18

How We Make Money Online Now

make-moneyWell, it’s certainly been a while hasn’t it? I keep meaning to do a post for this blog but we are so busy with other things that I just never seem to have the time to get around to it, but I wanted to provide you with an update on what we are doing and how we are making money online these days.

In a nutshell, we no longer rely on Google Search to make us money….and I have to say I love that feeling. We don’t have to sit here and worry about what Matt Cutts and his team of engineers are thinking up next and when the next algorithm change might appear that could potentially kill our income in one fell swoop. Is Matt Cutts even still in charge of that team?…we have no idea because we don’t even bother to read about the latest Google updates anymore.

In the past, our problem with our online business was twofold. Firstly, we didn’t focus on building up our followers, however, there was good reason for this. The sites we were working on were product based and it’s not as easy to get people to sign up to a newsletter, or follow you on Twitter or Facebook when your topic is simply about a product.

Our second problem was that we didn’t diversify in the right way. Most of what we were working on relied on Google Search, and even though those things we were working on were all different, we still needed Google Search to get us the traffic to make them work. This was extremely dangerous. As many of you might remember, we were hit by one of the Google updates and it took a substantial portion of our income at the time.

We went about putting in long hours trying to fix up the sites to suit Google but by this time our heart just wasn’t in it. And then there was another update and at that point we decided that we had just had enough of it all. We realised that we no longer wanted to have to rely on Google Search to make money online. There had to be other ways.

Mind you, this really wasn’t a conscious choice at the time – it didn’t suddenly hit us that we should be working on something else. It kind of just developed when we started working on things that we enjoyed doing rather than just building another website on printer ink cartridges or lawn mowers or yet another product site on something we really had no interest in.

Working on topics we already had an interest in was the key for us. What this meant was that we once again began to enjoy getting up each day and getting straight on to the computer to work. In the past, we had always enjoyed the lifestyle of working from home but not necessarily the work involved in getting that lifestyle. When your days are spent writing articles and reviews on topics you have no interest in, it can after a while, create a bit of monotony and the work day can become a little dull. We certainly don’t have that problem anymore and it shows in the quality of the information we are providing on our websites. When you enjoy something and have an interest in it, you don’t mind doing the research in order to write an article or create a video.

So what are we doing now? Well a number of things but really our focus is to create followers that are really interested in what we offer, whether that be information or a product. We have always said that you need to provide value in order to succeed online – we learnt that early on as we didn’t do this at the very start and it showed. When you provide value to your audience they will follow you and want to stay in touch. This can be via an email list, YouTube subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers and so on.

So essentially this is the process we follow…at least for one part of our business. This list is not necessarily in any particular order.

  1. Find a topic that you are really interested in and you know you will enjoy working on.
  2. Ensure there are products that you can promote that relate to that topic, whether they be affiliate based products or your own product or both.
  3. Create YouTube how-to videos based around that product. These need to be done regularly ie. once a week is ideal.
  4. Build a website for this topic and add content – how-to articles, reviews for products, the videos you have uploaded to YouTube etc.
  5. Build an email list with a product of some sort to entice your customers to sign up.
  6. Link to affiliate products from your website.
  7. Link to your website from YouTube – this is where most of your traffic will come from.
  8. Create your own product that relates to your topic.
  9. Create social networking accounts.

Essentially what we are doing is creating YouTube videos that are extremely helpful for our audience and bringing those viewers to our website. You can of course make money from the ad views on YouTube but in order to make a really good income from that you need a lot of subscribers and video views and that can take a while. So the money you make comes from getting people to your website, and getting them signed up to an email list, promoting affiliate products and selling your own product/s.

This is not a quick money making scheme. This is a solid business model that can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to start coming together.  It isn’t new by any means but it feels right and we are building up followers of people who are really interested in what we have to provide. But most importantly, we are enjoying the process.

We have a few YouTube channels in the works…for two of those channels, one has over 18,000 subscribers and the other, which is relatively new, has over 3000 and they are growing daily. These are all legitimate subscribers – we didn’t pay for any – they are all there because they like what we do and the information we provide. In fact, this applies to all of our social networking accounts and email lists. Although we may have paid for followers in the long distant past, we haven’t done that for a long time now so all of our current Youtube and social network accounts have legitimate followers.

And yes, of course I know that we are relying on Google yet again for traffic here but YouTube is a little less volatile than Google Search and so much easier to rank for if you know what you are doing. Plus, you don’t have to spend hours getting backlinks and writing articles. So while YouTube is working for us, we are building up our followers and our email lists.

So essentially that is where our main focus is at the moment.

If are interested in seeing what we are doing these days then here are two of our youtube channels :-

  • www.youtube.com/user/alandacraft
  • www.youtube.com/user/asmrhq

10

Amazon Associates – Handling US Withholding Tax Requirements for International Kindle Publishers

We publish and sell Kindle books on Amazon and since we live and work in Australia, we have to deal with withholding tax issues.  This has always been confusing for us and still is to be quite honest, but until recently we have never had to pay withholding tax. We would just complete the W-8 form and just state we didn’t live or work, or hold a business entity in the US, post it in to Amazon and that would be it.

However, when our latest cheque came through from Kindle, we noticed that they had taken out 30% of the earnings. When we went and checked the last 4 cheques, we realized that yes, they had been withholding some of our money and we just hadn’t noticed before. At this point, we felt it was time to investigate this properly and figure out what we needed to do. So the following information is based on what we did.

DISCLAIMER: Bear in mind, that this is just what we did and may not apply to you. Each country is different and each individual is different…PLUS, we aren’t experts in tax laws by any means…so make sure you do your research first to make sure you are doing the right thing.

Step 1: Get an EIN or ITIN

This part wasn’t very clear for us. We kept reading on forums that you needed to get an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). Since we are a partnership, we didn’t think this applied to us. Eventually we found out that  we needed an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

So if you are an individual you will need to complete Form W-7.

If you are a business of some sort, your will need to complete Form SS-4. And yes I know it does say Employer Identification Number (and we don’t employ anyone) but it is the correct one…at least it was for us.

As far as I can tell, the W-7 form needs to be mailed in. The SS-4 can also be mailed in, but it is so much easier just to ring them (+1 267 941 1099). We used Skype for this because it isn’t a toll free number and would have been quite expensive otherwise. The whole process was extremely easy. Make sure you have the SS-4 form in front of you already completed so you can answer their questions promptly. They will give you the EIN immediately once completed and will send out documentation in the mail.

Step 2: Complete the online form in your Kindle KDP account

Once you have your EIN or ITIN, you will need to login to your KDP account and complete the Tax Information section. This can be found by clicking your Account at very top right of the screen.

Amazon KDP Account Details

When it came to the part where it asked if we wanted to claim treaty benefits we ticked YES. We had always selected NO at this point and it wasn’t until we researched this that we realized that YES was the correct response. It will ask you to enter your ITIN/EIN and once done it will tell you what the amount of withholding tax will be.  Once that is completed a message will appear stating that your information has been submitted and will be reviewed by the IRS. At that point, you will not be able to make any changes so ensure you have entered the correct information to begin with.

 

Amazon KDP Tax InformationOur next step is to claim back the withholding tax, which we can apparently do. We are still researching that and I will update this post if we ever figure out how it’s done.

11

We’re Still Here…

Just a quick update to anyone still accessing this site that we are both still alive and well and both still working full time online.

We’ve been having a great time working on things we really enjoy, rather than on things just to make money. I think that is the key to success with working online. When people come into affiliate marketing it really is because of the money more than anything else and because of that, there is the tendency to focus on things that you don’t really enjoy doing. We did that at the start and had websites on all sorts of topics, most that we had no knowledge about or any real  interest in.

It worked, but only because we came up with a method that worked and put a hell of a lot of time and effort into it. But, to be honest, I don’t want to work on things I don’t enjoy anymore. If I am going to work from home, then I want to enjoy working from home and not make it another chore that I have to do. I may as well be back in a regular 9 to 5 job if that’s the case.

So for the past 6 months or so, we have focused on just two topics…ASMR (just Google it for more info, but basically it is a form of relaxation) and more recently, crafts.

I experience ASMR hence why I have started to create videos around that. Wanda doesn’t experience it, but loves making the videos for it, plus she has a great voice for it, which people love.

The craft part is something we both really enjoy…really, really enjoy. So we have created a website and a YouTube channel and started to create craft tutorial and review videos. That’s still in the early stages.

In terms of affiliate marketing, we have become completely relaxed with it. Google has had so many changes, that it is hard to keep up. One of the latest that I saw was the ‘HTTPs and SSL certificate for better ranking’ nonsense.

We’ve given up worrying about Google and their many changes to improve search engine results. I don’t even want to try to keep up with them anymore…and we don’t have to. What we are doing is working, albeit, it will take time, but we can see the progression already.

So now we just use Google…we blend in and use their tools to get what we want, and in a sense, this is all Google wants anyway. They want their tools to be used but only if the quality is there and it isn’t done using black hat techniques or manipulations of the system. If you can’t beat them, join them, as they say! There’s no point constantly trying to outdo them because it just becomes a constant effort.

Google will fall eventually because they are really only about the money these days, which is a shame because they started out in a whole different direction. If they can’t even get Google Plus to work, something is wrong and even those outside of the internet marketing game are starting to dislike them which is not a good sign.

So what does this mean for us? It means that we don’t do any keyword research anymore, we don’t actively back link, we don’t write articles around keywords, we don’t create new websites on topics we aren’t interested in and we very rarely read affiliate marketing news or follow Google changes or read blogs that talk about internet marketing. And as for our product sites, we just work on them when they need updating and no more than that. They still make us money!

It also means that we have closed our Affiliate Tools HQ membership site to new members. We actually enjoyed it, but the more content we added, the more difficult it became to keep it updated. And finding new quality content to add was always a struggle. (We still have members in there that joined up when we first opened the site!)

As for this website, I will probably continue to add posts but they will only be when I feel there is something worth writing about.

So that’s the update. Would be great to hear from our old followers to see what you have been up to.

35

Last Chance for Affiliate Blog Online

If you’ve been keeping track of our latest blog posts, you will know that we are having major issues with keeping this site running smoothly. We were with Bluehost originally and the site would be constantly down with no warning from them. We decided to move it to Hostgator  but Hostgater constantly shut the site down (at least they gave us a warning unlike Bluehost). Then we moved the site to WPEngine which is awesome but not really cost effective for a site not making any money.

So we brought the site back to Hostgator and all was going well until the past few days when Hostgator decided to take the site down yet again. For the past few days it has been down and despite making changes, Hostgator still won’t reinstate it. We don’t really know what the problem is and Hostgator aren’t in the business to help their customers work out these issues.

So we had to have a think about whether we even wanted to keep this site running. This has never been a big money making site for us and really has just been a way for us to babble on about what we do online as well as provide tips and hints for others trying to make money online. As you can probably tell, neither of us have added much to the site lately so is it really worth keeping at all?

So we had a chat about it and decided to give it one last chance. We decided we needed to move from Hostgator so we have made the move to StableHost. Will it be the right move? Who knows, but Stablehost have received quite good reviews so we thought we would give them a shot.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed….

35

Time for a Spring Clean…Plus Amazon Earnings

We’ve been in this business for a long time now…I guess you could call 10 years a long time…and as a result, we have built up a whole lot of ‘stuff’ that needs sorting out. When I say ‘stuff’ I mean websites. We just have too many of them and then there are the domain names – we probably have about 100 of them…most doing nothing but just sitting parked for maybe one day when we get around to using them.

Stupid really…we know we are never going to get around to it because we have enough to do already. We don’t want to build more and more websites. We have enough trouble keeping track of the ones we have, plus we created new ones after we were penalised by the Google animal updates.

In other words we have a lot of stuff and it needed sorting out…we needed a spring clean. So we have been spending the past month or so doing just that. Our main task has been moving most of our old sites over to one hosting account. We had 4 hosting accounts and we really didn’t need four. One of those accounts was a reseller account so we decided to move as many sites as possible over to that account. We figured it will make it a whole lot easier to keep track of everything.

Amazon-Earnings-Dec-13So far we have moved 23 sites over. These are mostly our old sites (pre-Google updates) that we no longer really work on. We don’t want to get rid of them though as despite the Google penalties they still make us money. Just to give you an example, for the first two days in December we have made $338 on Amazon and $174 with CJ for those old sites. We have other affiliate accounts so we may have made a little more than that…I just haven’t checked.

So while they are still making us money, we aren’t about to get rid of them. We just update plugins etc as needed and every now and then we will go in and freshen some up by adding content or changing the theme…but most of the time, we really do nothing to those sites.

Then we have some new sites. We could probably classify these are Type A and Type B. Our Type A are sites that we created because we are just interested in the topic. For example, we started a gardening site because we are both into that at the moment and an ASMR site…if you don’t know what that is just Google it. So all of those are going over to our reseller account as well.

Our Type B sites are ones we created to replace our old money making sites. These are our product sites although we are tending to move away from the product based sites and moving towards more generic type sites. And when we say ‘sites’ there aren’t a lot of them. We don’t want to go back to having 20 or so sites that we have to work on.

These sites are going to stay on their own hosting account separate from the rest. We’ve been burned in the past from people finding out what our sites were. They would either copy them completely, or pick out reviews that we worked hard on and use them on their own site, or they would constantly check our site stats and tell us that our system didn’t work if we suddenly had a drop in traffic…blah, blah, blah! We still get those sorts of comments to this day.

So those sites are hidden…WHOIS made private, different domain name account, different hosting account, different Amazon account etc etc.

We’ve also moved the Affiliate Blog site over to the reseller account. In a previous post I wrote about how we moved the site to WPEngine hosting. We were happy with the move and would have liked to have stayed with them but it really wasn’t cost effective in the end. This site gets a lot of traffic and we would go over the allowable traffic usage each month. (Note that WPEngine also includes bot traffic in their calculation). This meant paying an extra $10 or $15 a month in fees.

If we moved up to the next level it would have been $99. That wasn’t a problem but we would have only been able to add another site or maybe two before we’d reach the traffic limit again. So in the end, we decided to move Affiliate Blog over to our reseller account.

There were also some sites that we trashed completely. They weren’t making any money and we knew we would never get around to working on them again. I think we trashed around 5 sites – I would have liked to have trashed more but like I said before, we aren’t going to toss away sites that are still providing us with an income.

Then there were the domain names. We just had way too many and they needed to go. So for at least 10 of them we just let slide and no longer paid for the renewals.

For about 30 other domains, we put them up on Godaddy Auctions to sell. They have already gone through a 7 day auction with no sales but the best thing about Godaddy domain auctions is that you can relist as many times as you like and it doesn’t cost a cent. So what we are going to do is just continue to relist them until they either sell or expire. None of them are terribly exciting so we don’t expect miracles here but if they sell then great!

So all in all, it’s been worth the effort. We still have a number of websites to transfer over so we are focusing on that at the moment but once that is done, we are going to feel a whole lot better having everything organised.

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