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. Continue reading
Well it’s been a while since my last post. It’s not that I’ve been busy…it’s more the fact that I couldn’t be bothered writing for this blog. Sounds bad doesn’t it? But when it comes down to it, this blog isn’t how we make our money. In fact, it makes us nothing at all except when we write up a review for something (which is few and far between) or when someone pays for advertising space.
For now, this blog really is just a way of expressing my views of this online business I am in and also provide advice to others who are wanting to make a living online. So I personally don’t want to have to feel forced to write every day for it simply to keep the traffic coming in order to make sales.
But not only that, I find this business model for making money online quite time consuming. It also requires consistent action in order to maintain the momentum and quite a bit of networking in order to build a following.
In contrast, I find that the model we use to make money online is so much easier and once set up requires minimal work.
For instance, to get this particular blog up and running to a level of making a consistent income I would probably need to do the following on a consistent basis:
That to me is a lot of work.
On the other hand our model requires the following:
The difference between the two is that the first model requires consistent effort (usually daily) whereas the second model requires a one-off amount of work. The only consistent work involved with this is getting the traffic and even then once a level of traffic is achieved we don’t have to worry too much about it.
So we can take a week off and not do any work without it affecting our business. In fact, we can take a month off because the pages we have set up already get traffic and don’t need constant work to maintain that traffic. Obviously we can’t neglect those pages totally but the work involved with maintaining them doesn’t have to be done on a daily basis nor on a weekly basis once the traffic is there.
When it comes down to it, you only need a handful of good pages to make a full time income online. We have individual pages that consistently make over $500 a week and that is without ongoing effort on our part. So we don’t need to blog consistently or leave blog comments or check RSS feeds or post regularly on forums or Twitter constantly. All we really need to do is get traffic to our top product review pages and that really is just a handful of pages per website.
I’m on a mission at the moment to simplify everything we do. I want the The 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle…who wouldn’t?…but the only way we are going to get that is to consistenly analyze what we do to see what is working and what isn’t and then refine the process.
What me and Wanda do is get out the butchers paper and write down the tasks we do on a regular basis. We then go through each to see whether each task is actually worth the effort. For instance, at this moment in time we don’t see the value in spending hours a day on Twitter. It brings in minimal traffic for the amount of time and work that is involved. So you’ll notice the Twitter account for this blog has been pretty quiet these days as has the rest of our Twitter accounts. That’s not to say that Twitter doesn’t have value but for us it’s too much work for the results we are getting.
So what about you? Have you thought about the effort you put into your online business? If you are new to making money online then obviously you are going to have to do a bit of work before you see results but what about those that have been online for a while. Are you actually making any money for all the work you are putting into it? If not, then you need to step back and look at exactly what tasks you are doing on a daily basis and see if they are getting you the results you desire.
We’ve mentioned in the past how a turning point for us was when we started adding Amazon affiliate links to our websites but I’d like to expand on that a little so that you can see the true potential of their affiliate program. I’d also like to share exactly how much we make on Amazon – or at least how much we made this month to give you an idea of what you can achieve.
So where did it all begin?
Last year we were struggling as affiliate marketers. We had over 20 blogs but were only making around $500US a month. After we took out expenses and the money we paid for a writer, we were left with pretty much nothing. We really needed to get to the next level if we were going to live the dream of working from home on a full-time basis.
One of the sites we were working on at the time was a website that provided reviews of products. At the end of each of those reviews we would provide links to different online merchants so that our readers could find the best price. But since, at the time, we were thinking of the money first and our readers second we never added Amazon as an option despite the fact that it would have benefited our readers as Amazon have some of the best prices. So why didn’t we add them?…because we saw that Amazon only pay 4% commission and we didn’t think it was worth it. After all we were getting around 8% from other affliate merchants.
Now Amazon do pay more once you start selling more but at the time we didn’t think we could sell that many items to increase our commission. Talk about limiting beliefs, but you have to remember that prior to this we were using merchants from CJ, Shareasale and Linkshare and to see a sale a day was quite exciting – to see 2 sales a day was amazing and 3 or 4 sales a day would have been a major celebration.
Thank goodness we started to focus on our readers because when we did we realised that we needed to add Amazon links in order to provide them with better buying options. So we did just that to about 10 pages of that site.
Two days after adding the links, I checked Amazon stats and was quite surprised when I saw 11 sales. I also realised that we had already jumped to the 6% commission level. I didn’t get too excited though as I really thought it was just a fluke. I even remember telling Wanda that it was probably just one person who went on a shopping spree. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see any further sales.
But then the next day I checked again and we had 9 sales, the next day 3 and the day after that 12…I started thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a fluke after all.
You can see the results here in the table above.
We were pretty amazed since we weren’t used to that many sales in one day, let alone continuous daily sales like that.
The Benefits of Amazon
The main benefit of using Amazon is that they know how to convert. You just have to get your reader there and Amazon will do the rest. Even so, you shouldn’t just rely on Amazon to do all the work for you. We noticed that when we reworked a few pages to provide more indepth reviews for our readers that conversions jumped through the roof. So make sure you provide value too and then let Amazon do the rest.
By far and away the best benefit of Amazon is that although you might send your readers there for one thing, they generally tend to look around and often they will buy the product and other items or they end up buying something completely different.
For instance, if your site is all about dog beds and you provide a link to Amazon recommending what you think is the best type of dog bed, the reader might go to Amazon and decide not to buy the dog bed but because Amazon has so much to offer, something else may get their attention and they end up buying other unrelated products.
And believe me when I say that this happens more often than you think. If we take our stats for instance, for November, 524 of the products we sold were products that we recommend. The remaining 1768 products that sold were products that we didn’t recommend and in fact in a good majority of cases they were for products that were not related in any way to our blog topic.
How to Use Amazon Effectively
The best way to use Amazon is to use text links within a review of a product. Don’t bother with the widgets or the banner ads – they won’t be anywhere near as effective. Use text links and your click through rate will be much higher.
So How Much Did We Make on Amazon This Month?
This is the bit I am sure you have been waiting for but since a picture tells a thousands words I have added a screen print of our Amazon stats for November 2009. The results are for four of our blogs but most of the money is coming from one site…probably about 90% of the income. We haven’t worked much on those other 3 blogs and until we do they will continue to make a minimal income.
Notice that we have hit the 8.25% commission level. This is because we have sold over 1571 items – the more you sell the more commission you get up to a maximum of 8.5%.
It will be interesting to see how we go in December with the build up to Christmas.
Just remember that with anything you do online, that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the one basket. We use Amazon quite extensively and highly recommend them but we also use Google Adsense, CJ, LinkShare, Shareasale, Google Affiliate Network, Clickbank and more. So that $14,000 + from Amazon isn’t our only source of income this month.
Well we can’t stop smiling at this months Amazon earnings and here is the link if you would like to add Amazon to your website.
Due to popular demand, since writing this post we have written and released the Amazonian Profit Plan e-book. This e-book provides you with a step by step blueprint full of in-depth, highly detailed information on making money with the Amazon Associates Program
By guest author Nia Sowden author of Survival Wytch
I am a freelance writer and this is my perspective on working from home. I’ll share with you what I have found to be the advantages and disadvantages.
I began working from home when the kids were little, having part time jobs cleaning or selling products or preparing and selling food to cafés and being a day care mom. This meant that I could be at home for my children after school.
I loved the freedom of being my own boss and having my own hours. I always made sure I had something freshly baked for afternoon tea, I loved having time to potter around or tidy up in the garden or create a mess. I love sculpting in clay and styrene so having time to practice my art was important to me, working from home means I can do whatever I want to do.
What I have always loved about working from home is the choice of having my own schedule, creating my own time and being my own boss. I can shop when I want to, visit my friends, see a movie and go to the beach.
I have returned from working full time outside the home, to working from home writing articles.
The Time Management Myth
Again my time is my own. I have to be disciplined though. The first step to success is time management.
So I read the articles available on realistic expectations of working as a writer from home, being committed to working from home, looking after my health, eating properly and exercising, taking time away from the work desk to do something unrelated to the task at hand.
These accounts are all very different to what is my reality.
Do one thing at a time, that is the time management secret, and devise a plan. The plan of my day looks like this:
• I write a heading and main ideas, then wash the dishes, flesh out the first paragraph, make the beds, get involved in the article, hang out the washing, save article and cook lunch.
• Rewrite bits that don’t fit for whatever reason, prepare afternoon tea for the children, stare at the screen.
• Bring in the laundry and fold and put away.
• Prepare the evening meal.
• Adjust the article for readability.
• Talk to someone about their day.
• Return to the article and send it off.
I am finding being a freelance writer is quite different to the romantic way this particular employment choice has been portrayed.
My evenings are filled with interruptions because I guess I am neglecting my parental responsibilities and as for being a loving partner…
I thought I would interrupt the family during something they love to watch to demonstrate the ‘no interrupt’ policy I need for writing success.
It didn’t work.
My family switched off the television to talk to me because, they claimed, they never see me. And besides, if I am away from the computer for 5 minutes they figure I have finished and then they want to use it.
I get engrossed in a story, investigating and researching an idea and just ‘exploring my craft’. After all the story doesn’t get written if I don’t make a start. And then I get interrupted by my family, ‘Are you finished yet?’ or ‘Can I use the computer?’ or ‘What’s for dinner?’… Dinner already?!
My husband has pointed out to me that the evening meals have all had something that is not quite right about them lately. The pasta was hard on Wednesday, the rice was only half cooked, mm crunchy rice on Thursday and the beans and carrots on Friday were only warm and still raw. (Memo to me, stop thinking about writing when cooking dinner).
I have read other writers accounts of how they manage their time, how they justify the time in front of their computer, how they do things in stages so that they can improve on it.
Take breaks from the computer the guides all say, but when I’m on a roll I just can’t. Unfortunately my family is on the back burner while I get my article finished.
Make sure you exercise often, stretching and moving around to increase blood flow and oxygenate the brain.
My exercise breaks consist of hanging out a load of washing, or vacuuming the floor. I’ll do household chores whilst I rework an idea.
These exercises don’t appear in the keep healthy manuals, they just aren’t written for work at home mums! I felt that I wasn’t maintaining my fitness because I wasn’t doing crunches while talking on the phone or squats while searching through the filing cabinet and as for lunges or running on the spot, does running to the stove to save some forgotten meal count?
Exercising by doing my housework is a great strategy to rework an article in my head, or when I get discouraged with they way an article looks, I can still ensure my responsibilities to the family are met with house work done and the batch of cookies for afternoon tea.
But I’m always working, I can’t switch off. Maybe I’m obsessive about writing and I’ve become a Zombie mum working from home, Distant and aloof.
“Can I eat everything in the house?” asks my 9 year old daughter. “Hmm?…yeah sure” I absently reply
Maintain a healthy diet
I make sure I eat properly, albeit with one hand while I type with the other and I haven’t enjoyed a hot cup of tea in days.
I’m sure I’ll find a balance, perhaps when I finish this article.
I would be working on a blog post one minute and then the next minute I would be downloading yet another ebook which of course was going to make me millions.
I have no idea how I could go from writing a blog post, which of course was now half finished, to downloading and reading an ebook but I think it went something like this:
Hey, I’m typing my next blog post – this one is going to be great and get me on the front page of Digg for sure. This is going to be so good, just wait till everyone hears about Google developing their own manned spacecraft and sending Matt Cutts to the moon…
Hang on, is that the phone ringing?…no it’s the dog barking…now why would I think the phone ringing sounds like the dog barking?…wait, what was I doing? That’s right, I was writing a blog post about Matt Cutts going to the moon…Gee, I’m so lucky knowing Matt Cutts well enough that he would give me exclusive rights to this story.
Now I had better get that date right because we don’t want people turning up at Cape Canaverel on the wrong day…I had better head over to Google to do a bit of research…
I love Google, their search engine is great….so what was I researching again?…oh yeah, something to do with Google and the moon…
So I had better type in ‘when is matt cutts going to the moon alice’ and I’ll use quotes just to get a better result. Hang on, that’s not right, let’s take out ‘alice’ and try again…
Hmmm, not really what I was after…maybe I should try that without quotes….nope still nothing…but then I guess if I’m the first one to release the story then it won’t be on the internet yet…doh!…
But hang on what’s that? That Google ad looks interesing…”You too can make millions online with just one minute of work per day”…I might just click on that and see what it’s all about…
So know you can see why I would be reading an eBook instead of writing up the next biggest news story since Paris Hilton choked on her coffee.
Now this is obviously just a bit of fun but it’s not too far from the truth. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you work online. But it is not always the internet that can distract people from their online business. Outside distractions can also be a problem with family and friends taking advantage of your free time…or what they perceive to be free time…since according to them, since you are at home, you are not really working.
If you are serious about your online business then your family and friends need to realise this. If you think about it, if you were working full-time for someone else, then you wouldn’t be able to have a two hour lunch everyday, or take your kids out for the day or head off to the shops at a moments notice. You would most likely be focused on what you were told to do.
If you are home full-time and running a business then you should treat it the same way you would as if you were working for someone else. This means setting aside hours of the day to work and sticking to it regardless of what family and friends are wanting of you.
This isn’t to say that you should be a slave to your work. The whole point of working from home is that it allows you the freedom to come and go as you want without someone telling you what you should and shouldn’t do but if it becomes more about doing what you want and less about the business then there is something seriously wrong and you need to refocus.
I have been forced to stay focused for the mere fact that I literally have a short amount of time to get everything I need done. That’s not to say I am perfect by any means. I still get sidetracked but I have become more aware of it and can get back on track a lot quicker than I used to.
Here are some techniques you can use to stay focused:
1. Set up a daily task list.
This should really be done the night before or in the morning. Don’t prepare too far in advance as it becomes too easy to forget.
2. Allocate time periods to your work.
As you sit down to work allocate a period of time that you will have to perform the first task on your list. For instance, if I am going to write a blog post, I might allow myself two hours to complete it – that includes research and writing. Keep an eye on the time to ensure you are staying on track. Better yet download free alarm software to alert you when the first hour is up. This will get you back on track if you have veered off course.
3. Keep yourself away from family, friends and the phone.
Better yet get your family and friends together in the one spot and explain to them that from now on you will be running your business like a business which means while you are working, you can’t be disturbed unless it is an emergency. If you’ve got a spare room in your home then make this your personal office. If family are a constant distraction then assuming they are all old enough to look after themselves then keep your office door shut….locked if you have to.
4. Learn how to say ‘no’.
If you were working for someone else and a friend rang and asked you to go for coffee would you be able to jump up at a moments notice to go along? Most likely not, so why should it be any different for your business? Now this is okay every once in a while but if it becomes a daily occurrence or it interferes with your business then you are not staying focused. Learn to say no to family and friends.
5. Limit your time on Stumbleupon or Facebook or any of these social bookmarking/networking sites
Yes I know, I love them too but if you are going to use them, then allocate some specific time to them. This is best done at the end of the day when you are tired and just want to relax, not when you are wide awake and should be using that quality time for working on your business.
Don’t get too serious about all of this. Working from home is meant to be enjoyable, not a chore, but if you want to succeed you really need to work at it and stay focused.