I quit my day job

Associate Programs Newsletter #27


1. I quit my day job
2. Why I-Sales got the scoop
3. Dispelling myths about gateway pages
4. Ranking high in search engines
5. How to get started with associate programs
6. Check those Cybergold offers carefully
7. Another greedy spammer
8. Paul wants to be bashed, too
9. Snippets
10. Articles at AssociatePrograms.com

1. I quit my day job

I guess I'm a slow learner. It took Jim Daniels only six months. It took me two and half years. I've quit my day job (well, actually it was a night job, working as a sub-editor for a newspaper). Today will be my last day working for someone else.

That thought is exhilarating and challenging, but it's a little scary, too. From now on, my little Internet business is no longer just the icing on the cake - it's going to have to feed my wife Joanna and me.

I owe a lot to Jim Daniels. It was his excellent introduction to marketing on the Net that got me started. Those occasional $10 commissions from Jim proved to me it really was possible to "earn money while you sleep". In fact, because I live in Australia and most of my customers are in America, a lot of my sales are made while I'm asleep.

Sure, I've seen Jim's book criticized - by surface skimmers who say, "I already know that," but don't get around to using the knowledge they say they already have.

What Jim says in the book could hardly be called "secrets" any more - if they ever were. However, it's a cheap, excellent introduction to marketing on the Internet which puts the hints in one easy to read, easy to access place: Insider Internet Marketing. [UPDATE: This book is now outdated.]

If I owe a lot to Jim Daniels, I owe a heck of a lot to Corey Rudl - his amazingly generous checks are usually about ten times the size of the checks I get from Jim. At $75 a pop, you don't have to sell many marketing manuals to receive a healthy commission. And yes, the manuals are worth what Corey charges. After all, all you need from a marketing book is ONE good idea and you'll earn your money back many times over. And Corey offers about 500 pages of good advice - followed up by a monthly newsletter which each month is usually worth the price of the manuals.

Occasionally I ignore Corey's advice. He thinks you'll be confused if I present you with two different URLs, but I think you're smart enough to cope.

You want to BUY Corey's marketing manuals? Go here.
You want to SELL Corey's marketing manuals? Go here.

2. Why I told I-Sales first

I don't encourage people to write to me for marketing advice, but people do anyway. One thing I've noticed is that these people's names are ALWAYS new to me. On the Net, they're Mr and Mrs Invisible. I subscribe to dozens of newsletters and mailing lists, but I don't see the names of these strugglers. Big mistake.

Writing a letter to LinkExchange Digest, I-Sales, Markethink or one of the thousands of discussion lists and newsletters which might publish your letter is a wonderful way of getting free publicity for your site.

Early this year when I started AssociatePrograms.com I launched a little publicity blitz in quite a few mailing discussion lists and newsletters. "You're EVERYWHERE," one friend wrote to me. Well, not quite, but I was certainly trying to be. (I admit it, lately I've been so involved in working two jobs that I've neglected taking part in a lot of Net communities. I'll try to do better in 1999.)

When Leo Sheiner's Safe-Audit copped a lot flak recently one of his reactions was to write a long, really thoughtful letter and send it to a mailing discussion list - I think I saw it in I-Sales - where it would be seen by thousands. Leo obviously knows how valuable such publicity can be.

One of my favorite mailing lists is I-Sales. Anyone who's anyone on the Net seems to read it. It publishes some fairly heavy stuff and it's not easy for a relative newcomer to get a letter accepted by moderator John Audette. However, I thought he might let me away with a letter which mentioned I'd quit my day job - and he did. The result: about 11,000 people saw my letter, and also saw my signature containing a link to AssociatePrograms.com. That's why I scooped my own newsletter and told I-Sales first.

The really clever contributors to such mailing lists don't try to push their own barrows. The offer useful information, they praise other sites, or sometimes they just ask questions - and each time their URL gets a little bit more free publicity.

Places to find newsletters and mailing lists:

[UPDATE: I-Sales was sold and then died. For mailing lists, try a search in Google. They're hard to find these days.]

3. Dispelling myths about gateway pages

Planning to use doorway or gateway pages in an effort to get high rankings on search engines? Matt Mickiewicz of Webmaster-resources.com says almost every search engine has implemented an anti-doorway page policy.

Matt decided his letter to me was so good that he would also send it to LinkExchange Digest, so you're probably among the 75,000 or so people who have already seen it #480 - http://list.audettemedia.com/archives/led.html .

Matt says gateway pages work only on Infoseek - and then only if you don't get caught.

However, some people DO get away with using intelligently crafted gateway pages. It seems to me there's a crying need for a site explaining what works and what doesn't.

Who wants DoorwayPages.com? It was available today. I wonder if it still is.

[UPDATE: LinkExchange Digest became LED Digest, and eventually stopped publishing.]

4. Ranking high in search engines

Bill Prackup explains the benefits of using Engenius 1.0 software to teach you how rank highly in search engines.

Hello Allan,

Engenius is not what you think it is. It teaches you - Not does it for you. Create a template, pointer page then set all the "meta tags" for the 8 major search engines to be found in the top 20 is just the beginning. I have two sites marketing in the highly competitive health and nutrition MLM field. One of them gets 8,000 - 9,000 unique visitors a month. No banner ads, no exchange ads. Just time, effort, patience and work.

Because I admire your honesty, saying when something doesn't work, I suggest you go to Pegasoweb.com, download a free demo and examine it. I would be a reseller but Fabio has not set up a simple way to do it . . .

Best Regards,
Bill P.

Sounds good. I'll put it on my long list of things to do. The software costs $30 and associates earn $15. It was originally recommended to AssociatePrograms.com by Chris Kilian. Bill is not an associate and nor am I yet so why not give Chris an early Christmas present? You will if you use this link:

[UPDATE: This software has disappeared.]

5. How to get started with associate programs

I've received several questions from people just getting started with associated programs.

Q. It seems you don't like "How To Get Rich On The Internet" sites. Can you explain? What I was hoping to do is provide a site were people could choose from different "opportunities."

A. Join the long, long queue of people who have already thought of this idea. Have a look at your competition in Yahoo! under "Business Opportunities". How on earth would stand out from the crowd?

Q. Is it a good idea to start a site giving advice on marketing?

A. Oh heck, not again! An endless number of people of have decided to give advice on marketing - while they learn about marketing. Yeah, I did it too, about 18 months ago. I know of a very good marketing advice site which gets only about 200 visitors a day. And many experts say you need 500 a day to be successful on the Net.

Q. I'm not an "expert" in anything. What can I do?

A. Become an expert in something. Often the people who are truly great narrow their focus - and find intense satisfaction by becoming an expert in one tiny area. I don't claim to be an expert, but when I found out I had celiac disease I did a lot of research, did a lot of experimenting and wrote 50 Fabulous Gluten-Free Recipes. The site is pretty amateurish and I've neglected it, but the book still sells regularly. Information is one the best things to sell on the Net.

Q. How do I find topics to research?

A. Watch the questions asked in HelpDesk, and the topics discussed in LinkExchange Digest and other places. You should be able to find lots of ideas. For example, Declan Dunn saw the potential of commission programs and instead of simply copying my site, which is what some people have done, he wrote the first thorough book on the subject, The Complete, Insider's Guide To Associate & Affiliate Programs - tied in with a monthly journal.

This product is no longer available. For the latest products I recommend see Affiliate Resources ]

Q. Can't you just give me a topic?

A. OK. There's a crying need for someone to research the companies that provide merchant facilities for companies wanting to accept credit cards on the Net. What do the companies offer? How much do they charge? What experience do they have? etc. You could also examine the major credit companies and compare what they offer with what NextCard offers.

Want a memorable name? How about CardsCompared.com?

It was still available today.

Q. Can you join associate programs if you don't have a site?

A. Yes, a few, but I don't think it's a good idea. You would be handicapping yourself too much. It's a numbers game. You need repeat traffic to do well. To get repeat traffic, you need a web site. I get my biggest commission check from Corey Rudl, but only about one in 100 people I send there buys the course. Also, it's all about getting known and winning people's trust. That would be jolly hard to do if you didn't have a web site.

I've received more questions than I have space for. I'll answer a few more next week.

6. Check those Cybergold offers carefully

Rodney writes:


In your article entitled "Where to find the best free offers" you mention Walter's web site . . . very informative and a great quick reference. However, I did notice one misleading item.

In the case of Cybergold, the company will pay $1.00 per lead vs. WebSponsors $0.25 - $0.40 per lead. In reality, Cybergold will pay $1.00 per lead, up to 30 leads. The limit is mentioned nowhere on their site and is strictly arbitrary. I personally gave them close to 200 leads, but they paid for only 30, stating they had a cap on what they are willing to pay. WebSponsors has the better deal. . . . If I had used WebSponsors, I would have made $50 on my 200 leads as opposed to the $30 Cybergold paid.

With any program, it is best to get all the details up front. In my phone conversations with Cybergold, they congratulated me on my efforts, but stood fast on their payment cap stating "one site has brought in over 1,000 new members, but we still only paid $30." Doing extra work free may be fine for the college kid and his Tripod web site, but I for one cannot afford to waste time promoting a program free.

Rodney of "Rodney And Cathy's Joke List"

7. Another greedy spammer

I'm upset. I received four unsolicited bulk e-mails from David Gikandi of SearchPositioning.com this week. You know the sort of thing. They say "I noticed that you were . . ." but the letter clearly indicates that the writer hasn't really noticed anything at all. He's probably found me by using software to hunt for keywords. He hasn't even learned my name.

I gave David a chance to explain. He didn't reply.

The silly thing is that I joined David's program, I wrote about his product in my newsletter, and he was getting free publicity in the Associate Programs Directory. I was earning money from his program and planning to give him more publicity. Instead, I suppose I'll have to put a "Not recommended" beside the listing.

If 2 million American companies sent my four e-mail addresses only ONE piece of carefully written, thoughtful spam a year, I would receive 8 million e-mails, or nearly 22,000 a day.

Spammers are greedy, thoughtless, inconsiderate people.

8. Paul wants to be bashed, too

Oh heck, what have I started? I reviewed Dwight's truly awful site last week - after warning him he wouldn't like the review - and now someone else wants the same treatment.

Hi Allan

"Please consider tearing apart our pages, and YES, I do not mind being bashed in your newsletter . . . Please! I can take it!"

Paul Blustein

Paul's site looks pretty amateurish but it has some good points.

   1. It provides useful product information.

   2. It provides testimonials. Hey, well done. Experts such as Corey Rudl believe strongly in testimonials.

   3. You have a newsletter, and tell people what to expect if they subscribe.

I'm not keen on all the different colours used. To me, the site looks as though it was created by a youngster experimenting, not a serious, reliable business. And you're already handicapped by having the URL Myfreeoffice.com/am300pgbams/index.html which also doesn't look like a very serious business.

You also use ALL CAPITALS, which are fine in small doses but they slow down the reader when used in huge chunks. (That's something sub-editors are taught.)

You also need to brush up on your punctuation. There's a difference between "it's", which is short for "it is", and "its", which is a word like his or hers, and does not have an apostrophe. A spell checker, would help, too.

It's a fairly small site, which is one of its advantages. If that's the only site you have, you should be able to spend 99% of your time promoting it. Me? I'm lucky if I spend 1% of my time on promotion, which I know is all wrong.

However, you probably need to consider aiming more for repeat traffic, for a chance at repeat sales. Could you have a small section which you updated, say, once a week?

Of course, you will also need a memorable domain name - to make it easy for people to return.

9. Snippets

Another Safe-Audit complaint
Jim Reardon of http://www.freecenter.com says: "...I've decided to remove all Safe-Audit banners, I've stopped suggesting them. Problems I can understand, but waiting 5 months for a check that ends up being so completely wrong, and then not being able to get a response from tech support has made me completely cast them out as a serious company."

[UPDATE: Safe-Audit has disappeared.]

Legal action
Damien Zamora of Virtual Merchant told me on the phone today that his company, "the real Virtual Merchant", has taken legal action against Bill Long's Internet Media Solutions, which has been using the Virtual Merchant name and logo - with permission. It's a long story. Perhaps I'll have more next week.

Misuse of autoresponders
Please DON'T subscribe to newsletters using an autoresponder address. It's not a brilliant marketing ploy. It's thoughtless. As my mother used to say: "Imagine if everyone did that." Really and truly, I DON'T want to receive a few thousand commercial messages each time my newsletter goes out.

Surprise check
I dumped web host Virtualis Systems from my Top 10 because it wasn't performing for me (not because I have any criticism of Virtualis). However, I was pleasantly surprised when a $51.58 check arrived the other day. Virtualis is more expensive than most but it offers worry-free web hosting with fast, 24-hour tech support and it recently added a free shopping cart, CartSnap, "the best e-commerce tool on the web".

Here's the web host I now use and recommend
http://www.AssociatePrograms.com/hosting ]

Someone used a fake email header and sent out obscenities over my name this week. I guess I offended someone - again. If you received such rubbish, you're quite right, it didn't come from me. I would never do that.

Intellectual property theft
No, it's NOT all right to cut and paste material from another site without permission. It's especially not all right to copy massive chunks of a site and set up in competition against the company. Believe me, someone will notice. For excellent advice on copyright theft, see an article by Nancy Roebke http://www.profnet.org .I saw it in I-Sales HelpDesk #176 http://www.adventive.com

Start making friends now
If you're a little guy who is the victim of copyright theft it can be tough work convincing a busy web host that someone is copying chunks of your site. It helps a lot if you have a couple of well known friends who know your site and will quickly back up your story. Thanks, guys! You know who you are.

Please lighten up, folks.
If you're thinking of sending me email, how about keeping it short or maybe even not sending it? I'm heading to New Zealand for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday in the next few days, and I'd really appreciate a little break after a long time working two jobs. With any luck, the next edition of the newsletter will come from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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I keep the price high to make sure there aren't many ads.
The circulation is verifiable by OakNetPublishing.com.)

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All the best

Allan Gardyne

December 4, 1998

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