Making Money Online Is Not Easy

I have been mulling this over in my mind recently and decided to jot down a few thoughts after reading Raj’s post on how his father was ripped off over a money making scheme.

For as long as capitalism has been around there have been entrepreneurs who have bent the rules and pushed the ethical envelope. In fact, it may be said that since the internet these ‘get rich quick’ schemes have become an even more prominent scourge.

Sadly, in the words of John Chow, “the market is huge because there really is a sucker born every minute”. Do not allow yourself to get fooled into thinking you can just setup a blog, write a few posts, slap up a few ads and get rich overnight.

Sorry, that just doesn’t happen. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. The odds are against you
    There are already millions of sites online; you can be sure that if there is a way of making money online someone else is already doing it.
  2. The web is all about money
    When I started out online it was a very different place, ie. people would link to you simply because that was the done thing. Thanks to Google the internet is now governed by link buys, so naturally acquiring links is extremely challenging. Now it’s all about money if you want any link love. Sad but true.
  3. It’s who you know, and what you know
    Just being a smart kid won’t cut it. That degree isn’t going to get you any links or build your brand, not directly anyway. You need to make connections, beg, barter and work your way into networks if you want to get anywhere. Gone are the days of the closet webmaster.
  4. The big guys get bigger
    It’s the same old story, the rich get richer. Just because a site is old and viewed as an authoritative resource people will link to it. The more links the site gets, the more authoritative it becomes. The more authority it accrues over time, the more people link to it. Authority in perpetuity.
  5. You need real determination
    You’ve got to come to terms with the fact that you have a lot of very hard work in front of you. Any other webmaster worth his salt is working long hours to get ahead, many will be working harder than you. In a society that demands instant results, making money online will require you to swim straight against the tide.

Don’t let that get you down though. There are plenty of money making opportunities out there and if you work hard enough at it your dream may come true. It just won’t happen overnight.

5 Tips For A Better Digg

Every blogger and their dog has heard about Digg; if you haven’t cottoned on then I worry. Seriously I do.

I’ve covered this before. Digg is an incredible way of getting your content in front of thousands of news-hungry geeks, fellow bloggers and industry gurus. Who wouldn’t want to be on the front page?

The problem is, in my opinion Digg has taken a turn for the worse in recent months. (You would need to have been living in a cave in outer Mongolia to have missed the uproar.) However, it isn’t this that annoys me most about Digg even though the user base is notoriously irrational.

No, it’s this somewhat egalitarian attitude that Digg just oozes. And it’s only recently that people have began to question it. Anyway, enough of the Digg bashing. We know it is far from perfect, here’s a few things I wish they would hurry up and implement!

  1. Start showing buries
    OK, everyone knows they have their own internal mods who can bury any story, but they really need to show negative votes or buries by Digg users. Digg doesn’t like being gamed, so if they want us to believe their democratic credentials they really need to step up and show buries publicly.
  2. Threaded conversations
    I don’t even bother to follow conversations on a homepage story, it’s pretty much impossible. Anyway, most of the comments are either full of hatred, inaccuracies and urban myths; or all 3! Get it sorted
  3. Speed up the site
    The Digg site is notoriously sluggish. With all they’re VC funding surely they can come up with some way of optimising their setup and make it faster to browse.
  4. Forewarning webmasters
    Many sites do not use one of the many Digg plugins for one reason or another. So how are they going to know that 50,000 visitors will be chewing up their bandwidth and possibly bringing their mission critical server down in a few hours? Answer: they won’t with the current system. Digg should give webmasters or the submitter some warning prior to scoring some time on the homepage.
  5. Cache homepage stories
    If you haven’t got through to the webmaster and their site crashes what use is the story? Nobody can see it unless you head over to DuggMirror. Come on guys, that just doesn’t float in the Web 2.0 world. Digg should cache a story and then show this cached version in the event of downtime. Once the Digg effect subsides, 301 the cached paged on Digg to the story URL.

Those are just some of the ways this site should be improved. What do you think? How would you hack Digg into shape?

Supporting Charity, One Tag At A Time

I just got tagged by my good friend Raj, who was originally tagged by Chris Garrett. The idea here is to direct some eyeballs to those charities you see fit to support. So without further ado; 5 charities that need your money:

So, who am I going to tag?

  1. Gareth Boyd – youngest brother
  2. David Boyd – younger brother
  3. Ally Simpson – newly-married, music-addicted cousin
  4. John Chow – admittedly I don’t know him, but the more blogs the better for this meme
  5. Andy Hagans – the SEO extraordinaire himself

By the way, I’m back!

Alternatives to Performancing Metrics

For months now I have been using relying on the brilliant Performancing Metrics package to track referrals to my blog as well as comments and the odd AdSense click. It was great, in fact it was by far the single most advanced and usable metrics package out there for a blog that I know of.

That was until they decided to drop the service and make it open source. I know they are a business, but I struggle to see how they couldn’t have made money by charging even $5 per month for access. Instead they’ve given it back to the community as an open source project, which is hard to complain about.

Anyway, if you’re anything like me you’ve probably been scouring the web looking for alternative metrics packages. So here are the ones I would be most interested in to run on a blog of any size.

Google Analytics
A metrics package from the behemoth itself. Google Analytics is a full-blooded metrics package that offers just about every feature that you could ever want, which is why I am not using it. I get the distinct feeling that Google Analytics is much more suited to large dynamic stores who can use features such as conversion tracking that just don’t matter to a blogger. However, there are some useful hacks that you can run on it like this one from Aaron Wall that tracks clicks on ads.

I make no bones about the fact that Google Analyics is a highly accomplished metrics package, it just doesn’t do what I want.

Feedburner
Typically associated with their feed services, Feedburner are branching out into other services such as tracking visitors to your site. They have now integrated Blogbeat, which means you can simply track traffic to your blog by pasting in some JS in your template.

However, yet again it doesn’t do what I want. Yes it gives details of refferals, nice graphs etc. but it just doesn’t feel right for me personally. That doesn’t mean for one second that you should ever ditch FeedBurner’s brilliant RSS feed service. But using them to track my site metrics is not for me.

103Bees
This is a relatively new and free upstart in the metrics space and it has clearly been developed with the blogger in mind. While it doesn’t show posts commented on or display AdSense clicks like Performancing Metrics did, 103Bees is no doser.

It is by far the most useful metrics package because it will actually help you get more traffic. They allow you to clearly see trends, find out what questions people are searching for before hitting your blog, most popular entry pages and most popular search phrases. More than this, 103Bees can show you longtail search phrases, and any search marketer worth his weight should know how good that is!

So who do I recommend as a replacement for the venerable Performancing Metrics? For me it has to be 103Bees!

Google Integrating Blog Posts Into Search Results

Digg!Google have been so busy releasing beta after beta for the last while that their raft of services are far from integrated. Try logging into your AdSense account, download an advanced report and try to open it in Google Spreadsheets. It doesn’t work. In fact try logging into Google Docs with Safari, it’s unsupported.

Things got so bad that Sergey Brin initiated ‘Features, not products‘, a companywide strategy to make Google’s services easier to access, feature-rich and interoperable. And the fruits are starting to show. You can now go to Google Blog Search with a link on Google News. Wow. It took a companywide initiative to do that?

But now things seem to actually be picking. I’m not 100% sure if this is brand new or not, but it looks like Google Blog Search is now getting integrated with it’s bigger 200lb brother.

After a couple of searches tonight I found that after the top 10 they were listing recent posts from Blog Search, which I think is new. Tell me if it isn’t. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work for searches about mortgages, dental plans and mesothelioma. ;)

Screenshot below.

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