in a microphone that has good sound at a bargain price, then we recommend the Blue Yeti. It’s what we use for most of our podcasts. It plugs straight into the usb on your computer (PC or Mac) and takes minimal setup to get it going. We love it.

Audio Editing Software

You are going to need some sort of software to edit the podcast recording before you publish it. We use LogicPro to edit our podcast recordings but if you want something free than you can’t go past Audacity. This is awesome software that works for both a Mac or Windows computer and is relatively easy to use. We’ll show you how to use it further below.

Podcast Hosting

You will need somewhere to upload your podcasts to. There are a few options you can go with.

  1. Upload them to your website – Not recommend because if your podcast becomes popular, it can use up a lot of bandwidth which could potentially cause your site to crash.
  2. Upload them to Amazon S3 – Amazon has a storage area that you can load unlimited files to for free. Unfortunately each time someone downloads and listens to your podcast,  Amazon charges you for it. The price is minimal until you start getting a lot of downloads which is what happened to us. We had to move our podcasts to another service as Amazon didn’t turn out to be very cost effective in the end. Amazon S3 can also be quite complicated to set up so not really recommended.
  3. Upload them to a dedicated podcasting hosting company. This is our preferred option. The two biggest companies that provide this service are Blubrry and Libsyn. The price is quite low per month for either option and that is your only cost. You don’t have to pay for downloads like you would with Amazon S3, just a set monthly fee. We debated about which one to go with but ended up going with Libsyn but from what we have read Blubrry is just as good so I think you would be happy with either choice. We’ll show you how to use Libysyn in more detail below.

A WordPress Blog

The steps in this tutorial assume that you have a WordPress blog.

Podcasting Plugin

The final thing you will need to get your podcast up and running is a free WordPress plugin called PowerPress. It was developed by Blubrry but it doesn’t matter whether you use Blubrry or Libsyn as this plugin will work for both. This plugin basically gets your podcast up on to your site and provides iTunes with a means of finding your podcast.

The Steps to Creating & Publishing Your First Podcast

Step 1: Recording & Editing Your Podcast

This can be the hardest step for many as there can be quite a lot of fear associated with public speaking. I understand this completely as in my younger days, I dreaded public speaking. All you need to remember is that none of your podcasts will be live and nobody is going to hear anything until you publish it. So you can record as much as you like to get a bit of practice in before you finally decide to upload your first podcast.

However, you have to get something up eventually so even if it isn’t that great, just accept it and publish it. You have to start somewhere, so go with it. You will get better…believe me!

The actual recording part is quite easy if you are using a microphone like the Yeti and some free software called Audacity. We’ll show you how in the video below.

And if you are lucky, you will have recorded your podcast perfectly and it won’t require any editing. However, oftentimes you may have to edit out bits and pieces of unwanted noise…the neighbours dog barking, the plane flying overhead, an unintentional cough or sneeze or just some tummy rumbling sounds.

Preferably, you should also add an intro of some sort to play at the beginning of every podcast. We purchased a short music audio clip on iStock and added a voiceover to ours.

In this video, we show you how to record and edit using a Yeti microphone with Audacity.

Step 2: Upload Your Podcast

The next step is to upload your podcast using your chosen podcast hosting option. We use Libsyn so we will be showing you how to upload your podcast to Libsyn in the next video below.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Podcast

In order for iTunes and other podcasting directories to find your podcast you need to use a plugin called Powerpress. This plugin is free and makes it super easy to get your podcast out there.

In this video, we show you how to install and set up PowerPress for your podcast.

Step 4: Submit Your Podcast to iTunes

The final step is to submit your podcast to iTunes. We’ll show you how in the video below.

You will need an Apple ID in order to do this but if you already have an iPhone, iPad, Mac or any Apple product you will most likely already have an account so you can use that one.

If you don’t have an Apple ID then you can sign up for one here – https://appleid.apple.com/account

And you can download the iTunes software here if you don’t already have it.

You can also submit your podcast to Stitcher here.

 Okay, you are done. Now when you record your next podcast, you simply need to record it, upload to Libsyn (or Blubrry), create a blog post and add the podcast URL to that post.