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I’m sure that you’ve probably noticed the little underlining under some of the text in the message posts. It’s pretty hard to ignore, isn’t it? I’m experimenting with an advertising platform called Infolinks, which specializes in monetizing blogs by delivering relevant advertisements based on the content on the page. In many ways this is similar to Google Adsense, but the approach that Infolinks takes is they turn the actual text into a clickable link.
In some ways this is similar to the 123Linkit clickable links that already appear in the blog, except that Infolinks is a pay-per-click (PPC) model, and 123Linkit is an affiliate marketing model. I somehow doubt that I’m ever going to get rich from either of these systems, but I’m always willing to experiment and see what happens.
Please bear with me as I figure this out.
At the start of the month, I changed the links under my Interesting Stuff section to include some of the blogs/websites that I take a look at on a regular basis. I wanted to highlight them because I feel that it’s important to talk about what other people are doing. Part of blogging is the conversation… and each of these sites are adding to that conversation in their own unique way.
Those are just some of the blogs that I like to check out from time to time. I can’t keep up with everything, as I’m sure that very few people follow every word of this blog. But I like to catch up as best as I can when I have a little time. I certainly appreciate everything these people do, wish all of them the best of luck!
Oh and if there’s a site that you think I, or the other readers, would be interested in… just leave me a comment! I’d love to know what other people are reading in their spare time!
Twitter has this little feature on their website that recommends random people to you, based on some magical guess at who you might be interested in following. I’m sure that it’s a Facebook-like thing, because it’s quite annoying, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of shutting it off, so I’ve gotten used to it. If you click on someone, it will show you two other people who are supposedly similar to that person. I have no idea what the criteria are, and I don’t think that I’ve ever added anyone based on this, but maybe someday I will.
So the other day I clicked on my own profile because I wanted to check something, and I noticed that one of the people it listed as “More Like AboutStephen” was Yasmine Mustafa (@myasmine on Twitter). I’ve mentioned Yasmine before. She’s the CEO of 123Linkit, a startup company that has developed a free WordPress plugin that allows bloggers to easily monetize their blogs without having to sign up for a bunch of different affiliate marketing accounts.
I was shocked!
Why on earth did Twitter pair Yasmine with the likes of me? How disappointed someone would be if I was also listed on her end, and they came to MY Twitter page and saw me rambling about my dirty laundry, burning supper, or how much I hate snow! And then I started to think about it a little more…
Oh sure, on the surface the similarities are somewhat remarkable… Yasmine is an attractive young female CEO in a male-dominated industry. She regularly posts tweets about her running or elliptical adventures , or donating money to help the less fortunate while enjoying a healthy meal at a local establishment. She is highly motivated, focused, and a self-professed perfectionist. Her Twitter tagline states “Looking to make a difference in the world”. She is outgoing, and gives presentations to inspire more young girls to enter tech-related employment areas. She’s a role model. She’s even working on setting a World Record by dribbling a basketball until her arm falls off (or something like that). And as if all of that wasn’t enough… her smiling face is featured in advertising campaigns such as this one:
OK, well someone apparently has too much time on their hands, but you have to admit, the goatee is kinda sexy. And no, that’s not an edit of the original. That’s a picture that Yasmine tweeted upon discovering it a few weeks ago.
So it’s easy to see why Twitter might want to lump the two of us in the same category. The parallels are uncanny… I sometimes post about my sleeping adventures on #Sleepkeeper… I built part of a model once before throwing it away in frustration… I like to eat… I’ve dribbled a basketball a handful of times… White men can’t jump… or shoot… or dribble for that matter… well.. maybe that’s just me… and as for any advertising opportunities… No one has been beating down my door, but it’s only a matter of time once these videos get noticed!
Yeah, that was my first test video… It’s even older than the one I posted earlier on the blog. It reminds me of a Gnome from EverQuest.
So it’s pretty obvious to me that Twitter is a poor judge of who may be “more like” me, or anyone else. And to prove my point, I just now went to take a look and see who they might recommend…
@special_needs – My sister?!?
@frankenteen – The guy who plays Finn on Glee?!?
There’s definitely something up with that…
Oh, and the caption under Yasmine’s picture isn’t personal… it’s part of a song from my highschool days, by a Canadian band called The Northern Pikes. You can watch the video on YouTube here.
Two days ago I launched my first spin-off site, based on search engine traffic to this blog. And what did I decide to go with? Pickles! Yes, that’s right… Lady Ashburnham mustard pickles have shown up in the log almost every day since I made that first post. Many days there are multiple searches for different variations of the keywords. How to make them. How to bottle them. So I figured that I would run with it, and see what happened if I created a new site.
That being said, LadyAshburnhamPickles.com is now live!
And for those of you who say “why?”… well the answer is simple. I have to start somewhere.
I don’t expect this new site to be an instant success. What I do expect is to learn from it, and apply those lessons to future projects. When I created the site, I decided to use static pages in a WordPress blog, rather than the typical post format. It doesn’t have a “blog” feel to it at all, but it is WordPress. Meaning that I can use some of the plugins that I’ve become accustomed to from WhatAboutStephen.com. That’s extremely helpful for me.
If you look at the new site, you will see that it’s pretty basic. That wasn’t an accident. I figure that most people who are looking for information on pickles are not interested in reading through a ton of crap, so I wanted it to be as straightforward as possible. But at the same time, I also wanted it to have a little extra something that other sites did not have. I could not find a site anywhere that was dedicated to these pickles. Makes sense, I suppose. But obviously there were many pickling sites with the recipe. That’s not hard to find. But what I wanted from my site was a little information on the bottling, and the woman whose name we use, yet probably know nothing about. And I thought that it might be interesting to throw in a few fun pickle facts that I found on the internet. I read through many other sites, and picked what I thought were the best facts. I also scoured the internet for a picture to place on that page, but I wasn’t able to find anything suitable. I knew exactly what I wanted… but short of paying $14 for a single photo, I wasn’t able to find it.
So the main part of the site is complete, although I still need to add a contact form. There is some backend work to be done. I’ve noticed that when I do a search for “Lady Ashburnham Pickles” that this blog appear on the first page of Google, yet the new site appears at the bottom of the second page. It will take a little bit of work to get that moved up, but that’s part of the learning process that I mentioned earlier. I also need to work at converting some of the traffic coming here into clicks to the new site. I’ve noticed a surprising lack of click-throughs in the original post to the new site, and have repositioned the new link at the top of the page. I’m hoping that makes a difference.
And rather than go into detail about the ins and outs of that learning process here, I have decided to create a separate blog that will deal strictly with my fledgling internet empire. There, people can read about my trials… the successes and the failures… offer input, suggestions, etc… and maybe someone else can learn from my mistakes. I’ve seen a few of these sites, and they’re usually very helpful. And even if no one else reads them, they’re extremely useful in documenting the process, so eventually the kinks will get worked out, and a system will emerge. There will be more information on the new blog in the near future.
And lastly, I am looking forward to my phone conversation on Friday with Yasmine Mustafa, the founder and CEO of a little company called 123LinkIt. You’ve probably heard me babble about this company before. They have created a free WordPress plugin that scans your blog posts for keywords and automatically matches them to other companies who have referral programs. The idea being that if I write a post about buying a new iPhone, this plugin will pick up on some of the keywords and automatically link them to affiliate programs. Maybe it will underline “iPhone” and send a reader who clicks the link to an online storefront advertising iPhones for sale. If the reader then purchases something, a referral fee would be paid to me (and 123LinkIt) for sending the online store a customer. It’s a very slick system. Of course you can always sign up for affiliate marketing programs yourself, but 123LinkIt simplifies the process for you by acting as a middle man, and offering you easy access to a much greater array of vendors. It really is a unique way of bringing bloggers and advertisers together, and I’ve been fortunate enough to converse with Yasmine a little through email and Twitter. In talking to her, I’ve found a re-emergence of the spark that seemed to have died down in recent months. A realization that the status quo is simply not good enough any more, and that now is the time to put forth the hard work, to ensure that the future is what I want it to be. So Friday will be a chance to talk to someone who is following her dream and willing to make sacrifices now… I have a ton of respect for people who are willing to do that.
That’s the update. That’s what’s going on. That’s the direction I’m heading. That’s all.
I was looking through the logs a couple of days ago, and noticed something that I’d never seen before. A Google translation link. When I clicked on the link… well… see for yourself here!
I had to throw some of the words into Google to see what language it was. Turns out that it’s Romanian. You’ll notice if you start following links from within the site that everything is translated into Romanian! It’s kinda cool!
Not really sure why someone would be translating my site into Romanian, but the blog post that they were looking at has to deal with 123LinkIt so I guess they were doing a little research. The internet is an interesting place sometimes.
With a little bit of trial… and a lot of error… I finally seem to have the affiliate marketing plugin 123LinkIt working properly on the blog!
I’m still a little confused as to why I had such a hard time with it. It’s really is not a difficult plugin to implement, but it definitely was not doing what it was supposed to be doing. After a couple of uninstalls and reinstalls, and forcing my WordPress installation to update again, it appears to be working. You can see an example of the plugin in action here on the Online Dating post.
So now that I have it working properly, it’s time to look at some of the old posts and see which ones might be suitable candidates for the plugin. And as I move forward, don’t be surprised to see the occasional link show up as you’re reading.
A small step forward in the building of an Empire…
<Now, after writing that… I’m running into the same problem again… arrrrrrrrrghhh… update to follow>
I’ve been trading a few emails back and forth with Yasmine Mustafa, founder of 123LinkIt, trying to get the plugin to work properly on this blog. We’re not quite there yet, but I’m confident that the issue will get resolved. Actually, at the moment, I have a nagging suspicion that it might be a user-related problem, rather than a plugin one. I have to do a little more testing to do with a different browser (something that I am unable to do at this moment), and if that’s what it turns out to be… open wide… insert foot. Hell, I might as well insert both of them! It’ll be a little embarrassing, considering I posted last month that I was giving up on the plugin. But that’s fine. When I look at some of the recent posts/tweets, the fact that I’m troubleshooting with a female CEO of a startup internet company, who doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall… yeah… I cringe. Welcome to my world…
I will say this, though… when I look at what they’re doing, I’m more than a little jealous. No, that’s not a job application. I’ll gladly leave that space to 123LinkIt. But the dream… yeah… Jealous.
And anyone who knows me well should understand what I mean by that.
It’s ironic. Just yesterday I tweeted about second chances. “Second chances are rare, and should not be squandered.” I was referring to something completely different in my life, but today I received a surprise request for a second chance of a different kind.
Yesterday’s post regarding my frustration with the WordPress affiliate marketing plugin called 123LinkIt apparently got noticed by someone at the company. Imagine my surprise when I checked the blog today and found 2 comments awaiting approval from Yasmine, the founder of 123LinkIt. Imagine how even MORE surprised I was when Yasmine identified a post that she considered a good candidate for the 123Linkit software, and asked me to try it again. This wasn’t simply a canned response. She had obviously read through the post, and even offered a few suggestions.
Well, I’m suitably impressed with the proactive response from 123LinkIt, and will grant Yasmine, and her team, a second chance… while I attempt to get the plugin working properly on this blog. As I said in my comment response, dealing with 123LinkIt feels very much like a grass roots effort, and not something from a faceless corporation. I sincerely hope that they will continue to maintain that direct interface with their users as they move forward and continue to grow.
I’ll keep you informed of my progress, and hopefully you will start to see the occasional sponsored affiliate link scattered throughout WhatAboutStephen.com.
It seemed like a fantastic little plugin for WordPress. Install the 123Linkit plugin, create an account at 123linkit.com, configure your API keys on the blog, write your post, and click the Add Affiliate button at the bottom of the post. Supposedly the program would scan your blog post for relevant keywords and generate a list of advertisers with embedded links directly into your post. If someone clicked on the link, you would receive a small amount. 123Linkit would act as a middleman between the blogger and the affiliate programs. Sounded wonderful in theory, but I have not been able to get a single affiliate link to appear anywhere on the blog. I’ve tried and tried. I don’t get an error. I just get nothing! If I write a post that doesn’t have appropriate keywords, it will tell me that it found no relevant keywords. That part works. But I have written a few posts specifically for 123Linkit, using keywords that I get from their website… and nothing. No error. Just nothing happens. Maybe it was a time delayed thing? Nope. Just nothing appears.
So I’m done playing with this. I’ll look at something else instead.[edited: Things got much better after this. Please read all the related posts, or try 123Linkit for yourself!]