Author Archives: Andy

Tools For Working Online

In recent years we have seen a sea-change in attitudes towards working from home as the internet has become faster and all pervasive. Better productivity, increased creativity and a much wider pool of talent makes telecommuting extremely compelling to businesses around the world.

The only problem with working remotely as part of a team, or managing a virtual team, is the tools you use on a daily basis. It’s easy to forget that the telecommuting craze is a relatively recent affair, which means that the tools available to use are perhaps not as full-featured as their desktop equivalents.

Therefore, it is important to use the tools that are going to help your business rather than hinder it. Here are the tools you should be using to power your team.
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Consolidation: The Key To Profitability

For as long as there have been webmaster forums there have been arguments for and against having multiple sites. When AdSense came along and revolutionised how people could generate and income online the rush started to build lots of mini-sites, each one targetted to rank for a particular high-paying phrase.

I for one can say that for some time I was firmly in the pro mini-site camp. There are some very valid arguments for diversification:

  1. You can build up a network of sites on different IPs and link around liberally.
  2. You stand less chance of losing your entire income through a penalty.
  3. Each mini-site can be built up over time to become an authority.
  4. If one site makes $1 per day then wash, rinse and repeat your way to profit.

However, as time has gone on this approach has become less and less profitable for several reasons:

  1. Google clearly prefers aged links from authorities in your niche, which are hard to come by when your site is only a few pages of regurgitated drivel. Therefore, you will struggle to rank.
  2. AdSense Smartpricing means that each click earns less because your site has no value.
  3. CPA and CPM are making a comeback, which means you need traffic to make money.

With the recent dumping of arbitrage accounts there may be a slight uptick in your AdSense revenue, but I wouldn’t rely on that to pay the bills. There certainly is a place for the mini-site, but if you want to make money online then I would advise you to consolidate on a core few sites spread out in the niches you are most interested in, develop a brand, earn authority, build a base of subscribers and work your way up.

At the end of the day it all comes down to time. You might have 100 sites earning on average $100 per day, but are you ever going to get the time to improve them? Currently I am in the process of consolidating what I own, whittling down my portfolio of sites to a core that can then be be built up over time.

What are your thoughts? Diversify or consolidate?

Making Money With Hot Domains

It’s not true: it’s not only .com domains that have resell value. I see .info TLDs (Top Level Domains) selling like hotcakes. Some registrars have a sale on them, and people are buying them up on one year’s registration and reselling for a small profit.

Some people are even building a static website using a cheap multi-site hosting account, adding about 10-20 pages of content having Google AdSense ads, and then selling them for $150-$200 at Sitepoint Marketplace, or one of the numerous other places. Not a bad return for a bit of work and low startup costs. (Hint: hobby and health topics seem to sell the most.) My observation is that .net and .info TLDs seem to be popular for this activity.

The .tv TLD is an area that I think will become hot. (Is that hard to see; not exactly prophetic, since Internet TV is growing huge.) Because the yearly registration costs range from $25-$39.99, there are still tons of great choices. Actually, the reason for the availability is due to a historic problem. The .tv TLD stands for the island nation of Tuvalu. If I understand correctly, a company did a deal with the country, but couldn’t guarantee registrants what the yearly registration fee would be. So some people paid big money (thousands) and are worried that that’ll be the yearly fee. Others have been reluctant to register. Unfortunate but true.

Regardless, I’ve registered 3-4 or myself, and one uses clever wording – if I do say so myself – in a popular blogging niche. (Sorry, won’t reveal it until the site is ready to launch.) My feeling is that if I can develop some screencast how-to tutorial videos for it, I could probably sell it for 5 figures next year. But without any content, the domain may go unnoticed. (You have to weigh several factors before you decide whether or not to develop a domain.)

One other trend I’m seeing is that more bloggers who are or want to become Pro Bloggers are getting “vanity” domains. These consist of their name and .com, .net or .biz, depending on what they do besides blogging. Some use a variation of their name. A domain name can be a personal brand, whether you use a .com or a .name TLD.

[Raj Dash is a full-time blogger who’s dipping a pinky toe into the domaining world and writing about it at nameSonar.]

Linkbait: Was It Really A Good Idea?

There has been much hype around linkbaiting over the last year, mostly thanks to the rise and rise of social networks like Digg and StumbleUpon. If you haven’t heard about linkbaiting just yet, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Create some quality content like a viral game, top 10 list, news piece, scathing review or interview with a popular blogger etc.
  2. Submit your linkbait to Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape, Reddit and others.
  3. Ask friends, family, coworkers, Santa to vote it up.
  4. Hope it gets some sort of traction, dodges the moderators and makes it to the popular page.
  5. Watch the links roll in.

This is overly simplified, but you get the idea. Done correctly, a good piece of linkbait can bring in hundreds of quality one way backlinks, a nice boost in the SERPs, a spike in RSS subscribers and, of course, a lot of traffic. Linkbaiting is an extremely cost-effective means of getting links quickly and from websites you would ordinarily never be linked from.

Sounds great, but I’ve gone off linkbait recently and for good reason. Apart from problems at Digg where most linkbait ends up, there is one major problem with linkbaiting; you have absolutely no control on who will link to you. That is a serious flaw when you consider the importance Google places on links from authoritative, highly relevant sites. An article that has gone viral will be linked to from websites as diverse as you can imagine, but you can be pretty sure that most of your links will come from low quality scraper blogs who just regurgitate the Digg RSS feed.

So, is it time to give up on submitting your stories to Digg linkbait and get back to link building 1.0? Andy Hagans thinks it’s a case of going back to basics as well as exploring alternative niche social media sites and I would tend to agree, although I think it still has a place in your overall link building strategy. However, I would not rely on it.

Marketing your site is about who you know more than ever before. Link building in 2007 onwards is all about your IM contact list and networking. Yes, use linkbait where available. But get under the radar and stay there!